Embracing Winter

After the excitement of the holidays fades and we settle into a new year, those of us living in temperate climates are faced with long months full of short days and a chill in the air that makes hibernation seem like the best option. Having experienced twelve brutal winters in New York City, and now on to my ninth winter in Paris, I know the “winter woes” all too well. This year, rather than give in to the endless gray days, I am planning to embrace them. How exactly might you ask? Well, I have a strategy. Here’s my plan. Feel free to join me!

1. Make intentions. Rather than make resolutions that tend to overwhelm rather than inspire, I’m making intentions. I took this brilliant idea from my dear and clever friend Laura Calder. This year, instead of resolving to speak French like a native, learn proper Italian (hand gestures and all), write for leading media and maybe even write a book (who me, too ambitious?), I intend to make time to speak more French, study Italian especially when in Italy, and continue writing any chance I get. As for a book, I’ve got an idea brewing and I’ll do my best! After all, isn’t life meant to be all about the journey?

2. Celebrate the small wins. I recently read an article about how we don’t see what it took Olympian Michael Phelps to win the gold medal, all the small wins in the form of daily practice and dietary restrictions, we only see the end result, in his case, 28 Olympic medals. Whether it’s becoming fit, learning a language, practicing yoga or meditation, isn’t it just as important or even more so, to celebrate the small wins that lead up to the big win? I will keep reminding myself this, every time I feel defeated.

3. Meditate. This leads me to one of my greatest intentions, meditation. I’ve read countless articles and spoken to many women and men whom I admire, and they all say the same thing “meditation changed my life”. I’m an advocate for mindfulness, and have been practicing yoga for over 15 years, yet have a hard time sticking to meditation. This year I resolve to spend 10-20 minutes every morning watching my thoughts drift by and not becoming attached to them. Eventually it will become an empowering practice I love, right? Since most of us are smart phone addicts, here are 10 of the best meditation apps.

4. Go inwards. While spring is all about spending time outdoors, reveling in the beauty of friendships and flowers in bloom, the rejuvenation of earth, mind and body, winter is the time to go within. This may sound quite scary as it entails being alone with the self, away from social distractions and social media. Taking time to look inside and ask yourself a few important questions. (What those are, are up to you.) It’s a time to self-assess, to go inwards in order to later enjoy the coming out, come spring. If you don’t see me on Instagram as often, you’ll know why.

5. Enjoy each moment. Unlike spring, summer and fall with the many goings-on and social engagements common to a life well lived, winter calls for quietude. It allows for time to try new projects, discover a new author and take more care of ourselves. Daylight becomes a commodity and nights often feel endless. Rather than wishing for days to pass as I did in winters’ past, I am embracing every chilly, gray or rainy day, and using as many moments as possible to put my intentions in motion, celebrate the small wins, meditate and go inwards. Oh, and I’ll also take time to enjoy this beautiful city I call home.

Paris Picks : Books

What better gift to give during the holidays (or any occasion for that matter), than a book. Especially one connected to Paris for the Francophile in your life, which you too will be certain to enjoy. To help you choose, I’m sharing my favorite recently published books written by authors I’m grateful to call friends. I promise you’ll love them all! Just click on the book to read more about it and purchase a copy, or two.
I met Lindsey Tramuta soon after moving to Paris and we’ve become fast friends ever since. Her book The New Paris casts a light the evolution of the city during this last decade, highlighting the movers and shakers behind the changing face of Paris. A perfect read for those interested in Parisian gastronomy, or anything food and drink related for that matter. With stellar photography by Charissa Fay, you’ll drool just reading it. Welcome to ‘The New Paris’!Laura Calder and I met years ago in Paris through a mutual friend and have been inspiring each other since that first encounter. She with her French recipes and dining advice and me with my love of design. We even collaborated on a project in which I helped her design signature linen napkins. In her latest book The Inviting Life: An Inspirational Guide to Homemaking, Hosting and Opening the Door to Happiness, Laura shares her tips on how to transform the ordinary into something magical, both in and out of the kitchen. This includes décor, ambience, shopping, and planning dinner parties, of which she is a pro!

A soulful Australian woman with a deep love for Paris, Katrina Lawrence and I met during one of her visits, soon after she purchased a 75006 bag from my Paris Collection, representing her favorite neighborhood. Just days ago she released her first book Paris Dreaming, taking us on a journey around Paris, through all the stages of her life. Katrina muses on everything Parisian, from politics to perfume to stylish Parisiennes, and shares the life lessons Paris has taught her along the way. Prepare to become enchanted!

When Vanessa Grall moved from London to Paris, she began documenting her bohemian adventures in her blog, Messy Nessy Chic. We met during one of her discoveries and I remained a dedicated fan, along with thousands of others. Her new book Don’t be a Tourist in Paris: The Messy Nessy Chic Guide is a ‘chic cabinet of curiosities’, and will certainly reveal the true heart of Paris to you. What’s more, you can find my bag painting workshops on page 148. Thank you, Vanessa!

David Lebovitz is certainly a man about town. Especially in Paris’s right bank where we both live, and where I often run into him. In his latest book L’Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home, David shares perplexing and often humorous tales of updating his Parisian apartment, in a way that only he can tell. Enjoy his continued expat adventures, along with dozens of new recipes.

 

Thankful

It shouldn’t be just one day a year that we sit down with those dearest to us and express gratitude for that which is truly important in life. Having each other. Sharing this experience of life. Knowing what a true friend is, and being one. We should express kindness and gratitude daily, through the smallest gestures, even with people we don’t know. After all, kindness is contagious. And I for one am a believer in karma.

I used to write more personally on my blog and will take a moment to share what I am truly grateful for, given that it’s Thanksgiving. I hope you will do the same, today, or whenever you feel the need. Especially when life is dealing you a bad hand, take a look at what IS rather than what ISN’T. You’ll see how blessed you are.

1. My Italian. A man who I can truly rely on and who loves me through all the good moments and the bad.

2. My mom. A strong and loving woman who I admire and look up to and hope one day to have the same relationship with a child of my own.

3. My friends. I often joke that I collect people, but in a way it’s true. There are some of those people that shine more brightly and our bond becomes unbreakable. Whether we live in the same city, or half a world away. These friends are forever.

4. My life. The strength & resolve to create my own life and live it by my own rules, not those set by anyone else.

5. My work. The creative mind and courage to do what I truly love and follow my heart. Designing and writing fill me with SO MUCH, and to be able to share what I create and write, this means everything.

6. My homes. Everyday I wake up and feel blessed to live in Paris, well, almost every day. As tough as the life of an expat can be, I am so much richer for this experience. And calling the Italian Riviera home, my town in Poland, New York City and the Hamptons. I am truly blessed.

7. My travels. One of the best educations is travel. What we experience and learn is something that no one can take away from us and means so much more than any material possessions. At least for me.

I could go on, but it’s soon time to meet some of these friends I mentioned, and spend an evening of gratitude together. Wishing you too, a day filled with thanks.

Yves Saint Laurent in Paris

In early October, the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris opened in the 19th century mansion  at 5 Avenue Marceau.  The company headquarters and location of Mr. Saint Laurent’s and his partner Mr. Bergé’s office since 1974, this was also where Yves Saint Laurent would meet his clients for fittings. In 2004, it was transformed into a foundation for public view, with three to four exhibitions annually. It was Pierre Bergé, once the chief executive of Yves Saint Laurent, who decided to dedicate this space to the late designer, and open a museum. Lucky for those of us who admire the work of this visionary man who changed women’s attitudes towards fashion. As Yves Saint Laurent once said, “Fashion fades, style is eternal.”

Not only do we get a glimpse into Yves Saint Laurent’s chic fashion creations, but his design process too.

From collections inspired by artists including Mondrian and Picasso; to faraway travels to Morocco, sub-Saharan Africa, Russia, Spain and Asia; to haute couture gowns, Yves Saint Lauren knew how to dress a woman.

The highlight of the museum is Yves Saint Laurent’s workspace set on the second floor. Here you find his many inspirations as revealed in his collections of books, fabrics and fashion trimmings. A designers paradise!


A dedicated fan of Yves Saint Laurent, my next stop will be the newly opened Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakesh, the location of his and Pierre Bergé’s second home and a place close to their hearts. Stay tuned…

Theatre in Paris

I love a good theatre performance and have had the pleasure of enjoying quite a few during my years in New York. But in Paris? Preferring the ease of my native tongue, I had only seen one show since moving to Paris. That is, until I discovered Theatre in Paris. What is it exactly? French plays with English subtitles. Brilliant!

Paris is famous for its theatre, and now fellow Anglophones can join in the local culture. Theatre in English seeks out the best performances in the city of lights, set within a number of theatres throughout Paris. “From the spectacular architecture of a listed historical monument commissioned by Queen Marie-Antoinette to the glamour of an old Parisian ‘café théâtre’, to the charm of a small oak-panelled neighborhood theatre.” What’s more, they offer over 100 performances to choose from every month. Without compromising the show, English subtitles are viewed on a screen only for those who need them. And seats will always offer a prime view.

One of France’s greatest stars is cabaret singer, songwriter and actress Édith Piaf, often referred to as “The Little Sparrow”. Being a fan of her music, when I discovered the performance “I Love Piaf”, I booked tickets for my Italian and I and we made a French night of it. The play took place in a late 19th century Théâtre Trévise in the 9th district, nearby to the famed Folies Bergère. The performers were impressive as they told the story of the singer’s life. Award-winning accordionist Aurélien Noël was once the best in the world, and singer Caroline Rose captivated us all with her voice. The screenwriter was both engaging and humorous. It was certainly an experience in living la vie en rose!

I’m already looking forward to the next performance and might soon become a regular Parisian theatre-goer.

 

 

Wine by the Glass

October is harvest time in France. In case you’re lucky enough to be in Paris for the annual Grape Harvest Festival in Montmartre, also known as the Fête des Vendanges, you’ll taste your share of wines from all over the country. If not, there are other ways to taste and learn about wine in Paris, and not by ordering copious glasses over dinner. Though you are in wine country after all, so why not. But if you’re curious to learn more about the various wine regions of France and discover your favorites, I suggest a tasting.

There’s no one better to advise you than wine connoisseur Thierry Givone, whose expertise in wine and champagne extends far beyond his home region of Bourgogne, or Burgundy. (Although Bourgogne wines are some of my favorites.) His passion for wine runs so deep that a few years ago he began holding tastings on a boat on the Seine. These days you can find Thierry at his atelier Wine Tasting in Paris in the charming 5th arrondissement of Paris. Whatever your preference, red, white or bubbly, prepare for a wine education, and comprehensive tasting. Recently, I held one of my bag workshops at Thierry’s atelier; bag painting and wine, a perfect pairing!

If you’re curious to learn the process of local wine production, head over to Les Vignerons Parisiens in the North Marais and take a tour of their cave and try a tasting. Maybe this will inspire you to make your own wine.

To mingle with the locals over a glass of good French wine, head to La Barav where there’s always a vast selection of reds and whites from their next door cave. Here’s a selection of top wine bars all over Paris. Santé!

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