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)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Italian Door fronts

I'm rereading Frances Mayes'
'Under the Tuscan Sun' again,
gleaning ideas for my Greek travel book
and stretching out in her poetic words
like a bed covered with rose petals...

and some friends are talking about
spending Christmas in Rome
Italy is on my mind. 

Had to share some of these sparkly door fronts 
from Rome and Mantua. 

This little trattoria really knows how to make a scene. 

 I couldn't help but snap a photo
of an awning of white roses. 

The Chef is talking about meeting our friends in Rome 
over the holidays.
We'll see... 
ohhh how I love when he gets carried away. 
You just never know with him. 

(Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Monday, May 5, 2014

~Empress Josephine at the Musee du Luxembourg~

After a simple baguette sandwich lunch on a bench 
in the Jardin du Luxembourg
during my recent birthday trip to Paris,
I visited the Musee du Luxembourg
to see the exhibit of Josephine de Beauharnais,
mistress then wife then divorcee of Napoleon Bonaparte. 

The exhibit marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Josephine
on May 29th, 1814. 

The exhibit showed off not only various art pieces she'd collected 
but also luscious articles of her clothing... 

Below is just one panel of a gorgeous, gilded armoire from her bedroom... 

several likenesses done of her 
by different artists

and ornate furniture from her collection.

A jewelry box?

Imagine this mirror in your bedroom!

Josephine was a beauty who took lovers 
with a pragmatic eye 
aimed at serving her best (usually financial) interests. 

Napoleon, who began the relationship madly in love with her,
learned of her first lover 
and their relationship was never the same. 
The many love letters he wrote to her
became less frequent and passionate
as he then took his own lovers. 
When she could produce him no direct heirs,
and her grandson who had been named Napoleon's heir, died of croup,
Napoleon finally divorced her to marry another
but insisted that she keep her title as Empress.
And they remained friends.

Josephine was an accomplished harpist.
Below, a painting of her music room.

And one of her boudoir.

Josephine died of pneumonia at her beloved Chateau de Malmaison
which she bought and remodeled while married to Napoleon.
When he learned of her death, 
Napoleon locked himself in a room for two days,
refusing entrance to anyone. 
When he died, 
his last sentence 
ended with the word, Josephine.

For more on the exhibit, click HERE.

Exhibit: Josephine~ 
March 12/2014-June 29,2104

19 rue de Vaugirard
75006 Paris
Open daily: 10-7:30pm
10am-10pm Fridays and Mondays

(Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)
Info via Wikipedia