Monday, October 25, 2010

la dolce vita

Well my dears, I'll be taking a break from posting this week because I'm going on vacation.

In Italy!

We're leaving early tomorrow morning for Rome, where we'll spend a few days before taking the train to Bologna, then renting a car to drive up to the Lago di Garda and Verona.

We are so excited.

I had an incredibly busy day of work and I still need to pack (and I am dreadful at packing) and clean up my pigsty of an apartment, but in a mere 14 hours I will be boarding the plane for Rome. Hooray!

So time to go drink a glass of wine and survey my clothing options. I want to be all ready before we head out to dinner at Le Verre Vole to discuss last minute trip details.


Sunday, October 24, 2010


This afternoon, we went to 59Rivoli.

Technically, I suppose it is now known as the Aftersquat 59Rivoli. It used to be squat d'artistes but was closed for a few years so it could be brought up to code and now it's been re-opened to the public. There are 20-something artists in residence as well as a number of visiting artists. 

It takes up several floors of a large building on the rue de Rivoli. The stairwell is decorated with an enormous Chinese dragon. You can go and poke around the various studios and watch the artists at work. It's a pretty amazing space. We watched a few people painting and a group of older men sitting around talking and drinking wine.

It was pretty awesome.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

daniel in paris

I suppose I should begin by giving credit to my new guest photographer.

Daniel got in yesterday (right on time. strikes be damned!) He took this picture of our champagne last night. 

He's feeling pretty jetlagged and it's making me feel sleepy, too. Also, the weather is abysmal, so really the only thing that sounds like a good idea is staying indoors. 

We finally dragged ourselves out of the house. It was freezing, but still nice to go for a walk. The line for the Louvre was too long so instead we wandered through the Tuileries. 

Anyway, it's after 5, so definitely time to go wake the sleeping visitor to drink more champagne.

Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

toast to thursday

It's Thursday and a mere 24 hours away from the beginning of a very exciting 2 weeks.

I'll be running lots of errands after work today to get ready for Daniel's arrival tomorrow and our upcoming trip, including:
  1. grocery shopping, emphasis on champagne & snack selection
  2. dinner reservations
  3. finalizing travel itineraries
  4. general apartment tidying and laundry
  5. selection of books and games for train travel
  6. camera charging
  7. new music for ipod travel playlist
I'm so excited.

Happy Thursday! 

les greves

For all of the things I love about living in Paris, from time to time there are certain... challenges. Most of these things are small and I've learned to deal with them. The systematic undercooking of scrambled eggs, the closure of stores on Sundays, the omnipresence of dog poo on city sidewalks, the way shops never seem to have change for anything over a 10 Euro bill, etc.

Anyway, suffice it to say there are always a few adjustments to make when you live in a country other than the one you were raised in.

The one thing that really bothers me is the striking.

Obviously, strikes are not confined to France, but the French seem to launch into them with particular gusto. As for the strikes that are going on right now over proposed changes to the retirement age, I'm not here to pontificate on and on about why the reforms are necessary (they are, and if you're interested, this article provides a succinct explanation as to why).
Rather, I speak from a purely selfish place in saying that I am supremely vexed by the striking due to its potential to affect Daniel's travel/our upcoming vacation.

Which is Not Okay.

On an non-political (but related-ish note), this is Bernard Thibault, the leader of the Confederation Generale du Travail (CGT), France's largest union.

Bernard Thibault - Le Figaro
I may have done a double take when I saw how he was coiffed. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

marché maubert

One of the things I appreciate most about living in France is the abundance of outdoor markets. I love them. All the foodstuffs, all the people pushing and mowing over feet with their shopping hampers.

Usually I go to the Sunday market on rue Montmartre because it's close to my apartment, but sometimes I go to the fancier market over on Raspail in the 6th. This Saturday I stopped by the Marche Maubert over in the 5th for a change of pace.

It's funny- I spent a lot of time in the 5th when I lived in Paris in college and studied at the Sorbonne, but now I rarely ever go there. I'm not sure why exactly- I guess you just fall into certain patterns. But it was nice to revisit it this weekend.

The market is also a good one. Fairly small but densely packed. I don't really like taking pictures in markets though. It feels so touristy and gets in the way of people actually trying to buy/sell things. SinceI wasn't doing any shopping that morning, I just hovered around the edges and tried to sneak a few photos without looking like a hopeless rube.

But then I had to take a picture of this:

After squealing with excitement (me, not the pig) I was actually a little bit discomfited because why was there a piglet for sale here, in the middle of Paris?


Then there were these gentlemen and their various instruments. They were actually quite good, so the pig and I listened for a while. 

All in all, a very pleasant way to spend a Saturday morning. 

et le mariage etait magnifique.

Yesterday, I went to a wedding. The ceremony was held at the Eglise Orthodoxe Roumaine.

Some things I particularly enjoyed:
  1. The bride wore a white top-hat and veil and totally pulled it off. Bravo.
  2. One of the priests, in full black regalia, took pictures with his iPhone while simultaneously chanting in Latin through part of the ceremony 
  3. We got to throw rice when the bride and groom exited the church. Always wanted to do that.

    The reception was later in the evening at Le Cellier St. Paul, a very cool space over in the Marais- a sort of softly lit subterranean grotto made up of a number of little rooms. With champagne and hors d'oeuvres. 

    I made the mistake of walking to the party in terribly uncomfortable 5-inch heels, so I only stayed the length of 1 1/2 glasses of champagne, but it was a lovely evening (and I was so tall!)

    Felicitations, Stephane et Dana!

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    sweet relief

    I have a number of treats to look forward to this weekend, including a wedding on Saturday, a wee bit of fall shopping, and some last minute planning for my upcoming vacation.

    Sweet indeed.

    Happy weekend!

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    grouchy portrait, no.1

    This photograph pretty much sums up how I felt today.

    Peevish, in a word. 

    This week has been incredibly busy and not a little bit stressful. I've kept myself up at night fretting over a million absurd things to the point that I'm now sleep deprived and grouchy as a bear. 

    Maybe it's the influence of watching too many Woody Allen movies in my youth, but I swear I become more neurotic with every passing year. 


    Anyhoo, enough sulking via the interwebs for today. I'm off to watch Bananas in bed with a cup of tea to cheer myself up. 


    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    le croissant du jour


    ...donnez-moi la force et le courage
    de contempler mon coeur et mon corps sans degout.

    *Give me the strength and the courage to contemplate my heart and my body without disgust.

    cozy scarves

    And it's back to being fall outside. It was freezing out this morning. I really could have used an enormous scarf.

    Photo credit: Yooko Gibran - Oatmeal Soopascarf

    I want this one, made by Yooko Gibran and sold on Etsy reeeeeaal bad. Doesn't it look cozy? Sort of like a cocoon, but person-sized.

    Photo credit: Yooko Gibran - Harvest Warmer No. 1
    I also like this enormous neck warmer. Her things all look so incredibly soft and impossibly warm- perfect for chilly autumn days.

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    10 days

    This is Daniel.
    He's pretty awesome. And in 10 days, he will be in Paris, with moi.

    I took this picture in August, when I was back in California for the month. We spent the afternoon wandering around Yountville and stumbled across the kitchen gardens of the restaurant The French Laundry. Afterwards, we had dinner at Oenotri and then went to see his parents in Napa. It was one of the nicest days I can remember, ever.

    One of the largest (and most obvious) challenges of being madly in love with someone who lives 5,000 miles away is that you simply do not get to see them all that often. One of the consolations is how exciting it is to see one another after a long time apart. You kind of get to fall in love all over again.

    So I'm counting the days until October 22nd.
    I. Can't. Wait.

    Sunday, October 10, 2010

    sun day

    When it comes to weather, I am very spoiled. I grew up in San Diego, which I think says it all. Very, very spoiled.

    This weekend, it felt like San Diego had come to Paris. 

    The only difference is that here, I know it won't last long- so I have to be sure to savor these last warm, glorious days. I'd planned on going to a museum but couldn't bring myself to do anything indoors. So instead I decided to just wander around with my camera.

    Galerie de Montpensier

    I'd really like a vespa.

    rue Danielle Casanova
    I walked through the Tuileries and decided to sit by one of the fountains.


     I ended up watching children play with toy sailboats for nearly an hour.

     They all had sticks that looked like pool cues to push the sailboats when they got too close to the edges. They seemed very entertained. 

    {Passerelle Leopold Sedar Senghor}
    Then I crossed over to the left bank. On all of the bridges with metal railings, people attach locks. There are hundreds and hundreds on each bridge. It's supposed to be romantic, like carving your initials in a tree. 

    I ended up at a cafe on rue Cherche Midi. And this is France, so it was completely acceptable to drink wine at 3pm.

    I wish it could stay like this always. 

    molly wizenberg's tomato and cilantro stem soup

    Yesterday, I made soup for lunch. Tomato and cilantro-stem soup, to be exact. 

    Until, well, now I guess, I hated cilantro and would actively avoid it, picking it out of things if necessary. I used to feel the same way about avocado. Insane, I know. But for some reason, cilantro has been sounding pretty good of late. I picked up a bunch the other day for a different recipe and decided this morning that a soup would be a good way to use the stems, which would otherwise end up in the trash.

    My mise-en-place. And the world's dullest knife.
    This soup is delicious.

    It's spicy and bright tasting and perfect for lunch with a hunk of good bread. I found the recipe on Orangette and basically followed it (except for adding sour cream on top). I'll definitely be experimenting with more soups this fall/winter. So homey and nourishing. 

    Saturday, October 9, 2010

    bois de vincennes & parc floral de paris

    Hoo boy it's been a long week. I would be betraying no secrets if I said that I'm very happy the weekend is here. It also happens to be beautiful outside (Sun! Warmth!)

    To celebrate this brief reprieve from autumn, I decided to go to the Bois de Vincennes.

    The Bois de Vincennes is to the east of Paris, just outside the boulevard peripherique. But you can still get there by metro, which is what I did.

    The park itself is quite large. I decided to wander around aimlessly and see what there was to see.

    This included the Exposition de Champignons. I guess it was kind of interesting- an exhibition hall filled with hundreds of different kinds of mushrooms. But it was hot and smelled very, well, mushroomy, so I didn't stay long.

    Instead I went to look through the flower gardens, which were lovely. Very bright and all in bloom.

    And after that, I  went looking for a nice spot to sit and read. I had to find somewhere in the shade because it was actually hot and sunny enough that my pasty, pasty alabaster skin could potentially burn. How is it possible I'd never come here before?

    It was a very perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon. 

    Friday, October 8, 2010

    thoughts on dinner

    Growing up, my family ate dinner together every night. Usually, my dad cooked. My mother would sit in the kitchen and talk with him, both of them drinking wine and relaxing after work. Sometimes I acted as sous-chef and helped my dad with the prep work: snapping beans, trimming the fat from lamb chops, washing lettuce, stirring sauces.

    When I was little, I assumed that everyone had dinner this way.

    Now that I'm older, I appreciate the challenges of cooking dinner every night. After a long day at work, sometimes it's all I can do to muster the energy to make a tunafish sandwich, much less roast a chicken and julienne potatoes for a galette.

    But still, I like to at least try. Which last night meant pasta with chanterelles.

    Since it's fall, chanterelles are everywhere. When I got mine home from the market, I saw that they were going to take some thorough cleaning as there were lots of things Not Mushroom in my bag of mushrooms- plenty of sticks and such. But they smelled fantastic, rich and earthy.

    This recipe is so simple I hesitate to even call it a recipe. You boil pasta. You sautee chanterelles in a bit of olive oil and butter. You place said fragrant, buttery chanterelles on top of pasta and then cover with a drift of freshly grated parmesan and a toss of chopped parsley.

    Then you eat. With a small green salad.

    Wednesday, October 6, 2010


    Today The Cracked Kettle turns 1!

    I'm not sure it's quite at a place yet where it deserves a real, full-sized cake. But I'll give it a cupcake. 

    I am a big fan of cupcakes.  And birthdays, too.

    I hope to be a more dedicated blogger in this second year. I want to write more, to take better photographs, to cultivate a place where I can share the things I find beautiful or interesting or thought-provoking in some way. I want to make a little space for myself.

    I'm looking forward to the next chapter.

    mama in paris

    I just got the very exciting news that my mother has officially booked a ticket and will be coming for a visit in November.

    I'm already trying to come up with a list of things for us to do together.  Definitely including (but not limited to):

    I can't wait!

    a reading list

    Photo credit: MSArtistSewCrafty

    Now that the days are getting shorter- and at least here in Paris, colder and wetter too- I find myself wanting to spend more time curled up in my house, with my hands wrapped around a mug of tea. I have a television in my apartment but I can't remember the last time I switched it on. I've never cared for TV, much less for re-runs of Friends dubbed in French, which seem to be the standard fare here.

    I've always preferred to read.

    Right now I'm in the middle of The Scarlet Letter. I'm probably the only person who didn't read it in highschool English or something like that, but better late than never, no?

    I was given a Kindle (actually, two Kindles...) for Christmas, and now almost everything I read looks like this:

    It is perhaps not so charming as a worn paperback, but so practical. Which sometimes, not always, but sometimes, is more important.

    Here's a list of the books I've read in the past year:

    • Cat's Eye - Margaret Atwood
    • The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood
    • The Robber Bride - Margaret Atwood
    • Alias Grace - Margaret Atwood
    • Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood
    • The Year of the Flood - Margaret Atwood
    • Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen
    • Powerful Medicines: The benefits, risks and costs of prescription drugs - Jerry Avorn
    • The Master and Margarita- Mikhail Bulgakov
    • Jack Maggs - Peter Carey
    • The Clitoral Truth - Rebecca Chalker
    • What is the What - Dave Eggers
    • Eat, Pray Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
    • The Europeans - Henry James
    • Washington Square - Henry James
    • Metamorphosis and Other Stories - Franz Kafka
    • Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel
    • Life of Pi- Yann Martel
    • A Good Year - Peter Mayle
    • The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet - David Mitchell
    • Don't Tell Alfred - Nancy Mitford
    • American Wife - Curtis Sittenfeld
    • The Man of My Dreams - Curtis Sittenfeld
    • Just Kids - Patti Smith
    • Valley of the Dolls - Jacqueline Susann
    • Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
    • Rabbit, Run - John Updike
    • Jenny and the Jaws of Life- Jincy Willett
    • Nana - Emile Zola
    My favorites? Oh. Hm. Tough question.

    I recently discovered Margaret Atwood and I pretty much love everything she touches. Same goes for Curtis Sittenfeld.

    I couldn't put Rabbit, Run down, but it sort of made my hair stand on end. Some of Philip Roth's novels have that effect on me as well, but it's impossible not to admire the quality of the writing.

    Henry James always makes me feel erudite and virtuous.

    And of course, there's Zola and the Rougon-Macquart series. I especially loved reading Nana while in Paris because it's still possible to visit places like the Théâtre des Variétés and the Passage des Panoramas that Zola wrote about in the 1880s.

    But still, hard to pick favorites.

    Hope you enjoy a good book in the autumn as much as I do...happy reading!

    Monday, October 4, 2010

    le croissant du jour

    "Le plaisir de la table est de tous les ages, de toutes les conditions, de tous les pays et de tous les jours; il peut s'associer a tous les autres plaisirs, et reste le dernier pour nous consoler de leur perte."

                                                                         - Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin 

    *The pleasure of the table belongs to all ages, to all conditions, to all countries, and to all days; it mingles with all other pleasures, and remains at last to console us for their loss

    Sunday, October 3, 2010

    slow sunday

    I woke up feeling sort of listless today. I spent the morning running errands and cleaning my (filthy!) apartment. I watched Breakfast at Tiffany's while I mopped my kitchen floor. Sometimes cleaning helps me clear my head, makes me feel more collected. I don't know when this started. Growing up, I never made my bed and littered my clothes all over the place. I certainly never mopped anything. My mother thought I was an absolute pig, and now that I think about it, she was right.

    Anyway, I make more of an effort now. But today it didn't help improve my mood. I decided to go get a cup of coffee at Merce & the Muse, but it was too crowded. So I walked down to Le Loir dans la Theiere. Line out the door. Feeling thoroughly put upon, I finally just stopped at a little cafe down on Roi de Sicile and sulked until I saw that my espresso came with a little biscotti, which kind of cheered me up.

    Sometimes it's the little things.

    Saturday, October 2, 2010

    saturday stroll

    I love taking walks.  

    {St. Eustache. I always kind of want to climb on the head, too.}

    Today being Saturday, I decided I'd head out wandering. 

    Paris is so beautiful. It still gets me.

    {Les bouquinistes}
    It never gets old, never feels stale. Even looking at the same things, there's always something new to see.

    {Rue Maitre Albert}
    {Musee de Cluny}
    {St. Sulpice}
    Happy weekend.

    Friday, October 1, 2010

    There's something about Patti Smith.

    I recently finished Patti Smith's memoir Just Kids about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe.  I love these photographs of them. 

    How do they both always look so... cool?

    She is the epitome of androgynous sexy.
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