French Friday: Fleurs fanées

« Sache que la fleur la plus belle est aussi la plus tôt fanée. Sur son parfum penche-toi vit. L’immortelle n’a pas d’odeur. »

- André Gide

It’s one of the things I love most about Paris — you never know when you’re going to stumble upon something beautiful. On the morning of my birthday, we were walking down the rue Cambon to pay our respects to  Karl  at Chanel when we witnessed the changing of the  fleurs.  Apparently these lovely white tulips (my favorites!), pale pink ranunculus, and purple and white anemones were too wilted to stand before the formidable Mademoiselle so they were replaced with fresh white hydrangeas (another favorite) and calla lilies (not a fan). Still, I couldn’t help but feel like these discarded beauties were like a birthday bouquet that are now preserved forever in my memory and on my blog.

It’s one of the things I love most about Paris — you never know when you’re going to stumble upon something beautiful. On the morning of my birthday, we were walking down the rue Cambon to pay our respects to Karl at Chanel when we witnessed the changing of the fleurs. Apparently these lovely white tulips (my favorites!), pale pink ranunculus, and purple and white anemones were too wilted to stand before the formidable Mademoiselle so they were replaced with fresh white hydrangeas (another favorite) and calla lilies (not a fan). Still, I couldn’t help but feel like these discarded beauties were like a birthday bouquet that are now preserved forever in my memory and on my blog.

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February Celebrations

“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” - Oprah Winfrey

This weekend, we are celebrating a belated Valentine’s Day + an early birthday with a few of my favorite things…

This weekend, we are celebrating a belated Valentine’s Day + an early birthday with a few of my favorite things…

Lake Park Bistro
Pink Tulip
Brunch at my favorite  Lake Park Bistro

Brunch at my favorite Lake Park Bistro

Remember  her ?

Remember her?

MAM After Dark

MAM After Dark

A sneak peak of  Bouguereau & America  at the Milwaukee Art Museum (I’ll show you more in April.)

A sneak peak of Bouguereau & America at the Milwaukee Art Museum (I’ll show you more in April.)

French Friday: Encore Paris

« Jamais deux sans trois. » - Proverbe française

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They say that the third time’s a charm, so I’m looking forward to my third annual February trip to Paris. Several of you have asked me if I ever get tired of going to the same places and doing the same things year after year. Well, of course I’d like to discover new places. I dream of visiting Scandinavia. Scotland and Greece are high on my list I would like to spend more time in Ireland, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Italy. But I need to return to France on a regular basis.

Paris feeds me literally, linguistically, artistically, and spiritually. I go to Paris to practice my French, to visit friends, to capture the beauty in both words and images. How could I ever get tired of browsing through book stalls along the Seine, sprawling outdoor markets or galleries in some of the world’s greatest museums; of sipping tea at the Ritz, cocktails at the Hemingway Bar or wine in a sidewalk café; of strolling along the Champs-Élysées or in the Palais-Royal; of window shopping (or really shopping) in the Paris’ most fashionable neighborhoods and grands magasins; of hearing the bells of Notre Dame or street musicians playing La Vie en Rose ? Ernest Hemingway said, “Paris is a moveable feast” — a feast for all of your senses, and I have an insatiable appetite!

Links I Love • January 2019

As I continue to focus on content as well as images this year, I am adding a regular series to I share links that I’ve enjoyed each month. Not surprisingly, there are posts about Paris, travel, photography, and wine. Enjoy!

My charm bracelets: Tiffany + Figaro link (purchased in Florence in 1994) charms (left to right): Cana Island lighthouse (Door County), millennium, Basque cross (Saint-Jean-de-Luz - 2008), matador jacket (Madrid - 1998), Big Ben (London - 1998), sand dollar (Key West - 2009. Marquette Sailing Team - 1989, Eiffel Tower (Paris - 1994), plumeria with pearl (Hawaii - 2005), dolphin (Bahamas - 1998), gondola (Venice - 1994).

My charm bracelets: Tiffany + Figaro link (purchased in Florence in 1994) charms (left to right): Cana Island lighthouse (Door County), millennium, Basque cross (Saint-Jean-de-Luz - 2008), matador jacket (Madrid - 1998), Big Ben (London - 1998), sand dollar (Key West - 2009. Marquette Sailing Team - 1989, Eiffel Tower (Paris - 1994), plumeria with pearl (Hawaii - 2005), dolphin (Bahamas - 1998), gondola (Venice - 1994).

A Pound of Lavender

“It was our favorite part of the day, this in-between time, and it always seemed to last longer than it should--a magic and lavender space unpinned from the hours around it, between worlds.” - Paula McLain, The Paris Wife

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Have I mentioned that I received a pound of lavender for Christmas? I do love the color, fragrance, and taste of lavender, but I’m wondering what I will do with all of it. So far, I’ve filled decorative dishes with the dried buds to perfume the air in the living room and bedroom. I was thinking of filling some sachets for my drawers and closets. I already of lavender simple syrup for tea, lemonade, and cocktails. Any suggestions? Merci en avance!

What's New

“Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.” — Imogen Cunningham

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Six years ago, I started Project 365 by posting one picture everyday — a quick iPhone snapshot of whatever I found interesting, beautiful, or indicative of my current situation. As the days and years passed, my interest and skills in photography, editing, and blogging grew and I was no longer content to post “whatever” caught my eye each day. I do love the idea of Project 365, but I often struggled to maintain the pace or to find new inspiration. At the end of each year, I wondered if I should reduce or even abandon my project. I mean, I didn’t miss a single day in six years — that’s 2,191 days (365 day/year + 1 Leap Year). That is serious dedication!

Every year, I tried to shift my focus from quantity to quality while recognizing that it is actually the quantity of photos that lead to the quality I strive to achieve. When I lacked inspiration, I found that capturing familiar subjects helped me to experiment with camera settings, lighting, angles, and editing techniques, ultimately allowing me to grow as a photographer. Yes, my photos did get better, but let’s face it, you have seen a lot of flowers, trees, books, pastries, cups of tea and coffee, glasses of wine, critters with wings or fur, and one particularly photogenic beagle! And if I’m being entirely honest, it isn’t always fun. There have been days when nothing captured my attention and nights when I was too tired to be creative or clever. In six years, I posted content while in five time zones, six states, and three countries. I have often wondered if I missed out on truly experiencing the moment by always trying to capture it in words and images.

I know that if I were to stop entirely, I would disappoint a lot of people — especially myself. I would miss the challenge, the careful observation, the creativity, and the learning. So in 2019, I have decided to afford myself the flexibility to enjoy the process rather than hold myself accountable to strict guidelines. This year, I might challenge myself with photo series, themes, colors, and even a Project 52, but I am not going to commit to posting everyday. I won’t be skulking around the yard after dinner desperately searching for something to photograph or browsing through my image archives at 11:30 pm to supplement a less than inspirational day. I want to plan and process, edit and proofread. I hope to write more of my own content rather than simply finding a quote to accompany my images. I am certain that I will have plenty of pictures to post a “calendar view” at the end of each month, but I will only choose the photos that I really love — several of which might be taken on the same day.

Last October, I began building a new platform to share curated photo collections, to archive of all my work since 2011, and to create new blog posts. I also included a contact page for you to offer suggestions and ideas. Although, my primary motivation for continuing this work is personal, I really do appreciate your feedback. In the past, I have posted all of my content directly to social media. Consequently, the number of visits to my Blogger site steadily decreased and the “likes” and comments stopped entirely. I sincerely hope that, by simply sharing links or single images on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you will take the time to visit my new website and share your thoughts right here (C’est ma vie! aka melindalarson.com). Maybe you could start right now — Please let me know what you think by liking and/or commenting below!

Happy New Year and cheers to a new perspective! XO 🥂

Autumn Bucket List

September 19, 2018 (262/365)

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns." - George Eliot

I  💛 fall too! Recently, I read a post on Beautiful Mess that included a printable autumn bucket list. I really like the idea of intentionally planning to fully experience those magical weeks when everything is vibrant and the air is crisp and fragrant. Here’s my autumn bucket list.

  • Walk with Piper in the woods ✓

  • Climb the tower at Holy Hill

  • Decorate with white pumpkins, gourds, and Mom's "Spooky Tree” ✓

  • Burn fall-scented candles ✓

  • Spend a weekend in Door County ✓

  • Make butternut squash soup, chili, and wild rice soup ✓

  • Take a walk in the morning fog

  • Get Macintosh apples from Wood's in Fish Creek ✓

  • Enjoy a pumpkin spice latte ✓

  • Go to the Delafield Fall Art Walk and Halloween festivities ✓

  • Pick out pumpkins and carve jack-o-lanterns

  • Listen to Halloween Party Radio on Pandora ✓

  • Have a bon fire in the back yard and roast marshmallows

  • Switch from Chardonnays to nice bold Cabernets ✓

  • Wear skirts and sweaters with cozy tights and boots ✓

  • Take a drive to see the fall color ✓

  • Take lots of photos ✓

  • Drink hot apple cider with a cinnamon stick ✓

  • Roast pumpkin seeds

  • Fall clean-up: prune shrubs and perennials, rake leaves ✓

  • Go to October Ladies' Night Out in Delafield with the girls ✓

  • Watch Packers games ✓

  • Go to the Farmer's Market ✓

  • Knit a throw for the living room

  • Watch “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” ✓

*Reviewed on December 1st. ✓= completed (13/17)

Il dolce far niente

September 3, 2018 (246/365) Each year, right before the first day of school, I celebrate the sweetness of doing nothing -- one day to read, sip tea, watch movies, knit, nap, whatever I want. My BFF is happy to share the delicious idleness...and she's really good at it!

My Type of Project

July 2, 2018 (183/365)

"There are only two places in the world where we can live happy: at home and in Paris." ~ Ernest Hemingway

Thanks to Eric, I finally have the vintage Royal typewriter that I have wanted for years. Ernest Hemingway wrote both The Old Man and the Sea and my favorite A Moveable Feast on his Royal Quiet de Luxe. Hemingway's 1940's Royal was still At his home in Havana (now a museum) until 2007 when it sold at auction for $2750. Mine sits on a card catalogue in our living room along with a few favorite books including A Moveable Feast. I'm not very crafty, but I love today's little project -- a framed copy of my favorite Hemingway quote, typed on my Royal.

Project 365

December 30, 2017 (364/365)

"Life is like a camera. Focus on what's important. Capture the good times. And if things don't work out, just take another shot." - Ziad K. Abdelnour

It has been my habit at the end of each year to reflect upon my Project 365 and to make plans for the next iteration. Some years have been status quo while others have been (sometimes failed) attempts at redefinition. Occasionally, I wonder if I should reduce or even abandon this project, having struggled to maintain the pace and to find new inspiration. More and more, I try to focus on quality over quantity, yet often it is the quantity of photos that leads to the quality that I strive to achieve. I have posted a photo each day for five years -- that's 1826 photos, but I have taken thousands more. Even when it seems as if there is nothing new or interesting to photograph, I have found that capturing familiar subjects helps me to experiment with camera settings, lighting, angles, and editing techniques, ultimately allowing me to see my own growth as a photographer. I know that if I were to stop, I would miss the challenge, but in 2018, I will try to afford myself the flexibility to enjoy the process rather than hold myself to strict guidelines.

I might challenge myself with series, themes, colors, and photo-a-day challenges, or I might simply continue to allow each day to surprise me. To paraphrase Fitzgerald, "and so I beat on," allowing the past to become a source of inspiration and ideas for the future.