June 29, 2012

It is Summertime

Summer is truly a special season, so vibrant and so relaxing at the same time. I've never longed for summer because I love every season, but when it comes, I feel differently. " It's summertime and the living is easy..." wrote Gershwin and he couldn't have been more correct. The seemingly careless lazy days I remembered from when I was a kid have returned ...and there are open doors through which I enter another reality with the same me, the same others, but not quiet. Summer is like a well known song that I used to sing to my son to make both of us believe that everything is going to be alright...
Long ago summertime to me literary was 
walking barefoot on grass, 
catching butterflies and fireflies with friends on a breezy evening,
climbing a tree and hiding from grandma,
biking and running downhill at a spring ( getting bruises on my knees), 
going on "the must have" family trips and camping by the sea, 
eating ice cream, but necessary letting the melted part go through my hands and make them sticky, 
listening to the songs of crickets and tree frogs, 
flying a kite made by myself, 
star gazing, 
making a watermelon lantern, 
designing cloths for my paper dolls (oh boy, I was good at that),
constantly digging in my grandparents' attic looking for something old and mysterious ( perhaps that's how I  developed my love for vintages:), 
dancing in the rain and catching the warm raindrops with an open mouth ( and lately, passionately kissing someone ), 
taking sun baths (preparing one for my toddler),
sitting on the roof with my cousin, 
trying to go under the rainbow's arc before learning the law of physics, 
wearing wild flowers on my head ...
simply being outside from early morning to the late night doing fun, fun things...
I am thinking where  the last time I experienced some of these summer pleasures feeling like a child again?
Frankly, it must have been a while since I can remember, except camping and enjoying the crickets' songs while canoeing...   

Nowadays, summer is still a time of simple pleasures, but more about my son's birthday and since last year my nephew's too, reuniting with family and old friends, taking long walks with my dog in the morning and walks with my husband after dinner, staying at the edge of the lake or the sea and gazing out at the horizon and the stunning sunsets, canoeing and sailing, hiking through the cool heart of the mountain, drying cloths outside, sleeping with the window open, biking, watching a movie at a drive-in theater despite the fact that they are a few and far between these days, taking pleasure in the summer concerts and jazz festivals, barbequing, enjoying the smell of freshly cut grass and linden trees on the street, antiquing, finding outdoor tables at the restaurant, reading only for pleasure, driving on the highway with the windows down, the music turned up, the wind whipping in my hear, singing out loud " I am free, free fallin'..."

More than anything summer to me is eating fresh honest food. Summertime abounds with varieties of fresh veggie and fruits and opportunities to buy local. Going to a farmers market and buying ripe fruits from the farmer's orchard is something that I never take for granted. I am an urban girl, but as I age my heart is yearning for the simplicity and the peacefulness of the country life.  I am dreaming of the day when we will have our own organic garden with cherry, apricot and apple trees. 
When fresh, ruby-red cherries appear in the market, you are certain, it's summertime. When a funny-looking donut peach greets you from the table, you know you will take it home and feel the muffin batter with it. Because it's fun to bake with summer fruits and keep it on the light side.( Ripe fruits are juicier and sweeter so I can use less sugar or no sugar at all to reach the sweetness of the dessert).
And how beautiful the fresh fruit decoration is... And how satisfying it is to know you are eating fruits in season. When in doubt about which fruits and veggies grow when, here is a chart that you can refer to What is in Season?

How is your summer going so far, dear friends?
Are you savoring the summer's simple pleasures or you have a different summer fun list?

 Stay alive, be kind, keep thoughtful balance 
and enjoy the light summer food!

Happy Canada Day and Fourth of July!

   I am sharing at Sweet Summertime Linky Party
                              Say G'Day Saturday 
                              Seasonal Sunday

June 22, 2012

Live a Colorful Life

As it is officially SUMMER, the brightest colorful season, and  the school year ends, I think about color. 
Color is everywhere. We are under the power of color; it touches almost everything in the world around us.
But we often take colors for granted. I catch myself again and again saying " I don't like bright colors" not having  a clue why?! You will rarely see me wearing red, green, or yellow...unless they are colors in pastel range, soft and subtle.  I prefer white decor, almost colorless... I enjoy black and white photography ...I buy white ironstone. My car is dark blue... When my son chooses some bright colored clothes ( his tie for his graduation  is pink!), I immediately search for good enough reasons to make him change his mind ...Why? I know I am classically introverted and don't like attention, but what is wrong with color? Does it have anything to do with perhaps the broken bond between my inner child and my inner adult? Why do children always enjoy bright colorful things? They think colorless is b.o.r.i.n.g and associate bright, highly saturated hues with pleasant moments, fun and happy times.  I believe we adults do it too, but  many of us also think  bright color combinations  lack seriousness, style as it screams for attention  ... If we take for example older people, who are often made to feel invisible in the society,  when an older woman wears pink, violet, green or other vibrant colors,  IT honestly surprises a lot of us ( even thought we like it ).
Bright colors spark energy and creativity. They can change our mood and the mood of others around us. Color originates in light and has power (or we empower it). Color has a great impact on the way we perceive the world as well as the way we make ourselves visible, important, alive; with every color choice we say something about ourselves:
Look at me! I am here! This is me! I am sad ! I don't want to be seen! I am not in my happy stage of life ! I want the whole world to know  I am happy! Lets have fun ! I take myself seriously ! I don't take myself seriously! I don't care what others think!...
Color can create  balance, harmony, peacefulness, excitement, tension, nostalgia...
What does your color preference reveal about you?

With some of my  pictures, taken as part of a photography class project, I wish you a happy, fun, beautiful, color {full}  SUMMER!
Embrace your inner child!
Find joy and color in the simplest of things!
Color your life, make it beautiful!
And when this summer you look for something fun and joyous," don't forget to count yourself in."

Simple Things Talking in Color

I want to believe, in my soul, I am still that little wondering girl who dreams of that land with cloudless blue skies and bluebirds flying....somewhere over the rainbow...

Thank you to all of you, my old and new readers!

June 8, 2012

L'heure du PIQUE-NIQUE

  " If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it's stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast." 
                                                                                               Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Indeed, once you discover even your dream of the City of Light, it stays with you...
Who hasn't dreamed of tasting this irresistible city, of getting lost in its charming streets and architecture, of trying un café au lait and a croissant at a sidewalk cafe enjoying the never-ending parade of characters, of exploring its farmer and flea markets, of writing down thoughts surrounded by all the books of Shakespeare and Company bookstore, of walking or biking along the Seine...
of having picnic in Paris ...

If you happen to be in Paris and it happens to be a gorgeous  sunny day, and  you are seeking a break from your museum- gallery itinerary, and you ask a Parisian what would you do on a day like this...What do you think the answered would be :
'' Oui, Pique-nique!"
 But if you are not in Paris and want to be in Paris in a gorgeous sunny day, what can you do to satisfy such desire that comes quite frequently accompanied with a tiny, shy thought of " I want to move to Paris"...?!   
Pack your french picnic basket and throw a picnic ,
Parisian style. 
Don't forget your chic sunglasses and hat; they will help you to get into that Parisian mood! For guys is all about scarves :)

For the French, food with good- quality ingredients is essential, "art de vivre", and pleasure is a necessity in life.  I believe, every neighborhood in Paris has its own farmers market, a bakery, a cheese shop, a wine shop, a butcher, and, of course, a pastry shop, which is more like a jewelry store .
 You can't eat well if you haven't shopped well, right!  If you go to the Boulevard Raspair Street Market, a gourmand's dream, this is the place to find every single provision for a picnic, plus an armload of peonies, plus you have a chance to bump into Barefoot Contessa.
So, for the pique-nique, the first essential element is the baguette. A baguette is a completely Parisian creation and lasts a matter of time; that's way the French patiently line outside their boulangerie to buy fresh bread ( several times a day). I adore its caramel-colored crust spread with butter and cheese. You can't be in Paris  and not go to Poilane even though the shop doesn't have baguettes. 

 The next stop will be la fromagerie. Buying cheese is always a joy, especially in Paris despite the "sophisticated" roll off the tongue while pronouncing the name of the cheese. As everybody says, there are as many French cheeses as there are days in the year, so I leave it up to your personal preferences. And to do it as a French: in case you choose a salty blue fromage ( Roquefort), spread your baguette with butter before topping it with cheese. You will create a  less salty and softer taste in your mouth.  

You can also pay a visit to la charcuterie for some cured meat ( saucisson sec) and pates.
"Salade verte" or olives would be a great addition to the picnic menu and  can be prepared  at home: a plain green salad with grilled apricots and walnuts.
What would a Paris picnic be without a fine bottle of wine or french lemonade ? I am under an impression that Parisians can drink wine from early morning to late night; correct me if I am wrong.
And don't forget to indulge in something sweet. Sorry, but no one leaves Paris without trying Pierre Hermé or Ladurée  macaroons; you save yourself from the awful moment when you come home and tell about the time of your life in irresistible Paris only to have someone say " I can't believe you were in Paris and you didn't have  a macaroon ???!" 
Anyway,  If you plan your picnic ahead  of time, I suggest putting a little effort in baking those rich petit Madeleines  that Marcel Proust described "dipping them into his tea as a child." Gosh, they taste heavenly in a coffee ...

Paris has one of the most spectacular parks and gardens where tourists and Parisians picnic, Jardin du Luxembourg, Parc des Butter Chaumon, Place des Voger to name a few well known. But as boring as it may sound, when I visit Paris next time I will definitely set a simple picnic at Champ de Mars at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. 
I have been practicing for that, haven't I ?!

See Nichole Robertson's captivating photography of Paris in her bok  Paris in Color

While I was reading my book and our son welcomed the sun over his face thinking he might be a francophile, my husband was checking the next flight to Paris ...

I am kidding!

We simply had a fabulous time  and a fabulous  picnic! 
( as we also wanted to mark my nephew's first birthday)

Are you wondering what might be a perfect end to a day like this  ??-
of course, 

 taking delight in Woody Allen's enchanting Midnight in Paris.
It is all about slowing down and enjoying your life more, savoring the moment or perhaps, creating the moment and make the pleasure a necessity.
 Don't forget 
" We will always have Paris, simply irresistible !"

A million thanks to the amazing Anita
for inviting me at her party!

Oh, how she loves Paris! Please visit  Castle Crowns and Cottages
You will find kindred spirits and more of the City of Light!
Have fun! 

Merci Beaucoup, mes amies !

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