Blood Orange Martini

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I was in Trader Joe’s today and scored 2 bags of blood oranges for only $2.49 each!

In the past finding this unusual orange meant driving the distance to a specialty food store and paying what seemed like a king’s ransom for the honor.  You can understand my excitement about this deal at Traders.

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All I could think about was crafting my all-time favorite cocktail, Blood Orange Martinis this weekend!!

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The bright maroon colored flesh seems like a freak of nature.  The rich and vibrant hue makes me want to break into a happy dance.

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Generally we think about darker colored foods having greater nutritive value but the truth is there is not much difference between a navel orange and a blood orange.

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The flavor is a different story. Blood oranges are less acid than their counterparts and have a distinct smell and taste of red berries. This explains why the seasonal fruit is so special and perfection in my cocktail.

I hope you will grab a few bags of blood oranges, squeeze that precious juice and shake a few cocktail along with me.  We can toast each other!

à votre santé!

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blood orange martini

 Blood Orange Martini

1 part orange vodka

1 part blood orange soda

2 parts blood orange juice

½ part triple sec

Zest of ½ orange

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain before serving in a glass with a sugar rim.

 

 

Herbs and Spice and Everything Nice

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A post on gardening is perfect for Mother’s Day week.  My Mom is a gardening expert. In fact, I have said many times, her garden should grace the covers of magazines like Southern Living or Better Homes and Gardens.

She truly lives for the blooms and she is my gardening muse. I look to her for inspiration and guidance before I plant anything new on our property and she never steers me wrong.

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Growing my own herbs brings me so much joy and satisfaction, I am sure I get this trait from my mother.  There is simply nothing that can compare to that fresh herbaceous flavor and color brought to dishes like the sweet and savory Herbed Chevre and Honey Panini, an all-time favorite recipe, shared below.

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Creating an herb garden for seasoning your dishes can be as simple as choosing 3-4 varieties for a pot to rest on your kitchen ledge.  If you would like to craft an herb garden with me, YOU CAN!  Join me for my upcoming class, Lunch and Learn HERBS where we will prepare dishes jam packed with fresh from the garden flavor before crafting a charming herb gardens to take home and enjoy.

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Let me show you how I get that fresh herb flavor in all my dishes.

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When we moved into this home, ten years ago, there was a small patch of earth on a retaining wall that got full sun and a bonus, it was right outside the kitchen door. It’s the perfect local to grow a few herbs.

Each year I remove 3-4 more of the huge shrubs that used to fill this bed entirely and I expand my kitchen garden, planting more and more food to enjoy at our table and in my cooking classes.

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To get started on your own kitchen garden…

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add good stuff to build the soil like compost and peat moss and till the soil well.  Be sure to remove any roots and stones.

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Next, add a good amount of Calloways flower bed mix before planting herbs and vegetables.

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Be sure to water everything in well.  Keep the water coming so herbs and vegetables can grow to their peak. Look at these peppers!  Only 1 month in the ground and there is already fruit to harvest!Herbs4

 Don’t you just love these little flat stones painted as garden markers, they add a bit of charm to my garden!

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One last thing!  I am so proud of my bay tree!  It has been working so hard to hang on for the last year and look at it grow now! YAY!

Wishing you all a wonderful Mother’s Day!

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Herbed Chevre and Honey Panini

8 slices good quality white or country bread

6 ounces fresh chevre

1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley

1 tablespoon fresh chopped chives

1 teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon dried dill

¼ teaspoon dried thyme

Zest from 1 large lemon

1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

½ cup creamed honey

Pinch lavender (optional)

1 teaspoon butter

In a medium bowl mix goat cheese with all herbs and lemon zest, let mixture rest 1 hour to overnight to allow flavors to meld.  Add lavender to honey and mix well.  Heat grill pan over medium heat.  Swab pan with a small amount of butter.  Grill bread on one side until golden brown.  Swab pan with remaining butter and turn bread to other side.  Coat half of the bread with the chevre mixture, next a pinch of gruyere cheese followed by a generous amount of honey. Top with second piece of bread to create sandwiches.  Use a press or heavy skillet to press sandwiches into Panini.  Serve warm.

 

Laduree, One of my favorite Parisian Addresses

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Laduree is the home of the modern day French Macaron selling more than 15,000 of the little cookies every single day! Can you imagine the ovens needed to produce that quantity of cookies?

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The first French mac was only a fraction of what we know today. In fact it was not French at all but an Italian cookie brought by Catherine de Medici.

In 1533 Catherine, married Henry II who would become king of France a few years later.  It was the Italian chef to Catherine that brought the recipe for the cookies made of almond flour, eggs and sugar.

This is still the recipe that Laduree uses today and the one that I teach in my French Macarons class.  The main difference, the cookies were only 1 layer, an almond meringue.

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A man by the name of Louis Ernest Laduree opened a fine patisserie in 1862 in the current Rue Royale location.  Laduree was an outspoken reformist and prolific writer of the times.

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Rue Royale was a nice address and considered quite posh and still is today.

A few short years later in 1871 the patisserie was burned to the ground in a social uprising.

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Jules Cheret, a popular poster artist of the time was hired to design the new structure.  Cheret is credited with choosing the iconic celadon green used for the exterior, interior and the packaging.  He designed the chubby “pastry cherubs” that adorn the ceiling at the Rue Royale address.

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In 1930, Pierre Desfontaines, the grandson of Laduree, decided to sandwich the cookies together with chocolate ganache, and the first double decker macaron was born!

But there is something else that may surprise you.

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What really makes me stop in my tracks is the knowledge that at the beginning of the 20th century women were not allowed to go into cafes, they were strictly reserved for men.

Laduree helped to change all that by creating one of the first tea rooms for women.

Laduree at Rue Royale is more than a wonderful stop for goodies; it is a historic site for women.  Having tea with friends in public was an absolute liberation for the women of this generation.

No wonder I love this brand so much!!

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The next time you are in Paris, soak up the girly vibe that is Laduree and have a French macaron!

Or, go with me and I will take you there!

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The French Tart(e)

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The first French tart can be traced back to medieval times.  In the 1500’s tarts were enriched crusts generally stuffed with meat fillings and  were seen as haute cuisine for nobility. The tart naturally evolved to include sweet, fruit and custard fillings as well.

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A tart can also be called a pie, like our all-American apple pie but a tart never has a top crust.

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You may also be wondering what the difference is between a tart and a quiche.  Quiche always has an egg base. The tart may or may not have eggs in the recipe and a quiche is always savory.

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The frugal side to my personality loves the tart.

As long as you have a sheet of puff or pie pastry in the freezer, you can have a gorgeous dinner in minutes with leftovers (I like to call them planned overs) from the week.  Start with one serving of protein like a chicken breast or 4 ounce of salmon or ham; add whatever vegetable you have on hand.  Add all the ingredients along with 6-8 eggs and a sprinkle of cheese to the pastry, throw it in the oven and dinner is done!

Whether the tart is sweet, savory, loaded with fruit or eggs, I am in!

If you want to learn to make French tarts from scratch, join me for my upcoming French Pastries Workshop. We will sip wine while we prepare 3 types of tarts along with Crab Gourges, the adorable Saint Eve from Bayeux France and so much more. Details on registration below!

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One of my favorite things to do while in France is to press my nose against the glass of the fine patisseries, gazing upon the beauty and artistry of each morsel. Look at these mushroom hand pies!

  I am in Paris right now with my A Taste of Paris 2018 group; follow along on our culinary journey on Instagram @atasteofparis.

Are you ready to make a French adventure of your own?  Travel with me in 2019!  

signature3 no block less spaceClassic French Pastries Workshop- Friday, May 4th 11:00-2:30 Join me in my gourmet kitchen to prepare my favorite time honored French pastries.  I will share the skills I’ve learned in cooking schools attended all over France in this fascinating look at the French pastries.  We will talk about how gourmet Patisseries prepare their goods and ensure freshness at all times.  Our time together begins French sparkling wine and delicate Crab Gourges, oh my! For our lunch we will prepare 2 savory sensations Goat Cheese and Ratatouille Tart and Salmon and Potato Quiche, both served with a Bistro Salad and French wine of course!  Next, we will head to the sweet stuff including Grand Mariner Soufflés that rise to amazing heights, served with an unbeatable White Chocolate Sauce.  We will feel like we are standing at the Maubert Marche in Paris where I first tasted the fabulous Apricot and Pistachio Tart, this treat will thrill you.  We will craft delectable and creamy Orange Crème Brulee.  Next a classic, Eclairs stuffed with Vanilla Pastry Cream and slathered with Chocolate Ganache.  And last but not least the precious Saint Eve from Bayeux, France will delight.  Guests will be provided a box to take their full sized portions of any goodies not consumed in class. Limited seats available! Class Fee $79.00

Register TODAY by email to lorie@atasteofparis.net OR click HERE to go to class registration page!

Top 5 Travel Tips for Paris

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I am preparing for another trip to Paris with my fantastic 2018 group and I cannot tell you how excited I am to be back in the city I love so much.

I thought it might be fun to give you my top 5 tips for a fabulous trip to Paris.

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#1 Make a Plan for your time in the city.

Paris is a busy place and you need a plan for what you want to see and do long before you get there.  This is not a town to show up and wing it.  Start your first day with activities that are in close proximity to your hotel.  Resist the urge to take a nap, this is a rookie mistake.  Just take it easy, have a good dinner and get to bed early and by the second day, you will be golden! Plan to use the Paris metro, it is easy to figure out and the very best way to get around the city.  For activities that are more spread out, use Uber to save your feet and don’t forget to schedule lots of breaks for pastry snacks!

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#2 Packing

The best time for Paris is the early spring and late fall because the city is less crowded. The weather is usually lovely, although unpredictable so I recommend packing layers of clothing. I like to plan my outfits and fold them as a set; this is a huge time saver when getting ready. You will need:

  • Passport
  • Map
  • Umbrella
  • Scarves
  • Gloves
  • Lightweight coat or jacket
  • Electric converters or transformer for electric appliances
  • 2 pairs of comfortable shoes

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#3 Banks and Credit Cards

Call your bank and credit card companies to give them your travel dates. Ask them if they charge a conversion fee, many cc companies charge a 3% fee for changing the currency from Euros to dollars and that can add up! Think about loading a prepaid debit card with Euros before leaving the US, this is a handy way to be sure you don’t break your travel budget.

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#4 Hydrate!

Dehydration makes your body tired and lethargic and the last thing you want is to feel bad on your trip. Flying and alcohol consumption (you will be doing both…its France you must drink the wine!) really dehydrate the body and can wreak havoc on your digestive system.  I recommend you consume extra water and fiber starting 3 days before you travel.  This insures an easier transition and no unexpected down time.

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#5 Chill

Rest up before your trip. Getting out of town can be a challenge, there are so many details to tend too, I get it.  But pulling all-nighters before your big vaca is a mistake.  Instead, try and take it easy the last few days before travel, getting some extra sleep if you can.  Pack your carry on with a few of your favorite snacks, board your fight just chill.  I like to marathon watch movies and dive into a bag of Chex Mix.  Don’t underestimate the power of a snack to help you pass the time.

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I would love to have YOU along on one  of my trips for 2019!

ATOP Goes PINK is SOLD OUT so I have added Springtime in Paris 2019

Or you might like ATOProvence September 2019!

For more information and to register CLICK HERE 

 

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Most requested~Fontina Mac and Cheese

macncheese8.jpgDon’t you just love make the dishes that people ask for?  My homemade Fontina Mac and Cheese is one of those dishes.

Recently,  I had a long-time student share that my Fontina Mac and Cheese has become a holiday tradition in her home.  Her husband and daughter insist on it for all special meals.  I can’t tell you how much this story both humbles and brings me so much happiness all at the same time.macncheese6.jpg

Such simple ingredients really do make magic when they are combined!macncheese2.jpgJust mix milk products with half of the cheese.macncheese3Sprinkle the rest on top and bake.

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The person in my life that requests this dish is my son, Brandon.  He is a second year college student that has left our nest empty.  It fills me with joy to prepare this dish for him.  My heart swells as I pick up the special ingredients, grate the cheese and slide this glorious dish in to be baked.  But mostly because she says something funny like “oh mamma it’s goooood” when he sees it coming out of the oven! And it is!

I hope you will love this dish as much as we do

XOXO

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Fontina Mac and Cheese 

1 pound cavatappi pasta

1 ½ cups heavy cream

3 cups whole milk

1 tablespoons flour

2 cups grated Fontina cheese

1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

¾ cup grated parmesan cheese

2 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

¾ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Butter a 9×13 glass baking dish.  Cook pasta in salted water to just al dente.  Whisk seasoning and flour into cream and milk.  Add half of the cheese to the milk mixture.  Place cooked pasta into the prepared baking dish and pour milk mixture over pasta, stir to combine well.  Sprinkle top of dish with remaining cheese.  Bake 25 minutes, if top is getting too brown tent lightly with foil.  Allow dish to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

 

Flea Market Find

flea3I was charmed by these antique advertisements, found at my favorite Paris flea.  The detail is amazing and the expressions on the children’s faces are absolutely irresistible.  I brought them home about 4 years ago and they’ve been on my desk ever since.  Shuffling from pile to pile; and every time they worked to the surface, they gave me a huge smile.

The laundry room in our house was in need of an update. So much time is spent in this room and mine was really feeling dull.

The walls were painted a soft blue green and it occurred to me that these darling little adverts would be super cute and cheerful in that room.flea8-3143161592-1522977415231.jpgI headed out to the craft store for supplies!  I would need frames, background paper and spray mount.flea6.jpgFinding gold frames in the correct size with a matching finish proved to be a challenge.  Guilding wax would fix that!  The frame that was too bright got a little darker wax and the frame that was too dull got a brightening color.  Just rub the wax on with your fingertip!flea7-736611177-1522977612374.jpg

flea14-2443805321-1522977773769.jpgAfter playing around with the backings, it seemed that each advert needed its own paper.  I opted for a dot print under the skaters and a floral motif under the fruit piece, both in exactly the same shade. Spray adhesive made mounting the artwork easy. Next the pieces were popped under glass and into the frames.  They were hanging in my fresh laundry room in no time!flea13.jpgWhen taking groups to France, I always work in a flea market; you never know what kind of treasure you will come home with!

Some of my most favorite things are items that were bought not knowing how I would end up using them.  Do you have a favorite find?  If so, I would love to hear from you!

If you would like more information on upcoming trips to France CLICK HERE!

See you soon!

Lorie

 

 

 

 

Let’s COOK Together!

I am very excited to be cooking at the Williams Sonoma at NorthPark mall in Dallas this Saturday, April, 7th from 11:00-3:00.  We are celebrating the launch of Giada De Laurentiis’s new book, Giada’s ItalyGiadas_Italy_Final-1503618517-625x790Giada’s Italy offers a fantastic assortment of flavor packed recipes and simply stunning photography. Photo with Giada 2 (2)I will be cooking several recipes from the book as William Sonoma prepares for her store visit the following day. I’ll be cooking live, offering yummy bites, and it is FREE!Lorie-grapefest-12.jpgI would LOVE to cook with you in May!

There are two opportunities both with delectable results. In my French Pastries Workshop, you will learn classic skills like sweet and savory tarts; how to make a soufflé rise to amazing heights and the precious Saint Eve from Bayeux, France.  Or join in the fun for French Macarons, where the best part is taking home the results!

I’ll be back from Paris just in time to teach with loads of new fun findings. Register now by email or call 214 551 9630Tomato basil tartlets

Classic French Pastries Workshop- Friday, May 4th 11:00-2:30 Join me in my gourmet kitchen to prepare my favorite time honored French pastries.  I will share the skills I’ve learned in cooking schools attended all over France in this fascinating look at the French pastries.  We will talk about how gourmet Patisseries prepare their goods and ensure freshness at all times.  Our time together begins French sparkling wine and delicate Crab Gourges, oh my! For our lunch we will prepare 2 savory sensations Goat Cheese and Ratatouille Tart and Salmon and Potato Quiche, both served with a Bistro Salad and French wine of course!  Next, we will head to the sweet stuff including Grand Mariner Soufflés that rise to amazing heights, served with an unbeatable White Chocolate Sauce.  We will feel like we are standing at the Maubert Marche in Paris where I first tasted the fabulous Apricot and Pistachio Tart, this treat will thrill you.  We will craft delectable and creamy Orange Crème Brulee.  Next a classic, Eclairs stuffed with Vanilla Pastry Cream and slathered with Chocolate Ganache.  And last but not least the precious Saint Eve from Bayeux, France will delight.  Guests will be provided a box to take their full sized portions of any goodies not consumed in class. Limited seats available! Class Fee $79.00Classic Macaroons-4.jpg

French Macarons Thursday, May 10th 6:30-9:00 This class will offer a true hands on cooking experience and the best part you take home the results!  Macarons, the quintessential French treat; light, delicate and irresistible! After studding macaron making in Paris, Lorie will lead a hands on class using tried and true Laduree method, but now with time saving shortcuts. We will first toast the macaron with a flute of bubbly before diving in to make this love at first bite treat.  Each step of the process will be clearly defined so students can replicate the process in their own kitchens with success!  We will prepare Salted Caramel, Raspberry Rose, and Mint Chocolate.  Recipes for additional macaron flavors will be shared. Class size is limited to 10, class fee class fee $62.50

See you soon!

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Pink Champagne

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Is there a more festive sound on earth than a champagne cork popping?

This is my last PINK post for March.  I have been posting all month celebrating women and a special event I am hosting in Paris next year.

A Taste of Paris Goes PINK

The response to my all-female culinary excursion, set for April of 2019 has been amazing, in fact there is only 1 room left for this adventure of a lifetime.  Don’t hesitate; click the link for more information and to register.

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Can you hear the sound of my own bottle of pink bubble popping right now?

I particularly love pink varieties; they tend to be a bit yeastier, with a velvety round finish, than their golden, fruit forward counterparts.

I rarely meet a bottle of pink bubbles that I don’t like but I wanted to share a few of my favorites with you and could not do so without relieving my recent trip to the champagne region with my September 2017 group.

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Here we are in Reims at our first stop, Taittinger. The Taittinger brut rosé, is vigorous and refreshing and you cannot beat this amazing vibrant shade of pink!

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We also visited Billecart-Salmon while in the champagne region.

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This is such an elegant brand and the brut rosé is lovely.

French champagne is expensive.  Visiting the region and many winemakers over the years, definitely gives me an appreciation of  the science and precision that goes into each precious bottle, which of course explains the high price tag.

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 If you don’t want to spend $50.00 or more for one bottle, there are lots of varieties can give you the same effervescence, lovely pink color and no sticker shock!

Le Grand Courtage is one of those brands; it is a product of France and is quite affordable.

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I tend to like sparkling wines that come from the Loire Valley like Deligeroy Cremant de Loire for around $15.00!

When shopping for an affordable bottle of bubbles check the label to see if it is made in France and in the traditional method and you can bet you will not be disappointed!

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You can’t do a post on Champagne without mentioning the world renowned Veuve Clicquot.  Veuve pronounced like LOVE with a ‘V”.  Can you tell I am having the time of my life?

I sincerely hope you are in celebration mode at your house and if you want to purchase a set of champagne flutes check out a few of my favorites below!

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Lenox Champagne Flutes

Villeroy Boch Champagne Flutes

LSA Champagne Flutes

 

Pink Flower POWER

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I’m inspired by this unbelievable bouquet of pink blooms. Each bud opened to an amazing 4 inches in diameter and they lasted for almost 2 weeks!

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I’ve been posting PINK all month to celebrate women, and the launch of

A Taste of Paris Goes PINK,

a very special all-female event I am hosting in Paris in April 2019. ONLY one room remains available. Grab a girlfriend and join the fun!

Pink flowers

When walking the streets of Paris, I can’t resist snapping loads of pictures, especially in the spring. By the beginning of April, flowers are a bloom everywhere. This is one of my all-time favorite photos; peonies at the local market.

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When you splurge on cocktails at the Ritz, your mojitos might even be served with a pink rose!

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I will start work in my own garden this week and you can bet it will be crammed full of PINK blossoms! What will YOU plant this year?

pinkflower2.jpgHope to see you at an upcoming cooking class; the spring-early summer schedule is posted and ready for registration!

And here’s a look of some of my former travelers!

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