Previous month:
January 2012
Next month:
March 2012

February 2012

Close Encounters. . . of the Eiffel Kind

As many of you will remember, last April my sister and I took a little trip to Paris.


I had wanted to visit Paris since junior high . . . when I started taking French in school.  I was always so intrigued by everything Paris, and dreamed of seeing the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, la Tour Eiffel.  I wanted to sip a café crème on the Champs-Élysées. 

Actually being in Paris was fabulours.  All the sights were wonderful -- just what I'd always dreamed they'd be.

But what I really loved most . . . was the Eiffel Tower!


I was absolutely enchanted from the very first glimpse . . . out our hotel window, over the rooftops and between two chimneys!  It simply . . . delighted me!

And now, nearly a year later, I am still charmed.  In fact, it's kind of like the Close Encounters of the Third Kind . . . only instead of "seeing" the Devil's Tower monument, I'm "seeing" the Eiffel Tower.  Everywhere.

I find myself strangely attraced to the Eiffel Tower.  And I'm surrounding myself with its image.  I carry it with me on my keychain.


(You can even see its image on the calendar page on the wall. . .)

My current journal features the Eiffel.


The opening screen on both my phone and iPad are photos I took of the Eiffel on our trip.


I keep images of the Eiffel Tower in my "inspiration areas" . . . the bulletin board near my desk.


A table in my sewing room.


On the shelves in my library, where I can see it from my "knitting spot."


For me, the Eiffel Tower is a visual reminder of a wonderful trip I shared with my sister.  We send each other little Eiffel mementos now. (She is having a similar "close encounter" experience.)  It's easy to find cards and books. . .


coasters. . .


magnets. . .


notepads. . .


even nail files!


I'm surrounded by images of the Eiffel Tower . . .

and I love it!

Hurray for Hollywood!


I watched the Oscars last Sunday night (the Red Carpet show, too!).  Usually, when I watch the Academy Awards, I fade in and out and get a bit bored.  But this year (thanks to my current state of mind, I'm pretty sure) I gave it my full attention.  I didn't even knit.  (Yeah.  Definitely my current state of mind.)  Tom watched with me.  (And that pretty much never happens.)

What was it about this year that captured our attention?  This week's Ten on Tuesday topic helps me figure that out . . . Here are Ten Thoughts on This Year's Oscars:


  1. It was more fun because we were rooting for our favorites (Hugo and The Artist)!  We had actually seen several of the nominated movies this year, so we cared a little more about the outcomes.
  2. I always love to see what everyone is wearing, and this year didn't disappoint!  (Tom, however, noted that there wasn't as much cleavage as in some years.)  Tim Gunn and Nina Garcia were fun commentators during the Red Carpet show.  I always like to hear their perspective on fashion.
  3. Tom and I both liked seeing Octavia Spencer's reaction to winning the Best Supporting Actress award.  She was overwhelmed and thrilled -- and it seemed so genuine and "real."  (Although, as Tom pointed out, they are all . . . ACTORS. . . and it is HOLLYWOOD. . .)
  4. And how fun was Meryl Streep's acceptance speech?  I laughed and laughed when she said. . . "whatever!"  You go, Meryl!
  5. We both thought the pace of the show was much better than in past years.  Speeches were (for the most part) shorter and more to the point.  There were still some draggy points, but overall, it was better.
  6. There were plenty of close-ups of George Clooney.  I never tire of seeing George.  (His girlfriend had a GREAT dress, don't you think?)
  7. I liked the Cirque du Soleil performance.  I thought it was fun and amusing.  (Tom was in the bathroom.)
  8. Much as I like Robert Downey, Jr. . . . I think his little "skit" for the documentary award presentations was totally useless.  Same with Emma Stone's star-struck bit.  Tedious.  (But her dress was GORGEOUS.)
  9. I liked, however, the Christopher Guest (and company) "spot."
  10. And, of course, both Tom and I loved seeing the adorable dog from The Artist up on the stage.  We loved the dog in the movie . . . loved seeing him sitting in his own seat at the Oscars. . . and then joining everyone up on stage.  What a star!

And, really.  That's what the Oscars are all about . . . seeing stars!

(Oh, and I guess this is Number 11.  Did anyone else think Angelina Jolie looked like she might perish from hunger?  Right there on the stage?  I think she had to stick her leg out like that for balance.  So she wouldn't collapse.)


Join the fun!  Sign up for Ten on Tuesday here.

Another Slice

It's that time again. . . to share a little slice of my life.  Right here.  Right now.


Right Now, I am . . .

Watching the weekend's big snow dump melt away. 

Reading  Changing Lives: Gustavo Dudamel, El Sistema, and the Transformative Power of Music. This is related to my recent grant-writing flurry (which is still in progress, by the way), but is quite an enjoyable book anyway.  Just finished Leaving the Atocha Station.  Now I'm trying to decide which book to open next. . .

Knitting  a no-name cardigan from the SMC Select Tweed Deluxe booklet (#1820, to be specific) with some pretty significant modifications from the written directions.  I think it'll be worth it.  (I think.)

Listening to Eva Cassidy

Thinking about looking into a iPad app called "Knit Companion."  A couple of co-workers at the yarn shop are raving about it, so I might check it out.  (Thoughts?)

Dreading  all the undone chores piling up during this crazy-busy period of my life.  Ugh.

Planning my own version of March Madness.  Stay tuned. . .

Excited about three upcoming garden conferences!

Happy because both of my kids will be home for their respective spring breaks this year.

Humming Dear Rosemary (Foo Fighters, Wasting Light), can't seem to get rid of this one. . .

Drinking Coffee.  Lots of coffee.

Itching to finish a sewing project I started a couple of weeks ago. . .

Needing to do my taxes.  Ugh.

Organizing . . . well. . . not much right now.  Just keeping track of my calendar and my work is all I can handle!


Grieving Sarkozy Bakery.  This community fixture (where I buy my bread and the occasional cookie) burned down over the weekend.  This is a beloved local business here in Kalamazoo and will be missed. So. Much.  (My photo of the bakery was taken last summer.)

Inspired by Pinterest.  (Maybe a little too much.)

Cooking the usual standards, at the moment.  But looking forward to diving into a new cookbook I just picked up:  Pam Anderson's Cook Without a Book: Meatless Meals.

Watching the Academy Awards.  I love the dresses (of course). . . but this year, I enjoyed the whole show.  Maybe it's because I actually saw most of the nominated movies this year, or maybe I just like Billy Crystal, or maybe it was Ellen DeGeneres and the JCP commercials.  Not sure. . . but isn't the little pup from The Artist just about the most darling creature ever?


Delighted by a little moss plant I picked up at the health food store when I stopped in for calcium tablets.

What's happening for you. . . right now?

You've Got Mail!

I'm busy this week.  Too busy to blog, actually.  I even missed Ten on Tuesday yesterday.  But I did want to just pop in to say. . .


I'm loving this Month of Letters thing!

I love sticking a card (or two) into my mailbox each day.  (And I've loved picking up a few notes and cards, too!) 

To make things easier, I assembled all of my letter-writing paraphernalia (stamps, pen, address labels, notecards, thank-you cards, birthday cards, old-school address book)  in one handy basket.  Now, it's quick and easy to jot a note or send a card!

I think I may just continue this Month of Letters thing indefinitely. . . (although maybe not EVERY day).  It's been fun; it doesn't take up much time; and many of my letter-recipients have been downright delighted to get a note! 

Win-win. . . all around!

Now Showing! Two Big Decades!

Today is a special day.


My beautiful. . .

B 6 mos

beautiful. . .

Sweet boy

beautiful. . .

Brian in 7th grade

beautiful. . .

2009 cottage

boy. . .


is 20 today!!!!

That's two big decades . . . of beautiful!


Happy Birthday, Bud!  (Only 365 more days. . .)


And a BIG BIRTHDAY SHOUT-OUT to some special people who share Brian's day!  Happy Birthday to my brother-in-law, Kurt . . . and Happy Birthday to Patty

Strive to be Happy

Remember the Desiderata?

Go placidly among the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. . .

When I was a teenager, I used to have a poster of the Desiderata hanging on the wall of my bedroom.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others. . .

During those confusing, growing-up days, those words used to soothe me.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. . .

Those words used to whisper across my room . . . giving me hope for a life beyond the agony of adolescence.

Enjoy. . .

Keep interested. . .

Strive for high ideals. . .

Be yourself. . .

Over the years, though, as I really did grow up, I sort of forgot about the Desirderata.

Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. . .

Until a few years ago, when I stumbled upon it again, in book form, on the clearance table in my local Barnes & Noble.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. . .


Now, that book sits out on my coffee table all the time.  It's a beautiful book, and I pick it up and read through the poem often.


Be gentle with yourself.  You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. . .

The words still whisper to me from across the room

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. . .

Reminding me.

Strive to be happy.



Taking It Inside

Okay.  It was just last week. . . that I was explaining about The Itch.   About how our non-existent winter was bringing on the urge-to-garden much earlier than usual.  About how I've already been out pruning the roses and spring-cleaning my garden beds.  About how I really couldn't trust it, though.

And here you have it.


While still not bad for mid-February-in-Michigan, it's definitely not get-out-in-the-landscape weather! 

So, what's a gardener . . . with The Itch. . . to do?

Why, take it inside, of course!


Last weekend, I set up a little gardening right there in my kitchen.  It felt great to get my hands in some soil.  Even if it was just packaged potting soil!


I transplanted several plants.  New ones (like this new agave). . .


and in-need-of-repotting plants (like this formerly overgrown succulent).


I planted two new ivy topiaries.


(One of these is for you, Mom!)


Such an easy - and sort of charming - thing to plant.


And I had way too much fun playing around with terrariums.



I made a big mess. . .


but it was a delightful afternoon! 


Almost as good as gardening outside.  And really. . . the best it's going to get in February!


And . . . here's this week's blooming agave update!


It's wild!


Absolutely crazy!


I cannot WAIT to see what it does next!



In the Shape of a Heart

As I thought about this post yesterday, this song got stuck in my head.  So I have to share. . .


There's just something about a heart shape that I find charming.


Not just on Valentine's Day, either.  Although that's when they're most plentiful, certainly.


Sometimes even with your name, stuck in little heart-shaped, pink-cream filled brownies from one of your office mates . . . so endearing!


And even more . . . heartwarming. . .  when tied with love. . . from your Valentine!


(Tom crafted this from fish hooks and red mohair . . . just for me!)

There's just something warm and inviting, kind of . . . homey. . . about a heart shape.


Although not as prevelant as my grids, heart shapes appear throughout the year in my home.


On the walls. . .


in the windows. . .


and even in the garden. . .


they inspire.


And make me happy.


Love 'em!

Sweet Corners


I have . . . ambivalent feelings. . .about Valentine's Day.


Oh, I partake in the chocolates.  And I send a few Valentine cards.  But I tend not to like special days that create expectations and pressure.  And I especially don't like "holidays" that make people feel bad or lonely or somehow. . . less than.

Valentine's Day is fine . . . when you have a Valentine.  But it's pretty darn miserable when you don't.  Who needs a special day that celebrates "couple-dom" . . . when it's perfectly acceptable (and often times preferable) to be . . . not a couple!  (And don't get me started on how miserable Valentine's Day can be for couples . . . when one member of the couple expects Valentine surprises. . . and one member would rather demonstrate love in other ways. . .)

So, personally, I tend to downplay Valentine's Day.  Tom and I usually find fun cards for each other, and we always, Always, ALWAYS buy each other chocolate.  But we don't do gifts or go out for a Valentine dinner, and Tom doesn't send me roses.  We just decided, together, that we don't need that type of pressure.

But now. . . back to the chocolate!  This week, Carole asks us about our Ten Favorite Chocolate Treats.  Mine . . . tend to the more basic of the genre:

  1. Brownies (the chewy kind)
  2. Chocolate Chip Cookies
  3. Chocolate sauce on plain vanilla ice cream (or peppermint!)
  4. Chocolate-covered dried cherries
  5. Chocolate-covered caramels
  6. Chocolate malts
  7. Hershey's Kisses
  8. Frango chocolate mint candy
  9. Hot cocoa (with whipped cream)
  10. Nearly any high-quality chocolate tidbit (because it really does need to be worth the calorie intake!)

Mmmmmm.  Now I'm off to raid my new Valentine box of chocolates!  Happy Valentine's Day . . . however you do (or don't) celebrate!


Join the fun!  Sign up for Ten on Tuesday here.