29 July 2012

what are you reading these days?

Summertime is peak reading time for me. I love it all,  chick lit reads for the beach, epic tomes to make travel times pass quickly, and riveting novels for an afternoon inside during a summer rainstorm.  What are you thumbing through these days? 

My most recent reads, with a few additions from Clover of course, from top to bottom are:

1. Big Dog and Little Dog. Clover likes to have us read this book at least 6 times in a row every time we open it. It's hard to resist his little voice asking, "Encore?" as we turn the last page.

It's a Book. Another current favorite of Clover's. Very cute. Has the word "no" on every other page.  As you might imagine, it's a huge hit with the toddler crowd.

3. Ma Vie pour un Oscar. Rated a great beach read by Elle magazine, I rate it a mediocre beach read.  It's the fictional, very thinly veiled adaptation of the author's life as the assistant to an unnamed Hollywood star.  The magic of google confirms that it is in fact, John Cusack, her former boss.  The star-system narcissism is strong, inescapable and the sole premise of the book it seems. It's a good read for putting the glitz and glamour of Hollywood into a more sad and solitary perspective.

4. Le Nœud en Huit, a great, quick read. The fictional story of guides that were hired to help nazi soldiers fleeing the country after the war and the lives that were shattered by the experience.  It takes place in the Alps, Saint Gervais even, before embarking to warmer climates. Written by a local mountain guide. Always fun to read something set locally.

5. She Walks in Beauty. A selection of poetry on marriage and motherhood curated by Caroline Kennedy. This was a gift from  my mom a while ago.  I pick this up often. It has some really great poems that speak straight to my heart.

6. The Brain That Changes Itself.  Not my typical beach read but so, so interesting. As someone previously unaware of the studies in neuroplasticity, I found the subject fascinating.  There is case after case of the brain's incredible capacity to heal and adapt. Mindblowing, in the best possible way.

7. Bringing Up Bébé. An American journalist in Paris (self-described as a reluctant expatriate)  presents the differences of raising a child in France rather than the United States. This book raised quite a bit of controversy in the USA.  I found it to be written with a lot of humility. It was an interesting comparison of the cultural differences in child-rearing between the two countries.   For me it feels like a bit of a cheat sheet of the expectations for raising a child in France. A well-researched handbook for things that I would have had to learn by trial and embarassing error on my own here.  She does make a few sweeping generalizations that I don't exactly agree with,  but that seems unavoidable in a book like this.  Like all parenting books I think it's important to pick and choose what works for one's family without feeling any pressure to implement everything exactly to the letter.

So, please spill your favorite titles in the comments! What are you reading these days? 

24 July 2012

making a quick day trip to Italy

Benvenuto! Félix and I made a run for the Italian border last week.  We headed over to Aosta.  It's just under an hour and a half from where we live making it the perfect distance for a quick day trip. 

We leisurely sipped our delightfully strong coffee and ate hazelnut pastries in the bright sunshine. The coffee is so, so very good. I happily indulged in a caffe latte to start my day, my favorite. They are always so delicious in Italy, the gold standard of lattes.

We strolled all over the city and admired the Roman ruins. We stopped in to make sure that the Teatro Romano was still standing.

 We can breathe easy, even after nearly 2000 years, the south wall of the Roman Theater is holding up well. We checked out some italian music and contemplated a Klimt exposition but decided we needed lunch first.

 We found a bite to eat at  a wineshop café with a hidden courtyard. We had big, fresh salads and toasted our day trip with a nice glass of local wine.   We were near l'Arco d'Augusto, the arch dedicated to the Emperor Augustus built in 25 BC. I love that. I adore being among the Roman ruins,  just knowing something has been around for so very long, that I am walking on streets that people have been walking on for thousands of years. Thousands of years!

And before we knew it, it was time to head to the grocery store to stock up on our favorite regional specialties on our way out of town. It's my favorite way to extend a short trip - bringing my favorites home. Have you taken any fun day trips lately?

17 July 2012

a summer storm

The sun was setting over the Mont Joly when we arrived at home following a family trip to the park on Sunday. A summer storm rolled in ever so abruptly.  It was beautiful.  The rays of bright sunshine that pierced through the dark clouds were awe-inspiring.

12 July 2012

my favorite restaurant in summer

Up a very narrow and winding road is one of our favorite restaurants to visit in the summertime, L'Auberge de Bionnassay. 

It is a stopping spot for trekkers and hikers going around the Mont Blanc, and  is aptly named since they have a nice view of the Bionnassay Glacier. 

They have a little farm with a llama, a donkey, chickens and rabbits. The rabbit was surrounded by a new litter of kits the last time we went.

Clover is a happy boy when we are there. So much to see and do. He also managed to get a tour of the kitchen from the owner who let him in on the secret of where the ice cream cones are stored. 

We now have the slight issue that Clover walks around like he owns the place. But it seems he only needs a few minutes wherever we go for that to happen.

02 July 2012

The sweet signs of summer - #1

I've decided to note some of the great things I love about summertime here.  The first to top my list of sweet signs of summer is a bicyle ride by the lake.  

We pedaled for hours around Annecy.   I can't wait to get back out again. Clover was happy taking in the sights and Félix kept a nice, intense pace. A good time was had by all. 

What are you loving so far this summer? 

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