Category Archives: Discovering Home


Well, summer has come to a close. Time to stock up on tea lights . . .Tea Lights Lit and ReadyOkay, these gorgeous tea light holders ↑ are Lexi’s, not mine, but trust me, I use tealights. Bags of them. This is me just getting warmed up for the season . . .↓IMG_8896

But before we move on to fall, I can assure you this last bit of summer has been jam-packed. We’ve helped our daughter Brittany move into her new house. We’ve celebrated babies and weddings and even helped a bit with a rehearsal dinner. . .

Josh and Kelly practicing for the wedding reception
Josh and Kelly practicing for the wedding reception

Here’s David confirming the quality of the wine and our friends’ new deck before the guests arrive . . .

David confirming the quality of the wine and our friends' new deck.

I’ve had my turn to host both Book Club . . .

Sarah and Janie at Book Club
Sarah and Janie at Book Club

. . . and French Club (so busy concentrating on speaking French, I forgot to take pictures). We’ve been to neighborhood BBQ’s and hosted friends for dinner or wine and cheese on the deck. One night our friends Tom and Lexi agreed to be guinea pigs for a trial run of the mini-grill dinner party, like we had at Pascale and Jacky’s, and I’m happy to report, not one of us sustained any injury from inexpert tong usage.

We even had a mini-visit from our Minnesota daughter Courtney . . .

Courtney and Brittany
Courtney and Brittany

. . . who was visiting Brittany for a long weekend. So summer has not been wasted. We’ve appreciated radiant evenings, full moons, and lots of sparkling sunrises out our back door.

Glorious morning out back
Glorious morning out back

We’ve toasted and tasted and shared and enjoyed it all (well, maybe not mosquitoes, but most of it). So now fall is here: more plans, trips and projects, and best of all, new opportunities to celebrate life with those we love.

Nothing but heaven itself is better than a friend who is really a friend. 

Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words. ∼ Plautus

To all of you, both near and far, those we see regularly and those for whom a face-to-face takes a bit more planning, you have a place in our hearts. We celebrate you.

French Connections

I’ve been feeling nostalgic for France lately, so have been trying to find bits of la belle France wherever I can. Our stone fireplace surround is now installed and looking fabulous and very French . . .

Living Room 2. . . and I had another appointment recently with my Longmont doctor (who helps me keep the skin cancer at bay). This allowed me to revisit one of my favorite shops, the very excellent Cheese Importers, where there are so many French things–books, linens, jams, shopping baskets, knives, butter and cheese (of course)–it’s all I can do to keep speaking English while I’m in there. Bonus, I found a wide selection of French butter, not Beurre aux Cristaux de Sel de Noirmoutiers, I’m sorry to report, but a couple of brands of butter with semi-noticeable sea salt crystals, so that’s a plus. Definitely taking a larger cooler next time so I can stock up!

Closer to home, here in downtown Fort Collins, there is a wonderful shop called EsScentuals with all kinds of fabulous products for body, bath and home. The whole place is a treat for the senses, even the entrance . . . ↓

EsScentuals--142 South College
EsScentuals–142 South College — Note the French watering can.
EsScentuals Front Window

The owner, Meg DeWeese, has lived in France and is married to a Frenchman, so the French flavor of the shop is no accident. The main floor is full of oils and lotions and soaps and other temptations, but my favorite part of the shop is downstairs, called 142 Bis, where you can browse and discover all kinds of arty, beautiful French things. Love it.EsscentualsEsscentuals Downstairs

Also here in Fort Collins, this weekend saw another running of the annual Tour de Fat, which has almost NO connection to France except the obvious play on words with Tour de France and the fact that bicycles are involved.

And yet, it did remind me of a few of the crazier Saturdays in La Rochelle, which you can revisit here and here and here and here. It was clearly an opportunity to celebrate the joy of friendship.

So today, I’m very grateful for our many stateside friends and family, but I’m also missing Pascale and Jacky (La Rochelle), who took us on so many adventures and opened their home (and la cave) to us for so much delectable wining and dining; Dany and Francis (Tours), who actually interrupted their vacation, returning home for a few days to take us wine-tasting in the Loire Valley; and Natacha (La Rochelle), my patient and encouraging tutor, without whom my ability to have ANY French friends would have been severely limited. Merci mille fois à tous! S’il vous plait, venez nous voir bientôt!

Let us be grateful to those who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. ∼Marcel Proust

Wishing you warm connections, French or not!

High Points

Fort Collins, at just under 5000 feet altitude, is a bit lower than Denver, the “Mile-High City,” so we don’t actually live in the mountains, rather next to them. Nevertheless, David and I have spent a great deal of time lately REALLY high up. Like here . . .

Shot from the Visitor's Center of Rocky Mountain National Park--Altitude 11,834 feet
High on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park

and here . . .

Rocky Mtn. National Park, 11,986 feet
From Visitor’s Center near the top of Rocky Mountain National Park — 11,986 feet

and here . . .

Elk Grazing on High
Elk Grazing on High

These were all from Wednesday, June 17th, when we took some house-guests up to see the top of Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous paved road in North America, reaching up to 12,183 feet. I never get tired of these views. It’s even pretty gorgeous all the way, like here (shot out the window of the moving car) . . . .

Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park

I did get out of the car for this guy, who started ambling over to give me a close-up . . .

Elk Approaching
Elk Approaching

. . . but David insisted I get back in the car before we got really up close and personal. Probably wise!

Then Saturday, the 20th, we headed out on the Harley with some neighborhood friends up to Saratoga, Wyoming, via Highway 287 . . .

. . . and the Snowy Range Scenic Byway (summit 10,847 ft.) . . .

Our usual picnic spot on top was still snowed in–brrrrrrr–so we found a slightly more hospitable spot a little way down the other side. Then on to Saratoga, Wyoming.

Even at an elevation of 6791 ft., the afternoon was too hot to go anywhere near these . . .

Extra-hot Hot Springs Mini-Pools, Saratoga, Wyoming
Extra-hot Hot Springs Mini-Pools, Saratoga, Wyoming

In fact it was too hot to do much more than stand in the hot springs very-slightly-cooler main pool with a cold beer. Still, a fun time with good friends.

The next morning we hit a bit of a low point when Terry’s bike would not start . . .

. . . but eventually we were on our way, this time via Walden and Poudre Canyon, past one of my favorite views, the Nokhu Crags at the top of Cameron Pass . . .

Nokhu Crags
Nokhu Crags

. . . which are stunning, especially traveling east to west, when they suddenly appear before you at a curve in the road. It feels like the edge of the world. Eastbound, they tease you a bit longer, slowly emerging out from behind other peaks, so the view is not as startlingly awe-inspiring. And unfortunately, they’re not easy to photograph from the back of a moving motorcycle on an away-turning curve. Sorry about that. I forgot to request a photo stop.

Further down Poudre Canyon, the lingering damage from the 2012 High Park fire was sobering to see . . .

Three Years After the Wildfire
Three Years After the Wildfire

. . . but under a brilliant blue sky, it’s impossible to miss that some green is returning.

So . . . highs and lows, hot and cold, burning and greening, engine trouble and successful repairs, incomprehensible evil in the news and adorable baby announcements in the mailbox, and so much in between. What a crazy quilt this life can be.

I have been in Sorrow’s kitchen and licked out all the pots. Then I have stood on the peaky mountain wrapped in rainbows, with a harp and sword in my hands. ∼Zora Neale Hurston

Over every mountain there is a path, although it may not be seen from the valley. ∼Theodore Roethke

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean. ∼John Muir

Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy; let them sing before the Lord . . . .  ∼Psalm 98:8

Wishing you comfort in the hard times, ears to hear the mountains singing, and abundant opportunities to wash your spirit clean.




Like a Tourist

Once again, I apologize for neglecting you for so long! The creative part of my brain has been a bit like this . . .Foggy Tree

. . . not quite clear, specifically in landing on a subject for this post. I have been bringing my camera along as much as possible whenever I’m out and about, in hopes of inspiration. Mostly I’ve noticed it feels a bit weird to be basically a tourist in your own hometown, but in fact, a number of things did change while we were on our adventure.

There’s a fun new cheese shop and bistro close to our house . . .

The Fox and The Crow
The Fox and The Crow

. . . that sells fabulous cheese from all over the world, including France (Woohoo!) and my new favorite sandwich called the Figgy Piggy: prosciutto and whipped chevre with arugula and fig spread on a baguette. Yum.  Just YUM.

And there’s a new shop downtown called Crescendo: The Symphony of Taste, that sells oils, vinegars, spices and . . . um, I’m not sure what, but they have this funny sign that makes me want to go back when they’re open . . . .Deliciousness

Fort Collins AlleyA few things in Fort Collins are the same, like the alleys that have been progressively beautified over the past few years. This one, from this angle at least, almost looks French. Love it. Downtown is all decked out for the summer, just the way I like it, with flowers everywhere . . . Sidewalk Flower PotsFort Collins Flowers

Three of the four panels are DONE -- WOOHOO!
My first attempt at lined drapes

But definitely different is the daily rain, that is still very much with us. This has actually in some ways been a good thing, because it has kept me inside a bit more, so I could make some progress on the drapes . . .  → which are WAY MORE WORK than I had any idea. Now I understand why they’re so expensive when you have someone else make them. But three of the four panels are done (with completely new, maddeningly frustrating errors on each panel, just to keep things interesting). Fortunately, the end is in sight.

So although David and I miss France and especially our French friends, we are enjoying discovering and re-discovering this place. Whether it’s a new shop or a new task, our new-to-us house or even a new way of looking at a familiar alley, we’re trying to keep the spirit of adventure and discovery alive.

The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance – it is the illusion of knowledge. ∼Daniel J. Boorstin

Wishing you fresh eyes this week. I’d love to hear what you discover.