vivaldi in sainte chapelle

Probably my favorite church I've visited is La Sainte Chapelle (The Holy Chapel) in Paris, the royal medieval gothic "chapel" of St. Louis, King Louis IX of France. It was built (between 1239 and 1248) to house his collection of relics, which famously included Christ's crown of thorns!

It is rather small in comparison to gothic cathedrals, but is incredibly grand and arresting. The size is big enough to make you feel small, but small enough to have a special intimacy, and so you can really see the details. I always think walking into St. Chapelle is like walking into a medieval illuminated manuscript. The colors are so vidid and cover every inch (I can never capture them in my photos (especially the bright blue ceiling). It also houses "one of the most extensive in-situ collections of 13th-century stained glass anywhere in the world." One of St. Louis' political advisors (and friends?) was none other than St. Thomas Aquinas, during the time when Aquinas was teaching at the University of Paris, so we like to assume that St. Thomas has been to the King's Chapel a time or two.

It is located inside what is now Paris's government complex, and it is no longer an operating parish, but a museum. While walking around Paris we saw a poster advertising a concert inside St. Chapelle, which featured Vivaldi's Four Seasons (Quartre Saisons). A few of our friends had never been there, so we decided to put our admission fee to better use, and go to the concert.

(The gang hanging out at a cafe across the street before the performance.)

The chapel itself is located above the ground-floor, so usually when you visit you enter downstairs and climb the tiny winding staircases up to the chapel (which is pretty great), but for the concert we got to enter through the chapel's enormous doors for the first time!

The concert was wonderful. It was very intimate with only (I'm terrible with numbers) a couple hundred people? The head violinist was a character, jumping around the stage and acting just how you might imagine a mad musician wearing tails would act. They also played pieces by Pachelbel and Vitali. It was such a great experience. 


painter's square

Mom and Dad bought us this painting from painter's square in Paris, a few years ago. I love it and it's hanging in our living room. I tried to take a photo from the same vantage point while we were there this summer. It isn't exact but it's still fun to look at them together.


a special re-purpose

For a while now Brandon has had his Mom and Dad's wedding rings from when they were married, waiting to do something special with them. He recently had the idea to melt down the gold and make them into two crosses, one for him and one for his full-sister Chelsey. 

Over Christmas break my Dad helped him make the crosses using the dental equipment and resources he has used to make jewelry in the past. 

To make the whole process easier they took a cast of a crucifix that Brandon got while we were in Rome, and used that as the model. They made a mold of the cross, and then filled the mold with black wax. Brandon then cleaned up the new molds and they took them to the dental lab in town to have the metal cast (since there was a limited amount of gold they wanted the lab's precision and expertise).

At the lab they melted down the rings, made a cone shaped mold around the wax crosses, melted out the wax and spun in the melted gold. 

One of my biggest IDIOT moments EVER is that I forgot to take a before photo of the wedding rings! It all happened so fast, I didn't go along to the lab and I just completely forgot. We looked around in Pella over Christmas and couldn't find any photos of their rings either. Based on my memory of what they looked like, I made this quick sketch. They were gold, and if I remember correctly, were etched with a pattern similar to this.




:type travel tuesday: {trattoria sempione, venice}

Trattoria Sempione, Venice, Italy.

This is the sign.

This is the sign and the canal.

This is us and the backside of some dude on a bridge over the canal. He's blocking the sign.


:type travel tuesday: {ribouldingue, paris}

Restaurant traditionnelle dans le square Viviani dans le 5eme arrondissement, Paris.


culinary quest: pain au chocolat

For quite a long time, perhaps since first tasting the melt-in-your-mouth-and-sometimes-choke-you layers of French flaky pastry Brandon has wanted to try to make it. It's an all-day and maybe even a couple days kind of project so we have never gotten around to actually doing it.

Enter Meghan. She came home for Christmas with the will, resolve, and tools to make PAIN AU CHOCOLAT! She had even scanned and printed the recipe out of a huge French pastry cook book and brought along her super cool French rolling pin.

So she and Brandon set themselves to the task and experiment. There was so much rolling, and kneading, and rolling again. They rolled out BUTTER, and chilled butter and rolled it into the dough, over and over, chilling for hours in between.

They baked the first batch and unfortunately they were a bit of a flop, but they didn't give up. People say that croissant dough is very difficult to make, and their first attempt certainly proved this to be true, but the second day they nailed it.

The flop:

The success:

It was quite impressive that it only took them two tries to make delicious buttery and flaky French pastries! Meghan even breathed in some flakes and choked, which in my mind is a huge testament to their authenticity.

The big surprise at the end of the process was that the rolling pin and the giant French pastry cook book were Meg's secret santa gifts to Brandon all along! Thanks, Meg!

At the end of the day(s) they decided that even though they tasted very good, they weren't enough better than pastries you can get from your local bakery to warrant the amount of effort they took. It was definitely a fun culinary quest, however, and a big culinary accomplishment to add to their baking resumes.

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