Archive Page 2

Mastering the Art of French Eating (+ Giveaway!)

Last week I celebrated Thanksgiving in the US with my family for the first time in years. Since moving to Paris, I’ve enjoyed mixing cultural traditions. Franco-international-expat-American Thanksgivings have become my new norm – what fun!

Still, in a year of many blessings, it was a gift to spend this holiday with my family. And oh the food! I’m not sure gourmandise would be the right word for what went down as it was outright gluttony. I literally cannot remember the last time I saw (and ate) so much food. The dessert table alone was outrageous(ly good). There was pumpkin pie and pecan pie and apple pie and cheesecake and cookies and and and….

Mastering the Art of French EatingA long holiday weekend wouldn’t be complete without tucking into a good book, as well. I read a great one and I’m so excited I get to offer a free giveaway copy to one of you, too.

When journalist Ann Mah’s diplomat husband receives a three-year assignment in Paris it is a dream come true. He’s suddenly called to a new post in Iraq, however, changing drastically Mah’s reality of a new life in the City of Light.

Mastering the Art of French Eating blends food, travel, and gastronomic history. It’s a lovely memoir that explores the stories behind many of France’s signature regional dishes, from crepes to cassoulet, choucroute to boeuf bourguignon. It’s also a personal story of navigating a new country, battling loneliness, and learning lessons in both food and love.

The book has already gained much buzz, including being named a Best Book of the Year by Amazon and a best fall travel book by National Geographic Traveler. I’m delighted to offer a free copy to one lucky reader and to have Ann Mah on the blog for the occasion.

Continue reading ‘Mastering the Art of French Eating (+ Giveaway!)’

Prête-Moi Paris’ Blogiversary Bash

Having a ball (Can you name all the Paris superstars in this shot?)

Having a ball (can you name all the Paris superstars in this shot?)

As a writer, I know the importance of detail. The same must hold true for events.

Last night, Melissa Ladd of Prête-Moi Paris celebrated her four-year blogiversary at her gorgeous home in the seventeenth arrondissement (seriously! apartment envy!).

Prete Moi Paris mantle
Fitted with streaming pink pendants and rose-colored poofs, the festive rooms set the stage for a super fun soiree. 

Prete Moi Paris Party spreadMelissa Ladd opening champagne
Continue reading ‘Prête-Moi Paris’ Blogiversary Bash’

Giverny: A Gorgeous Getaway (and one dream down)

Yesterday I did something I’ve been wanting to do for as long as I can remember.

I went to visit the house and gardens of Claude Monet in Giverny. It’s not so much the iconic impressionist painter’s works that have had me dreaming of Giverny – though they are of course quite impressive.

No, it’s that images of the actual place that inspired him grafted themselves onto my mind at a young age; I mean, how flippin’ beautiful can you get?

Lily pond - wow!

Why then has it taken me so many years to go? It’s under an hour’s journey from Paris, a simple train (then short bus) ride to arrive.

Isn’t this often the case with dreams, though, even (especially?) those that we can readily achieve? What do you think holds us back?

I’ve been battling a bit of the blues lately, but I also know how to kick myself in the butt, too. Just do it, Sion. See the gorgeous world and its gifts.

Some dreams are huge; they seem like mountains must be moved. But some…oh some have a clear shape, a concrete form, and are quite easy to make happen. The smallest joys can bring the biggest rewards.

This is what it looks like when one of those dreams comes true.

Lost in the gardens of GIverny

Me in glasses, Giverny

Continue reading ‘Giverny: A Gorgeous Getaway (and one dream down)’

Open House ‘Heritage Days’

Hôtel de Beauvais - Cour Administrative d'appel de Paris

Hôtel de Beauvais – Cour administrative d’appel de Paris

This past weekend was the thirtieth edition of Journées européennes du patrimoine – or “European Heritage Days.” This annual event has become an important date on September’s already busy rentree schedule.

Historic monuments, buildings, private residences, art museums, parks and gardens – all of these open to the public in an impressive show of the country’s rich cultural heritage. 12 million people visit the thousands of sites spread all across France.

A free tour of the towers of Notre Dame were offered for Heritage Days. We took the less crowded option and went around back.

A free tour of the towers of Notre Dame were offered for Heritage Days. We took the less crowded option and went around back.

We had planned to go out exploring on Saturday, but it was raining cats and dogs (or “raining ropes” – il pleut des cordes - as they say in French). Still, I heard on the news that people were waiting up to 3 hours in the rain to get into the Elysee, home of the French president.

(Here’s a video of the Elysee, in case you didn’t make it in, either):

While I love getting a glimpse of normally closed off places – and this weekend offered access to many of them! – I’m also kind of a wimp when it comes to both floods of people and waterworks from the sky.

Luckily our strategy worked – waiting until Sunday gave us a day free of rain (even some sun!) and manageable lines because we picked smaller sites. I didn’t know anything about the administrative court, but hey, why not? They’re letting us in!

Continue reading ‘Open House ‘Heritage Days’’

Back in Paris and Being Wooed

Rain pelted Paris today; cold temperatures slyly snuck in.

But! Up until now, Paris bathed in a surprising amount of sunshine. It’s as if the city knew it must woo me back from Spain.

Soaking up the sun

Soaking up the sun in a park close to home

And speaking of all things woo, reuniting with my man after the summer away has been awesome. He also was pleasantly surprised. Since we met in a season when I was already bundled up in my puffy coat – and winter here lasted through June – he’d never seen me sporting cute summer dresses before. Yes, show a little skin!

Ok, but with a scarf. And something for my arms. And a table in front so you can't really see what I'm wearing. But trust me! More cuteness has happened than usual!

Ok, but with a scarf. And something for my arms. And a table in front so you can’t really see what I’m wearing. But trust me! More cuteness has happened than usual!

I’ve been approaching the city as a newcomer again; being a tourist in my own town. I had an errand close to the Pantheon the other day and then realized – hey! I’ve never been inside the Pantheon! Time to check that off the list.

But of course I didn't have my camera with me so this  is a photo from Flickr Creative Commons. Thanks DoctorWho!

But of course I didn’t have my camera with me so this is a photo from Flickr Creative Commons. Thanks DoctorWho!

My friend Adam also paid visit to the city. And aww, shucks! He proposed to his girlfriend at the Eiffel Tower! (She said yes). We’re batting a thousand for wonderful tourist things to do.

(Come join us on a short video stroll on the tip of Ile de la Cite as we headed to a picnic. More summer stuff!)

Not far from said tip is the Pont des Arts. Adam hadn’t been in Paris for 5 or 6 years. “Hey, when did that bridge get covered over in gold?” he joked as we spied it from Pont Neuf.

Pont des Arts

Oh. Oh dear. Upon closer inspection it is simply the love lock bridge way overloaded now

But back on the trail. It’s the Museum of Montmartre.

Musee de Montmartre

Musee de Montmartre

And quaint Place Dalida…

Place Dalida. A bit more tasteful.

…though the golden tint of (ahem, rhyme with me here), the statue’s t*ts took the classiness level down just a bit.

Statue of famous singer Dalida. The focused golden tint on one body part hard to miss.

What ritual is this?

There’s the Roy Lichtenstein exhibition at the Pompidou. (It’s great! The expo is on through November 4 – my birthday! – for anyone who still wants to catch it).

Now, mes petits...pour la France!

Now, mes petits…pour la France!

Summer’s fun and games wane, however. But in it’s place the energy and promise of the busy rentree. Everything is abuzz; everyone’s appointment books full.

Remember the quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald, someone who knew a little something about swinging Paris in its heyday: “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”

So now over to you: Does the rentree/back to school season energize you or fill you with dread?

If giant fairground rides strike fear into your heart, the apocalyptic sky hanging over the Tuilieres probably doesn't help. (Of course, the other option, is that you find this totally awesome).

Delight or terror in the Tuileries?

Summer Scenes: 2013 Edition

People don’t actually fall off the face of the earth.

For one thing, there’s gravity. For another, we’re always somewhere, doing something (until we’re not).

But you’re forgiven for wondering just where the heck I went. (Thanks for caring!)

Did I end up in some strange desert?

IMG_9205

Or get lost in the woods?

Montjuic graffiti

Am I in a land where art is larger than humans?

Fundació Joan Miró

Or houses look like they’re made of bone?

Casa Batlló

Well friends, I’m still in Barcelona – and all those photos above are from Barca, too. Which is just one more reason in a list of many that I can’t tire of this place. I’m constantly discovering something new.

This is not a love song

Well, actually this *is* a love song to the city

I’ve been here nearly 5 weeks now, and those photos were all taken in just the last few days. I’ve wandered through a cactus garden, past Miró’s constellations, across the mountain Montjuic, and inside (and around, and on top of) Gaudi’s amazing Casa Batlló all within the few days since the program where I taught ended.

And, oh the program!

I had incredible students this summer. I cannot even begin to tell you what a pleasure and a privilege it was to get to know them. Again I learned far more from them than they did me, but I’m pretty sure they had some fun along the way.

Creative Writing Minor Class 2013

My goofy expressions sometimes come in handy

Pedralbes Park with Major Class 2013

My incredible major class. 6 days a week and always interested, curious, and in good humor.

We visited ballrooms and Roman amphitheaters

Casa Castellarnau in Tarragona

Casa Castellarnau in Tarragona

Tarragona

Did Poetry Machine workshops and wrote about stunning photographs

The Poetry Machine

Sarah at Chema Madoz exhibit (I was thrilled to discover this photographer this summer - incredible work!)

Sarah at Chema Madoz exhibit (I was thrilled to discover this photographer this summer – incredible work!)

Both classes produced a literary journal and I couldn’t be more proud of them.

Literary journals, 2013

On the last day my major class surprised me with a gift. Delicious chocolate, and even more precious, a poem:

“Ode to Sion”

Eyes bright -
vivid and deep -
sparkling with youth and adventure

Smile wide and welcoming;
make her laugh and you’ll feel the warmth of summer

Kindness comes with her words,
poetry follows her pen:

delve into the depths of her notebook,
unfurl the web of ink
and lose yourself….

My amazing major class on the rooftop of La Pedrera

My amazing major class on the rooftop of La Pedrera

Yes, indeed. I cried. (Maya, Alexis, Sophia, Kiarra – THANK YOU! I will never forget you all!)

Now, I’m taking some time to rest and recuperate, though you can’t stop the brain from churning when inspired, either.

Sitges

Sitges

And I’ve found the perfect cafe, which I will now visit daily, Spice Cafe in Poble Sec.

Spice Cafe in Poble Sec

Spice Cafe in Poble Sec

In other news, I’ve made my first film appearance.

ScreenshotHeartOfBrunoWizardCameo

You may remember back in September I visited London to see a dear friend and be interviewed for a documentary about him. Well, The Heart of Bruno Wizard premiered at The East End Film Festival in July to a sold-out crowd. I couldn’t be at the premiere because it was the first day of classes, but it was quite the event! I hope the film will be picked up for distribution everywhere…and soon.

HeartOfBrunoWizardScreenshot2

And so that’s the quick summary. There’s more, of course – there always is! But for now, you know I have not fallen off the face of the earth. No, I am living rich, rewarding days – just off the screen.

How is your summer going? What’s the sunshine in your life?

Fantasy Meets Reality

Hello dear ones,

I know, I know. It’s been too long.

Don’t think I don’t think about you – because I very much do!

Sion in Parc Floral - color!
(I just set this as the new photo on my website. What do you think? Does it work? Does it say happy writer in Paris? Or actually Sion in “aris” since I’m covering the “P?” But that sounds like “heiress” which is kind of of cool, too. Ahem. Babbling!)

Life is full these days and it’s a challenge making it to the computer screen. Or rather, hard to come back to the computer after many hours spent in front of it.

My 9 to 5 (erm, later adjusted hours in my case) sees me as a content writing/editing machine (my boss actually called me a robot yesterday, in what was actually a compliment). I’m helping with the relaunch of a major website and there are exactly 678 pages to get in shape. I’m looking at every single one.

After playing writing robot, I head home to my second job – preparing lesson plans for my imminent return to Spain.

Yes! You may remember I taught creative writing last summer in a study abroad program for high schoolers in Barcelona. Well, they’ve asked me back, with even an extra class on board. I’ll teach 6 days a week, live in the dorm, accompany field trips – full immersion with the teens! It’s exhausting and exhilarating and it hasn’t even started yet. A ton to prepare.

In between all that, I’m listening to Spanish podcasts as I do errands in optimistic efforts of (re)learning the language that way.

So by the end of the day, I’m kind of braindead and can’t quite make it to the blog.

Yep, I pass the Iron Lady every day on the way to work now.

Yep, I pass the Iron Lady every day on the way to work now.

But I’ve missed you! How are you? Very well, I hope.

Today had so much sunshine – so bright, so mighty! Paris couldn’t have needed it more. It may seem boring to talk weather, but friends, really. The rain here was out of control. People were losing it; almost on the brink! (I even saw a sobbing woman run toward the tracks as a train approached. Aie! Another hazard of hard commutes! And yes, someone stopped her.)

No one knows if Mister Soleil is going to stay (I’m still wearing a heavy coat in June; just saying) so we flock outside when he appears.

What a bad blogger I’ve become – I even forgot my camera on the one nice day!

I lunched on the Champs de Mars (my office is close) then walked along the Seine a good way home. I saw that a new floating garden on the river is under construction and the Petit Palais’ columns were dressed in bright colors. Oh, I wish I could show you!

I get the impression that a lot of people think this is how we live in Paris normally – meals on the Eiffel Tower’s lawn, sunny strolls along the Seine.

It’s so far from the truth, but once in awhile it happens. Fantasy meets reality.

I took some photos for tourists as I walked through the Tuileries. I had to smile as they posed. Do they realize how rare this good fortune?

I hope your fantasy life is meeting reality in moments, too. I hope you’re having wonderful adventures, wherever you may be.

Artfully Adored ScreenshotP.S. I’m sending some link love over to Stephanie on ArtfullyAdored. She’s got a luxurious giveaway going on – perhaps make the fantasy real?


paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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