Tuesday, January 31, 2012

French Health Issues

It seems to me the extra added boost of vitamin B6 might make a  huge difference in the results.
Years ago I discovered the French seem to have an addiction to magnesium. Magazine articles, bottles strategically displayed in pharmacies, television ads and often in conversation, the merits of the mineral are exalted for their rejuvenating properties. A French doctor and nutritionist, Kathy Bonan, even managed to get a publisher to buy an entire book on the subject, Les Secrets de la Force du Magnesium.

Magnesium and miracle both start with the letter "m" which, by my estimation, if the little white capsules  truly do what they're touted to do, they must certainly be some kind of miracle. Supposedly we can count on a month-long "cure" (we're big on extended cures over here) to alleviate fatigue, cramps of any sort, joint pain, anxiety, irritability and a general baisse de moral (the blues or the blahs if you will).

Obviously, I had to get some. I've self-diagnosed myself with anxiety and a very mild case of the blahs. So, yesterday I headed out to our local pharmacy to buy a miracle in a bottle. This is how the conversation transpired with my friend and pharmacist, Christine.

I took the first capsule last night. I'll be back to you with a report on the new, improved me after my month-long cure.
Moi: I would like some magnesium please.

Christine: Why?

M: Because I read in Elle it's the ultimate legal "drug" that promises energy, calm, bliss, etc.

C: That's nonsense. You don't need it.

M: Of course I do.

C: No you don't.

M: Well, let's just say I want it. I'm a believer. Is it dangerous?

C: No, it's not dangerous, but you could eat 20 unsalted almonds and a couple of squares of dark chocolate and voila, all the magnesium you need.

M: There are calories in those forms of magnesium.

C: OK, I'll get you one I've used.

M: You see!!! You admit it. You've taken magnesium. Did it change your life?

C: Yes I did and no it did not.

M: Do you think it will change my life?

C: No, it will not.

M: When and how do I use it?

C: With a large glass of water before bedtime.

M: Will it help me sleep, feel serene?

C: I doubt it.

M: Merci, I'll take it.

Monday, January 30, 2012

French Kissing. . .

Non, non, non, pas ça mes amis. No indeed.

I'm talking about air-kissing, perhaps considered an affectation on the other side of the Atlantic -- or the Pacific for that matter, but in my life it's a normal form of greeting, and, honestly I love it.

I mention the custom today because if you click here you will be taken to a post I wrote for Women's Voices for Change where I explain why I love my French girlfriends. We always say "bonjour" and "au revoir" with light brushes of our cheeks, lips pressed into a relaxed kiss formation and usually a whisper in the ear about how happy we are to see each other.

Rarely do women really "plant" a kiss on a cheek -- heaven forbid, one could leave a lipstick trace -- but men who are good friends do actually gently kiss a woman's cheeks. This I really love.

There are many, many nuances on the ritual -- the number of times, two in Paris for example, more as one moves south in the country.

France's First Lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, and Letizia of Spain setting up for their official air-kiss -- right cheek to right cheek. I'm confused. Are they leaning to the left?
I'm sure there is some protocol for left or right cheek first and I could Google to find out, but I simply scope out the direction someone is leaning in for the kiss they are about to give me and I follow their lead. An interesting article in the London Daily Mail some time ago noted that studies reveal the level of emotional feeling connected with social bises, is demonstrated by which way we tilt our heads.

Approximately 80 percent of men and women turn their heads to the right when kissing cheek-to-cheek, which is supposedly a gesture of genuine feeling while those leaning toward the left were reacting with the less emotional part of their brain and thus not making a warm gesture at all.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Next Week or La Semaine Prochaine

First off, I don't know what has happened here to my type face. I'll look into it later.

The up-coming week, if all goes according to plan, will include a great reveal. Excited, deliriously happy, floating on a cloud would be the best way to describe the situation chez moi.

Here is your weekly line-up:

Lundi: I shall send you to another site where you will find me telling you "Why I Love My French Girlfriends."

Mardi: A foundation discussion in which I sincerely hope you will answer my questions.

Mercredi: News & Views.

Jeudi: Surprise.

Vendredi: The Great Reveal.

Samedi: A French Country Weekend.

Dimanche: Like today, but different.

Weather report: Cold, cold, lots of gorgeous sunshine, morning frost, bottom-line, crisp and invigorating.

A demain mes trés, trés, trés, chers amis.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A French Country Weekend

One small fennel. . .
some cabbage. . .

Vegetable soup is simmering in the kitchen with homemade chicken stock as the base and the fresh vegetables from yesterday's market: carrots, baby navet (turnips), leeks, celery, one onion pierced with cloves,  a small bulb of fennel, a handful or two of haricot verts, some cabbage and a bouquet garni. It should be good.

Next on the agenda, arrange the two bunches of coral tulips purchased yesterday.

And finally, I plan to head out to see if I can find some red anemones. Last week I had an all white bouquet, this week I would like one in red. If I can find that luscious purple-y blue, I'll snap them up.

I'll show you the bouquets next week.

Weather report: Cold -- really cold -- bright, cheery, morale-lifting sunshine, early morning frost. Lovely.

A demain mes trés, trés, trés chers ami for the weekly round up which will be exceptionally, particularly interesting.

Friday, January 27, 2012

A New French Survey

It seems to me it's about time for a new survey. Setting aside for the moment creams and elixirs (which many respondents, as you will soon see, refused to do) I asked several friends and acquaintances the following question: What do you do to stay young?

This is what they told me:

Danielle: A stretching class, English lessons, crossword puzzles, bicycling wherever I can and lots of creams which comfort me, but probably don't produce any results.

The Vichy Thermal Spa.

Marie-Claire: I just cut my hair and added thick bangs. I think I look younger. Two weeks in the Vichy thermal spa, swimming.

Isabelle: I laugh all the time and I write plays, always comedies. They have been produced in tiny local theaters. The work and the anticipation keep me young.

Michel: It's important to always have projects, aims in life. We're restoring our house at the moment which is a huge project. Also one must never be egotistical, if you care about others and think about their well-being you stay young.

Annie: I take classes. I need to learn new things. It's an adventure for me.

Claudine: Yoga, tai chi, stretching classes and I always, always think positively. I am positive by nature and I always find a way to make my mind go toward solutions to problems and not get too focused on the drama. Also argan oil all over my body.

Dany: Picking mushrooms in the Rambouillet forrest, eating really good, fresh food and very little meat. I go to practically every new exhibition in Paris.  I also cover my body with creams and lotions from head to foot even though I find it annoying.

Josianne: Swimming, golf, thinking positively as much as I can and a shelf-full of Nuxe treatment products.

Alain: Golf, bridge twice a week, scrabble, English classes, travel and looking at pretty women.

Maryanne: I do absolutely no sports, which I know I should, and I hate walking in the forrest so I try to compensate by sleeping nine hours and being active during the day. Since we have three houses it's not difficult to find things to do. And, of course I have more creams, lotions and serums than a parfumerie. Another thing, I put my makeup on first thing every morning. I have breakfast fresh-faced, but I don't feel 'dressed' without my makeup.

Françoise: My first (and only for the moment) grandchild, painting classes and travel.

Anne-Laetitia: A happy marriage plus a neck lift and hyaluronic acid injections. (Ed. Note: Ahem.)

And finally, several said faire l'amour as often as possible. Nothing keeps you young better than that, they said.

What do you do to stay young?
Night. . .

and day.

Remember, we don't care about chronological age, we're talking heart and mind -- plus some serious upkeep. If you prefer your hyaluronic acid treatment in a more friendly formulation, don't forget my magic Eucerin cream. It's as close as one can get to a miracle in a jar.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Fashion Challenge

Jean-Charles Castelbajac whom I ordinarily hate, but this snappy jacket is just what a late winter wardrobe needs.    Imagine it with the Mulberry bag below. I know, isn't it fab-u-lous? (I'm taking the pants as well. . .)

Recently I was asked to choose five (!) and only five items of apparel and/or accessories that I would buy right this minute. In other words, something that would add zest to an existing wardrobe -- mine -- and if the stars were aligned, on markdown with my size still waiting for me.

All this is alas virtually speaking, but even so I must admit I had a very, very, very difficult time culling down to five. (When the post on my choices appears on Women's Voices For Change I will let you know.)

My dream bag, the Mulberry Alexa.
Still, the nagging feeling that I left some really good pieces in the dressing room has finally summoned me back to pick them up on the sly.

Ralph Lauren. Isn't this coat elegant?
Unfortunately with my current social calendar I didn't even choose from the myriad delicious evening gowns out there -- to do so would have been a waste of my virtual budget and I like to think of myself as practical, yet whimsical, ever elegant, yet practical. I want bang for my Euro even if we're playing in Fantasyland.

Celine. I'm assuming -- well it's my blog after all, I can assume anything I wish --that all three pieces count as one. That's how I'm counting them. It's called "new math."
Celine. Another one of those not easy to find, but perfect LBDs to add to the closet . If only. . .   I could wear it with either of the coats and the jacket and, of course, the Mulberry bag would give it just the snap (!) it might need on occasion.
Here then are the clothes, and the one accessory, that got away.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

In Another French Tradition

Every Saturday when I do my major market shopping, i.e. fruit, vegetables, cheese. . ., as opposed to super market shopping for household cleaning products, water, milk and so forth, I always buy flowers. I put them in a bucket of water and take them to the cave (the cellar) to keep them fresh and on Saturday I make my bouquets. Not being a remarkable homemaker, this exercise is a delight for me. It is the compensation for all the necessary chores one is obliged to do. I could, and sometimes do, spend hours making bouquets for the bedroom, the living room, the dining room, the library, my office.

A magnificent Gallé solifleur vase.
Flowers are my great luxury and, as you know, a very, very French touch in the home. A single flower in a solifleur vase on a bed table is life changing. (OK, small exaggeration, but I find great joy in seeing a flower as the first and last things I see every day.) My point here: It's not necessary to spend a fortune on flowers, but the return on investment is enormous I find.

Simple, modern solifleur vases.
In the summer, of course, all of my flowers come from the garden and even now I have red berries I can add to the flowers or use alone.

This week I bought three bunches of white anemones. I love anemones. This is one of my -- extremely simple as you can see -- bouquets in a mercury glass vase.

A demain.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

News, Views, Remerciements & A Winner

The label says "Karl," the designer is the only-and-only and the collection is available exclusively through the Internet.
It's been a while since I've pulled together a collection of the latest and the greatest -- a discretionary call on that one -- or at the very least news and views.

Since the bits and pieces are all over the place, let's dispense with convoluted transition sentences and use my two favorite forms of communication: lists and headlines.

And we're off. . .

Macha Was Deeply Touched
She asked me to thank all of you profusely for your kind birthday wishes yesterday and to tell you she had a lovely, quite celebration at home with the family and enjoyed her hamburger, while suffering through way too much hands-on public displays of affection (she's discrete) all followed by a very good night's sleep.

A Brilliant Idea

Claire Vidal, who like many women, particularly Frenchwomen, has suffered for the sake of fashion decided enough already. As she watched other women (and herself) trotting along the streets of Paris in haute heels and grimaces she decided it was time to find a panacea for the pain. Et voila, her brilliant idea: super cushy innersoles to slip into stratospherically high heels -- or any uncomfortable shoes for that matter. She named her new company, Red Carpet.

But, she didn't stop at the utilitarian. No indeed. She saw no reason not to make the inside of one's shoes as trendy as the outside with a range of colors and even leopard motif semelles.

They ring in at 29 Euros. If you're intrigued, click here.

And The Winner Is. . .

The winner of the Detox tea from Kusmi Tea is Joni Nawrocki. Please e-mail me your mailing address and I shall pass it along to Kusmi. (tishjett@yahoo.com)


Starting Tomorrow

Karl Lagerfeld's new line of ready-to-wear featuring his latest label, "Karl," will be available on
net-a-porter. The collection of some 100 pieces priced from 60 to 300 Euros will be offered only through the Internet.

Karl, as we all know, is an advangardist who has nothing against technology, tiny images of himself in Christmas windows, his svelt form replicated in a palette of eye shadows and his silhouette on Coke Lite bottles. He has arrived at that exalted position where he can do anything and it never tarnishes his reputation -- from the haute couture to the hoi polloi. No easy feat.

From what little I've seen of the collection (very little) I think I'll take the collar and call it a day. I hope it comes in white.

And, that's all she wrote -- for today.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A French Dog's Birthday

Today, Macha is celebrating her 15th birthday!

She was the only girl in the litter and was promised to me by a good friend of ours long before she was born. Her mother was one of the sweetest dogs ever and I said to our friend, if Yanna ever has puppies do you think I could have a girl? The day Macha was born he called and said she was mine.

I'm going to call him today to thank him again. Macha has brought so much joy into my life. She's cool, tender, no-nonsense and extremely funny. While Charlotte requires lots of physical contact including hugs, Macha simply needs to know where I am at all times and will occasionally sit next to me and accept my fawning with bored tolerance. She knows I need it.

She will have a hamburger for dinner tonight, as will Charlotte. It will be a birthday party after all.

A demain mes cherest amis.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Next Week or La Semaine Prochaine

The next few days will be -- I'm trying to figure out a way to say this so you will be intrigued -- full of surprises! Yes, that's it. Surprises!

Monday I will share something special with you. It involves one of our dogs.

Tuesday will be a News & Views day with the announcement of the winner of last week's Kusmi Tea giveaway.

And the rest of the week will be sooooo much fun what with the surprises and all. . .!

Weather report: Intermittent rain drops, a timid sun, light wind. Better than yesterday.

I hope you're having a wonderful, restful weekend.

A demain mes trés chers amis.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Weekend In The Country

The forsythia outside the library window has buds on it. You probably can't see them, but I've verified.

Not quite yet. Soon. I'm not psychologically prepared for the moment.

I'll put my wreath into its storage box in a week or two.

Weather report: Yucky. Drizzly rain, gray skies, wind.

Consequence: Dogs not at all interested in venturing out and when they do they must wait on the porch to be dried -- one after the other like the ladies they are. . .

A demain for the weekly round up mes trés, trés, trés chers amis.

I hope you're having a lovely weekend. (If you have snow, I'm jealous.)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Why Aren't The French Content?

Why aren't the French as happy as I think they should be? Maybe it's because they see themselves as intellectuals, always questioning, always doubting and yet, they admit happiness could be a good thing.

Maybe it's because I'm the foreigner in this wonderful land that I don't understand the seemingly constant grumbling that I see and hear. At a dinner party a Frenchman told me a joke. He said: "When God created France he knew he had created perfection and could never do anything better. He then thought I mustn't have absolute perfection on earth, so he created the French."

It's a joke.

Now, before I pull you into this story I must make a disclaimer or two. A post such as this would require a great deal of data and scientific support if it were to be done with strict attention to detail. Heaven knows that statistics and whatnot are out there, but after several hours sifting through the material I gave up trying to synthesize the information for this post. Please consider the following as "science light" sort of like Coke lite. I'll give you a gloss over without the solid foundation. If you're dying to have the hard facts, click here and once there you'll discover a zillion other sites that will bolster or denigrate that study.

According to a recent French Elle article which unfortunately gave me the idea to pursue the idea, the French really do want to be happy, but they fall somewhere around 46th in the world for serenity. That said, not surprisingly the "Happiness Project" best seller by Gretchen Rubin, which has been translated into French, seems to be capturing the imagination of a country which has every reason in the world to be happy, but somehow isn't quite.

The article takes us month-by-month on what we're told should guarantee le bonheur. A cautionary note before one sets out on the quest: It takes 30 days for the brain to adopt a new habit, that's why the month- by-month approach seems to work best. Too much happiness could result in an overdose or maybe even stress (!)

If you've gotten this far with me, let me make it easier for you to continue by using one of every journalist's favorite methods, lists. We just love them. If you want to up your happiness quotient you can pick and choose from below and sort according to whatever month your little heart desires.

1.)  A study shows the French sleep an average of six hours per night which can lead to extreme fatigue and depression. The solution? Two nights a week, lights out at 10:30.

2.) 20 to 30 minutes of exercise per day keeps the brain in top form. (You knew that.)

3.) According to author Florence Servan-Schreiber, eight physical contacts each day, i.e. hugs, kisses, a caress, makes us feel better, 12 contacts has the same effect as an opiate. Now that is interesting!

4.) Remember with our children, the days may be long, but the years are short. Do something fun every day. Create sweet memories.

5.) Do something creative. Anything. You don't have to be good at it, just do it.

6.) If you've stopped entertaining and spending time with friends. No matter how much effort it takes, throw a small dinner party. Make it simple, but make it.

7.) Be grateful for what you have -- I know, you've heard this before, but it bears repeating. When one is grateful, one is more tolerant of others. I find among my French friends a great deal of tolerance and charity toward others. They see and forgive human foibles.

8.) Question whether you really want more and more and more things.

9.) Make time for yourself; it's there. You'll figure out how to find it. You will be happier and your happiness will "rub off" on those around you.

10.) If you don't think you're happy and you have a litany of reasons to support that belief. . . well, then you're not happy. As one of my best friends said some time after her husband died, "I woke up one morning and I decided to be happy. It's a decision. I'm acting on it."

Now, you add to all of this excellent healthcare and transportation systems, cultural activities available at affordable prices and, of course the country's natural resources: cheese, wine, champagne, perfume, lingerie and all the rest and one -- a foreigner -- often wonders whether it's the spoiled child syndrome that is preventing true happiness.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Real French Pommes

Silver pommes 
Yes, they are real apples (pommes) dipped in a silvery wax that makes them gleam.   Aren't they beautiful?

They're part of my new year's resolution to start a post holiday decorating tradition. As in I've decided to institute an unexpected post holiday decorating touch, starting this year. I bought my apples at yet another of the many divine boutiques in the town near us. When I first saw them I thought they were wax apples -- which they are and they aren't.

The owner of the boutique explained she found them at a small supplier and she too fell in love with them. I asked her how long they would survive. She said she had no idea, noting that real pommes shrivel up and ultimately rot away. Will that happen to these or will they be protected by the wax?

"I really don't know," she said.

"Could you find out maybe?" I asked.

"I'll try," she said.

I'll let you know.

Tomorrow I'll tell you about happiness from the French point of view. And, curiously, even with such natural resources as wine, champagne (yes, I know champagne is wine), cheese, perfume, sublime lingerie, and silver apples, they're not that happy.

A demain mes trés, trés, trés chers amis.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

French Soldes & More New Shoes

As I mentioned (admitted) last week, I went wild buying ballerines marked down 50 to 60 percent. I was swooping and scooping like a mad woman.

Are these beyond cute or what?
The Anniel ballerina slippers give new meaning to fashion, function, comfort, chic. Yes, I do wear them outside -- if it isn't raining and I've pretty much given up on snow this year, but no, I wouldn't wear them in snow. However, they are so easy to slip into my bag I don't think twice about changing from sensible to snappy.

The gold ones I showed you will stay in the house. They are my new slipper/slippers. Since they are fabric I think this is a good decision. They're so cute.
Serious, investment, but incredibly important as a fashion color statement. . .

Aren't they sweet with their sparkle and little grosgrain bows?

Never, ever, ever in my life have I bought so many pairs of shoes at one time. It was as if I was possessed. Terrifying, but tantalizing if you know what I mean.

I may never buy shoes again. Maybe.

Oh yes, you asked me why the sales have legislated start and stop dates which, if not observed can result in a hefty fine. The reason, apparently, is unfair competition. Retailers circumvent the laws by calling markdowns "promotions" whenever they feel so inclined.

Monday, January 16, 2012

And, The Winner Is. . .

Leslie's beautiful cards, each signed by her, will be sent off to Kabrina. Her name was pulled out of the hat (a beret) by My-Reason-For-Living-In-France.

If you want to know more about Leslie, click here. If you wish to meet Kabrina -- I just discovered her today -- click here. She writes beautifully and she has a story to tell, a story of courage, optimism and joy.

Kabrina, please e-mail me at tishjett@yahoo.com with your mailing details. Thank you and congratulations!
Coming up. . . more Kusmi Tea.

It's still January and if you haven't gotten around to your new year's detox, it's not -- it's never -- too late. Tell me please if you would like to be put into the beret for the drawing to be announced next Monday.

A demain.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Next Week or La Semaine Prochaine

It's quite amazing really. I think I know what I'll be doing every day of the upcoming week -- unless I get sidetracked by something phenomenal and timely that requires immediate sharing with you.

In no particular order (except the Monday giveaway), here's what's on the calendar for the week ahead:

1.) Winner of the gorgeous cards giveaway --http://www.afemmeduncertainage.blogspot.com/2012/01/heart-mind-soul-giveaway.html -- and another giveaway coming up.

2.) Happiness -- a scientific study. The French need to get happy.

3.) News & Views.

4.) My new shoes. Yes, there are more. . .

5.) A French Survey -- it's a surprise (!)

6.) A Weekend in the French countryside.

7.) Another day like today only different.

Weather report: It's getting colder and colder, more frost, glorious sunshine. Dogs happy. Fire in the fireplace. All is right with the world.

Hope you're having a lovely Sunday.

A demain mes trés, trés, trés chers amis.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Weekend In The Country

They are not coming down today or any time soon. They make me happy.

Weather report: Crisp and cold, gorgeous sun, frost dusting everything in the garden.

I hope you have a beautiful weekend.

A demain with the weekly line-up.

Friday, January 13, 2012

My New Shoes

No point in not being frank: I went berserk. Yes I did. I've got a thing for ballerinas and when they're marked down 50 to 60 percent. . . Well, I just can't help it. I try, really I do, but I can't.

Here are two pairs I bought from my favorite boutique in the town next to ours. (I'll photograph the others and show you next week.) To be perfectly honest, I didn't buy them only for me. Andrea will have some too.

If you do not already know about Anniel shoes, they are the Repetto of Italy i.e., originally made for dancers. The quality is excellent, the price somewhere around one-third to sometimes one-half of Repettos. Whereas Repetto runs small for its size, Anniel runs somewhat larger. They are a dream to wear, sublimely comfortable.
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