A Little Bit of France in my Christmas Tree Decorating

December 3, 2017

Bonjour mes amis!  I don't know about you, but I can't believe Christmas is almost here!  I, for one, have been trying to find the time to decorate our family tree, which is usually done after Thanksgiving in my household, but this time I had to delay it a bit.  This year I wanted something different instead of the usual green tree.  We got rid of our old artificial green tree for a new 6 ft Pre-lit Rose Gold Christmas Tree.  Luckily, at the time of purchase it was on sale at Target, which gave me more room to purchase a few new decorations.  I didn't really have a theme in mind.  I was focused on color and texture more than anything really.  However, I wanted to incorporate a little bit of France, but not too much.


Our tree included white glittery icicle branches; gold leaves and pine cones; white, gold, blush pink, light blue, and silver round ornaments of various sizes and patterns; and our collection of limited edition Sonny Angel Ladurée Pâtisseries Christmas Ornaments.  These cute mini dolls are dressed in various French pastries like macarons, Saint-Honoré, Isphan, and Religieuse.  Although this collection is not available anymore, I found some other Christmas ornaments you can purchase to French-ify your tree!

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What theme are you incorporating into your Christmas tree decorating?

LA's Iconic Stahl House (Case Study House #22)

October 15, 2017

This weekend was my birthday milestone weekend.  I turned 40 years young!  Some people either dread it or embrace it.  I choose to embrace it and slay it flawlessly!  As a birthday gift to me, my husband surprised me by taking me to the Hollywood Hills to one of the most iconic architectural masterpieces in modern history, Case Study House #22 (aka the Stahl House).  I've always had an interest in architecture and interior design.  I don't have a particular type I love (because I love it all!), but if I had to choose one it would be mid-century modern.  I am a believer in "less is more", clean lines and simplicity in all aspects of life.  Years ago I read about Case Study Homes, which was an experimental residential architectural program sponsored by Arts & Architecture Magazine in 1945.  Although the project was nationwide, majority of the Case Study Homes were built in California.  This particular home was the one I had my eye on ever since I saw the dramatic black and white image of the house featuring two women lounging in the living room over the glowing LA metropolis.  That iconic photo was taken by architecture photographer, Julius Shulman, and part of the Stahl House fame is largely due to his image.  It was always a dream of mine to visit the Stahl House and re-create Shulman's famous image (you can see below).  My husband knew the Stahl House is my dream home and so this was definitely a dream come true!
We pulled into the private home of the Stahls, which is beautifully perched on the Hollywood Hills.  The tour began late afternoon to the evening.  The docent talked a bit about the history of the home and it's involvement in the Arts & Architecture Magazine project.  Afterward, we were free to roam around the home and take pictures.  I studied every corner of that house and enjoyed every bit of it.  We sat by the pool and relished the stunning view of LA!  As the sky turned dark and the city lit up, the docent turned off the lights of the house for 30 minutes so we can enjoy the glowing LA view.

A little bit about the house:

With just a handshake to confirm the deal, the original owners, Buck and Carlotta Stahl, bought the land the house now sits on for $13,500 in 1954.  The Stahls decided to commission a young architect, Pierre Koenig, to realize their dream home.  Pierre later proposed the project to Arts & Architecture Magazine and in 1959 it was adopted into the Case Study Program and given the number 22.  The Stahl House was completed about 13 months later and ended up costing $37,500.  The glass and steel pavilion-style home is 2,200 sq. ft, 2 bedroom, 2 bath, has a swimming pool, and the most spectacular view of Los Angeles!  After completion, Buck and Carlotta Stahl and their 3 toddler children, moved-in.  I mean can you imagine growing up in this type of house?  Stunning!

How to visit:

The Stahl House is a private home and is owned by the now-grown Stahl children.  Although no one lives there, they occasionally visit to enjoy with their own families and friends.  This property is open to the public (by appointment only) and for commercial use, which is not cheap, and has been featured in magazines, music videos, television and movies.  Group tour tickets can be purchased on their website, but they sell out quick.  They have a strict photography rule:  only cell phone photography is allowed, but NO video or DSLR cameras.  You can post your pictures on social media for personal use only.  For more information or to reserve tour tickets, visit http://stahlhouse.com/ or click here.

I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to experience my dream home.  Walking barefoot on the prestine white carpet, sitting on the comfortable sofas, hanging out in the kitchen and wet bar, and enjoying the marvelous view of LA...the Stahl House is such an inspiring piece of modernist-style architecture!  This was the best birthday gift ever!

Photojojo Everyday Collection Product Review & Giveaway

September 22, 2017


Like many people, my phone is my on-the-go personal assistant.  So you can imagine, I rarely turn off my phone.  Keeping my phone charged up is essential, especially with my photography needs.  Between editing most of my images with my phone and mobile apps constantly running it drinks up a lot of juice.

Well, it was announced this week that Photojojo, the online shop that makes photography awesome,  has launched a collection of must-have tech gadgets called "Photojojo Everyday" to fit the needs of not only photographers, but for your everyday, on-the-go life.  I was given the opportunity to review their new Photojojo Everyday products and I must say I was extremely excited!

Photojojo Everyday collection has all the gadgets you need to keep charged up and ready to go everyday.  These items can be purchased individually or as a kit  Their collection includes:
  • Wall charger featuring four ports so you can charge other gadgets like phones, cameras, etc.  One of the things I love about this charger is that one of the ports is a quick charge port for a quick charge of your electronic.  This wall charger is probably one of my favorites.  It's proven it's worth when both my phone and my DSLR batteries needed to be charged at the same time.
  • 2-in-1 wide angle & macro smartphone lens.  You can clip it over the lens of your phone.  Simply unscrew the wide angle lens to use the macro lens.  I've tested it out and was happy with the quality of my pictures.  This is also useful since Apple seems to update their phones constantly and I needed a smartphone lens that can fit with most models.  I mean who wants to constantly spend money on smartphone lenses that will only fit a particular model?
  • Power Bank will charge most phones up to 3 times.  So far, I'm pretty happy with it.  I haven't had the need to recharge the power bank yet.
  • Durable, braided nylon charge/sync cable with a cable snuggle to keep things tidy.  This is actually my preferred type of charging cable.
  • Gizmo Go-Bag to keep all your gadgets organized.

Now for the fun part!  Photojojo has generously offered to send one Photojojo Everyday Kit containing the  2-in-1 smartphone lens, power bank, wall charger, charging/sync cable, and the Gizmo Go-Bag to a lucky Rue Margaux reader!

For a chance to win, you must do the following:

1.  Follow @ruemargaux on Instagram.
2.  "Like" the Photojojo Everyday Kit post and tag two other friends on the comments.
3.  Follow @photojojo on Instagram.

Rules:  One entry per person.  Giveaway is open to everyone, but if you reside outside the United States you will have to pay for shipping.  The giveaway will run from 9/22/2017 until 9/24/2017 at 10:00 pm PST.  Winner will be randomly chosen and notified on Instagram (@ruemargaux).

You can also find out more about their Photojojo Everyday Collection on www.photojojo.com/everyday

This giveaway is provided to you by Photojojo.  Thanks Photojojo for sponsoring this post.


Beauty: Summer Skin with Rodial

August 30, 2017

I created Rue Margaux as a platform to share how I apply the French way of life into my everyday American life.  However, this platform was also created to share other things I love (both French and non-French) like beauty finds.  Yes, I'm a beauty junkie (actually I'm more of a skin and hair care junkie than makeup).  It's not that I want to try every product out there, but as I gets older I find it necessary to change the items on my vanity tray to suit the needs of my hair and skin.

For my very first beauty segment, I had the pleasure of testing out a few amazing products by Rodial.  Rodial, a London-based luxury brand, is known for their line of skincare and makeup products with intriguing names like "snake serum" or "Dragon's Blood Hyaluronic Toner".  After a few weeks of testing out their products, I have to say I am now a fan and I'd like to share some of my favorites.

Dragon's Blood Hyaluronic Toner:  I spritz this on my face day and night as an energy booster and to lock in moisture for my skin.  You can use it to set your makeup too.  It contains rosewater, which I love!

Snake Eye Cream O2:  I'm not as consistent with eye creams as much as I'd like to be.  Since receiving this product, I have used it day and night.  I like how it firms and energizes the skin around my eyes.

Glamolash™ Mascara XXL:  I can't tell you how much I love this long-wearing mascara.  I have tried other mascaras in the same price range, but they never provided the long-wear and volume I wanted...that is until I tried the Glamolash™.  It provides volume for my lashes without the clumping.

Smokey Eye Pen Black:  I've found my perfect eyeliner pencil!  It glides on smoothly, lasts the whole day, and does not budge!!

Have you tried these or any other products from Rodial?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.  You can shop for these products at Saks or Space NK USA.


Thanks Rodial for sponsoring this post.

Refined Elegance: Daniel Wellington

August 27, 2017


I’m excited to be partnering up with the Swedish watch brand, Daniel Wellington, for my very first style blog post.  They are known for their minimalist and timeless style, which fits with my personal style.  I'm a full believer that less is more.  It is a philosophy I try to apply in all aspects of my life.  When I was contacted with an opportunity to work with Daniel Wellington, I knew it was a perfect fit.  Their vast collection of men's and women's timepieces are the epitome of understated elegance.  One of the things I love about this brand is they fit perfectly with any outfit for every occasion. Their straps are interchangeable making Daniel Wellington timepieces pair easily with a casual outfit or formal attire.

I wanted a timepiece that boasts refined elegance, femininity, and sophistication.  I also wanted something that will go with my professional work attire and casual wear like jeans and a t-shirt so I chose the Classic Petite 32mm Melrose in Rose Gold.  It looks fantastic day or night!

In partnership with Daniel Wellington, I'm delighted they are offering my Rue Margaux readers 15% off any timepiece of your choosing just by entering RUEMARGAUX15 upon checkout on DanielWellington.com.  Another added bonus is they offer free shipping worldwide!

I'd love to know which timepiece fits from Daniel Wellington's collection fits your style.



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Thanks Daniel Wellington for sponsoring this post.

Art of L'Apéritif: St. Germain Spritz Cocktail

July 21, 2017

The French and l'apéritf (or l'apéro for short) is nothing new.  It's similar to "Happy Hour" or "cocktails" in America.  The purpose of this French ritual is to stimulate your appetite before dinner, usually with a simple alcoholic beverage.  The apéro is also an opportunity to be surrounded by good company and enjoy the French way of life.  Today, I want to share one of my favorites for apéro.  St. Germain Spritz is perfect for the apéro, especially during the summer.  I like this drink because it's refreshing and has a fragrant flavor thanks to the St. Germain liqueur, which is made from elderflowers and it just so happens to be one of my favorite French liqueurs.  Here's a simple recipe so you can make your own:  
St. Germain Spritz
(Serving size:  1)

40ml St. Germain French liqueur
60 ml sparkling water or club soda (I used San Pe [Sohn Pay]...short for San Pellegrino)
60 ml Prosecco or sparkling wine
Ice cubes enough to fill a tall 'collins' glass (I didn't have one so I used my champagne flute)
Garnish with lavender (as pictured) or slice of lemon or mint

1.  Fill the glass with ice.
2.  Pour prosecco or sparkling wine over the ice.
3.  Add St. Germain
4.  Top it off with sparkling water
5.  Add a garnish.  Here I added a garnish of lavender since I had some available.  Voilà!

5 Ways to Celebrate Bastille Day Wherever You Are

July 14, 2017

If you're a Francophile at heart, as I am, you know that today is Bastille Day!  C’est quoi le jour de la Bastille?  What is Bastille Day?  Bastille Day is the common name Anglophones (English-speakers) use to describe this French National holiday.  In France, it's rather known as le 14 juillet (the 14th of July) or la Fête nationale (National celebration).  Le 14 juillet commemorates the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, which was the turning point of the French revolution, and Fête de la Fédération, commemorating the unity of the nation in July 14, 1790.

The official celebration in France includes a military march along the Champs-Élysées and a phenemonal feu d'artifice (fireworks) at the Eiffel Tower.  If you're not in Paris to watch the festivities, don't fret.  I've listed 5 ways to celebrate Bastille Day and French culture when you're not in Paris.


1.  Bastille Day Feast
Because a celebration without food is no celebration at all.  We usually venture out to French bistros to enjoy a delicious meal.  Below are some of my favorite French restaurants in LA.

Bouchon  closed

Church & State

Le Petit Paris

Ladurée

Petit Trois

Trois Mec

République

Figaro Bistrot

Spring

Garçons de Café

Crêpes Sans Frontières  closed

Café Beau Soleil



2.  Indulge in Pastries
A lunch or dinner is not complete without dessert...at least for me.  Like all things French, I'm very passionate about pastries.  I'm always on the lookout for the best of the best French pâtisseries in Paris and here in the US.  When I'm not in Paris and missing the desserts from "home", I get my fix at these locations in Southern California:

Ladurée

Le Mervetty

Bo Nuage

Sweet Nuns

Pitchoun

'Lette

Bottega Louie

Napoleon's Macarons

République

Crêpes Sans Frontières  closed

Bouchon  closed





3.  Watch French films
Catching a firework show on le 14 juillet is hard to come by when you're not in Paris.  So why not celebrate French culture by watching French films.  There's a great list of them on Netflix that is worth checking out.

4.  Wine, cheese and charcuterie tasting
What better way to celebrate le 14 juillet and French culture than with wine, cheese and charcuterie tasting!  You can enjoy this at specialty establishments or at home.  Here are a few of my recommendations:

Wine and cheese bars
Garçons de Café

Little Next Door

Shop and enjoy at home
Cheese Cave

Urban Radish

The Butchery


5.  Festivals
As you can see, there is a plethora of ways to celebrate.  However, festivals are a great way to meet other Francophiles and French expats alike.  Here are some events in LA where you can join Francophiles and French expats alike:

Bastille Day Soirée
This soirée hosted by French Tuesday in LA is an evening celebration.  Watch a Can-Can performance and sip on some champagne!

Pétanque tournament
Do you know how to play this traditional French game?  You can either join in as a competitor at the Los Angeles Pétanque Club Bastille Day Tournament or just simply watch while enjoying coffee and pastries.

French Festival
The French Festival in Santa Barbara is an annual celebration held in the weekends of Bastille Day.  Enjoy live performances, French music and celebrate French culture with food and wine.  The admission is FREE!!

Tell me how you celebrate le 14 juillet.  Have any suggestions?  Comment below.

Brunch at Ladurée

July 6, 2017

Petit déjeuner (breakfast) is my favorite meal.  My usual, small, yet simple breakfast consists of a small bowl of oatmeal or yogurt and coffee.  If I have an extra few minutes to spare in my busy mornings, I might grab a good croissant and chocolat chaud (hot chocolate).  Once in a while we will treat ourselves to a bit of luxury.  Why not?  We work really hard and deserve a petit déjeuner fabuleux every now and then, especially if it's petit déjeuner at Ladurée.

I have dined at Ladurée in the past.  Yes, we frequent Ladurée in Paris for their famous macarons and pastries, but my husband, who has heard me praise their breakfast, has never eaten there before.  When the opportunity presented itself, he couldn't say no.  So we ventured to the newest location in LA at the Grove.  We dined en terrasse, which we prefer to do whenever we are in town in Paris.  Our meal consisted of Toast Brioché, Ecrasé d'Avocat et Œuf Poché (Toasted brioche, crushed avocado, poached egg and pumpkin seed), 3 mini rose croissants, Le Pain Perdu à la Rose (French toast served with raspberry coulis, rose whipped cream and fresh raspberries) and chocolat chaud Ladurée.  Our meal was absolutely delightful as you'd expect at Ladurée.  Every bite was pure bliss.  The scent of rosewater as we ate our way through the rose croissants and the french toast was remarkable.  Is your mouthwatering yet?




Exploring Montmartre

July 4, 2017


Prior to the film, "Amelie", when people think of Paris a good majority of them would think of the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and Champs-Elysées as "must-see" places.  Since the popularity of the film, the village of Montmartre has been added to that list of places to see.  Montmartre is one of my favorite places to visit away from the center of Paris.  I wrote an article about exploring Montmartre in 2015 as part of "Wanderlust Wednesdays" for the French Wedding Style blog here.  If you want some honeymoon ideas, check out French Wedding Style blog's "Wanderlust Wednesdays" section.  Below is an excerpt of the article I wrote:


In Paris's northern section of the Right Bank, sits a large historic village on a hilltop in the 18th arrondissement called Montmartre.  The name Montmartre was derived from 'mountain of the martyr'.  As the story goes, the Bishop of Paris, Denis, was led to the top of the hill of Montmartre, where the Romans decapitated him.  It is said that he picked up his severed head and walked about 6 miles before he died.  The village where he died is now called Saint-Denis.  The Basilique Cathédrale de Saint-Denis was erected in Saint- Denis's honor.  His remains are buried there along with the Kings and Queens of France.  Saint-Denis is now the patron saint of France.



Over the years the village of Montmartre has made its transformation from a quaint village to a bustling bohemian district.  However, a part of the district retains much of the village charm.  By the turn of the century, Montmartre became known for it's illustrious bohemian lifestyle, art scene, and amusing night life.  Montmartre was once home to many artists, writers, and philosophers like Modigliani, Toulouse-Lautrec, Renoir, Van Gogh, and Picasso just to name a few.  Every street corner is full of rich artistic history and more colorful buildings than central Paris.


Places to Explore
There is more to see than Montmartre's most iconic landmarks.  Whilst walking through the narrow winding cobblestone streets, discover the secret gems from the past that stay hidden in every corner.  You will notice much of the bohemian spirit from yesteryear still exists in Montmartre today.

Moulin Rouge
The red mill on the foot of butte Montmartre in the Pigalle district is none other than Moulin Rouge.  This landmark is famous for their cabaret shows dating back to the Belle Époque era.  You can book tickets for dinner and a show on their website.

Sacré-Cœur and Place du Tertre
For stunning views of Paris, trek to the butte Montmartre to the famous Sacré-Cœur.  This basilica is one of the most famous churches in Paris, but it's not as old as many think.  Despite the magnificent Romano-Byzantine architecture, the basilica was only completed in 1914.

A few streets away from Sacré-Cœur is Place du Tertre, which is a famous cobblestone square that was once and still is the gathering place for young artists.  Although the square is very touristy and can be overcrowded, the bohemian charm still remains.

Rue Cortot
Down the road from Place du Tertre is one of the most picturesque streets in Montmartre.  On Rue Cortot, you will find the former residence for a number of artists including Auguste Renoir and Suzanne Valadon.  Currently, this former residence is now the Musée de Montmartre.  It is here where Renoir painted his pièce de résistance, "Bal du Moulin de la Galette."

Au Lapin Agile, Clos Montmartre, and Fête des Vendanges
After visiting Musée de Montmartre, stroll down Rue des Saules to visit Au Lapin Agile and Clos Montmartre.  In the early twentieth century, Au Lapin Agile became well known as a cabaret and hangout spot for struggling writers and painters who often mingled with a bizarre crowd that included pimps.  However, the atmosphere has changed to more of an artist's cabaret.

Paris is not well known to produce wine.  When it comes to vineyards most people think of the regions of Bordeaux, Loire Valley, etc.  What many do not realize is that Paris has a vineyeard tucked away across Au Lapin Agile called Clos Montmartre.

Rue de l'Abreuvoir
The picturesque street of rue Cortot extends to rue de l'Abreuvoir.  The pink house aka La Maison Rose, the house with the sundial, and vine-covered homes are among the highlights of this old village street.

Other places to visit
Whilst visiting Montmartre, check out these other sites:

Festivals
If you're in Paris in the beginning of October, there is a lively festival called Fêtes des Vendanges de Montmartre.  you can watch a parade of people dressed in costumes, enjoy listening to live bands, and sample artisanal specialties like sausages, cheese, honey, charcuterie, and wines.  During this festival you can also attend a prestigious wine auction that includes wine produced by Clos Montmartre.  The proceeds from the auction go to charity.

Gastronomy
If you're a foodie, visit the open market streets (rue marchés) for to-go meals or shop for specialty ingredients to prepare a gourmet meal.  There are several around Paris, including rue du Poteau in Montmartre.  You'll find a vast selection of cheeses, fruits, and sausages in the specialty shops.

A list of must-try restaurants in Montmartre include:

Pied-à-terre (Where to Stay)
It's always a good idea to rent an apartment if you're staying for more than one week.  Not only is it a less expensive option than hotels, but you can also experience living like a local.  If you're looking to stay for a few nights near a beautiful garden, check out the charming Hôtel Particulier.  It's a hidden gem tucked in a quiet neighborhood.  It's not a large hotel and rooms tend to book quickly.

Hôtel des Arts is also a charming and coy hotel located on rue Tholoze about 4 minutes away from Abbesses metro stop.



Getting to Montmartre
From Charles de Gaulle Airport, the preferred transportation to your destination in Montmartre is by way of taxi assuming you have luggage you don't want to lug around the many steps and narrow streets.  If you're already in Paris, you can get to Montmartre via metro lines 2 and 12.  Another way to get around the 18th arrondissement is by le Montmartrobus, but the best way to explore the beauty of Montmartre is to let your feet and curiosity wander.


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