Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Aidan Turner and One Direction

This is my last full week of vacation before going back to work for the new school year next week.  So I am going to post about two seemingly silly topics:  Aidan Turner and One Direction.

Aidan Turner is an Dublin-born actor who has been in Being Human, The Hobbit trilogy, and most recently, Poldark, among many others.

Poldark is a BBC production shown on PBS here in the States.  It tells the story of Ross Poldark, a complicated hero who returns home from fighting for the losing side in the American War of Independence to Cornwall.  There, he finds the woman that he loves is engaged to be married to his cousin, his father is deceased, and his inheritance is in tatters.  There is a lot more to the story, especially lovely scenes of Ross cutting weeds and bathing in the sea.
No, really, there is a lot to the story--Cornwall, romance, balls, dancing, horseback riding, fighting, gambling, mining, jealousy, greed, class struggles, and tricorns.  Don't you love a man in a tricorn hat?  I am also loving watching Aidan Turner play the multiple facets of Ross's personality.

This series is a remake of the 1970's version, but from what I understand it follows the books, written by Winston Graham, more closely.  I haven't bought the books yet because I made the mistake of buying Outlander before the first season was over, and it lessened my enjoyment of the TV show.

Here is the BBC promo video for the show.  It's definitely worth watching for one minute if you can't decide whether to watch the show or not.

I belong to several Poldark groups on Facebook, and believe me when I say that Aidan Turner is a much admired man!  I have decided to write a part for him in the book I am writing that is set in Ireland.  I hope he'll agree to play the part, but I suppose I really should finish the book first, eh?

Here is a link to the PBS site where you can find some episodes of Poldark if you reside in the U.S.  The DVD is now available in stores as well, so don't miss out.  :)

Oh, and if you would like to see more Aidan, check out my Pinterest board here.  You'll be glad you did!


The next topic I am writing about today is One Direction.  Yes, you read that correctly.  The British Isles boy band.  Yes, I do realize I am a "mature" woman who hasn't been a teenager in many moons.  Yes, I know that I run the risk of ridicule if I go ahead with my plan to write about this band.

But you see, I am going to their concert in Kansas City tonight with my daughter.  And we are very excited.  I actually like their music.  I am not kidding.  Really, I'm not.

Listen to this song and tell me it's not delightful.

If that didn't do it for you, try this one:

True, Zayn Malik left the band several months ago, and he is truly missed.  However, my daughter and I will take the remaining four members and be OK with just them.  Her favorite is Niall, the sole Irishman in the band.  My favorite is either Niall or Harry, but I am not a big fan of Harry's long hair.
Yes, I still remember that I am not 12 anymore.  But I like the fact that I can bond with my daughter by listening to the some of the same music.  I hope the concert doesn't disappoint.  I'm sure it won't.


Thanks for reading.  You're a star.






Friday, July 24, 2015

Blue Jays

It's been a long time since I've seen a blue jay up close and personal.  I know they are mean and bossy birds, but they certainly are gorgeous.  Here are a few pictures from this morning's breakfast.

We also have dazzling cardinals enjoying our sunflower seeds, but no other birds dare eat at the same time as the blue jays.  I would love to get a shot of both colorful birds together someday.




                                                                                  Geai bleu.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Freshly cut Pink Lemonade Handmade Soap

It has been quite a while since I've made a batch of soap.  Recently, I received a special order in my Etsy shop for Pink Lemonade Handmade Soap.  I didn't have enough on hand to send my customer, so I had to make a brand new batch.

It has been around 36 hours since I made this gorgeous soap, and it's  so it's cutting time!  I put it in the freezer for 15 minutes first to ensure that none of the soap gets stuck to the mold.

I held a piece of cardboard down the middle of the mold as I poured first the pink side, then the yellow.  Out of the mold, this is what the bottom looks like.  It is definitely not perfect, but that is the beauty of handmade items--every item is unique.

Time to bring out the soap cutter made in Missouri by Bud Haffner.  We bought this several years ago and it has not disappointed us at all.  His Etsy shop is here.

What a typical freshly cut bar looks like.

Now it's time to cure for the next four weeks.  The fragrance of this is very light and summery!  Such a lovely scent!

There will be a few bars of this left once I fill the special order.  If you're interested in purchasing a bar, visit my shop around August 20 to get your own.


Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time for a tall, cold glass of pink lemonade.  Cheers!




                                                                                          Limonade rose.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Planting Calendula Seeds

I have been wanting to plant calendula for a while, so I decided to stop procrastinating and I did it today!

Calendula has got a host of wonderful benefits, such as being anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiseptic.  I hope to use it in lotions, balms, and salves.

It is kind of late in the season to plant in the ground, but for 10 cents per seed pack, what do I have to lose?  Calendula is an annual, but it seeds itself.  Next spring, I will plant a lot more seeds directly into the ground, but I didn't want to wait that long so I planted them in containers today.  I hope they grow big enough that I can then transplant them for the rest of the growing season.

Check back soon for updates.  In the meantime, check out this slideshow:



                                                                                     Calendula officinalis.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

My Trip to France 2015, part 6 (series finale)

Bonne fête du 14 juillet!  In honor of France's national holiday, I am writing the last post in my series My Trip to France.  

If you are French or a francophile like me, I hope your day is as sparkly as the Eiffel Tower at night!

Days 12-14

During the brief last leg of our trip, the kids came back to us after their home stay with a French family.  Most of them had rave reviews of their experience and I think it was an invaluable learning experience for them. After saying good-bye to their families at the train station in Aix, we boarded a chartered bus with a lively and super fun bus driver, Françoise.

le 27 juin

We visited the Palace of the Popes in Avignon, or le Palais des Papes.  We also saw Le Pont d'Avignon from a distance, but unfortunately we didn't get to dance on it.  Next time.


Then it was back into the bus and on to Le Pont du Gard, one bridge we were able to cross and dance on.  This is an ancient Roman aqueduct that crosses the Gardon river. I really love seeing vestiges of Ancient Rome, and this day the odds were in my favor that I would see more.

Next stop:  the ancient city of Nîmes.  Our hotel was the Cheval Blanc, which was right across the street from this beauty.

The arena in Nîmes has one of the best preserved Roman arenas in existence.  We weren't able to visit it when we arrived in town because it was Saturday evening and the arena is a concert venue in the summer.  Upcoming shows included Sting and Nicki Minaj.

There is a statue of a famous bullfighter,  Christian Montcouquiol ("Nimeño II") in front of the arena, which was our meeting point in Nîmes.

Nîmes is also home to the Maison Carrée, an ancient Roman temple. Très cool.

 And of course, a delicious dinner to end our day.  This time it was a galette jambon fromage oeuf.  C’était tellement bon!

le 28 juin

The next day, we got to visit the arena and I was wowed.  I never knew I would like Roman architecture as much as I do.  Maybe I should go to Rome someday.

This is a vomitorium. Contrary to popular belief, a vomitorium has nothing to do with vomit.
Rather, it was an entrance or exit passage in a Roman arena or amphitheater.

Next, we got back into the bus and headed for Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.   

The Provençal legend tells us that the year 40AD, a boat was launched from Jerusalem, without sails, oars or supplies, and drifted across the Mediterranean until it came ashore at this site. Some think the disciples were forced into a boat without facilities, and then cast adrift, so that they would perish at sea. 

Their relics are supposed to be housed in the church here.  I didn't get a good picture of the front of the church, but here is a side view.  

The best part of this town was the beach view. And the beaches were sandy!

They happened to be having a barbecue festival the day we were there.  One of my students bought a French magazine about barbecue, and here is one of the articles.  Being from Kansas ourselves, we were very proud.

We weren't able to eat the barbecue, so we went for pizza at a nearby pizzeria.  It was very hot that day, so we were underneath red umbrellas.  That is why these two photos have a red hue.  It also felt quite hellish in the heat, so the hue is quite à propos. 

The main statue in town shows a famous white horse of the Camargue.

Les flamants roses; picture taken from bus window.

After a couple of hours, we finally arrived in Nice, where we would stay for two nights.  I had a lovely hotel room.

I like the colors of some of the buildings down here.

This ice cream shop had 94 flavors to offer!  Wow!

And we ended our evening at the beach.

Unfortunately, it was a rocky beach, which isn't my favorite type.  Yet, I did manage to enjoy being there anyway.  :)

And here is a statue of Apollo at the Place Masséna.  He has an interesting history, which you can read about here.  Before my trip, my daughter and I were looking around Google Maps at some of the places I was going to go in France.  We "walked" down the street in Nice and spied this statue.  My daughter asked me to take a picture of it when I got to Nice.  While I took photo, but I made the mistake of telling my students this story, and they made fun of me because they thought I was weird for taking a picture of a naked man statue for my 12-year-old daughter.  Hey, anything for art, right?  

le 29 juin

Last full day.

We have arrived in Monaco.  Our first stop--Le Musée Océanographique. 

While waiting for our time to enter the museum, my kids had fun braiding each other's hair.

Next, the prince's palace.

Before leaving Monaco, Françoise took us to the starting point of the Formula 1 Grand Prix race.  We went to pole position #1 and she counted down "Trois, deux, un!  Allez!"  Then she pretended that our bus was in the race.  Of course, we had to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalks.  I took a video, but it is too big to upload here.  I will post a picture of this wonderful woman later.  

And then we went up to the hilltop town of Èze.  The medieval town was almost too charming, and vistas were breathtaking.

Next, the perfume factory, Fragonard.  It was cool to tour the place, but I wasn't able to take photos of the production room.

Our farewell dinner was at La Taverne Masséna.

The owners at Massena certainly know how to cater to American teenagers!

Le Coca-Cola, c'est notre vin américain!

le 30 juin

Traveling home...
Our fabulous bus driver, Françoise.

Flying over the Alps was stupendous.

So was this Air France flight attendant. 

Back in the U.S. a couple of my students found these two Diet Coke bottles;
one has my first name, the other my last!  So sweet!

My daughter texted a picture of the family on their way to the Kansas City airport to pick me up.

And here are my six marvelous students and myself, back at KCI where we started our trip two weeks earlier.  We are jet lagged, hungry, and exhilarated.

I couldn't have asked for a better group of young men and women to travel with!

Merci, mes élèves!  Vous êtes formidables!





Bonne nuit!