Monday, June 29, 2009

Drawing Classes: Take Two

I just found someone to take drawing lessons from in Provo. I signed up. I think this time it will go much better than it did last time.



Why is that, you ask?



1) It will be in English.

2) It won't take me an hour to get there.

3) It will be in Engligh and it won't take me an hour to get there.

My lessons start on the 16th--can't wait!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Institute Closing Social

This past Saturday was the Institute closing social. They handed out the diplomas, we ate Mexican food (yes!), and then we danced all night. Well, until 11, because it takes everyone at least an hour to get home...

But they also had a little "portrait" area where Sylvain, one of the great Institute teachers, took pictures of everyone. I thought it was a great idea, and I loved the frame that they brought as a prop.









Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Filipino Recipes

Last Saturday a Filipino couple in my ward taught an international cooking class to the Relief Society (we had a Thai class a few weeks before that).

Here are the recipes we tried (they were all delicious!).

Beef Afritada
Ingredients:
-1 kilo beef
-1 medium to large carrot
-3 potatoes
-1 green bell pepper
-1 can green peas (or the equivalent in thawed frozen or fresh peas)
-5 cloves garlic
-1 onion
-1 cup grated cheddar cheese
-beef broth as needed

I don't have the directions, so I'm guessing it goes something like this: Brown the garlic and onions. Add the potatoes. Add the carrots. Add everything else. Cook. Enjoy. (Yeah, I'll have to get back to you on this...) I do remember, though, that they boiled the beef separately before cooking, and then they just added it towards the end so it could soak up some of the flavors. That way it is much more tender.

Chicken Adobo
Ingredients:
-1 kilo of medium-sized bone-in chicken parts (legs, thighs, wings, whatevah)
-5 cloves garlic
-1 onion
-1/2 cup special filipino soy sauce (you can use regular soy sauce if you don't have a store where you can find filipino products)
-1/4 cup vinegar (any kind except basalmic, I think they said. I think they used red wine vinegar)
-1 tsp. pepper

Brown garlic and onion. Add everything else, cook until done.

Chicken Curry
Ingredients:
-1 kilo chicken, sliced into 1 by 2 inch strips (roughly)
-grated ginger (maybe 1/3 cup? they didn't write how much down as a part of the recipe)
-1 onion
-1 can coconut milk
-1 cup chicken broth
-1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
-1 tsp. cumin
-1 tsp. turmeric
-1 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. pepper
-1 tsp. chili oil or hot sauce
-1 tsp. ground cinnamon
-1 tsp. dry mustard (yellow)

Brown onion, add ginger. Add everything else, cook until done.

I know. It's very precise. Regardless, they were ALL really delicious, so if any of them sound good to you, maybe try searching for more exact recipes on a recipe database site. Or just Google "Chicken Adobo."

Enjoy. 'Cause I sure did. Yum.

Monday, June 22, 2009

YSA Activity in Versailles

Les JA (YSA's) from the Paris-East stake got together about a month ago for an activity. It was fun--a singing competition (Rock Band style, but minus the band--I don't know what the games are called that just involve the singing aspect) and dinner.

It was fun--and sweaty after everyone started dancing and singing.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Found in Front of the Pompidou Center

I saw a couple of these little color wheels painted onto the ground in front of the Pompidou Center.



In the center is the PC's logo, cemented into the ground like a cobble stone.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Yum.

I ate this at the Jardin de Luxembourg.


By this fountain.

That's one thing I'll definitely miss--grabbing a bite to eat and enjoying one of many great parks in Paris.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Right Now...

I'm probably eating Cafe Rio.

And panicking that I'm going to have to start driving my car again. I'm afraid I'm going to run over someone by accident. Is that weird?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

All My Bags Are Packed... I'm Ready to Go

'Cause I'm leeeeeeeaviiiin' on a jet plaaaaane, don't know when I'll be back again.

Goodbye Paris. Hope to see you SOON.



If everything is running on schedule and as planned (i.e., my flight isn't cancelled), I should be in the air right now.

See you on the other side. (of the Atlantic.)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sunset over the Seine


Anti-Advertisement

I saw this on a rolling billboard on the Champs Elysees.

It says "Life--What a Beautiful Product. Let's Limit Advertising!!!"
I thought the bar code was kind of clever. It took me a minute to figure out what it was. At first I thought it was just random lines, but as I understood the meaning of the message, that bar code leapt right out at me.

In my grammar class, one of the articles we read and discussed talked about the opposing sides of the advertising debate in France (and maybe elsewhere... I don't really know if there are "anti-advertising" groups in the US). Francois BRUNE, who is very much against advertising, wrote an article called (roughly) "Advertising: Watch out for the Trap" in which he presents the arguments of those who are for advertising, and then argues against each item.

The article was only a page long, but there was one concept that really resonated pretty deeply with me. I've thought about it a lot while I've been in France. He talked about how every one of us has to find our "vie authentique," or our authentic way of living. It shouldn't be about what "everyone else" has, or whether something is the newest, miggest, most tricked-out model of something. It should be about whether having that item--or lifestyle, or way of dressing--is really you, or if you're being influenced by advertising.

Personally, I don't really care about limiting advertising. I know I'm influenced by it, but I feel like that's more of a personal thing. If I really hate that I'm so influenced by advertising, then maybe the best approcah would be to sit down and study it so I can pick advertising apart when I see it, rather than responding emotionally to it.

Thoughts?

Meow

Hello Kitty strawberry ice cream, anyone?




I know. You can make fun of me. It's okay. It was actually pretty good.

My French Grammar Classes

took place here.


Just down the street you'll find Notre Dame.


Right next door is this great park. I spent a lot of time in that park.


Ahhhh, Paris. I miss you already.

T Minus 28 Hours

I'll be headed out to the airport around one tomorrow afternoon. My flight doesn't leave until seven, but I have three suitcases to check, which means I'll have to not only check in, but actually pay fees. The cost of checking one extra suitcase with both Air France and Delta is about what it would cost me to ship all of the stuff home. But instead of taking a month or so to get there, I'm banking on having it a couple of days after I get home.

Look at me being all optimistic--I'm working on the assumption that at some point all or part of my luggage will get lost. I'm just bracing myself so that I don't crumble in the middle of JFK or the Salt Lake airport when I don't see my suitcases.

Air France lost one of my bags when I arrived in Paris, and they lost ALL of Amy's luggage when she arrived. Let's keep our fingers crossed that it was just a fluke.

It's also going to take me forever to get my suitcases to the ground floor of my apartment--the elevator broke this week.

(Everyone just keep your fingers crossed for me--maybe the elevator will be fixed by tomorrow).

Sunday, June 14, 2009

38/101 - Cooking Terms, Tips, and Tools

#38 on my list of 101 Things to do before December 6, 2011 is:

Learn 100 new cooking terms/tips/tools.

I learned a new term/process yesterday. It's a bain-marie. Which I guess can either be a double-boiler-type item, or just a simple process of dumping a container filled with food into water to be boiled and therefore cooking whatever the contents are without actually exposing them to the water.

This is how I heated a package of pre-cooked quinoa, spelt, lentils, and red beans I bought at a health food store by the Hotel de Ville. On the package it said to cook by bain marie, and showed a pot of boiling water with the pouch floating inside.

So. There's one term. Only 99 to go.

So, how about some help. What is your favorite cooking word, helpful tip, or appliance/utensil that you would hate to live without?

Mother's Day Flower

I got a peony at the end of Sacrament Meeting last Sunday, because I am a future mother and it was Mother's Day in France on the 7th.



I'm relatively certain I missed US Mother's Day. That makes me kind of lame.

Giving peonies makes my ward really cool, though. Peonies. Not carnations, and not even roses, but beautiful, beautiful peonies.

I'm also a fan of ranunculus,

Anemone,

and Poppies.




What are your favorite flowers?






Peony photo = me. Other photos all from him.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

American Food in Paris

So, sometimes during my stay in Paris I just felt like it was time for some food that didn't require me to think too hard or translate the menu too much. I wanted something familiar, easy, and laid back.

Enter Happy Days Diner.

Just behind the Place Saint Michel on rue Francisque Gay, it's a 50's-style diner offering American classics like burgers, fries, onion rings, and sundaes. And a bottle of Heinz 57 on each and every table.

The food is similar to what you might find at Iceberg drive-in in Utah. No one's throwing awards around, but it's tasty enough if you've got kids who are looking for something "normal" to eat in Paris, but you just can't bring yourself to go to McDonald's.

I also really love the decor.





Yep. That was a Coke with lemon.

Paris "Drinking" Fountains

In Paris, you will have a rough time finding drinking fountains. I have only seen one. Ever. It's in the place Saint Michel on the north side, towards the river.

But unless you're planning to spend all of your time hanging out by Place Saint Michel, having access to water is helpful (without having to pay for a new bottle every time).

Save Money. Use fewer plastic bottles. Refill your own bottle at one of these lovely fountains.

They are all over the city, and they are (warning: information received from an unreliable source) supposedly the only fountains in the world where the water flows straight down rather than bubbling out of the top and then trickling down.

So, rather than experiencing what my father did (buying a 1 Euro bottle of water, only to find it was an unsealed bottle that the vendor had probably picked out of the trash and refilled), or going without water until your next meal, just make a pit stop every now again by the green fountains o' plenty.


You're welcome.

I'll try to get a full-fountain shot on here so you've got a better idea of what you're looking for... but for the time being, this is all I've got.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Prague (and pictures galore)

Let's forget that about two seconds after we crossed the border into the Czech Republic we got stopped by the "police" (to this day I am convinced they were paramedics), who told us we didn't have the proper decal in our window to be driving on Czech highways (which is true). So, Mom went into the gas station we were stopped for lunch and bought one. That wasn't good enough, however, so they sweeped us clean of Euros, after first threatening to impound our rental car.

Lame.

For about 6 hours after that, I was pretty much convinced that everyone we met in the country would try to cheat us, and I was convinced I would never go back to the horribly corrupt place--ever.

Well, it's still not likely that I'll go back any time soon unless I'm with someone who speaks Czech, or unless I go by train. That whole encounter with the "cops" turned me off of driving in the CR forever.

So, annoying parts aside... Prague is spectacular! There is quite a bit of communist-era architecture (a.k.a. boring and run-down buildings), but there are also a lot of colorful and beautiful buildings--especially around the older parts of town where all of the tourist sites are.

I'm not going to caption all of the pictures, because there are just too many (over 80). So I'll group them together by topic or place and just let you look. If I feel the need to comment on a certain picture, I will. But really, mostly the captions would read, "I thought this was pretty, don't you?"

Sound good?


These were all taken in the main square, where they were having an Easter Market and festival.





They had a little guest book that people could sign and write comments about their visit to the city and the festival.


The famous clock.






This sculpture was in front of the Opera. I love it, and I especially liked the way the sunset glowed through, highlighting all of the letters and characters.

Prague Castle, just before the sun disappeared completely.



More Art Nouveau (there's also another great art Nouveau building in Prague that you'll see below).









The Charles Bridge was being worked on...


Views from the bridge...













The building below was the home of some noble or royal family, and was across the plaza from the Archbishop's residence, just outside the palace complex.





Above is the Archbishop's residence.

There is an Eiffel Tower replica (1/5 the regular size) just over this hill. Not worth the trip around the hill, but kind of funny anyway.


Musicians outside the palace gates. They were very talented.
I love the mustache.




The cathedral in the castle complex.




I thought the stained glass in this cathedral was really interesting. For example, contrasting the above picture and this one just below... it looks like the one below is machine-made. I really like it, regardless, but the style is just so different it made me wonder. I really liked the stained glass in this cathedral in general, because there were a lot of really bright colors. More than what I had seen almost anywhere except maybe Sainte-Chappelle



The national saint, Saint John of Nepomuk's tomb is housed in the cathedral in the castle complex. It is made up of several tons of silver, apparently.













This entrance to the cathedral has a mosaic representing the resurrection and last judgement.


Into the Museum of Arms and Armor!





I love this He-Man style armor...


And this ensemble is kind of creepy to me, actually. "Watch it, or I'll gauge your eyes out with my steel beak."

After the Arms and Armor museum (it was tiny, so didn't take too long), we saw the tower housing the torture instruments. My stomach churns just looking at them.
A Spanish Boot.


The Rack.
(I was going to link to descriptions of these two devices on Wikipedia, but if you want to know more, look them up yourself. The Spanish Boot description almost made me throw up.)


Lovely Amy, sitting for a minute as we walked through the gardens just below the castle wall.



I would live there. In that actual house. Wouldn't you? (If you look closely, you can see a nice table and chairs next to the little pond. Hmm. I would eat lunch outside every day if I had a yard like that).


Okay, I don't know which church this was, but it has to be one of my least favorite churches ever. It's way too ornate for my taste, and there is too much mauve faux-marble (really, if you're going to paint the columns and archways to look like marble, did you have to pick mauve?)








However, unlike some people, my lack of appreciation didn't actually lead me to vandalism...

Back in the square at the Easter Market, there was a man weaving on a loom. It was fascinating to watch. I bought two bags from him. (Hooray for handmade!)







There was also a blacksmith making door bells. (Actual bells... very cool.)
You could also buy half of a pig to eat for dinner.
Okay, not really. They took those off the spit and divided them into smaller chunks.
We passed on the chunk o' pig and went for sausage made from pig instead.
Yum.
They also sold really yummy mini-churro-like treats in bags like French Fries. They were great, as well. Carnival food... it may vary depending on where you are, but it's never healthy.
Just off the square is the famous astrological clock. It's really beautiful, and we watched it "perform" a couple of times. Still pictures don't to it justice, though, so I'll have to see if someone in the fam has some video footage.


Wenceslas Square (FULL of history and great architecture)





There is another area of the city where you can see several different styles of architecture right next to each other at an intersection. I loved seeing the varying styles right next to and across from each other.






I don't know why, but I LOVE the building pictured just above. I think I really like the strong geometric forms and the simplicity. But, that being said, I also really love the Art Nouveau building above as well (the stained glass and metal work, at least).
The Jewish Cemetery was amazing--there were so many people to be buried generation after generation that they kept bringing in more earth and sort of created "layers" of the cemetery, always moving the gravestones up to the top layer, of course. So it looks incredibly crowded. Which it is. But it's also very peaceful and solemn.

I had seen small pebbles left on all of the Holocaust memorials in the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris, and didn't understand it. Our guidebook explained a little, but I don't trust myself to explain it correctly, so here are a couple of brief explanations of the practice of leaving small pebbles on the headstones.
























The cemetery is the only place in all of the Jewish sites where photography was allowed. So I don't have pictures of anything else, but here is what I will say:
The church right by the cemetery where all of the exported Jews' names are painted on the walls, the cemetery itself, and the Spanish Synagogue were the most interesting parts of the Jewish Quarter, in my opinion. There was so much information and so many items to see in the other locations that I just sort of skimmed over them (being a bit museum-ed out at this point in our vacation). If you have the time and want to learn more about Jewish culture and religion, these museums and synagogues would all be a great resource.


Another church. Don't remember which one.





Prauge Castle in the early evening.


So, that's it for Prague. I hope the pictures helped you get a glimpse of the city. It really is very beautiful, easy to get around, and everyone we met (our pseudo-policemen aside) was very nice. Speaking Czech would still help, though. :)