Long Weekend in Paris

We’ve been here for so long and I finally went somewhere! My daughter, my friend Jessie (and her boys), and another friend Leigh all had a long weekend in Paris. It was SO fun. You never know how much you need other adult conversation until you have it, until you get to have it.


How we got there: flights within Paris are cheap! Okay, the train would have been SO much cheaper. But it was very last minute for my daughter to join the trip, and I already bought an airline ticket for myself. And when I say the train is cheap, it would be maybe 50 euros, if you pay attention to the times you are traveling. We were at the tail end of the train strike, but it wasn’t over yet, so I didn’t want to risk anything and thus the plane ticket.

Where we stayed: AirBNB apartment! It was tiny. There was a couch that turned into a bed, and a bunk bed with a trundle. The bathroom was very tiny. The kitchen had enough space for us to stand around and visit, or sit at the small table and visit. But really, probably almost all places in Paris are tiny. It was fine for us, but I couldn’t stay there with my family simply because of the bathroom.

What we did: stayed up all hours visiting. Okay, we also walked a lot, walked up a million steps to the Sacre Coeur, sat on the top of a big bus tour and saw many tourist sites, had dinner by the river, and of course enjoyed the wine. We started out late both days, the first day the latest, but I think overall it was a fun time.

I loved that we were able to get away for a few days. It did take a couple of days of napping for me to feel rested again, and I take that as a sign of a great visit.

20140710-163546-59746049.jpgWalking along the River Seine


The Louvre, as seen from our tour bus

20140710-163546-59746337.jpgThe steps of the Sacre Coeur

Thinking of a Podcast

Recently I realized I’ve been blogging for almost ten years (in the fall it will be official). I started with quizzes and three or four sentence entries. I really cut back on blogging over the past few years, but after we moved overseas I realized how lucky we are to have connections online. Even with being very active on instagram, having a blog allows me to ‘talk’ to people. It at least allows me to get my words out. When you live in a country that you don’t know many people in and you don’t speak the native language very well, you soon feel the need to find someone to talk to.

I had a podcast once (the website redirects here now) and I loved it. I just binge-listened to Within A Quarter Inch and that spark to podcast lit back up. I loved podcasting, even if I listen to the episodes and feel like I was awkward. I would love to podcast again, and so I am thinking about it. I am thinking about how different my life is here and what fun a podcast could be. I love a conversational podcast, I watch a couple of video podcasts that are interviews and they are so great.

I think I’d like to find someone to podcast with me. The time difference that I’m in makes that harder for my friends in the US though. I have the desire to get all of my ideas out and to do something with them.

And just for the enjoyment of it, a picture of macarons that a friend taught me to make.


Planning A Vacation

I have SO much respect for travel agents! We can do so much online, we can make all the reservations for ourselves, we can compare prices, and check availability. But when it comes to arranging a lot of travel, whew, it can be exhausting. Europeans take their holidays serious, the month of August has just about everyone on vacation. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like because I’m sure grocery stores will be open, but will some of the smaller stores close?

Europe, France & Languedoc
Photo by Heidi and Matt

¬†We have been talking about our holiday plans for a few months, but only just started the serious planning. Everything is expensive. We are a large family, three kids doesn’t seem like a lot but try booking a hotel room and you will find that it’s difficult. I did find one hotel that has a family policy (the Hilton) which stated that a second room for kids would be 50% of the first room. But the problem with that is the hotel only allows two people in each room. I get that there are concerns over fires and safety, but sheesh, it’s a hassle. As a result, we are staying in airbnb rentals or city apartments. I am glad we have this option otherwise travel might be out of reach for us because of the difficulties.

And so we have a busy summer ahead! I’m excited! We are going camping (more on this later because it is not the way we think of camping in the US), and also going to Ireland and the UK. We have more plans for the fall and next year, but one step at a time. The hours I’ve spent planning this has been tiring. We plan on using a travel agent for a trip we are planning for next year and I can’t wait! The time I spent comparing taking a flight from our home to our destination vs a train to a larger city and then a flight from that city to our destination was ridiculous. Ridiculous in the sense of “isn’t there a better way to figure this out.” I still haven’t figured that particular issue out, but I still have some time. As it stands, next week I am meeting friends in Paris and so I am off to double check the carry on luggage rules.

Fabric Stash in France

I think I really started building a fabric stash about six years ago. We lived in Texas and up until that point I had made a handful of baby quilts, and sewn other things like a baby sling for a doll or a doll pillow and quilt. But I wasn’t really, fully, immersed in quilting the way I feel that I am now. I chalk it up to the frequency of our moves and not having friends with similar interests as me. Sure it’s nice to have friends with little kids so your little kids have someone to play with, but it has always been a bit of a search to find someone who also likes sewing or quilting.

When we got to Texas, I met someone who was (in my eyes) a hardcore quilter. She had a bedroom devoted to her sewing! Sewing table, fabric stash, lots of block of the month fabrics, projects bagged up and separated, ready to sew. I found my person. Thanks to her I got “into” quilting a lot more.

We went to the Houston Quilt Show, and we had a blast! She had favorite quilt shops already and they were there. I was introduced to patterns specifically for fat quarters. Boom, I was done. That started my fabric stash buying – fat quarters and fq bundles.

We lived near my Mom soon after, and she recommended I buy more fabric. I started buying half yard but still bought bundles of fq’s. And the more I sewed, the more I realized I needed more fabric. I quit buying fq’s. I moved on to only buying half yards. I joined a couple of monthly fabric clubs and picked the half yard option and enjoyed building up my stash. After all those years, I am starting to wander into buying yards. I’ve moved past buying an entire collection of fabric, one half yard of each print please, and am moving to buying a yard or two of my favorite from the collection. It certainly cuts down on the spending. I am lucky to be able to order fabric from the US and have it shipped to a US address, have you seen the price of international shipping lately! Yikes!

The cotton + steel fabrics are on my radar as something I need to have. I have been looking at shops and trying to decide which I will buy. I don’t feel the pull of having an entire collection, but they are super popular and I know to buy now versus waiting while I decide. And so a few years later and I have a healthy stash.

This post by Debbie is a few months old, but in my browsing blogs and catching up I thought it was a good one for this topic of how we evolve in our fabric buying.


4 Tips for Packing To Move Overseas

We moved many times while stationed in the US. It was always easy to move because we did pretty much door-to-door moves, meaning we went from one house to another and met our stuff there. It helped that we did DITY (do it yourself) (now called PPM – personally procured moves) moves. We were in control of the schedule of when our stuff would leave and when it would show up. Moving overseas is a lot different. We had about a month between when we left California and when we were to fly overseas. We had to pack for the month on the road, but also for the time we would be living in a hotel once we got here.

Our luggage, as seen getting a ride through the San Francisco airport

1. The military offers something called an Unaccompanied Baggage shipment. That is 1000 pounds of your stuff that is said to arrive before your HHG (household goods) arrives. There is lot of information out there, advice, about moving overseas and a lot of what I read indicated that the UB shipment didn’t show up any earlier to make a difference. In some cases it showed up at the same time as the regular shipment, and it could even show up later! What is the point of sending 1000 pounds of your stuff early if it doesn’t even get to you early? Even worse, what is the point of sending it if you were going to be living in a hotel for an extended amount of time? Look online to find out what others experienced for the specific place you are going. We did not do the UB shipment, and we ended up in a hotel for 47 days. Our stuff arrived before the apartment we rented was ready to live in.

1a. Add to that, overseas posts have rental furniture you can borrow. Sure your own bed would be nice, but no bed at all would be worse! We were loaned wardrobes (homes outside of the US are very different compared to in the US. Our apartment does have a couple of closets, but not in any of the bedrooms.), a dining room table and chairs, a couch, and nightstands.

2. Make a list of clothing, and then cross items off of the list. I was not sure exactly what the weather was like as I was told European weather can change from morning to afternoon (um, just like anywhere else? LOL), so my first list was basically anything I loved to wear. Since that wouldn’t work I ended up with basics (four jeans, eight tops, three dresses, two cardigans) that I could layer and wouldn’t look like I was wearing the same thing ever day (something no one but me would notice anyway!). My list for the kids was the same, except for the youngest as he usually gets messy quicker than the older kids.

2a. Not every hotel will have an on-site laundromat! We found one a few blocks away from our hotel. Keep this in mind as you pack underthings!

3. Look up what the airline will let you bring. Often people think that all airlines will let all military members fly with an unlimited amount of luggage. This just isn’t true. We flew three separate airlines to get to out final city in France and had three sets of rules to follow. The first let us fly with an unlimited number of bags, as long as one bag didn’t weigh over 100 pounds. The next airline let us fly with four per person, as long as they weren’t over 100 pounds. The final airline let us have three per person, with a 70 pound limit. The last one was the only time we ran into trouble as we really stuffed our luggage. We were fine, we just had to redistribute the weight in the bags. We were lucky because the last airline had a separate check in area for those flying with children (because people often fly with car seats, strollers, etc.) so we didn’t hold up the regular line.

4. Remember that there will be stores wherever you are going. Sure the military can send you to out of the way places, but in general you will have access to a store with anything that you need. We ended up packing a lot more liquids than we planned on packing, because the moving company would not pack everything to ship it. We used a lot of zip lock bags in case anything spilled. And even though there are stores here, it was nice to not throw away something we already spent money on.

We ended up driving around with (and then flying with) 13 pieces of luggage, and my sewing machine, which was in its original box. We packed towels, blankets, the extra shampoo, soap, etc., in luggage that we didn’t access every time we stopped somewhere. When we did stop we only took in two or three pieces of luggage, just having enough outfits for however many days we were at each place. We visited family in three states over four weeks. Luggage is an investment that I highly recommend! A good set will last you years, well years if you get a nice guy/gal handing it if you are a frequent flyer.

Living in France without a Car

Thus far we have managed to live here without a car. At first we figured we would buy a car after crossing our fingers and hoping to find an automatic, but the extra costs associated with having a car outweighed our desire. We would have to find a place to park – either paid on the street or paid garage. Said garage would not be that close to us, which means we would have to get to the car to go anywhere, which just adds time to whatever we want to do. I did not check but I have read that car insurance here is a high cost, in addition to any car here would be a second car payment since we are still paying for our car we left in the US.

We have the tramway (right outside our door), and of course trains and planes. Any trips we are going on will be taken that way. I’m sure we’ll run into delays because that is just an inevitable thing, but we are willing to deal with that. I signed up for the train newsletters and every time a deal hits the inbox I want to go somewhere!

Living without a car is SO easy, and many people also don’t have a car. The transportation in town is good and if they go somewhere nearby they rent a car. I love that we have these options available.

Nametag Swap

I joined the Nametag Swap hosted by Rachel at House of Pinheiro, and I realized I haven’t been posting so my partner can learn more about me! I am teamed up with Jen at Tea for Two. And then I recall high school newspaper and my teacher being frustrated with me, saying that using bullet points in an article wasn’t acceptable and I knew that, so why did I do it. But in this case, when I still need to take pictures for the blog posts I have planned, seven bullet points it is -

  • I love to sew. I know how to embroider, crochet, cross stitch – but at the end of the day, I love to sew.
  • I love bright colors – when I sew. I don’t dress like I love bright colors – my wardrobe is full of dark dresses and tops.

2012-08-29 11.13.12Okay there are some exceptions. (forgive the lighting!)

  • Since moving overseas I wear cowboy boots every day. It’s like I’m in high school again! And my hair is halfway down my back, another high school throwback. I am getting a haircut as soon as I can make an appointment, but the boots won’t go away. Fashion here is far from my jeans and sneakers, but I’m not that evolved so I merely wear jeans and boots. Comfy and though I’m sure I don’t look French, I wonder if I still look super American. Probably.
  • I dress fairly conservatively so I wear flashy jewelry. I wear almost only Native American jewelry – beaded, cooper, silver, quill, etc. The majority of my jewelry is handmade by someone, maybe I know them, maybe not. I do wear other jewelry not specifically Native though! I just love jewelry in general I suppose.

2012-08-28 08.05.48 2012-08-30 18.15.10 2012-09-01 16.29.14

  • I have just as many WIPs as I do finished projects. Since moving here, I have easily seven quilt tops – to be honest I haven’t counted. I am quick to start a new project without finishing, to get the idea out of my head, to cut the fabric to have it ready to sew.
  • I love binge watching tv. We gave up on conventional cable when we moved to Pebble Beach over a year ago. Moving overseas we do subscribe, but of course it’s in French – which is great because we need to learn, etc. – but the truth is we don’t watch much of it. We have Netflix and Hulu and watch a show a night when we are interested in catching up on a show we forgot about (Revolution!), and I have a few tv shows on DVD to watch/listen to while sewing. Grey’s Anatomy is a favorite, but sometimes I fall back on oldies like Friends or yes I admit it, Dawson’s Creek.
  • I love to read. If I love a book, I will stay up late to finish and focus on only reading it. If I don’t love a book though, I’m quick to toss it to the side. We left so many of our books behind, in storage. We have ordered some from Amazon here and there, and I have yet to jump on the e-reader bandwagon. Books and magazines may take a lot of space but I’ve always been okay with that.

And with that, I am off to take pictures of a quilt back I finished, and another quilt top I finished, and a bag I made, and whatever WIPs I have covering my sewing and cutting table! My room, it is a mess.