From Russia with Love

1233625_624646897574872_1636246377_n 8681_624647027574859_378424488_n 1239916_624644817575080_1125146548_n 561955_624645127575049_1973299791_n 602360_624646777574884_1605887434_n 1235452_624646160908279_2137238970_nOther than actually being on vacation, there is nothing I love more than waking up to travel photos from my friends. Though as I previously stated I prefer to be there in person, enjoying the colors, the history, the unknown- photos are pretty cool to receive.

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Jet lag tales. . .

484420_561947923844770_1119995695_nFuriously they texted as they looked out the window: “We got on the wrong plane! We’re in San Francisco! How could that be?”
Dear Friends (after a quick google search): Do not be alarmed you merely have a case of jet lag. You are in Lisbon. Yes I know the bridge is very similar to the Golden Gate Bridge (it’s the 25 de Abril Bridge) and I assure you it is  in Lisbon. They were teasing me. Right?
Then I started to think to myself. . . could you imagine if. . you actually got on the wrong plane (undetected), fell asleep in business class (unnoticed)  and never got to your actual destination. And missed your whole vacation!!

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in memory of daddy

My dad passed away this week and I thought I would share this. I would like to thank everyone for all their kind words and thoughts.

We had been working on a father -daughter project for over a year. I was writing the stories and he was helping me with the photoshopped illustrations. We were having a lot of fun. But as the summer went on my father started to look more and more fragile and our project was becoming a race against the clock. I started to write more stories thinking that I could prolong our fun and keep my dad healthy but by New Year’s it was clear: my father was becoming  very ill. And then began the first of his hospital visits in what was then the start of a quick decline. My daddy passed away this week. It is a very hard thing to think about or even come to terms with. I still see him out of the corner of my eye. The family has such wonderful memories of him and that is what we think about. I was so very lucky to have a dad for as long as I did. The other night I turned on TCM and there were his two favorite movies. (A coincidence. . I wonder) The Four Feathers and The Third Man. And we watched them both until the wee hours of the morning. I looked at the movies through his eyes. . . the music (the zither in the Third Man) Orson Welles and the cuckoo clock and the all the camera angles. And I smiled thinking about my Dad and knowing as tremendously as we miss him. . . . He will always be with us.

I love you Dad.

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On a snowy day in Versailles. . .

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On a snowy day in Versailles…

On the drive up to Versailles the ground was covered in a thin blanket of snow. And then there was Versailles in front of us, frozen in time. I wanted to spend some time walking the grounds before going inside. There was something about the snow that made Versailles look make believe. Dreamy. And then I started to think about Marie Antoinette and the Versailles of 1782 became alive.  Marie Thérèse was running in the snow. Marie Thérèse you’ll slip. Marie Antoinette knew it was no use to tell her daughter to stop. They were both having too much fun. And just then Marie Thérèse scooped up a handful of snow and packed it in her hands. Marie cried out: Don’t! Please! But it was too late. Splat the snow hit Marie and she laughed. Both were laughing even harder when Marie Antoinette scooped up some snow and lightly threw it towards Marie Thérèse. They were giggling and running around the grounds. Let’s build a snowman! The biggest snowman in all of France! ”Oh yes Mama!” And they started with a small snowball and watched it in amazement grow larger and larger and then it started to roll down the hill towards the Palace. Oh no Marie Thérèse we better go in the house now. We do not want to get caught. Hot chocolate? ”Oui and macarons”

What would be better on a cold windy day? Come to think of it I was getting very cold and hot chocolate would be so nice at this moment. I think we better be heading back to the Palace ourselves.

“Madam”  Oh yes, I was just daydreaming. Two tickets please. And then as we entered the main salon we were bathed in the glow of the most beautiful chandeliers. “So this is Versailles. Do you think you could be comfortable here?” I think we would get lost in the maze of rooms and never find one another. Again. I’m sure there are many secret passages that we won’t get to see on the tour. All kinds of passages from one room to another. Can you imagine what went on in this Palace! Marie Antoinette was only a teenager when she came to Versailles. I remember being a teenager and I’m sure there were some incredible stories. Can you imagine if there was Twitter! Maybe there wouldn’t have been the French Revolution. ”Yeah she could have proven that she never said- Let them eat cake. I think we’re slowing up the tour” And now to your right is the King’s Private Bedroom and down the hall the room of the notorious Madame du Barry.I’m reveling in all this intrigue. You are letting your imagination get away from you. But you can’t help but think about the people that once lived here and the stories of their lives. It can become real if for a moment you let your mind wander. ”Hot chocolate? Did you still want some?” Oui and did you know Marie Antoinette and her daughter Marie Thérèse were just going to have some. “Then maybe we can still join them”

Featuring Marie Antoinette: A woman that loved and appreciated delightful cakes, sensational jewelry (and a good macaron) and her daughter Marie Thérèse an appreciator in training.

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A Christmas Tail. . . .

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years ago when we lived in California we loved taking drives at night listening to radio tales. That (+ Asterix) are the inspiration to our Christmas  Tail.

Act one: In front of the Christmas Tree. 
Jill: Asti please. Don’t. Please don’t do it.
Bob: That’s my boy Asterix. He doesn’t seem to listen.
Jill: He’s listening all right but he just wants to do what he wants.
Bob: And that’s. . .
Jill: Look. See for yourself.
Bob: I see he has an ornament in his mouth and he’s climbing the tree. Really good climber that Asti. What do you think he wants with the ornament?
Jill: He’s re-decorating. He doesn’t like where I placed his favorite ornament. Asti loves to decorate. And you know how finicky he is.
Bob: I do. As I remember he likes his roast medium rare.
Jill: Precisely. And if it’s over cooked he will not eat. Turns his little nose up. You won’t believe this.
Bob: I probably will.
Jill: The other day I caught him opening the presents under the tree.
Bob: Well cats do like to open presents. Ribbons, paper. It’s a cat thing and quite well documented I must add. I had a tabby as a child and he loved ribbons on packages. I remember it very well. Donut would . .
Jill: Donut!
Bob: Yes, he loved donuts and anyway he would pull the ribbons and make a mess of things. And Donut is a very dignified name.
Jill: With Asterix it is different. He’s not just playing with ribbons. He’s opening his presents.
Bob: His presents?
Jill: Yes he knows which ones are his.
Bob: And how, pre tell does Asti know which exact ones are his?
Jill: Silly, he reads. The tags are labeled.
Bob: The cat reads?
Jill: And quite well I might add. He read War & Peace in one afternoon and then wrote a paper on it that was posted on The New York Times books in review.
Bob: Really?
Jill: Of course. Do you think I could make this stuff up? You know Asti! He’s pretty tired so maybe this is a good time to go to dinner. Why don’t you light the fire and I’ll put his comforter and teddy bear on the chair. A good nap will do him good. I just hope that he doesn’t go in the closet and open his other presents. I probably shouldn’t have said that aloud.
Bob: Probably not and how many presents did you get him?
Jill: Asti had a very long list. I don’t want to disappoint him.
Act Two: Later that night. . .
Jill: Dinner was insanely delicious. I hope you didn’t forget the ‘doggie bag’ for Asti. He would never forgive you if you didn’t bring home some of your filet.
Bob: I have it right here. I wouldn’t want Asterix to be upset with me.
Jill: Look at him sleeping. He looks like an angel.
Bob: But what is that next to him?
Jill: Oh the cookies for Santa?
Bob: Yeah, when did you have time to bake?
Jill: I didn’t bake them.
Bob: Then who did?
Jill: Asti baked them. Yes, It’s a tradition. He bakes cookies for Santa every year.
Bob: He bakes. . .
Jill: Who do you think baked your birthday cake?
Bob: It was delicious.. . . and the decorations were extraordinary. Why should I be surprised!
Jill: And then we all broke out in song:  (Asterix leading with his fine tenor cat voice)
The Finale: 
Bob + Jill + Asti: ‘Tis the season to be jolly’

Featuring:
Bob and Jill (humble servants to Asterix)
And Starring Asterix: Cat extraordinaire and all around delightful little fellow.

the end title 590

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Marie Antoinette’s Favorite Pastry Shops in Paris

What trip to Paris would be complete without pastry. Marie Antoinette loved little cakes and as I walked through Paris I was wondering what her favorite bake shop would be. Contrary to legend Marie Antoinette never uttered the phrase that started a revolution: Let them eat cake. But you know how rumors get started. Once they are started it is hard to separate the fact from fiction. What we do know is Marie Antoinette loved extravagances, parties, shoes, shopping and wonderful little desserts. In the spirit of Marie Antoinette, I followed in the footsteps of her tiny little feet and indulged in some delightful (+ sinful) desserts. I think she would have approved.

Ladurée opened in 1862 long after Marie but I think she would have raved about this bakery. Everything inside is opulent, maybe even a bit over the top. The Queen loved over the top. We found ourselves sitting at a very small table with an unexpected guest underneath. “Well Bonjour little French poodle.” I might add she was very well behaved and well dressed. The French allow pets in most establishments we went to and most were on their best behavior or napping. Bob ordered something off the menu- he had no clue what it might be but it was excellent. We bought a few of their chocolate croissants to fly home with us for my parents. I couldn’t think of a better treat to bring back than authentic French croissants-even if they were stale when they arrived home.

Another delightful pastry shop is Pierre Herme usually with lines around the block. They don’t sell croissants but have Marie’s favorite: wonderful macarons. Marie Antoinette would have loved the pink, lavender, and minty green pastel shades of the macarons. They reminded me of little jewels. Tasty little jewels.

I love chocolate and couldn’t resist the chocolate croissants at Patisserie Jean Millet. It was a cold rainy day when we sought refuge. The croissants were warm from the oven with the chocolate still melting. I had a dream about the croissants that evening. They were that memorable and very Marie Antoinette. I think she would have let the decadent chocolate drip down her chin for effect and start a new teenage fad. Located in the 7th arr., Patisserie Jean Millet 103, Rue Saint-Dominique.

Though Marie nor I can take credit, when is Paris: Let them eat cake. Lots of cake.

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Blue.

I tend to name everything and everyone and Blue (our bird or are we his) is no exception. He’s pretty smart. Is quite friendly and knows our routine. And he loves peanuts. High quality peanuts. I buy him what he likes. Roasted not salted. (I would hate to see him swell from too much salt) We can’t leave the garage door open unattended because Blue knows where the peanuts are stored and he is not opposed to helping himself. I’m surprised he hasn’t flown off with the bag. Yet. 

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