Friday, August 29, 2008

Happy Door

Not one to complain, but I feel as though numerous doors have been closing on my life these past few months that have left me a bit numb.  Some have been very painful, some not so much yet still there is a void and one that I would have to say was a joyful, closing/opening that while I dreaded it, it has left me totally content. 

Last Sunday, my husband and I dropped our youngest daughter off at NYU as she begins her college career in the Big Apple.  This is the same daughter that I spent several days with in an emergency room as we got her health back on track 2 weeks ago.  Driving 16 hours from Chicago out to Greenwich Village was long and tiring, the moving in process--23 floors housing over 600 men and women was easier than I thought and Kylie has, according to her older sister, "taken ownership of her environment" and she could not be happier if she tried.  As I said goodbye to her at the end of our stay I had no tears to shed.  I hugged her tight and whispered in her ear, "You, my dear, are exactly where you need to be." It was evident that I was leaving her to her future--whatever I could have done for her as a mom and teacher is not necessarily complete but certainly, has been enough to prepare her for this.  All I can say is, I wish I were her.  Twelve dollar student tickets to Broadway plays, tours of the United Nations, bumping into the likes of Matt Damon and Will Smith who happen to live down the street from her dorm, being exposed to a variety of lifestyles, having continuous dialogs regarding those lifestyles, looking at cultural and spiritual diversity as part of your dorm experience--these are just a tip of the iceberg of what is in store for her this year and until she graduates in 2012. 

Now back in Chicago, I have moments when I have to stop as I feel the physical distance between us and it takes hold of my heart and tugs at it.  But then I open my email and find a mile long discourse from her on the events of the last few days and I feel her complete bliss come through her words.  I marvel at her maturity and bravado and can just shake my head and smile. 

She is home!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Le Weekend

Found this great old photo taken at the Paris Exposition of 1900 and had to share.  Happy Sunday reading.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

M. Chapoutier For A Better World entire family is under one roof.  First time in over a year and for exactly....3 days.  One daughter came home for a bit, one is leaving on tomorrow for college and one is taking off in late September for the year.  Our entrance is really a revolving door these days.  As much as it tugs on my heartstrings, I am glad to know that I have raised three independent women who choose a path in life that will take them far and wide, with no fear.  I could not ask for more.  

To celebrate, I prepared a fancy meal for all of us last evening and poured a yummy Côtes du Rhône to go with it that I found at Whole Foods.  Belleruche was not only fruity and  fresh, it has one other thing going for it that I had never seen before.  Look closely at my grainy (sorry) photo and what do you see??  Yes, the label is written in Braille.  Perhaps I lead a sheltered life but seriously, I have never seen that before.  Digging a bit deeper, I found the reason.  

M. Chapoutier has been using Braille on their labels since 1996. (Where have I been?). This is a symbolic bow to Maurice Monier de La Sizeranne, owner of land in Hermitage, La Sizeranne, who also is the inventor of the first version of abbreviated Braille.  If you take a peek at their website, I think you will be most impressed with the convictions of the company and once you taste their wine, you will be further convinced that they do the right thing.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Coco

Happy 125th birthday, Coco Chanel.   Many thanks for the little black dress and layer upon layer of pearls that looks as fresh today as when you created the look way back when.  

Monday, August 18, 2008

Hôtel de Crillon

Hôtel de Crillon, the 5 star hotel in the Place de la Concorde, has a long illustrious history with its beginnings as far back as 1758.  Part of two identical stone buildings built under commission by Louis XV, it was originally meant to house government offices along with its twin to the east.  It instead was turned into a luxury hotel that Marie Antoinette frequented, while its twin remained a government building and to this day houses the offices of the French Navy.  

As with so many buildings in Paris, ownership has changed hands numerous times over the years and is currently run by the Tattinger family (the champagne Tattingers) who continue to provide guests with a level of exclusivity that is evident the minute you are greeted at the door.
And when you are greeted five feet inside the lobby, and five feet after that and so on and so on.....Over-the-top care is what takes place here.

I was fortunate enough to take a floral design class that was held in a tiny, yet elegant banquet room--that isn't even the right term as it was so beautiful--which looked out on a hidden courtyard.  For whatever reason I was the only attendee, so really had a private class with a lovely young floral designer.  At break time, a wonderful tea cart was brought in with artfully decorated pastries, paper thin porcelain tea cups and an entire silver service all for me.  Can you say heaven?  

Such luxury does not come cheap.  Friends of  mine are heading to Paris this week with their two sons and booked a night at Hotel de Crillon before heading to Brittany.  They were a bit taken aback at how much this one night was going to cost them but decided you only live once and they needed to go for it.  I hope their crazy, wonderful, hockey playing teenage boys know how lucky they are!!

I bring Hôtel de Crillon to your attention as I found a website that is offering a brand new cookbook that will be available in September which might be of interest to those of you who love to play in your kitchen and can't get to Paris.

Crillon At Home features recipes from the hotel's famous Les Ambassadeurs restaurant that is one of the best in the city.  Chef Jean-François Piège takes the reader behind the scenes into the Crillon's kitchen and then invites us into his own home to share informal recipes that he creates for family and friends.  According to the press release, both amateurs and seasoned chefs stand to benefit from Chef Piège's how-tos.  If you are cut from the cloth that can master them, they should be pretty delicious!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Le Weekend

Le Weekend--in Paris it is left to strolling, spending time walking through the beautifully manicured gardens, stopping at one's favorite café to sit and people watch while sipping a favorite beverage.  For true Parisians it is family meals on Sunday, gatherings in apartments for a long, relaxed afternoon.  So many places, shops and restaurants,  are closed so there is little distraction and it is necessary to actually "think" about how you would like to fill your time.  Like here, the weekend edition of the newspaper is extended and includes all sorts of extras.  Magazines added to Le Figaro are as comprehensive as any fashion or news magazine you might buy in the states.  The paper, a glass of wine and good company at a little café is the best way to spend a Saturday or Sunday.  With that thought, I send you off to some interesting reading on the Internet--curl up with coffee and your computer screen on this Sunday morning.  If you are already in Paris, all the better!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

What's All That Noise?

This is my new front yard...Oak Street Beach just north of Michigan Avenue here in Chicago.  Having grown up here, I find it crazy that for the moment this is what I walk out to each morning.  As much as I love Paris and that is beaucoup, the skyline and shoreline along Lake Michigan is an amazing sight.  During the short summer months, this stretch of real estate is an oasis for joggers, walkers, bikers, runners and tourists just taking in all the magnificence.  Speaking of magnificence, Michigan Avenue starts/ends? right where the bend in the beach is.  As I was thinking about this post it dawned on me that one could compare the area to the 8th arrondissement in Paris and Michigan Ave would have to be a combination of rue Saint Honoré and the Champs Elysée--everything from Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Anne Fontaine is here along with the Gap, Banana Republic and Nike.  Almost exactly like combining the two famous Parisian streets with a lake that feels more like an ocean right along side it.  Hard to beat on a day as beautiful as today!

These are the Blue Angels precision flight team which have been flying over head for the last two days as the Chicago Air and Water Show takes place.  Honestly, these guys have been screaming over our townhouse, flying precariously close to some of the taller buildings in the neighborhood.  Today, I had a million boxes to unpack but, much like a kid that has to be in the middle of everything, I figured the unpacking would be here when I got back, so put on my running shoes and headed out the door to see what all the noise was about.    

WOW!  What a show.  Spirals, loops, nosedives--they did it all, either solo or as a team.  It is incomprehensible how a body can withstand going straight up while performing a corkscrew maneuver and not throw up.  Then to fly with 4 other pilots in precision at whatever incredibly fast speeds they are going at and not meet harms way is amazing.  Frankly, all of us walkers, joggers, etc. were in far more dangerous territory as we were pursuing our choice of fitness while looking up at the sky or walking north but looking south.  There had to be some serious pile ups out there today.  

A little P.S. on living where I do:  the summer is fantastic.  The winter......  

not so much.

Photo credit:  #1, bradunc01, #2 driko, #3 BlueFailane @flickr

Friday, August 15, 2008

Parisian Gelato: Amorino

When the temperature sizzles during the month of August and you want a frozen treat to cool you down, I can't think of anything better than a scoop of Italian gelato.  When in Paris, that means a visit to Amorino--the Italian gelateria that serves this delicious treat to help beat the heat. 

Started in 2002 by Italian Paolo Bessani and his childhood friend Cristiano Sereni, Amorino attempts to go head to head with the French ice cream giant, Berthillon, established 50 years ago with a shop on Ile Saint Louis and does a great job.  They opened their first shop right down the street from their competition and the good news for tourists.....Amorino keeps their doors open during the August migration to the south unlike Berthillon.  

With flavors like banana, hazelnut, amaretto and creme caramel, it's tough to decide what to choose.  The good news is, as you walk through the city, you will find locations throughout and can sample several flavors during your stay.  I have been to their locations on Ile Saint Louis and the one in Saint Germain but don't stop there!!  With numerous shops to pick from,  you could do a Paris tour of gelato if so inclined and try all their flavors.  

Photo credit and additional information:  Amorino 

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Paris Fix

A little something to get our fix of Paris for the day.  This video gets it so right.  

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Bend In The Road

Got a bit sidetracked these last few days.  My daughter, a diabetic landed in the hospital while visiting friends and we've been holed up as doctors faced the challenge of getting her body functioning properly. 

 For those of you unfamiliar with this territory, having juvenile diabetes and knowing that this is your lot in life is not the easiest road.  Learning that a major body organ, your pancreas, just switched off for the rest of your life is like hitting a brick wall when the diagnosis is made.  How one chooses to live after hitting that wall makes all the difference.  

For the uninitiated,  she wears her pancreas on the waistband of her pants or tucked into a pocket of jeans or strapped to her leg with dresses.  This "pancreas" is a pump really, the size of an mp3 or cell phone.  A vial of insulin is inserted into the pump, which is attached to a long thin plastic tube that slowly drips into her through an insertion site--similar to an IV site that she must put in her stomach, back or thigh.  Much more goes into it but that is essentially what she deals with on a 24/7 basis.  

If any of the above chooses to go haywire, trouble ensues.  This weekend, a kink in her insertion site would not allow the pump to deliver the required insulin.  She went without any for about 12 hours and, well, let's just say one should never be without insulin that long.  So off to the emergency room we went for 3 days of getting all right with her world.  Needless to say, both she and I are exhausted but back home and the only scary thing is I'm sending her off to college in 12 days and as a mom, scared to death.  Fortunately, she's a bright girl and this is the first time something like this has happened.  I am thinking that perhaps the planets aligned themselves just so to have this little wake-up call happen before she leaves to illustrate what can happen if she doesn't take care of herself when mom's not around to harp at her.  We'll see....

This has nothing whatsoever to do with Paris I know, but explains why I haven't been around yet again and will need this day to get back on track.  Moving, hospitals....I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this is it for awhile!!

Additional information and photo credit:  Animas

Friday, August 8, 2008

Cire Trudon

In my constant quest to fill my life with all fun things French, I came upon the most fantastic scented candles with a history older than me which I needed to share.

With beginnings that can be traced back to 1643, Cire Trudon has been the illuminator in French history ever since.  Makers of the highest quality candles, the company "kept the lights on" so to speak at the court of Versailles starting in 1687 and Maison Trudon was named the royal wax manufacturer in 1719, supplying Napoleon et al their candles during his reign.  With bloodlines like this, you know these must be something special.  

In 2007,  renegade Parisian designer, Ramdane Touhami, was asked to create new scents in a marketing move that would "reintroduce" Cire Trudon to the world of home fragrance.  Taking images from France's past, he developed 12 fragrances that transport one back to a moment in France's history and brings it back to life.  
Yesterday, I took it upon myself to do a little nosing around and ended up at Barneys here in Chicago where they sell them.   The display was simple, yet elegant.  Beautifully crafted bell jars covered each candle as one must inhale the scent trapped in the jar, not the candle.  My daughter and I went through all of them-some of the more curious scents being Carmalite"the scent of old stone walls in the shade of cloisters and convents",  Revolution: "a liberal urge moved by a childish appetite or Trianon: evoking, "the country like dreams of Marie Antoinette".  My personal favorite was Abd el Kader:  "a wind of freedom coming all at once from the Mascara coast".  Beautiful usage of words that really tells you nothing at all but does conjure up the idea of what you will experience I suppose.  Their website will tell you what you are really smelling.  

All this history does not come cheap.  Each candle retails for $75, apparently they burn forever and evenly which is why they need to cost so much.  There was some sticker shock on my part and I chose not to buy one.  Imagine that.  Barneys is just down the street and I can get my fix from the bell jar any time I want.

Photo credit:  Cire Trudon 

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sunset, Sunrise

I had to choose this photo for today as it represents everything going on for me.  Is it a sunrise or a sunset?  I have both going on in my personal life right now and need to embrace them.  They both are equally beautiful and satisfying in my books.

As I went along writing this blog, I also wrote for The Paris Traveler, a blog owned by an online media company out of Canada.  It is that "job" if you will that got me started in this whole blogging business and the opportunity to write daily about a place I love more than anything was too good to pass up.  Six short months later, the blog has been retired.  That part of my daily life has been put to rest along with so many other things.  

I have decided to take this blog in the direction that gives me the most pleasure--Paris.  The title already speaks to this  most magical place and it allows me to reveal not only the places that one should see while visiting, but here I can uncover and share with you all the things that couldn't be posted on a blog that didn't allow for much creative process.  Paris et cie, since it is my personal blog, gives me that freedom and I can take readers as far as my imagination wants to go.  Readership will certainly slow down as I have no big advertising banners at the top of the page, but the content will be much more fun.  

So, I am settled in my new digs, the sun is out and it could not be a more beautiful day in Chicago.  Oak Street beach which I can see from my front window is calling me to walk along it in order to get my day going and I think I have to listen.  I can't tell you how anxious I am to get things moving along.  Hope you continue to join me on this adventure.  

Photo credit:

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Where Have I Been??

Between my computer crashing, ending up in the Apple intensive care unit and having 6 days to pack up my house to get ready for a big move, I have been scarce to say the least.  The moving van is slowly filling up, my car is filled to the brim and in a few short hours I will be living in a turn-of-the-century brownstone in Chicago.  So looking forward to getting settled, I can't tell you.  Equally exciting for me will be getting back to my blog.  I have missed it  more than I realized and have come to use this place as a sanctuary for my creative self.  As there have been some other changes in my life, this space has become even more important for me.

So, once the dust is settled, the boxes are empty and I have had a few glasses of wine to take the edge off, I will be back.  

I miss you guys. 

Photo credit:  Ga music maker@flickr