Monday, February 28, 2011

Foley + Corinna: Is this my bag?

Anyone who's known me for a while is familiar with my handbag saga.  I am not a purse person; I have always found purses to be more accessory than I want.  Need to stash my stuff?  That's what pockets are for.

It's not that I don't lust after purses--I do!  Over the years I've purchased many purses, always thinking I've found the right one, but then end up returning them.  An expensive handbag is a commitment and I want to make sure I the right one, n'est-ce pas?  I've tried bags from Longchamp, Sequoia, Junior Drake, Marc Jacobs, Furla, but none have ever found a permanent home in my closet.

Then I spied this Foley + Corinna Mid-City Tote.  I like the simplicity, the short drop handle, the versatility--can be carried on the arm, worn cross body, or even carried as a large clutch.  It is unfussy and straightforward, unlikely to go out of style.  The price tag is obscene, but, it would probably be the last handbag I buy for a very long time.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Week-end Simple: Take a nap

I meant to post earlier today, but I took a nap. 

During the week, my fifth grade students and I are envious of the preschoolers in our building.  "Can we take a nap, too?"  They have no idea how much I want to say "Yes!!"

Alas, napping is a weekend luxury.  This weekend, my plans changed at the last minute, and I found myself with a little extra time on my hands. What to do, I wondered.  So I decided to take a nap.

Bon week-end!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Ratatouille gratin

A few weeks ago, Dana Velden wrote a beautiful post about using up all the bits of vegetables she had in her kitchen.  Today, her meditation inspired me to do the same.

A small eggplant, onions, a can of diced tomatoes, and an end piece of Comté is what I had in my fridge and pantry.  The onion, tomatoes, and cheese are staples; I bought the eggplant for Saturday's dinner, but didn't use it.  Today I decided not to do a daily shopping, but instead, use up these bits I had in my kitchen.  Maybe my recipe will inspire you the way Dana's post inspired me.

I heated some olive oil in my braiser, rough chopped the onions, added them to the oil, and let them brown.  I diced the eggplant, added it to the onion, and let it brown slightly.  Next, I added a can of diced tomatoes, seasonings, and let the whole mixture cook until the juices started to thicken.  I placed the mixture into a small gratin dish, topped it with the cheese, and baked it in a 350 oven until the mixture was bubbly and the cheese was crusty.

The addition of the cheese, and the baking, changed it from a traditional ratatouille to a satisfying gratin, perfect comfort food; a glass of wine and bread turned it into a feast.

I love being inspired in the kitchen, and find some of my most satisfying meals are created when "using it all up."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Garance and Scott: A love story

The Sartorialist.  Garance Doré.  There are more than a few fans among you, oui?

Well, if you are a fan of their famed street style, this article from New York magazine is a must read.

That's all I need to say . . .

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Week-end Simple: Read a book

I'm fortunate to have a three day weekend ahead of me, and for once I have no commitments, no report cards due, no house guests, no plans. This weekend, I'm going to get caught up on my reading.

I read a lot and often, but during the school year it's mostly kid lit or books about how to be a better teacher.  But this weekend I've decided to treat myself and read a few of those books that are in my 'must read' stack.  A treat, indeed.

Bon week-end!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Makers Project

On Monday I posted about Jennifer Causey's Simply Breakfast blog and the companion books.  Did you know that Jennifer also has several other books including Simply Paris?

But what captured my attention is her most recent endeavor, The Makers Project.  Causey states she is constantly "seeking handmade and artisan-produced products" and "people who embrace a more tactile way of living."  So, she decided to start photographing them.  The result is The Makers Project. 

Looking at the photos and reading about the individual makers reminded me of the European craftsmen and artisans; we often hear about how some craft will be lost because younger generations are making other choices.  Yet Jennifer Causey is documenting how craft is being preserved right here in the states.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Simply Breakfast

It's a few minutes after 5:00 a.m.  Shortly, I'll be heading out the door to get an early start to a very busy week.

Breakfast this morning?  Ah, it's too early for me; I'll take some yogurt and jam to eat later in the morning, a breakfast inspired by Jennifer Causey on her blog, Simply Breakfast.

Brooklyn photographer Jennifer Causey has been blogging for years, cataloging daily breakfasts in her gorgeous photographs.  Her spare but lush photos have an almost European aesthetic, and remind us that there is great beauty in the ordinary and everyday.

Love the photographs on Jennifer's blog?  Then you might want to check out the companion books, Simply Breakfast, The Art of Breakfast and Simply Breakfast, More Please.

I hope to post more about Jennifer later this week, but now I've got to run!  Bon lundi!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Week-end Simple: Make a valentine

Monday is Valentine's Day, and while I'm not one for celebrating Hallmark holidays, I think Valentine's Day can be an occasion to express affection for anyone close.

When my son was young I always enjoyed making tiny valentines with him--cutting and gluing bits of paper, using oil pastels--that I would put in his lunch box or under his pillow.  In turn, he would make valentines for his father and for me.  This always made the day more about the expression of love than the buying of a card or gift.

Even if you don't have small children, there is something special about making a small valentine for someone you care about. 

Bon week-end!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Parisian kitchens on The Kitchn

Okay, I know this is a cheap post, but when I see these posts on other blogs I can't resist sharing with you!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

To Paris!

Last week I finalized my summer travel plans to France; I'll be heading to Annecy in July, returning in August.  I can't wait to see my sister and her family, and the friends I've made over the years.

Plus, I've planned a little side trip to Paris--three days in the City of Lights!  I'll be traveling with a friend who has never been to Paris, so, it will be like experiencing it again for the first time.

Since we'll be there for just a few days, renting an apartment isn't an option; most apartments rent for a minimum of five days.  But, I think I've found a small hotel, close to many of the sights a first-time visitor will want to see.

If you had three days to spend in Paris, where would you stay, where would you eat, and what would you see?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Guest Post: Advanced Editing 401

Since  former blogger Stephanie from Bonjour Madame and C'est si Bon said au revoir, there's been an empty space in the blogosphere.  I miss her travel stories and photos, and the posts about decorating, fragrance, and style icons that populated Bonjour Madame.  Then I was invited over to C'est si Bon, where Stephanie posted about more personal journeys that resonated with many readers.  

Although no longer blogging, Stephanie still has projects to share, and I'm so happy she agreed to guest post on My French Corner.  Merci beaucoup, Madame Stephanie!

I want to thank My French Corner for inviting me to guest post.  I have been a long time admirer of this blog from the beginning.  

If you read my former blog, you know that I am a fan of de-cluttering.  I do it constantly and am known to be ruthless.  I had no idea what an amateur I was in the beginning.  It went something like this.  I would de-clutter, think I did a great job, pat myself on the back, then months later decide to de-clutter once more and in the process, would wonder how some items made it past my first edit.  Each de-cluttering session made me ask harder questions.  I wanted to get to the root of it.  

I’ve found different answers depending on the category.  With clothes, I might have held onto a smaller size with the hope of it fitting one day.  With decor, I might not have taken a fresh look at how it looked in the space.  Sentimental items usually made the cut because it reminded me of an event or person and I wanted to hold on. However, the number one stumbling block I come across is recognizing and having to admit expensive mistakes.  Ouch.  

My goal is to edit by getting rid of the wrong pieces and carefully adding the right ones.  If you are not at this point, it’s hard to de-clutter the right way.  With that in mind, I finally faced my Hermes scarves.  I bought my first Hermes scarf in Paris and the whole experience was magical.  I loved going to the store and choosing a gorgeous red scarf.  Fast forward a few years later and I now have a small collection.  I appreciate their beauty and love the details.  But, after much deliberation and internal monologue, have decided they are not right for me.  

After taking an honest hard look at them, here are the reasons why they do not work for me.

  • I’m not fond of the square shape.  They lend to fussy knots and fidgeting through my day, therefore making me uncomfortable.
  • I feel stuffy wearing them.  To me, the silk is thick and stiff and I dislike how it feels around my neck.
  • Wearing one makes me feel about twenty years older than I am.  (I think this is a result of the stuffy feeling, but also I’m just not that aristocratic and formal.)
  • Most importantly, I never wear them.  They sit unopened in their boxes, taking up closet shelf space.  
 I’ve known this for over a year now, but didn’t want to admit it.  I wanted them to work for me.  Isn’t every self respecting female supposed to love Hermes scarves?  What was wrong with me?  But then I realized nothing is wrong with me; they just don’t fit my lifestyle.  I actually love scarves, but the ones I reach for daily are the long cashmere variety in winter or the whisper light silk or linen long scarves in the summer.  Le sigh.....a very expensive lesson learned.  But it’s a good sigh, because now I know what to focus on.  Remember, edit the wrong pieces and carefully add the right ones.  

All is not lost.  I plan to sell them and recoup the expensive part of this mistake.  And here’s where the sting softens.  The proceeds will go toward saving goals for a trip to Paris.  Letting the iconic scarves go will allow me to follow my real goals instead of clinging to an idea that never worked for me.  As for Advanced Editing 401, apply this logic to your things and see if it works for you.  Ask hard questions and make the space that will allow you to move forward.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Psst . . .

Coming Monday, a guest post from one of our favorite bloggers . . .

Friday, February 4, 2011

Week-end Simple: Set a pretty table

It's the depths of winter; the days are too short, the weather is too cold, and there's lots of snow for some.  Maybe you could brighten your weekend and make one of your meals extra special by setting a pretty table.

I know we all set the table for meal time, but I'm talking something special here.  Bring out the pressed table linens and the sterling flatware and candles.  

I'm not suggesting anything formal, but rather simple elegance.  And the meal?  It could be a simple roast chicken, or humble eggs, or even a bowl of soup.  It really doesn't matter what you serve when you set a pretty table, n'est-ce pas?

Bon week-end!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

French Twist

Nothing like spring fashions to give us something to look forward to, n'est-ce pas?  Even if your not looking to buy, you have to check out Talbots Spring Look Book and online catalog.  The ad campaign for spring?  French Twist!

Back in May I posted about Talbots Fall 2010 collection, their changing demographic and their new, hip appeal.  This Spring 2011 collection will not disappoint; the looks are fresh without being trendy and classic without being stuffy.

Inspired by old-school (think 1950s) Paris but tailored for a modern aesthetic, the sheath dresses are classic and the skirts are elegant yet playful, with names like "Tres Jolie" and "Champs-Élysées."

Alas, I'm not a dress or skirt gal, but I could definitely see myself in a pair of these slim ankle trousers with that pair of four inch black Stuart Weitzman heels that are hanging out in my closet!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


A big thank you to those who commented on my January 29 post; I appreciate your kind words and support.

I think every blogger enjoys comments, and I'm no exception.  But for me, blogging has become a way for me to write for an audience, even if I never hear from my audience.  My struggle is not the lack of comments, it's the lack good ideas.

I'm not accomplished, but I enjoy writing.  So much in fact, it's what I teach all day.  Granted, teaching writing to fifth graders is not glamorous, but blogging has made me a better writing teacher.  I carefully choose my words, my sentence structure, and continue to revise posts even after they're published finished--all things I encourage my students to do.

Again, thanks so much for reading, for commenting, for encouraging.  For now, I'll continue to hang out here at my French corner, but, who knows what the future will bring.