Paris!! (September 2018)

We were in Paris for a week to celebrate the Inn at Little Washington’s 40th anniversary (and its 3rd Michelin star). The weather was lovely—sunny and crisp. In total, we ate at 5 restaurants (if you count the Inn) with a total of 12 Michelin stars (yes, we are gluttonous pigs). But it was a glorious gluttony!
We went with two friends of ours from Wichita and stayed at the Shangri-la Paris. The Shangri-la is situated in the 17th arrondissement, looking over the Eiffel Tower, and the building is the former estate of Napoleon’s great-nephew, Roland Bonaparte.

view from our terrace

The Inn had arranged for a couple of additional events for us to attend. The first was a private tour of the Dior archives, which consists of both clothing and documents. It was fascinating to see how the archivists conserved vintage clothing and preserved various documents from the Dior shows and from the designer himself.
In addition, Jamie McCourt, the US ambassador to France, hosted a reception at her residence for the Inn. The ambassadorial residence is a building that was formerly owned by a New Orleans-born woman, the Baroness de Pontalba. (Talleyrand also once lived at that same location). After the death of the Baroness, one of the Rothschilds purchased the estate. The family fled to Switzerland when the Germans invaded. This proved to be a wise decision as the residence then became a club for Goering’s officers during the German occupation.
The residence and the grounds are beautiful, and there is even a Calder located on the grounds (it’s on loan).

The US ambassador’s residence

the Calder!

But the crowning event celebrating the Inn took place at Vaux-le-Vicomte, the former residence of Louis XIV’s finance minister. It is said that Louis XIV modeled Versailles after Vaux-le-Vicomte (with Versailles being a bigger and better model, of course—that’s what happens when you’re an absolute monarch). Vaux-le-Vicomte is a drop dead fairy tale-like gorgeous chateau, complete with moat in front (no sharks) and an 18th century French formal garden in the back.

the gardens at Vaux-le-Vicomte

There were guardsmen, jugglers, musicians, and flamethrowers, all dressed in 17th century period clothing. Patrick O’Connell, the chef and owner of the Inn, was also dressed in period costume.

with Chef Patrick O’Connell

The food was excellent (of course!) and at the end of the evening, there were the most amazing fireworks in the garden, set to music. It was the most elaborate fireworks show I have ever seen.

menu from the 40th anniversary dinner

dining in the Grand Salon

In between all of these events, we played conventional tourists (the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, and Notre Dame) as well as unconventional tourists (Musée de Marmottan, Musée de L’Orangerie—both filled with Monet paintings, Musée d’Orsay, and Sainte Chapelle).
We also ate at Shang Palace, Taillevent, Guy Savoy, and L’Arpège. They were all their usual impressive places, but the place that stood out this time was L’Arpège. The chef is a genius with vegetables, which all come from his 10 hectare garden in Normandy.
Speaking personally, I am replete with paté and foie gras and red wine. It was a magnificent trip.

(frivolous) beauty products review

This is a completely frivolous review of recent discoveries of various beauty products (all of which can be blamed on various Facebook friends who not only like perfume but makeup and skincare products as well—you know who you are!). That being said, I have made some fabulous discoveries of products that I didn’t even realize existed and now are staples in my life.

Let’s start with haircare first: my latest discovery is Terax Crema (or Crema + Keratin), a hair conditioner. But it’s not just a hair conditioner—it is the hair conditioner. After using the product for less than a week, my hair (which is waist long) has gotten much silkier, stronger, and easier to care for. Crema is expensive, as hair conditioners go, but you have to use much less of it than you do a normal conditioner. The only downside is that it has a strange, almost metallic, scent in the shower that turns into an innocuous, subtle scent once dry that doesn’t interfere with any other scent you may choose to use. (Previous favorites for hair conditioner were Kiehl’s Amino Acid Conditioner and Pantene.)

Next is foundation. I have been a Laura Mercier fan for many years (and Prescriptives before that). Then, I discovered two lovely foundation products: Cover F/X drops and Koh Gen Do aqua foundation.

Cover F/X drops can be mixed with your facial moisturizer or primer and then applied. You can determine the amount of coverage you get by how many drops you use. And because you mix the drops with your product of choice, the foundation blends well into your skin. I like it especially for medium or heavier coverage, as it blends so well that it isn’t heavy or cakey, and the drops come in a wide range of shades.

Koh Gen Do is a Japanese line of skincare and makeup, and I absolutely love the aqua foundation. It is definitely for those who want sheer or light coverage. It is a liquid foundation, but it blends so seamlessly and so lightly that it doesn’t seem like you have any foundation at all. And it’s extremely gentle on the skin. I use it as an every day foundation and really love it. The only downside is that the selection of shades is limited. However, because the foundation blends so well and is so sheer, the color doesn’t have to be a perfect match to still work beautifully.

Supergoop is my latest sunscreen discovery. I have been careless about sunscreen through the years and am saved only because I tan and don’t burn. But this is less true as I get older so I have to be a little more careful. Two products from the line that I especially like: the first is Forever Young Handcream SPF 40. I never remember to apply sunscreen to my hands, and this is a nice reminder to do so and keep your hands moisturized at the same time. The lotion has a light, subtle scent that is barely noticeable, and the lotion itself is light and non-greasy. I apply it in the morning before I go to work and then in the afternoon before my drive home. It comes in a 10 oz bottle or in 1 oz travel sizes. I particularly like the travel sizes as I can just throw one in my workout bag or office drawer.

The other product that I like is the Refresh Setting Mist SPF 50. It’s a spray that sets your makeup and reapplies sunscreen. Again, it comes in full sized and travel-sized bottles to take on trips or leave at the office. It has a nice invigorating rosemary scent that is almost as effective as coffee (but not quite). My only quibble is that I am clearly a dunce when spraying because if I’m not careful, I get it in my eyes, and that can cause quite the sting. But outside of my incompetence, it does set my makeup well, and I do like to be able to re-apply sunscreen mid-day.

The final brand I wanted to comment on is Colourpop, and I want to comment primarily on their lipsticks. The lipsticks are matte coverage lipsticks. I generally prefer something sheerer (my current favorite is the Giorgio Armani sheer line of lipsticks), but at $5/lipstick, it’s a perfect line to experiment with various colors. Because even if you don’t like the shade, it only costs $5. Did I mention that each lipstick is only $5? They carry other types of makeup, too, but I haven’t tried them. (Some of them get as expensive as $7.) I’m just fascinated with the concept of $5 lipsticks.

frivolous beauty products

frivolous beauty products

And that is the end of my frivolous beauty products review! Back to food!