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Inspiration for living a luxuriously and balanced life

Monday, May 31, 2010

I have lots to say - Dolce Speaks

Hi my name is Dolce, I’m a 1 year old, 5 ½ lb, male Yorkie. You know my Mommy as A High Heeled Life, and let me tell you, she has lots of those things that I’m not suppose to chew – I think they’re called “shoes” – but to me they look really interesting and chewable. I never see her wearing most of them, something about “Falling Off” of them now.

The other day I heard Mommy telling her friend that she has been “blogging” and finds it very therapeutic. She enjoys reading posts by her new Blog Friends, “I find them very inspiring and motivating, and everyone is very supportive of each other’s challenges be it daily life challenges or major life detours”, I heard her say.

That got me thinking; I have lots of challenges everyday – like; when I want to go outside and no one opens the door enough so I can easily dart out; or when I want to stay outside and no matter how I try to hide – someone always seems to know where I am; then there are the times that I get free and no one just lets me wonder off … they come after me , making me have to run further down the yard; sometimes they bribe me with treats and show me sticks – and I always fall for it. There is more … Mommy always buys me sweaters, shirts and paw-wear; and when people see me they always have to come up and rub my snout as they say how “cute” I look. Ok, I do look quite handsome – I guess I’m a bit of a metro doggie - but must they always rub my snout? Sometimes their hands do not smell very good. I also would like to be given treats when I want them; have Mommy, Daddy or visitors play with me and throw my toys all the time; I’m really good at retrieving them. See I have so much to share with you. So with Mommy’s help I’m going to be sharing with you my weekly adventures and misadventures.

These are some pictures of my friends at camp.

And this is me …

See you Friday!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Customer Service - In Recession

Finally - connected ... I hope everyone had a great long week-end. I'm looking forward to catching up on all the postings I have missed from my wonderful Blogger Friends.

It’s Saturday of a long week-end and of course the sky is overcast and rainy outside. To make things even more interesting the folks over at Bell Mobility– had managed to repair and return my MiFi internet device within a week – (they had estimated it could take 6-8weeks- mine was part of a re-call due to a defect that may cause battery swelling, resulting in malfunction of the device). So after a very horrible week – of ups and downs, frustration, and having been smacked in the face with the ever present fact that I now have to depend on others – primarily Mr. G. – I sat down for some escape time on my computer.

The temporary Turbo Stick was plugged in; in all the commotion of the week I had not felt like dealing with technical matters, which often result in more added frustration when things do not go as they should. Before the accident I would have thought nothing of just exploring and patiently figuring things out on the computer until they worked.

Within a half hour of my Internet escape adventure – a message popped up saying that the Turbo Stick was no longer active. No problem – no panic – the MiFi device had arrived (trying to remain positive) and all I needed to do was uninstall the WiFi and reinstall the MiFi – it had been the reverse to activate the temporary Turbo Stick. I followed the instructions – step by step, successfully uninstalled WiFi and installed MiFi – as I waited for the device to locate a service cell – I went off to make a cup of tea. Upon returning a message had popped up that the SIM card was not activated. Still trying to remain optimistic – I reminded myself all I need to do is call the Client Care number, on the letter Bell sent, and the MiFi would be activated. So I dialed the number provided – 1-800-611-6600 (keep in mind this is a Client Care number – for a product that is used 24/7 by Bell’s clients) –

WRONG!!!! Instead of the usual frustrating Press 1 for ??? Press 2 for ??? I heard an even more frustrating automatic message:

“Thank you for calling our Client Care Department – we are currently closed and we are sorry to have missed your call– Please note that our hours of operation are from 9:00am -7:30pm Monday –Friday - Please call back during regular business hours , Thank you.”

Nowhere on the letter did it mention the Limited - hours or days of operation! It only said “To reactivate your MiFi 2372 device(s), simply call 1-800-611-6600. It’s Saturday of a long week-end, which means that Bell’s Client Care Department will probably be closed on Monday for the Victoria Day holiday. So I will have to go 4 days without any internet access. This may seem like no big deal to some people, but when you rely on something as an escape and means to cope with day to day challenges; it causes much stress and anxiety, just the thought of knowing that it is not accessible.

The Turbo Stick – came with a pre activated SIM – why couldn’t they have sent the repaired MiFi already activated? Why did they deactivate the Turbo Stick before making sure the MiFi was working properly? But then again, Bell deactivated the MiFi system before making sure all Clients had received the temporary Turbo Stick. In some cases people were without Internet service for almost a week, according to the nice Customer Service Rep I had spoken with when I was getting anxious waiting for the temporary Turbo Stick to arrive.

In a time that we are suppose to be in a recession – it seems that Customer Service has also gone into recession. Have you encountered Customer Service challenges? I think I’m going to start a weekly Post devoted to Customer Service – or the lack of. If you have received poor Customer Service or outstanding Customer Service I would love to hear from you – email me your stories, I will post about your good or not so good experience (I respect your privacy and will leave out your name unless you request that it be included. I will be happy to insert a link to your blog/website from the post about your experience – when emailing your experience please add at the end the link you wish it to have included in the post.)

images: Google image search

Friday, May 21, 2010

Mutlitasking --- what was that again?

Last week when speaking with my Bestie E; she could tell that I was drained, so despite not being one to go near a stove she offered to simplify things for me in regards to Mr.G’s birthday on Sunday. She would take care of everything from the birthday cake to the dinner – all I had to do was show up at her and D’s home on Saturday evening, with Mr. G of course. So, the pressure of trying to figure out a restaurant was off – as cooking a surprise dinner, when the recipient has to supervise your use of the stove and often help in the prep, loses the element of surprise!

As, the week came to a close and Saturday approached, my energy was hitting the low warning signal much like the gas level indicator on a car letting you know that you are operating on reserve, who really knows how much that is? E had been very specific not to bring anything … but I can’t show up to anyone’s house for dinner empty handed – it just doesn’t feel right. So, I managed to make my way to a local plant shop. I just wanted in and out – but, it seemed like every person wanted to tell me about the plants in their garden and how best to plant Blah Blah Blah… Don’t get me wrong on an energy filled day I would be a very appreciative and listening audience. Finally escaping without my head spinning like a possessed demon and beautiful plant in hand, I was on my way home. Now all that was left was to wrap it – you can’t just hand someone a plant in a pot.

To my surprise Mr. G was almost ready and we would need to depart soon, so I pulled out some wrapping materials and set about wrapping the plant. It took me a few tries as my right arm was not cooperating – and although Mr. G. offered multiple times to give me a hand- I was determined to complete it on my own. So, with a few colourful words and much frustration later it was wrapped. I placed it on the table so I would not forget it.

Our little Dolce was all set to go too! After all, his little four legged playmate Daisy was waiting his arrival. So with Dolce securely in his doggie car seat (yes, they have them … doggies need to travel safe too!) we set off.

Yes, you guessed it the plant remained behind on the table. I didn’t realize it had been left behind until we were just about at their home and I started to play in my head the process of getting out of the car – what had to come inside with us, who would take Dolce in, etc. I was horrified that they had gone to all the trouble of preparing a nice birthday evening for Mr. G. and here we were showing up empty handed. Of, course when I explained … Bestie E, completely understood and kept telling me not to worry.

For anyone else out there, who is going through a whole adjustment in life and multi-tasking has become a distant memory, know you are not alone. People say to me "oh I forget all the time" to try and make me feel better - but it doesn't. Perhaps they do forget, but that challenge has developed over time for them, for people with ABI and other trauma related matters - it happened overnight - and compounded with the frustration of any emotional or physical challenge, it quickly magnifies itself to being unbearable.
We had a wonderful evening … Thanks E & D (for understanding my forgetfullness), and Daisy too! for a great evening. I hope I can keep the plant alive until we see them again, for now it will sit on our side patio. But I did remember to mail out the Thank you note.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

SATC - Who are you?

I love My Wardrob.com not only do they have great fashion ideas they are covering SATC fashion and letting us have a little fun too! So click on over and find out Who you are ... You might be surprised .. I'm Girlie Carrie!!! Have fun ladies ... would love to hear who you found out you are!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Time & Pacing Myself and Making a New Friend

This past week has been a bit of a struggle for me – my energy level has been less than helpful, and as much as I have wanted to share with you some of the great experiences I have had I have not been able to focus and write. I have tried to stop by your blogs and keep up with you.

I had the pleasure of meeting one of my blog buddies Suburban Princess (SP)– I encourage you to visit her blog – she is a very inspirational and creative person, and I have the honor of calling her my new friend.

To prepare for going into the city to meet SP, I had to make sure that my days prior to our tea, were as stress and energy draining free as possible. Not an easy task – as I had to convince Mr. G. that I was ready to attempt a city drive and social outing on my own. Together we worked on a “What If Plan” – he was comfortable with and I didn’t feel like a grade school student asking for permission. I may not have wanted to feel like a grade school student, but at tea our conversation and learning how many common interests we have and how similar our views are on things – it was like two college girls chatting away losing track of time.

Mr. G. pointed out I need to work on my pacing, as I went straight to bed when I reached home and have been feeling exhausted the past couple of days. I know he is right – but it was so nice to be independent for a few hours –  thought about the rainy weather, traffic and that daylight quickly turns to night was the furthest thing from my mind. Especially when the mention of Macaroons (like the ones from Laudree) came up … of course I had to part take. Oh, and as a side note – after the lecture on time and pacing was over Mr. G. enjoyed the spoils of city adventure … Macaroons and birthday gift.

Even though it took alot to make my outing happen - I am glad to have done it. I ended up meeting a great person- making a new friend. Her understanding and ability to put me at ease with her wit about my “moving car allergy”, really made my outing to the city.

images credit (google search) : Friend - desicomments.com Confused brain - litemide.com

Monday, May 10, 2010

Invisible Disabilities

Leaving the airport on our recent Paris trip, brought to light just how uneducated Customer Service People can be. As the announcement went over the speakers for persons with small children or needing assistance to please start boarding – Mr. G. and I made our way to the gate. As I approached – the woman at the gate looked me up and down before saying “small children and those needing assistance ONLY” – what made her think that I didn’t need assistance? Had she just taken my boarding pass and punched in my name – she would have discovered that I should be sitting in a wheelchair (however, I always check the distance from check in to gate prior to flying – and if its short or I know it has the people movers, I usually opt to give it a try – I don’t like the looks one gets when being wheeled about or if the airport golf-cart is transporting you around). So, after I pointed out that perhaps she should look at my boarding pass – she looked up- humbly – as I said “yes, I’m suppose to use a wheelchair – and need extra time to get seated”.

After speaking with one of my care team members about this and being informed that many people even with slight visible disabilities encounter these challenges, I decided to look into it a little more. My findings and personal encounters have resulted in this post - for two reasons:

1) let others that may be in a similar situation – know they are not alone!

2) educate people that invisible disabilities exist

People with invisible disabilities look like everyone else, only we struggle to manage everyday life. When it comes to ABI and physical impairments, even when the condition is truly disabling, the average person would not be able to recognize this. Contrary to myth, most disabilities are not apparent to the untrained eye – making the disability effectively known as an “invisible disability”.

For anyone who has an invisible disability life becomes even more challenging, as people often do not give you the help you need. Like the seat on crowed public transit; the help you need in a fitting room; making sure you remember to eat or feed the family pet; make sure you don’t over exert yourself; offer to accompany you shopping; or just offer to come over to sit and keep you company.

Then there is the added anxiety: the seats on public transit that are for disabled or elderly are a wonderful idea, but if someone who looks ‘normal’ sits in them they worry in case an obviously disabled person gets on the bus/subway. Even though they have a Legal Accessible parking permit – parking in an Accessible parking spot and the reaction some people give them can be just as painful as the reason why use of such a spot is required. Asking for help to carry groceries to the car – this one always baffles me – I had one cashier ask me “why do you need help, didn’t you put the groceries in the cart?” –hmm “yes! But they all went in one by one – not altogether in that heavy bag you have now created!” I responded. I really wanted to ask if she had an ABI.

Just because you see someone at the grocery store pushing a cart, don't assume that they're not being truthful about being disabled. For all you really know, after making a short trip to the store, they may be flat on their back when they get home, and in a considerable amount of discomfort. Or just because someone is having a “good day” and has managed to dress themselves stylishly – don’t assume they’re really not injured – Fashionistas are not exempt from ABIs or physical and emotional injuries. You can’t “see” the disability of a person who has depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia or migraines - an invisible disability cannot be seen, but it does exist!

In this day and age, it still really baffles me that a person with a physical disability should have to possess a limp, or a person with an ABI disability should have to carry on a conversation with themselves in public before a non-disabled person can accept that a disability, in fact, exists.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Chocolate - Need I Say More

Thanks to my new friend at The Life of a Suburban Princess, who selflessly shared that The Chocolate Ball Gala was taking place in Vaughan, Mr. G and I were in chocolate heaven for a couple of hours. Thus  I dedicate this post to Suburban Princess, and wish that next year she too will be able to indulge in all the chocolate delights!

The Chocolate Ball in Vaughan was in support of Vaughan in Motion to Cure Cancer. It was an amazing evening of Chocolate, Silent Auction and Entertainment!
There were so many great Chocolate Sponsors - that I have to admit I was a little too busy indulging to take pictures. But, here are a few pics I'm sure you'll salivate over  enjoy! :)
I couldn't resist taking a picture of the goodies offered up by Chocolate Concepts, the chocolate cake creations can be filled like a Piñata - and its contents revealed when you cut into the cake. I especially fell head over heels for the 2 tier cake with the shoe on top (its all edible!!!), imagine a SATC after-party, for the upcoming movie, with your closest friends. It was a real pleasure to meet Liliana the Chef of these delicious creations, and who encouraged me to sample and sample and sample until the right size was found (I'm still sampling). Contact Liliana for more information, these delights are sure to keep everyone talking about your next function for a long time afterwards.

Everything from - roasted beef tenderlion with rosemary, chocolate and cranberry sauce, to braised beef ribs with a BBQ Lindt chocolate sauce over green apple potato pancake accompanied by chocolate cavier, to nutty chocolate salmon kept our taste buds waiting for the next explosion of chocolate creation.

I had the pleasure of speaking with the very passionate Chef for Life Is An Event, she was serving up Grand Marnier soaked strawberries, dipped in chocolate ... can you say YUMMY! and the best was the hand rolled truffles ... no machine can compare to the passion and love put in these delights - by a human hand rolling them. Sorry to busy sampling and chatting to take pictures. But just picture the juiciest, freshest strawberries covered in chocolate and the most delectable, smooth morsels of chocolate balls.

Desserts of Distinction (dolcini) was truly the highlight of my evening, the chef started out the evening with small pieces of white chocolate, which evolved into flowers and by the end of the evening this was the final creation. What a great centre piece for a dessert table at a shower, wedding or just because you deserve it!

Check out the website or contact  this creative artist via email.

I would also like to extend a Thank You - to Alfa Capuccino Imports/ Espresso.com , who graciously allowed people the use of chairs at their Reserved table, to rest. I know for me it was the difference between leaving the event early and getting to stay to enjoy the entertainment.

The Chocolate Ball Gala offers 2 additional events in the GTA - check it out here, so hopefully one is close to you. It is a must attend for any Chocolate Aficionado or beginner.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Till Next Time ... Paris

If Paris had not been magical enough, our last evening was spent exploring Montmartre, it was another amazing place. Our first stop was Basilica of the Sacré-Coeur, the beauty inside was breath taking (unfortunately there were signs saying no pictures allowed inside). Below is a picture I was able to find on the Basilica’s website.

                                                                                                                            pic - Basilica's website

We arrived just after 7:00 p.m. the Religious gift shop and Bookshop (with an extensive collection of books) in the Basilica was already closed. I would have loved to have purchased a Rosary, but I guess it was not meant to be on this trip … next trip (smile).

The warmth and peace I felt as I sat silent taking in all the beauty contained within the walls of the Basilica, is too magical for words. If you have not been to Sacré-Coeur, I’m telling you (based on my experience) it is a “must visit”. It was like an awakening took place within me.

Worth knowing:

The Basilica is open every day from 6am to 10.30pm
You can climb up the dome to have a fanstastic view of Paris:
9.00am to 7pm (6pm in winter).
It is also possible to visit the crypt (the opening times can vary)
The Basilica shop is open Tues-Sun from 9.15am to 5.45p.m.
Confessions : Every day from 10h à 12h - 14h 30 to18h - 20h30 to 22h
Montmartre is full with history, If you follow the paths to the left of the Sacré Coeur you will soon reach a square called Place du Tertre. There you will find artists ready to do a quick portrait of you;. lots of souvenir shops; restaurants (many of which offer live music/singing); and crèpes and ice cream from various food stalls.
My favourite crèpe was the avec burre and sucare, while Mr. G. favoured the Nutella ones. 
And yes our four legged family members really are welcomed in Paris! Our little Dolce I'm sure will want to know why he didn't come after seeing the picture of this precious little doggie being served water in a glass, at the table next to ours, from a very attentive waitress.

As the night sky turned to its marvelous midnight blue colour - we made the walk back to the Basilica, to take in its night lustre.

On the steps of the Basilica, day or night you will be entertained. May I suggest you take a bottle of wine, some cheese and a baquette, and enjoy Montmartre - day or night - and the fabulous views of Paris!

The next morning, was the hardest morning to wake up, since our arrival in Paris. Perhaps, because we would have to leave shortly after waking and having breakfast, for the airport. 

I hope you have enjoyed the tales of our trip to Paris. There are many more pictures to share with you in the future. I would love to hear about your favourite memory of a trip you took to Paris.

Paris - Day 6

Today the on the agenda of must see before we leave was Notre Dame, and Basilica of the Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre.

We decided to take a walk towards Concord Square before taking a taxi to meet our guide for the Notre Dame tour. As we were turning onto rue De Rivoli we noticed a large group of people hanging out in front of the Hotél de Crillon. Mr. G noted that the group all had cameras – and informed me, not the kind most tourists walk around with (not that I could tell the difference – But Mr. G is very much into photography and is in the process of turning a hobby into a career) so, we agreed to detour and see what was going on. The Doorman informed us that everyone was waiting for Jennifer Lopez. Say what … she is one of my favs – I do like the way she dresses. So, we decided to stay for a few minutes. After about 15 minutes I was ready to leave but Mr. G persuaded me to give it a few more minutes.

Well a few minutes later this is what we saw:

My camera is not a sophisticated as Mr. G’s – but I thought it did pretty good. Jennifer looked amazing, she was working on a photo shot, and took the time to smile, turn around and wave to Paparazzi below.

Soon after, the photographer and crew emerged. We waited to see if Jennifer would come out too. But time was ticking and we had to meet our guide.

Eve greeted us as we approached the meeting spot outside Metro line 4, we were also joined by a couple from the U.S. Eve was very professional and organized – before we set off she introduced herself and gave us a little background on how she came to be in Paris, from New York. Her passion and knowledge of Paris was evident from the moment she started speaking about the area, on our way to Notre Dame.

Among the many things I learned on our tour, is that Notre Dame was built in different eras, and if you look closely you can see the differences , that at first or second look your eye does not immediately pick up. On the image to the right the outlines on th eground represent where buildings once stood.

The view from the top of the bell tower is one not to be missed (see images on right) - well worth the 421 steps Mr. G indicated we took. The stairway is very narrow and the spiral construction - requires many breaks along the way.

Thank you Eve, for an educational tour of Notre Dame and a most memorable afternoon! If you are in Paris and would like to experience a fascinating tour with someone who is passionate and extremely knowledgeable I encourage you to drop Eve an email.

I have decided to save Basilica of the Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre, for tomorrow's post - as we say good-bye to Paris.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Technology -Urghhhh

There Friends, I'm sorry that I have not been posting, responding or reading your posts ...

It appears that Bell - our wonderful internet provider, found a glitch in the Wireless MIFI 2372 - which may cause the battery to swell cauisng malfunction of the device. As it will take 6-8 weeks to reapir the defective MIFI 2372- a pre-activated Turbo Stick U998 would sent out to customers - for use in the interim. Sounds pretty straight forward, right?

Wrong! Bell decided to turn off all signals to MIFI 2372 on Monday, May 3, 2010 - before everyone had their temporary Turbo Stick . I'm saying everyone - because the nice ( and yes, he was very helpful and nice)Customer Service representative at Bell - indictaed it could take until Friday to receive the Turbo Stick. So, like many other people, I have been cut-off from the world for the past 4 days!!! I live north of the city , so wireless is all that is available up this way!

But, Today... it arrived !!!! My life -line,,,, Turbo Stick!!!! So, I'm trying to get got up with emails; read your most appreciated comments (that I have been missing - I find them truly motivating) and your postings!!!! I will do my best to get the last day of Paris trip up - later today!

Take Care!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Paris - Day 5

A trip back in time, today we set off for a half day tour of Versailles. From the moment you walk up to the Gold entrance gate and peer into the courtyard beyond you can sense what life must have been like for inhabitants of Versailles during the reign of Louis XIV.

Versailles has a history dating back as far as A.D. 1038. In 1561, Martial de Loménie, secretary of state for finances under King Charles IX, became lord of Versailles. When Loménie was murdered in 1517 during the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre, Albert de Gondi, a man from Florence who had come to France along with Catherine de' Medici, bought the seigneur of Versailles.

Versailles remained in the Gondi family who were wealthy and influential parliamentarians at the Parliament of Paris. King Louis XIII was invited by the Gondi’s many times throughout the 1610s to hunt in the large forests of Versailles. After acquiring a piece of woodland in Versailles (1622) for his personal hunting, the King decided to have a small “gentlemen’s Chateau” built (1624).

After obtaining seigneur of Versailles from the Gondi family in 1632, enlargement of the castle commenced, lasting until 1634. Versailles had a population of 1,000 inhabitants, at King Louis XIII death in 1643.

Today, when Versailles is mentioned, often the first persons who pop into one’s mind are Marie Antoinette and Louis XIV, for their opulent living at Versailles and the tragic manner in which they died.

We only spent ½ day at Versailles, I would recommend a full day – as there were many parts of the grounds we did not have the time to explore. Although the crowds were less (as told to us by security staff) during our visit in late April, the flowers were not yet blooming in the gardens.

After our morning in Versailles we stopped for some lunch and much needed rest, before our visit to the Eiffel Tower. The views of Paris from the top of the tower are just breath taking.

Tomorrow's post is of our final day in Paris - Notre Dame Catheral and a special picture of a celebrity in Paris!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Paris – Day 4

Today was “ME” day!!! I woke up to birds chirping and a beautiful warm day! My ankle seemed to be doing much better, the meds I took certainly needed to work overtime today, after all Chanel’s original boutique was waiting my visit, and that would be followed by Afternoon Tea at The Ritz!!! What more could a woman ask for?

After breakfast at the hotel, our first to do was to find a gift to take home to our doggies. We were surprised in a city that loves and welcomes doggies, we had not come across a Pet Boutique – thankfully Paris Breakfast (if you have not visited her blog - it a must visit  for all things French and she does amazing art work that can include you or your pet in Paris scenes) had been kind enough to share this location with us “Un Chien Dans Le Marais”.

The man inside was very helpful and we decided on a hoodie for little Dolce. Unfortunately everything was too small for Stella – she is a Golden Lab – we were disappointed to learn there really were no other Doggie Boutiques in the area. But don’t worry, when we returned home we went to our favorite doggie store Bark n Fitz and got Stella some of her favorite treats, she is a bit of a tomboy and prefers treats to accessories anyways.

Another taxi ride later, we were in front of the Ritz – but it was not time yet, we (well I) had to walk around and see the back door that Coco herself would have used, and of course I could hardly wait to step inside the original Chanel Boutique – I was like a little girl, grinning smile - from ear to ear, who has just been told she can have a second scoop of ice-cream.

Inside it felt like I had just stepped into a mystical place. The layout was that of other Chanel boutiques I have been in, but the energy was different. I could picture Coco making sure that everything was properly displayed – her energy has truly remained in this boutique. The sales associate was so friendly and helpful – as I sprayed practically every fragrance, for Mr. G to smell and give his opinion. By the time we were done sniffing and spraying an array of scent strips lay before us. After more discussion and process of elimination with the SA’s help – it was narrowed down to 3 – Allure Sensuelle, Coco Chanel and Chanel No. 5. – After, more discussion, spraying and sniffing the decision was unanimous – Allure for day; Coco for evening. I really liked No. 5 too, but wasn’t about to be greedy after all Mr. G was already spoiling me with 2 fragrances.

Unlike the SA lady at Hermes (a separate post to follow), the Chanel SA package my purchase with great care and added the little flower and two ribbons on the bag adding that extra special touch. With bag in hand I practically floated to the Ritz.

Wow, where to start, Afternoon Tea at the Ritz is a truly memorable experience! It was a beautiful warm day and we were seated in the garden. A pianist played softly in the background, birds chirped and you really felt like you were in a magical place. As, if this was not special enough, we were informed that the desserts were served from a “Dessert Buffet” and you could go up as often as you desired.

The staff was very attentive and when the sand glass timer released the last grain of sand, they appeared like magic to pour our tea. Cozies were placed over the tea pots to keep its delicate, precious contents warm.

Despite all the wonderment of the day, when I got up to indulge in dessert, my ankle quickly reminded me of its existence – the meds were wearing off – Mr. G caught my wince and before I knew it we were in a taxi, headed back to our hotel (but not before I had my dessert - sorry no pictures of the dessert buffet. I will need to return to Paris and the Ritz). Once I was tucked in and given another round of meds, Mr. G. decided to let me rest peacefully (no TV volume to contend with) and went off to explore the area around the hotel.

After some much needed rest I woke up feeling a bit hungry, Mr. G. had discovered a little Italian restaurant just a couple of minutes from the hotel, on his exploration mission. Ristoranti Italiano Visconti, quaint and inviting – on the first floor there are 4-5 tables; weather permitting an additional 2 tables are placed El Fresco just outside the entrance, upstairs is more seating. The wait staff is friendly and speaks French, Italian, English and Spanish.

The menu offers a great selection. Mr. G. indulged in a veal, and a pasta dish (I think he was suffering from Italian food withdrawals). I chose a Caprese salad and the tiger shrimp dish. The atmosphere is relaxed and you are able to enjoy your meal at your own pace.

If you are looking for a well priced, exceptional food quality restaurant, I suggest you give Visconti a try. Tell Enzo and Luciano Canada says hello.

Come along tomorrow as I share our visit to Versailles and the Eiffel Tower.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Paris... Day 3

Waking up in Paris has got to be one of the best things in life. There is something about the city that even with its busyness you are able to feel peaceful within. I have been getting some afternoon naps in and trying to reserve my energy as much as possible, it is hard to not overdo it in such a beautiful place. Today was a full day and by the end – I knew I had pushed myself too far. I was happy that Mr. G refrained from the “I told you to rest, I told you to slow down, I knew I should have made you take more rests” lecture and instead just asked what he could do.

I discovered today that the weakness I have been feeling in my right ankle (the one with pins and screws) is quite possibly my body telling me that it’s time to get off my feet. Despite only wearing comfortable sensible shoes - not really by choice (Mr. G – somehow managed to remove the only pair of heels - I had packed -from my suit case and replace them with more sensible shoes, before we left. It wasn’t until I was unpacking in our hotel room that I became aware of the switch.); but I can only imagine the outcome, had I been wearing heels when my ankle gave out on the stairs in the restaurant. As it was, sensible shoes and all – it was terrifying to have my ankle give out and lose my balance. Luckily only minor bruising and embarrassment resulted.

So before all the drama of my ankle we started our day at the Louvre. They say “A picture is worth a 1,000 words” so here goes;

We were surprised to see someone duplicating a painting in the Louvre. What we discovered is that the Louvre will permit amateur painters (someone how does not make a living from painting) to come and paint – the painting has to be a different size from the original and they only have 3 months to complete it. There is an application process, but how wonderful would it be for someone who enjoys painting as a hobby to have this opportunity!

With the number of people, we were happy to have booked a guided tour that by-passed the lines and took you to key art – such as the Mona Lisa. The actual painting is quite small – and yes, it does seem like her eyes are following you in the room. Do take the time to admire this master piece, something about it is very energizing and peaceful (at least to me).

After taking some much needed rest in the afternoon, we were ready for our Seine River Cruise, Paris lights by night and dinner on the Champs-Elysees.

Sorry dear friends, after the ankle incident my thoughts of taking pictures of the food and restaurant were quickly replaced with “I need to get through this meal, I need to make it look like it wasn’t all that bad, or else Mr. G’s lecture will surely come”. I also wanted to walk along Champs-Elysees at night, so I had to keep smiling, if Mr. G. was to see any sign of pain he would have whisked me into a taxi and back to the hotel before I could take another bite of my food – and I would have missed dessert too!

Tomorrow our trip will take you to a cute doggie store and Afternoon Tea at the Ritz!!!!

Images: Falling Off a High Heeled Life

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Paris - Day 2

Our second day in Paris was dedicated to Mr. G. First stop on the list was Photographer’s Walking Tour of Paris – The Latin Quarter. We were greeted by our host Mr. Kevin Hayden – a professional photographer for more than 30 years. Usually the tour has about 8 people – but again the universe had other plans for us – and Mr. G and I were fortunate to have Kevin all to ourselves.

As we walked along I was captivated by Kevin’s knowledge of the city and his intuitive nature. He explained photographic techniques in terms which I was even able to understand and he also provided great insider tips to getting that perfect shot. Kevin’s enthusiasm and direction was so inspiring - I had to keep reminding myself that this was for Mr. G. and I was just tagging along.

In the heart of Paris on the Left Bank across from Notre Dame, we stumbled (more accurately – Kevin directed us in its direction) across Shakespeare and Company. For centuries the Latin Quarter has been the centre of Parisian creativity and intelligentsia, so it is only fitting that one of the oldest book stores is located here.

Like I mentioned, Kevin was very intuitive and listened carefully when we spoke about interests. As we walked through the doorway – the air was filled with history, excitement, and shelves upon shelves of old books – really old books! What a privilege, as an aspiring writer, to explore.

As Kevin and Mr. G. discussed taking shots from the upstairs windows in the shop and other photography related topics, I took the time to check out the books downstairs. The books upstairs are not for sale. By the time the photographers were ready to move to the next photogenic place I had managed to find 3 books of interest; The New Royal Readers, (Adapted to the latest requirements of the education department NO. 11) printed in 1891; The Vicar of Wakefield (Oliver Goldsmith), printed 1901; The Rights of Woman (Mary Wollstonecraft) – The Subjection of Women (John Stuart Mill), printed 1929. Be sure to ask the shop clerk to stamp the inside of your book with the store’s coveted logo stamp.

Some other pictures I captured, while following Kevin and Mr. G.

Whether you live in Paris or are on vacation a tour with Kevin is something that should make your must do list. Take a visit to Kevin’s website to learn about his photography work or to schedule your own private walking tour – with the added benefit of being with someone who is knowledgeable on the history of Paris and is also able to take you to some of the best spots for capturing that perfect shot.

Next on the list walking tour of Paris's 3 best food groups - pasteries, chocolates & bread

 Jennifer, our tour guide, greeted us at La Maison du Chocolate, 19 rue de Sevres - from that point it was a whirlwind of mouth watering delights! Among some of the places Jennifer introduced us to were: Jean-Charles Rochox Chocolatier; Cacao et Chocolate;Pierre Herme; Maison-Kayser and Marcolini.

Our group consisted of Mr. G. and myself along with two wonderful women from Spicer, MN United States. One of whom is also a Professional Photographer (Carlson Studio Inc.) - for our Blogger Friends in Spicer, MN you may want to check their Carlson Studio Blog to see the amazing pet portraits they have done. It was truly a pleasure to have the company of these two lovely ladies - not to mention that they are chocoholics too!

Along the way Jennifer's knowledge of Paris history kept us so entertained that the walk from one venue to the next seemed liked seconds. Perhaps the the quick passing of time may also have been a result of the sugar induced energy - did I mention that at each stop we were treated to 2  complimentary samples of the shops delights. Mr. G. became a fan of Ganache. Did you know that in Paris a baker must get permission from the city before he can close his Boulanger or vacation? Did you know that May 1st is a very important date and that people give each other Lilly of the Valley? (a chocolate version is pictured under the Macs in the above shot). These are the tid bits of knowledge you may not learn about if you just venture out in the unknown. For first time visitors to Paris or even for those who want to explore a different section of the city, having a knowledgeable local Parisian will let enlight you as well as possibly saving you some sole on your shoes.

You can email Jennifer to schedule a personal/group tour customized to your needs.

Below are some shots I took along our adventure, among them Jardin du Luxemburg - it was just as beautiful as my NYC living - Paris friend had promised it to be.


I hope you are enjoying Paris!

I invite you along on our visit to the Louvre, Cruise the Seine , see Paris by night and enjoy dinner on the Champs-Élysées - on tomorrow's post.

images: Falling off a High Heeled Life
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