Sunday, March 1, 2015

A French Country Weekend

When I first decided to try blogging, my adorable niece, Catherine, set me up technically and Andrea sent me two books to help me get started content-wise. One wise bit of counsel was, "Nobody cares what you ate for lunch," that's why I think this cartoon is funny.
        A French jewelry designer was asked recently, "What is your definition of elegance?"

         Having worked in the fashion business all of his professional life, one would tend to expect him to cite something related to the fun-filled world of façade. He didn't.

         Elegance for me, he said, is, "La pudeur, une forme de reserve des sentiments."

         Pudeur is generally translated as "modesty" but it is more delicate and profound than that in French when used to describe someone's comportment.  It suggests discretion, a sort of code of privacy and respect.

         Please, those of you who speak fluent French, how would you define pudeur? Perhaps his "reserve des sentiments" is the best translation/definition.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

For The Love of A Dog

When Ella Madeleine was here last month she and Charlotte fell in love with each other. Charlotte is a verrrry big girl. Ella  would stand in front of her and say, "Hi, hi, hi, hi. . ." and Charlotte would wag her tail and give her a big slurpy kiss on the cheek. 
         Random, I know.

          Yesterday I was visiting one of my favorite people. I don't know her. I'm talking about visiting her blog as opposed to a real life exchange, but reading her feels more like attentively listening -- with heart and mind -- to a gentle, articulate, private, strong, intuitive, intelligent friend.

          I don't even know her first name although it might be Candice judging from one of the comments I read chez elle. We have never exchanged an email. Our only communication has been through the occasional comments on our respective blogs.

          She has managed to accomplish something many of us talk about when we're together over a cup of tea or a glass of wine, and that is: "The Balance." We struggle a bit with how much we reveal about our day-to-day lives.  We ask ourselves and our blogging friends: Where do we draw the line? How much of our quotidian should we discuss out here in the wide, wide world of absolute exposure the instant we press the "send" button?

         We all know that there are bloggers who share what I consider embarrassing aspects of their lives. Some accept payment to do so. Some go so far as to invade the privacy, I'm assuming this, of their friends and family.  Many of the most popular bloggers have, it appears, exposed intimate aspects of their lives in this excessively public forum: being (unhappily) single,  meeting "the one,"  marriage,  children,  health problems, general malaise, and on and on.

         Where do we draw the line? How much do those of you who so generously take the time to read and sometimes comment on our blogs want to know about us?

These two glasses of wine have nothing to do with anything, they are simply a "device" to break up lots of gray text to encourage you to continue reading. 
        A great friend and I laugh about her harried life and how she still manages to create a gorgeous blog. "Sometimes there are a pile of dirty socks next to the bouquet I photograph and post," she said.

       Therein lies the balance I think. Most of the time we share the best; occasionally we'll talk about our disappointments, but basically we're here to entertain and maybe from time-to-time inform or recommend.

       All of our lives have their complications and challenges and sometimes they involve those we love who would be horrified if we exposed their stories in a blog post.

Another "device" with peonies, my favorite flower.
      I imagine you are wondering (once again), "When is she going to get to the point?"

      Yes, "For The Love of A Dog" . . . the woman whom I do not know, is considering getting a dog because she knows, like all of us who love dogs -- whether we can own one or not at certain points in our lives -- that they can change our lives.

      They bring joy, purpose, calm and love. I cannot imagine living without a dog. I think doctors should be allowed to put them on prescriptions Xanax, no, never mind: "Get a dog." Yes, they're addictive, but they do not contribute to memory loss, on the contrary in fact.

        She is a charming, poignant writer (with perfect grammar btw) who makes you feel the emotions she is sharing, for example click here.  

Friday, February 27, 2015

Playing Dress-Up In A Perfect World. . .

Stella McCartney's one-button navy blazer.
          Now, let me bring you into what would be my perfect world of dressing. All of these put-togethers work off of two impeccable pieces: slim gabardine trousers and a one button blazer that nips in slightly at the waist. Both are from Stella McCartney, which tells you immediately the price points.
Slim navy trousers from Stella McCartney.
        My exercise is to demonstrate the almost infinite possibilities of a well-made, and in this case expensive, navy blue suit that can be worn together or broken apart to up the possibilities. Of course it's possible to find good trousers and blazers at relatively reasonable prices, think J.Crew, Lands' End and many, many more labels I haven't explored.

Blue on blue on blue
In case, like me, even if there is the will there is no longer a way to wear those sky-high stilettos,  the Roger Vivier kitten heels would be just as pretty with this outfit. Maybe this is all too match-y, match-y for you, but I love blue on blue and masses of beads.

         My plan is to play around with these basics for a few days. You'll tell me if you get bored.  I'm hoping you won't because this is so much fun.

The navy blazer, again and again
Of course the Breton sweater from Yves Saint Laurent could be switched out for almost any other top, but I like this look.  Just can't get away from my blue on blue on blue.
       Imagine the places you could go with just these two simply perfect separates. Talk about dressing for success for all occasions. Next week I think I'll take them to a few chi-chi restaurants and a cocktail party.

        For the moment, I'm just playing as you can see. Please think of these ensembles as idea boards. (I admit though, I can't help wishing some of the pieces were more than ideas in my world, particularly the jewelry. . .) As I become more adept at this exercise, I promise to "merchandise properly" as they say in the retail business, translation: tell you where you can find the clothes and accessories.

The magic navy blue blazer
A choice of shoes, depending upon whether one tends to be more of a ballerina girl or a moccasin girl. Many of us are both.
       Please feel free to chime in with your ideas.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Mid-Week Break from A Theme

My mother had a beautiful dressing table and my most vivid memory of the items on it was her signature fragrance, Arpege, from Lanvin. She never wore another perfume.
     It seems to me we need a break from my petits cadeaux series, but not completely. . .

          Often your comments provoke reactions, or questions, that simply will not exit from my brain. Case in point, the one below referencing Monday's post (please scroll down):
      I love this series, but I think perhaps, I am too set in my ways to appreciate any of these gifts! I would just regift all of them or give them to my housekeeper. Your thoughtfulness is so kind, but as I've grown older I have my favorite eyeliner, hand cream, notepad and pen in my purse. It is difficult to find small, thoughtful gifts. Even candles are tricky....fragrance is such a specific thing. I hope I can learn something from you and in the comments, as I am always at a loss to find a genuine find! Thank you for giving us some thoughts.
          Her observation is quite intriguing I think and I'm wondering where my loyalties and buying habits fit into her remarks. I'm also wondering what you think.

          In the past women were unwaveringly loyal to their perfumes, lipstick shades, night creams and perhaps hand creams as well. We had our favorite fountain pens which, over time, were ours and ours alone because the structure of the nib accommodated our signature way of writing -- angle, pressure. 

Imagine, choosing the absolute perfect nib. It's sort of thrilling in a way don't you think? (Context.)
         Remember, we never let anyone use our pens because they were "custom-made" to our hand, unlike the ubiquitous ballpoint pen.

          In a recent conversation with an American journalist friend, we were talking about reality TV and other popular television programs in the States, including the well-respected cable cult programs. I remarked that I had never seen the Kardashian family living large for broadcast although I, like probably every French person living in France, am quite aware of the family and its antics. 

You may know all of their names, so I'll just let you fill in for me.
         Again, I know about most aspects of popular culture, the good, the bad and the ridiculous: television, books, personalities -- political as well as pathetic -- etc. through articles I read. My friend was arguing the importance of "staying relevant" and that one way to do so is to be conversant with mainstream culture. "It keeps us young," she said.

        Another journalist friend and I were discussing technology, she's a whizz. In that exchange I was telling her that I was terrified of not being able to effectively learn and execute the skills my new blog will require. She instantly rebuffed me, "You'll practice until you learn whatever you need to know and, by-the-way, you haven't been on your Facebook pages for months, you don't do Instagram, it's been almost a year since you bothered to write a few words on Twitter and you still haven't applied yourself to Pinterest."

        Honestly, I wanted to take an Advil and lie down except we were having lunch in a restaurant at the time. Again, she pulled out the "staying relevant and young" cards. 

        Yes, I want to be "relevant" and I want to keep my brain "bright and young" by doing whatever I am capable of doing, but sometimes I clutch at the thought of my limitations.

My best childhood friend has been wearing Joy since we were teenagers.  It's part of her personality. 
        Back to the charming woman and her comment (yes, I know, once again I've veered and detoured off subject). . . I have products I love and that probably never will be removed from my repertoire, but I cannot resist temptation. Maybe something else will be better, deliver amazing results, work with what I already use. Hmmmm, make me look younger? 

       Oh, never mind,  good for my age -- inside and outside my head. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Les Petits Cadeaux Series V

Edible flowers to decorate salads for example from one of my favorite sources, Terry Exotique.
    When I think of the little gifts I choose for friends and family to mark an occasion (or just because. . .) my intention is always to say in the simplest way: "You are important to me and I wanted to show you with this small gesture."

          I want each cadeau to be special (at least in my eyes) and trèstrès French.

          Today I'm moving out of beauty, although I may return to that department before the week is over. Like the beauty products the scale is small making them, I always hope, an expression of thoughtfulness and sentiment without being over the top.

          We're moving from the boudoir to the cuisine with these presents.

          These are three of my absolute favorite small hostess gifts, particularly when grouped together or, once again for no reason at all gifts.

By far, one of my all-time special objects and, I think, an objet d'art or at least an objet de curiosite
           1.) A silver plated champagne opener. This one is fun because very often people don't know it exists. It is perfect for those of us who are a little nervous about popping a champagne cork in our hand without it flying across the room with that classic Pop(!).

          When MRFLIF is not available this is my go-to utensil.

          2.) Almost anything from the absolutely incredible line of herbs, spices, natural food coloring products, edible flowers and on and on from Terre Exotique. The company is French and has expanded to include the most exotic products from the most exotic corners of the earth.

        For my purposes, to stay on message, I select something from France.

The ones I buy do not have holes in the handle.
         3.) White porcelain spoons. They come in all shapes and sizes. I find them at an inexpensive chain store in Paris, La Vaissellerie, that sells primarily white porcelain and other objects -- some shockingly kitsch -- for the home.

         I started using mine for mustard when not using my little crystal Baccarat purpose-made pot a mustard (the auto-correct, which is maddening, would absolutely not accept mustard in French) with its accessory crystal spoon. It's sort of a pain for every day use whereas a little bowl filled with mustard and one of these spoons is perfect. They are great for jams, jellies, all sorts of condiments and probably other uses I haven't thought of yet.

        I get delivery request for these.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Into The Sac, Small French Cadeaux

Clarins fun to use Dot-Dot-Dot eyeliner, another of my favorite gifts
        Staying on the beauty theme to fill the little pochettes a message I love to give as cadeaux to friends and family, I've collected three more very French items I like to slip into them:

          Rêve de Miel, the fit in the palm of the hand pot of lip balm from Nuxe. It really works. I keep mine on my bed table.

One of my newest "tiny gift" finds. Christine, had a basket of them in her pharmacy during the holidays and I scooped up about 15 of them, just in case. . .
          Des petits tubes of sublimely scented hand and nail cream from Roger-Gallet.  The tubes slip into a handbag, a pocket, a glove compartment, any place really. My favorite fragrances in the collection are: rose, bois d'orange and fleur d'osmanthus.

Clarins 3-Dot eyeliner.
          The 3-Dot eyeliner from Clarins. Now, this is fun to use but takes a little technique, i.e. practice required. That said, once practice makes perfect easy eye lining will become a daily habit.

On the outside chance you do not know what an osmanthus looks like (I had no idea), see above.
          I'll continue this series through the week or until I run out of ideas, whichever comes first.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

French Notes II


         This is so much fun for me and helps me organisze my ideas about my Transatlantic gift giving.

           I'm so pleased the subject interests you.

           Another of my favorite very French items are small cahiers (notebooks) that can be slipped into a handbag for example. I have lots I like, but I'm particularly attracted to the black and white, five-by-seven inch ones by Ben for Quo Vadis.

          I'm obsessed with notebooks and pens and always hope that the recipients of these little caihiers enjoy them. Not a day goes by that I'm not taking notes about something.

          They are marvelous stocking stuffers, little "nothings" tucked into another gift or a stand-alone "just because"gesture. Usually I write something on the first page.

          A demain mes très, très, chers amis.
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