July 27, 2012

Raindrops on roses

FINALLY! These are a few of my favorite things :)

July 22, 2012

Happy Anniversary Weekend!

Today, Eric and I celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary. We like to plan our summer vacations around July 22 to make our anniversary extra special. Since our honeymoon in Hawaii in 2005, we have spent our anniversary in Key West, Newport, Mystic Seaport, New York, Toronto, Montreal, Québec, and Niagara-on-the-Lake. This year, due to a new job, we aren't able to take vacation until later this summer. Yet, we had a lovely anniversary weekend, right here in Milwaukee.

Friday evening we had a sunset picnic on our boat and watched the Festa Italiana fireworks. Saturday, we finally went sailing! With a 10-15 knot breeze from the west, it was absolutely beautiful on the lake. Dotting the horizon were sailboats of every shape and size, including the 3-masted Great Lakes schooner, Denis Sullivan and a fleet of boats competing in the 104th annual, 333-mile race from Chicago to Mackinac Island. I have followed the the Chicago-Mac race since I was a little girl, enjoying my dad's stories and photos of when he participated in the 1940's and 1950's.

This morning, we had a lovely Champagne brunch at Bartolotta's Lake Park Bistro, my favorite French restaurant in Milwaukee. Our table was beside the windows, overlooking the bluff and Lake Michigan. The views and the food were extraordinary! After brunch, we visited the art museum for the Posters of Paris exhibit. As much as we would have liked to travel for our anniversary, being on the water always feels like a vacation, and the food and art almost made me feel like I was in Paris!

Our "staycation" was a feast for the senses:

Sight: The soft hues of the blue sky fading into a golden pink sunset; the brilliant colors of the fireworks reflected on the water; vibrant text and images of 19th Century Paris posters...

Sound: The whoosh of the waves against our hull; the crisp snapping of the wind in our sails; the booming fireworks echoing across the lake; the screeching of the seagulls; the iconic songs of Edith Piaf, Yves Montand, and Charles Trenet...

Smell: The familiar, if sometimes unpleasant, scents that indicate the direction of the wind; the lingering sulphuric fumes of the fireworks; that distinctly summer smell of sunscreen; the delicious aromas of freshly brewed coffee...

Taste: A lime in my boat drink; a galette with sautéed mushrooms, savory ham, and creamy Gruyère; a velvety mousse au chocolat; and of course, sparkling Champagne (can't you taste the bubbles?)...

Touch: The warmth of the sun on my shoulders; the cool breeze blowing through my hair; the wet lines tugging at my hands; the cleat that "bit" my shin; the pinch of my 4" Kate Spade peep-toes (my feet are in summer mode - Sperrys & Repettos!); and most of all, my husband's warm, strong hand holding mine...It was a happy anniversary :)
For more pictures of our weekend, follow me on Instagram

July 14, 2012

Joyeux 14 juillet!

Happy Bastille Day to all of my French and francophile friends! I would love to celebrate La Fête Nationale in Paris, to watch the military parade along the Champs-Elysées and this year's disco-themed fireworks display at the Trocadero. Even the cool temperatures and the rain sound good to me this year! However, if I can't be in France for the 14th of July, Milwaukee is actually a great alternative. The 31st annual Milwaukee Bastille Days celebration is taking place in Cathedral Square this weekend, featuring live music, cooking demonstrations, food and wine tastings, a "Storm the Bastille" 5K, street performers, and an international marketplace. The pièce de résistance is the 43-foot replica of the Eiffel Tower, rivaled only by the Eiffel Tower sand sculpture created at this summer's Lakefront Festival of the Arts.  To add to the Gallic ambiance, Intouchables is still playing at the Downer Cinema, and the Milwaukee Art Museum is featuring an exhibit of Posters of Paris, showcasing the work of Toulouse-Lautrec and his 1890's contemporaries. Vive la France à Milwaukee!
Je viens d'écrire comment on peut bien fêter le 14 juillet à Milwaukee, mais grâce aux bons amis et à la technologie de FaceTime, j'ai eu le grand plaisir de regarder le feu d'artifice en direct de leur balcon à Paris! Cette année, le spectacle rend homage au disco avec les plus grandes tubes et une énorme boule à facettes, suspendue de la Tour Eiffel.

Voici le spectacle y compris la musique:

July 07, 2012

Talk about the weather...

When most people think of Wisconsin weather, they imagine "The Frozen Tundra" of Green Bay Packers' games. After all, Wisconsin is "Up North." Wisconsinites joke that there are only two seasons here: winter and road construction. Our winters are so brutal that our highways are often destroyed by ice, salt, and snow plows. When the weather warms up, orange cones appear everywhere, adding precious minutes to our daily commutes. Vacationers, many from neighboring states, must endure heavy traffic and seek alternate routes to access Wisconsin's miles of shoreline and acres of forests. Yet, people rarely complain about Wisconsin summers. Wisconsinites of hardy Nordic stock (I'm an Olson-Larson) bravely endure the brutal winters, knowing that summer will bring long, lovely days! The average high temperature from June through September is 78 degrees Fahrenheit with about 3.5 inches of rain per month. In the evenings, temperatures often dip into the fifties, perfect for a pleasant night's sleep with the windows open.

I absolutely love summer! I was married on a glorious 80 degree day in July with a gentle breeze. And yes, I know I have almost three months off of teaching, but I hope you don't believe that teachers don't work during the summer. Nevertheless, I look forward to cultivating my flower garden, reading on the deck, taking my nephews to the beach, the park or the zoo, and most of all, sailing. My husband and I purchased Sail la Vie a year after we were married. It may seem like a risky prospect, since sailing is so dependent on weather conditions, but for several years we enjoyed fair winds and sunny skies, sailing on Lake Michigan.

I certainly hope this summer in Wisconsin is an anomaly. Since the last day of school, the temperatures have been well above average and we haven't had a single rainy day.  I long for a good all-day "soaker" or a great thunderstorm. Since June 18, the temperature during the day has been well above 90 degrees. I took this photo in my car on the 4th of July - 109! We haven't even been able to head to our boat to escape the heat because, in addition to the high temperatures, we have either had no wind or gusts in excess of 25 knots. Many communities had to cancel their holiday fireworks and have placed restrictions on watering. Thankfully, my town is not one of them. Roadways are buckling in the heat, requiring even more orange barrels. Campfires are not allowed in most state parks; but who would want to camp in this weather anyway? Many crops have been destroyed, including our legendary Door County cherries. Corn and apple harvests are projected to be at an all-time low, and even Wisconsin's dairy cows are producing 20% less milk. Our two leading industries, agriculture and tourism, have suffered the greatest losses.

Oscar Wilde said, "Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative." Maybe it's just too hot to image writing about anything else, or maybe Marcel Proust got it right: Un changment du temps suffit à recréer le monde et nous-mêmes. - "A change in the weather is sufficient to recreate the world and ourselves."

July 04, 2012

Happy 4th of July!

Okauchee Lake Fireworks