"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

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

love is in the air: details, details...

"Love is in the air, in the rising of the sun.
Love is in the air, when the day is nearly done."
- John Paul Young

twenty is a mere few days away. These last three months I've been working with Beth (our event planner extraordinaire), Linda (our florist), Monika (our photographer), Kristina, and several close friends to bring twenty from a sweet idea to an almost reality - people, it takes a village. Two weeks ago Mr. G and I took a day trip to Shangri-La to finalize with the major players. Last Sunday, Mr. G and I spent an afternoon on my tiny home office deck, plotting and planning: details, details. It's all coming together - excited Diva am I! 
I don't want to bore you with the tedious wonk. 

I'm a visual being, so...

The venue: Shangri-La
Earth, Air, Fire, Water (c) Temple Tsenes-Hills 2017


Google Images


These inspirational images became my template. 
My color palette: white, creme, gold, several shades of green 
and hot pink (for a splash of color).
Then the fun really began... 


The amazing Beth, swatches of fabric (in every color and material beneath the sun), 
vintage china, glitter, sparkle, our eldest and his lovely lady, hostess Coco, and Mr. G. 
= Diva heaven

As soon as I saw the entryway, I knew I was in the right place.

Even the drive home from Shangri-la was inspirational

Details & Mimosas


In about 54 hours, I'm going to marry the love of my life, my best friend, again...

Vivre! Rire!Aimer!


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

love is in the air ~ the DRESS!

"Love is in the air, every sight and every sound." - John Paul Young

Sadly, with the ready availability of inexpensively/mass produced clothes, dressmaking/tailors is increasingly becoming a lost art - for the masses at least. Still, I was determined to get my dress from a small business. And I found it on Etsy, but it was black. I messaged the designer and asked if she'd be willing to make one for me in white, she said no. Since I had already decided to splurge on food, champagne; and my dress; I decided to look for a tailor. My criteria: find someone talented, creative, innovative, and close to home. Imagine my surprise and joy at finding the amazingly talented Kristina Giedra, who lives a mere 5 minute drive from my house!

From the first moment we met - we clicked. I showed her a photo of my dress, she said: "no problem." Her price was so reasonable, I didn't quibble. I chose a lovely understated 'beachy' mid-weight creamy crepe, then she sent me to Joann's Fabrics. I purchased the fabric, then Kristina and I realized that the dress needed a liner. So back to Joann's I went, this time with Mr. G - and that's when the whole script completely flipped...

Sparkle Plenty!

While we were wandering up and down aisles of fabric, looking for liner material, Mr. G picked up a bolt of the most gorgeous sparkly netted-fabric, turned to me and declared: "I like want this one. You should wear Stars." I instantly knew this fabric truly was the one (it drips Boho-Beach Style Parisien); and decided to design the dress myself. We returned the practical crepe - what was I thinking? Shame on me for muting my Diva! - and purchased 2 1/2 yards of this wondrous sparkly netting! I spent a night working on my design, then presented it to Kristina. She loved it and added her own expertise (my Twenty-dress literally flows and sparkles along every line of my body, hides my flaws and makes spectacular my assets) and then there's the rhinestone straps - et voila! 

Just a sneak peak...but of course there's a train. Diva!

Vivre! Rire! Aimer!

Kristina and I

love is in the air

"Love is in the air, everywhere I look around." - John Paul Young

This summer marks Mr. G's and my 20th wedding anniversary - wow, time sure does fly! On our wedding day in 1997, we promised each other that we would renew our vows every decade. We did in 2007 (with our beloved children by our side). Now, seemingly in the blink of an eye, we're approaching another 10 years of love, laughter and adventure - and we gonna to celebrate! 

For years now, we've known exactly where we want to celebrate Twenty - the Gold Coast; and who we want to celebrate with: ma mere divine, our beautiful children, Coco and 20 of our closest family and friends - an intimate, elegant, personal gathering. The theme: Boho-Beach avec Style Parisien. After deciding on the summer date, I asked our priest (who officiated our wedding and 10th renewal ceremonies) to officiate Twenty - he said yes! Second, I reserved the Gold Coast beach house. Third, I found and booked an amazing local photographer. Then the fun really began...

"We believe in celebrations both big and small." - Kate Spade

There are so many moving parts in planning a wedding, after a brief search I decided on this Kate Spade wedding planner ($50). As gorgeous and large as it is, it doesn't have enough folders. So I decided to make my own - using Cavallini file folders, with three gorgeous colorful themes: Paris, Butterflies and Birds (12/$20, Amazon has the largest selection), an adjustable 3 ring hole punch, scissors, and clear packing tape. 

I've got the major pieces in place, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Next there's: finding a caterer (choosing the menu), flowers, the cake, invitations, I'm creating two Paris Playlist(s), and the DRESS. I freely admit that planning to 'marry' my Mr. Gorgeous again has me feeling like an ingenue. I can't wait to share my journey with you. Can you tell how much fun I'm having? ;-} 

Vivre! Rire! Aimer!


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

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