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The essence of France - Food

One of the ways I become inspired is by the presentation of food in France. It doesn't matter how simple the meal is, served in a gourmet restaurant, a brasserie, or on the beach, it always looks like an edible painting. Like an good artist, I then copy and "try" to create the same with my own hands. 


Cafe Gourmand served on the beach -- a decadent day!

Melon with salad, mozarrella, jambon sec, and tomatoes inside. the original Melon was piled high like a bowl.


Off to France and Scotland

We are off to France and a quick sojourn up to Scotland, Edinburgh and St. Andrews. 

We can't wait to get on the airplane and the paradox is how much work it takes to prepare to leave. Finishing reports, cleaning the house, getting the haircut and pedicure, meeting the dog sitter, and closing down so we can truly have a "respite."

24 more hours and we will be there. 

More to come on the joys of the vacation!!!


Stinson Beach in February

The winter in California has been sunshine and roses while the rest of the country struggled through a freezing winter. Taking a walk on Stinson Beach in winter is almost better than summertime. 


Cambridge - when the Sun comes out - Hiking in Marin

This week I was in Cambridge, MA for work and hit the one sunny day they have had in the past 5 months. The combination of the late sunset, the bright sun, the hope for spring and the crisp air brought out the natives as though it was summer. Shorts, T-Shirts, runners, walkers, bikers came out in droves. I can only imagine how they felt to feel the sun on their faces on this glorious day.   (sidebar; the next day it snowed)



Hiking in Marin after the Rain



Nothing like a day in the Hot Tubs in February

Most of the US is under  snow, ice, and freezing weather and yet in Napa this weekend in February we had sunshine and more sunshine. Yes, we need rain, but sitting out at the pools of Calistoga soaking in the hottubs and embracing a deep tissue massage is one pure day of heaven. 

Jean and I decided to celebrate Valentines Day up in Calistoga with a day at the spa. Never sure what the weather is like, we knew the sulpher pools would keep us wrapped in warmth no matter what the weather. We love this place and have gone for years as the movement from the cold, to the warm, the hot pool is the perfect way to spend a day. The winter months are often a bit precarious as you never know the weather, but this day n February the sun was shining and we were able to lounge on the chairs, read our books, eat a picnic and dip in the pools at our leisure. 

The spa has changed over the years and since they remodeled they have a knew policy which is more limiting but still worth it. No more day passes on the weekends, but if you book a massage before 48 hours your fee includes a day at the pools. Combined it is so worth the money! For an extra $25 you can bring a guest ( a child or partner). 

The perfect Valentines Day and this one day I thank Global Warming for the sunny February day.


Berlin, Germany

 I had the opportunity to visit Berlin, Germany this past week. We have come a long way from this horrid time in history and to see the city revitalized into a modern new city is short of a miracle. 

See below some photos and explanation. 

Portions of the wall are still standing and painted with amazing murals. 


brlin wall open space






 Two sisters and their babies caught on either side of the wall not able to see each other for almost 30 years.

No Man's land between the two walls. 



 When the wall was being constructed



On the right, The only building left in the area of the wall for miles. Today it is all new development 




Shopping in modern Berlin today feels like I could be anywhere in the world; the same stores everywhere in the world. I have a new mission of every place I go I buy Zoe a piece of clothing from "Zara." So far she has a collection from, France, Singapore, San Francisco, and Berlin. 

Brandenburg Gate

History of East and West Berlin.. (

After a decade of relative calm, tensions flared again in 1958. For the next three years, the Soviets–emboldened by the successful launch of the Sputnik satellite the year before and embarrassed by the seemingly endless flow of refugees from east to west (nearly 3 million since the end of the blockade, many of them young skilled workers such as doctors, teachers and engineers)–blustered and

made threats, while the Allies resisted. Summits, conferences and other negotiations came and went without resolution.  Meanwhile, the flood of refugees continued. In June 1961, some 19,000 people left the GDR through Berlin. The following month, 30,000 fled. In the first 11 days of August, 16,000 East Germans crossed the border into West Berlin, and on August 12 some 2,400 followed—the largest number of defectors ever to leave East Germany in a single day.

The Berlin Wall: Building the Wall

That night, Premier Khrushchev gave the East German government permission to stop the flow of emigrants by closing its border for good. In just two weeks, the East German army, police force and volunteer construction workers had completed a makeshift barbed wire and concrete block wall–the Berlin Wall–that divided one side of the city from the other. 

Before the wall was built, Berliners on both sides of the city could move around fairly freely: They crossed the East-West border to work, to shop, to go to the theater and the movies. Trains and subway lines carried passengers back and forth. After the wall was built, it became impossible to get from East to West Berlin except through one of three checkpoints: at Helmstedt (“Checkpoint Alpha” in American military parlance), at Dreilinden (“Checkpoint Bravo”) and in the center of Berlin at Friedrichstrasse (“Checkpoint Charlie”). (Eventually, the GDR built 12 checkpoints along the wall.) At each of the checkpoints, East German soldiers screened diplomats and other officials before they were allowed to enter or leave. Except under special circumstances, travelers from East and West Berlin were rarely allowed across the border.

The Berlin Wall: 1961-1989

The construction of the Berlin Wall did stop the flood of refugees from East to West, and it did defuse the crisis over Berlin. (Though he was not happy about it, President Kennedy conceded that “a wall is a hell of a lot better than a war.”) Over time, East German officials replaced the makeshift wall with one that was sturdier and more difficult to scale. A 12-foot-tall, 4-foot-wide mass of reinforced concrete was topped with an enormous pipe that made climbing over nearly impossible. Behind the wall on the East German side was a so-called “Death Strip”: a gauntlet of soft sand (to show footprints), floodlights, vicious dogs, trip-wire machine guns and patrolling soldiers with orders to shoot escapees on sight. 

In all, at least 171 people were killed trying to get over, under or around the Berlin Wall. Escape from East Germany was not impossible, however: From 1961 until the wall came down in 1989, more than 5,000 East Germans (including some 600 border guards) managed to cross the border by jumping out of windows adjacent to the wall, climbing over the barbed wire, flying in hot air balloons, crawling through the sewers and driving through unfortified parts of the wall at high speeds.

The Berlin Wall: The Fall of the Wall

On November 9, 1989, as the Cold War began to thaw across Eastern Europe, the spokesman for East Berlin’s Communist Party announced a change in his city’s relations with the West. Starting at midnight that day, he said, citizens of the GDR were free to cross the country’s borders. East and West Berliners flocked to the wall, drinking beer and champagne and chanting “Tor auf!” (“Open the gate!”). At midnight, they flooded through the checkpoints. 

More than 2 million people from East Berlin visited West Berlin that weekend to participate in a celebration that was, one journalist wrote, “the greatest street party in the history of the world.” People used hammers and picks to knock away chunks of the wall–they became known as “mauerspechte,” or “wall woodpeckers”—while cranes and bulldozers pulled down section after section. Soon the wall was gone and Berlin was united for the first time since 1945. “Only today,” one Berliner spray-painted on a piece of the wall, “is the war really over.”

The reunification of East and West Germany was made official on October 3, 1990, almost one year after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
















Holidays at Home

This year we are focusing on 3 things:
- Entertaining and Experimenting with new Vegetarian Dishes

- Hiking and yoga (for me)

- Reading, Relaxation, and Going Slow

- Organizing/Finishing Projects

Is that not the perfect way to spend time - rejuvenating, relaxing, and refocusing

Moving into our new home with open space, a dining room that doesn't require setting up long tables for more than 4 people, a sunny backyard for drinks at noon, and hiking out our backyard. 

Using the new Vegetarian cookbook, The Heart of the Plate by Mollie Katzen (the author of Moosewood Cookbook) given to me by a secret santa at work, I'm venturing into 

Eggplant Slapdown:


  • Place egglplant halves into a skillet with oil and curry powder until it is browned.
  • Remove and in the pan place tumeric, corriander and diced onions. Sautee until soft
  • Place over the eggplant, add pomegranate seeds and a dobble of greek yogurt. 


Amazingly easy and my family loved it. 

Tonight is Mushroom Barley Cashew Burgers. 


  • Cook the barley ahead of time as it takes about 1 hour
  • Sautee, mushroom, onions, salt until trnslucent. Add in gralic and tbl of balsamic vinegar
  • Transfer to the Barley misture (1 1/2 cup cooked barley)stir in two beaten eggs, 1/2 cup grated, chopped or torn mozzarella, 1/ 2 cup cashews, and 6 tblsp unbleached flour. 
  • Cook in hot skillet with (oil). Cook 5-8 minutes until golden brown. Turn over and cook 5-8 more minutes. 
  • Cook in batches until all batter is done. 





Tell all middle and High School kids about New debut novel


Zoe-Pascale Roux , 14 years old has a debut novel for all middle and high school girls. confessions of a Geek, or How I Survived the Cruelty, Condescenion, and Cliques of Carnegie Academy. 

Tell all your friends, nieces, couslins, relatives and others to buy her book on Amazon. 

Then, we'd love a review on Amazon. 



Great dishes in Singapore

Some fantastic ethnic dishes in Singapore. It is such a food culture. 



A Perfect Provencal Lunch

Visiting our good friends near Uzes, we sat down to am amazing lunch all from their garden.

Cold Melon and Tomato soup

In a blender mix watermelon, canteloupe or other melon, add cut tomatoes, bell pepper, hot pepper, garlic, and spices. Serve in small glasses for an starter

Tomato and Pesto Tarte


Buy ready made puff pastry called something like feuillette in france.   Put it in tart tin or on baking sheet put some pesto on the bottom, lay sliced tomatoes all round (leave an inch border all round tart so it rises just at the edges only) sprinkle salt and grated Parmesan cheese on top and put on hot oven for around 15 mins.