12.19.2010

Happy Holidays from The Daily Connoisseur


Wishing you and your family a very merry holiday and a happy new year...

Thank you so much for your support, emails and comments on The Daily Connoisseur. With the birth of my baby girl, this past year has been the best of my life and I have been delighted to share it with you on this blog along with all of my memories from living in Paris, and my ongoing queries on how to live well.

I will be taking a two week break from blogging, with posts resuming on January 3rd.

Here is a sneak peek of what’s to come in the New Year on The Daily Connoisseur:

The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris continues starting with #5 (it’s getting good!)

My notes on a month long experiment with a 10 item wardrobe

Further observations on topics such as cultivating an air of mystery, skin care, le no makeup look , (not) snacking, clutter-free home and how to live well (to name a few)

My favorite beauty discoveries

More discussions on the French lifestyle, with observations pulled from films, books and my real life friends

Interviews from other Daily Connoisseurs

Book reviews

And much, much more...

And, as always, I love taking requests, so if there is a topic you would like me to address in my blog, please don’t hesitate to email me or leave me a comment.

I do hope you’ll stay with me in the new year and until then, I am wishing you and your family the absolute best for 2011.

Bisous,

Jennifer xx

Gatsby, quite in the holiday spirit, is pictured above.

12.13.2010

The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris- #6 The Art of Skin Care


French women are not only known for taking great care of their skin, but also for being comfortable in their skin (or bien dans sa peau).

Skin care is the most important aspect of French beauty. Good skin is like a status symbol and thanks to the copious options available in France (be it facials, specialty creams or massages) most anyone can achieve it. Good skin is not only a luxury in Paris but a necessity. Madame Chic had it. So did Madame Bohemienne. But French skincare goes way beyond a pot of expensive face cream. French women drink lots of water (a tall glass in the morning and one right before bed, plus several throughout the day), take brisk walks every day (good for circulation), try not to stress out too much (it’s hard to be passionate and stressed at the same time… the French much prefer to be passionate), and they don’t wear too much pore clogging makeup (see le no makeup look) Also, a healthy love life doesn’t hurt either!

After having my baby my skin went through a few unfortunate transitions- and I can personally attest that having bad skin is one of the worst blows to self confidence a person can have. I can definitely see why a French woman views good skin as her best accessory. I’ve had to rethink my skincare routine and change a few things but I have finally gotten my skin back on track. Much like when I have indulged in too many fattening foods, I adjust my exercise regime, I did the same with my skincare routine. I was dealing primarily with breakouts (so unfortunate)- so I booked a facial as soon as I could. At home, I followed up by doing my normally once weekly mask 2 or 3 times a week (I use Epicuren’s Volcanic Clay Mask- LOVE), made sure I exfoliated and moisturized well and even changed my daytime face cream (Philosophy Hope in a Jar Oil Free SPF 30- I switched to ‘oil-free’ to accommodate my situation). And I booked a few reflexology massages to deal with my stress. It took some time but my skin is finally back on track… and with it, my confidence.

Some very French things to remember when it comes to your skin:

Consult professionals regularly: dermatologists, and estheticians (for facials or any other treatments you might get). It is worth the expense, your skin will look beautiful for much longer. It is also quite handy to have a professional recommendation for the types of products your skin needs. You will save money in the long run by not experimenting with products that aren't right for your skin.

Never underestimate the power of massage. Regular massage works wonders for the skin. It gets the toxins out and helps to keep stress levels down-vital for radiant skin.

Drink lots of water. If you enjoy several different beverages throughout the day, such as coffee, tea, diet coke and cocktails (for example), try trading two or more of those for water. I try to mainly drink water and only give myself one or two non-water drinks a day- an afternoon coffee, for example, might be the only thing I have other than water all day. (If you find yourself hankering for something hot and non-caffinated, a hot water with lemon can be quite nice...)

Invest in the best products you can afford. The French spend about $2.2 billion a year on skin care. Here they do not skimp- they will buy the best creams, serums and cleansers they can afford. And while I tend to agree that you get what you pay for with regards to skincare products, you can also find affordable drugstore alternatives as well.

Don't forget eye cream. It is never too soon to start using it...

And while this tip isn’t particularly French… Acquaint yourself with the Clarisonic. My favorite skincare tool… ever. It is amazing, and yes, worth the investment.

Don’t forget your spf!


And most importantly… smile, emote, and really live (passionately) in your skin. Be comfortable and confident with who you are. Ignore the haters (if you have any- most people do). And just take comfort in being yourself. Nothing could be more attractive.

Won’t you stay tuned for #5?

The above picture is of a group of students in the Jardin du Luxembourg on the first hot Spring day in Paris. Normally accustomed to year round warm California weather, these students stopped everything they were doing and immediately went to sunbathe with the rest of the Parisians amongst the flora and fauna... Can you spot me?

My book, Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris will be published by Simon & Schuster and re-released in the fall of 2012.

12.06.2010

The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris- #7 Rejection of New Materialism



When the guidance councilor in Paris first told me about the family I would be living with I was pleasantly surprised. Famille Chic was a well respected aristocratic family with an apartment in the desirable 16th arrondissement and a country house in Brittany. I would be living with Monsieur Chic, Madame Chic and their 23 year old son. Apparently Madame Chic liked to take in foreign exchange students because all but one of her children were grown and living elsewhere and she liked the company. Plus Famille Chic liked to learn about other cultures. On a side note, the councilor told me that I was assigned to one of the wealthiest families in the program.

I was intrigued. Famille Chic sounded right up my alley- I did enjoy the finer things in life… this was going to be a match made in heaven! In the taxi ride on the way to my new home I imagined what their swanky 16th arrondissement apartment would look like. I envisioned plush sofas, flat screen TVs, my own en-suite bathroom (done up in marble, of course) a state of the art kitchen… as you can see I let my imagination run away with me…

Famille Chic’s apartment couldn’t have been further from what I imagined. It was magnificent- but not in the sort of nouveau riche way I envisioned. They did not have any flat screen TVs- just one (tiny) regular television that sat out of the way in their living room. They did not have any plush sofas- just a few comfortable antique chairs- perfect for socializing in or reading a book. There was no massive entertainment system- they had an old record player that was used every night to play classical music. There were no en-suite bathrooms- they had one small bathroom for the four of us to share (!). It was purely functional and had no luxurious qualities to it. Same with the kitchen. The kitchen was small, out of the way and purely functional. And we all know about the closet situation

I came to learn that in France there is not an obsession with what is called new materialism. They are not a society that constantly consumes- going on shopping binges looking for the next gadget, the next upgrade, the latest thing (which probably accounts to why their homes are so enviably clutter-free).

Famille Chic had absolutely no interest in ‘keeping up with the Joneses’. For example, they had one car between the three of them (and it was a very modest and nondescript car- not flashy at all). They spent their money on the things that were important to them- high quality food, excellent wine and well made clothing.

And, of course, I am only speculating here but I would be willing to bet that Famille Chic had not a trace of debt…

I found Famille Chic’s utter rejection of new materialism so refreshing. Their restraint as consumers, admirable. To live well- to live within your means and to not be seduced by a material world. They were not bogged down by stuff and as a result lived a clean, clutter-free existence and lived very well indeed. Now that is what I call prospering.

Won’t you stay tuned for #6?


La Défense, the modern business district of Paris, is pictured above.


My book, Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris will be published by Simon & Schuster and re-released in the fall of 2012.

11.29.2010

The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris- #8 The Art of Entertaining


France is truly a dinner party culture. Up until my sojourn in Paris, I wasn’t really versed in the art of the dinner party. Southern Californians do dinner parties, but not very often (we tend to go to restaurants instead of private homes) and when we do them they can be very casual, barbeque-style affairs, outside by the pool.

In Paris, entertaining really is a part of life. Madame Chic and Madame Bohemienne entertained guests at least once a week. And I’m not talking about having the neighbor over for a cup of tea. They both threw elaborate dinner parties frequently. In fact, I attended more dinner parties in Paris than I have in my entire life.

Madame Chic and Madame Bohemienne had very different styles when it came to their dinner parties. Madame Chic’s were always an elegant affair- classical music, apéritifs in the salon beforehand, delicious 5 course meal to follow… after that a little after dinner smoking (mainly from the men), digestifs and more classical music. Her guests were usually conservative, well respected upper-crust types.

Madame Bohemienne, on the other hand, had more wild, passionate affairs. Her guests were often from the artistic world. Whereas Madame Chic’s aperitifs consisted of whisky or port, Madame Bohemienne loved champagne cocktails . Her dinners were not elegant five course meals but usually consisted of three more casual courses- and afterward… well I never could really remember what happened afterward- we were having that much fun.

I like each style equally and always marveled at how these women would frequently pull off these successes without seemingly batting an eyelash.

I think the key to their success was confidence- major confidence. Those women were the masters of their domains- their signature was in every last detail. Everything from the music to the food to the guests to the ambiance was by their design and they genuinely seemed to enjoy every moment. Entertaining seemed so natural to them. There were no harried freak out sessions in the kitchen or stressed out scenarios over the food. If something went ‘wrong’ you would never have known it- their capabilities as hostesses was so smooth they were practically zen-like.

As I have admitted in the past, I am not the most masterful of hostesses. I admit that hosting a dinner party (or anything really) tends to stress me out. But since my stay in Paris I try to channel my inner Madame Chic whenever I am met with entertaining. I also find it helpful to tell myself the following:

Your guests (presumably) like you very much and want you to succeed.

Whatever you do, do it with style.

You look fabulous (providing you put some effort into your appearance)

The food tastes great and if it doesn’t it’s not the end of the world (confession: Madame Bohemienne was not the best of cooks- certainly not as skilled as Madame Chic- but we never minded. Her confidence as a host made up for it and we always had a great time…)

Calm down, let go and most importantly… have fun! Entertaining isn’t about being Martha Stewart perfect- it’s about enjoying the company of your guests and making them feel welcome.

On a side note I have recently befriended another French couple in California. We had a playdate with our babies and they invited me to their beautiful home (very minimalistic, with amazing artwork, no TV and no clutter!- but that is another story). We had a wonderful time and they served coconut ambrosia salad, homemade flourless chocolate cake and almond milk cappuccinos. It was the most sophisticated playdate I have ever been to! They were amazing hosts- it was really an unforgettable afternoon…

It will be my turn to host the playdate next… I will do so with confidence and perhaps some courage from one of Madame Bohemienne’s champagne cocktails…

Won’t you stay tuned for #7?

11.22.2010

The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris- #9 Exercise is Incorporated into Every Day Life



I used to be the type that would park my car as close to the grocery store entrance as possible to avoid walking any further than I had to. In my mind, exercise was for the gym only.

Living in Paris truly was the anecdote I needed to shake up my laziness (because, let’s be honest- I was lazy!)

Do you remember my story about my first visit to Madame Bohemienne? The enormous flight of stairs I faced before reaching her front door? My disbelief at how she didn’t have an elevator in her building… Did she and her sons climb this mountain of stairs everyday- several times a day- to get to their home?

Yes, they did. Because in Paris, exercise is incorporated into your every day life.

French people walk everywhere. They climb stairs in lieu of taking the elevator (a lot of the time they have no choice). If they do drive, they are not hell bent on getting the closest spot to the entrance. They are really conscious about incorporating exercise into their day, not necessarily because they have more energy than us, but as a necessity to maintaining those famously svelte figures.

And as for those famous figures… it is important here that I explain the mindset and philosophy behind fitness and figures in the French mind. French women really don’t have a negative mindset with regards to their bodies. As I have mentioned before, if they have eaten a particularly decadent dessert, they are enjoying it, not agonizing over how fat it will make them. They do not sit and plot about how they’ll have to work in an extra kickboxing class at the gym to atone for their culinary sin. Rather, they have made a silent and unspoken agreement with themselves that they will maintain an active life- every day- so that they can enjoy culinary decadence whenever they’d like, without guilt (A good thing to keep in mind for Thanksgiving this Thursday).

Madame Chic demonstrated this really well. Famille Chic only had one car and rarely used it. Monsieur Chic commuted to work and Madame Chic walked everywhere she needed to go. For shopping, she would bring along a cart and fill it with each shop she visited. And a note on that… Madame Chic preferred to visit specialty shops (like the local patisserie, chatucerie or boulingerie) instead of going to one giant supermarché probably for two reasons- the first being that the quality of goods she got at the specialty shops was superior to what one would find in a supermarket and the second being that she got more exercise out of going to more than one shop.

My life now, back in Santa Monica, is definitely an active one. I walk all over the city (with baby and Gatsby in tow, of course)- to go shopping, for groceries, to meet friends and even to go to work. I also practice yoga and qi gong and try to take the stairs in lieu of the elevator whenever I can. Not only does it keep my figure on track (and has definitely aided in my losing the majority of baby weight I put on), but it really makes me feel alive… and decidedly not lazy.

For those of you that celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you have a wonderful holiday and enjoy every last aspect of your family meal… and if you’re feeling a little guilty about any overindulgences you might have had, perhaps a good idea might be to talk a walk after the feast. ☺

Won’t you stay tuned for #8?

The above picture is of Mont St. Michel, the medieval Benedictine Abbey in Normandy. Not only is this famous abbey a spiritual and sacred destination but there are also 900 steps to climb before you reach it! Talk about incorporating exercise into your day…

My book, Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris will be published by Simon & Schuster and re-released in the fall of 2012.

11.15.2010

The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris- #10 Seek Out the Arts



You’d never know it based on my prior posts, but I didn’t actually go to Paris to party, gallivant and observe lifestyle traits, but rather to study and further my education. I studied French, Theatre and Art History. My classes were unique in the sense that on Monday we would discuss Manet’s Dejeuner sur L’herbe in Art History class and on Wednesday we would go see it in person at the Musée D’Orsay. For Theatre we would read a play as an assignment- such as Molière’s Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme and then the following week we would go see the live production at La Comedie Française. As you can imagine… I was in heaven.

The total immersion into the arts was an exquisite experience for me. Not only were we shown the world famous institutions such as the Louvre and the Paris Opera but our professors introduced us to smaller, niche museums and theatres. One experience I’ll never forget was seeing Ionesco’s La Cantatrice Chauve (The Bald Soprano) at a tiny theatre that only sat 20 people in the audience. We were so close to the actors- it practically felt like we were onstage ourselves!

My classes in France inspired me to seek out the arts and really incorporate them into my life- seeing the secret midnight quartet perform at the Louvre, for example, was particularly satisfying.

Back in Los Angeles I try to keep on my toes by seeking out independent theatre and film, attending art galleries and listening to live music. Being a patron of the arts is perhaps one of the most important aspects I took from living in Paris because it is an aspect of my life that brings me so much joy- a joy that I look forward to passing on to my daughter…

If you live in a large city and have access to a lot of cultural activities take full advantage- attend the symphony, the theatre, the ballet, the opera. Visit art galleries. Listen to writer’s talks.

If you don’t live in a place with a lot of artistic culture (or even if you do but find yourself longing for more) here are a few fun suggestions:

Reacquaint yourself with a musical instrument. So many of us learned a musical instrument as children. For me it was the piano and saxophone. (Yes! Saxophone- I went through a jazz phase). I recently picked up the piano again and take so much joy in playing.

Join a book club or your local writer’s group.

Write that novel you’ve always wanted to write. My writing teacher and mentor Alan Watt has recently published his book The 90 Day Novel. It is the ultimate writer’s tool to help you get the words on the page.

Or… if you are the adventurous type and feel like taking it to the next level…

Are you familiar with the idea of a salon? A salon is described as gathering of people in a fashionable household. These people are usually of intellectual or artistic distinction and get together to amuse each other with their pursuits. Well, I love the idea of holding an artistic salon in one’s own home.

Here are some ideas:

Enlist your musical friends and throw a concert in your home. Perhaps you could play a song on the piano, someone else could do a violin (insert any instrument here) solo, or someone could sing a song… This would be so much fun to do on the evening of a dinner party…

Are you artistic or do you have an artistic friend or friends? Turn your home into an art gallery and showcase their paintings or sculptures… Get really into it- wine, hors d’oeuvres, music…

Stage a poetry reading. You could have a theme such as romantic or Gothic poetry. Or you could read original pieces…

Put on a play in your living room. It could be a one act play or a series of short plays or even a night of improv. (This is especially fun if you are dealing with amateurs… that way the pressure is off and you know it is OK to laugh!)

As you can see the possibilities are endless.

I would love to know… how do you seek out the arts?

Won’t you stay tuned for # 9?

The Eiffel Tower at night is pictured above...


My book, Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris will be published by Simon & Schuster and re-released in the fall of 2012.

11.08.2010

The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris- #11 Clutter-free Home (or Clutter is So Not Chic)



I am not exaggerating when I say Famille Chic’s home was completely clutter-free.

There was no pile of mail waiting to be sorted through on the kitchen table. There was no accumulation of shoes and coats by the entryway door. There were no remote controls, game controls, errant CDs and other entertainment paraphernalia hanging around the living room. Monsieur Chic’s slippers weren’t in the middle of the living room floor. There was no diaper bag on the coffee table (OK now I am just describing my own home).

In short, Madame Chic kept her home completely clutter-free. Everything had a place and in the entire six months I lived with them I never saw anything out of place.

I also didn’t see Madame Chic running around like a maniac trying to pick up after her family and keep her house in order (and she did not employ a cleaner). She was the most calm and collected housewife I have ever seen.

I do have my theories on why French homes remain so enviably clutter free:

France is not a heavy consumer society. They do not constantly buy things and bring them into the home so they have less stuff to manage and ultimately find a place for.

French women tend to do the majority of the housework (France is a bit behind in this area). But having said that, French men seem to be very respectful of the home and do not leave a mess. Monsieur Chic and their son never left a mess around the house- I have a feeling that Madame Chic trained them early on the art of maintaining a clutter-free home. They simply didn’t leave stuff everywhere or anywhere for that matter.

They lead very disciplined lives with a lot of structure- they love a routine and rarely stray from it. So, for example, you would never see Monsieur Chic leave his pipe on the end table one night and on the kitchen table the next. He had a place for his pipe and it went in the same place every single night after he used it. No exceptions.

The French love to live well and living in constant clutter is the antithesis of living well. Clutter is probably the domestic equivalent of snackingit is so not chic.


Finding the path to a clutter free home is one of my life’s missions and trust me, the minute I figure it out I will share it with you. Now that we have a baby I am dealing with a whole slew of new clutter issues (like I said, the diaper bag is currently on our coffee table.) But for now, I am giving myself a free pass to figure it all out.

I do have a few systems in my home that are works in progress at keeping the clutter at bay (*please note these tips work particularly well for small spaces like apartments and condos):

A (hidden) place to keep one’s keys, cell phone, wallet, sunglasses and purse. This is preferably by the front door so that these items can be tucked away immediately. It is also handy to always have your keys in the same place so you never lose them…

A filing system to deal with the mail. Recycle the junk mail immediately upon checking the mail and store the bills and important correspondence in a receptacle or file folder (again, hidden away) to deal with at a later date.

Furniture that doubles as storage. We just purchased a large tufted ottoman that we are using as a coffee table. We love it because it opens like a trunk and stores all of our remotes, game controls and DVDs.

Encourage yourself (and any others that happen to live with you) to create a routine. For example, if you never leave your bedroom slippers in the same place twice, get into the habit of leaving them in the same place every night. At the foot of the bed, for example. This takes extreme discipline and can be applied to almost everything that you have: shoes, coats, newspapers, magazines, etc. …

…and lastly. When it comes to things like mail and dishes, it is best to deal with them immediately before they pile up and get out of control.

I would love to know… how clutter-free is your home?

Won’t you stay tuned for #10?


A typical Parisian bridge over the river Seine is pictured above. Do you spot the statue of the man on his horse? Those sort of ornate statues are laced all around the city of Paris... beautiful.


My book, Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris will be published by Simon & Schuster and re-released in the fall of 2012.

11.01.2010

The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris- #12 Life As a Formal Affair



It’s not for everyone… and certainly not everyone in Paris was like this… but Famille Chic’s life really was a formal affair- and I loved it.

Do you ever feel as though our society has become too casual? I recently attended a baby shower in Santa Monica where six people were wearing jeans. Six people! So wrong...

Living in France I was pleasantly surprised to find Famille Chic was the furthest from casual a family could be.

They lived in a grand 16th arrondissement apartment filled with curious antiques (my favorites were the formidable portraits of their ancestors hanging in gold gilded frames that greeted you as you walked in the door). The whole family dressed beautifully from the moment they got ready for the day until bedtime. They enjoyed a three course (minimum) sit down dinner every single night- Madame Chic would wheel in the food on a service tray (so old fashioned, but so cool). They rarely watched television. After dinner they listened to classical music on their record player while Monsieur Chic smoked his pipe. They entertained guests in their salon at least once a week. I could go on…

Actually, I will. Do you know that every evening for the entire six months I lived with them, when at the dinner table, they insisted on serving me first as I was the female guest of honor? Then Madame Chic was served, then her husband and then their son. At first, I felt overwhelmed by the attention and pomp and circumstance of it all. But once I got over the initial surprise, realized that they weren’t putting on airs for me and that was their ‘normal’, I really embraced their customs.

Some people might equate formal with stuffy but that wasn’t the case at all with Famille Chic. They unapologetically lived the old fashioned way- with style and panache.

The following are some ways to add a little formality into your life when you feel things have gotten a bit too casual:

Play classical music in the background as you go about your day. It has a way of making whatever you do feel so much more important.

Get dressed up for dinner
.

Write a letter instead of sending an email- think how surprised the recipient would be!

Learn a fancy new word every day and incorporate it into a conversation. (This is great for when you feel that language has gotten too casual and you are horrified to realize you say ‘like’ way too much). For example, "The fog layer is giving Santa Monica a positively crepuscular feel today!”

Subscribe to a newspaper rather than reading your news online. It feels so much more formal to enjoy coffee and a biscuit while reading The Financial Times (plus you learn quite a lot too).

When entertaining, go all out (whatever that means for you). I recently had a playdate for some friends and our babies- a raspberry tart from Trader Joe’s (although I didn’t tell them that’s where it was from) looked beautiful on a fancy cake stand. Tea was out of proper cups and saucers- not mugs. Now this may not sound like much of an effort- but for a new mom who is sleep deprived- trust me, it is!

And as always, it is better to be overdressed than underdressed (remember the baby shower I went to?) so when in doubt, go all out.


I would love to know… how is your life a formal affair?

Won’t you stay tuned for #11?


The above picture is a close up of a typical building in Paris- I just love the architecture, the attention to detail and grand windows!

My book, Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris will be published by Simon & Schuster and re-released in the fall of 2012.

10.25.2010

The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris- #13 Look Presentable Always



Yes the last few beauty and style themed posts have all been leading up to this with the simple message: look presentable always.

Do you remember the story of my sweatpants with the hole in the knee? Madame Chic’s shock and dismay at the sight of them? Many lessons came out of that embarrassing incident (at least something good came out of it!) and the most important one was simple: look presentable always.

I remember once seeing Madame Chic as she was about to pop down the street for a baguette. Before she left she checked her appearance in the mirror and applied lipstick. It was a small gesture, but one that was duly noted.

Every component comes together for the French woman to look her best at any given moment. She is dressed well (easy to do with their 10 item wardrobe) and she is always well groomed.

Looking presentable always is not to be confused with ‘high maintenance’. You are less likely to see a French woman running late because it took her an hour to do her makeup and flat iron her hair. Pas du tout. They have their look down so well- that they put together an outfit quickly (without agonizing over what to wear), have a simple haircut that is easy to style and very minimal makeup (nothing too elaborate… you know- le no makeup look!).

You wouldn’t see a French woman walking the dog in her pajamas or in line at the boulangerie wearing tattered old yoga clothes. She won’t be dressed to the nines either- she will just look… pretty and presentable.

My tips for looking presentable always?

Avoid telling yourself you’re ‘just going to the grocery store’ (or wherever it is you happen to be going) as an excuse to look like a complete frump. You may think you won’t see anyone you know- but trust me, you will. You’ll see your ex-lover and your frenemy. Even if you don’t see someone you know- you should want to look good for yourself.

Don’t tempt yourself to be frumpy- throw out any clothes that are over worn, damaged, or unflattering (remember to only use the best things you have). There is no excuse for holding on to bad clothes- they serve no purpose and even if you live alone, you shouldn’t wear them.

For traveling wear comfortable clothes that are also chic- black leggings and a dolman sleeve top paired with ballet flats and a pashmina, for example, are equally comfortable to a track suit- and so much more presentable… and who knows… you might even be upgraded to first class!

If you must walk the dog in your pajamas
(which, I'm not going to lie, I have been known to do on a few occasions) put an overcoat or long sweater on and perhaps a scarf and no one will ever know (OK I confess, I do this every morning)...

Break out of the mentality of ‘saving things’
. Do you have a new blouse but you haven’t worn it yet because you are saving it for a special occasion? Well if that special occasion comes by all means wear it, but in the meantime wear it to your dentist appointment… after all, you are worth it.

Looking presentable always is simply a matter of respect- of respect for yourself- for people you love and for everyone that comes in contact with you.

Won’t you stay tuned for #12?


If you find yourself in France during the Spring, it's really worth it to take a trip to Giverny to see Monet's home. The gardens are spectacular (see above picture) and the inside of his home is filled with Japanese prints, which the famous artist loved to collect...


My book, Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris will be published by Simon & Schuster and re-released in the fall of 2012.

10.18.2010

The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris- #14 Define Your True Style


If you are anything like me your closet has at one time or another showcased a rather schizophrenic wardrobe. Bohemian, preppy, urban and god knows what other looks have all been in there in the ultimate attempt to find my true style. The question is- when does the searching stop?

French women really seem to know their style and stick with it. Madame Chic had her signature look down- she was very conservative and liked cashmere sweaters, A-line skirts and flats. She was completely comfortable and at ease in her look.

Madame Bohemienne’s style was entirely hers as well. She loved (can you guess?) bohemian-style, flowy skirts and three quarter sleeve tops. She rarely strayed from her look. Both of these women knew who they were and were completely comfortable with it. I can’t imagine either one of them standing in front of their wardrobe- frazzled because they couldn’t decide what to wear.

It has taken me a while to find and define my style- what I’m comfortable in. I would define my style as ‘French Minimalism’. I like classic looks for daytime like skinny jeans, polo shirts, striped bateau tops, wayfarers, a-line skirts, cashmere sweaters, cropped blazers, ballet flats. I like my clothes to be simple and very well made- and I don’t wear very many accessories (hence the minimalism). Think A.P.C., Lacoste and J. Crew.

Eveningwear is a different story- I like to glam it up a bit. Black skinny pants, blazers, silk tops, dresses and heels. Think Diane von Furstenberg, Nanette Lepore, BCBG. I feel comfortable in these clothes and confident navigating the world in them.

Now that I have (finally) investigated and found my true style I save so much money and time. I basically ignore the trends and stick with what I know and like. Clothes shopping is a joy. I just see what my favorite brands put out each season and purchase a few key elements to enhance and supplement my wardrobe.

Finding my true style didn’t happen quickly. But I must admit living in Paris and observing French women in their chic, minimalistic clothing certainly planted the seed.

I would love to know… how do you define your true style?


Won’t you stay tuned for #13?


The Seine is pictured above... isn't it beautiful?


My book, Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris will be published by Simon & Schuster and re-released in the fall of 2012.

10.11.2010

The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris- #15 Le No Makeup Look



Le no makeup look is one of my favorite beauty tricks I learned while living in Paris. (If you couldn’t already tell… I write about it all the time!)

As you know one of my favorite activities in Paris was to sit for hours at a café with a cappuccino and people-watch. And while French men were very fun to observe (for other reasons)- I equally enjoyed watching the women- who, for the most part, all looked polished, yet natural. Were they wearing makeup or weren’t they? It was hard to tell but their cheeks had a natural glow, their eyes slightly defined and lips a pretty, earthy shade. I came to the conclusion that what I was observing was le no makeup look and its many variations.

I love the idea of this look and so wholeheartedly embrace it because before I discovered le no makeup look, makeup application was a bit intimidating to me. I either wore a lot of it (for going out at night) or I didn’t wear any at all- there was no in between . I never really knew how to translate makeup for day while still being tasteful.

What is so genius about the look is that it subtlety enhances your beauty- just enough to give you confidence and a certain polish. It says ‘I am a natural beauty, have great taste and am too busy with important things (like philosophizing and romancing!) to worry about applying an entire face of meticulous makeup”...

I started to experiment with my daytime look while living in Paris by emulating the fresh faced women I observed every day and I continue to cultivate and refine the look to this very day.

The following are my three favorite variations of Le No Makeup Look:

Au Natural- This look is extremely subtle. It includes a light foundation to even out the skin (either powder or tinted moisturizer), blush, mascara and a neutral lip color. It is just enough to give you a pretty, professional polish but also looks completely natural. This takes no time to apply and is a great look for everyday- for when you just want to feel pulled together.

Defined Eye- This variation boasts a defined eye and neutral lip. It uses the same process as Au Natural but employs my favorite makeup product- eyeliner. This look is very gamine- very Parisian and suggests that the wearer is chicer than the average person. She simply got out of bed, tied her hair back, slicked on some eyeliner and went about her day! (Whether that is true or not. In my case it takes a bit longer to get ready but you do get the idea).

Defined Lip-
This variation showcases a defined lip (red maybe?) and neutral eye. It would include powder, blush a bold color lipstick (berries, mauves or reds) and a neutral eye (no eyeliner- just mascara). This look is more romantic and clearly draws attention to the mouth- perfect for when you are feeling passionate, whimsical or adventurous. It also suggests that you have better things to do than carefully apply makeup everyday, but that you are feminine enough to not forget your lipstick!

Voilà my top three Le No Makeup Look variations. Even now with the baby I manage to do one of these variations a day. What with the dark circles currently under my eyes and less than radiant skin it helps to keep me feeling beautiful and is quite fun to channel my inner French girl. Charming!

Won’t you stay tuned for #14?

The above picture was taken of me in the gardens outside the Chateau de Versailles.

My book, Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris will be published by Simon & Schuster and re-released in the fall of 2012.

10.04.2010

The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris- #16- The 10 Item Wardrobe



I’ll never forget the moment I saw my bedroom for the first time chez Famille Chic. Madame Chic led me to my room and I eagerly took it all in. There was a single bed with a charming velvet coverlet, stately floor to ceiling windows that looked out over a picturesque courtyard, a perfectly adequate desk for me to study French on and a very tiny freestanding wardrobe in which to store my clothes.

Attendez.

A tiny freestanding wardrobe?

It had all been going so well until that moment. I remember panicking slightly as I regarded my two largely overstuffed suitcases. Where was the closet? I opened the wardrobe doors- there were only a handful of hangers inside. Now I really panicked. Was this where I was suppose to keep all of my clothes for the next six months?

Well I was in denial at the time, but the answer to that question was undoubtedly Oui.

I quickly learned that that tiny space is about all the average French person needs as they generally have a wardrobe of around 10 items. Famille Chic definitely did- Monsieur Chic, Madame Chic and their son all had really nice clothes- they just happened to wear the same things in rotation- over and over again (a concept that is very foreign to us in America- most of us have enough clothes to never repeat the same outfit twice in an entire year).

For example, Madame Chic’s 10 item wardrobe roughly consisted of two wool skirts, one cotton skirt, 2 cashmere sweaters, 3 or 4 lightweight blouses, 2 coats (one for winter, one for spring) and a couple of pairs of Ferragamo-esque flats. (Madame Chic never wore trousers remember).

Monsieur Chic’s wardrobe roughly consisted of 2 grey suits, 1 navy suit, 2 or 3 sweaters, about 4 collared shirts and a couple of ties. The same went for their son (although he rarely wore suits- mainly collard shirts and sweaters. Their son was the only one in the family to occasionally wear jeans).

Now I’m not trying to claim that I myself have a 10 item wardrobe (far from it- I probably have a 40 item wardrobe) but I am a lot better than I used to be. I edit a lot more these days, am much more discerning and try to only bring in well thought-out, high quality pieces into my space. And if I buy something new- I usually get rid of something old…

I do dream of a day when I can get my look together enough to have a 10 item wardrobe. Think of all of the money and aggravation that would be saved! Not to mention never having to ask myself “What on earth am I going to wear today?”

Maybe one day…

Won’t you stay tuned for #15?

The above picture is of the desk and window in my Paris bedroom. I did not have the foresight at the time to take a photo of the tiny wardrobe. Perhaps I was still in shock!

My book, Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris will be published by Simon & Schuster and re-released in the fall of 2012.

9.27.2010

The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris- #17- Deprive Yourself Not



Of pastries that is. When I first arrived in Paris I would regard the shop windows of the Patisseries with simultaneous longing and fear. The desserts looks so delicious- so tempting. What if I ate them and gained weight? Finally, I just succumbed and figured "when in Paris"... (I could always hit the gym when I got back to L.A.)

But then a miraculous thing happened. I wasn't gaining weight and I found I was really enjoying myself. I learned there is absolutely nothing wrong with having one gorgeous, decadent well made pastry or dessert a day, if that is what you desire.

The key factor (and this may sound strange) is to enjoy it. Every moment.

Enjoy it slowly. Enjoy it with an espresso. Enjoy it alone or with a friend… or even better yet- with a lover! But make sure that you by all means enjoy it thoroughly and in the present moment. No beating yourself up over it, s'il vous plaît .

Chocolate éclair? Divine, savor that delicious filling. Tarte aux fraises ? Fabulous, how do those seasonal berries taste? Don’t think about calories, or your thighs, or how you’ll have to put in an extra hour at the gym. That sort of thinking is rubbish (and so unsexy). What is the point?

Relish it with extreme pleasure, and eat slowly and mindfully. That way you are less likely to have two or three (and let's face it- we've all been there before).

And finally make sure that you are savoring a high quality dessert- Twinkies, Ho-hos and other inferior products do not count- in fact banish them from your repertoire. If a well made pastry (or chocolate) is not within your reach, you’ll simply have to go without- never settle.

Yes, one of the sweeter lessons I learned while living in Paris is not only are pastries and other sweet delights OK- but they are a necessary part of living a pleasurable existence. Deprive yourself not.

Won’t you stay tuned for #16?

The above picture was taken of me at some café in Paris (there were so many!). I’m not sure why I’m laughing with my head in hand here. I believe my afternoon tea companion kept stopping passers-by to take my picture and it all became a bit ridiculous. Even the waiter is looking the other way…

My book, Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris will be published by Simon & Schuster and re-released in the fall of 2012.

9.20.2010

The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris- #18 Cultivate an Air of Mystery



Last week my husband babysat while I went and treated myself to my first manicure/ pedicure in a long time. Being somewhat sleep deprived and feeling highly unglamorous, I was very much so looking forward to the experience. I did have a wonderful time (mani, pedi and 10 minute shoulder massage… heaven!) but the experience was hampered slightly by the woman in the chair next to me who was speaking loudly on her cell phone during my entire treatment. She shared lurid details about her date the night before, her status on match.com, the woe begotten details of her dwindling bank account and the fact that she hates her boss. Not only did she share these things with her friend on the other end of the phone, but also to me and an entire salon full of women.

That would never happen in France.

Living in Paris I never saw French women speaking loudly on a cell phone in public about their private life. They prefer to maintain an air of mystery. They might have a few confidants to whom they tell their innermost secrets to but I can assure you that this is not done on their cell phone in the nail salon. (In fact, it would be much more French to rapturously enjoy your manicure, pedicure and massage- not counteract the peaceful experience by stressing yourself out over your cell phone).

While people watching at a café in Paris (one of my favorite activities) I would always observe other French women in the café either alone reading or simply staring into space (probably thinking about the lurid details of their date the night before!), or, if they were sitting with a companion, speaking in hushed tones while drinking espresso. I loved imagining about the lives of these people- what they did for a living, what they were passionate about- what made them tick. Their air of mystery was so appealing.

I now avoid over-sharing about myself to people and if I need to vent to a girlfriend over the phone, I do it while walking the dog (Gatsby doesn’t mind, you know).

Along with not over-sharing cultivating a Mona Lisa smile is quite effective too. I haven’t gotten direct feedback on my quest to maintain an air of mystery but I do get a lot of curious smiles from strangers… maybe it’s working after all…

Won't you stay tuned for #17?

The above picture was taken of me (Mon Dieu I am young here!) in 2001 in the Jardin des Tuileries… It could be that the picture is rather grainy and taken almost ten years ago, but I think I look quite mysterious... non?

My book, Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris will be published by Simon & Schuster and re-released in the fall of 2012.

9.12.2010

The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris- #19- Only Use the Best Things You Have



I learned the hard way when Madame Chic questioned why I would wear a holey pair of faded sweatpants to bed. In France, it is de rigueur to use the best things you have on a daily basis. And why not? As it has been said before, life is short, why save your pretty pajamas (for example) for another night?

Living with Famille Chic I watched them all use the best things they had on a daily basis. We drank our wine out of crystal tumblers. We sat in their beautiful antique Louis XVI (-esque) chairs before each meal for our apéritif . They wore their nicest clothes every day (there was no changing into old Juicy Couture tracksuits once home like I am guilty of- the family was still dressed beautifully in their day clothes when we sat down for dinner). In short, they used the best things they had on a regular basis.

I will actually take it a step further by saying that they only owned the best things they had. For example, Madame Chic would never dream of hanging on to a garment that had passed its prime (like my holey sweatpants). Every article of clothing she owned was of a high quality and in top condition. They didn’t have two sets of wine glasses for dinner- it was crystal or nothing- and as for their home, they didn’t have one room for ‘everyday’ and one room for ‘special visitors’. In their minds- they were special enough.

Observing this way of being planted the seed of fine living into my impressionable young mind and for that I couldn’t be more grateful.

I find the key is to look at everything you own with a critical eye. Hold your possessions to the highest of standards. Doing so can bring a specialness to the mundane and make life so much more interesting…

Won’t you stay tuned for number 18?


I have scanned all of my old photographs from Paris for this series and look forward to sharing them with you. Above, the Eiffel Tower is pictured.

My book, Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris will be published by Simon & Schuster and re-released in the fall of 2012.

9.06.2010

The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris- #20 Snacking Is So Not Chic



Mindless snacking that is. Trust me- there was no errant box of Cheez-its laying about by Madame Chic’s sofa (actually they didn’t have a sofa… but you get the idea)...

There are many things that are simply not done in France and mindless snacking is one of them. Of course there is nothing wrong with the occasional afternoon nutella crêpe or petite sandwich au jambon- (eaten with pleasure and only when one is truly hungry, of course). But overall, France is not a snacking culture. (And, for the record, I absolutely never saw any of Famille Chic snacking on anything between meals- ever. Isn’t that crazy?)

When I realized there were no snack foods chez Madame Chic, I must admit, I panicked. I was addicted to snacking. I don’t think there was a day in my life up until that point where I didn’t snack on something in between meals. What if I got hungry? What if my blood-sugar became low? These concerns, in the end, were unnecessary. I never found myself to be ‘starving’. I did find myself to be hungry, but that can actually be a wonderful sensation. I was so used to snacking, I never knew what hunger was. And being slightly hungry, I enjoyed my meals that much more.

I have two theories on why the French don’t snack. The first is that they tend to go from one really great meal to the next. Breakfast is good, lunch is good and dinner is definitely good. Why would they want to ruin their appetite by stuffing themselves with a semi-disgusting cracker in the interim?

My other theory is that snacking is not very chic. Have you ever watched someone mindlessly snacking? Sitting in front of the television with a bag of pretzels or a pint of ice cream- absentmindedly eating while not really paying attention? Perhaps crumbs falling down the front of their shirt? Or an errant drop of ice cream ruining their perfectly pressed skirt? No, snacking is the opposite of chic. And in Paris? That simply won’t do.

Won't you stay tuned for #19?

The print pictured above is a vintage Art Deco poster I acquired while in France of Roger La Grenouille Restaurant. I love how chic the diners in the restaurant look- all dressed to the nines and enjoying both the food and each other’s company. So quintessentially French... and you can be sure that none of these people would dream of mindlessly snacking before this fabulous meal...

My book, Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris will be published by Simon & Schuster and re-released in the fall of 2012.

8.19.2010

Update at Summer’s End



I hope you are having an enchanting summer. I know I am. Mr. Connoisseur and I are having so much fun with baby…

I cannot believe it is almost the end of August and the fall season of The Daily Connoisseur is almost upon us!

The following are some updates, observations and announcements:

The 5 minute face (otherwise known as le no makeup look) has been my savior. I am getting little to no sleep what with the baby and all and in the morning it boosts my morale tremendously to be able to hide the dark circles and apply a touch of lip gloss and mascara. My friends even tell me I don’t look tired in the least! (Although they could just be saying that to be nice… I do have thoughtful friends).

My house has spiraled out of control into a veritable dumping ground for baby apparatus, unopened mail and other objects I can't be bothered to pick up. You all warned me it would happen and it has. Granted it is not dirty as I am fortunate enough to have a wonderful lady that helps me clean twice a week, but as far as method and order are concerned, it could be described as Hercule Poirot’s worst nightmare. As I write this my desk is so messy, I’m thinking of moving my computer to another room! I’m sure once I get a grip on things my home will return to its usual sense of order, but until then I must learn to juggle both baby and the Sisyphean tasks that I dread (like organizing my office).

Madame Sportif has departed back to Paris, but in the meantime I have befriended a new French couple! (I know… I’m like a moth to a flame). The story with this couple is quite remarkable- I will share it with you soon. And I, of course, have already racked up some observations Comme les Français to share with you (also forthcoming).

I will be starting a new series in September called The Top 10 Things I Learned While Living in Paris. Although I am having a hard time narrowing it down to just 10 things. Right now it’s roughly 17. It might stay that way too- even though “The Top 17 Things I Learned While Living in Paris” doesn’t sound as nice as "The Top 10"… we shall see.

I am finding little pockets of time here and there to write and I am finally able to start the last rewrite of my mystery novel… It is a fun, old school mystery about a modern girl living in Santa Monica that solves a case involving murder, some missing rubies and a little international intrigue. Think Agatha Christie- but Daily Connoisseur style. If you know of any literary agent or publisher in need of such a revolutionary novel, do let me know.

Lastly, Baby Connoisseur is a splendid little bundle of joy. She is healthy and vibrant and getting bigger every day. Thank you again for all of your lovely comments and messages.

And, as always, if you have any requests for future blog posts, leave me a comment, or email me and I will do my best to honor your request!

Bisous,

Jennifer xx

Pictured above is a beautiful bouquet of flowers given to me by Mr. Connoisseur.

8.03.2010

My Last Day in Paris



Thank you so much to everyone for all of your lovely messages about the baby. We are all thriving and doing very well. Our baby girl is changing so much every day I am savoring every moment and am filled with gratitude.

Many of you have asked what we named her. I have decided to not announce her name publicly as baby connoisseur knows only too well the importance of maintaining an air of mystery. I will say that we chose a very traditional, whimsical and good old fashioned English name for her… and I must say it suits her very well!

On to other news…

This week I found a large envelope on my doorstep. It was from Madame Sportif and inside was a copy of French Elle à Table (pictured above)- a magazine she had told me about during our many cooking sessions together. It is a cooking magazine filled with beautiful recipes for everything from strawberry tarts to carbonaras. Included with the magazine was a note saying she had asked one of her friends from Paris to bring over the magazine especially for me. Then she told me news of her travel plans and informed me that she and her family will be sadly going back to France next week.

My heart sank at this news. I knew the Sportifs were only here for a year but during that time I forged a great friendship with Madame Sportif. She is truly a wonderful and thoughtful lady. How kind and considerate that she had one of her friends bring me that magazine all the way from Paris! I wrote her back to say that I will miss her greatly and if she ever finds herself in California again, to be sure and look me up.

The sadness I felt when I read Madame Sportif’s note was similar to the feeling I had on my last day in Paris. I’ll never forget it. Famille Chic was on holiday in their country estate in Brittany and I was alone in their 16th arrondissement apartment. My heart was filled with such conflicting emotions. On one hand I was excited to travel back home to California to see my family and friends again and start to live my new life as a daily connoisseur of the French philosophy. On the other hand I knew that I would never have this experience again- living in Paris with a French family- learning their secrets, exploring the city- exalting in life as a student without any major responsibilities. The cafés, the art, the food, the dinner parties, the new friends, the romance of it all…

On my last day in Paris I did not walk by the Seine or go see Notre Dame for the last time- I did not take a solitary stroll down the Champs-Élysées, instead I stayed inside the apartment of Famille Chic. That rich apartment that I had so grown to love. I made myself a small lunch, I played the record player, I drank a glass (or two) of port and I packed my bags. I left a note in the hallway for Famille Chic, thanking them for an experience most magnifique.

My last day in Paris was bittersweet but I also knew it was a turning point in my life and that I (much like the famed character Sabrina) would return to California a completely different girl.

And so I did…

7.21.2010

Baby Connoisseur


Mr. Connoisseur and I are proud to announce the arrival of our baby girl. She decided to make her debut two and a half weeks early and is thriving and doing great. Thank you so much for all of your lovely messages and your support as we enjoy this amazing time in our life.

Jennifer xxx

7.11.2010

Sleepwear- Comme les Français



One morning in Paris as I ventured to the salle de bain in my pajamas, Madame Chic stopped me. The look on her face was one of concern.

“Jennifer,” she said (in French, bien sûr), “Did I do that in the laundry?”

She was referring to the hole in the knee of my sweat pants- my favorite white sweat pants that I wore religiously.

“Oh no!” I exclaimed, eager to ease her mind. “These have had a hole in the knee for ages!”

The look of concern on Madame Chic’s face grew to one of confusion. “Why would you keep them if they have a hole in the knee?” she asked.

I remember looking at her, in her chic kimono style dressing gown- her hair pulled gently back from her face. “That is a very good question,” I said with embarrassment. “I don’t know.”

And the truth was, I didn’t know. Why did I haul my ratty old holey sweatpants all the way from California to Paris (Paris!) to wear as sleepwear? Yes, they were comfortable, but they weren’t that comfortable. I was instantly horrified/ enlightened.

That afternoon I headed straight to Etam and bought some suitable pajamas. (I’ll never forget them. I bought two pairs- a cream colored structured button down pajama set and a pretty orange lace chemise) The white holey sweatpants were thrown in the bin.

From that moment on, I developed a taste for lovely sleepwear...

My favorite brands are Calvin Klein Intimates (they put out beautiful pieces each season) and Intimissimi (I purchase something from their Kings Road shop whenever I am in London).

I used a recent gift certificate to Bloomingdales on this beautiful set of sleepwear by Calvin Klein (pictured above and below). I really enjoy sets because you can mix and match the options. I purchased a chemise, camisole, pant and dressing gown- all black with a plum lace trim. Perfectly understated and the sort of item that I wouldn’t mind anyone seeing me in…



Madame Chic would be so proud…

6.30.2010

Want to Get to Know You



One of my favorite beauty bloggers, FuzKittie, tagged her readers in a want to get to know you post and I thought I’d participate. If you find yourself inspired to answer the questions as well, I’d love to read them!

1. What time did you get up this morning? 7:15am

2. How do you like your steak? Medium rare.

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Babies

4. What is your favorite TV show? Keeping Up Appearances

5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? Where I already live: between Santa Monica and London.

6. What did you have for breakfast? Oatmeal with almond milk, walnuts, flax seeds and bananas

7. What is your favorite cuisine? Japanese and French

8. What foods do you dislike? Highly processed foods

9. Favorite place to eat? Koi, Sushi Roku, Katsuya

10. Favorite dressing? Olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper

11. What kind of vehicle do you drive? Toyota Prius

12. What are your favorite clothes? I love J Crew and A.P.C.

13. Where would you visit if you had the chance? I’ve always wanted to visit Tokyo

14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full? Half full of course!

15. Where would you want to retire? South of France or English countryside.

16. Favorite time of day? Twilight

17. Where were you born? Southern California

18. What is your favorite sport to watch? Basketball, but I must say I have gotten into the World Cup this year…

19. Are you a morning person or a night person? Both.

20. Do you have any pets? Gatsby, world famous Chihuahua / Dachshund

21. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share? Hmmm… well I am about to give birth any day now!

22. What did you want to be when you were little? A writer

23. What is your best childhood memory? Visiting Europe for the first time

24. Are you a cat or dog person? Dog

25. Are you married? Yes, to Mr. Connoisseur

26. Any pet peeves? Rudeness

27. Favorite Pizza Toppings? Prosciutto and olives

28. Favorite Flower? Roses

29. Favorite ice cream? Coconut

30. Favorite fast food restaurant? In N Out... j'adore!

31. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? I don’t believe in maxing out my credit card but this is a fantasy question so… Brunello Cucinelli.

32. Do anything spontaneous lately? Purchased this summer’s limited edition of Stella Sheer edt.

33. Like your job? Yes, I am really lucky.

34. What was your last vacation? Barbados for the New Year

35. Last person you went out to dinner with? Mr. Connoisseur and I dined at Rustic Canyon- I had quail... it was rather disgusting. I am never having quail again

36. What are you listening to right now? Friendly Fires

37. What is your favorite color? Cream

38. How many tattoos do you have? 0 and it will stay that way.

39. Coffee drinker? Yes, love it. Cream, no sugar please.


Gatsby, world famous Chihuahua Dachshund, is pictured above...

6.23.2010

What’s in my Handbag?




A while back I was reading Colin Cowie Chic, where Mr. Cowie suggests you can tell a lot about a woman by the state of her handbag. In this context he mentioned that when he is hiring someone new and wants to know if they are tidy and organized or not he glances at their open handbag or the inside of their car. If it’s a hot mess, he passes. If things are neat and clean, he considers.

Since reading that, I have become diligent about cleaning out the inside of my handbag on a regular basis. It only takes a few minutes… it’s amazing how receipts, loose change, hair pins and other miscellaneous items tend to accumulate- making the whole situation not very chic.

I also couldn’t help but wonder if Mr. Cowie has a fascination with what ladies keep inside their handbag. Don’t we all wonder... just a little bit?

Well, here’s what I carry around on a regular basis:

Wallet- I have a brown faux snakeskin wallet by Marc Jacobs that is wonderful- easily organizes credit cards, cash, change and business cards.

My blackberry

Hand Sanitizer- in case I find myself in a situation where I can’t wash my hands(my worst nightmare).

Chanel pressed powder in beige- for those moments when I need to powder my nose.

A moleskin leather journal and pen- for when inspiration strikes!

Dior Addict Lip Gloss in Beige- a luxurious neutral color for lips.

Peppermint Altoids- so essential...

A travel size vial of my favorite perfume, right now it’s Stella Sheer

Oliver Peoples wayfarers

Tissues

Keys

C’est tout!

I would love to know... what do you keep in your handbag?

My handbag, pictured above, is a black leather Monserrat de Lucca Doctor’s bag that I have been using for almost two years... might be time for a new bag! I have my eye on the Louis Vuitton Neverfull... here's hoping :)

6.19.2010

Lupicia Fresh Tea- Jardin Sauvage





Not being able to drink my favorite teas and coffees while pregnant has proven quite challenging. I normally am a green tea fiend- a connoisseur, if you will, that usually enjoys at least two cups a day. I also love an afternoon coffee (cream, no sugar) **sigh**... Anyway, don’t feel too sorry for me- the day will come when I can enjoy my favorite beverages again. But in the meantime...

I wandered into my favorite tea shop in Los Angeles, Lupicia Fresh Tea, and explained to them my woe in not being able to drink the tea I love (I usually get their Momo Oolong Supergrade or classic Sencha Green Tea) . They explained to me that rooibos tea, or African red bush tea, is actually quite good for pregnant and nursing women and is recommended as being safe to drink. I did my research- and they were correct! So I journeyed back and purchased Jardin Sauvage- a green rooibos tea flavored with mango and citrus- and have been delighting in it ever since. I love rooibos tea anyway (after all, it is Mma Ramotswe’s drink of choice) but this green rooibos has such a smooth, lovely flavor, I'm happy to add this to my repertoire of favorite drinks.

As I write this, I am enjoying a cup- along with a perfectly chilled sliced white peach... a delightful afternoon treat.

My beloved Royal Albert bone china tea set (a present from my mother in law) is pictured above. This antique set makes the ritual of drinking afternoon tea even more special...

I would love to know… what is your favorite tea?

6.13.2010

Pregnancy Update



Thank you to everyone that has sent me a comment or email asking me how the pregnancy is going. I’m currently 7 ½ months pregnant and am feeling great! I’ve had a really great pregnancy- no morning sickness, nausea, insane cravings or extreme weight gain (all things that I was expecting to happen!). I feel very blessed because I’ve had such a great time so far.

I plan on doing a lot of reading, resting and preparing (and of course blogging) in this final month and a half to go. I just want to say thank you again to all of my wonderful readers- your comments, support and advice really make my day...

Bisous,

Jennifer xx

6.09.2010

The Park Avenue Diet- A Review



I recently read The Park Avenue Diet: The Complete 7 Point Plan for a Lifetime of Beauty and Health by Stuart Fisher, M.D. This book has a really interesting concept. Rather than just talking about diet and exercise, it addresses the seven major components of one’s image: weight, fitness, hair, skin, clothing, self- confidence and interpersonal skills. The book draws upon experts in each field who purport that when making over your lifestyle, it is critical to address each of these image issues as a whole, rather than just focusing on one… and I have to say, the concept really excites me.

For example, what is the point of working hard to keep your body in shape if you have terrible hair? Okay that sounds really shallow, but let’s be honest… it’s true! There is no point really in having one without the other. Great wardrobe? It doesn’t mean a thing unless you also have self confidence to truly pull your style off.

The Park Avenue Diet
uses an integrated approach to wellness. The book provides a brief introduction and general summary on the mastering of each topic, then outlines a 6 week program complete with recipes for a healthy diet, an at home exercise regime and key tips for keeping your inner and outer beauty in check (and by inner and outer beauty I mean everything from how to feel confident when making an entrance to how to give yourself the perfect blow dry).

The idea of working on one's total image (from diet, to hair to nails) can seem like a daunting task at first, but I believe it is just a switch of mindset. This really goes hand in hand with the French way of living. Keeping it simple, not obsessing over your weight or slaving away at the gym, but rather eating healthy food for pleasure, incorporating exercise throughout your day and taking care of all aspects regarding beaty.

I do wish the book explored each topic in greater detail (the tips were rather generic… I wonder if they’ll put out a sequel?) but I really enjoyed and appreciated the message as a whole.

The Park Avenue Diet is available on Amazon.com

6.03.2010

My At-Home Skincare Routine (by request)





This post comes by request from Jeanne, who wanted to know more about my at-home skincare routine- including steps, products and time. My skincare routine is quick, but ritualistic. I rarely change it up, except when I try out new products- which I do every few months. I suppose you could also call my routine slightly neurotic- it’s just that I’ve had problems with blemishes in the past and I have finally gotten my skin under control (and I want to keep it that way).

P.M. Skincare Routine

I’m going to start by telling you my nighttime skincare routine because the night routine is the most important for me. I wear makeup almost every day (not a lot- just my 10 minute le no makeup look) and it is critical that I take all of my makeup off and cleanse properly every single night.

So... I start by removing my eye makeup very gently with Dermalogica’s Eye Makeup Remover and two cotton squares. Then I use my Clarisonic (the best beauty investment I’ve ever made/ my favorite product in the world) paired with a cleanser. Right now I’m using Philosophy’s Purity because it is gentle and safe during pregnancy… in the past I have used cleansers by Epicuren and Dermalogica and have loved those too. The Clarisonic operates for exactly one minute and I spend the whole minute cleansing my face with gentle pressure in small circular movements. After I cleanse, I rinse my face with room temperature to warm water and pat gently with a dry facecloth that I only use for my face. ** I find this detail to be very important. Wherever I go- whether I am at home, staying with family or in a hotel, I always designate a towel just for my face- that way I can ensure that there is no shampoo, conditioner or other residues that could clog my pores**.

After I gently pat my skin dry with my ‘face only’ designated mini towel (I warned you I was neurotic) I rub in a night cream in a gentle, upsweeping motion. Right now I am using L’Occitane’s Ultra Rich Face Cream. Then I gently pat on an eye cream with the ring finger (it’s the weakest digit and therefore the most gentle). My current eye cream is Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado. I also apply Korres Guava Lip Butter to keep my lips moisturized. Then I drink a tall glass of warm water with lemon and try to get a good night’s sleep…

A.M. Routine

I still cleanse my face in the morning with the Clarisonic, but this time I only spend 30 seconds on my face and the other 30 seconds cleansing my neck and décolleté. I then apply a face cream with spf. Right now I vacillate between Philosophy’s Hope in a Jar SPF 20 and Korres Wild Rose Moisturizer. Then I lightly apply eye cream and lip balm. After this I am ready to apply makeup.


Body

As far as taking care of the skin on my body, I try to exfoliate every day with a round brush in circular motions. I should probably use a body scrub a couple of times a week but have not done this yet- (I feel like it will just get the shower/ bath horribly dirty). As for moisturizer, in the morning I use Eucerin Calming Cream (I loooove this cream- you can find it in any drugstore- it feels like an expensive cream but is only around $8). In the evening I use Korres Guava Body Butter, which has a lovely scent and is ultra rich and soothing.

There you have my at-home skincare routine. It’s taken me a long time to find what works for me and this is it. I should also note that I get a professional facial every six weeks, drink lots of water, eat my fruits and veggies and exercise regularly- which I also think contributes to healthy looking skin.

Thank you, Jeanne, for your request!

I would love to know… what does your at home skincare routine consist of?

The first picture shows some of the products I mention above including: Eucerin Calming Cream, Philosophy's Purity Cleanser, Korres Guava Body Butter, L'Occitane Ultra Rich Face Cream, Hope in a Jar spf 20, Kiehl's Creamy Eye Treatment, Korres Guava Lip Butter and my beloved pink Clarisonic.

The second picture is a recent photo taken of me, and while my skin is far from perfect, (shine control anyone?) it is in pretty good shape for me…
 
BLOG DESIGN © 2012 SMITTEN BLOG DESIGNS/ CONTENT © 2012 DAILY CONNOISSEUR