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Inspiration for living a luxuriously and balanced life

Friday, April 30, 2010

A Paris Welcome … our home for the next 7 days

As the taxi circled around Place de la Madeleine on route to our hotel, I took note of the flower stalls – the array of colours and textures called to me and my love of flowers. I turned to Mr. G and shared my thoughts about needing to come back after settling in to purchase fresh flowers for our room.

The best way to describe our hotel is boutique style –79 guest rooms. We selected this hotel for its exceptional location- Place de la Madeleine, between the big department stores Galeries Lafayette - Printemps (2 minutes), the Opera House (4 minutes), Concorde Place (5 minutes), Louvre Museum and Champs Elysées (8 minutes). With my unpredictable walking tolerance easy access was top priority.

After checking in, we were on our way to the room – when I noticed a French woman in the lobby, holding the most beautiful Iris flowers I have ever seen! I managed an “que beautiful fleurs” as we were passing – the next thing I knew – she was telling me (with translation via the concierge) that they had a beautiful fragrance and she really shouldn’t take them on the plane and would love for me to have them. I was speechless, the concierge turned to me, as the woman handed me the flowers, and said “welcome to Paris!”

I was ecstatic at the flowers and quickly began to search for something in the room that we could place the flowers in water with. Mr. G. suggested that perhaps I should take a picture to share with my new Blogger Friends.

Now that flowers were taken care of, it was time to head out an explore! Our first stop:
 Arc de Triomphe surmounts the hill of Chaillot at the center of a pentagon-shaped configuration of radiating avenues. It was commissioned in 1806 after the victory at Austerlitz by Emperor Napoleon at the peak of his fortunes. In 1810 when Napoleon entered Paris from the west with his bride Archduchess Marie-Louise of Austria, he had a wooden mock-up of the completed arch constructed. Construction would not be completed until the reign of King Louis-Philippe, in 1833–36. Napoleon's body passed under it on 15 December 1840 on its way to its second and final resting place at the Invalides

 The view from the top is amazing and well worth the walk up the spiral stairs - it is an easier walk down.

Next on the list....

Laduree, is the Motherland for pastry lovers of all things Parisan. Stepping inside is like taking a step back in time. One can imagine what it must have been like to sit and take tea in the afternoon - when people actually stopped to smell the roses.

It all started in 1862, when Louis Ernest Ladurée opened a modest bakery. When Paris was getting a structural facelift in 1871 by Baron Haussman, Ladurée switched focus from straight-forward bakery to higher-end pastry shop. Resulting today, in one of the most elegant and luxurious tea salons anywhere.

In early 1900’s, Monsieur Ladurée’s wife, Jeanne Souchard had an idea- to combine the café concept with a pastry shop where women could also gather freely, with or without gentlemen companions. Today the tea salon is owned by David Holder .

I was enticed by the Macaroons, which my taste buds were happy to be in working order and thus able to fully experience the explosion of sensation in my mouth from the outer crispiness to the cream filled centre. But, what really seduced me was the light as air pastry with a tremendous crème studded with raspberries in the centre - Rose "Religieuse" - it actually tastes like fresh rose petals!

Oh yes, they also serve tea - Thé Marie Antoinette, has become my must have item for entertaining friends. Unfortunately there is "currently" no Laduree this side of the world ... oh I guess I'm have to go back to Paris - when the tea supply is depleted!

Tomorrow's post will take you to an amazing bookstore bursting with history and a walk for all things "chocolate".

images: Falling Off a High Heeled Life

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Traveling – Paris Therapy

When I first started feeling the urgency to visit Paris, I attributed it to my desperate need to connect with the fashion focused and pastry loving person I was pre-falling off my high heeled life. Then Mr. G surprised me with the trip, my first reaction was the term “be careful what you wish for, you might just get it”, now that the trip to Paris was no longer a wish, but a reality – panic started to set in. How was I going to make it through the flight (the flight to Dominican had only been a couple hours and I barely made it)? What if I was seated near loud people, who never stopped talking? Paris, all that walking – what was I thinking?

My dear friend from New York [NYF] (who is originally from Paris), presented me with an amazing day by day plan while in Paris. I know that she is extremely busy; still she made time and effort to help simplify things for me. Even though I was so grateful and appreciative of her kindness, I still considered backing out, at one point. Then the whole volcanic ash thing happened – and I thought for sure this was a sign – that I would be spared having to back out- Mother Nature, would be my ally.

The Universe of course had other plans. Our flight would be the second of two flights AC would be making to Paris and one of two to Europe on our departure date (the other was to Rome). So, with all my little fears packed silently, I put on my happy face and excited self (I really was looking forward to the trip, excited actually – it was when my little fears surfaced that they over took my excitement). Armed with maps and plans, courtesy of my NYF – did I mention that she hand delivered these to me, at my home. I am truly blessed to have helpful, loving, supportive people in my life. Especially during these past 3 ½ years, there are many days that without them, I am sure I would not have survived.

Paris was everything I imagined and so much more! My worries about all the walking were quickly put to rest – as NYF had indicated there are so many cafés, that whenever I started to feel tired, we would stop and enjoy a pastry or beverage, while getting me off my feet. Even at the Louvre and Eiffel tower there were benches and areas for taking a break off ones feet and also the back.

The wonderful thing about traveling is that you do not have to depend on anyone (other than the hotel staff – and they are there to make sure you want for nothing and if you do, it’s available when you want/need it) be it a meal, laundry (towels, sheets – and the sheets are pressed,) or making up the room. You get to experience a bit of independence, no matter how insignificant it may seem to others.

Also, no one knows you – and unless you feel comfortable letting them in on your “detour in life” – they take you as you are. No comparing to your pre-accident self, no telling you to take it easy, no analyzing your every word or move – it’s like the magnifying glass has been lifted – even if for only a moment.
Along with all the history and culture Paris truly is a city of light and inspiration. I’m not quite sure when it hit me or how - Perhaps, it was at the peace I felt in Notre Dame Cathedral or Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, maybe it was even in Mona Lisa’s smile – but something shifted within me. For the first time since falling off my high heeled life – I felt that life truly is a gift (I have said before “life is a gift” and I truly believe it – but I have never really felt it - as in like a touch).

Over the next week my postings will be about my Paris adventure. I will be sharing stories, finds, pictures, and hopefully something will encourage you to get out on your own adventure, and start to discover the gift of life again.

images: Falling off a High Heeled Life

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I'm in Paris

OK .... I'm here!!! I'm really Here!!!! I am in PARIS!!!!

I can hardly wait to start posting pictures .... and telling you all about it... check back next week ...as I'll be posting about my adventures!!!!

Bon jour to All....

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Paris ... I can taste the Mac's

Hi there fellow blogg buddies .... just a quick Post to say I will miss you all! And promise to take lots of pics and post about my adventures when I return from the Mother of Fashion and all things Sweet ...PARIS!!!!

I'll try to post while away, if I can figure things out!!!

Gotta .. run Airport car is here!!! Avoir....

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Lack of Energy - source of frustration

More often than not, I find myself extremely frustrated with my lack of energy, mainly because it is unpredictable. The day starts out fine and I feel like, “ok, today I will get A, B , C and D accomplished “– only to find that after A – I’m ready to head back under the covers. Then I become angry with myself for not being able to accomplish a list of To Dos, like I use to.

There are days – that I find that I am able to get through C and D and push myself to get through E, F, G etc. – at the time I don’t think about the consequences – I just want to feel like the old me – if even for a little while. The reality sets in over the next day or so, I find myself unable to move or motivated to do things – I have exhausted my energy tokens both physically and emotionally.

Yesterday, I attended a wedding of a dear friend’s son. I took all the necessary preventive energy precautions: I had my hair washed the day before; my outfit had been selected with the help of a friend a few days earlier, so that I would not being stressing about what to wear; I went to bed early the night before; yesterday I went home between the church and reception to take a nap. All should have been well and I should have lasted beyond 11 p.m. But instead of staying put at my table – I couldn’t resist the music and watching friends on the dance floor – I so wanted to be part of the fun. I thought if I just stand beside them on the dance floor and move my arms to the music, what can it hurt? Well, it didn’t take more than a couple of songs before – I found myself needing to sit down. And so after, the frustration of not being able to be part of the group enjoying the music, was so much that Mr. G and I agreed it was best to get me home.

This morning I woke up, feeling better. [ Last night Mr. G. did not have much convincing to do for me to take a stronger pain med (before my detour in life … Advil was something I took as a last result)– than the Tylenol 3 I take regularly, to take the edge off. He is such a dear - he even made sure the heating pad was on and got me a hot water bottle. ] So, I decided I was Ok to do a couple of things in town. When I got home – I was in need of a nap.

Feeling a bit refreshed after the nap, I took our little Dolce for a walk around our gardens. As I walked past the Butterfly garden, I noticed a weed or two that I couldn’t resist , well before I knew it Dolce was tied to the post by the garden and I was on hands and knees waging war on the weeds, that like a grey hair seemed to multiply for each one I pulled.

As, I sit here and write this post – I am laying on a lounger, with pillow propping me up, a heat pad against my back (upper and lower) and an ice pack on my right ankle – willing the swelling to go down. Perhaps I should have stopped when Mr. G suggested I call it a day – and not over do it – I was out there perhaps an hour.

I know that my RT and Behaviorial Therapist - would say its about pacing, and they would probably be right. But, at the time I just think about what I am missing out on, and don't think before its too late  or someone tells me. I wish my body could keep up with my desire to do the simplest things like dancing at a wedding or pulling some weeds in the garden.

So, for everyone out there, you are not alone when the world just seems to be too much; and our bodies are not able to function like we expect them to! But, it's important that we never give up our fight to keep moving forward to discover the new person we are going to be. And remember its ok to bring the memories of who you were (if you want to) ... it is however not good to live in the memories (as I say this, I say it to myself as much as I say it for you.).
image credit:allaboutyou.com

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hermès … perhaps the last real Luxury

When I think of luxury – the first thing that pops into my head is Quality, both in materials used and workmanship. But are the products we are so obsessed in obtaining, spending our hard earned money on, and “perceived” to be luxury, truly the same as when they were first recognized as Luxury – representing Quality? Or are they just riding the coat tails of their pre-Mass market icons that built up many well known and coveted brands?

Looking Fab in your forties (LFIYF) – recently posted Livid with Louis (Vuitton). After reading it, I certainly understood and felt her frustration. A strap on a LV Monogram Musette should last a life time, and if for some unknown reason it does not – LV should certainly have a method of repairing without replacing with new leather, as it will not match the worn in look of the bag.

It appears most "luxury" brands have tried to cut back on manufacturing costs (not that any savings is passed on to the consumer) and have been/started out-sourcing manufacturing of many of the coveted products to various producers throughout Asia. Perhaps LFIYF’s bag had been produced by an out-sourced manufacturer and the quality assurance was not as strict. It also sounds like the LV store, she was dealing with is lacking in the service department for "luxury" service.

I have always marveled at the beauty of a Hermès scarf, and am happy to be the owner of one or two, ok, maybe a couple more. But one cannot put a quantity minimum or limit on such precious gems. But it was not until after reading Deluxe, How Luxury Lost Its Luster - written by Dana Thomas, that I gain a true understanding and appreciation about how precious a gem Hermès and the products it produces really are Luxury! If you have not read this book, I encourage you to pick it up on your next trip to Chapters or Indingo.

All leather artisans who work for Hermès must complete a 2 year apprenticeship in one of their own two schools, to learn firsthand from Hermès senior leather craftsmen. The average-size Birkin takes 15 to 16 man hours to make. All seams are sewn by hand, with the exception of the zipper and inside pocket which are sewn by machine.

The finished product is inspected by the supervisor, who ensures stitching is balanced, the lock works, the shape is perfect, and the surface is unblemished. If the bag passes the supervisor’s inspection it is marked with a stamp identifying the artisan, the year and the workshop, where it was produced. It is then, carefully placed in the signature orange felt bag and sent to the logistics department to be inspected again. Only after passing this rigorous inspection process – is the bag wrapped in tissue, boxed and sent to a store.

I’m not saying that I have given up on my other loves – Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton – but I am going to be much more selective on how I reward myself. And I’m definitely investing in a Birkin.

image credit: Birkin bags -  Boston.com, Hermes Scarves and LV bag- Google search

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What does toasted mean to you?

Today was Rehab Therapist (RT) day. She has been working with me just over two years, helping me with getting back into doing daily activities, learning how to pace myself (this is a toughie) and how to deal with situations that I find uncomfortable (especially when my filtering system is working in slow motion – i.e. what comes out is “Bitch” instead of what I really wanted to say which was “I understand that you want to be of assistance, but this customer service person has it under control” to the busy body reception woman – who probably hasn’t been …. Ok I’ll stop there) RT would be proud, I took a deep breath and filtered.

On a serious note, when we were interviewing for this position – my only request was that the person knew what Holt’s was. After all she needs to be able to understand who I was pre-accident to understand, what I was missing of the person I was, the lifestyle etc.

I notice I’m digressing – so, after our session, I was completely exhausted. I napped for awhile and when I woke up. I had this incredible urge for a toasted bagel. So off to Tim Horton’s I went. Still not feeling very active – I decided to go through the drive-thru. I ordered my French Vanilla (the only coffee I drink from Tim’s) and a double toasted sesame bagel with butter to the edges. For anyone who has ever been to a Tim’s you know what I mean – you have to be specific on everything you order.

As, I ‘m driving home I’m thinking – I should have checked my order, but I completely forgot. But, still being positive – I had asked the girl as I paid “that was double toasted, right?” – she smiled and responded with a “yes”. I can hardly wait to get home and relax with my mid-afternoon treat. Dolce, is at Doggie Daycare; Mr. G is outside working in the yard; Stella (our Golden Lab) is also outside in the doggie play area. I sit down in front of the television, legs up on the lounger, heating pad on my sore lower-back. Take my first sip of coffee – mmm; remove my bagel from the bag, unwrap my treasure …and STOP… she lied… this isn’t toasted – where is the light brown colour, the crispiness? I bite into a warmed up bagel – and yes butter on only the centre of each slice!

Yummy ... Toasted

Ok, does this happen to anyone else? Does Tim Horton’s not have a training program for toasting? I really want to get back in my car and go back and let them know how their inability to toast a bagel, has ruined my anticipated moment of relaxation. But, I’m too tired and sore to move and I now feel a head ache coming on. As I sit debating my next move … my thoughts are interrupted by the ringing phone.

Barely Toasted ... Yuk!
After letting me vet for awhile, a dear friend on the other end, suggests that I write a letter to customer service at Tim’s; why didn’t I think of that … I have said that on different occasions, when I have been less than pleased about bagels and coffee – and I recall a time RT, asked for a small coffee in a medium cup or a medium in a large cup and the girl explained she would have to charge her 10 cents (something about inventory).Yet, when you ask for a second cup to place over your hot
cup – they give it to you no problem … and I have the ABI!

My friend advised me not to write to customer service until tomorrow, her reasoning is that I will ramble and not get my point across. I assured her I would wait … but she didn’t say anything about posting about it. – So, I figured I would start a draft by posting… sorry about the rambling. I will keep you posted on any response I receive for Tim’s.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Its Great to be a Doggie …. Dolce Turns 1

Our little boy turned 1 on April 6th and we celebrated with a birthday party for him yesterday. The weather almost cooperated – the rain held off, the sun was shining on and off – unfortunately the breeze was a little cool and we had to move the patio table inside. I will be so happy when the family room and kitchen are complete (Renovations ..... but I digress).

Dolce with his four and two legged little friends.

Cake time for Dolce.

Wow these are for me too!

It's been a long day!!!!

(This Morning) Ahhh... It wasn't a dream, look at all the great toys
and yummy treats!
I'm such a loved doggie.

I better get pawing some Thank you notes!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

What's Your Secret - Skin Care

In my twenties, I was all about using skin care products from the same line. My thought was that a skin care line was like a puzzle each piece (product) fitting snuggly into the next creating a final result. In my thirties I started to understand marketing, sometimes things did not always produce the results,as advertised. I had accumulated quite the experimental inventory of products. I started to discover that products worked with other products outside of their line and that mix and match, was actually custom tailoring to the needs and response of “my” skin.

Recently when I run into people, who have not seen me for some time, have been commenting on my skin, and wanting to know what products I use. So here is what I am currently using:

In the evening I like to do my skin care regime about 2-3 hours before going to bed. This allows the moisturizer a chance to be obsorbed by my skin instead of my pillow case.

Cleanse: St. Ives Olive Cleanser

 Facial Scrub: St. Ives Apricot Scrub –

       Exfoliating every other night


Toner: If the cleanser you are using is doing its job I find there is no need for toner (this is for me); if I do use a toner I use Clinique 2.

Night Moisturizer: [Face]-Chanel – Precision Ultra Correction Line Repair

- In the winter I may alternate Chanel PUCL with Crème de La Mer

                  [Eye] – Olay total effects   Transforming Cream

[Lips] – L’Occitane Shea Butter Lip Balm stick

In the morning I like to rinse my face with tepid water before going in shower.
  Cleanse: I do not use a cleanser in the morning, just tepid water

               Daily Moisturizer:  


             [Face] L’Occitane Crème Divine –                                    

                     if I want to use something with SPF

              Immortelle Precious Protection SPF20

          Also, when moisturizing face, do not forget the neck.  
A dear friend (she is from Paris) gifted me at Christmas with  a  Darphin Eye care kit and I love the results and the feel of the product.

[Eye]  - Darphin Vitaserum 40 Eye Contour –reduces shadows and puffiness

Darphin Fibrogene Intensive Eye Contour - to firm and tone

[Lips] – L’Occitane Shea Butter Lip Balm stick          

I would love to hear about the products you use. And your thoughts on using products from different lines

Monday, April 5, 2010

Before slipping on those strappy sandals… please do your Spring Pedicure Cleaning

I understand the excitement the recent onset of great warm weather has brought on, to reach for those strappy sandals. STOP…..!!!! Have you done your Spring Pedicure Cleaning? If not , 1) please do so before wearing toe exposing footwear 2 ) please refrain from subjecting the rest of us to the unsightly mess and keep those toes covered until you have an opportunity to groom them. This post comes on the heels of my Saturday shopping experience.

Already exhausted (not sure what made me go out into the stores on Saturday) from all the people and noise that comes with being in stores on a Saturday, a wardrobe piece I didn’t realize I was in need of or missing – yes that elusive item – a dress by Milley – sprung out from the rack right at me! Hmmm would be perfect for my upcoming trip to Paris. So not wanting to chance it doing a vanishing act, I decided to stand in the long line up to the fitting room. While I tried to keep my mind/thoughts occupied with visions of Paris, to block off the surrounding noise and aching pain that suddenly crept up on my lower back – my thoughts came to a complete halt when my eyes caught sight of toes in flip-flops. My mind was trying to understand why it was, the owner of these toes choose to not take the 3 seconds It would have taken, to remove the remains of red polish on 2 toes and 3 toes of her feet (the other toes were completely bare of polish).

As, I stood there waiting my turn – It was like driving by a bad accident – you know you don’t want to/shouldn’t look – but your eyes can’t help it! Just as I was contemplating pulling out my blackberry and discreetly snapping a shot of the guilty toes (something I now – think you are better off not seeing) … I was saved from my madness - by the smiling fitting room lady, letting me know it there was a fitting room available. I’m sure her eyes had followed my gaze and she too was horrified by the sight.

Please remember to do Spring Pedicure Cleaning before slipping on warm weather toe exposing footwear. And while we are speaking feet, moisturize those heels daily (am-pm) they need TLC too!

If you are a Pedicure connoisseur like moi, your toes are ready to be exposed year-round. Some of my favoritePedicure items:

I like a little colour on my toes, as I tend to keep my manicure neutral. What is your Pedicure preference - French or colour or au Natural?


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Easter Egg Hunt… Not quite there yet

This year we were going to host an Easter Egg Hunt for our friends’ children, but as the time approached to start sending out the invites, I started to feel very anxious. At first I thought it would pass – then the thought of preparing activities for the children, planning the meal, and executing it all (of course Mr.G. would be helping with all the prep) became to overwhelming. Mr. G. even suggested we have it catered or at least hire wait staff to serve and clean up. The day that we should be announcing our plan to host an Easter Egg hunt – I became so overwhelmed that the thought of it all, exhausted me to the point of hyper-ventilating. Mr. G. was so sweet, he made me a cup of tea, managed to talk me through it (my care team - would have been proud of him).

Before my detour on the road of life, I would invite my friends’ children for an afternoon of Easter egg decorating. It was so amazing to see them transform a simple white egg into their vision of a masterpiece. They would give so much thought as to what colours to use – and apply each one just so with a paint brush. By the time we finished, it was a good thing that the table and floor were cover with a painters cloth and that our clothes were protected by the latest Glad design plastic garbage bag smock.

When I calmed down Mr. G.reminded me that its not the end of the world if we do not do it this year and that he understands how hard it is for me to not easily do the things now, that 3 1/2 years ago came so naturally; and there is always next year. So, as much as I really wanted it to happen this year, I guess I’m just not ready for all the excitement. But, look out Next Year!

I did manage with Mr.G’s help to put together some Easter baskets for our friends’ children and we will be delivery them on behalf of Mr. Bunny this week-end.

Happy Easter Everyone!!!!!!!!

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