Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Very Fond Farewell

Well, dear Readers, this is my final post, and not just for 2013.  I have decided to retire The French Touch blog.  It’s been a truly wonderful adventure, but all good things must come to an end. 

Over the last two and one-half years, it has been such a joy putting together posts for you, but, at the end of the day, it must be said that there are so many wonderful blogs out there that mine will surely not be missed; nevertheless, to those of you who signed up to follow me and took the time to leave comments on my posts, I am truly grateful.  

I wish you all a healthy, happy and blissful new year.  God bless you all.   

M-T (Marie-Thérèse)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

From my FAQ Files – Battling Blogger Butt

As most of you know, I am an Image Consultant and Personal Style Coach by day and a Blogger whenever I can fit it in.  Each year at this time, I sort through my file of FAQs from clients and readers and save the best.  Most of us, at some point in our lives, find ourselves engaged in hand-to-mouth combat with our weight, so you can probably relate to the following question I received from a young(ish) woman with a very busy life. 

“Dear M.T., I started a Blog a few years ago, which is doing quite well.  I work on it at night when I come home from my day job.  It’s been great……….except, that I go from sitting in front my computer at work to sitting in front of my computer at home.  The result is………..I’ve gained over 35 pounds in one year!!  I don’t have either the time (working Mom) or the energy (none to spare) to run to the gym every day, and I’ve tried more diets than I can count.  Any suggestions?” 




Courtesy of Jessica Cangiano’s Chronically Vintage Blog

In the 1950s, working girls talked about the dreaded Secretary Spread, the result of sitting in front of a typewriter all day.  The cure for that, believe it or not, was marriage.  Yes, Ladies, the average married woman of the 50s, who generally did not work outside the home, was more active than her unmarried, still-working girlfriends.  Housework, shopping, cooking, fewer modern conveniences and running around after the kids kept most married women pretty fit.  Plus, there was usually one family car, which her husband took to work, so she walked and took public transportation during the day. 


Today, whether married or single, we spend most of our waking hours in front of or connected to some electronic device that forces us to sit for hours on end, and the scale tells the tale.  We bloggers, in particular, are in serious danger of developing Blogger Butt, the 21st century cyber version of Secretary Spread.   

Like many of you, I don’t have time to run to the gym every day and, even if I did, I find exercise excruciatingly boring.   I am neither a health nor weight loss professional, but here are Three Quick Tips that work for me.
  
1)      Don’t SAVE Yourself Steps; MAKE Yourself Steps.
 
I take every opportunity during the day to run (not walk) up and down the steps.  Since I work from home, a four-story townhouse, there is no shortage of stairs.  My business phone is in my 2nd floor office, but my home phone is on the first floor.  I see clients in my atelier on the 3rd floor.  The family room is on the lower level with a small fridge in the laundry room with bottled water and white wine.  A snack bin on top contains a variety of nuts.  Get the picture?
 
The point is to keep things on different levels so that you have to go up and down steps to access them.  Find some way to incorporate trips up and down the stairs each day, and, not only will you be adding some activity to your routine, but you’ll be taking little computer breaks that will cost you very little time. 
 
2)      Don’t Eat Anything Directly Out of a Bag.

All snacks (and, yes, I do, occasionally, indulge in them), go onto a small plate and the bag is closed and put away.   If you keep the bag with you, the temptation is there to just keep eating from it. 
 
 
One of the great things about pistachios, other than their yummy, satisfying taste, is the fact that you have to shell them before you can eat them.  Americans are very lazy about working to get to their food, but, the truth is, instant gratification often leads to overeating before you’ve even realized it.  Just looking at a mound of empty shells on your little plate makes it hard to lie to yourself about how much you’ve actually eaten.   

 
And, don’t forget that just because it says “LOW FAT” on the label, doesn’t mean it’s “LOW CALORIE.”  In fact, low fat snacks are often higher in calories to make them taste better.   You’re better off going for the taste (moderate fat/low cal) in small quantities.  You’ll feel more satisfied and will have consumed less calories. 

3)      Don’t Eat in Front of Your Computer. 
 
Even if it’s a “healthy” dish, don’t eat it in front of your computer.   Pardon my (being) French, but nothing eaten in front of your computer tastes as good as if eaten on a nice plate at a proper table with silverware.    You’ll not only enjoy it more, particularly in the company of a friend, but you’ll be paying attention to what and how much you are eating and, again, getting a nice break from staring at that computer screen.   
 

Bottom line, Ladies, if you can’t run to the gym every day, the more little bursts of activity you can incorporate into your busy day, the better you will feel and, over the long term, the better you will look.  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas Legends – The Candy Cane

Do you know the legend of the Christmas Candy Cane?  No?

Well, legend has it that, many years ago, a candy maker wanted to make a candy that would symbolize the true meaning of Christmas – Jesus.  So, he took a piece of white hard candy and shaped it into a “J.”  The white signified Jesus’ purity, and the red stripes he added were the blood that Jesus shed to save mankind from his sins. 

Whether true or simply part of the many myths of the Christmas season, it has become an inspirational story for Christians, and a reminder what it is we are truly celebrating – the birth of our Savior. 

Whoever he was and whatever his reason, we owe a debt of gratitude to the man who fashioned the first Candy Cane.  In fact, what would we do without this beloved symbol of the Christmas season?   Just looking at a Candy Cane brings a smile to the faces of young and old alike. 

We decorate our houses, our trees and our gifts with them. 



Candy Cane Martini
They even make a festive appearance at our Holiday Cocktail Parties. 
 

CANDY CANE MARTINI
Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. Absolut Vanilla Vodka
  • 1 oz. Skyy Vodka
  • 1/4 oz. Peppermint Schnapps
  • 1 large candy cane, crushed Small Candy Cane
 
Preparation:

  1. Crush one large candy cane into small pieces.
  2. Place pieces on a plate.
  3. Wet the outside rim of a martini glass.
  4. Place martini glass upside down on plate of crushed candy cane until it adheres to rim of glass.
  5. Fill a Martini shaker with ice.
  6. Add Absolut Vanilla Vodka, Skyy and Peppermint Schnapps.
  7. Shake vigorously.
  8. Pour into candy cane-rimmed martini glass and garnish with small candy cane.
 
Hmm.  “Make mine a double, Bartender -- TWO Candy Canes, please.”


Snopes, the website devoted to separating fact from fiction, has this to say about the legend of the Christmas Candy Cane:  “This is charming folklore at best, and though there's nothing wrong with finding (and celebrating) symbolism where there wasn't any before, the story of the candy cane's origins is, like Santa Claus, a myth and not a ‘true story.’"

I may be willing to concede the point on the Candy Cane, but Santa Claus?  A myth?  I beg to differ with Snopes et al.  Santa is as real as you and I, and I have that on the highest, most reliable, of authorities – Mrs. Claus. 

Every Christmas Eve, Mrs. Claus sends Santa off with a big kiss as he and his team of flying reindeer set off on their very special journey.   After delivering toys to all the good little boys and girls, they arrive home exhausted but delighted that they have, once again, brought joy to millions of children.  

Mrs. Claus makes sure Santa gets a well-deserved massage…

And then a cozy catnap by a warm fire with his favorite tabby, Bella, on his lap. 


Gaston, the Elf Chef Comes to Us from Kringlekin
While Santa dozes, Mrs. Claus oversees matters in the kitchen, where Gaston, the French elf Chef is bustling about preparing a special Christmas feast à deux of Artichoke Canapés with foie gras, oysters with sabayon de champagne, roasted goose with chestnut stuffing, green beans and wild mushrooms, followed by an assortment of Santa’s favorite brebis (cheese). 

And, of course, no festive Christmas dinner would be complete without Santa’s favorite dessert -- a sumptuous bûche de Noël. 

Now, you might think that Santa would be ready for another doze by the fire after such a delicious feast, but Mrs. Claus has other ideas.  “After all,” as she put it to me, “Santa may belong to the world the rest of the year, but on Christmas Day, he’s all mine.”

Mrs. Claus loves to go dancing, and, believe it or not, for all his size, Mr. Claus is very light on his feet.  In fact, I understand that Santa does a mean Samba.  

So on Christmas Day, Santa and the stylish Mrs. Claus will be tripping the lights fantastic at their favorite North Pole Boîte until the wee hours of the morning.  Can you keep a secret?  Here’s a sneak peak at the ensemble Mrs. Claus has chosen for the evening; but, remember, it must be our little secret or we’ll all end up on the Naughty List.  

The Stylish Mrs. Claus Goes Dancing





Crystal jewelry
etsy.com



Teardrop earrings
bodycentral.com



Opera glove
markandgraham.com





Elizabeth Arden lipstick
elizabetharden.com



Make eyeshadow brush
barneys.com



OPI nail polish
$29 - nelly.com



Jacques Vert Autumn glow fascinator
$64 - houseoffraser.co.uk



Sunday, December 1, 2013

My Holiday Survival Kit

O.K., Ladies, we’re off and running.  We survived Black Friday, but there’s still an entire holiday season to get through.  I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t do it without a Holiday Survival Kit.  Everyone needs one.  Here’s what’s in mine.

 
When I need to get the red out of my morning-after, cocktail party eyes, a few drops of Visine works like a charm to refresh and lubricate my dry, tired eyes.  A few drops before the party makes them and me feel as bright as a new Christmas penny. 


Visine Soothing Wipes works wonders at night to cleanse and soothe the sensitive area around my eyes before I apply my eye cream. 


After a hard day’s Christmas shopping, there’s nothing like Lavender Epsom Salt to soak tired, achy feet or sprinkled in my bath to soothe away a stressful day of NOT finding anything for that person on my list who is IMPOSSIBLE to buy for.  Aaaaah! 



Chicpump in pyrite nocturne – Stuart Weitzman
This is my absolute favorite walking shoe.  It’s not cheap ($325), but with its 2 ¼ inch heel and ultrasuede footbed with hidden foam padding, I can shop all day in complete comfort.  And it’s stylish enough to take me from day to evening.   Every year they add a new color (or two), and I snap them up.  You know what they say.....if the shoe fits, buy it in every color. 




Watercolors Color Maintenance & Enhancement Shampoos by Tressa
Sometimes my hair color just needs a little boost for that special party or holiday event in between visits to the hair salon, which is why I love Tressa’s Watercolors shampoos.  It’s sulfate-free, and cleanses, conditions and refreshes my hair color all in one step.  I use Liquid Copper on my red hair, but there are 12 other shades to choose from.  One of them is sure to be perfect for you, too. 





But, there are those days when no matter how nice I’ve been to it, my hair decides to throw a hissy fit.  When there’s no time to argue, I simply pull it all up or pin it back and add a decorative hair ornament, like these cute petal chiffon bobby pins with rhinestones prongs.   I have also used them as pins on scarves, wraps and dresses.  And you can’t beat the price. 
 



 
When I want an extra dollop of glam for my Up Do, I add a dramatic hair clip like this stunning spray of feathers anchored by a sparkly gem.  You may not believe this, but I’m actually a very shy person (M-T’s Note:  Ignore my husband laughing himself silly over there.), and I find wearing an interesting accessory to be a great way to break the ice at a party where I may know only the host and hostess. 
 
 
Christmas Pudding, Hand Knit Tea Cozy
As my British Grandmum would say, “There’s nothing like a hot cuppa to set the world to rights.”  How right she was.  After a long day of Christmas shopping, a pot of Holiday Cheer tea from my favorite on-line tea merchant, SerendipiTea, warms the body and soothes the soul.   Their Holiday Cheer tea is a blend of cardamom, Chinese black tea, cinnamon, clove, ginger, orange peel, peppermint and spearmint.   Oooooh, I feel all warm and yummy just thinking about it!   
 
 
 
Of course, I always try to sneak in a catnap whenever I can.   Must get my beauty rest. 

By far the most important things in my Holiday Survival Kit are the Christmas traditions that I cherish, one of which is to celebrate the Christmas season every year with something old and something new.
 
Something Old
 
 
While I love watching the many wonderful versions of A Christmas Carol on film, every year I make time to settle into a comfortable chair and read from my grandmother’s edition of Charles Dickens’ most beloved novel.   Some call Dickens “the man who invented Christmas.”  Whether or not he did, for me, it wouldn’t be Christmas without him. 

Something New

And now for Something New – a tech take on a favorite Christmas carol.  Enjoy. 



What’s in your Holiday Survival Kit? 
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