Sunday, November 30, 2014

Dreaming of France -- Food!

Hope everyone in the States had a terrific Thanksgiving. My house has just cleared out with all three kids going back to college, although Spencer brought two friends home with him, so the house was even more crowded than usual.
Thanksgiving got me thinking about some of the delicious meals I've eaten in France, and they usually had nothing to do with turkey.
When Earl and I were wandering around Rue Mouffetarde, debating whether we should eat dinner, a restaurant employee lured us over. He promised us a free aperitif if we'd sit down outside. In addition to wanting our business, I think the idea is that the more people who sit down, the more people who feel comfortable coming there to eat.
So we sat down and had this lovely meal, starting with a salad with goat cheese.

Here's another meal on a different day of a galette, which is a savory crepe made with buckwheat, and filled with just about anything  you can imagine. Mine was probably ham and cheese.

And in France, I never forego dessert. Here's a lovely chocolate crepe for dessert. 

Just looking at these pictures is making me hungry. What delicious meals have you eaten in France?
Thanks for playing along. I'd love it if you'd leave a comment and visit each other's blogs.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

First Paragraph -- One Plus One

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
Here's the latest from Jojo Moyes, One Plus One.
I never know whether to start with the prologue, but here it is.
Ed Nicholls was in the creatives' room drinking coffee with Ronan when Sidney walked in. A man he vaguely recognized stood behind him, another of the Suits.
"We've been looking for  you," Sidney said.
"Well, you found us," Ed said.
"Not Ronan, you."
Ed studied them for a minute then threw a red foam ball at the ceiling and caught it. He glanced sideways at Ronan. Investacrop had bought half shares in the company a full eighteen months ago, but Ed and Ronan still thought of them as the Suits. It was one of the kinder things they called them in private.
Hope this is a good one.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Dreaming of France -- Treasures from the Middle Ages

Please join this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.
It seems like the Musee du Moyen Age (Museum of the Middle Ages) gets short shrift compared to The Louvre and the D'Orsay. Of course, it is much smaller, but it has some amazing artwork and artifacts. I have a distinct memory of walking through a gallery of statues with missing arms and heads.
Here are a couple of pictures that Grace took at the museum, sometimes called the Cluny Museum. If you get a chance, do stop by while you're in Paris.
The most famous displays are probably the tapestries of The Lady and the Unicorn.

The novel by the same  name helped increase the fame of the tapestry. I say that the existence of the unicorn in the tapestry, along with other animals still alive today, is definite proof that unicorns once existed. 

Here's closer look at the unicorn.

And finally, here are some lovely stained glass windows in the same museum. 
I hope on your next visit to Paris, you remember to include this gem as well. 
Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France today, and please visit each other's blogs to find more French experiences. 

End of Empty-Nest November

And so, the bliss that was Empty-Nest November comes to an end this afternoon when my youngest, 18-year-old Tucker, takes the bus home from college for Thanksgiving week.
And honestly, even when the kids aren't around to take care of physically, they're still in my minds and on my phone.
We've drunk a lot of wine. Eaten some delicious meals, and skipped cooking other meals when we didn't feel like it. We've had friends over and met friends out, at our whim.
We have enjoyed the extra freedom of not having the kids at home this month, but I do still miss them. I think I'll be ready for some bonding time when they arrive. Grace and Spencer will be home on Tuesday.
So for this, my last morning kid-free, I went for a glorious 6-mile run with weather in the mid-40s. It feels like spring compared to this past week of ice and snow.
I fixed myself a breakfast of raspberries and yogurt with honey, along with a cappuccino. And  one last splurge, I baked some chocolate croissants for Earl and me to enjoy while we spend our morning writing and trying to catch up on NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

I'll still be doing many of these things once the kids are home, but I won't be my first priority any more. Every mother knows what that's like. And although it may induce a little guilt to put ourselves first, there's nothing wrong with it every once in a while, like during Empty-Nest November.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Wine and Books

My friend Najah has enthusiastically taken over the job of marketing my book. Well, at least when it comes to trying to find venues for a book launch.
She invited me last night to join her at a new wine shop that would allow us to hold the book launch if we bought a case of wine. It's called a Micro-Winery, I guess like a Micro Brewery. They make their own wine right there.
So Najah and I met last night to do a wine tasting. We each got a flight of five wines, and of course, we shared with each other too so we could narrow down the three wines we would include if we bought a case and had a book launch.
We enjoyed tasting our wines. And we shared a bread and cheese plate, but we talked about the disadvantages of having a wine tasting in this part of town, since it was about 15 minutes away from my part of town.
We could have the book launch at a coffee shop near my house. The owner had offered and we could bring in our own wine.
Then Najah started talking about where I would stand to do my reading.
"I'm not really sure about doing a reading," I told her. "I'd feel so self-conscious."
"You have to do a reading!" she insisted. "People know you as a person but not as an author."
We looked at the calendar. We talked about possible dates. She suggested that I order more copies of the book.
I explained that I didn't want to try to sell the book at the launch. I wanted it to be more of a celebration, not pressure for people to buy something.
We discussed that I could have bookmarks made to give out at the book launch.
Then as I was driving home in the dark, I wondered about the whole idea of a book launch after all. My latest book, Trail Mix, came out in September. December is an awful time to have anything extra. Maybe I shouldn't have a book launch but keep plugging along writing and selling books online.
I have to be careful here. I might be selling myself short, convincing myself that I don't deserve a book launch.
Here's a copy of the poster that my friend Leah made to help me promote my novels. I think maybe I'll just put that up in the coffee shop.

Someday, I'll get the timing right. I'll have a book come out as planned and I'll have a big celebration. I'm just not sure that three months later, right before Christmas is the right time.
But if I do have a book launch, rest assured that you'll all be invited.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Power of Exercise

Warning, there may be TMI in this post; just a heads up.
I'm 51  years old, and this morning, I started my period, as I have every month since I was 10 years old, except for the times I was pregnant or nursing.
I realize that menopause  must be coming my way, but I feel like I've been able to hold it off by exercising.
I trained to run a marathon at age 39 but couldn't run it because of a torn ACL. I trained and ran the marathon at age 40, and I've been running regularly ever since.
Here I am after I fell rollerblading this summer. Not
hurt, just lucky not to have hit my head. Not all
exercise is a success, but I keep trying. 
So what evidence do I have that exercising is keeping me young? Only anecdotal.
This summer, I had a heel injury. First I cut back on running, then the doctor told me to "shut it down" and not to exercise at all. We didn't have a gym membership at the time, so I sat on my couch for a couple of months. During that time, I stopped having periods. In August when I started running again, I had two periods, as if to catch up with my sedentary months.
Running makes me feel better. I run 4 to 5 days per week, going 4 to 6 miles each time. Two other days a week, I meet my friend Pam at the YMCA where we lift weights and bicycle or swim. She has shared her wisdom with me that, "If you aren't in the gym during  your 50s, you're going to hate your 60s."
I don't want to find out. I plan to keep exercising.
In addition to keeping me young, I think running keeps me healthy. I go out in some pretty cold weather. On Saturday, the temperature was 19 degrees when I headed out. I held my phone in my hand and at 4.8 miles, my phone died. I thought the cold might have gotten to it since it was fully charged when I left.
This morning, with the temperature at a balmier 23 degrees, I tucked the phone into my water belt so that it stayed close to my body and whatever body heat I might be emanating. It lasted the full five miles today.
Runs allow me to see beautiful sunrises, like this one in
Florida when I visited my parents. 
So exercising is keeping me young, it's keeping me healthy, and it's keeping me sane. Whatever problems I may have, and with three young adult children, the problems do seem to pile up, but they are not as bad after I've gone for a long run. The run gives me time to mull over possibilities, and it delivers some lovely endorphins to assuage my worries.
And one more benefit to my morning exercise is that I get to commune with nature. That sounds hokey, doesn't it? But when I'm out on the streets in the dark and I look into the sky to see the twinkling stars or a cheshire grin of the moon, I can't help but smile. I often say out loud, "Oh, there you are!" to the moon when I glimpse it.
So, no matter what you choose to do, I urge you to get out there and start moving. Walking, biking, gardening, exercise classes, a gym membership, anything that gets your heart rate up and increases your aerobic activity, can be a benefit and help you stay young too.
So what do you think? TMI? Well, too bad, because pretty soon, I'm going to be writing again about the benefits of not wearing a bra. Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Dreaming of France -- Outdoors in Autumn

Please join this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.
What is it about France that makes even the approaching winter more acceptable?
Here's a photo taken in Autumn in Montmartre of an outdoor cafe. Yes, I'd be willing to sit outside and drink some mulled wine. Not in Ohio, but in Paris. Mais oui!

Grace took this picture when my blogger friend Linda Mathieu accompanied her on a tour of the area. Someday soon, I plan to get over to France and meet Linda in person too. 
Hope you all are enjoying your French dreams. Please visit each other's blogs to see what everyone else is sharing.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Empty-Nest November

I have officially declared the month Empty-Nest November.
I do this because people always ask me, "What's it like being an empty-nester?"
And my response is, "I have no idea! My children are home all the time."
When all three kids left for college at the end of August, we anticipated missing them. But it was a rough start with Tucker being sick. He was home most every weekend and some days before and after the weekend to visit the doctor or the dentist. Finally, around the end of September, he was healthy, but the weekends home were well established. Add to that, the fact that his girlfriend lives here in town, and we still see him every other weekend.
Tucker obviously having a horrible
time at the campus Halloween party.
The university luckily has a bus that he can take home, so we haven't been able to ban him from returning. What it means, is like a baby and toddler who doesn't bond with his parents, he hasn't really been able to bond with his college. He's drawn back to Columbus, a town that is easy to love.
So the last day of October, first weekend in November, Tucker sat down with me and Earl to explain why he didn't want to go back to his college in January. Instead, he wants to stay in Columbus. He'll attend the local community college and transfer to Ohio State.
Earl and I were really opposed to this. Then the fight began about whether he'd have to live at home or could get an apartment. We stuck to our guns, saying he wasn't old enough or responsible enough to get an apartment. He could live at home while going to school and then move into the dorms at Ohio State in the fall.
So, if he follows through with this, come the middle of December, he'll be home until August. Earl and I have a whole list of conditions for Tucker, and one of those includes that he must stay on campus the entire month of November until Thanksgiving. He also has to join two clubs and sign up for classes in January, just in case he changes mind. (Fingers crossed!). We told him he'd have to work while living at home and that he needed to be "more pleasant" to Earl and me.
If I was a teenager, I'd definitely go back to living in the dorms in January and plan to transfer the following year, but we'll see what he decides.
Grace at a recent audition, slowly
recovering from her illness. 
Also cutting down on our empty-nest days this fall is the fact that Grace has been ill for weeks. After two weeks of believing she had the flu, the health center finally declared she had mono or strep. Since the treatment for strep and mono are very different, Earl picked Grace up and took her to our doctor where they did actual tests and decided Grace had mono.
She hasn't been that sick since she was a baby. Her fever continued for days. She was miserable and too weak to make her own coffee in the mornings. So she was home for a week and every weekend trying to recover, through this past Monday.
Thus, my call for Empty-Nest November.
Whether Tucker transfers colleges or not, our empty-nest days are still coming to an end. Grace will graduate from college in December. With her degree in Theater, she may face a long audition period before she gets a job in her field. We decided that it didn't make sense to continue to pay rent on her apartment by her college, so she'll be moving home until she has a full-time job.
If we knew that she was staying in Columbus, we'd definitely  help her get settled in an apartment here, but she may end up anywhere. She's going to audition for cruise ships in December, so she could be out of the house in January.
Earl and I are prepared for a longer period of grown-children invasion. But as we look back at our brief empty-nest period, we feel like we hardly got to enjoy it. So we're really splurging in November.
We ordered pizza with mushrooms on it the other night, something the kids would never eat. I'm rarely cooking these days, and when I do, only cooking things that I really want!
Earl and I realize that someday we'll wish our kids would come home more often, but until then, how can we miss them if they won't go away?
We'll delight in Empty-Nest November and look forward to some family time through the holidays.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros -- Breathless An American Girl in Paris

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
My bookshelf is appalling bare, but I have so little time to read this month that it isn't likely to change, although I'm getting that itch to go to the library and carry an armload of books home.
I did still have this on my shelf and decided to at least start it. It's a memoir set in the 1960s, Breathless An American Girl in Paris by Nancy K. Miller. I feel like I've been that girl, just in a different era.
Here's the intro:
I didn't set out to sleep with Philippe. For one thing, he was my parents' friend; for another, he was married.
On one of their many trips to Paris before I lived there, my parents met Philippe Rousel, an ophthalmologist, at Aux Charpentiers, a neighborhood restaurant near Saint-Germain des Pres, where long, family-style tables bring you into closer contact with other diners than you might wish. In his travel diary, which I discovered after his death, my father reported that the French friends who had recommended the resyaurant had said that "while not modern or elegant it was a place where intellectuals came to eat."
I hope the book is closer to that first paragraph than the second.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Dreaming of France -- Embrun

Please join this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.

Grace's long ago trip to France still brings up some good memories, so this week she delved into her cache of pictures and came up with these two. Embrun was a brief stop on her bus trip from Briancon in the Alps to Aix-en-Provence, but the charm of the town stuck with her. Below is a view of the mountains in the background with the town on either side of the river.

The lac Embrun caught her eye as the bus trundled away from the city and she managed to snap this photo from another bridge. 

What are you dreaming about this week? Thanks for playing along. Please visit each other's blogs for more glimpses of France. 

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Grown-Up Life

I know I've been a horrible blogger lately, but I see no end in sight!
This weekend, I'm catching up on writing for NaNoWriMo and I have big stacks of papers to grade. Plus grocery, laundry and watch a big football game. (Priorities!)
So I just wanted to post a quick picture of Grace who is at a big audition this morning. In spite of being in Week 3 of mono, she and Earl traveled to West Virginia, and she plans to persevere.

The life of an actress with her coffee and her wheeled suitcase!
Notice the awesome, kick-ass shoes.
Break a leg, Grace!

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Dreaming of France -- French Inspiration

Please join this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.

Earlier this summer, I posted some pictures that my friend Leah took while she traveled in the south of France.
Leah is an artist and takes wonderful pictures. Then, inspired by the pictures, she paints even more compelling paintings.
This month at our local coffee shop, Leah's paintings are on display. I went in earlier today to take some pictures because my daughter Grace is too sick to go look at them. I knew she'd be inspired by Leah's artwork.
I took this picture at a strange angle because there was a man sitting at the table Skyping. I tried not to be intrusive, but I love this picture of a tree-lined road on the way to St. Remy de Provence.

This next painting was inspired by both Van Gogh's painting of Les Iris, and a vase of purple flowers in a cafe in St. Remy de Provence where Leah had lunch.

Inspired by Van Gogh's Bedroom at Arles, Leah painted the bedroom her son slept in while they visited Arles. Yes, she meant it to be a humorous take, but I love the colors.

There were other lovely paintings by Leah, and I can't include them all, but I will include a painting of a mosaic that she saw in Morocco, where they traveled after France and Spain. This painting looks 3-D, as if I could run my finger over the individual tiles. Again, I took it at an angle so the matting looks askew, but that's just my picture, not Leah's framing.

Hope you enjoy looking at Leah's paintings. I've included her Facebook page and her Etsy shop too in case you are interested in more art by Leah.
Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France. I can't wait to see what everyone else is posting. Please visit each other's blogs.

Saturday, November 01, 2014


So today is the day many writers look forward to -- the beginning of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month.
The goal is to write 50,000 words in the month of November.
I'm participating, as I've done before. I'm only about 11,000 words into my latest novel, Paris Runaway. If I can add 50,000 words to that, I'll be well on my way to completing my novel. Most of my  novels run between 80,000 -95,000 words.
Here's the synopsis for my next novel:
Divorced mom Sadie Ford thinks her 17-year-old Scarlett is spending her mandated summer visitation with her father, but then learns that Scarlett has run away to Paris, chasing Luc, a French exchange student. Sadie hops on the next plane in search of her daughter and in Paris joins forces with Luc's father. As they try to track down the two teenagers and keep them out of serious trouble, Sadie learns the difference between watching the hours pass and living.
I'd better get writing if I hope to win this year. I've already gone to the grocery and the bank and I have to take one of my kids to the eye doctor in an hour. Plus I'll have to take a long break for football this afternoon.
If anyone else is playing along, let me know so that I can make  you my "writing buddy."

Cockadoodle Doo or Cocorico?

 We stood in the middle of the road, having walked together 13 miles that day and Claudine grasped my forearm. "Mais non! It doesn'...