Monday, January 19, 2009

Travel Blog Exchange

On my way out the door heading for the Big Apple on a VERY last minute family mission.  Will be crisis averting while I comb the city for fun and interesting things to blog about.  Hopefully, the multi-tasking I see myself doing comes to fruition.  Wish me luck.

In the meantime, I am sending you on your way to a new blog exchange for people who can't get enough of travel, exploring, vacationing...whatever you want to call it. is just the place to meet like minded individuals and be inspired by their stories.  People trading everything in for a backpack and adventure exist and you can find their inspiring stories here.  My friend Shane Sakata who writes The Nihon Sun (best site on line for travel info regarding Japan) invited me to join and I am sending her a great big thank-you hug for doing so.  Once I signed on, I was warmly greeted by several members and have happily found another new place to call home.  Check it out.  I think you might just want to be a part of the great big journey these individuals have going on.

Photo credit:   

Friday, January 16, 2009

Ricardo Montalban: True Elegance

I found these photos of Ricardo Montalban while reading his bio following his death this week. The photos struck me as being beautiful, taking me back to a time that no longer exists. A time where people were elegant and took pride in how they presented themselves to the world.  Mr. Montalban was the epitome of elegance and charm.   That Latin lover type who didn't cross over the cheesy line.  I loved him in Fantasy Island (is that weird?). He knew all but imparted his wisdom in a warm, embracing way.  The photo above was taken in the 60's but looks as thought it could jump out of the current issue of GQ.

Photo credit:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Georgio de Chirico in Paris

I can't seem to get off the art merry-go-round.  Everywhere I look lately, I am finding such intriguing work--things that just speak to me for some reason.  Like these.  Georgio de Chirico, who I have never heard of until yesterday, is the artist behind these unusual works. Born in Greece, studying in Athens, Florence and Munich, he was influenced by Nietzsche's philosophy early on.  While living in Paris, he befriended the French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, introducing to him Picasso, Gertrude Stein and the like, all responsible for altering his views on language and its rhythm.  Applying this new philosophy to his art, his works became dreamlike, often troubling and always mysterious.  Unlike the pictures I posted a few days ago that I would want to surround myself with, these I can love from afar.  

Starting February 13 and running until May 24, 2009, the Musée d'art moderne de la Ville de Paris is holding an exhibit showcasing 150 of his works.  A small venue, this museum holds over 8000 works from the 20th century.  After being overwhelmed by the 'big guys', you know, the Louvre and d'Orsay, you can spend an afternoon here grazing far away from the rest of the herd.  

Additional information:  
11, avenue du Président Wilson, 75116
Métro:  Alma-Marceau

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Re-Branding France

Does this logo move you enough to want make the effort to leave the comfort of your home for all the enchantment that France has to offer?  I think no.  And, apparently the French Government feels the same.  In 2007, the country welcomed 82 million visitors, making it the most popular tourist destination for the fifteenth year in a row. However, like everything else in these crazy times, the country is being buffeted by the economic climate--travelers are either staying closer to home or finding less costly destinations.   The French are feeling the pinch and have decided it is time for a makeover.  

Enter, re-branding.  This new logo will soon be used by Maison de la France, the French Government Tourist office.   Completely different from the previous, it certainly illustrates a much different destination, don't you think?  The thought process was based on coming up with something witty that would incorporate three elements that make France unique: 
  • Liberty:  independence, imagination, boldness, spontaneity, creativity
  • Authenticity:  history, heritage, culture, nature
  • Sensuality:  pleasure, intensity, passion, epicureanism, romance, femininity
It is so odd to think of France having to re-brand itself as it is what it is, warts and all which is why so many of us love (or hate) it.  Certainly the essence of the place can never change nor should it.  I suppose it is just another sign of the times.  

I found this version of the logo that didn't get the nod.  Can you figure out why?  Only the French.  

Additional information:  France Guide
Photo credit:

Saturday, January 10, 2009

007 at 079

I just received the latest edition of Departures magazine and on the back cover is this fabulous photo of Sean Connery just being his fabulous self.  My daughter and I started talking about him, Googling old photos of him for her to see, discussing the fact that at 79 he still has it all going on.  He has more going on than when he was young.  Ooh la la.  

Just had to share.  Sean Connery. 79. Amazing.  

Friday, January 9, 2009

Barber's Adagio for Strings, op.11

Last evening, I received my final Christmas present.  Took awhile to get here but well worth the wait.  My daughter, Taylor, had purchased two tickets to the Chicago Symphony for a performance of what I consider the most beautiful piece of music ever written, Barber's Adagio for Strings, op.11.   

When I first heard this piece, about 5 or 6 years ago, it felt like the evolution of a passionate love story for me. Starting slow and cautiously, the music is delicate, fragile--sure of what it is but holding back, unwilling to reveal all.  Gaining strength, it works its way to an intense cresendo, an acknowledgment to all the passion that exists between two people.  Finally, it becomes secure.  No longer holding back, trusting, mature.  Exactly what a love story should be. 

During a particularly trying time , I found myself listening to it and an entirely different story emerged.  I shared with my daughter that if the world, mankind, Earth, could mourn, could collectively feel all the pain and suffering that exists, it would sound like Barber's Adagio.  Yes, I know--heavy thoughts.  Occasionally one comes across heavy times.  

Last night's performance was beautiful.  It was lighter, more restrained than other interpretations I have heard yet equally magnificent.  To watch the performers make the music speak, weaving magic with their talent and instruments was so moving.  For some I am sure it was methodical and merely a piece to preform.  For others, they were the music.   Whether it was a love story, a collective sigh of grief or some other interpretation, each performer became that story for seven minutes.  

I found a clip of a performance from London Symphony Hall for you to listen to.  It is long, about 10 minutes.  Listening to it would be the best 10 minutes you could give yourself today. Close your eyes and let it take you by the hand to wherever it leads.  Be the music.  

P.S.  Thank you Taylor.
Photo credit: natalamc@flickr

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Yummy Things

When I have a recipe that I make as much as this one, it is pretty mandatory that I share it for those of you who like to cook as much as I do.  

I found this in the October issue of Food and Wine and have played around with it numerous times to make it my own. Certainly, it is one of those 'go-to' recipes that gets used over and over because the possibilities on what you can do with it are endless.  It's relatively simple to prepare and the required ingredients are probably already in your kitchen.  Voilà, I propose dinner.  

Creamy Pasta with Tomato Confit and Fresh Goat Cheese


1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, for poaching
3 plum tomatoes—peeled, quartered and seeded
2 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
Kosher salt
1/2 pound ditalini or other small-cut pasta (1 1/2 cups)
3 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/2 cup soft fresh goat cheese (4 ounces)
1/2 cup tightly packed freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (2 1/2 ounces), plus more for serving
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons snipped chives
2 tablespoons finely shredded basil leaves

In a medium saucepan, combine the olive oil with the tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf and half of the garlic and bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat until the tomatoes are very tender, about 15 minutes. Discard the thyme and bay leaf. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to a work surface and coarsely chop them; reserve the olive oil for another use.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 5 minutes. Add the pasta and cook, stirring, until golden in spots, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining garlic; cook for 1 minute.
Add 1/2 cup of the chicken stock to the pasta and cook over moderately high heat, stirring constantly, until nearly absorbed. Continue adding the chicken stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring and cooking until it is nearly absorbed between additions. The pasta is done when it is al dente and suspended in a lightly thickened sauce, about 17 minutes total.
Stir the tomatoes into the pasta. Off the heat, add the goat cheese and Parmigiano-Reggiano and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the chives and basil and serve right away, passing additional Parmigiano-Reggiano at the table.

Notes:  I use pastini and it comes out as a wonderful alternative to risotto.  Also, when adding the goat cheese, start with half of what is called for as it can get way too thick.  A mushroom ragout, made with assorted mushrooms, some butter, garlic--whatever you have on hand works well also. 

Speaking of yummy things, I served dinner with this wonderful wine that I picked up at my local Whole Foods for $9.99.  Usually when I spend that little on a bottle, I am unimpressed but this was a wonderful drinking wine that you didn't have to think much about--just sip and enjoy knowing that it didn't break the bank.  Reminded me of what I was served at my local bistro while living in Paris.  Chateau de Paraza, 2005.  After further research, I found it has received high marks from just about everyone who gives out marks so I am off to get me a case.  

Additional information:  
Recipe source:  Food and Wine
Photos:  kpoulin

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Monday, January 5, 2009

Thomas Dellhemmes

I found this photo a few weeks ago and it now has become my screen saver as I am mesmerized by it and would love to fall into it becoming an element of the still life.  Belonging to a French cookbook about chocolate, Les Sept Péchés du Chocolat by Laurent Schott, these  photographs were taken by Thomas Dellhemmes and I am in love with his work.  Not being able to find out too much about him specifically, I was able to find more photos from this amazingly beautiful book to share.  Such simple elements become hypnotic through his lens.   

Didn't I tell you they were amazing?  I don't lie about these things.  In the right hands, each photo could tell the most magnificent story.  And I'd want to be in each one of them as well. 

Photo credit:  Thomas Delhemmes 

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Bring on the Mimosa

I'll admit, we consumed our fair share of Mimosas (champagne and orange juice) in celebration of waking up over the holidays.  As the day progressed, we just cut out the o.j. and champagne was the drink of the day.  Too much I might add.  As of yesterday, great big bottles of Evian water have been the call of the day.  It is all about detox right now.  But oh, what fun we had working our way to feeling as crappy as we do in the moment. 

Back to Mimosas for a moment.  Last week I came across an article talking about the "Color of 2009" as determined by the color czars, Pantone, "the global authority on color and provider of professional color standards for the design industries." The company was announcing their color choice of the year, an event started back in 2000.  Looking forward to the new year and what it might hold, colors have been selected to match or perhaps, lighten up the mood of the world.  The new millennium in 2000 was met with Pantone 15-4020 Cerulean Blue for its calming zen state of mind.  Other colors have been: 
  • 2001--PANTONE 17-2031 Fuchsia Rose--exciting, feminine and sexy.
  • 2002--PANTONE 19-1664 True Red--recognizing the impact of 9/11, a patriotic hue.
  • 2003--PANTONE 14-4811 Aqua Sky--used to restore hope and serenity.
  • 2004--PANTONE 17-1456 Tiger Lily--hip, with a touch of exoticism
  • 2005--PANTONE 15-5217 Blue Turquoise--after all that hipness, we are back to calm
  • 2006--PANTONE 13-1106 Sand Dollar--expressing concern for our economy
  • 2007--PANTONE 19-1557  Chili Pepper--full of pizazz and sophistication with ethnicity
  • 2008--PANTONE 18-3943 Blue Iris--mix of blue and purple suggesting dependability and magic.

This year, the color choice to take us forward in these very shaky times is PANTONE 14-0848, Mimosa.  It is a thick, warm yellow meant to embody hopefulness and reassurance in a climate of change.  Wow, I do believe we could all use some of that right now.  

I like it and I am not a big yellow person. I'm also not a person that feels a color is going to make things better.  But it does feel cozy and welcoming and now that I think about it, my favorite room in the house I just moved out of was painted a very similar color.  Hmm....

A bonus for me as I wrote this is discovering that Mimosa is not just a fun beverage but also a flower with about 400 species to its credit.  It becomes apparent where the drink gets its name as the color of these beauties resembles its cocktail namesake.  I'm thinking that I should paint a room in my current house this lovely color, fill vases with bunches of these little ballerina skirts and, you guessed it, grab a flute of the bubbly. 

Photo credit:  R Shidia@flickr, Eduardo DV@flickr

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year, New Challenges

For someone who LOVES the holidays, I am equally grateful when they are over.  All the entertaining and eating and family and tree needles all over the floor gets to be just too much.  Today, the house is silent, save for the needles dropping on the floor.  I can focus on the new year, what I hope it brings and all the things I need to do in order be prepared.  

2008 was one whopper of a year for my family and I think we are all glad to put it behind us and see what lies ahead.  All five of us are transitioning in various ways which makes for much disconnect, something we as a family aren't use to.  Thankfully, we are able to support one another even though as individuals we are spinning off in unlikely directions.  Experience tells me that those who can ride the waves are going to be more successful so I have my wet suit on and am hoping for an exhilarating ride.  As I write this, my daughter, just back from France, is off to our neighborhood coffee house to try and plan her life while I am off for my first job interview in over 20 years.  It's weird, I am old enough to be the mom of the person interviewing me.  When did the world get to be so young??

Well, keep a good thought for me.  I should be nervous but getting to my stage in life has some advantages--I feel fairly secure in my skin and only know how to be me.  Curious to see how far that will get me.  I'll keep you posted.