Monday, July 25, 2016

Yoga Attempt #1



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There are many aspects of what I call, with a point of sarcasm, the Neo-Hippie lifestyle, that I have found myself adopting. While I'm too French to ever be able to go vegan, paleo, or gluten-free, I like to eat organic produce, meat and dairy, and I always make sure to buy my eggs pasture-raised because while I am an omnivore, I don't like to think that I'm encouraging animal abuse. I also LOVE the Yogi Teas brand, which I've recently discovered, and drink many cups of every day.

(Disclaimer: this post is NOT sponsored by Yogi Teas!)

I've also professed my love many times to all things New Age, including tarot, crystals, candles, incense, and chakra healing.

So you'd imagine that I'm a naturally accomplished yoga master, and I wake up early every morning to do a two-hour intricate yoga routine.

That's where you'd be dead wrong.

I have never really tried yoga (aside from occasionally doing the poses that come on the Yogi Teas packages), or much less taken a class, even if I have had the occasion to take a free one several times in my life.

Until yesterday, that is.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

#JeSuisNice



Bastille Day was meant for celebration, joy, and fun. But on Thursday, terrorists, determined to destroy France and its values, have transformed it now into a day of mourning by taking over 80 beautiful, free, and precious lives. But they will not take our love of liberty. They will not take our love of life. They will not take our love for France. We will face them standing, until we eradicate terrorism. Until love, freedom, and joy win against terror. 

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Style, Beauty, Home, Life



In late 2013, I decided to write an lifestyle e-book about the same topics I have been writing about for almost two years on this blog. I plotted, outlined, wrote, and even designed several covers for this book, which I was planning to publish sometimes in 2014.

And then life came in the way, and I realised that I was not feeling ready to publish a work that I (a bit of a perfectionist, let's face it) would be satisfied with. I needed more time, but also more experience. So I set it aside in a relatively obscure folder of my computer, and while I thought about it from time to time, I never felt ready to fully return to it.

Until now. After three years, a break-up, several moves, a collection of memoirs in French, and a relatively long blogging hiatus, I felt that it was finally the right time to publish this book. In fact, you may have seen a little teaser on Instagram!

It's rather funny how it just flew out of me one night. I was struggling to sleep, and had made the decision not to touch any electronic devices, as they would keep me up even longer. So I took my little blue notebook and started jotting down whatever was on my mind. This was how I found myself outlining not just one, but four books.

Yes, you heard right!

(Needless to say, I still slept very little that night.)

The main difference with the original project is that instead of publishing my work as one single lifestyle book, I will be publishing it in four different volumes, which, are, in order: Style, Beauty, Home, and Life.

In these four books, I will use what I've learned from my French-Lebanese background and my rather unique life experience, to show you how to infuse these different areas of your life with effortless chic, and how to make it through life in a natural, healthy way that allows you to show yourself love and evolve through the different stages of life with grace and happiness.

Style will teach you to define your own fashion philosophy. You will learn how to build, curate, maintain and detox your wardrobe. You will also learn - in detail - what are the essentials items for a stylish wardrobe, and how to shop for these necessary essentials so they perfectly flatter your body and suit your personality.

Beauty will show you a natural approach to skincare, help you create a make-up routine that enhances your natural beauty, and build a healthy relationship with not only your body but also, and most importantly, your mind. You will learn many skincare, make-up, fitness, healthy eating and relaxation techniques and tips.

In Home, you will learn how to make any living space, no matter how big or small it is, your very own,You will learn how to organize and maintain the different areas of your home, and you will also benefit from many decor and entertaining ideas and tips.

Life will explore the complexities of relationships, be they with ourselves, our family, our friends, and our love interests. You will see how to expand your mind with culture, travel and a spiritual practice that suits you. You will also learn how to cherish and maintain the ties that bring you happiness and deal accordingly with those that do not. And you will also learn how to handle the intricacies of romance, love, and all that comes with relationships.

The French Girl In DC Guides to Style, Beauty, Home and Life will come out on August 20st, 2016 (the fifth anniversary of my blog!), but will be available for pre-order on July 25th, 2016. So mark your calendars, and follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to remain updated about freebies, book excerpts, and giveaways!

The books will be sold in two formats: individually, and as a bundle. This allows me to give you all the option to pick and choose whichever one you need most, or to buy them all at once. (Of course, if you decide to buy the bundle, you will be getting four books for the price of three!)

Thanks again to all those of you who inspired me to pursue this wonderful lifestyle blogging and writing adventure. To those who were here when I first started blogging five years ago, and to those two just came upon this blog recently, thank you a million times.

Love,

S ____________________________________________________________________________________

Monday, July 11, 2016

Editor's Letter #7 : July



July has always been the most summery month of all summer. The weather is hot, and I've been living at a slower, more relaxed rhythm. And there recently was the Euro 2016, which came with its fair share of excitement (even if it is nothing here compared to Lebanon or France during international football* season). Despite not being a football fan, I love the ambiance around that time of the year, cheering for my favourite national team (#Fiersdetrebleus), whether it is at home with family or friends, at a sports bar with a cold beer, or at the French embassy, where I watched Germany get defeated by France last week.

And yes, we did get a little too cocky afterwards and underestimate Portugal, but in the end, it's just a game!

So the first half of 2016 is officially over. And when I think of it, it has gone extremely fast. Something for which I'm not ungrateful, given that the last six months have been a bit trying at certain times. Still, I've made it out unscathed, and have mastered the art of seeing the bright side of things.

Lately, I've been feeling incredibly happy and productive, much more than I've ever been in the last six months. I've realised what a huge difference positive thinking does to you. It truly lifts a weight off your shoulders, and makes you see your life from a much different perspective.

And when you shift your perspective, good things happen. For example, I've been finding it easier and easier to eat healthy and exercise, which has gotten me closer to my ideal weight and silhouette. I'm also one step closer to becoming a US citizen, and my relationship with certain family members is improving. It comes with becoming older, and letting go of things that we finally realise are trivial.

And while four friends have made their way out of my life, I made my peace with that, and welcomed new people who share the same values than me, and who bring in nothing but positivity. Because otherwise what's the point? Life is too short to spend time with people around whom you don't feel positive.

My Facebook friends list isn't the only thing that got a thorough clean-up. My little crimson PT Cruiser did as well. One late afternoon, I felt the urge to empty all its content (it has been quite packed since I had moved so many times in 2014-2015) on our front yard, which somewhat amused the neighbours. After sorting through all this content, I dragged three huge bags to the trash bins (and two more in the recycling buckets). By the time it was dark, I had finally cleaned out everything, and decided to vacuum the car (using a very long extension cord, and my iPhone's flashlight, to get all the nooks and crannies).

It is so liberating to get rid of things that weren't bringing you any happiness, but you still held on. Thanks to my wonderful friend L., I've discovered the amazing Louise Hay, and always listen to her meditations before sleeping. In this video (which I strongly recommend watching), she advises cleaning out our homes, our closets, our cars, to make room for the better things that the universe has in store for us. And this is some of the best advice I've ever heard. I have not yet finished (or rather started) cleaning out my wardrobe, but I look forward to the feeling of relief when I can actually walk in my walk-in closet!

Oh, and one last little thing: I'm publishing a book series! I will be telling you more this week, so stay tuned for more info, details, freebies, contests and giveaways!

Love,

S

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*Don't say soccer, it sounds too much like sucker!

PS: The photo above has been taken by my dear friend Aliki Zabelis!

Friday, July 8, 2016

White Coffee



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It's funny when, as an expatriate, you forget some of the most simple habits of your country of origin, and feel like you're having your very own Proustian moment when you rekindle with one of those habits. Something like this happened to me a little while, and I really felt I was travelling back in time to the days when I used to live in Lebanon.

I was chatting on the phone the other day with my father, after a particularly exhausting day at the end of which I really needed some comforting. The wonderful thing about my father is that he has this amazing power to calm me down no matter how anxious, dressed or furious I'm feeling. 

It was around midnight here in DC when we talked, which means it was 7 in the morning in Lebanon. He had just woken up, and I was trying to defeat my very long-lasting insomnia. At one point during my father told me he had just made himself a "white coffee". 

Now, the particularly Lebanese drink called white coffee (or café blanc in French) is not a caffeinated drink; in fact it isn't even caffeinated. I remember the first time hearing this term: it was during a dinner party my grandmother had thrown. Everyone had moved to the salon after dinner, and I was eager to help, so she told me to ask her guests who wanted black coffee, and who wanted white coffee. If by black coffee she meant the very strong, espresso-like coffee that is made with very finely ground coffee beans (they're a powder, truly), white coffee was a more calming, caffeine free option. And that night, many guests requested it. 

I learned that night that white coffee is one of the most simplest things to create, and it truly is a delight at night, before bed, as it brings down stress, anxiety and hyper-activity. 

Yet it only requires two very simple ingredients. The first is hot water, and the second is orange blossom water

And in order to create white coffee, you simply need to boil the same amount of water that you would use for a cup of tea, and then add a very generous splash of orange blossom water. The amount (usually a quarter or a third of orange blossom, to a cup of boiled water, although you can drink it lukewarm), depends on how much you want your drink to be flavourful (or on how tense you are). Sugar or other sweeteners are optional, although I do like to add a little bit of stevia-based low-calorie sweetener. 

And there you have it! White coffee, a delicious, calming drink to enjoy before bed or after a heavy meal.

Have you ever tried warm orange blossom water? What do you typically drink when you need to calm down or relax? Tell me in the comments below!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Playing with life



Today, I am going to tell you about THE video game to which I owe many hours of endless creativity, inspiration, procrastination and even sleeplessness.

Yes, we are talking about the well-known and loved The Sims series.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Rose water for skincare


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Rose water is an essential in every Mediterranean and Oriental kitchen cupboard (imagine how delicious it is in rice puddings and pastries!), but we forget that it has amazing beauty benefits.

I love, for one, how the scent of roses the body and soothes the senses; those of you who have been reading this blog for several years know that whenever I can use a rose-based body wash, perfume or skincare product, I do!

Recently I've started using rose water (from my kitchen cupboard) as a toner, before my moisturizer in the morning, and the extra-virgin coconut oil I apply to nourish my skin in the evening (my beauty routine also includes treating spots and blemishes with lavender essential oil). And I've realised after a few days that aside from the moral boost I get by smelling it, that my skin had gotten much less irritated than usual, especially around my period, which is the time it gets worse.

I'm happy to have discovered this amazing, versatile and natural product (you can even make your own), and definitely recommend it to everyone!

Do you use rose water in your beauty routine? Are there any other kitchen essentials that you use on your face and body as well? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

Love,

S

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Photo via Pixabay.com

Monday, June 27, 2016

A changing body



This week-end, I went to the mall and did some window shopping at Macy's, Nordstrom, and several smaller boutiques. I tried on clothes, but did not buy any. This shopping trip was about motivating myself to keep eating healthy and exercising. I made the promise to treat myself to a few items I really loved (like this gorgeous blush Burberry coat, that would look just perfect on me if I just lost a little bit of weight in the hips/bottom area), once I will have reached a weight that feels healthy to me.

And sometimes, this is the kind of motivation you need, when you burn an entire batch of kale chips* AND rub your eyes with fingers that have just sprinkled Piment d'Espelette on the kale chips in question. You need strong motivation to avoid giving up on healthy eating, and this is where the idea of a designer-filled wardrobe comes in.

Because we're so vain totally worth it!

Many of us find themselves in this situation: how to dress when my body is changing? Is it worth investing in wardrobe basics when I know they will be too large in several months? Here are a few tips I've learned (and am still learning!) along the way:

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Dinner Party Guide




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Where and when:

In our flat on a Friday or Saturday night, when most people hit the clubs, movie theaters, and restaurants in the city.

Who to invite:

No more than four to six people, the perfect amount for uncomplicated entertaining, as Coco Chanel once declared. Brilliant people of different backgrounds.

What to wear: 

A little black dress and high heels. The simpler, the better. Perhaps a smokey eye to look just a little polished for your guests. 

What to eat: 

The idea is that you spend less time in the kitchen and more with your guests, so here are a few options:

A meal of French and Italian cheeses, varieties of saucissons, caviar, smoked salmon and bread. Because such a feast shouldn't just be for the Christmas réveillon.
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 A multitude of sushi ordered in advance, kept in the cold, and served on minimalistic black dishes with seaweed salad and miso broth.
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A boeuf bourguignon, coq au vin, tajine de poulet with couscous, or another classic dish you master, prepared hours in advance and slowly simmered on the stove, filling the place with a delicious smell. Served with a salad of fresh arugula, tossed at the last moment with nothing more than salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice.  

For dessert, offer quality ice cream (or homemade granité, we love this recipe) in cocktail glasses with mint leaves for garnish. Or, if you're a total disaster in the kitchen, ne vous prenez pas la tête*: just go to the French pastry shop and buy a few individual opéra cakes that you will keep cold until after the meal.

What to drink: 

Martini Rosso for cocktails, red wine with dinner, and Perrier because flat water is for flat people.**

What to do: 

"Refaire le monde" with music playing softly in the background, talking about the inépuisable***
subjects of arts, sex, and politics and have animated debates all night long, because it shouldn't just be reserved for presidential candidates. #NonMais !

Enjoy!

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*The equivalent of this delightful French expression is "don't give yourself a headache"

*Okay, I just made this one up right now, but it should totally be a real saying!

**Although my word editor just underlined this word in red, it's so much more stylish to use it rather than "endless"! Don't you think?
Photo from here