Paris— one more day

It has been an amazing trip. With only one more night to go. It always goes by so (too) quickly. I bought the macarons and chocolate today during a Montmartre food/art/history tour with the amazing Bertrand.

If you ever need a guide to show you around, Bertrand is your man. He knows Paris like the back of his hand. We learned about cheese, foie gras, bread, pastries, Picasso, other artists who lived in this wonderful neighborhood as well as the history of the quartier.

I saw where my beloved Vincent Van Gogh lived with his brother Theo.

There is so much to see if you take the time to follow the winding streets, such as Rue Lepic, to the top, instead of just taking the metro to Abbesses and then the stairs or funicular to the Sacré Cœur Church.

We had blue skies (Bertrand says he has an app for that on his watch) and wind, but, hey, it’s January. Who cares anyway? There are two things I cannot control during my trips– the exchange rate and the weather. Right?

I ate lunch at a little café Bertrand recommended, Le Colibri. Excellent. Stéphane, the owner/server (?) suggested “farandole de légumes farcis” and I took him up on it.

Delicious. Yellow pepper, zucchini and tomato. Now you see it–

Now you don’t. It was that good. Stéphane asked me if I liked it, I nodded enthusiastically to which he replied “Si vous êtes contente, je suis content.” If you’re happy, I’m happy.

I love making desserts, but I really don’t eat them all that often. Tarte Normande is hard to pass up, though. I’ve tried to make it, but without a great deal of success. It is not like this…

I suppose I will keep trying!

I have made some wonderful new friends and I saw a few from last year and the year before. This type of experience feeds my soul (as well as my tummy) and makes me a much better teacher. I put my heart into teaching and I am so lucky that I get to experience France twice a year. I think I bring that enthusiasm back to my classroom. I certainly give it my all.

This trip will deserve a much longer blog post and a couple of new recipes when I get home. Until then, how about a photo of tonight’s souple à l’oignon gratinée? A great dish for a chilly rainy evening.

Bon appétit à tous!!

The view from the street just as I turn the corner to my hotel, the Hôtel de Senlis, just next to the Panthéon.

I am just next door to Victor Hugo, Marie Curie, Louis Braille and Jean Moulin. Just to name four. I feel very safe! And smarter and more courageous.

Bonne nuit, dors bien. À demain.

Eating in Paris: Days 1 and 2

It is pretty glorious here in Paris. After walking all day, I decided to take a break in the shadow of Notre Dame. I went in to the cathedral to light a candle for Mme Christiane Buchanan, my high school French teacher.

I always do this when I am in Paris. Merci, madame.

There was delicious eating going on last night on the 10th floor of the Pullman Hotel (used to be the Hilton Paris). This was our view–

ACIS treated us to an apéritif dînatoire. Ready?

And looking at them now, I realize there were things I did not photograph before eating. Oops! My bad. Little bits of lots of goodness.

Check out this cute little eating utensil!

Très pratique!

Breakfast today at hotel —

Lunch at a café near Le Grand Palais just off the Champs-Élysées-

The was the perfect bite– cantal cheese, gésier and a fried potato-

When I put those three together, I felt kind of like the rat In Ratatouille before he gets electrocuted.

And now, lo and behold, it’s dinner time. Off to explore the neighborhood around my hotel to find something yummy.

Bon appétit et à plus!!

This is a test — Part deux

There is a chance that I will fall asleep writing this post. It has been been a long time since I actually slept. Ready for a math problem of epic proportions? It is 10:21 pm Friday in France. 4:21 EST. I woke at 5:30 am on Thursday. I slept maybe 2 1/2 hours on the plane. I am very, very tired. Je suis fatiguée. Très fatiguée. How long have I been wake vs how much sleep I have gotten. I can’t even begin to calculate. Brain. Dead. But happy!

So… I am going to sleep now. My roommate is already asleep. I will finish the part deux tomorrow. C’est promis.

Today was glorious. Eating-wise. Pictures tomorrow of the food and the view of the Eiffel from our banquet room.

Bon appétit!

This is a test

Not of the emergency broadcast system, in case anyone but me remembers that. Is that even still a thing? No, this is a Can-I-blog-from-my-iPad? test. I have such good intentions. That pave the way to you know where, as Mama Mildred has told me more than once. Anyway, back to the test. I leave for PARIS today. One would think that visiting this city would get old after say 30+ times. (I seriously have no idea how many times I’ve been. It all started in 1978 with my very first passport and plane ticket. What a grand adventure.) But I digress once again. I have promised the kiddos that I will try to post pictures and blog while away. My 6th graders are my biggest fans perhaps.

Test #1 Can I post a photo?

Okay, so that worked. I am taking over pen pal letters to deliver to my fellow teacher and longtime friend, Mme M. she is taking the train to Paris to spend the day with me next week. We have a glorious day planned. Le Petit Palais, passageways, lunch at Bouillon Chartier, a very classic café/restaurant I want to take the kiddos to in March.

Test #2 Will this post from my iPad?

Guess I will find out when I’ve finished!

Andy P, co-chaperone extraordinaire, convinced me to rent a personal WiFi hub for the trip. Cheaper than paying VERIZON fees for data. I am pretty sure that I have paid for some exec’s beach house during my years of loyal customership with this company. Free WiFi isn’t as easy to find in France and I will not go sit in McDonald’s (McDo’s to the French), even if they do serve macarons. I have standards. I have no doubt the hub thingy will work, so I will put my good intentions to the test.

Time to finish packing. And get ready for a Bon Voyage breakfast with Arles Lucy, Judy d’Arc and the BFF. Still stressing about which shoes to take. I have vowed to only take two pairs. And more than a little grouchy with Delta airlines. No more 1 free checked bag to Europe for those of us in the “cheap seats” who do not have a Delta Amex card. I discovered that when I went on line to check in last night. $60 each way. Grrrr. That’s a couple of dinners in Paris. Enough grumbling. I am too excited to allow that to rain on my parade.

Bon appétit et à bientôt!

Another last minute test passed! An air-dropped photo from my phone to my iPad. Go me!

Paris, je t’aime

​I am back, with 22 students, two co-chaperones, and our tour manager, B. He is a Frenchie, originally from Basque Country, but a Parisian for the past 10 years. He owns his own tour company, was a political science major, speaks several languages, with English as the first language he studied in school. He spent time in Atlanta when he was in high school. He is incredibly organized, relates well to the kiddos (he is much closer their age than I am!), stays calm, and has a great sense of humor. He would be a great teacher. 

The weather has been magnifique- warm, sunny, no rain. I will stop at that for fear of jinxing our luck. I want to stay on the good side of the weather gods. 

My co-chaperones keep me sane. KR is the epitome of enthusiasm. Her eyes sparkle. 

She counts the kiddos. She asks great questions- she and B are are presently discussing the beginnings of the First Republic in France as we leave Paris on the way to Normandy for the day. She is our serious photographer and is in charge of posting photos to our tumblr account. AP is our tech guru. He tweets and posts live videos. And is a problem solver. I snagged him for the trip after a cancelled connecting flight in NYC on the way home a couple of years ago. He spent spring break in Paris visiting the family of a former advisee. He flew along with my group. Bless his heart. He did not know what he was getting himself into, did he? These two are making me look good back home. 

My favorite meal so far? Our picnic in the Jardins du Luxembourg. Nothing fancy. Des sandwichs à emporter from Brioche Doré across the street from the entrance. Un champêtre- bread with seeds, jambon sec, Cantal cheese, tomato jam, and roquette lettuce. 

And of course un petit dessert. Un moelleux. Soft chocolate cake. 

We shared. I didn’t eat the whole slice. Really, I didn’t.  I had my three helpers.  KR shared her tarte au citron. 

Was it the sandwich? Was it my fellow picnickers? Was it the setting? Every memorable meal is a combination of the three, n’est-ce pas?

Bon appétit, mes amis. Time to photograph the sleeping kids. And AP. Chut!



I have a thing for hearts.  I probably have since the first time I exchanged valentines with my classmates in elementary school.  Back in the day when we decorated white paper bags and left them out for our classmates to slip a little card in at some point leading up to the Big Day.  I wish I still had every one of those cards so that I could pull them out and try to recapture that innocent little heart-loving girl.  Some would be from classmates who are no longer alive.  Some would be from classmates who moved away and I never saw again. And some would be from little kids whom I do not even remember.   Many of them would be from the classmates I saw this past summer at our 40th high school reunion.

The little girl in me wants to find the best valentines and mail them to my dearest friends. I think I will find some drawn by Sandra Boynton.


image from:

How can your heart not feel happy just looking at this little guy?   I’ve been a fan of hers since we decorated Son #1’s nursery with a border of her characters.

Or maybe I will make my own from the photo above.  That’s my kitchen window, holding some of my memories.

Recent heart photos taken in Paris–

Christmas tree hearts in downtown Durham–

I don’t set out looking for hearts to photograph.  They just somehow find me.

I remember listening to Neil Young on FM radio at night in I don’t know what year singing Heart of Gold.  (Google tells me that it was recorded in 1971 with James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt singing back up and hit the top of the charts in 1972.)  9th grade.  That was a few broken hearts ago. I found this version performed at Farm Aid in Raleigh in 2014. I should have been in that audience.  Enjoy.  Sing along with Neil if you want.

Now, I think that I will make some heart-shaped sugar cookies using a recipe I’ve been using for years.  It is from a cookbook I was given as a wedding present, Springfield Cookery. My Papa Bell was a Quaker and Springfield Friends Meeting in High Point, NC is the family church.  The first Meeting for worship was held there in 1773.

Rolled Sugar Cookies

Marilyn Hipps (Mrs. Richard)

1/2 cup butter (softened)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup sugar

2 beaten eggs

1 tablespoon milk

2-1/2 cups sifted flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream the butter until soft; add vanilla.  Gradually add the sugar and cream until light and fluffy.  Sift dry ingredients together.  Combine eggs and milk and stir into creamed mixture.  Add half the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Add the remaining and mix well.  Chill dough at least one hour.  Roll a little more than 1/8-inch thick on well floured surface.  Cut with floured 3/4-inch round cookie cutter.  (I will use a heart-shaped one, of course.) Sprinkle with additional sugar. Place on baking sheet (lined with parchment paper) and bake in hot oven (400˚F) until only lightly browned. (6-8 minutes) Remove from pan while warm.  Cool on rack.  2-1/2 dozen.


LuLaRoe leggings from Elizabeth Sayles Bland’s Facebook on-line boutique

Bon appétit to all who are near and dear to my heart. Je vous aime.