Thursday, June 16, 2016

Crafting before we go....

We head out early tomorrow morning for a full day of travel.  I thought it would be fun to share two travel accessories that I made for our trip.  First, is eye masks for myself and Kyan.  (the other two Rees family members did not want one :) They are lined with a soft green fabric and I followed this free Craftsy tutorial with some tweaks. (No quilt batting as I preferred a less bulky feel) I have my fingers crossed that this will improve my ability to sleep on the plane....

And this passport holder was a hack of this pattern.   The outside (pictured below) has a pocket for your boarding passes so all can be kept together. I think following an actual pattern would have made the overall structure slightly more refined but I'm happy with the end result and I'm sure it will be an improvement over my rubber band method from last year.

Next time I'm in this space I'll be writing from France.  Au revoir!

Friday, June 10, 2016

France Books

We are a week out from leaving for France.  My furious reading schedule is still in full swing with two books waiting for me at the library.  I'm not sure if I'll get them thoroughly read, I may have to skim them but here is what I've read and what I'm taking with me to read in France.

I read two non-fiction books that were my favourites so far.
Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod is a modern day story of a woman dissatisfied with her corporate L.A life who makes a plan and heads to Paris.  And what happens to her there?  Well she finds the love of her life of course.  It is a light read, not too heady and I would recommend it as a fun summer story.  Perfect for the beach or a Paris street side cafe.

The Olive Farm by Carol Drinkwater was captivating.  Along the lines of A Year in Provence but written from the perspective of a woman and with way more ups and downs, this is a story of a couple buying a farm near Cannes in the south of France and all the trials and tribulations it holds. Something about Drinkwater's perspective was addictive to me and she has written 3 or 4 follow-ups which I am excited to read.  My library has all of them so I may wait and read them when we return but if I can't wait I will buy a Kindle copy of the second book while in France.

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain was the novel that I have enjoyed the most so far.  I love historical fiction and McLain made Ernest Hemmingway's first wife Hadley a sympathetic and well rounded character. The only downside to reading it was that I have avoided other stories from the same period. And I hesitate to read A Moveable Feast Ernest Hemmingway's memoir from his time in Paris because I didn't want to get stuck in one era's perspective of the city.

There is an extensive list here of titles I have read and the 50 plus books I have complied.  So far I am bringing Paris, France by Gertrude Stein, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer and Camille Claudel: A Life by Odile Ayral-Clause.  Two of these I will read on my iPad, the Stein book is very slim so it will travel well.  Luckily I can access my library remotely and so can download ebooks in France if I need more material.  I usually prefer hard copies but for larger books or travelling ebooks are so convenient. The lovely thing about travelling to France is that book lovers can find almost any type of book to enhance their experience before going there or while travelling there.  What an inspiring country!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Paris France Books for Kids

Finding great books to read the boys in preparation for our trip to France this summer has been more challenging than it was to find books about London England last year.  Perhaps literature is lost in translation here but we have had some hits and misses.  Picture books have been more of a hit than the literature we have tried.

Our favourite so far has been:  A Walk in Paris by Salvatore Rubbino.

It was current and the illustrations are detailed.  There is a great sense of the city conveyed in terms of culture and scale.

This is Paris by Miroslav Sasek was published in 1959 and the book has a quaint and retro vibe.  It presents the city as it was in the 50's (with a few asterisks with updates at the back in the new version) so it may mislead kids slightly but that can help them to understand the effects of time on a place.

We read this adaptation of the Humpback of Notre Dame which was not great.  I have not read Victor Hugo's full version but I can't say that I am interested in reading it after the adaptation.  My 8 year old found the story boring and it was way over my 5 year old's head.  I found little to grasp on to myself as the story is too brutal and fatalistic by far.
And we are a few chapters into and adaptation of The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas.  I'm enjoying this one more but the language is lofty for the younger set.  I think it may be more suitable for pre-teens and teens.

We are travelling to Normandy and visiting the Canadian D-Day beach during our northern leg of the trip. D-Day Landings: The Story of the Allied Invasion by Richard Platt is an introduction for the boys, helping them to understand the role of the soldiers and the planners of the allied invasion.  I hesitate to talk about war to them, but history has many sides. One of their great grandfathers landed on Juno beach so it is part of our familial history as well.

We read The Magical Garden of Claude Monet by Laurence Anholt in the past and will be visiting Giverny and I recommend it for anyone wanting to impart the magic of his garden.  The story sets up a wonderful contrast between metropolitan Paris and Monet's rural oasis.

I will share another post with some adult book recommendations before we leave.  I am currently reading at a break neck pace with no end in sight.  As novels and non-fiction about France and Paris are abundant.   My Goodreads list only scratches the surface of what is available.