Archive for June, 2012

Flying Visit

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Sincere apologies everyone. I have been particularly slack with my entries lately due to many factors – mostly just laziness. But I have been very busy with weddings, family visits, trips to Spain and then packing my bag once again to fly home to Australia. I am currently filling in time before I venture to the airport to stand in lines and wait and wait and wait until I can then get on a plane and wait and wait and wait some more. What fun awaits!!

I am heading home for two and a half weeks to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday. It isn’t every day that someone special turns the big Nine-Zero so a plane flight across the world is worth it. However I am currently wishing teleportation had been developed to a much greater extent so that I could avoid the next 24 hours. I should probably stop complaining and be grateful that it is possible for me to fly home… Nar.

So a quick catch up on things I promised I’d write to you about but never have.

Did I find a dress?

The answer to whether or not my shopping adventures before my cousin’s wedding resulted in the WORLD’S BEST DRESS is both yes and no. No, I didn’t find an amazing dress that was stylish, sexy and slightly ‘unique’ which was quite disappointing. None of the general fashion stores in Paris seemed to have ‘wedding appropriate dresses’. However, at the wedding I discovered that most of the Parisian attendees were less formally dressed than the foreign guests.

I did, however, find a dress that was ON SALE at Esprit (Esprit never fails me) that I wore on the Friday to Freya and Mark’s civil ceremony. It wasn’t what I was looking for but it filled a need that I didn’t even know existed. Clearly it was some sort of sign that I what I really needed was a new dress for the civil ceremony and that I should wear my trusty blue (and super cool) dress to the wedding. And so I did.

The wedding was wonderful with the catholic ceremony held in St Clothilde basilica. The basilica was just astonishing – a huge space with beautiful stained glass windows and light grey stone. The sun came at the end of the ceremony, just in time for photos and an apero in the garden of the Maison d’Amerique Latine. The reception was a lot of fun and absolutely delicious with great food and matching wines and it was so lovely to spend time with my Dutch family. A wonderful, wonderful evening.

For those of you who are interested, you can see photographs of the wedding (and my dresses) on my flickr site.

Did my new printer cartridge work?

Yes, thank goodness.

Was the Guggenheim as awesome as I hoped it would be?

Yes. It sure was. In fact, it was beyond amazing. There have been a few moments in my life where I have felt my jaw drop and then a big, tooth-filled smile spread across my face as I realise what I am seeing. Seeing Times Square for the first time at dusk was one of those moments, and now I can add driving into Bilbao and seeing Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim museum as another. I spent the weekend in Spain and most of Saturday wandering around and through the Guggenheim museum and was completely overwhelmed at how much I loved the space. And then to discover that one of my favourite installations – work by Richard Serra – filled the largest gallery in the building made me literally jump for joy. It was an eye opening and inspirational experience and I came away from it full of excitement about how maybe one day I will be somehow working in a space like that – either as an artist or as part of the gallery staff.

Did I eat good food and drink good wine in Spain?

You bet I did. I was a little disappointed with some of the things I ate but I put this down to my inability to communicate, my dislike for mushed up seafood (lots of the pintxos included this in some form), and my lack of confidence at entering very busy and clearly social places on my own. Eating in Spain is a very communal thing and I felt quite alone when it came to dinner time. However, I got by and managed to have a few conversations and was offered some fried peppers from one friendly couple. But my memories of the food in Madrid are still calling to me and Bilbao didn’t quite match up. That’s ok – it just means I need to go back and try again.

And for those of you with some time on your hands, why not look at my 341 photos of Bilbao and San Sebastian? I can promise you lots of images of the Guggenheim, food and Jesus.

Have I finished packing? 

Not quite. I should do this. And then get some lunch and then go to the airport. So next time you hear from me I will be upside down in the southern hemisphere, joining my fellow Perthians complaining about the weather. Oh, meanwhile yesterday in Paris it reached a rather impressive 33 degrees. It was hot. Everyone was complaining.

Reason Why I Am Grumpy With Paris Today #2

Monday, June 18th, 2012

After my fun adventures at OfficeDepot I then went to Franprix to buy a bag of rocket. The girl at the checkout was as amazingly happy to serve me as usual. I then walked outside and stood at the traffic lights to cross the road. A random guy walked up to me and said “Bonjour!” I gave him a “Yes, hello but goodbye” half-smile and he then proceeded to attempt chatting me up by discussing the fact that I was carrying a bag of rocket.

“Having a salad, are you?”
“Yep.”
“Will you serve it with a vinaigrette or something?”
“Ahhh… probably.”
“Yes… that will be very nice (something, something, something in French that I didn’t understand.)”
“OK, goodbye now!”

I then walked for approximately three minutes to get to my apartment, during which time I had four French men either say “Bonjour” or just look at me from head to toe. Sometimes this is flattering, other times (such as just after battling grumpy, useless and rude OfficeDepot staff) I just want to punch them. Maybe I complain too much or am up myself but AARRRRGGGGGG!!! Today it was all too much and I have decided it is best to just stay inside and hide.

Why I Hate Office Depot

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Much like OfficeWorks in Perth, Paris has one large stationery chain store that is astonishingly useless. At least OfficeWorks isn’t THAT overpriced, while France’s OfficeDepot likes to make you pay big bucks for not much in return. I am reasonably certain that I have complained about them on here before but here we go again. Round Two.

For a few weeks I have been slowly draining the ink from the cartridges in my printer, hoping that through some miracle they will just refill themselves for free. Sadly, this hasn’t happened and as I need to print boarding passes for my flight to Bilbao on Friday I thought I had better buy some ink.

So I memorised the number on the ink cartridge and the model of my printer and headed down the road and around the corner to my nearest OfficeDepot. I was in a bit of a rush as I was expecting guests in the next half hour or so but I figured it couldn’t take THAT long to buy ink. Surely.

For some reason the ink cartridges were located behind a counter so I had to wait for someone to serve me. This being France, there wasn’t a huge rush for this to happen. Eventually it was my turn and the overly excitable (that is a lie) salesman asked how he could help me. It wasn’t a good start when I realised I wasn’t sure what the word for ‘ink cartridge’ was but I had a guess and it was a good one and asked for an HP 301 cartouche.

Cartridge 301 doesn’t exist.
Umm… but that’s what it says on my printer and on the cartridge.
No, that isn’t possible, it doesn’t exist.
Right.
If you can tell me the reference number on the cartridge I can tell you what you need, otherwise there is nothing I can do.
Well it says 301.
No.
Ok bye.

So I stood in OfficeDepot trying to find some sort of information on the HP website about what ink cartridge I needed, only to get even more infuriated as the HP website is as useless as their printers. So home I went, determined to prove to the grumpy sales guy that I was right and he was wrong. I got home, opened the printer et VOILA! A big fat 301 was printed on the ink cartridge. And so back to the shop I went with my evidence.

There was now a long queue and I was eventually served by a different guy who actually smiled. Miracle! I showed him my cartridge and said “I’d like a new one, please.” MIRACLE OF MIRACLES he turned around and pulled a 301 cartridge from the shelf. Clearly in the time it had taken my to go home, get the cartridge and return to the shop they had restocked their shelves and HP had invented a 301 ink cartridge. I was a little disappointed that the first rude guy hadn’t served me so I couldn’t make some sort of sarcastic comment about how he had been wrong, but the happier salesman was significantly nicer and he took my old cartridge away and gave me a rebate for recycling it at their store! HA HA! TAKE THAT, GRUMPY FRENCH MAN!

HP ink cartridge

Macgyver knew the 301 existed. He knows everything.

L’Amour à Paris

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

I have exciting days ahead of me full of family, food and most likely lots of fun. Saturday is the wedding of my mum’s cousin’s daughter (still with me?) and so lots of my dutch family are heading to Paris from Holland. Luckily for me, the wedding is in Paris so I don’t have to go anywhere. Hoorah!

I am also honoured to have been invited to Freya and Mark’s civil ceremony on Friday, because just like everything in France, one wedding isn’t enough and you HAVE to have two. Ok, that’s not completely true, but you must go through the boring, administrative civil wedding at your local town hall and it is up to you whether or not you want to have a nice party and/or a church service. Seeing as most people like an excuse to eat food, drink wine and dance the night away, most couples fork out money for two events. Suddenly the single life is looking deliciously inexpensive.

Anyway, over the next few days random people from my extended family will be arriving in Paris, something that makes me very happy as I love family and these are some of the members that I don’t get to see very often. There will be my mum’s cousins, their children, my Grandma’s sister, and my great-half-uncle and my almost-great-half-aunt-in-law. This makes for very complicated introductions when you have to try and explain how we are all related.

The other thing I am excited about is the food (WHAT A SURPRISE!). Knowing Freya and Mark the food at the wedding is going to be fantastic and plus there are additional family dinner gatherings on the days before and after the wedding that will involve more food consumption. I am preparing my stomach in advance. Last night was the first of these dinners at a restaurant that is on a barge on the Seine – Café Barge. The exterior of the boat could do with a lick of paint but clearly they spent all of their money doing up the inside. There were fluorescent pink lights, plastic pink and silver glitter chairs and on the walls were murals with images of Marilyn Munro and Elvis. At one end of the boat was a ‘dance’ zone with disco lights that was being occupied by a group of international business people, clearly all trying to network while surrounded by mirror balls. Amusing.

Café Barge chair

It’s… pink.

However, despite all of this I have realised this morning that I have disastrously overlooked a very important fact. This will most likely be the single wedding that I will ever have the occasion of attending in Paris – the city of fashion and style – and therefore my one opportunity to wear a dress that is down-right FANTASTIC. Up until this morning I had been planning on wearing one of the two dresses I own, depending on the weather and my mood for the day but I realise this could be a wasted opportunity! How can I settle for a dress I already own when I could go and buy a new one? Sure, money. But as I mentioned before, the wedding is in Paris and I therefore don’t have to travel to Holland OR Australia and I am therefore saving money! I should really spend that on a new dress. And a new bag (this one is a necessity. My current plastic, water proof, go anywhere, fit anything bag isn’t really wedding-friendly.) And potentially a hat (I made a new friend last night who is wearing a hat to the wedding. This sounds like a GREAT idea.) So to the shops it is! Luckily, whenever I am searching for something in particular I can never find it and therefore I will return home this evening empty handed and I will wear one of my two perfectly nice dresses. But in the words of Daryl Somers, you never ever know if you never ever go (to the shops).

Ma Vie à Paris

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

I have realised that I haven’t written about life à Paris for quite some time. My focus has shifted to my experiments in the world of linoleum and paper and I haven’t kept you up to date with the latest and greatest happenings in Gay Paris. Times, they may be a’changin’, but I shall now redeem myself with a longwinded discussion on the ins and outs of the French capital. Vous êtes prêts? On y va!

Weather

Allow me to start with what everyone is talking about – the fact that it is now June, and therefore apparently summer, yet I am wearing pants, a long-sleeved shirt AND a cardigan. Today the sky is covered in varying degrees of grey cloud and the forecast for this afternoon is rain, rain, rain. This is seriously going to disrupt my friends’ and my plans of having a picnic by the canal. Sure, the sun doesn’t set until after 10pm these days, but that’s difficult to enjoy when you can’t actually see the sun anyway. We had a week or so of glorious sunshine and last Saturday I got sunburnt. The following day I was wearing jeans and a jumper. Something is wrong here.

Politics

France has elected its new President, Monsieur Hollande, and he seems to be fitting in just fine. I haven’t really heard much about him, nor have there been any scandals involving him and a younger woman (yet). So really, he’s quite boring and we can tell this just by looking at him. He looks like a maths teacher (or, as I have been informed by my American friends, a MATH teacher). Not that I have anything against maths teachers – they just make for fairly limp Presidents. Maybe Sarkozy will give him some hot tips on how to be a slime-ball.

In the meantime, France is gearing up for the NEXT election where they vote for their local representatives. I really don’t understand how this works because it seems candidates can stick their hand up to be a representative in any area of France that they want. I’m sure there are some rules, but it is probably just as long as you have a friend who lives in that area or you went camping there once then you can be a candidate. This has resulted in the extreme-left candidate from the Presidential election (Melanchon) challenging the extreme-right candidate (Le Pen) in an area in the north-east of France. This is risky business and could result in Melanchon not being elected which would be a DISASTER because really he’s the only candidate with any sort of human sentiment. It would also mean that Le Pen gets in and every foreigner in France will pack their bags in anticipation of their departure. Anyway, we shall see. I believe the first vote is this weekend, with the second round the following week. Exciting times.

Fashion

The latest in summer fashions are in the stores and despite not having been shopping for at least three months, I can report that the style for this season is beige, beige, beige with FLURO PINK or FLURO BLUE or FLURO ORANGE. It is extraordinarily awful. The BoBos have been out in force when the sun does peak its head out from behind the clouds and big, thick-rimmed glasses are still a must.

Food

Weird and disgusting as this may sound, the latest craze in the French food world is… American hotdogs and hamburgers. WHY?? I really don’t know. Actually, I do. While BoBos are proud of their native country and French ways, they also crave the style of New York and therefore a van driving around the city selling over priced hamburgers (on gross sweet ‘hamburger’ buns I might add) is considered to be “trés Brooklyn”. The hamburgers I can manage, but the other day I noticed a new restaurant on Rue du Faubourg St Denis that is a “New Yorkaise” style hot dog restaurant where you can buy a “real American” hot dog for 4 Euros. They even were proud of the fact that you could add fake “mustard” in your sausage in a bun. Needless to say, I haven’t tried these hot dogs and never plan to. I’m happy to stick to good traditional French food that is full of fat and cheese and cream and everything that is delicious and artery-clogging.

Life aux Récollets

Life in the convent is plodding along nicely. The next few weeks will see the departure of some residents who have become good friends. It is a hard aspect of living here – I get to meet so many great people but often they will leave after a short period of time. It is nice to know that I will have people to go and visit in Italy, the US, Canada, Poland, South Korea, Germany, Greece… But still. It would be nicer if they would just stay here.

My electricity still turns off at least once a day and the internet continues to be painfully slow. There hasn’t been much action from the ghost downstairs but I think he/she might come out when summer finally arrives. Becky and my vegie garden is growing like crazy and we will have tomatoes before we know it. We just need to build an anti-rabbit/bird/mouse/snail/monster contraption to save our plants. Something is very, very hungry and likes eating our green-leafed plants. Very annoying.

So I think that is about it. Most of you will have heard or worked out through amazing sleuth-work that I am now a single lady living in Paris. This has both its ups and downs as emotions are still quite raw and so any form of romantic liaison between people on the street can result in floods of tears. This is problem considering Paris is the city of love and sitting on every second bench or lying under every other tree are gross, soppy, lovey-dovey couples kissing and cuddling and doing all sorts of French things. I have considered going over and asking them to stop but I have refrained. Anyway, life is all about changes and growing and discovering new things, new places and new people and that is my plan. I would just like to sun to come out so that I can wear a skirt. I’m bored of pants.

Etsy Listing

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Just letting everyone know that my Eiffel Tower stencil is now listed for sale on my etsy website.

Eiffel Tower stencil

Meet me on Etsy

Hola!

Monday, June 4th, 2012

I am very, very, very excited because I have just spent money on plane tickets and budget accommodation – I am going to Bilbao! I have been craving Spanish sunshine, wine and cured meats so I decided to be carefree and crazy and booked a weekend trip. I leave in two weeks! Anyone else wanting to see Frank’s awesome building should meet me there.

Gehry Guggenheim

Soon I will have my own version of this photograph

Percival the Pig

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

My friend, sewing-and-cooking inspiration, and ex-boss, Claire, recommended I read a book she had recently read with her children. Yes, at the wee-ages of two and four they are slightly younger than me but I feel we have similar interests when it comes to well-written and beautiful illustrated children’s books. The ABC Menagerie by M.H. Clark and Elena V. Targioni is a book for everyone – it is so beautiful, funny and heartwarming that even robots would feel emotions while reading it.

ABC Menagerie

ABC Menagerie - image from LiveInspired

Each page of the book introduces a new animal and their particular habits and the rhyming text is accompanied by a photograph of a felt/material version of the creature. Similar to my sock creatures, these guys are slightly odd and always have something ‘different’ about them. There are many amazing personalities and the creatures themselves are so wonderfully crafted that you feel like you could reach into the page and pat them.

abc menagerie

Jesenia the Jaguar – image from LiveInspired

I thought I would share the text from one of the pages as I currently feel like this animal. Last night I went for dinner with friends at Le Jardin D’en Face and ate far too much and therefore wish I had the same release mechanisms as this guy:

Percival the Pig

Percival’s dinners are rich and gourmet,
with plenty of chocolate éclairs.
Whenever he’s had one too many that day,
his safety valves let out the air.

Buy and read this book. No matter what age you are, it will make you smile. Thanks for the recommendation, Claire.

Pop-Up Paris

Friday, June 1st, 2012

I have just had a great afternoon with a knife in my hand and a sheet of paper in front of me. I was experimenting with creating silhouette-style images and turned a photograph I took this week of the Eiffel Tower into a simple black and white shape with Photoshop. Then add some text (my choice of typeface has been questioned, to which I answered it is very “Parisian”) and it’s time to cut!

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower original photograph

I have been wanting to experiment further and learn more about paper cutting and how to create 3-D shapes and took the opportunity to make some pop-up art.

Eiffel Tower stencil

Pop

Eiffel Tower

Up.

Then I got serious, worked out an appropriate colour combination and got rollin’.

Eiffel Tower stencil

Blue. White. Red.

Eiffel Tower Stencil

City of Love

I am very pleased with the results – I just really need to buy some better equipment so that I can have a smoother finish. The rollers I am using are essentially useless and make the paint bleed everywhere. I need to invest in my work now and hopefully one day when I am world famous it will pay me back!