Cooking with Friends

This year I vow to spend more time in the kitchen, enhancing my creativity not only in my designing but in my cooking. Lucky for me, I know quite a few culinary masters and food writers and have collected their Paris inspired cookbooks. Having them within close contact should I need any help gives me all the more reason to whip up their recipes. So who are these chefs I’m lucky enough to call friends? Allow me to introduce them.

David Lebovitz doesn’t need much of an introduction. Many already read his well-known food blog and follow him in his Parisian adventures of the last 10+ years. In addition to running into David at local flea markets, I more recently caught up with him at a brunch at Treize Bakery, where he signed copies of his new book My Paris Kitchen, of which I snagged a copy. In this, his latest cookbook, David remasters the French classics in 100 sweet and savory recipes. I think I’ll try my hand at Coq au vin…

One of my favorite cookbook authors is Toronto based Laura Calder, who’s quite the culinary star in her home country, having had her own cooking show.  We met at a girls’ lunch several years ago and have remained good friends ever since. I even helped Laura design the table setting for one of her many Parisian dinner parties. (She doesn’t believe in paper napkins.) The latest of her cookbooks that I’ve added to my collection is Paris Express. I’m sure I’ll be able to handle a few of these quick, modern recipes and make both Laura and myself proud.

I met California born Emily Dilling through the expat network. Her blog Paris Paysanne is dedicated to Paris produce markets and the people behind them. Her passion for artisanal and craft food grew into her book, My Paris Market Cookbook. Not only does she share her market recipes, but the book is filled with farm-to-table restaurants, natural wine bars, organic breweries and urban gardens. The perfect handbook for food lovers!

Yoga always seems to create positive connections in my life. One of them is Lora Krulak, a nutritionist, chef and fellow New Yorker. I was impressed by all her knowledge on health and wellness, and quickly she became my (and many others) nutritional muse. Her blog provides sage advice about eating and living well. In her book Veggies for Carnivores, Lora demonstrates how easy and exciting it is to cook with vegetables, while taking us on her around-the-world travels.

Rebecca Leffler and I met years ago at a Parisian soirée and became fast friends. In the last few years, this east coast expat has created quite a name for herself in what she calls the “Green & Glam” movement. Her blog La Fleur Paris NY shares her discoveries, recipes, events and food demos in both Paris and New York. Rebecca’s most recent contribution to green living is a collection of 150 recipes in her book Green, Glam & Gourmande (in French) and Très Green, Très Clean, Très Chic, the English version. Warning: uncontrollable laughter may ensue.

I met Ann Mah at one of her book signings at the American Library in Paris after reading her first book, Kitchen Chinese. I was interested to learn more about this woman who writes so engagingly about food and travel. Her blog is a collection of tales from Paris and New York, as told by cooking. Her latest book Mastering the Art of French Eating, documents Ann’s journey around France while discovering the truth behind the country’s regional dishes, recipes included. Rumor has it she’s finishing her third book…

I could very well relate to Kristen Beddard when we first me. An ambitious New Yorker ready to plant seeds in Paris, but how? Over time she settled in to her new life, found her path, and planted her kale seeds. Through her blog The Kale Project, this “Kale Crusader” as The New York Times coined her, succeeded in bringing this forgotten superfood back to the French capital. In her memoir Bonjour Kale, she endearingly articulates her story of life and love in Paris, while sharing her fondness for kale through recipes collected since childhood.

Hope these inspiring friends will help you hone your skills in the kitchen, and keep you healthy and well fed. Follow along as I share my culinary adventures on Instagram.

 

celebrating four years

Today marks four years since that magical day in Monterosso, our wedding on the sea. To mark the occasion, I thought who better to capture my Italian and I than Chloe Lodge, a friend and photographer whose work I have admired since she lived in Paris. During her recent trip to the City of Lights we met her at our favorite apéro spot Café SaintRégis.

CLP_04From there we walked through Île de la Cité enjoying the sunshine on a perfect spring day.

CLP_13CLP_14As natural as it felt, I knew Chloe and her camera were watching us. My Italian lightened the mood with his humor. I could not help but to smile as we danced along the Seine…

CLP_34CLP_36CLP_37This time was precious. There was nowhere to be but in the moment. In love.

CLP_18 CLP_28Time passes so quickly. Thank you Chloe, for helping to savour it, one moment at a time.

playtime at palais-royal

I first met Susan of Fleurishing over brunch in Paris, almost one year ago. I had been reading her design and lifestyle blog for years prior, and was so pleased to finally meet in person! Being a devoted francophile, and now the mother of twins (who I have been slightly obsessed with via Susan’s instagram feed), this year Susan planned a trip with her entire family, little Marie and Henry included! Not sure if I was more excited to see her again and meet Mr. Fleurishing, or get to play and cuddle with the twins. Let’s say, both. We met at Palais-Royal, and it was love at first sight, at least for me. Here’s a little impromptu photoshoot, the twins dressed all in Gap kids. What good sports they were!

IMG_8866 IMG_8872 IMG_8874 IMG_8877  Honestly, I couldn’t stop running around with these kids, such fun, and so much energy!

HenryMarieSusan and her husband are truly blessed with these darlings! I look forward to the day when I will be running around Palais-Royal chasing my own little creation… or two.

Christmas in Paris

Friend and fellow traveler Lynne Martin, author of Home Sweet Anywhere (a book I highly recommend) and blogger at Home Free Adventures, asked me to describe celebrating Christmas in Paris as an expat. I took a moment to think about what makes the city of lights even brighter during the holidays, and having spent many a holiday season in Paris, here is what I came up with. You an also find this article online at TravelSmith!

What is it about Christmas time in Paris that truly captivates the senses? Where to begin…

The intimacy of the sidewalk cafes with their heat lamps and blankets, beneath which you can indulge in a glass of seasonal mulled wine. The street vendors selling roasted chestnuts on many a corner. The annual holiday markets scattered around the city, revealing an array of artisanal gift ideas. But I suspect it’s the culinary specialties from various regions of France that draw the crowds. My favorites include raclette and the more decadent tartiflette, hailing from the Haute-Savoie.

Known for their pâtisseries, it’s no surprise that the French celebrate Christmas with cake. The bûche de Noël originally represented the yule log, a sponge cake with a bark-like texture made of buttercream. Many variations can be found around Paris, each more decadent than the last. Beginning in late December, pastry shops in Paris fill their windows with galettes des rois, or King Cake, to celebrate the Epiphany on January 6th. A good luck charm called la fève is baked inside this puff pastry filled with frangipane, and whoever’s piece contains la fève is crowned king or queen for the day. The cobbled streets sparkle, each dressed in it’s own string of holiday lights. The Champs Elysées glows the brightest of all, each year in late November a lighting ceremony takes place, with thousands of fairy lights lit along this grand boulevard. Yet another reason why Paris is so often referred to as the City of Lights.

At the grands magasins including Printemps, Galeries Lafayette, Le Bon Marché, and Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville, the window displays are reminiscent of theatre sets, revealing animated Christmas scenes that leave both young and old marveling. Often a family trip is taken to view these story-telling windows.

We cannot forget the celebrated churches. My first Christmas in Paris was spent at Notre Dame Cathedral. The choir alone was worth braving the crowds, as they filled the 800 year old space with song, a midnight mass never to be forgotten. Even passing by the Notre Dame by night, the majestic sparkling Christmas tree will take your breath away.

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Wherever you are in the world, I wish you happy holidays + a bright and happy new year!

Follow my holiday adventures in Andalucia, Spain, via instagram and facebook.

The Dream Life of Diana Antholis

I liked Diana the moment I met her. She possesses strength in her manner, her eyes sparkle with optimism, and her deep voice exudes confidence. We first met at the women’s group we belong to, and soon after we shared thoughts about leaving New York and starting life in Paris, as well as the trials and thrills of running a business. I have yet to join Diana on a Paris workout (but I certainly will) and am a big fan of her book, filled with wise advice on how to live a more healthy, balanced, and yes, sexy life. Her story (and her book) is certain to inspire!

IMG_4750ppDecember 20, 2013 was a day of YES. I said yes to the marriage proposal and my new fiancé accepted the contract for a new job in Paris. Two months later, we arrived at Charles de Gaulle on a rainy morning, hardly believing what we had just done. 
 
Rewind a few months and if you told us we would be living in Paris now, we would have laughed (even though my now-husband is French.) We had a beautiful life in New Jersey and New York City. My husband had a solid job and absolutely adored the USA (and still does), but he was looking for a greater challenge. I had most of my business connections, my best friends, and family, but wasn’t ready to “settle” in the suburbs of New Jersey. Actually, our eyes were focused on California. My time living in San Diego was wonderful and we both knew the California lifestyle would fit us perfectly. But then, in what felt like a blink of an eye, my husband was recruited rapidly by a company he used to work for in Paris. Questions arose: Could we live in Paris? Is this good for my business? Is now the right time? Would we love our lives there?
 

I was scared. Even though I had dreams of living abroad during my lifetime and felt a strong pull towards Paris, I truly never planned any kind of move. I figured marrying a Frenchman would fulfill my French dream, as we would be traveling there at least once a year to visit his family in Normandy.

Diana Upward Dog la SeineWe ultimately decided that it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass on. My business is online, so I could easily continue my work as an Author and Healthy Lifestyle Coach. Helping women live the balanced, centered, and sexy lives they deserve worldwide didn’t limit me to a particular timezone. I had big plans for my business, and I could easily continue in Paris. 
 
I was actually reading my own book to get through my nerves about moving abroad. Don’t get me wrong, I was incredibly excited, but all of the what ifs creeped into my brain, especially knowing that I had to re-learn French. I had moved across the country before (NYC to San Diego, San Diego to Washington D.C., then back to NYC) but I never had to learn a new language to live in those cities. But, in true Diana fashion, I pushed forward because I knew I was going to make it. I had no other choice. This is what I help women deal with on a daily basis: following their intuitions, pushing through the what ifs, and creating lives they love.

Diana Luxembourg Stretch

I’ve been called the fastest expat transition in Paris. On my second day here, I went to a women’s networking group meeting, the Paris Women of Success. Freshly jet lagged, the group gave me a round of applause for putting myself out there when I hadn’t even been living in my new city for 24 hours.

Ten months have flown by already. I have expanded my online business to an in-person element in Paris doing workouts in the parks and have big plans for an Unleash Your Sexy Experience launch in 2015, online and in-person. Plus, many of the women of Paris (francaise et expatriee!) have been using my book “Unleashed” as their lifestyle bibles. I have made new friends from all over the world. I know my way around the city and actually can get certain places without the Maps app on my phone (big success for me). I have travelled so much of France and was able to take weekend trips to London and Rome. I have a wonderful life in Paris. 

Diana 1My husband works 12-hour days (sometimes more) so I’ve been on my own for most of this. We enjoy weekends together, though he jokes that he knows Paris through my Instagram feed. He’s been incredibly supportive and happy with my transition and luckily shares the same experiences from when he moved to the USA. I took French courses for the first nine weeks I was in Paris and practice with my local boulanger and new family when I see them. I’m proud of myself that I feel comfortable enough with the language to have conversations and get what I want! It’s not always easy living in Paris. I’ve had my fair share of rudeness and bureaucracy. Even being married didn’t make the visa and immigration process facile. But I made a very important decision when I arrived: I always have a choice, and I choose happiness.

Diana 2What have you overcome because you chose happiness? Or what can you overcome now to find happiness?  Leave a comment and like the Unleash Your Sexy Facebook Page to be entered to win a copy of Diana’s best-selling book “Unleashed: Live the Balanced, Centered, and Sexy Life You Deserve.” And follow Diana on Twitter & Instagram!

13-a baker’s dozen

Last Sunday I attended, assisted and feasted at a grand brunch for 25, with David Lebovitz as the guest of honor. The hostess was Laurel of 13-a baker’s dozen, one of my favorite lunch spots in Saint Germain, with home cooked specialties. Also, my first choice for coffee and dessert (specifically Laurel’s famous carrot cake). This too is one of the locales where I hold my bag painting workshops.

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Friends uniting over food and conversation. An ideal Sunday.

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I’ve met David on several occasions and couldn’t wait to read My Paris Kitchen.

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What could be better than tasting recipes from David’s new book?

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Have I mentioned the carrot cake?

photo 8Melissa of Prête-Moi Paris and I took photos and helped to make everyone feel at home, and of course we dined like queens! I’m already looking forward to the next brunch… at David’s?

come to the edge

Some of the most interesting and inspiring people, I’ve met along the path of travel. Through our shared affinity for culture and adventure, our lives converge, in a place often unexpected. This was the case with Christina Haag during our recent journey to Serifos, Greece. Via my latest fascination with instagram (obsession is a strong word) I discovered another New Yorker on the island and we met for a local rakomelo. I immediately took a liking to this warm and engaging woman who had in the weeks preceding our visit, made this island her temporary home. Most of the tourists had left for Athens or their respective cities, leaving us time to enjoy what often felt like a private island.

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One of the most memorable days in Serifos was spent with Christina and my Italian, light and happy, dining in a taverna overlooking a serene beach. It was there, along the banks of Platys Gialos that Christina shared her stories with me, and I with her. We spoke freely about life and love, our shared passion for Greece, New York, the Hamptons, travel. We spent the early evening driving along the scenic roads, often stopping to admire a view, with Christina as our guide. A few dinners and many conversations followed, we even joined her for a Panagyria festival with the locals.

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Christina’s life read much like a book, and I was pleased to learn that she had recently written a memoir. Come to the Edge reminisces on a life of privilege in old New York City, her successes and trials as an actress, and a five year long love affair with John F. Kennedy Jr. A life lived with passion.

Christina's book

From Serifos to Paris, Christina’s stories continued as I lost myself in the soulful words of her memoir. I felt as though I were living these experiences myself, and could not stop reading. I was reminded of our conversations, of how she felt compelled to tell her story, rightfully so, spending months writing in the Hamptons, long after her dear friend and great love’s life had tragically ended.

Christina & John

Christina lives by her heart. For this, I admire her, and feel grateful to have shared our own chapter.

Christina Haag-profileChristina is giving away a copy of her book to one lucky reader. To enter, follow Christina Haag on Facebook and tell us your favorite quote on love or life, below. (Random winner will be announced on November 15th, good luck!) You can also follow Christina on Twitter and Instagram. Incidentally, for those in Paris, there’s an exhibition about the Kennedy family going on until November 30th.

Within you, your years are growing. – Pablo Neruda

 

art in the park

Traveling from Paris to London via Eurostar takes just as much time as traveling from New York City to my home in Westhampton Beach via LIRR. With a commute of just over 2 hours, whenever London calls, I answer. My latest chunnel journey was in search of fabrics. While in Londontown there was much going on in the art world (good timing!). In addition to a Paul Klee exhibition at the Tate Modern, followed by a chance Paul McCartney concert in Covent Garden (have I mentioned that timing is everything?), one of my highlights was an afternoon spent at the Frieze Masters.

IMG_2509Many great works to be found within the tents of Regent’s Park.

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Some of the most interesting artworks I discovered in the park itself. Looks like fabric!

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This piece reminded me of Richard Serra, whom I adore.

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Was most impressed by this larger than life face, changing as you moved around it.

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Reflecting on the artful day.

IMG_2559To accompany the art tour, the sun shone brightly. A perfect day in the park.

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fit for a king

A few weeks ago a dear family friend was in town. Since she’s already seen much of Paris, I planned a day of historic elegance in a landscape not too far away. We boarded a bus on an overcast morning, and soon arrived to the legendary, and now private estate, Château de Vaux le Vicomte.

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Here began our adventure into the life of Nicolas Fouquet, who created this 17th century castle.

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This majestic masterpiece was a collaboration between architect Louis Le Vau, the painter Charles Le Brun and the landscape gardener André Le Nôtre. A ‘home and garden’ to be admired by all.

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Yet the story behind Monsieur Fouquet and his château is a unique and tragic one.

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In brief, after throwing a lavish party in his new home, Fouquet was arrested by Louis XIV (who had plotted against him out of jealousy), and spent his remaining days behind bars, unlawfully so.

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In the famous words of Voltaire, “On 17 August at 6 in the evening, Fouquet was King of France; at 2 in the morning, he was nobody”.

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As we wandered the château and landscape, the gray sky set a sobering mood. At once in awe and aghast at the history lesson upon us. Certainly a castle fit for a king, perhaps even too much so.

for the ladies

What makes a perfect ladies night? How about champagne, macarons, nude men and good friends? That’s exactly the ladies night I just had the pleasure of indulging in. Following a Girls Guide to Paris soirée to launch their new magazine, I met girlfriends at the Musee d’Orsay. That’s where we found the nude men. Did I neglect to mention they were sculpted?

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Rarely in history has the male nude, the basis of Academic art training, been displayed the way the beauty of the nude woman has, and still is. The Musee d’Orsay decided to change this by curating the exhibition, Masculine / Masculine. Their aim is to take an “interpretive, playful, sociological and philosophical approach to exploring all aspects and meanings of the male nude in art.”

IMG_1981And how pleased are we women? And quite a fair share of men too.

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What most impressed me was the variety of artworks in view.

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From Rodin to Bacon, Warhol, Pierre et Gilles, Cocteau, Flandrin and many more masters.

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There was certainly a fair share of ogling by eager onlookers, but well worth braving the crowds.

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And worth snapping a few photos, even though it was forbidden. Shhhh!

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If you are in Paris, grab your girlfriends (or go solo) and head to the Orsay!

Exhibition ends January 2nd.

hidden romanticism

Clandestinely situated down a long alleyway on an unassuming street in the 9eme arrondissement, sits the house of painter Ary Scheffer, also known as the Musée de la Vie Romantique (Museum of the Romantics). How did I not know about this earlier? I decided to venture there on a sunny morning, with friend and fellow romantic Jacquelyn, to explore this artist’s home, dedicated to the arts and literature of the first half of the XIXth century. Truly a hidden gem!

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It is here that much of writer George Sand‘s memorabilia are displayed including portraits, pens, jewelry… even her hair! An impressive collection. Incidentally, this famous writer and mistress of Chopin, once lived on my street in the Marais!

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After touring the house’s many chambers, filled with landscape paintings by George Sand and portraits by Ary Scheffer, we took our romantic musings to the garden.

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A memorable morning spent with the romantics… and a new favorite hideaway in Paris.

Musée de la Vie Romantique
16 rue Chaptal 75009

time travel

As many times as I’ve stepped onto an airplane, crossing a continent, it never ceases to amaze me how in mere hours you can be transported through time, or so it feels. Most recently I flew from Pisa, near Monterosso where my Italian and I spent the weekend with his family and friends…

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…to New York City, to visit my family and friends. From what felt like the past, to the future.

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Could there be any two places on the earth more different yet equally loved? Yes, certainly there are. But these are mine. Two very distinct and disparate parts of the world I call home. One for it’s calm and beauty, and one for it’s energy and innovation. And both for their culture. Not to mention all the other parts of the world that became home even for a brief moment. Ah yes, and then there’s Paris…

love in the city of spices

If I moved to Istanbul, this is what I would call my blog, love in the city of spices. Or perhaps love of the city of spices, as this is a city that I have a great fondness for,  and cannot even begin to describe exactly why. Istanbul is a place that must be experienced from the inside, with it’s rich history and rapid modernization. Certainly a cultural mecca. But alas, my story is being written in Paris, and it is my dear friend Karen (with whom I have shared many an adventure in our 20 years of friendship) that is living beneath the minarets.

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My first visit to Istanbul had been during my year of travel, I ran around the city in a daze, completely taken with the sights, sounds and tastes. On that trip I woke up in Asia and spent my days in Europe. This transcontinental life can only be possible in Istanbul.

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On this trip, my Italian’s first to Istanbul, we were lucky to be in the company of Karen and her husband (and two darling Turkish-American daughters). Emre, being a part-time professional tour guide, gave us a tour to remember. From the Blue Mosque to the Hagia Sophia, to the Grand Bazaar to the Spice Market, with many secret stops along the way.  What better introduction?

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The interior of the Hagia Sophia is a sight to behold, with a ceiling of gold.

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On my last visit, I barely stepped foot in the Topkapi Palace. On this trip we spent hours exploring this, the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans for around 400 years. Enchanting!

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But it was the time with friends that provided the most memories. Many a night was spent over dinner with a view, catching up on our lives in two very unique and contrasting cities.

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And it was with Karen and Emre that we traveled from Europe to Asia.

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Dinner with a view.

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So much more to see, feel and taste! Already we are looking forward to the next visit…

people and places

Over three years ago I moved to Paris, knowing only one person, my Italian. Him being the reason for my move. I tried not to focus too much on the active social life I left behind in NYC, or even whether I would find another one. I felt confident in my path and though I dearly missed my friends those first years (and still do), I enjoyed the time we shared with Paris as our sole companion.

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Last week, in planning a surprise birthday party for my Italian, I realized how full our lives have become. Not simply with frivolous goings on in the form of gallery openings and happy hours (though we enjoy our share of those too), but with quality time spent with people we admire and appreciate, our friends. I consider myself lucky in this regard, building friendships that last through time and travels. After all, is not the place where we live (though Paris is indeed one of the most beautiful), but it is the people with whom we share this life. That is where true happiness lies.

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Thank you dear friends (and readers) for being part of this journey!

L’Amour (or less)

One of the great joys of living as an expat in Paris is that it has exposed me to other like-minded Americans, who equally find their creative voice and pursue their dreams, on French soil. Whether it be in the form of American-style cupcakes, sweet stories, designer pillows, or even treasure hunts in the Louvre, each of these women is following her passion. I am proud to be among them.

Most recently another friend and fellow expat has spoken, this time through film. An actress and film-maker from NYC, Jennifer Geraghty arrived to Paris no more than 2 year ago, and now, she has a few stories to tell. Namely, all about the romantic tales between expats and the French. All true stories, not all her own. Certainly enough to entice any  mademoiselle or monsieur out there who wonders about dating in the French capital! Have a look, listen, and share the love! Jennifer and her collaborator Alexis are in the midst of raising funds via kickstarter to turn these tales into a series of short stories, 12 of which are already written. To learn more, here’s their website.

To add a little incentive in the form of Kasia Dietz handbags, I’ve designed a custom hand-painted tote for those able to donate a generous sum. More info on their kickstarter page

L'Amour (or less) tote by Kasia Dietz

May these tales of LAmour (or less) come to life!

giving thanks

No better day than today, Thanksgiving to those of us from America, to give thanks. What exactly am I grateful for? Where to begin… When I think back to my first year in Paris, feasting at a faux American restaurant in the rive gauche with people I barely knew, feeling lost and less than grateful to be dining on what tasted like a microwave turkey meal. Three years later I am dining in style with close friends, as I do many nights. Thus begins my list of gratitude. Something we should all be mindful of, all year long.

1. good friends (I’ve even made a few French girlfriends, not an easy feat!)

2. a doting and darling Italian (even with my moods… perhaps this should be #1)

3. my ever supportive and loving mom (what would I do without her!)

4. the ability to communicate in foreign tongues (particularly the French one!)

5. a creative mind (which has allowed me to create my life, via blogging, designing, doing)

6. limitless supplies of culture in many forms (THIS is what makes me thrive in Paris)

7. travel (forever grateful to see the world!)

8. the ability (and courage) to follow my dreams

9. good health (the older I get the more I value well-being)

10. optimism (something I brought with me from the USA)

And so much more. I will remind myself of this list and continue to add to it, in moments of doubt or difficulty. Now time to celebrate life and friendship with a grand feast, American style!

Happy Thanksgiving tout le monde!

time away

Sometimes it’s important to disconnect and to live in the actual world. Versus the virtual. Those who are social media savvy know exactly what I mean! Feeling the need to connect myself with the living, in the form of my friends and family, I took off a few weeks and flew to New York.

First stop, my favorite place of carousing and chaos… Soho! Freedom tower in the distance.

Many of our days in New York City, with my Italian in tow, were spent in central park, beneath the sun, picnicing with friends or lost within a heavenly gray mist.

I could not wait to explore my old neighborhood, the Lower East Side, bustling with creative energy on every corner. Once a downtown girl… always.

These last few weeks were filled with memories. Precious time spent with my mom, both in the countryside where I was raised and in the city. Copious amounts of culture in the form of ballet, theatre, art, food… THIS is the New York I miss. But in the end, when I ran from one rendezvous to the next, catching up on lives from across the sea, wondering how I had managed to live for so long is this frenetic city, it dawned on me. A city is indeed a composition of it’s offerings but, most importantly, it’s people. And many of these people remain very dear to me.

Already, I look forward to the next visit. While happy to call Paris home.

{not just} another day

Little did I know that March 20th would forever remain a day to remember. Not merely because it’s Macaron Day, though this would certainly be reason enough to celebrate. Today marks 3 years since the dinner that started it all, after the meeting just days prior. To celebrate, I spent a memorable Paris weekend with dear friends of almost 20 years, each living their own unique love story, one in Istanbul and one in London. (Last year’s girls’ weekend was in London… next year Istanbul?) As we dined our way through Paris, we reminisced about the journeys that created our multi-cultural lives, and how much of these lives we have experienced with one another. For all of this, as our chapters continue to be written and shared, and winter turns to spring… I am grateful.

Now time to indulge in a few free macarons… I am in Paris after all!

 

London calling

Last week London called. I answered. A quick two hour jaunt via the Eurostar, and there I was.

This city that has always felt like home. Perhaps it’s the dynamic energy felt amidst the international air, much like NYC and certainly something I miss living within the calm and frenchness of Paris. The trip was one of business, as I’m currently working on a new hand-printed London Collection of handbags (where better to conduct market research?), had several shops and showrooms to meet, and equally one of pleasure. Many friends to catch up, exchanging a bottle of red for a pint of cider.

Home became close to Baker Street with a dear friend, Regents Park just minutes away.

I could not avoid central London…

What clever advertising! (Love the classic London cabs, preferably black.)

A walk around Sloane Square and into the world of eggs & Saatchi…

On my last morning I was given a tour of the colorfully posh Primrose Hill.

A walk along the canal beneath London skies, to Camden…

And back again from one world into another.

My trip happily ended in London’s evolving East, Shoreditch.

London has also called Andi of Misadventures with Andi, who just took a gastronomic tour with Context Travel… who knew what a foodie city this was!

Paris, My Sweet

“Fantasies do come true. Despite my moments of uncertainty and pangs of loneliness, I was loving life in Paris. I was so smitten with the Gallic city’s grand, plane-tree-lined boulevards and ever-so-slightly crooked side streets, its countless café terraces and the ritual of lingering on them with a single café crème or coupe de champagne.” – Amy Thomas in Paris, My Sweet

photo by Lindsey Tramuta

Amy Thomas. A writer, ad girl and francophile from New York City with a highly refined palate (and appetite) for sweets. A woman after my own heart! As fate would have it, our paths were meant to cross in Paris, where she auspiciously found herself writing ad copy for prestigious client Louis Vuitton. Pas mal! Upon meeting Amy, I immediately sensed an authenticity in her character, natural warmth, and a passion for life. Yes, we would have been friends in New York. Getting to know Amy through our shared experience of Paris, only proved that my instincts were correct. On one of these occasions, during her Croissant Smackdown (a tasting of Paris’ best buttery delicacies), Amy mentioned that she was just awarded a book deal on a project she had been working on. Sweet! I couldn’t wait to read her memoir, as only a true New Yorker in Paris could tell it.

Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate) is here! In bookstores, on amazon.com and in my personal prized book collection. February 1st Amy Thomas became a published author, not only in the New York Times, but in the world. How proud I am of mon amie!

Needless to say, I inhaled the book, much like I would a box of macarons. Pierre Hermé or Laduree. It felt as though Amy were telling me her story in person, over a chocolat chaud. From nesting in her ‘tree house’ near rue Montorgueil to her many adventures sampling the best of Paris’ pâtisseries, via vélib’ bien sûr, to her endless attempts at finding her way into the core of a fascinating (and often challenging) city and the mind of its people. The tales are both sweet and savory, and worthy of being told, in a language and manner uniquely Amy. A lot of English, a bit of French, and all heart.

Though her experiences of Paris and New York, and often finding herself torn between the two (something I well understand) Amy has proven that you need not choose pleasure or success, beauty or energy, the macaron or the cupcake. You can indeed have it all, or at least taste it all, on either side of the Atlantic. Now then, where to find the best cupcake in Paris and macaron in New York? I believe the answer lies somewhere between chapters two and five…

If you are a fellow sweet freak, or simply adore Paris (who doesn’t?), you too will savor the pages of Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate).

You can also follow Amy via facebook, twitter and on her blogs God, I Love Paris and Sweet Freak.

 

{inside} art

Art has always provided a source of inspiration, particularly modern and contemporary. Where better to lose yourself but in the mind of an eccentric artist? Lucky for me, I have several friends who moonlight as art connoisseurs, not to mention the artists I have also come to know and collect. One such friend from the early days of New York’s GenArt, invited me to the preview of FIAC, Paris’s grand international contemporary art fair. A reunion at the Grand Palais, parfait!

What contemporary masterpieces did we find within this historic setting? Many.

Beginning with Anish Kapoor.

A literary donkey by Pilar Albarracin.

The humorous and thought provoking Richard Prince.

Even a little ‘walking art’?

My retro tote felt right at home with this Julio Le Parc painting.

This Geneviève Claisse was another favorite.

I was also impressed by these six works by Charline Von Heyl. (Yes, I’m in a black and white phase.)

To end the art tour, a little color infusion with these acrylic on silk paintings by Matti Braun.

places and people

Recently I spent one week in New York City and the unavoidable question arose, NYC or Paris? Two cities replete with culture, activity and energy, in unique and varying degrees. And both cities now considered my home. I was fortunate enough to discuss life between NYC and Paris over dinner with friend, francophile and New Yorker Amy Thomas. She well articulated this dilemma that many a New Yorker who moves to Paris experiences via HiP Paris Blog in New York or Paris: Une Bonne Question. A question far more complex than ‘bagels versus baguettes’.

Did we arrive to the conclusion that you can live a simultaneous love affair with both cities? Yes.

What became quickly apparent as I caroused the streets of this city that never sleeps (clearly evident in my 6am jetlag induced walks in the East Village), was that is it not the city but the people that create the feeling of home. It was not the trendy new restaurants, art exhibitions and fashion boutiques that I was eager to indulge in. It was the people that had composed my life for so many years. The unique faces that became friends had made my life in New York feel like home. And the backdrop of a vibrant city with endless possibilities, only enhanced the moments we shared.

As the days passed I filled them with as many warm faces as possible. Catching up with friends for even just a New York minute, playing with their babies, attending the wedding of the dear friend I moved to NYC with so many years ago… and celebrating friendship with a well needed girls night.

I began to look at NYC the place as a former love that I will forever cherish. It was NYC the people that held my heart. And shared it with Paris.

motherly love

On the occasion of mother’s day, considering I recently made a dedication to my own mother, I would like to honor my many friends who are new moms. Certainly one of the most important roles in a woman’s life. A few heartfelt thoughts about ‘being a mom‘ from the lovely mamas in my life!

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Being a new mom….is the greatest and most natural sensation in the world – oh the love, love and more love!! I’m fabulously obsessed with my little “bout’chou”! – founder of Paris Popcorn, Nirit Sumeruk & Sienna

Being a mum definitely comes with its challenges but there are moments each day when my heart nearly bursts with love, pleasure and pride.  Every day I look at our little boy and feel like the luckiest person in the world…what could be more wonderful than that? – Kirsten & Conor

Becoming a mom has been the most overwhelming (physically, mentally, emotionally) and definitely the most all-encompassing feat I’ve ever attempted.  I’ve said again and again that I cannot believe that Regular People do this!  And even then they sometimes do it again!?  But when you’re in the thick of it and at these precious certain moments, you understand: it is, hands-down, the best thing that there ever was to do.  This precious person is YOU, only better – if that makes any sense.  You care about them more than you do yourself, you love them so much it physically hurts.  It’s hard to think of anything else, even and maybe especially when they are not with you…they become a part of you in the most inseparable and incredible way.  In motherhood, you give and finally live, what life has to offer. – Elena & Matias

Being a Mom asks you to be the best person you can be, every day, no days off.  And, in return, your child will smile at you each time you walk in a room, hug you anytime you feel blue and love you absolutely, without condition or judgement. – Mariel & Noémie

Being a mom is definitely the hardest thing I have ever done to date.  I now have an entirely different view of the world and the all of the mothers who make it look effortless, especially my own mother.  However, I know that the universe has it all figured out because on the days when I am so tired and I have not eaten anything or done anything on my to do list…there is always a moment when my son looks at me and gives me the biggest smile and I melt and I forget about anything other than how happy I am to be his mom. – Emily & Alan

The moment my son Teo was born I felt I became a mother. She never existed before. The woman existed, but never the mother. Being someone’s mother meant that my role in the world had changed – I wasn’t just the same old me trying to be a new, improved version. I as a mother, really and truly and forever, and the question was, what kind of person, what kind of mother would be reflected in my child’s eyes? – Khrystine & Teo

Having a baby is like falling in love- almost every day! It is not easy to balance personal goals and needs with babies. But ultimately you realize that jobs come and go, but you will always have that love in your life. – Karen, Elanur (left) & Meyra (right)

One of my first feelings as a new mom was an overwhelming sense of fear for how precious my babies are – being scared for how much I love has given way to a warmth for my whole family that goes deeper than anything I experienced before. – Rachel, Jacob & Oliver

Being a parent means knowing love without bounds and a happiness so profound it will take your breath away.  Being a parent is the single greatest thing I have ever experienced in my life. – founder of Sugar Daze cupcakes, Cat & Gisele

Simply put, having a child is the most wonderful joy I have ever experienced. I can not wait to wake up in the morning and see my son who radiates such love and enthusiasm for life. He is loved beyond belief. – Mary & Oliver

From the moment you know you are pregnant you love your baby but the moment that little person is born your heart multiplies to a size you never thought was possible. When she smiles or caresses my face as she falls asleep you think your heart might just explode out of your chest. Being a Mom is wonderful and scary in the best way possible! – Victoria & Lily Katherine

I think what I love most about being a mom is the complete intimacy I have with my boys.  It’s a definite challenge and the day-to-day of it is hardly “pretty” but there’s some true magic to it all. – Amy, Henry (left) & Jack (right)

Motherhood has changed my perspective on the world, the lengths I’m willing to take for baby piglet scares me & I have found an inner strength I didn’t know I had. – author of blog Piglet in France Sharon & her 11 day old daughter

tribute to the girls

Recently I read an article that confirmed my belief in the importance of girlfriends. It proved something along the lines of how women find comfort in other women much in the  same way that a man finds comfort in his wife or partner. This I believe, having formed several lasting female friendships throughout my life. Most of whom I am still deeply connected to.

A few weeks ago, two such dear friends and I met for a quick jaunt in London. Unabashed girl time. Karen was flying in from Istanbul (where she is living her own adventure), parting with her little girls in order to spend time with the big ones. I hopped on the train from Paris, and we both met at the home of Brandy, whose wedding we attended last Spring in a castle in Scotland.

Karen and I have been friends since the high school days (we won’t mention exactly how long ago that was…) Brandy we met during the university years when she and Karen shared a room. On my way via train I thought about our many journeys together. A spring break when Karen won a luxury trip to Jamaica and rather than inviting her then boyfriend, she brought me. (That is friendship!) There too we met Brandy for the less luxurious yet equally exciting chapter of our Jamaican holiday. (Ah the stories we can tell!) I also recalled our travels in Italy in which we drove (or can I say sped) all the way to Croatia. And never will I forget our millenium spent in Amsterdam where another friend Anna joined us, as did many a random adventure. The list of girl bonding goes on…

Rarely did we all ever live in the same city, yet both Karen & Brandy called my first NY apartment their home. So many chapters of our lives we have shared together, and continue to. Next stop Italy!

London in the rain proved the ideal background for colorful conversations and carousing…

It is friends like this that become the family we are not born with. For them, I am grateful.

The Dream Life of Amy Thomas

I liked Amy Thomas the moment I met her. Not simply because she arrived to Paris from NY (though us New Yorker’s do tend to stick together). Perhaps we bonded due to our careers in advertising or passion for writing. No. Amy is a dreamer. A romantic. A thinker. Above all, a lover of all things sweet, as she has so appropriately coined herself Sweet Freak. In her blog God, I love Paris Amy shares her nearly two-year long love affair with Paris, where she has always dreamed to live. But some romances are not meant to last. I will allow Amy to explain, in the name of love.

Can one question change your life?

I’m willing to bet a 25-piece box of Jean-Paul Hevin bonbons on it.

In 2008, I was sitting in my office, living what I considered to be a pretty dreamy life. I was single, owned my own place in the East Village, and was braving New York’s dating world. I had a great group of friends, and I liked my job as an advertising copywriter. But I loved my moonlighting dalliances even more: exploring and writing about sweets. Life was good: easy, fun, comfortable. Then my ad agency’s in-house recruiter walked into my office and nonchalantly asked:

What do you think about Paris?

Let me just pause and say—I am obsessed with Paris. Almost as obsessed as I am with sweets. So when the recruiter revealed that the Paris office of my international agency was looking for an English-speaking writer to work on the Louis Vuitton account, my first question was how soon could I leave? Of course I wanted to go live in Paris and work with one of the best fashion houses in the world. What Louboutin loving, Coco worshipping, macaron addict wouldn’t?

The only thing holding me back from the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate) was several months of bureaucracy. Five long months of waiting, the papers were finally in place (a little preview to the pace of life in Paris). I packed my laptop, clothes and black tabby cat, and then gulped, vigorously nodding my head as my doorman reminded me on the way out, “It’s like business and pleasure. You’re getting paid to do what you love.” Indeed, I was off to live my dream.

And a dream it’s been. Especially the first six months. Having arrived in early March, each new day was a little bit longer and brighter. Spring turned into summer—a beautiful and balmy season when the sun didn’t set until 10 p.m. I became an instant Velib addict, to say nothing of the sweets. I cruised from Les Petits Mitrons in the 18eme to Du Pain et des Idées in the 10eme. From Blé Sucré in the 12eme to Pain du Sucré in the 4eme. From Michel Chaudun to Michel Cluizel; from Ladurée to Pierre Hermé; Les Deux Abeilles, Stohrer, Le Patisserie de Reves… there was to be no viennoiserie, gateau or bonbon unsampled by me. After all, I told myself, biking from sweet spot to sweet spot, this was a great way to get to know my new hometown. Which was true. But as familiar as I became with each arrondissement’s best patisseries and chocolatiers, and their closest Velib stations, many of the city’s customs, codes of conduct and unspoken rules were still foreign to me.

And then the inevitable happened. After a prolonged honeymoon phase, I crashed. Hard. Summer had turned into fall, which turned into a long, dark winter. My beautiful city was suddenly cold and alienating. Not being able to communicate with the postmaster or dry cleaner was no longer a challenge that I approached as sort of fun and charming, but, rather, left me feeling totally defeated. Which just made me miss my friends, family and comfortable, easy life back in New York.

But I plodded on. With work (pulling longer hours than I ever did in New York). With French lessons (often swallowing cries of frustration when I couldn’t wrap my tongue around those R’s). With making friends (though this—gasp!—entailed befriending almost exclusively other expats as I couldn’t get a proper Parisian to give me the time of day). I willed myself to be tough. To stay strong. To smile, even if it made me look like an American dork. But mostly I lamented my lost love. I just wanted to feel moved by Paris the way I once had.

In hindsight, I know it was a perfectly natural cycle. Even the best affairs cool down at some point. After that initial head-over-heels infatuation, the ho-hum reality sets in and the daily grind is no longer sexy or romantic. Even in Paris. So after a season of sulking and consoling myself with a ridiculous amount of bonbons, I reset my expectations for a more “real” relationship with the city.

And now, the love affair continues. I cram my days with observing and writing, eating and drinking, Velib’ing and, toujours, ogling and sampling the sweets. And I have wonderful friends to share the meals, wine, stories and moments with. I’m a happy, lucky girl and I love every day that I’m here.

Because… all good things must come to a close. As mad as I am for Paris, I’m returning to my first love. New York is calling my name. It’s not been an easy decision, but I know it’s time to go home. And instead of looking at Paris or New York as an “either/or” option, I see it as “both”. Sometimes you can have your cake and eat it too.

Paris will dearly miss Amy and her ‘joie de vivre‘, even the vélibs will feel the loss. Not to mention the pâtisseries! But her sweet life continues in New York. And lucky us to be able to read all about it in her upcoming book to be released in March 2012, a merging of God, I love Paris and Sweet Freak. Sounds like an ideal union to me!

castle hopping

Living in Paris makes it difficult to travel almost anywhere and feel entranced by the ambiance. Unless you are visiting a city centered around a hilltop castle, where the air takes on a whole other ‘palatial’ feel. Ah yes, Edinburgh! I had been once before, during those days as a student in London in which I remember very little other than how enchanted I had been by the grandness of it all. 

It was at the Edinburgh Castle that I reunited with a few of my oldest and dearest friends, atop the volcanic Castle Rock where our castle hopping adventure began. 

Many glasses of whisky and plates of haggies, nips and tatties later, our adventures continued in Stirling. The scene was set for a grand wedding (this being the reason we all arrived to Scotland in the first place). This medieval town, the former “Gateway to the Highlands”, sits below a fortress and an old-town, timeless in it’s own right

Prior to Brandy’s ‘crowning’, several Scottish Kings and Queens have been crowned at Stirling Castle, including Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1543. Don’t we all wish to be crowned Queen, at least for a day?

The royal wedding party, or part of it anyway. Paris, London, Istanbul and NYC unite!

Now back to normal life in Paris.

living history

I have always enjoyed the company of older people. When I was a little girl I would sit for hours with heavy lids, listening to the conversations and trying to follow the gestures exchanged between my parents and their unique assortment of bohemian intellectual confidants. I was much more eager to sit at the adult table than with the kids who somehow I found too simple-minded in their approach to life. It was the elders who had truly lived, as they spoke with great enthusiasm about the pleasures and travails of life which seemed so fascinating to my young mind. Much more interesting than a history book are the reflections of someone who has lived the story.

In Paris, a city of such remarkable history, I have found an elderly companion with whom to share it. Her origins are Polish and her experiences are plenty. Recently we attended the Grand Palais for the Renoir exhibit. It seems fitting to peruse the work of this venerated Impressionist with a woman of class and culture. Though he is not a favorite of mine, as the work does not move me like that of Cézanne or Degas, it was a genuinely historic experience. Our next rendezvous will include an aged whisky and tales of life in 1970’s Paris. Though I must admit as I become older and (I like to believe) wiser, and this new chapter continues to be written, I appreciate more and more the innocent and open mind of a child.

voices from afar

Each morning I wake with a smile, eager to explore and engage in this new and privileged life. I feel very much at home, even more so as I can now navigate my way through the tangle of streets, aware of the treasures which lie behind the surrounding corners, in the form of bistros and boutiques, bookstores and boulangeries.

Several friends have joined me in this adventure, appearing for merely a moment, yet providing a lasting comfort that comes only with those we call our long-time confidants. It is my people I miss the most, a select few I have collected through the years, whose faces will always elicit in me the most genuine of smiles. In all of my many travels, and especially now having found a new home in a distant land, I understand well that a city speaks to ones soul through the voices of ones life. The most relevant one being our own. (And of course that of our mother). Forever will my esteemed voices be heard from afar. My current and most favored voice is deep and melodic with the most charming Italian accent.

Playa del Carmen

I stopped for the weekend in Playa del Carmen, a touristy spot known for its limitless social escapades. Here I met with Magda and her friends from Krakow who were enjoying the life of hedonism under the Mexican sun. Evelyn too was here and along with her cohorts from NYC we hit the town for a night of innocent debauchery.

Isla Mujeres

The island of women. This is where Sooji and I indulged in a last reunion after many months of solo travel, to recount our moments created together and apart. Upon these blissful shores I said goodbye to my dearest travel companion as she returned to NYC, to another life and time. I bask in the sun for my final 2 weeks…

London part three

With each visit to London my love affair with this enchanting city continues. I am now staying on the Thames with my dear friend Brandy and her boyfriend Keith. I was fortuitously treated by Brandy to a decadent dinner at Ubon, one of Nobu’s several eateries. This evening I took a walk along the river…Tower Bridge is a grand sight, majestically illuminated against a deep blue sky. My night was spent at the Tate Modern, viewing work by artists from around the globe, a brilliant collection! It feels good to be back on English soil.


Bartosz’ new flat in East London, designed and decorated by this talented young lad, well done!!

A cheeky night of revelry with Aga and Ian.

Brussels

From Luxembourg I took the train to Brussels, headquarters of most of the European Union’s institutions. Both culinarily and culturally speaking, it was really the chocolate that I was eager to ingest, as well as the traditional fare of waffles, mussels and beer. Belgians possess quite a savory palate! Tomek who lives in this frenetic city, joined me in a feast of delectable moules. I think I have had my fix!

Sainte Victoire

I have long desired to drive along the path to Sainte Victoire, the mountain apparent in much of Cezanne’s work, 444 oil paintings and 43 watercolors to be exact. It was my persistence and slight pleading that led us to the mountain as we exited Aix-en-Provence which in the matter of less than 24 hours I introduced to Bartosz who I know would find it as warm and inviting as I had. As the mountain loomed in our presence I experienced one of those rare moments in life when all rational thought dissipates and you can only feel with your heightened senses…



art affair




On my last night in Amsterdam I had the privilege of attending the preview of the Affordable Art Fair (if you can consider art under 5,000 euro affordable), the first year of this exhibition which I attend annually in NYC. Mirre and Marieke joined me for a wonderful night of art and play, running into our mutual friend Gijs, a small world indeed. Our night concluded in a local pizzeria before a long bike ride back to Mirre’s…and a return via train to Paris…

a day on the canals…


Sunday was a perfect day. After a proper dutch breakfast of pancakes and sprinkles, Bram took us on his boat all along the canals for a grand tour of the city, in the crisp fall air. For dinner we met Mirre and friends before heading home through the red lights and calm waters. The following morning Bram took me on another tour, this one via bike. We spent the morning at the flea market searching for treasures, lunch in Chinatown and a visit to the Stedelijk Museum where Warhol entertained us for hours.

Amsterdam

I had last been to Amsterdam for the Millenium nearly 8 years ago. What fond memories I still had of this adventure with Karen, Brandy and Anna. How young we were! It was that long ago that I had seen Bram. It felt like no time had gone by as I was most warmly greeted by my favorite dutch boy and his darling girlfriend Marieke. We were soon joined for the weekend by Tomek, a friend from Krakow who I had not seen in many years, who arrived from Brussels, and Mirre who I know and adore from the time of Buenos Aires, a local who recently returned home. At Mirre’s recommendation we dined at Eleven, a very cool dining venue and equally hot spot for after dinner drinks and dancing. Somehow I ended the night carousing the red light district with Bram and Tomek…quite a varying set of lights than what I had been so accustomed to in Paris.


Rue Saint Sauveur

I am living on Rue Saint Saveur, near to Rue Montorgueil, a lovely pedestrian street in the 2nd Arrondissement. These streets speak of a deep history, an experience much like living within the walls of a museum. Often I do not understand these whispers in the air as French remains a language I struggle to decipher, mostly with eager optimism, though there are moments when I feel a bit lost amidst the many French peculiarities, both cultural and verbal.

I have indeed found a beautiful life here, having met many people such as Alexandre and Stephanie, friends of Delphine’s with whom I spend many moments wrapped in conversation (somewhere in the middle of English and French), Beatriz who lives next door, Gaia and Caroline with whom I am sharing a flat, two artists filled with a unique passion for life. And I cannot forget to mention Minka the cat, a most pleasant companion. Paris has become my school, as I spend many hours bicycling along the Seine, willingly lost in the streets of the Marais and St-Germain, studying French, speaking with anyone who will have the patience to listen…most of all this experience has become a lesson in life, as I continue to discover the inner workings of my mind and heart.


Paris!


I arrived to Paris into a world of art! my Parisien life began with a grand tour of the heart of Paris, through the cobblestones of the Marais, into the natural tranquility of the Luxembourg gardens and the grand presence of the Louvre, my most venerated church of St Eustache…is there any place more beautiful than Paris in the Fall? For the moment there is not. My dearest Delphine was here from Jerusalem and together we admired the new collections at Christie’s followed by lunch at Cafe de Flore, after which I headed to FIAC to see the contemporary work from the many places in the world I have most recently called home. At the Pompidou I spent an afternoon with Giacometti, a most comprehensive insight into his life of art. The tour continues to the Grand Palais with Beatriz, a darling girl from Brazil, where we indulged in Courbet…there remains much more to see, savour and learn as my life in Paris evolves…



Camogli



My newly adopted Italian family, (aka Lele’s family), with whom Lisa and I became a natural extension, took us to the nearby town of Camogli for a day trip, and a grand feast. Another dream lived upon the Italian Riviera.

Portofino

Our room with a view of the Santa Margherita panorama…


In Portofino we were joined by Lisa’s boyfriend Lele and his business school colleagues for a weekend sailing regatta. Italy is no doubt best experienced with the Italians, and we were fortunate to share this time with Lele and his family from Rome. The 4-course meals coupled with wine continued with this most gracious family, in a setting of warmth and royal splendor. Perhaps I was Italian once…or hope to be in the next life.

Venice


As this was Lisa’s most awaited holiday and Sooji and I had at this point become professional travelers, we planned a few days in Venice, one of the most unique, romantic (and touristy) cities in the world. We also ventured via Ferry to Murano, the island of glass, where we learned the fascinating process of glass blowing. I now have a new admiration for the art of glass! There is no better place than Venice to become tangled in the cobblestones and canals with two of my favorite girls in all the world…

Milan!

It is time now to write the chapter of Italy, where Sooji and I reunited with Fabio and my dearest Lisa joined from NYC. The privileged life continues! Upon arrival to Milan, Fabio was the warmest host and we immediately felt at home in his grand apartment that was evidently well suited for three female visitors. I dare say he did not want us to leave! Aside from my cold caught between the air of Krakow and Hamburg, and Lisa’s undeniable jet-lag, we had a fabulous time indulging in long evenings of pasta and wine, and afternoons of Gelato and more wine…

The first of many meals shared in Italy…with wine in hand!

On Sunday we joined Fabio for an afternoon drive to Lake Como where we were invited to a picnic. After Fabio demonstrated his skill at water-skiing, we sat in the sun and basked in the ‘art of doing nothing’, something that has clearly originated in Italy.

Hamburg in a day



There was much more of Berlin to experience but I decided to venture north to Hamburg. This being Manuel’s home, I was given a proper tour in the space of a day. What a city of wealth and elegance! Hamburg boasts a beautiful harbor and is filled with canals and a mix of architecture revealing grand history in the form of large brick facades, and modernity portrayed in vast colors and shapes created by the most innovative minds. All of this viewed by my most eager and pleased eyes.

East and West



The Berlin wall divided the East and West for 28 years, from the day construction began on August 13, 1961 until it was dismantled in 1989, following several weeks of civil unrest. The fall of the Berlin wall formally concluded on October 3, 1990, paving the way for German reunification. In the years of Germany’s separation, up to 1,245 people had been killed trying to flee East Germany, which in recent years has become a place of opportunity for people from the whole of Germany. It was fascinating to walk along this historic division of freedom which forever stands to tell the story between East and West. Thomas, a talented photographer adding to the creative energy of a new Berlin, joined us on this reunification tour of the city.

Berlin

I arrived in Berlin mildly rested after an all night train ride from Krakow. This inbetween time of reflection is indeed sacred. Upon arrival I met with my friend Manuel, who most graciously took on the role of tour guide. I was so pleased to learn that Marc, one of my oldest friends from the teenage years of doc martens and indie rock, was in town for several weeks. I had heard so much about the energy and movement that was filling the streets of Berlin, what an incredible art scene was thriving, how much spirit filled the newly liberated East…and in fact I was well impressed with this ‘work in progress’ that was Berlin. Much of my time was spent in Mitte, the rather chic part of East Berlin, home to many of the galleries. My days in Berlin were spent biking with Manuel from east to west and back again, Often meeting with Marc for a pint in the evening, after a hearty meal of shnitzel.

The Holocaust Monument, one of the most impressive sites in Berlin.


The architecture is truly incredible!! The structure of the Philharmonic.

Manuel, Marc and I sharing one of our many moments….

last tango in Krakow

Back to my beloved Krakow where I met with Jimena from Buenos Aires. Naturally, a tango was in order! Jimena is on a journey of her own, and most serendipitously our paths crossed. Together with Ola we shared many memorable moments, soon joined by Sooji…

My mom joined us in this city where she spent her university years.


A party with Malgosia and Matylda, friends of mine and my mom’s for many years.

Drinks with Marta and Piotrek as Jimena bids us farewell…

 A final night of cocktails with Magda, a dear friend of Ola’s. And mine now too.

Krakow



Krakow is one of my most beloved cities. the main square is perhaps the most charming in all of Europe, lined with cafes and eateries, the sounds of a street musician in the distance mingling with the clanking of a horse and carriage upon the cobblestones… Time seems to flow at a slower pace in this old capital of Poland, once the home of kings and queens, drawing great scholars and artists from the entire world. It is fascinating to experience this city which so eloquently connects tradition with modernity.

My dear friend Ola lives in this cultural mecca and we had a wonderful time catching up on all the beautiful stories of our lives…wandering the mysterious streets of the Old Town and Kazimierz…breathing in the life that is uniquely Polish.

return to London


My return to London was eagerly spent in one of my most loved vicinities near Bond Street. It was there that Sarah welcomed me to her mews on Wigmore Place, perhaps one of the quaintest of streets in all of London, or so it became for me. Several days wrapped warmly against the chill in the air, Saturday spent at Portobello Market (more vintage shopping!) followed by an afternoon of pints with Bartosz, Sooji, Azfar and Sarah…lunch with Aga and Peter in their lovely flat in North Acton..and several afternoon teas on Marylebone Lane.

tea with Moses




In the land of Karakaya, an 800 year old village named for its dark rocks, shining silver in the moonlight, lives a man named Musa. As we ventured to this land, we were invited to share its secrets upon our chance encounter with Musa who became known to us as Moses. Captivated by tales of his life as an archaeologist and prophet, a conversation in Turkish translated by Emre, mingled with phrases of French to my delight, his world became ours for a timeless moment. Ela too became enchanted with this wiseman. With his eyes and his heart he spoke, ‘love and friendship will make the world go on.’

Aegean dream



Every morning I wake up to the turquoise calm of the Aegean Sea, in the village of Turgutreis on the Bodrum peninsula. This is the summer home of my dear friends Karen and Emre and little Elanur, the most adorable Turkish American baby I have so quickly grown to love! The first 3 months of her life she is spending summering in the Hamptons and Bodrum, quite a privileged life! Needless to say Ela and I have bonded in the last few days as I learn the many lessons of motherhood. Yesterday Karen, Ela and I ventured to the Greek island of Kos for a little tsatziki. These paradisic days are spent on the beach, swimming, boating in these tranquil waters, dining on grand turkish feasts of meze…in warm reminiscences of many years of friendship in a life that continues to unravel much like a dream.