More Than 16 Candles

This week I’m having a birthday (not saying which one!). 😉

A birthday is a good excuse to do something you enjoy, right?

I love art – period. But, if I were forced to choose a favorite artist – I’d have to say Renoir.

And if compelled to choose a favorite among his works – it would have to be this one . . .

Dance at Bougival, 1882-1883, by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Since it’s part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston – I’ve been fortunate enough to see it in person, many times. Would you believe this painting is over six feet tall!!??!! It takes your breath away as you stand in front of it.

It was one in a series of three that Renoir completed around 1883 – all about the same size, and all with a dancing theme.

Ok, Crystal. Where does the birthday treat come in?

Oh yes! Well, you can imagine how excited I was to learn Boston would have all three on exhibit for a short time this summer! (The other two are on temporary loan from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France.)

So, as part of a birthday celebration with the family, I spent an afternoon taking in the majesty of this trio.

The colors, the costumes, the details (right down to the cigarette butts on the ground), the dreamy sense of motion in the paintings – you can almost hear the music!

Absolutely awesome!

A delicious lunch followed. 🙂

For a brief (3 minute) video about the paintings, click below.



As The Calendar Turns

February In Calico Country by Ellen Eilers

Hi Kids 😀

Long time no see!

Umm, well…

more like “no write” for me,

“no read” for you,

and “no comments” for both of us. 😉

But here we are at the start of a brand new year.

Welcome back! Hope you had a chance to relax over the holidays.


One of the things I love about a new year is a new calendar. I love that it is totally blank and consequently just brimming with possibilities. I try to imagine how many fun things I can schedule along with the obligatory dental appointments, furnace cleanings, etc.

Of course, part of the excitement for me is choosing the calendar. We do seem to get a couple of freebie calendars each year, but somehow they are never quite right. Either I don’t care for the pictures or the little boxes for each day are so small you can barely mark a loved one’s birthday in them.

So, I usually buy my calendar – BUT only after they’ve been marked down to half price! It seems silly to pay full price in mid-December, when a couple of weeks later they’re at least 50% off.

Waiting for that sale means I may not get my first choice, but I love that it compels me to look at and consider calendars I might never have noticed.

With my purchase this year, I’ve discovered a new (to me) artist, Ellen Eilers! The calendar features her incredibly colorful and very charming scenes of farms and countrysides. This photo and the one above are just two examples.

Doc's Country Retreat by Ellen Eilers

She didn’t begin her professional art career until she was in her 50’s. Currently, at 93 years young; she still paints every day, exhibits her work, and teaches art at community workshops!

Talk about motivation for a new year! Reading about Ellen and seeing her work has inspired me to reach and stretch in 2011 – to try some things I’ve never done before . . .

To paraphrase the old saying:

“You’re never too old to become the person you might have been.



See more of Ellen’s art here.

Or watch the following 2-minute youtube video!

We just had to have it!

My husband and I love art, antiques, and museums of all kinds. When you add to that our love for a bargain, it can be a risky combination. Sometimes we end up with some rather unusual “treasures”. 😉


For example, a few years ago on our anniversary we were shopping at one of our favorite stores, HomeGoods. If you have one in your town, I probably don’t have to tell you that they carry some remarkable items – everything from 5-foot snowmen to artsy garden statuary to a life-sized knight in shining armor! Of course they also have lots of dishes, cookware, linens, and even a bit of furniture.

But as I was saying . . . It was our anniversary, and after lunch at a favorite restaurant, we stopped at HomeGoods because I needed some new glassware. We had already agreed that we would skip anniversary gifts for that year, but then had second thoughts and decided it would be festive to have new water goblets in honor of the occasion. We found some glasses we liked on sale and just as we started to stroll up to the cash register – we both stopped short and looked at each other with a raised eyebrow.

There he was!

C’mon, don’t laugh!!


He was only $24.00!!! And he is so beautifully made!!! Plus it was our anniversary! And we love art! Ok, ok, enough excuses. “King Tut” sits on top of a bookshelf in our living room and makes us grin every time we see him. 🙂


Rogues and Scallywags

‘Twas ever so . . .

From the beginning of time, women have often found themselves smitten, or at least intrigued, by the mystery of the “bad boy”.

Now I don’t mean a totally rotten to the core kind of guy. I’m talking about that dashing, adventurous, “Darling, let’s forget responsibility and run away to a distant shore!” kind of fellow – a pirate perhaps! 😉

What else can explain the allure of Johnny Depp’s “Jack Sparrow” in Pirates of the Caribbean? Or the appeal of men who have made bachelorhood almost a profession – like George Clooney, Colin Farrell – and before them – Jack Nicholson, the Fonz, James Dean. The list goes on . . .

Ok, I am joking a little, here. But since it’s Valentine’s week, I’m trying to set the mood for a wonderful poem.

I’m including a link below, where you’ll hear it being read aloud. If you’re not familiar with this poem, it might seem dull at first, because the narrator’s voice sounds rather ancient. But wait! This is a love story! It’s full of drama and irony and excitement. Give it a chance!

art ©Nancy L (Timpanelli) Middleton. All rights reserved!

art ©Nancy L (Timpanelli) Middleton. All rights reserved!

I first read The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes in high school, and I still find it compelling.

The lyrical cadence, or “beat” of the poem, draws you in right away, and every line will capture your imagination!

So click the link below for a 7-minute youtube narration of the poem. Don’t let the old fella’s voice put you off – listen to the tale – and let me know if you find it spellbinding!

Click this link:
The Highwayman