"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

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Walk on...

"When you walk through a storm 
hold your head up high and don't be afraid of the dark.
At the end of the storm there's a golden sky...Walk on.
Walk on with hope in your heart. 
And you'll never walk alone."
- Rogers and Hammerstein (1945)

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Paris Playlist #21 - Générique

"Don't play what's there, play what's not there." 
- Miles Davis

In November 1958, Miles Davis traveled to Paris for a month long engagement at Club Saint Germain. He wound up staying a few extra days when he was asked to record the score to the film noir classic - Ascenseur pour l'échafaud. Along with three native Frenchmen and one expatriate, the quintet recorded the entire soundtrack during the first few days of December, without relying on written material - by watching the movie on a screen in front of them and improvising - playing what was not there. "Generique" is the first track. It's haunting, sensual, melancholy, brilliant. Paris.

"Générique," Ascenseur pour l'échafaud 

Miles Davis Quintet:
Miles Davis (Trumpeter)
Barney Wilen (Soprano Saxophonist)
Rene Urtreger (Pianist)
Kenny Clark (Drums)  

Vivre, Rire, Aimer,

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

the Bees Knees

"The keeping of bees is like the direction of sunbeams."
- Henry David Thoreau

I am so proud and excited - my latest Postcard TO Paris is live at Belle Inspiration! Under the divine direction of the fantabulous Mimi, this already gorgeous online magazine has taken some time off to update, refreshen and is more beautiful than ever: photos are bigger (and even more gorgeous), the articles - wow. If you don't have a subscription, you need to get one dès que possible! I am so grateful that I'm a member of this team. If only I could be there everyday. I miss Paris. Sigh... 

Vivre! Rire! Aimer!

With Rik, Master Bee Keeper

Sunday, August 16, 2015

the righteous mighty...

14 January 1940-15 August 2015

American social activist, leader of the Civil Rights Movement, politician, professor, writer, 
one of the righteous mighty.

23 March 1963, Atlanta, Georgia

They organized, lobbied, boycotted, walked, marched, sat-in. They fought for the rights(s) of full citizenship; risking life, limb and simple comfort - for us. All of us. And though they were beaten, jailed and killed, they would not be moved. They changed the world. And I am so grateful. There are so few of the righteous mighty left. Now there is one less.


Thursday, August 13, 2015


"Montréal is a very cosmopolitan, 
sophisticated, erudite, educated glorious city..."
- William Shatner

A simple white envelope arrived in the evening post five months ago. Inside was an elegant black card with beautiful vintage script in white. It was a wedding invitation, from a couple especially dear to Mr. Gorgeous and I. We love to travel. We love weddings! A destination wedding, of good friends, in a city with deep French roots, was the cherry on top. 

"I get ideas about what's essential
when packing my suitcase."
- Diane von Furstenberg

Montréal is only an 1hr/40min flight from Chicago - so we decided to make a long romantic weekend of it (Friday to Monday). Mr. G handled all of the travel 'stuff': plane tickets (frequent flyer miles - yay!) and hotel (my love of intimate boutique hotels had to give way to practical credit card points - long suffering sigh). I handled the most important part - what I was going to wear, where we'd go,  and where we'd dine...

Coming in for a landing

While I wasn't thrilled about staying in a 'big box' hotel, we did stay in a spotless, luxuriously appointed (though viewless and dark) three-room suite with a kitchen, fireplace and jacuzzi. And the staff was very friendly and extremely helpful in all things. But, most importantly, the hotel was at the edge of the section of the city we most wanted to explore - Vieux-Montréal  

Vendredi (Friday)...
Since we landed in the city around lunch time and had a wedding rehearsal dinner to get to, our 1st day was a short one. After we checked in and dropped our bags, we hit the streets. Bien sur, our first destination was a restaurant - Les 400 Coups. While the overly fussy, minuscule food portions, were not our cup of tea, the gorgeous romantic-contemporary decor, friendly atmosphere, waitstaff and delicious affordably priced wine list were the perfect way to begin our trip.

Next,  our absolute favorite thing to do - anywhere, everywhere. A little aimless wandering...

My first impression(s)? Vieux-Montréal is interesting, exciting, urban/urbane with a healthy dose of old world French influence.  It's a complex arrondissement; bordered on all sides by distinct districts (financial, Gay, Latin, Chinatown) and Vieux-Montréal is infused with the flava of each. 

Samedi (Saturday)...
Our 2nd day was a short one too (pre-wedding family bar-b-que) but we started much earlier...



On this day we discovered Place Jacques-Cartier... 

Transformed into a public square in 1803, the broad sloping
Place Jacques-Cartier is Vieux-Montréal's
 main local and tourist thoroughfare  

The wide carless street is lined, on both sides, 
with amazing restaurants; down the center - kiosks & street artists. We quickly found a place for champagne breakfast - Jardin Nelson

A riotously flower bedecked terrace, 
fresh delicious food, perfectly chilled bubbly, 
live jazz inside (discreetly piped onto the terrace), 
excellent people watching = absolument, oui!

On Friday, we walked past an enchanting open double doorway that beckoned. On Saturday we answered the call and discovered La Maison Pierre du Calvet...

Built in 1725, La Maison Pierre du Calvet was formerly a sprawling private home that is now a luxury 9 room, completely over the top, ridiculously romantic hotel. Each room leads to another...

There's a restaurant, library and a fantabulous 
greenhouse that houses brilliantly colored Parrots.
But the best part is the terrace/cafe - 
aptly named the Secret Garden...

Dimanche (Sunday) - Wedding Day...
Luckily for us, the wedding was scheduled to begin very late in the afternoon - which left plenty of time for Mr. G and I to continue our explorations. The city doesn't fully awaken until about 11 a.m. Since we were up and out so early, we got to watch the city wake up: shop owners, hoteliers and restauranteurs preparing for the day.  

The day before, Mr. G pointed out a swanky looking terrace 
on Place Jacques-Cartier -Restaurant Harlow
Bien sur, our lunch destination. 
And it was pretty amazing...

Missing Coco :-{

At the top of Place Jacques-Cartier is a tented band stand.
The day before I noticed speakers affixed to every street light, I wondered why.  On Sunday I got my answer. 

Directly across from Restaurant Harlow, we had the perfect view of the string quartet. Their gorgeous classical music was piped through all those street speakers. 
 Il était merveilleux! 

After our best meal in Montréal, time for a wedding

The wedding was gorgeous, elegant, perfect. The bride - STUNNING  (her smile, her dress and flowers sent me over the moon!). The groom - so HANDSOME and the way he looked at his bride - full of love and promise, sigh... Their vows - sweet, tender (yeah, I cried - a lot). The guests - a loving, welcoming, raucously joyous bunch. The venue (unique, intimate, lit with a thousand candles - just BEAUTIFUL). The music (we danced from first cocktail, during dinner, 'til the wee hours).

A beautiful romantic evening with my forever love

*The newlyweds have asked for their privacy (hence I'm sharing only these two photos). But I'm hoping I'll soon have their permission to dedicate an entire post to their truly extraordinary, love filled happy day. Stay tuned... 

Lundi (Monday)...

Mr. G chose the latest returning flight home, so we had an entire morning to say goodbye. After we checked out of the hotel, and gave our luggage to the concierge (to hold until we returned to take a cab to the airport), we wandered down the cobblestoned streets of Vieux-Montréal one last time to Terrasse Nelligan  at Hotel Nelligan...

Hotel Nelligan is an ultra hip, luxurious boutique hotel nestled in the heart of Vieux-Montréal. The hotel boasts a stunning rooftop terrace restaurant. The champagne was excellent, the food just good, but the very best thing about this place was the truly amazing 360 degree view of the city.

On this last day, especially, we really appreciated that this city is so slow to awaken. The terrace was completely empty. We dined, sipped, snuggled, and kissed amongst the clouds - with spectacular views of the port and the Montréal skyline.

A bit of chocolate and cocoa to send us on our way.

We also talked about what we had experienced in our too short 3 1/2 days: how refreshing and wonderful it was to speak French barely an hour from home; how the energy of the streets and the people-vibe reminded us of our beloved Chicago (a large cosmopolitan town, with small town sensibilities), the distinct French vibe that fed our Francophile (if not my Parisienne) - a unique flavor we didn't know existed, nor had any idea we'd crave.

As I sat on the tarmac I was fully aware that Mr. G and I had barely scratched the surface of Montréal, but we fell in love with this city nonetheless. And our tiny taste has only whetted our appetite for more. While we waited for our plane to taxi down the runway, Mr. G and I were already planning our return. We want to discover and explore Montréal's museums and art galleries, it's shopping, dining and nightlife. We're eager to share this city with our children - a game of football in the park. I can't wait to sit at Restaurant Harlow's terrace with Dorothy - sipping champagne, Coco on my lap; dance to Cole Porter at Jardin Nelson with my love...

Vivre! Rire! Aimer!

Monday, August 10, 2015

a most excellent adventure...

"The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected."
- Robert Frost

Everything was set: the house was spotless, the flowers arranged in vases and in pots, had my outfit all picked out. I was all ready for my magazine shoot. Then a change of plans... my good friend and stylista guru - Jane - graciously offered to not only style my shoot but the use of her gorgeous boutique. Of course I said yes and the photographer - Michael - kindly agreed to change the date and location literally at the spur of the moment. My daughter (Sage) asked if she could go with me so she could photograph the shoot. So, this morning, I loaded Sage and Coco into the car and headed to Geneva, Illinois...

When we arrived, Jane had four fantabulous looks ready - we chose two. Damn but Jane is talented! After spending only a little bit of time with a woman, she is able to pick pieces and/or a head-to-toe look that is perfectly suited to a woman's body and personality. 

Thirty minutes prep, Michael arrived - go time...

Violet Gown: BCBG

Quick peek, then we moved inside

Jane weaving her magic

Green gown with black edging: Jay Godfrey

I did my own make up. Since I'm so darkly tanned (from mommy-chauffering in my convertible and my recent family-sojourn to the beach) all of my makeup is too light. So just mascara, blush and lipgloss. Of course I also wrangled my Nappity Nap.

Fun shot: Coco (in the foreground), 
Jane's pooch - Valentino (on the rug).

Today was extremely surreal - me, wearing gorgeous clothes, having pictures taken by a professional photographer, for a magazine spread! And I'm woman enough to admit that I was very nervous about doing this - it's so much easier and way less stressful to be behind the camera than in front of it. As I was looking through Sage's photos I kept thinking: I would never have been brave enough to do this ten, even twenty, years ago. But here's the thing...

I felt beautiful, and strong, and sensual. And it wasn't because of the gorgeous clothes or the ridiculously talented photographer (okay, not just because ;-} It's because I really and truly accept, embrace and love 46 year old me and all the gifts this age bestows (see the opening quote). Oh don't get me wrong, I still struggle with aging gracefully (facial lines, gray hair, failing eye-sight, four-baby-belly, a stubbornly big booty). But an integral, hard earned and won part of aging gracefully is maturity, wisdom, and the freedom that comes with choosing to live, love and enjoy life on one's own terms. That's what today was and it was, indeed, a  most excellent adventure.

Vivre! Rire! Aimer!


Lunch w/ Sage- 

Friday, August 07, 2015

and so my garden grows...

"Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?
With Silver Bells, And Cockle Shells, 
And so my garden grows."
- English Nursery Rhyme (1744)

It's funny how an experience can trigger a cherished memory which, in turn, can lead to completely unexpected inspiration...

A few weeks ago I got a phone call from the editor of Glancer Magazine. Glancer is a lovely print and online publication that exclusively carries features and articles about the small group of towns I live among (dining, arts, entertainment, events, etc.) One of their monthly features is about one 'fashionable woman about town:' a short bio, where she likes to shop, eat, party, relax, etc. The feature is called "Girl's Just Want to Have Fun." I've been chosento be that 'fashionable woman about town' for their September issue - how cool is that?! In addition to a questionnaire, the magazine arranges for a photo shoot at the locale of my choosing - the place I love the most, that makes me the happiest. The decision was easy...my home. When I spoke to the photographer, he asked that I choose a place inside and outside of my home for the shoot.

Bien sur, for the interior - my 'White Room.' For the exterior - the little landing outside my front door.   On it there's just enough room for my lit Eiffel Tower, two chairs and a table. 

So I went to my trusty local Trader Joe's for flowers for my 'White Room' and a few pots of flowers for my little outdoor table. But when I had arranged my outdoor flowers, my little perch was still too empty. So I added two large pots of the most gorgeous pink Hydrangeas.

But it still wasn't enough. So I went to my favorite local nursery - Platt Hill. I hadn't been there in years. And as I wandered up and down the verdant rows of plants, grasses, trees and flowers, I started thinking about my garden - long gone now (I couldn't be a new mother and a gardener). I'd always planned to plant a new garden. Still wasn't sure that I could, but I still chose self sowing annuals and perennials.

I spent this entire day with my hands deep in the dirt - what a forgotten joy! As my eldest was helping me unload my car, lay out my beautiful finds, and plant them - it hit me. My children are 14, 12 and 10. I now have the time and space to garden again and now I have helpers ;-}

My template - I'll start on the right-hand side.
After tomorrow's photo shoot, the pink Hydrangeas are going into the ground.

I've always wanted an English Country Garden. I think it's time I made that happen and you know I'm gonna blog as I go. I think I'll call my latest blog feature: "...and so my garden grows." Fall is fast approaching, so I'll have a good amount of time to plot, scheme and plan. So it will probably be quite awhile before I again post in this topic. In the meantime - calling you gardeners! I'd dearly appreciate tips and advice. 

Vivre! Rire! Aimer!


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