Attempting to Speak French in Paris

Attempting to Speak French in Paris

It must be said that it was a rocky start as my attempts to speak French began with a faux pas.

I arrived in Paris, breezed through customs, got my bag, navigated the taxi line and after the required salutations said, Tu prends les credits carte? Which means “Do you take credit cards? except that I used the informal you, as though we were old chums, which is considered rude, and just a little disrespectful, thus solidifying the stereotype of the “ugly American.”   My apologies to my fellow Americans out there.

There was a silent gasp.  I swear I heard it. And then, being the elegant man that he undoubtedly was, he politely responded, using the formal you, with something like, Bien sûr, mais si vous avez en espèces, ce serait apprécié. Which means: Of course, but if you have cash, that would be appreciated.  Realizing my mistake, I said, Je suis désolé, mon français est terrible, mais je fais de mon mieux. Meaning, I’m sorry, my French is terrible, but I do my best. I’m not sure that softened the blow, but I couldn’t think of what else to say. The remainder of the long cab ride to my hotel was spent in silence.

Needless to say, I paid with Euros.

Still, not to be deterred, I attempted to check in speaking French, but before I could get past the initial, bonjour, j’ai une réservation… he responded in English.

Now it must be noted that I’ve been practicing my French dutifully every single day for the past two years in anticipation of this trip and was really hoping to practice and maybe even have a conversation, albeit a rudimentary one.

However things went off the rails when the nice woman from housekeeping came to ask if I would like her to return with a vacuum cleaner because of some dirt that had fallen while the guy was trying to fix one of the black out blinds that wasn’t descending properly.  Now I know the word for housekeeper, femme de ménage, but I have never heard the word for vacuum I finally said, Pardon, je ne sais pas ce ça – Pardon me, I don’t know what this is, Who could blame her when she looked around in confusion.  What I meant to say was, I’m sorry I don’t understand what that means, but I was getting tired and couldn’t think clearly.  She then apologized and continued in perfect English.

Even when I sat down to have un cafe at a little Parisian restaurant on the Seine, and I successfully ordered in French and even was able to have a two sentence back and forth, feeling flush with my success I was utterly deflated when the waiter began replying in English.  Still, I insisted, somewhat comically to continue in my very bad French, while he replied in English and here’s the thing – just about everyone in Paris speaks English much better than I speak French.  Seriously small children have a leg up on me.  Though it must be noted, I did not attempt to carry on a conversation with any small children, all parents will be relieved to know that.

I did manage to take the metro, I was extremely pleased with myself, and even figured out how to transfer and purchase a ticket using one of the many machines they have. But when I tried to insert the ticket into the machine, all bets were off.  A nice young man finally came to my assistance to tell me that, yes, you put the ticket into the slot and it spits it out just beyond.  All was well.

There were countless instances when I couldn’t think quickly enough to respond in French to various things, such as when a group of young men passed me as I was walking along the Seine.  One young man said, Bonjour! and then followed that up with, Tu es très jolie!  You are very pretty.  What I wanted to say was, Merci, mais je pourrais être ta mère, Thank you, but I could be your mother, but instead I just kept walking, which was probably just as well. Oh please, I qualify for senior citizen discounts!

Still, tomorrow is another day and who knows what lively conversations I may attempt?

For those of you who’d like to see some video and photos of my first day, you can watch this short YouTube video.




I Hate the Gym & Other Profound Thoughts

I Hate the Gym & Other Profound Thoughts

Here’s the thing: I hate the gym.  I have a gym membership, but I never go. And Covid gave me a get-out-of-going-to-the-gym-for-the-foreseeable-future card, except that now everyone’s decided to move on with their lives. Still I remain resolute in my hatred of the gym, despite my age, and the increasingly urgent need to get some sort of exercise if I want to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle.  So I found an exercise app, downloaded it, and felt very pleased with myself.  That was three months ago, I think, though it may have been longer, which tells you how much I’ve used the app.  I’ll give you a hint – 0.

Until this week!

I can’t really explain what happened, but I’m very pleased to announce that this morning is my THIRD workout.  Now, to be fair, when the app asked me how long a workout I wanted, I chose the shortest option they gave, which is 10 minutes and I chose “low impact” because they didn’t have a “sedentary” option. Oh stop it, you’d have done the same.

So the first time I used it, I started the workout and before the trainer had even finished explaining the exercise we’d be doing the phone rang. I really did have to take the call so I paused it and then “forgot” to go back to the app.  It was rude to leave that trainer hanging like that, but I forgot, I swear.  That was about a month ago.  Last week I thought, this is ridiculous, I have to do something because standing on one leg while in the shower, really doesn’t count as exercise, or does it? Anyway, I did a 10 minute workout Sunday morning.  Oh yes I did!  And here’s my takeaway from that workout – who knew that in ten short minutes one could work up a sweat?  That’s the first revelation.  The other is that ten minutes is actually a really, really, really, really LONG time to be gyrating about working muscles that I didn’t even know I had.  And my final revelation about all of this is that I’m really out of shape because the next day I was sore, though that didn’t stop me from doing another workout and then this morning another.

I know some of you are going to ask what the app is. I’m going to tell you, but just know that I don’t work for this company nor do I receive anything from them for telling all of you about it.  Just wanted to be clear about that.  The app is FitOn. I’m thinking there are a lot of exercise apps out there, I don’t even remember how I learned of this one, though knowing me, I googled, “Best exercise app” and this one came up on a list with others.  When you first download and open it, it asks you, Do you want us to send you notifications.  Now I know about this whole “notification” business, it’s really code for nagging.  Basically they’re asking, “are you okay if we nag you?” So I said, Yes.  Go ahead, see if I care.  In fact I dare you. Nag away.  That was Sunday and sure enough on Monday morning I get a notification at 7:45am asking me if I’m ready to work out.  NO.  No, I’m not ready, nor will I ever be, but how can I really hold my head up and say no to a 10 minute workout?  I mean, seriously, I spend more time gazing out the window, so I figured, okay, fine, but I’m not putting on workout clothes or shoes, so I wore my bathrobe and slippers out of defiance.  And that 2nd workout packed a lot into 10 minutes.  Now all the muscles that were already sore were joined by others. It’s amazing how many muscles the human body has.

No one said this was going to be pretty.

This morning when I got that alert on my phone while I was practicing my French, I thought, okay, I got this and in preparation I even had on pants and a workout bra. TMI? Whatever. So I pressed “yes” and did an upper body sculpting workout that was 13 minutes long.  See?  That’s how they do it.  It’s like a gateway drug.  They start you at “low impact” and “10 minutes” and then they squeeze in a couple more minutes and before you know it, you’re working out for an hour.  One has to very careful.

Now most of you know that I’m off to France next week, and for those of you who are saying, what? How did I miss that? you evidently haven’t signed up for my newsletter, because I talk all about that.  You can sign up now by going to the right hand side bar of this blog and signing up now! By the way, I don’t have time to write a newsletter more than once or maybe twice a month, so just know you won’t get inundated with newsletters from me if you sign up. Seriously, look how often I manage to write a blog post?  It’s been very spotty lately.

Next week at this time I’ll be in Paris!  And I’ll have my FitOn app with me, because that’s the thing about apps, wherever you are, they are too.  It’s a beautiful thing, depending on how you look at it.

A bientôt!



This Just In: New Workshops for 2022!

This Just In: New Workshops for 2022!

A little humor first thing in the morning is like a little gift of joy.  So I was thrilled when my friend sent me this video.  Too funny and exactly the sort of thing my mother used to send to me.  She would have loved this.  This one’s for you Mom.  Please know this is silly and meant to be funny.  If you don’t find it so, move right along.

In other news, my new workshop line up for 2022 is up on my website!  If you’d like to take a look, click ‘here‘.  I’ve added a couple new workshops that also have both fabric kits AND thread kits that will be a lot of fun.  Both the Dorset Button Scissor Case and the Dorset Button Glasses Case workshops have both fabric and thread kits that can be purchased when signing up for the class.  These kits are only available to those who sign up for the workshop.

An Example of the Scissor Case Fabric kit

Another Fabric Kit for the Dorset Button Scissor Case Workshop.  Notice the little mirrors!

One more Scissor Case Fabric Kit

Scissor Case Thread Kit

And here are a couple of examples of the Dorset Button Glasses Case fabric kits, which include two different linens for the main case and the appliqued “wave”, a cotton lining and and a microfiber lining that is specifically for using with glasses, the wool for the shapes and a fleece interfacing.

Example of the Dorset Button Glasses Case Fabric Kit

Another Glasses Case Fabric Kit

And here are the threads for the Dorset Button Glasses Case. Aren’t they beautiful?!

And then there’s The Basics Workshop, which is really for those who are somewhat new to all of this.  We begin with the basics, literally.  We discuss needles and thread, thread weights, and the different types of fabrics one can stitch on. I’ve put together lots of really beautiful kits for that workshop, which has everything, literally everything that you will need for the workshop, including needles, the wool applique threads, embellishing threads in 8 wt, 5 wt, AND 3 wt as well as a skein of Stef Francis’ Texture Selection and so much more.  I also added lots of fun things to play with, ribbons, beads, different types of fabrics, dupioni silk, my own hand dyed silk velvet and other things in lots of different colorways!  Here are just a few of them.

The Basics Kit

The Basics Neutral

And finally I managed to make my favorite cookies: Ginger Cookies, not to be confused with Ginger Snaps.  These are chewy and fabulous.

Ginger Cookies, which everyone in my family said they didn’t care for, but I made them anyway and they all changed their minds!

Here’s to changing our minds, savoring new things and enjoying one another.



The Day to Day Trajectory of a Tourist on Safari

The Day to Day Trajectory of a Tourist on Safari

First day seeing an animal (any animal):

Me: What is that?  It looks like a boar.  Runs to find someone who can accurately identify said boar.  Told it’s a warthog.  

Second time seeing boar-like creature:

Me: Oh look! It’s a warthog. Confidently lists several features of the warthog; it’s preferred vegetation, which animals prey upon it, etc.

First day seeing a Bushback:

Me:  oh look!!!  It’s a bushback!  This is SO exciting. Spends next 20 minutes filming bushback while exclaiming over ever single detail of their unusual markings.

Male Bushback

Second time seeing a Bushback:

Me: Looks around for other animals, sees there are none, begrudgingly films bushback for a few seconds before turning the camera to a large bird which has landed on a tree branch nearby.

Third time seeing a bushback: 

Me: doesn’t bother turning around,  Oh look! A whole family of warthogs.  Aren’t they funny?

Fourth time seeing a bushback:

Me: No reaction.

When on safari each new sighting is met with feverish anticipation and curiosity.  Then, after a few more sightings, inevitably one is on to the next thing.  For me it began with pretty much anything that moved, followed by awe at the enormity and beauty, and a desire to see whatever it was up close.  Then, over the course of a few days, I noticed that I wasn’t even bothering to film the bushbacks and their beautiful markings. In an effort to combat “the jaded tourist”, I tried hard to pay attention to and marvel at the markings of the impala, antelope and others.


Still the thrill of seeing what are referred to as the big 5 couldn’t be shrugged off.  The big five: Rhino, Elephant, African Buffalo, Lion and Leopard are the most sought after sightings, but in the beginning, anything was exciting, even the bushbacks (which I still love for their exquisite markings).  But it’s easy to ignore yet another baboon or vervet monkey or Ibis or Spoon billed stork or the amazingly colorful Lilac Breasted Roller. In fairness, I never did tire of seeing those monkeys and birds, however I admit I did begin to view the impala and bushback, so plentiful and in such massive numbers, as the “deer” of Africa.

If you are interested in travel and specifically in traveling in Africa, I have been releasing a new video every day on my YouTube playlist: An African Adventure.

Today’s video covers a river safari we took in Zambia where we sighted countless hippos.  I was not frightened by any of the animals we saw except for those hippos.  They are enormous, fast and fierce and when you’re in a smallish boat, they can be terrifying!


Medical Emergency Remedies

Medical Emergency Remedies

This past week has been filled with medical emergencies of one kind or another. Not mine, but those I love. So far everyone is either stabilized or we hope they will be soon, for which I am grateful. So what better way to respond to the fear that comes with people we love going through medical horrors?

Silliness and laughter.

This one from my mother (I always love getting the things my mother sends) is more sweet than silly. I’m so impressed with this little girl who clearly has Celtic blood running through her veins! Have I mentioned that my husband descends from Vikings? Not the war waging, marauding, raping and pillaging ones, but the farmer, seafaring adventurer, music and dance lover ones. Can you pick? I just did. And anyway what do the celts have to do with the vikings, you might ask? Well, probably other than culturally influencing each other, intermarriage and the like, not much, but this is the way my brain works. Welcome.

And then there are these photographs that my sister-in-law sent, which are just too funny and fabulous.

In another life I want to be a travel photographer so that I can have animals climbing all over me. It’s important to clarify – non human animals, like a cheetah sidling up to me or a tiger cub or a baby gorilla… Okay, whatever.