Theresa's Mixed Nuts

Monday, February 18, 2019

Losing It at the Louvre

I'll start this post by saying our timing for our Paris trip was not ideal. We were only going to have one evening and one full day in the city, so we planned everything we wanted to do down to the minute. But, as travelers know, plans can go haywire in an instant. We arrived in the afternoon on Bastille Day, which was our first mistake. With over a million people expected to be around the Eiffel Tower that night, traffic was backed up as far as the eye could see. What should have been a 45 minute trip to our hotel from the train station turned into an almost 4 hour ordeal. We were tired and cranky, and sadly that crankiness spilled over into the next day.

Louvre

When planning your Paris vacation, you're going to hear it all over the place; Get to the Louvre first thing in the morning just to knock it off the itinerary. Even our French Uber driver advised us to do that, but we had pre-purchased our tickets online for the 3:00pm entrance time and couldn't arrive before then. Since the museum closed at 6pm that evening, we knew we were only going to have 3 hours to explore, so we spent about a week researching and mapping out what exhibits we really wanted to see. Of course, you can't go to the Louvre without seeing the Mona Lisa and since the lines for that can be quite long, that was going to be our first stop.

Even with a map handy, it took us 40 minutes to find it, and once I spotted that iconic  painting from the hallway, I was giddy and itching to get in to the exhibit. There are 2 doors in that hallway to enter, and both are blocked off by staff. The first team told us that entrance was closed and sent us down to the other one, who then said they were closed and we had to go back to the first, who then sent us back to the other. It was back and forth several times before I lost my cool with the attendant, who finally told us we had to go around to the back of the exhibit where there was a 3rd entrance. Jason and the girls made it through fine, but I was lagging a bit behind and when I got to the opening they tried to tell me I couldn't go in. I pointed and said "but that's my family right there!" and he said, "Okay" and unlatched the rope so I could pass.

For those who are going to be visiting Mona Lisa, I've marked up this map with the 3 entrances to the exhibit so you won't have to deal with the back and forth frustration we went though. At the first hallway from the exhibit, make a right, then another right and you'll find the 3rd entrance. Hopefully this map will save you from wasting 20 minutes like we did.

map copied from Join Us In France
Map originally from Join Us In France
There's not a line to stand in at this point, but you'll be squished like sardines with the rest of the museum patrons trying to elbow your way to the front to get an up close peek at Mona Lisa. It's true that it really isn't impressive at all in person, but the girls were thrilled in any case to be so close to this piece of art they've been hearing about all of their lives.

Mona Lisa

I was still seething over the first hour of trying to get to this point, when Jason asked if I wanted my photo with it, I wasn't having it. I just wanted to go. I grabbed a few more snaps of artwork I did find interesting before trying to hunt down our next stop of The Winged Victory of Samothrace.

The Wedding at Cana

The Wedding at Cana

Hercule
Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist




Four Seasons

 

Mona Lisa may not be that impressive in person, but The Winged Victory of Samothrace definitely is! I was mesmerized with this piece and wish I could have spent more time studying it if we weren't feeling rushed.

The Winged Victory of Samothrace

It was just after 4pm at this point and we still hadn't made it off of our first level, so I stopped and asked one of the guides the quickest way to Venus de Milo. She shrugged and said, "I don't know. The museum is closed." We kind of just looked at each other a little confused after that and I shrugged it off to maybe she didn't understand English well, so off we went to hunt it down on our own. When we arrived, the entrance was roped off, and they were indeed shutting down the museum. I was beyond pissed at this point, so when the attendants went to direct a few guests out of the museum, I slipped past the rope to grab a quick snap.

Venus de Milo

As we were being ushered out, I took a few more pictures, but the whole experience left a bitter taste in my mouth.




At the exit, it was my husband's turn to lose his cool. He asked why they were closing at 4 when our tickets said closing was at 6. We had only been in the building for an hour and they were kicking us out. "Well, France is in the World Cup. It's a very special day for us, so we are allowed to close early today!" In his not so finest moment, Jason said, "I paid over $100 for us to get in for 3 hours. You only gave me 1. You're stealing from me! I want my money back!" Needless to say, they did not offer a refund lol. Thankfully, we charged the tickets to our credit card, who was more than helpful in refunding our money to us once we got back home and filed a dispute.

So, the lesson I learned and the advice I'll give you with our short trip to The Louvre:

• Go at opening and head straight for The Mona Lisa before the crowds start forming.

• Have a detailed map printed out and highlighted with every entrance to the exhibits you want to see, and make note if there are additional entrances on the opposite side of the exhibit.

• Purchase tickets ahead of time and use your credit card. Do not pay cash at the museum for your entrance fee. The Louvre will not refund you if they decide to close early. However, a good credit card will reimburse you should that happen.

*Little edit with Pat's suggestion. Don't go on or around Bastille Day or when there are any big sporting events scheduled for France. 

The Louvre

The Louvre



Have you been to The Louvre? What do you think is the best exhibit there?


Friday, February 15, 2019

Indonesian-Style Tofu for the New Year

Disclosure- I received the mentioned product courtesy of the sponsor for the purpose of this review. All opinions are genuine, based on my experience with the product, and have not been influenced by promotional items.


I have never been much of a fan of tofu. When I swapped my diet to a vegetarian one, I pinned quite a few tofu recipes, but nothing really screamed "wow" that I made. After that initial first few months, I decided it just wasn't something for me and haven't purchased it in over 2 years. Last week, on a whim, I picked up a package at the supermarket. With Chinese New Year still being celebrated, it's been decently priced so I figured I'd give it another try. I didn't turn to Pinterest this time, but looked to Golden Blossom Honey instead, since they are one of my favorite sources for recipes, and pulled up this Indonesian-Style Tofu recipe that sounded like something I could get behind. 

Indonesian Tofu

This recipe does take a little planning on your part, since it does need to soak in the marinade overnight, so it's not one you can decide to make when you're short on time. But, the wait was worth it because this is the first tofu recipe that I can say that I absolutely loved. It had just the right amount of sweet and salty flavor that paired quite well with brown rice. Serve it up for Meatless Monday for a change, or just add it into your dinner plan if you are looking for low-fat dinner options. Either way, it's a keeper. 

Ingredients
1 pound firm tofu, cut into 1 inch-thick slices
Drain between layers of paper towels for 30 minutes.
Marinade:
2 large dried shiitake mushrooms (about 1/4 oz), chopped
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 garlic clove, halved
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Sauce:
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoon GOLDEN BLOSSOM HONEY
1/4 teaspoon ginger

CLICK HERE FOR FULL RECIPE

Indonesian Style Tofu

You can find this recipe, as well as many more delicious recipes right on the Golden Blossom Honey recipe page! Be sure to follow Golden Blossom Honey on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on new products and promotions.


If you like this recipe, be sure to come back every Friday, where I feature a new recipe from Golden Blossom Honey!



Did you celebrate the Chinese New Year? If so, did you include tofu in your menu?

 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

I Heart Paris

Happy Valentine's Day! Since it's the day of love, I thought today would be a good day to share some of my favorite pics from the City of Love with you. I'll post the rest of our Paris trip next week, since today's post is all about sharing the ♥ L-O-V-E ♥

We had an early flight to catch, so we had to crawl out of bed at around 4:30am to get our bags packed and rush to get a few snaps with the Eiffle Tower in the background before we left at 6:30am. It was hotter than hell the day before, and after walking all over Paris I was not having family pics with us in sweat soaked clothes. We were exhausted and grouchy that morning, but seeing the sunrise over the tower was so worth the loss of sleep. I don't think there's anything more beautiful than a sunrise in Paris.

Paris Eiffel Towler

Paris Eiffel Tower

While strolling through Montmartre, we made a little detour to the Le Mur des Je t'aime (the wall of love) where you will see "I Love You" written out in every language.

Le Mur des Je t'aime

Just a little "Come With Me" shot through the Arc de Triomphe.

Come With Me Arc de Triomphe

Hey sister, soul sister. Better get that dough sister with a little detour to Moulin Rouge. Since Paris wasn't initially on our European travel itinerary, we didn't fit in a show. However, I wasn't leaving without stopping by the iconic building for a quick snap.

Moulin Rouge

I took about a billion photos of the Eiffel Tower, but I won't bore you with them all. Just a few of my favorites :)

Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

From my family to yours, wishing you all the love and happiness this Valentine's Day ♥


Sunday, February 10, 2019

Saint Valentine’s Day Powered By Catholic Central #CatholicCentral #SaintValentinesDayTraditions

Disclosure- I received the mentioned product courtesy of the sponsor for the purpose of this review. All opinions are genuine, based on my experience with the product, and have not been influenced by promotional items.


February is commonly known as the month of love where we celebrate Saint Valentine, who is the patron of love, young people and happy marriage. Valentine's Day is right on our heels, and that has me thinking that Jason and I will be celebrating our 23rd one together this year (where's the shocked face emoji when you need it?) For this blog post I was asked to share the most romantic thing that's ever happened in our relationship, but I'm not going to do that. Why? I sat here and tried to think of some over the top, made for television romantic gesture that Jason or I have done for one another because surely in 23 years together we should have plenty of those moments, right? Sorry to tell you kids, but our relationship has never operated that way. Instead, it's the little things that keeps the spark alive here. And, that's the secret to our longevity. From 16 to 39, we've had our ups and downs, but what's kept us going strong really are the every day small things that are so easy to overlook.


I won't speak for Jason, but for me it's always having a full gas tank that I didn't have to pump, getting to sleep in on the weekends while he's letting the dogs out to potty, and knowing he'll be the one to chauffeur the girls and their friends around town. 

Rock of Dunamase


It's romantic walks down the aisles of Target while he carries all of my purchases, always holding the door open for me, or surprising me with some rose gold silverware because he read that I thought it was pretty while talking to my friend Dezzy in my comments here on my blog.

Paris, France

He doesn't complain (too much) about being an Instagram husband, having to switch to a mostly vegetarian diet at home, or my chocolate obsession. It's spending hours online trying to find authentic French pastries within driving distance because I've been dreaming about them since our trip to Paris last summer. It's also bringing a Pistachio muffin home after work because he knows I have a weakness for them. While I may not have some sickly sweet romantic story to tell you, I could go on about a million little romantic gestures that far outweigh one big one because those are the things that truly matter here. 

This Valentine's Day we will also be having a low key holiday, but that doesn't mean it won't be filled with love. A homemade dinner, and light dessert, then snuggles on the couch with a glass of Blueberry wine and Netflix. You don't have to go over the top for Valentine's Day either. Our friends at CATHOLIC CENTRAL have put together this great downloadable PDF to help you create a romantic Valentine's Day at home without breaking the budget.  

 photo VALENTINEs_download_zpshiisfqd1.png
  
You'll find some great budget friendly Valentine ideas, from creating a romantic oasis at home to pink themed menu items to help make the holiday pop! 

About CATHOLIC CENTRAL: You have questions about the Catholic faith and what it means to be Catholic. We have answers. Using a team of witty writers, appealing hosts, and even some learned theologians, we’ve created shareable, snackable videos that teach the timeless truths and deep history of the Church with humor and heart. Produced in the Family Theater Productions studios on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, CATHOLIC CENTRAL entertains, enlightens and inspires.

WIN IT:

Image via Google/Ebay

One lucky Theresa's Mixed Nuts reader is going to win:
1 – Red Rose LED Glass Dome elegant table lamp.
1 – Gold tone “Love” bangle bracelet


The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S., 18+ (PO Boxes will not be accepted) and will run through 2/24/19. Winner will have 24 hours to respond to winning email before a new winner is selected. Only one win is permitted across all blog giveaways. If you win this giveaway, you will be ineligible to win on another blog. Please enter on the giveaway widget below.


 
 

Friday, February 8, 2019

Buttermilk Biscuits Here We Go!

Disclosure- I received the mentioned product courtesy of the sponsor for the purpose of this review. All opinions are genuine, based on my experience with the product, and have not been influenced by promotional items.


Does anyone else get that song stuck in their head when they think about buttermilk biscuits or is it just me? It's probably just me. Just like potatoes, I have a love for biscuits because they can be used for breakfast, lunch or dinner interchangeably. Biscuits and gravy for breakfast or use them as a side to lunch or dinner, but they are also great for dessert too when you use them as a base for shortcakes. I'm thinking with the upcoming Valentine holiday, if you are in need of an easy but pleasing dessert option, you can't go wrong with strawberry shortcakes. Don't get those store bought biscuits though. You gotta put in a little effort for your love, right? That's where these simple Golden Buttermilk Biscuits from Golden Blossom Honey come into play. 

Golden Buttermilk Biscuits

Light, fluffy biscuits are one of the best things to come out of a warm oven, don't you think? Slather them with some butter (I use Kerrygold because nothing beats Irish butter) and some Golden Blossom Honey and you've got one heck of a yummy comfort food on your plate. But, for Valentine's Day, split them in half, fill with cream and honey soaked berries and you have an easy, but delicious holiday dessert. Trust me, you'll get bonus points for making your own buttermilk biscuits. They beat store bought any day of the week.

Strawberry Shortcakes


Ingredients
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons GOLDEN BLOSSOM HONEY
2/3 cup buttermilk

CLICK HERE FOR FULL RECIPE

Buttermilk Biscuits
You can find this recipe, as well as many more delicious recipes right on the Golden Blossom Honey recipe page! Be sure to follow Golden Blossom Honey on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on new products and promotions.




If you like this recipe, be sure to come back every Friday, where I feature a new recipe from Golden Blossom Honey!



Do you eat biscuits more for breakfast, dinner, lunch or dessert?


 
 

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Precious Moments Collector's Club Offers Exceptional Perks for Members!

*Disclosure- I received the mentioned products courtesy of the sponsor for the purpose of this review. All opinions are genuine, based on my experience with the product, and have not been influenced by promotional items.


I have been in love with the Precious Moments line for as long as I can remember. Long before the days of the internet, I remember making trips to Hallmark just to scope out the wide selection of beautiful figurines they had in their display cases. I think what draws me into the brand so much is how good and wholesome it is. Each character is not only beautiful to look at, I love the positive messages of loving, caring and sharing that they convey. For more than 3 decades, Precious Moments has touched the lives of millions around the globe and is among the most recognized art in the world. 

As we are now taking more of an online approach to shopping, I don't get to the card stores much these days, but I do love to browse the Precious Moments website often to see what new works they have created. If you're like me, with the preference to window shop in the comfort of you home, you'll be pleased to know that Precious Moments has released their exclusive Collector's Club figurine for 2019: All Are Precious In His Sight.


You'll receive this adorable figure free when you join the Precious Moments Collector's Club, in addition to other exclusive member's only perks: 

FREE Membership Figurine
 FREE shipping on all eligible purchases at PreciousMoments.com
 FREE one-year subscription to MOMENTS Magazine
EXCLUSIVE ability to purchase Members Only Figurines
EARN valuable TRIPLE Reward Points on purchases from PreciousMoments.com
FREE personalization on eligible Precious Moments figurines, dolls and other gifts from PreciousMoments.com

This year's Members' Only figurines include Blessed Are The Peacemakers Bisque Porcelain Figure:



As well as Be The Change You Wish To See In The World Bisque Porcelain Figure:






I have Be The Change You Wish To See In The World and just love it so very much. Not only is that one of my favorite Gandhi quotes, with the state of the world right now, this figure is a beautiful reminder that we all have to power to go out into the world and make it a better place for all.
 
Precious Moments Be The Change Figure

The figure is meticulously sculpted in bisque porcelain and expertly hand painted, and measures approx. 5H x 5.5W x 5.5D inches. I don't think the website or my photos do this figure justice because it's even more beautiful in person. I love the details on the figure and the soft pastel colors and plan to give it to a family member who is expecting her first baby this summer. I think it will look especially lovely in a nursery, but really it would also brighten up any spot in your home where you choose to display it.

Precious Moments Be The Change Figure

Precious Moments Be The Change Figure

Precious Moments Be The Change Figure

The figure comes securely packaged in a nice box, ready for gift giving (or for storage for those of you who are collectors yourselves).

Precious Moments

Again, this figure is only available for purchase for the Precious Moments Collector's Club Members and is not available for purchase by the general public, so if it's one you want to add to your collection, be sure to sign up for the Precious Moment's Collector's Club today, that way you'll have access to this figure plus additional Members' Only exclusive figures throughout 2019. 

You can learn more by visiting Precious Moments on their website, Facebook, and Instagram.


Which of the three figures featured here do you like best?