Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Fete de Muguet - May sketches

It's that time of year in Paris. Everyone is buying plants to put on their balcony or window boxes.
Flowers are spilling out on to the street and the fragrance as you walk by is delicious.
Chocolate bunnies and hens have been replaced by sprigs/brin of lily of the valley or muguet in anticipation for the 1st of May, a national holiday in France.
I stopped in the flower market at Cité yesterday for a look.
As Claire said the price of pots of muguet can vary widely. These are 10€.
My pot from BHV was just 4.50 - was it the lovely scent that made me loose my head and drop my credit cards on the floor?
Stacks and stacks of cards wishing Spring good luck to all
And so many bottles of flowery muguet scents, many of them only available for the month of May - limited editions like a special Pierre Hermé macaron flavor...
Monthly excitement over the latest celebration is what makes living in Paris so much fun.
The French tradition of giving muguet as a lucky charm goes back to the 16th century. During his reign, Charles IX began offering sprigs of muguet for luck.
Wreaths of muguet were hung on doorways to announce the bans of new brides-to-be in the Spring. They're still used in bridal bouquets for their delicacy and scent.
La Mere de Famile has chocolate flower pots filled with praline. Mazet puts their nuts on the outside like an inside out sushi roll.
You can buy their chopped praliné and fill your own chocolate pots.
Sarah Vasseghi created a tabletop design of sugar paste muguet on little cakes. The how-to directions are on Prima(in French).
Lily of the valley (my birth flower) popping up everywhere made me want to draw their lyrical leaves and inhale their perfume. I've been buying bunches/boite in the market as soon as they showed up and then the plant with 3 sprigs...
What a perfect way to illustrate Spring and give Mom a lift.
May Sketch letters going out will be in Muguet-scented envelopes with an original watercolor lily of the valley on the envelope. Bear has given Mini Bear her envelope early. There's still time to send out a gift letter for May 11, Mother's Day. Je porte Bonheur!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Musee de la Poupee


When ever I read interviews with French chefs or just about anyone here, they always ask what was their 'madeleine de Proust'? What was your favorite food from childhood. But they never ask what was your favorite toy? Can you find the French person in this tableau? Merci Haribo.
Doll houses and all their tiny bits and pieces were my heart throb, more than any Oreo cookie or cupcake.
On Friday I went with 365 Dresses to visit Musée de la Poupée hidden down a cul de sac in the Marais. They certainly have a lot of toys and dolls.
IMPASSE BERTHAUD
quartier Beaubourg 75003
Wonderful period tableaux that take you back to another time in an instant and they change them from my previous visits.
French children's clothing is still divinely chic
What a giggle...
365 says it's easy to print out these old fashioned grocery boxes from the internet and DIY.
I was a huge paper doll fan. Were you?
Are there still paper dolls around today?
The museum in their shop offers facsimiles of 19th century paper dolls for a mere 2€  if you need a fix.
These dolls are so expressive. The whole range of human emotions is displayed.
Including severe frustration. Yesterday I was making this face all morning ! 
I woke up and realized that I'd left ALL my credit cards in BHV (we stopped in after the doll museum to buy pencils). I always put my cards inside my Sports bra knowing I don't have to worry. They will never fall out..ahem. In fact I missed and they dropped on the floor at BHV's cashier. After tearing my studio upside down (just in case) I raced up there armed with all my ID and luckily at Clientel Service they had them ! Very lucky indeed. A Big happy smile on my face after that ;))
We went to the museum especially to see the Barbie Retro chic exhibit
We were pleasantly surprised how much we enjoyed it.
Perfect renditions of Sabrina and Grace
Even all the under bits quite detailed
To wear under your classic little black dress.
They have interesting dolls and toys for sale in the museum shop. I thought these might be perfume bottle tops but 365 said the holes were to attach skirts.
I fell madly, deeply in love with this little window box - The National Art of Smallest Kitchen Match Box (made in Germany). *I'd happily trade a small watercolor for one of these if you have one.
Contact me know!
I often feel, these days, like I'm living in the movie REAR WINDOW.
The view out my window is compelling and looks much like a lit up dolls house doesn't it?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

L'Orient Express

I love riding trains and no doubt a trip on the Orient Express would have been most thrilling.
You can easily do so until August 31st. Just take yourself off to the Institute du Monde Arabe at 1, rue Fosses St. Bernard 75005 Metro Jussieu
It's an exhibit with 2 parts - the passenger cars standing out in the open and the 2nd part inside Jean Nouvel's historic building downstairs featuring posters, artifacts and tea salon.
Getting through the exhibit (for me at least) was almost as convoluted as riding from London to Cairo.
I thought I'd arrived early enough at 10:30 am (the exhibit opens at 9:30 on the dot) and like any good train, it leaves on time.
But in fact there were a slew of people ahead of me, many bought tickets online.
Once inside the cars it felt pretty claustrophobic and after passing through 2 cars I knew I wasn't going to make it to the end. I simply had to get off the Simplon Express. No two ways about it. The folks behind me were not best pleased for sure. It is tight in there.
Never mind. I returned next morning just at opening time. Granted at least 25+ ticket holders were in front of me, but being French, they stopped to read every word of the display cases outside the trains while I sashayed on the train unimpaired.






I almost had the cars completely to myself. Fabulous! Of course if you all follow my example you're in trouble...ahem
The tables are laid out to illustrate different celebrities who rode the train or wrote about it
Agatha Christie met her husband aboard and wrote three novels inspired by it (Murder on the Orient Express).
Or Graham Green (Stamboul Train).
Films are playing...here a James Bond movie, From Russia with Love.
And murder most foul is illustrated. Some sleeping compartments even emit heavy snoring to make our experience more realistic.
Every detail of the original fabrications is seen to.
With gorgeous Art Deco wall decorations


Really a very fun exhibit.
The space inside the Institute is happily more spacious with interactive maps etc.
Old movie posters
And travel posters
Reek of travel in the 30s ambiance.
Plenty of travel photos though I didn't see any sketchbooks or journals...
At the end of the exhibit you can restore and relax with Mediterranean sweets topped up with tea in specially designed tins from Dammen. This is a don't miss exhibit in my opinion.