off to Amsterdam

I’m off to Amsterdam for the holidays….stay tuned for a follow-up report.  I’ve purchased my ticket online for the famous Rijksmuseum which, as you know, contains the world’s largest collection of paintings by the Dutch masters.  There’s also Rembrandt’s canal house to visit where he lived and worked in the 17th century, as well as a dozen other interesting things to see and do.

Happy Holidays, dear blog readers!

Here’s a photo of me celebrating my 7th birthday in the 1960s in the snowy suburbs of Toronto. 

Loolie 7th birthday

dinner at Paul Bert bistro

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In an earlier post this year (April), I put up photos of a rollicking dinner we had at our favourite bistro in the 11th arrondissement, the Paul Bert.  Last night was a slightly more sedate affair, but in terms of food and company, equally delicious.

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A Swedish Christmas elf offered me a gift that happened to be on my Christmas list (see preceding blog post) – – a box of marrons glacés (candied chestnuts) from Paris’s best chocolatier, La Maison du Chocolat.  I ordered a glass of champagne for the occasion.  An English Christmas elf also referred to that list (which I didn’t think anyone would actually consult…quelle surprise!) and offered me a Diptyque Feu du Bois candle.

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I started off with marrow bone simply roasted and sprinkled with fleur de sel. My dining companions had foie gras and roasted scallops.

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I then ordered the roast venison with celeriac puree and juniper berries while my companions enjoyed pepper steak with a load of hot crispy fries.

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IMG_3828IMG_3824Paul Bert makes the best crème caramel I have ever tasted.IMG_3833IMG_3836IMG_3840IMG_3842

And so, as always at Paul Bert bistro, a good time was had by all.  We walked off into the dampish night, each of us headed to different destinations over the holidays – Sweden, Holland and south-west France.

my Christmas wish list

Still looking for the perfect holiday gift?   De rigueur for bloggers to post an annual wish list, I thought I’d join in the fun and post mine.  Admittedly, this list is shamelessy subjective, but its purpose is to give you ideas for your own shopping list. 

Ranking high on the wish list is a Swiss-made Jura coffee machine.  Called a “micro brewing unit”, the compact one-cup machine prepares latte macchiato, cappuccino, espresso, café crème and hot water at the touch of a button.  Operation is so straightforward that it can be summed up in two words:  press – enjoy.

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Dior’s Escale à Portofino.  When I was 12, I travelled to Portofino with my family and have been back a few times since.  The House of Dior encapsulates all the charm of Italy’s Ligurian coast in this fresh, invigorating perfume presented in a cut glass bottle – sixteen natural essences, mainly from the Mediterranean region: Calabrian Bergamot, Italian Citron, Sicilian Petitgrain, Bitter Almond, Orange Blossom and Mediterranean Cypress essences.  Divino!

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Bose Mini Wireless Speaker. The SoundLink® Mini Bluetooth speaker delivers full, natural sound from an ultra-compact speaker that fits in the palm of your hand. It connects wirelessly to your smartphone, tablet or other Bluetooth device, so you can listen to your music, videos or games anytime, anywhere.

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A box of marrons glacés.  My mother loved marrons glacés. I love them too because they’re festive and not too sweet. Chestnuts are popular in Europe: roasted, sweetened and puréed or chopped and used in poultry stuffing.  Over the holidays, eat them whole, candied in syrup and then glazed.  Great with champagne.

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A DIPTYQUE candle.  Here’s what the Diptyque blurb says for the new winter collection -

  • Epice (Spice) is warm, voluptuous and vibrant with notes of cinnamon and plum.
  • Hiver (Winter) is a sensual evocation of the cold and biting North wind, followed by the comforting scent of a wood fire and roasting chestnuts. (All that in a candle?) 
  • Résine (Resin) is an ode to the pine tree: bark, resin, crushed pine needles. 

My all-time favourite, though, is the Feu de Bois candle.  It smells like woodsmoke on a cold day. Evocative and enduring, Feu de Bois is an unusual warm and woody fragrance. Its smouldering aroma captures burning embers with the smokey warmth of Lapsang Tea to create a unique, slightly mysterious scent.

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Urban Decay Vice eyeshadow.  One of the best purchases I ever made in terms of eye make-up. Every morning I open up the palette box and contemplate the 20 gorgeous colours within.  Matte, satin, sparkle and even metallic, this palette is made for experimentation. Each shade gives velvety texture, rich colour, serious staying power and blendability.

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Mont Blanc perfume.   Yesterday, in the Mont Blanc boutique on the Champs Elysées, I purchased an early gift for myself.  This perfume is special and may not be to everyone’s liking.  Called La Présence d’une Femme, it’s an oriental vanilla fragrance with top notes of mandarin orange and pepper, middle notes of cyclamen and orchid and base notes of sandalwood, palisander wood, vanilla flower and patchouli.  I love it.

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Leonor Greyl hair products (for men and women).  These all-natural treatments are expensive, but probably the nec plus ultra of hair products. Treat yourself to just one. The jasmine nourishing mask for thin, dry hair, for example. Rich in amino acids, proteins and botanical oils. Or the volumizing algae shampoo that adds strength, volume and body to thin and limp hair. My favourite is the Orchid Mask (masque à l’orchidée) that nourishes and detangles dry and frizzy hair.

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A kilo of Jelly Bellies.  I’m addicted to these gourmet jelly beans.Jelly Belly_Template.indd

And, last but not least, here are two luxury items that remain just “pour le plaisir des yeux“.  In a delicate blend of grey and white or a more brightly coloured pink and yellow version, the Dior VIII Montaigne timepiece is adorned in steel. Mother-of-pearl marquetry work accentuated with colour, the shapes of the functional oscillating weights are reminiscent of the couture sunray pleating technique.

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Pomellato rings.  Oh, how I love Pomellato rings.  An Italian jewelry company, the brand was founded by Pino Rabolini in Milan in 1967 and currently ranks among the top five European jewellers.  Here’s my favourite, the Nudo, featuring gems in blue topaz, Madera quartz, amethyst, lemon quartz and mandarin garnet.

nudo triopomellago green rings triorings and macaroons

Christmas windows

Originally posted on Juliet in Paris:

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Here are the two biggest department stores in central Paris which are open until 10 pm on Thursdays: Au Printemps and Galeries Lafayette, side by side on the boulevard Haussmann.

Image   I had to push my way through the crowd to view the windows.Xmas Paris Dec 2013 030Xmas Paris Dec 2013 031Xmas Paris Dec 2013 034
Is Christmas for children only?Xmas Paris Dec 2013 038I don’t think so.   I love the Christmas season….am I just a big kid at heart?Xmas Paris Dec 2013 032Xmas Paris Dec 2013 046

Or is it the memories of my own magical Christmases spent as a child and teenager throughout the 1960s and 1970s?  It was always cold and there was always snow, lots of it, in the Toronto suburbs.

One year I received a pair of blue ice-skates.  Neither powder blue nor periwinkle blue, they were a true robin’s egg blue.  I loved those skates.  I wonder what happened to them?

I do get nostalgic at this time of year.  Like the big clocks in this…

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purrrfect new ad for Thalys train service in Europe

Have you seen this new advertising campaign?  It was created by Rosa Park advertising agency in Paris.  I love it.

On December 20th I’m taking the Thalys train to Amsterdam.

What is Thalys exactly?  It’s a consortium of companies that manage high-speed train service between France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.  It’s owned by SNCF, SNCB and Deutsche Bahn.

Click on link below to see the advertisement -

Valérie Trierweiler and her best-selling memoir

Agence France Presse

Agence France Presse

I read an article in the French press that said 1/3 of the forest in the Landes region of France has already been cut down to provide the paper for the 500,000 copies of Trierweiler’s book sold in France.  Ecologists are concerned that if the book continues to be printed, there will be no forest left.  To be honest, I find the subjects of deforestation and tree planting more interesting than the subject matter of Trierweiler’s book.

Madame Trierweiler’s book, Merci pour ce moment, is being translated into 11 languages.  To date, she will receive 1.4 million Euros in copyright revenue. 

To understand this publishing phenomenon – as well as the author herself – read the article published in today’s British newspaper, The Observer, which is the Sunday sister paper of The Guardian (link below). The impression I got, after reading the article, is that neither Hollande nor Trierweiler are very nice people.  The tawdriness of Hollande’s affair coupled with Trierweiler‘s vindictiveness provides me with no inspiration to read the book. 

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/nov/23/valerie-trierweiler-interview-francois-hollande-thank-you-for-this-moment