Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sucker for coupons

This is a card that I made for Ben's and my moms for Mother's Day. I'm sharing it because Shutterfly is going to give me a coupon.

5x7 Folded Card
View the entire collection of cards.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Artifact

I thought I had unearthed every morsel of my childhood diary-writing days, but there was one more gem hiding in a notebook behind some old school reports.

I think this is from seventh grade. It is addressed to the members of Psychotic People Who Write in Diaries, which at that point consisted of myself, Sara, Leslie and Rachel.

P.P.W.W.D. Members,

As you all know we are planning to have a party as soon as possible. Because of this fact Sara and I are putting this newsletter out to inform you of what is being planned. First of all, anything we do will have to wait until Erin's parents go to bed. But after that we have the whole night. Now we'll decide what order we're going to do all this that night, with the exception of this. Rachel must be united into the uniting group as soon as Erin's parents go to bed. Otherwise she would be an outsider. After that's out of the way we're able to do any number of things. One of the things we'll be doing is having confession. Now just to make this clear no confession can be confessed twice. After the night the confession was made it's in the past, hopefully never to be dug up again. That's the point of confession, to put bad things that we have done or that has been done to us in the past so they won't torment us, and make us worry anymore.

Another thing we will be doing is having an annoying session. Now things that you have said annoyed you in the past can be repeated but only if it can be changed. If it's something like, "I hate the way your mother says sorry" or something don't mention because it won't do anyone any good.

We will also be going on THE GREAT TAPE SEARCH. Erin's mother found our tape of many important things. Things we really don't want to lose forever. I must say I don't want be deprived of seeing Erin and Sara singing, "Hum Hum Hum. Hum Hum Hum. Hum Hum Hum Hum Hum." with their own lyrics.

We are going to do something new in honor of Rachel as our newest member of our little group. We are going to tell each other what we feel is their best feature. Then it is your choice if you want to hear your worst. I personally would suggest hearing you worst. It will make things more interesting and then you'll know what to try to hide.

We are also going to watch Silence of the Lambs. Because Rachel's never seen it, we love it, and we haven't had a party yet where we didn't. We have to watch it in the dark and we have to watch the whole thing with no huge stops.

We are also going to make a ougji board and see if we can get a somewhat intellegent spirit. Sara and I have done some ghost research and we might go ghost hunting too.

This concludes our newsletter.

P.P.W.W.D. FOREVER!!!!!!!!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The trip: Part 14 (Back to London)

Day 14
Our time in Paris was too short, but we were excited to continue the adventure. So we said goodbye to Ile Saint-Louis and hopped on the train to London.


The Chunnel is an amazing system. It was so fast and convenient. We went through Customs at Gare du Nord, took a little snooze through the tunnel and woke up in London.

We had to walk all over Kensington looking for our hotel, especially after a well-meaning Londoner pointed us in the opposite direction.

The first thing we wanted to do was return to the Houses of Parliament. We realized that we had not gotten a photo of us in front of Big Ben, which seemed like a real necessity on any trip to London.


Our next stop was Westminster Abbey. We were famished by that point, but inexplicably there were no restaurants or shops anywhere near the Abbey. We wound up buying gigantic bags of crisps from the snack cart outside. Surprisingly satisfying.


No photography is allowed inside the Abbey, which is a bummer because the place is really impressive and filled with artwork and the graves of various amazing people, such as Elizabeth I, Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Dickens, Samuel Johnson, Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.

We did manage to snag one photo in the cloisters.


We ate the rest of our crisps on the walk over to Buckingham Palace. We didn't especially want to go in (and we were too late), but we thought we might as well stop by. The Union flag flying out front supposedly means Her Majesty wasn't in there anyway.




We saw these guys out front and thought, "We should've done that!"


It started to rain while we were on our way to Trafalgar Square. It was a really neat area, but we didn't hang around long. We just ducked into the National Gallery portico and snapped a photo or two.


We ate dinner at Pizza Express, which we'd been wanting to try since we got there. It's a pizza chain with white tablecloths and wine glasses. And it was my idea of the perfect pizza. And the salad, wine and dessert were also fabulous.

To make the most of our last night in London, we hit the West End to see "La Cage aux Folles." And the fabulosity continued! So fun, great musical numbers, surrounded by gays — what could be better?

Day 15
We had to get up pre-dawn to make our flight, and we felt like we were making good time when we got on the Tube. There was just one problem. Heathrow is really big. In fact, it has three Tube stops. So, um, which one should we take?

See, it would have been super if there were a poster in the train listing the airlines and terminals. But the only poster in the train said that you had to call Heathrow to find out your terminal. And you couldn't call from the train. How convenient.

We decided to follow the lead of another American couple who were on their way home. They were wrong. We wound up at a terminal so far away from the one we needed that we had to take another train back to it. We had a few tense moments as we waited and waited for the train to move. But we eventually made the flight, narrowly.

The flight itself was uneventful. Except for getting to see Greenland.


So that was the trip. It was an unbelievable trip.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The trip: Part 13 (More Paris)

Day 13
We headed out early and stopped for a croissant and café crème at a little cafe near our hotel. We sat outside next to two other American women who had apparently come to that cafe every morning that week and ordered Coke for breakfast. How embarrassing.


Our first stop was Pere Lachaise Cemetery, the largest in the city and supposedly the most-visited in the world. It was old and atmospheric and lovely, with big above-ground tombs and cobblestone paths.


Among the famous buried there are Frederic Chopin:


Jim Morrison:


Marcel Proust:


And the one we really came to see, Oscar Wilde:


Those are kiss prints. We unfortunately forgot to bring our lipstick.

The epitaph on the back of the monument is from his “Ballad of Reading Gaol”:

And alien tears will fill for him
Pity’s long-broken urn,
For his mourners will be outcast men,
And outcasts always mourn.


Then we headed for the Eiffel Tower. We stopped in a little shop and bought some pastry/sandwich things and had a delicious picnic on a park bench.


The crowd at the tower was unbelievable. We had thought about going up in it, but when we saw this line? No.


But the tower itself was very beautiful, and bigger than I expected. Unfortunately, the area around it is full of souvenir vultures. We were accosted dozens of times by men selling plastic Eiffel Tower figurines and keychains. It was much more pleasant from a bit of a distance.


We were doing really well on time, so we hopped on the train to Versailles!


Holy crap, it was huge! It was like its own little city. And everything was gilt.


It made Hampton Court look like a hunting lodge. This is Marie Antoinette’s bed:





We rode the train back to Paris and headed back to Ile Saint-Louis for the famous Berthillon ice cream. On the way, though, we passed by Shakespeare and Co.


And a very gothic-looking Notre Dame.


The ice cream was fantastic. As we were eating our cones, we wandered over to a cute little neighborhood greengrocer. We were admiring the fruits and veg when the grocer lady came over and said, “Pardon!” and gestured gravely at a microscopic drip of ice cream that had escaped from our cones onto the floor. We were duly shamed and wiped up the drip with a napkin and made a quick exit. While clucking about the bitchiness of French shopkeepers.

We ate dinner at a little restaurant directly across from Notre Dame. We had French onion soup and pasta.

Then we walked back to the Eiffel Tower to see the night view. We were met with a gigantic crowd being held back by a dozen police officers. But we couldn’t figure out what the heck was going on. So we just stood there in the crowd, waiting for something to happen. Anyway, it looked neat.


We were just turning to leave when a gasp went up from the crowd, and we turned around to see the tower twinkling and flashing. Fun. Still not sure what the cops were doing.

Then we walked over to the Arc de Triomphe. As we were walking, a guy came up from the Metro and asked me directions in French. I mumbled an apologetic “je ne sais pas” and kept walking. So then we tried to figure out what he had just asked us.

Me: “I thought he said something about trois.”

Kim: “A stranger wouldn’t usually use toi to someone on the street.”

Me: “Not toi. Trois.”

Kim: “Oh, trois!”

And we were giggling about this when the guy came up behind us and passed by, saying something that indicated he had figured it out. No thanks to us.

Then we risked our lives by dashing through traffic at the Arc de Triomphe, and strolled down the Champs-Élysées on our way back to the hotel.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The trip: Part 12 (Paris)

Ahem, so, where was I?

Day 12
We woke up in the glorious hotel to room-service breakfast, which we again enjoyed on our balcony. It was a fitting goodbye to Greece.


After another long, sweaty subway ride, we were almost late for our flight to Paris. But we made it.

When we arrived in Paris, we took the train to Gare du Nord, which was near our hotel, the Ermitage. (Remember? The one we booked on Expedia while we were in Santorini?) Kim had written out the Ermitage address from our guide book, and we handed it to a cab driver outside the train station.

The cab dropped us off in a charming little neighborhood with wonderful old buildings with wrought-iron balconies. We opened the hotel door and were greeted by a giant ceramic dog. "I like this place," I said.

We went inside and met the proprietors, a little old French couple. The wife was obviously in charge. She pulled out her reservation book and asked our names.

But she couldn't find our reservation. "Did you call?" she said.

"No, we made the reservation online, on Expedia."

"Oh, I do not take reservations by computer."

We looked at each other. WTF?

"You can look at my book, you will see you are not there." She ran her finger down the list of reservations, all written in pencil.

"Yes, we see."

"Do you have the papers with you? The reservation?"

"No, we don't."

"You have to have the reservations! I do not understand the new generations. You show up to a hotel, how can you not bring the reservations?"

"Well, we made the reservations in Greece, in a hotel room. We didn't have a printer."

"Ah, I see!" But she continued to chastise us for our obvious stupidity in not bringing the reservation, as if that would have helped.

We found out then that there are two Ermitage Hotels. A nice one, which doesn't take reservations online, and a shithole, which does. When you search for the nice one on Expedia, you will unwittingly get the shithole.

The lady told us we were not the first dumb young people to have made this mistake and said she "felt sorry for us." She gave us detailed directions to the other Ermitage. She advised me about keeping my bag in front of me and then scolded us for dragging our luggage on her rug.

She was the perfect French combination of motherly/helpful and condescending/bitchy.

So then we trudged down the street with our luggage, stunned at what had just happened. We rounded a corner and there was Sacré Coeur. We paused and I said, "Well, might as well take a picture of it."


There was some kind of concert happening on the steps, and the street was crowded. We rode the funicular to the bottom of the hill. We wandered a bit before finally deciding to get another cab.

The outside of the other Ermitage was pretty nondescript. The inside was painted sickly peach, like a hospital in the '80s. And it smelled.

We checked in, (What do you know, they had our reservation!), and lugged our bags up to the room on the fourth floor. It was tiny. And hot. And when we opened the window, it was a cacophony of street noise. And we didn't feel confident about the bed linens.

We analyzed the situation for a few more minutes before deciding that we didn't want to stay there. I mean, we're not super picky. We didn't need the Ritz or anything, but this was too much. And we suspected the proprietor might have been exploiting his housekeeping staff. We wouldn't be comfortable there.

So we found a couple of good hotel options in our guide book, grabbed our luggage and walked out the way we came in. And grabbed another cab.

We wound up staying at our first pick, the Jeu de Paume on the Ile Saint-Louis. It was a cool old building that used to be tennis courts. It had big exposed wooden beams. When we walked in, there was a giant golden retriever lying in the lobby. It was awesome. And the staff was over-the-top accommodating.

We rested for a minute, but after the Ermitage fiasco, we had no daylight to spare.

If you're ever in Paris, I highly recommend the Ile Saint-Louis. It's a delightful little neighborhood with beautiful shops, bakeries, cheese shops and ice cream parlors. And a very short walk to Notre Dame.



Notre Dame was exquisite, of course. But it surprised me how touristy it was. Every other cathedral I've been to had made an effort to preserve the religious nature of the church. Even the ones that have gift shops and tour brochures. They at least tell you to be quiet and respectful of those who are there to pray. Notre Dame was a free-for-all. There was even some kind of service happening down front, with singing, and none of the tourists seemed remotely concerned about disrupting it.

Then we walked along the Ile de la Cité, past the Palais de Justice, toward the Louvre, which is open late on Wednesdays!



One serendipitous thing about our impromptu trip to Paris was that we got to see more Parthenon marbles!


A few other Louvre highlights:

Michelangelo's Dying Slave


Venus de Milo


Botticelli's Venus and the Three Graces


Once we had found our way out of the Louvre and dashed across the street to buy an umbrella (because it was raining), we hopped on the Metro (because it was raining) and went back to our hotel.

We had dinner that night at L'Ilot Vache, an adorable and cozy little restaurant. I had the prix fixe menu with escargot, brochettes de bœuf, cheese course and chocolate mousse. (Kim had the fish and creme brulée.)


During the cheese course we had an unbelievable laughing fit. This was probably a combination of the exhausting day we'd had and a little too much wine. I said, "This cheese is kind of stinky cheese," which in Paris is sort of like pointing out that the sky is blue. We laughed uncontrollably 'til dessert.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The trip: Part 11 (Last day in Santorini)

Day 11
On our last day in Santorini, we walked to Fira to check out the archeological museum, which houses artifacts of the island's prehistoric settlement.

A big volcanic eruption in the 15th or 16th century B.C. covered the island in a layer of ash and destroyed the civilization, which included complexes of multi-story buildings and the oldest known running water system. In 1967 archeologists began excavating the site, called Akrotiri, and found it had been remarkably preserved, much like Pompeii. They found stunning pottery and amazing frescoes still beautifully intact. Amazing.



The museum was small but really well-designed. Very sparse, so the artifacts really stood out.

Just outside the museum is Fira's Orthodox Cathedral, which is all white and lovely.


Then we wandered around Fira and did some souvenir shopping and ate lunch at Naoussa. Best spaghetti I've ever had. And as we were sitting at our balcony table, the donkeys came by.


After lunch we wandered around some more, taking lots of photos before our flight out.



We saw lots of people taking wedding photos during our stay in Santorini, and most of them were doing silly, awkward poses on the cliff. Like this (imagine me in a flowing white veil):


This is an olive tree. They were everywhere in Greece. On the way to Delphi we saw miles of olive trees. They are a beautiful silvery green.


This is one of the tiny lizards that were constantly crossing our path in Santorini.


We were eager for our next destination but so glad to have experienced Santorini, which was uniquely beautiful and fascinating.


We flew back into Athens that night and were exhausted by the time we got to the Electra Palace Hotel. So we ordered room service pizza and enjoyed the view from our balcony.