Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Joy To The World

       
Just add children.
          If there is anything the world needs now, it is joy, peace and love.

           I thought this small expression of exuberance would make you smile. It might even make you teary. It did me. A little joie de vivre is what we all need.

          My beloved sister-in-law sent me this cadeau yesterday. Even if you've seen it, you'll want to see it over and over. Then, you'll want to share it I'm sure.

         Please click here.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A La Maison

 
La Cuisine where Julien likes to whip up delicious pâtisseries.
         While riffling through an article in a French magazine about Christmas present ideas, I was fascinated to discover the Cubic Maison, a hip, modern dollhouse featuring French families complete with their individual back stories.

One of the houses.
          The houses and the accoutrements that fill them are designed by Djeco, a 60-year-old French  company dedicated to making creative, well-constructed, educational toys. I would love to play with one of the houses and invent stories for the families who live within them. Wouldn't you?

La famille de Thomas et Marion.
         Thomas and Marion are the children of Julien and Sophie. We are told in the mini histoire that accompanies their "lives" that though Julien works very hard, he also loves to cook and makes delicious pastries. Meanwhile, Sophie is passionate about flea markets and decorating. From those few details, children independently or with the assistance of their parents are on their own. They are supposed to continue the family's story, inventing situations and interests to make the characters come alive.
La famille de Milo et Lila.
La famille de Gaspard et Romy.
         Same thing for the other two families in the collection:  Milo and Lila and their parents and Gaspard and Romy and their parents.

         An interesting detail, all the parents are holding hands. I've noticed when I'm in Paris that couples of every age -- from those in their 80s to those in their teens -- are almost always strolling hand-in-hand.

         Lovely.          

Friday, December 12, 2014

Flight Attendants Speak Out

     

         Well, OK, they responded to my silly questions. Nine hours is a long stretch of time -- Paris/Chicago -- so I wandered around the plane asking the attendants what they brought home to the United States from Paris.

        It was unanimous. Every one, without exception, on every trip, brings home salted butter. Now, I thought salted butter wouldn't pass by the dogs. (There was a really cute, very busy beagle working at O'Hare upon my arrival.) I also thought it was considered in the broad classification of "farm products." You know, those lines on the card we must fill out about hanging out on farms and/or trying to smuggle products from said dangerous locations into the USA, the squares where we always check "No"?

        They all said French butter did not fall into that category. I didn't press the issue because I know that crew members do not fall into the category of regular passengers going through customs.

         Next time, I think I'll test my theory. I'll try to transport butter with sea salt crystals into this country. If I don't make it through the first line of defense -- the dogs -- some lucky customs officer will have a delightful treat. I trust there won't be a fine involved. I'll investigate and interrogate the flight crew on my way back to France.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

If Money Were No Object. . .

       
May the season bring you enduring joy, peace and contentment. 
         Our very appropriate challenge in this month of holiday stress, obligations, joys and generosity might seem simple and yet on re-examination, it's quite complex I think: Conjure up a gift of great extravagance -- one's definition of "extravagant" is the detail that is open to extensive interpretation -- whimsey, fantasy and creativity.

         So, my très, très chers amis, once again welcome to our international By Invitation Only group's vast and varied approach to the fine art of giving.    

          I don't mean to cheat on our assignment, but I am turning the tables on the theme. I want to tell you about the best Christmas gift I have ever received and, staying on message, money was no object. Money was no object because there was no money involved in this extraordinarily loving and generous offering.

          Serious scientific studies have proven that it is not "things" that make us deeply happy, but rather experiences. Now, as we all know, experiences do not necessarily come without expense -- great or small. I would imagine that at times something material is the catalyst for rich experiences, how about a pied-à-terre in Paris for example?

          Let me tell you about my cadeau. I received it this year. I'm living it right this moment. As you may know, I'm in Chicago and will be here for Noël.  This will be the first time I have been in the United States for the holidays in more than 25 years. The obvious aspect of my gift is the experience of being with Andrea, Will and Ella sharing all the family rituals of the season.

Diamonds may be a girl's best friend, but consider the heart.
         I am deeply thankful for this, but it is not precisely the present for which I am most grateful.  The true, immeasurably precious gift came from My-Reason-For-Living-In-France.  He insisted I spend Christmas in Chicago. It was his idea, his gift.

         My plan was to return home in time for the fete, but he wouldn't hear of it.  "You know how I feel about specific dates," he told me. "Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays. . . they are just days, you know they only mean something to me if they mean something to you. We'll celebrate our Christmas when you return and best of all Drea and Ella will be with you. It will be wonderful."

         This is a man who does not know the meaning of "guilt" as in he is incapable of making anyone experience that dreadful emotion. I argued long and hard about leaving him. He refused to listen. "It will be marvelous for you to be with everyone; you love Christmas. You'll call me. I'll talk with everyone. It makes me happy to know you're happy. Stop arguing with me."

        I did.

        Please click here where you will be directed to my dear BIO friends.      

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Paris, Chicago Direct

         
I'm off to Chicago.
          In 30 minutes I leave home for the airport to fly off to Chicago for the holidays.

          Yesterday was filled with non-stop last second "chores" which included a semi-permanent manicure in O.P.I. Passion; a fruitless search for my RoC products;  then I picked up the refill of my custom-made talc powder from Christine and finally my brilliant hairstylist, Estelle, added bangs to my coif.

The semi-permanent polishes must be protected in an opaque bottle my manicurist told me. She really, really wanted to give me red, red nails, but I didn't feel psychologically ready for the plunge. I've got the red covered on my toes.
         Estelle gave me some tough love yesterday, noting that my cut wasn't "modern or 'young' enough; it needs some feathery movement." She was so right. I look like I've had a combo Botox, filler treatment. Magic.

My "Letitia Zen" bath powder created by my great pal, and pharmacist, Christine.
        As I mentioned when Christine first proposed making my bath powder, which she aptly named Letitia Zen, it features lavender, mandarine, orange and vetiver oils. It's truly divine. The recipe is supposed to be calming and restful. Even if it works as a placebo I love it. My bathroom smells delicious and that in itself is a lovely bonus.      

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Sometimes We Can Forget Loyalty

   
The RoC laboratories admit that beauty is not magic, but rather "method."  Dr. Gallais has given me the ingredients for the second best possibility, maintenance.
          It's late, it's late. I know.  I'm running around doing last minute this and that chores -- everything from picking up Charlotte's food to searching for my new products recommended by Valérie Gallais -- no easy task I'm discovering.

          Dr. Gallais likes us to change our basics from time to time. "It's good for the skin, it's a sort of surprise that makes it less 'complacent'," she said.

        She told me that if I continue to use my Eucerin creams, she understands. We do get attached to products that work. She does know though that I think it's fun to try new potions, but I have no intention of looking for another cleanser. I'm totally happy with my Vichy 3-in-1 sometimes alternating with Bioderma ABCderm H2O solution micellaire (neither one needs to be rinsed although I always finish with a post cleanse thermal spring water spritz) and of course my can't-live-without Clarasonic.

       Moving right along. . . she said "at the moment, I'm really liking the range of products Professionnelle Anti-Age by RoC. I'm seeing interesting results on my patients and the collection is the best rapport quality price I've found."

       She suggested three products for me from the range that includes 13 items including those for sun protection and after sun care, cleansers and a panoply of strategically targeted creams and lotions.

My new day cream featuring a healthy dose of vitamin C.  
       Of the ones she prescribed, I only found the day cream yesterday. Tomorrow I will be in Paris again and will go to every pharmacy I see until I discover the eye perfecter and the intensive night cream she chose for me.

        As she and I have discussed before, both in my book and in this space, neither of us believes in eye products to reduce wrinkles, although I know some of you have found ones you like. The one she suggested for me is for puffiness and dark circles. I don't hold out much hope for results, but she told me I will be surprised.

       I started using Pro-Renove Creme Anti-Age Unificatrice RICH this morning. We shall see. . .


       So that you're au courant about everything we discussed, I asked her if the Avène hydrating masque was still her favorite, "definitely," she said. I then told her I was currently using my gommage
 cadeau from Christine (my friend and pharmacist) Nuxe Gelée Exfoliante with rose petals (I didn't tell her it was a gift with all the attendant backstory details because I figured she wanted to get back to the patients patiently fidgeting in her waiting room.) "Why not?" she said.


       As I begin using the products, I'll tell you about them even before there start to show results.  In a month or so we can revisit the subject in the hope that one can really buy miracles in a jar. . .

       Hope springs eternal.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Photo Ops and New Products

         
Maybe a dress like this one would be pretty for a photo op.
          Spoiler Alert: The headline is a teaser. I will be in Paris all day, first for my yearly appointment with my dermatologist, translation: New Products. After I will be on a mission to find Ella a Christmas dress with smocking, translation: Photo op.

         I'm assuming my doctor will have new recommendations because she does recommend that we change up, thus charge up our products from time-to-time. I'll pass along her new suggestions.

Perhaps this one says "Noël more eloquently?
         I know of a special place in Neuilly, the chic suburb of Paris that snuggles up against the 17th and 16th arrondissements, that has an enormous selection of little girl dresses with smocking. Ella Madeleine needs one for Noël.


       Then, still on my to-do list is more Savon de Marseille, a special lip balm with a trace of color I love, and tiny tubes of rose and fig hand cream for stocking stuffers.

       I'm off. I'll report back from the field.
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