Painting

Broke out the smock and brushes today. Art makes the world go round. 

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 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.


France: Part V - Villeneuve-Minervois and Etc.

On our second to last day we went to a relatively new vineyard in the town of Limoux. Limoux is a town that has a lot of history as it was the place where champagne was really invented. Monks originally created it here, Dom Perignon came through town, stole the recipe, and set up shot in the town of Champagne where he produced and marketed the sparkling wine, and eventually gained the AOC. The winery we went to, Gayda, does not make limoux though. It was a small production of various whites and reds. After the tasting, we went upstairs to the restaurant for lunch. This was the whole reason we went to this vineyard as the view from the restaurant looked over the Pyrennes. 

After Gayda, we went back to our small town and laid low the rest of the day. Naomi and I took a walk around town to see if we could discover anything new. The only thing we discovered was that Naomi loved putting her hands in dirty fountains and posing against various doors and walls. Oh, and that Naomi now has an adopted French Grandma. Then that night after Naomi went to sleep, I ventured to the local pub to watch Liverpool play Real Madrid. It wound up to be just myself and the bar tender. I spoke no French, he no English. It made for a fun time. 2 Guinness and 3 Real Madrid goals later, I was ready to call it a night at halftime.

The following day we did a lot of driving and saw many little things. We went to an olive oil co-op in the morning. Aside from grapes, olives are a big thing in the region and because of that there are many small batch olive oil producers. After tasting many different varieties, and naomi eating an entire loaf of "tasting bread", we headed to an old book store just off the Canal du Midi. It was big, old and smelled like my elementary school's text books. Neat to see but we did not stay long. Next we drove to a nearby village to see the market and have some lunch. Two huge sandwiches and a basket of pomme frites later, we were off to see the goat cheese farm. But, we arrived too early and they were only open in the morning when the goats go out to pasture, and in the evening when they get back. With Kiddo already asleep in the back, there was no way we would have been able to wait 2 more hours. So we just drove through some incredible back roads and enjoyed the landscape one more time before turning in to begin packing. We flew home the following day,

Warning: Heavy on the kid below.

 Adopted Grandma. Villeneuve-Minervois

Adopted Grandma. Villeneuve-Minervois

 Outside Gayda. Limoux

Outside Gayda. Limoux

 Driving, turn right. Limoux

Driving, turn right. Limoux

 Steamed milk at the communist bar. Limoux

Steamed milk at the communist bar. Limoux

 Checking to see if she's doing it right. Limoux

Checking to see if she's doing it right. Limoux

 Inside the courtyard. Villeneuve-Minervois

Inside the courtyard. Villeneuve-Minervois

 Hoop dreams, yo. Villeneuve-Minervois

Hoop dreams, yo. Villeneuve-Minervois

 Naomi practicing Red Steel. Villeneuve-Minervois

Naomi practicing Red Steel. Villeneuve-Minervois

 Playing with the gate. Villeneuve-Minervois

Playing with the gate. Villeneuve-Minervois

 Fountain. Villeneuve-Minervois

Fountain. Villeneuve-Minervois

 Front door Open, closed, open, closed. Villeneuve-Minervois

Front door Open, closed, open, closed. Villeneuve-Minervois

 Guinness and Balotelli. Villeneuve-Minervois

Guinness and Balotelli. Villeneuve-Minervois

 Family portrait over the Canal du Midi. Le Somail

Family portrait over the Canal du Midi. Le Somail

 On the way to the goat farm. Somewhere

On the way to the goat farm. Somewhere

 in the doorway. Saint Chinian

in the doorway. Saint Chinian

 Through the gate and courtyard. Villeneuve-Minervois

Through the gate and courtyard. Villeneuve-Minervois

 MIme shirt on bench. Saint Chinian

MIme shirt on bench. Saint Chinian

 The plaster stairs in our house. Villeneuve-Minervois

The plaster stairs in our house. Villeneuve-Minervois

 Last bath, Villeneuve-Minervois

Last bath, Villeneuve-Minervois

France: Part IV - Carcassonne and Canal du Midi

About 15 minutes from our house was Carcassonne, the largest walled city still in operation in Europe. We headed out to this medieval city to a.) find the princess (and the pea) in the castle for Naomi and b.) see the second most visited place in France, behind the Eiffel Tower. The Citadel sat high above the Aude river and was rather impressive with it's multiple turrets and drawbridge entrance. Once you got inside though, you were made to shuffle through about 100 feet of tourist trinkets ranging from 9 Euro wooden swords and plastic suits of armor to magnets, pencils, and the mannequin in a guillotine. But after you made your way through the Jersey Shore boardwalk portion, it opened back up to normal shops and restaurants. We roamed around a bit and it was here where the ultimate croissant was had. Naomi was in heaven.

From here, we walked down to the modern city of Carcassonne to check out a market. After buying a 4 Euro bottle of wine, we went to the local lunch takeaway shop and bought a couple sandwiches. With wine and lunch in tote, we continued to the Canal du Midi. This is a canal that runs from the Atlantic Ocean in Bordeaux all the way across the country to the Mediterranean. There is a lock system along the entire length which enables people to cruise from one end to the other. But we were not here to rent a boat and cruise the canal. Instead, we rented bikes and road along the path on the side of the canal. First time Naomi was on a bike, she loved it. After about a half an hour, we pulled off the path, found a low rock wall on someone's farm, and ate lunch on it. A couple sandwiches and a bottle of wine with no glasses. Perfect birthday lunch. 

After lunch we went back to turn in the bikes and headed back towards home. Someone was coming over to the house to cook us dinner that night and we had to get back in time to meet them.

 Between the 2 outer walls of the Citadel. Carcassonne

Between the 2 outer walls of the Citadel. Carcassonne

 Drawbridge and turrets. Carcassonne

Drawbridge and turrets. Carcassonne

 The perfect croissant. Carcassonne

The perfect croissant. Carcassonne

 Buttery heaven, and a new leaf. Carcassonne

Buttery heaven, and a new leaf. Carcassonne

 Boy in orange. Carcassonne

Boy in orange. Carcassonne

 Uppies, Daddy. Carcassonne

Uppies, Daddy. Carcassonne

  Shadows on the way to the new city. Carcassonne

Shadows on the way to the new city. Carcassonne

 This dude is French, the boulangerie is closed. Carcassonne

This dude is French, the boulangerie is closed. Carcassonne

 Textures. Carcassonne

Textures. Carcassonne

 Stopped in a cathedral, lit a candle. Carcassonne

Stopped in a cathedral, lit a candle. Carcassonne

 Riding along the canal. Canal du Midi

Riding along the canal. Canal du Midi

 Lunch. Canal du Midi

Lunch. Canal du Midi

 Lunch 2. Canal du Midi

Lunch 2. Canal du Midi

 Sitting on the lunch table. Carcassonne

Sitting on the lunch table. Carcassonne

 Wrapping up lunch. Canal du Midi

Wrapping up lunch. Canal du Midi

 Tunnel over the canal. Canal du Midi

Tunnel over the canal. Canal du Midi

Next up: France: Part V - Villeneuve-Minervois and Etc.

France: Part III - Collioure

After a day filled with vertical climbs, we decided to go in the complete opposite direction the following day. We got in our Seat Leon a little after 9:00 AM and drove east until we reached Narbonne, at which point we made a right and headed south along the coast. It was a sunny day and the light seemed to dance off of the Mediterranean and we headed into Catalunya. As we neared closer to the Pyrennes, the mountains seemed to roll right into the sea and with just 10 miles left until reaching España, we got off the highway and rolled into the small beach town of Collioure.

Collioure was a busy place, but not too crowded. There is an old fortress right next to the beach that made for a truly remarkable landmark. The streets around the fortress were lined with small shops of various types. Bakery, restaurant, leather goods and pottery just to name a few. We arrived just as everything was closing up, it was time for lunch. This is something we quickly learned, the French take lunch seriously. Everything closes for 2 hours and all of the restaurants fill up. After wandering around a bit and eating a beignet before the bakery closed, we decided to partake as well. And since we were so close to Spain, tapas were a necessity. So, back in my comfort zone (I don't know a lick of French), I broke out the español and ordered away. Naomi ate everything we ordered; boquerones, jamon, tortilla, pan con tomate, and chèvre cheese. 

After lunch, we took a quick walk on the beach where we could throw some stones into the sea and get our feet wet. Then we shared a gelato before heading out to tour a local vineyard. The tour itself was nothing extraordinary, but the product was. It was a fortified wine, similar to porto, called Banyuls. It was aged for 11 years before even being sold. Yep, we brought some back. After the tour, we headed back up the coast, then turned to the west and drove home into the sunset. Great way to ride out your 30s.

 View from the top of the fortress. Collioure

View from the top of the fortress. Collioure

 Boy standing on the beach. Collioure

Boy standing on the beach. Collioure

 Collioure.

Collioure.

 Riding the "big girl" swing for the first time. Collioure

Riding the "big girl" swing for the first time. Collioure

 Boat. Collioure

Boat. Collioure

 Tapas. Collioure

Tapas. Collioure

 Tossing stones. Collioure

Tossing stones. Collioure

 The ladies and the lookout. Collioure

The ladies and the lookout. Collioure

 Me being a nerd. Collioure

Me being a nerd. Collioure

 Tired. Collioure

Tired. Collioure

 Chillin' next to some boutique. Collioure

Chillin' next to some boutique. Collioure

 Sun drenched. Collioure

Sun drenched. Collioure

 Banyuls aging. And aging. And...

Banyuls aging. And aging. And...

Next up: France: Part IV - Carcassonne and the Canal du Midi

France: Part II - Chateaux de Lastours and Minerve

As I mentioned in the previous post, the house we rented was in the Languedoc-Roussillion region of France. More precisely, we were in the middle of the Pays du Cathare (Cathar country). The area is known for the many Cathar ruins, many dating back as far as the 1300s. One of the best remaining ruins was a mere 4 miles from our house, Chateaux de Lastours. So, we figured this would be a great way to ease on into our trip. We'll take a ride, check out some ruins/castles, mozy around and then have lunch. Easy peasy. Not so much. The ruins were at the top of a rather high summit which would involve some hiking. We strapped the kidlet into her backpack and away we went. Up, up and up. About 45 minutes later, we finally reached the top and the view was worth the burning legs and sweaty t-shirt. 

Next on the agenda, after a lengthy lunch of course, was a visit the town of Minerve. The town was built on top of a skinny peninsula-shaped plateau where the walls of the town were built right up against the drop off into a deep gorge. There was one way into the town, and that was over a rather stunning arched stone bridge. It was pretty striking to see. This would never pass any sort of zoning in the US. Wandered around for a while, and then got a crepe and a coffee. When in Rome, er, Minerve.

 Looking out over the ruins. Lastours

Looking out over the ruins. Lastours

 View from halfway up. Lastours

View from halfway up. Lastours

 I like your hair, Mommy. Lastours

I like your hair, Mommy. Lastours

 Big cheesin'. Lastours

Big cheesin'. Lastours

 Hills. Lastours

Hills. Lastours

 Rocks and ruins. Lastours

Rocks and ruins. Lastours

 Cave. Lastours

Cave. Lastours

 Ruins and trees on the way back down. Lastours

Ruins and trees on the way back down. Lastours

 Minerve

Minerve

 Bridge. Minerve

Bridge. Minerve

 Shop sign. Minerve

Shop sign. Minerve

 Church wall. Minerve

Church wall. Minerve

 Chateaux Minerve.

Chateaux Minerve.

 Crepe with nutella. Minerve

Crepe with nutella. Minerve

 Crepe and signs. Minerve

Crepe and signs. Minerve

 Walking along the gorge. Minerve

Walking along the gorge. Minerve

 Heading home. Minerve

Heading home. Minerve

Next up: France: Part III - Collioure

France: Part I - Travel

We travelled to the southern part of France last week. We rented a house in the Languedoc-Roussillon region that was older than the USA and day tripped to various places. The next few blog posts are going to be from those travels. I apologize in advance for so many pictures of the kid.

Having never flown internationally with Naomi as a toddler, Andee and I weren't sure what to expect. We anticipated the worst based upon all of the horror stories you hear from random people. "You're going to France, what are you doing with Naomi? Oh she's going with you?! You guys are crazy!" In the end, it was no different than anything else you do with a toddler. Negotiate, distract, and stay just 5 minutes ahead of them at all times. It also didn't hurt that the flight over was only halfway booked and there were enough seats to lay down and go to sleep. Once we arrived in Madrid, she was ready for the 3-hour layover before flying to our final destination, Toulouse.

 Mom, Naomi, Cream Cheese. Philadelphia

Mom, Naomi, Cream Cheese. Philadelphia

 Falling backwards. Philadelphia

Falling backwards. Philadelphia

 Naomi. Madrid

Naomi. Madrid

 Air vent. Madrid

Air vent. Madrid

 Bored, waiting for flight #2. Madrid

Bored, waiting for flight #2. Madrid

 Reflection. Madrid

Reflection. Madrid

 Lonely traveller. Madrid

Lonely traveller. Madrid

 Distract, distract, distract. Madrid

Distract, distract, distract. Madrid

 Early morning family portrait. Madrid

Early morning family portrait. Madrid

 Trying to get comfortable. Madrid

Trying to get comfortable. Madrid

 Heading to the gate. Madrid

Heading to the gate. Madrid

 "Escalator" Madrid

"Escalator" Madrid

Next up: France: Part II - Chateau de Lastours and Minerve (and probably more of the kid)

Hot as peaches

A couple weeks back, we decided to take a trip to go peach picking. It just happened to be the hottest day of the summer, or so it felt. This was a photo from the covered hayride.

Dilworth & Doughnuts

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We took a trip downtown for apple fritters and then walked to see the new Dilworth Park. She loves Saturday morning train rides and walking around the city. So much to see. And eat.

Bee's knees

Someone wasn't paying attention while walking Milo this morning. She ran out of sidewalk. Here is the sequence of events.

School's out

School's out this week, so what better way to occupy a Summer morning than head to the playground. Kid loves the swings and slide, she can't get enough of either. 

 Shoes on. Milo's not so overjoyed about staying at home.

Shoes on. Milo's not so overjoyed about staying at home.

F-Stop: On the Road

After a long hiatus, I have decided to resurrect this site once again. And what better way to get things going than to announce I have some photos up on the latest edition of F-Stop Magazine's group exhibition: On the Road. It's a great collection of photos and I am happy to have been selected to be a part of it. You can take a look at fstopmagazine.com.

 Image by Jean Graston.

Image by Jean Graston.