Archive for February, 2011

February 28, 2011

Motif Monday::Ironwork and Stonework

by heatherkp

Today being the last day of February I’m going to say farewell to all the French related posts.  This has been such a fun theme for the month and I think I’ll be re-visiting some of my other travels in the future and sharing them here.  For today I want to leave you with just a little more inspiration…actually I think I’ve saved the best for last and I hope you’ll agree!  Today, I’ve got Ironwork and Stonework for you and LOTS of it!  Decorative Ironwork is one thing France is famous for and it’s everywhere.  On doors, windows, railings, gates, signs and balconies to name the most abundant sources.  Based on these images alone I know I could come up with several new design collections and artwork.  I’m really inspired to do so.

French Stone and Ironwork Details

There were some seriously WICKED looking Iron gates in Avignon!

French Ironwork

… loads of simple geometric designs on a lot of windows and I especially liked the ones that had the simple wavy lines.  I love how the ironwork creates a pattern layer over the windows and shutters in some places.

Whimsical and Floral French Ironwork

There were also a lot of shops that had custom ironwork signs and I wish we would adopt this practice more in the US.  Consigning an ironwork sign establishes a serious level of commitment to your business don’t you think?

Scrols and Decorative French IronworksAnd finally a there were scrolls of all varieties and florals, foilage, figures and crests.

I hope these will inspire you to create something fabulously French~Oh, la la!

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February 25, 2011

Friday Field Trip::Farewell to France

by heatherkp

This is the last of the series of Fieldtrips recollecting my time spent in Provence a couple of years ago.  Last week was all about the French Riviera and this week it’s about Arles, Avignon, Saint Remy, Orange and Chateauneuf du Pape.  We stayed in Orange and visited each of these other towns for day trips (mostly by train).  We walked, we saw ancient architecture, we saw farmers markets, we saw Churches and Cathedrals and Museums and it was all fabulous!

Orange Canal

Chateauneuf du Pape

Vineyard Vista

Roman Arena in Arles

Arles Cathedral

Arles Architecture

Inside Arles Cathedral

Ancient Architecture Avignon

Papal Palace Avignon

Carousel Horses at the Papal Palace

Saint Remy Reflected Plane Trees

I do hope you’ve enjoyed the little piece of France I’ve shared through my eyes.   I certainly have had fun taking a walk down memory lane!

February 23, 2011

Wednesday Wellness::Natural and non-toxic

by heatherkp
The skull and crossbones, a common symbol for ...

Image via Wikipedia

Use natural and non-toxic cleaning products in your home.

I do this and I think you should too.  Maybe you don’t care what I think but if your reading this, maybe you do, just a little.

Nasty Stuff-Chlorine, Formaldehyde, Chloroform, Lye,  Hydrochloric Acid, Ammonia , Phthalates, Parabens, Petroleum Distillates, VOC’s…these are the worst offenders causing a whole spectrum of health problems that you probably don’t want to know about but should.  I don’t have kids but I care deeply about how and what I surround myself with and if I had children I’d probably be even more fanatical about this topic (I’ve been known to buy bleach on occasion and use products that may contain Lye and maybe a hint of Ammonia-I’m not perfect, I confess!).

Now that I listed the Nasty why the HECK would you want to use toxic products?  Hello?

From my experience there are 2 reasons people haven’t already made the switch to non-toxic:

1.) They think that toxic means cleaner…!*@#???=healthier (please refer to the Nasty above, does that seem healthy to you?).

2.) They think natural means more $$

Seriously, do you want to have anything with a skull and crossbones in your house (and I’m not talking about your sense of fashion or your funky taste in art)?

I don’t and sense I’m not paid to endorse any products here (or anywhere) I’m not going to.  I’m sure you know how to use a search engine of your liking to find the ton of websites, books and blogs out there that already give you the specifics about what to look for and how to make your own-it’s easy and cheap (so you can eliminate #2 from your excuses now). 

As for #1, there are a lot of germaphobes out there and I’m not one of them.  I’m very healthy, I don’t get sick often (neither does my husband) and I spend a lot of time in my home (I work from home) so something must be working for us.  If this is your excuse for not using natural cleaners than I urge you to do a little research and give some products a try, you just might find that they smell better, don’t require using heavy duty plastic gloves to apply and work just as well as the toxic avengers!

One note of warning, so-called “green” cleaners are a big area of revenue for business but not all products are created equally.  Some “green” products are nothing more than the same old toxic cleaners diluted and with “essential oils” added.  Beware, read up and be a smart consumer (read the ingredients).   Seriously, it’s not that much work and you and your family are worth it.

Your life is worth living well so don’t pollute it when all your trying to do is clean it up a little!

PS.  For those of you who are lucky enough to hire cleaning help, supply them with the cleaners you want them to use in your home and make sure they are using them:)

February 21, 2011

Motif Monday::High Art vs. Street Art

by heatherkp

Another Monday full of Motif’s for your inspired use!  Today I’m sharing images from what I’m calling High Art, murals on the ceilings and walls in cathedrals and other ancient buildings.  We visited the beautiful Saint-Martin Church in Saint-Remy-de-Provence that had a lot of great motifs on the walls and ceiling, quite deteriorated but lovely colors and timeless motifs.  This particular cathedral is famous for it’s organ and attracts some of the worlds most renowned organists for the annual festival.  This town is also famous because it’s the hometown of Nostradamus and right outside of town is the Saint Paul de Mausole hospital where Van Gogh spent time painting some of his most famous works of art.

The incredible gilded mural with the ship and peacock above right is from the Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde Basilica.  This hilltop cathedral overlooks both the city of Marseilles and the French riviera.  The inside is spectacular.  Do some searches of your own on both of these churches for other images of the details.  My photography is just a stepping stone for you to use to find other images and inspiration from these venues.

Another inspiring subject found all over France that caught my attention was Street art or Graffiti.  It came in all shapes, colors and locations and often it was quite unexpected.  I think it was the juxtaposition of the ancient buildings with these modern images and text that made for such intriguing subject matter.

Where do you find motif’s that inspire your work?  Is it historic or modern interpretations that catch your eye the most?

February 18, 2011

Friday Field Trip::France III Cote D’azur

by heatherkp

For our Friday field trip today I will share with you some of our exploration of the beautiful landscapes and natural vistas we saw while in the Cote D’azur.

Since the weather here has been so Spring like and warm I wanted to evoke that warmth for you where ever you are via these images of the French Riviera.  We visited Marseilles, St. Tropez and Antibes.  It was heavenly; warm, sea breezes, the smell of the ocean and just what we had hoped for on our side trip.

Marseille

Cote D’azur

St. Tropez Fort

Antibes

Cork Forest

St. Tropez

I’m wishing you some of the warmth of Spring this weekend!

 

 

February 18, 2011

Friday::French Philosophy

by heatherkp

A few memorable and famous quotes by French artists, philosophers and writers.  Hope these inspire you today!

Write injuries in sand, kindnesses in marble — French Proverb

Pleasure is the flower that passes; remembrance, the lasting perfume.  — Jean de Boufflers

And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye. — Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery. — Anais Nin

People don’t watch enough. They think. It’s not the same thing.–Henri Cartier-Bresson

Hard times arouse an instinctive desire for authenticity.– Coco Chanel

To enjoy life, we must touch much of it lightly.–Voltaire

We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.–Anais Nin

Gratitude is the memory of the heart. — Jean Baptiste Massieu

I am not what I am.  I am what I do with my hands.–Louise Borgeoise

The pain passes, but the beauty remains. –Pierre Auguste Renoir

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.–- Marie Curie

Hope is a light diet, but very stimulating.–- Honoré de Balzac

We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us. — Marcel Proust

Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.–- Vincent van Gogh

February 16, 2011

Wednesday Wellness::Drink Up!

by heatherkp

Drink as much water as possible every day and  take good quality supplements (especially if you are not a big veggie and fruit fan).

Are you getting your recommended 8 glasses (8 oz) of water a day?

There are some tricks I can offer to help you with this goal.  One is to try to drink 2 glasses of water first thing in the AM.  Drink 1 first thing when you get up and try to drink another before you have your breakfast.  Sometimes I’ll mix a little bit of juice in or squeeze lemon or lime juice but for the most part I try to just drink it down!  I’m going to go off on a little tangent here about they quality of water you drink.  For the most part we have a pretty amazing resource of clean drinking water right at our taps in the US.  I do not have any super fancy water filtration system in my house.  I use a filtered water pitcher and the water filter that is in my refrigerator’s water dispenser, that’s it folks!  If you have some serious health problems or feel so inclined then by all means I would not discourage anyone from drinking even cleaner water but for me, it’s not a necessity.

I do not drink bottled water, unless I bottled it myself!

Ughh, I just can’t feel right about adding all those plastic bottles to the landfills (or even the recycling bins) so I opt for my BPA free plastic or aluminum bottle and generally take it with me everywhere.  Invest in a good one and a BIG one!

DIY Recycled plastic bottle project

If you can’t seem to kick the bottled water habit maybe you could recycle some into these quite beautiful vases.  I got this image from a Norwegian magazine a couple years old.  You get the idea  cut them, reassemble or manipulate them by melting (you could try forming over a shape in a low oven also).  Please take extreme caution as with anything you might do using high heat, melting plastic and fire.  Work in a well ventilated area, don’t leave fire unattended, etc. etc…

…and while your working on that why not watch one of these Documentaries about water?

I’ve seen most of these and a few others but I highly recommend Blue Gold: World Water Wars and Flow.  These films may just make you realize how lucky you are if you have clean drinking water.

If we can kick the bottled water habit maybe we can convince Congress to also.  Can you believe that with all this talk of fiscal responsibility Congress spends approximately $2000 per representative per year on bottled water? That’s absurd!  Read the DC Water press release where they offer to help Congress kick the habit and make cleaner water available by supplying each member of congress with a reusable water bottle.

Okay, so back to the health benefits of water :

  • SURVIVAL-Yep you all know it, without it we will perish (we are up to 60% water)!
  • Lubricate your joints (especially if you suffer from joint problems such as arthritis)
  • Help prevent high Cholesterol & Heart Disease
  • Loose weight
  • Have more energy
  • Help prevent depression (your Brain is up to 85% water!)
  • Healthy and Beautiful Skin
  • Eliminate wastes and toxins (help prevent diseases such as Cancer)
  • Maintain the proper PH levels

So, don’t wait till you are thirsty drink up for your well being!

PS.  Do you take supplements?  If you don’t you might want to consider it and ask your doctor to be sure you are be tested for any nutrient deficiencies when you get your annual blood work done.  My husband just found out he is Vitamin D deficient, which is becoming quite a common problem with an easy solution.

Bee Well Today!

February 14, 2011

Motif Monday::Tiles and Doors

by heatherkp

This Monday and next I will share with you a few details I caught in photo’s that are great inspiration for pattern motifs or other artwork.  Everywhere I looked in Provence I found small details, key holes, letter boxes, decorative tiles, ironwork and even decorative door knobs that remain an inspiration for me.  Because there is so much history and the architecture is so much older than most of what we have in America there was inspiration on almost every building.

French Tile patternsFrench Doors and ironworks

It was a pleasure to see such a broad range of period styles from medieval to art deco and more simple country provincial decorative details.  I love that these details are cherished and taken care of rather than replaced.  As we walked and toured each town I was always the last one straggling behind trying to capture these details and burn them into my memory.

February 11, 2011

Friday Field Trip::France II

by heatherkp

Since I didn’t get very far last week I’m happy to bring you a bit longer post today sharing with you some of the great food experiences we had and saw in Provence.

I was completely in love with the French markets.  It seems like practically every city and town has at least one market a week with a ton of fresh produce, fish, cheese, sausage and other meats, textiles, spices, flowers etc…who needs the regular store when you can get practically anything you need at the open air market.  And Everyone shops at them!  On market day it’s just a part of life to prepare your list, get your basket and bags out and head out to get what you need for the week (or half the week if your lucky enough to live in a larger city that has them twice weekly).  This way of life is so much more connected to agriculture and fresh food, it’s ingrained in the culture and I loved this aspect of the French lifestyle.  Look at all the lovely goodies that I saw at the markets in Orange, Marseilles and Avignon. French Farmers market finds

To start the trip out hour hostess’s landlady insisted on having us for a very special truffle omelet for dinner.   We were truly lucky to have such and exquisite home made meal in the home of a gracious and fun woman!  The process of preparing for this omelet required buying the fresh eggs and truffles at the weekly market and infusing the eggs with the truffles by some process of keeping the eggs in their shells and allowing the truffle essence to permeate the eggs.  It was divine.  We also had this incredible Spelt (that I have yet to locate in the US) served simply au pistou.  I’m still hoarding one last bag of it that I brought back.  It is much more nutty, sweet and delicate than the spelt whole grain you typically find in the US.   Another truly memorable dining experience (really they all were!) was the fresh daily croissant’s that our hostess went and got for us each morning.  Some days they were chocolate, some day’s almond and some days just plain.  Our typical breakfast was a croissant and plain delicious yogurt.  I can’t believe I didn’t get a photo of that!  Every meal was delicious I think due to the truly fresh ingredients that are standard in Provence.  With the slightly mediteranean climate they have a pretty long growing season with not too many very cold spells.  We even got to experience the Mistral while we were visiting~Woosh!

Dining in Provence

And then of course there were the sweets!  So many delicious sweets, pastries, candies etc. we tried to restrain ourselves within reason but we did a lot of walking so we had a good excuse to indulge.  Probably my favorite though was the combination of chocolate and orange.  In the image below right are some green sugar coated chocolate orange candies that we found in a small Chocolatier in Saint-Tropez.  These candies were the inspiration for a cookie recipe I “invented” this week (I’m apparently not the first person to “invent” these but I’d never heard of them and didn’t look up any recipe for them before I concocted my version).  My gift to you this week is the recipe, below.  It’s a French inspired twist on Oatmeal cookies.

French Confections

Chocolate Orange Oatmeal Cookies

Yields about 3 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple or peach sauce (peach sauce-pureed steamed/canned peaches)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 to 1/4 cup chopped candied orange rind (homemade or store bought)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips or pieces (more chocolate can never be a bad thing)
  • Optional:  1/4 to 1/2 cup walnuts or hazelnuts in to replace some of the chocolate

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with Silpats; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and apple or peach sauce; mix on high speed to combine.
  3. Combine oats, flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, and beat on low speed to combine, 10 to 15 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer, and stir in dried fruits and chocolate (and optional nuts).
  4. Using a large metal scoop, drop dough onto prepared sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake until golden and just set, about 15 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheets for about 5 minutes then transfer sheets to wire rack to cool completely.

If you have a favorite Oatmeal recipe you could adjust it to include the chocolate and orange in place of raisins and nuts etc.

Chocolate Orange Oatmeal CookiesBon Appetit!

February 9, 2011

Wednesday Wellness::Joy!!

by heatherkp

Find the time each day to do something that brings you JOY!

This is the most fun post in the whole wellness series.  I find joy in so many simple things.

Some of the things that bring me joy are:

Birdwatching; a finch on sunflowers

Playing with and petting my cats

Best Friend Kitties

Going for a walk or dance!

walking: tree reflection
Creating my art~!Knitting with sumptuous yarn; here’s a ribbon and mohair chain necklace.

mohair ribbon knit chain

Gardening (in season but even my houseplants bring me joy); this is my salad table on our deck

Garden salad table

Preparing and eating good food; today I baked Orange Chocolate Oatmeal cookies (recipe coming on Friday!) and a Tuna Nicoise Sandwich for lunchTuna Nicoise Sandwich

Flower gazing (do you ever just gaze at the flowers?)

Lemon Geranium detail

…a few more things…

Feeling the sun on my body

Talking to a loved friend

Enjoying a glass of wine

Curling up with a good book

Taking photos

How do you bring Joy into your daily life?