CHRISTMAS GIFT WRAPPING . . . in the style of Coco Chanel

Logs in the ancient fireplace crackled .  Heavy faded velvet curtains shut out the cold and dark night.  On the old Victrola  Piaf warbled   Le Noël de la rue.  It was the top of the hour.  She opened the curtains.   The lights of the Eiffel tower filled the room.  Here in the magic of her little house in Paris she would wrap her gifts .

Plain brown paper unrolled.  Silver scissors cut.  A scattering of pearls.  An elegance of black ribbon.  A Coco Chanel wrapped Christmas gift.

Champagne chilled.   Cassoulet simmered on the ancient  La Cornue stove.   The room fragrant  with its rich welcoming aroma.  Footsteps whispered on the ancient stone stairs.  Her guests had arrived.  It was Christmas in une petite maison.   My little house in Paris is with me always.  To journey to it I have but to close my eyes and turn the key on the welcoming door.

(Dear Friends, This post of pearls and presents is a favourite.    I love the economy of wrapping with recyclable, inexpensive plain brown paper. Coloured tissue paper and metallic paper is not recyclable.  The pearls are easy stick-ons and the black ribbon is wireless.  Everything purchased in a quick trip to my favorite dollar store.  )

MADEMOISELLE . . . COCO CHANEL AND THE PULSE OF HISTORY

 

 

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In 1955 I discovered Vogue Magazine.   An elegant, exotic, exciting and completely new world spilled from the pages.

The one shoe store in our small town sold shoes in two colours – black and brown.  White shoes for nurses.  Clothing came in three styles – practical, matronly and Eaton’s catalog. I was young.  I wanted more.    I devoured Vogue.  I discovered Coco Chanel.

 

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My clothing budget was meager.

I raided Woolworth’s Five and Dime  for strands of pearls.

I bought men’s tortoise shell frames for my eye glasses

 

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I sewed white collars and cuffs onto my dark suits and black dresses.

And insanely and extravagantly  I spent a weeks salary on a bottle of Chanel No 5 perfume.

All because of Coco Chanel!

 

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MADEMOISELLE    COCO CHANEL  and the pulse of history  by Rhonda K. Garelick is a riveting biography of one of the most fascinating woman of the 20th century.

If you admire Chanel.  Love fashion.  Adore Paris – then dive into this book for interesting new information about this woman who created a global icon – CHANEL NO 5.

 

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This book is an intriguing  glimpse into the life of Chanel – warts and all.  If you find the tales of  Chanel reinventing herself repetitious – ignore them!   If the amount of words overwhelm you – skip a few pages.  If you feel the photographs are too small – be clever and Goggle image of some of the men in her life.  You’ll be rewarded with dozens of photographs  of Boy Capel, Igo Stravinsky, Grand Duke Dmitri, Hugh Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster and poet Pierre Reverdy.

 

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Chanel transformed forever the way we dress.   The little black dresses, flat shoes, elaborate costume jewelry, cardigan sweaters, jersey knits.    She took women out of strait jacket corsets and put them into everything from evening dresses and her classic boucle suits to “boyfriend’s” clothes, fisherman’s sweaters and sailor pants. Today you see these fashions on  women of every age and every background.

 

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I continue my ongoing and long love affair with all things Chanel.   Because of Chanel I fell in love with Paris and all things French.  In my garden  Camellias are blooming.   White Camellias  – Coco Chanel’s favorite flower.

 

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CREME BRULEE . . . the perfect dessert to compliment a very French dinner.

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Crème Brûlée is like Coco Chanel’s little black dress.  Perfection in its simplicity.  Perfection in its execution.   Designed to impress but not to over-power.   Always in good taste.  And the memorable ending to any dinner.

If you only make one dessert in your life – make it crème brûlée and make it yours.  My new recipe is similar to the dessert we served in our restaurant ROXY’S BISTRO, but I have simplified it and made it practically fool-proof.

Generally I make the classic version – with vanilla.  Or,  feeling creative I’ll poke around in the drinks cupboard and use cognac or Grand Marnier as the flavouring.    One can even put a generous dab of jam in the bottom of the ramekins before you pour your custard.  Like Chanel’s little black dress – the possibilities of changing this recipe are endless.

This recipe contains only three ingredients – eggs, cream, sugar and flavouring.  It takes just a few minutes to whip up then into the oven it goes.

Put on your apron and come into MRS BUTTERFINGERS kitchen and make CRÈME BRÛLÉE.

 

 

FOREVER CHIC … Le Femme Francaise d’un Certain Age

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I am a woman of a certain age.  La Femme Francaise d’un Certain Âge

It is my wish on my birthdays to celebrate a life well lived.  To celebrate with elan, grace, elegance, humor and a glass or two of Champagne.  To celebrate with family and friends.  To celebrate with cake and sparklers.  To celebrate with joy and happiness this life of mine.

FOREVER CHIC by Tish Jett is a book divulging French women’s secrets for timeless beauty, style and substance.  What makes this book different is the advice is for older woman.   The significant chapters deal with hair, skin care and fashion.  Take your little black book and pencil in the lists, the suggested products and the ideal must-have fashions.  Some of the products may not be available to you or prohibitively expensive but there is an encouraging abundance of excellent ideas.

If you have little time for this type of book you can skim read the mantras that make French women  appear younger than their years and more stylish than runway models.  But their thoughts on beauty regimes and fashions  will inspire and encourage you to accentuate your strengths and conceal your weaknesses.

 

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I don’t understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little  –  if only out of politeness.  And then, you never know, maybe that’s the day she has a date with destiny.  And it’s best to be as pretty as possible for destiny.” – Coco Chanel

I am not embarrassed to admit I never leave the house without  make-up and the right clothes for the occasion.   Sometimes it is simply bright red lipstick, perfectly pressed chinos  and a classic white shirt.  It is never t-shirts with silly words, flip-flops and baggy ripped jeans.   This does require effort and discipline but organization makes it possible.  I do like to do things the easy way.  Perhaps I am a little bit lazy.  But if all parts of my life are tidy and in order.  If my closets are organized. If my shoes always put away cleaned and polished.   I can accomplish anything.  It is not possible if you live in chaos.

The situation for women of a certain age is this.    The children are grown up.  You have less obligations. You may live alone.   Perhaps you have retired.   Why not look your very best? Recently I went to a convention for women volunteers.  I was late arriving and sat in the back row.  From this vantage point I looked at the back of about 300 women well over a certain age.  The majority of the women had their steel gray hair cut so short that from where I sat it looked like a room of men dressed in women’s clothes.

FOREVER CHIC is inspiration and encouragement for those of us getting older.   Why not do it the French way – with grace and style.

 

 

 

COCO CHANEL . . . tells it like it should be!

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I am not young but I feel young.  The day I feel old I will go to bed and stay there.  I’aime la vie!   I feel that to live is a wonderful thing.

A girl should be two things – CLASSY AND FABULOUS.

Fashion is not something that exists in dress only.  Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.

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Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.

Success is often achieved by those don’t know that failure is inevitable.

Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to you to merit the face your have at fifty ….

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A woman has the age she deserves.

There is no time for cut-and-dried monotony.  There is time for work.  And time for love.  That leaves no other time!

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Hard times arouse an instinctive desire for authenticity.

Fashion fades, only style remains the same.

The most courageous act is still to think for yourself.

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There are people who have money and people who are rich.

Elegance does not consist in putting on a new dress.

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You live but once you might as well be amusing.

If you were born without wings, do nothing to prevent them from growing.

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You can be gorgeous at thirty – charming at forty and irresistible for the rest of your life.

HOW TO MAKE A VINTAGE GRAPHIC FRENCH PILLOW

I fell in love with this vintage French  graphic design on THE GRAPHICS FAIRY.  It couldn’t be more French with the bee and the crown.  Pillows like this are not easy to find, and when you do they are rather pricy.  It’s really simple to create these designs yourself using T-Shirt transfer paper for ink jet printers.

After downloading your image be sure to flip or reverse the image.

I found the transfer paper at Staples office supplies.  Most craft stores also carry it.

The instructions are very clear and easy to do.  You just need your fabric, a hot iron, and a pillow slip.  After you transfer your design to the transfer paper you trim around the design as closely as you can.  Center you design on your pillow, ink side down, or course.  Press with a hot iron without steam.  Read your instructions carefully before you start,  different sized designs require different ironing time.  Let your fabric cool, then remove.  Voila!!

I wanted my pillow to have a very polished, elegant look so I used self-piping, then trimmed the pillow with Coco Chanel inspired black ribbon.

You can buy plain white pillows at Ikea if you are not a seamstress but it will be awkward putting on the ribbon trim.  Miter the corners for a finished look.

You can NEVER have too many pillows.  My new pillow is perfect with the stripes and toile.  I am going to cruise The Graphic Fairy to find a complimenting design.

My very old wicker chair has a companion.  I’ve rocked many hours in this chair.  Singing my children to sleep.

Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques

Dormez vous?  Dormez vous?

Sonnez les matines,

Din, din, don

Din, din, don.

I shall search for something appropriate,  and make the perfect pillow for this important rocking chair.