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A Trip To Paris At Home

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Alright. I’m not gonna lie to you.  When we got the call yesterday morning at 6:30, I groaned. I did.  I’m pretty sure I whined shamelessly.  It went a little something like this: “Seriously?! Again?! AH! That is the fourth time in seven days. You’ve got to be kidding me!’

Yeeeeeeeeep.  Here in the snowman capital of the world we had ANOTHER snow day. Sheesh!  With subzero temperatures verging on fifteen below, I guess I can see why they thought it necessary to cancel again. But, really, could they have asked me first? I have orders I am behind on, not to mention dishes, housework and Downton Abbey!

Alas, though, I gave in and accepted that all of that would have to wait. Again.

A very sweet friend sent me some tea in the mail and I caught a glimpse of it sitting on the side table while aforementioned tantrum was transpiring. It was so charmingly called “Breakfast in Paris” tea. Ah! Breakfast in Paris, I thought to my little ol’ self. If only……

The best part of being a parent, in my opinion, is that I really don’t have to act like an adult all the time and I have a great excuse for it: I’m just being a good mom!! If I want to take the whole day and pretend that I am strolling the streets of Paris, shopping and visiting the Louvre and sitting in cafes admiring the Eiffel Tower, then by golly I will! You know….for the sake of the kids….

Here is the schedule for our day.  We started by listening to the “French Traditional” station on Pandora to set the mood. Then, I taught the girls the three French words I actually know: Bonjour, Au revoir, and Merci. Of course I used a very obnoxious and completely off accent all day and called the girls Mademoiselles.

We put the kettle on and used our finest china, pretending that we were taking our tea and breakfast in a street café.  We imagined it was sunny and warm and there were birds chirping (or at least I did. The girls kept contradicting me saying, “Nu-uh, Mom. There are no birds. It’s cold!”).

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Then we made crepes using this yummy recipe. I did add a little canned pumpkin for nutritional benefit as well. We filled them with jam and fresh fruit. We sipped tea and talked in accents and dreamed of a warm morning in Paris gazing at the Eiffel Tower.

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After breakfast we took a stroll down a street lined with blooming flowers (or really took a walk up to our second story bathroom) to the “salon” where we had French manicures and did our hair in French braids.

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Then, alas, because the house and messy kitchen sadly won’t clean itself we pretended to be French maids. The kids weren’t really buying it, but we had to stay in theme, right? 😉

Then we went “shopping” at the Le Petit Closet (again, insert me in French accent, “Oh yes! Dis is da finest Fraunch boutique in all of Par-ie.” And the girls groaning, “Mooooom. It’s our closet!!”) We put on our finest duds and put on a fashion show.  I draped a tablecloth over the door as a backdrop. Verrry hip this year on the Paris runway. Then we struck some serious and very chic poses. Do you see the pure diva sass I’m dealing with here, people?!

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Before lunch, we took virtual tours of the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. They both have A-M-A-Z-I-N-G sites with 360degree views. On the Louvre’s site you can click on paintings and statues and such and get a larger view of them and information about them. You can see the museum room by room. I was IN LOVE! Je T’aime, Louvre! They also have a whole wing dedicated to Egyptian history which was a great opportunity to tell the girls about the ancient Egyptians and what they believed and how it differs from what we believe as Christians.  It turned into a little theological/Bible lesson. Bonus.

After all of that, we took a tour of local attractions via our very own, personal tour guide, Pinterest. Do you know there is a trampoline bridge over the Seine?!!! WHAT?!! That alone makes me want to visit the city of love for real!!! Did I say yet that I like to act like a kid sometimes?

 Then for lunch we had veeeeeeeeery authentic French cuisine: French (garbage) fries. Hey! I did crepes, alright?

Then we strolled to what I would like to pretend was an outdoor theater in the park and watched the movie “Madeline” (on Netflix).  It’s a story about a little French girl in Paris who is trying to save the girls’ home where she lives. Cute.

After the “theater” we had pumpkin lattes (DECAF!) with chocolate on a veranda overlooking the Seine river.

Then I about collapsed from exhaustion. Who knew touring Paris could be so tiring?

So I made the girls rest for a few minutes while I prepped for our next item on the venture.  I told them we would paint pictures of the Eiffel Tower (because, honestly, you can’t go to Paris and NOT do something artistic, right?). So I googled a silhouette of the Tower and then traced it onto a piece of watercolor paper. Then I used some handy dandy rubber cement and painted over the silhouette.

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You can also use art masking fluid but it is WAAAAAAAAY expensive and a bottle of rubber cement is only a couple of dollars and change and does the job nicely.  I told the girls to paint all over the paper in any colors they so desired.

While they worked I serenaded them because that’s what they would do in France, right? Artists need mood music to get the creative juices flowing. In this case, “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor because that’s pretty much all I know at this point.

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Then when it was done and all dried and the masterpieces were created, I took an artist’s eraser and rubbed off the rubber cement revealing the tower beneath it and voila (as the French would say).

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We ended the day with French onion soup for dinner (which I would not recommend. I don’t believe it’s really French or a favorite with kids). Lesson learned.

All in all, it was a pretty romantic day….for me at least! A couple of times Ev said, “This is the best day EVER!” So I think they enjoyed it as well.

Disclaimer: I do always like to have a reality check though, for those of you who might think this was all kittens and unicorns and kittens riding on unicorns and are tempted to be discouraged. It wasn’t all sunny. I did plenty of scolding in my French accent, the girls didn’t dig all of my ideas, and at one point I just threw my hands up and really scolded…in clear English….and SUPER loudly. It was fun, but not perfect, even in Paris!

Here is a FREE printable in case you feel inspired to do your own stay-cay vacay to Paris!

Revoir, mes amours!

paristicket

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Pottery with a Purpose

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For about two years now we have been sponsored a child from Haiti (Ermione)  through World Vision and the girls have loved praying for her and sending her specials cards and pictures.  When we were searching for a child to sponsor, we chose Ermione because she is from Haiti which is still reeling from the earthquakes which ravaged their land a few years ago. Also, her birthday is just one day prior to Nora’s, so they feel a special bond to her because she is so close in age to them.  As the girls have gotten older, my husband and I have been wracking our brains in how to teach the girls gratitude for all that God has provided for us and for caring for others beyond themselves; hence this little project. It’s experimental, to be honest, but we wanted to involve the girls more in sponsoring a child of their own, earning the money themselves (well, with our help of course) to care for another child overseas. Rather than spend time telling you about it myself, I thought I would let my guest bloggers speak for themselves. 🙂

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EVIE:

“My name is Evie and I am five, almost six. I like to play with my Mommy sometimes and I love Mommy. I like to play games, eat popcorn and watch a movie. My favorite movie is Tinkerbell and I have a necklace and I make pretend food for everyone.

Today we painted plates. What colors were on the plates were brown, pink, purple, black and let’s see….think, think, think, think, think, think, think….We did the plates for us to keep and to tell everybody in our country about Jesus…um…I meant about to make money for other kids like Ermione and other kids so the Moms and Dads and kids could buy food in a poor, poor, poor, poor place. I was on the plates. I showed what face I wanted to do and color things in.”

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NORA:

“My name is Nora and my favorite thing to do is play outside and I like to eat macaroni and cheese and have some color in my macaroni and cheese. I like to go to the candy store and especially is go to camp and get popsicles there too; eat there, spend time there, too. Go in the pool and play in the playground.

We colored the plates and that was really nice and we did pictures on the plates and smiled. We did the plates to spend money to eat because it’s for them to have…um…for Ermione. It’s cost some to buy food and it’s for them to help buy food because they don’t have much food. It’s for them to learn about Jesus and to help them go to school to learn about Jesus. Ermione has the same skin as me and her birthday is the day before mine. She’s the same age as me and Evie which is five….the same thing as us. Some day we would like to play with her sometimes. “

I am going to be offering personalized plates like these and other hand-painted pottery by me and the girls in my Etsy shop and other pottery (like these mugs) and all proceeds will go to our sponsored child. Who knows? We are hoping to be able to earn enough to sponsor more than one a month!

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Picture This

I have always loved painting murals and have often dreamed about making a career out of it. I have done enough thus far that I have an extensive portfolio, though little to show for it since most of my work has been done “for a good cause” and not for any real money.  But, it’s good experience none-the-less and it’s really therapeutic for me, so I’m probably saving money in the long run! I’m painting instead of paying someone to sit on their couch and tell them my list of woes. Anyway, I wanted to share a project I am working on now for our church nursery and I admit this is mostly for the benefit of my mom (hi mom!) who was trying to look at these via my phone and couldn’t see them very well. It’s not the Sistine Chapel….but, I hope you enjoy it just the same.

I was inspired by the “Sheep in a Jeep” books by Nancy Shaw and illustrated by Margot Apple. She has a whole series of these books and they are some of my favorites to read to my girls, not only because they are simple and not too long, but they are clever and the illustrations are hilariously adorable! So, I had this big idea to do “sheep in a park” and have imagined all of the ways I can portray them having a tea party, playing checkers, feeding the pigeons, taking walks, kids doing hopscotch….My imagination has gone wild with all of the things I could do, considering the room I am working in is rather large. Here are two that I have started thus far:

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My goal is to always make my scenes look like snapshots of photos.

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I hope I have succeeded! There will be more to come soon….

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Rugs to Riches

When we went to look for area rugs for our girls bedroom after we laid down some laminate, we couldn’t find much within our budget, let alone one that seemed to fit in with the decor of their room. When we were first decorating their room fours years ago, I had painted simple little birds and flowers on their wall. I had made these with just circles, a straight edge, and the eraser end of a pencil for the polka dots. So I thought, why not make a rug to match?I found this one online at Target for $200.  It was my inspiration. We found this rug at Lowe’s for $18. Holla!

I started out using plates I had that were three different sizes and traced them in a line with a permanent marker. I measured the line from about a foot from the edge of the carpet for my “stem”. I repeated the process until I got to the other side of the rug.I realized a little belatedly that I didn’t take any pictures of me actually painting the flowers, but it’s a pretty simple process. I used a combination of latex and acrylic paints. In the beginning of this journey, I had planned on the flowers being vibrant, solid pinks, blues, and yellows, but because the carpet was so absorbent, it took more paint than I had originally anticipated.  When I began painting, it almost had a washed out look. In the end, however, I was please with the result because it had a blackboard/vintage wash kind of feel to it. An added bonus to only using a thin layer of paint is that it dried quicker. When I had two little girls, the dog, and even occasionally the hubby walking in on my project, this was a very good thing! I only spent a few hours and less than twenty bucks on this project in total.

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TV stand to TV Grand

We inherited this TV stand about nine years ago from my sister who upgraded to another TV stand. Though I have been so thankful to have this treasure, it has been a source of contention for some time now. It is wobbly and a little outdated, so when I found a sweet wardrobe-esque TV stand sitting across the street from our house, beckoning to me with a “For Free” sign duct taped to it, I believed providence had brought it there for me. Unfortunately,  my husband wasn’t as convinced as I was. While I begged, pleaded, (manipulated, a little), and stomped a foot, he being immune to my tantrum, the manna from heaven was scooped up by someone else within an hour.  You need to understand that the only new piece of furniture we own that we didn’t get second hand is our sleigh bed that my family all pitched in and bought us for a wedding present. We have a dresser, two wicker couches, two chairs, and about twenty windows that we picked up along the side of the road. Every year in our city, for an entire month you can set out a piece of furniture for garbage pick-up. We pack the kids in the car on garbage night and “shop” for new furniture. I kid you not, my friends. This is the best way to shop! You won’t believe the things that people throw out, and how you can turn trash into treasures with new upholstery or a coat of paint.

Anyway, since I didn’t get the other stand I wanted, I decided to make do with what I had. I dragged an old window out of the basement that had lots of character. It already had that fashionable stressed look, so I didn’t have to do much to get the look I wanted. I also dragged out a can of celery green paint I had left over from painting our bedroom and went to work. I lucked out because the window fit into the cabinet almost perfectly with very little altering needed to the original structure.  I found some pretty fabric I had as well (being a quilter by trade I have totes and totes full of lovely fabric) and went to work stapling the fabric to the back of the window. Then I went to work painting the cabinet. First, I painted it with a little red paint, just a light coat, for a primer. I did this because I wanted to sand away at the top layer of paint to give it that distressed, aged look and thought the red would be pretty showing through underneath the green.I bought these little beads at the dollar store to use for my door pull. As you can see in the after picture, I have yet to put my pull on the right side of the door. Originally I wanted to put my hinges on the other side of the window, but this side provided more room to attach the hinges. But, these were so cheap and have the look of an old, glass knob. I thought they were charming!I enlisted the hubby (isn’t he adorable?) to help me with some minor alterations. I am not good with power tools, and although the window fit almost perfectly, a few cuts were needed to be made, and he helped me pick out and attach the proper hinges. We got these ones at Lowe’s for a few dollars each.After he attached the door and she was all painted, it was pretty much ready to go! I just sanded the top layer of paint very lightly with a low grit sandpaper, and it was all ready to go! Here she is in all her glory!

 

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Personalized Mugs for Kids and Adults

For some reason, I really love mugs of all shapes and sizes.  I feel like I have a tea cup or sturdy mug suitable for whatever mood strikes me at the moment. A dainty tea cup for sipping some Darjeeling while swooning over Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.  A nice blue striped one on melancholy days to remember the sweet friend who gave it to me.  A brown and cream polka-dotted one scrounged up at a flea market circa 1955 when I feel like baking. And, of course on a day for remembering, there is the one adorned with the face of “Morris” the loveable feline who once was the face of a cat food commercial, the same mug my grandmother used to have.  I love mugs, because I know whatever is in them is something that will bring me comfort.  Hot tea, a cup of joe, hot chocolate, or steamy soup all have a therapeutic way of warming up the soul.   So, this Christmas, I set about making several personal mugs for people on our list. I know some people feel like mugs are mere clutter for your cupboard, but I say you can never have too many!

So, here are a few of the ones I came up with. The first are monogrammed mugs that I made with ceramic paints found at any craft supply store. **A tip I love sharing is that when selecting colors, I usually stick with primary colors (red, yellow, blue, white, and black) because any color of the rainbow can be made from these colors, so if you are like me and a little cheap, it helps save money!  I used stencils I had on hand, handy for many personalized gifts, and taped them onto mugs I found for a song in pretty colors.I painted the letters in a solid color, then decorated each cup with a unique and delicate design. **Another tip when painting is to try not to paint too much over the edge of your stencil. I made this mistake, and part of my design started to come off with it when I went to remove it.  Remove stencil, allow it to dry and follow instructions on bottle for setting the paint.For those of you who have kiddos, we made some personal mugs that are great for gifts for grandparents, teachers, etc.  We started out using a permanent marker , with lots of newspaper under the mug so that none of it was transferred to our worktable (aka the kitchen table in our case) and I had the kids draw a design on the mug.  This was for our next door neighbor, so my daughter drew his face on it. I was so proud! She also wrote his name on it, with a little help ;).After she was done, I went over her picture with ceramic paints .   She helped me pick out the colors, of course.  Again, allow it to dry, then follow the instructions on the back of the bottle to set the paints so they are permanent.