Connecticut Croissants.

Yes, you can get a taste of France in Connecticut.But of course Connecticut is more famous for its local sea food specialties, such as this crab meat appetizer at the S&P Oyster House in Mystic, CT:

I took my dear sweet husband, AKA Top Cat, to Connecticut to celebrate his birthday last weekend, which began with Saturday afternoon tea at Ye Olde Country Inn of Mystic, overlooking the Long Island Sound:

The weather outside was frightful (cold and grey, a bit misty and raw) but the inn was delightful.

In New England, you get used to the sight of muskets on the mantelpiece.

And of course, out in these rugged parts of the Northeast, any reputable Ye Olde Country Inn must have a fierce watchdog patrolling the perimeter:

This is a picture of the eagle-eyed Golden Retriever on duty.

Yes, Mystic Connecticut is a real place with a real pizza parlor…

…and a real Main Street with a steeple…

…with a real independent bookstore (Bank Square Books and of course I checked. They had one copy of my book Le Road Trip in the Travel section).

The town was beautifully decked out for the ChrisHanuKwanSolstice holiday.

I have a soft spot in my heart for red velvet bows…

…and for pubs named The Harp and Hound

…and for small cafes…

…and for little pumpkins lined up in a row…

…(the little fella on the fence — he’s the extrovert, right?).

I want to live in this house:

But not until Summer.

If you’ve ever been to Connecticut you’ll recognize this as the iconic Connecticut house…

…complete with its iconic Connecticut stone wall. You’ll find these old stone walls everywhere in The Nutmeg State:

As you drive through the Connecticut countryside you’ll see these stone walls showing up even in the middle of forests, the only thing left to show where once there used to be a farm or homestead. Our drive out of Mystic kept us close to the shore of the Long Island Sound…

…where all the boats go to hibernate over the Winter.

Then we turned inland…

…and headed for Foxwoods Resorts, the largest casino in North America situated in the heart of the wilderness of the Mashantucket Pequot Indian Reserve (this is the view from our 30th floor hotel room):

Well, it was Top Cat’s birthday weekend, and he does love his Texas Hold ‘Em, and he is one of the original card-carying Foxwoods Players from when this casino complex was nothing more than a shed with a bingo hall. Just to show you that You Never Know Where Inspiration Lurks, it was at Foxwoods that I got my big Giverny inspiration when I got a bird’s eye view of this carpet in the lobby of the MGM Grand Convention Center:

To give you an idea of the scale of this design here’s another shot of the lobby — that’s a three-person sofa in the upper corner:

I LOVE IT!  With a little tweaking this carpet could be turned into a great Giverny abstraction. Can you see the flowers of the Clos Normand? The pools of water in the lily pond?  The flow of the Epte tributary to the great Seine River?  Trust me, they’re there. Just as they are here, in my map of Monet’s garden at Giverny:

And in my portrait of Monet on his Japanese bridge, overlooking his beloved water lilies:

I thoroughly enjoyed all your ideas for my Giverny product line — thank you everyone who left a suggestion in the Comments last week.

As for Sarah’s idea that I do an embroidery kit, I wonder if this would do:

Spring and Fall in Giverny, 13″ x 25″

I sewed this in 1990 as a wedding gift for my twin sister. It took about 60 hours, if I remember rightly.

And that’s why I switched to watercolor.


14 Comments, RSS

  1. Mary

    Note Papers !! Perfect! I only send notes any more, thanks to computer and email. One thing I do, is go to Barnes and Noble and see the most beautiful, clever, artistic note paper you can buy anywhere. They are not cheap, but they are unique.

    Your style and colors would make lovely note cards. AND CATS. Your special cats in the window design is special . I can’t wait. Tell us as soon as you can. Put me on the list.

  2. janet bellusci

    ah…i could make myself VERY at home on the porch of one Caroline Townsend…how stunning and comfortable is that??!! and within that beautiful home, i would be sure to hang that special embroidery piece you made for your twin. a great job…and i love the two season views of that beautiful place.

  3. Patricia

    where do I sign up to buy a calendar? Did you put in your own holidays? I hope so! Want to put in a good word for chocolate appreciation … day, week or month.

  4. Sandy R

    Ah Hah -you were on my side of the pond!! Yes you captured scenic southern Connecticut with those pictures, could almost be any shoreline town in CT. We need snow though – damn rain.

    AND inspiration is Everywhere. Lovely post, makes me want pizza tonight.

  5. I looked for croissants in that rug pattern but couldn’t find them…
    LOVE your overview of Giverny – a total surprize
    So orderly and formal.
    I NEVER said “Zazzle Moron!” but I will next time I promise : )
    Yes do give us mugs and pastcards and stamps all care of Vivian Swift!
    On y va

  6. Nadine

    I know THIS is the year you say “Hi” to Neil DeGrasse Tyson. I have faith in you. He sounds like a nice guy when I hear him on NPR, spo don’t be intimidated. Hey! you got invited to the same party, so don’t that mean something??

  7. I just love going with you, and all the wonderful places you take us. You have such a keen eye, most people would walk by the very things you find, and subsequently make so interesting and eloquent.
    Vivian, once again, you have shown me a world I never would have noticed if not for you. You are a true marvel. COngrats to you and TC. Can’t wait for the cool stuff to buy. I would love to drink my coffee out of a cup with one of your exquisite masterpieces plastered on the plaster.

  8. Jeannie

    The rug!!! Oh my gosh!!! I love it. You really have to have it in a large building due to the scale, but it is wonderful. I’ll be looking for the notecards etal. I visited Ct for a month and fell in love with the area. The houses were the biggest selling point. What are you going to wear to the gala? 🙂

  9. Jen

    Loving the intensity of your fancier-schmancier paints. Three cheers for the person who encouraged you to use them!

    Have fun rubbing elbows with Neil de Grasse Tyson! Find out what else he might imagine himself doing and loving as much as science. Does he play an instrument? Does he read poetry? Comic books? Does he draw, paint, sing, bake croissants or meat pies? Tell him that someday you want to do a travel journal with tea bag- and Triscuit- sized paintings of the planets and nebulae! (Ok, that only after you’ve had too much champagne.) Whatever you do, swear against boring conversation! We should all vow to the same thing in this season of odd holiday parties.

  10. I love your aerial view of Giverny, what a great painting that is. And the embroidery piece, holy mackerel… Thanks for showing what you do. Love it all.

    Have a blast at the party. Neil de G T is too cool for school.

  11. jacqui

    I am still a mite weirded out by more Monet’s Garden on stuff. I truly did not think you and maybe some of the readers were serious. Maybe I should do two things in the next 6 mos. ….1) collect any Monet trinket I find 2) take my camera for a walk every day. How long has it been since I discovered your book at our library? I will call it my Vivian Walk. Because it is your photo stories that I love so much. One Day I will walk away a grumpy mood and another just focus on the Crow Community. I have no idea where the blue jays are. Your needlecraft Monet Garden sampler is incredible. Now would I have you make those and sell them? Why do I think this idea reminds me of programs like the iron chef kind of contests. Where folks really demean the art of food prep. If the French ever do this, it is all over. I wondered what Monet would think of your idea. Of course it goes with the new Garden Book. Not the damn one. Well, I have had a hard week/month/6 mos. I tend to take it out on the ones I love. Just please don’t make anything on plastic. Happy Hanuchrisza But especially blessings for this Winter Solstice

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