29 December 2011

on the mountain

I snapped this with my phone, which only gives a tiny glimpse of the amazing view where we ski. I'll have to work on getting a better picture.  Just imagine something like this, except more in all directions. It was a beautiful day on the slopes. Clover had a blast playing with his friends at the nanny and I had an awesome time skiing with friends and family. A fantastic first day of the ski season! So what do you say, want to come hit the slopes with me?

24 December 2011

merry and bright

This jack-in-the-box Santa is up on our door every year at Christmas. 

It's time! The holidays are really here.  My coffee has a hint of cinnamon. The tree smells amazing. The snow is swirling outside our door.  Clover and I are singing christmas carols around the clock. There are a couple, last-minute gifts to pick up but other than that we'll just be reveling in the holiday spirit over here. I wish you happy holiday celebrations with those you love. May your christmas be merry and bright and maybe, with a hint of cinnamon and peppermint, too. All the best!

22 December 2011

spearmint & snowflakes

It has been snowing non-stop here for the past week and more is on the way for the weekend. It looks like it will be a very white Christmas. What a gift. Speaking of fun gifts, guess who is featured over on Spearmint Baby today? Take a look if you like!

21 December 2011

the clementine caper

Remember this post ? I snapped a picture for it while Clover was having his afternoon snack. I thought it would be a simple, quick photo session but the little guy had other plans because I was only two photos in when his tiny hand came into the frame...just to help tweak the arrangement ever so slightly.

He helped himself to the rest of the clementines.

And found this to be absolutely hilarious...

and then, he got down to the serious business of throwing them about...

And I am so glad that he did because it makes these photos much sweeter than the original.

18 December 2011

december traditions

For breakfast around the holidays, there is nothing like a big slice of panettone. Just ask my husband, he is a huge fan. Each year around this time, I pick one up in a big fancy box just for him to enjoy. I always try it and always sigh, "Nope, I still don't like panettone." It's the brioche of disappointment in my book, too dry or stale with a few, sad dried fruits halfheartedly added to falsely appease the eater. But, when I came across a panettone with packaging that read Fabrication Artisanale followed by Pur Beurre, I thought this one might be different. However, it's that sugary almond-hazelnut topping that truly sealed the deal. I've helped myself to multiple slices this morning and even had to put it on a shelf, out of my sight to keep me from going back for more. So it's official, I am completely eating my words this year...and they are delicious!

16 December 2011

aurora borealis

On my list of Things I Want To Do is to see the Aurora Borealis. The short clip above gets me excited to do just that. It is filmed beautifully, just amazingly well. But, while I'm waiting to take a trip up north, I'll bundle up and look at the stars outside with Félix while we hold hands. That sounds pretty dreamy, too. Have you seen the Northern Lights?

13 December 2011

handmade holiday: advent

By the time I felt ready to get an advent calendar at the grocery store, there were only two options left on the shelves, Spiderman or Hello Kitty. Neither seemed appropriately festive. Instead, I grabbed some of our favorite chocolates, added some extra ribbon to my shopping cart and made my own at home. It's not the prettiest advent calendar out there.  There are so many. But it's up, it's delicious and it now feels like Christmas is in full swing at our house. Happy holidays!

12 December 2011

naturally sweet

The other day while waiting for Clover to wake up from his nap, Félix and I shared the best 4 o'clock snack, steamy mugs of hot chocolate and many, sweet, juicy clementines.  Savoring the first, ripe oranges of the winter season makes me nostalgic for holidays past. I think what I love the most though is the contrast, the brightness of tart oranges against the dull colors of winter. It just makes them that much more appealing. Don't you think?

08 December 2011

Handmade Holiday : Woodland Creatures

Looking for cute, handmade gifts for the holidays, I came across these darling plushies from the etsy shop, One Little Red Fox.  Have you seen a more chic woodland creature? They are all so charming that I find it  impossible to pick a favorite. The girl behind these sweet critters also keeps a super blog by the same name.

07 December 2011

winter wonderland

The first snow of the season has arrived. The bunny hills in our village have a nice covering of white. My favorite thing about the flurries, especially at nighttime, is the quiet calm that a blanket of snow brings. All sounds are softened, muted, making everything feel a little more magical. Winter wonderland indeed.

01 December 2011

Artist Interview: Laura Manfre

You'll remember the adorable bonne maman paintings post from a couple weeks ago. The artist , Laura Manfre, agreed to let us peek into her world. So cool!

How about a little background? Where are you from? What did you study?

My name's Laura, I am 22 and I come from France. I'm now living in Norwich, UK.
My studies...? I'd been a law student for a while... It didn't make me happy at all, so I abandoned and started learning drawing and painting techniques.

Where do you find inspiration?

I'm inspired by everything colorful, vintage, kitsch and most of the time food related. I love food, I love packaging... I especially love to find crazy items... Did you know that you can buy a pancake spray?

Where do you do most of your work? In a studio, at your kitchen table?

I work everywhere I can! I don't have a studio so... there are papers, pencils and paints everywhere! I'm very messy... 

What's your favorite project that you have done so far?

I'm currently working on some Blade Runner illustrations. I'm so amazed by this movie... I'm hoping to finish it very soon.

When did you start drawing?

I've always been drawing! I remember being a kid and bringing with me a pen and a sketchbook everywhere I would go! I haven't stop since.

What do you like most about living in England?

My boyfriend! Hehe! He's the reason why I'm here! But I must say I really enjoy living in England, people are so nice and respectful... I don't feel judged because I'm an "artist". Here, you can be as eccentric as you want, no one will look at you strangely!

What's the hardest thing about being an expatriate?

The hardest thing is being so far from my family! I miss them... 

I wanted to ask a question about traveling since you lived in Italy. Do you get to travel often? How did you decide on Italy? Will you go back?

I'm used to travel as my dad works for the Army. I moved a lot... From France to Reunion Island... And more recently Rome! It's such a beautiful city... Not long ago I made some illustrations about it! I'm hoping to go back one day!

What artists inspire you?

Illustration wise I'm a big fan of Mary Blair (her Alice in Wonderland artwork is just amazing... I love the way she uses colors!) and Art Seiden! 
I really love American painters like James Rosenquist, Wayne Thiebaud, John Alcorn, Austin Briggs... 

What projects are you working on currently?

I'm working on some illustrations for a book which will be published in France! It's all about D.I.Ys!

Where can we find your work? 

Anything else you want to add?

Just a big Merci to you for this lovely interview!

Thank you, Laura! I'm so glad you agreed to an interview. You are a delightful artist and it has been so nice getting to know you through your work.  I wish you all the best and can't wait to see more of your wonderful illustrations.  

30 November 2011

appropriate attire

original photo via
Since I talked about sick days, it's only fitting to mention the comfy uniform of the unwell. With our chilly, tile floors, I stick with my uggs. Clover, however, goes for the french classic, collégien slippers.   A couple weeks ago, I had chosen a boyish, blue-striped option online and added it to mon panier  but before I ever got around to finishing shopping, my friend stopped by with a bunch of hand-me-downs for the winter months. (Thanks, T!)  Clover has been proudly sporting his cousin's pink, collégien slippers ever since. The boy can definitely rock the fuschia.

these passing days

We have had a lot of  want-to-stay-at-home-in-our-pajamas kind of sick days recently. Not much fun to be under the weather, but we've been doing our best at keeping entertained at home.  Although, not feeling well has led me into a heavy, heavy addiction to the Good Wife. Do you watch it? I can't get enough. I think it's going to take a little more than cough syrup to cure me of this illness.

24 November 2011

a time of thanks

After yet  another rough night, my big plans for time in the kitchen were replaced with lots of cuddling and book-reading with the tiniest member of our family. In years past, I have made traditional Thanksgiving dinners with lots of  friends, let the day pass completely by without the slightest fanfare and everything in between. Yesterday was nice, no expectations and the feeling that whatever effort I put into this holiday would be just enough.  I'm thankful for the seasons in life, accepting the time to slow down, rolling with the punches, and even, reveling in their beauty. I'm thankful for family, near and far, for a loving, intelligent husband,  our adorable son, for health and happiness, both, ours and that of those around us.  Sending out lots of  love for the holiday! I hope you found this Thanksgiving (or if you didn't celebrate, just this regular old Thursday) to be perfectly joyful.

23 November 2011

moving along

With the Thanksgiving holiday in the USA tomorrow, it seems like it is time to slowly say goodbye to autumn and start to embrace the arrival of winter. Here's to hoping the snow will cooperate!  I am so thankful to have had such a beautiful fall, that we could do so many fun day trips as a family and spend so much time outdoors.

20 November 2011

a cuter scooter

Can this get any more adorable?  A pink, vespa-inspired rocker? I just wish it came in more colors.

rough waters and good movies

The other week, Félix and I watched a great documentary, Paddle to Seattle. It was one that he had proposed we watch at least 10 times before I finally agreed to it. I don't know why I put him off for so long; it was awesome. He has such good taste in films. I should have known better. It's the story of two buddies who decide they need a new challenge after having already done the Appalachian trail and a 1330-mile bicycle ride from Seward, Alaska to the Artic sea. The duo decides to kayak the Inside Passage from Skagway, Alaska to Seattle, Washington. a hilarious film and a great adventure! can't recommend it enough!

18 November 2011

bundle up

Thinking about the upcoming ski season, I came across this tongue-in-cheek collection of tees and sweatshirts pefectly suited to a ski holiday by the designer Ashish for TopShop.

17 November 2011

the early light

I love the morning hours. the calm. the clarity. the potential. the endless possibilities of how a day may turn out.  the choice to open the door to new adventure or to welcome the easy comfort of regular routine.  the limitlessness of a fresh start. a clean slate. each new sunrise offering the sweetness of the unknown, the not yet created, budding with intention.

16 November 2011

lo-fi lately : Beirut

I am the type that falls in love with a song and listens to it on repeat, over and over and over again. But I sometimes change things up by listening to one album on repeat over and over and over again. I know, WILD, right?  lo-fi lately  posts are what's playing on our orange stereo or what I wish was...

photo credit Kristianna Smith

Whenever I am in the car on my own these days, I listen to either France Inter (kind of like french NPR) or Beirut on repeat.  Specifically, the song East Harlem. It's completely addictive.  I keep turning up the volume, just a little bit more, just a little bit more like a total junkie.

15 November 2011


In a moment of weakness while grocery shopping last week, I picked up a new toy for Clover.  I needed a ball that he could hold in his hand, wouldn't fit in his mouth and couldn't too easily destroy. Oddly enough, enter the ping pong ball. Clover spends ages putting them in his red bucket, dumping them out and starting all over again.  My husband had the great fortune of picking them up one night while I was putting Clover to bed.  Still super happy with my ingenious purchase, I asked him afterwards don't you think the ping pong balls are fun? He said, they are great but did you really need to get 18 of them? Ha, ha.  No, no I didn't, but everytime Clover pours them tumbling out of his bucket I am reminded of the sound of hundreds of ping pong balls falling onto the stage on the Captain Kangaroo show from when I was little. Do you remember that show? 

10 November 2011

lock it up

images via

Over my morning coffee, I was thumbing through a regional magazine when I came across an article on a talented, swiss-italian designer, Luciano Dell'Orefice.  How perfect is his bike lock? It's a glorious marriage of form and function and so beautifully fulfills the needs of a cyclist.  It appears only to be a prototype for the moment.   I hope it goes into production!

07 November 2011

jam and jelly

image via
We're big time Bonne Maman consumers over here.  I always reach for the apricot jam and my husband has a weak spot for the strawberry. I came across this adorable painting by Laura Manfre on the always inspiring Miss Moss.  Wouldn't it be perfect framed and hanging in a kitchen?

06 November 2011

fever pitch

It seems like we are at the peak moment where the colors are so vibrant.  Little dots of fire are speckled across the hillsides. We took a stroll to Chamonix and had an amazing lunch on the Brasserie de l'M terrace. Even the vulgar service couldn't detract from the deliciousness of our meal, the Salade de l'M essentially a salade de gésiers, served with the biggest slab of foie gras and a sprinkling of rose salt. The presentation was beautiful.  And for dessert, since Clover was a little to antsy to stay on the terrace, we walked around Cham and stopped in for macarons.  A caramel au beurre salé marcaron was a perfect ending to a divine meal.  I love days like this - blissful family time, amazing food and ideal fall weather.

02 November 2011

La fête de Toussaint

Yesterday, November 1st, was la fête de Toussaint, a Roman Catholic holiday, celebrating all the saints, known and unknown. People are encouraged to place flowers on tombs and spend time thinking and praying of all those that are deceased.

Coincidentally, this weekend we visited  la chartreuse du Reposoir, an abbey founded in 1151 by the order of the Carmel,  celebrating the Sainte Thèrese d'Avila and Saint Jean de la Croix. It's still a working monastary with about 20 nuns residing in the immense and immaculate grounds.  The Carmelites take an oath of silence that they will spend many hours each day in silent prayer. It certainly is a calm and peaceful place  surrounded by mountains, trees and alpine lakes.

It was a lovely adventure for a beautiful, fall day but in the sepia photo, a little spooky... kind of fitting with the Halloween holiday so close.

31 October 2011

happy halloween!

photo credit - my mom

Clover is wearing his Halloween monsters t-shirt today, so he's taking care of the costume component for the holiday.  I can't think of a better way to celebrate Halloween over here than a special halloween sprinkle doughnut shared via email from abroad. (Thanks for thinking of us, Mom!).

29 October 2011

lo-fi lately : Brigitte

 I am the type that falls in love with a song and listens to it on repeat, over and over and over again. But I sometimes change things up by listening to one album on repeat over and over and over again. I know, WILD, right?  lo-fi lately  posts are what's playing on our orange stereo or what I wish was...

My musical taste is somewhat varied but I have a soft spot for indie folk. Les Brigitte are delightfully balanced--two friends, one blonde, one brunette, both with beautiful voices. They sing sweet melodies and have witty lyrics, retro outfits and slightly, odd music videos. Listening to their album, Et vous? Tu m'aimes?, brightens my day but it isn't too over the top that the music can't fade into the background. One of my favorites is La Vengeance d'une Louve. Brigitte originally became known for their cover of NTM's "Ma Benz", fame which I feel is perfectly merited. (NTM is a legendary french rap duo, popular in the 90's and known for mostly violent, agressive lyrics and well, Joey Starr.) Another Brigitte song, "Je Veux un Enfant", describes beautifully and accurately the sentiments of a woman eager and impatient to start a family. Completely hypnotic. Hope you like them, too!

25 October 2011

fall fervor

This fall, we've been going on lots of family walks to make the most of the warm sunshine, the cold, crisp air and the sweet smell of fallen leaves.  Some friends came over for an impromptu dinner party the other night. Our table was looking a little empty and it was too late to buy flowers. I opted for some leaves and collected a bunch of these autumn beauties in the dark, minutes before our guests arrived.  Recently, the winds have started to pick up and bring the colorful leaves flurrying and swirling about the street. I’m reveling in this most recent transition from toasty, sun-filled afternoons to blustery, wintry weather.  How can one not love this time of year?

17 October 2011

book envy

I saw this book from Julia Rothman, via Design Sponge.  I think it might just find a way onto my bookshelf.

13 October 2011

no mountain high enough

The other weekend on a bright and sunny morning, we set out to hike a mountain, just Félix and I. It was fantastic and hard and I am glad we did it. The Mont Joly has been on my list of hikes to do since I moved over here.  It felt so good to be out early in the morning, working on getting to the top and in a lot of ways that hike has mimicked some recent obstacles in my life. Some parts are steep, some with narrow passage but the hard work required leads to something amazing.  Were it not for toil and difficulty, there wouldn't be breathtaking beauty and a sense of accomplishment at the top.

17 July 2011

eating local

A sign that summer is in full swing is the abundance of  farm fresh produce at our Tuesday market. The lady at my favorite fruit and vegetable stand likes to pretend to listen to my order and then give me whatever she thinks appropriate.  "4 apricots? oh, no, six would be much better. They're pesticide free! The tomatoes were just picked yesterday, they'll last the whole week. You want only 3? hmm, how about a kilo?! Have you seen the courgettes? Two? No, no, you need four."  I can't say  that I mind that she tops up our order, a few more fruits and vegetables to finish isn't a bad thing. I'd say it's a healthy, win-win situation. 

09 June 2011

a view from the top

After dropping Dean Martin off at his work the other morning, I took a moment to snap this picture with my phone. He has an amazing, unobstructed panorama of the Mont Blanc and surrounding mountains.  I am thankful that we live in such a beatiful place. It makes being so far from my family a little easier.

01 June 2011

orange & navy

A cute scarf for a wednesday.  This one seems fun and bold for summer. Even though, where I live it is the first day of June and it is snowing!  I lived in a tank top this weekend and this morning I had to get back out the ol' Sorel boots to tromp through the snow. Anybody up for hot chocolate?

29 May 2011


Today is Mother's day in France. A picnic in the sunshine. A little boy generous with the laughter. Pure sweetness.

28 May 2011

among fields and meadows

A beautiful ballade in the sunshine this morning has me happy from the inside out.  Félix and I talked projects and our future.  We introduced Clover to some friendly sheep.  He greeted them with lots of smiles and baby babble.  A good start to the weekend.

16 May 2011

on the big screen

original photo via

Yesterday, Dean and I went to see the most recent Woody Allen film, Midnight in Paris.  What an escape, a beautiful blend of fantasy and reality. I can't say enough good things about it, the characters, the plot, the costumes, the casting. We both left the theater grinning. It has been so long since we've gone to see a film.  We used to go often, especially when we were living in Annecy just steps away from the independant cinema. I'm so glad we chose this one as our initiation back into avid movie-goers.

15 May 2011


It has been a bit dreary around here. The past 24 hours straight it poured non-stop. This morning though, there was a little break of sunshine.  a little ray of hope.  It seems to mimic my mood.  I must start exercising again, a good kick of endorphins to make me feel like I can accomplish anything.  I need a little ray of sunshine to get me back into it. Or maybe, just a little bit of soleil in gym bag form? I think this one  from ASOS would do the trick.

sweet vita

We had a great time traipsing all around Tuscany. The Mediterranean was bluer than I remembered possible. Pisa was great fun and lived up to the hype. Florence was great as ever. We stayed in an apartment that was part of an old renovated brick factory. The grounds were lovely and I understand why so many people dream of a villa in the tuscan countryside.  It has been hard to get back into the swing of things at home, but I suppose that's the sign of good vacation, right?

28 April 2011

Packing Up

We're getting ready to go on holiday in Tuscany for a week. There is so much that I am looking forward to, some of those things include: 
+ spending good, solid, family time together
+ enjoying lots of good gelato and enjoying walking off all that gelato,
+ going to the Uffizzi Gallery to see my beloved Botticelli paintings,
+ discovering some new spots with my boys,
+ introducing the little guy to the seaside (again).

Time to get packing!

18 April 2011

Hello Little Caterpillar

When I learned that I was having a boy, the first toy I bought for him was this little caterpillar. He hasn't really played with it yet, of course, knocked it around a bit. At this stage, he just enjoys drooling on the the pull string and banging the little, orange critter against the floor and that makes me smile.

Found at my favorite local bookstore, Livres en Tête, from plan toys.

12 April 2011

here I am

I keep putting off starting this blog by days, weeks, months, years. So I guess, today, Tuesday, the Twelfth of April, Two Thousand Eleven is as good a day as any to begin. Here we go. It's a party.
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