Wednesday, April 15, 2015

18 Days Until the Ooh La La! Paris Tour!

Bonjour, Ooh La La! Paris Ladies!

I am looking forward to our visit to The City of Lights.
Today, I want to talk about shoes.
You'll want to make sure you have very comfortable walking shoes. That doesn't mean they can't be very pretty and stylish. If you want something dressy for evenings, I would bring one pair of kitten heels. They can be dressy and fun for night, but also easy to walk in.

Remember, there are plenty of cobblestone streets in Paris!
(This means you'll want to leave the stilettos at home or any kind of shoe that is really a taxi cab/sitting kind of shoe).  Leave these shoes at home! 



For day, I'd bring a pair of cute flats. I love the pointy toed ballet flats with a tiny heel. They're easy to walk in, but they're a little dressy and definitely better than sneakers. That said, if you can find a pair of really cute sneaker-like shoes--perhaps in a fun color--something that's a statement, and feminine, then I would go for that, especially if you have any kind of walking issues. 


Don't forget, you are always free to take a day or half day off and just sit in a cafe and people-watch. I'm sure they'll be at least one day like that for everyone!


About your wardrobe--black, white or solid color neutrals are the most versatile when it comes to a dress, then you can add some pretty bijoux to it, or a pretty scarf.  Bring several scarves--very light, since it'll be warm.  In fact, just the only day it was 80 degrees Fahrenheit in Paris.  

I would also bring a pretty dress, two skirts or one skirt and one pair of pants, along with three very different tops, so you can switch them up with the skirts and the pants. 

It's not about being fancy or really dressed up, but it's more about feeling stylish. So, if you'd like to wear jeans that's great--just make sure they're light, and that they make you feel beautiful and happy.

Oh, and bring a bright umbrella--for rain and sunshine.  

Also, a cardigan is a nice for a chilly evening and a way to mix-up an outfit.
Oh, and please know, it's perfectly all right to wear the same outfit two or three or even four times! If it helps, you can mix the skirts and the pants up with different tops and you can wear the dress one time in the evening with a sheer scarf and your kitten heels and then a second time during the day with a cute little kerchief and a sunhat for a more casual look.

You see, it's all about the accessories!
Here's a helpful chart on choosing bijoux:


More tomorrow!
And again, feel free to ask me any questions, mes amies!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

19 Days Until the Paris Ooh La La! Tour

I'm so excited to know I'll be seeing all the beautiful and brilliant Ooh La La! Ladies in Paris soon!

Yes, can you believe it, we have only 19 days left until we meet up in The City of Light!
I know you're very excited, so to get you started, here's some things you can do now to be ready:

1.  Try out your new shoes to make sure they're comfy and good for walking through the Tuileries.
2.  Organize outfits (try to get lots of mileage by switching up skirts and pants with various tops and adding colorful scarves.)
3.  Get extra copies of your prescriptions.
4.  Buy pretty things to wear in the museums, cafes, shops and bistros.
4.  Leave room in your suitcase for the new things you'll bring home.
5.  Make sure your paperwork (passport, prescription list, itinerary, insurance, etc.) is all in order.
6.  Schedule a mani/pedi and/or a hair salon appointment
7.  Get all your electronics in order.  Buy a European adapter with two little skinny prongs, as seen here.

8.  And finally, click your heels together and repeat after me:  "There's no place like Paris!  There's no place like Paris!"

Please let me know if you have any questions, mes amies!  xo Jamie

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

French Women are Spontaneous.


Bonjour, mes amies!
We're getting very close to the Ooh La La! Paris Tour!
It officially begins the evening of  May 2nd with our champagne welcome at the Hotel Belloy!
The next few weeks will go by quickly and then we will be in beautiful Paris!

Yes, can you tell I'm getting excited?



Today, I want to talk about surprises and spontaneity.
French women are always ready for the unexpected.  From my experience, with interviewing many lovely ladies in France, I've found that they will often not completely commit to a rendezvous until the last minute.  Yes, they can be very mysterious!


These mystery comes from a love of romance, but also because they know that sometimes plans must be reconsidered and rearranged.  Perhaps there will be a strike or a demonstration.  Many times, these demonstrations in Paris are fun and friendly and simply an excuse to get out and walk through the streets with some colorful placards.  Sometimes, they're of a more serious nature.


And sometimes, these strikes can be inconvenient, especially for visitors to the The City of Light.  In fact, I've just heard that the museum workers at the Palace of Versailles have been striking as of late.  We are scheduled to spend Wednesday, May 6th at the Palace and there's no strike scheduled for that day, but still we must be like the French Women--spontaneous.  

I am not expecting any change in plans, an d I'm not writing about this to worry you, mes amies, but rather, I'm writing to suggest that we visit Paris with an open heart and a sense of surprise and possibility...oh, and magic!

Photos from Oui, Oui, je speak Franglais and French Wench.

How do you plan to be spontaneous in Paris, mes amies?  I'd love to hear about it.  Merci beaucoup!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Someone to watch over me




I’ve always loved watches.  I’ve owned big watches and little watches.  For years, after my mother died, I wore her delicate Caravelle ladies watch.  It was gold and had an elasticized band that cut into me and left tiny red marks in the shape of squares on wrist.  My mother’s wrists were much slimmer than mine.  She was delicate and small boned. 



Still, I wore that watch until it stopped working and then I retired it to my jewelry box.

In the seventies I wore a vintage pocket watch on a red silk ribbon around my neck.  This went well with my McCabe and Mrs. Miller/Julie Christie-inspired ensembles, the flounced skirts and the flower-child hairdos. 



I was never one of those Swatch Watch people of the 1980’s.  By then, I had a husband and a baby.  I was writing young adult novels at night and writing marketing copy for Estée Lauder during the day.  While the other girls at Lauder were going out to Studio 54 or Lime Light, I was thinking about picking up dinner and getting to the nanny’s home in time.  And then the next day, I would wake up at 5 a.m. to work on my novel.

This is when I started to wear my Timex.


I’ve owned a few Timex watches.  They seem to last for about five years and then they quit.  They’d probably last longer if I didn’t abuse them so much.  I wear them day and night.  I often forget to take my Timex off in the shower.  I bang it on things and I spill things.  This rough and tumble treatment doesn’t mean I love my Timex any less.  In fact, it makes me love it more.  My Timex is like a faithful old friend, who’s straight spoken--the numbers are big and easy to understand—no winding necessary and there’s nothing to set or change.  It doesn’t tell me the date, the temperature, or how fast I walk to the post office or how many calories I’ve burned.  It just tells me the time.  Minutes and seconds.  And that’s all I really need.

More than this, my Timex is a link to the real world and the passage of time and place.  Sometimes, you need to know what time it is.  You need to witness the hand of the watch gently shift from one number to another.  Sometimes, this simple movement is all that stands between you and drifting away from the shores of reality.

I learned this when I was in France a few years ago. 

I was at the end of 6-week tour, researching a new book, Ooh La La! French Women’s Secrets to Feeling Beautiful Every Day.


It was early October, the last evening before I was to fly back to the United States.  I was in the southern town of Toulouse, one of my favorite places in France, and everything was in place.  My bags were packed.  I was not only ready to go home, but I really needed to go home.  I was exhausted beyond tired, and just wanted to return to my husband and our home.

Only, the universe had other plans for me.

Just as I was leaving my French friend’s home to go out to a farewell dinner, I slipped on a very large, very old, very slippery cobblestone.

I went down in one big swoop and I hit my head on the stone.  My left foot teetered from one side and then to the other with a crack and another crack.  I felt a jolt of pain and then I fainted.

I awoke to the sounds of the French ambulance—the singsong siren, that is so different from the American siren.  I was in a state of shock and I could feel myself unmoored, slowly drifting away from all that was familiar.

As it turns out, I broke my ankle in two places—the tibia and the fibula and before I could really grasp what was happening to me, I was rushed into surgery, where the doctor inserted a titanium plate and six pins.


When I woke up I couldn't remember what had happened to me.  The nurses tiptoed in and out of my room, whispering in French, before giving me morphine.  And while I do know French, at this point the language eluded me.  Everything floated away from my consciousness.  And to add to this sense of disconnection, there was no cell phone reception in my room.  There was no clock on the wall.  And no internet.  My husband was on a research trip in the Australia outback and while my French friend was able to eventually reach him and tell him what had happened, he had no way of getting in touch with me.
 

During this time, I did have two touchstones to keep me anchored in reality.  There was my little moleskine notebook, where I wrote everything down.  And most important, there was my Timex watch.   Whenever my blood pressure was checked, I noted the time and wrote it down in my notebook.  I noted the time that breakfast arrived, lunch, then dinner.  I noted the time when the nurse came into the room to tidy up or when the doctor made his morning rounds.  I noted the time when the sun came up outside my little window and when the streets of Toulouse were busy and when they were quiet. 


I spent nine days like this, until my husband arrived, rescued me, and took me back home to America. 

This experience changed my life and it was after this, I began to keep my watch on all the time.  Today, I never take it off—except to shower or swim (when I remember!)  I sleep with it on, and sometimes will check the time in the middle of the night, just to reassure myself that all is well with the world and I know the time.  I cherish my watch, knowing that left to my own devices, without the trappings of modern life, my little Timex will still protect me.  Or this is what I tell myself. 

Someday, I imagine my daughter will wear my Timex wristwatch.  She will wear it for a year or two, and she will find comfort in the thought that her mother wore this watch and that it served as a kind of talisman against the vagaries of life—not that it will necessarily protect her from unexpected events, but that should something unexpected happen, such as a fall in a foreign city, this wristwatch will tell her the time and she can actually see time pass, as sure as she can see the sun rise in the sky and fall again--minute by minute—in a plain spoken, straight-forward, honest and simple manner.  And I think this is a great gift for mother to give her daughter. 


With this in mind, I recently discovered Invaluable.com.  It's a wonderful auction site that carries fine art, beautiful vintage jewelry, and yes, wristwatches.  So if you want to pass on a memento, a beautiful object with meaning, this is a great place to begin.

What would you like to pass along to your daughter, your son, to a family member or a good friend?  What's your story? 

I'd love to hear more about it!  










                   

Monday, January 12, 2015

Paris will always be Paris.

This week, my heart and prayers and healing thoughts go out to dear Paris, City of Light.

Yesterday, over one and a half million people joined hands across the streets of Paris to show unity and hope for the future.  Forty world leaders came to Paris to show support for the beloved City of Light.  And ordinary citizens came out in the frigid cold to say Je suis Charlie.  Je suis Paris.
After all, Paris belongs to all of us.  And she is more than a city that resides in France--she is a place we hold dear in our own hearts.  Whether we come from Kansas or Cancun, Tokyo or Tuscany, we have joined together with sadness yes--but also with bright and hopeful hearts.
And yes, there is always hope.

Spring will come and we will once again find beauty and delight in Paris. 


This is how we push against the darkness--through light, and through laughter.  
We rebuild confidence through simple pleasures and ordinary moments--

Picnics along the Seine.
An afternoon at the cafe on the Boulevard St. Germain.
Lifting a glass of champagne at Cafe Ruc on Rue Saint-Honoré.
A stroll through the Tuileries.
Buying a new scarf at Printemps.
A visit to the Eiffel Tower.
Paris will always be Paris because her beauty can never be diminished.
Through the tumult of the centuries, she has remained strong and dignified--shoulders back, 
and her head held up high--oh, and with perfect posture, bien sur.
This after all, is Paris, City of Light.  City of Hope.


Dear mes amies--stay strong and keep dreaming.
With love,
Jamie






Sunday, December 28, 2014

Bonne Année!

It's almost New Year's Eve, dear friends.
And it's time to say au revoir to 2014.   
(Photo by Lo Charme e un nodo da stringere con stile)

Have you ever wondered how the French celebrate their New Year's Eve?  Well, they are a lot like us and will attend a party--either a small, intimate soirée or a big ball.  There's always dancing, and of course there is always champagne!

And oftentimes, there's foie gras.
French women get dressed in something pretty and elegant.  (Bien sur!)

New Year's Day is called Le Jour de l'An.  It's a time for family and friends to exchange cards and gifts and share their dreams and hopes for the new year.  One of my favorite holidays is the Epiphany, January 6th.  Perhaps it's because of the traditional cake Gateau des Rois, which is delicious and fun because it includes hidden little ceramic trinkets.  
But I think the Epiphany is my favorite because it's the day my daughter was born--31 years ago!  Now that's something to celebrate!

Please tell me how you enjoy your own special holidays this time of year.  Do you get dressed up?  Do you drink champagne?  Do you write resolutions?
I'd love to hear about it, mes amies!


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Come Meet Me in New York City!

Bonjour, mes amis!
Guess what--
I will be at the New York Times Travel Show on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 24-25
and I'd love to meet you there!
If you happen to be in the area of The Big Apple, this is an amazing and spectacular show with lots of seminars on travel, insider hot spots, tour tips, and travel freebies!
You'll meet fun-loving, adventurous people--just like you and pick up lots of great travel information.

Plus, I'll be there and it would be such a joy for me to meet you and say bonjour!

Thanks to The Traveling Professor (I'm a guest at his booth) I have a limited number of
free tickets to the show.  They're a $17.00 value.  If you'd like one, please send me
an email at Jamie@JamieCatCallan.com as soon as possible (there is a limited number) and I'll give you the details.
I would love to see you there!