Saturday, May 30, 2009

Paris: Flea Market

The world knows that Paris is the place to seek out antiques & treasures.

Everyone I talked to said, "Oh yes, you must shop Vanves on Saturday morning."

What fun I had! I looked at paintings, glassware, old books, buttons and dishes. My mind was whirling.

What did I have to have?
Vintage butter & cheese papers. Stay tuned to see what I create...

(Puces de Vanves is open Saturday and Sunday 9 am -1 pm - the early bird gets the worm! Metro stop: Porte de Vanves)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Paris: Architecture

Isn't this a beautiful building? The late afternoon sun light made every detail in the facade "pop." The sky was still blue, the foliage and topiaries were bright green - it honestly didn't look real. I really wanted to rush upstairs, throw open the French doors and peer down on the street. What a delight.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Paris: Jambon et Fromage

Some of the first few words you need to learn in French are "jambon" (ham) and "fromage" (cheese). A staple sandwich from cafes to food carts, they are always fresh and delicious. My tradition is to buy a jambon et fromage sandwich from a vendor and eat it on the steps of Sacre Coeur. I can "take in" the spectacular view and truly feel like I am living in Paris. Magnifique!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Paris: Seine Cruise

A word of advice...take a Seine river cruise when you are in Paris. I mean it. Some people disparage this activity as "tourist-y" and I am here to tell you - No way!
It is a lovely way to spend an hour relaxing and soaking up the sights. You can see a string of landmarks from a great vantage point (Notre Dame, the Louvre, Musee D'Orsay & the Eiffel Tower to name a few) all while planning your next adventure. (For example, we decided that after the "cruise," we should head over to Ile Saint Louis for some ice cream.)
When you board the boat, I recommend choosing a seat on the railing, so that other passengers won't accidentally block your photos. This shot shows a glimpse of Notre Dame and what I really like about it is the people relaxing on the steps that lead down to the river.

When our boat passed by these steps, look at the reaction of the man & woman. Pure joy. That is what visiting Paris is all about.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Paris: Poilane

While I was in Paris, I was honored to be able to tour the world-famous bakery, Poilane on rue du Cherche-Midi. What a thrill to see the baker pull these Punitions (delicate butter cookies) from the wood-burning oven in the basement. Pierre Poilane (founder of Poilane in 1932) used to tell the story of his grandmother and how she would call her grandchildren to her side for a reprimand (punishment in French, punitions) and then instead surprise them with one of these sweet treats. They are just delicious and the perfect cookie to enjoy with a cup of tea.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

On Memorial Weekend, I always make rhubarb crisp with rhubarb from the garden. I must say, it is hard to make crisp look beautiful in a photo, although I'd like points for serving in a pretty bowl with a red rim. But for whatever it lacked visually, it made up for in taste. Yum! Have you ever made rhubarb crisp? Every year I tweak the online recipe from Martha Stewart . This year I left out the vanilla and tried it with Splenda's brown & white sugar-blends. Delicious!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Hydrangeas in Paris

Are you looking for delight everywhere? When I was in Paris, I was especially keen on photographing things that looked French. Then I came upon these spectacular hydrangeas in a window box outside of a cafe. Hydrangeas are one of my favorite flowers and while I could have taken this photo anywhere in Michigan, I could not resist photographing this gorgeous display. Look at the delicate shades of pink and green. Ever popular in the Midwest, we'll know this was taken in France, okay?

Our own little international flower show.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Paris: Petit Dejeuner

Now that you know me, how do you think I felt about this? I was that kid with her nose pressed against the glass - seriously. This little refrigerator magnet depicting a traditional "petit dejeuner" stole my heart. Which would be fine except that I saw it in a shop window (well after ten o'clock at night) and never made it back to buy it! But lo & behold the powers of the internet, I found it online here! Did you notice the little Bonne Maman jam jar? Adorable.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Paris: Work of Art

It is not often that those wandering around inside a museum, ever take the time to look outside. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this gorgeous view from a window in the Musee d'Orsay. I love that the statue in the foreground visually "matches" (what I believe to be) one wing of the Louvre. Simply stunning.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Paris: Laduree

I think it is important to have goals. So in my swagger of preparation, I announced that I was going to eat a pastry at Laduree every afternoon while I was in Paris.

As you might suspect, there are always too many pastries and not enough time. However, I was able to spend a lovely afternoon at Laduree with my church friend, Margaret and her sister, Sue. The two sisters were vacationing in Paris together (what memories!) and I was able to join them for tea and a little shopping.

This magnificent dessert is called Ispahan and is described as "rose petal cream on a rose-flavored macaroon biscuit with fresh raspberries and lychee."
As a photographer, I chose it strictly on looks (who wouldn't want a pink dessert?) and it was delicious. Yes, that is a real rose petal on top and when grown properly, they are edible. Yum!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Paris: Shopping for Ribbon

Buttons & Ribbons & Trims, oh my! I love to shop for ribbon and fabric in what I call the "sewing district" of Paris - a shopping area at the foot of the stairs to Basilique Sacré-Cœur. You'll find store after store of all the things I love, but bring your French. These lovely shopkeepers are specialists in fabric, ribbon and trims and simply don't get a lot of tourist traffic. Just be patient and kind and you'll have no trouble. I have always found that they will bend over backwards to help you - as long as you are willing to muddle through in French.

I decided that I only had time for a "condensed version" of ribbons & baubles on this trip, so I headed straight for the famous department store Le Bon Marche on Rue de Sèvres. They have an incredible "mercerie" filled with all kinds of trims, buttons and yarns. I stayed for almost two hours and took my time considering everything...what a delight!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Paris: French Dishtowels

One of my favorite shops for linens in Paris is La Maison Ivre. It is filled with the prettiest linen imaginable - dishtowels, placemats and all the fabric touches that make a kitchen really beautiful.

The last time I was here I bought a series of seven dishtowels: Lundi, Mardi, Mercredi, Jeudi, Vendredi, Samedi and Dimanche. The days of the week! Cute, eh? But I as I took this photo I realized that I had not used them yet! I had been "saving" them for the last 5 years. Not anymore...starting tomorrow I am drying the dishes with Mardi. Why starting tomorrow? Lundi looks so pretty with my new family room wallpaper that I have decided to have it stretched and framed as art. Love it!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Paris: Opera

Yes, yes, going to the ballet is lovely. But why did I insist on stopping at the Paris Opera?

I wanted honey!

That's right, a little birdie told me that bees are kept on the roof of the Opera National de Paris building and that the resulting honey is sold in a boutique in the lobby. Seriously? Does anyone know this? I can't think of anything more wonderful than honey made from the flowers in and around Paris.

I found and bought a pretty little jar and I can't wait to try it! Short & Sweet.

Paris: Quiet Spaces

When I started planning our trip, I came across a book called, Quiet Corners of Paris by Jean-Christophe Napias. My sweet in-laws sent it to me for Christmas and I am so glad they did. It highlights gardens, walkways and quiet spaces that you can visit (usually free of charge) and hear yourself think.

Although this trip was jam-packed, I knew that I could fit in this "quiet space" as it was near our hotel in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Pres. The garden at Musee Eugene-Delacroix is a lovely spot where the crunch of your feet on the gravel is the only sound you hear.

I knew that the hustle-bustle of the Paris was just behind these walls, but the sound was dampened somehow. I sat for a moment in this garden and simply breathed.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Paris: Patricia Wells

Here I am...the happiest girl in Paris.
In 1995, Patricia Wells sent out a press release announcing that she would begin hosting classes called "At Home with Patricia Wells." A week long food-lover's experience in France filled with trips to the farmers' market, wine tasting and hands-on cooking with journalist, cookbook author and woman extraordinaire, Patricia Wells. I read the article and announced on the spot that I would someday attend her class.

Now fast-forward 14 years...I made it! How can I tell you how happy I am? How can I tell you how much fun we had? Six students and I spent a glorious week sampling cheeses, roasting nuts, constructing salads and talking, talking, talking with Patricia about all the things we love. Food, Paris, Wine, Food, Paris, Honey, Food, Paris, Mustard. It was wonderful. Everything I had hoped it would be and more.

What was a key component to my happiness? Anticipation. Classes are booked 2-years in advance. That means for the last 24 months I have re-read Patricia's books (Food Lover's Guide to Paris is my all-time favorite), mapped out the shops & spots I wanted to see, read up on Poilane bakery and generally savored every moment. I have made friends and memories that will last a lifetime. Thank you Patricia!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Paris Daily Photo

If you love Paris, what could be better than a daily glimpse inside your favorite city?

Paris Daily Photo is the brain-child of Eric Tenin, a photographer that has been posting his view of Paris online every day for the last four years. I visit often and can appreciate his mix of historical and pop culture "snap shots."

And just how popular is Paris Daily Photo? It has such a loyal following, an annual picnic is hosted each May so that resident readers (and those visiting Paris) can meet for an evening to "comment" in person. Love it!

I was able to sit down with Eric for tea & pastries at Angelina's last week and we spent the whole time talking about photography, technology and blogs. I was in heaven. Thank you, Eric!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Paris: Cafe Life

Does Grande Latte trip off your tongue? When in Paris, instead of heading for the Starbuck's drive thru, you'll find yourself sitting at a cafe enjoying a cafe creme.

I spent a delightful hour with my husband here at Les Deux Magot sipping coffee and planning our week in Paris. This is the famous cafe on the Place Saint Germain des Pres where Jean Paul Sartre would write for hours.

How would you order your favorite coffee in French? Take a peek at this helpful translation & pronunciation guide here.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Paris: Gerard Mulot

Did you gasp too? I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this pretty little cake in the window of Gerard Mulot.

We were walking along rue de Seine in the 6th arrondissement, when I saw this cake on display in Gerard Mulot's shop window and gasped.

The strawberries, the doily, the pink satin ribbon - it looked like a little girl dressed for a party.

All I can say is, "Let them eat cake!"

Sunday, May 10, 2009


I am home safe and sound from an incredible 9 days in Paris. Although jet lag has the best of me, I wanted to show you a photo I took this morning from the front seat of my airport shuttle. Magnifique! This post begins my series called,"Delight in the City of Light," a delightful look at Paris.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Little Swedish

I have a cute story to tell you about baking with my 7 nieces and nephews. We always spend a day making Christmas cookies in December. We make & frost over 100 cookies and divide them in boxes: some for their house, some for Nana & Papa and some for dessert on Christmas Eve.

So when we occasionally make Valentine's or Halloween cookies, they are just for fun (not giving away) and the kids frost and eat cookies freely all day. As we were packing up one year, I heard one of the younger boys say that he'd eaten a lot of cookies and he felt "a little Swedish."
His older sister quickly corrected him saying, "Not Swedish...squeamish!"

Friday, May 8, 2009

A Trip to the General Store

The best thing about Nelly Olson (on Little House on the Prairie) was that her parents owned a General Store and whenever she was on screen I got to take a peek behind her at the store. I love General Stores and have wanted to build a dollhouse replica of one for as long as I can remember.

You know, one with glass cabinets full of sewing notions and tiny open sacks of grain sitting on the floorboards. I'd line the walls with wooden shelves full of canned goods and bolts of calico fabric. (Okay, now I can't stop....) And I'd have matching glass jars full of penny candy and a big barrel of pickles..and a basket of kittens. Seriously, maybe it is time to start this project. I obviously know exactly what I want to create...

Anyhoo, equal to my passion for General Store dollhouses, is my Mom's passion for the real thing. Pretty much any abandoned building with a porch will garner a comment about how that would make a great General Store. So, in 2005, when we discovered Beeker's General Store in Pemberville, Ohio, we were hooked.

That is what made my book signing event in conjunction with their "Progressive Tea" all the more sweet. I took the photo above before the event started. I was really fun and exactly where I wanted to be. Thank you, Beekers!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Lilac Festival

Can you smell these lilacs right through the computer? I love the heady fragrance of lilacs and would like to point you to a lovely festival on Mackinac Island (in northern Michigan) held the last week of June. What could be more romantic than a lilac festival?

Can you see the bee buzzing in my picture? I couldn't believe my luck!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Flip Flop Management

Are you a flip flip enthusiast? There are so many pretty styles and colors (and so many cute ways to embellish them), how could you not be? I just came across a way to actually manage your flip flop collection in your closet. 

The Container Store has a unique "Flip Flop & Sandal Holder" available here. A pretty grosgrain ribbon and special clips makes it work. Love it!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Figs by Todd English

This winter, I was walking through Macy's (in Palm Beach Gardens) when I stopped at a display of cookbooks & menus for a new restaurant called Figs. It only took a moment for me to put it all together. "Todd English has a restaurant at Macy's?!" I couldn't believe it.

From the dark wood interior to the stemless water glasses, Figs literally takes you out of the mall and into a space dedicated to delicious food. While Todd English is a chef known for his "rustic Mediterranean" style, the whole mood of the restaurant is actually quite Pottery Barn. I really liked it.

My lunch was a cup of (made-to-order) tomato soup served with crusty bread and a warm bacon & spinach salad. I can assure you, I ate every bite.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Hey, Sugar!

Isn't this beautiful? My mom has a collection of antique sugar bowls at the cottage and I just love them. They are displayed on an open shelf that is lined with paper lace.

I was walking through the room one day and noticed that sunlight was streaming in the window and putting a spotlight on them.

I grabbed my camera and this is the result. So pretty. This came out so well, I promised to take a portrait of each sugar bowl this Summer. Now that is a sweet assignment.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Tulip Time 2009

When I say that Veldheer Tulip Farm in Holland, Michigan has 5 million blooming tulip bulbs, it is hard to comprehend, right? I thought it might help to show you a casual photo from my last visit to Tulip Time in 2007. There are rows and rows of tulips blooming by color and variety. One of my favorites is called "Apricot Beauty." Are you thinking of planting tulip this Fall? Check out a neat tulip season & style guide here.

P.S. If you stop at Veldheer on your way to the Tulip Time festival, you will also see 50,000 daffodils, 10,000 hyacinths and 20,000 crocus blooming too! Simply breathtaking.

Friday, May 1, 2009

May Day Tradition in Paris

I love have always loved May Day and the idea of dancing around a Maypole or placing a basket of fresh flowers on the front door to welcome Spring.

I learned about another May Day tradition the last time I was in Paris. On the first of May, the tradition is to give a bouquet of lily of the valley to friends and family for good luck.

May 1st is the only day that anyone can sell lily of the valley on the streets of Paris without taxation. These heavenly white flowers were available everywhere! Throughout the day, I saw men, women and children carrying little bunches of muguet du bois around the city. It was just charming.