London, Paris, Rome… and I don’t want to come home.

On June 22, our family of three took a vacation once school finished for the year.  My husband and I traveled to London,  Paris, and Rome (and other destinations) during the late 1990s and early 2000s before the birth of our son, so this trip was going to be different with the three of us.

We waited to travel to Europe with our son until he could appreciate the sights, sites, and foods.  We gave him the opportunity to pick the cities. He chose:

London – We stayed at the JW Marriott in Mayfair with a king-sized bed and roll-out cot for our son. I loved the complimentary robes, slippers, and the heated towel racks.  The oddest amenity was that the hairdryer could not be used in the bathroom; the outlet for the hairdryer was in the bedroom without any mirror.  Odd.

Our first day in London, we jumped on the Hop-on/Hop-off bus for a tour of the city.  At one point, the skies opened and it poured.   Lucky for us, our bus driver had plastic ponchos for everyone.

We were there for BREXIT.  How exciting that was! My husband anticipated riots and angry mobs- and being kicked out of our hotel for journalists – but the situation was quite the contrary.   The British behaved very…British.  We visited all the usual sites – Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, National Gallery (where Matthew picked out a picture for his room), Trafalgar Square, and our own personal tours.  We walked up Oxford Street to the Nike Store where Matthew purchased two authentic soccer shirts from the money he made working last summer.  Needless to say, our walk back to our hotel necessitated a need for some Peroni beer.

My husband doesn’t like to meander far from the hotel for his meals, so we found some terrific cafes/pubs/restaurants around the corner from the hotel. At the Audley Pub,   Matthew experienced authentic fish and chips. We had the best – and I mean, the best – chicken caesar salad at Cafe Richoux the next evening.  It was sweet as opposed to being garlicky.

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Our best dinner was at Corrigans.The sommelier took a sip, in a small glass, of every wine bottle ordered before bringing it to the table.  I want that job! My husband was in heaven because he had his Dover sole.  For dessert, we ordered chocolate souffle.  Matthew hated it – he felt the texture and flavor of the souffle tasted like a big, chocolate marshmallow.  We finished our last night with pizza at Delfino’s on Mount Street.  Naturally, after dinner, we found our way to the bar/lounge at our hotel for some wine.

Then, we took the Chunnel from London to…

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Paris – We stayed at the Marriott Opera Hotel.  We had a king-sized bed with a roll-out cot for Matthew.  We were there the day France beat Ireland during the Euro2016.  The streets were flooded with cheering crowds. I took a video from the Hop-on/Hop-off bus of the cheering crowd.

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Matthew wearing the “gypsy” hat

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Our son wanted to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower, so that’s what we did.  My husband and I have been to Paris together on three other occasions (one being our honeymoon), but we never did go to the top.

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We grabbed a taxi to find another soccer store and our driver suggested that we go to Boutique PSG on Champs Elysee.  I didn’t know that we were going to the official Paris St. Germain team store.  My son picked up two jerseys.  Well, we needed a break from all that so we decided to have lunch/wine at an outdoor cafe.  Next, we took a cab to Notre Dame. After that, we walked along the Seine where Matthew bought a painting of the Eiffel Tower.

The next day we visited Musee D’Orsay and had lunch at Les Deux Magots.  Roger and I had drinks there during our honeymoon and we like to always go back.  After that, we went to Maison Georges Larnicol for chocolates for my friend Angela. I bought chocolates for us; and Matthew ended up eating most of it.

We found, for us, the best restaurant our first night – Cafe Cordial.  Roger and I ate pizza while Matthew ate ravioli.  Odd, I know, eating Italian in a French country, but, my two men are fussy eaters.  The next evening, Matthew wore his Paris St. Germain soccer shirt to Cafe Cordial and our waiter was eager to please Matthew. Another evening, we had dinner at Au Petite Riche.  A perfect French restaurant for adults, but not a lot of options for kids.  However, Matthew did great by ordering a chicken caesar salad.  After dinner, we strolled back to Cafe Cordial to have a bottle of wine while Matthew had dessert.

We flew from Paris to…

Rome – We stayed at the JW Marriott on via Veneto by the Roman walls and across from Harry’s Bar.  We walked into a round Junior suite.  We had a king-sized bed and this time, Matthew had his own sofa bed. And, the complimentary robes and slippers were back!

We unpacked and headed to the Spanish Steps.  Next, we walked to Trevi Fountain and wound our way back to our hotel.  The next day we took the Hop-on/Hop-off bus around the city and went in search of the Pantheon. Our third day we had a group tour of the Vatican and Sistine Chapel.  The Basilica was closed because Pope Francis was giving a Mass.  Our fourth day, we had a group tour of the Colosseum and the Roman Ruins. While we waited for the others to arrive, Gypsies were selling iced water bottles and hats. Naturally, we declined.  Within minutes, the carabinieri (Italian police) arrived to chase the gypsies away.  One left behind a hat, so I picked it up for Roger.

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Roger wearing the “gypsy” hat

Even at 10 o’clock in the morning, it was too hot for Roger to handle, so we dropped out and found our way to having a Peroni and lunch.

After that great respite, we walked toward Piazza Popolo and stopped at another soccer store so that Matthew could get two more shirts. A few shops away, we stopped in to buy Roger some shirts.  The shop was having a sale – buy two shirts and get the third shirt for one euro.  So, we bought Roger three shirts!  Our last day, Saturday, we visited Castel Sant’Angelo.  This was my sixth trip to Rome and I have never been there.  The castle was not crowded at all and there weren’t any guided tours, so Matthew directed me and Roger as to which rooms he wanted to see and how high up the castle to go.  I think that was the best part of this portion of the trip.

Our first night, we had dinner on via Veneto at Baccala.  They don’t serve pizza, but they serve Bruschetta, which came to our table like a pizza.  Roger was in heaven again!  The next day during our sightseeing excursions, we stopped for a Peroni in Piazza Navona before heading to the Pantheon.  Somehow we got lost and what should have taken 20 minutes ended up being 2 hours.  So, we had an early dinner at the Pantheon.  After that, we taxied back to our hotel to have some wine at the bar in the hotel.  The next evening after sightseeing, we had dinner at another cafe on via Veneto.  Our last night we had dinner at the famous Harry’s Bar.  We didn’t see any celebrities. After dinner, we strolled around via Veneto and wandered into the Grand Hotel where Roger and I had another glass of wine and Matthew had dessert.

For twelve days, the three of us were rather much in each other’s pockets – we shared a bathroom, sleeping area, and closet space. All in all, we managed to get along very well.  We have funny stories amongst ourselves that don’t translate well to others. Thus, those are our memories.

On July 3, we had to head home.

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At the airport gate in Rome

 

How to Look Tasteful (think, Fabulous) After Fifty

In my previous post, I mentioned my book was being promoted by bookSCREAM.  I noted that my book is not ‘erotica’, but tastefully written (particularly since my husband wrote those ‘racy’ scenes.  My friends tell me they will never look at my straight-laced and serious husband the same again).

Thinking of tasteful matters, fashion and health are important lifestyles choices here in the Philadelphia Area, particularly along the Main Line of Philadelphia. Making good choices is an indicator – albeit superficially – of intelligence, wealth, and manners.

Although fashion has relaxed a bit, it’s still important to look good.  As time has ebbed and flowed since giving birth over eleven years’ ago, my body and skin have changed. Fashion and makeup tricks that worked in my forties don’t always transition as well through my early fifties .

So, let’s take a look at today’s fashion DOs and DON’Ts for women over fifty. (Disclaimer:  I am not a medical/science doctor or nutritionist.  These are my and my friends’ opinions of what we have seen and what works.)

When Less is More:

  • Avoid plastic surgery and botox.  Instead, invest in monthly facials.  Anti-aging and anti-wrinkles creams won’t work if your skin isn’t clean.
  • Drop the Bling-Bling-Bling-Bling.  Pick up one great dress/outfit instead and wear only one ‘bling’, like a clutch, or glittering shoes, or one pair of diamond earrings.  Please, just not all three together.
  • Drink less/no alcohol and drink more water.  Alcohol dehydrates your skin. Too much alcohol ages your face.
  • Moisturize your body.  That includes your feet.  Soft skin is sexy.
  • Use sunscreen during outdoor exercising.  Or, better yet, add a hat with a wide brim or visor to protect your skin.

When to Change Beauty and Fashion Directions:

  • Wear what looks good on you, not what everybody else is wearing or what is trending.  I dress in a classical style because I am well-endowed (not by choice).  Certain styles and designer clothes (no matter how much discounted or trendy!) don’t look good on my body type.
  • Ditch the low-rise jeans, even if you own six-pack abs.  Instead, invest in a pair or two of NYDJ (Not Your Daughters Jeans).  They have many styles and colors from which to choose.
  • Wear your ‘best’ jewelry everyday. I do – even to the supermarket.  Why are you saving it?
  • Exercise clothes are not fashion…after Fifty!  Enough said.
  • Wear makeup. Not a lot, but some.  Mascara or lipstick. A little eyeliner.  As women age, our faces take on a masculine edge. Check out Pinterest for makeup idea and instructions.

I am a nobody, other than I was born Ellen Marie. I am not tall, thin, toned, or an athlete. I am average height, getting a little chubby now, and never had a desire to be a female jock. The greatest compliment I can receive – and have received many times – is when someone tells me “You look like you’re somebody”.

If you need help in the fashion department or want to update your look, I suggest you buy Charla Krupp’s book, “How Not To Look Old”.   I met her and had a one-on-one conversation with her when she came to Bloomingdale’s at the King of Prussia Mall in Fall 2008.  Her book still stands the test of time.

Thank you for stopping by.  So, tell me:  what are your suggestions?

Skin in the City – A Unique Boutique … as mentioned in Entangled by E M Bahnsen

“Write what you know”, the experts say.  “Take something from real life and make it part of your story,” the experts say. My mother was born a McConaghy.  Jill is her family nickname. Therefore, I named my main female character Jillian McConaghy.  So, I asked my real-life cousin if I could use her name and business as well in my second book titled “Entangled”. She laughed, but agreed.

On page 290, I wrote:

“Can you spend time with me this weekend? We’ll hang out as if we’re just buddies.”
“I can’t, Graham. I’m going to Colorado this weekend.”
“For what?”
“My cousin Marnie McConaghy and her daughter Jenn Jankowski opened a spa in Denver called Skin in the City. I promised Marnie I would be there for the grand opening.”

Below is the one-year anniversary writeup about her real-life spa.  Congratulations, Marnie and Jenn.

Book Review – Desperate Pursuit in Venice by Karynne Summars

***** (Five-Star Review)

What an engaging story! Suspense, champagne, plot twists, great character development, and romance. The otherwise dramatic story is occasionally lightened up by some witty dialogue.

Kataryna’s American company is purchasing an Italian company from two men – one is the owner; the other is the CEO – who are long-time friends. She will become their boss once the merger goes through. The two men are in love with Kataryna. Kataryna is in love with one of them; the other relentlessly pursues her.

The wrong word, the wrong business tone, the wrong misrepresentation of her feelings to her pursuer could cause her to lose the one man she was meant to love and ruin a long-term friendship.

Kataryna’s challenge is keeping all the business balls in the air while enjoying her new-found love and compassionately deflecting the advances of the other’s unwelcome affections.

I highly recommend this book.

New Book Announcement!

Click here for the slide show of the book: Entangled Slide Show

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Entangled is now available.

A contemporary story for young adults and those young at heart. Enjoy a story of family drama, sibling rivalry, and new adult love.

Suspense… Mystery… Family drama… Sibling rivalry between half-brothers, and… Romance.

Is it plausible that —in today’s current world — a father can dictate to whom his children will marry?
Is it plausible that —in today’s world — a thirty-year old man would give up passion and the woman he loves to marry another where there is no passion and he does not love in order to succeed his father at his father’s business empire?

Wealthy, Old Man Arthur Bosch, self-made man from the Midwest now residing along the Main Line of Philadelphia, wants to retire. He has seven children, six with four wives, and one from a love affair.

Of the three sons most capable of taking over his company, Graham Parker, illegitimate son, is the logical choice. However, Old Man Bosch wants Graham to marry into a well-established Main Line Family. Graham wants the pretty, young secretary that works for the family company.

If Graham does not marry his long-time girlfriend, he will not succeed his father. Graham’s two half-brothers conspire to get Graham to choose the secretary, leaving room for one of them to succeed their father.

What will Graham do—love or success? Whom will he choose?

Fragments – A Book Review

For years, I had heard of Jeffry Johnston, the author, through a good friend of mine John H. I had the opportunity to meet the author at a party at the beginning of the new year. I bought the paperback version so that I can share it with my son. The book is for readers aged 12 and up.

MY REVIEW:

Fragments – A Must Read (Five Stars)

I cried reading this book because it was so moving. By Chapter Two, I knew something really bad, more than a car accident, had happened in young Chase’s life. This is more than a young boy suffering from survivor’s guilt. I wanted to find out more that I read the book in two days. The main story deals with Chase and his therapist trying to help put the pieces of his fragmented images into one complete puzzle. Also, we experience along with Chase all the high school angst he incurs with the other students because of the fatal car accident – who are his real friends, who feels angry at their own loss, and one student who worries that he may have set that terrible day in motion by his own selfish actions.

Gentlemanly Manners vs. Equality

Several months’ ago, I met three mothers for lunch. They each have a son and daughter. I only have a son in elementary school.

We are all different, yet the same. One mother asked me how my son was doing. I said he was doing well. I related a story whereby my son came home after school to tell me that he had “Library Day”. He was interested in a certain book; however, a female classmate kept picking up the same book and checking it out. My son told me that she had already read that book ten times, but wanted to get it again. I told the other three mothers what I told my son: “I don’t care if she has read that book 100 times. If she wants that book, let her have it. If that book means so much to you, we will get the book at another store tomorrow.”

Oddly, the mothers pounced on me. “Oh, no. If your son wants that book, he should get it. Equality reigns.” I defended my position: “No, being a gentleman trumps equality.” I rather felt that these women were teaching their sons and daughters to look out only for themselves.

After all, we hear on the news how atrociously young men treat young women today by plying them with alcohol and then taking them back to dorm rooms or parties so drunk the young women don’t remember anything. We hear on the news how bad mannered and crude we have become as a society.

Is it wrong to raise a young boy to become a man of good, courteous conduct? Is it wrong to raise my son to know “girls goes first”? Is this considered “war on women” for treating girls better? Won’t my son make a good husband one day if he knows how to respectfully and properly treat a woman?