Home and Lifestyle by Anne M. Carminati

Home and lifestyle by Anne M. Carminati

YOGURT LOAF

A FAVORITE FRENCH BAKING STAPLE. A SIMPLE AND QUICK-TO-MAKE LOAF AND A LOVELY AFTERNOON TREAT. 

SERVES 8 TO 10

THE YOGURT SERVES AS A MEASURING CUP

1 PLAIN YOGURT (about 125gr or 4.4 oz)

1 1/2 CUP YOGURT VEGETABLE OIL

3 LARGE EGGS

3 YOGURT CUPS FLOUR

11 GR BAKING POWDER (0.4 OZ)

1 TBSP FINELY GRATED LEMON ZEST

1 TSP VANILLA ESSENCE

 

1- Preheat the oven to 190 C (375 F)

2- Using a whisk beat the eggs, yogurt, vanilla essence, and oil.

3- Add the flour, mixed with the baking powder, one cup at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl every now and then.

4- Add the grated lemon zest.

5- Grease a loaf tin with butter and dust with flour.

6- Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin. Place in the oven and bake for 40 to 45 mn or until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and turn it out on to a wire rack to cool before serving.

ENJOY! 

WHAT NO ONE IS TELLING YOU ABOUT THE IPHONE X FACE RECOGNITION FEATURE

A few weeks ago I bought the new IPhone X. I was excited to get the upgraded camera and was looking forward to the face recognition feature. On my old IPhone 6, Touch ID had a few flaws. The sensor did not always recognize my fingerprint: After a hot shower, while I was cooking and more especially while I was running. It drove me insane. So yeah to the face recognition feature!!!!

I activated the face recognition feature by taking pictures of my face, as instructed, at every possible angle; up, down, sideways ...and there it is, it works! It feels cool to use new technology. I was like a kid with a new toy, every time I used my phone I had a smile on my face. My phone is more than a phone, it recognizes me, my cell phone is not anymore a standard device, it became a partner in life, my new friend.

Day 1 of my life with my new phone. I wake up, it is still dark out, but I do not feel like turning on the light, I pick up the phone, and because it is dark, my new IPhone friend does not recognize me. Ok, well, it makes sense, it cannot see me too well. I get up, and I turn on the light. I have a smile on my face, and I am thinking: "Hello phone it's me!" My phone friend does not recognize me. Ok, maybe it is my hair. Perhaps it is a technology glitch. I try every possible trick, turn off, turn on the phone, arrange my hair, look at my face, smile, no smile...nothing does it. I have to type in the password. I thought, my morning is not starting well. I move on, get on with my day, the face recognition feature works perfectly again, everything is back to normal. Just a bad start.

Day 2. I wake up. Now I know my phone friend does not like darkness, so I put my robe on, brush my hair, start preparing breakfast. I am ready for my phone. I tap the screen.....and.....it does not recognize me. What the hell??? Now I really get mad. I do the same thing as the day before. Turn on, turn off, position the phone in different positions and? ...nothing does it. No response. I type in the password.

Day 3, day 4, day 5…Same story every morning! Except for one or two mornings when it recognized me, then I felt a huge sigh of relief. But that is the exception. Most mornings, nada, niente, nichts, rien!!! So now, even before I touch my phone, I get angry, and I resent the moment when I am going to tap on the screen. 

These events triggered a whole bunch of questions.  What do I look like in the morning? Least to say, it is not very flattering. The truth is, I don't spend time looking at myself in the mirror when I get up. There is nothing to see that is going to make me think: "Wahoo you look fabulous darling!". In reality, I look like I just got up. So why isn't my phone (that is not my friend anymore) recognizing me? 

The first answer that comes to my mind is that my phone might be sleepy too.

The second and most plausible answer, I don't look like the shots I have taken for the face recognition. That's the hard truth, and I don't like it. It has dire consequences on my state of mind. It's not good for my self-confidence. It is not a right way to start my day. It makes me feel self-conscious about my looks when I never really cared in the first place. I am thinking: "Did I sleep enough, am I tired, what am I doing wrong?". I am asking myself all sorts of questions right at the beginning of my day when I have other more important things to consider. It's bad. Period. What is this nonsense? It is very tempting to play the blame game, but I don't care I am going to do it. It makes me feel better. The face recognition feature has flaws. End of story. The problem is that it impacts my mood.

The next question arises: How do I solve my problem? I do not want to live with this negative energy every day.  There are a few options. 

Solution #1: Before I use my phone, take a shower, freshen up, put on my make up. 

Answer: It does not work for me, I like to take my coffee first and read the news on my phone. I am not going to change my routine because of my phone's behavior.

Solution #2: Call all cosmetics companies to work on a new night cream that will plump, soothe, relax my face. 

Answer: That will take them too long to come up with such a night cream. They would charge probably too much, and it won't work anyways.

Solution #3: Go to the dermatologist, ask the doctor to inject my face with botox and fillers and whatever is needed. 

Answer: It is too expensive, and results are not guaranteed either.

Solution #4: Start therapy sessions with a psychiatrist to reboot my self-esteem.

Answer: It's too long, tedious, and he would probably find other skeletons in my closet. I'd rather keep them in the closet.

Solution #5: Trick my phone. Reset my face recognition feature, retake shots of my face but this time in the morning. 

Answer: The risk? It might not recognize me for the rest of the day

For those who do not have that issue: Congratulations, you look great! For those who are not always recognized by their phones: Know that you are not the only ones!

 

SHORTS OR NO SHORTS IN PARIS?

It's hot in Paris. 90 degrees. No air conditioning. I closed my shutters all day. 7:30 pm. I have no more bread for breakfast tomorrow. I have to go to the bakery. I am in shorts with an open back t-shirt that Julianne left behind. I look like a 16-year-old....(I am slightly older!). Can I go out dressed like that? I am thinking... No women my age wear shorts. I am going to look like....not sure what. But it is way too hot! Then I decided: No way! I cannot go out in shorts in Paris. I pulled a jean's skirt and left the open-back t-shirt. That does not work either! I could not be bothered to change my T-shirt so I tucked it tight in my skirt so it would not open. I had a light bulb moment. THAT'S A REAL CULTURE SHOCK!!!!! I suddenly realized the culture or lifestyle difference between Paris and New York in the way women dress. 20 years spent in the U.S. and I never thought twice about going out in shorts. Saint Ambreaous, in the morning, the über snooty place in NY with the best cappuccino in town, has women sipping their cappuccinos in their exercise outfits, shorts, leggings, pajamas ...name it.  In Paris, I will not even wear my leggings to buy my baguette! 

Ok, Paris is the capital of fashion, and as a French woman, we have to live up to our reputation. Making an effort, thinking about what to wear, what works, trying to add a touch of originality to our outfit are things we mull over every morning. It's good for our self-esteem, and it's pleasing to the eyes. So fine, let's stick with no shorts!

Now, the other question is why did I think it was not age-appropriate? Now that I am passed my fifties, I have to think about hiding certain body parts? That's a downer. Depressing. It's true that dressing like a teenager does neither look elegant nor classy. Every age group has their do's and dont's. Every age group has their codes and style. When we dress, we have to think in terms of attitude, elegance, allure, style and we should not be trying hard to look like our daughters. That's a big NO!

But goodness gracious, do I miss the freedom to walk around in shorts!!!

xoxo from Paris.

PARIS CAN WAIT

While I am in New York, I like to do, eat and visit all things that are about NYC. Except for this time! I went to see the movie Paris Can Wait with Diana Lane and Arnaud Viard. Arnaud is a very very very....long time friend, and I would not have missed the movie for the world. I went with close friends to the Paris Theater, a theater that has an old world charm located in midtown. When the movie started, not only was it odd to be transported to France in places that I have been and roads I have taken a thousand times, but it was all the more funny to go on this trip with Arnaud acting in the movie! And to top it all off Diane Lane's character'name is Anne!!! I had to laugh!! It's a full on fantasy movie, all about French clichés that everyone adores, filled with humor, and a feel good movie for women who discover that they are still attractive after their fifties. AFTER ALL, LIFE IS NOT OVER AFTER FIFTY, and everything is still possible! At the end of the movie, the audience was clapping!
Congratulations to you, Arnaud!

PALAIS GARNIER - BALLET : CUNNINGHAM AND FORSYTHE

How can I best describe my feelings as I entered the Opera Garnier? It was a medley of overwhelming impressions: amazement, admiration for its architectural beauty, the feeling of being connected to centuries of history, I felt the intensity of the moment, the privilege of stepping into the pinnacle of the art form. 
I went to see Ballet performances by Cunningham and Forsythe, The forerunners of American Contemporary Ballet. The first number Walkaround Time by Cunningham, was, least to say, a bit disconcerting. The decor was stunning, and it felt like you were in an art gallery, looking at an abstract painting. There was no music. I could only think of when music would start. The question then arises: Does ballet necessitates music?  Ballets without music seem incomplete, and it is unsettling.  We have been taught to watch dance with simple guidelines: performers dancing, music, costumes and decor. Questioning these rules puts us into disarray. The dancers were doing some movements that hardly resembled dance, at some point they were getting undressed and dressed.  After ten minutes of silence, I finally heard some noises (in the program they called it music!), the sound of walking on gravel, roaring cars, chatters. I tried hard to remain open to new ideas, but I could not help but think of visitors at a contemporary art exhibit that often comments: " I could do it myself." That comment drives me insane, and the irony is that I felt like saying it! Because I am trying hard not to fall into intellectual laziness, I respect Cunningham's new take on choreography (although it is not really new since this ballet was created in 1969). I watched the dancers' movements and gestures, more as signs with an aesthetic point of view like I was looking at an art piece. Needless to say, I need to read about his work and understand his objective and ideas.
The next two numbers by Forsythe, Trio and Herman Schmerman (with music!), were an absolute enchantment, perfection in every way. Beauty, creativity, and performers who were amazing. 
It's a gift to the soul!

 

 Palais Garnier

Palais Garnier

 Cunningham - Walkaround Time

Cunningham - Walkaround Time

 Forsythe - Trio

Forsythe - Trio

 Forsythe - Trio

Forsythe - Trio

 Forsythe - Herman Schmerman

Forsythe - Herman Schmerman

 Forsythe - Herman Schmerman

Forsythe - Herman Schmerman

Tulipomania at Luco

I cannot resist sharing my pictures of the beautiful Tulips at Le Jardin du Luxembourg. It is such an incredible sight. Nature is the most beautiful artwork, a pure delight for our eyes. Tulips are the stars of Luco (Parisians nickname Le Jardin du Luxembourg Luco). Tulips have good reasons to be celebrated in the world's most famous gardens. People have been fascinated by this simple flower throughout history. It started in Turkey in the 15th century, but it reached the peak of its celebrity during the 17th century in Holland.

The Dutch became obsessed with tulips. They were originally a natural curiosity and a hobby for wealthy people, it soon became a fascination, and its value took immense proportions. Speculation on Tulip bulbs began building quickly as the middle and upper classes sought them as the ultimate symbol of wealth and prosperity. Initially, the bulbs were grown and traded between connoisseurs and scholars but the popularity of tulips increased, and speculation began among more commercially oriented people. A period of absurd speculation began, it was known as "Tulipomania" during 1636 - 1637.

Although I agree it reached insane proportions where literally a bulb could buy a house, I totally understand why the Dutch were so fascinated. We are still today in awe. They are the first spring flowers, tulips stand proud, bright and tall, their colors are soft or vivid, they defy winter temperatures, and announce nature's rebirth and most of all they bring happiness and a smile on our faces.

Let's celebrate Tulips!

IMG_1890.JPG

HAPPY NEW CHOCOLATE YEAR!

I have a secret I want to share with you about my diet: I eat chocolate every day. I love chocolate, I adore chocolate, and yes it is almost an addiction. Scientific research proves it is a good healthy habit to surrender to this heavenly temptation. It reveals that it does not make you gain weight, and it is filled with healthy benefits thanks to Flavonols. Not only does chocolate give you the happiness of indulging yourself with sweetness, but it also helps with your circulatory system that is essential to living and aging well. Minor detail: the benefits only come with dark chocolate.

Anti-aging, improving your memory and making you happy? Why would you resist the divine pleasure of eating chocolate?

Lately, a friend of mine invited me to a tasting event at La Maison du Chocolat in Paris. I was overwhelmed with joy! My heaven!
We started by tasting Buche de Noël and Galette des Rois. These Holiday cakes are what Pumpkin Pie is for Thanksgiving. Master Chocolatier Nicolas Cloiseau once again offered us a sample of his mastery of chocolate: light and airy cakes yet with an intense chocolate flavor.  

I thought the tasting was over when I saw trays of chocolates. Some with more traditional flavors but always with a little twist that makes the whole difference: lemon zests with ginger, praliné with Christmas spices, passion fruits with litchi just to name a few. The chocolates melted in my mouth, sweetly, nicely, subtly. I was in heaven, one chocolate after another. It was a near orgasmic experience!

After tasting these heavenly sweets, I had a complete shock: Chocolate with Caviar and Vodka! I thought, there is no way I can eat a fishy chocolate. I have to admit I was not too adventurous and had my friend taste it first. I looked at her face to make sure she was all right, and she had a huge smile on her face. I thought, well, if she has a smile on her face let's try it. I like caviar and Vodka, I adore chocolate, let's taste it!! I still cannot believe the two most incompatible ingredients mix so well. It was pure delight. How, for Christ sake, did Master Chocolatier Nicolas Cloiseau come up with that combination???? That is when geniuses are coming into play. Think of the unthinkable and make it work. 

I left La Maison du Chocolat, happy, relaxed, content, with a smile on my face. Who needs anything else?

Let 2017 be a year filled with sweetness, happiness, and healthy benefits!

Happy New Year!  ...I am going to have chocolate right now!

www.lamaisonduchocolat.com

 

Bûche de Noël
Galette des rois

Not Afraid of Love, Maurizio Cattelan

I went to an incredible and highly unusual exhibit at the Monnaie de Paris on Quai Conti, Paris. Maurizio Cattelan, Not Afraid of Love, until January 8. 
Emotions are at the center stage of the experience. 
Cattelan is known for its shocking, provoking, surprising, cynical installations and after seeing a few pictures of the exhibit, I thought it would be fun to see a show that was out of the ordinary. I had a sense of what to expect, but it was far from anything I had anticipated. I went through a roller coaster of emotions from surprise, shock, disgust, amazement, wonder, bewilderment, sadness, happiness, pity, horror, fun, joy, empathy, relief... and I am probably forgetting a lot more. There was not a room where I did not let out a: Ahhh, Oh, Huh, Um, Yikes, Ouch, Arrrgh... Even though I had an idea of the artwork, the grandeur of the location, the stunning building of the Monnaie de Paris, was critical to the experience itself and the impact of the installations it has on the viewer.  Maurizio Cattelan said: "I don't want to lead the audience in a specific direction, I want to provoke a spontaneous reaction." He triggered a myriad of reactions and what was even more extraordinary he set off a full array of responses in such a limited time frame. I did not think it was possible to feel all of these emotions in a couple of hours and more particularly in an art exhibit. After I had seen one installation, I thought the next one could not possibly be as powerful. I was totally wrong, all of them were intense. I was lucky to visit the exhibit with a good friend of mine and we were able to chat about our reactions, talk about the artist's message, our interpretations of the installations. We sat for a while in a grand room where Pope John Paul II is lying in the middle of a red carpet with a meteorite on him. We felt empathy for the Pope, what a demanding and challenging job he had, and I certainly would not have liked to be in his beautifully polished red shoes feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders. Your heart and brain are at work even your body engages in the experience. 
I could not stop thinking during the exhibit about the artist: "What type of a man is he to come up with such weird, twisted ideas that an ordinary person like me could not even fathom to have? Where does he find his inspirations?". I am fascinated by an artist's creative process. Then I thought I would probably be frightened to meet him; his ideas are too much out there. In reality, I would not be scared of him I would be afraid of myself, of his power to unleash all these inner feelings that are most of the time hidden deep in myself.
In retrospect, it is a therapeutical exhibit. Be open, let yourself live your emotions, embrace the experience, and you'll FEEL ALIVE!

P.S. I would love to meet you, Maurizio!!!