Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Decade!


Bonne Année 2010!
Wishing you big smiles aplenty for the new decade!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas "Exquises Esquisses"


My husband and I have been spoilt for our first Christmas as a married couple! We had decided to host the family dinner potluck party (15 people) at our place on Christmas day, and everyone seemed to rejoice over the warmth of the occasion. Joy, and love were aplenty !

I felt like a child offering my homemade Christmas presents (see my other blog, Mon cher Coco) : orange marmalade, chutney, Christmas cookies and truffles, all wrapped up in hand-made gift bags. But I also felt the intense joy of receiving in front of so many generous earthly presents! To list but a few : from my husband, I got a camera (to shoot more and better pictures for my blogs!) and a set of 2 CDs that he illustrated (with our faces) & compiled for us and our loved ones; we, as a couple, also got books on cooking, fashion illustration, and on independent pop culture magazines. Not to forget the Oh my Lord! gift, a master Vita-Mix juicer-blender from Zuly, my mother-in-law. Read my other blog, Mon cher Coco, for a post on this juicy Christmas...
But yesterday I was offered one more gift, a very simple and precious gift! As my husband was away at work with his twin brother, I decided to focus on my creative skills and on something I had discarded for a long time. Inspired by my dear husband's passion for illustration, I sat down and sketched several studies of bodies, heads and feet... and finally ended my drawing session with the more detailed sketch of a man's head.
I like the idea of developing new self-taught skills through regular practice. I have always found drawing as a great way to focus and apprehend the sensual dimensions of outlines, colours and textures. I naturally started as a kid. When idle, I would always end up looking for a good picture, often taken from art books, in order to copy it in my sketchbook. I was never bored, it kept me busy for hours. I enjoyed this interest in drawing a lot until, let's say, my early twenties when I found other devouring interests like drama and singing. But that's another story.


Marco's illustration work and my first sketches -after a long time- with the help of the Essential Fashion Illustration Men by Chidy Wayne (Rockport Publishers): I chose to draw the face of a curly haired model who reminded me of my chéri when he was younger...Yes, I am a woman in love!

The interest for material, textures, lines and figures is back. "Exquise Esquisse" (exquisite sketch), as Serge Gainsbourg said in his controversial song, Lemon Incest. That's a precious gift that I got from you, Marco! Thank you for another invitation to share in one of your many passions - from the bottom of my heart. Next time, I will try my hands on pencil and watercolours...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hohoho-O'Horten!


After two days away from my computer, too busy celebrating good times with my loved ones (What a wonderful Christmas I had !) I am back to the screen with a film or two for you...I will start with a Norwegian bittersweet comedy. O'Horten, directed by Bent Hamer, is the story of Odd Horten, an engineer who once off his train, is derailed... I highly recommend it to you. I watched it before Christmas and it put a big smile on my face. I tremendously enjoyed the odd story it tells about our human condition... Hope you too will...Let me know.

The soundtrack, composed by Kaada, is also part of the trip

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas! ** Joyeux Noël!


Hope you enjoyed it.
Joy, love and harmony to you and all your loved ones!

Now, don't forget to also check out my other blog, Mon Cher Coco. Another present is waiting for you under the Christmas tree...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Great Balls of Fire for the Winter Solstice!



KENSINGTON MARKET FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS

Monday December 21st, 2009
Parade begins at 6pm Sharp
Meet at Oxford and Augusta (just south of college) and go with the flow!

If you are in town, don't miss this quite unique opportunity to celebrate the winter solstice by passing on the light to your loved ones!

http://redpepperspectacle.wordpress.com/festival-of-lights/

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday's Eye Candies /Histoires sans (trop de) Paroles

My foot!
This hilariously odd photo of a séance reminds me of a film I have seen recently, Paranormal Activity. Go see it to experience a good story of possession that should make your hair stand on ends...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Toronto-Lyon: Let there be light!

The Newborn. c. 1645. Oil on canvas. Georges de La Tour. Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rennes.

While Toronto is greeting the winter cold with the Cavalcade of Lights, Lyon (France) does so with another ritual of multicoloured Lights that is celebrated on December the 8th; it is called the Festival of Lights -or Les Illuminations du 8 décembre.

Several stories explain the origins of this festival, but most commonly it is agreed on that the tradition started in 1852 to express gratitude toward the Virgin Mary for sparing Lyon from the plague (back then in 1643). Since then, tradition has had it that the citizens of Lyon, and of the nearby towns, place little candles on their windowsills to celebrate the Lights on December 8th. Simple, sobre, and luminously warm! Today's festival also includes other activities based on light, and usually lasts 4 days, with the peak of activity occurring on the 8th.


The intimacy of a chiaroscuro by Geoges de la Tour

On the first weekend of December, my friends then walked the streets of Lyon to see the Illuminations. Obviously, I could not partake in the event this year as I now live in Canada. But, if I delve well into my memories, I still have clear images coming back to the surface. To me, the most poetic representation of Lyon celebrating the Lights will remain the lumignons, these little colourful candles, forming lines of light defying the dark of the night. The visual beauty of such sobre ornaments is just magical! With the windowsills all decked out, new shadows would be projected, thus reshaping the contours of the buildings, and I would gape at the rediscovered beauty of these facades.

Another memory was when I ventured into the old town (Quartier du Vieux Lyon - St Jean) with my college friends while studying in Lyon. Believe me it was dangerous back then! One had to dare the crowd of well hidden enemies, waiting for the ideal candid targets to drop a load of flour and eggs from their windows...It has now been forbidden, I must admit that the stains were hard to remove and some people could easily get hurt in the process of receiving an egg dropped like a bullet...Today, many tourists come for the occasion and enjoy walking in the heart of the old town without being hit by any projectiles of the sort. Little do they know how lucky they are! A sign of the times..Lyon's Festival of Lights used to be a local, regional festival, and now it has become an international event, with many (too many) installations on a bigger scale. The light spectacles produced these days are a far cry from the original candles and flare...

I was not in Lyon, but my good friend Cécile was! An artist herself, she enjoys the festival every year. Here is her impressions for this year's enlightening festival:

Faite des lumières (Made of Lights)... On the dance floor, Cécile Cornu, our special reporter for the Festival of Lights- 2009, in Lyon.
(Photo by Cédric Roulliat)

"Des tableaux sur une roue, des Fiat 500 qui se draguent sous les draps qui sèchent au son de "Ti Amo", des mecs lumineux qui parlent, des bâtisseurs de cathédrale sur la cathédrale, des lutins en quête de lumière : magnifique et poétique nourriture pour les yeux! Le vendeur de vin chaud et de crêpes du coin de la rue, lui, s'est bien occupé de nos estomacs. Moi, je l'aime mon 8 décembre à Lyon!" Cécile Cornu

Fête des Lumières : La Grande Roue, Place Bellecour - Lyon 2009 (Photo: Cécile Cornu)

Fête des Lumières : La Préfecture- Lyon 2009 (Photo: Cécile Cornu)
Fête des Lumières : La Préfecture - Lyon 2009 (Photo: Cécile Cornu)

Reading suggestion :
Illuminations, poems by Arthur Rimbaud

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Video Phone, Gaga... or not ?

Au fait...Have you noticed like me that, nowadays, the use of a video phone has become one of the ultimate weapons of seduction? While Beyoncé features Lady Gaga on her video phone hit, I wonder...Shall I upgrade my basic Sony Ericsson phone for a more gogo-LadyGagadgeto one? Have you ever gone through that dilemma recently? I have the feeling that I am not the only one out there. It has become a Big Brother epidemic, a contagious iconoclastic frenzy spreading among us. I spy with my little eye...
Look at these ladies, playing it like Reservoir-Dogs-meet-Barbarella with their décalé hip-hop- discoide looks. Reckless Amazons of the wild West, performing belly-dancing on oriental electro music. Phones shooting like guns; wild girls walking the docks, or riding their motorbikes with the wind in their hair, and a gun held on close to their well-decked busts. Oulala! Can a video phone cause so much turmoil in girls? I wonder.
But wait a minute, I don't really need a video phone! For the anecdote, like many of you, I already have an ipod, which I hardly ever use, and a camera, which I often use...So I am good, all set. I don't need a video phone, even if I find the idea of having it all in one quite appealing, hum to some extent.
No. Reason will have it. Honestly, I just need a fancier 2G phone to call and text. I am not so gaga about the new-technology frontier, anyways. Yes, I will resist the temptation...I don't feel quite ready yet to enter the video phone dimension.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Blog Award for Christine Rochet-Jacob


The blogs Bonjour Romance and The Romantic Query Letter and the Happily Ever After gave me this award for Kreativ Blogger. I feel very grateful that some of you put up with my constant flow of impressions as a French woman abroad!

For accepting this award, I need to:
- Copy and paste the award and post a link to the blog that nominated me.
- Tell seven things about myself.
- Nominate seven other bloggers and pass the award along.

So let me tell you seven ordinary things about moi TODAY - i.e things that reflect my mood of the moment (because I don't believe in generic labels):
1. Today's Sound of Music: Donna Summer's I feel Love

2. Latest though-provoking reads: I loved... Madeleine Vionnet by Pamela Golbin, & Les Déferlantes by Claudie Gallay (in French)
3. Art matters...Visually Important : As I'm writing now, I strangely think of Georges Seurat's The Circus. I owe a lot to this painting! A copy of it was hanging from the wall at my GP's office, when I was a child. It helped me bite the bullet more than once... My imagination would transport me on horseback with the ballerina acrobat, and my doctor could practise his art of the needle at leisure for the sake of my vaccination!
Georges Seurat. The Circus. 1890-91. Oil on canvas. Musée d'Orsay, Paris, France.

But I also think of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Gustave Caillebotte, and Edgar Degas ( Ahhh, La Coiffure, because I've always loved having my hair combed)...
Combing the Hair ('La Coiffure') by Degas, about 1896 -National Gallery, London

or Felix Vallotton (I'm a big fan of his woodcuts, and their bold designs, influenced by Japanese wood-block prints), and finally Hiroshige.

Morning glory. Woodcut print, Kakyo Tokyo meisho,
by Utagawabe Hiroshige III (1842-1894). Tsunashima Kamekichi, 1881.
Courtesy of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library, The New York Botanical Garden
Photo: New York Botanical Garden

4. I love the city where I live... because that's where my love is. ;0)
5. Sportswise? Getting there...I like the rush of adrenaline and the healthy exhaustion one gets from physical effort. And yet I have to push myself to go to the gym twice a week, or so - my membership is a great reminder! I like Pilates & Yoga, Badminton, Squash and Tennis. But Aerobics is my new target! I want to exercise with the legendary 1980s sexy trio of the 20-minute work-out videos, which I just discovered on Youtube- remember I am a French woman frecentlly landed in North America!

I used to love riding my bike in town - in France with the V'Lov system in Lyon, and the V'Lib in Paris. But Toronto is way more dangerous! I stopped riding after falling over the handlebars... my wheel got stuck in the streetcar tracks, ouch! Oh, but nothing can stop me from walking the streets of the city. Occasionally, I also love hiking in Canadian reservation parks...Peekaboo, Caribou!
6. Mood of the day: Every day is a beautiful day! (*quote from the film Harvey). And also, for those who can understand a bit of French, watch the following video showing the casting of the young "gouailleur" (cheeky) Jean-Pierre Léaud for the 400 Blows by François Truffaut. It will make your day!

7. Scents of a French woman : Among my favourite palette of scents, are...Nature before and after the rain/ Freshly cut grass/Anything cooking in butter on the stove /The subtle notes of a fragrant Bordeaux-Graves/ The head-spinning fragrances of lilac in Eastertime... Not to forget Coco by Chanel, my perfume, and Vétiver by Guerlain, my husband's fragrance.

To learn more, go to Mon Cher Coco, my other blog!

Here are 7 other blogs that I love visiting:
Food Box
A Foodie Froggy in Paris (bilingual)
Lovely Morning
2 or 3 Things I know
Style Files
An Affordable Wardrobe
Please Sir

Monday, December 7, 2009

Big Night!

Primo & Ann from Big Night
With Christmas drawing closer, get-together parties are multiplying on your calendars just as I am writing it...
Here is my suggestion for a double-bill evening in the hotel & restaurant film category. This is a recipe for success that will assure you a cosy and memorable party with your loved ones. Eating good food - why not try Big Night's "Timpano", or "Timbale"(a yummy avatar of the timpano)?- drinking good wine and being merry in good company is, I think, a very pleasant way to rejoice over the season.

Click on the picture above to listen to samples from the unforgettable soundtrack!

Grand Hotel (1932), directed by Edmund Goulding.
With Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Joan Crawford.

Greta Garbo & John Barrymore on set: the encounter of two legendary actors. They developed a real friendship based on mutual appreciation and respect.

Watch the first scene of the movie:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Home, Sweet Victorian Home!

Welcome Home!

Remember the book I have been reading lately, Les Maisons Romantiques d'Angleterre? Well, please, allow me to now draw a link between my love for the English country house and my Victorian apartment. Since I moved in this 1895 Victorian apartment with my husband, I have felt like fulfilling one of my teenage dreams, i.e live in an old Victorian house or Country Cottage. My Anglomania started at the age of 12, when I started to learn Shakespeare's language at school. My first trip to England was planned at the age of 15 with the help of my parents and school. I was blessed with a penfriend whose parents lived in a beautiful cottage in Chesham Bois, Amersham, Buckinghamshire.
British Daimler Cars...

Let me tell you that, among many other oddities ( dinner at 6PM, tango instead of water and a super cold house), I was very much impressed by their friendly attitude towards me. I raved at other things too, such as their car, a Daimler, with the driver sitting on the wrong side (of course), the cascade of cakes that we would have for high tea, and...the elegant pulls in the bathroom, along with the pine wood doors and their glass knobs. I loved it all. Oh, and it was even more incredible at weekends! Imagine, I would wake up with the noise of the horses' hooves on the road, as the local gentry boys and girls would ride their horses for practice. Later on, I naturally chose to study History of Art & English literature, linguistics and civilisations at College.
English countryside
My ideal of the beauty of the English countryside stems from that early encounter with the hilly landscapes immortalised by Gainsborough, Turner, and Constable (to name but a few), and the generations of stories and folk tales told on winter evenings around England's rural firesides, with or without any ghosts involved (with, preferably!).
Chatsworth House

But the charm of rural England may also have touched me for the first time otherwise and more delicately, one day when I found myself staring at Chatsworth house, appearing gracefully like a golden gem in the middle of its broad park; or again, when I experienced the visual shock of a simple cottage with an apparently chaotic front garden foaming with roses, and a crooked thatched roof, all in perfect harmony with the surroundings, be it either in Henley-on Thames, Sonning-on-Thames, Stratford-upon-Avon, Oxford, Ely or even Hay-on Wye.
I remember standing in awe when I first saw Shakespeare's wife's cottage: Anne Hathaway's Cottage (1460s) in Shottery, a hamlet within the parish of Stratford.

The French Horn (hotel), Sonning on Thames.

I don't really know...I fell in love with the English countryside when I was 15, and my love has never stopped since then! Most probably, because I am a country girl myself, and in England above all other places, that love of the countryside remains a potent, living force.
Anyways, here I am. In a Victorian apartment in Toronto, Canada. And I can't get enough of the crystal glass doorknobs, the wooden frames and windowsills, the oldy-worldy radiators, the stained-glass windows, etc. - all that (and more, obviously) makes this extravagant décor stand out as, currently, my number one romantic Victorian house fantasy!

Stained-glass window above the fireplace

In the living room, reflections in the framed fabric (Japanese design, Echino- Bird to Hang- by Etsuko Furuya)

The rectory red paint in the hallway creates an atmosphere of secrecy and makes the hallway look a mile long!
Photo by Cédric Roulliat

In the kitchen: old English toffee's tin box, on top of tea towels and napkins

New on our kitchen wall: the story of Christine & Marco's wedding as told in 15 postcards, all sent by Françoise, the one and only .

The old battered wooden windowsill. In the kitchen.

The remains of the day...The old original bathtub, ruling supreme in the bathroom.

Narcissus bulbs, intertwined in a lovers' embrace, for the season to bloom in our lovebirds' nest!

Yes, you got the message home - I love our place!

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