{Paris} A Word or Two on French Women’s Fashion


My mom is pretty thoughtful and fantastic. Anytime she sees an article about France or Frenchy-Frenchies, she sends it my way. Most of them I find à propos and/or amusing, like this one about French food words to know, but oftentimes they are… well, trite.

The most recent one, (from msn go figure) is stale at best and I decided it was my duty as an honorary Frenchie to rectify its clichéd and extremely oversimplified suggestions for you.

It was the classic “How to Dress like a French Woman.”

As such:
- black muted tones
- flats
- the undone look
- minimal jewelry
- no sweats or trainers
- expensive beauty products
etc.

Sure.

Perhaps the most blatant forehead-smacking aspect of the article was its thinly veiled objective to cajole us into purchasing brand name coats at $879 a pop, and the classic trench at $1,095. Aside from evident sell-outery, one very important essential that this article left out is:

Classy French women reuse, reduce, recycle.

That trench you see her in as she jauntily skips down the stairs of the metro? She bought it 3 years ago at Zara. That dainty jewelry hanging around her lithe neck? A gift from her grandmother.

So here’s the deal…

Do French women wear a lot of black and neutrals? Absolutely. But they also are judiciously savvy with incorporating a splash of color… A multi-colored scarf, an aubergine colored handbag, teal pumps. French men by the way are totally unafraid of color. They have a penchant for red trousers (curiously) and many a hetero-male has a pink oxford shirt in his collection and doesn’t think twice about it. (French men aren’t afraid of their feminine side.)

The flats thing?

Man, I wish this were true. Though French women do, of course, wear flats (ballerinas, loafers, boats) they also have the uncanny ability to flit and float around on rather impressive heels. Not stilettos, mind you, that is reserved for special occasions due to practical obviousness. However, French ladies do rock the non-pencil heels.  This ability must be largely due to their lithe figures, surely, but also, and I am sorry to say this, but…their genes. There must be something in the French genome that allows French women to have infallible feet. It’s something that I have always been in awe of and have now come to accept as being the result of a French version of gene-mutation or a sort of survival of the fittest.

That said… this whole French women don’t wear trainers thing? Uhhhh yeah, if you’re over 45 maybe. But everyone else has days where they slip on their Supras or Adidas three stripes with skinny jeans to go brunch with the girls, or skip over to your boyfriend’s.

In my book, it all boils down to:

  • French women aren’t afraid of expressing themselves, they just don’t over do it. 
  • They wear jewelry, just not five million things at once.
  • Yes, ballerinas and tall, classic boots are a French wardrobe essential. But in lieu of spending five million on them, make like a minimalist and see if you can score some hand-me-downs? That’s chic. 
  • And re: beauty products? Sure, some of them still believe that a cream filled with parabens and carcinogens keeps skin looking taut, but more and more French women get their organic Weleda creams at the local bio store, and/or just use coconut oil. 

Much love and holiday flit and floating, 

 

 

 

P.S. Wondering where I’ve been? Studying holistic nutrition, and creating a world of vitality! Hop on over to The Wellness Artist and check out a new important aspect of my career. Would love your thoughts, dear readers!

 

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{Musing} A Resolution and an Invitation


Happy New Year, readers.

Have you noticed?

2014 is the year of the anti-resolution-making. I can’t tell you how many bloggers and life-coach authorities have been boasting the benefits of not making New Year’s Resolutions this year.

And I can’t say that I don’t agree. Especially since resolution-making has become this perfunctory practice of making wild promises to ourselves because it’s what one does on January First, instead of a burning desire to change or because our readiness is about to boil over.

People set these far-fetched goals without the sufficient preparation or motivation to make them happen, and more specifically, to make them last.

So, come February 17th, people are super bummed when they break down and eat a muffin, or gain an ounce, or have a glass of something, and then bam! fall-off-the bandwagon-ism takes over, the towel is thrown, and remorse inevitably follows.

And it’s the most acute form of remorse because it involves disappointing yourself. Promises that you break to yourself are the most painful because there’s no passing the buck, so your self-trust takes a severe blow.

Which leads me to my reveal: the following poem. Who needs pie crust resolutions when there’s this poem?

So, don’t tell me what your resolutions are this January. Tell me  ”if you will stand in the center of the fire with me…” and ”if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.”

Because that’s where the magic is.

THE INVITATION
by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain. I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty even when it’s not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence. I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children. It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

What sustains you, reader? 

Happy 2014,

 

 

 

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{Paris} The Swede Life in Paris


One of my favorite parts of being a blogger is meeting amazing movers and shakers.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting one such shaker, Jennifer Eric, at her Parisian plant-based restaurant, My Kitch’nBehind Jennifer’s sweet smile and agreeable demeanor is a firecracker of a girl with a passion for life, food, and France.  Jennifer is more than just a restauranteur — she’s an activist, author, and advocate for healthier and happier living, and talking with her is more inspiring than reading a Wayne Dyer book.

So, Jennifer, you’re from Sweden! I have Norwegian origins so this delights me. What’s your story? Can you tell us a bit about your background? Where you grew up and your beginnings?

Yes, I have a Swedish passport but my mother is from what was then Yugoslavia and my father from Finland. I moved to LA when I was 16, finished high school and did my B.A. there. I started out as a Fine Arts major and ended up with a B.A. in political science, intending to go to law school.

I’m from LA! Sort of! (I lived there for around eight years, anyway.) What did you think of LA?  What are some of the most flagrant differences you notice between LA and Paris?

Wow, night and day. I think that the two cities are polar opposites. Whatever you find comfortably in LA is a hassle to find here, and whatever you gotta love about Paris is lacking over there. It was a HUGE readjustment to move back to Europe and particularly to Paris after LA. I loved living there! But those were the good years for the States; the dollar was strong, so was the economy and there was a sense of untouchability and extraordinary optimism. Everything was possible and nothing bad could happen. I worked so hard there but don’t remember ever being tired. Most flagrant difference… well, I miss seeing my toes. I love open-toe heels. I met some amazing people there, too, and we are still in touch! But I went back 2006-2007 and it was not the same. Or maybe I’ve just grown up since then ;) .  I prefer Paris.

Indeed. Why do you prefer Paris? 

I love Paris, passionately so. And as with most passions, my love for this city is extremely irrational. It is too cold for me, apartments are too old and too small, streets are too busy… But here I am allowed to read what I want, think what I want, and state my opinion. I did my B.A. before YouTube, Amazon etc. When I arrived in Paris, late 2001, I had a long list of books I had heard of and wanted to read but couldn’t find in the US at the time (notably everything Chomsky.) Here, I found ALL the books, right away — in French AND English (Shakespeare & Co. bookshop! Love that place!)

I love Shakespeare & Co. So let’s talk about My Kitch’n, which is an entirely plant-based restaurant with no soy, gluten, dairy, refined sugar, or anything else deleterious. How did you come to love whole, plant-based foods? 

When I was a child I wasn’t really allowed to eat candy. I think my brother and I had enough energy, no sugar rush needed. When we wanted sweets or a treat we got a fresh fruit platter and peeled carrots. Down that road it is. Childhood eating habits are extremely important, I am living proof of that!

Can you tell us how My Kitch’n came about, and what you stand for? 

Oh la la, long story. So long in fact, that right before I opened, I wrote a book about it. Most of my friends thought I was crazy, leaving the good life I had in Dubai to come back here and do this. But now that it is up and running (as opposed to an intangible idea in my head,) they understand. I’ve found my path, my passion, and I’ve turned it into my daily bread, literally. How lucky am I! I quote Seneca on the first page of the book, which sums up in one sentence what My Kitch’n is all about: “I criticize by creation, not by finding fault.”

Wait, Dubai? What were you doing in Dubai?

I opened an über chic martini bar for a friend in their hotel. I hired only girls as waitresses and bartenders (as bar tending is a predominantly male profession I trained them from scratch), they worked in black cocktail dresses and heels. They all looked like Bond girls and everyone was expecting Mr. Bond to walk in any minute for his shaken not stirred Vesper Martini.

Ha! Excellent. So what’s this about a book!?

The book will soon have a new outfit. I wrote it while we were renovating. I didn’t have the finished logo yet and our slogan (which is the final title) wasn’t trademarked:“Re-belle toi de l’intérieur; change de carburant.” I wrote it to answer questions and offer explanations, collectively, in one place, instead of repeating the same things over and over. It is a resource for those who ask questions, and also for those who want to hear none of it in a conversation, but that are still curious. Every time I read a bad article or hear something negative with no grounds in the media, I tend to send them a copy. When people are in the dark, it is your duty to light a candle! The major aim with the book is to get people thinking about food myths, their environment, the constant brainwash we are subjected to and, most importantly, what we are putting into our bodies on a daily basis. Food is fuel and, collectively, we are very unhealthy. Cancer is scary, and the root of this evil is not commonly discussed, though it is clearly linked to our new (last 40-50 years) eating habits and other recreational habits, body care products, and lifestyle choices. A lot of people are deprived of feeling good in their own bodies (the only home you will ever have), and this is completely reversible; all it takes is discipline. I want the book to open a dialogue. I bring up several valid reasons to make the switch to a plant based diet: animal rights, ecology, health etc etc. It is not judgmental — I am not accusing anyone of anything — just explaining that there are better options out there. A path to a healthier, happier life for you, the planet and all its inhabitants.

What are your hopes and plans for My Kitch’n?

Introducing accessible, delicious vegan food in omnivore environments, one Parisian neighborhood at a time. There is so much to be done… the plans for growth and expansion get new building blocks weekly! It’s what keeps me going! Right now it is hard, the beginning always is. Like a good friend said, “Right now you are pushing that big snowball up the hill.” I just have to make sure to have enough energy to push it all the way to the top, then it will grow bigger on its own. And not roll over me on its way back down.

There has been some resistance to plant based diets recently in the French media, such as the recent Canal+ blasphemy portraying this type of eating regime in a bad light. Why do you think this is? Is it all about money and business?  

Well, what can I say… I haven’t had a TV for years. What’s the point? It is a useless brainwashing business to distract, scare, depress, isolate and disinform us. Advertising is big business, and big business usually means little to no scruples. Who advertises on Canal+? A combination of banks, dairy companies, and pharmaceutical companies, I’m sure. Capitalism as we know it is not a sustainable business model, so they need a direct channel into all our homes, to tell us what we need to buy and how we should think.

What can plant-eaters do to enlighten others?

It is our duty to communicate… be brave vegan soldiers! Hold a dialogue, educate, inform, repeat yourself relentlessly. Be patient. Don’t be afraid of the mockery. Try not to accuse and alienate people — be kind! Most importantly, educate yourself so you can give an informed opinion that will be very hard to dismiss. Argue your case like a lawyer in court. Answer all criticism — which is usually punches thrown in the dark — by lighting a candle (i.e. introducing a new idea). Canal+ brought it up in a very uninformed and ignorant way, and when this happens,  write letters, make phone calls, keep the dialogue going! As Andy Warhol said, “Don’t mind what they write about you, just measure it in inches.” And, as we say in LA: “haters make you famous”! Because they are the ones who just can’t stop talking about you! And as we all know, there is a very fine line between love and hate. With patience, educated answers, and a dash of charm, everything is possible!

I totally know what you mean. I got a lot of “haters” for my Gangster’s Paradise video, which, in the end, I kind of loved. (I have over 13,000 views!) So, tell us… you’re a woman with a fiery passion (I love it.) What inspires you?

Oh la la… Many things! Friends, pioneers, people who speak their mind whatever the consequences, music, art, books, sports… I love speeches by strong, independent and empowering women. I love Isabel Allende — I have since I was a kid. Ron Finley, the renegade gardener from South Central LA, is great. So is the Green Bronx Machine initiative, that’s fantastic! Young people going back to our roots: farming and gardening. And last but not least, I have a secret weapon for inspiration. Whenever I am out of it, or I just lack creativity in general for a task at hand, there is always Michael Jackson! There is a clip in particular I really love: MJ performing Dangerous live at the MTV Music Awards, 1995, I believe. He was extraordinarily gifted; a musical genius, a perfectionist, so dramatic, such a great performer. He had an unbelievably creative mind. I watch that clip over and over, until I know exactly what I need to do.



Michael Jackson is one of my feel good cures! I knew you were awesome.

So, I’m into lists, so can we a have a list of your favorite places in Paris? 

Could you give my readers a couple of suggestions for easy ways to healthify their lives?

  • Stop smoking.
  • Have a green smoothie every morning! With as many leafy greens as you can handle (kale, spinach, parsley, mint…), some superfood powders (wheatgrass, spirulina,) and a fruit or two (apple, pear or banana). For the winter season, throw some fresh ginger and lime in there, too.
  • Cut down on coffee and other stimulants that only excite you and make you more tired, they are not a cure for fatigue.
  • Get enough sleep! That’s very important; sleep is very underestimated.
  • Use organic beauty products; stay away from parabens and other shelf life extending chemicals in your beauty products, they are carcinogens. Coconut oil is amazing for anything from lip balm to conditioner to body lotion.
  • Stay away from sodas and junk food like the plague, and drink lots of water.
  • And work out! Sweat! Dance a lot, smile a lot, and kiss a lot.

So many thanks to Jennifer at My Kitch’n for the marvelous pep talk and insight! 

If you’re in Paris, make sure to stop by My Kitch’n, at Marché Couvert des Batignolles, Tues.- Sun. for smoothies, green juice, teas, and, of course, revitalizing food and conversation. (Find Jennifer and My Kitch’n on FB, Instagram, and Twitter.)

Here’s to yummy wellness!


P.S. And thanks to Jennifer for the best vegan burger ever! (It was SO good. There was like… beet ketchup. Mmmmm.)

P.S.S. Have you liked City of Annie on FB yet? :)

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{Annie} Hey, that’s me!


If you take a look at today’s Far and Far Away, you’ll notice there’s an interview and photoshoot with someone you know!

Far and Far Away is a travel blog for “women who find the world beautiful.” The creator, Megan Leader, is a wonderful wanderer who believes in curiosity and spontaneity. I am so thrilled and honored to be featured, and talk about my favorite subject: Paris! Please click here to read the article.

So many thanks to Megan, and photographer, Krystal Kenney, for the lovely feature!

 

 

 

 

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