Saturday, July 31, 2010

Painting, setting a beautiful table ... and eating well !

Beginning my new painting: 'Wolf's Tomatoes'

Aha ! Voila ! It is completed

'Wolf's Tomatoes'

Preparing the table for dinner with Wolf, Isabelle (daughter) and me

Dinner is served

You know when you have one of those 'great' days ... and each hour of your day is wonderful. Well, that's my life here in the beautiful French Riviera. But, this day in particular was sooo simple and nice. I enjoy painting 'en plein aire' and it just so happened that Wolf brought home a large crate of tomatoes nestled in raffia. What better still life than that I say ! So, I painted on a 10" x 10" canvas, listened to music, poured myself a healthy cocktail of pink grapefruit juice, lemon soda and vodka (ok, well maybe the vodka part isn't so healthy but it increased my joy) and I set out to paint this lovely little painting.

Dinner: Isabelle was wonderful as my 'sous' chef. Actually, she pretty much cooked everything. I marinated the salmon overnight in a juice mix of oranges, lemons, limes and pineapple chunks. In addition to the wonderful flavour that is added ... when you sautee the salmon in a hot skillet with a bit of butter added, it adds a beautiful caramelization and searing to the salmon.

We also cooked some beautiful tortellini stuffed with spinach and cheese, had crusty bread with encrusted seeds, salad with mache and tomatoes with a glaze of olive oil and balsamic vinegar ... a pitcher of vin rose and a lovely bottle of bordeaux to accompany the selection of cheese.

Like I said ... when you have one of those simple and perfect days ...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dinner at Wolf's ... with the greatest music !

This is the beautiful table that Isabelle set for dinner for 10 guests. Included were three professors of music from the Antibes Conservetoire, members of the Antibes Jumelages (hee hee including myself), Gipsy - a professional pianist who entertains on cruises on the Mediterranean and ALL of us lovers of great food, wine and music.

Such a lovely dinner of shrimp and calamari, beef and veggies, apple tart and toasted caramel ... wine and champagne ...

Wolf - le 'Chef de Cuisine' - opening a bottle of wine

Dinner is served

Let me begin by saying ... WOW !!! Gipsy on the keyboards and Jean-Jacques Illouz on saxophone. If you don't know Jean-Jacques just Google him ... he's pretty much incroyable ... has played with EVERYONE including Sinatra, Natalie Cole, Michel Legrand and so on and so on ... you name 'em, he's played with them ... a superstar. AND he brought his silver sax with him and played ... and played ... and then even played with me !!! SOOO fantastic of a night !! I do think that everyone really had a great time ... I know that it was one of the MOST incredible nights that I have had ... with great food ... great wine ... great music ... great friends.

Jean-Jacques and Gipsy playing 'My funny valentine' ... a song my Father used to sing to me when tucking me in at night (my birthday is Valentine's Day - and also the day my Father proprosed to my Mother). The next selection, also a favorite of mine was 'When I fall in love, it will be forever' ... you can't get any better than that - n'est-ce pas !

Jean-Jacques on the Sax !!!

The Saxophone of Jean-Jacques Illouz

Tonight Jean-Jacques played the saxophone while I played the piano. Now, in NO way at all am I even qualified to play with such an extroadinary professional .. but, it was dinner with friends .. and all were having fun ... so Jean-Jacques played sax and I on the piano for the beautiful 'What are you doing the rest of your life' by Michel Legrand ... and THEN ... we jammed out to 'US AND THEM' by Pink Floyd ... it was fantastic !!! Well, maybe not David Gilmour fantastic ... but for a dinner party we rocked ... and it was great happiness for Isabelle and me !! And Jean-Jacques asked that we practice - just for fun of course - and try it again ... absolutement I say !! Great night ! Great night ...

Thank you Wolf and Isabelle ... thank you for giving me this night ... this very wonderful night ...


Bon nuit mes amies

Monday, July 26, 2010

My Dad

My Father

My Dad, John R. Schlegel, was the greatest man that I ever knew. He was kind and thoughtful, clever and inventive, happy and humorous, sensitive and loving.

My Dad, after 87 years of living the life-well-lived, died on Saturday morning, July 26th, 2008 at home, surrounded by his family. He greatly missed my Mother who passed away one year earlier - after 60 years together - and was ready to be with her in Heaven.

I miss you Dad ... with all my heart ... but am comforted that you are with Mom and having the greatest time of your life ... you both are always in my thoughts and always in my heart ... I love you -

your valentine

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Marcus Miller

This photo is from July 14th - 'Jim's Band'

Well ... because I spent the whole day in Juan les Pins ... and I knew that my camera would be checked upon arrival at the Marcus Miller concert ... I decided NOT to bring my camera. BIG MISTAKE !!! I had the opportunity to shoot brilliant photos !! In the afternoons, the bands that will play during the evening have their 'sound-check' beginning around 4:00 p.m. I have painted in the Pinede - the pine grove behind the Jazz a Juan area, then packed up my paints and painting and walked over to hear the music ... and always took great photos of the magnificent musicians !

Today, I sat before Marcus Miller, Raul Midon and Lalah Hathaway AND incredible musicians on the trumpet and saxophone AND the Monte Carlo Orchestra !!!! yes folks, that's right ... the MONTE CARLO ORCHESTRA !!

Did I mention that tonight Prince Albert was in attendance ??? !!! How's that from a simple girl living in Allentown ... yes, the same town that Billy Joel made famous with his impression of life in a depressed city. Sipping Champagne at Jazz a Juan with Prince Albert of Monaco in attendance and the blighted S. Hall St. of Allentown ... what a dichotomy ~ ! Also, I must give a great tip of the hat to Manu Katche ... he was brilliant !! What a drummer ... but it was his beautiful face and beautiful smile that impressed me the most ... he is joyful !

How fabulous Antibes Juan les Pins is !!! What Paradise !! I feel completely at home here ... like I found the place where it feels right ... where I thrive.

Please dear God ... let my future French husband find me soon ...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thursday, July 21st - Dejeuner and the Beach

Dejeuner at Key West cafe

Salade Nicoise, Vin Rouge and du Pain

Salade Nicoise

Walking toward the beautiful place that I lived in last year for three months ... Villa Fontaine

Villa Fontaine

Strolling past the sailboats at Plage de la Salis

It's always a nice day when you start out with a tasty Salade Nicoise, a demi-pitcher of Vin Rouge and some crusty bread. I decided to have my lunch at a little cafe on Blvd. Aguillon at a place that my brother Jim and our girlfriend Diana used to frequent last year ... Key West Cafe.

I don't every mind enjoying a meal by myself ... I relish in the taste of the wonderful salade, bursting with fresh ingredients, I savour the depth of the red wine ... and enjoy the crunch of good bread. Of course I always have my camera with me ... and there is sooo much to photograph !

After my dejeuner, I strolled to the beach - Plage de la Gravette - my favorite beach in Antibes Juan les Pins. It's nestled in a cove and the views of the old buildings and the gleaming yachts is second to none. Now where did I put my bikini top ??

After laying on the beach for a little over an hour, I decided to walk back to Wolf and Isabelle's home. They live at the edge of Vallauris. I don't know the exact distance ... but maybe it's five or six miles. It's a beautiful walk along the beach the whole way ... and then by the gardens of Parc Exflora. Of course that whole time the bright sun was beaming down on my face, neck and shoulders. So ... a bit of color.

Last night Isabelle and I attended the Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette concert. If you've ever attended a Keith Jarrett concert, you would be familiar with the strict rules placed upon the attendee. Absolutely NO photographs during the concert or during the bowing at the end. No smoking (thank God), no clapping until it's appropriate or walking above a tip-toe ... and he also would prefer no loud cars driving by or noise of any kind. You need to be focused and attentive. Of course all great artists would like that, but many times you have people attending concerts not showing that kind of demanded respect. It's quite an experience.

The concert was great. I may even have preferred it to the one that I experienced at Jazz a Juan two years ago. BUT ... my favorite piece that I was privileged to hear Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette play was in the concert two years ago. The first part of the concert was completely improvisation .... sometimes I get lost with that ... it's 'thinking' and 'mind wandering' music for me ... but after the intermission ... Keith and musicians came back and played the most beautiful rendition of 'When I Fall in Love, It will be Forever' ... absolutely staying in my soul - incredible ... beautiful ...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Painting in the Pinede

This is the famous and lovely Pinede - pine grove ... located just behind the Jazz a Juan area. Two years ago I sat in the Pinede and listened to James Blunt - a sold out concert at Jazz a Juan. I haven't returned back to listen in the Pinede because I was very fortunate to be invited inside the event, but for those who don't have a ticket ... it's a very beautiful way to spend the evening ... picnicking in the Pinede. People bring blankets and baskets, wine and cheese ... there are mothers and fathers, children dancing ... lovers and friends ... it's really heaven ...

So today I decided to lug my paints, canvases, easel and brushes to paint in the Pinede. WHAT a great day !!!! I met lovely Danielle ... who visited with me all day. She also is an artist and we hope to meet tomorrow morning in the same place. Visitors came by, photographed my paintings ... and me ... (it's a bit embarrassing) and this evening there was an INCREDIBLE jazz trio playing in the Pinede - concert grand piano, upright bass, brushes on the drums ... pure heaven I tell you .... every day here ....

La Pinede
30" x 30" acrylic (76.2 cm x 76.2 cm)
600 euros

So, VERY terrible photo of this painting ... and I promise to rephotograph it tomorrow and repost it. I am pleased with this painting ... it's a bit on the naive side, but happy ... and that's exactly how I felt painting in the beautiful Pinede ... under the pine trees ... listening to sophisticated and lovely jazz .... paradise !

And after painting all afternoon ... I came home (home - hee hee ) to Camembert, fresh red ripe tomatoes, baguette, salade and red wine ... parfait !!!

Please God ... let my future French husband find me soon ... time's a wastin' !!

Friday's Paella and dinner with Kinsale friends

Today, July 16th, Audouin - the mayor of tourisme and head of the sister cities of Antibes - held a party for all of the elite guests - well, elite guests plus me. It was a grand Paella party with white linen tablecloths, more bottles of wine that we consumed, delicious food and an incredible band. Also, the most beautiful location ... in a grove under plane trees ... or as we know them - Sycamore trees. Lovely !!

The beautiful grove complete with stage, band ... and flags from all the countries of Antibes' sister cities. The American sister city is Newport Beach, Ca.

Monsieur Dahan - he's in charge of Museums in Antibes, Audouin Rambaud - the adjoint mayor of Antibes in charge of tourisme, events, sister cities, Colombe d'Or (magic show) .. and a whole bunch of other stuff too numerous to mention ... and Jacqueline - with the Jumelage - sister city organziation.

Simmering Shrimp for the Paella

Wolf and Isabelle

Monsieur Dahan and Moi !!

Paella !!

Pretty eyes ...

Isabelle set the table fit for a wedding ... !

Dinner at Wolf and Isabelle's

Irish folk from beautiful Kinsale ... a sister city of Antibes

Bastille Day

This beautiful presentation of Petite Fours is the work of Wolf and Isabelle Burg (father and daughter). They were created for the event celebrating the eight sister cities of Antibes, France. There was a great party at the Garoupe - the beautiful setting on the hill overlooking the old village of Antibes -with champagne and fireworks ... I'm sure it was an incredible evening ... but, I had two tickets for the Jazz a Juan festival and Isabelle and I were in attendance there.

The 300 petite fours created by Wolf and Isabelle Burg

... did I mention that Isabelle Burg won the competition for best cake decorator in the United Kingdom ... the WHOLE UK !! Her silver trophy was larger than the trophy for the World Cup !

accurately referred to as FIRST PLACE in the INSTITUTE OF BRITISH BAKERS CUP Live Piping - Congratulations Isabelle !!!

This is the entrance to the beautiful olive gardens at Eilenroc. There was a Dixieland band playing as we entered.

Dixieland Band

Monsieur le Maire Jean Leonetti - Mayor of Antibes
and the Mayors from their eight sister cities

Antibes' sister city in America is Newport Beach, California

Attending the beautiful Jazz a Juan concert. I must tell you that it is absolutely fantastic ! The MOST beautiful setting in the world ... sitting under the parasol pine trees, the cigale making their own music, the blue mediterranean just behind the stage ... and what a stage !! I truly feel the greatest joy when I am fortunate to be listening to these great musicians and singers !!

Beautiful Jazz a Juan at night .... paradise !

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

HAPPY BASTILLE DAY !! La Fête Nationale

Happy La Fête Nationale !! One of my favorites days of the year -- being an expatriate that is ... well, a wishful ex-pat. My dream, and EVERYBODY who knows me knows this ... that all I want to do is to live in France. Antibes, France that is. The art, culture, music, sun, sea, food, wine, language and, of course, the French kiss ... (still waiting patiently ... well, impatiently). Julia ... WHERE is my fhasap ?????!!!!!!

And, I do also, and with all my heart, love Schwaebisch Gmuend and the lovely, lovely friends that I am lucky to have there ... but, I've always been drawn to the sea ... so, maybe I live in Antibes and spend lots of time in Schwaebisch Gmuend. Voila ! A perfect match !

So, off for a quick siesta then Isabelle and I are attending the Garden Party with the eight sister cities and the Mayor of Antibes Juan les Pins, Monsieur le Maire Jean Leonetti .... then Jazz a Juan !!!

Tres fantastique !!

More later ... enjoy Bastille Day !!!!

Foundation Maeght, St. Paul de Vence and Jazz a Juan !!

Alexander Calder

Today I ventured with the guests from the Antibes American city - Newport Beach, CA to the Foundation Maeght in St. Paul de Vence.

Foundation Maeght is a museum of modern art situated in Saint-Paul de Vence in the south of France about 25km from Nice. It was founded by Marguerite and Aimé Maeght in 1964 and houses paintings, scuptures, collages, ceramics and all forms of modern art.

The collection includes works by many important 20th century artists including Bonnard, Georges Braque, Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Alberto Giacometti, Fernand Léger and Joan
Miró among others.

Marc Chagall

I took this close up of the Marc Chagall masterpiece because it features the palette

The sculpture and gardens of Foundation Maeght

La Colombe d'Or

Last night Wolf, Isabelle and I were invited to attend the Victoires du Jazz located in the beautiful setting of Jazz a Juan. Marcus Miller, George Benson, Chuchu Valdes took to the stage. C'est tres fantastique for sure !!!

Afterwards, we were invited to the Jazz Club at the Garden Beach Hotel ... delicious finger foods, salads, shrimp, croquettes ... champagne, wine .... ahhhh ... ma vie dans Antibes - est incroyable !

This cutie is the great trumpeter and crooner Ronald Baker ... I think this photo will be the subject for my next painting !!!

Fireworks over Jazz a Juan