Monday, December 15, 2014

Jimmy Page in Paris

Sometimes you just end up in the right place at the right time. On our last day in Paris I wanted to see the Shakespeare and Company bookstore. Several friends who had been to Paris said it was a must-see for a book lover like myself. 

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We walked perhaps a mile from our hotel in St. Germain, strolling through the Latin Quarter where we picked up a few souvenirs. When we arrived at the bookstore, David noticed this sign:

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That's right. Jimmy Page was going to be there at 1:00 p.m. and it just happened to be about 12:30. Needless to say, we joined the queue. The Q&A took place in one of the small rooms in the bookstore and we just missed making the cut-off. But we were escorted to another room where the session was piped in via speaker. After we were seated in there, along with about 20 other people, they escorted Jimmy Page through to our room where the Q&A was held. He walked within about 3 feet of us.

The session was very interesting and when it was over we joined the line to get a copy of his new autobiography stamped. We had all been told in advance that no photos were allowed and that he wouldn't be shaking hands. I assumed that meant he was not going to be very friendly but I couldn't have been more wrong.

He was seated at a table with an assistant on either side of him. The first one opened our book to the correct page and placed it in front of Jimmy. He then smiled at me, extended his hand and thanked me for coming. He took almost half a minute very, very carefully positioning the stamp. The other assistant then placed a sheet of blotting paper over it, closed the book and handed it to me. Jimmy then offered his hand again, both to me and to David. He was as nice as could be.

Hand stamped by Jimmy Page himself
A photo of the stamp

I'm pretty sure that was the highlight of our trip as far as David was concerned. And I have to admit, I thought it was pretty cool, too. This picture doesn't quite capture how huge the book is but let's just say that by the time David had carried it through the airports in his backpack on our way home he was glad we had only bought one copy. 

Jimmy Page book we bought in Paris

Oh, and on our way out I was interviewed on camera. I have no idea what it was for and since I didn't have anything especially witty to say that's probably just as well. 

*This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

November/December Grocery Haul(s)

Azure Standard coop order (not shown: frozen corn, broccoli, sugar)

(Excuse the terrible lighting.)

My daughter and I did our last big shopping trip of the year back on November 12th (Sprouts and Whole Foods) but I never got around to posting about it. Today I picked up my Azure Standard Coop order and next week I'll pick up my order from the Oklahoma Food Coop. We aren't going to do another shopping trip for the month of December - in fact, I may skip January, as well. Oh, I'll pick up milk and some fresh produce as needed, and there may be a few items for a special holiday meal. But otherwise I'm planning to "shop" from my pantry and freezer for the next several weeks. So when you see the "grand total" keep in mind this is for at least a couple of months. I am hoping for a mild winter but just in case, I like to be well-stocked for bad weather.

I also like to do one of those minimal shopping or "slow month" challenges this time of year. After the extra spending during the holidays it's good to tighten our belts for the first few weeks of the new year. Plus, I find it encourages me to be more creative. I look at what ingredients I have on hand and then start looking for ways to use them. Pinterest is great for this.

So, here is what I bought (not including the occasional purchase of milk and fresh produce which I haven't kept track of):

Sprouts:
  • cranberries (2 pkg.)
  • green beans 
  • green bell peppers (2)
  • red bell peppers (2)
  • onions
  • grape tomatoes
  • 5 lb. potatoes
  • bananas
  • pear
  • apples
  • sweet potatoes
  • cereal (3 boxes)
  • chocolate/peppermint squares
  • SunCups
  • chicken broth (2)
  • tomato paste (2)
  • bay leaves
  • rice
  • Emergen-C
  • grass-fed rump roast
  • dish soap
  • razor and refills
Total: $118.55

Whole Foods:
  • eggs
  • cream cheese (2)
  • egg nog
  • coconut creamer (3)
  • orange juice concentrate
  • frozen cranberries (2)
  • Greek yogurt
  • strained tomatoes
  • canned green chiles (3)
  • tomato paste (2)
  • capellini pasta (2)
  • cereal (3 boxes)
  • crackers
  • chocolate chips
  • cheese puffs (3)
  • bbq chips
  • salt and pepper chips
  • dark chocolate wafer cookies
  • hand sanitizer
  • bathroom cleaner
  • moisturizer
  • soap (2)
  • cheddar cheese (2)
  • colby jack cheese
  • sharp cranberry cheddar 
  • parmesan (shredded)
  • flour tortillas (2)
  • baguette
  • mini croissants
  • salad mix
  • celery
  • grapes
Total: $177.07

I placed a huge order with Azure Standard coop this month and am well-stocked on a lot of basics for the next few months. 

Azure Standard:
  • vanilla coconut milk (32 oz. - 4)
  • chocolate mint coconut milk (32 oz. - Chris loves this so I bought a carton for him)
  • bulk spice apple bran muffin mix (5 pounds)
  • mandarin oranges (2 cans)
  • dried, crispy onions
  • crushed tomatoes (2 jars)
  • frozen broccoli (2 pkgs.)
  • black bean flakes
  • artichoke hearts (2 cans)
  • black olives (2 cans)
  • citric acid (1 pound)
  • dishwasher tablets
  • crushed pineapple (2 cans)
  • chunk pineapple (2 cans)
  • angel hair pasta (3)
  • penne pasta (4)
  • cheddar cheese (4)
  • bulk cornbread mix (5 pounds)
  • chicken broth (32 oz. - 6 cartons)
  • chicken broth (8 oz. - 8 cartons)
  • crackers
  • frozen corn (5 pounds)
  • unbleached organic white flour (10 pounds)
  • cheese puffs (9 bags)
  • organic cane sugar (25 pounds)
  • chocolate chips
  • potatoes (5 pounds)
Total: $251.77

Oklahoma Food Coop:
  • handmade dark chocolate truffles (2 packages, 1/2 dozen each - one will be a gift)
  • colby cheddar (3 packages)
  • salad mix
  • green leaf lettuce
  • caciocavera fresh cheese
  • frozen zucchini squash medley
  • toothbrushes (2)
  • frozen sliced bell peppers (red, green, yellow)
  • aged Gruyere cheese
  • ricotta cheese
Total: $116.02

Grand Total: $663.41

note: Almost everything I bought was organic; just didn't want to take the time to type it on every entry. 

I should probably mention that I recently bought a case of toilet paper from Amazon and received my regular shipments of low-mercury tuna, organic Earl Grey tea, and olive oil. A friend of ours raises chickens and the other day my husband brought him some wood for a project. He came home with a dozen eggs and a bottle of homemade wine (which was really quite good). I should be able to get eggs from him as needed. I'll bake him some bread or something in exchange. David also bought 8 bottles of French wine from a friend who has a new liquor store in Enid so we are in good shape in that regard, as well. Oh, and we had a rick of firewood delivered last weekend. I should be able to hibernate quite comfortably should the weather turn frightful. Ha! 

Monday, December 08, 2014

This season of Advent

Our church has Wednesday evening Vespers services during Advent. Last week when I arrived I was struck by this scene and had to take a photo.  Isn't it pretty?

#advent
Taken with my iPhone and no filters

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Loose Ends

Loose ends

The realization that 2014 is quickly drawing to a close has hit me right upside the head. How on earth can it already be December? Where did summer go? All those missed opportunities to sit on the porch or star gaze or...

I'm trying not to be overcome with regret and instead focus on what we DID accomplish in 2014. We started a business and went to Paris. Those are HUGE and I'm truly grateful for the opportunities we've had this year. I also had three articles published and was paid for the last two. That's been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. 

But the fact of the matter is, 2014 sped by and is almost over. It's time to take stock of my year with clear eyes and a bit of "c'est la vie". I always enjoy the clean slate that is January but in order to truly start fresh I need to tie up a few loose ends. I need to wrap up 2014, tie it with a bow and tuck it away. That will allow me to mentally and emotionally start the new year with a sense of ''fini".

I've been making a list of what will allow me that sense of "finished". First of all, I have a few books which I need to finish reading. I usually have several books going at once. I keep books in various places around the house so I always have something to pick up and read. These books are generally non-fiction, or at least short stories or poems which can be read a little at a time. I only read one fiction book at a time and those I tend to finish in relatively short order. So here's my list of books to finish before the end of the year:
None of these will take me long to finish. I just need to take some time to sit down and do it. That's why I'm publicly committing to it here. Feel free to hold me accountable. 

Reading books is not a chore but there are some other things on my list which are. For instance, well over a year ago I took down my kitchen curtains and washed them. I did replace the valance on the small window over my sink but the two which go on the big picture windows in the breakfast area are still folded, un-ironed, in the guest room. I'm not entirely sure why I keep putting this off other than the fact that it's going to take a long time to iron all those ruffles and it's not a job that can be done a few minutes at a time like most of what I do around the house. My life is one long series of interruptions these days. But I'm determined to start 2015 with curtains on my kitchen windows. I think I'll set up the ironing board in the family room and watch a Christmas movie while I iron. 

Other loose ends include:
  • Thoroughly clear out my email inboxes. If I don't address something before the end of the year I'm going to delete it. I have a number of blog-related offers as well as a lot of emails I've sent myself for articles to read. I'll either read or delete but I'm determined to start 2015 with empty inboxes. 
  • I'm going to switch my Tea With Dee newsletter (which I have totally neglected this year) to a new format. I want to start it January 1st which means I need to set it up and notify my subscribers before the end of the year. 
  • Set up a bank account strictly for my writing and see my accountant to find out exactly what is deductible. 
  • Start a website and have at least the home page ready to launch January 1st. 
  • Start a Facebook group for something I've been working on. 
There is also an ongoing personal matter which I want to settle before the end of the year. I'm not in control of the outcome but I want to know I've done everything I can on my end. And then...here's the tough part...regardless of how it turns out I'm going to let it go. I hate to be vague and maybe the day will come when I can share more but it's not just my story to tell. 

There are other things I'd like to do but realistically this is about all I can hope to finish along with the usual holiday preparations and various activities we have lined up this month. If I finish these things I'll feel comfortable with where I am and ready to begin 2015 with a clear head. 

Does any of this resonate with you? Are there things you plan to catch up on before the end of the year? Leave me a comment here or on the Tea With Dee Facebook page. I really want to hear your thoughts. 

Monday, December 01, 2014

Seasonal

Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent which is when I usually *try* to get our entry table decorated for Christmas. I managed to remove the fall decorations, ironed the purple tablecloth and put it on. However, I didn't get the nativity set up until today. And I still need to put the Advent candles on the table. Baby steps, folks. Baby steps. I'm still in denial about it being December. 

First #Christmas decorations up #nativity #advent

Yesterday it was in the upper 70s here but Oklahoma pulled one of its crazy temperature nosedives and it dropped into the upper 20s overnight. I think it was supposed to have been in the upper 30s today but I chose not to even look. I also did my best to avoid much time outdoors. Shiloh got a couple of VERY brief trips outside during the day and David walked him when he got home. Because I'm a wimp when it comes to being cold. And that is why we also have our first fire of the year going right now. 

First fire of the season #fire #cold

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Library Used Book Sale Treasures

The week we left for Paris I managed to squeeze in a bit of time at our library's fall book sale. I never pass this up if I'm in town, no matter how busy I am. Because...books!

These days I'm pretty selective about the books I bring home since my home library numbers in the thousands of volumes and vacant shelf space is, well, non-existent. In fact, this recent haul is still sitting on the floor of our library. I will eventually make room for them somewhere. I might even (gasp) get rid of a few others to make room for them. We'll see...

Anyway, here is my latest book haul:

When you run out of bookshelf space...


Library used book sale haul #books

"Tin Roof Blowdown" by James Lee Burke
"The Hemingway Reader" by Ernest Hemingway
"Affairs at Thrush Green" by Miss Read
"Friends of Thrush Green" by Miss Read
"Gossip From Thrush Green" by Miss Read
"USA Volumes I, II, & III" by John Dos Passos
"Kiamichi of the Choctaws" by June Cullison Otjen
"The Poems of Tennyson" by Alfred Tennyson

The Tennyson, Hemingway and Dos Passos books are classics, which is where my major book focus is these days. I can borrow a current novel from the library but there's something about having classics on my shelves which just feels...right.

The "Thrush Green" books are, obviously, part of a series. A few years ago I picked up a couple of others at a library book sale. I haven't read them yet, in part because I like to read series in order and I don't have them all (yet). However, they sound like the sort of sweet, gentle, older fiction I enjoy retreating to in times of stress.

I've actually read "Tin Roof Blowdown" before and enjoyed it, as I do all the James Lee Burke novels I've read. I bought this one to add to my Burke collection and because I'm inclined to read this one again at some point. It is set in New Orleans, immediately post-Katrina.

Finally, I bought "Kiamichi of the Choctaws" because I am part Choctaw and would like to know more about my heritage. I'll let my dad borrow it, too, as I'm sure he'll be interested in it. *Just as I was getting to publish this post I decided to look up this book on Amazon. Imagine my surprise to find that there is only one copy available, from another seller, and they want $199.95 for it! There is no picture and they do mention a book jacket while mine is a library binding but still. Apparently I latched on to a rare book. 

So that's my most recent book haul. Oh, wait! I just remembered that the book I'm currently reading was purchased at this sale. Let's see if I can find it on Amazon so I don't have to go take another photo.  Okay, here it is, although my copy has a different cover:


A number of years ago I read "84, Charing Cross Road" and adored it. It's the true story of the 20 year correspondence between and American woman and an antiquarian bookseller. "The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street" is by the same author, Helene Hanff, and it tells the story of her visit to London to meet the people she has been corresponding with for two decades. 

So, what are you reading these days? Do you attend library book sales? Any books you'd like to recommend? Leave me a comment, sharing a recommendation or two. And if I don't get a chance to blog again in the next two days, Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The scent of a woman...

Ever since I was about 16 years old I've worn Shalimar perfume. Oh, I've had a few brief flirtations with a handful of other fragrances. L'Heure Bleue, Paloma Picasso, Red, Giorgio...  But I always come back to Shalimar and for the past couple of decades I've remained faithful.

To me, Shalimar smells warm, a little exotic, mysterious, sexy and yet classy. I wear it every day and people compliment me on it all the time. David loves it, too, which is a good thing. So why did I decide to look for a new fragrance during our recent trip to Paris. Well, it's like this...

Scent is extremely important to me. Like music, it evokes very strong feelings and memories. When I snuggle beneath freshly washed, Downy-scented sheets (especially if they are also line dried) I am, once again, a ten year old girl spending the night at Grandma's house. A whiff of gardenia reminds me of late night drives home from visiting an aunt and uncle because they had a huge gardenia bush by their front door and always gave us a bloom as we left which my dad would tuck into the car visor. Neutrogena Rainbath shower gel whisks me back to our honeymoon in New Orleans where that was what our hotel provided. And while this one is a little less romantic, I love the smell of Pine-Sol because that is what my mom used and it just says, "clean" to me.

A couple of years ago I got this idea. I would search out a second perfume and only wear it when I am alone with David. It would be something private between the two of us. On one of our trips to New Orleans I spent some time in a  perfume shop smelling all the fragrances. I thought it would be especially nice to buy something there because the scent would also remind me of my favorite city. I found a couple of possibilities but an hour or so after trying them on I didn't like either very well. I had pretty much given up on this plan of mine.

And then David told me he was taking me to Paris. Paris - famous for fine perfume! In fact, Shalimar is made by Guerlain, a French perfume company. It also makes L'Heure Bleue, one of those I mentioned above. I decided I would try to find another fragrance on our trip. Bonus - it would always remind me of Paris!

Late one afternoon toward the end of our trip, David and I walked almost a mile to the Guerlain perfume shop I had spotted on our bus tour around the city. A doorman greeted us as we entered an all-white room which smelled heavenly. We were the only customers and I must admit, the whole experience was just a bit intimidating. One by one I picked up the testers. With most I knew from the first whiff they weren't for me. I tried a few of them on a tester strip only to eliminate most of those, too. I think I may have actually tried one on my wrist. David was right there with me, sniffing each possible choice. Finally he said simply, "I like Shalimar". And that's when I knew my search had ended. At least for now.

My wonderful husband then purchased a bottle of the real perfume for me. It's hard to find anything but the eau de parfum or eau de toilet around here. I haven't seen the "parfum" anywhere in years. Not only is the perfume longer lasting (and has a richer, deeper fragrance), it still comes in this gorgeous, iconic bottle:


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Isn't that beautiful? The other formulations come in a bottle which was updated several years ago:


Pretty, and still reminiscent of the older bottle but I love the vintage look of the other, don't you?

Maybe someday I'll find another perfume but for now Shalimar remains my signature scent.