Saturday, November 29, 2014

European Vacation--Day 2 Paris

After a fantastic breakfast in the hotel (coffee, oj, smoked bacon, grilled tomatoes, fresh fruit, and a croissant), we headed out of Paris to Versailles.  It was providential we came into Versailles just before the ceremony for the laying of the wreaths at their Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in observance of the end of World War I (our Veteran's Day).  We stayed for the ceremony and then made our way to the Palace of Versailles.

Versailles is absolutely stunning.  We enjoyed the tour of the various rooms and strolled through the gardens and visited the Trianon palaces.  What a blessing the palaces were not gutted and destroyed during the revolution.  They are a real French national treasure worthy of preservation and admiration.

After a late lunch of extremely delicious crepes we went back into Paris to see Sainte Chapelle.  The stained glass was amazing!  Unfortunately, much of the chapel is being restored and so we were unable to see it in its full glory.

We decided to try the Eiffel Tower again.  The lines were much shorter but it still took a very long time to make our way to the summit via elevators.  It was after dark by the time we reached the top and we had beautiful views of Paris all lit up.  The lines back down the tower were quite backed up so we took the stairs, around 1700 steps from the summit to the ground.  Obviously taking the stairs down is much easier than taking them up, but that is still quite a lot of stairs!

Tombs of Unknown Soldiers in Versailles

French Military Band

Louis XIV outside the Palace of Versailles

First Gate at Versailles Palace

Interior gate at Versailles Palace

The beautiful royal chapel inside the palace

An example of the larger than life artworks throughout the palace

Statuary inside the Versailles

I love this marble bust.  I've never seen this type of marble work before in which a bust is carved of Porfyry stone and then an overlay of another type of marble is set in place.  

I loved this ceiling artwork.  At first glance it looks like a relief sculpture, then you realize it is a painting made to appear like a relief.  So amazing!

Every ceiling is an absolute masterpiece.

The famed Hall of Mirrors in Versailles

This marble sculpture and standing chandelier are worth more than our entire house.

The back of the palace leading to the thousands of acres of gardens and fountains.  Unfortunately, none of the fountains were running.  That would have been a site in itself.

A beautiful living chrysanthemum flower sculpture in the Trianon plaza.

Lil' Lamb loved his sugar crepe.

The main altar and stained glass of Sainte Chapelle

Chandeliers and stained glass of Sainte Chapelle

The grand stained glass of Sainte Chapelle

An example of the beautiful and elaborate frescos inside Sainte Chapelle

Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower.  Unfortunately, I was not able to get a shot of the tower lit up.  Perhaps another time.

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

European Vacation--Day 1 Paris

We hit the ground running.  Wingnut is a firm believer one can conquer jet lag if one just stays awake and keeps going.  To give him credit, he is right.  What has affectionately been dubbed "The Mayerle Death March" really works.

Sacre Coeur was an impressive sight emerging from the crowded streets of Montmartre.  The rock stair up to the church takes you to a height with a wonderful view of the city below.  It was a gray, overcast, and cool afternoon.

As we entered the church we were greeted by the sweet sounds of Carmelite nuns singing the opening hymn for daily mass.  We decided to stay for a mass that was celebrated beautifully in French.

The church, itself, is absolutely beautiful--combining Romanesque and Byzantine styles.  Photos are not allowed inside, and unfortunately, not many tourists cared for the rules and were being constantly reprimanded by the ushers and docents.  The church's primary interior feature is a beautiful mosaic of the Sacred Heart, surrounded by various saints and popes who had historically promoted the devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Notre Dame is another beautiful church, and probably more famous than Sacre Couer as it has featured prominently in French history and literature.  The rosette stained glass windows and a beautiful altar piece in the style of the Pieta are of particular beauty and notice.

The Chapel of the Miraculous Medal is down a quiet alley, known as Rue de Bac and was fairly free of tourists as it is more a place of pilgrimage for Catholics.  The chapel is small, but lovely and contains the remains of St. Louise de Marilac and St. Catherine Laboure, as well as a relic of St. Vincent de Paul.  We stayed for the rosary and a sweet nun directed us to a closed off, sound proof part of the balcony.

Our final stop for our first day was the Eiffel Tower, with which the boys were most impressed.  Due to extremely long lines, we saved going to the top for another day.

The busy streets of Montmartre

Sacre Coeur 

Sacre Coeur in black and white

Notre Dame

Notre Dame in black and white

Notre Dame detail

Notre Dame detail

Quiet Rue de Bac 

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower

The boys beneath the tower

Evidence of my long awaited trip to Paris

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

European Vacation--Travel Day

You may or may not have noticed the complete lack of blog posts here for the last three weeks.  I was keeping a secret.  Wingnut, Wingnut Jr., Lil' Lamb and I just returned from a 10 day trip to Paris, Rome, and Milan.  We've been planning this trip for months, and I can't believe it is already over!  It was absolutely wonderful.

For the next couple of weeks, my blog posts will be my journal entries from the trip and lots and lots of photos.  I was in photographer heaven.

November 9/10

--Travel Day

We were up and out the door by 4:30 am.  This was Lil' Lamb's first time flying and he was pretty excited (we were a bit nervous).  He did really well from Spokane to Seattle and he continued to be quite the trooper from Seattle to Chicago.  Of course, having an iPad along helped immensely.  He and Wingnut Jr. slept about 3 hours on the flight from Chicago to Paris.

As we flew into Paris, the sun was just rising.  We had a beautiful sunrise to start our first day in Europe.  We quickly cleared customs, grabbed our bags, withdrew some Euros and hired a taxi to take us to our hotel.  As it is low season for tourism in Europe, we were able to check into our room at 9:30m am.  We stayed at the Hilton in La Defense, which was extremely lovely and convenient to the Metro (there was a train station right under the hotel).  We showered, changed our clothes and purchased our 3 day passes for the Paris Metro.

Lil' Lamb was raring to go at 4:30 am.  We were in for a loooooooong day, but he and Wingnut Jr. were super troopers.

He may not look it, but he is actually smiling in this photo.  What a goof!  He did wonderfully on the three flights--1, 3, and 9 hours each.

Sunrise over Paris.

The view from our hotel, which was inside a huge upscale shopping mall and above a Metro station.

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} November 6

round button chicken


I run by this lone, bare tree a few times a week and I've had plans to photograph it.  I'd just been waiting for a more interesting sky before shooting.  I finally took my opportunity and pulled over the car on our way past, hopped out and snapped away.  My kids think I'm crazy. 

Here is the same photo in color.  I love the drama of B&W, but this one really shows how lovely the blue sky was that day.


The skiers are ecstatic.  There is snow on the mountains at last.  We'll need quite a bit more than this smattering before ski season can start, but just seeing some snow makes them happy.


My boys on Halloween evening.  I have no idea what the little one was doing.  He is the biggest ham.

I mean, really, what is this expression?  What a goof.


I am so grateful I joined the 365 day photography challenge.  I have really learned so much from shooting every day and it has pushed me to find beauty and interest in things I would never have considered before.  Even with everything withered and faded, I am amazed at the beauty still on display in God's creation.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Without an Oven to Bake in

When we purchased this home in 2011, it came equipped with appliances not of my choosing and I have lamented the fact from day one.  First of all, they are all stainless steel, and let me tell you, stainless steel appliances are of the devil!  They are constantly smudged with little fingerprints and have been etched by who knows what.  They are impossible to clean and keep clean.  I have been biding my time until I can replace them.

The worst of our appliances is our Kitchenaid range/oven.  It was purchased by the previous owners in 2010 and has been an absolute dud for us.  We've had it repaired at least 4 times in the three years we've owned it.  People, this is a $4500 top-of-the-line appliance and not one I would have ever considered purchasing myself.  I've loved having a gas range, and for what it's worth, that part of the piece of junk has worked just fine.  The oven, on the other hand, has had the blower motor replaced and I can't remember what other repairs.  At the beginning of October I preheated the oven to bake bread.  The display indicated it was heated to the proper temp, but when I opened the door to pop some bread in to bake, I could tell it was no where close to being 450 degrees.  If you bake as often as we do, you get to know how 450 degrees really feels.  I immediately called to have service performed.  Boy, are we glad we purchased a service agreement on this lemon.

Of course, it was over a week before the repair folks could make it out here and then he was only here to diagnose and then order the needed part, which ended up being the bottom element.  The part usually takes a week to arrive, which thankfully it did arrive on time.  Our repairman was out here on Friday to replace the element but found he was going to need the help of a second technician.  Second technician was dispatched and the two mused and mulled over the problem of replacing the element.

Now, Wingnut and I have replaced an element ourselves on a past oven.  It is usually a fairly common, inexpensive, and simple repair.  Oh, no, not on this range.  For some inexplicable reason, Kitchenaid decided to build the element into the frame of the oven, completely inaccessible to your average home owner and in this case also completely inaccessible to service technicians.  I could hear the techs speaking to the corporate repair headquarters and I heard corporate tell our tech the element on this oven is "non-serviceable".  You've got to be kidding!  The poor guys put our oven back together and apologized, but my oven cannot be repaired.  Can anyone explain to us why we then have a 5 year factory warranty on the element to begin with????

As of Saturday, the Whirlpool Corporation has our case under review and have promised to get back to us in 7-10 business days with a possible offer for a pro-rated replacement.  In the meantime, we are still without an oven.  I am telling you, I will not accept a pro-rated replacement of this oven model.  First of all, I would have never purchased an oven that was $4500.  I'm certainly not going to put down even half that for a replacement.  I am hoping they will offer us a cash settlement.  I already have my new all gas range/oven picked out.  It is not a Kitchenaid or a Whirlpool and it is only $1500.  We are just now hoping for a settlement in time for Thanksgiving.  Otherwise we may be grilling our bird this year. Print Friendly and PDF

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pumpkins and Costumes

I'm a bit late posting these photos from Halloween, but I've been unable to access the computer lately.  Noodlehead's laptop had a bad hard drive and Wingnut has spent the better part of the last 4 days fixing and then replacing it for her, which meant he needed our computer to back-up and reinstall all her software and files.  It was an arduous process!

This year we grew our own pumpkins in our garden.  We ended up with 10 good sized carving pumpkins and the kids were thrilled to have their pick of the harvest.  I loved seeing the kids' creative spirit as they searched the internet for the templates they wanted to use.

Skoshi A spread her carving wings and found the coolest Smaug template.

Special K ended up designing her own template for her Ninjago-lantern.

Wingnut Jr. did all the tracing for his Storm Trooper

Lil' Lamb just smiled and posed with his Minion.

We saved all the seeds and soaked them overnight in a saltwater solution.  The next morning I drained, drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with McCormick's Mediterranean Salt and Spice blend and roasted them.  They were delicious!  While the seeds soaked, the girls and I noticed the cool pattern the seeds arranged themselves in and I had to snap a quick shot.

It's hard to believe we only have two kiddos still young enough to dress up for Trick-or-Treating!  They were awful cute as a Ninjago ninja and Clone Trooper.

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