Every inch of this handbag is custom-made. It looks so good, I can't even comment on it. In fact, I'm having trouble breathing right now. So I have to go.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
We all know first hand how good it feels and how confident we become when we don a nice outfit. I know I do. And that's why I'm an advocate of Wardrobe for Opportunity, a volunteer-driven nonprofit organization that provides professional clothing and career support to low-income jobseekers in the Bay Area so they can become economically self-sufficient. I plan to get into my storage real soon and put together a nice box of career clothing that I don't wear anymore in an effort to be of service. If you have some career clothes in your closet that you don't wear anymore, perhaps you might consider donating as well. On Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at the white tent at Scott's restaurant at Jack London Square, Wardrobe for Opportunity is holding its 5th Annual Power of Change Fashion Event hosted by guest MC Honorable Willie L. Brown Jr. I'm not sure I'll be able to make it, but I was able to donate a lamp to the silent auction on behalf of the store and I'm hoping it'll raise some money for this extremely worthy cause. For more information about this worthwhile event, please visit Power of Change.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
A pleasant and rather familiar-looking woman walked into the store this afternoon and said "You aren't going to believe this." And boy, was she right. She handed me her layaway receipt telling me that it was overdue and then asked if I still had the black dress with the this and the that. "No maam," I responded nicely. "Most things don't last in here for very long." Before I had a chance to look at the receipt, I politely recited one of my more popular and frequent speeches: "Layaways that are more than 30 days old are automatically put back on the floor and the deposit is forfeited as written on your receipt. Unfortunately, I'm a small store and merchandise sitting in my stock room - as you can imagine - is kind of like cash sitting in my stock room. In the future, if you need a few extra days, just give me a call and I can...." Then I looked at the date on the receipt: It read 12/5/08. Ummmmm. Is this a joke? I know I didn't see Ashton Kutcher behind her, so I just knew I wasn't being punked. Did she really just hand me a layaway receipt that was almost a year old? Bwahahahahahaha. Yagottabekiddingme. Fast forward to 45 minutes later as I was packing up her new purchases and the three of us (there was another customer in the store) were cracking up laughing. I told her that she must know that I was absolutely positively going to have to talk about her on my blog. She told me she didn't blame me and we cracked up some more. I absolutely love a customer with sense of humor and a sense of fairness. What a fun(ny) way to end the work week...
Thursday, October 22, 2009
One of my favorite customers - Kim - was in the store today (uh, for the 3rd day in a row) when I was still high as a kite from placing a few orders. I whipped out my catalog and with a devilish grin, I showed her what I saw at MAGIC in July and what would soon be coming into the store. She rolled her eyes at me and said "Ooooo. I hate you." LOL. I hear that alot. Anyway, the jacket above (OMG, it's cute) will arrive within the next 10 days. It is super duper crazy cute (and up to size 18!). Wow. I love it. Kim does too. LOL.
When James and I left France, we were so "Frenched-out" (think "turned out" LOL) that we immediately got online and started checking out airfares so that we could go back in December. After all, December is a busy month: It's Uncle Gino's birthday, cousin Teddy and Aurelie are having a baby, Uncle Gino & Aunt Astrid have an anniversary, it's Christmas (in France!), yada yada yada. Of course, 5 days later, my husband tells me he doesn't want to go. I didn't even ask him why. I simply gave him The Cold Shoulder and The Silent Treatment for a few days. Grrrrrrr. I am happy to report, however, that we will be going back in June. I'll be able to get my Paris Shop On and bring back more fab stuff. Yowza! (You ladies just about bought me out within the week!)P.S. I guess The Cold Shoulder works sometimes. My husband rocks! (That's him on the left.) Wink, wink.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Today was a good day. It was my second day back in the store since getting back from France on Sunday night and I'm starting to feel relatively normal again. I'm still a teeny bit tired, but at least I don't feel like I'm stoned anymore. I hate repeating myself; but jet lag bites.
99.99999% of My Customers are awesome and that's one of the things I love about my job the most. My Customer Brigit bought me a candy apple today (wasn't that sweet?!?!?) and one of My other Customers wrote me a lovely welcome home email. I don't know how many other Shop Girls there are out there that get gifts and emails from their customers, but I love it and don't take any bit of it for granted. My mother always taught me to appreciate the kindness of others and I do. I really do.
Other than the rush I get when I'm out buying clothing, jewelry, accessories & gifts for the store, nothing beats the thrill of seeing My Customers walk (and sometimes even skip) out of the store excited about their new purchases. I brought back some really cute stuff from Paris and it is flying out of the door. It is really fun for me to imagine what they're going to look like and more importantly how they're going to feel when they wear their oo la la! gear around town. I know how I feel when I'm wearing a wicked outfit and it pleases me to think that they might feel the same way too.
Here I go repeating myself again, but today was a good day. =)
Thursday, October 15, 2009
OMG. It's 5am and I am awake. Bright eyed and bushy tailed; eyes wiiiide open; mind going a mile a minute thinking about all of the things I need to get accomplished. But it's 5am and if you know anything about me at all, you know that I don't wake up when it's dark outside. Not unless I have a flight to catch.
Obviously, my body is still trying to readjust to the time difference. My mind is too. I dropped by the store yesterday intent to redecorate everything so that I had a "Parisian Halloween" themed store, but all I managed to do was read my mail and open a few boxes. Even the guys at the tattoo shop next door gave me a luke warm reception. Jeez.
On Monday, I even spoke to my trainer (I have to lose some weight) to get started again and he said "Okay, I'll see you tomorrow morning...since you're awake and all." Yeah right. (Giggling.) My body would never forgive me for working out this first week back. I'll start on Tuesday morning.
So it looks like I need to get over myself and snap out of the "IwishIwerestillinParis" blues. I love my store; I love my customers; and I love seeing someone walk out of my store with a reasonably priced really cute outfit that very few people will have.
Might as well get this party started...since I'm up and all.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I am leaving (the hotel in) Jamaica, New York on my way to my JetBlue flight that will take me home to California from a very peaceful holiday. Although I am looking forward to seeing my cat Miles, sleeping in my own bed, getting the store ready for Halloween, and gearing up for life's next adventure, I will miss speaking French every day (and getting better at it), drinking wine with no sulfites, strolling the streets of Paris in the evenings, discovering new places in both the city and countryside, and shopping in some of the finest boutiques on earth.Life is good. (And I have the t-shirt that says so.)
Saturday, October 10, 2009
We made it back to New York last night. I wonder what time my body thinks it is?
I teared up a little when we left Astrid and Gino's. Teddy came by at 8am to say good-bye (How many people do you know would get up early and drive over to say good-bye? Most call.) and we gave him a cute little baby gift for the boy he and Aurelie are expecting the first week of December. The adorable little baby outfit has a picture of an airplane on it and the store we bought it from is called Le Petit Bateau (the little boat). It's a little bit of a joke because Aurelie told us the night before that she hates flying and boats. Cute.
Astrid & Gino gave us a bottle of James' favorite French wine (Chateau Neuf de Pape). I packed it deep inside one of the carry-ons, so it wouldn't break, of course. It was confiscated going through the security check point in France. No liquids allowed. The security guy said they throw everything away that is confiscated. I don't believe it. THAT would be too much of a travesty.
The last time we were here (see? I still think I'm in France), we visited the rest of James' family and they came over and we had a party. This time, we didn't. He did speak to his other aunt (Denise) on the telephone. Sometimes it's nice not to have to run all over the place.
James dropped me off at Charles de Gaulle airport in France, took the rental car back to Gare de Lyon (30 minutes away), and caught the bus back to the airport because we had too much luggage to deal with. It's fun people watching. I never considered this before, but what do you think the flight attendants on Saudia Arabia Airlines wear? (I discretely took a few pictures on my camera phone and posted to Facebook.) They cover their heads!
The flight from France to Iceland was uneventful (except for the Italian man that WOULD NOT be still and the turbulence at the end of the flight). The winds were so bad (there was a storm) that you could physically feel the plane rocking when it was sitting on the tarmac.
The flight from Iceland to France was WAY smoother than I expected considering the storm. Thank goodness we were flying away from the storm. Again, turbulence is no friend of mine.
So here I am in my hotel room in New York tip-typing away while my husband lounges on the bed mastering his BlackBerry. We're considering taking the train in to Manhattan, but we're moving slowly. It's 10:30am here and we woke up at 4:30am. Ooooo, I'm so confused.
It is bittersweet to be back on U.S. soil. I always experience a mild case of post-vacation depression after I return from Europe and the tropics. :::Shrugging my shoulders:::: This too shall pass. At least I have Hawaii to look forward to next month...
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Today was a day of firsts.
Today was the first time I had ever been to the Champagne region of France and visited the Reims Cathedral. I cannot describe in words the beauty of this place. Once inside, it took my breath away and made me cry. The ceilings must have been at least 150 feet tall and the stained glass was mesmerizing. It was also the first time our camera completely died on us when we were about to take the first breathtaking photo. The image below is from the Internet. It was not, however, the first time I cursed softly under my breath. At least I was outside of the church...
Today was the first time I drank (the real) champagne in Champagne. LOL. Not sure if you knew this, but the Champagne region of France is actually the only place where true and bona fide champagne is produced. Anything else you might get outside of France (including the US or even outside of the Champagne region) is actually a sparkling wine or a variation thereof. The word "champagne" can only be used as an adjunct. My husband told me this years ago...
Today was the first time I had a mini opera performed in front of me at a cafe (still in Champagne). With no less of the drama and gestures you might see in a traditional opera house. At first it was funny; and then it was kinda cool. LOL.
Today was the first day I paid attention to the speed limit and tried to figure out kilometers vs. miles. The posted speed limit on highway A4 was 130 kilometers, which is about 80mph. The maximum speed limit on rural highways is 70 kilometers, which is about 45mph, although it seems faster in a small car. This will be the last time I try to figure it out.
Today was also the first time I ever ate wild boar...and it was gooooood too. It's more like beef than pork. I was afraid I wasn't going to like it and was pleasantly surprised. My Uncle Gino cooked it. He hunted it and killed it too, but don't tell anyone.
Tonight is my last night in France and this is not the first time I wished I could stay.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I'm sorry. Did I imply in a previous blog post that getting my permanent residency card was going to be a piece of cake because we're here in France? Uh...yeah, right. First we have to get our marriage certificate translated, then get Le Livre de Famille, and then fill out 5 hundred thousand million pieces of paper (because that's how the French do it. I know because today I went to the bank and what would normally take 20 minutes and one piece of paper in the US took 2 hours and 50 pieces of paper.). Sigh. Now I know.
We looked at three houses the other day and the third one was a charm. Of course, it's not big enough for our French family - who live in a doggone chateau - so they're trying to talk us out of it. I'm not sure when 4 bedrooms for 2 people became too small, but hey, okay. On a side note, the first house we saw was very unique, but when we arrived, a stoic old woman made it VERY clear that she wasn't interested in having Brown people as neighbors. I'm not sure if it's the fact that she eyeballed us like we stole something or if it's because she didn't speak when spoken to....or, no...maybe it was her reluctance to hand over the keys to the broker. Needless to say, she was a piece of work.
Neither my Aunt Astrid nor I slept at all last night due to something in the air. I had a sinus headache that wouldn't quit and I found out she did too. The weather here has been beautiful...sunny one day...clean and crisp winds the next day...then rain...then sun again. And since we are out in the country, it makes sense that something got whipped up and decided to stick to the back of my throat and press (hard) on my sinus passages. I'm glad that's over.
Astrid is slick. She asked me yesterday - in passing - if I liked escargot...and when I went downstairs for lunch, escargot was waiting for me. Yummmmm. She can coooook. There was another really unusual dish, but it had lots of cream in it, so I had to pass. My sinuses + cream do not go together at all.
Tonight, we went to my cousin Teddy and Aurelie's house (see photos below) for aperitifs before dinner back at Astrid and Gino's. (Reminder: Teddy is their son.) The last time I was here, Gino was talking about building a restaurant in the space where Teddy now lives, so I had to be resuscitated when I walked into his home. Jiminy Crickets! Italian marble floors from Siciliy; 500 year old wood beamed ceilings; pizza oven in the kitchen; blah blah blah. When do I move in? To die for. Absolutely. I am soooo jealous.
So we're thinking about coming back for Christmas, because Aurelie is having a baby (another cousin!), Gino & Astrid have an anniversary, and it'll be Christmastime in France with family. I hope we get a big income tax refund. Because if we do, I'm on a plane for sure.
i ate. i ate. i ate. swordfish AND tuna, grilled on the outdoor grill of course, with some kind of sauce i've never seen but hope to eat again and again and again...with mashed potatoes, carrots (from Astrid's garden)...and something called cabbage that looked like a fat asparagus, but tasted awesome.
then i ate some more. because after dinner (oh yeah, and wine), we had cheese. a selection of about 6, yes 6, on a lazy susan.
and then she forced ice cream down my throat and gino went outside and got peaches off of their tree and grapes from sicily. jesus.
not to mention the appetizer: beer out of the beer machine, the natural salami that gino makes, baguette, and some kind of vegetable mix (yummy) they eat in martinique and guadeloupe.
i also drank some port and something called lemoncello. ARE YOU GETTING ALL OF THIS?
went to teddy's optician store (my cousin, the son of astrid and gino) and salivated over a pair of unique eyeglasses. small fortune, but hey...what're cousins for?
tonight we go to teddy and aurelie's for aperitifs and then back here for an enormous meal that astrid has already started to prepare.
oh my god.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Not one of the premier tourist destinations in France, Provins is a step back to the Middle Ages. In the 12th and 13th centuries, the Earls of Champagne made this fortified city their capital, well situated on the way to the Far East. Provins became very wealthy from the merchant activities, bankers, spice trade and the largest cloth fairs in Europe. It has also been said that Thibaud de Champagne brought back the rose flower from Damascus and introduced it here, so Provins might be a very romantic spot to boot.
Tour Cesar (Caesar's Tower) was built in the beginning of the 12th century (maybe even 1100) as a symbol of the Counts of Champagne's power. Once used as a lookout tower, it was also a prison and a money mint. The views from the top of the tower is nice, offering a 360 degree view of Provins. The steps leading to the tower are very narrow.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
So we arrived at Aunt Astrid & Uncle Gino's house yesterday and it feels good to be in the country. On the way here, as I mentioned, we stopped at the outlets, but I didn't buy anything. I don't think I was in the mood to shop. (Wait. Did I just type that?) Besides, everything costs so much.
Below you will find a pictorial of the road to our home away from home. It has been a few years since we've been here. It's a lovely compound with a ridiculous amount of land, a home that is magnificent and peaceful, and someplace I never tire of visiting. It is a converted barn with thick walls and the essence of love is in these walls. You'll see what I mean as you scroll down.
It's almost 3am, so it's time for me to pack it in. I'll post the pictures from our day trip (to Provins - not Provence) at some point tomorrow. Thanks for being a part of the journey...
Driving along and taking it all in...
Checking out what's on the side of the road. We're almost there...
Smiling at the welcoming trees...
Drove through the gates past the front (rental) house and looking at the house in the distance...
Smiling at the welcoming trees...
Drove through the gates past the front (rental) house and looking at the house in the distance...
Is Uncle Gino in there?
My bedroom window...
The view (to the left) out of my bedroom window...
A straight ahead view out of my bedroom window...