April 30, 2013

Budding Redbuds

April 30, 2013 Photo of the day:
"Budding Redbuds"

I realize that nearly all of my photos these past two weeks have been of trees and flowers in my yard, but spring is so lovely and so ephemeral. It is a joy and a challenge to try to capture its beauty, as each day becomes even lovelier. After nearly six months of gray skies, cold, and snow, each colorful blossom and leaf, each glimpse of blue sky and fluffy white clouds is truly a gift.

April 29, 2013

Finally Forsythia!

 April 29, 2013 Photo of the day: "Finally Forsythia!"

Six weeks ago, I lamented the first day of spring,
and the bare forsythia branches in the snow
Today, those branches are blooming.
Now I believe that spring is finally here!

April 28, 2013

Spring Has Sprung!

April 28, 2013 Photo of the day:
"Spring Has Sprung!"

Spring seems to have finally arrived in Wisconsin!

We had an absolutely perfect weekend!
I still only have one flower, 
but our trees and shrubs are starting to bloom. 

Each day, they are more and more beautiful!

April 27, 2013

Essence de Provence

April 27, 2013 Photo of the day:  "Essence de Provence"

I love lavender: the flowers, the color, the taste, and especially the fragrance. It is such a lovely, familiar scent that reminds me of the South of France, of beautiful landscapes, warm sun, and dear friends. Today, my friend, Lisa, gave me this amazingly generous gift, a "Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday, Congratulations on your new job, and Thank You for helping me with my Poms video" gift! I love how l'Occitane packages its hand lotions in paint tube just like the ones Cézanne or Picasso would have used to capture the light and beauty of Provence.  Lisa and I have been friends since we both started teaching in Pewaukee almost twenty years ago. We have shared so much as world language teachers and travelers, as roommates and friends. She knows me so well! Merci mille fois, mon amie!

April 26, 2013

Big Boat Day

April 26, 2013 Photo of the day:  "Still Floats!"

Today is "Big Boat Day" at the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center. This morning a 25-ton crane was hired to safely place our boats back into the lake. Since it's a school day, I missed the festivities. These photos are courtesy of my husband Eric's iPhone. Sailing Season has officially begun, but we still need to step the mast, clean the interior, and pray for warmer days and fair winds...Sail la Vie!
April 25, 2013

What a difference a day makes!

April 25, 2013 Photo of the day: "Crocus"

April 24, 2013

First Bloom

April 24, 2013 Photo of the day: "First Bloom"

Today, after weeks of waiting,
I finally spotted the first blossom in my garden:
this tiny, delicate crocus.

April 23, 2013

Vraie Beauté

April 23, 2013 Photo of the day: "MWAH!"

Yesterday, I posted a close-up photo of myself smelling a bouquet of flowers. As soon as I published it, I began to second guess my decision. As I started to scrutinize the photo, I realized that I was really critiquing myself. I worried that my hair was frizzy, my freckles made my skin look uneven, my eyes looked a bit blood-shot.... In fact, each time I see a photo of myself, I go through the same process, focusing on all of my self-perceived faults. Of course, we all want the right angles and lighting to optimize our appearance, but why are we so self-critical?


This morning, I discovered this wonderful video that clearly illustrates how we really are our own worst critics. Others tend focus on our natural attributes, oblivious to the faults that we perceive in ourselves.

So today, I challenge you to be kind to yourself.
Try to see yourself the way others see you.

OK, here goes:

My hair isn't "frizzy"; it's thick and wavy.
My complexion is fair and my freckles are youthful.
My eyes are a pretty shade of blue.

Give yourself a break or even a hug :)

April 22, 2013

Happy Earth Day

April 22, 2013 Photo of the day:
"Happy Earth Day"

Take time today to smell the flowers, 
to look up at that blue sky, 
and to wonder at the beauty of nature.
Be cognoscente of your place on the Earth, 
as well as its privilege and responsibility.  
It has been a cold, reluctant spring, 
but that makes a lovely day like today even sweeter! 

(Oh, and I got my eyes checked today, 
so everything looks bright and beautiful :)

April 21, 2013

Sunday Night Blues

April 21, 2013 Photo of the day: "Sunday Blues"

Why is it that after all these years, 
I still get that Sunday night feeling?

Much like these supermarket hydrangeas,
I feel slightly blue and kind of fragile.
The flowers, like the weekend, are lovely,
but not vibrant enough to satisfy 
my desire longer, warmer days.
Yet, I know they're coming...

April 20, 2013

Ship Shape

April 20, 2013 Photo of the day: "Ship Shape"

So much sunshine,
Clear blue skies,
Temperatures in the 30's - ouch!
Whether Spring decides to cooperate or not,
the boat launches on Friday.

Soon these slips will be filled with sailors,
eagerly awaiting warm days and fair winds.

April 19, 2013

Gray Skies

April 19, 2013 Photo of the day: "Gray Skies"

An all too familiar sight...
One of these days, they "gonna clear up!"

April 18, 2013

Spring Green

April 18, 2013 Photo of the day: "Spring Green"

"Nature's first green is gold, 
Her hardest hue to hold. 
Her early leaf's a flower; 
But only so an hour. 
Then leaf subsides to leaf. 
So Eden sank to grief, 
So dawn goes down to day. 
Nothing gold can stay."
-Robert Frost

After two weeks of rain,
tender green leaves and blades of grass
are beginning to emerge.

Each day, I peer at our trees and flower beds,
eagerly anticipating bright yellow forsythia,
pure white tulips, and tiny crimson red buds;
 longing for pink and white magnolias blossoms,
violet, blue, and yellow violas,
striped and dappled crocus with saffron centers...

Yet, as Robert Frost reminds us, 
those first golden leaves are just as precious.
I should cherish these subtile signs of spring
before their fleeting beauty is lost. 

April 17, 2013

There's No Place Like Rome

April 17, 2013 Photo of the day:
"Roman Holiday"

On this cold, rainy Wednesday, I'm dreaming of a Roman Holiday. I know you might think I sound like a bored princess, having just returned from a trip to France, but that was not really a holiday, and a girl can always dream! 

The May issue of Vanity Fair features Audrey Hepburn in sidewalk cafés, Italian sports cars, and Givenchy couture, strolling through the Eternal City. Ms. Hepburn's son, Luca Dotti, author of Audrey in Rome, discusses his mother's twenty year dolce vita a Roma and her iconic style. It might be the next best thing to a real Roman Holiday.

For an extended virtual vacation, 
complete with gelato, vespas, and fashion, 
watch Audrey's 1953 Oscar winning 
performance in Roman Holiday

April 16, 2013

Golden Morning

(No filter on my car's moonroof)

April 16, 2013 Photo of the day:
"Liquid Gold"

My car was left in the rain last night, 
and as the temperature plummeted below freezing, 
the rain drops solidified into icy crystals. 
This morning, for a few treasured moments,
the brilliant sunrise melted the ice 
into drops of liquid gold. 

April 15, 2013

From Paris with Love!

Enjoy this beautiful video postcard from Paris!
(Midnight in Paris opening sequence)

Tu me manques, Paris! Gros bisous ♥ M...

Tax Day

April 15, 2013 Photo of the day: "Tax Day"

Benjamin Franklin reminded us that
"Nothing can be said to be certain, 
except death and taxes."
(The latter is definitely preferable!) 

Still,  it's Monday...
it's gloomy...
it's Tax Day...
Enough said!


Maybe the Beatles will cheer you up...

...or maybe something free:

April 14, 2013

Sea Glass

April 14, 2013 Photo of the day: "Sea Glass"

This morning when I awoke to a fresh dusting of snow, I couldn't help feeling a little disappointed. Spring has been taking its time this year and I am feeling quite anxious. Ten days ago, I was combing Nice's pebbly beaches for tiny treasures: shells, heart-shaped rocks, and bits of colorful sea glass. I know that sea glass is essentially trash, yet the salt, sand, and pounding waves have rendered these broken bits beautifully smooth and milky. Perhaps sea glass is an appropriate metaphor for my feelings today. Looking around this morning, I had a hard time finding beauty in the gray skies and soggy lawns. Yet maybe I need to recognize that natural beauty often requires time, patience, and even a bit of rough weather. Spring will come, and when it does, its delayed beautiful will make it seem even sweeter.

April 13, 2013

Pop-up Petit Prince

April 13, 2013 Photo of the day:

This month marks the 70th Anniversary of one of my favorite books, Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Ironically the 1943 book, featuring the adventures of a pilot whose plane went down over the Sahara Desert, was published a year before its author, "Saint-Ex," was lost over Africa during World War II.  I have several copies of this magnificent, whimsical book. I have taught it in both French and English, emphasizing its timeless themes of love, friendship, and imagination; its political and cultural satire. Although best experienced in its original French, my favorite version of The Little Prince is the gorgeous pop-up book that I purchased at Anthropologie last summer. Saint-Ex's original illustrations are even more enchanting in 3-D.

Drawing #1 & Drawing #2

"S'il vous plaît, dessine-moi un mouton!"

The Little Prince tending his planet...

...in order to avoid invading baobabs.

Above all, don't forget:
"We only see clearly with our hearts;
What is most important is invisible to the eyes."

For more inspiration, visit my Little Prince Pinterest board

April 12, 2013

April is the cruelest month...

April 12, 2013 Photo of the day:
"April is the cruelest month"
- The Waste Land (T.S. Eliot)
April 11, 2013

Under my umbrella

April 11, 2013 Photo of the day:
"Under My Umbrella"
It has been raining all week,
but a pretty umbrella helps just a little bit.

"Now that it's raining more than ever
Know that we'll still have each other
You can stand under my umbrella"

April 10, 2013


April 10, 2013 Photo of the day:
"Petits souvenirs"

What things do you save when you travel? I like to keep tiny beautiful reminders of the places I've been. Cleaning out my purse after our Spring Break trip to France, I discovered a few lovely treasures: tickets from the Métro, boat tours, and museums, a commemorative coin of the 850th anniversary of Notre Dame, leftover currency, brochures from Fragonard and Ladurée, a receipt from Chanel, a small bottle of Juste un baiser, a fun new iPhone case from Pylones, and a leather Eiffel Tower key chain. I also brought home sea glass and heart-shaped stones from the beach in Nice, herbes de Provence, and lovely sachets filled with lavender to infuse my home with home with the fragrance and flavors of La Belle France.

The Quiet City

Thanks to Carin Olsson of Paris in Four Months
I discovered this breathtakingly beautiful video.
Take a few moments to slow down and enjoy the splendor of Paris!

April 09, 2013

April Showers

April 9, 2013 Photo of the day:
"April Showers"

If April showers bring May flowers,
what do Mayflowers bring? (Pilgrims ;)

April 08, 2013

Hope springs...

April 8, 2013 Photo of the day: "Hope springs..."

After a taste of spring and sensory overload last week in France, it was hard to come back to the same gray, chilly Wisconsin spring. Rain and even the s word are predicted for the rest of the week, affirming T.S. Eliot's observation that "April is the cruelest month" (The Wasteland). Yet this afternoon, I noticed tender pink-tipped tulip leaves pushing through the weathered mulch. The image may not be beautiful, but the promise of colorful, fragrant blooms is enough for now.

Spring Break 2013 en France

PHS Spring Break 2013 in France

MLH, Alexis, Kayla, Macauley, Abby, Mona, Sarah

Thursday, March 28, 2013: Overnight Flight

Flight AA42 ORD - CDG O'Hare International Terminal

Day 1: Friday, March 29, 2013: PARIS

Sunrise over Ireland (after 8 hour flight)

We landed at 7:30 am and dropped our luggage 
off at the Hotel Montparnasse Alésia

We began our tour of Paris with a stroll on the Left Bank

Place de Saint Sulpice

Saint Sulpice Church featured in the Da Vinci Code 
because the Rose Line runs through it.

We strolled through the Luxembourg Gardens

We had crêpes in the shadow of the Panthéon

We took a boat cruise on the Seine

The girls were troopers and managed to stay up
for 36 hours in order to adjust to the 7 hour time difference!


Day 2: Saturday, March 30, 2013: PARIS

After a typical French breakfast,
we spent Saturday shopping on the Right Bank

Day 3: Sunday, March 30, 2013: PARIS

We started our day with a tour of Paris

We went to Easter Mass at Notre Dame de Paris
The Cathedral is celebrating its 850th Anniversary

 We spent the afternoon strolling through the Marais...

...& browsing through books at Shakespeare & Company

On Sunday evening, we returned to the Arc de Triomphe,
and climbed the 284 spiral steps to take in the view

Day 4: Monday, April 1, 2013: PARIS
Our last day in Paris began with a tour of Le Louvre

We walked across the Pont des Arts

and had lunch in Saint-Germain-des-Prés
It feels like such an honor to dine in the same cafés 
as Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Picasso, Jean-Paul Sartre et al!

On Monday evening, we explored Montmartre

Day 5: Tuesday, April 2, 2013: PROVENCE
On Tuesday morning, we took the TGV to Avignon

The view of Le Pont d'Avignon

After lunch, we continued to Le Pont du Gard,
a Roman aquaduct dating from the first century B.C.

We spent Tuesday night in the Roman city of Nîmes

Day 6: Wednesday, April 3, 2013: PROVENCE
Wednesday morning, we continued to Aix-en-Provence

I had a lovely lunch with my dear friends,
Sandrine and her daughter Julia
François & Laetitia and their son, Alexandre

Wednesday evening, we arrived in Nice 
on the Côte d'Azur, the French Riviera

Day 7: Thursday, April 4, 2013: COTE D'AZUR
Thursday morning, we visited the Russian Orthodox Cathedral
and Cimiez (Roman ruins, gardens, monastery)

Russian Orthodox Cathedral

Thursday afternoon, we climbed up to 
the perched village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence

Later when it started to rain, we had a lesson
and played a game of pétanque (French bocce ball)

We brought home a trophy :)

Day 8: Friday, April 5, 2013: COTE D'AZUR
Friday morning, we explored Vieux Nice
with its amazing open air market

Friday afternoon, we traveled to Eze, 
another perched village with an exotic garden

We toured the Fragonard perfume factory

Our final destination was the tiny principality of Monaco

Day 9: Saturday, April 6, 2013: HOME
Saturday morning, we woke at 3 am
to begin our 22 hour trip home via Spain and Chicago

Quel bon voyage!