Currently • July 2019

“One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by." - Janette Walls

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READING:

WATCHING:

  • Grantchester Season 4: Spoiler alert! If you haven’t started the season yet or haven’t watched Grantchester at all (and may I ask, “Why not?!”), skip to the next section. I’ll wait…

    OK, if you’re still here, what happened between the season 3 finale and the season 4 première?! When we last left Sidney Chambers, he was deciding between a life with his true love, Amanda the divorcée, and his responsibilities as vicar. Yet this season, he immediately falls for an African American visitor and follows her back to the US! What?! I guess that’s what happens when your leading actor gets a better offer — Need I remind you of Matthew’s car accident in Downton Abbey? I thought I was finished with Grantchester once and for all until Will Davenport arrived to take over as the new vicar. There are definite similarities between Will and Sidney — both are very handsome, have cute dogs, and wrestle with their consciences; Sidney likes jazz while while likes Elvis, but they both enjoy a pint and a good game of backgammon after helping Geordie solve crimes. Thanks to PBS Passport that allowed me to binge the (all too short) season, I’m still hooked.

  • Very British Problems — This show on Netflix is hilarious. The Brits are a quirky lot, but I must confess that I share some of their idiosyncrasies.

  • Movies — we’ve actually rediscovered our love of the big screen and fresh buttery popcorn which is further improved by Dreamloungers and wine ;-) I’ll review the films that we’ve seen recently in my summer 2019 recap. Stay tuned!

LOVING:

  • Lazy mornings with Piper — At least once a week, she and I enjoy snuggling with a book or iPad and a cup of coffee, watching the birds and chasing chipmunks — you work out which activities are hers and which are mine!

  • Piper’s room — It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint, rearranged furniture, and updated accessories can do to freshen a room, and I don’t know why we waited so long to replace that carpeting.

  • Our new vacuum — Full disclosure: We have a lot of vacuums. Our house has a central vac system that is more trouble than it’s worth. We also inherited two very heavy, very cumbersome Kirbys — one from my mom and one from Eric’s grandma; how either of those tiny ladies managed those behemoths, I’ll never know! For years, I haven’t been able to justify purchasing yet another vacuum, but we finally decided to buy a light-weight, bagless model that specializes in eliminating pet hair - wow! I’m simultaneously amazed, satisfied, and disgusted by the amount of fur and dust that I get up each time I use it.

  • My Dyson hairdryer — It’s a splurge for sure, but what a game-changer!

WORKING ON:

  • Maintaining my garden after a very raining, steamy summer. I had almost given up, but after a lot of pruning and weeding, things are starting to looking pretty good again. Eric has been restoring our deck. We’re really looking forward to finally enjoying some evenings al fresco.

  • Professional Development: This summer I’m teaching two Canvas courses, and a two-day blended learning course. All of these PD sessions include the SAMR model, Triple E Framework, and Design Thinking to encourage educators to truly leverage technology to transform student learning.

FEELING: Ready for fall! Yes, I know I shouldn’t wish the summer away, but honestly, aside from having a more flexible schedule, summer may be my least favorite season. I don’t like hot weather (keep it under 80º and I’m happy), and I really despise the humidity and mosquitos. By the end of July, the summer is essentially over for me anyway. I’m back to school nearly full time, planning for la rentrée, attending and facilitating professional development. Back to school makes me long for crisp weather, cozy sweaters, and all of the wonder of autumn.

PLANNING:

  • New blog content. I haven’t posted very much this summer and I miss the creative outlet.

  • Trips: I can hardly wait for October! In addition to the aforementioned yearning for fall loveliness, I will also be traveling to both New York and Paris.

    • I haven’t been to NYC for almost a decade so I’m eager to discover One World and Ground Zero as well as the neighborhoods around the Google Offices in Chelsea. If you have suggestions for my trip, please share.

    • As I mentioned before (and surely will mention again). I have another trip to Paris planned in October. This time, Eric is going back (after eight years) and we are traveling with friends. It will be fun to plan an autumn in Paris itinerary.

What have you been doing lately?

Week 17 - Composition: Balance | Accidental Renaissance

“Just as Renaissance artists provided narratives for the era they lived in, so do I. I'm always looking beyond the surface. I've done that ever since I first picked up a camera.” - David LaChapelle

Shoot a balanced image in the Accidental Renaissance style. #2019dogwood52 #dogwood52 #dogwoodweek17 #accidentalrenaissance

Shoot a balanced image in the Accidental Renaissance style. #2019dogwood52 #dogwood52 #dogwoodweek17 #accidentalrenaissance

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, and 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!

Tea with a View

(349/365) "There are few hours more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea." - Henry James

Tea at the Ritz

February 27, 2017 (058/365) • Tea at the Ritz

« Et tout d'un coup le souvenir m'est apparu. Ce goût c'était celui du petit morceau de madeleine... trempé dans son infusion de thé... l'odeur et la saveur restent encore longtemps, comme des âmes, à se rappeler, à attendre, à espérer, sur la ruine de tout le reste, à porter sans fléchir, sur leur gouttelette presque impalpable, l'édifice immense du souvenir. » - Marcel Proust, A la recherche du temps perdu

A glass of Champagne

 Une amuse-bouche - petite madeleine soaked in warm caramel milk

 Lovely French interpretations of traditional English tea cakes

and original creations inspired by Proust's writings

The china is a stylized Madeleine pattern

 The famous Madeleine passage to read while enjoying one's tea

...and one more Madeleine.

A gift of a small tin of Ritz Winter Tea

Even the bathrooms are outré.

After tea, the sun appeared in the gardens.

Tea for Two

December 16, 2016 (351/366)

"Small ways of making one's own life better: acts of love, acts of tea, acts of laughter." - Alexander McCall Smith

Today we celebrated a (half-) birthday and started a new holiday tradition.

The End of an Era

November 21, 2016 (326/366)

In In Search of Lost Time (A la recherche du temps perdu), the first volume of his opus Swann's Way, the French writer Marcel Proust described a universe invoked by a simple cup of tea. How many little universes have been savored since Milwaukee's iconic George Watts Tea Shop opened in 1870, the year before Proust's birth? I imagine Victorian ladies in fancy hats and buttoned gloves sipping from china cups; 1950s secretaries in sweaters and pearls nibbling on sandwiches of chicken salad or olive spread during their lunch breaks; young girls enjoying a slice of Sunshine cake with their mothers and grandmothers after shopping trips downtown; hopeful brides indulging in glasses of Champagne after browsing for flatware and crystal in the beautiful shop below the tea room. My mom was one of those secretaries. I was one of those little girls and one of those brides. So it is with sadness that I read that, after 146 as a Milwaukee institution, George Watts and Sons is closing just after Christmas. I will have to savor every cup of the Watts special tea blend that I bought last summer, and, like Proust, revel in the memories that each sip invokes.

Salve

February 26, 2016 (057/366)

"Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are." - Chinese Proverb

(A mani-pedi and afternoon tea at the Pfister help put things in perspective!)

Un univers dans une tasse de thé

le 16 janvier 2016 (016/366)

« ...quand un jour d'hiver, comme je rentrais à la maison, ma mère, voyant que j'avais froid, me proposa de me faire prendre, contre mon habitude, un peu de thé. Je refusai d'abord et, je ne sais pourquoi, me ravisai. Elle envoya chercher un de ces gâteaux courts et dodus appelés Petites Madeleines qui semblent avoir été moulés dans la valve rainurée d'une coquille de Saint-Jacques. Et bientôt, machinalement, accablé par la morne journée et la perspective d'un triste lendemain, je portai à mes lèvres une cuillerée du thé où j'avais laissé s'amollir un morceau de madeleine. Mais à l'instant même où la gorgée mêlée des miettes du gâteau toucha mon palais, je tressaillis, attentif à ce qui se passait d'extraordinaire en moi. Un plaisir délicieux m'avait envahi, isolé, sans la notion de sa cause. II m'avait aussitôt rendu les vicissitudes de la vie indifférentes, ses désastres inoffensifs, sa brièveté illusoire, de la même façon qu'opère l'amour, en me remplissant d'une essence précieuse : ou plutôt cette essence n'était pas en moi, elle était moi. J'avais cessé de me sentir médiocre, contingent, mortel. D'où avait pu me venir cette puissante joie ? Je sentais qu'elle était liée au goût du thé et du gâteau, mais qu'elle le dépassait infiniment, ne devait pas être de même nature. D'où venait-elle ? Que signifiait-elle ? Où l'appréhender ? Je bois une seconde gorgée où je ne trouve rien de plus que dans la première, une troisième qui m'apporte un peu moins que la seconde. II est temps que je m'arrête, la vertu du breuvage semble diminuer. Il est clair que la vérité que je cherche n'est pas en lui, mais en moi. [...] Je pose la tasse et me tourne vers mon esprit. C'est à lui de trouver la vérité. Mais comment? » - Marcel Proust, 

À la recherche du temps perdu. Du côté de chez Swann, 1913. 

Tradition

June 9, 2015 {160/365} Tea & Sunshine

"There are few hours more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea." - Henry James

Today was filled with tradition and nostalgia, beginning with lunch with my mom at the Tea Shop above George Watts and Sons, a fixture in Milwaukee since 1870. My mom recalls lunching at Watts when she was a secretary at Northwestern Mutual in the 1950s. The tea room still looks the same and they still serve their signature Sunshine Cake. The day's nostalgia continued after lunch when we ran into Sister Nivard in the elevator. The sweet nun was principal of my grade school over thirty years ago and of all things, she still remembers my hair. Sister was at Watts celebrating her 91st birthday, but she still looks the same and she's still sharp as a tack. Mom and I spent the rest of the afternoon visiting my Aunt Bertine who still lives alone on the East Side despite turning 98 next month. Along with my cousin, Paul, we looked through old Larson family photos while Bertine told stories that I've heard many times, but still cherish. It was a lovely afternoon.