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February in Pictures

February 28, 2015

La Chandeleur, Valentine's Day, Mardi gras, and my birthday, 
flowers, pink Champagne, et l'amour à Paris...What a lovely month!

Birthday

February 28, 2015 {59/365} Birthday

"The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate." ~ Oprah Winfrey

Spa Day

February 27, 2015
February 27, 2015 {58/365}

A day pampering at The Pfister:
Facial, mani-pedi, tea, Champagne...bliss!

Wondering

February 26, 2015
February 26, 2015 {57/365} "Wondering"

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug with a white quilt; and perhaps it says "Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again." ~ Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland 

February Rocks

February 25, 2015
February 25, 2015 {56/365} "February Rocks"

I do love February, but sometimes it's hard!

A very good year

February 24, 2015
February 24, 2015 {55/365} "1967"

Millenovecento sessantasette - un anno molto buono!


[85% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Syrah from Tuscany, Italy
Strawberry, black cherry, black pepper, spice, and violet notes]

Gotcha

February 23, 2015
February 23, 2015 {54/365} "Gotcha"

"I am blessed, chosen, adopted" Ephesians 1:11

Superman, Marilyn Monroe, Steve Jobs, John Lennon, Ingrid Bergman, Nelson Mandela, Babe Ruth, Truman Capote, Eleanor Roosevelt, Maya Angelou, Eric Clapton, Jack Nicholson, Debbie Harry... and ME! 

Breakfast

February 22, 2015
February 22, 2015 {53/365} French Toast

 "Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things 
before breakfast.” ~ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 If only we all had such an imagination!


Patience

February 21, 2015
February 21, 2015 {52/365} Parrot Tulip

"If winter comes, can spring be far behind?"
~ Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ode to the West Wind

One month from today. . .

French Friday: Public Display of Affection

February 20, 2015
February 20, 2015 {51/365} « Je t'aime »

That's the great thing about Paris (OK, one of many great things about Paris): It's lovely... everywhere you look. I feel so fortunate to have noticed this public display of affection on a windy, rainy day in February 2009. Who knows how long this love lasted?

Sheep

February 19, 2015
February 19, 2015 {50/365} "Year of the Sheep"

It's the Chinese Lunar New Year and 2015 is the Year of the Sheep: 羊 yáng. According to China Highlights, the sheep (goat, or ram) is among the gentle, calm sheep is one of the most loved animals. Since ancient times, people have learned to use its fleece to make writing brushes and to keep warm. The cute, white creature reminds people of beautiful things.

Here's the Chinese horoscope for those, like me, who were born in the Year of the Sheep:

Personal characteristics: Gentle, mild-mannered, shy, stable, sympathetic, amicable, creative, determined, and brimming with a strong sense of kind-heartedness and justice. Although they look gentle on the surface, they are tough on the inside. They have strong inner resilience and excellent defensive instincts. People born in a year of the Goat are very serene and calm; therefore they tend to have fewer health problems. Sheep are private. Therefore it may take time and effort to get to know them. Once they become friends, their friendship is peaceful and fulfilling. They work hard for those they love.

Lucky numbers: 2, 7
Lucky colors: red and purple
Lucky flowers: primroses
Lucky direction: north

All is Calm

February 18, 2015
February 18, 2015 {49/365} "Calm"

In 1939, the British government created a series of propaganda posters featuring the slogan Keep Calm and Carry OnThe posters were designed to raise the morale as the British people were threatened with massive air strikes during World War II. Although 2.45 million copies were printed, and although the Blitz happened, the poster was hardly ever publicly displayed and was little known about until a copy was rediscovered in 2000. Since then the original slogan and several variations have appeared on everything from posters and t-shirts to journals and coffee mugs. So I wasn't at all surprised to see these tea tins at our local market this week.  

As cliché as the motto has become, it did get me thinking about the wisdom behind the idea and what I do to maintain grace under pressure and to decompress when stressed...

Mardi Gras

February 17, 2015
February 17, 2015 {48/365} Beads
« Laissez les bons temps rouler! »

French holidays are especially hard for me since I left the classroom. I loved sharing historical and cultural events with my students, especially in February when we flipped crêpes for la Chandeleur, listened to Piaf and made romantic Valentines (in la langue de l'amour), and compared Mardi gras celebrations in Nice, Quebec, and New Orleans. Today we would be listening to zydeco music, making masks, and enjoying a Carnaval feast.  I do miss those days, so I was thrilled when one of my colleague who teaches culinary arts asked me to visit his Pro-Start class today.  While they prepare jambalaya and a New Orleans style kings' cake, I will be sharing some of the history and tradition behind today's celebration. Alors, laissez les bons temps rouler! [Interested in a learning more about Mardi gras?  Here's a link to my presentation: Mardi Gras 2015]

Leftovers

February 16, 2015
 February 16, 2015 {47/365} "Leftovers"

"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may" ~ Robert Herrick

It's the Monday after Valentine's weekend and the market is filled with leftover, slight wilted, pink and red roses. I can't decide if they're beautiful or sad...I think a little bit of both.

Pink

February 15, 2015
February 15, 2015 {46/365} "Pink"

“I believe in pink... I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.” ~  Audrey Hepburn [... and I believe that pink Champagne makes any day special!]

Hearts

February 14, 2015
 February 14, 2015 {45/365} Hearts

 « On ne voit bien qu'avec le coeur.  
L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux. »
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

["It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; 
what is essential is invisible to the eye."]

French Friday: L'Amour Fou

February 13, 2015
 February 13, 2015 {45/365} « Bisous »

Nestled between the Centre Pompidou and the Church of Saint-Merri in the Marais, the whimsical Stravinsky Fountain showcases sixteen sculptures inspired by the music of Igor Stravinsky. Completed in 1983, the black mechanical pieces by Jean Tinguely and the brightly colored pieces by Niki de Saint Phalle include L'Oiseau de feu (The Firebird),  La Clef de Sol (the Musical Key of G), La Spirale (The Spiral), L'Elephant (The Elephant), Le Renard (The Fox), Le Serpent (The Serpent), La Grenouille (The Frog), La Diagonale (The Diagonal), La Mort (Death), La Sirène (The Mermaid), Le Rossignol (The Nightingale), L'Amour (Love). La Vie (Life), Le Cœur (The Heart), Le Chapeau de Clown (The Clown's Hat), and Ragtime (Ragtime).  I wish I knew the secret of the Dali painting (by street artist, Jef Aerosol) behind the fountain. C'est un peu fou, but I love it and « Qui aime sans folie n'aime qu'à demi ! l'amour le plus fou ne vit sans brin de folie. » ~ Maxalexis

Fuel

February 12, 2015
February 12, 2015 {43/365} 2 CV

This morning as I drove to work, I heard an Exxon/Mobile commercial challenging people to "Tell us what fuels you."  The contest requires applicants to submit a photo and a 140-character (Tweet-like) answer to win $1000 worth of free gasoline. It got me thinking about what fuels me. 

I'm fueled by:
  • creativity: I love art museums, music, and great books; yet, I'm even more inspired by opportunities to express my own creativity through photography and writing.
  • the seasons: Although some seem longer than others, Wisconsin is blessed with four truly distinct seasons. Inspired by my dad's example, I relish the unique beauty and bounty that each new season offers. In springtime, I marvel at the renewal of the earth as rain washes away the salt and debris of winter commutes, and lovely flowers and pale green leaves begin to appear. Summer brings lush greenery, blue skis, cotton candy clouds, picnics, fair winds, and cool waters to sail upon. In autumn the brilliant landscape beckons me to wander. I crave apples and cashmere sweaters. And just as snow covers the bare ground, winter settles over me like a down comforter. I make the most of the stingy winter sunshine by searching for color and signs of life, yet I also enjoy the cozy silence of long nights by the fire. 
  • water: I feel most like myself when I'm near, in, or on the water. Maybe it's because I'm a pisces or maybe it's because of how and where I grew up, but it's hard for me to imagine living (and even visiting) places without a large body of water nearby.
  • travel:  Perhaps St. Augustine said it best: "The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." Travel opens my eyes and my mind. It makes me appreciate diversity as well as my own culture.
  • the word "Auntie": I've heard parents say that they never really knew what love was before they had children of their own.  Well, I don't know about that, but I do know that I'd do anything for "my boys."
  • curiosity and innovation: I'm motivated by new ideas and challenges. What fuels you?

Forever

February 11, 2015

February 11, 2015 {42/365} "Forever"

“Love is not written on paper, for paper can be erased. 
Nor is it etched on stone, for stone can be broken. 
But it is inscribed on a heart and there it shall remain forever.” ~ Rumi

Paris in Love

February 10, 2015
February 10, 2015 {41/365} Paris in Love

I know it isn't French Friday yet, but it's almost Valentine's Day and this beautiful book would be a perfect gift for your favorite francophile. Once again, Nichole Robertson takes us on a stroll through the most romantic city in the world, this time focusing our attention on its lovely crimson details -- glasses of Bordeaux, bouquets of scarlet roses, ripe garinguettes, glowing neon signs, decadent pastries... There's so much to love in Paris!  Nichole and her books are an inspiration to me. They have taught me to be aware of color and composition, and to pay attention to the little things that often go unnoticed. Visit my blog on Fridays during February for my own lovely impressions of Paris.

Gros bisous!

February 09, 2015
February 9, 2015 {40/365} Cookies

« Zou bisou bisou, mon Dieu, qu'ils sont doux! »

La Vie en Rose

February 08, 2015
February 8, 2015 {39/365} La Rose

« La vie est une fleur dont l’amour est le miel. » ~ Victor Hugo
["Life is a flower of which love is the honey."]

Pâtisseries

February 07, 2015
February 7, 2015 {38/365} Pâtisseries

"All you need is love, but a little chocolate 
now and then doesn't hurt!" ~ Charles Schulz

Pretty Valentine's pastries at Le Rêve (It's not Paris, but it's close!)

French Friday: La Ville d'Amour

February 06, 2015
February 6, 2014 {37/365} Coeur
« J'ai deux amours, mon pays et Paris. »

(Photos taken in April 2013)

French Fridays in February are dedicated to
signs of love in the most romantic city in the world!

Style

February 05, 2015
February 5, 2015 {36/365} Urchins

Once again, Mother Nature reveals herself as a masterful stylist combining color, print, texture, and shine to adorn these lovely sea urchins. Her beautiful pastels and perfect Fibonacci patterns eclipse the work of any grand couturier. Lacking a sandy beach to properly showcase such finery, I opted for the sparkle of powdery, white snow -- a celebration of opposites that transcends the rules of fashion. Natural beauty is never out of season.

Une tache

February 04, 2015
le 4 février 2015 {35/365} "Une tache"

Des fois, c'est juste une tache, 
une petite imperfection, 
qui rend l'ordinaire à l'extraordinaire!

Fatal beauty

February 03, 2015
February 3, 2015 {34/365} Belladonna

"Belladonna, n.: In Italian a beautiful lady; in English a deadly poison. A striking example of the essential identity of the two tongues." ~ Ambrose Bierce 

In keeping what seems to be a theme this week (cherries on Sundaystrawberries yesterday), here is another photo featuring red fruits. Now before you panic, no, I didn't eat any of these beauties! I know that they are belladonna (deadly nightshade). Yet, just as I alluded to last week, on winter days while I love the pure white snow, the velvety gray skies, and the lacy bare branches, I still crave vibrancy. These crimson stunners certainly fit the bill, so feast your eyes!

La Chandeleur

February 02, 2015
February 2, 2015 {33/365} Crêpes
Groundhog Day | La Chandeleur

I definitely prefer the French holiday and its tradition of eating crêpes. Yet la Chandeleur also comes with weather predictions: « À la Chandeleur, l'hiver cesse ou reprend vigueur; Chandeleur couverte, quarante jours de perte. » ["On Candelmas, winter ends or strengthens; If covered with snow, forty days to go."] It's almost like waiting for the groundhog to see his shadow, but much more delicious! Today was sunny and cold here, so we are destined for forty more days of winter. The groundhog confirmed it. Only 40 more days of Wisconsin winter? Not bad!

I ♥ February

February 01, 2015
February 1, 2015 {32/365} "Heart"
Yesterday, I mentioned my disenchantment with the January results of my 2015 Project. A month ago, I felt focused and excited to implement my new ideas for photos and writing. Yet rather than facilitating my daily creations, I became increasingly confused and frustrated. As the month progressed, I worried that I would fail in my attempts to implement my plan, not wanting to disappoint myself nor those who enjoy my posts. But it ultimately occurred to me that professionally, I always encourage others to be creative and innovative, to take risks and try new things.  I assure them that setbacks or unsuccessful results should not be viewed as "failures" but rather learning opportunities that enlighten and encourage further innovation. Should I allow myself to "fail forward" as well?

So after reflecting on what I learned in January, it's time to try something new again in February. I won't hold myself to unrealistic parameters and expectations, but rather post only what I love. It may seem funny, by I love February! Although many dread another month of cold winter days, I rejoice in these 28 crisp, snowy days, punctuated by celebrations of la Chandeleur, Valentine's Day, Mardi gras, and my birthday (the exclamation point at the end of a lovely month). February posts will be filled with pretty hues of crimson and pink, flowers, hearts, and beautiful snowscapes. Cheers to failing forward, to life-long learning, to new challenges, and to February!

Lavender Champagne cocktail at Harbor House

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