Monday, April 30, 2012

Paris: One City, So Many Possibilities

Happy Monday, all! I hope you'll pardon me, I'm rushing around today trying to get ready to skip away to Paris - so a quick post and I'm off to pack.

I do love the adventure of discovering new places, but I have to say there is something about revisiting a favorite city again and again. It can be as comforting and reassuring as catching up with an old friend you haven't seen in ages and picking up right where you left off. Or as thrilling as when you discover something new about the man you've loved for years.

A friend and I were just emailing about how many different Paris trips there are...

Romantic Paris, mais bien sur

The girls' trip...

Solitary Paris...

The shopping trip...

The sightseeing trip....

Glamorous Paris...

Relaxed Paris.... I think our trip this time will look a lot the one these ladies are enjoying. No agenda. Just kick back and take the days as they come. What I've been telling people is that I want the equivalent of a week at some resort, just hanging by the pool, but in Paris.

Time to linger over coffee...

To meet up for drinks with friends...

To get out for a walk...

To simply float away on the bubble of happiness that Paris tends to inspire in me!

So tell me, what kind of escape appeals most to you right now - an adventure of discovery or revisiting a favorite haunt? Where would you go? And what would you like your dream vacation to be all about? 

A la prochaine. Hope your days are wonderful wherever the week takes you. XO

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sketching Out A New Life

Hi all! Happy Friday. Hope you've had a lovely week. I've been astonished with just how quickly time can fly by now that I'm a few days into my new life. It's shocking, really.

But I've discovered a few things -- coffee tastes better when I sip it at my favorite breakfast nook perch, rather than at a desk in an office building. Having a glass of wine at lunch just because you can is a decadent treat. And there still just aren't enough minutes in a day.

Four days into my "sabbatical" and I still hadn't picked up a a paint brush. Not enough time, it seemed. But the other day, I wrote about the powers of observation, and how bringing a sketchbook on a vacation helps me see a bit better. Taking the time to make a quick sketch slows the world a bit, or at least leaves a vivid memory of a time or place.

So I decided that instead of waiting to travel, I would start a sketchbook of my day to day, in hopes that  I can slow things down a bit, or at least create a strong memory for what this time in my life is all about. My own backyard may not be the Jardins du Luxembourg, but the magnolia trees that bloom there are worth a long look, I think.

Beauty is fleeting, and if you don't take the time to watch for it, you could very well miss the show.

What do you want to make sure you take the time to really see this weekend?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Can't Put It Down: The House At Tyneford

Tonight is Book Club! Can't wait. I always love an evening with the girls, talking about our current read what's new in our lives (admittedly, we don't always spend a lot of time discussing the book!). For our next selection, I'll be heartily recommending The House at Tyneford.

Have you read it? It's wonderful--part Downton Abbey, part Jane Eyre, with a few subtle hits of Rebecca thrown in. The story of young Elise Landau, who must leave behind her novelist father and opera singer mother and flee Nazi occupied-Austria for England, where she takes work as a housemaid in a Dorset manor house. Her life and family broken apart, she recreates a new version of herself in order to survive. 

Author Natasha Solomons sets the book in her own beloved home of Dorset, and her attachment to the landscape comes through on the pages as she brings that part of the world vividly to life. 

The inspiration for Tyneford came from Tyneham, a once thriving village on the Dorset coast commandeered by the British army during the Second World War. The villagers were forced from their homes on Christmas Eve 1943, leaving this note pinned to the church:

"Please treat the church and houses with care; we have given up our homes where many of us have lived for generations to help win the war to keep men free. We shall return one day and thank you for treating the village kindly."

But they were never allowed back and the village fell to ruin, the land still owned today by the Ministry of Defense. 

Photos from Natasha Solomons

Natasha's own family inspired the character of Elise Landau -- her great-aunt Gabi Landau escaped Nazi Germany by becoming a nanny in England like many who escaped on a "domestic service visa," exchanging lives of privilege for servitude in order to survive.

For more on Tyneford and Natasha Solomons' creative life, you can visit her blog.

What was the last book you just couldn't put down?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Soaking Up The Season

Hi all! I hope you're not bored to death with the Paris posts. Today, highlighted designer Vanessa Seward's picks for soaking up spring in the City of Light -- of course, I felt like she made her list just for me! Her favorites got me to thinking about all the things I've never done before in Paris...and all the things I can't wait to do again.


Never been on a Batobus, or sailed on the Seine at all for that matter. Love the idea of floating along rather than traveling below ground. 


Spending a morning in a Paris market never gets old...a little cheese...a little bread...a little charcuterie... did someone mention a picnic?


The major museums may have been exhausted--or be exhausting--but the list of smaller, more manageable collections seems to be never ending. The Musée Jacquemart-André has been high on my list for years --as much for the Tiepolo-ed ceilinged tea room as the sumptuous collection of French, Italian and Flemish art.


And the Musée de la Vie Romantique. While I spent a glorious fall day exploring the former residence of George Sand and stopped to smell the late roses in the October sun, tea service in the garden had stopped for the season... perhaps they'll be pouring again in May?

 Liane Ellis

 Liane Ellis

 Where would you like to stop and smell the roses this spring?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Paris Sketchbook

As I count down the days to Paris (one week to go!) I'm starting to mentally pack - trying to edit my closet to the few perfect pieces I can stuff into one suitcase.

What I know I'll be traveling with is my field box of watercolors and a sketchbook.

When I first began traveling to Paris, it was to paint, and I always had a few days alone at the end of the trip, which meant plenty of time to fill sketchbooks with memories of days at the Rodin Museum or the Luxembourg gardens. My more recent visits have been less solitary, without many chances to pull out the paints and start sketching -- the little scribbles here date back over a decade.

I'm hoping that Mr. H. will humor me with a few idle hours to paint on this adventure because I find that by taking the time to capture something in a sketchbook, I'm able to remember the place and the moment so much more vividly.

Like this September afternoon in the Jardins du Luxembourg. The chairs seemed to be busy trading gossip and the shadows were fleeting as the sun dashed in and out of clouds. A lovely young Frenchman put down his copy of Anna Karenina long enough to ask me to coffee, and that was the end of sketching that day.

So many years have past, and so much in my life has changed. But those September 1999 Paris days are still alive in the pages of my sketchbook.

How do you create memories of your travels and adventures? 

Tulip Time

"Earth laughs in flowers." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Could anything be more dazzling than the color riot of a field full of tulips, stretching  as far as the eye can see?

The sun is shining in Seattle, and just an hour or so north, the tulips in the Skagit Valley are at their peak. Millions of brightly hued heads bobbing in the sun, as if to say hello to a perfect spring day.

Have you ever wandered in a tulip field? The colors are so vivid, so bright they almost seem unreal. It's impossible not to be happy with them laughing in color at your feet.

Happy Monday, everyone! Hope your week blooms beautifully! XO

Friday, April 20, 2012

All The Doors In Paris

Walking down a Paris street, I can't help but be fascinated by the doors...wondering what's behind their facades, what secrets they hold.

Some beckon you to knock (I'm always curious about who might answer)...

Others distract with their details.

So many different hues,  some vibrant, some cool...

Some subtle but strong.

You can't help but wonder what kind of life you would step into if you just pulled one open and wandered inside.

Today is my last day in my job.  Closing that door behind me feels a bit strange. But I know that there are as many possibilities ahead of me as there are doors in Paris.

Do you wonder what doors will open for you next? What lies behind them? What secrets they might reveal?

Happy weekend, everyone. I hope what ever doors you walk through this weekend, they lead to fun, adventure and beauty! XO


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