"Those who have experienced Paris have advantage over those who have not. We are the ones who have glimpsed a little bit of heaven, down here on earth." - Deirdre Kelly

Monday, April 17, 2017

two syllables...

"Well, we really meant you to visit in May, but the rhythm required two syllables." 
- Vernon Duke, April in Paris (1932)

Inspired by his song, a friend of Monsieur Duke's decided to spend the month of April in Paris - the weather was terrible. When the friend complained about the disappointing weather, Duke replied: "...the [song's] rhythm required two syllables." When I read this, my first thought was: if you're going to Paris for the weather, you're missing the point entirely. What makes Paris, Paris, is its rhythm...

When I'm in Paris, whatever the season, I am inspired by the many ways Parisians insist on infusing an intense, profound and effortless sense and sensibility of beauty - in every aspect of life, in large and small ways: freshly baked bread (every day), correct table settings (even when paper napkins are used - and they rarely are), framed artwork in the Metro stations, a kiss on both cheeks to say bonjour et au revoir. But perhaps my favorite Parisian staple is that, in the midst of a hustling bustling city, there are flowers, trees and green everywhere, in every season.

Along every rue, flower shops tempt you with their amazing variety of flowers and plants - in pots, buckets, hanging 
- a glorious kaleidoscope of color. How can you resist? I can't, and I don't even try to. 

Maybe it's because the city is ancient, there are gardens, parks and green spaces in the most unexpected and seemingly impractical places: behind wrought iron gates, nestled between buildings, in the courtyards of department stores, along the Seine - and most are open to the public. But my favorite is the one I walk through at the end of every day. It's the short cut to our rental apartment, in the 7th: the Jardin des Tuileries 

the Musee d'Orsay, viewed from the Jardin des Tuileries

"'Til Paris...I never knew my heart could sing...what have you done to my heart?"

Of course les Tuilieries is fantastic. In addition to the varied, meticulously maintained gardens, winding pathways lined with stately trees, permanent statues and sculptures,  every other month or so a different en plain air art exhibit is installed throughout the garden's 63 acres. But what I love most about les Tuileries is that it is a distinct ecosystem, a little city in itself... 

At the eastern end of the Champs Élysées, just inside the garden's gates on Place de la Concord sits the tiny La Librairie du Garden des Tuileries. Although each of it's 4,000 books are for sale, this place is really a comprehensive library on everything that's green and/or blooms: botany, herbalist, history, architecture, design, literature and poetry). 

The garden houses three cafés: Café Diane, Café des Maronniers and La Terrasse de Pomone. They all have expansive outdoor seating and the toasty heaters. They offer basic marginal food (may I suggest the charcuterie, salads, cheese(s) and wine(s) - all excellent). A sprawling outdoor living room - where the locals meet after work for a drink and tourists rest their weary feet after a day of exploring = a prime spot for people watching. I count myself as a bit of both. We often stop for much needed sustenance and libation, often meeting with expat friends, before starting the last leg of our journey home.  

At one of the garden's fountains, children can rent tiny vintage boats and the long reeds needed to push them around the pond. Of course there's always a few artists - with their easels palettes and paint; perched on their little stools.

Early evening, as we were walking home, we saw two gentlemen leading 5 ponies down the garden's main thoroughfare. Mr. G asked if Rory and Sage could ride. They kindly agreed to allow the kids to ride to the main gate - Never was fast asleep in his stroller, exhausted from swinging in the park and riding on the merry go round til it closed...  

"...Paris, this is a feeling no one can ever reprise."

Paris has given me so many gifts. But the most precious is...uninterrupted time with my family. No where we have to be, nothing we have to do but wander, explore, experience. Oui, sounds like a typical family vacation, but with an essential difference. Paris has welcomed us, encourages us to do more than tourist-visit. We didn't plan on it but we've built a life in Paris...

But, perhaps my favorite way to wander this city's florists, parks and gardens is alone. Sit at a cafe, beside a fountain, or a well placed chair with a view - and work, read, write, just...breathe. There's a certain pride and pleasure, knowing the city well enough to traverse it alone (with my camera, bien sur). "Well, we really meant you to visit in May, but the rhythm required two syllables." While She may require two or more syllables, Paris has several rhythms. For: lovers, the solitary traveller, families, the young, the old, the in-between. It's been a joy of my life to dance with Her in all of them...

*Two Syllables (a Postcard from Paris) was originally published in Belle Inspiration Magazine (online, May 2012). After several requests, I'm republishing all of them here; extensively revised, in no certain order. 

Vivre! Rire! Aimer! - Temple

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Curls, Coils & Glory...

Crowned in my curls, I am so happy to be Nappy

I was working on another Pour l'Amour post when I realized it's been two years since I've posted to A Nappy Hair Affair - désolé. Yes, it's high time for an update...

My glorious Nappy three

Every beautiful head of Nappy Hair is like a fingerprint. Unique and amazing, no two sets of coils and curls are alike. Twenty+ years ago, when I first went Nappy, very few hairstylists knew how to handle it and Natural Hair product lines were pretty much non-existent. Today there's a dozen+  Natural Hair product lines available at hair salons, local grocery and superstores, and traditional beauty companies have dedicated product lines and ads for our hair/care (i.e. Pantene and L'Oreal). But a Nappy Woman's 21st century bestie is the internet. There are several fantastic Nappy/Natural hair web sites, that speak to every aspect of Nappy/Natural hair care (with detailed product reviews and styling tips), they also discuss Black fashion, makeup, face and body care with how to vids and photographs  - yeah, we've come a long way baby. 

Word to the Wise: my two favorite Nappy/Natural sites are:
  Curly Nikki (a Nappy-cyclopeida, with a search column) and 
Frolicious (their editorial and photographs rival Vogue - yaasss!). 

My Nappy hair has always been fine and delicate. As I enter the tail end of my glorious 40s, my Nappity has become prone to breakage, being dry and lackluster. In December it got really bad, so I did what a history professor does best - research. The first thing I discovered was that I was treating my 40-something hair like it was still 20-something. Moreover, there have been great leaps and strides in Natural haircare and I had been woefully deficient in keeping up with the Nappy-times. Finally, I literally (and figuratively) pried my fingers loose from my decades-old (but no longer effective) methods, tools and products - obliterated my staid boundaries and stepped into the 21st century. I'm loving the results...

Heat. The only time I use heat on my hair is when I diffuse it (a do-hicky thingy, shaped like a cone, that attaches to the nozzle of a hair dryer). But heat, even low heat, is a no-no for delicate natural hair - but is an essential styling method. Yes, there is a way to have your cake and eat it too. First, I dramatically cut down my usage - from every day to once (maybe twice) a week. But, even more importantly, I upgraded to a top of the line hair dryer/ diffuser.

A diffuser is designed to disperse the air flow of a hair dryer and spread it over a large area. Diffusers are used principally with curly hair because the dispersed air doesn't disturb the hair's [natural] wave pattern or cause frizz when drying (Source: Sally Beauty).

Deva Curl Dryer & Diffuser $159 @Amazon

"Sure, it's probably a whole lot pricer than your ordinary blowdryer and the diffuser ($45 on it's own) is incredibly more expensive than a traditional one. If you can get past the price though, this thing is a game changer! The dryer is professional grade and the Devafuser adds lift to roots without disrupting your curl pattern...[I] trust this one and think it's worth the splurge." Curly Nikki

What Nikki said. Yes, it looks like a futuristic gadget from Doctor Who. Yes, the price is hefty enough to make your heart stutter - but I absolutely love this new fangled thingy. There are three heat settings: low, medium, high (+ a cool-shot button); and two speed settings (low/high). It's medium and low heat settings are perfect (experiment to decide which speed setting works best for you). My results: the blower and diffuser gently and quickly dries my hair, leaving my curly coils springy, shiny, soft and silky. It's worth every cent.

Word to the wise: I was using my Deva dryer/diffuser incorrectly - and was very unhappy with my expensive limp results until I watched Bianca Renee Today's how-to vid and experimented from there. From then on out, happy Diva am I ;-}  


Hand in hand with finding the most gentle, effective and quickest way to dry/diffuse my curly coils, was how re-learning how to keep them shiny, healthy and growing = giving my thirsty hair constant hydration and nourishment - for an entire week.  

Day 1 - Fussy Day: Wash, Deep Condition, Diffuse

Avlon Affirm Moistur-Right Nourishing Shampoo & 5-in-1 Reconstructor (32oz/$30 each @Amazon)

The Avlon Affirm series/products are: Sulfate free, Argan, Pequi and Burti oil rich, deep conditioning fantabulosity! This line of Nappy products are specifically formulated for damaged, fine, limp hair. Moistur-Right Shampoo: minimizes breakage and shedding, protects, softens, detangles and gives major body. The 5-in-1 Reconstructor does the same - though it's meant for relaxed and/or dyed hair, it's also perfect for we Nappy Ladies - major beaucoup de deep conditioning healthy Nappity mojo! 

Oyin Hair Dew Daily Quenching Lotion & Oyin Boing! (160z $20 each)

Every Oyin product(s) is all natural and handmade. The light weight Oyin Hair Dew is a leave-in conditioner that detangles and gives thirsty locks all the loving it needs - just be sure to seal afterwards (smooth all over a healthy dollop of natural oil (especially on your ends) my choice: coconut oil. Finally, Oyin's Boing! (your curl enhancing styler.) Then: diffuse.
I'm getting great results with Oyin products. Best part was I didn't have to make a big investment in order to try their products. The company sells sample sizes of all their hair and body products (in 2oz reusable jars and bottles) The best bang for the buck is their 'Snack Bar': 8 samples, including the 3 I've featured here - so have at it!

Days 2-6: Rocking the Nappity...

Photo: Sophia Forero

I do NOT daily wash or diffuse my hair so I needed to find a way to daily refresh and nourish my thirsty locks and give new life to my coils. 

1. Every morning I spritz on my homemade refresher/nourishment. 
Fill a 2 oz. travel spray bottle with: 
60% curl activator moisturizer (I use Luster's S Curl, 12 oz/$7- at any drugstore, beauty supply or Amazon).
* 5-6 drops of Coconut Oil
* 40% Water

2. I 'Straw' my hair. Usually just the ends, to get my curl uniform ;-} I've recently replaced my styling cream with Oyin's Shine and Define - all natural, non drying, sweet smelling, soft/lasting hold - love it! Regular sized straws work in every type of weather, but especially humid - since it just reinforces my natural curl. After much experimentation I'm able to make my Straw Set last two sometimes three days. *the longer you leave the straws in, the tighter and longer lasting the curl.


Fat Boba Drinking Straws (150/$7 @Amazon); Oyin Shine & Define (8oz/$21)

I've recently discovered that Fat Boba Drinking Straws work really well for me on non-humid days (esp. during the winter). 1 inch in circumference = fat bouncy curls. They're a quick, effective, way to change up my coif. 

Word to the Wise: Sleep on a satin pillowcase to protect your delicate Nappity Nap. 
Helps a Straw Set last at least 2 days (just lightly spritz and go)  
$10  @Amazon, any drugstore or beauty supply store.

So there you have it. Rock on my Nappy Sistahs!

Vivre! Aimer! Rire! ~ Temple

Sunday, March 19, 2017

in the city...

"What strange phenomena we find in a great city,
all we need do is stroll about with our eyes open."
- Charles Baudelaire

The daughter of a dear sista-friend is getting married this summer. I was honored to join D on her quest to find the perfect place for her daughter's bridal shower - in the city...


"Lady D"

Everything about the bridal shower is secret, so I can't post photos of the places we visited, or the bridal gorgeousness we got to witness and partake in. After the grand event, I promise to. But I'll give you a hint: Paris is the theme, bien sur!   

At the last minute, I shoved my camera into my diva bag (my single New Year's Resolution is to bring a camera with me, wherever, whenever). I shoved my camera into my diva bag, and that's when the adventure began...

The traffic into the city was horrible, a bumper-to-bumper slow crawl. As we sat on the Dan Ryan Expressway, waiting to merge into traffic, I glanced to my right and saw a half dozen camp-tents beneath an underpass. A barren place, surrounded by brambles, dirt and snow. It was a homeless camp. The camp was organized, neat, clean and devastating. It assailed and overwhelmed me.

A camp for the homeless, beneath the Dan Ryan Expressway...

"One could not stand and watch very long without being philosophical,
without beginning to deal in symbols and similes..." 
- Upton Sinclair, The Jungle (1906)

"I call architecture frozen music." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Dusk is just an illusion...day and night are linked in a way that few things are.
There cannot be one without the other, yet they cannot exist at the same time."
- Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook (1996)

I spent three hours in the city and in those scant moments: shape, color, depth, light, dark, sound, emotion - bursting! Inspiration literally and figuratively abounded. Yeah, Lady D and I are planning to return and spend an entire day strolling with our cameras, keeping our eyes open. And I can't wait. 

Vivre! Rire! Aimer!


Thursday, March 16, 2017

girl on fire...

"She's just a girl, and she's on fire." - Alicia Keys

This Christmas, Mr. Gorgeous gifted me with the amazing high powered camera I've been drooling over for months (thank you honey!). It's given me a much needed kick of inspiration, I take it with me wherever I go - and always having it in my purse is an inspiration in itself...

"Looks like a girl, but she's a flame." - Alicia Keys

Our daughter - Sage - plays USTA tennis (United States Tennis Association). Unlike shooting Football or Basketball, I am not allowed to stand on the sidelines and photograph the action, and tournament courts are almost always surrounded by a chain link fence or net (too small to fit a lens through). It's a pain, because the lighting is always excellent, the movement and emotion of the game is so utterly gorgeous! Every serve, ball strike, groan, and fist pump literally makes my trigger finger spam - oye! I decided enough of that, time to get creative. - shooting a tennis class, private coach lesson and even asking permission to shoot tournament match warm up. Don't get me wrong. Over the years I've shot Sage playing tennis. But logistical limitations made me stop.
Well Sage's amazing progress, my new camera and Muse say: enough of that! 

"Oh, she's got both feet on the ground. And she's burning it down..." - Alicia Keys

"Everybody stares as she goes by, 'cause they can see the flame that's in her eyes." Alicia Keys

Just got word: Sage is now ranked #168th in the Midwest and #19th in Illinois (our home state)! And this fall our girl will be a Freshman and will play on her high school tennis team as their #1 Varsity player - Woo Hoo! And I've gotten permission from the head coach to photograph the season.

"This girl is on fire!" - Alicia Keys

Ten years of lessons, coaches, trainers, thousands of miles driven, rackets, shoes, flirty skirts, injuries, sweat, tears and hard work - wins, losses, lows, highs. Well, it's finally all coming together. But the best part? Watching our daughter grow into a strong, intelligent, elegant, confident, gorgeous, independent young woman. Damn, there goes my trigger finger, itching...

Vivre! Rire! Aimer!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

amour rouge: nibble, sip, watch, snuggle, kiss...

"She serves champagne with pizza." - Kate Spade

Oui, Valentine's Day has established rules: flowers, donning your best suit, dress and heels, a romantic candlelit dinner, dancing, then... The romantic tried and true is always a good thing. But how about switching it up this year? How about doing something that is just as - possibly even more - romantic? Pizza, champagne and a romance-movie-marathon...

Flor Prosecco Rose NV ($20)

There are a few things that I strongly feel should accompany any and all romance: candles (and or firelight), flowers - strew candles and flowers everywhere, put out your best china, silver, stemware and linen - while your lover orders pizza from your favorite place (with all the fixings). And, bien sur, champagne! For this Valentines, I've chosen the truly delicious Flor Prosecco Rose NV (you know I love the Fleur di Lis on the bottle ;-} Below are a few other of my favorite bubbles - all four are perfect parings to pizza.

Other Bubbly recommendations:
J Cuvee (@$32)
Laurent Perrier ($37) 
Perrier Jout ($40)

"You played it for her, you can play it for me. Play it." - Rick Blaine

My favorite romantic movies
in no particular order...

absolutely watch with subtitles

I'd love to hear about your favorite romantic movies - I'm always looking to add to my favorites list ;-}

Vivre! Rire! Aimer!


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