Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Romantic Weekend In Paris

An unforgettable dress by Roksanda Illincic. (Sleeves!)
Ed. Note: My wonderful pal, Janice, of the unspeakably chic blog, The Vivienne Files, once again shares her exquisite taste in yet another creative melange for a weekend in Paris. This time built upon French blue.
Shoulder bag – Rebecca Minkoff, earrings – Jacqueline Clarke, blouse – Tibi, blazer – Carven, tote – Marc by Marc Jacobs, pants – L’Agence, loafers – Robert Zur

Dress – Roksanda Ilincic, earrings – Bounkit, pumps – Kate Spade, lingerie – Elle Macpherson

Add caption
Shoulder bag – Rebecca Minkoff, earrings – Michelle Oh, color-blocked top – Reed Krakoff, blazer – Carven, tote – Marc by Marc Jacobs, pants – L’Agence, loafers – Robert Zur

Monday, July 30, 2012

Set Your DVR Tonight!

Paulina Porizkova 
"Modeling doesn't have anything to do with self-confidence.
Working off of your looks makes you
pretty much the opposite of self-confident."

Ed. Note: Sometimes I just don't know how to thank Marsi for what she brings to this blog -- in oh, so many ways, more than you know.

Today she is making me extremely jealous. I won't be able to see the television program she tells us about below. 

Thank you again, my darling Marsi for more of your "value-added."

Tonight (Monday, July 30, for those in the United States), HBO is premiering a documentary I think we'll all be keen to see. 

"About Face: Supermodels Then and Now" is a rumination on physical beauty, aging, self-awareness, and confidence, as told by some of the most famous and fabulous fashion models of the late 20th century. 

In their own words:

Marisa Berenson
"When you get older, you build something else in your core which is beyond the physical because it has to."
Jerry Hall 
"I think it's bad that we have as role models people who look scary to young children. They're cutting up their faces. Their ears have gone weird. They take fat from their bottoms and stick it in their lips so when you kiss them, you're kissing their bottom -- that's so disgusting!"
Isabella Rossalini
"Mama [Ingrid Bergman] told me once that growing old is the only way to have a long life and she'd rather have that. She didn't seem to be that affected by old age and maybe that's another reason why I don't feel that affected by it, either."
Carmen Dell'Orifice
"When I go into a casting -- which I do as little as possible these days -- and they start saying 'you're too tall' or 'you're not this,' I just leave. Simple as that."
Kim Alexis
“I can’t imagine pulling and cutting my skin. If you look at some of these actresses out in Hollywood and they’ve really messed their faces up. I haven’t even done Botox. The makeup artist will say: ‘I can tell you haven’t done Botox by the texture of your skin, because, after the Botox wears off, it changes the muscle structure of your skin composition and makes it lay different.’ I’ve not done anything of it."

The film includes interviews with Christie Brinkley, China Machado, Beverly Johnson, Dayle Haddon, Christy Turlington Burns, and Cheryl Tiegs, among others. Check your local listings and tune in tonight!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

And the Papier d'Armenie Goes to ...

... Kathleen!

The randomizer at random.org selected comment 14: Kathleen, who'd like a swan's down powder puff the next time one of her cohorts visits France. Please email me at manon729 at yahoo dot com with your address, and I'll drop your envelope in the mail on Monday.

Here's a marvelous little article about Caron powder puffs, written by my favorite perfume blogger, Victoria at Bois de Jasmin. Makes you long for a puff, too, non? They're really lovely and so utterly feminine.

Thank you, everyone, for your wonderful comments, each of which whetted my appetite -- and everyone else's, too -- to shop till we drop in France. I'm already making my list.

A bientot,

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A French Country Weekend

This week my wish was made on my first seasonal encounter with cantaloupes. As I've said, it's always the same wish and if it comes true I'll tell you what it was. It's an incredibly important wish and it's not for me so if you would like to cross your fingers -- just once -- that would be wonderful.

I always ask my market man to choose my cantaloupes. He asks, "When will you be eating them?" I tell him, "One tonight and the other three days later." He then takes out his felt-tip pen and puts an X on the one to eat first.

He also chooses my artichokes. We love artichokes and I've found they are the magic vegetable -- almost no calories (assuming one goes light or avoids altogether accompanying sauces) and extremely filling. He tells me the petals must be closed. If they're too open, the artichoke is generally not as fresh.

I'm telling you, one learns things in this country.

Weather report: warm, not hot, bright sun, slight breeze, in a word, splendid.

A demain my trés, trés, chers amis.

Friday, July 27, 2012


Ed. Note: Welcome to Episode II of Elizabeth L. Smith's superlative summer read, written just for us. If you missed the first chapter click here. It's getting more exciting by the minute. Episode III will be in this space next Friday. Those of us who are Elizabeth groupies remember her from her late, great blog Mon Avis, Mes Amis.

                                    THE RETURN


                                        Elizabeth L. Smith

         Caroline smiled at the memory; thirty years' perspective giving her the grace to acknowledge that it hadn't been the most auspicious of meetings. The problem was, she thought, she'd simply had no experience of men. Her father had died when she was very small, and her mother had faded quietly into the wallpaper of their silent Somerset house. She had been sent to boarding school at eight, deep in the countryside, far from the seductive possibilities of city life.

          It was there, inspired by her vital, passionate French mistress, that she had become a fervent Francophile. Her shadowy widowed mother, calcifying in the Somerset gloom, had astounded her by arranging a whole year in Paris for Caroline. Once she had finished her A'levels, and before she must be bound by the shackles of shorthand and sandwich lunches, Caroline was to have twelve glorious months living with a real French family.

          She remembered the three of them as teenagers and wondered again about the man Alexis had become. A furtive Google search that morning had revealed only what she already knew -- a financial lawyer who spoke regularly at conferences in Geneva, Hong Kong, New York. About his private life, she discovered nothing. She tried to imagine him in a domestic setting. Unloading a dishwasher, tending a sick child, making coffee after an ordinary weekend lunch. No, she still saw him as that intense boy, passionate about the brewing problems of immigration and unemployment.

          And Annouk, who magnetized all eyes towards her. Her style eccentric and theatrical; her father's dinner jacket, sleeves shoved up over an armful of African bracelets; her jeans rolled to show delicate white lace tights disappearing into biker boots; an ancient cashmere cardigan belted over opaque stockings and velvet heels. Her green eyes ever-watchful behind a cloud of cigarette smoke.

          By contrast, Caroline was a stammering rush of manners and good intentions. Her sensible loafers and serviceable pleated skirts screamed English dependability; all hunter green and navy blue; one good bag and woolly tights. She was always on time, frequently early, and happy to perch in a café with L'Ecume des Jours or L'Etranger until the others showed up.

          Caroline adored those hours in bars, parks, cafes, listening to the fierce debates -- whether to eat falafel, was Ronald Reagan a hero or a joke, should they see Le Tartuffe or Beverly Hills Cop? Rangy and spare, in leather jackets and tousled hair, Annouk and Alexis could have been twins. He always had a hand on her knee, the back of her chair; she gave him neon lighters, a twisted blue bracelet.

          A passing black Range Rover interrupted her reminiscences, showering her right leg with a deluge of cold puddle water. Now that really was annoying. She wondered fleetingly if the leg would smell of damp dog as it dried, then decided to hell with it. She had nothing to prove to Alexis -- so what if her hair frizzed and her trousers were damp? She was, after all, a very successful headmistress. She hailed a taxi and hopped in.

          "La Defense, s'il vous plait," she said. As the taxi swished through the grey, familiar streets, her heart and stomach both felt a tiny squeeze of nervous excitement.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cinq Choses. . .

Ed. Note: Marsi is back today talking about one of my favorite subjects: Transatlantic trade agreements.  It goes both ways. I have French friends who give me a shopping list for the United States. Read on and you'll understand.

My office mate Kate is visiting Paris and St. Remy next month, and we've been in Francophile heaven talking about where she'll go and what she'll do while she's there. Kate lived in France for a year as a college student and looks forward to making her triumphal return to see it all again through adult eyes.

She was kind enough to ask me if she could stow anything in her checked baggage for me. Here is my wish list.

Effervescent Aspirin

1000 mg tablets of effervescent aspirin. It's like supercharged Alka-Seltzer.

These old-school French caramels are addictive. 
Papier d'Armenie

Divine little burning papers that'll quickly scent your room with
the resiny goodness of benzoin.
I always burn a strip after I've cleaned my kitchen. (It's a ritual.)
Papier d'armenie is also available in a beautiful rose scent. I love them both. 
Ispahan jam

Confiture Ispahan, by Christine Ferber for Pierre Hermé.
A layer of raspberry jam topped with rose-scented lychee. Blend the layers yourself.
It almost sounds too beautiful to eat.
(I said almost!)
The September issue of Paris Vogue

The sublime Marion Cotillard fronts the August 2012 issue.
I can't wait to see who will be September's cover girl. 
Tell me, what do you ask friends to bring you from France? I'd love to know.

In fact, I'd so much love to know that on Saturday, I'm going to draw a name from all comments below and will send the winner a booklet of papier d'armenie. So spill it: what are your favorite treats from France?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Au Nom de la Rose

Ed. Note: The adorable and talented Heather Robinson from Lost In Arles is back today sharing one of her secret pleasures. If you're visiting France and looking for that elusive "perfect gift" I think Heather and I would agree this is it.

I push my face deep into my grocery store roses. They make me smile so that my teeth tap the petals. Outside it is so hot that it smells of smoke. Yes, this is the south of France and summer is indeed upon us. And upon my skin. Thank goodness for roses and I am not just talking about of the hothouse variety. It began with a gift. 

My friend Claire placed a beribboned box on my plate while we were waiting for our Pad Thai. "Pour toi." She said simply with her impish grin. Inside were Pains de Rose, little Aleppo olive and laurel oil soaps that had the perfume punch of a garden and the appearance of Turkish delight straight out of Narnia.

Claire knows that I have ah-hem, sensitive skin. As in crackled broken down red-head skin that even la pharmacie and le docteur regard with a Gallic shrug. This soap has been such a blessing that I bought it in the shower-ready heart-shaped version as well as their Damask Rose Oil. And yes, both live up to their promises of leaving even my skin "supple et tonique".  A long-time believer in Bioderma’s Crealine H2O, I have even, gasp, used the products on my face with wonderful results. The rose oil sooths my flip-flopped feet and frizzy ends, the aroma my frazzled nerves.

Created by Tadé Pays du Levant, the products are 100% natural and ecological. The entire rose line is made in Syria under guaranteed ethical conditions, so that a purchase can  perhaps do a tiny bit of good during such a moment of horrific chaos. 

They are also unbelievably reasonable with each item being well under 10 euros. Aleppo's qualities were supposedly adored by the likes of the Queen of Sheba and Cleopatra. If it is good enough for them...well, then perhaps it is time to stop smelling the roses and start clinking the rosé!

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Romantic Weekend In Paris

Saturday night's dress from Erdem. And look (!) It has sleeves.
Capsule wardrobe miracle worker, Janice, of The Vivienne Files, has envisioned a weekend in Paris in red. This is the first of a series of romantic weekends. Paris would be the ideal destination, but romance knows no boundaries, n'est-ce pas?

Scarf – Hermes, tote bag – Costume National, earrings – Endless, white shirt – Theory, cardigan – Stella McCartney, loafersLanvin, pants – Maison Martin Margiela

Dress – Erdem, earrings – Julie Tuton, cashmere wrap – Pashmina Art, pumps – Calvin Klein, clutch – Lulu Guinness, lingerie – Mimi Holliday by Damaris

tote bag – Costume National, earrings – Endless, top - Topshop, cardigan – Stella McCartney, loafersLanvin, pants – Maison Martin Margiela

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Next Week or La Semaine Prochaine

Today, at last, is gloriously sunny and warm without being stiflingly hot. For the first time this summer we had lunch in our gazebo.

After I tell you about next week's schedule I plan to dead head my roses and see how my baby cucumbers and zucchinis are coming along.

As to the business of the day:

Another capsule wardrobe by the wonderful Janice of The Vivienne Files.

A Marsi surprise (maybe, I hope. . .). No pressure Marsi, really. . .

Heather Robinson of Lost In Arles has some opinions.

That promised rant from me. Actually it's more like a lament than a rant.

The second installment in our summer saga, The Return, by Elizabeth Smith.

Et voila, that's our week.

I hope you're having a beautiful, restful Sunday my darling friends.

A demain.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A French Country Weekend

Nature is a wonderful thing. Take these wild plums for example. We are inundated with them this year. They grow unattended at the far end of our garden, their branches desperately reaching out for the sun and then they deliver a bounty of fruit.

Even the birds can't keep up with them the way they did with every-single-one of our pitiful crop of cherries.

We also have plum trees which we water, feed, spray (non-toxic, bio friendly of course), visit and encourage. We are anticipating approximately 15 plums from two trees, again assuming we get to them before the birds.

All of this is to tell you that this week I've made my wish -- always the same one -- on our wild plums. They're tiny, but they're tasty.  If my wish comes true, I'll tell you what it was.

A demain mes tres, tres chers amis.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Standing Still, Still Standing

Ed. Note: My great, great friend D. A. Wolf creator of the  Daily Plate of Crazy is back today with yet another poignant observation about us. As always, she offers pertinent information distilled with her signature style and panache.

I hereby admit that I’m dreadful at the following. 
  • I struggle with single-threading (doing one activity at a time). 
  • I struggle with sitting still (I have the proverbial spilkes). 
  • I forget to eat, I steal from my sleep, and I rarely stop to take a deep breath and relax.
It isn’t that I don’t understand the value of slowing and savoring.

I do.

But my habit of running ruthlessly is well-ingrained. It was extreme in my married years - juggling job, kids, and the hubby when he was home; it’s been a whirlwind (and dare I say a necessity) since raising my boys on my own and keeping our household going.

I thank my lucky stars (and knock on wood) when it comes to familial energy. Apparently, even on my worst days, I possess it in abundance. But my schedule – and habits – of taking on too much and requiring myself to perform at uber-utmost levels are, I know, unreasonable.

The Busy Trap and Consequences
Generally it takes some incident – shattering a glass (and finding myself surrounded by shards), running into a wall (literally!) – in order to bring myself back to my senses. Then I realize it’s time to stand still – that is, if I want to find myself still standing tomorrow!

As to that frenetic pace, I read a wonderful article on the New York Times recently, "The Busy Trap," that deals with the issue of being busy – overly busy, "crazy" busy – which seems to characterize a particularly American affinity for activity taken to levels of excess.

The fact is – we're stressed to the max. But we don’t have to take on everything we deem "necessary" (because it's not), and a bit of (so-called) boredom can assist in allowing the mind to rest much as we rest the body.

If the mind unwinds, we sleep better. And sleep, as medical news continues to inform us, is critical to physical health, to memory, to learning, to mood, to weight control... and the list goes on.

When we sleep, we restore ourselves and prepare for diving into the next experience – or task – with renewed energy and focus. And let’s face it, we look a good deal better when we’re rested, too!

If you have any doubts, this brief article from the Harvard Women’s Health Watch sums it up nicely: sleep is an absolute must.  

Patterns of Behavior

We all have good habits and bad habits. We may think it’s terribly difficult to shed the bad and acquire the good, but the fact is – it takes less time than we think to dump those nasty routines and replace them with saner (healthier) ones.

Our good habits?

Oh, there are many, and the women I know don’t give themselves enough credit for them. They may include regimens of self-care, patience with children or aging parents – often the result of practice – and discipline in all sorts of endeavors.

We may have relationship patterns – good or bad  – that we’re trying to improve or to build on. 

Bad habits?

They may be as simple as biting our nails or slouching, annoyances we can train ourselves to eliminate in fairly short order (if we pay attention). They may be more problematic – something like interrupting (which can cost us friendships), not listening (which can cost us relationships, or worse), or habits to do directly with health such as one too many glasses of wine after work, chain smoking, or emotional eating. And yes, there's a fine line between bad habits and excesses that land us squarely in the heartbreak of addiction.

Is Busy "Bad" Behavior?

But what about the state of being busy? Or rather, the constant flux and shuffle of multiple activities, dashing madly from place to place or task to task, not to mention, incessantly checking our communication devices?

Do we use our “busyness” to obscure issues we don’t want to deal with – lack of purpose, loneliness, other emotions that hurt?

I am not a psychologist, but like many of us, I’m a woman who has dealt with life events that set us adrift – the sort of losses we might expect as we grow older, and those we never anticipate at any age. I understand that activity – working, writing, exercising, cleaning – can be therapeutic for awhile. But never standing still, when it’s taken to excess, may leave us burnt out or worse.

We may not face our underlying problems (and thus, have a shot at resolving them). We may damage our health, when STOP could turn things around.

Taking a Break

I am about to make two gross generalizations, in full recognition that I’m doing so. 

First, French culture is more amenable to reasonable apportioning of time – at least, more reasonable than America. One needn’t feel guilty when taking a weekend with family (and not working); one needn’t justify a vacation.

My second generalization?

In my lifetime, I’ve seen men know when to say “enough” in the work arena, in the domestic arena, and in the relationship arena. They take their breaks. They refuel. They step aside long enough to regroup, reassess, and refocus. Without guilt.

And the women?

Perhaps it's our culture of women taking on too much, with insufficient support and too damn much (misplaced) pride. Perhaps it’s my circle of friends and acquaintances and our particular responsibilities. But I know this:
  • We don’t say “enough.” 
  • We don’t slow down in the work arena, the domestic arena, or the relationship arena.   
  • Our expectations of ourselves are sky high, and I’ve seen only small improvements as we grow older.
We tend to take breaks when others insist we do so, or we take breaks when we actually begin to break – ourselves.

I’d like to believe that if we are thoughtful, if we join together with our women friends and gently remind ourselves to pay closer attention, we could lighten up on the sense of self-esteem we derive from our attempts to “do it all” - and do it all perfectly.  

Instead, we’ll know that common sense – and health – require us to stand still, even briefly, if we hope to find ourselves still standing over the long haul.

© D. A. Wolf 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

From France to New York: A Love Affair

Claude-Noëlle Toly in her chic boutique, Le Fanion. (We absolutely love her trousers and her trés, trés  parfait -- very, very French hairstyle.)

Ed. Note: You may recall, I promised you something very special. Here it is. Written by Carrie Tuhy of the absolutely divine blog Second Lives Club -- if you do not know it, please rush over and follow -- it is truly meant for us. From the writing to the subjects to the esprit, the Second Lives Club speaks to us. I love today's post. I think you will too. 

            Claude-Noëlle Toly grew up in Dieu Le Fint, a tiny village the South of France.  At 21, she and her then boyfriend flew to the United States and began a hitchhiking trip that traversed the country. The boyfriend didn’t last, but her romance with the U.S. did.  “I fell in love with America and Americans.  I felt so at home here,” she says.

The next year, 1982, to her parents’ distress, their younger child and only daughter packed up her belongings, sold her car and moved to New York City.  One of her first jobs was as a waitress at Chez Bridgitte, a legendary Greenwich Village restaurant—more like a lunch counter with nine stools -- started in the 50s by Marseille native, Brigitte Catapano, and known for its homey atmosphere and delicious Boeuf Bourguignon. 

While working there, Claude-Noëlle met a Columbia University student and Francophile who always left her big tips. In 1986, she and the student-turned-business partner opened Le Fanion, a corner boutique in the heart of Greenwich Village that sells decorative pottery, paintings and antiques from France.
Pottery, plates, furniture and charming chandeliers.
Le Fanion’s chic and original offerings, prized by loyal and fashionable customers, reflect Claude-Noëlle's roots and tastes. They range in price from a polka dot eggcup for $17 to a $27,000 chandelier dripping with jewel-like crystal fruits and flowers.  The shop’s ceiling and walls are filled with twinkling chandeliers and sconces made the old-fashioned way and newly electrified: the bronze frames are sand-cast, the crystal ornaments hand-ground from bars. There are also hulking 19th century armoires and zinc-topped café tables.  Even the fir columns supporting her loft
office are imported from the French countryside.

Pitchers, pitchers, pitchers -- and a few plates.
About a dozen artisans in the villages that surround Claude-Noëlle's hometown make the pottery – pitchers, plates, cups, bowls and other whimsical items, some with charmingly naïf drawings of cows, pigs and sheep. She discovered them by driving around the French countryside, stopping at farm after farm. “This was before the Internet or cell phones," she recalls.  Sometimes there would be just one or two farmers making a couple pieces over a season.
She still collects the pieces herself during buying trips four times a year and visits to her mother stilling living independently (hiking!) in her 80s. Claude-Noëlle credits her mother with her discerning eye and her sense of style, despite a “super conventional, good girl” upbringing. “I was raised to be a teacher -- or a secretary. That would be glamorous,” she says. “Until I came to New York, I didn’t know you could be a hat designer or do props for movies."

 When she first arrived in New York City three decades ago, she couch-surfed with actors in the old, unDisneyesque Times Square until she found a roommate and an apartment. Those early experiences were life-expanding. Growing up, she had never even visited France’s capital city.  “We were told Parisians were mean. They would beat us up.” 

Today, she owns a flat in Saint-Germain-des-Pres where she stays to recoup after her transatlantic flights and occasionally rents to longtime customers. The décor in the shop and her apartments—she also has a small studio on Bleeker Street in New City (which once was home to Pierre Deux’s first store but is now dominated by Marc Jacob’s multi-shop empire) is reminiscent of her family home. The furniture is mostly 19th century cherry and walnut pieces. Her parents collected antiques.  “People in the country just lived with this furniture,” she says.  

Claude-Noëlle mingling with her clients.
Equally as fashionable as the shop’s merchandise is the gamine proprietor who has a bequiling Audrey Hephurn-in-Funny Face quality. Her personal style is informed both by her origins and her adopted country. One recent afternoon we talked about French and American women while customers of both nationalities ‘ooh’ed and ‘ah’ed  as they shopped in her store:

Le Fanion -- Claude-Noëlle's boutique feels and looks like Paris.
On Style: Maybe necessity creates style. When I was a kid it was more common than now to make your own clothes, to knit your sweaters because it cost less than buying everything. For sure, it helped me have a more unique style. I try to not spend a lot on my clothes. I’m not big on designers; I prefer something a little different to a name. I like clothes that are fairly simple, making an outfit more personal with an accessory--a scarf, or a necklace. I used to buy vintage, but now not much anymore. I buy preferably on sale, very different places: Anthropology, Agnes B, Levi’s, and small boutiques when I travel.  I don’t think it’s inbred in French women.  My mom is very stylish and made our clothes. Other moms were not.

On French Women: I think we are more natural and grounded in reality, which is also true of the whole culture and country. Being a more agricultural society until recently and also a much poorer nation than the U.S., we were closer to a simpler past. I think it's changing, and that's a big subject . . . for another time!  We are the country of Descartes: practical, common sense... France doesn't have Hollywood. Instead of Marilyn Monroe, we had Edith Piaf....We don’t have the cult of youth that exists here: a woman in her 40s is considered very sexy (in France) -- not finished! Therefore maybe you're more encouraged to take care of yourself. Having a mistress is an accepted notion. Maybe women are more stimulated by this. Either to be one or to refrain their husband from looking for one! 

On American Women: U.S. women are very inspiring for their independence and their tough spirit. To me, that's the ideal: the pioneer, free, liberated woman. I think she was an inspiration for the whole world. I have always found American women to be very kind, very sweet and very “girl power”. French women are more competitive among each other, have less solidarity. They are less open and less relaxed with each other than their American counterpart. I've learned from American women to be more sister-like and more loving towards other women.

 On role models: The American woman I admire most is the pioneer woman: strong, reliable, courageous, always welcoming and solid as a rock, not complaining. In general (what) I admire and enjoy about Americans is they are easily happy, easy going, adaptable, jovial, friendly. Another type of woman that French women admire is the California healthy style: Farrah Fawcett or Jane Fonda.  But that style might be a little dated now.

Some Differences:  I think France has been less permeated by corporate influences –for example, corporate products and advertising convincing you that you need what they are selling-- so it allows people to be more real. American women, I think, used to be more real but now have been reduced to a cartoon image of what a woman should look like. Authenticity is always more attractive than fakery. How can you be attractive when your face isn't yours, your boobs are not yours, your lips not yours? Being too removed from reality is not attractive.  Sweating when it's hot is okay. Feeling sad is okay.  I always find it more attractive to be natural -- that’s why children are so charming -- than to be artificial. And I think Hollywood and magazines have created an image that cannot be met by most women -- or men, for that matter.  Being natural and comfortable with who you are makes you confident and attractive. Trying to fit a mold just doesn’t work, and it shows. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The L'eau-down

Once again, my darling Marsi is back with more of her "value-added" advice. This time she tells us how to stay cool, which I thought until today was irrelevant for us in and around Paris.

A side note on the subject of cucumbers: One summer, my friend Edith's husband delivered cucumber Smoothies to us while we were swimming in their pool. They were thick, greenish and sort of disgusting. We added some fresh mint and that helped. We did however feel exceedingly virtuous and talked about vitamins and minerals as we downed the brew.

Another value-added tip: When you've drunk your water -- as explained below -- save the cuke slices and put them on your eyes. So cool, so soothing. . .

When I was at the hair salon last week for routine scheduled maintenance, my stylist's assistant offered me a glass of iced cucumber water from a beautiful glass decanter that looked just like this.

The addition of the cucumber was so cool and refreshing, and elevated the daily task of drinking water into a pleasure.

It just goes to show you that sometimes it's the little things in life that make a huge difference.

Ever since my afternoon at the salon, I've been keeping a cucumber in a Ziploc bag in the office fridge, and each morning, I fill my half-gallon pitcher with water, a bit of ice, and a good half-dozen or so thin slices of cucumber.

Such an elegant way to beat the heat during this hottest summer on record.

Hurry up, October!

Le sigh.

I hope wherever you are, you're keeping cool as a cucumber.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Next Week or La Semaine Prochaine

With a lot of help from my friends, next week will be spectacular -- everything from a French boutique in New York to an essay by D.A. Wolf and in between one of Janice's brilliant capsule wardrobe ideas.

I may even write a post on something that's been, not exactly annoying me, but let's call it a missed opportunity. Disappointing. Yes, that's the word.

My new fruit this week, but always with the same wish, is a white nectarine. They have seven more calories than the yellow. Bizarre. And, frankly, who cares? They look beautiful and taste divine combined with fresh raspberries -- the perfect summer dessert.

A demain my darling amis.

Oh yes, I almost forgot. The weather report: rain, wind, sweater plus scarf temperatures. Leave the sandals in the closet.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Happy Bastille Day

As always, the parade was regal. And, during the ceremonies, despite the wind, a timid sun made its appearance.

I hope you're having a lovely, sunny weekend wherever you are.

A demain my precious amis.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A French Vacation: Summer Accessories

A parasol perhaps? Not likely.
Let me see. Tell me if I'm wrong. These were the accessories that you thought would be perfect for your vacation in France this summer:

A pareo. Only if you wear it as a shawl -- over a cardigan.
Hmmm, sandals. Why not? If you team them with socks you should be fine.
Sunglasses. In my experience they make great headbands
 If you are planning a trip to France, remember to pack the following:

Scarves and plenty of them.

An Eric Bompard cardigan. This one looks cheery and won't seem depressing in the rain.
This one, from La City, is for me to wear with my black linen trousers and if there's a break in the showers a pair of black ballerinas.

You can buy one of these when you arrive.

But never mind, there is always the outside chance that you have other travel plans this year or you could re-route to Provence perhaps. In that case, I have a huge surprise for you, a cadeau really. It's so much fun that it will make you happy no matter where you spend your holidays.

As you know, every summer magazines, newspapers, the Web, etc. all tout “the best vacation reads.” Debuting tomorrow and for five weeks thereafter, you will be treated to your very own best of summer vacation read – written exclusively for us by an extraordinary writer and a wonderful friend.

Some of you may remember her from what was, in my opinion, one of the best blogs ever written, Mon Avis, Mes Amis. Unfortunately the operative word in that sentence is “was” – Elizabeth stopped writing her blog some time ago to the dismay of many of us groupies.

However, Elizabeth L. Smith is back and this time she is weaving a tale of romance and intrigue in Paris.

Please be here tomorrow and every Friday for the duration.

Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain.
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