Saturday, July 18, 2015

Announcing the 2016 Ooh La La! Paris Tour!

Come with me to Paris this spring!
I'm so excited to announce our third 
Ooh La La! Paris tour, 
April 24 - May 1, 2016.  
And yes, we've added new French beauty and style experts and lots of ooh la la! surprises.  

The most exciting news  is that we will be staying at a new hotel--the ultra chic--Hotel Baume

Hotel Baume is an art deco hotel, very elegant and feminine, with an outdoor terrace and lots of space to mix and mingle and enjoy your Sunday, April 24th champagne welcome toast, meeting the other Ooh La La! Ladies, before going out to a glamorous evening for our special Welcome Dinner. 

The very next day, we'll begin our transformational tour through the City of Light, where you'll re-discover your own sense of unique beauty, your confidence and your essential feminine mystery--from yours truly, author of Ooh La La!Bonjour, Happiness! and French Women Don't Sleep Alone
and many of the French women featured in my books.

We'll shop at the little artsy boutiques on the Left Bank, as well as Bon Marché and the famous shops in the Marais.
Oh, and we will visit the Fragonard Perfume Museum, where you can sample and buy some of their famous fragrances.
Plus, we'll visit Madame Cadolle's boutique (lingerie royalty) as featured in Ooh La La!
You'll have an opportunity to make an appointment for a private consultation and fitting with Madame Cadolle herself, if you so desire.

One evening, we'll take a cruise along the River Seine and view the Eiffel Tower, all dressed up for the night in shimmering lights.  Trés romantique. 
There will also be a champagne tasting, courtesy of the  famous wine bar, O Chateau.  So informative and so much fun!

And brand new this year--Sylvie, true Parisian Bohème (featured in all three of my books) will take us on a private tour and share her Left Bank Shopping secrets.  

Merci, Sylvie!

Oh, and we'll go to the market with a very knowledgeable French chef!

And for those of you who enjoy writing, I'm adding a few evening writing workshops to the tour. 

And most exciting of all, the famous Mimi Bleu of Paris Travel Groupe will be there to guide us every step of the 
way!  J'adore Mimi! 

And yes, they'll be so much more and some delightful surprises!

Please let me know something about yourself and why you'd like to go to Paris with me next spring.  This is a small, private tour and I can accept a maximum of fourteen fun-loving, fit (we walk a lot!), enthusiastic, sincere and sweet women.

So, please write to me as soon as possible, tell me a little bit about yourself and why you really-really-really want to come to Paris!

Merci beaucoup!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Squash Blossom Surprise!

The garden at La Belle Farm is looking very good now that we're in the full bloom of summer.  
We have spinach, leeks, tomatoes, zucchini, Swiss chard, squash and beets.  
We would have had brussel sprouts, but our Woodchuck-in-residence decided to dig a tunnel into the garden and then he proceeded to gobble down all our brussel spouts.

Bad woodchuck!!!

Finally, we blocked his passage, and here you can see how our garden grows.
It's small because this is our first year at La Belle Farm.

Oooh La La!  Squash Blossoms!

Dr. Thompson (a.k.a. Farmer Bill) makes an Italian-Asian fusion squash blossom recipe.
He stuffs the blossoms with a little mozzarella and just a sliver on anchovy.  It gives it a nice salty/savory flavor.  Then he dips the flower in beer batter and coat them in tempura flour and the magic begins.

Next, he sauteed the blossoms in olive oil and voila!
Squash blossom surprise!
We dip them in soy sauce and eat them with our fingers.  So yummy!

And since it was our ten year wedding anniversary, we toasted with champagne.
Veuve Cliquot, bien sur!

Have you cooked squash blossoms, mes amies?
I'd love to hear how you prepare them!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Making Jam with Wild Black Raspberries

Bonjour from La Belle Farm!
(Also known as the Callan & Thompson Farm.)

 Look how green it is--now that summer is upon us!

The wild black raspberries are in bloom.  Dr. Thompson and I spent the day--which happened to be our tenth wedding anniversary--picking blackberries!  It was a perfect way to celebrate ten glorious years together.  Oh, and you can read about how we met  here.    
I love Dr. Thompson, now a Gentleman Farmer!

We collected our fresh berries in a pretty basket.  There were so many!

Back in the kitchen, we mashed the berries and then boiled them in a large pot.  Once the raspberries  reached a full rolling boil, we then let them boil for two more minutes.  Next, we added an equal amount of sugar.  Four cups of mashed black raspberries requires four cups of sugar.  That makes twelve half pints of black raspberry jam!  

 See how pretty the jam came out.  Oh, and I should say black raspberry jam has a deeper color than just regular red raspberry jam.  It's incredibly delicious, bright and fresh!

We jarred a dozen half pints.  That's just for now, because we have lots more to go pick!
 I'd love to hear about your gardens, mes amies!
What are you growing this summer?
Are you canning any fruits or vegetables?  Are you making jam?
I hope you enjoy every moment!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Wild Strawberries on the Farm

We made a discovery this past weekend on the farm.  Walking through one of our fields, we found wild strawberries!

They are much smaller than the strawberries you find at the supermarket, and not quite as sweet, but they are still delicious!

This is Dr. Thompson, picking strawberries.  We wore hats, because it was very sunny!

Look how tiny the strawberries are!

We ate them with blueberries and yogurt.  So good!  Later that night, Dr. Thompson made homemade strawberry shortcake, but we were too excited to take photographs.  Just trust me, it was delicious!

J'adore wild strawberries!

Do you have a garden, mes amies?  I'd love to hear what you're growing this summer! 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

La Belle Farm

As you may have heard, Dr. Thompson and I bought a farm this past winter.
We actually moved from Cape du Cod to the Hudson Valley on January 31st, in between blizzards.
There were a lot of blizzards this past winter!

Now, it's springtime and everything is green!

During May, when I was in Paris leading the Ooh La La! Paris Tour, Dr. Thompson put in the garden.
Trés beau!

I'm back on the farm and diving into my novel, Paris Changes Everything.
But, since the weather is so nice, I'm fixing the little barn that will become my Writers Studio.
I promised myself to "visit" the studio everyday and just sit there, even if I don't feel inspired to write there.  So, the first order of business was to drag my little pink chair across the fields and place it in the barn.

I couldn't resist taking an artsy photo of the little pink chair inside the red barn:

Finally, I sat in the little pink chair inside the red barn: 
Now all I need is an old piece of barn wood and two sawhorses!

To be continued.....

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Hotel Ekta! Trés chic!

While in Paris, I had the pleasure of meeting with Mademoiselle Delphine and Monsieur Chedi at Hotel Ekta near the Champs-Elysées.

The name, Ekta, is an homage to the camera film, Ektachrome, which was very popular among the fashion photographers during the 1960's.

I had a wonderful tour of Hotel Ekta and learned that it was designed by Jean-Philippe Nuel and Natasha Stojkovic.  These amazing designers believe in constructing an entire cinematic universe filled with a sense of story, character, drama and mystery!  Ooh La La!

The entire Hotel Ekta channels the fabulous and futuristic designs from Courréges.
(J'adore Courreges!) 

He was  best known for his "space age collection." 
Just look at Audrey Hepburn in her Courreges!

And this is the lovely Delphine, the manager of the Hotel Ekta.  
Isn't she adorable?!  Very Courréges.  Very French!

Delphine explained to me that the hotel's designer chose Courréges and  Pop Art as the theme throughout the lobby and all the rooms.

J'adore the black and white and pops of yellow!  Trés chic!

The Hotel Ekta is filled with stylish retro photographs from the photographer, Benjamin Deroche.  
Don't you love them?!

Oh, and we both agreed, we dream of owning an orange telephone.  Doesn't every girl?

Hello?  Hello?  Oh, bonjour, monsieur!  C'est moi a la Hotel Ekta!

Courréges is credited with inventing the mini skirt, but some people say it was really the British designer, Mary Quant.  At any rate, great minds, think alike!

When I was around twelve years old, I absolutely lusted for these Courréges Go-Go Boots!

The Hotel Ekta is so stylish!  I was there to research the possibility of hosting an Ooh La La! Paris Tour there.  The rooms were so beautiful and I loved how the mirrors on the stairs to the lobby replicated the ones that Coco Chanel had installed in her famous Atelier on Rue Cambon.  Remember the scene in Avant Chanel?  
Trés jolie! 

The Hotel Ekta is definitely worth a visit, mes amies.  So convenient to shopping on the Champs-Elysées.
Merci beaucoup, Delphine!  Au revior!

Monday, May 11, 2015

How to Dress Like a Parisian

The Ooh La La! Paris Tour ladies and I had the great joy of meeting with the fabulous blogger, Alois, from Dress Like a Parisian.  If you don't know her blog, well then, you must take a look.  She's young, she's brilliant and she gives amazing advice!
 Aloise said as Americans (and one Canadian) we should avoid matching too much and add "a bit more accident to the style."  Sometimes, she said people visiting Paris look like they're going on a hike.  (But not, the Ooh La La! Ladies!)

As French women get older, they don't think oh, I'm out of the sexy game.  Rather then move it--perhaps rather than showing off their legs, they might show off a beautiful, well defined back.

If you're a bit curvy, it's a good idea to wear shoes that are the same color as your pants and create a fluid line.

However, Alois doesn't need to worry about that.  She is quite slender.  Here are her adorable shoes.  Look how they match her top.  It's very subtle, but very eye-catching.

 The key to dressing like a Parisian is figuring out what are your best assets and then accenting them.  And of course, it's important to hide any flaws.

She told us how her grandmother has beautiful hands and that for her birthday, they treated her to a manicure.  Her grandmother was hesitate at first, but she tried blue nail lacquer and you know what--she got lots of compliments.

Quality is very important, as well as creating a clean lines.  Oh, and it's a good idea to avoid supperfulous details.  If a tee shirt says "Glamorous" on it, Alois says then it is not glamorous!  

Aloise gave us a list of places to shop in the Marais.

 And so the Ooh La La! Paris Tour ladies were off and running!
 I took a group to the famous BHV.  It stands for Bazaar Hotel de Ville.
 And look what we found:  a vintage pop up store.  (J'adore vintage!)
 Pretty vintage dresses from the 70's and 80's.  Adorable!
 I bought this polka dot skirt.  I love polka dots!
Au revoir, Alois!  Merci beaucoup for helping us to dress like a Parisian!!!!