Tuesday, December 31, 2013

It's 6:30 and I'm cooking up an onion compote to go with the foie gras that we brought back from France.  It's going on a platter with smoked salmon bites for the party we are attending tonight at friends.
Every year at this time, I am always thinking I should be setting all kinds of intentions and I can't, that is until we are at Lucille and Emile's and it's time to write down what we hope to achieve/experience/change in the new year.  When I'm seated in a corner writing on whatever surface I can find, surrounded by people, then the ink flows.

I must not tell a lie.  I unconsciously set intentions all year for the next year, not really thinking about a list or about resolutions.

One item has been on my list for too long and I think that 2014 will be the year that I kick that one in  the ***.  Notice, I said item because although it was a desire, it wasn't backed up by real motivation.

I'm not telling now, that would jinx it.  I don't want to dilute this intention by sharing it.


Are you setting intention for 2014 tonight?

In the meantime, lets say a little prayer for each other tonight...



Sunday, December 29, 2013

Au Revoir T.

Laying low today.  We were at the airport at 6:30 am. Always sad to say goodbye to him. He's pumped for the next two years of internship though. The big exam is behind him and two new big exams are in front of him but he knows he can do it now.

We love you and you are with us in our hearts always.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Been Nice AND Naughty

Christmas holidays with our two sons has been the best. We had a lot of chatty time and quiet time and sharing great meals together. Good food is what my children want for Christmas the most.  After that, a couple cases of beer (Big Rock variety or Rickards variety packs), a few bottles of red wine and they are in gastronomic heaven.  This means making nice meals every night for me but with such grateful men around the table, it motivates me to be nice.  I did show you that they do dishes once in a while.

Tonight, to mark our last supper together for yet another endless twelve months til his next visit where we can all be together again, we are going to T.'s favorite restaurant: Furusato.  Yes, sushi, sashimi and all that are his favorite.  A second close is a big juicy undercooked steak...Yuck!  Makes me glad we are having Japanese!

For my part, I've been a real homebody these last two weeks with only an occasional saunter outside.  We were at Sister D's for Christmas Day and we are going to be at friends for New Year's Eve. I've put gym visits on hold for the two weeks (naughty, I know) that our boy is home.  Not a good reason, but reason enough.  He fills our hearts and makes us joyful to see and his brother so close.

I hope you all had an opportunity to be nice and naughty this Christmas as I did. That's what holidays are about isn't it.  But the best part of all are the numerous kisses and hugs I've gotten and stolen from the boys.  My battery is charged and ready to face the next few months where I'll have to get up when it's dark and go to work again...

Naughty-and-Nice Stella

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Tatie Stella and A.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Calm Before the Flurry

The men have gone to pick up beer, wine, champagne and a few last-minute ingredients for meals the next two days.  I have the place to myself.  They think they are very clever leaving at lunch time. I know they are going to eat a burger at Wendy's... I am having a healthy pear, blue cheese, pecan and spinach salad before tonight's festivities.

I am sitting at the island, listening to Perry Como's Christmas Album, one of our mother's favorites, and thinking about my blessings as the sun shines across the counter and kisses my cheek.

On this Christmas Eve, I leave you with this, A Christmas Dream by Perry Como and wish that all your Christmas Dreams come true.



Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Thing of Beauty...

... is a joy forever. Boys doing dishes.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Beauty, Inspiration and Books

Library in Spain
Library in Czech Republic
Library in Portugal
Library in Prague
Trinity College Library , Dublin
Library in Italy

 Right now, I'd love to be sitting in a comfortable chair hidden behind a pillar or a stack, reading a good book.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Our Godson

“A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on.”
                                                                                    ― Carl Sandburg

This is the picture we got on our Christmas card from my niece and her husband.  Earlier this year, I was privileged to see him come into the world.

Now, he rocks my world.  We get to see/hear/touch/smell and taste (!) him on Christmas day!  He's a lovely boy who's well-loved and cared for. His mamie, my sister D. crocheted his hat.

Just looking at this picture makes me feel happy...


Tatie Stella

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Bletchley Circle

OMG!  What a fun series!  Between making Poppycock and Chile and knitting yet another round on my Long Walks legwarmers, I needed a break, went to Netflix and found this:
The Bletchley Circle is a 2012 television mystery drama miniseries, set in 1952, about four women who used to work as codebreakers at Bletchley Park. A series of murders takes place that seem to have a pattern.
I love the ordinariness of the main character and her unassuming brilliance.  There are three episodes available on Netflix and I am going to treat myself.  Like most BBC drama, this is great acting and plotline and colorful period ambiance.

Go for it.



Friday, December 13, 2013

Mrs. Clause is in her Workshop

Today is Emily Carr's birthday.  See Google image.

I am busy, busy finishing up Christmas gifts.  Tomorrow, I get to go to this for my sister D.'s birthday. Isn't it grand?  Will try to remember to take pictures...

Gotta run,


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

This n' That

Wow! It's already Wednesday!  I haven't had a thing to say so I didn't.  I don't have much to share today either except to say that I've been working on the two courses I am teaching at the Uni next semester.  That, and knitting and reading and trying to go to the gym.

Monday night, our reading circle met and we discussed A Stone Angel written by Canadian author Margaret Laurence in 1964. 

Characters in small-town Ontario:

1. Hagar
2. Hagar's Dad
3. Hagar's two brothers
4. Hagar's husband
5. Hagar's son John
6. Hagar's son Marvin
7. Hagar's daughter-in-law Doris

Can you guess that Hagar is the main character?  And what a character she is.  This is the story of elderly Hagar reflecting on her life (and aging body).  Hagar is  'unregenerate'.  New word for me:

Not reforming or showing repentance; obstinately wrong or bad.

This book is beautifully written and makes the reader think about goodness and badness in life in general and in relationships in particular.  She's a kind of female Archie Bunker.

Hagar is a woman of another era but her voice is at once amusing and intelligent. This when talking about her daughter-in-law helping her to bed:
"How it irks me to have to take her hand, allow her to pull my dress over my head, undo my corsets and strip them off my, and have her see my blue veined swollen flesh and the hairy triangle that still proclaims with lunatic insistence a non-existent womanhood."
As intelligent as she is though, Hagar has the emotional intelligence of a gnat as she charges through life not understanding what's up with everybody.  Pride is her hubris and stubbornness her credo and she ends up a very lonely lady.

She reminds me a little of someone rather close to me...



Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Gift for a Very Special Elf

 Have I told you lately that I am enrolled in knitting help sessions?  Yep, I've been to two and they have helped me (almost) finish two projects in time for Christmas.

The elfin slippers above are for our godson who is turning six months shortly.  He has such a pixie face and these are just the ticket for a boy who steals your heart with one smile.

Happy Tatie-Stella

P.S. The blanket upon which rests said slippers was made by my sister D. for Christmas a couple of years ago.  It sits on the bottom of the bed for extra warmth when required...

Saturday, December 7, 2013

He'll be Home for Christmas

T and his cousin S last Christmas
He has been away studying for two years.  The second part of his studies is in Chicago. That's where he is now.

Last night we talked with him on Skype.  We mostly let him contact us because he is soldiering on with his studies, focused on becoming a doctor.

He looked rumpled, a little dazed maybe and certainly very tired.  He looks at us with red eyes and little bags under his eyes. Who knows what studying long days and nights does to one.

He is missing us.  His eyes full of love convey that to us.  He doesn't need to say it although he does.  He's generous with his feelings.

Tuesday, he writes Step 1, an eight hour exam on everything medical.  A culmination of all the past two years' learning. This exam not only determines whether or not he moves on to clinical rotations, 20 months of them, it kind of ranks him and gives him better opportunities for placement.

He'll be writing with all American medical students and all foreign students studying in the States.

Would you say a little prayer for him?


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Les Miniatures

In Paris this fall, we shopped at Galleries Lafayette.  Minutes after I entered the building, I was reeling, not knowing where to look.  The architecture, the booths, the famous name brands, the people, the prices!

I went to the Chanel counter to purchase a bottle of their latest scent: Coco Noir*.  I was inspired to buy this perfume one day when I was walking in Aix, a woman walked past me and left a trail of the scent.  I exclaimed: "Ça sent bon!"  She explained that it was Coco Noir, a gift from her brother.  She thanked me and walked on with a smile.

Photo via

And so there I was, at a Chanel boutique in the middle of the main floor of Galleries Lafayette.  I purchased said perfume bubbling enthusiastically about EVERYTHING making my salesman smile and comment about my accent.  He handed over a bag with my selection and 'a few goodies' that he added for my pleasure. I noticed a good number of samples and one plastic wrapped box that was the biggest looking sample I've ever seen.

 Later, I unwrapped my treasures and found this:

My photo
Photo via
A few weeks later I was in Aix doing an errand for my friend Élisabeth at Marionnaud.  Again, I was blown away by all the products available there.  After I made my purchase for E. the salesgirl asked if we needed anything else. I told her I'd just bought several products in Paris... but how delightful was the Christian Dior miniature.  She told me it was available with a purchase of 75 euro and didn't she like my accent. I did buy a lipstick  and  V. did bought a bottle of his favorite cologne Dolce Gabana pour Homme and, in the bottom of the bag was this:
My photo
Photo via
I felt like a little girl receiving her first musical jewelry box with a ballerina.

Now, I'd like to find this one:


*Top notes: grapefruit, Calabrian bergamot, Heart: rose, narcissus, rose geranium leaf and jasmine. Base: tonka bean, sandalwood, vanilla, patchouli and white musk frankincense. Coco Noir was created by Jacques Polge and Christopher Sheldrake.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Let it Snow Like You've Never Heard it Before

I was a Star Trek fan.  Not hard to believe when you consider that I was a lone female living with three males.
Every week we'd huddle around the TV and watch Star Trek the Next Generation, probably my favorite of all of the spin offs from the original Star Trek starring Canadian William Shatner as Captain Kirk.
I always found Captain Picard had an extra 'je ne sais quoi' as a starship captain. A lean, fit Frenchman speaking with an English accent (and a beautiful voice), who's childhood home is a vineyard... what's not to love?  I found him authoritative, compassionate without being sentimental and yeah, sexy.

I didn't know he sang though...



Sunday, December 1, 2013

No Sooner Said...

Last night V. and I went to the movies and saw TWO!  Philomena was first and The Book Thief second... Whew!  That was a bit much even for me.

Philomena was wonderful.  It's based on the true story of Philomena Lee who had a baby out of wedlock in 1950s Ireland.  Anyone who has read Maeve Binchy will know that this was almost a mortal sin.

Philomena was promptly booted out of the family home and sent to a convent that looked after unwed mothers and their babies... I don't want to give anything away but to say this: Judi Dench is at her best, such a veteran, looks so relaxed and gives a really good performance of an aging mother who, 50 years after the fact, is asking herself some serious questions.

Philomena and journalist Martin Sixsmith embark on a journey that will bring Philomena some resolution and the viewer is left open-mouthed...
I highly recommend this movie and give it 4 stars out of 5.  V. would give it at least 2 Kleenex out of 3.
Yes, my husband cries at movies.

The Book Thief was another genre altogether.  Set in 1939 Germany, a young girl is left by her mother, after her brother's death,  with a German couple struggling to survive.  Liesel brings an allowance with her and that is the prime motivation for taking her in. 

War is declared and we are taken on a journey that reveals Liesel's and her foster parents' characters in time of real strife.  With the help of her loving step-father, Liesel learns to read and becomes empowered to push the boundaries elsewhere in her life.  She is a gutsy girl with a big heart and the gift of inspiring the love and respect of those who know her.

Elsy has commented that this is one of her favorite books and that she hopes the movie is as good.  I have not read the book and I doubt that the movie does justice to the best-selling novel but the Canadian actress Sophie Nélisse with Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson make for a powerful onscreen family.  This is a great Christmas time movie to watch.  V. cried 2 Kleenex' worth and even hid his eyes  a couple of times...  This movie is visually beautiful and moving. 

I give it almost 4 stars out of 5.

Happy viewing!


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Holiday Movie Wishlist

What's on your movie wishlist?

Bonne journée,


Friday, November 29, 2013

Pattern Anxiety

 I've been knitting on and off, mostly off (until about 2 years ago) for about 30 years.  Three years ago, I was ill and knitting helped me get better.  The regular click clicking was the rhythm I needed to soothe myself back to health.

So since then, I've been knitting mostly long boring patterns: straight stitch cable stitch a little bit of knit two together and yarn over but never, have I attempted a real lacy pattern.  I DID teach myself to knit in the round, to do the long tail cast on and made 3 socks with a little help from a friend at the office.  Not bad progress over that period of time for someone who devoted just a few months a year in my spare time.  I don't often knit in summer because it's so short, I don't want to miss anything.  Fall means soup and knitting for me and this stretches out until April mostly.

As I am now semi-retired, I picked up this pattern to make for my darling hair dresser C.  She has turned 40 this year and she is so very good to me. 

So how much work can one little line of pattern be?

Too much it turns out.  I started this a couple of weeks ago and after the ribbing and 3 rows of knitting were done, I anxiously gave a go at the pattern.  To my dismay, but not really to my surprise, I ended up with extra stitches on my last needle.  I abandoned the project and registered with my local yarn store for knitting help.

I just got back and I am elated.  Turns out there's a little mistake in the pattern and I was doing the YO after a purl stitch the wrong way...

I am so proud of myself.  This was the best gift, from me to me to kick it up a notch and kick the pattern anxiety up the wazoo!


Happy Stella

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros

I've just received this beautiful cookbook and I can't wait to try some of the recipes.  I first saw this book in a photo in an ezine and thought that the name was so enchanting I'd have to have a better look.
I went to Abe Books and got my copy for a few dollars.  A few dollars well spent it seems as the drawings are heartwarming and the pictures make me drool.

It has the cutest family tree...

And beautiful food pictures...

And old pictures of family with stories...

And a lot of lip-smacking recipes...

...smoked salmon paté, chickpea, coriander and feta salad, baked quinces with brown sugar, cinnamon and walnuts (good for when we are in France, veal loin with mustard, pancetta and cabbage... all made with the freshest ingredients.

This cookbook is a tribute to her multi-cultural background and family.  Great job!  Puts me in a mind to do something with Mom's favorite recipes...

Bonne journée,


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Holiday Gift Ideas

To brighten your home from Restoration Hardware

A great gift for ANYONE from Restoration Hardware

For a favorite child from RH

Snowman kit for a family gift from RH

Le Creuset Honey Pot for Mom

Le Creuset Salt Crock for a Foodie
Fitbit Flex activity and sleep tracker for Dad
I have considered all of the above for myself and my family.  Any more neat ideas?

Bonne journée,