House Crashing: MO Style

As promised last week, here’s a quick recap of our recent Florida house crash, MO style.  MO has been a frequent blog bomber here on Bunches of Joy (see more on MO here, here, and here), but this time we got to invade his space; his new digs by the beach to be more exact . . .


In fairness, MO’s new digs are a rental and came with some of what you’re about to see (like the valance and letters above).  So not all of this is exactly MO’s taste.  Moving on . . . 

MO is the consummate host–he had lunch prepared for us upon arrival (granted, it was a true bachelor meal of turkey burgers with only McDonald’s ketchup packets as the available condiments, but I must say–it was delicious and much, much appreciated).


He also did a great job entertaining Mini B . . . with kisses, hopping, and apple sauce.





His entertainment for Mr. Squishy was somewhat, er, less appropriate . . .


Oh well.  Luckily Aunt Doodles spared him 🙂 . . .


While MO was entertaining the kids, I had a chance to snoop poke around and get some shots of his little bachelor pad.



It’s quite the beach-ready place.


The best part was the upstairs deck, complete with a picnic table that MO built himself!  Color me impressed.



The pictures don’t do that table justice–it’s HUGE.  Could easily fit 8 people.  Maybe on his next trip to Buffalo he can whittle us a new table?  Mini B would be much obliged.


All in all, it was a short visit, but a great one.  Thanks again for all your hospitality MO!  Oh, and points to anyone who can guess what his home is built of?


Any guesses?  Brick?  Wood?  Fairy Dust?


Seashells!!!!  Ha.  Thanks again MO!  Next time we’re going to drop Mini B off for a long weekend . . . sound good?!  Chickie Chickie Yeah!!!!!



Mini Bunches: 10 Months

Two posts in one week?!?!  That’s just crazy talk.  So call me crazy.  Earlier this week you got to see what Mini B was up to during her ninth month of life.  Now, let’s take a look at what she was up to during her 10th month.


One major change should be immediately obvious . . . hair!  She’s finally sporting a little more on top.  Still not enough to overcome being called a boy by strangers each and every time we go out, but we’re getting there.

And just like my last couple monthly updates, here’s a rundown of what our Mini Bunches was up to during her 10th month:

The month started out with Mini B’s first trip to Springdale Farm (which you may remember from our goat hoax).  Of course, we may have to reconsider that whole gettin-a-goat thing . . .



Mini B is obsessed with tags.  And what’s amazing is that she knows the fake tags (like those on Taggies toys) from the real tags with words on them.  Not sure what it is about tags, but maybe it’s genetic?  I may or may not have had a similar obsession as a wee one.


Her other big obsession?  Our iPhones.  She has a lot of people to talk to ya’ know.



Mini B celebrated her first St. Patrick’s Day.  Hollah!


And she also continued practicing for her American Idol audition.



She took a break from exercising her pipes in order to take her first trip to the local children’s museum (Explore & More in East Aurora).



Oh, did I mention that she learned to read?  Sunday mornings are her favorite . . .



Mini B celebrated her first Easter.


It was short lived.


She also found her voice . . . this picture needs her added soundtrack of squeals and shrieks.


And then of course Mini B continued to rack up her frequent flyer miles with a trip to Florida where she got some qt with Mr. Squishy . . .


And they got along well except for one ill-fated fight over a water bottle.  Room full of toys and these two want the water bottle . . .


Not only did Mini B get quality time with Mr. S, but she also got to see some friends from NY who were also enjoying a little fun in the sun.  Yep, Mr. & Mrs. Rockstar were rockin’ out with their own little fam . . .


And guess who else made an appearance . . . chickie chickie yeah!


Living the Florida life.  Not too shabby, eh?



“The ocean is big.”  Those were his exact words.


We had a great time with Mr. S, Uncle J, and Aunt Doodles–thanks guys!







I seriously can’t get enough of these two.



Once we wrapped things up on Amelia Island, it was time to head to New Smyrna Beach to visit Mini B’s other little cousin . . . but first, a stop at MO’s place (more on that next week):


After a quick visit, it was time to move on.  Of course, with two babies in the car, we pretty much took the tortoise route.  When one baby slept, the other one cried.  Awesome.  Apparently we forgot to tell the kiddos that we were on vacation.  But either way, we made it and look who was ready for the paparazzi . . .



She showed the new kids on the block how beach time is done.



The first time touching the Atlantic Ocean for both of them . . .







Mini B was lucky enough to celebrate her 10 month birthday with her two littlest cousins.  Such fun!







Before we returned home, we took one last early morning walk on the beach.  Sigh.  Sleepy little beach town–how we love you!







So there you have it.  Her 10th month.  St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Florida, cousins, sun, sand, and surf.  Good times.


Time for a Bigger Chair

Mini B and I traveled to Dallas a couple weekends ago to visit Mr. Squishy.  As usual, she did well traveling although that might be our last solo trip for a while . . . I’m not so sure that my seat neighbors appreciated Mini B’s feet in their lap while I nursed her on the plane.  Sorry strangers.  But besides that, it was a great, albeit far too short, trip and we can’t wait to see Mr. Squishy again sometime soon.  Oh, and as a bonus, we had a longish layover in Boston, so Mini B got some quality time with Grammie.


Now, I haven’t made it through all my pictures yet (I only just got through my pictures from our earlier trip to Dallas four months ago), but I thought it would be good to make a little comparison.  Here’s a shot from our first time meeting Mr. Squishy (this was before he earned his nickname), taken on September 22, 2012:


And now here’s a shot from our recent trip, taken on January 21st, 2013 (almost 4 months exactly after the shot above).  And note–these kiddos are in the same chair (and I tried to pick a shot of them in similar positions):


No one’s been missing any meals, eh?


Hopefully Mr. Squishy doesn’t need that toe . . .


And we have to thank Mr. Squishy for lending his clothes and toys to Mini B during our trip.  It was nice to not have to pack too much, and Mini B had so much fun testing out all of Mr. Squishy’s goods.


Of course, Mini B would have been remiss if she didn’t share anything of hers . . .


Mini B thought he looked quite dapper.


Although she was a tad confused by the whole situation.


Just a little taste of what Mr. Squishy might have looked like if he had been born a Mrs. Squishy . . .


But fear not, this little guy is all man . . .


And hopefully he won’t someday hate his aunt for posting pictures of him in a flowery jumpsuit.

Isn’t it crazy what a difference 4 months makes?

Wedding Crasher

I’m not sure how it happened, but Mini B has officially become a wedding crasher.  Her dad is so proud.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves–how about we start at the beginning?  First up–Mini B’s first plane ride.  Gone are the days of us traveling light, huh?

She was great in the airport . . .

But that slumber didn’t last long–she was wide awake by the time we boarded our flight to Philly . . .

And even though we were prepared for disaster (I had steeled myself to be those parents with the screaming baby who receive one of two looks from the other passengers: 1) the look of total sympathy; or 2) the look of death), she actually did wonderfully.  She was wide awake the whole time, but overall pretty content.  Mr. Bunches and I breathed a collective sigh of relief for that one.

Once we got to Philly, we were starving.  And what do you eat in Philly?!  Why, cheese steaks of course!  So off to Geno’s we headed . . .

Now, I had a Philly cheese steak once back in high school on a rowing trip to Philly, but for the life of me I can’t remember where it was from.  But I have a vivid memory of it being surprisingly good.  And Mr. Bunches assured me that this one was the BEST (the best, Jerry, the best).

And let’s face it–I was famished.  So I polished off an entire cheese steak in less than 2 minutes.  Ugh–I’m cringing right now at the memory of it all.

Good thing Mini B was sound asleep and therefore got to miss the carnage.  Was it the best cheese steak ever?  No.  Hardly.  But it was food.  And I was hungry.  Therefore, mission accomplished.  Once our bellies were filled with grease and “steak” (I mean, let’s be honest–that’s no Grade A beef or anything), we headed off to introduce Mini B to the “Loop,” aka Mr. Bunches’ college buddies . . .

Of course, she didn’t really seem to take that much interest in the conversation . . .

Ahh well.  After that it was time to take Mini B to her first hotel.  The Hilton Garden Inn.  Now, we had asked for a crib in the room, but we already knew we weren’t going to use it.  Nope, not for our high-maintenance Mini B.  No sirree.  We had to instead bring her “Pink Palace” from home for her to sleep in . . .

And there she is in all her glory.

See, in preparation for this trip I had attempted to wean her off the Pink Palace (which is actually the Nap Nanny), but it didn’t work (and I suffered 30 sleepless hours for my failed attempt).  So the Pink Palace came with us–stuffed in a suitcase.  But it was basically a lifesaver, so it was worth it.

Why was it a lifesaver?  Well, let’s just put it this way–Mini B gave us her longest sleep ever on our trip.  8 uninterrupted hours of pure bliss.  We seriously contemplated moving into that Hilton Garden Inn for good . . . isn’t it amazing how important sleep becomes when you have a kid?  But anyways, back to the long, drawn out story of our trip (C’mon–you’re loving the play-by-play, right?).

On Saturday we decided to hit up Mr. B’s alma mater: Villanova.

She was loving being shown around by her proud papa . . .

Of course, being the idiots we are, we thought that school hadn’t started yet since there weren’t any students around.  But then we saw a few students and they informed us that it was just too early for people to be up, but school had in fact started the previous week.  It was 11:30 AM on Saturday.  Apparently that’s “too early” for people to be awake . . . oh, to be in college again.  Sigh.

We wanted to get Mini B a little souvenir of her trip, so we headed to the bookstore.

But it was CLOSED.  Seriously?!  Closed for the entire Labor Day weekend–whoever heard of such a thing?  So maybe next time Mini B . . .

After our excursion, it was time to get ready for the main event: the WEDDING!  Mini B took a power nap (3 hours–basically her best nap EVER.  Again, we were seriously considering moving into that Hilton) and then put on her party dress and headed out.

Of course, she ended up waiting until we got there to give us a little surprise . . . no worries, though, that just meant a quick diaper change in the car.  We’re actually getting pretty good at that maneuver.

Once she was all cleaned up, we passed her off to our babysitter (thanks Auntie Kar-Kar!) and we headed to the ceremony.  It was really beautiful–held at the Stone Barn in Kennett Square, PA, the ceremony was just perfect.  I’ll let the pictures do the talking . . .

See what I mean?  Sigh.  Thank you, thank you Leah & Derek for inviting us to be a part of your day!

Well, after the serious stuff was taken care of, it was time to get our party on, and that’s when it became official: Mini B crashed the wedding!

She just had to get in there and see what all the fuss was about.  Plus, they had bacon-wrapped scallops.  And if there’s one thing Mini B loves–it’s bacon-wrapped scallops ;).

Seriously, though, she had a great time meeting some of the guests, being reacquainted with the “Loop” and also giving her congratulations to Leah & Derek.  There also may have been a few celebrities in attendance that may or may not have been slightly enamored with our little peanut . . . but we’ve got to keep those details on the DL.  Sorry! 🙂

Unfortunately Mini B was not the best dressed in attendance . . .

Sorry Ian–I just had to do it.  It was THAT good.

It was a great time, and once Mini B made her rounds, it was back to Auntie Kar-Kar so that the Mr. and I could enjoy our night out along with everyone else.

There was a fair amount of hoopla, including Derek’s initiation into the Loop . . .

Which basically was the start of things going a bit downhill (this last one is from the after party) . . .

Oh, and just because I thought they were great, here are a couple shots of their wedding cakes (yes–they had three!) . . .

After all the hoopla, we spent a quiet night back at the Hilton Garden Inn (aka our favorite place ever since it somehow put that magic spell on Mini B and got her to sleep extra long) and awoke only slightly hung over . . .

But no worries–we rallied.

Mini B even did a little more hanging out with her new friends . . .

But then it was time to say goodbye and head back to the airport to go home.  She did AMAZING on the flight home–slept the entire way!

It was a great trip, but she was happy to be back home . . .

And while we had some trepidation about leaving behind that glorious, glorious Hilton Garden Inn, it all worked out in the end.  On our first night home she slept 9.5 hours straight!  It was a Labor Day MIRACLE!  Of course, it didn’t last–the next night we were back to sleeping in 4 hour chunks.  So who knows–maybe we will be moving into that Hilton Garden Inn after all . . .

Where in the World is Mini Bunches?

That’s right–our Mini Bunches has officially become a world traveler.  Her first stop?  CANADA!

Armed with her birth certificate, our passports, and our season passes to Marineland, we crossed the border and introduced Mini B to her first taste of international travel.  And yes–she loved it.

She loved the whales . . .

And especially the Killer Whale–she even taught him how to jump over her (it’s pretty amazing how talented she is, right?  I mean, and this was all at only 9 weeks old AND with her eyes closed) . . .

Not too shabby, eh?

Well, Mr. Bunches was a little upset that she couldn’t even bother to open her eyes when it came to feeding time, but maybe that’s just as well.  Just look at those jaws!

Either way, she was a real trooper for her first-ever trip to the True North.  And she did manage to open her eyes to say hello to some of the other Marineland creatures . . .

So I’m not exactly sure what deer, elk, and buffalo have to do with Marineland, but I’m just going with it.  Seeing as how this is one of Mr. B’s favorite places ever, I’ll give them a pass . . . 

And look–Mini B wasn’t the only baby hanging around . . .

Once we’d said hello to all the animals, it was time for a treat and a visit to my favorite area of all–the black bear enclosure!  We didn’t feed them this time, but we definitely will in the future.  They are HYSTERICAL (granted, not in this picture they aren’t, but just take our word for it).

Well, after a long afternoon at the park, it was time to go home.  Just one quick pit stop at the castle (yep–just another random piece of this theme park.  I swear–I don’t really get it).  

And then we headed out, which of course meant we had to walk by the gift shop (those Marineland folks are no dummies) . . . Mini B couldn’t take her eyes off of those blow-up toys!

And she of course has Dad wrapped around her little finger, so he wanted to get her one, but I put my foot down.  I mean–c’mon!  She’s nine weeks old for crying out loud.  There will be plenty more trips to Marineland in her future and I’m sure she’ll end up with multiples of these guys . . .

But it was hard to say no . . . just look at that face!

All in all, it was a good trip.  So much better than playing in our own little marineland . . .

Oh, and ever since that trip, Mini B’s new favorite song is the Canadian anthem.  It calms her down almost immediately whenever we sing it . . . how random is that?!

Babymoon, Canada-Style

Yes, so I get that this post isn’t exactly timely in lieu of the fact that our Mini Bunches arrived a few weeks early (more on her here); but, better late than never has become my new motto (and for those of you who have sent baby gifts, please understand that the motto applies to thank you notes as well–they’re coming, I promise!).

So here’s just a quick post about our last major outing before Mini Bunches arrived . . . where to?  Toronto!  Yep, we didn’t want to travel too far from home given my ginormous state  (I was 33 weeks pregnant at the time) . . .

So we just drove a couple hours north to the bumping metropolis that is Toronto.  But, of course, what trip to Canada would be complete without a little trip down memory lane for Mr. Bunches?  First stop: Port Credit, Ontario.

Mr. Bunches played hockey here as a kid and had very fond memories of the place.  And I can see why–it was freaking adorable!!  We just might have to move there, especially because directly across from the hockey arena was a rowing boathouse–I mean, could it be more perfect for the two of us?  Oh, and there was also a super rad playground that I’m sure Mini Bunches will just love some day . . .

Yeah, we were those people.

It was really neat seeing the rink where Mr. B used to play (and seeing him get all giddy about it to boot) . . .

We’ll definitely have to take Mini B there some day . . . and who knows–maybe she’ll be a hockey player like her daddy?

After our little detour, we took another brief one in St. Catharine’s and then another one in Burlington, Ontario.  We didn’t snap any pictures, but both were fantastic towns that I’m sure we’ll visit again.  We’ll be sure to take pictures when we go next time with Mini B.  But now, on to Toronto and our little adventure there . . .

First up: FOOD.  What else, right?  I mean, I was 33 weeks pregnant people!  And what better place to find food than the St. Lawrence Market . . .

Kangaroo meat anyone?

It was hard to decide what to eat with all those options, but we finally decided on some seafood at Buster’s Sea Cove (it didn’t hurt that the line for this place was about 50+ people long):

Yay salmon sandwich!

After we finished up at the market, we decided to just wander around the city and see what we could discover.  And what did we find?  Why, more food of course . . .

Yep, we discovered Marche, an amazing food market with basically everything you could ever want to eat . . .

And then look at what we stumbled upon across from Marche: a hockey store!  Oh happy day for Mr. Bunches!

Of course, unbeknownst to us, the store was actually the gift shop for the Hockey Hall of Fame.  What a happy accident, right?

We got to see a lot of cool hockey stuff, like an homage to Wayne Gretzky, aka Mr. Bunches’ hero:

A mock-up of a pro locker room (I forget which team it was):

Some interactive shooting games for Mr. Bunches to relive his glory days . . .

And there’s the team with a special place in Mr. B’s heart . . .

Some championship trophy blow-ups . . .

And a little trophy that some of you may have heard of . . .

Yep–the Stanley Cup!  Turns out it only spends about 30 days a year at the Hockey Hall of Fame, but our timing was just right–lucky us, eh?

Not too bad, eh?  We were pretty jazzed.  Anyways, to wrap this up, Mr. Bunches took me to a fantastic Mother’s Day Brunch at One Restaurant.  I wish we had taken pictures, but we were a bit too hungry (again, 33 weeks pregnant folks).

So there you have it: our last big adventure before the greatest adventure yet . . .

C’mon–you know I had to throw in at least one picture of our Mini B!


It’s finally here–my Paris recap post.  I apologize for the delay, but sorting through hundreds of pictures, readjusting to the time zone, growing a baby in my belly, and embarking on some recent house projects (more to come on those later this week) has left me little time to do the proper tribute to the City of Light.  So to do it right, and to maintain some level of order in my mommy-to-be brain, I’m going to break this post up into categories: Sights, Eats, School, and Exports.  Fair warning–it’s a long one.  Here goes.


First up, some sights.  Needless to say Paris has a TON of them, and my overly capable tour guide Dana (of previous BofJ Adirondacks fame) managed to show me most of them.

BTW–I kind of loved the fact that many of my pictures had the Eiffel Tower poking up in the background.  Sigh.

Dana managed to usher me through 15 of Paris’ 20 arrondissements (districts) in less than 72 hours.  Let’s just say that’s no small feat considering Paris covers an area of 41 square miles and we did much of our traveling on foot . . .

With so much to see in so little time, I was lucky to just catch my breath, let alone be able to snag pictures of it all.  But here’s some of the highlights:

The Louvre.  One word: MASSIVE.  Okay, some more words: way beyond anything I could have ever pictured in my mind.  It’s enormous!  And we didn’t even attempt to go in it (except to see the bottom of I.M. Pei’s masterpiece in the shopping mall underneath; sidenote: if you’re itching for a Starbucks, there’s one underneath the Louvre–those things are everywhere!).

It’s so large that there was no way I could even attempt to capture the whole of it in one picture.  So I’ll spare you my 20+ pictures of all the different pieces of it.

The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.  At the western end of the Louvre, this smaller Arc is perfectly aligned with the Carrousel and the larger Arc de Triomphe–can you see them?

We then ventured over to the Washington Monument and an empty fountain of mermen and merwomen hugging fish (er, at least, that’s the Mrs. Bunches version of what we saw, although I’m guessing the Paris guidebook would offer a different interpretation) . . .

Okay, so maybe that’s actually the Luxor Obelisk.  Moving right along . . .

Up next, the Ferris Wheel.  I don’t know what it is about them, but I love taking pictures of ferris wheels.  Riding in them?  Not so much.

We then ventured down a side street from the Avenue des Champs-Elysees and found ourselves outside of the Eglise de la Madeleine, one of Paris’ famous churches.  It was absolutely breathtaking . . .

They just don’t build ’em like they used to, huh?

We then headed back up the Avenue des Champs-Elysees and got our fill of every store you’ve ever seen in an American mall.  No joke–the stores on this street were so Americanized it was crazy . . . I couldn’t believe the line outside of Abercrombie & Fitch.  Gross.

Although, there were some French gems on the street as well, like the Public Drug Store, which might have been the most deceptive shop name ever.  This store was anything BUT your local drug store:

Nope–it was a super chic store/restaurant/boutique/all things good from Paris.

I have to say that I feel much obliged to Dana for taking me on the long, touristy walk up the Champs Elysees, and I can feel quite comfortable saying that, should I find myself in Paris again, I think I’ll skip that street.  For me, it was kind of one and done.  But, we were well rewarded when we arrived at the top of the street to this site . . .

That’s right–the Arc de Triomphe!  It’s pretty dang impressive.  And well worth the walk.  Good job us.  Of course, that walk pretty much wiped out baby and me, so I pleaded with convinced Dana to take the metro home.  And I have to say I was blown away by the cleanliness of it–well done Paris.  Well done.

After our relaxing ride back, we crossed back over the Seine . . .

. . . and that was only half of one day.  Crazy, huh?  But besides some of the major sites, Dana also showed me some of the regular character of Paris . . .

A typical street (that woman better hurry up because there is no way that car will brake for her.  Absolutely. No. Chance.)

A typical Parisian man (they really do wear berets!):

Another famous historic site?  Nope–just a Paris hotel.  Ridiculous, right?

Complete with a public ice-skating rink out front and an adorable carrousel:

There was also some vandalism, although it was decidedly more tasteful than much of the vandalism I’ve seen in the US . . .

Another random monument (there was stuff like this around every corner–it was seriously crazy):

We also came across the Place des Vosges, the oldest planned square in Paris (again–thanks to Dana for her outstanding French translation skills):

The Place des Vosges is a true square–140 m by 140 m (this was also quite large and made capturing it via camera a bit difficult, so forgive the crappy pics):

There was a beautiful garden in the center (admittedly it’s likely much more beautiful in the spring/summer, but I could see the potential):

The square also housed the former residence of Victor Hugo.  Ten points to anyone who can identify Hugo . . . anyone?

That’s right–Hugo wrote Les Miserables and the Hunchback of Notre-Dame.  Consider yourself learned.

Continuing our meandering, here’s just a random little sculpture that someone decided was a good place to dispose of his water bottle.  Seriously?

I guess when there’s beautiful stuff around every corner, then you just start taking it for granted?  Who knows.

During our walkabouts, we also managed to come across a rare sight in Paris . . .

Yep–that’s a picture of someone in Paris running!  Actually working out!  I’m not sure what’s going on in Paris, but everyone’s thin and no one works out.  Seriously–we walked around 15 districts and we only came across one gym the entire time.  One!  For that reason alone I think I might need to move there–staying thin by osmosis?  Yes please.

Well, not only did we catch a glimpse of the rare Parisian runner, but we also got to walk through the Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris’ second largest public park.

I was really tired at this point and didn’t feel like backing up the two steps necessary to get a picture of the entire sign.  Blame the baby if you must.

I kind of loved that the park had public table tennis.  How rad is that?!

Dana pretty much fits into Paris perfectly, don’t you think?

So there you have it–the sights of Paris.  I have to say, everything was just spectacularly amazing–especially all the little streets with shops, restaurants, and apartments up above.  I mean, c’mon–could it really be any quainter?


As my resident partner-in-food-crime from Boston, Dana knew that one of my top priorities for my first visit to Paris was to sample the best of Parisian cuisine.  And let’s just say, Dana fulfilled that expectation ten-fold.  The food was so good, in fact, that I often found myself devouring the meal before I had a chance to properly snap a picture.  So this section, unfortunately, will be somewhat abbreviated.

My first meal in Paris was at the “best” falafel place in town–L’as du Fallafel.

We split a falafel pita and a chicken pita.  Oh, and since we were in France, a plate of frites (duh).  The food was amazing, and we were so hungry that there was no time for pictures (plus, the place was closing in 30 minutes, so we were mad-dashing it).  Two thumbs WAY UP.  So far, Dana was 1 for 1.

Our dinner that night was at L’Aoc, a quaint bistro serving only the top quality agricultural products of the area (does Dana know me or what?).  We ordered a foie gras terrine for an appetizer, which I didn’t manage to snag a picture of (it doesn’t look that appetizing anyways), but I did snap a pic of how sweetly they wrapped up the leftovers . . .

Oh, and that burlap sack–that was how our bread came to the table.  I loved that!  Up next, our main course of roasted pork loin and potatoes.  They kindly agreed to split the entree for us since neither one of us was all that hungry after filling up on foie gras and bread.

Even though we left L’Aoc completely stuffed, our walk home led us directly past this gentleman . . .

. . . and that GIANT jar of Nutella in the window.  Are you kidding me?!  There was no way we were skipping this.

Ahhh . . . my first Nutella crepe in Paris.  Can’t you just read the joy on my face?

Our next day of adventure led us first to a croissant from Gerard Mulot (we were hoping for fresh-from-the-oven ones since it was 7 AM, but somehow that didn’t happen 😦 ).  Oh well, I still thought it tasted great.  We then went to a half day of class (more on that in my next section), and grabbed ourselves a Parisian lunch of fresh cheese, butter, and bread.

You could smell the cheese shop from 1/4 mile away–I’m not joking.  It was crazy.  Crazy good, that is.  And the butter!!

Don’t even get me started.  I literally could’ve eaten it with a spoon.  With a nice baguette, we made ourselves quite the good lunch . . .

French bread really is better in France.  Sigh.

Up next?  Dinner at La Fontaine de Mars–ya’ know, where Barack Obama took Michelle back in 2009.  ‘Cuz that’s how we roll.  Of course, while the restaurant was always popular, since the Obamas’ visit, it’s become even more so.  Which would explain our 9:30 PM reservation.  Well, that, and everyone in Paris dines late, so we were just trying to fit in with the locals ;).  The food was fantastic–I had the special–a white fish over a bed of leeks with some sort of butter sauce:

Dana got one of their famous cassoulets, and we got an order of the best-ever potatoes gratin for the table.  Seriously, I could live on nothing but that gratin for the rest of my life . . .

We also partook of some desserts, but those were devoured way too swiftly for the camera.  Sorry.

La Fontaine de Mars is also very near to the Eiffel Tower, so I did manage to see it all lit up.  However, it was raining pretty hard, so I also don’t have any pictures of it.  Wah-wah.  Next time maybe?

Okay, with only one day of eating seeing Paris left, Dana pulled out all the stops . . . this time she took me to Angelina (and no, I don’t mean the Brad variety):

Angelina’s famous Salon de The has the most sinfully delicious hot chocolate ever created.  In the world.  I’m serious.  And it comes with a mini pot of whipped cream on the side.  Seriously?!  I could’ve stayed there all day . . .

But it was a good thing we got there early since the line forms quickly for a seat in the restaurant.  We only had to wait ~20 minutes, which was totally worth it once that little carafe of steaming chocolatey goodness landed on our table.  Oh, and they also have some pretty outstanding desserts, which we of course had to sample.  I completely forget what this was called, but it’s one of their signature items so if you go there, you won’t be able to miss it . . .

Okay, so then it was on to our last dinner together in Paris, and this one was by my request.  See, Dana has her own blog where she’s chronicling her life abroad, with the dual purpose of making us all regret certain choices in our own life and secretly yearning to follow in her footsteps.  Oops–did I say that aloud?  Moving on . . .

So a few weeks before I visited Dana, she wrote a post about her dinner at Relais de l’Entrecote where there is no menu (except for desserts and wine) because the only thing you get there is a salad starter with the most amazing Dijon mustard dressing, and then two (yes–TWO) servings of steak with french fries.  Which look like this (keep in mind you get TWO plates of this):

And that sauce on the steak?  Oh, let’s just call it a little bit of heaven.  But don’t even bother asking what’s in it because they won’t tell you.  Needless to say, that did not stop me from eating both of my servings.  Yes sir, I was most definitely a member of the clean plate club that night.  So much so that we had to skip dessert.  Er, well, at least at Relais de l’Entrecote; of course, we did manage to get another Nutella crepe on our walk home.

Oh, and apparently the popularity of this Parisian staple (with four restaurants in Paris alone) has made its way to Manhattan: Le Relais de Venise.  I seriously doubt it’s as good as the Parisian original, but it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than flying to Paris for some steak frites.

Okay, so that rounds out what I ate in Paris.  Is it sad that this section was longer than the sight-seeing section of this post?  I guess now you know where my true passions lie.


Most of you are probably wondering what school has to do with my trip to Paris.  Well, the reason Dana is living abroad is because she’s attending the original Le Cordon Bleu, the famed culinary school.  And that means that I got to go to class with her one day; and for any of you that know me, you know that combining food with school is basically my dream come true (yeah, I’m pretty much a nerd, so I get kind of geeked up about taking tests and going to classes).  And Le Cordon Bleu certainly did not disappoint.

Now, I’d like to say that I have a ton of pictures to share with you, but since taking pictures in the classroom is against the rules, I basically don’t.  The only thing you’re allowed to take pictures of are the prepared dishes.  So during this class, the chef prepared three items:

  1. An appetizer of Huitres Chaudes au Muscadet (Warm Oysters with Muscadet Wine)
  2. An entree of Canette Rotie Aux Navets (Roast Duckling with Turnips)
  3. A dessert of Souffle Chaud au Couintreau (Warm Orange and Cointreau Souffle)

Sounds fantastic, right?  Well, it was (they make a LOT so that everyone in the class gets to taste a sample of each).
I loved everything but the souffle (it had candied orange bits in it which, in my opinion, definitely could’ve been left out).  But regardless, watching the chef prepare everything, all the while in French (don’t worry–there was an English interpreter) was amazing.  I learned more about cooking in three hours than I have in the past few years.  Made me kind of wish I could take 8 months off to go to culinary school . . . something tells me that’s not going to happen, huh?
So now that we’ve come to the end of my uber-long Paris post, I’ll attempt to be brief.  Since this will likely be my last trip abroad for quite some time, and possibly my only trip to Paris for the foreseeable future, I figured I should get some mementos.  But shopping isn’t really my thing (obviously eating is), so I consulted the Internet and found a great article by food blogger David Lebovitz about the 10 things you should bring back from Paris.  And I got at least a few of them . . .
Dijon Mustard: apparently the French invented mustard as a strong condiment to mask the taste of rotten food back in the day.  So I figured I’d better bring some back and see what this overly zealous Grey Poupon was all about . . .
While there are about a million brands of mustard, I went with a supermarket staple: Amora.  Haven’t tried it yet, but I’ll keep you posted.
Next on the list–salt.  Apparently it comes from all different regions, and the Beluga Caviar of salt is the fleur de sel de Geurande:
I went with the supermarket brand, which only cost me about $4.  Much better than the $15 price tag on the same salt at the duty free shop at the airport, eh?
And since I was in Paris, I had to get something for Mr. Bunches.  But first, a little back story.  Mr. Bunches has some close friends with ties to Belgium; when he last visited them (they live in Philly), he tasted what he described as pure nectar of the Gods (okay, so maybe I’m paraphrasing).  Well, these friends were nice enough to send us a jar (which reminds me–I still haven’t gotten a thank you note in the mail!  AARGH–I’m so sorry.  I’m going to blame it on 1st trimester morning sickness, but I promise to get one out soon):
What is it, you ask?  Well, just take a look at the ingredients . . .
It’s basically pureed cinnamon biscuits.  I mean, c’mon!  Who’s the genius that came up with that?  I (and Mr. B) would like to shake her hand.  So, since we’ve never seen Speculoos in the US, I figured I’d better get us a back-up jar.  I couldn’t find the same organic one, but the grocery store did have lots of options (note–the grocery stores have tons of different types of nut spreads, e.g. nutella, and things like Speculoos, but they only carried one peanut butter and it was almost $8 for a teensy jar of it . . . makes you wonder what the incidence of peanut allergies is over there, huh?  But I digress . . . ).  I opted for this one:
Happy gift from Paris Mr. Bunches!
Okay, and since it was pretty painful to not be able to partake of any of the fine French wine during my visit, well, that just meant I had to bring some back.
Yep, I brought back two bottles.  I’m sure they will taste amazing in 4 months.
Yep–a. maz. ing.  4 months.  sigh.
Okay, and since I raved about the bread, I figured I should bring back a baguette from Gerard Mulot.  Just to share the bread love with Mr. B.
And last, but certainly not least, a little sweet treat: Macarons from Laduree.  Can we say beautiful?  They almost look too good too eat . . .
Now, the Parisians love their Macarons–you can see them in just about every other shop window.  I especially loved the display here–like little pieces of art:
And I wish I could say that I had pictures of the six I brought home, but they didn’t actually last too long in our house.  They were just so yummy!  My favorites were the vanilla and the colombian chocolate.  Mr. B was a pretty big fan too.  So unfortunately, I just have the darling little box left . . .
Alright kids, so there you have it.  67 pictures and 3174 words to sum up my 3-day trip to Paris.  Au revoir!

Goodbye Boston, Hello Buffalo!


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