American Love

This Valentine’s Day, I realized how differently Americans celebrate this holiday than…well the entire world. In America, from an early age I was taught that February 14th was about chocolates and making valentines.  Since I was six, the week before, I would be write out my valentines to my classmates, friends and family. And 20 years later, I have kept this tradition. Each year when I hand out my valentines, not a year goes by without someone telling me this was their first valentine that they’ve ever received [mind blown]. I’m happy to bring a smile to someone’s face! In France, when I try making valentines with my students, they tell me that they don’t have a boy/girlfriend and are hesitant to believe that February 14 isn’t always about lovers, but for friends and family was well….


“Bringing Back the Salons”

Is what Sinfonietta Paris Chamber Orchestra is doing. This chamber orchestra is an innovative and exciting music group in Paris with exceptional musicians from all over the world. Their series “Cocktails and Conversations” are set in intimate, private residents which features exceptional wine paired with beautiful music.  It’s an unforgettable night in Paris! After the concert, you will be able to converse all of the interesting guests, as well as the musicians and members of SPCO (including your’s truly). 

My frist concert attendance, I was so impressed; I’ve never heard Schoenberg ever sound “beautiful” before! 

Kicking off their 2014 concert program, Sinfonietta Paris Chamber Orchestra will be holding “Cocktails and Conversations” at the gorgeous Finnish Institute.  Guests will discover a new and fresh way of listening to classical music. Intrigued? Reserve your tickets here! See you on March 6 & 7!   

Champagne Cocktail

  • Chilled Champagne 
  • Créme de voilette 
  • Fresh Rosemary
  • sugar
  • Fresh lemon juice (optional)

The day before you serve the cocktail, make a simply syrup and add in a good amount of the crème de violette and rosemary. Chill over night. minutes before your guests arrive, add in champagne to the mixture. Garnish each glass with a sprig of rosemary. Add more crème de violette and/or sugar to taste. Fresh lemon juice is also a nice ingredient to add in the cocktail. 


I love soup. Anyone can win my stomach over with a good tomato or carrot soup.
It’s my favorite dish, in fact celebrity food chef, Marie-Antoine Carême, believed that each meal should start with soup as a democratic gesture of community and togetherness. It’s hard to find soup other than French onion or maybe a potage here and there in Paris. C’est un dommage,  I’ve been spending a lot of time at the Institut finlandais, perhaps I feel like I’m closer to The Finn this way.  I was there during the lunch hour one day so I looked at Café Coutume’s menu and to my surprise they had a carrot-lime soup!  It was a no-brainer to stay for lunch! Served with whole-wheat quinoa and Finnish Rye bread I was in heaven. And all for 5 euros! 

London busses are pure genius. I wish Paris would construct their busses like London’s. Wanting to ride one of the older busses. I jumped on, while the  bus was moving and proceeded up the stairs while the bus drove over very bumpy cobblestone roads. Out of breathe and a bit nervous, the view from the top is spectacular and well worth the adventure! 

DIY: A Vagabond’s Table

I am just IN LOVE with my makeshift-shabby-chic-whatever-you-want-to-call-it table!  It was just oh-so easy to make.

Wine allowed:

as much as you like!

What you will need:

1 picnic basket/small suitcase

1 wine crate (just ask your local caviste)

1 tray (here or here)


Just stack them up! I put files, music and miscellaneous papers in the crate. Voilà you have a table now! Easy, eh?


One thing that I love about Paris are all the tourists (except during Christmas and the soldes season, for people who don’t understand le Métro and people blocking my way to get to work). I end up meeting and reconnecting with so many interesting people who are passing by.  I hosted friends of friends from Costa Rica who are studying in Spain.  It was a blast and now trying to plan trips to both countries! 
It’s really wonderful experiencing someone’s first time in Paris.  And it’s a humble reminder that Paris is an incredible city. Plus I wonder why I don’t visit the Eiffel Tower more! 
One of my favorite places to take people is up to le Ciel de Paris for a nightcap—its one of the best views of Paris at night

The Dessert of January. 

In the month of January expect a Galette du Roi to be served at every occasion you attend in France. That’s the fashion in January.  Guests are eager to see who will be king de la journée and will wear the crown. Other traditions that go along with the cake: The holder of the fève must provide the next king cake!  When serving, children hide under the table and shout from below who gets each piece.
 La Galette des Rois are available at every boulangerie and pâtisserie. There are various seizes to fit the size of your event (caution the galette for one doesn’t come with a crown nor a fève).  

Bon appétit! 


I went to Estonia. 

Wow, I never thought I’d say that sentence! It was charming. My time was short so I visited the old town which was untouched from all wars so most of the buildings are from the middle ages. It was a lovely afternoon. The Christmas market was up and was one of the best I’ve been too (I’m a CM junkie, been to countless of them—5 countries total) . From the few minutes spending outside of the touristy-old town, Tallinn is a booming city, still celebrating their freedom and independence.  Anyone who visits Finland, should take the ferry for the afternoon.   

Fabulous Fantastic Finland

The more time I spend in Finland, the more I am falling in love with all of its charm. This Christmas, sadly, there was no snow. The first green Christmas for the Finn. Although I was sad not to have a white Christmas (I’m a Minnesotan at heart), it was like I was visiting Finland in the fall. I was able to do a lot of walking in the forests and spending time by lakes. There’s lakes, forests, mushrooms, Marimekko, Iittala and Muumi. What not to love? 

This photo was not edited.