Monday, January 31, 2011

Biographer/Filmmaker John Baxter at The American Library in Paris

John Baxter, Australian veteran Biographer and Filmmaker, will be speaking at The American Library in Paris this Wednesday Feb. 2nd at 19:30 as part of ALP's Evenings with an Author Series.

A prolific journalist, writer and filmmaker, Baxter has called Paris home since 1989. Combining two of his loves, he has written several biographies on filmmakers including: Stanley Kubrick, George Lucas, Federico Fellini, Stephen Spielberg, Woody Allen, Luis Bunuel amongst others. He's written short stories, novels, documentaries, television series, and currently co-directs the annual Paris Writer's Workshop. And this is only the beginning of a long list of illustrious achievements.

Below is a very short interview with John Baxter about his book "Immoveable Feast: A Paris Christmas".
And I can promise you, if I were in Paris on Wednesday, you would find me here!

ALP is located at:
10, rue du General Camou
(a couple of blocks from the Eiffel Tower)
75007 Paris, France
• Tel. +33 (0)1 53 59 12 60

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Delightful Finds~Marie Antoinette Soiree

Recently, the lovely Nathalie from Dolce Dreams revealed one of those great finds that I just had to share. It's from Paper Scissors Cake and I've fallen in love with these cupcake toppers.
This first photo is of the Marie Antoinette Soiree.

~Je t'aime, I Love You~

This Etsy shop, created by two sisters, designs printable toppers and wrappers for cupcakes
and DIY decorations.

~Flower Garden Fairies~

I love that you don't have to go out to buy these (except for the paper)
but can print them right up and...voila! Beauteous cupcakes!
Check out their Etsy shop!

The next find is from Lynn at Paris Hotel Boutique
and the series is called "Crinoline Flowers'
by fashion photographer Daryl Banks.

I love the colors, the sexiness, the creativity.

Makes me wonder how exactly he did these!
 Daryl Banks Photography can be found here.

Enjoy the rest of your week~
You're almost there.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cutting For Stone~ Teaser Tuesday

Hosted by MizB at shouldbereading.

Here's how to play:

*Grab your current read,
*Open to a random page,
*Share a few “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page,
*Please no spoilers!
*Share the title & author.
The selection this week from Abraham Verghese's Cutting For Stone:
"Being the firstborn gives you great patience. But you reach a point where after trying and trying you say, Patience be damned. Let them suffer their distorted worldview. Your job is to preserve yourself, not to descend into their hole. It's a relief when you arrive at this place, the point of absurdity, because then you are free, you know you owe them nothing. I'd reached that point..."

Friday, January 21, 2011


Locally, one of my favorite places to write is a newer cafe in an old house
 that is so beloved, it's frequently difficult to find a table...

On-street parking is hard to come by
(and its 2 hour parking limits writing time)...

Tea prices are nearly double some of our other local cafes...

But something about its sweetness and charm,
with hardwood floors and mismatched furniture,
makes the downfalls worth it.
(It could also have something to do with serving Stumptown Coffee from Portland
by baristas specially trained in the art of espresso.)

Often filled with students from the University
and real estate agents from a closeby firm...

it's a good mix of higher learning and Go-Get-'Em energy
as well as a great place for a light breakfast or lunch.
I find myself a coveted vacant spot, unleash my computer or notebook,
sip my chai and set about trying to focus on my w.i.p.'s most pressing questions.

On my birthday last year,
I cheated and simply brought a good book, curling up for some decadent, quiet reading time.

While I have a different regular cafe for writing in (with a few less difficulties),
I do on occasion indulge myself here just for a lovely change of pace!

Vero means Truth in Italian.
True, real, genuine.
Maybe that's what I love about it.

(All photographs copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

JFK Inaugural Speech: 50 Years ago today!

Watch it yourself or read some of my favorite quotes below:

"...Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, or oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty."
...To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do - for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.

...Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace... 

...Let us never negotiate out of fear. But never let us fear to negotiate.

...And if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavour, not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.

...With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own."  ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy, (1917-1963)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Psych-K: The Missing Peace in your Life~ Teaser Tuesday

Hosted by MizB at shouldbereading.

Here's how to play:

*Grab your current read,
*Open to a random page,
*Share a few “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page,
*Please no spoilers!
*Share the title & author.
Today's selection comes from a book I've just finished called:

Psych-K: The Missing Peace In Your Life
  by Robert M. Williams.

I learned of it while listening to Bruce Lipton's book on cd:  "The Biology of Belief".

"In an age of rapid change and information overload, how do we manage to keep up with the changes? I believe a critical factor will depend on our ability to process information in such a way that we can not only survive the accelerating rate of change, but also thrive in it. The key to processing more effectively is learning to use both hemispheres of the brain..."

" has become possible to establish that all the unusual abilities that some people are able to manifest (self-control of pain and healing, healing others, telepathy, etc.) are associated with changes in the EEG pattern toward a more bilateral, symmetrical and integrated form."

"...This increased capacity to operate out of both sides of the brain equally, producing the higher levels of functioning, is a key to thriving during the high-speed changes occurring now and in  the future..."

"Once again, author Christopher M. Bache sums up the point:
'When the brain's hemispheres are phase-locked and work as one, a number of known benefits result, including heightened awareness, improved recall, more self-programming flexibility, and heightened creativity--in short, Superlearning.'"

Guess what they have discovered helps the brain to function more bilaterally?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Zen Buddhist Thought for the Day~The Philosopher and the Dream

(photograph copyright: Octavia Hunter)

"The purpose of a fishtrap is to catch fish, and when the fish are caught, the trap is forgotten.
The purpose of a rabbit snare is to catch rabbits. When the rabbits are caught, the snare is forgotten.
The purpose of words is to convey ideas. When the ideas are grasped, the words are forgotten.
Where can I find a man who has forgotten words? He is the one I would like to talk to."
~Chuang Tsu
A Chinese philosopher of the 4th Century BC, Chuang Tsu is also well-known for The Butterfly Dream:
He dreamed he was a butterfly flitting about, but upon awakening, was not sure if he was a man dreaming he was a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he was a man.
I've had a recurring nightmare for over 20 years and sometimes, for a brief moment, I truly cannot discern which is which, reality or dream. The other is so very real that it encroaches on my mind even as I feel I am awake and for a split second, I am sure the other was reality and what I thought was reality is the dream. Where can I find the man who knows? He is the one I would like to talk to. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Snow in Paris~ Missing Paris Day

Friends recently returned from Paris 
with a gazillion photos of our 15th arrondissement neighborhood
swathed in a blanket of snow.  While I do wish I could have enjoyed the winter wonderland treat for the eyes, I do not enjoy winter's cold in Europe. The cold there seems to bite into my bones harder and refuses to let go more slowly. And while our apartment has three fireplaces, not one of them can be used any longer (for anything other than their own aesthetic beauty and hiding presents). 

This weekend, in the comfort of central heating, I took down my Christmas tree decorations.  

Never as much fun as when they go up
with the promise and excitement of Christmas and New Years still awaiting.

Every year when Christmas is over and all the holiday decorations go on sale,
I buy a little lovely for next year as a small gift to myself.
(This year was a chandelier ornament to symbolize light.)

When I travel, I like to pick up an ornament that reminds me of the place I've just been.
This one came from Oslo when I visited family at Christmas there a few years ago.

Norway has some of the most beautiful (and interesting) Christmas traditions I've ever seen.
Besides eating Lutefisk and reindeer for the holiday (!), they also hold hands, form a circle, and dance and sing around the Christmas tree! I love that! 

 But THE most spectacular tradition in Norway that I find astonishingly gorgeous: every Christmas Eve at dusk (between 3-4pm in that part of the world in winter), everyone meets at the church and family graveyard where they light candles and place them at their beloved's gravesite. The churchbells ring promptly at 4:00 and there is nothing like the sight of a graveyard glowing in candlelight to the sweet chiming of church bells. 
Truly, one of the loveliest sights I've ever witnessed.

This year we spent part of our Holiday with extended family in the Pacific NW.

Sharing good will, laughter and cheer (and Pistachio Rum Cake with chocolate ganache)
with family members for the first time was a delightful treat.

May the angels shine upon us all for another year
and not just our families but our extended families, our neighborhoods and arrondissements,
our friends and no longer friends.

"An angel can illuminate the thought and mind of man by strengthening the power of vision." ~St. Thomas Aquinas

(Photographs copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Favorite New Year's Weekend~ Dalhousie Castle in Scotland

I think my very favorite New Year's in recent history
was the year we traveled from Paris to Scotland with family.
My sister booked us into Dalhousie Castle, a 13th century castle near Edinburgh,
where upon arrival they realized they'd forgotten to tell us about the 
Murder Mystery group who had filled the restaurant to capacity.
 So they prepared us our own little dining room
in front of a fire, bringing us each course
and waiting on us like royalty. 

After dinner we retired to The Library for our evening glass of scotch,
not too peaty, if ye please.

We even had someone to pour it for us.
(Love the bar behind the secret bookshelf compartment!)
We each picked a book from the 'library shelf'
and read while sipping our scotch
(until the Mystery dinner was over and the library
became infiltrated with loud murder mystery revelers for their after-dinner scotch. The nerve!)

The entry to the castle is filled with deco beauty and wall art...

as well as, at the time, my niece and nephew
(better known as My French Babies!).

We retired to our beautiful rooms located in the old carriage house

and were treated to a bagpipe concert in the morning.

If you've ever wanted to stay in a castle,
I highly recommend Dalhousie
though I've only stayed in one~~ so far!

But the best part (not to be missed)~ the tradition of Hogmanay ("a gift given at New Year").

In earlier times in the Highlands,
Hogmanay was celebrated on New Year's Day
by blessing the household and livestock with 'magic' water
from a river crossed by both the living and the dead
and fumigating the house with smoking juniper branches.

Today, Hogmanay starts with an outstanding torch-lit procession in Edinburgh.
For a small price, everyone in the crowd buys their own torch
and follows the procession, to the sound of bagpipes and drums,
 through Edinburgh's historic old town along Princes street to Calton Hill
where the torches are thrown onto a Viking ship to watch it burn like a giant bonfire.

Auld Lang Syne is sung arm in arm (a Scottish poem by Robert Burns set to music)
and fireworks fill the sky. (BTW~Money from the sale of the torches goes to a children's charity!)
Several online sites have named Edinburgh's Hogmanay as the top-listed
New Year's Eve party in the world.
I'd have to agree!

And if you're looking for more fun,
January 25th is Burns Night, the celebration of Robert Burns' birth in 1759.
You can also catch a Burns Night Supper at The Auld Alliance in Paris
(80, rue Francois Miron in the Marais) for poems, songs and food.
And, of course, Scotch!

"We two have run about the slopes
and picked the daisies fine,
But we've wandered many a weary foot
since auld lang syne.
We two have paddled in the stream
from morning sun till dine,
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.
And there's a hand my trusty friend!
And give us a hand o' thine!
And we'll take a right good-will draught
for auld lang syne."

(All photography copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year's Day 1/1/11! Let's OWN this Decade NOW !


One of my New Year's Resolutions: To be the moment. And it starts right.. NOW!

A blogging friend posted this sometime this past year and I knew someday I would have to add it to my collection of favorite posts. Today, this 1st day of the 1st year of this new decade, I thought it would be appropriate to share this kind of feeling. It makes me well up with joy every time I watch it. What a great way (along with all of the other spectacular ways) to start off this year, this decade, the 1st day of the rest of our lives! And to celebrate Oprah's new OWN! What a decade this shall be!

(P.S. Click the Pause button on the music playlist at the bottom of the page. I promise you'll enjoy this much more. And have a good, good day and a magnificent year!)