paris at night

Like most people in the world, I love Paris. We live just far enough away that we don’t get up there all that often, so I still get that “Paris is so cool” feeling when I’m there. One of my favorite things that we’ve done there was renting the public bikes, and traversing the city on wheels rather than by metro…it was lovely to cruise from place to place and be able to see all the things in between, rather than just emerging from a metro station and having no idea where we really were in relation to the last place. (traveling tidbit: you must use a credit card to rent the bikes, and normal American cards don’t work…the American cards with computer chips in them might work…not sure ’bout that though).
I did this drawing back in January, and then stashed it away and forgot about it. I found it again yesterday in a stack of drawing paper, a nice surprise. It’s from a time a few years ago when Jay and I were strolling around the city at night, and he took some sweet pictures of the Louvre pyramids & fountains; so great to be married to such an amazing photographer!

yay for community art classes!

I’ve decided to enroll in a local art class, and I’m really excited. It’s been SO long since I’ve been in the art classroom. I’m trying to decide between two different classes, and visited them both this week. The first one was an adult class at a community center,  and was really low-key and laid back…no worries about grades! There were five ladies taking the class, and the teacher is the super sweet and has lots of cool ideas. Yay! It was tons of fun and I felt like I used to feel back in elementary school when we had art class on Fridays, my favorite time of the whole week.

These are some snippets of the piece I worked on the other night. We made stencils of the letters of a secret word of our choice, and painted them all over the paper. I love layers, transparency, and gesso-texture…super fun! I’ll post a picture of the entire piece when I finish it.
I went to the other class last night. It’s also pretty laid back, but it’s at an art school and has a more rigorous, professional feel. The teacher was also very good and gave lots of helpful ideas and suggestions for each student’s work in a positive and constructive way. This class felt more like a college class…a bit more academic.
Here’s the drawing I did last night in that class…we wadded up kraft paper to give it a soft, crinkly texture, and then drew whatever we wanted using conté crayon.
So, I’m not sure which class to choose…I’d love to do both! Do I take the more fun one where I would learn some cool new mixed-media techniques, or the more rigorous and professional one where I would be more challenged and grow in my drawing & painting technique??? Aack! Decisions!

Autumn in our Neighborhood

out and about on a bike ride to see what we could see…                                     

Happiness in the Kitchen

I recently discovered Katie’s blog, and I just love her commitment to celebrate all things happy in life. I have the tendency to be very aware of negative things… so, inspired by Katie, I’m gonna start being deliberate about being positive. Here are a few of the happy things about my weekend working in the Chateau kitchen!

naming recipes after friends,
dancing vegetables,
knowing all these yummy things are going into our lunch,
heart tartes!

Charolais Cattle Auction

I’ve been re-reading James Herriot’s book, All Creatures Great and Small. It’s a semi-autobiographical work based on his experiences as a country veterinarian in England from 1940 on. It’s the kind of book that makes you feel cozy and happy and optimistic about life, as he warmheartedly recounts his interactions with farmers, rural folk, and their animals.

the Charolais race

We have a friend here in France who is a country vet, specializing in cattle. Today he and his wife took a group of us to visit a cattle auction where he serves as one of the vets who inspect the cattle before they are sold. It was incredibly efficiently run, with all sorts of modern, tech-y systems in place…but I still felt like I was entering James Herriot’s stories! All the farmers wore these long, black jackets, had tall rubber boots, and carried wooden sticks to keep the cattle in line. Their faces, mannerisms, and clothing perfectly fit my American imagination of a classic European farmer…and for some reason it’s always satisfying to experience things here that fit what they’re “supposed” to be like in my mind. Just how I’m sure a French person would be so tickled to go to America and see a cowboy!

the auctioning is very discreet; they have little buttons hidden under their desks to signal their bidding

strutting her stuff on the auction floor

see? doesn’t the man on the left look so perfectly like an old European farmer? if he were wearing a beret it would be even better.

Autumn Bike Tour

Jay’s been wanting to do a several-day bike trip for a few years now. I’d been dragging my heels a bit because every time we would go on a bike ride and hills were involved (which, in our neck of the woods is pretty much every single time) I felt like I was going to die within roughly three minutes. So I couldn’t really imagine trying to ride all day long for multiple days in a row.

We started going out on more and more short rides, and I realized I really enjoyed it, and I even began to conquer my hatred and fear of hills. We worked up to doing a 50 mile ride two weeks ago and deemed ourselves ready for a trip.

We rode for four days and covered 300 kilometers, making a loop throughout our region of the Saône-et-Loire. Yes I was saddle-sore, yes I had to squelch my grumbling during a 25-mile hilly stretch (and when our 65 kilometer day turned into a 98 kilometer day), and yes sometimes biking for hours on end does get a bit boring. But mostly it was just incredibly satisfying to journey through the countryside with Jay, enjoying the beauty, the challenge, and the discovery together. I’d do it again.

Charolais cattle country

The second night there were no campgrounds available, so we had to stay in a B&B. I was SO disappointed; camping in the rain the previous night had been such a lovely experience. 

Tomettes (traditional hexagonal tiles) and hydrangeas…two of my favorite things.

The balcony where breakfast is served during the warmer months.

Such a clever self-portrait. 

I love the textures of ancient things

Sign in a garden: “Thieves not allowed.” Good to know.