Friday, March 16, 2018

Alice's Sweet Paris Bedroom

Alice got the smallest room with the best view ... of the park and the Eiffel Tower (for now until Spring comes and trees obstruct her view).

She also got a closet and an *on-suite shower/sink room.  It's a pretty sweet room!

I especially love how her daybed fit just perfectly between the tall dresser and her radiator. And she's created an art wall over it with some priceless masterpieces!

I recently "helped her" clean it, and took a picture to document the adorableness of this space.
Alice's Bedroom in Pars
* This apartment has two on-suite shower/sink rooms. What is that even called in real estate terms? Anyone know? 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Weekend Expeditions

Now that we've mostly gotten our apartment settled and our weekly routine (almost) under control, plus the weather is improving bit by bit, it's time to explore this incredible city that we live in. So on weekends, we're making an effort to get out and walk around.

The French even have a word for this wandering about, it's a verb, "flaneur." And that's the aim of these days out.

So I've started to put together a list of "off the beaten path" type places and neighborhoods that I read about or see in Instagram accounts I follow. And we try to include a restaurant, too.

This plan is only in the early phases, and we've had a rocky start. I picked a really popular restaurant one Sunday morning (in the rain) and the line was out the door! It made for some hangry/wet/cold family members. We abandoned the day altogether.

Also, the French have dedicated a day to close up shop and visit Maman for a big dinner/lunch. (You gotta love a country that prioritizes family time, right?!) But this throws a wrench in our Sunday wanderings, as we also like to explore boutiques and markets. For example, in Passy, our neighborhood, all the shops are closed. But, in some of the touristy spots -- near the Louvre, or the Galleries LaFayette (a huge department store) -- the shops stay open. We're just figuring it all out.

When we do figure it out, and we find a new neighborhood or spot, it does make for some great (Instagrammable) photos and quality family time. (Especially if there is ice cream involved.)
Walking Along the Siene

Girls Are Always Ready With a Pose!

Castle in the Marais

Flower Markets .. Everywhere!

Bulk Nuts! On Rue Cler
Lastly, have you guys heard of the Space Invader? (Here's an article in USA Today). In a nutshell (heh), he's a street artist that uses tile like pixels and creates little pieces of art on sides of buildings. Fans collect them by snapping a photo, and adding them to their Invader app.

I told the girls the story, and how there's all kinds of mystery and secrets about this artist, and now we're constantly looking up as we're wandering, looking for new ones. This one is our first, and our favorite, for obvious reasons.

Which means, of course, we're not looking down to avoid the poop. But we are learning to do both.

I'll take photos of a few more and maybe dedicate a post to what we've been finding.

OH! And, yes, I AM trying to make the locations have some educational value OR at least trying to impress upon the kids how OLD and full of history this city is. I just wish I knew more!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Evidence of Early Refrigeration

I've never lived in a 100-year-old building, so I'm a total nerd when it comes to the little clues left by the original builders and owners.

For example, in our kitchen there's this nice-sized cabinet that hangs into the courtyard of the building. It's got this vintage little lock on it and sits under one of the two kitchen windows.
Windows Are Frosted in Kitchen Because the Courtyard Area isn't Pretty
When we were getting the pre-move-in walk-through, the real estate agents joked we could use this cabinet until we got our fridge delivered. Because, yes, this was early refrigeration.
A Look Inside
Maybe it's because it's winter and the weather has been freezing, but the inside of this cabinet is definitely colder than the rest of the room. The glass and ceramic items we keep in here are chilly to the touch when we pull them out. It would have been a great spot to store cheese, wine maybe, and maybe cream. I'm just guessing.

And, sure, I considered using it as a pantry, but the location is a little awkward. And our kitchen table is located in front of it the second door. So, it's being used for less-used kitchen items.

It does get my imagination churning, though. If cabinets could talk.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Our Guest Room Bed Options

Shopping for beds in a foreign land, when the only store I know is Ikea, has been a challenge. But the guest room needs a bed, so I've jumped in with both feet.

Just for fun, here are a few of my options.

Shop Name: La Redoute 
They're currently having a big flash sale on mattresses, so the prices are not bad. I really like this mod-looking upholstered bed called Semeon, see it here.

It's Not Chevron or Houndstooth -- Sorta Between

Shop Name: Maisons Du Monde
Then there's this pine bed that's also has a mod-feel with those great paperclip legs. And you gotta love the extra storage beneath. It's called the Cody, see it here.

Last, there's this British startup that sells a mattress-in-a-box, similar to those we have in America (Casper, I think is one) and that I've always been very curious about. I'm terribly drawn to the bright yellow color with the grey bed frame you can add to the shipment, see it here. 

One more! 

Shop Name: Made
Check out this Scandi-looking frame in navy blue! It's called the Hayllar and it's so darn pretty! Can it go in the living room?? 

They're each about the same price, with promo codes available here and there. So, it's just up to which one I like the best ... and which will be the least amount of fuss to have delivered. Because, you know, I don't speak French so I can't argue with customer service people if there's an issue. 

More later! 

What Blew Up

You guys, it happened. I blew it up. Two things, actually, in ONE DAY!

Background: When we were packing for France, I was very strict about not bringing items that needed to be plugged in. Specifically lamps and kitchen appliances. (Why we didn't have any light in our apartment for the few first days.) Why? Because I had read the voltage, which is higher here in Europe at 220-240 voltage, could damage/kill the item. So, I specifically didn't pack them.

I DID pack my one-year-old sewing machine, thinking I would just take the chance. It was worth the risk to have it with me. It was new, so maybe the engine had something to protect it again power surges. And the converter might help it, right?

 Wrong! I tried to use it last weekend and it blew. It's now a very large paperweight. Sigh.

A few hours after I killed that beloved appliance, I plugged in the drill battery to recharge, and that blew as well. In fact, it nearly started a fire.

So, yes, I was completely justified worried about the 220-240 voltage here in France (compared to the 110-120 in the US).

And now I have to buy a new sewing machine. And drill battery.

Hindsight is 20/20 ... right?

Related posts:
More Packing posts

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Our Guest Room Planning

We are SOOO fortunate to have a fourth bedroom in this apartment, which we'll use as a guest room. And an office. And a video game room.

Here's the space just after we moved in when it acted solely as office. See my calendar made from shipping paper on the wall?
BEFORE: The Guest Room As Office
Before we moved, I had a plan for all of the rooms, except this one. I was pretty sure it would be a guest room, but I didn't pack any furniture specifically for it. In hindsight, I wish I did, but there just wasn't time to consider it before the movers arrived.

It took a few weeks to get a plan together. There was talk of getting a daybed or a convertible sofa. But ultimately, we decided to make it as comfortable for guest use as possible and put a nice full-size bed in the corner. But also buy some light-weight chairs for when we don't have guests and want to use it to watch TV or play wii.

Dave went to Ikea and got some Poang (iconic and in red) chairs and a shelf to put the TV on. Most importantly, we added a rug to warm up the room a bit. (It does get nippy.) Here's the room as it currently looks...

And the view from the other window, with a view of the TV stand.

The plan is to purchase, in the very near future, a full-size bed with all the pillows and blankets to make it cozy. I'm hoping, though I'm not certain, that the desk will still fit in the corner by the window and I can still use it for office activities. But, if it doesn't, I've got a back-up plan.

More on this soon. Our first guests are coming in April, so we've got to shake a leg.

Related posts: 
Read more about my decorating plans
More "office" related posts

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Scooters and Being Chill

The first week the kids rode their scooters (or les trottinettes) to school, I was a wreck.

They careened down the sidewalks, going to fast. They just missed knocking over people on the sidewalks, or would follow so closely to people walking ... it would drive me crazy.

"Leah! Slow down!" "Alice, Be Careful!"

What is the social expectations of kids commuting to school on scooters? Who has the right of way on a busy city street?

But than, after about a week, I started to chill out.

So what if they speed past pedestrians? Or messed with traffic patterns while trying to cross the street? 

The girls are getting cigarette smoke blown in their faces every time we go out. (Blargh!) They are being force to halt as people just stop to window shop or look at their phone. Or walk their scooters over cobblestoned streets and huge sidewalk cracks. Not to mention swerve to miss dog poo left on the street.

This is a small village in a residential district of Paris. And they're kids! Who cares what others our neighbors think, as long as they're safe, right?!

I ride my trottinette on most days, too. It cuts a few minutes off the commute to Leah's school and it's fun to ride home. I'm a bit more of a conservative driver than the girls, but I've stopped worrying over flying past the walkers. I like it.