Sunday, July 31, 2011

Next Week or La Semaine Prochaine

A great deal of thought and dithering has gone into my decision to address a hot topic. Hot in oh-so-many-ways: Fidelity/Infidelity, Respect/Arrogance, Loyalty/Deception. In a word, Love, and what we're willing to give and do for love and what we hope and expect in return.

You know, except for the naughty nightwear/stay-at-home-and-have-fun wear, s** is a subject largely eschewed in this space along with the other no-no's religion, politics and money (except for how much something costs or all the better if it's on markdown).

Moving right along, on the calendar:

News & Views

On-the-Street: Let me explain. I was in Paris last Friday and the streets are deserted, not a stylish French woman in sight. I'll see what I can come up with out here in the country next week. You know I'll do my best.

Cherie will answer your questions -- if she doesn't I will. She hasn't worked in months and now she wants a vacation. So typical.

Surprises! (Last week was a complete surprise for me)

More News & Views

Ed. Note: Thank you so very, very much for your comments on the future of reading. You are so brilliant and interesting. I'm so lucky. In fact, thank you for all of your thoughtful responses.

Have a beautiful Sunday.

Weather report: Perfect.

A demain.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Weekend Word

I hope you have la pêche this weekend.

Today, let's take a look at the word frite or in its plural form, frites. Most of you probably know we're talking about French fries.

The classic when you can't think of what to order and you just arrived in France and cannot speak a word of the language beyond the bonjours and mercis, one tends to order lots of "steak frites" svp.

However, as is so very, very French (I suppose it's not uniquely French, but these are the areas where I'm constantly tripped-up) the word has other meanings.

One can have lots of pep and energy and the French say he or she has "la frite." To check my vocabulary since some of you may have noticed I misspelled râler for an hour or two yesterday. . . I asked my Reason-For-Living-In-France if I understood the concept.

"Yes," said he, "but it is much more attractive to say he or she has la pêche. Try to use that instead," he advised.

"OK," I replied with a smile. OK is great, since it translates in every country in the world -- probably.

More frites

Are you thinking, "Is there a point to her post or is she just wasting my time?"

Here's the point -- not necessarily quality-added, but mildly interesting: frites are also the name of those  thingies we use in aqua gym class to make the exercises more difficult. Except in the deep end.

Sometimes our instructor says, "If you know how to swim leave your frites at the side of the pool for the deep end exercises." Even if you know how to swim you could drown down there with the acrobatics she demands without the floating frites.

Weather report without transition: Summer is back.

Do have a lovely weekend.

A demain.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Little Reminders + A New French Word

Râler -- to complain, to moan (to growl). More loosely translated to make a loud and disagreeable fuss about a problem with a person in a service position, i.e. the cashier at Monoprix for example, while the line behind the leur or râleuse is approximately two kilometers long.

The French, and they are the first to admit this about themselves, are complainers. I suppose it's because they are living in arguably the most agreeable culture in the world they become prickly when the cashier at Monoprix tries to explain they have mistakenly chosen something from the "new collection" and not "les soldes" and she cannot give them 50% off even though some other client may have carelessly mixed the regular priced item with the markdowns. Now, that is an argument that could take a good 15 minutes.

Above explanation brings me to a solution by Christine Lewicki who has decided to control her own tendencies to complain at high decibels and is sharing her secret on her web site.

She suggests we wear a plastic bracelet for 21 days and each time we have the inclination, wild urge, to growl, we look at and/or touch the bracelet and remember how we are trying to re-condition our impulses from negative to positive. If, however, after a valiant effort, we fail the bracelet is to be moved to the other wrist and the calendar moves back to day one.

Not being a huge râleuse myself -- although I believe I am capable of enormous bodily harm when someone cuts in front of me in a movie line on the Champs Elysees -- (a very common practice btw) I believe a ribbon would be a more comfortable option particularly for sleeping and steamy summer days.

Taking her idea to another level, I think it's rather brilliant for any habit we might like to break like mindless snacking for example. Each of us could no doubt fill in the blank for an inclination or habit we would like to jettison.

What do you think?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Conversation & A Question

The only detail in today's post that has anything at all to do with France is the fact that I'm writing it from here.

I wanted to tell you about several conversations I've had lately and if you have the time and the inclination I would in turn love to hear your take on the subject.

Topic for the day: Reading.

Question of the day: How are we reading these days?

As you know I have many many friends working in the world of the printed word. All are still attached to paper, but each one has changed his or her habits in their own reading and all are cutting edge tech savvy.

One editor friend took courses to help put her newspaper onto the tech fast track and often sets her clock for the middle of the night to make sure no gliches have muddled up the paper's site.

She is one of my very, very best friends and is also one of the funniest individuals I have ever known. We had an e-mail conversation last Sunday morning and in closing she said, "I have to run now, I'm off to church to pray for the newspaper business." I whisked off a response suggesting she "include books and magazines in your prayers."

Yesterday I was in a long and lovely conversation with an editor friend at a magazine. She, like the rest of us raised in these media, continues to be passionate about her metier. But she said it is anything but easy and when she speaks, as she often does, at colleges and universities, and sees "that sparkle in the students' eyes when they tell me they want to work for magazines, I caution them 'if you were my child, I would tell you to look elsewhere for your future'."

She does not steer them away from careers in the media, only print on paper.

She admitted that the only words between hardcovers that she has bought in the last several years have  been either cookbooks or the occasional beautiful coffee table tome filled with luscious photos to which she returns over and over. "All the rest of my reading is done on my iPad," she said, "and I have never read as much in the past as I do now because it is so easy."

Yet another friend, a famous serious fiction author, is still turning out hard cover books, but last week he did a Twitter interview with a major magazine to promote his latest novel. And, for his previous work he "Tweeted" little teasers from the book every day for months. If it's not part of the "read," technology has definitely become part of the promotion and marketing package for books, which isn't surprising.

And he, like my magazine editor friend, does all of his reading on his iPad. He even has his magazine subscriptions therein. When I saw him recently he shared his collection of New Yorker magazine cartoons with me on his screen.

Last Christmas my daughter and son-in-law gave me a Kindle. I take it wherever I go and am exchanging books with her and another friend. But, I still dearly love books and I am a magazine addict.
For me there is something comforting about a house filled with books, curled up in front of the fireplace or under a duvet in my bed with a book is pure heaven for me.

One thing has changed in my life and it makes me feel slightly guilty: I no longer buy, subscribe to or read newspapers. I get all my news from the Internet and occasionally television. (I'm not a huge television fan, never have been.)

I'm wondering if books will become collector's items or merely decorative dust collectors. How sad that would be.

Just curious, what types of books -- real books, not e-books -- would you buy? And do you still want your magazines real magazines?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sleeping Beauté

For today's lesson, this is definitely not the goal. For all things there is a time and a place and sometimes beauty procedures should be timed (as in limited).

You've read about those products. You slather them on your face before you slip beneath the sheets and in the morning you will appear like all the anti-aging photo shopped pictures that promise youth -- or fewer wrinkles let's say -- when you wake several hours later.

Well bonjour? Talk about waking up to reality.

However, do let me introduce you to a little trick that will make you look better in the morning. It has been tried and tested (often) by me and since my goal is to look the best I can for my age, I can assure you I've never looked better since I added this simple nighttime ritual to my routine.

The tip comes directly from two estheticians and my dermatologist -- that many people cannot be wrong. Right?

After your normal cleansing before bedtime, obviously you're not using soap so we can skip that detail, do not apply your regular, rich replenishing night cream. Instead, apply a moisturizing mask, put a fresh pillow case on your pillow and go to bed.

You may have a favorite brand. I like my Avene, Roche-Posay and the Sothy masque was recommended by the esthetician who performed my "day of beauty" a couple of months ago. It's very good, but considerably more expensive.

Remember, whatever you do, do not sleep in one of those hardening masks -- see above. For those masques, if you feel you need them from time to time, follow the directions to the finest detail. If you leave them on too long you might have to chip them off and that is most definitely not in your best beauty interest. The moisturizing masks (or masques) are absorbed, they do not harden.

When you wake in the morning, just rinse. Then -- ta-daa -- stand back slightly from your mirror (unless you're near-sighted) and take a moment to admire your beautiful visage.

Do this once a week. It will change your life. I promise you; it will.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

News & Views, This & That

Ines de la Fressange -- look how her trousers reflect in the buckle of her Roger Vivier ballerines.

Some of you have indicated we/I am in overdose mode with Ines de la Fressange. I shall not argue the point. However (isn't there always a however?) I thought you might like to see what she wore to a recent   soirée in celebration of the 80th anniversary of the iconic watch brand Jaeger-Lecoultre.

She does prove over and over the beauty of the perfect white shirt. It is ageless, flattering, and elegantly nonchalant. Of course it's the way she wears it with the cuffs turned back, the collar slightly turned up and the Roger Vivier accessories. Are the trousers the game changer? No, I think it's the shirt.

While we're on the subject of ageless dressing, I think I'll go waaaaay out on the proverbial limb. I suggest that a Frenchwoman of a certain age would wear this camisole. Yes, she might very well wear it under a jacket or a cardigan, she might also tuck it in and forget about the la-dee-da peplum thingie, but she's never as quick as some of us are to decide something is not age appropriate.

It's always the how and not always the what.
French Soule.
Definitely a universal summer accessory, espadrilles. But curiously -- or perhaps not in the world of fashion -- the price points.

Phillip Lim

Phillip Lim 240 Euros, French Soule, made in France, 18 Euros. Both feature fabric "uppers" as they say. I wouldn't want you to think the Lim version was leather to justify the slight difference in price.

Almonds. They seem to be the latest and the greatest topic of conversation this summer. It's not as if everyone didn't already know how unbelievably wonderful they are for us in every way -- hair, skin, suppression of the appetite (supposedly) and lots of other scientific stuff. All the stars claim they pack little boxes or bags of them wherever they go because they are tiny "miracles." They are quite calorific, but 10 or 12 really do fill a need at about 4 p.m. Friendly reminder entre nous: Don't pack more than you need. Because you'll definitely want more than you have.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Welcome To Blog "Lite"

My first and last color choice on this post. I know, no guts, no glory, but I cannot have green or yellow finger or toe nails -- they would make me sick. Literally.

"Lite" meaning not only zero calories, but also not much substance. I'm counting on the entertainment factor as opposed to the "value-added" aspect I try to include every day.

Let's see how it goes shall we?

While perusing the latest nail colors for my impending pedicure I came across the yellow and frankly yucky green hue from Bourjois. As you know, Bourjois is Chanel except much less expensive, usually a season or two behind in the hyper trendy colors (except this summer for some reason) and sometimes, but not always, a nuanced tinge of difference in the tone. I don't think even Anna Wintour could call you out as an impostor (i.e., Bourjois, not Chanel) once the polish was on one's nails and the bottle safely hidden in your salle de bains.

It's not that I was waiting for a lower price point to get in on the green and yellow, but I'm just mentioning this as a news bulletin in passing.

As you can see, Chanel was more ambitious in the green family.  Perhaps the Bourjois melange was a reject.

Then, to save us the time, trouble and possible accidents that could result from playing artist, Bourjois and Chanel also introduced a turquoise -- you know if you mixed the yellow and the green you'd get approximately that color. You knew that.

Now that I think of it, this might indeed be a genuine value-added day.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Next Week or La Semaine Prochaine

Two facets to the week ahead -- the public and the private. Since I share almost everything with you, I'll tell you about the private as well.

First, the public OR what's on the calendar for the week ahead:

News & Views

Cherie -- I will insist that she properly answers all of your questions (do send more if you feel so inclined) rather than blah-ing on about the fact she was invited to the wedding in Monaco and I was not. Who cares? I was busy that weekend anyway dead-heading my roses.

Surprises !

On-the-Street -- assuming the weather permits. I was in Paris on Friday and had intended to take some pictures, but the rains came.

More Surprises !!

Second, the private (until now) plans for the days ahead:

No, how can 5 million French people be wrong?  Right?

1.) Re-visiting Dr. Dukan.

2.) Returning to the pool and aqua gym classes.

3.) Weeding the potager (Ha!)

4.) Pedicure.

5.) Hit les soldes for the very last time -- just in case.

I know, I know on all levels my life is soooo fascinating. Even I can't believe it. . .

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Weekend In The Country

Admittedly, the publicity is bizarre, but isn't she beautiful?

. . . under torrential rains I might add.

The rainbow at the end of the story:  It's too mucky in the potager to pull out the pesky weeds -- I'm sick with disappointment as you can imagine -- but when I finally do get to them they will be easy to extract. They'll also be much taller than they were two weeks ago which means easier to grasp from a standing position.

Guests arriving this week from the States so avoiding serious organization is not an option. What is not accomplished for some rationalization or another on my part I'll explain by saying, "I'm in the midst of paring down -- we're into minimalism chez nous. Our new credo is 'less is more'. That explains the myriad piles of stuff. We're negotiating a redistribution program. We want to be free of cumbersome, useless material goods."

I think that works.

Until tomorrow I shall leave you with the stunning woman in the bizarre Evian T-shirt ads. The slogan is "Live Young." Pourquoi pas?

I don't drink it, but I do spritz it.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Oui, Non, Peut-être (Maybe)?

Accessorized with Chanel ballerines.

Leggings. Let's examine the leggings conundrum.

Ines de la Fressange tells us they're a no-no after 50, whereas with her long lean legs she is probably one of the few women in the world who could wear them forever.

When mulling the problem, I was on the fence for a few days, but finally I'm leaning toward agreement with Ines. Let me explain. I'm not certain they're an age issue -- except perhaps for the short version -- they are, regretfully, more of a figure issue.

Why emphasize lumpy at any age if that happens to be one's figure default. And please, do not give me the "they're comfortable" excuse. So are sweats and you know they are never to be worn in public under any circumstances. They are exercise wear. Period.

Comfort and style have never been mutually exclusive. Laziness and laisser-aller (translate "sloppy") are unacceptable, particularly at our ages.

I have a French friend in her 70s who often wears leggings, ballerinas and big white shirts, lots of bangles and  looks stunning. She has great style and possesses a closet full of haute couture, right next to a collection of simple tops from Zara. She has no fear or complexes about the "rights" and "wrongs" of fashion.

Most of the time however, I think leggings are risky, as in difficult to wear with panache. Sometimes, I've noticed, they're simply silly. With rare (tres rare) exceptions why would anyone over 25 wear short leggings under a dress for example? And, when, long or short, accessorized with sky-high heels they do look a little you-know-what, as in "I offer hourly rates."

She's an artist and she has created her distinctive "look." No it's not for everyone, in fact it's probably for her alone, but isn't it sweet? (And, no, she's not as young as she appears.)
That being said, I looked through my photo files and found a few French subjects of a certain age wearing leggings.

Is it because they're French? Is it because they're in France?

I'll let you decide.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dear Cherie Is Baaaaack!

Cherie is deeply touched, though frankly not at all surprised, by your support. You-Know-Who (heretofore YKW) can be uppity -- heaven knows why, Cherie got the good genes after all -- and excessively territorial about "our" blog.

She doesn't seem to realize that Cherie raises the bar and provides the je ne sais quoi for which we (you and most certainly Cherie) live and breathe.

Your questions were particularly interesting and challenging. Your overwhelming response and need for Cherie is once again evident. Translation: Cherie will be back regularly to answer all your questions and assuage all of your fears.

YKW has forbidden Cherie from talking about fall until August 1st. Though Cherie has infinitely more style, charisma and charm than YKW, unfortunately she has taken control of the controls in this space. Until then, let's attack your concerns.

Q: Mme. V: Dear Cherie, What did you wear to the wedding in Monaco?

Dress from Rochas, heaven only knows whose idea it was to add the black opaque hose.
Lanvin, Albert, an old friend, agreed to extend the fabric to just below the knee. He is a darling.
A: My dear Mme. V, How interesting that you should ask. Of course Cherie was invited although we were all quite worried that Charlene would make a run for it before the big day. (YKW was not invited obviously. But you probably knew that.)

Some of Cherie's friends left their shopping to the very last second because, let's face it, there are so few weddings of that sort these days. We decided amongst ourselves that if things fell through in Monaco and we had already bought our day and evening wear we would throw a few parties on our own to justify the enormous expense of trying to compete sartorially with all the cameras in the world focused on us, well moi certainly and of course the bride and a couple of the princesses over there.

One thing Cherie discovered in her shopping excursions was that finding a confection perfection for a wedding of this genre is not a piece of cake. Arms should be covered, at least slightly for the église, the last thing one wishes is to look like any of the other European royalty in their too tight Easter egg pastel suits, one wants to appear chic, elegant and décontracté (relaxed, in control, nonchalant). Then there is the question of the hat that won't make one look like a fool.

Elie Saab, another old friend. He added more layers to the skirt. Cherie likes to show a little skin, but she does not like to feel exposed.
Elie Saab
It's wasn't easy. For the soirée there was a plethora of choices in the collections -- almost too many from which to choose.

Above Cherie shares her final cull down.

And, finally, a few accessories.
Roger Vivier clutch to go with every evening gown in the world forever.

Lanvin envelope to accompany  Rochas dress.

Dior. YKW has a fab-u-lous shoe man, Monsieur Cotte, who cut an inch off of these shoes without disturbing the delicate balance.
Cherie's driver kept these close at hand when above scary shoes became too, too much.
These exquisite court pumps are in the Metropolitan Museum and were designed by Roger Vivier in 1980. But, wouldn't they be lovely?

Guess which of the day and evening looks Cherie chose.

More very, very soon my darlings.

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