Internet cleanse


I haven’t done the bloggy thing in quite some time … over three months. Partly because my real job demanded tons of attention and focus and my students deserved that, but mostly because over the past several months, I’ve developed an aversion to blogs and the Internet in general. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been looking at facebook with my eyes glazed over and absentmindedly pinning my umpteenth favorite bedroom or recipe. But recently I’ve been asking myself WHY? What did we DO before all these outlets existed? I’m thinking more of those dream bedrooms and recipes came to life since we weren’t so busy surfing the internet searching for them. 

I apologize if I’m sounding too cynical, but I can’t help looking at so many blogs (mine included!) and thinking that they. are. all. the. same. Blogs rarely discuss bad days, flop recipes or work problems. Yes, some occasionally talk about a bad day, but usually those posts are accompanied by some perfect picture reminding me to stick with it and believe in myself. I know it’s intended as encouragement, but when I’m in a funk, I don’t want to look at some perfectly photographed tropical beach. It just reminds me I’m not there.

The corners of the Internet I frequent are all whimsy, creative food, charming design and perfect pictures. If you happen to be reading this, you might be thinking “What’s wrong with that?”

Well, part of me agrees with you, but much of me disagrees. If we “design” every moment of our lives, then where does the authenticity come in? I love pretty and details.  But it’s not life. Let me amend that. It’s not the most important part of life. I don’t have time during the week or most weekends even to make an elaborate recipe or spend hours perfectly wrapping a shower gift. And if I prioritized that, well then, I’d be missing out on quality time with family and friends.

The point of this isn’t to say I’m forever done with blogging,  or with “liking” friends’ pictures. The point is that for me and my personal quest for artsdevivre, right now is about less observing, and more doing. 

Mémoires de france


Yesterday, we met with the students traveling with us to France next summer. Some have already traveled there, others not. Regardless of their past experiences, though, they just seemed so *excited*. (Which, of course, they should be ;) )

Their excitement has me reminiscing about some of my first French and Parisian experiences …

Like visiting Mont St Michel, a “floating” monastery in Normandy …

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Are you familiar with it? You’ll notice  in the first shot shot it seems as though built upon a beach, but in the second …

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… engulfed in water. Its tides really are that dramatic! You have to be militant about walks around there so as not to, literally, be swept away by the dramatic ebbs and flows of the tides. 

Learning to navigate the Paris métro was another biggie for me at the beginning .

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… Concorde remains one of my favorites, what with the tiled letters providing hours minutes of entertainment. How many can you find here?

Some things were less dramatic, like finding my favorite neighborhood boulangerie ..

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… perfecting the late afternoon/early evening aperitif …

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… or always greeting a store owner upon entering …

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… That’s a joke. But if a dog owned the store, you would definitely be expected to greet him or her, in the formal form. 

I’m so excited for the kids to uncover other nuggets of French culture, and to unearth some new ones for myself. (I’ll be doing a home stay for the first time in over a decade! I’m so old!)

Vive la France et surtout l’été 2013 !

Living room details


I snagged a couple more touches for our living room last week, yahoo! Per usual, they popped up when I wasn’t specifically looking. I had anticipated all we needed to “complete” the room was a rug and some new throw pillows, but of course I happened upon these ikat lamp shades before the perfect kilims or rugs ~ 

New lamp shadesI love the deep blue of the shades with the muted, earthy tones of our cave painting reproductions ~ 

Cave paintings

(Those, however, are not new. They’re my grandparents’.)  I also grabbed this yummy candle. At first sniff, I was worried it would be too sweet, but actually Reserve Moonsparkle emits just the right amount of sweet and fresh perfume. 

Reserve moonsparkle candleThey offer a lot of other options, as well. A good hold over till I can stock up on Diptyque candles next summer in France :) 

Coco-pine nut chocolate chip cookies


D has been craving homemade chocolate chip cookies of late and so a totally unexpected snow day last Monday carved out the time for me to complete such a worthy activity. I’m by no means a talented baker, but do love sweets, so was delighted when my spin on the Trader Joe’s chocolate chip cookies recipe turned out so well. Here are all the ingredients you’ll need ~

Chocolate chip cookies ingredients

I halved the butter by substituting a 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt in lieu of  the second stick. I also was amazed (as I am every time I use brown sugar) at how fluffy my stock was ~ 

Brown sugar toolDid you know, when moistened with a bit of water, a terra-cotta disk will prevent your brown sugar from packing and hardening? You can get them at any kitchen supply store, mine came from Sur la table.

Whilst pulling out all my ingredients, I felt inspired to experiment a bit and so decided to add flaked coconut and pine nuts, as well ~

Coco pine nuts ready for oven

I wasn’t sure how D would feel about the experiment and so opted halvies for flavors ~

Finished chocolate chipsThe entire experiment was a success, both flavors were delicious and moist and didn’t taste like they were missing butter. Unfortunately, Riley took care of about 2/3 of them while we were visiting D’s grandparents … 

Guilty rileyOf course we were unhappy with our 8-year-old-acts-like-a-2-year-old buddy, but next time we’ll wisen up before leaving such tempting treats on the counter!

Coco-pine nut chocolate chip cookies
You will need ~ 
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup of Greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup of pine nuts
1 cup of flaked cocounut

Procedure
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour, salt and baking soda in medium bowl and set aside. In a separate, larger bowl, combine brown sugar, granulated sugar, softened butter, Greek yogurt and vanilla. Beat until creamy. Add eggs invidivually and beat into creamy mixture. Gradually add in dry ingredients and incorporate completely. Drop mixture by generously rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Allow to cool for three minutes and then eat ASAP!

Yields almost 3 dozen medium cookies or 4 dozen small cookies. 

Winter veggies


Oddly enough, we get some of our best veggies in the winter ~ 

Weekly veggiesFor the second winter in a row, we’re participating in a CSA (community supported agriculture). From a practical point of view, CSAs win out over traditional grocery stores: I get to order my food online, receive it door-front every Saturday and spend way less money than I would in the grocery store. (Our produce bill adds up to about $30 a week for the entire winter – January till end of March.) Plus, we are forced to plan a menu, which is automatically chock full of vitamins and minerals. It’s also fun to sample exotic (to us) veggies we didn’t know about before. Surely, you didn’t miss that terrifying looking growth front and center (romanesca). Just in case, here ya go again ~

RomanescaPart of the cruciferous family, romanesca is somewhere between broccoli and cauliflower, in everything from shape, to consistency, to color. We stir fried it last week with our winter broccoli. Not only was it deliciously sweet, but it also stood up well to being cooked. To try this week are rutabagas, which I plan to mash, similar to last winter’s since perfected mashed turnips. What veggies do you use during the cold months?

Sweet paris video


This short, “Betty  in Paris” combines my love of all things Paris and French, AND is SO reminiscent of Amélie (the best French movie of all time, of course). If you’ve seen Amélie, you’ll know exactly what I mean. If you haven’t, and enjoy the color pops, music and quirky camera angles of this video, then go watch it ASAP.


Design Mom created it, but I discovered it on Prêt a Voyager, a fabulous Francophile blog by an American, Paris-based graphic designer. The best thing about having a passion is stumbling upon such a diverse body of work online, united by a common Francophilia. Love it!

Ski weekend


I’m so looking forward to snow and friends this weekend, which we’ll spend in Wisp, in Western Maryland.  A “ski” weekend is a bit of tradition for D, his brother and some of their friends, so of course I’m excited to join the fun, especially since the first one I attended was marked by much rain rather than snow, preventing us from hitting the slopes. I have little to no experience skiing (one trip my freshman year of high school doesn’t count), but I’m so excited to try again in just a few days. I love winter-time activities and the forecast is looking great (cold and snowy.) 


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What do you think? Skiing? Or lodge/hot chocolate/red wine? I’m thinking a combination of the two will be just the ticket :)