Saturday, July 30, 2011

Smoke On The Water | Montreux, Switzerland | Freddie Mercury statue

Montreux by Lake Geneva

While driving home in the heavy rain after dining out the other night, the Deep Purple classic rock number, "Smoke On The Water", came on the radio. I am not a musician but the guitar riffs from that song are some of the most recognizable and popular ones. While researching for a past trip to Montreux, Switzerland on Lake Geneva, I remembered reading that the Deep Purple members were inspired to write this song after witnessing a fire that had broken out in the local casino and that the smoke had drifted onto the lake.

Montreux's main street, Switzerland

Montreux along Lake Geneva promenade

Montreux along Lake Geneva promenade

With its balmy Mediterranean like weather, Montreux is also celebrated as the Swiss Riviera with beautiful views of the Alps along the Lake Geneva . Nestled in its surrounding higher grounds are award winning vineyards with panoramic views of the lake and town. 

A gentle reminder to be an obedient dog in Montreux by Lake Geneva

McDonald's menu prices in Swiss Franc in Montreux, Switzerland

We strolled along the flowered lakeside promenade admiring the beautiful architectures of many of its pastel color buildings. This was also a perfect spot to watch the locals. Various signs along the promenade indicate several qualify of life reminders such as curbing your  dogs. The above picture shows the local McDonald's menu prices in Swiss Franc qualifying this to be a relatively expensive meal option compared to what we normally pay in the United States.

Freddie Mercury statue in Montreux by Lake Geneva

Montreux is a charming old town that has become the home away from home for many celebrities. The singer, Shania Twain has called it home. Another famous resident was Freddie Mercury, the late lead singer of the group Queen. A Freddie Mercury statue has been installed by the Lake Geneva promenade making it one of the most visited sites in this town.

We browsed the gift stores along Montreux's main street hoping to purchase a small cuckoo clock as a souvenir to bring home. We saw some beautifully designed cuckoo clocks that were beyond our budget and also too inconvenient to lug home. So no cuckoo clock but we brought home some Swiss chocolates that were a major hit

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bastille Day Celebration | New York City

Macarons from Ladurée, Paris

Macarons from the Mad Mac stand during the Bastille Day
celebration in New York City

We were blessed with a gift of macarons from the famed Ladurée store in Paris recently. We also  had the
opportunity to partake of some freshly made macarons at the Mad Mac stand during the Bastille Day celebration in New York  City during this past weekend. They were simply delicious. Unlike the Ladurée macarons, these were softer in texture and they kind of melted in the mouth.  We initially bought the raspberry ones and they soon ran out of them when we returned to the stand one hour later.

Bastille Day celebration in New York City

Bastille Day celebration in New York City

Fresh crepes being made at the Bastille Day celebration in New York City

Beautiful mouth watering desserts at the Bastille Day celebration in New York City

This was our second Bastille Day celebration attendance.  All the food stands were such marvelous eye candies last year that we had to return again this year to partake of some of  the offerings.  All the crepes being made looked delicious but the queues were so long at the stands that we decided to forgo them.

Live entertainment at the Bastille Day
celebration in New York City

This fete took place on 60th Street between Lexington and Fifth Avenues which was jam packed with visitors enjoying the French culture.  There were live entertainment embraced by the attendees.  Children enjoyed face paintings and while others participated in the cheese and wine tasting. 

Flower display at the Bastille Day celebration in New York City

The beautiful floral arrangement above decorated the American Airlines post, a sponsor of the festivities.

Macarons showcase at the Bastille Day celebration in New York City

Check out the above creative display for macarons !

Vive la France !

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Crocheting | Knitting

Source: Giraffe creation and picture by my talented niece

Source: A Mario mushroom creation and picture by my talented niece

When I was in the public library recently, I overheard a lady telling the librarian that knitting is a dying art. She couldn't find the knitting books she wanted in a local bookstore and came to the library for help. That bit of conversation turned my attention to my teenage niece who has acquired a crocheting hobby over the years.

She has learned crocheting from her grandmother and the time spent was a wonderful bonding experience. Over time, my talented niece has taken the initiative to crochet cute creations by looking up on the Internet for ideas and guidance. Above are some of the wonderful items that she has created.  I thought that the last item was a cupcake but my niece corrected me and informed me that it is a Mario mushroom ! All these creations are simply adorable !

I  have never learn how to knit but I have learned how to crochet as a teenager. I learned it together with a high school friend.  We would peruse crochet patterns together and discussed about our crocheting projects. When I reconnected with my friend on Facebook, I inquired whether she still crocheted but she no longer pursue this hobby.

I once crocheted a "blouse" from a pattern but I doubt that I could remember how to do it now. I have produced several baby blankets which were relatively easy to make being that it was either a square or rectangle and you just crocheted each one with different combination of colors. For an average crocheter, it was time consuming but you could multi-task while crocheting and doing other activities such as tv watching or commuting on public transportation.

At my daughter's birth, I received a beautiful pink and white blanket from a friend whose mother had crocheted it. My friend mentioned that her mom had arthritis and hence crocheting helped to exercise her fingers. We also received some beautifully knitted outfits from a relative. Bless them for these handcrafted items are still in good shape and  are definitely treasured as family "heirlooms".

Let's hope both the art of crocheting and knitting continue to thrive.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Lavender | New York Union Square Park

Beautiful fresh lavender

I love lavender. I savor its rich fragrances and delicate blue-violet color. I enjoy looking at pictures of lavender fields. Perhaps one day, I would have the opportunity to visit the glorious lavender fields in Provence, France.

I also enjoy lavender products such as Yardley of London, Moisturizing Soap English Lavender or Aveeno Stress Relief Body Wash, Lavender, Chamomile and Ylang-Ylang. They leave such wonderful scents after a wash.

While walking through the New York Union Square Park and browsing through the green market offerings recently, I happened upon a lavender stand.  Beautiful fresh lavender harvest straight from a regional lavender farm. A representative was giving out free sprigs to passers by. I received one and took in a breath of it and I was sold.  I bought two bunches home.

I've since placed the lavender in separate vases at home. Every time, I walked by, I could smell the delicate fragrances from the lavender flowers. A little lovely touch of Mother Nature in the house.


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