Janu the whale

There is this cute little kid that I had promised a slew of  toys for, and she is now a whole year old! Man, how time flies. I will attempt to make her a gift every month for the year, as long as I can rack up enough sea themed goodies. It will be fun to see how much better Ill become after all the practices.

Since this is the littlest she will ever be on her birthday, I started with the largest of the sea creatures – a whale. I found the pattern over at Small Dream Factory. Its not the whale I had envisioned originally, but in the end, making a humpback whale was pretty cool. I only wish that I had enlarged the pattern a bit (the whale is only as long as my hand).

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Arent you proud that I was oh so clever enough to think to stick some yarn out the top for the water spout? :) Of course, I really dig embroidery, so i just had to embellish the polka dot fabric (which, by the way, was gifted to me and has therefore a bit of an heirloom quality to it).

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The pattern suggested to use felt for the eyes, but I wanted them to stick out more so I used some of grammas buttons I had left over from the baby shower. Here I ran into a problem though, as I sewed myself into a corner. The buttons were too close to the edge to use the sewing machine (OH! Did i mentioned that as part of our wedding gift, Pseudo-Mom-turned-MiL gifted me her awesome Bernina and all kinds of goodies?!?!) So i sewed what i could, and hand stitched the rest. Then i was paranoid I could never turn it, what with these giant buttons and all, but luck smiled upon me, phew!

I also was clever enough, if i must say, to add some detail on the underside. I just poked some yarn through, then went back over it with white thread to tack it down.

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To top it all off, it is stuffed with some bells inside so it rattles! She loved it, however briefly that lasted, and honestly that was more than I expected. But apparently I won her with the buttons, so i will keep that little tidbit in mind!

france: tuesday 091509

Today was scheduled for Carcassonne, the whole reason I convinced boy to go to France. It was quite a drive, and we got food at a gas station on the way. I also included a picture of the gas prices at the time (euros for litres of diesel).

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We were to stay at La Maison Coste, in their Le Lied d’Ossian room. However, once we arrived in the greater city of Carcassonne, we both finally said aloud to each other, as we were driving through tiny streets with tinier intersections without stop signs and way too many cars and pedestrians, that we just werent feeling it. So much, that we agreed to ditch our plans, and perhaps get a hotel somewhere else and then drive back to Carcassonne to see it.

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Unfortunately, this is as close to the castle city as we got – but when we go back to France, we will try to hit it up. We had decided instead, to see four other castles, which you will learn about on the next France post.

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Part of the reason we didnt return to Carcassonne was for the very fact that things close so early in France. There are not Holiday Inns at every highway intersection, open 24 hours for the weary traveller. Most hotels are tiny, with only maybe 8 rooms, and as such, the reception desk closes at 6 or so. We had no internet, so we drove until we found a gas station with free access, and that put us farther out. Then there was the burden of finding something on our way to the next stop (as you might imagine, being that hotels are so tiny, they dont often have websites easily found). By the time I could call and get a confirmation, we were pretty close to our next destination. We both really really like what we did instead, so much more than I believe we would have liked Carcassonne, in all its touristy glory.

And this, ladies and gents, is how we ended up in a tiny village called Lignan-sur-Orb, in a hotel (the Chateau de Lignan) that reminded us very much so of an old hospital, with a creepy feel of zombies or vampires (we coulndt tell, both maybe). It was wack but we had no complaints, truly I guess. We did stop at our first boulangerie also, down the street (a bakery shop). The man didnt know english and clearly got a kick out of us. He was so charming – singing to himself as he made our sammiches! Boy became obsessed and always would rather grab some bread than enjoy a true french meal the rest of the trip. At least it did save us some money;)

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france: monday 091409

Today was a very exciting day for me! We were to go visit the Lascaux II cave, an exact replica of the original cave, housing some of the oldest known paintings on the earth. I remember taking an ancient art history class, and thinking this was very cool. And once I learned about it in my first anthropology class, the gears clicked and my brain started churning and I found my area of interest.

To get there, we stopped at Montignac to buy tickets. Due to an odd timing issue (mostly involving an English speaking tour guide, but also because the French typically close for lunch), we had to wait a few hours so we wandered around the beautiful town. I tried to pee in what turned into a scary trap, lol. (I wont go into detail but it has to do with no lights turning on after the door shut – and locked – and a single glowing red button – it is true what they say of a red button – NEVER TOUCH IT!)

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Unfortunately, photos were not allowed inside the cave. It wouldnt be the same anyway – it was a very powerful experience to know the story (as much as it is known) and then see it (even if it is a replica).

We returned to Sarlat and wandered the cobbled streets. I found the fairy cave from the Legend of Zelda! (If only we had a jar…) We ate in the center again, and it was the first (and only) meal that went astray for me.

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