Currently • August 2019

…or “What I Did this Summer”

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August’s Currently post seems like a great opportunity to do a quick Summer of 2019 retrospective.

Here’s what I….

READ:

  • a lot of professional development books:

  • not enough books for pleasure:

    • Hemingway on Writing - “An assemblage of reflections on the nature of writing and the writer from one the greatest American writers of the twentieth century.” (What’s a Currently Reading list without at least one Hemingway reference, right?!) (*****)

    • What the Lady Wants - “In late-nineteenth-century Chicago, visionary retail tycoon Marshall Field made his fortune wooing women customers with his famous motto: "Give the lady what she wants." His legendary charm also won the heart of socialite Delia Spencer and led to an infamous love affair.” I loved Marshall Fields and am sad that very few traditional department stores with that level of service and attention to detail still exist. Although the novel features prominent industrialists including Marshall Field, Harry Selfridge, George Pullman, Potter Palmer, and Philip Armour as well as events such as the Great Chicago Fire and the Haymarket Riots, it is much more fiction than historical and a bit too soapy for me. (***)

    • Vintage - “At Hourglass Vintage in Madison, Wisconsin, every item in the boutique has a story to tell . . . and so do the women who are drawn there.” (***)

    • The Wondering Years: How Pop Culture Helped Me Answer Life’s Biggest Questions - The title is intriguing and I loved the pop culture references dating back to the 1970’s, but this book was a little too evangelical for me. (**)

    • A Man Called Ove - I read this summer’s all school read a couple of years ago, but it’s worth a second look. A grumpy yet lovable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door. This heart-warming book illustrates the power of community. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks with a 2020 release date. (*****)

    • The Friend - Goodreads calls this “A moving story of love, friendship, grief, healing, and the magical bond between a woman and her dog.” I disagree. (*)

WATCHED:

  • movies in the cinema — I had forgotten how much fun it is to see a film on the big screen with popcorn (and now even wine) in big comfy chairs. Here are the movies I saw:

    • Yesterday - The premise of this film seemed really fun — A struggling musician realizes he's the only person on Earth who can remember the music of The Beatles) — but I was really disappointed by the lack of plot progression (**)

    • Once Upon a Time in Holiday - Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Quentin Tarantino, and kitschy Hollywood in the late 1960’s — FUN …the Mason Family murders — not so much (***)

    • Maiden - I had forgotten how much this story of the first all-women crew of the Whitbread Round the World Race impacted me in the late 1980s when I was racing on the Marquette Sailing Team. I was so moved by Tracy Edwards and her crew that I left the movie theatre in tears — happy, nostalgic tears that made me want to reconnect with the hopeful, confident young woman who I was in 1989 and remember what make me feel authentic and invigorated. (*****)

    • The Art of Racing in the Rain - Awesome book, mediocre film. Spoiler alert: Yes, the dog dies. The hardest thing about loving a dog is that you know that day will come. I knew it was going to happen and yet I cried like a baby. In the book, Enzo’s story really isn’t so sad, it is a journey. The film missed out on the light, heart-warming aspects of Garth Stein’s wonderful novel and rather focused on Enzo imminent death — twice. (**)

    • Where’d You Go, Bernadette? The film deviated quite a bit from Maria Semple’s novel, but I found Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of Bernadette quirky, humorous, and touching. I was also fascinated by the architecture and the breathtaking icescapes of Antartica. (***)

  • TV specials and “old” movies:

    • Lots of 50th anniversary coverage of the first moon landing on July 20, 1969

    • The 50th Anniversary Woodstock Special on PBS - What amazing footage of this historical and cultural event.

    • Good and not so good films from the 80’s and 90’s including The Firm, Heathers, Now and Then, He Said She Said, Some Kind of Wonderful, and Four Weddings and a Funeral. You decide which are the “good ones” :)

  • Hamilton in Chicago — what a show! I know that I’m really late to the party, but I was awed by the music, the dancing, the history, and the diversity…and King George was hilarious!

LISTENED TO:

  • A few podcasts (see Currently • June 2019) - I tried to listen to podcasts rather than music as I multitasked around the house, but I found them to be distracting. I’m an audio learner and immediately lost my focus on the task at hand. I don’t even know if it would be good for me to listen to podcasts while driving!

  • Paul McCartney in concert at Lambeau Field - The three hour show was an amazing retrospective of the music of the Beatles, Wings, and Sir Paul’s solo work. The graphics were also really well done. My only criticism is that, although Lambeau Field an iconic stadium for football, it isn’t a great concert venue. The seats on the field aren’t tiered which isn’t even an option for the vertically challenged among us and the stands start literally a football field length away.

  • Jimmy Buffett at Alpine Valley - Yes, Jimmy is a bit of a guilty pleasure, but I’m a sailor and his music speaks to me. We had so much fun with friends when we went to see Buffett in 2009, so we decided to go again 10 years later. Although, Jimmy Buffett has historically played Alpine Valley every summer for many years, he hadn’t returned since 2016 due to the venue being closed for repairs. Let’s face it, the outdoor theatre has lost some of it’s charm since I attended my first concert there in 1978 (Yep, you guessed it — Shaun Cassidy ♡). This time, the place was teeming with frustrated, over-served Parrotheads who were fed up with the deplorable conditions after the afternoon’s oppressive heat wave and thunderstorms (Don’t even ask about “the facilities!”), the overcrowded lawn, the poor sound quality especially on the hill, and the extremely long lines to enter the venue. I’m sorry, Jimmy, but I think I’m done. I told Eric that if Jimmy Buffett is still touring 10 years from now (at the age of 83), I might consider going again. This concert really took the wind out of my sails.

WORKED ON:

  • Updating our outdoor space — Eric is refinishing the deck, and we continue to work on our yard. We added more heirloom plants and native Wisconsin wildflowers as well as another lovely white rose bush.

  • Refreshing “Piper’s room” (aka our bedroom) with an adjusted floor plan, fresh paint, new carpet, new lighting, a chair and side table for reading, newly curated accessories. When we moved into this house almost four years ago, somethings were deemed “OK, for now,” but I finally decided that “for now” was long enough. It was time to update things to reflect what we really want. Unfortunately, poor Miss P hasn’t been feeling well for a week or so and has had a few accidents on the brand-new rug. Good thing we sprung for the high quality, “pet-proof” carpeting.

ENJOYED:

  • Taking a break - I stayed away for school for the final two weeks in June and for a few days each week in July.

  • A slower pace - Lingering in the morning over coffee, taking time to walk with Piper, read, or even nap in the afternoon, not feeling rushed to complete projects…

  • The weather - Although there were are few scorchers, really liked the cooler days this summer with enough rain that I didn’t have to water every morning and evening. I also really appreciated that the mosquito population was much lower than last summer.

MISSED:

  • Time “Up Home” in Sturgeon Bay - we were up in the beginning of June for Aunt Reta’s memorial, but we haven’t been back to hike in the parks, shop and dine, and explore the Door for a while.

  • Sailing and just being on the water - This is such a part of what makes me me.

  • Keeping up with my gardens and lounging on the deck - I never got into a routine this summer due to ongoing projects, but there’s always next summer.

Teachers are back to school this week and students arrive on Monday, so, at least for me, the Summer of 2019 is officially over. This is usually a very bittersweet time of year for educators, but I’m really excited for what the Fall of 2019 has in store.

Currently • February 2019

I leave for Paris next week, so this month’s Currently feature is mostly about planning and packing.

Espresso w/Paris napkin

READING: Maybe it’s because I’m headed to Paris again, but I am currently on another Hemingway binge:

I am loading up my iPad with books to read on the plane. Let me know if you have any favorites to compliment my trip to Paris.

WATCHING: Nothing new.

PLANNING: Daily Paris Itineraries

It really isn’t about planning every moment of our trip, but, to maximize our time in Paris, I do like to organize days in walking tours that include attractions, favorite restaurants, and shops in the same neighborhoods. Here is my Google Map for our week in Paris:

  • Saturday, February 23: Arrival, outdoor market (avenue Président Wilson), Eiffel Tower, and possibly a boat ride on the Seine — that is, if we don’t get waylaid by protesters.

  • Sunday, February 24: Île de la Cité and the Left Bank — Notre Dame, bouquinistes, Latin Quarter, Luxembourg Gardens, Saint-Germain, and le Bon Marché

  • Monday, February 25: Champs-Élysées, Tuileries Gardens, the Louvre, Faubourg Saint-Honoré, and dinner at Le Soufflé

  • Tuesday, February 26: Marais: Village Saint-Paul, Place des Vosges, Canal Saint-Martin, Père Lachaise

  • Wednesday, February 27: Montmartre, Opéra Garnier, and shopping in the Grands Magasins and la rue de la Paix

  • Thursday, February 28: Shopping and strolling in the rue de Rivoli, the Palais-Royal, and Galerie Vivienne with stops for lunch or an apéro at 228 in Le Meurice (because it’s 2/28!), tea at the Ritz, and a cocktail at Bar Hemingway. What a great way to celebrate both my birthday and the end of our trip.

PACKING: For Paris…

  • I love my new Delsey Paris Cruise Lite hard-side carry-on. It’s always an adjustment to pack a new bag, but I tested this one on a recent trip to Florida and it’s so convenient. My only regret is that I checked my bag (since my fellow travelers were checking theirs) and there are already scuffs on it. Maybe a darker color would have been better.

  • I also love eBags Packing Cubes to keep my things organized.

  • Yes, I do like to carry-on whenever possible. To me the benefits outweigh the inconveniences:

    Cons:

    • You are responsible for your luggage in airports and on the plane. The greatest challenge for me is finding a kind soul to help me store my carry-on in the overhead bin — Oh the joys of being vertically challenged!

    • You have to limit your liquids and gels to a quart-sized bag. This makes you really rethink what you can do without for a week or so. Do I need all those facial serums? Can I use hotel shampoo and conditioner? How many hair products do I really need? Can I get free samples of my favorite fragrance, face cream, eye cream, etc.? (Yes, thanks to my favorites at the Nordstrom Chanel counter!)

    Pros:

    • You are responsible for your own bag — no one throws it around.

    • You can access anything you need while you are traveling.

    • Your luggage won’t get lost.

    • You must limit what you buy. Before purchasing anything, I consider if things are too heavy, too bulky, and over 3 oz. of liquid. This keeps me from taking home too many books, Diptyque candles, French pharmacy cosmetics and culinary delicacies (wine, mustards, etc.), and expensive fragrances (maybe a con because I love these things, but definitely a pro for my budget).

    • You also have to limit what you take. To me, this really is a benefit. In Paris, black is always chic. A good capsule wardrobe is appropriate for everything from a stroll through the Luxembourg Gardens to tea at the Ritz.

    Here’s what I’m packing:

    • Outerwear: The average high temperature in Paris for February is in 40’s. Currently the forecast of our week in Paris is mostly in the 50’s! However, last year’s bitter winds and snow taught me to be prepared for a variety of weather situations. A good mid-weight coat is key. I’m taking a little trench/peacoat hybrid.

    • In my carry-on:

      • 4 pairs of skinny black pants (89th + Madison) and maybe a skirt

      • 3 black sweaters: a cardigan (Loft), a turtle neck (J Crew), and a boat neck (Maison Jules)

      • 5 tops: blue tired shell (Maison Jules - out of stock, but like this in solid French blue), navy shell (Loft), black shell w/sheer overlay (no longer available), floral shell (Loft), and black boat neck blouse (similar to this)

      • 2-3 pairs of shoes (depending on the weather). My #1 bit of packing advice is take COMFORTABLE walking shoes! Poor shoes impact one's feet, back, and attitude! Don’t be a slave to fashion (even during Paris Fashion Week)! There are a lot of boots and flats that are both comfortable and fashionable. Here’s what I’m taking: black ankle boots (Blondo), black loafers (Donald/Pliner - similar to these), and black ballerinas (These are very reminiscent of Chanel ballerinas, super comfy yet very inexpensive. I’m on my second pair.)

      • Accessories: jewelry (including my watch and charm bracelet) headbands (black, leopard print, and tortoise shell), and a variety of silk and wool scarves

      • Unmentionables, pajamas, slippers, tights, and socks (Have you tried these?)

      • Personal items: cosmetics, contacts, hairbrush, toiletries (see above), contacts, Advil, band-aids, a curling rod, and maybe a hairdryer (I have to verify the wattage of the one in our Airbnb.)

      • Sunglasses, gloves, and despite what Audrey says, an umbrella.

      • Copies of my passport and insurance card

    • In my tote:

      • Wallet: passport, bank card, insurance card, and euros

      • Coin purse — I always end up with a lot of change in Paris.

      • Cosmetic touch up kit, fresh contacts, and toothbrush

      • Electronics: voltage/plug converters (I really like this one), Macbook (for editing, curating, and sharing photos as well as watching movies set in Paris), iPad (for movies, photos, Facetime with Piper and Eric, and especially books), iPhone XS with the Verizon TravelPass (for $10/day, I can use my phone exactly as I do in the US, including calls, texts, and data), Powerbeats 3, Theta 360º camera (for a school project), and charging cables. As much as I love my Sony a6000 DSLR, I will only use my iPhone on this trip. I want to focus on the daily delights that make Paris special rather than obsessing over lighting and focus.

      • Merino scarf (doubles as a blank on the plane)

      • Reusable water bottle

Have I forgotten anything? What are your recommendations for books, movies, packing, and strolling in Paris?

This post contains many links to books, movies, and products I love, though none are affiliate. That being said, if any of the companies or Paris shops and restaurants that I mentioned are interested, I would love to work on a project together!

Week 50 - Composition: Golden Ratio

(344/365) “When life gives you Monday, dip it in glitter and sparkle all day.” - Ella Woodward

Glitter Gold Latte at  Goddess and the Baker

Glitter Gold Latte at Goddess and the Baker

Often called Fibonacci, the spiral leads the viewers eye to the subject, compose your image using the Golden Ratio. #dogwood52 #dogwoodweek50

100 Days

(319/365)

Coffee in Paris

“The idea of waiting for something makes it more exciting” - Andy Warhol 

(In 100 days, I will be enjoying my coffee in Paris!)

French Friday: Au Café

le 27 avril 2018 (117/365)

« Le monde, d’ailleurs, se divise en deux classes : ceux qui vont au café et ceux qui n’y vont pas. De là, deux mentalités, parfaitement tranchées et distinctes, dont l’une — celle de ceux qui y vont — semble assez supérieure à l’autre. » - Georges Courteline

But First...

February 19, 2018 (050/365)

"A morning without coffee is like...sleep." - Anonymous. Today, I could use more of both!

Thanks a Latte

December 7, 2017 (341/365)

“Coffee -- the drink that comforteth the brain and heart” - Sir Francis Bacon

To "Saint Nick" who left Panera treats in my mailbox today, thanks a latte!

French Friday: Café Kitsuné

September 28, 2017 (271/365)

“Le comptoir d'un café est le parlement du peuple.” ~ Honoré de Balzac

Strolling through the Palais Royal in the 1er Arrondissement is one of my favorite Paris pastimes. I love the sublime symmetry of the architecture and the rich history. The signage on some of the storefronts are historic monuments to past shop owners. Number 51 Galerie Montpensier was once the home of Parisian Watchmaker, Charles Oudin, who opened his shop in the Palais Royal in 1801. The mosaic tiles on the threshold read Charles Oudin Horloger de la Marine Française  (Clockmaker to the French Navy). These days, Oudin's legacy lives on among the famous jewelry shops of the Place Vendôme. In 1865, number 51 became S.A. des Filatures et Tissages Jules Tournier et Filsthe historic artisans who created fabric for the royal family since 1630 and for the uniforms of Napoleon's army. Today, number 51 is home to Café Kitsuné, one of my favorite places to enjoy a cup of coffee.

Fika

August 3, 2017 (215/365)

"Coffee is a language in itself." - Jackie Chan

As a nod to my Scandinavian heritage, I occasionally enjoy a fika. This Swedish coffee break usually includes something sweet -- a simple pastry or a conversation with friends.