The monthly scoop on vintage living and bathtub reads from author Angela M. Sanders
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Angela M. Sanders
The Paris Edition!
I'm home from Paris, nourished with pastries and good wine, and bearing a new bottle of Ann Gérard Rose Cut eau de parfum plus a few finds from the Porte de Vanves flea market. I finished a draft of The Booster Club (that book is kicking my hind end! I think it will be my best so far, though); wandered the gritty Goutte d'Or in search of a West African dress; climbed the Tour César in Provins; saw beloved friends; and had a few encounters with the resident ghost. Next month we'll be back to the regular newsletter. This month it's all about Paris. Read on...
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Vintage Dress of the Month
There's something a little Moulin Rouge that I love about this dress. Seeing the Lanvin Exhibit at the Palais Galliera reminded me of the power of an extravagant sleeve or, as here, an attention-grabbing hem. This dress would kill with black patent leather boots.
This dress is from the heaven-on-earth Xtabay, the model for Tallulah's Closet. 
Bringing Paris Home
I'm just going to come out and say it: Paris as it's often imagined is more fantasy than reality. Parisians don't walk around wearing berets, waving baguettes, and saying ooh la la. Starbucks is popular. Food can be so-so, and, worse, Parisians are beginning to demand gluten-free bread. Sure, Paris is still Paris, so there's that. But the Paris of smoky cafés and poodles with rhinestone collars and dreamy meals at every corner bistro--if it ever truly existed--is kaput.

So, why not make some Paris at home? Here are some ideas to get started (poodle optional):

Flirt. One of the advantages of getting older is that I can tell a cashier he has beautiful eyes and know he's not worried I have designs. We both appreciate it. One waiter told me and a friend, "To Monsieur, I speak English. But to Madame, it is only in French." The world needs more agenda-free flirting.

Portières. Two of my friends in Paris have curtains over their front doors. They're called "portières," and they cut down on drafts and noise from the hall. Plus, they're beautiful panels of pattern and texture. 

Cheese. Cheese deserves so much more than to be melted in burritos and snarfed as an appetizer. (I'll make an exception for a good old-fashioned cheese ball.) I love how the French revere people skilled in aging cheese (called "affineurs") and the attention giving to selecting cheese to savor after a meal. 

Live big while living small: The typical Parisian apartment is tiny. The kitchen and its appliances might be so small that its oven wouldn't hold a turkey. Forget about a dishwasher. Yet think of the great meals that come out of that kitchen. You don't need acres of living room to live happily, either. A small, comfortable room is perfect for conversation. Sure, there's noise on the street, but sometimes you'll catch a snatch of someone playing the piano. You might not have a car, but on foot or a bicycle you smell the weather and feel like a real part of the city.
What is Luxury?
In Paris, I went with a friend to buy a scarf at Hermès. (For those of you who don't know, an Hermès purse has a street value higher than my pickup truck.) The way it works there is that you select what you want to buy, then the sales person takes it to a separate cashier to ring up.

Well, the line to the caisse was long, crammed with people speaking all sorts of languages and ready to lay out thousands upon thousands of euros. What were they really buying? 

It led me to think about luxury. To me, luxury isn't social credibility. It isn't in the Miu Miu and Burberry boutiques in the airport's duty free area. No, that's just expensive mall offerings. 

One friend insists that luxury is time--the time dedicated to an item's craftsmanship or free time to nap or stare into the middle space. Another friend says that luxury is "authenticity." I suppose he means that something luxurious isn't something that aspires to be luxurious. It simply is.

For sure, luxury doesn't have to be expensive, and something expensive is not necessarily luxurious. Luxury, I think, can be found nearly anywhere you pay attention: a good poached egg, a hot bath, sleeping in, the sight of a hummingbird, Sarah Vaughn's voice.

That said, my friend did buy a very fine scarf.
The Latest: Thank you for all your responses to my questions in the last newsletter. I loved every single email and got some great suggestions for future newsletters. Congratulations, Amy, on winning the draw!...I'll be at Stumptown Lit in Portland on October 25th...As always, for more information about The Lanvin Murders, Dior or Die, and Slain in Schiaparelli, or to sign up for this newsletter, visit my website
cow drawing
Vintage Eats: Steak Tartare
Did any of you just gag? Don't be a pansy. If you eat meat, you owe it to yourself to try steak tartare. At Le Mary Celeste in Paris, I had a steak tartare I still dream of: full of freshly chopped herbs, piquant with chili, and studded with slivers of purple fig. I washed down each bite with a sip of glacier-cold martini. Delicious.

Here's a recipe for the classic steak tartare. Before you start, know your butcher! Make sure you choose high quality beef and a fresh organic egg. Once you've mastered it, try playing with its balance of sweet and hot or savory and fruity.

For each serving:

Chop a quarter pound of beef into cubes between a quarter and an eighth of an inch. Tenderloin and filet mignon are easiest to chop, but more muscly cuts hold more flavor. Freezing the beef for 20 minutes makes it easier to cut.

Mix in 1 tsp chopped capers or chopped pickle; 1 TBS unsalted butter; 1 TBS chopped onion (red is pretty); 1/2 TBS chopped parsley; a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce; salt and pepper.

When it's well mixed, heap it on a plate and form a dent in the top. Slip an egg yolk into the dent, and serve. Just mash the egg yolk into the beef before you eat it. 

Last step: brag about it to all your friends. There's little more macho and chic--and delicious--than steak tartare.
Craig Rice
Bathtub Entertainment: All about Paris
If you can't make it to Paris, you can still enjoy the city through books and movies. Here are some of my picks:

Charade: Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, a mysterious theft, scenes throughout Paris, chic 1960s outfits--what more could you want in a movie? Plus, it's in the public domain, which means you can stream it for free.

Amélie: Yes, I'm a romantic. Still, I watch this movie once a year for everything from her apartment's decor (those walls!) to the street scenes in Montmartre.

The Blessing, Nancy Mitford: Evelyn Waugh said this domestic comedy was Mitford's best novel. It's a loving and very English view of the French, and even though I wanted to shake the heroine by the shoulders sometimes, I enjoyed it.

It Isn't All Mink, Ginette Spanier: Spanier was Pierre Balmain's Directrice, and this is the first volume of her memoirs. Besides giving a juicy insider's view of haute couture in the 1940s through the 1960s, she writes movingly about living in Paris through the Occupation.
Vintage Living: Lace Curtains
The classic French kitchen window covering is a lace panel. I like lace curtains, too, but fine, flat lace can look fussy. So, for my dining room I hung old crocheted tablecloths that I've found at thrift shops from curtain rings with clips on them. Each curtain is different, and they're all handmade except two. 

At the Porte de Vanves flea market, I bought three strips of handmade lace for five euros each. They were probably once trim for curtains, but I clipped them at the top of a few of my panels to make a sort of valence (you can see one in the photo above).

I love thinking of all time and attention that went into them and about the (likely) women who made them. So much better than picking up curtains at Target.
Copyright © 2015 Angela M. Sanders, All rights reserved.

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