Post card memories

I like to keep this fairy tale looking post card tucked snug in a mirror ~

as a constant reminder of two dreamy weeks in Italy last summer. Those fishing villages in the Cinque Terre are just exactly what you would envision – the color pops of the houses all built one on top of the other, the impossibly narrow and steep streets, and just-so cafes were the perfect end to our two weeks of la Dolce Vita. We debated traveling to Nice for a day but decided against it in favor of more relaxation away from trains. I was disappointed at the time, but hopefully Nice will be crossed off the list with next summer’s pending travel plans. What trip do you dream of taking, or love remembering?



Denmark calling

Today, I found out that one of my nearest and dearest copines I met in Paris is pregnant with her first baby!! So much has changed since the days we all lived in Paris. Geographically, we are rather far flung now, to say the least … My friend who is expecting now resides in her native Denmark, two remain in Paris, two of us are miraculously in the Baltimore area, and two more in my hometown of Richmond. I almost can’t believe as I type that I first moved to Paris eight (eight?!) years ago, just a couple months after I graduated from college.

I’m still so close with all those girls, all American (except for our Danish lady), but it’s slightly overwhelming to think about the many changes since those times … three weddings, (one imminent wedding!), four babies, home purchases, new jobs galore and travels near and far.

Finding out this lovely news has me thinking about one of my most favorite trips I’ve taken, actually to visit this friend, in Denmark. The quick flight from Paris to Copenhagen was something even I could afford as a 23 year old on an intern’s (ie nothing) budget. Right upon landing, I knew I liked it. I’ve traveled enough now that I have a severe disdain for airports, but actually, the Copenhagen airport is beautiful! Wooden floors, tons of natural lighting and even some art sprinkled throughout make it a painless place to pass through …


During my visit to Copenhagen, we took a boat tour of the city …


where we admired the exactlywhatyouwouldpictureharbor …


… as well as more modern sites, like the opera house, above.

We also snapped pics with the royal guard …


… road the oldest all-wooden still operating roller coaster in the world (! :/)


… shopped (I love that simple and sleek Danish aesthetic) a bit …


… visited the botanical gardens …


… and of course, posed with the little mermaid of such fame …


Sorry, Aerial, but I think she’s gotcha beat. That trip might have been seven years ago already, but it feels like yesterday. Here’s to reunions of friends, both near and far!

Country living

I’m so busy this week with back to school meetings galore! I’ve been struggling to find a schedule for artsdevivre of late, and if you’ve remarked the difference between yesterday’s posting (7:30 am), and today’s (5:42 pm to be precise), you can see I haven’t quite found it just yet.

Anywho, my new school is such a beautiful place. It’s really in the suburbs but the backdrop would fool you: Right now I’m enjoying a gentle breeze coming through the window and when I look out it, I see only a bit of parking lot, but not much else, save for the rolling green hills and huge, old trees. The soundtrack is summertime cicadas. It’s got me thinking about the beauty of living in the country, away from the hustle and bustle of city (and even suburban) life …


… A nice little daydream before another busy school year.

Link love

My favorite links of the week include ..

… an easy pickle how-to from Anthology Mag ~

… some super cute Japanese washi masking tape to spruce up any wrapping job ~

some stunningly perfect pink peonies ~

… an intricately beautiful mosque ceiling in Isfahan, Iran ~

… these cheeky neon planters from an Etsy shop ~

… this child-like reminder to keep the magic alive ~

… and this office gallery wall. I never get tired of them!

What have you stumbled upon this week?

Sky traveling

It’s amazing what a difference a (couple) of days will make. The black cloud following our household around seems to be shoo-ing as I type. I’ve found some new recipes that I’m sure have accurate timing. I found a slipcover I’m hopeful about. It’s gray! That’s what I wanted in the first place! No scary bugs have been spotted. And obviously most importantly (those other mini-episodes were just annoyances), D and I are devising a plan to accomplish the home improvements we need.

Today, I’ve mostly been running around accomplishing the odds and ends that aren’t as simple to do during the school year. As I’ve scurried from place to place, I’ve been amazed by our absolutely beautiful weather, a rare treat during East Coast summers, certainly. Sometimes pictures of the sky will fib, convincing you the weather is far more beautiful than it is in reality. This one, however, is telling the whole truth ~

The sun is shining perfectly with some peaceful clouds scooting across the sky. You can’t feel the gentle breeze Riley and I enjoyed on our *jaunt*, but it is there. (We can’t say W.A.L.K. out loud in his presence 😉 ) It’s so beautiful and making me reminiscent of other beautiful blue skies from some of my travels.

Like this one on the Canal St Martin in Paris ~
You can feel the chill in the air from the wintery trees and those fluffy grey clouds menacing the city.

Or this peaceful one from the courtyard of my studio in the Marais ~
You’re correct if you think this is warmer weather than the former. All those green leaves will give it away 😉

Or this beauty in Pompeii ~
If you guessed it was super hot due to the lack of clouds, you’re RIGHT!

Or this one in Thailand ~

My travels to Thailand seem like a lifetime ago, but the dramatic land and city scapes will stay with me for many more years. I certainly cannot take credit for this photo. Beautiful, no?

What images have stayed with you from your travels?



Dream space abroad

Today, I had intended to share a couple “bons adresses” D and I ran across last weekend in New York; however, this post on DesignSponge altered my artsdevivre schedule for the week. I had to share because it spoke so much to what artsdevivre is all about, specifically travel and home. I love the intersection between these two seemingly opposite ideas, especially making a space abroad feel like home. To understand why I found the article so compelling, you have to first know a couple of things that I have not yet shared (to my memory, which often fails me) on artsdevire ~

~My grandparents were in the Foreign Service for many years, living in places like Iran and Vietnam, and traveling to dozens of others like Russia, Korea, Egypt and Lebanon.

~I’ve always wanted to take the Foreign Service exam myself, but am still working up the courage to do so. (I’m afraid I just can’t acquire all the knowledge necessary.)

~D is currently in the process of applying to the Foreign Service. He’s done really well so far and we should have some definitive answers in about a month. I think I’m more nervous than he is!

~I dream of traveling to the Arab world. To be exact, I would really love to spend time in Beirut.

I don’t know where this fascination all came from, really. Maybe it’s hearing about my grandparents’ time in Iran (before the Shah was overthrown, in the 60s). My earliest memories of my grandparents are marked by hazy summer evenings in their old house overlooking the South River near Annapolis. For hours, we would look at grainy slides of their home and life in Teheran. The images of the mountains and fruit trees have stayed with me for twenty-five years, and I still love learning about the history of the eclectic objets they acquired through years of travel. Maybe it’s my former boss in Paris that I adored, and whose family is from Lebanon. Maybe it’s because I’m such a gourmande, and I just can’t get enough of Middle Eastern cuisine. I’m thinking it’s probably a mixture of all these experiences, plus a healthy dose of curiosity.

I usually strive to stick to concrete ideas on artsdevivre – easy ideas for recipes, home, travel or shopping – but sometimes it’s nice to just dream. Make sure to click on the link to this foreign service officer’s home (currently in Tunisia, but about to switch to Baghdad for a year before a move to Paris), and really take the time to peruse this amazing mix of old and new, antique and Etsy, handmade and Goodwill. It’s spectacular, and something that I am slowly trying to cultivate in my home, bit by bit. I’ve posted a couple of my favorite images of her home, of course giving credit to the original source in the process. Do you dream of living abroad? If so, where?

I love this vibrant blue chair (which the homeowner re-upholstered with her grandmother), against the beautifully worn carpet. I’m a sucker for books, too, so it looks like the perfect coin to curl up with a book.

I especially love the fabric wall hanging, the brass table in the bottom left corner and the mixture of soft pillows and poufs with hard wood.

This one about stopped me in my tracks since my grandmother still has an almost replica of this brass tray hanging in her entryway. The similarities between her home and this one are astounding.

I’m a sucker for maps, especially old ones, so I love the focal point this map from the 1930s plays in the dining space.

All photos via here.

Summer vacation flowers

I’m so confused! It’s June 13 and I have no.idea. where the time went. End of school years are always la folie, but this one was especially because I am heading off to a new school next year. This brings excitement and anticipation but also sadness at leaving my fabulous department behind. Between intense Jeopardy exam review days, giving 180 exams, grading and packing up my classroom, it’s no surprise at all I haven’t payed much attention to artsdevivre of late. The last teacher work day was Monday, and I am slowly but surely decompressing. No excuses, just letting you know where I’ve been recently 🙂

One of my most favorite pastimes has developed into gardening. This is not because I have an especially green thumb. But, as you all know, I love all things that add beauty and perspective into my life. Gardening does both!

When D and I decided to live together, the front “garden” was er, an overgrown patch of weeds. Not surprisingly, growing flowers is not D’s forte. That’s ok. He’s good at other stuff. I never had my own garden growing up but always wanted one and when I traded a house in for a shoebox apartment, I decided the time was right. True to my life experience, our front bed is far from easy to grow much in. It just doesn’t get enough sun exposure because of the red maple and dogwood in our front yard. I have however managed to grow a few things ~

The first thing I planted last summer after labor-intensive weed removal was this lovely lavender. Can you believe it looked just like this just a few short months ago after emerging from winter:

Amazing to watch its growth, n’est-ce pas? I have decided lavender is easy to grow, and is a great choice if you enjoy observing flitting butterflies since it attracts this lovely insect. Obviously a lovely choice for Francophiles, as well. 😉

I love the juxtaposition of these portulacas, or Mexican roses, all clustered around my lavender. The farmer’s market lady recommended them since they tend to thrive in less-than-perfect conditions, ie not much sun. I was a bit disappointed with their development until we had a real soaker yesterday. I walked outside this morning to greet more than half the blooms we had Monday evening! Miraculous!

This gorgeous hydrangea bush is actually our neighbor’s, but I thought it was too perfectly blue not to share.

I have still have tons to learn when it comes to growing all things bright and beautiful but here are a few tips I’ve learned over the past year or so that I’ve forayed into the gardening realm:

1. A great way to avoid using weed killer is to pull all the weeds, then cover with layers of newspaper, followed by mulch. I rarely see any little buggers make it through and when I do, it’s just a couple that are easy to nip in the bud.

2. Water water water! Seems obvious but I think a new gardener can underestimate how much water plants actually need in warm weather temps. I had all but given up on my Mexican roses, but seems to be all they needed was more soaking. D’s work now consists of rigging some sort of little sprinkler system for the front bed. He is very excited about that.

3. Don’t over-do it. Pick a couple of things and go with it. This summer, I’m trying to pinpoint a few plants that will actually grow and thrive in the plot we have for now. Last summer I completely jumped in head first with no research and ended up pretty frustrated with my lack of fresh vegetables or flowers. Knowing my plans for this summer included a chunk of time away from home, I decided to pick some low maintenance flowers and an easy herb garden, and then work up to more next summer when I’ll have more time to plan.

What are you growing this summer?