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Madeleine Peyroux's Summer Wind blew into Dallas

I don’t have a reputation for happy songs” said Madeleine Peyroux Thursday night at the Wyly Theatre. That may be true but I wouldn’t have her any other way. Before she began she said, “I sing three types of songs…sad songs, love songs, and drinking songs. Sometimes I don’t know which is which.” This set the mood for her first song, Dance me to the end of love…a love song.  
She breathes in life through her melancholy storytelling lyrics; so much so that when listening to her, you step into a dreamy place that is as relaxed as her body language on stage...head thrown back, hair in her face, mouth open as she danced immersed in her band members solos. 
Frankie says relax, but Madeleine has magical powers that make your body naturally “relax” as if you’re on top of feathery clouds and drinking cool sips of honey wine. She gives you that “Summer time and the living is easy” kind of feeling. Seeing Madeleine Peyroux live was the perfect beginning to summer. When she sang Standing On the Rooftop the audience was easily transported to a sultry night on a New York City rooftop.
Madeleine Peyroux (pronounced Peru) grew up in Brooklyn but says she really belongs in Paris, and that was evident. She seemed like a character out of the movie, Midnight in Paris. I could see her stepping back in time like Owen Wilson did to hang out with Hemingway and Gertrude Stein…she would fit in perfectly with that unique social circle.
She is special… très special! She has a true bohemian style that is moody and soulful and has a lulling effect on the body. I found myself breathing along with her as she added extra syllables to her words singing my favorite, This is Heaven to Me. She drew the audience in like we were old friends.
She’s been compared to Billie Holiday; while their voices are similar, Peyroux has a confidence and style that is all her own; performing her “three types of songs” meshed with her relaxed style…jazz, French and bluesy numbers too. Love in Vain would have made Bessie Smith say “yes child!”  
Before singing her third song, Peyroux spoke comfortably to the audience about Bob Dylan love songs always being bitter. She joked about her next Dylan song being a love song imagining Sylvester Stallone playing Rambo as the French poet Rimbaud.  When she sang Dylan’s song, You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome, I couldn’t help but feel the exact thing she sang…”I could stay with you forever and never realize the time.”
The highlight of the evening was when Peyroux said she was going to take the audience to a street corner in Paris. The band pulled in close together (unplugged) and performed Serge Gainsbourg’s beautiful La Javanaise. The graceful drummer, Darren Beckett used a cardboard box and Jim Beard (the pianist, organist and Wurlitzer) played my favorite instrument, the accordion…for a short while the Wyly Theatre was transported to a 1920's street corner in Paris and it was magnifique!
Peyroux’s French gypsy spirit was a throw back to Django Reinhardt, Billie Holiday and Bessie Smith updated...Peyroux style. Sad songs, love songs and drinking songs…it didn’t matter as long as it was Madeleine Peyroux singing.    

The Summer of Spritzers

Summer in Texas is crazy hot! I know exactly what I want to cool myself down...a refreshing spritzer. A spritzer is like iced sunshine in a wine glass.
Spritzer is German for spray/squirt/sprinkle/splash…all verbs that go beautifully with summer.
Wine spritzers are light, refreshing, and invigorating on hot Texas summer days. They provide just the relief you crave...quenching your thirst with a light and citrusy taste.
I enjoy reading books on my patio. Now is the perfect time while the gardenias are blooming and the promise of summer is on the way. I remember one hot Texas summer I read Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence. As I read I sipped on a spritzer and smelled the gardenias. Ever since then I associate spritzers with the romance of summer, the inspiration of the classics and the intoxicating allure of gardenias.
Edith Wharton wrote, “Set wide the window. Let me drink the day.” Sipping on a spritzer is the perfect way to “drink the day.”
Try a rosé or white wine and add seltzer to your liking, then serve with a sliver of lime or lemon. Make it fancy with melon balls, rasberries, or lavender. It’s an elegant way to cool off in the hot sun and it’s more hydrating and invigorating.
Rosé is my favorite because it looks like the kind of drink that I imagine Greta Garbo would have had spending the summers in Ravello, Italy. It’s a pretty, pink and feminine.  I imagine glamorous ladies of the 30’s sipping spritzers and it makes me feel cooler.
It should come as no surprise that people drink more in the summer than they do at any other time of the year. Summer is a time to relax and people entertain more. The longer days give us more time to find the glamour in different ways of relaxing.
Turn down the day’s heat with the coolness of a spritzer.
My kind of summer...Greta Garbo with Cecil Beaton

Jennifer Reese's: Make the Bread, Buy the Butter

I always look forward to the companionship of my book club friends to eat, drink and be merry while discussing our latest read. My friend Leslee suggested the most recent literary effort, Make the Bread, Buy the Butter and it seemed to be perfect for our book club (The Julia Child Book Club). Our book club is lighthearted and fun and is the kind of group that (as our latest party favor says) reads the wine labels! While this is only half true we did all enjoy Jennifer Reese’s Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, which is so much more than a cookbook.
My mom hosted and I’m sure the author Jennifer Reese would have loved it based on these words in the book; “Entertaining is exactly the right word for having people over. The dinner party is a work of theater, and the linens and candlesticks and ice bucket are props and they are every bit as important as the food.” My mom is a theatrical genius…flowers in the chandeliers, candle sticks a mile long, place cards with hilarious sayings that truly fit each guest.

Reese’s idea for the book came about after she had been laid off from her job during the economic crises a few years ago. She decided to begin experimenting by making most everything herself instead of buying it at the grocery store. She compiled her success and failures in a book that organizes 120 recipes for the reader to decide: should you make it or buy it? How much hassle is it? What is the cost comparison to buying it in the grocery store?
She writes about raising chickens, ducks, turkeys, goats, and even bees. About having chickens, she writes, “I’ve come to believe that having chickens is like having foxy teenager daughters. Trouble will find you.”
She says about vanilla ice cream, “The difference between even a premium brand of ice cream and homemade is the difference between the poly-blend sheets you inherited from your grandmother and Pratesi linens. I know vanilla ice cream sounds boring, buy homemade vanilla ice cream is nothing like Edy’s. For a sublime variation, try substituting ½ cup honey for ½ cup of the sugar.” I couldn’t wait to try this and…Reese was right, sublime!
Her storytelling is hilarious and entertaining. It reminds me of Julia Child’s commentary in her cookbooks…laugh out loud funny, giving stories about the trial and errors in the kitchen.
Make the Bread, Buy the Butter is exactly the essence of the book. With a little imagination, we may have found some decision making guidance applicable to choices we all have to make about which of our efforts are worth more of our time. It was thought provoking.