Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cocktails with Courtney ~ May

It has been the coldest and rainiest Spring in Paris in forty years, according to some reports. And May 30th, 2013 in Paris was another typical rainy and chilly day. Of course it was tres chaleureux (very warm) and friendly in the Tuileries Bar at the Westin Hotel for this month's cocktails.

Guenael Amieux, a long-time web producer, and I chatted for a long time about the "cyber scene" in Paris and how it's picking up; Loic Le Muer and how he seems to be considered the leading web guru around; how Google Glass is a little prejudice since glasses-wearing folks can't really test them out (unless you're wearing contacts I guess); and why is it that even to this day our phones and computers can't handle two languages at once? He cited that there's a huge population in the world that's bilingual and how, for instance, if I text my husband in Franglais (French + English), the phone will consider one of the languages to just contain a row of misspelled words.

Jeanne De Sainte Marie, who came to the 1st Cocktails with Courtney in Paris (April 2011), was happy to show us her completed app after two years of intensive work. As an illustrator, she drew extensive drawings and paintings for a charming French/English bilingual app for children. A Word's A Bird (Spring Flies By In Rhymes) is a beautifully illustrated interactive poetry app where you can read, listen and play with the poems. Her illustrations are gorgeous and the team who worked together on this are talented professionals. (MORE INFO)

My good friend Victor Le Broussois came by, looking refreshingly springy in white jeans and crisp navy blazer. We've known each other since his early dot-com business (StockOnWeb) and our joint Cocktails with Courtney event in Cannes (2000). Victor has traded in the 1s and 0s for paints and brushes and will be showing his paintings and installation at XPO Gallery, a gallery well known for its affiliation with art at a digital age. Currently Aram Barthol is showing. His show is open only by appointment and Victor's vernissage (opening cocktail) is by invitation. (If you'd like an invite, let me know.) We'll be sure to have a report on it!

The guests tonight had a chance to win a limited-edition Cocktails with Courtney t-shirt and the lucky winner was Charlotte Panis, who runs a private concierge service for people in Paris. I met Charlotte at an ISG Digital "First Monday" event and she explained in more detail how she helps travelers to Paris experience new, cozy and special restaurants, shopping and touring. Whether a seasoned traveler to Paris or coming for the first time but craving something unique, her services help the visitor see a nouveau Paris.

With such a great repartee between all the guests, I'm sure the next Cocktails' will draw out more interesting folks.

Here are all the pics!

A Coloring Book?!

Doing some research while writing my book I went to the NYS Small Claims website. The first link that caught my eye was "Kids Corner." What the heck?! A kids corner? How many kids are going to Small Claims court?! How many people are taking their children (for whatever reason) to Small Claims court. Gee. Have times changed? Or is technology just meeting our society where it is/was?

And: they have COLORING BOOKS you can download! In French AND English! Whoa....

Ready for tonight

Well I may not be the best product photographer, But we have our gift bag ready for the lucky T-shirt winner for tonight's Cocktails with Courtney!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Just like Pop

Visiting my father in February I noticed how the coffee he made was delicious. Every time. And, as he's been doing for over 40 years (maybe all his adult life, not just mine), he makes his coffee the traditional way with a Melitta porcelain coffee pot and filter.

Back home in France, these classic items are not to be found. No where. Except on e-bay. So, after a few more months of terrible tasting coffee from my automatic coffee maker (a Rowenta), I bought these items (below) separately.

I'm even more happy that they are in this pretty pale blue color!

And so, this morning I was able to finally brew my own coffee, the old-fashioned way. And it was absolutely delicious! So smooth and fine... Thanks Pop! 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

No Poo!

It was a few weeks ago when I went out with two girlfriends for dinner. It had obviously been a long time since I'd had a girl's night out and this occasion was for a birthday dinner. After we got settled in our table and a few moments after we'd ordered, I leaned forward and whispered, "can I ask you a personal question?" They leaned in, I'm sure not sure of what they were about to hear...

"Where do you get your eyebrows done?!" They leaned back, a bit relieved, I think, that the question wasn't too personal too early on in the evening.

"I do mine myself. Not too much."

"I dye mine because they are so light; and I don't pluck."

Huh. Encouraging but not totally helpful. The conversation delved into how French eyebrow bars pluck too much to how French coiffures just have one style they like and only cut that despite what you ask for. But then the conversation really piqued my curiosity.

One of my friends doesn't even shampoo her hair! And the other one had known about this trend! It's called the "No 'Poo Movement" and it's all about not using commercial shampoo and conditioner. There are people who've joined the movement in an attempt to reduce their use of plastic. By not buying shampoo bottles they break the cycle of using plastic, adding to the recycling problem and help the environment. The other "feature" of this revolution is that by using all natural ingredients to wash your hair, you save money, don't put chemicals on your hair and actually (apparently) help your hair be more healthy but letting the scalp return to its normal natural balanced state. Apparently using (or overusing) shampoo creates an unnatural environment for your hair, producing more oils and creating that vicious cycle of having to wash frequently because your hair gets greasy.

The secret is baking soda. Huh. My father has been using baking soda to clean with for decades! Could it be he was onto something, once again, before it was trendy?! 

As I write this, I faintly recall an article where a friend of mine was featured in the Wall Street Journal about this very topic. Back in 2004 or so.

Anyway. I was riveted. I asked questions. I got answers. And I decided to try it.

I went online and researched a few articles. Too distracting. Let's keep it simple. I recalled what my friend said and just mixed 1 tablespoon of baking soda with water. Except I forgot to use warm water so when I dumped it on my head I was in for a shock! Okay. I scrubbed. And I rinsed. Onto the Apple Cider Vinegar Conditioner. Also mixed with cold water. Urgh.

Other than smelling like cheap wine, it seemed to be okay so far.

I let my hair airdry. It was full and fluffy. Like when I go swimming in the ocean and my hair dries at the beach. The second time I played with the measurements and my hair was flat, dull and kind of stringy. Hum... Third time (yesterday), I was successful with the measurements AND warm water. Looking okay. Could it be that my hair truly is going back to its natural, healthy state?

The test today was my visit to the hair salon. Would I have the guts to tell them to please not use shampoo? Would they inquire why? Would they laugh at me? Would they dump shampoo on my head anyway because what-kind-of-a-silly-request is that anyway? None of the above. They simply rinsed my hair and then we went in for the cut. My hair was more snarly than usual (oops). And each time the stylist took a section to blow dry (I figured I'd let him at least get to blow and style it) I smelled a faint whiff of vinegar. Ack! How embarrassing! Is that why Joss asked me if I had been using any products on my hair? (I said 'No...') oops.

Well, I made it out of the salon without too much embarrassment. My haircut looks nice, and the no-poo experiment is going alright for the moment!

(Stay tuned!)

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Magical Writing Moment

On phone with Rebecca.

Bal Traditionnel

This morning Simon went to  a Bal Traditionnel at a stadium in Paris. The teacher said the parents could come but we had to be discreet because the children could be already very impressionne. I didn't know what to expect because my mind floated to balls with fancy dress in gold and mirrored ballrooms. This was a gymnasium and they were told to wear dark pants and sneakers. T-shirts were provided. This ecole also color-coordinated each class, providing a little colorful neckerchief for each child to wear. Simon's class had orange neckerchiefs.

So we went to the stade and sat in the bleachers. The first problem was that there were not many parents so it was hard to be discreet as we stood out like sore thumbs and it was a small gymnasium. The second problem was that all the other parents were sitting down in the first row and were waving and calling to their children.

Harrumph! Well. If all the other parents are "breaking the rules," then why shouldn't we? I don't want little Simon to think his parents didn't love him enough to show up at his first bal! (Of course there were only three other parents there...)

So. What is this bal?

Just that--a dancing ball with organized dances and "numbers." Line dancing, polkas, waltzes, boogies. Even the "put your left hand in, put your left hand out, put your left hand in and shake it all about, do the boogie, woogie and turn yourself about..." number.

So after about three or four dances I started waving and smiling and of course little S finally saw me and was all excited and waving and pointing and smiling back! Then I complained how our pictures are going to be terrible because we're all the way on the other side of where S is so we can't see him as well. Dear hubby agreed to move to the other side of the stade. We moved. Now we couldn't see S and smile and wave at him when he was sitting down. We were able to see him better for the dances though.

He's a good dancer.

Then I got worried he was going to get in trouble because he kept jumping up and looking back at us now and waving like the little girl next to him. Shoot. And Muriel (the maƮtresse) told us to be discreet!

All was well until the dance was finished. Simon's class was going up into the bleachers to get their coats but Hubby wanted us to leave immediately before he saw us leave.

My fears

I was afraid of leaving before he saw us because I didn't want him to feel abandoned. One minute we're all laughing and waving and the next minute he doesn't see his parents anywhere. So I stayed so I could wave goodbye to him. Uh oh. Now he started crying. Damn. My worst nightmare. Now he's crying and I don't know if I'm allowed to go down and comfort him and say "it's going to be alright little guy; don't worry, we'll see each other soon enough..." Muriel has reprimanded me before for lingering too long with S when he's crying... What do I do now? Isn't this a unique situation? Besides, all the other parents were staying and some were even putting their coats on their children! Aaaargh!

So I kept walking backwards upstairs and smiling and waving and saying, "bye-bye sweetie" and "we'll see you later!" What a nightmare.

I went to a glass window looking out onto the gymnasium and saw him sitting all by himself, alone, with his jacket on, CRYING! Oh God!

Finally I had to just go towards dear Hubby, nagging me to just leave already!

Definitely a bittersweet moment.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Invite: Cocktails with Courtney - May

It's been cold and rainy since Winter "stopped." People have been complaining of a terrible Spring. It's definitely an indicator of Global Warming--and freezing. In either case, it's always sunny in a Cocktails with Courtney event! Our next one is May 30th so sign up and come enjoy a convivial evening with like-minded people.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

I think it's time.

I've been painfully aware of the lack of posts to my dear Cyber Scene. I have at least four Cocktails with Courtney events to write-up. I think it's time for me to admit--I will get these posts written, but in the meantime, I've decided to break the barrier and put my personal life experiences here in France amidst my tech writings. I hope you'll find them as amusing as I do! ;) A tout a l'heure!