Fall flowers

I didn’t even notice when I bought these perfect fall flowers at the market on Sunday that they are actually dried ~ 

I’m really excited about them though since I know they’ll last as long as I need!


Fall colors

I’m such a nerd for fall. Temperatures dropping spike my energy, I feel more clear-headed and everything seems just a bit more vibrant. Maybe it’s because of the gorgeous colors every-which-where. 

Like these fuchsia mums …

… or these orange ones …

… or these green and yellow accented gourds …

… which I think are sprucing up the coffee table nicely.

What colors are you enjoying this fall?





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?

Le lèche-vitrine

I love this photo of a woman “qui fait du lèche-vitrine” (literally “window licking”, but figuratively window shopping) from the Sartorialist ~


Everything about this woman, from her leopard flats, to her elegant handbag (maybe a Kelly? I can’t tell from that angle?), to her neat and low ponytail, just screams elegant. French. woman. My style is *far* from this put together at this point in my life. I’m still seduced by the sequins, bold prints and trendy tees of these, some of favorite stores in Paris , if not to lick their windows, then at least to shop them when I have a couple of extra sous 😉

Go to Zadig & Voltaire for overpriced tees and funky cashmere sweaters. Z&V always delivers just the right amount of sequin and sparkle. For those on smaller budgets, wait for the soldes in the summer or beginning of each year. I always enjoyed popping in the location right next to Saint Sulpice, accessible from the same metro stop on the Line 4.

I love Tara Jarmon for feminine dresses and ensembles. My favorite location is, bien sûr, on the rue du Four, a quick walk from the Mabillon metro stop on the Line 10.

Comptoir des cotonniers is definitely one of my faves as well, with its laid back and Euro-prepster style. I favor the Marais location at 33 rue des Francs bourgeois, easily accessible from metro Saint Paul on the Line 1.

Go to Fauchon for gourmet food items, located at 26 place de la Madeleine, easy to access from the Madeleine metro stop on Line 14. It’s always a fun place for Christmas gifts. One year I did gourmet hot chocolate baskets for friends and family.

When I was working in Paris several years ago, my favorite long walk was from my shoebox studio (12 meters squared worth) in the Haut Marais over to the Bon Marché, in the chi-chi 6th arrondissement. There’s only the one location in Paris at 24 rue de Sèvres. It’s a quick walk from the rue du Four or you could get off at the Sèvres Babylone metro stop on the Line 12. I skated past the Ferragamo and Louis Vuitton on my way to buy gourmet groceries and lunches at the Grande epicerie. Such a treat!

Here are a couple more typical lèche-vitrine pics from my various Parisian séjours.

This cute store is located right on my little rue de Picardie in the Marais (3rd arrondissement). Definitely reminiscent of 10,000 Villages if you’re familiar with that store. A quick walk from metro République on the Line 10, among others.

I always love some freshly-cut flowers from the ubiquitous Parisian flower market. These are right down the street from my old office in the 17 arrondissement, actually quite close to the étoile, where the Arc de triomphe sits. What are some of your favorite stores for window shopping? Paris or elsewhere?

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?

Mother’s day feast

What did you all do with your mothers this weekend, les amis ? D and I invited my maman up to Baltimore for the weekend. We basically spent the weekend eating – Baltimore favorites like crabs and Berger cookies courtesy of D’s parents – and a big brunch chez nous today. I tried out a new cake recipe I found on Pinterest and did some quiches, too. Despite a messy start after our visit to the Farmer’s Market this morning ~

We were able to pull everything together for some really yummy (and pretty!) results ~

I wish I could take credit for this fabulous salmon spread with flowers on top, but we splurged at the market this morning. I actually thought it was goat cheese but was pleasantly surprised upon tasting at the salty goodness. I hypothesize it would be relatively simple to duplicate by mincing smoked salmon and mixing with cream cheese and some fresh herbs. I’m not sure I could impress the flower quite as perfectly as the vendor did, though.

I now feel comfortable with whipping up crustless quiches on my own! Here’s a quick and easy go-to recipe:

-5 to 6 eggs beaten, depending on amount of guests

-1 cup of milk, beaten in to eggs

-1/2 cup of heavy cream, beaten into eggs

-Whatever fillings you desire. Today I went with :

~Lorraine (bacon, gruyère cheese and chives)

~Asparagus, gruyère cheese and caramelized onions

~Smoked salmon, gruyère cheese and asparagus

All you need to remember is to grease the quiche pan a bit, spread ingredients on bottom of pan and then pour egg/milk/cream mixture on top. The fillings will float up to the top. Bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes at 350 degree Farenheit. (Until the egg is pulling away from the sides a bit and a bit brown on top.)

The lemonade cake recipe from Cooking Light  turned out fabulously. I sliced lemons to decorate the sides and plucked a bit of phlox from my garden for the top. You could increase the lemony-ness of the cake by upping the amount of lemonade concentrate added to the cake batter. The cream cheese frosting was frothy and yummy. Combined with a couple of mimosas or bloody maries, D’s London Broil on ciabatta bread and some fresh salad greens, we deemed the meal another success!

It only took about two hours of prep and cooking, not bad when including a homemade cake and cream cheese frosting. What good recipes have you tried and loved recently?