Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Time Travel: Saint Petersburg, Russia

I own just a handful of photos of my grandparents' travels -and they made countless trips. 
These are a few clips of their trip to Saint Petersburg (Leningrad, at the time).

They (and some relatives) took a bus tour from Helsinki -the ride was about six hours long.

Many of the buildings survived war times and still stand today. I'm fascinated by the rich architecture.

(Did you notice they wore suits and dresses for the trip?)

The Peterhof Fountains (The Grand Cascade)

St. Petersburg's nickname The Venice of the North has stuck for a reason.

                                                                                             photo by

Rivers and canals meander through the city.  A staggering 700+ squares fit in. For relaxing and taking in the outdoors you can choose from over 200 parks and gardens.
Tree-lined streets add to the charm of this grand city.

I remember as a child being impressed with the voices of the show choirs from Russia (The Soviet Union).
The dancers' colorful folk dress is still vivid in my mind.
Thinking back to those memories inspired me to paint this pillow.

As kids we got to play with the traditional wooden nestling dolls my grandparents brought back as souvenirs. They were lustrously hand-painted! I loved the tiny baby, barely the size of my pinkie tip, snug in the very center after you carefully opened six or seven layers. In the more intricate sets, even the tiny babe came open! The Matrjoška dolls and painted eggs gave me the idea for this pillow. 

Do you have old-time photos of someone's travels? Does it give you a kaleidoscope for linking the past with the present?


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Paris revisited

Paris, ooh-la-la!

I came across a blog post about a young woman who quit her day job and started a business selling hand-written letters. She illustrated them in watercolor, telling about her time in Paris. Brilliant! 

                                                             You can find her art in her etsy shop JaniceArtShip                         

Reading about her got me remembering my visit to Paris and post cards I sent to my friends and family. Maybe they've held onto some of them (even if mine are not beautifully illustrated letters). 

I remember I made my way from Germany to France by train. Lindau to Strasbourg first, to be exact,  and from there to Paris the next morning.  On the train I met the nicest lady from Tibet, who lived in a flat in Paris. She invited me to stay with her! While I do not recommend this type of arrangement when you're on the road on your own (!), I was in luck as Tinley turned out to be trustworthy and so, so nice. Out-of-her-way nice, actually. She took me around Paris to see the sights, and gave me tips like only a local could. 

I dug up some photos to show you. (Pardon the quality.)

I had boarded the train in Strasbourg at 6:08 that morning and arrived at Gare du Nord, one of the train hubs in Paris shortly after 9. From there a good connection by Métro to my stop La Chapelle, and a walk to Rue du Faubourg where I would stay with my new-found friend.

                                                                                                       (photo by wikipedia)

                                                                           Canal de Saint Martin (photo by wikipedia)

When I think of Paris I see cafes and bakeries lining the narrow streets. I picture unhurried walks on the Seine and artists in the park. 
I remember writing on post cards of our days filled with walks to the bakery, watching in amazement the artists at Montmartre,  perusing an open air market, visiting The Sacre Cœur Basilica, Palais de Chaillot, and Moulin Rouge, and gazing at the Eiffel Tower. We took the metro to the Avenue des Champs-Elysées  where cafes, theaters, and luxury shops line the wide street, and examined at close range the Arc de Triomphe.
We had fun experiencing Paris by Night! We took a look at Centre Georges Pompidou, I bought myself a pair of sandals, and we caught not one, but two Chinese movies!

Montmartre with watercolors, portrait sketches, and caricaturists

Sacre Cœur Basilica                                                                 


Music on the steps :) 
View over the city from Sacre Cœur

Palais de Chaillot, which houses several museums

This inscription by French poet Paul Valéry is on one of the sides: 

"All men create without knowing it, as they breathe, but the artist is aware and engages everything he is, and his beloved pain strengthens him." (artistic freedom applied on translation) :)

Moulin Rouge

L'Arc de Triomphe

La Tour Eiffel

Avenue des Champs-Elysées

My Paris experience included home-made dinner Tibetan style and relaxing teatime at the end of full days to digest all that we took in of this "City of Lights".

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


It's about time...

                                                                    Tempus fugit

Lately I've been feeling like life is sort of slipping through my fingers. It seems like it's always time for bed once again and at the end of the (busy) day I can't remember what I've done. 

I'm a list maker. I need to write things down so that I don't walk around in a frenzy trying to remember what I'm forgetting. I cross things off as I complete tasks and then forget about what I've accomplished.  So it's time to take a new approach.
I saw somewhere an idea for a List Jar and decided to give it a go. I jot down my list as usual, but then, instead of throwing the list away after crossing off the accomplished things , I write them on pretty slips of paper and put the slips in a jar. I notice everything I do, from menial chores like doing the dishes and laundry to creative ventures like painting pillow covers to being kind like visiting someone lonely. Not all the things I do come from the To Do-list, but if I do it, it goes in the jar. This is a therapeutic way for me to see that life is not slipping through my fingers and I am not just idly standing by.  :-)  Already I see the jar filling up! 

I'll keep adding to my jar until it's to the brim and then I think I'll start a notebook. A friend told me how excited she was to read a diary that her grandmother she never knew had filled up with lists of her everyday doings. (She baked lots of pies and took them to people to cheer them up!) What an fascinating way to get to know someone!

About a year ago I made a list of fun things I'd like to do in the new year. I had a blast doing a bunch of them:

-Be amazed: I saw Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables and was amazed!
-Learn to dance: Not from Zac Efron as originally planned (hah). Nevertheless, loads of fun; 
  my Brazilian friends taught me!
-Midnight kiss at New Year's: check ;-)
-Own a kooky umbrella
-Get dessert as an appetizer 
-Go to London: Repeat, please!
-Go to "Bali": My sister took me to a Resort & Spa in Finland
-Paint a picture

What we do with our time matters. Life comes in stages and what we concentrate our energies on varies by stage. But every stage is prime.
A quote by April Monroe comes to mind. "Sometimes the most moving, altering moments of life are in fact only moments. Sometimes they are not destined to be novels, essays, or memoirs." 
Sometimes we just need to take the moments and appreciate what we're experiencing. :-)
My list jar is showing me a nice blend of work, play, and making a difference. (A Blog Post slip goes in!)

How do you measure what you do in a day? Are you a list maker? A journal keeper? I hope you feel accomplished!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Herm's Inn

A charming gas-station and inn from the olden days, Herm's Inn is now renovated and expanded to be a trendy restaurant that draws a breakfast and lunch crowd at the mouth of Logan Canyon. 

The place used to be known as the last chance to fill up your tank -and your vehicle's- before venturing into the winding canyon that leads to Bear Lake and beyond into Idaho and Wyoming. 

Hungry as a bear or on a health kick? The menu items satisfy a variety of moods. Sandwiches, salads, and traditional breakfast foods (the homemade pancake syrup is to die for), hearty skillet meals, and crepes -all worth a try. 

Herm's Inn caters, too. Check out these beauties, enjoyed at a Christmas party :

A fun and funky spot for relaxing among friends with a plate of good food.  :-)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Santorini, Greece: Fira & Kamari

If you live in my hemisphere, you may be ready for more sun rays to brighten the chilly days and bring hope of a new spring.

So while we wait, let's dip into the reserves. 
My sister K and daughter M had a fabulous week in Greece. These great photos by M depict the island of Santorini. To me it equals a blue and white paradise. :)

Fira, the capital of  Santorini island, affords quiet corners and cafes to take in the calming views of the sea. 

Many churches and monasteries dot the town, as they do most of Santorini.

Boat in water...

... Boat out of water :-)


A little bit of country...

... and a little bit of... well, shopping

Water taxi ride

Hotel Argo in Kamari

 Many of the streets are constructed with such care.

This wall has a door that leads to the other side... why?

 Summer stroll

Cliff houses

There we are. A quick dream trip to satisfy the summer-yearning soul.