Monday, April 14, 2014

Spring Greets Carl Larsson at the Petit Palais!

Sorry about the delay in a post. We've been a bit busy and the weather has been just gorgeous here.  So, that means a little less time indoors and more outside. But not to fear, I took my handy dandy camera.

A little bit ago, Mr. K and I looked out our window and saw that the courtyard tree had blossomed, so we decided we'd go to Paris for the afternoon. See what we could make of it.

So pretty! It's an ornamental plum tree.
Of course, once we got there, we had to stop by our favorite place, Bertie's Cupcakery, for a snack
I got Strawberry Lemonade and he got Red Velvet.
The weather was too fine not to enjoy them in a park, which is exactly what we did before heading along the Seine to see anything that struck our fancy. (Lazy strolling days are the best.)

Like this, for instance!

A duo playing Jonny Cash songs on a bridge. So funny to hear Folsom Prison Blues in Paris.

And this:
A garden boat!
But the best of all was when we discovered that the Petit Palais was doing an exposition on Carl Larsson!

I may have been a little excited. You see, my family has Swedish roots (my great grandmother was Swedish and we still have cousins over there) and my grandpop was very proud of it. I was given a set of mugs for college that showcased this artist's work and we just had to go.

We'd never been into the Petit Palais (Little Palace) before so it was a first for both of us.

As you can see, it was gorgeous. Cool thing about it? It's free to wander and look around in. You have to pay for the special exhibits, but you are very much allowed to enter, check out the art, and go into the gardens for free.

After getting our tickets for Carl Larsson, we headed downstairs and waited to be let into the rooms. I took some pics of the wall panels while we were waiting.

I never knew that Larsson came to Paris to paint and show off his stuff.
Makes sense as he was an artist during the Impressionist period.

Ah, Sweden.
When we got into the rooms, the amount of paintings on the walls blew me away. You could clearly see how much the French Impressionist painting influenced him. Some works looked like a Monet. And then, he broke away and focused on his watercolors and drawings which we know and love today.

This is the only shot of the inside. I was promptly told by the guard that photos were forbidden after I took this. In my defense, there were no signs to indicate that it wasn't allowed (I always check and I never use flash). Oh well, at least he allowed me to keep the photo.

Let me assure you, Larsson was already high on my list of painters I liked, but now, I can proudly say that he is my absolute favorite. His way with watercolors and subjects (He liked to paint his home and family) is wonderful. Mr. K liked it a whole lot too. We couldn't get enough of them and we were sad, when at the end of an hour and a half of looking through the expo, we found there were no more works to see. But that's alright.

We have the mugs at home which we brought with us when we moved to France.

After the expo we walked around the rest of the Palais, but decided that we just wanted to see the gardens and maybe get a cup of tea. So on we went to find their cafe.

So glad we did. It was just heavenly with the afternoon sun and a slight chill in the air. (The museum was very hot.  They hadn't cut off the heaters yet.)

We managed to squeeze into the cafe before they stopped serving for the day (yay!) and then strolled around the pavilion. On the ceiling of the rotunda were gorgeous gilded paintings. I think we may have been the only people actually looking up. The pictures don't do it justice.

I took one look back before we quitted the gardens. A truly gorgeous place. *happy sigh*

We weren't quite finished with our day then, so we decided to hop the metro from Les Invalides and go to Le Jardin du Luxembourg for a stroll before heading home.
From the Petit Palais, you cross the Pont d'Alexandre III (one of my favorite bridges in Paris).

The gold horse statue is the beginning of the bridge and the big building is the Grand Palais, where they do large art exhibits. One day we'll go there too.
From this bridge, you get a nice view.

Just one of my favorite shots. *smile*

And then, voila! We were in Luxembourg Gardens!
Everyone was out and about. This is a classic Paris afternoon when it's fine weather.
We had heard that there was a mini Statue of Liberty located somewhere in the gardens, so we went on a scavenger hunt to find it.

Lo and behold, there she was, in the very back, amidst the trees.

It only took us half an hour to find her. Hehehe. But, it was definitely the perfect day for it.

Mr. K heartily agreed.

After that, both of us tired and hungry, we hopped onto the RER B and headed home. It's so nice being so close to Paris.

Anyway, Until next time!


Monday, March 24, 2014

Granada! (i.e, Birthday trip part three, the end of the trilogy)

Hi again,

So, I thought it might be a good idea to finish up the birthday blogging before Mr. K turns 30. Wouldn't be nice to have warring birthday blogs...

Then again...

Nah. He's spared. Just this once.

Anyway, the last time I left you from my trip to Spain in February, we had spent the night in Abrucena  and had awoken to the sound of church bells ringing in another glorious day. What luck we had!

So, after eating the remainder of the birthday cake for breakfast, we headed out again. This time, our destination was Granada.

Along the way we passed the Sierra Nevada and maybe a few castles in the distance. This was one of my favorite shots from the back seat.
Love the Spanish castle!
We got to Granada and parked. Note to those travelling in Granada by car, there are quite a few taxi lanes and bus lanes where cars are forbidden to go. Keep an eye out for the non-existant signs and try your best to follow the locals, which strangely enough look like taxis too. Better yet, ignore the GPS and just go on instinct (like we did) and you'll survive. Parking garages are your friend.

We decided to just meander and see where Granada would take us as we walked to find lunch. Here are some of the shots from our walk.
I have no idea what building this is, but I loved the architecture and the really cool street lights.

This is a plaza where there is a statue of a burro and a man. It was pretty neat.
 I liked all the buildings as it gave you that old world feel.

This is very typical tile work of Granada.
Blue and green are my favorite colors, by the way, so this was a definite must-have photo.

An alley way off the beaten path, which actually was the beaten path due to the amount of tourist shops.
The carvings were really cool though.

We came to a plaza of the large church. With the warm sun, all the musicians were out. 

This guy was really good.
 I love street shots, so when I saw the buildings and the nice old-style lamps, I seized the chance.

After all that sightseeing, we had worked up quite an appetite. So Mr. and Mrs. F took us to a great spot for falafel in a wrap. Delish! While we were eating, flamenco dancers set up 100m from us. If it weren't for the large folded umbrellas of the establishment, we would have had the perfect view. As it was, we had fun watching the umbrella come to life with the dancer's hand motions and feet tapping. Good times, good times.
The nice view and the top of the offending umbrella.
 We payed and headed out. The main plaza in Granada was just lovely. Here you can see a nice church tower and up on the hill is the Alhambra.

Just look at that tile work on the church tower!

We decided to walk along the little river before heading up to see the Alhambra.
 Turning right, we were greeted with our next stop, the gardens of the Alhambra.

Unfortunately, the ticket to see the inside of the Alhambra had a month long waiting list, so that was why we opted to see the exterior, and frankly, it was well worth the 7 euros!

Let's not forget that it was almond blossom time. Such gorgeous flowers.
 In the midst of the Moorish architecture, there was the palace of Carlos the fifth. He basically turned his nose up at keeping with the architecture and built a square palace with a round courtyard. Needless to say, his creation fits like a square peg in a round hole.

The Moorish influence was just beautiful.

And we got to go up the tower of the Alhambra. The view from up top was phenomenal.

 We managed to get in and see the meditation gardens and still water pools before they closed for the day.

Love the carving!


Our lovely hosts, Mr. and Mrs. F

Just a fun picture
To end the wonderful trip, we stopped off at a great bakery called Hicuri.
They had the best chocolate cake I've ever tasted and it was made with almond milk. Also, highly recommend the almond milk Cafe Bombon.
You'll be in heaven on a decadent cloud.
Thus we ended our trip and all headed back to Almeria. The last day in Almeria was not great weather for sightseeing (rainy and cold) but we had a nice time with our host and got a chance to take one last stroll on the boardwalk. We stopped into a cafe when the dark and foreboding rain clouds came in and then as we were sipping the last drops from our cups of tea, we got a chance to watch an amazing sunset, with the surf crashing gently on the shore.

Not a shabby way to end a trip, I say. Spain will remain a wonderful part of my memory and I highly recommend a visit when you can make it. It doesn't have to just be for a milestone birthday, although that makes it fun too.

Until next time,

Friday, March 14, 2014

Happy Pi(e) Day!!!

Hi everyone!
I was waiting to do this entry until Pi Day (which actually only works if you think of the date the American way, as in 03/14.) Sorry my European friends!

Anyway, how does one celebrate this fantastic day? Well, some discuss the meaning of pi. Some throw those pastries around, but in our household, it is a tradition to bake a pi(e) and savor it slowly while possibly contemplating how cool it is that an awesome celebration such as this just happens to fall on Einstein's birthday.

Coincidence? I think not. He was probably a big fan of the pastry if I had to guess.

So, why all this lead up? Because I made a pie for Pi Day and I'm gonna share it with you!

Sour Cream Raspberry Pie

Here's the round up:
Only five ingredients: crust, flour, raspberries, sour cream, and sugar.
I bought my pie crust this year, because I have yet to make a decent one with the French flour. Just not to my liking. If you are making this in France, you want a pâte brisée.

Sprinkle the bottom of the pie crust with 2 tablespoons of flour like so:
Try to get it all around

Spread it out so it looks like this:

Then you're going to add four cups of  raspberries right on top, this way.
Tumbling berries always make me smile.

Got your raspberries? Check!

You'll want to try to make the pile as flat as possible. Feel free to shuffle the berries around to suit your taste.

Mmmm....raspberries. Let's take a closer look at them, shall we?

Righty-O. Onto the next step. Sour Cream. If you're lactose intolerant, this may not be the best recipe for you. I'm not sure what you could substitute in for this one...

If you live in the United States, this is an easy thing to find. I had to substitute this ingredient with the French likeness, otherwise known as crème fraîche. For all purposes, it works, most of the time. It's a little sweeter than the tangy cream I'm used to in the USA. That said, the sweetness of the cream will work in our favor for this recipe.

Pour 1 cup of sour cream over the raspberries.
"You can light up a room with a dollop, a dollop, of Daisy..."

Ah, commercials from my youth!

Now, your pie might look like this.
Just look at that texture!

But, what it needs to look like is this.

This is where your creativity and art classes from childhood are going to pay off. And, you're going to have so much fun pushing around the cream, smushing the raspberries, and creating swirls that you might forget what your next step is.

Ah hem.

Sugar! Three tablespoons to be exact.

I chose three instead of two because I added about a half cup more raspberries than the recipe called for and my sour cream was less than a cup. You can always add less if you like a tangier, tarter pie.

One last look before we put it in the oven.
Holy Sweetness, Batman! That looks great!

Put it in the oven, preheated to 375 F (190 C ) normal heating, no convection fan, for 30-40 minutes until it's golden brown and bubbling. Then pull it out and set it to cool.

Et voilà! Your Sour Cream Raspberry Pie is ready for Pi Day!

Enjoy warm or chilled. Alone or with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream over top.

Let the festivities commence!

Until next time,

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