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.