Monday, December 31, 2012

Kalispera & Au Revoir 2012

These Greek cakes are from our favorite little sweet shop in Nafplion, Greece: 


Do these make you think of New Year's Resolutions? 

As we ring out the old year,

I thought we could bring in the new
with sweets of every shape, texture and color. 

Some, like these, are drowning in honey. 

Somehow even the Santa looks Greek to me. 

Clearly the Greeks don't mess around. 

And as we go into a new chapter of new beginnings.

I'd like to wish you every sweetness 

in the coming new year! 

May your cakes be filled with luscious creaminess,
your lives powdered with luck and grace
and your days merry and bright. 

See you in the next bliss-filled year! 

(Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Light and Joy

via Pinterest

Sorry to have been gone so long. Had some technical difficulties of the hacking kind. Wish I could share with you my new password but it would not be fit to print here.

So after the long build up to the holidays, the end of the world as we know it and the winter solstice, we are now on the downswing to a bright and shiny new year, longer days and new chapters and beginnings!

I am so very grateful for my friends, loved ones, bloggers and my peeps and wishing all the greatest of holidays filled with every kind of light and joy your heart can imagine. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Medieval Christmas~Missing Paris Day

I love the little medieval houses at the Marche de Noel in Paris. 
My sweetie bought me one several years ago which sits over the fireplace at Christmas
and on a lower shelf where I can see it all year long.
 I hung a tiny wreath ornament over it's tiny door which makes me smile, 
a dollhouse-sized wreath I stole from the tree for its perfect location.

Do you have a favorite Christmas decoration? 

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen
Marche de Noel at Trocadero, 16th Arr., Paris)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Love Life~ Buddhist Thought for the Day

"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions." 
~The Dalai Lama

I always come back to the phrase, "The Power is in the present moment." 
Reflecting on this over the years, 
sometimes I understand it and sometimes I don't. 
But I think it is about choice,
our own choices being the only ones that can make us happy... or not.
In each given moment. 

Not always an easy task, holding and pocketing the present moment, 
making it shiny with our worn fingertips,
but always...leading us to our future
and pointing to our destiny.

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen
Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pere Noel Meringue~ Missing Paris Day

Just around the corner from us in Paris
is rue de Lourmel

which like every other street in Paris,

loves to dress up for Christmas. 

Even the butcher gets in on the fun. 

But my favorites are always the patisseries

who can make anything out of meringue. 

If I could, I'd buy one of these little Santa Meringues for every one of my friends
and send them with a Ho Ho note granting their every wish for Christmas.
Though he might not show up in your mailbox,
consider the wish complete. 

(Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Buche de Noel

With Thanksgiving out of the way, 
we are now full on into the holiday season. 
And if there's one thing I love,
it's Christmas in Paris.
When you love Christmas AND Paris,
put the two together and it becomes heaven on earth! 

I love the traditions, the sparkly lights,
the colors and dressed up windows and of course, the food. 

I just read an author who described Europe as the color gray.
They certainly make up for it with all the lights and storefront ribbons and boughs. 
And Buche de Noel!

These little beauties are known as Yule logs, 

traditionally made from a Genoise or other yellow sponge cake
with a frosting and filling of chocolate buttercream,
 a fork raked across to resemble bark,
and powdered sugar to look like snow. 
With my French nephew now living with us, 
I might even attempt to make one this year. 
I'll post the recipe when I find the right one. 
Wish me luck! 

Wherever you are, 
I hope this season brings you 
everything you love about the holidays. 

(Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Monday, November 19, 2012

ALP Presents: Rosemary Flannery~ Angels of Paris

(Photo courtesy of ALP: Scenes from the LibraryCredits: David Bacher, Kate McLean)

Next Wednesday, November 28th, 2012 at 19:30, The American Library in Paris presents Evenings with an Author featuring Rosemary Flannery, author of 'Angels of Paris'

Being two of my favorite subjects, I'm deeply sorry to miss this. Rosemary Flannery is an American living in Paris since 1989 and a member of the Paris Writers Group. She has contributed articles to France Today and other publications and serves as a tour guide of museums, monuments and neighborhoods with Passport to Paris. She co-produced and hosted, French Encounters, a Public TV program on French Culture and created The Art Beat, a weekly cultural magazine for Paris Live Radio. Her first book, Angels of Paris, has been released this month by The Little Bookroom, NYC and distributed by Random House.

Book review by Popcorn Paris

"They're hovering everywhere, hiding in plain sight, each telling their own stories about the city--of romance and royalty, war and revolution, miracles and pilgrimages, art and architecture. Angels of Paris features beautiful photos taken from dawn to dusk, in all seasons, accompanied by text explaining the story behind the creation of each angel and of the location in which it is found. Readers will learn about Paris's history, buildings and pivotal figures (monks, pirates Crusaders, duchesses, saints, sinners and more) through the abundant, beautiful and surprising depictions of angels from the Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century. Rosemary Flannery has found angels on friezes and plaques, on fountains and facades, clocks and sundials, monuments and mansions, rooftops and door-knockers. On an enchanting shop sign above a turn-of-the-century patisserie, she's even found a pair of angels tossing chocolate and vanilla macarons to the entering patrons..." 

For more about Flannery and her tour schedule, go to
And don't miss her at the American Library in Paris.

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 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Flower of Remembrance

Poppy Stained Glass...Poppies symbolize sleep (remember the Wizard Of Oz?), and are often etched on tombstones. They hold a promise of resurrection after death. A common weed, they covered fields in Belgium, as in the poem “In Flanders Fields,” by Canadian surgeon and soldier John McCrae, becoming one of the best known memorial symbols for soldiers who've died in conflict. They’re now distributed on Veterans Day in loving remembrance. Whenever you see veterans selling poppies, be generous!
Photo via Pinterest

The red poppy symbolizes many things: eternal sleep (think Wizard of Oz), peace and death. In Greek and Roman times, they were considered offerings to the dead. Today they are given in remembrance of those who have died in wartime. On this Veterans holiday, a little remembrance flower for those who have fought and died for us.

Monday, November 5, 2012

ALP Presents: Elyane Dezon-Jones~ Author of 'Murder chez Proust'

(Photo courtesy of ALP: Scenes from the LibraryCredits: David Bacher, Kate McLean)

This Tuesday November 6th, 2012 at 19:30, the American Library in Paris presents Evenings with an Author, featuring Elyane Dezon-Jonesauthor of the 1994 novel: "Murder chez Proust" (French title: Meurtre chez Tante Leonie).

Working under the Nom de Plume Estelle Monbrun, she has published several sequels: Meurtre a Petite Plaisance, Meurtre chez Colette (with Anais Coste), Meurtre a Isla Negra. 

Review from Google Books: 
"When Adeline Bertrand-Verdon, the self-appointed directress of the Marcel Proust Association, is found murdered on the eve of the society's annual convention, Inspector Jean-Pierre Foucheroux is called in from Paris to investigate. He soon discovers that the victim was as ruthlessly ambitious as the pretentious highbrows on his list of suspects, and that almost everyone who knew her has a motive to kill. There's a famous Proust scholar whose prolific research is based on plagiarisms of his students' work; an Ivy League professor who is more interested in sex than in literature; a world-famous Parisian critic whose celebrated fits of existential angst are really just tantrums caused by the loss of his latest lover; and a viscount from one of France's oldest families, as arrogant as he is gullible. But there's also GisĨle Dambert, the amiable and unassuming assistant to the victim who dazzles Inspector Foucheroux with her startling royal blue eyes. Could she have had a motive as well? When Foucheroux learns that a much-coveted Proust manuscript, long thought to have been destroyed, has been unearthed and then mysteriously lost again, the trail of clues seems to lead in the direction of his most charming suspect.

Already the subject of an international scandal for its merciless treatment of some of the world's most sensitive egos, Murder chez Proust combines a withering satire of the literary, publishing, and academic elite with the Old World charm of a deftly crafted Agatha Christie-style whodunit." 

Dezon-Jones has been Associate Professor of French at Washington University in St. Louis and has taught and published in both America and her native France. 

Find more information about her at

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 

Monday, October 29, 2012


I loved this shot of a couple waiting for the bus in Paris. 
And while much of the Eastern United States is awaiting Hurricane Sandy,
I wanted to wish a safe and smooth passage through her wake
to all those who are, and will be affected. 
Thinking of you and sending good wishes your way.
We're watching and hoping for the best.

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen) 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Daydream of Paris~

paris paris paris

Sometimes when I can't be there, I picture myself rolling out of bed in Paris, throwing on something do-able and walking down to the open-air market under the metro for a tiny quiche Lorraine, some fresh lettuce and scallion for a salad, a small column of chevre to slice and dot my green salad and a freshly-creamed, golden stick of salted butter to spread on chunks of pain complet. I know, I know, the French never put butter on their bread when there is so much cheese to be had... but I do. Then I search out the perfect little fruit tart to follow my delightful afternoon lunch. I imagine leaving the dishes in the sink while I curl up on the blue couch with a cup of herbal tisane and a book on the history and back streets of Paris or a riveting historical fiction by a must-read author that I've been waiting to delve into. I fall asleep staring at the Blue Mosaic print on the wall behind me and dream of piecing together artworks in Pompeii. And when I wake up, it's off to the Marmottan for the world's largest collection of Monets, followed by a walk along the Seine to a cafe within viewing distance of Notre Dame for a spell of writing, pen in one hand, and coffee, then kir, in the other and arriving just in time at the American Library in Paris to hear an author of French novels talk about their writing process. Where to go for dinner is an entirely different daydream meant for another day, dream and post. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Your First Novel~Teaser Tuesday

Hosted by MizB at should be reading.

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 and author.

I am on the Oregon Coast this week at my twice yearly writing retreat (Colonyhouse) and ecstatic to tell you that I have finally finished the last chapter of the first draft of my novel. So my pick this Teaser Tuesday is a book I brought with me called Your First Novel: a published author and a top agent share the keys to achieving your dream by Ann Rittenberg and Laura Whitcomb (and I'm sorry to say I cannot seem to copy the book to share the cover with you.)  Ann Rittenberg is president of her literary agency by the same name and Laura Whitcomb is the author of  another writing book, Novel Shortcuts: Ten Techniques That Ensure a Great First Draft and the novels A Certain Slant of Light and Fetch.

I loved this section (p. 69) partly because it includes an excerpt from Toni Morrison's Beloved:

     "Try to include exposition and back story in the most natural way you can. Sometimes you can sneak it into dialogue if your character is meeting someone new, but be careful you aren't forcing characters to say things they wouldn't say naturally..."
     "...Here's an example of back story revealed through dialogue from Toni Morrison's Beloved: Both the fact that Sethe, the second speaker in the example below, was scarred in a near fatal beating, and the fact that she is now able to talk about her life as a slave with such calm, show the reader a great deal about her past and who she has become. 

     'What tree on your back? Is something growing on your back? I don't see nothing growing on your back.'
     'It's there all the same.'
     'Who told you that?'
     'Whitegirl. That's what she called it. I've never seen it and never will. But that's what she said it looked like. A chokecherry tree. Trunk, branches, and even leaves. Tiny little chokecherry leaves. But that was eighteen years ago. Could have cherries too now for all I know.'"

I'm off to read more from the book since I will spend the rest of my week delving into ways to work my 2nd draft. What an adventure this book-writing process.  Hope you're all having a spectacular week ! 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Medieval Marais~ Missing Paris Day

Some of you know that I have a deep love and draw to all things Medieval.
These are some of my favorites in Paris. 

For years we had been walking a particular path to nearby metro stops
missing these gems along our way.

And then one day we decided to try one of the packs of 
Paris City Walks cards
someone left for us 
and found these just around the corner from our usual route. 

Oh the joys of straying from the usual path! 

(Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Les Huitres de France

While fall and winter are not my favorite times of the year,
the cooler weather does bring out certain booths of interest.

In our neighborhood in Paris, we frequently find oyster stands
complete with wave (noise) machines. 
Some even include the sound of seagulls in the background
for the full effect of transporting you to a Normandy beach from your spot
on the Paris sidewalk. 

I'm also not a fan of raw oysters 
(I like them one way--on the grill in the half shell smothered with garlic butter, 
a dash of horseradish and hot pepper seasoning)
but I do love how an officianado of oysters can taste the difference in regions. 
They are all named for their different locations of origin
and some can actually describe the precise differences between them. 
A friend said to me recently,
"But with all that stuff on it, you can't taste the oyster."
"Exactly!" was my response. 

Hope you are finding, and enjoying, the best things 
you love about the change in seasons! 

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Favorite Walk in Greece~ Travelin' Tuesday

We are anticipating a possible business (paperwork) trip to Greece this fall
so my favorite walk is on my mind. 

For years I have craved, zoomed, snapped and framed
the colors of Earth's natural blues and greens together, 
against each other. 

Even though the camera never does them justice,
I can't help myself. 

They have become touchstones for me

and I honor them and my dreams together. 

This walk along the backside of Nafplion's Old Town

scales both the rocky cliffside and the water. 

And ends back around toward the Old Town 
with a cup of Greek coffee (not to be confused with Turkish),
a view of Bourtzi in the foreground
 and Argos across the bay.

And when the deep, rich, hot demitasse beverage made from the beans of a tree
have taken hold, 
a walk along the palm-lined waterfront to the Old Town is in order.
I'll save the town itself for another post. 

Fall is now upon us. 
Hope you are enjoying all that it brings. 

(Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Light in Paris

Just sending out a little love light
to some people in Paris who are having a very difficult time.
Wishing I was there, wishing I could help, 
but light I can do.

Every little bit helps. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Evenings with an Author~ Peter Steiner at the American Library in Paris

This Tuesday September 18th, 2012 at 19:30, The American Library in Paris presents-- Evenings with an Author-- featuring Peter Steiner, American novelist and cartoonist for The New Yorker

His detective series, starring former CIA agent Louis Morgon, is set in the Loire Valley where Steiner also spends time. His most recent book, The Resistance, flashes back to the 1940's Nazi Occupation where every French citizen is forced to resist either the Nazis, their neighbors or their own morality. And with his arrival to St. Leon-sur-Deme in 1975, under the floorboards of his own house, Louis stumbles upon a 30-year mystery. 

Booklist calls it: "Brilliant, evocative, elegiac and infused with sadness...A powerful and beautiful reminder of Faulkner's dictum that the only thing truly worth writing about is 'the human heart in conflict with itself.'"

While I haven't read his work, you can bet I will be. He also has three previous thrillers (The Terrorist, L'Assassin, Le Crime). 
Click Here to find his blog. 

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 

Monday, September 10, 2012

More Passy Walk and Delicious Italian Deli~ Missing Paris Day

We're back at the Cimetiere de Passy for another Walk in Paris.

Just a few more interesting tombs (or is that an oxymoron?), 
this one with the often-used phrase for those buried after World War I. 

And this one reminds me of the Annunciation,
of which I took a series of photos, while traveling across Europe,
for a friend who collected them. 

One frequently finds stone flowers and bouquets among live plants 
lovingly placed by friends and family who care for their tombs with meticulous detail. 

And my favorite. While I don't know exactly the patriarch's profession,
one can speculate. This is one of the most visually descriptive I've seen in tombs. 

Just down from the cimetiere,
 off rue de Passy and Place de Passy
(which has a permanent covered market
from Tues-Sat, 8:30-1 & 4-7
and Sunday 8:30-1)
is rue de l'Annonciation
with one of our favorite Italian traiteur and deli's at #40. 

filled with cheese-stuffed peppers, marinated artichokes and pasta of all kinds,
is the perfect take-out stop before heading home or picnicking along the way. 
Picnicking being a favorite French past-time,
one can do it most anywhere,
in the park, along the highway, I mean anywhere.

Hope you enjoyed the last of this segment of Passy Cimetiere,
at least until you can see it for yourself!  

(Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)