Monday, July 21, 2014

Beaux-Arts Pont

Just a couple of photos today 
of the Pont Alexandre III
which spans the Seine.

Built in 1900 for the Universal Exhibition
along with the Grand Palais and  Petit Palais. 

Adorned with art nouveau lamps,
gilt bronze statues, nymphs, horses and cherubs,
it is named after Tsar Alexander III of the Franco-Russian Alliance. 

Interestingly, the first stone of the foundation was laid by 
Alexander III's son,
Nicholas II in 1896
and the Trinity Bridge in St. Petersburg
was created as a memorial to the Franco Russian-Alliance,
designed by Gustave Eiffel
and the first stone laid by French President Felix Faure in 1897. 

Wish we made more bridges like this one! 

(Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen
Info by Wikipedia)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My Heart in San Francisco

We are just back from a weekend in San Francisco
visiting my sister who is spending the month of July in San Diego.

Fun for the two of us to meet up there
since we lived in the City for 5 years as teens. 

We visited old haunts, took in the sites and views,
 had dinner at Scoma's and drinks at the Buena Vista. 
And my favorite: Sacrepantina cake at Stella's Bakery
and Raspberry Twists from Mara's, both in NorthBeach.
Such fun! 

I promise to return 
with many more pics of San Fran.
Til then, where did you leave your heart?!

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Letting Go Portrait Series

Friend and brilliant Portland, Oregon and San Francisco fine art photographer,
has spent the past 18 months photographing and recording over 100 people 
in the process of Letting Go,
the name of her series of touching and cathartic photographs. 

Everyone has something to let go of 
and these photos take you into the mindset of another's process
as well as inviting you to consider what you might well do without.
She has created a Kickstarter campaign to take the project international
and create a book from a compilation of each of the portraits
as well as words from each participant about their process. 

I was honored to be a part of the series
and since seeing more and more of these touching portraits
and reading the strong and brave and true words of each person about their process,
I find myself every day looking for new ways to let go
of what no longer serves me, 
challenging myself each day. 

An inspiring body of work,
an opportunity to help an amazing artist in a transformational project
as well as rewards for campaign backers,
please consider becoming a financial contributor to this beautiful series. 

Every dollar amount, large or small, counts!
Kickstart is all-or-nothing and there are (2) days left!

From Octavia:

'For the past 18 months, I have been photographing a series I call “Letting Go.” In a way, this series came about organically, as I traveled through my own city—Portland, Oregon—As the ending of 2012 was settling in, I wanted to create a fun and thoughtful series of people “ Letting Go” of what they do not need and starting the new calendar year with lightness. The photographs I have included are part of this series. My goal is to take this “Letting Go” portraits series and photograph people all over the world. Our universal needs to let go of something in our lives are apparent with in each of the 120 people I have photographed so far. My approach to each photograph is humor, grace, contradiction and sorrows—making a unique and intimate experience for others to walk into; a shift of consciousness from the obvious aspects of what does holding onto this object mean to your life, to what beauty and opportunities do you make available by letting go?
I have (now 2) days to reach full funding-Thank you for becoming a part of this beautiful project.'

Please click on the above link,
watch the video
and click 'Back This Project'
with any amount. 

"In the end, these things matter most: 
How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you let go?" 

(Photos by Octavia Hunter)

Monday, June 23, 2014

American Library in Paris presents: Tilar Mazzeo and The Hotel on Place Vendome

This Wednesday's Evenings with an Author on June 25th, 2014 at 19:30, Tilar Mazzeo presents her book, The Hotel on Place Vendome: Life, Death and Betrayal at the Hotel Ritz in Paris, "an extraordinary chronicle of life at the Ritz during wartime."  Set against the backdrop of war in Paris during the Nazi occupation, Mazzeo traces the history of  the icon's beginnings at the fin de siecle through its captivating story of opulence, glamour and espionage and the only luxury hotel allowed open while high-ranking Nazi officials made it their headquarters. 

Annie Bostrom of Booklist says: 
"...Amid chilling tales of the terrible ambiguities of war and the treatment and purging of enemies on all sides, Mazzeo offers lightness in her biography of an inarguably dark time through obvious care for her subjects. Friends and lovers abound, and all but the worst villains are showed multidimensionally,  as Mazzeo contemplates the Ritz, Paris and Europe in flux." 

Mazzeo is also the author of the New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle Bestselling book,
The Widow Clicquot as well as  The Secret of Chanel No. 5.  She is an associate professor of English at Colby College and teaches nonfiction narrative workshops in British Columbia. 

The American Library in Paris  is located at:
10, rue du General Camou
(Just off the Champs de Mars and the Eiffel Tower)
75007 Paris, France
• Tel. +33 (0)1 53 59 12 60

The library will begin summer hours starting July 15:

Tues-Fri: 13h-19h, Sat: 10h-16h. Closed Sundays. 
Regular weekday hours will resume Aug. 19.
Sunday hours resume Sept. 7. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Peace within and dance

"May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. 
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received
and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones,
and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us." 
~ St. Teresa of Avila

Saw this quote today and felt like sharing. 
The photo was taken under the bridges of Paris
as part of an art show and seemed to fit.

And speaking of dancing,
this weekend, every June 21st on the Summer Solstice,
Paris holds its Fete de la Musique
which begins at sundown and goes all night. 
Free concerts all over the city
in the streets, bars and cafes. 

So if you're in Paris,
get out there and dance like no one's watching,
feel that presence and sing, dance, praise and love. 

And if you're not in Paris,
turn on some music and dance til you drop. 

For more info, click here:  Fete de la Musique

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Monday, June 9, 2014

L'anniversaire en Paris

I've posted some about my time recently in Paris for my sister's big 50th birthday
 but not really about what I did a week later on mine.
I started my day with the Brassai exhibit, 
For the Love of Paris

the Hotel de Ville.

FYI: the exhibits there are always free!

Then a light lunch at my favorite little 
resto cave-a-vins

also known as La Reserve de Quasimodo

And had my favorite entrees there:
the Rillette de Sardine
and a chevre chaud salad. 

From there, it's only a couple of short blocks to Notre Dame...

so I took a walk through to find some of my favorite angels...
(how gold his wings look)

and famous French martyrs...

I always love the shot of the burning candles
beneath one of the rose windows...

and the play of shadows on the ancient floor. 

Someone else also celebrated a birthday

Took a walk along the Seine ...

And in the evening had Birthday Tiramisu
(one of my favorite desserts)
after Ethiopian food with friends and family. 

It was a fabulous birthday 
in that most fabulous city. 
Don't remember the last time 
I spent a birthday alone
and enjoyed it so much. 

(Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Friday, June 6, 2014

Constant Flux~ Buddhist Thought for the Day

"Buddhism holds that everything is in constant flux.
Thus the question is whether we are to accept change passively
and be swept away by it
or whether we are to take the lead 
and create positive changes on our own initiative. 

While conservatism and self-protection 
might be likened to winter, night and death, 
the spirit of pioneering 
and attempting to realize ideals 
evokes images of spring, morning and birth." 
~Daisaku Ikeda 

Let's go for spring, morning and birth.

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen
Taken at Portland Japanese Gardens in Oregon)

Monday, June 2, 2014

'Under the Bridges of Paris'

Took this photo on one of my recent walks in Paris
(there was even an outdoor art show using light and words 
against the walls under the bridges).

Turns out there is a song called 
'Under the Bridges of Paris'
recorded by both Eartha Kitt and Dean Martin
(which charted in Europe but never in the States.) 

Such sweet lyrics:

'How would you like to be
Down by the Seine with me
Oh what I'd give for a moment or two
Under the bridges of Paris with you.

Darling I'd hold you tight
Far from the eyes of night
Under the bridges of Paris with you
I'd make your dreams come true.'

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Discovery of Poetry~ Teaser Tuesday

Hosted by MizB at should be reading.

Here's how to play:

*Grab your current read
*Open to a  page
*Share a few “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
*Please no spoilers!
*Share the title and author.

Today's pick is a Frances Mayes book (from 2001) that I picked up after starting Under the Tuscan Sun again. I've never felt qualified to even read poetry much less write it. I've tried but love the idea of getting a professor's take on reading and writing it. 

From Page 1: 

"What motivates a poet to write? When Emily Dickinson said about her art, 'My business is circumference,' she was talking about her desire to explore experience by drawing it into a circle of her own, a world. Similarly, Wallace Stevens wanted  each poem to give 'a sense of the world.' D.H. Lawrence thought the essence of good poetry was 'stark directness.' Telling or uncovering truth is the prime motive of poets like Muriel Rukeyser, who once asked, 'What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?/ The world would split open.' William Wordsworth valued 'the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.' When William Carlos Williams called a poem 'a machine made of words,' he simply meant to say that the best-formed poems function smoothly, with oiled and well-fitted parts, not far from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's ideal, 'The best words in the best order.' 

"Many poets aspire to reach 'the condition of music' --some aim for heavenly music of the spheres, while others want the words to 'boogie.' William Butler Yeats thought, 'We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.'"

Please share your own Teaser Tuesday post or leave your teaser in the comments. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Medici Gardens and inspired Italian dishes

Italy is still occupying a fair amount of space in my head this week. 
Still reading Under the Tuscan Sun
which inspired some yard work
though my yard will never look like these Medici Gardens you see here. 

But the best part was the inspired cooking.
The Chef was nicknamed thus
chiefly because he is the better cook in our house.
But this weekend I decided to try some of the recipes
Frances Mayes includes in the book. 

I made Bruschette on crostini with roasted red and yellow pepper,
basil, tomato, garlic and olive oil. 
(Btw, she has several recipes for bruschette.)

(This almost looks like it could be her in the background.)

Then her Honey-Glazed Pork Tenderloin 
crusted with crushed fennel, rosemary and garlic. 
At nearly the end of cooking time,
a sauce of steamed fennel pureed with white wine,
parmigiano and mascarpone is poured over the top 
and cooked another 10 minutes. 
Molto buona.

And a warm portobello salad with 
roasted red and yellow peppers
and fresh garden greens. 

Dessert was pears steeped in red wine
with figs and a dollop of honey-sweetened mascarpone.

It was a feast with weather fabulous enough 
to eat outside! 

I love this feast photo.
Though I don't recall where in Italy it was taken,
it seems perfect that the Italian's love of sunglasses,
fashion and food should share the same picture. 

I can't wait to get my hands on some of her other books
for the long holiday weekend. 
Reading this first one from a different perspective
gives it a sparkling newness.
And the others will be read for the first time. 

Who knows what inspiration will be birthed?! 

(Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)