Greetings from the American Girl
 
Last week I shared my review of M.J. Rose's latest novel The Book of Lost Fragrances, and today I've got a special guest post from the author. Enjoy her insider's story about a unique Guerlain scent!
I've been fascinated with lost fragrances since long before I started writing The Book of Lost Fragrances...since I found a bottle of perfume on my great grandmother's dresser that had belonged to her mother in Russia. Here is one of those lost fragrances that stirs the senses and the imagination...(reasearched and described with the help of the perfume writer Dimitrios Dimitriadis)
Guerlain - Pois de Senteur 
Pois de Senteur (or sweet pea) has a delicate perfume - one that has been memorialised many times by many perfumers. In 1917, Guerlain launched their own interpretation which strayed away from the norm and focused on rich florals and, nectar-like honey accords - painting an impressionistic picture of a spring garden with flowers in bloom. Pois de Senteur has a citrus / orange flower opening, rousing notes of iris, hyacinth and rose over a balsamic woody base. The sum of all components left a sensation of a lazy bumble-bee - moving from one blossom to another -  humming in the ears. Long since retired, Pois de Senteur is a perfume paradigm of the pre-Art Deco age.
 
 
Only a few days left for me to gobble up as many Fritos and Diet Dr. Peppers as I can before getting on a plane back to Paris, but all this Mad Libs talk of baguette and brioche has me hankering for a stop at the boulangerie as soon as I land. Today's Paris Mad Libs story is courtesy of Sedulia from the blog Rue Rude. I love reading Sedulia's blog because her posts are well written, timely, and thought provoking. I particularly enjoy the way she highlights both the big and little differences that make living in France such a wonderful and sometimes strange experience compared to the U.S. This recent post on dining times highlights one of the differences I've had the hardest time adjusting to. (I still want to eat at 6:00PM...)

Here's Sedulia's story:

Oh Paris!

Oh la la! Nothing like the friendly sound of a manif waking you up in the morning! But no time to be fachoI need to get dressed in my chic Parisian uniform of black, black and blackthen I'm off for a quick bite of brioche from the boulangerieBut wait! As soon as I get out the door, I'm greeted by the chauffeur from the ministry and forced to alter my plans for the day. Forget going to the private opening of that fabulous new exhibit at the Grand Palais over lunchI have to take the silly limo to the side door of the Quai d'Orsay for a rendezvous with the German ambassador's deputyQuelle chance! It seems that going to Berlin will have to wait until the workers stop striking. I may have been a failure at getting the Eurozone fixed, but who cares when I get to make a stop at Guy Savoy with Carla Bruni instead. Thankfully, I can avoid the paparazzi, enjoy a fun girls' lunch, and finish the grapefruit terrine with tea sauce before her motorcade comes and zooms us past the now dismantled Grande Roue. I just don't understand why her baby chewed up all of my baguette. Mais, c'est la vie!
 
 
Coucou! Today Liz from What am I doing in France? shares her Paris Mad Libs story. Liz recently moved to Paris and writes fun, honest posts about what it's like living in Paris with her husband and one year old son. I really appreciate Liz's sense of humor and the way she embraces the good and the bad of expat life. Go give Liz's blog a peek and be sure to check out her series Parisian Perspectives. You might pick up a Paris tip or two! 

Oh Paris!

Oh la la! Nothing like the cloudy sound of a lingerie waking you up in the morning! But no time to strollI need to get dressed in my chic Parisian uniform of a silk scarf and poussettethen I'm off for a quick bite of cigarette from PrintempsBut wait! As soon as I get out the door, I'm greeted by the lady from the wine store and forced to alter my plans for the day. Forget going to the Charles-de-Gaulle-Etoile metro stationI have to take the sparkling dog poop to the majestic Parc Monceau for a rendezvous with the babyQuelle chance! It seems that smelling will have to wait until the workers stop striking. I may have cried at getting the croissant fixed, but who cares when I get to make a stop at Musee de la Vie Romantique instead. Thankfully, I can grandly drink and finish exploring before the boulangerie comes and glares at la Grande Roue. I just don't understand why the macaron smiled at all of my baguette. Mais, c'est la vie!
P.S. I'm loving all of the overlap in the series so far. Without knowing, each blogger submitted similar if not the exact same words to be used in the Mad Libs story. I guess Paris definitely has her shining (and stinky) stars. 
 
 
I'm taking a petite pause from the Paris Mad Libs series to showcase a wonderful new book. Several months ago, a publicist for author M.J. Rose contacted me about reading and reviewing The Book of Lost Fragrances. As a lover of perfumes, the title alone had me hooked, and I readily agreed to highlight the novel on the blog. Below you'll find the publisher's synopsis and my own review of the novel. 
SYNOPSIS: 
A sweeping and suspenseful tale of secrets, intrigue, and lovers separated by time, all connected through the mystical qualities of a perfume created in the days of Cleopatra--and lost for 2,000 years. 


Jac L'Etoile has always been haunted by the past, her memories infused with the exotic scents that she grew up surrounded by as the heir to a storied French perfume company. In order to flee the pain of those remembrances--and of her mother's suicide--she moved to America. Now, fourteen years later she and her brother have inherited the company along with it's financial problems. But when Robbie hints at an earth-shattering discovery in the family archives and then suddenly goes missing--leaving a dead body in his wake--Jac is plunged into a world she thought she'd left behind.

Back in Paris to investigate her brother's disappearance, Jac becomes haunted by the legend the House of L'Etoile has been espousing since 1799. Is there a scent that can unlock the mystery of reincarnation - or is it just another dream infused perfume?

The Book of Lost Fragrances fuses history, passion, and suspense, moving from Cleopatra's Egypt and the terrors of revolutionary France to Tibet's battle with China and the glamour of modern-day Paris. Jac's quest for the ancient perfume someone
REVIEW: 
I know some people who are super sensitive to perfume, but I've always wanted to be someone who has a signature perfume--just a light scent to remember me by, not anything overwhelming. The problem is I love too many fragrances to be faithful to just one. I own bottles and bottles of perfume not because I'm particularly enamored with the different scents, but because I enjoy the memories the scents trigger. I have a beautiful butterfly shaped bottle from Anna Sui that takes me back to the night of my first kiss, an elegant bottle of Givenchy Amarige that reminds me of winters in New York, and my favorite, Creed Fleurissimo that summons wonderful memories of a trip to London with my mom. M.J. Rose takes this idea of scent triggering memories and weaves a mysterious tale. This premise, more than any other aspect of the novel, is why I enjoyed reading The Book of Lost Fragrances

Initially frustrated by the novel's multiple, seemly disconnected plot lines and characters, I grew more attached to the story as I progressed through the chapters. M.J. Rose takes her audience to ancient Egypt, 18th century France, present day Paris, China, and back all the while enticing the reader with a combination of romance, danger, and even a bit of politics. By the middle of the novel, M.J. Rose had me completely lured into her complex plot, and I found myself nearly missing my metro stop on the way to work because I was so engrossed in the book. Despite being put off at first by Ms. Rose's different plot lines, I ended up enjoying the diversity of the novel and looked forward to the way each chapter was set in a different time period. In this way, I also learned about the history of perfume and the power of a scent to transport a person mentally through time. M.J. Rose's novel now sits on my night stand as a reminder to spritz myself with perfume and experience Paris's rich perfume history. I might even need to go ahead and create my own personal scent! Paris does have a least a few perfume houses ;-) 
See you later this afternoon with another post in the Paris Mad Libs series! 
 
 
Welcome to Part Deux of the Paris Mad Libs series! Today's guest Mad Libs writer is Jayme from Life en Route. Jayme is a Canadian expat who came to Paris to master the French language and discover the ins and outs of life in the French capital. Enjoy Jayme's version of the Oh Paris! Mad Libs story (and her beautiful photos too)! (For Part I of the Paris Mad Libs series click here.)
Oh Paris!

Oh la la! Nothing like the charming sound of a baguette waking you up in the morning! But no time to saunterI need to get dressed in my chic Parisian uniform of my Navigo pass and bescherellethen I'm off for a quick bite of parapluie from MonoprixBut wait! As soon as I get out the door, I'm greeted by the man who parks his scooter RIGHT outside our window (practically inside our apartment) EVERY DAY and I'm forced to alter my plans for the day. Forget going to the 17ème arrondissementI have to take the tiny, Parisian little dogs who dress nicer than I do to the bon marché Charles de Gaulle - Étoile Métro for a rendezvous with mon petit-amiQuelle chance! It seems that hollering will have to wait until the workers stop striking. I may have mentioned getting the dictionary fixed, but who cares when I get to make a stop the métro platform instead. Thankfully, I can suddenly run and finish motioning before le président de la France, Nicolas Sarkozy comes and stands there shocked at la Grande Roue. I just don't understand why camera dropped on all of my baguette. Mais, c'est la vie!
P.S. Despite the craziness of the story, can you pick up any clues about Jayme's life in Paris? 
 
 
On Friday I arrived in my hometown of Washington, D.C. for not one, but two weddings and a little R&R in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Blogging is going on the back burner while I spend time with family and friends, but I've lined up a few special posts to keep you entertained during my absence. About a month ago, I had the crazy idea to do a Parisian take on the famous word game Mad Libs. While Mad Libs stories are usually reserved for keeping children busy during long car rides, I still love the game as an adult and thought it would be a fun and easy way to introduce you to some of my favorite bloggers while I took a vacation from the computer. Following Mad Libs protocol, guest posters were asked to give me 25 words from different parts of speech which would then be used to fill in the blanks of a Paris themed Mad Libs story that yours truly wrote (way harder than it sounds!). But in traditional Mad Libs style, guests posters were asked not to look at the story before coming up with their Paris related word choices. Fortunately, I had a few brave souls who were willing to entertain this silly idea. 

I'm not sure how much sense the final stories will make, but hopefully they'll give you a few laughs and reveal just how equally glamorous and unglamorous life in Paris can be. The first guest writer in the Paris Mad Libs series is Ksam from the blog Totally Frenched OutKsam is going on her ninth year in France, most of which she spent wondering what on Earth she was doing in this godforsaken country. Luckily a move to Paris five years in helped her figure it out, and she has spent the rest of the time falling in love with the country that has inspired so many Americans before her. Here is Ksam's version of the Paris Mad Libs story. Enjoy, and don't forget to stop by her blog and say bonjour! 
Oh Paris!

Oh la la! Nothing like the burp sound of a crotte waking you up in the morning! But no time to eatI need to get dressed in my chic Parisian uniform of iPhone and chocolatethen I'm off for a quick bite of aubergine from the SeineBut wait! As soon as I get out the door, I'm greeted by a Velib and forced to alter my plans for the day. Forget going to Rue MouffetardI have to take the rouge berets to the fabuleux Place de la Concorde for a rendezvous with a priestQuelle chance! It seems that peeing will have to wait until the workers stop striking. I may have sucked at getting the tarte du citron fixed, but who cares when I get to make a stop in Montmartre instead. Thankfully, I can grandly walk and finish writing before Quasimodo comes and sings at la Grande Roue. I just don't understand why Nicolas Sarkozy stomped on all of my baguette. Mais, c'est la vie!
More Paris Mad Libs on Wednesday and Friday! Stay tuned! 
 
 
A little over a year ago I was on a plane to Madrid talking to mon mari about running. I told him I thought running 26 miles was just ridiculous and swore up and down that I would never run a marathon. Never ever ever.

Never ever ever should be banned from leaving my mouth.

Since December I've been planning my weeks around a marathon training schedule and wondering how the heck I got myself registered for running such a silly numbers of kilometers. I may not be fast, super strong, or have a big race under my belt (yet!), but I'm a runner now. I know because I've got the gear and once I've got the gear, I'm in. In like Flynn. But, the transformation to runner started before my latest gear purchase (thank you Planet Jogging!). My running fever boils down to three things:
(1) Friends who've inspired me. Holy Hannah I have a lot of copains who get their sneakers nice and worn in. First Richie Rich completed the 2011 Paris Marathon, then Amanda & Marissa did a 10 miler in Philly, then Betsy did a 5K, Elizabeth put her all into Boston, and Dee got 'er done in NY in November. This small list doesn't even include the gazillions of running bloggers who fill me with fitness envy and admiration (um, hi Runner's Kitchen and Lauren's Road Less Traveled). Clearly all the cool kids were doing it and I wanted in.

(2) Paris. Paris is usually all that and a bag of chips, but when it comes to exercising on the cheap the city offers few budget friendly options. With a pair of sneakers and a set of workout clothes (and let's not forget a real bra ladies), you're pretty much ready to hit the pavement. Any sport can get expensive when you convince yourself you must have the newest equipment on the street, but you can keep things pretty minimal with running. (Coming from me that means a lot considering I've pinned about 10 running skirts on Pinterest.)

(3) Exercising more means I can eat more. Who thought exercising more equaled losing weight? I mean really. That's silly. Clearly when you burn more calories, you should stuff your face. Worst advice ever. Don't listen to me. But it is seriously hard not to use training as an excuse to binge and it is ever so easy to wolf down a few (extra) pancakes after a long run. Mama Pea's Gluten-Free Almond Blueberry Pancakes are keeping me very full and happy.
Now I just need to keep all this training up post marathon and beyond. Running for life, yay! (Probably not, but I can pretend I'm down for being 65 and running 5 times a week.) The thing is, a passion for staying fit is what got me into this running business, but it has become so much more than that. Like new friends (Go say hello to Jayme. She's awesome and I'm so thankful for our long runs together!) and winning things. Yep, winning things. I don't care if they're participation medals. Medals are medals and I'll run for fake gold medallions any day.
 
 
_If we're talking in percentages, I'm giving the gluten free diet about a 70% effort. 30% of me still wants to plunge head first into the nearest bread basket and swim in a sea of gluten goodness. Those smarty pants health experts weren't joking when they said going gluten free would be hard. But since gluten doesn't have my stomach roiling in pain, I lack the motivation to make hardcore diet changes (even though deep down I know gluten is making me ill on the inside). This means I cheat often and go gluten crazy at least once every few days. These past few weeks haven't been a total wash, but I'm definitely not giving it the ol' college try. To mark the one month anniversary of my semi-gluten free life, here's the highlight reel from the past few weeks.

HIGHS
--> Finding edible, dare I say enjoyable, gluten free products in Paris. See evidence below. I could eat that sticky date cookie for dessert 3x daily.
--> Making The Healthy Everythingtarian's banana custard oats more times than I can count. (Tip: sub in Speculoos for the peanut butter and you'll lick your plate clean over and over and over again)
--> Telling the boulanger that I would not like a piece of bread to accompany my salad. He looked confused, and I was sad.
_IN-BETWEENS
--> Making my own kamut bread (recipe here). It's funky shaped, but I LOVE its weirdness. (Okay, full disclosure--kamut isn't really gluten free, but it has less gluten than other types of wheat...that counts right?)
--> Devouring a slice of carrot cake from Sugarplum Cake Shop. Yeah it was bad for me, but you can't count something so wonderfully delicious as a low. It just wouldn't be right. Plus, I was at the bakery for an awesome bag painting workshop with Kasia Dietz. (Can you guess where the quote on my bag is from?)

LOWS
--> Eating Picard's gluten filled moelleux au chocolat for dessert (more than once). They're just so good. Really they are. I don't care if they're frozen.
--> Binging on ice cream because it's an obvious gluten free dessert choice. I'm not proud. 


So there you have it. The die hard gluten free folks are probably laughing at my amateur attempt to purge myself of gluten, but you gotta start somewhere, and I'm totally okay with taking it slow, real slow.
 
 
They're out there salting the holes used to put up the stakes for the neighborhood market tents. Yikes. It's freezing here.

I believe this post from September is finally justified...winter has arrived!
 

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