mardi 27 novembre 2012

Christmas in France and...elsewhere


Christmas in France is not big. Or at least not as big as elsewhere. I can't exactly explain how French define Christmas or what it means for all of them, but in a nutshell, the French Christmas is a very late dinner, with presents. At least for all the people I know here who are French and whom my man knows, and that's a nice size group of French there. We will go to my sister in law's, eat very late, open presents and chat. Which is all very nice, except there is no Christmas music, no notion of Jesus or going to church anywhere, and...well no Christmas atmosphere in the land. But, it's more than other people have, so all is good. Except I still miss miss miss Christmas in Chicago (multiply that by 10). Or at grandma's house ... 

Not to say the French don't celebrate Christmas. I have been pleasantly surprised to see a few homes decorated in the village (or suburbs). They just don't "liven it up". I think it's the music, the carols and the Christmas spirit that are missing. The shopping is well there.

Starting 1st of December Christmas music is officially THE music in our home. Not because my man loves it so much that he would change the station or the CD every time I wouldn't look, but because
I am in love with Christmas. If all goes well and with God's help, the following year at our place will be Santa Clause's vacation home!

Unlike in France where Christmas starts the week of (ok they did start the decoration process in Paris and it does get really beautiful, I'll show you), it suffices to say 'Christmas' in the US and you're already talking about an atmosphere, a general state of mind, the Christmas spirit. We won't mention the Christmas shopping because that goes on in France as well. And people here say that Christmas there is all about shopping! I dare a French go have Christmas in US. And every other nation's representative who doubts Christmas is worth the fuss.
I am already planning a winter trip to Chicago like 5 years from now. Yea, crazy in love with Christmas...(and my favorite Christmas song:)
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And then there are those who say they don't like Christmas because they have no family to celebrate it with or because they are alone. NOT TRUE! For Christmas you are never alone! Look at all the people around you who are in the same state of mind (ok, not in France, but in America). Turn on the TV, or the radio, go out in the streets: how can you not feel you are not alone? Christmas is nice spent with the family but I don't think Christmas is about being with the family. Christmas is just about Christmas. Not everyone has a family and they can still enjoy it, I didn't have mine with me while in Chicago and that didn't lessen the experience. Christmas is not one day or one night, it is a season. 

Just look at the big picture:
First of all, it's Jesus' birthday, so deja a huge reason to celebrate. The music is just so wonderful, all those carols and jingle bells everywhere you turn. For example here :
If you feel alone, go to church and ask to feel the Christmas spirit if you are not a believer. Just try it.

Secondly, the decorations are so beautiful that everyone big and small admires them. It just sets the mood for admiration, relaxation and good will.

Thirdly, people know the year is soon over. No one stresses like crazy about work anymore, it's the holidays, we HAVE TO just celebrate the end of a year!

Fourthly, ok, we like to shop. It's not like we don't ever shop, we just overshop for Christmas. I do not agree with those who say they don't like Christmas because they need to spend too much on gifts. NO YOU DON'T! It's really not about that, and if you want to make it about that, shop small! Buy small attentionate little things not huge presents people will go exchange anyway. It's the intention and the attention that matters. Make a pact with your family and friends: don't exceed a certain amount for presents and/or make lists of things you would want, they can choose from. Nobody likes to spend a lot on presents. Well, except very rich people who would do it anyway.

If you think you have no one to buy gifts for, you are wrong. There are so many poor children all over the world. There are homeless people and hungry people. Buy gifts or food and take them to churches, they should know how to distribute them. Or go to charitable organizations and donate. Or offer to help cook meals for the homeless(or give food) and meet other people who feel alone. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Christmas is not about lavishing yourself and yours in presents and food.
Christmas is about giving, yes, but giving LOVE. It will repay, you'll see.

In Romania and in the Balkans, for Christmas we would go caroling as kids to neighbors' homes, gathering candy and other goods we would be given and everyone would be happy to open up, to give, to celebrate. It was part of the normal way of things, even indispensable. Some beautiful traditions still go on in villages. Like here (not exactly what we have experienced as kids because we never wore traditional costumes - this is another region):
Carols are still taught to children today, and sang in churches during the Christmas holidays.
It is said that families would gather around the fire and sing carols at home, long time ago...and 'break' the bread - tradition explained below.
just follow this link if you wanna see more about Romanian Christmas. In Romanian, but awesome and with great description on traditions: Alynush-Blog
Ah, and look at this picture of my native city during Christmas :
and another city in RO,
Here is a short preview of the Christmas mass, like we used to attend every year at grandma's, in the village's beautiful small church. It is in Serbian, and the Serb Christmas comes on the 8th of January,
following the old calendar (which you can read about in the blog below).

And here is a wonderful description with Serbian Christmas traditions and recipes -in English !
from Navidad Latina

In France rarely anyone goes to church for Christmas.
In all the orthodox countries churches are super full inside and around.
In States even if someone would never go to church in a year's time, they would make an effort for Christmas. It is part of the Christmas 'decor'.

You can do Christmas small,
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or big(ger),
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but most importantly, remember this:
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More on Christmas soon.

vendredi 23 novembre 2012

Shop small and original

I Pledge to Shop Small

When holiday shopping this year, I’m choosing to make an important investment in the community.
From brilliantly crafted products to genuine, personal service, my experiences at my favorite small businesses leave me in continual awe. Add some of the most inspiring business owners I’ve encountered (virtually and otherwise), and my decision is firm:
I pledge to exclusively shop small, local businesses through the new year.
And I invite you to join me in this pledge. If you’re with me, join the conversation by spotlighting your faves on social media. Check into your favorite small businesses on Facebook and upload your favorite small biz products on Pinterest.
Have a favorite you’d like to share? Comment below so I can promote and follow them, too!
The above was part of a post from Radiant Republic, here
This is one of my new year's resolutions : shop small artists and businesses. Not necessarily local, because on the web we are all local in my opinion :)
I get melancholic thinking about the times when there were small artisan shops everywhere and everyone had his own skilled trade everyone else attended to. Like a shoe repair shop, a small library, a watch repair shop - we have one in our village trying to survive, a couture boutique where women would go have their wardrobe made, a small gift shop where one would find genuine and sturdy, well crafted toys, and so on... I still get those Christmas cards with picturesque images of idyllic villages (endangered species as well) where all is decorated, kids run around in the snow, and the numerous small boutiques welcome their loyal customers. It's a fairytale.
Some suburbs still have all that.  And now with all this internet virtual world, everyone can!
There are so many artists offering such great varieties of unique and original pieces that more and more people are finding the originality preferable to the big chain China made objects. I started dreading buying an item from the supermarket thinking that the preson I will offer it to will recognize the place I bought it from, the price, that he or she will interpret it in whichever way other than positive (is it too expensive and then they will feel obliged to spend more than they intended, too cheap and then I would feel bad if I got something better, or maybe they already have it and they will have to return it etc etc.)
Turn to small artists and your worries are over. What are the chances someone already has the same article! And you look good giving something unique you put some effort into finding.
  Beautiful Hello has a great list of artists with promotions and discounts, here:

Handmade Black Friday Gift Guide

November 23, 2012

Happy Handmade Black Friday! This is the very best time to find amazing deals on all your Christmas Gifts. But, really, who wants to stand in line for hours, hunting for mass-produced products…? Ummm, not me.
Let’s shake things up this holiday. Let’s find amazingly design gifts from small business, independent artisans, who are passionate about creating. Your gifts will not only light up faces, but make a meaningful difference in your community and in the lives of passionate designers and artists.
Follow the links below to find some amazing handmade Black-Friday deals! Many of these shops are offering deals through Monday.
Merry Christmas and happy shopping!
Art + Design
1. Bailey Doesn’t Bark: 50% off everything (prices already reduced) and Free shipping
+ a print towel on orders of $100+ (code: 100SHIP)
2. EyePoetryPhotography: prices already reduced through Monday
3. Stellavie Design Manufaktur: 20% off the Northern Sky Map I
and Southern Sky Map II silk screen prints
4. Christie Scibior: Free Shipping on Black Friday! “FREESHIPBF”
5. Emily Jeffords Studio 25% off all artwork “HandmadeHoliday” Friday-Tuesday
6. ohchalet: 10% off with “GOBBLE”
7. TheHauntedHollowTree: All prints 25% off (prices already reduced) Friday-Monday
9. RiverLuna: free domestic shipping Friday-Monday
10. staceyreesart 50% off any purchase
For Her
11. HOMAKO 20% off “KUROKIN“ Monday only
12. StacysBowEnvy: 20% off “BLACKFRIBOWS”
13. Amanda Archer: 50% off Sample dresses (discount already taken off price)
14. skrynka 10% off: “BLACKFRIDAY” and “CYBERMONDAY”

15. Emily Jeffords Studio 25% off all necklaces “HandmadeHoliday” Friday-Tuesday
16. Brown Sugar Toast: “BeautifulHello” for 20% off any order.
17. Lily Pottery 15% off “BLACKFRIDAY”
18. An Astrid Endeavor: 10% off “EARLYHOLIDAYDEAL “ Friday-Monday
19. Schalrausch: “DAILY10″ for 10% off storewide
20. Flowers From Fatima: 40% off + free shipping and a FREE gift with $35 purchase “BLACKFRIDAY”
21. LeeAnalyze: jewelry 15% off “TGIBF12”
22. ZENfulworld: Bath + Cosmetics Friday: 20% Off “BLACKFRIDAY” 5AM-10AM | Monday: 20% off “CYBERMONDAY” 6AM-9PM
23. Trèsors De Luxe Savings of up to 85% off retail! Now through December 31st! FREE silky jewelry bag with purchase, so you can gift with ease!
24. Change of hART Free shipping (US) for all ready to ship items with ”FREESHIPDAY” or 10% OFF all ready to ship items (except gift certificates) for international buyers with “HANDMADE10”
25. SGerthDesigns: 10% off “2012BLACKCYBER10”
For Him
26. Ugmonk: 20% off store wide Friday-Monday
27. 877 Design 10% off store wide
28. Shockjoy: “SHOCKJOY23” for 15% off entire purchase
29. ReComputing: 15% off “BLACKFRIDAY” or “CYBERMONDAY”
Home + Event Décor
30. Cranny Found Favorites“BEAUTIFULHELLO”15% off
31. Royal Buffet Free shipping and Free butterfly gift tags for all domestic purchases code: “HOHOHO”
32. Pearles Painting 25% off “BLACKFRIDAY25” Friday-Monday
33. Winterland California 10% off “BLACKFRIDAY10” Friday-Monday
34. oleanderandpalm 10% off “blackfriday10”
35. littlenestbox Free shipping “SHIPSHIPHOORAY”
36. Miss Prissy Paige:“SMALLBUSINESS” – 10% off
37. Company Forty Two 15% off BLACKFRIDAY15
38. Bailey Doesn’t Bark 50% off (prices will show discount, no coupon necessary) and Free shipping + a print towel on orders of $100+ (code: 100SHIP)
For the Kids:
39. Clippie Dips: 10% off entire purchase, plus get a free item of my choosing when you spend $10.
Sale runs 19th-26th. Code: TURKEYDAY
40. Cranny Found Favorites“BEAUTIFULHELLO”15% off
41. StacysBowEnvy: 20% off “BLACKFRIBOWS”

Balzac and his -now museum- house in Paris

I have already mentioned a blog I am following, Eye Prefer Paris. I just have to share again a great post of theirs.

I have never mentioned I liked reading because....well it's really been a while. I mean, a while, since I read a novel. I've been into children's psichology, biographies, motivational etc. but a true novel, well that's about, hm, years back. When I did use to read, after highschool this is, besides Alexandre Dumas and alike, my favorite was Balzac. I started collecting his writings every time I would come accross them, so that now I got them in English, Romanian and French. I have yet to start reading them...

Posted: 19 Nov 2012 09:02 PM PST
2. wide shot Maison de Balzac

After seven bombs published under fanciful pseudonyms, Honoré de Balzac finally hit it big with his novel Les Chouans in 1829. He was thirty years old. It was first time he signed his name to one of his works. But by this time he was already deeply in debt, due to the collapse of his printing company a year earlier. A race between two driven Balzacs was on. One was the brilliant, dynamic, prolific, phenomenally imaginative best-selling author, the other the quixotic business man. He plunged into such off-the-wall schemes as a pineapple plantation in the Paris suburb of Sèvres and an abandoned Roman Empire silver mine in Sardinia and poured his royalties into two newspapers he created, all total flops. Ironically, of all the novelists of his day Balzac was the one who wrote the most perceptively about the role of money in the lives of his characters, while his own finances were an unending disaster. By the end of the 1830s the demands of his creditors were insufferable. So he went into hiding.
In November 1840 Balzac rented what he called a “provisional shelter,” a discreet little house with a garden he enjoyed in the then-rural village of Passy outside Paris. He ended up staying for more than six years. He rented it under name of his housekeeper Mme Brugiol, deliberately misspelled as “M de Breugnol.” To get in, a caller had to provide two passwords: “I am bringing lace from Bruges” and “the plumb season has arrived.” One feature of the house Balzac especially appreciated was that it opened onto on two different streets. It fronts on the Rue Raynouard and backs onto an alleyway, two levels down. He had an escape hatch cut into the floor of the parlor (unfortunately now covered over) so he could quickly escape creditors who came to the front door. He’d then be able to slip down to the basement, out the back door to the Rue Berton alley, and make his getaway.

Now a museum, the Maison de Balzac, is rich in evidence of his life and his work, most importantly his meticulously restored study, where he spent the better part of his nights and days. From his remarkably tiny writing table came staggering amounts of manuscript. Writing for a minimum of twelve hours a day, as was his habit, he corrected the whole of the Comédie Humaine for its collected edition and wrote more than twenty other books. The pace turned all the more feverish in 1842 when he opened a letter from his mistress the Countess Eveline Hanska in Russia and learned that her husband had died. Hoping all the more to pay down his debts to have a reasonably clean slate should they be able to marry, he went into overdrive, working up to sixteen hours a day. “My arm has almost worn itself out from moving it around as I write,” he wrote to her. Among Balzac’s most popular novels written here were the last volume of Lost Illusions, Cousin Bette, and the last one he would write, Cousin Pons.
1. Balzac photo
4. Balzac's garden
5. House and rear entrance
6. rear entrance

On display is Balzac’s famous coffee pot, the source of the twenty or so cups he drank every day to keep up his furious pace of work -- undoubtedly a factor for his early death, at fifty-one, three years after leaving this house.
In the parlor we see oil portraits of Balzac’s father and mother and other key people in his life, most notably the Countess Hanska, his lover and eventual wife. And there are images galore of Balzac himself, from satiric cartoons of the day to all sorts of respectful sculptures, from David d’Angers’s marble bust, done from life in 1844, and Allesandro Puttini’s 1837 marble portrait of him in the famous monk’s cowl he wore when he wrote, to a number of later clay sculptures by such artists as Auguste Rodin, a huge fan of Balzac’s work.
To me, the most original display is of the marvelous woodblock printing plates illustrating characters and scenes from the Comédie Humaine, etched during Balzac’s lifetime and shortly after his death. They offer vivid portraits of a few hundred or so of the more than six thousand characters the dynamo of French fiction brought to life.
As Baudelaire put it:
“From the summit of the aristocracy to the lower depths of the plebian, all the actors of his Comédie are more greedy for life, more active and cunning in the struggle, more patient in misfortune, more gluttonous in pleasure, more angelic in devotion, than the comedy of the real word shows them. In short, in Balzac, even the door-keepers have genius. All his souls are loaded to the muzzle with will. Just like Balzac himself. "

Maison de Balzac
47 Rue Raynouard, 75016 Paris.
Metro: Passy or La Muette.
Open every day except Monday from 10am to 6pm.
7. Rue Berton
11. Balzac's writing table
11.b page proof
11.a Balzac handwritten page
16. cartoon close shot
13. family portraits
David Burke is the author of Writers in Paris, Literary Lives in the City of Light, and the personal tour guide of David Burke’s Writers in Paris Walks. To learn about the book and the walks and the writer go to David is also a documentary filmmaker and former 60 MINUTES writer/producer who came to Paris for what he thought would be a year, but turned into more twenty. He now divides his time between Paris and New York.


lundi 19 novembre 2012

Pinterest boards part II

And here go a few more of my Pinterest boards...

Love the big writing there in quotes and thoughts, the "Ten words you need to stop misspelling"!!!! Awesome. Thank you to whoever wrote that one.


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quotes and thoughts                                                                              

Interesting thought

    Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.                                                                                             Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

mercredi 14 novembre 2012

Pictures. Pictures. AKA Pinterest boards

I've been more active on Pinterest lately, less active on blogs...watching those pictures and images is just too pleasant and effortless and wonderful and inspiring and...time consuming.

Writing seems like work sometimes, especially when I feel I should have something interesting to write about, or different, or cool...which is not always the case for any blogger, even if this is not a valid argument for not writing. I love to write. I should write. I should just love looking at pictures less. Hm.

So why don't I share with you some my wonderful Pinterest boards for a change!
Just click on the titles below.

Part I
You will love my Home pics selection. I so do.


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fabrics and wallpaper                                                                              

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