Albert Edelfelt- An artist that you’ve probably never heard of

I love Impressionist painting. I love the light and I love the warmth of the people portrayed. I had never heard of Albert Edelfelt, but the ads for the exhibit around Paris convinced us to head over to the Petit Palais and find out more about him.

Albert Edelfelt is a Finnish artist who lived from 1854-1905. His work is a combination of Realism and Impressionism, and I was struck by the poses of his subjects which said so much more about them than a traditional portrait, where subjects always seem to be standing stiffly at attention.

Edelfelt caused quite a stir at the 1886 Salon in Paris with his portrait of Louis Pasteur.  He is shown surrounded by his equipment, and we can immediately sense his passion. He looks as if we’ve caught him in the middle of an important experiment.

Besides the many portraits, Edelfelt also loved showing his subjects outside. Wouldn’t you love to know what this woman is thinking about as she fixes her charge’s hair?  .Or this young woman’s thoughts as she listens to a sermon?


These two paintings were hung next to each other, and when I looked closely, I realized it was the same group of people traveling to the baptism for, and then the funeral for, a small baby. It was heart wrenching.      I hope I have a chance to see his work again. Maybe a trip to Helsinki is in my future?

Revised Manuscript is DONE

With these weird times, and my infrequent visits to Paris, I have not felt motivated to write new blog posts, but hope that now that we are seeing a little light at the end of the COVID tunnel, life can start to return to normal, or whatever the new normal is.

Big news for me is that I am working with a new, terrific editor named Sarah Branham on my third book and have just submitted my revised manuscript to her. I have learned so much over this last 18 months, and I hope she sees the results in this latest version.

Here’s a quick ‘elevator pitch’ summary to give you an idea of what’s to come:


Jane has begun to feel restless in her picture-perfect life in Boston, and the refrain of an old Peggy Lee song, “Is That All There Is” keeps echoing inside her head. She always thought she’d return to Paris, where she’d spent a memorable ten months her junior year, but somehow instead she found herself employed, then married, then a mother, in a life that offered stability, but resembled a hamster wheel in its lack of adventure or excitement.

Is this really what she wants to do for the rest of her life? A crisis moment of realizing things will never change sends her fleeing to a borrowed apartment in Paris, to spend three months to prove to herself she made the right decision all those years ago. Or did she?


Thanks for photo (which I found on Etsy) goes to Brit, owner of  BritKCaley



Baguette and Croissant making anyone? A bright memory to cherish before these strange times

Like so many people, we had to cut our time in Paris short to return to the US because of the virus. I’m glad we are back with family and friends, but I miss Paris already, and I want this blog to be full of positive things to help me, and any of you reading it, to stay positive.

So I’m going to take you back to one of our final days there, to a small bakery in the 14th arrondisement, Le Petit Mitron, and our wonderful morning spent with Didier. Didier offers a two-hour course on breadmaking, which might sound too short a time to those who have spent hours with dough resting and rising periods, and it’s true that we did not take the process from start to finish in 2 hours. What Didier does instead is to give an introduction to the different kinds of dough, with some “hands on” tasks to help cement the concepts and techniques in your mind. We left feeling inspired, and excited to try the recipes at home (they were emailed to us afterward).

The site where we found Didier was Viator

There were just 5 of us– Didier’s baking area is very small and holds a max of 8. He had already completed the first step of a ‘mille-feuille’ dough and plopped the dough, and a huge pat of butter, onto the counter. Two people had to then roll out the dough samples and fold the huge pat of butter into the middle, then roll out the dough again. He explained to us that the professional butter that he buys has a much smaller percentage of water in it, which helps to achieve the many fine layers. Throughout, Didier explained in French (which was also simultaneously translated into English by a very able young woman) the process he goes through for that dough, and how the many layers of buttery pastry are formed. We were then given an apple tart that was made with the mille-feuille dough, which was, of course, delicious!

Next up was the making of croissants, and pain au chocolat. The dough was made, but we had to roll the croissants, and then we had to put chocolate into the pains au chocolats. We learned that Didier, in his bakery, puts 3 pieces of chocolate in (versus the more standard 1 or 2) so keep that in mind, if you are wandering nearby!

We then moved downstairs to his basement where the baguettes get shaped and baked. We were each given a baguette to put the final slices and/or shaping to, and learned about the different sorts of cuts for the tops of the baguettes, and also saw baguettes made with different flours.

this is the oven and the baguettes below ready to cut the tops and then slide in.

Didier explaining it all to us.

And finally us, standing with our baguettes! A really fun class that I would highly recommend to everyone!

Is there anything better than good quality chocolate?

I love chocolate. I will admit it. But I am NOT willing to waste calories on cheap, run-of-the-mill, over-the-counter chocolate. It has to be good quality and delicious.

I’ve also never been a fan of boxed chocolates, like Sees Candies, or Godiva. Until now. It turns out I just needed to find the right one.

This tiny shop makes their chocolate on the property itself (you can see them working away behind the plate-glass window behind the sales counter). I asked for a variety of dark and milk chocolates, and I can promise you that I loved every single one that I tried. Here is the description of the various offerings:

There are many, many wonderful chocolate shops in Paris, but I can personally vouch for this one. And believe me– every calorie is worth it!

Atelier des Lumières- This HAS to be on your Top Ten List for Paris

The Atelier des Lumières opened in April of 2018 in a former smelting plant/iron foundry from the 19th Century in the 11th arrondisement. It is a “digital art center” with 120 video-projectors to create an immersive art experience. As described by SortirAParis, back in 2018, it is a “breathtaking visual and sound show.”The first exhibition featured the art of Klimt, and the current exhibition features Van Gogh and Japanese painting and is there till the end of 2019.

I have tried to explain what this is to various friends, and I am at a loss for the right words. Imagine yourself surrounded by rough, concrete walls of various shapes and textures, with a ceiling twenty feet above you, and when the show starts, everything is covered with enormous art– sometimes it’s just pieces of paintings, or sometimes it is entire paintings, or sometimes it is flowing pieces of paintings (like ships that sail through waves). And while this is going on, imagine incredible music flowing and pounding all around you– sometimes classical, sometimes jazz, sometimes contemporary.

Wander the various rooms and spaces to experience it from different perspectives.

My pitiful pictures don’t begin to capture it, so I urge you to click here  to see the moving collage of the Japanese art. Go to the website at the top of this post to buy tickets (they are NOT sold on site– all tickets must be bought online ahead of time). It is a timed entry, so you need to get there within 15 or 20 minutes of your time.

No one is checking when you leave….




Chantilly– And I’m not talking about the whipped cream.

So you’re planning a trip to Paris and while you’re there, you want to see a castle, a “chateau.” But even thinking about trying to brave the crowds at Versailles makes your stomach churn. Is there somewhere else you can go that’s easily accessible by public transportation from Paris? And not too far away?

The answer is a resounding YES. The answer is Chantilly. It’s about 50 kilometers, or 30 miles, from central Paris. The easy way to get there is to take the TER which takes 20-25 minutes (2 stops). The TER is a local train run by SNCF, the national train company. Tickets can be bought easily on a couple of different apps- Trainline or Omio. Once you arrive at the Chantilly-Gouvieux station, you can catch a local bus to get to the chateau (or there are often taxis at the train station as well).

There were two chateaus that were part of the estate- the first and smaller (Petit Chateau) was built around 1560. The second, larger chateau was virtually destroyed in the French Revolution and rebuilt in the 19th Century for Henri D’Orleans, the Duke of Aumale.

It now houses, among other things, the Musée Condé, which houses the second largest collection of antique paintings in France after the Louvre. The Duke required that the paintings remain in exactly the same order and arrangement as when he lived there (so they are in an order that reflects his taste, rather than chronologically). Tickets are 17 euros and if you time your visit to include the tour of the private apartments, it’s well worth the extra 5 euros.

. is the website (there is a French and an English option- look for the button on the top right side of the screen to toggle between them).

There are also a variety of additional things to see in Chantilly as well as special events at the Chateau itself. One website I found that has a good summary of other things on offer is Culture Trip


Musee Maillol- A hidden gem on the Left Bank

You’ve been to the Louvre. You’ve been to the D’Orsay. You love them, I get it. But there are SO many smaller, lesser known museums, that offer the chance to discover something new. One that Peter and I recently discovered is the Musee Maillol. Do you know it? It’s a 10-minute walk from the Musee D’Orsay, and an 11-minute walk from the Luxembourg Gardens. The building itself is magnificent, and the history is fascinating. In 1739, a group of nuns endowed the land to the city of Paris for a fountain to be constructed, the Fontaine des Quatres-Saisons. This fountain was built between 1739 and 1745 as a monument to the beautiful city of Paris, and, in 1862, was declared an historic monument.

This is now one of the exterior walls of the museum. In the next few decades, the nuns built a variety of small buildings around it as part of their convent. The various buildings were then sold off during the Revolution and divided into various residential units. In the 19th century, it was home for a variety of creative people, like Alfred du Musset (poet, dramatist, novelist) and Paul Jacques Aime Baudry (painter), and in the 1950’s the Prevert Brothers opened a cabaret there. A colorful past, to be sure! In 1955, Dina Vierny, who was a model and muse for Aristide Maillol, the sculptor, bought one of the residential apartments and over the next thirty years acquired the rest of the property (how did she do that? I have no idea!), with the goal of opening a museum to house Maillol’s works. In January, 1995, she succeeded and the building was opened as the Musee Maillol. (This is the courtyard that is now the Cafe Prevert)

It houses not only a selection of Maillol’s sculptures, but also the museum brings in a variety of amazing temporary exhibits.

This temporary exhibit was, in fact, a prime reason we went in June. It was a collection of Emil Buhrle. Emil Buhrle was a German-Born Swiss Industrialist who assembled his collection between 1936 and 1956. This was the first time the collection had been shown in Paris, and contains works from the 2nd half of the 19th century through the early part of the 20th century. The collection was embroiled in some controversy because thirteen pieces were acquired during World War II and subsequently were discovered to have been looted from their rightful owners. Emil Buhrle went to those families and returned those paintings, and then asked if he could purchase them back (many of which he did). An honorable thing to do. This made the collection that much more poignant for me.

In 2021, the collection will be housed permanently in Zurich at Kunstenhaus

After an engrossing hour of perusing, we left to find a place to eat, and found an adorable cafe nearby offering delicious steak frites– The Cafe Le Flores.

I will continue to explore Paris for small, lesser-known museums to share with you!! Enjoy!

A New Novel is Well on the Way!

First, I have to apologize that I have been silent for several months. I’ve been working very hard on Book #3 and I admit, I let myself get distracted from regular posts here, but I will make up for lost time with several about our most recent trip to Paris. BUT FIRST a quick update here on my book progress.

The Writer’s Digest Conference in New York was terrific. This was my second time attending (I went in 2017) and the various sessions and speakers are always informative and helpful. There are sessions on writing itself, as well as on author platform, on marketing yourself, and on the various publishing options.

I did the “Pitch Slam” this year which lets you meet agents (only 3 minutes per agent) and give them your “elevator pitch” (90 seconds) on your book idea. Ideally, your book is finished, or nearly finished, when you meet with them. I am excited to report that one agent asked for my entire manuscript!

Now comes the hard part– getting through the final edits and making sure it is as polished and professional as it can be before I send it to her. WISH ME LUCK!

Here was the pitch, by the way:

WORKING TITLE: By the Time You Read This

Jane has fled, Boston, leaving behind a successful career, a grown daughter, but also an abusive husband who has made life there impossible. Renting a friend’s apartment in Paris, she’s given herself three months to figure out what to do with the rest of her life.

To distract herself from her swirling thoughts, Jane signs up for a one-day cooking class that reawakens her love for cooking and introduces her to two new friends, Flora and Veronique.

Jane’s journey to find herself, and to get over the fear that has become her everyday reality, is made easier by the support and advice of these women, and also by another very special person who teaches her how to trust in love again.


Netsuke, anyone?

Do you know what a netsuke is? According to Google, it’s: “a carved button-like ornament, especially of ivory or wood, formerly worn in Japan to suspend articles from the sash of a kimono.”

I got interested in them because I’m reading “The Hare with Amber Eyes” by Edmund de Waal whose family, the Ephrussi family, were an extremely wealthy and influential family in the 1800’s and 1900’s. The family owned a collection of 264 netsuke which Edmund inherited from his great uncle, and it led him on a journey of discovery of his family’s history and its connection to this amazing collection.

Edmund’s ancestor, Viktor Ephrussi, was born in Odessa, but moved to Vienna, where he made his fortune in wheat exports from his native Russia. This led to the formation of the Ephrussi Bank which had branches in London and Paris as well as Vienna. The family had enormous residences in Vienna and Paris, and Charles Ephrussi, who lived in Paris, supported several of the Impressionist painters of that time. The late 1800’s was a time when Japan was just opening its borders to foreigners, and Japan and Europe were each strongly affected by the exposure to the other’s culture. (See an earlier blog post in January of 2013 of an exhibit we visited in Paris comparing Van Gogh’s work with Hiroshige’s block prints.)

By pure chance, there is currently an exhibition that talks about that same period of time at the Musée Guimet (Museum for Asian Art) called: Meiji, Splendeurs du Japon impérial (1868-1912) that runs from October 17th to January 14th of 2019.

 It is a gorgeous building that originally opened in 1889 funded by an industrialist of the time, Emile Etienne Guimet. The paintings in the exhibit offer a fascinating glimpse of Tokyo at that time:  

The museum is also filled with beautiful art from China, India, and Korea, as well as work from Nepal and Afghanistan. It’s well worth a visit!

Finally, another bit of pure chance is that TODAY, on, the Kindle version of the Edmund De Waal book is just $2.99. Absolutely worth reading, in my opinion!

No, You Can’t Get Everything on the Internet

In today’s world, it feels like you can literally buy anything you want with a quick click of your mouse. When I was a kid, I remember how special it was when one of my parents’ friends would come back from a trip to Europe and bring milk chocolate that tasted better than anything we could buy here in the U.S.

But now you can just go online and click, and it’s delivered in a day or two. Right?

Not necessarily.

I’ve discovered a couple of things in my recent trips to Paris that, unfortunately, I can’t get here, which means I either need to buy in bulk next time, or get back to France soon!
1) Ricore au Lait

Ricore is an instant coffee drink that you mix with milk or water. It is a blend of 40% coffee, 60% chicory. It is smooth and creamy tasting, and has almost no caffeine, so I find it to be a perfect hot beverage at 4:00 in the afternoon. I’ve been a fan for a long time, but only recently discovered the variation pictured here: that is, Ricore with the milk already mixed in, so all you need is boiling water. This makes it possible to have almost anywhere without the hassle of having fresh milk on hand.

So when I ran out, I of course just went online to buy more, but it’s not available– at least not in this version. All I could find was regular Ricore (which is better than nothing, for sure, but I’ve now been spoiled).

2) Ariake Bouillon

If you’ve never had Ariake Bouillion, (bullion in English) you do not know what you are missing. There are several varieties and I can tell you, they are delicious. The chicken bullion actually tastes like chicken stock from a roasted bird, not something that tastes vaguely of poultry. The vegetable bullion actually tastes like the vegetables it contains (carrots, celery). I’ve used up all of my chicken and vegetable versions, so now I have this one– shellfish, to try (not as many recipes come to mind as for the other ones, but I’ll figure it out). So I went on the trusty Internet to buy more and it turns out it’s not available in the US. I even tried fooling it and went to, and it was available there, but it said it was “not deliverable to the US.”

3) Aesop Hand Soap- Good news! You CAN get this one!

My girlfriends and I were at a restaurant in Paris, and the restroom had this hand soap in it, which smells heavenly, and also includes finely milled Pumice which exfoliates while you are cleaning your hands, leaving your hands smooth as silk. As I was fretting about how I was going to bring this home, I found out that it is available on line and also, luckily for me, there is a physical store close by in Georgetown. So here is a product you CAN get in the US! The one negative is that if you do not happen to live near a physical store, you won’t be able to smell the products (amazing), try them out, or ask one of their very helpful salespeople which product is best for your skin. They are expensive, but I think they are worth the splurge.

Anybody going to Paris soon with extra room in their bag?