Notes on Eating- Comme les Français

9:51 AM 10 Comments
I am only three days into my experiment on eating comme les Francais (see post below) and I've already learned a lot. I went into it kicking and screaming and although I am doing it with much more ease now, I still feel some resistance. It's not like I need the Eiffel tower outside my window in order to savor my food! (Or that's what I keep telling myself anyway). Eiffel tower aside, here are my notes for the past few days:


Breakfast: Woke up late and skipped breakfast… oops!

Lunch: Roast chicken and potato gratin (leftovers). Started out by sitting down (yellow cloth napkin in lap). Ate alone and enjoyed it. Then cell phone rang, long distance call from NY, had to take it. Gobbled up rest and vowed to do better at dinner.

Dinner: Ordered sushi (by delivery) with B. Enjoyed this meal immensely! Sat and savored.

Observation: When I sit down to eat my meals I snack less throughout the day… hmmm.


Breakfast: Temptation to eat at the computer was ridiculous. Pulled back the curtains, sat down and noticed the first pink blossom on the hibiscus tree outside my window. Oatmeal and Green tea.

Lunch: Ate with B. Turkey Panini with chips. Panini was dreadful but was grateful to have the presence of mind to realize it was dreadful and not eat the entire thing mindlessly.

Dinner: The meals are getting more rapturous and romantic (maybe because I was drinking wine). Not as tedious as this morning to sit down and focus on the ambiance and food. Spaghetti Bolognese.


Breakfast: Two pieces of toast and green tea. Today I looked forward to eating while looking at the view from my window. It was much more calming than eating in front of the computer…

Voila my notes so far. Are doing this experiment along with me? If so, I would love to hear your observations...


Eating- Comme les Français

9:24 PM 8 Comments

One of the biggest and most important aspects of French culture is food. The French revere food. They love it, savor it and treat it with the respect it rightfully deserves. I love food too. I like cooking it and eating it. But lately I have found that I don't have as much respect for it, comme les Francais. Allow me to explain.

While living in France, I quickly learned that with each meal came a ritual- a sacred right. The table would be set, napkins out (cloth, bien sûr), wine or still water poured and either music or conversation (or both) were the only background distractions. The scene would be set and food would be the star. I relished in these meals. The food was simple, yet glorious and it made even the most insignificant of meals (a quick breakfast before heading off to class) feel glamorous.

Cut to a few years later back in America, chez moi. Breakfast might be eaten in front of the computer while checking email or reading blogs. Lunch is consumed in a quick trip home after taking out my dog, often times standing up or watching television. Dinner would find me and my husband (who is very hard to get to sit still for long periods of time, btw) eating quickly with Fox Football Phone In in the background, each one of us almost in a race to finish, place the dishes in the dishwasher and be done with it all. Oh how sad indeed.

I have noticed that I have let things go in the eating department and I can't think for the life of me why. I spend a lot of time preparing meals (tonight I made roast chicken, potato gratin and sweet corn) you'd think that I would want to honor the food I've prepared by actually paying attention to it! So, I have decided to devote this entire week to savoring my meals. Eating each one sitting down- focusing fully on the taste of the food, allowing eating to become a sensual experience. Yes I am talking breakfast, lunch and dinner. I'm very excited to report back to you on how it all goes and what- if anything- I gain from the experience.

Won't you stay tuned?

Liz Skelly watercolor image courtesy of: http://www.cexii.com/liz_skelly.htm

Living... Comme les Français

10:04 AM 10 Comments

This is the introduction to my new series of blogs on how to live like the French, or Commes les Francais. It's a topic that I have been exploring for a long time and after doing years of research- living in Paris and reading about the French philosophy on living- I am ready to apply those observations and what I've learned to my own life!

When I studied abroad in Paris as a college student I had the good fortune to live with a real French family- true Parisians in the heart of the 16th arrondissement. My French family was very old school, very traditional. They lived in a lovely apartment- high ceilings, gilded portraits of aristocratic looking family members from the 1800's, beautiful antiques everywhere- the works! It struck me from the very moment I walked through their threshold that the French live very differently than we do in America and other parts of the world.

So to kick off the fall 2009 season of The Daily Connoisseur, I am going to explore what it means for me to live comme les Francais, and see if I can apply these principles to my own life, living in Santa Monica and London (articles forthcoming).

Won't you join me?

Image courtesy of www.essentialarchitecture.com


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society- A Review

11:59 PM 5 Comments

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows is one of the most moving, heartwarming books I have read in a long time. Written as a series of letters, this novel takes place in post World War II England.

We meet Juliet Ashton, a successful novelist who is looking for the subject of her next book. She finds this subject in the most unlikely of places- in a letter from a total stranger, a man that comes from Guernsey- an island off the English shore. Juliet begins a correspondence with the residents of this island who formed a book club called the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The society's purpose was two fold- it was formed as a way to protect the members from arrest by the occupying Nazis and a forum where the members could discuss and explore the beauty of literature.

The book is incredibly engaging. The characters feel alive. Their anecdotes about their life during the war are at once moving and disturbing. Juliet's own journey into their lives is compelling and romantic. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a novel about hope and love- a celebration of art and the important role it plays in transcending tragedy. If you haven't already, you must read this book.

Image courtesy of www.amazon.com


The Lost Art of Letter Writing

9:37 AM 5 Comments

I am in the process of reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society- a wonderful book by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. My review for this book is forthcoming as I haven't finished it yet but it has already inspired me so much I had to post a blog on the novel's most unique key aspect- it is written entirely in the form of letters (I will not go into the contents of these letter now- that will be in my review). But these letters- so cleverly and warmly written had me putting my book down and wanting to write a letter of my own.

It has been ages since I've written a letter. You know, a proper letter- not a card- but a simple letter with no agenda other than to say hello to the recipient and to let them know what is going on in my life. So I brought out my stationery- a heavyweight lavender colored paper from Papyrus- and began to write. It felt good to write this letter. I've been blogging, facebooking and tweeting so much that I almost forgot what it was like to allow my hand float across paper- to allow my thoughts to be transcribed by a pen. I did notice (with dismay) that my handwriting has taken a significant beating. In my college days I had beautiful handwriting and was often complimented on it. Now it is has turned from a beautiful flowing script to a rather pained looking form of chicken scratch. Oh dear- this is something I need to work on!

Handwriting aside, I completed my old fashioned letter which is to be sent to a relative of mine in England. It is sitting next to my lap top right now as I speedily type this at 69 wpm- staring at me and enjoying the simplicity and slowness of its nature...

Image courtesy of: leonofnewyork.com


Project Runway Red Carpet Premiere

4:09 PM 6 Comments

This past Thursday I had the good fortune to attend the West Coast Red Carpet premiere of Project Runway- one of my favorite reality TV shows. I love this show in particular because it is not just mindless "reality" fodder- but a brilliant way to showcase unknown designers. And based on some of my past posts- we all know how much I adore Tim Gunn- who acts as mentor to the designers on Project Runway. My good friend "R" (a young Hollywood starlet) was invited to walk the red carpet and I was thrilled to be her plus one.

The night was a hit- champagne, fashion and fabulous people go very well together and soon I was meeting a bevy of interesting sorts: up and coming designers, portrait photographers, writers and socialites. Of course the most important aspect of the evening was what (or more appropriately who) every one was wearing. R wore an adorable confection by English Clientele- a modern day party dress fit for Marie Antoinette- with a tight bodice and poofed tulle mini skirt attached. There were a lot of independent designers being showcased as well. I noticed a lot of floral print dresses and purple seemed the color du soir. I wore a fabulous dress by one of my favorite designers, Alexander McQueen. Black, with beige detail- my dress was Gothic, flapper and art deco all rolled in to one. It was the perfect dress for the occasion- a fashion-forward moment in my book- and I was grateful to have it!

Now as for the show itself? I will have to catch it on my DVR- the party was too loud and hopping to watch the premiere!

Project Runway airs on the Lifetime network Thursdays at 9 / 8 central.


The Pefect Fall Lip Colors

7:35 PM 7 Comments
I love lipstick. Lipstick is the easiest and fastest way (I believe) to add intrigue to your face. When the seasons change, I love changing my lip color and finding different looks. So here are my favorite new fall lip colors- each one different, unique and glamorous unto themselves...

Dior Addict Ultra Gloss Reflect
in Beige Velvet: This lip gloss is ultra chic. It has light reflecting particles that give your lips an "airbrushed" look. Perfect for when you are feeling pristine and powerful.

Plant Love Botanical Lipstick in Sam: This shade is a sheer red currant- a fun twist on the classic red lip. Can be applied in one layer for a sheer look or two coats for a darker Femme Fatale look.

NARS Lip Gloss
in All Night Long (plum berry): This shade is perfect for when you are feeling romantic. Best worn with loose curls, subtle shimmery copper eyeshadow and rosy cheeks.

NARS Lip Gloss in Supervixen
(shimmering nude beige): The name says it all. This shimmering lip gloss adds an alluring, slightly iridescent shade to your natural lip color. A sexy twist on an every day neutral lip.

MAC Lipstick in Patisserie
: This is a limited edition lipstick from MAC's Euristocrat collection. It is the perfect nude color, with a slight pinky hue. Patisserie would be perfect for running through the streets of Paris with a lover or perhaps in search of one...

There you have them... my current favorites for fall. I would love to know what your favorite lipsticks/ glosses are...

Dior image courtesy of: www.sephora.com
Plant Love image courtesy of: www.apotheca.com
NARS in All Night Long couresy of: http://blog.newsok.com/fashionmatters
NARS in Supervixen image couresy of: makeupandbeautyblog.com
MAC in Patisserie image courtesy of: thebeautyoflifeblog.com

Hourglass Illusion Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15

7:20 PM 2 Comments

I have been a devoted fan of Bare Minerals foundation (and still am) for the past four years. However, there are certain summer days when I feel like just wearing a tinted moisturizer, cream blush, mascara, lip gloss and calling it a day. When researching at my local Sephora for the best tinted moisturizer on the market, I came across two very enthusiastic women who told me I had to try Hourglass Illusion Tinted Moisturizer. And when I say enthusiastic I am being understated. These women were verging on hysteria with their love for this brand. So I secured a five day sample (I love Sephora) and decided to try it for myself.

My complaint with tinted moisturizers in the past have been that they: a) do not perfectly match the color of my skin and therefore look strange, and b) make my face look greasy about an hour after wear. Yuck. So I skeptically tried this moisturizer by Hourglass which boasts instalift- a property that firms and brightens the skin. It also claims to be oil free, spf 15 and a luminzer all rolled in to one. For me it sounded too good to be true.

I was, happily, proved wrong. This tinted moisturizer (I use the shade "beige") goes on like a liquid foundation and matches my skin perfectly. It literally lasts all day, providing coverage until you wash your face at night. It made my pores feel and look smaller and made my skin glow and (!) it doesn't cause breakouts!

In short. I am in love with this new product and share the enthusiasm of those very helpful ladies at Sephora.

Hourglass Illusion Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15 is $55 (a little goes a long way and this will supposedly last about 8 months) and can be found at: www.sephora.com


Victoria's Secret Angel Sleep Tee

9:11 PM 7 Comments

I have just discovered my new favorite nightie: the Angel Sleep Tee by Victoria's Secret. Living in California, I tend to wear slips to bed (my favorite are by Calvin Klein and Intimissimi) but I have been looking for something a little more modest that I could wear- say when I am at my family's home or visiting over night with friends.

I came across the angel sleep tee and had to have it in sugar plum (lavender). It is really well constructed- is of the softest cotton, cuffs at the sleeves and has a cute little pocket with the initials VS for Victoria's secret. It is the perfect little night shirt for every day (or should I say every night?)

I would love to know what you like to sleep in...

The Angel Sleep Tee comes in coal, sugar plum, celadon, black, heather birch, clear blue and peony and retails for $26.

The sleep tee can be purchased at www.victoriassecret.com

The Daily Connoisseur Tackles the Linen Closet

8:26 PM 3 Comments

Last night I re-read one of my favorite books on lifestyle and living: Colin Cowie Chic, by Colin Cowie- the renowned lifestyle and party planning guru. I read this book whenever I suspect that my home is sinking into disarray. I run a pretty tight ship but every now and then I start to let things go and then it becomes easier to let them go even further and as soon as I know it I am having nightmares about Mr. Cowie opening up one of my kitchen drawers and fainting from the complete chaos and lack of organization.

Colin Cowie boasts that he does not have a single kitchen drawer or cupboard that is unorganized. I envy this way of living. Honestly, I do. Some people might think to live like that would be an incredible bore. I think it would be marvellous. So today when I was doing my weekly washing I opened up my linen closet and realized with a sinking stomach that I have let it go. Big time. Table clothes were folded next to pillow cases. The sheets were folded such that I couldn't tell which were for the king sized bed and which were for the queen. Cloth napkins were mixed with bathroom hand towels. Just looking at it gave me the chills. How had I let it get this bad? So I rolled up my sleeves and got stuck in. Only one hour later everything is beautiful again and orderly- all of the bath linens are together, bedroom linens are together and organized by bed size, kitchen linens are all stacked neatly in a row. For me, it is linen closet heaven.

I think the key to maintaining this domestic bliss is to not be in such a hurry when I am putting things away. Putting things in their proper place should only take mere seconds more than not putting them that way and it saves a hell of a lot of agro down the road. Now Colin Cowie can stop by any time he pleases and open my linen closets (not that he would) but it's nice to know that he could...

Colin Cowie Chic can be purchased at: www.amazon.com

Images courtesy of: www.countryliving.com and www.colincowie.com