Tag Archives: family

Lunch With A View

Bonjour mes amis! I am still here, despite what you have NOT heard from me in the last week or two. I have put down my tour guide umbrella and put on my tourist fanny pack for a lovely visit to Budapest and Milan. As in Paris, spring is knocking but has not yet put down her bags. The trees have buds but few leaves and we are still zipping up our coats. The fruit trees are resplendent, though, and the forsythia is ablaze. I am loathe to miss the wild flowers in Texas this year, which promise to be especially knock-out due to the wet winter and spring, so I will be consoling myself with lots of fresh flowers from my market.


But now, back to Paris!

I have been fortunate to dine at the elegant Jules Verne several times, but had not been there in over a year. When my mother and niece were with us we thought it would be the perfect time to revisit the amazing Eiffel Tower restaurant and share it with them. This Alain Ducasse restaurant is located on the second platform of the tower, and is accessed by a private elevator.



When the elevator doors open into the restaurant, you are led to your table by waiters who make you feel as though you were royalty. The tables are close together but not crowded, and the atmosphere is subdued elegance.


The white dome in front of my mom is about to be flipped over to become a charger. The geometric pattern is repeated on the ceiling.

The food is every bit as good as one would expect from a Michelin starred restaurant (which it is).

who could resist this little beauty from the bread basket?

who could resist this little beauty from the bread basket?

soup starter- I think it was lobster

soup starter- I think it was lobster

spring asparagus

spring asparagus with an egg

roasted lamb

roasted lamb

chocolate dessert

chocolate dessert

another dessert doused in armengac

another dessert doused in armangac

Of course, it is not so hard to find delicious food and elegant presentation in Paris. The reason people reserve weeks in advance for the Jules Verne is for the view. I neglected to take any photos from our table this time, but if I had, they would have looked much like these, which I took from the top after we ate.



note- the triangular roof with green tarp, about one quarter from the top, is right by our apartment


wave to the tourists

wave to the tourists


It was a memorable lunch for all four of us. If you ever have the opportunity to dine at the JV- grab it!

Cheers to all of you.


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Filed under dining with a view, Eiffel Tower, Jules Verne, Paris dining

Pancakes with Ree

My younger daughter turned 16 a week ago.  Most of her friends turned 16 at least six months ago.  She is so ready to drive she can hardly stand it.  This morning we had planned to make an early trip to the place where all of her dreams would come true–the Wallisville Department of Public Safety.  You might be asking where that is, which is what I asked when she suggested it .  It’s on I-10 East, near Columbus.  If you do not have a child between the ages of 15-17, you are also probably asking why.  That, my friends, could be the topic of an entirely  different post entitled something like ” Screw Border Security- This State Has Real Problems”, but I will spare you the rant (which I have already vented on Facebook) .

Unfortunately, due to an annoying and persistent cough by someone in this family  who was in my bed, I was still wide awake at 2:15 this morning.  I texted Martha, who was also wide awake at a sleep-over (which  she was supposed to leave early), and  we agreed to reschedule the rockin’ good time in Wallisville for next week.  It will give us something to look forward to.  So it was that instead of waltzing across Texas at dawn, I was thinking about Ree.

Many of you know about my bff Ree, also called The Pioneer Woman by those who aren’t as close to her as I am.  She has visited me twice at Blue Willow.  Here are the pictures, should you dare to doubt.  We’re tight, I tell ya.

 Ree lives on a small farm in Oklahoma and has a little blog, kind of like mine.  You can find it at thepioneerwoman.com, but don’t judge – she is still a beginner.

Anyway, not too long ago she posted about some pancakes that have been lingering in the food fantasy part of my brain ever since.  Today, finding myself with an unexpectedly empty morning, I decided to whip some up and find out for myself whether they were as good as they looked and sounded.  Guess what?  They were so flippin’ good I want to give all my other friends the opportunity to start fantasizing about them, too.  Starting now.

These are not your regular, plain Jane, Hungry Jemima pancakes.  These, my friends, are Lemon Blueberry Pancakes, and they rock.  I could take pictures of my own lovely Short Stack, but Ree’s pictures came out surprisingly good (for her), so I’ll let you look at them.TPW_4599.

These were so delicious!  I sat here by myself at my kitchen table, lovin’ my pancakes and coffee, and thanking God I wasn’t sitting at the DPS in Wallisville.

Happy Friday, my fellow Texas drivers!  The roads are still safe.

Here is the recipe.

Recipe: Lemon Blueberry Pancakes

Prep Time: 10 Minutes  |  Cook Time: 10 Minutes  |  Difficulty: Easy  |  Servings: 4

  • 1-1/2 cup Cake Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon (additional) Cake Flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon (heaping) Baking Powder
  • 3 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 1-1/2 cup Evaporated Milk (more If Needed)
  • 1 whole Lemon (more If Needed)
  • 1 whole Large Egg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
  • Zest From 1 Lemon
  • 1 cup Heaping Blueberries
  • Extra Butter
  • Maple Or Pancake Syrup

Preparation Instructions

Heat heavy skillet or grill over medium low heat.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix evaporated milk, juice of 1 lemon (more if lemon isn’t very juicy), and lemon zest. Allow to sit for five minutes, then add egg, vanilla, and melted butter. Mix to combine.

Pour wet mixture into dry ingredients. Stir gently to combine. Splash in more evaporated milk if mixture is overly thick. Stir in blueberries. Again, check to make sure mixture isn’t overly thick.

Melt butter in heated skillet. Drop batter by 1/4 cup measures and fry pancakes on both sides until golden.

Serve with softened butter and warm syrup.


Filed under cooking, family

Reunited and it feels so good…..

Raise your hand if you know who wrote the song in the post title.  If you guessed …..wait for it…..Peaches and Herb you are…..such a dork!  What a lame song, and I so totally LUVED it when I was , I don’t know- 13?  I bet you all have it stuck in your head now, don’t you?  Sing along with me now –“me minus you is such a lonely ride…..”  Oh yeah.

The big news in my life is that as of Friday, July 1, Mark and I will no longer be separated for long periods of time by  seven hours and a great big ocean. He plans to spend the whole month of July here in Houston with us, because really- who wouldn’t want to spend  July in Houston? He and I travel together for a week in early August, and then I use my one-way ticket to Paris less than a week after that!

We had to get used to living apart for 9 months, but we both survived it without too much trauma. As happy as I am to see the arrangement come to an end, I am realistic enough to know that there will be some necessary adjustments  for re-entry into a co-habitational marriage.

He's handy AND cute!

I can only speak for myself, but I  have gotten quite comfortable with the idea that most everything is pretty much about me. The kids are independent and frequently doing their own thing, so I have had the luxury of doing what I want when I want and how I want . I think I have gotten kind of used to it. Sometimes I find myself even liking it. It’s probably a good thing that a yang is rejoining my yin or I could become self-absorbed and self-centered and selfish and all those other ugly, negative words that revolve around self. So I will have to commit to a side of the bed and make a few more balanced meals, to name but a few required modifications to my lifestyle, but I can’t think of anyone I would rather sacrifice my total autonomy for than Mark, my “mari merveilleux”.
I’m so glad you will soon be here with us, and thrilled to be settling in Paris with you in August!

Too much solitude makes a woman weirder.

Happy Independence Day Weekend, my countryfolk!

All through the day, and all through the night
I’ll give you all the love I have with all my might, hey-hey

He even loves me when I look like this. Which has been a lot, lately......

Martha digs him.

Did I mention he has run TWO marathons? Living with me again will be a breeze.

Father and Son

Claire likes him, too.


Filed under family

Have you seen this girl?

Her name is Claire Catherine Mai and she is 7 years old.  She likes to wear mis-matched socks and she hates to comb her hair. She loves milk, peanut butter (no jelly- it’s gross), chicken nuggets, and scrambled eggs with colored sprinkles on them.  She plays for extended periods of time with her doll house.  She also reads to her stuffed animals long after they should reasonably be expected to sit still and listen quietly.  She adores her baby sister, is in awe of her big brother, and is appropriately respectful of her big orange and white cat, Spencer, who is known to flick a sharp paw out at children without warning.  She twirls her hair when she concentrates, and she says she isn’t going to take her training wheels off until she is 16.  She is adorable.

But have you seen this girl?

She is 18 and will soon walk across a graduation stage, her green gown adorned with her honors and achievements.  Camp Longhorn is her favorite place on earth.  She loves milk, peanut butter, apples , and turkey sandwiches.  She plays the cello and swims and loves Harry Potter.  She is incredibly responsible.  I don’t think I have had a sleepless night because of Claire since she began sleeping through them herself, which took, admittedly, a little bit longer to happen that I would have liked.  I don’t think she has ever lied to me (in the last 10 years, anyway),  which I find amazing, because I expect my children to lie to me.  It’s what they do, right?  Not Claire.  I don’t think.  And if she has, I wouldn’t be disappointed- just surprised.

By nothing less than the amazing grace of God, Claire has pretty much always been a source of pure joy. Of course, in retrospect, I do have a few regrets, and would like some “do-overs” , please.  I wouldn’t leave her on the floor of her brother’s room as an infant long enough for him to jump off of the bed, landing close enough to her face to graze her cheek with the heel of his new cowboy boots.  I am sure there was a more effective method of discipline than digging my own heels into the carpet outside of her door, pulling on her doorknob, and screaming,”NO, you will not come out of there until you stop screaming!!!”.  I wish I had not fought so many dinnertime battles, counting bites and withholding dessert.  Given her eating habits today, I don’t  think those battles served any purpose.

She is an amazing friend to her sister, which is such a gift to me.  I love to listen to their chatter and their laughter- their love for each other spoken as freely as it is demonstrated.  How lucky they are to have each other.  How lucky I am that they know it.

For 19 years I have kept her close, sharing couches, dinner tables, dogs, and more recently, clothes and shoes.  I always said I was going to homeschool her for college, but she has chosen Washington University in St. Louis instead.  Not only will we not share the same space, we won’t even be on the same continent. Does she have any idea how much she is going to miss me?

Goodbye my pearl, my precious, my heart.  Your training wheels are off, now.  Ride off into the world  and show it what an awesome job we did here.  But don’t  forget that I am still your mom, and as close to perfect as you may be, I am not finished with you yet.

I love you, baby girl.



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