Monday, December 31, 2012

My 5 Favorite Paris Books

I have debated for some time now just what are my favorite books about Paris and/or France.  There are an abundance of books both fiction and non-fiction about my favorite city.  I have read MANY of them, which is why I have been so indecisive about which are my favorites.  For the sake of keeping my post short, I have come up with 5 that have been a joy to read.  These ended up all being non-fiction, I suppose because I cannot get enough of the Parisian way of life.  I am always hoping some of that will rub off on me.  All of these books I look back at from time to time.  Guess it is part of the attempt to relive visiting Paris.  I have hard copies of all these as a result.

These are in no special order and each has its own purpose.

In preparing for my trip in 2011 I was obsessed with knowing as much about Paris as I could.  I bought Rick Steves Paris 2011.  I didn't realize what a help that book would be to me.  I carried it everywhere.  Even though I was with a tour, I wanted to know what I wanted to see on my free time. Note how I still have all those post it tabs to mark interesting things!  Also it was a god send to have after my trip when I was preparing to make my photo book and fill in my travel journal. It made it easier to recall monuments and other things that I thought I would remember but didn't

Being the committed Francophile that I am these next two taught me much about French culture.  French Or Foe by Polly Pratt explains what makes the French so different from us. From the working culture to family life, this book is a must read for anyone interested in traveling or moving to France.  Say what you want about the French, but their lifestyle makes for some interesting reading!  Along with that,  French Toast by Harriet Welty Rochefort is a wonderful memoir by a woman who grew up in Iowa but had an attraction to France.  I always admire people who can take a leap of faith and follow their dreams.  Even if those dreams take them half way across the world.  She tries to make sense of the Paris lifestyle. Not so easy for someone from Iowa!

To me the king of American expats living on Paris is David Lebovitz.  If you have never read his blog you have to take a look.  His book The Sweet Life In Paris is full of recipes done the French way and funny insights into the city of light.  As a lover of all the food Paris has to offer (especially of the sweet kind!), this book is a perfect match for me.
My last favorite book is Parisian Chic by Ines de la Fressange.  This book is a step by step guide to create that unique Parisian style. It is full of colorful  illustrations.  Not everyone in Paris shops at Hermes or Louis Vuitton.  There is style to be found at (gasp) your nearest Monoprix.  Buy the best you can afford for the classic pieces and have fun with the rest.
So that does it for my list.  Like I said there are lots of others that I loved (saved for another blog post perhaps).  I am always looking for books about Paris and the French.  You may have some suggestions for me.  Please let me know!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ode To My Favorite Fashion Accessory....The Scarf

Oh dear scarf, how I love you.
I can wear you countless ways
Around my neck, or on my bag handle
You sure do aim to please

 Okay I know I am not a poet, but my love of scarves is well known.  I have always loved what a good fashion accessory can do to liven up an outfit.  Really no matter what your clothing budget is, there is always room for a colorful scarf.  You can find them in all different price ranges.  Believe me, I do not own a Hermes (although I would LOVE to). I believe the most expensive one I own cost about $25.00.

I think my love affair with the scarf began many years ago in on my first visit to Chicago on a bus trip to see Donny Osmond in Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Chicago Theater.  The theater as you may know is located right by the famous then Marshall Field department store on State Street.  Our bus arrived several minutes early before the show started and I could not pass by the fact that the FAMOUS Marshall Fields was right there.  So being the shopaholic that I am, I just had to go in that store.  Of course we didn't have much time so we could only scan the accessories floor off the street.  Looking for something to catch my eye, I came upon this silky leopard print rectangular scarf!  Well it was love at first sight complete with the beam of light from above and the sound of a chorus singing awwww! Well, you get the idea.  I found my token that would forever remind me of that day.

My very first scarf bought in Chicago

That started the beginning of a very good relationship.

Then came my Paris trip!  Well I was is scarf heaven!  Everyone wore one, even the men.  They were everywhere.  I knew in my research before my trip that all Parisians owned scarves and I knew I would fit right in.  I went and bought more before I even left just so I would not feel left out!
The very first day in Paris while everyone else was strolling through Notre Dame, I took off to the little shops right along there and bought my very first scarf in Paris!  I ended up buying three more for myself and some for gifts for friends when I returned home.

My Paris scarves

I wear scarves all the time especially in winter.  I just love how they can jazz up a white blouse or a plain sweater.  Sometimes I tie my smaller ones onto the handle of my handbag for a little French flavor.
They are fun to experiment with and if you are stumped as to how to tie one, just go to Pinterest, type scarf in the search box and I guantee you will find more ways to tie a scarf than you dreamed possible.  You can be creative and tie one in your hair as a headband too.
I probably own about 15 scarves in all.  Some heavy winter ones and some lightweight silky ones like my  Chicago leopard.

So don't be afraid of the very versatile scarf.  It can add a dash of color and texture to your outfit!  It's a great way to let your personality shine through!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Friday Night Frolic In A Small Town

I have to say that I don't always like living in a small town.  Sometimes I long for the hustle and bustle of a big city.  Always something to do no matter what time of year it is.  Chicago is my favorite go-to city when I crave that excitement.  I'm just 3 hours away via car and train and I'm right downtown.

That being said, when we have some excitement in my small town of Kiel, Wisconsin I like to check it out.  This year a group of downtown businesses got together to host a new event called Frolic On Fremont.  This took place Friday night from 4:00 to 8:00 pm. These businesses along with some others had in-store drawings and specials and the participating ones get together to donate gift certificates for one lucky winner provided you visited all the businesses and got a card initialed from each one and then it was thrown in for a big drawing.

My new favorite store Sneak A Peek Boutique

One of these participating businesses is one of my new favorite places called Sneak A Peek Boutique.  This shop is made for me.  Inside you will find lots of my favorite things including handbags, scarves (LOTS and LOTS of scarves), jewelry, hats, lots of gift items and even special occasion cards.  This place is packed with cleverly displayed things!  I had just stopped in and made some purchases last weekend and I made some more purchases Friday night.  Best part is, everything is reasonably priced so you can buy lots! The only bad thing is you need your checkbook or cash.  No cards excepted!

All in all it was a nice night and even the hubby came along with Megan and I!  We purchased a few items, stopped in to visit the new barber in town and got our entry stamped with all the businesses.  The best part was seeing all the people out and about enjoying what our small town has to offer.  I can remember growing up in the same small town whent Friday nights were spent downtown shopping.  Not only grocery shopping, but back then we had a few clothing shops, a shoe store, the local hardware store (which is still going strong) and when you were done with your Friday night shopping there were plenty of restaurants to fill the empty stomach!  We hardly ever went to any of those bigger cities like Green Bay or Appleton.  Everything was right here.

Ornament display inside Jess's Floral & Gift

Okay so maybe it's not so bad living in a small town.

If you are in town sometime and want to stop in Sneak A Peek, it's on the west end of Fremont Street which is our main street in town.