Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

That's the Night That the Lights Went out in Paris.

Do you ever think that sometimes this earth is just not made for some people? Like, sometimes it is just too fucking much for some people. Some people are just not capable of coping with it all. This person was my brother, Matt. Today is his birthday. I think he would’ve been 41. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, my brother killed himself two years ago. I always knew he would.
My brother was without question the cutest baby on earth. I don’t care how cute you think your babies are, my brother was cuter. Big fat roly-poly baby with huge blonde curls, rosy cheeks, sparkly ice blue eyes… Always with a giggly smile on his face. My sister and I were so happy when he was born because it was as if my mother brought home a new baby doll for us. My sister and I ruled that little boy’s life. We dressed him up, we put makeup on him, we bossed him around and hardly ever let him speak because we did all the talking for him.

My little brother and I. He didn't need glasses... I just liked the way he looked in my sister's Mrs. Beasley doll glasses.
From the get-go, my brother was different. He was sweet and kind and loving. He loved the ocean, he loved animals, and he loved to cook. However, he was also a brat. We called him Matt The Brat. He was always getting into trouble, but not purposely. He just never learned the term, “consequences.” My brother did just exactly as he pleased. One would consider him reckless… But in a sweet way.
My brother wanted to please everyone. When he was about 10 years old he built a condominium complex out of boxes in our front yard and insisted that all of us basically live in it. He was devastated when the whole family refused to spend the night in it.

My brother tried to rescue every animal that he found, including squirrels. My brother would go to the neighbor’s houses when he was a little boy and pick flowers out of their yard and bring them home to my mother in his little fist with all of the dirt still intact at the roots. My brother went to Catalina Sea Camp for what we thought was a two-week session. He called home and told my parents that he was staying for the entire summer because he was so happy there… In the ocean.

My brother in Aspen with my dogs. My brother loved the dogs so much he just took them.
When my brother got older, his disregard for consequences continued. Bad decision after bad decision after bad decision continually destroyed my brother’s life. My brother always had good intentions and a good heart but just never went through the proper routes. My brother had four beautiful children with a woman that my sister and I, and parents had always hated. She was lazy, manipulative and quite frankly, white trash. Surprisingly, she raised four of the sweetest most angelic children on the face of the earth. My brother loved his children with every inch of his soul. After my brother wised up and finally got a divorce, his lovely wife decided that the best revenge on my brother would be to take his children away. This was the beginning of my brother’s ultimate demise and yes, I partially blame her for his death.

My brother's son, Gabriel.

 My brother's son, Aidan.
 My brother's son, Noah.

My brother with his daughter, Olivia.
 He was a broken man without his children. My brother was not strong enough to battle his ex-wife properly and just took a hit after hit in court. My brother did not see his children for years and years and years. Finally, as my brother’s oldest son turned 18 years old a few years ago, his son reached out and reunited with my brother. I have never seen my brother happier. He was on cloud nine. And then I think I ruined everything. I regret what I said and yet I don’t regret it. My brother was at my house with his son and I took my brother aside and I said something to him that I think did more damage than good. I said to my brother, “Matt, I am so happy that you have your son back but whatever you do, don’t fuck this up.” I saw the light go out in my brother’s eyes. He knew he was under a spotlight and that everyone was watching him. We all wanted my brother to be happy with his children but we knew he was walking on shaky ground. My brother still never learned that his actions had reactions. My sister and I would always lecture my brother on what was acceptable and not acceptable. Letting your seven-year-old son drive a car was not acceptable. Letting your eight-year-old nephew shoot a gun at a rifle range was not acceptable. Selling marijuana as a career was not acceptable.

My brother was always frustrated with a side of depression. My brother had every opportunity to have a wonderful life, which he did and didn’t. He was given the best education yet his ADD got in the way. He was an extremely talented builder but his impatience got in the way. My brother wanted to rescue everyone and everything but he could not rescue himself.

My brother had tried to kill himself numerous times before. I remember dropping him off at my mother’s house in 2005 and saying to him, “Try not to kill yourself today.” He laughed and tried to kill himself a few hours later. I knew my brother needed help but I didn’t know how to help him. Looking back, I wish I would’ve tried harder to help my brother. My brother needed a 24 hour babysitter. No one in my family had the tools to handle my brother. My parents tried to hide all of my brother’s problems from my sister and me. They pretended like nothing was wrong. It would take professional psychiatrists with prescribing privileges to take care of my brother which my parents were not. My sister and I always offered my brother advice but like they say, “You can lead a camel to water, but you cannot make him drink.”

My brother was reunited with his oldest son and I have never seen him happier. However, he did not last very long. You know that phrase, “Too much of a good thing?” I think that’s how my brother felt and he just self-sabotaged the whole thing. My brother was gone within weeks. Somehow my big, strong handsome brother just couldn’t take it anymore and hung himself in his bedroom facing the ocean.

My brother reunited with his son, Noah, exactly one month before he died.

Apparently, I heard through the grapevine that my brother left a letter. I have never read it because my parents have never mentioned it to me. Hell yes, I want to read it. Wouldn’t you?
Oh, how did I find out about my brother’s death, you ask? My mother texted the information to me. Yes, she texted it. The text read, “Matt killed himself.” That was it. Instinctually, I burst out crying… For about 15 seconds. And then, suddenly, I stopped crying and I smiled and thought to myself, “Oh my God, my brother is finally safe. God has him and will take care of him. Matt is free from all of his troubles.” I honestly feel like God came to get him and wrapped him in his arms and will allow my brother to do exactly what he wants to do which is fly, save animals and watch over his children.

I knew that this world was not for my brother. This world is too harsh and too mean and too complicated for someone as sweet and pure and innocent as my brother. This may sound strange but I do not miss my brother. I do not miss seeing him in so much pain. This may sound even stranger but I know I will see my brother again… In different circumstances.

I used to sit outside in my little yard in Santa Barbara after my brother passed away and every single day a little hummingbird would fly into the yard and buzz around my wisteria… For a very long time. I knew right away it was my brother and it brought me the greatest peace.
What advice do I have? None, really, except that I think it’s important to realize that there are soft souls on this earth ill-equipped to wrestle with the big bad monster called everyday life. My brother liked to eat Cherry Mash candy bars, make his famous fudge, surf, pet animals, hug his children, fly airplanes, laugh, and if your car plunged into an icy lake, my brother would be the first one, without hesitation, to dive in and save you even if he lost his own life doing so.

My brother was always fond of grand gestures. Last night, after midnight, I realized that it was officially February 27th, my brother’s birthday. I looked out my window towards the dark Parisian sky and said out loud, “Matt, just show me a sign. Show me a sign that you are okay.” I waited and waited but nothing happened. This morning I woke up and told my houseguests that my brother did not “come through.” My friends looked at me and said, “Don’t you remember that the power went off in the whole apartment last night?” Oh my God, yes it did. My brother did come through. When the power went off, I was so self-absorbed about my breathing machine and the battery that I didn’t realize what was happening. In a panic last night, I called my husband who is in Los Angeles to tell him that we had no power in the whole building. Today, we looked at the time log on my telephone and it turns out the power went off at exactly 11:59 PM and came back on five minutes later at 12:04 AM… Officially my brother’s birthday. Hold on, it gets weirder, apparently all of Paris had a blackout last night. All over Paris!  How about that for a grand gesture!
For my brother’s birthday, my mother would make him his special cake. He loved it and we only ate it on his birthday, February 27th. It was an angel food cake filled with jamoca almond fudge ice cream, with chocolate whipping cream icing with toasted almonds. I don’t know the name of it but let’s just call it Matt’s Cake. Make it with love.

My mother emailed me the recipe today… Here it is… I hope it’s not too confusing… My mother has dyslexia. :-)

It is an angel food cake where you take out some out of the middle so you can have more ice cream.  I used Jamoca Almond Fudge from Baskin Robbins.
1 carton of whipping cream
Nestlé mocha chocolate powder
Toasted almonds

Put the ice cream in the center of the angel food cake. Pack it down hard.  Put in Freezer for a couple of hours or overnight.
Toast the almonds on a cookie sheet in the oven. Try not to burn them!
Whip the cream until stiff. Add a couple of tablespoons of the Nestlé chocolate mocha powder.  Add as much as you like. I like for it to be a light chocolate color.  Taste it as you add it to get the right taste.
Now take out the cake from the freezer and place on the cake plate that you are going to serve it on.  Ice the cake with the mocha whipping cream. I like to really use a lot of it to make it really fluffy.  Cover the cake now with the toasted almonds.  You need to serve it now or you can put it back in the freezer but it is best to serve as soon as the whipping cream icing is put on the cake and ice cream.  You can put the leftover cake back in the freezer...if any left!
Happy birthday "Matthew Robert Daniel Joseph O'Connell"...


Suicide statistics…

 Many who attempt suicide never seek professional care.

Over half of all suicides occur in adult men, ages 25-65.

80% of people that seek treatment for depression are treated successfully.

There are an estimated 8 to 25 attempted suicides to 1 completion.

The strongest risk factor for suicide is depression.

Research has shown medications and therapy to be effective suicide prevention.


Kitchens I Have Known and Loved...

The kitchen. The mighty mighty kitchen. The soul of the home.

I have learned that no matter how inviting you make the other rooms of your house, the kitchen is where everyone gravitates. It’s warm, a little bit messy and it’s where the food is. How could the other rooms of your house compete?

Case in point… My mother had a supercool house in Summerland/Santa Barbara, California. It was on 8 acres overlooking the ocean but the house itself was a small yet interesting one bedroom Balinese style house. The kitchen was minuscule… But there was something about that kitchen. Even though it was tiny, it had a big industrial style Wolf range and a huge industrial stainless steel refrigerator. The sink looked out to the ocean. There was hardly any counterspace but plenty of windows. No one ever complained. There wasn’t even a place to sit down in the kitchen but it didn’t matter because we all just stood there chopping vegetables, making pancakes on the griddle and making my mother’s famous wontons. All of my friends with their giant houses and kitchens in Santa Barbara all loved and were envious of my mother’s little house and her teeny tiny kitchen. I will have to find pictures of my mother’s house and do a whole blog about it. You all will love it.

Case in point… My friend, Diandra, as you know, had my all-time favorite house in Santa Barbara. I spent a lot of time at this house when Diandra lived there, I spent a lot of time at this house while my friend Susan rented it for a few years when Diandra was in New York, and I spent a lot of time at this house when Gracie and I lived there for about a year watching over it while Diandra was trying to sell it because she was still living in New York. Whenever we had a party at the house, no matter what we did to make the other rooms welcoming, the entire party usually ended up in the kitchen. Even if we told people to go to the living room, no one obeyed and everyone just stayed right in the kitchen. I know why. In Diandra’s kitchen there was the coziest fireplace that was on throughout the day no matter the weather. There was a cozy banquette that we upholstered in Carolina Irving fabric that was blue and white with little Spanish birds. There was a huge kitchen island and rare blue marble countertops that everyone ended up sitting on. Huge Wolf range, 2 industrial refrigerators with glass doors, a little door to the center courtyard, plenty of windows looking out to the ocean overlooking the orange trees. This was definitely the soul of the house and where we spent 90% of our time. There were always dogs running in and out, something delicious cooking on the stove, children sitting at the table next to the fireplace, flowers being arranged in the industrial sink, afternoon tea being organized in the butlers kitchen and where everyone felt relaxed. It was a glorious kitchen.

 Diandra's kitchen. Look at the little fireplace and the fabulous Carolina Irving fabric on the banquette.
Another view of Diandra's kitchen.
Case in point… I rented for years and years and years a little cottage at the beach in Santa Barbara. It was the size of a postage stamp but it was my favorite house I’ve ever had. Early 1900s, wood shingled, small yard surrounded by ferns, palm trees, lemon trees, eucalyptus trees, Hawaiian ginger plants and purple wisteria. It was a magical little house and where my best memories are. The house was near the little shopping street of Montecito. After my friends finished their shopping, they would come to my little house to slum it before going back to their big fat proper houses. I think they liked my house better than their own because they were always in my house… And we were always in my kitchen. My kitchen was so small that if you stretched out both of your arms, you could touch both sides of the kitchen probably. And yet, this is where all the action happened. Over the years I had collected so many photographs of my friends and family that I ran out of picture frames and places to put the picture frames so I just started taping up all of the photos to the walls starting in the kitchen. Over the years, the collection just kept growing and growing until it was basically wallpaper from the floor to the ceiling throughout the entire kitchen into the dining room. It was the most charming thing you’ve ever seen! Everyone loved to look at the pictures while having tea or cocktails or even dinner in my kitchen. I think I’ve only sat at my dining room table a few times over all of those years. Everything happened in the kitchen. Remember when people had house phones? My house phone was in the kitchen, on the wall with a superlong cord. I spent hours on the phone, talking while sitting on the floor of the kitchen on the threadbare Oriental rugs filled with sand from the beach, dogs running in and out of the front door, Jack Johnson on the stereo, ocean breeze… in total and utter happiness.
My little cottage...
I am sure all of you have all of these brilliant memories of your kitchens as well. That is why the kitchen is the most important room of the house.

Let’s take a look at some of my favorite kitchens…


On a little side note, I thought I would show all of you my friend Yolanda’s refrigerator. It’s brilliant, truly brilliant. She designed it herself and to me, it is the highlight of the house.

Yolanda's refrigerator.
Yolanda inside her refrigerator.
So that’s that for kitchens. I have more kitchen photographs on my Pinterest board. Check it out HERE.

Okay, which room of the house should we look at next? Let’s do dining rooms… Stay tuned.
A toute!

*Something you don’t know about me? When I was growing up in Malibu, I had a little crush on a boy. Okay, I have to admit, a huge crush on a boy. Chris. Chris Cortazzo. He lived across the street from me and he was the lifeguard at Paradise Cove Beach. He was kind, spiritual, sensitive, under the radar, he loved animals and was a vegetarian. I loved him. I think I was only 15 years old so it was definitely a crush that I had no intention of acting on. I was too shy for that. I admired him from afar. I also remembered that he had the nicest parents I’ve ever met. Sometimes he would walk me home from the beach to make sure I got home safely. That was in the late 80s. I have not seen him since. FlashForward to yesterday… Chris Cortazzo was at my apartment in Paris. I kid you not. What are the chances of that? I’ll tell you… It turns out that Dreamboat happens to be the most successful real estate broker in all of Malibu and Coldwell Banker’s top real estate broker in the whole wide world! Complete bigshot. Dreamboat also happens to be my friend Yolanda’s real estate broker because she is selling her house in Malibu. See HERE. What a small world! I asked Yolanda to call him and invite him over to my apartment for tea because I saw on Facebook that Dreamboat was in Paris. Magically, the very next day, my doorbell rings and standing in my living room is that boy that I loved holding the most beautiful bouquet of flowers for moi. I knew I had good taste in men because he was still gorgeous and sweet and it turns out that we have a lot in common. We both love to decorate! Chris has an amazing ranch in Malibu that is to die for. See HERE. He also just finished a new house on the street that we grew up on in Malibu that he decorated with the help of brilliant decorator Martin Lawrence-Bullard. We spent the afternoon having chai tea and homemade goat cheese tarts, talking about our love of homes, decorating, traveling and Malibu and the fine art of “juzhing.” It always warms my heart when people arrive into my life at whatever stage who possess something special. Chris is that person. Kindhearted, softhearted, endearing, loving and genuine. What a wonderful afternoon. As Dreamboat was leaving, he planted a kiss on my forehead and I nearly fainted. Ain’t life grand?

Handsome Chris Cortazzo
Beautiful flowers that handsome Chris Cortazzo brought for moi.

Life's Lesson N°9: Hu Hu Hummus and Sisterly Love

I decided today that anyone who doesn’t like to eat hummus is a racist. Yeah, there, I said it. Even though I am from a family that is rather food savvy, eating hummus was considered “just going too far.” Whenever I tell my husband that I would like hummus for a snack, he looks at me like I’ve agreed to become an Al Qaeda bride. What is it about hummus that scares everyone? It’s just a vegetable! How is it possible that someone can consider escargot a delicacy which is basically snot in a shell and then look at hummus (which is a darling little chickpea) like it is the gateway vegetable to terrorism.

While doing a little research on hummus because I’m such a scholar, I learned that there is such a thing called The Hummus Wars. As in life there are wars over religion, property and yes, wars over chickpeas. If you are interested, there is an interesting article on The Hummus Wars. Click HERE.

According to, the origins of hummus are ancient… “You need only look at how old the ingredients are to see that Hummus bi tahini has an unwritten history that we may never fully understand. The ingredients have been in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East for thousands of years. The last major ingredient to arrive in the Middle East was lemons in 700 CE, but the primary two, chickpeas and tahini, extend back to the beginnings of civilization. From archaeological digs, we know people have eaten chickpeas in the Middle East longer than there has been pottery, or approximately 10,000 years. That predates writing too. The tahini part of hummus, made from sesame seeds, has also been in the Middle East since ancient times. Sesame seeds were used to make sesame oil in food in Mesopotamia since 2500 BCE, so tahini is likely to be about that old. Nor was garlic preventing the creation of a food similar to modern Hummus, as it is as old as the ancient Egyptian pyramids of Giza.”

Okay, now can we all just relax about hummus? It’s been around since before pottery for God’s sake. Are you afraid of pottery, as well? And when I say “you“, I am mostly referring to my own family.

While there are four simple ingredients to hummus (chickpeas, tahini, lemon and garlic) there are still some tricks to the trade that we need to investigate…

            When making the hummus, mind the process. There is a certain order of ingredients that works best. Check the recipe. Don’t just throw everything into a blender all at once like an animal.

             Remove the skins of the chickpeas.

             Add a scoop of yogurt for creaminess. The best for this is a Lebanese labne. Look it up. :-)

             Cook your own chickpeas from scratch.

             Emulsify the tahini in a water-based liquid first. Water or lemon juice.

By the way, I learned that hummus is just the Arabic word for chickpea. What we are really eating is called hummus bi tahini. Let’s look at some recipes…

 Hummus via Rose Water & Orange Blossom Blog. Recipe HERE.
 Hummus via Susan Jane White Health Geek Blog. Recipe HERE.
Avocado Hummus via Cooking Classy with a Sprinkle of Fancy Blog. Recipe HERE
And just for fun...a pita bread recipe via Under the High Chair Blog. Recipe HERE.
Voilà! Hummus mastered… Next up, let’s get into pesto, shall we?

*Something you don’t know about me? My sister and I are polar opposites. However, she is my favorite person to talk to. There is no better laugh than a laugh with your sister. I should also add that there is no better fight as well. But polar opposites we are… My sister only likes new carpets. I only like old nearly threadbare carpets. My sister loves makeup. Carmax is my version of lipstick. My sister is always very pulled together with her outfits. My outfits consist of jeans and a gray Cashmere sweater. My sister will never utter a swearword. I use the F bomb like it is salt, I sprinkle it on every sentence. My sister actually takes the Bible literally. To me, it is fiction. My sister sucks at sports and cannot do the splits. Sports were my life. My sister makes spinach artichoke dip as an appetizer for a party. I would make a goat cheese tart. My sister has never and would never smoke a cigarette. I would smoke a cigarette at church if I could. My sister’s hair is always perfectly blonde and perfectly brushed. My hair is basically a big dreadlock. My sisters decorating style is “white picket fence.” My decorating style is “bohemian.” My sister would rather die than go to the flea market in Paris. I would rather die than go to Crate & Barrel. My sister is very private about her illness (lupus). I am a blabbering open book about my illness (ALS). My sister is a very forgiving person. I am not. My sister, right on time, mails a birthday card arriving exactly 2 days before one’s birthday. I email a Paperless Post card the day of one’s birthday, at best. My sister has proper tea parties. I have karaoke tequila parties.

We do have our similarities… We are both total prudes. We both always did our homework straightaway. We are both extremely overprotective, overbearing mothers. We hate the same people. We laugh at the same things. We both love to cook. We both love to travel. We both love to read and go to museums. We both approve of homeschooling. We are both sad that my brother is no longer with us but at peace that he is in a safer place. The best part is that we both agree that Gracie is the best thing since sliced bread. If anything ever happens to me, I know my sister will have Gracie’s best interest at heart. She may not let Gracie do everything that I would let her do but I know that she will make the best decisions for Gracie. And I know she will always remind Gracie of how awesome I am. She will always make sure that Gracie is appropriate… Appropriate fingernails, appropriate outfits, appropriate boyfriends, appropriate career, appropriate wedding dress, appropriate hair, no piercings, no tattoos (oops, too late) and definitely no swearing. My sister loves Gracie as her own child and for that I will forgive my sister for her Pottery Barn rugs. :-)

"A Person with Real Flair Is a Gambler at Heart."-Interior designer Billy Baldwin

You know how there are those families that don’t use their living room? Like how they only use it for company? I am not from that type of family. We use our living room, always have. My grandparents ruled the roost from their living room in their big fat formal house in Missouri. My grandfather sat on one side of the living room in his Pierre Deux slip covered armchair, smoking, handing out chocolates to his grandchildren from a sterling silver box, always wearing a gray suit, legs crossed, talking politics. My grandmother sat on the other side of the room playing cards, drinking sweet tea laced with vodka, wearing her pearls, talking to her friends on the telephone about their antique shop and watching Wheel of Fortune.

My parents were constantly entertaining so our living room was always well used and well loved. It was always the center of the house and the room my mother always put all of her attention towards. The good news is that my parents never cared if we came into the house and plopped our messy teenage selves on the sofas. I never heard from my mother, “Get your feet off the sofa.” (I’m sure it was implied though.) She would never even care if we ate a slice of pizza on her baby grand piano during our piano lessons. Even though our living room was formal (my mother decorated our living room in Malibu like Coco Chanel’s apartment) it was always welcoming.

My own living rooms have always been smaller than my parents or grandparents but I feel like my living rooms are cozy, inviting and where all of my best stuff is. I will become clinically depressed if any living room that I have does not have a fireplace. I need a focal point! I like to always have in my living room tons of books, tons of candles, lots of pillows, beautiful curtains, my best accessories, a beautiful mirror, vases of flowers, a little bar, clever paintings and always always always some sort of pet… Large or small. I am in a bit of a “predicament” with my apartment here in Paris. It is the perfect living room with the quintessential marble fireplace, gilt 19th-century mirror, point to point hardwood floors, beautiful molding with skyscraper windows but the only problem is that I don’t have all of my “stuff.” 90% of everything I own is in storage… In California. My books, my blue-and-white vases, my sofas, my coffee tables, my side tables, my candlesticks, my rugs, my paintings etc. so I am having a very hard time! I have had to “resupply” bit by bit here in Paris. Don’t worry, I’ll make do. :-)

Let me state for the record that I hate the word, the concept, the reference, and the thought of the two words “great room.”

Okay, let’s take a look at some inspiring living rooms…


I have put together yet another board on Pinterest (I have a lot of time on my hands) solely dedicated to living rooms. You can follow it HERE.

The next room we are going to explore is my favorite room… the kitchen. Stay tuned.

A toute!

*Something you don’t know about me? I never forget a house, a book, a piece of furniture (or the price), a hotel, a painting, a museum… Anything that has to do with interior design. Once I see it, it goes into my vault in my memory and I never forget it. The first time that I saw my friend Diandra Douglas’ house in Montecito, I soaked up every inch of the house. I remembered everything. There was that pink salmon colored house in St. Tropez that I saw when I was 21. There was my friend Andrew Bossum’s English dandy townhouse on the Upper East Side of New York that I stayed at when I was 22. There was my friend Eric Wachmeister’s copper kitchen in his apartment on the top floor facing the Metropolitan Museum in New York. There was that German real estate gentlemen’s house in Mallorca, Spain with the Moroccan tented room. There was Susan’s California Monterey beach house in Laguna. There was my friend Eleanor’s English cottage in Montecito. There was that Bugatti chair I saw at the flea market. There was that hotel in Rome with the old floral wallpaper. There was Philippe Bigar’s old family beach house in the Hamptons. There was that Francis Bacon triptych at the Pompidou Museum. There was my parent’s Balinese house in Summerland. There was that bed-and-breakfast in Florence, Italy with all of the fields of olive trees.

There were also houses that I remember that literally burned my eyes. That Russian woman’s apartment in Paris with the modern tubelike crystal chandelier that touched the ground. There was that house in Santa Barbara with the round Chicago Bears rug. There was that other house in Santa Barbara with the burgundy Scarlett O’Hara drapes. There was that faux Tuscan house in the middle of Missouri. There was that faux Château in Beverly Hills with the infinity pool. There was that Colombian’s house in Mallorca where every single thing was monogrammed. There was that expensive house in Newport Beach in the subdivision with all the furnishings from Ballard Designs and Tuesday Morning.

I don’t forget a thing!

I can hear some of you right now thinking, “She is such a snob.” Newsflash… I am not. I just happen to remember beautiful things and on the flipside I also happen to remember horrible things. I decided years ago to put these superpowers to good use and draw on them when necessary. For example, we looked at a new apartment in Paris today that happens to be half the size of our current apartment. No problem because I remembered a certain magazine article in Elle Decor featuring a pint size apartment that knocked my socks off. Like I’ve said before, it’s not about how much you spend but how you spend it. Thank God for Pinterest so now I can file some of these memories away that is somewhere tangible. Now I have some free memory space to load up new pictures in my head. Do you guys ever do this… Keep memories of houses… Or am I the only freak?

Dear Straight Men,

Dear Straight Men,
I know that Valentine’s Day is hard for you. I know that you don’t understand “the concept.” I know that you don’t understand the importance. But, for us, it means a lot. The chocolates, the flowers, the jewelry, the restaurant, the little gifts… It means a lot to us. Not monetarily, fool. Valentine’s Day means that you care. It means that you are thankful for everything we do for you which is mostly everything. It means that you are appreciative that we birthed your 10 pound baby. It means that you are appreciative that we cook a gourmet meal for you seven nights out of the week, well at least three. It means that you are appreciative that we spend hundreds of dollars at the hair salon to touch up our roots… For you. It means that you are appreciative that we spend hundreds of hours at Pilates… For you. It means that you are appreciative that we don’t file for divorce when you are being a big fat baby. It means that you are appreciative when we organize every single holiday and continue to invite your family. It means that you are appreciative that you chose the greatest girl on the entire Earth to marry and spend your life with. See? Now do you see the importance of Valentine’s Day? It may be too late for this year, seeing as Valentine’s Day is… now, but there is always next year. This brings me to my next point. Do you really want to just knock it out of the park for Valentine’s Day? Do you want to make sure your Valentine’s Day is a sure thing? My advice is to bring your love to the city of love… Paris. There is not a more romantic city. I have put together a little guide for you. A guide to ensure that you will make her Valentine’s Day the best ever. Remember, it’s not about how much you spend, but how you spend it. Nothing about this list is cheap, well priced, inexpensive, well budgeted or frugal. Those adjectives are for other days, not Valentine’s Day. Remember, this is about the woman who is your partner, your confidante, the woman who is keeping your children out of prison and off drugs, the woman who thinks you are the most handsome man on earth, the woman who is willing to go on vacations with you, and this is the woman who politely says thank you even when you give her the ugliest FTD red roses with baby’s breath for Valentine’s Day. So, when it comes to Paris… Here is my advice… You’re welcome in advance…

Let’s start with the flowers…

In my opinion, there is only one shop in Paris for flowers…Odorantes. Tucked away in the 6th arrondissement on a street aptly named Rue Madame… Obviously, this is a Parisian flower shop made in heaven.

 Now, head back over to the 1st arrondissement and present yourself at a shop named Buccellati.

Buccellati is the epitome of elegance. Century-old Italian jewelry. Place Vendôme. Enough said. DeBeers, it ain’t. My suggestion is a little honeycomb ring with little darling diamonds.

 Pop back over to the Left Bank on rue Bonaparte and visit a chic little shop named Buly

Choose some candles, scented matches, creams and perfumes and give the salesgirl your black AMEX because you’re going to need it at this shop. How can something so little cost so much? It’s just cream for God sake! Oh well, it’s worth it.

Keep the Uber meter running and head to rue du Mont Thabor to a shop called Frederic Malle

It is rare that I introduce a new perfume to my collection but this one is an absolute must have. They had me at the name… Portrait of a Lady. If you want your love to give off an air of a chic English rose… This is the perfume for her.

Nope, we’re not finished yet… You cannot get through Valentine’s Day without chocolate!

Since I’m allowed to eat as much chocolate as I want, I have become quite the connoisseur. I go through about 100 pieces of chocolate a week and my vote for the best chocolate in Paris is Patrick Roger. I shop at the one either in Saint Germain or the one at place de la Madeleine. Buy her one of everything in the shop. Don’t ask questions, just do it and don’t be surprised if she doesn’t share.

Now I’m going to let you in on a little secret...

When my friends at Perrin Paris sent me a photo of their new purse from their new shop on rue d'Alger in Paris, I swear to God, my heart skipped a beat. Never have you laid eyes on a more perfect Valentine’s Day purse. Gold, pink, fur, leather… What more could you want? Looking to get lucky Valentine eve? Simply buy this purse…

Now take all of this back to your hotel. Which hotel you ask?  Le Dokhan's of course!

Le Dokhan's is my favorite little boutique hotel in Paris. It is in the bourgeois 16th arrondissement and could not be chicer. The hotel is an old hôtel particulier which in American terms means big fat mansion. The decor is done by none other than one of my favorite designers, Frédéric Méchiche. There is a little champagne bar in the perfectly perfect tiny restaurant that will blow your mind. This hotel is quiet and romantic. Hint: request the apartment on the top floor.

Last but not least… The restaurant.…

The restaurant that you choose for Valentine’s Day is superduper important. You need to find a spot that is romantic, non-touristy with outstanding food. You want to take your love to a place that you will always remember. That place is Chez Josephine on rue du Cherche-Midi.

Don’t forget to write her a beautiful love letter as well.

And that, my dear Sir, is how Valentine’s Day is done in Paris. Oh my God, you are so welcome.