Sunday, February 12, 2012

Ile de la Cite, Paris

It's been a little more than a year since I was in Paris. Today I found a bit of vintage Paris in the Sleepy Poet 'antique 'mall' in Charlotte, and I was transported. I'll get to that, but first...

I saw Paris as a 21 year old backpacker, and on this last trip I saw the city with older eyes, and with credit cards in my pocket, rather than rationed traveler's checks! I was able to wander around neighborhoods without a schedule of monuments to see. I paid a bit more attention to the small details that give a city its character. I particularly loved revisiting Ile de la Cite...considered the heart of Paris. Pont Neuf (New Bridge) which spans the Seine was rebuilt in 1607 (new!) to link the island to the Left and Right Banks.

Paris architecture is, in a word, stately. Ancient limestone buildings have gorgeous carvings and gargoyles, sculptural copper downspouts, huge wooden or metal doors and old brass hardware. The city looks well ordered...despite the drama that plays out in any urban center. The shops are colorful and so, well, French!

I especially enjoyed strolling around the little streets, away from the touristy mob at Notre Dame. I love to see the locals going about their day-to-day.

This shop was closed (out of business or moving?), and there was a handpainted note taped to the door.

Le chien lunatique!

In the butcher shop window below, beyond the chicken with their feet up in the air...the metal plaques caught my eye. I thought, "I'd love to have those." The plaques...not the chickens.

My friends Cindy and David visited Paris last year, and Cindy took a very similar the same butcher shop!

Scroll forward 14 months...and here's where I was transported back to Paris. I was poking around the Sleepy Poet vendor stalls today and what did I see?

A pile of 10 plaques!

 They are agricultural prize plaques circa 1980's-2005. The plaques measure 7" or 10" across. I love the lettering and the colors complement my kitchen perfectly! They were originally priced at $25 each, marked down to $15 each. The stall was unmanned, so I called the vendor on his cell and asked the best price for *ahem* "whatever the metal things are with french lettering"...and he said $10 for each. I knew exactly what they were, and I felt that $10 was more than fair.

I'm going to hang 5 each down the outside panel of two cabinets...on either side of the kitchen. I love finding little bits and things that have a story behind them. Old silver, sporting trophies and medals, watch fobs, skeleton keys, etc... Fun conversation pieces!

I Googled "French agricultural plaques" this afternoon and was thrilled to see that they are selling for $25-$85 each plus shipping via, eBay and they are featured in a few blogs!

Whooot--I got a great deal!! Paris came full circle today.

Life is good~~La vie est belle, Level and Plumb.

Mais oui!!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Lifetime Guarantee

Lifetime guarantee. That seems like an overstatement. Is anything really guaranteed? And what is a lifetime? Is it my lifetime, or the life of the product I bought? Is the company still going to be around if something goes wrong and I want to chat about that guarantee? Will I be able to prove that I bought the thing?  Why should I buy an extended warranty? Doesn't the company think the product is going to last? It's brand new!

There's a company that does have a lifetime guarantee, and they stand by their founder's words. Eddie Bauer's company creed, stated nearly 100 years ago, still holds true today.

"To give you such outstanding quality, value, service and guarantee that we may be worthy of your high esteem.™"

I bought a small red canvas duffel bag in the early1990's and I've used it for the gym, for weekends and as an airplane carry on.

I started noticing that the rubber coating inside was rubbing off on my clothes...and the rubber bits were hard to brush away. The bag is 20 years old, it was getting grody and I thought it wouldn't do well in the washing machine. I was going to toss it, when I remembered the "lifetime guarantee."

It doesn't look too bad here, but the entire inside was peeling. I had a hard time getting the rubbery stuff off a black velvet turtleneck...whaaaa!

Just for yucks, I went online and started a realtime (text) chat with customer service. I explained the situation, told her I bought the bag on Third Avenue in NYC (the store has since moved), and I said that I didn't have the receipt. She advises customers to keep Eddie Bauer receipts indefinitely, because of the lifetime guarantee. Note to self!

Customer service was coming at me left and right, and I liked what she was saying. "I'm sorry about the problem you had with the bag. We know things will have some wear over time, but we don't ever want someone to look at an Eddie Bauer item and be unhappy with it."

I was given a few options, and I chose to go online to order a new bag. I was sent a return sticker via e-mail so I could ship the old bag back to them at no cost. A merchandise credit would be sent in 10 days.

They no longer make the duffels in canvas, and they didn't have I ordered the small bag in nylon, in the red, black and gray plaid. The fabric is hefty, it has roomy pockets and it came with a roll top ditty bag, which is great for camera stuff, makeup or other loose items. The plaid complements the red rolling bags I have from LL Bean (another company that makes good stuff.)

Today I received a merchandise credit for $21.45. Not sure how they came up with that figure...but I'm happy with it. The new bag was $40 + $5 for a 3-inital monogram. May as well live large! I probably paid $30 for the original duffel in 1991, I used the heck out of it, and it didn't cost me anything to send it back.

Eddie Bauer, you are a man of your word. It's nice doing business with you.

Souper Bowl Saturday

Tomorrow night the New York Giants will face off against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. Do I care about football? Not really. Will I watch? Yes, but only because my "hometown" team is playing. It's a great excuse for a nationwide party...and supermarket shelves will have been emptied of beer, salsa, guacamole fixin's, ribs, burgers, cheese, chips, and cakes shaped like footballs. I'm going to a party close to home, and I'm bringing dessert. Go, Giants!

Because my friends and I like to zig a bit when everyone else is zagging...four of us had a Souper Bowl dinner tonight. We each made soup, and we had a casual evening sampling and chatting over wine.

Amy set a lovely table!

And she baked an apple pie. Mmmm.

Each place setting had some Valentine's Day chocolates...very sweet!

We had one small serving of 4 mugs and small bowls.

Amy's Red pepper soup---very light and refreshing!

Tammy's southwestern Turkey and white bean was nicely spicy! We cooled the kick with a dollop of sour cream.

Ann's Beef Barley was deelish, and the broth was very light. Kale chips with sea salt on the side.
I made French Onion soup and forgot to take a I'm borrowing this image from the test batch I made earier this week.

We left a little room for Amy's Apple pie and vanilla ice cream.

And we didn't talk at ALL about football.

Life is good, Level & Plumb.