February 28, 2013

Birthday Girl

February 28, 2013 Photo of the day:
"The Birthday Girl" (1970)

Hope you'll share some of my virtual cake on Pinterest!

February 27, 2013

I miss my shoes!

February 27, 2013 Photo of the day: "I miss my shoes!"

I am tired of wearing boots everyday.
Don't get me wrong, I really like my boots.
They are comfy and warm, 
and cute with skirts and tights.
They have been part of my uniform for months,
but I really miss my shoes:
Peep toes...
Kitten heels...
Boat shoes...

Check out these beauties on my

Seriously, snow, please STOP!

February 26, 2013

Shopping in Paris

February 26, 2013 Photo of the day: "Shopping à Paris"

Thirty days from now, I will be on my way to Paris again! This time, I am taking a group of six 15-18 year old girls. We will be spending four days in Paris before taking the TGV to Avignon to tour Provence and the Côte d'Azur. Our 10-day tour will end in Nice and Monaco. This is a dream come true for my students, and I feel privileged to share the experience with them.  Last night, at our final meeting before the trip, I asked the girls what they would like to do during our first two free days in Paris before we meet the rest of our tour group. I suggested a boat cruise on the Seine, a stroll through the Luxembourg Gardens, an excursion to Versailles, and various cultural activities that are not included in their structured tour. Yet the overwhelming response was "We want to go shopping!" I'm not surprised! Imagine being a teenaged girl in this mecca of fashion and style. On previous trips, students have purchased prom dresses, outfits to be worn for senior pictures, hand bags, scarves, perfume, etc. The biggest complaint I have heard loud and clear is that there hasn't been enough time to shop. Well, ladies, this time prepare to shop 'til you drop!

Susan Swire Winkler's The Paris Shopping Companion is one of the most popular books in my classroom library. It includes detailed maps, tips, and ideas for shopping that fit anyone's budget. 

What are your favorite neighborhoods in Paris?

Do you prefer the posh Right Bank...

...or the trendy Left Bank?

I am sure that we will stroll along the Champs-Elysées and arcades of the Rue de Rivoli. We always visit the Hausmannian department stores, Galeries Lafayette and Printemps. I am ashamed to say that I have never been inside Le Bon Marché, Paris' oldest department store (definitely on my list). The girls might want to "faire la lèche-vitrines" ("lick the windows - window shop) in designer shops in the Faubourg St.-Honoré or the Place Vendôme. We might also visit the Marais or the Galerie Vivienne. If you have favorite neighborhoods or shops in Paris, we would love to hear your suggestions!

February 25, 2013

Love rocks!

February 25, 2013 Photo of the day:
"I got a rock!"

Remember when Charlie Brown and his friends went trick-or-treating and campared their loot? "I got 5 pieces of candy!" "I got a chocolate bar!" "I got a quarter!"... Charlie: "I got a rock."  Well, I  rocks :)  While I love to travel, I don't collect a lot of trinkets. Photos, travel journals, and charms for my bracelet are perfect reminders of my adventures. I also like natural souvenirs: seashells, pressed flowers, leaves, and rocks. Yes, rocks!  I have collected heart-shaped stones from everywhere from Door County, Wisconsin to Omaha Beach in Normandy

February 24, 2013

Sunday Brunch

February 24, 2013 Photo of the day: 
"Bon appétit!"

Today, we had brunch at my favorite
French restaurant in Milwaukee,

The club house and dining room are beautiful

The view of Lake Michigan is breathtaking

The food is delicious!

Cheers! To a beautiful sunny Sunday!

The bistro is located in Lake Park
designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted 
who also designed New York's Central Park

Milwaukee's North Point Lighthouse

Milwaukee Water Tower

Milwaukee Art Museum

February 23, 2013


February 23, 2013 Photo of the day: "Gotcha!"
(Photo & caption by my mom, 45 years ago)

Poem for Adopted Children
"Not flesh of my flesh
Nor bone of my bone,
But still miraculously my own!
Never forget for a single minute,
You didn't grow under my heart,
But in it!"
- Fleur Conkling Heyliger


Today is my "Gotcha Day!"
In many ways, a day is even more special
than my birthday (later this week).

Here is my poem: C'est moi

I am...
a teacher,
a mentor,
a colleague,
an adviser,
a coach,
a leader.
Je suis Madame,
MLH, la prof de français.
Does my career define me?

I am...
a traveler,
a sailor,
a reader,
a writer,
a photographer,
a linguist...
Sometimes I speak, write, think in English.
Sometimes I speak, write, think in French.
Do my interests define me?

I am...
fair with freckles,
a blue-eyed brunette,
petite, curvy...
Does my physical appearance define me?

I am...
Do my attributes define me?

I am...
a perfectionist...
Do my faults define me?

I am...
a wife,
a sister,
a daughter,
a niece,
an auntie,
a godmother,
a friend...
Do my relationships define me?

For the first year of my life,
I didn't have a name: I was Jane Doe.
Miraculously, I was adopted,
given my name: Melinda Marie Larson.
Melinda: gentle, sweet
Marie: the French variant of Mary
"Star of the Sea,"
A name for a girl who grew up on the water,
 for a woman who remains most content upon it.
I was named for my maternal grandmother.
I was named for Mary, the Blessed Mother.
Larson: A noble surname, ethnic and geographic
Son of Lars, Scandinavian for Lawrence,
A laurel, fragrant, ever green,
A wreath to adorn the heads of heroes...
I am child of noble victors,
of Door County Scandinavians.
My name is a gift itself.
I wasn't born into the Larson family.
I was adopted, chosen, given this name.

In high school, I was Mindy, in college, Mel.
When I started teaching, I was Mademoiselle.

In 2005, I was married.
I became Mrs. Eric Horne.
I struggled with social convention,
with "taking my husband's name."
He was considerate and appreciative.
He was disappointed.
He, too, desired to share his name with me.
I added a hyphen,
and the gift of another name.

I am Melinda Marie Larson-Horne.

February 22, 2013


February 22, 2013 Photo of the day: "Bubbles"

Meet Bubbles, our Betta. 

Last February, one of my seniors gave me two goldfish for my birthday. A week later, while presenting at the Central States Conference for Foreign Language Teachers (The World in Your Pocket), I got a text from my substitute along with a photo of my students giving Pierre and Jacques a "burial at sea" (ahem!). Although they were only there for a week, everyone enjoyed les poissons. So my nephews, Alec and Chase, picked out and named our new pet, "Bubbles." He lived at school for the rest of the semester, and moved home with us for summer vacation. Certain family members (i.e. Eric) became quite attached to him, so it was decided that this year, Bubbles would be "home schooled!"

February 21, 2013

Inner Beauty

February 21, 2013 Photo of the day: "Inner Beauty"

One week later, my gorgeous Valentine flowers are fading.
As the petals wither, becoming fragile, luminescent, almost transparent,
their inner beauty and complexity is revealed!

February 20, 2013


February 20, 2013 Photo of the day:

Even in a cold February sky, 
there is the faintest hope of spring!

February 19, 2013

St. Somewhere

February 19, 2013 Photo of the day:
"Operation St. Somewhere"

During the past 24 hours, the temperature has fluctuated by 50 degrees (from 40° F to -10° with the wind chill factor). It rained, it snowed, and the winds have gusted up to 40 mph. This morning's commute was a white-knuckling, heart-stopping slip and slide through Lake Country. I have been a good sport about winter for the past four months; in fact, I have even showcased its beauty. But I'm tired of bone chilling cold and treacherous roads. It might be time to launch "Operation St. Somewhere"! 

Jimmy Buffett might be right: 

Lately, newspaper mentioned cheap air fare
I gotta fly to St. Somewhere
I'm close to bodily harm
Twenty degrees and the hockey game's on
Nobody cares; they're way too far gone
Screaming boat drinks
Something to keep them all warm...

Oh I know, I should be leaving this climate
I got a verse but can't rhyme it
I gotta go where it's warm!
Boat Drinks

I wish I were in St. Somewhere:
  • St. Lucia, St. Barts, St. Martin, St. Kitts, St. Thomas in the Caribbean
  • St. Tropez, St. Paul-de-Vence, St.-Malo, St.-Jean de Luz, Mont-St.-Michel, Ile St. Louis in France 
  • San Sebastian in Spain
  • Piazza San Marco (Venice), San Remo in Italy
  • San Francisco, San Diego, San Juan, Santa Barbara in California

Any other suggestions?

February 18, 2013

Pillow Talk

February 18, 2013 Photo of the day: "Pillow Talk"

Some days, especially Mondays, there just isn't much to say. I'm really tired today. I stayed up too late watching the two hour season finale of Downton Abbey last night. I won't give anything away, but the ending kept me awake even after I went to bed - Wow! All day, I have been longing to crawl back under my cozy down comforter. Bonne nuit!

February 17, 2013

How Charming!

February 17, 2013 Photo of the day:
"How Charming!"

The precise history of charm bracelets is unknown, but it is believed that they began as a form of amulet worn to ward off evil spirits. Early charms were made of bones and shells, and later rocks, wood, and gem stones. There is evidence of charms being worn in ancient Africa and Europe as religious and political symbols. Charm bracelets became particularly fashionable during the reign of England's Queen Victoria. The queen herself wore charms and gave them as gifts. Upon the death of Prince Albert, Victoria had charms designed to hold locks of her husband's hair. During the 20th Century, soldiers returning from war often brought charms home for their loved ones. These charms were made by local craftsmen in areas where the servicemen were fighting. Charm bracelets gained popularity in the 1950s and 1960s when it became traditional for American girls to collect charms to represent milestones in their lives.

I love to travel, but I don't buy a lot of touristy trinkets. My photos and journals have always been my favorite souvenirs. However, I did buy a tiny white gold Figaro link bracelet was in Florence in 1994. Since then, I have added charms from many places that I have visited.
  • Cana Island Lighthouse: An iconic symbol of the Door County shoreline near my godparents' cottage in North Bay, invoking childhood memories of wading out to the rocky island and fishing on its shores.
  • 2000: A charm to mark the new millennium
  • Basque Cross: San Sebastien or Saint Jean de Luz - 2008. Its four arms signifying spirit, life, consciousness, and form.
  • Matador's Jacket: From Madrid's Plaza Mayor -1998.
  • "Big Ben": Houses of Parliament charm from London - 2002.
  • Sand dollar: Key West - 2006.
  • Sailboat: My grandmother bought this tiny charm for me in 1987 when I was on the Marquette University sailing team. I wore it around my neck for years, but when the chain broke the year after my grandma passed away, I had the charm soldered onto my bracelet.
  • Eiffel Tower: From my first summer in Paris in 1994.
  • Plumeria: This frangipani blossom with the pearl in the center was purchased in Hawaii during our honeymoon in 2005.
  • Dolphin: My mom bought this charm for me when my brother, she, and I swam with dolphins during the Christmas we spent in the Bahamas after my dad passed away.
  • Gondola: Venice - 1994

    Tiffany and Co. introduced their first charm bracelet in 1889 — a sterling silver link bracelet with a single heart next to the lobster claw clasp. This bracelet remains a best seller for Tiffany to this day. Mine was purchased at the Tiffany flagship store on 5th Avenue. The original heart is inscribed with my monogram. With the exception of a circular charm engraved with the town of Sturgeon Bay along with two sailboats (a gift from my husband), the rest of the charms have been added each time I return to New York. I have an iconic Tiffany blue box, a shopping bag, an Eiffel Tower, and a sailboat. 

    I don't wear a lot of jewelry, but my charm bracelets are two of my favorite pieces. They are as personal as the memories that they invoke!

    February 16, 2013

    Winter whites

    February 16, 2013 Photo of the day:
    "Winter whites"

    February 15, 2013

    You're never too old to color!

    February 15, 2013 Photo of the day:
    "You're never too old to color!"

    I bought this coloring book at the Louvre
    for my nephew, Alec...
    and then I bought one for me too ;-)

    February 14, 2013

    Stop and smell the roses...

    These gorgeous flowers were delivered
    to my classroom this afternoon!
    How sweet of my husband!
    He knows all of my favorites flowers :)

    La Langue de l'Amour

    February 14, 2013 Photo of the day: "L'amour"

    It's a familiar image, reminiscent of my February 3rd photo, but this time it's in French, the language of love. Happy Valentine's Day! If you want to spoil special someone today, try whispering sweet nothings en français ;) There are so many sweet and silly French terms of endearment! 
    • Traditional: mon cher, ma chérie (my dear, my darling), mon amour (my love), mon cœur (my heart), mon ange (my angel), ma belle (my beauty), mon mignon, ma mignonne (my cutie), mon trésor (my treasure),  ma poupée (my doll), ma moitié (my half)
    • Pet names: ma chatte, mon chaton (my kitten), mon lapin (my bunny), mon canard (my duck), ma caille (my quail), mon poulet (my chicken), mon loup (my wolf), ma puce (my flea), and, be careful pronouncing this one: ma biche (my doe, a dear, a female dear...)
    • Silly: mon petit chou (my little cabbage!)
    If your mots doux come with des fleurs (flowers), des bonbons (candy), du chocolat (chocolate), ou des bijoux (jewelry), you are sure to get un gros bisous (a big kiss)!

    Don't forget to say: Je t'aime! or Je t'adore!

    Zou bisous bisous - XO

    If you need even more lovely inspiration,
    visit by "Valentine's Day" Pinterest Board

    or for love in the most romantic of cities, visit "Paris, je t'aime!"