The Chatou Brocante fair – YouTube

The Chatou Brocante fair – YouTube

OMG!! I am Literally Drooling!! This is one of my favorite websites.  We are soooo close and yet so far away right now and missing the March show, argh!  Who wants to meet me in September??? Oh my this is beyond YUMMY, enjoy 🙂



How To Be More French Looking Now That I Almost Have My French Residency Card!

How To Be More French Looking Now That I Almost Have My French Residency Card!

Found some good advice online from a great blog site:

The French Girl Beauty Rules: Makeup Artist Violette Shares Her 8 Essential Secrets


Photographed by Taylor Jewell

As the fashion flock settles down in Paris for the last leg of the spring 2015 collections, that age-old question resurfaces once more: What is it about French women? The country’s unofficial motto—to bear the torch for a kind of covetable, casual cool that relies heavily on mussed-up hair and minimal makeup—is on full display this week in front rows and sunny sidewalk cafes alike. “In each country, I think there is an idea of what beauty is,” suggests the Paris-based editorial makeup artist Violette. “But for the French, it’s very particular: What we want is to be ourselves—not a better version of ourselves. We feel like it’s better to be used to something than to try to change it. So we think: What style can I have with this face, and with this hair? That mentality is 100 percent French.”  Still, she admits, there are a few local secrets for how to look perfectly imperfect, without ever trying too hard. Here, Violette offers a glimpse into the French girl’s beauty bible with her eight essential rules for a Paris-approved definition of pretty.

Rule #1: Prep (Don’t Primp)

“French women treat their ‘base’ as best as they can—so we try to have amazing skin, and an amazing body, and amazing hair, so we don’t have to do too much else,” says Violette. Her complexion routine happens to be fairly involved, but we’d expect nothing less from a disciple of the school of Joëlle Ciocco, the legendary Parisian facialist whom Violette calls “a skin god.” After massaging away all of the day’s impurities with La Roche-Posay’s cleansing milk—always with her fingertips to increase circulation—Violette rinses with water and follows with the brand’s calming cream. “Then, in order to make my skin drink, because it needs nurturing, I use these little glass capsules that you break open. One is called ‘granions de manganèse,’ and the other is ‘granions de sélénium.’ I get them from the pharmacy,” she explains. As a final step, Violette slathers on a gel cream called Oxelio Topique, another French-pharmacy staple. “It helps my skin fight aggression, like stress, pollution, and bad food.”

Rule #2: Practice Everything in Moderation
“The way to have good skin is not actually about what you put on your skin,” Violette admits, in spite of her multistep facial routine. “It’s about what you eat. French women try to eat organic as much as possible—and as little sugar as possible. We’re more concerned about sugar, not so much low-fat.”

Rule #3: Only Go to the Gym If You Feel Like It
“A French woman is like a wild horse—she is very rebellious, and she’d rather kill herself than go to the gym!” Violette says with a laugh, before admitting that the workout trend is starting to pick up steam in the City of Light, even though it was nearly nonexistent a decade ago. “We need to take pleasure in everything we do,” she continues, explaining that even newly popular classes, like the barre method, should be fun—the philosophy being: “Never get stuck in a hardcore, rigid habit.”

Violette Makeup Artist 

Photographed by Taylor Jewell

Rule #4: Forget About Blowouts
“French women want amazing texture with their hair,” confirms Violette, referencing that coveted lived-in look commonly seen on the likes of Caroline de Maigret, Constance Jablonski, and Aymeline Valade. “We like to shampoo our hair, air dry, then wait a day. When you wash your hair the first day, you don’t know what to do with it. The second day, it looks much better,” she says. (If and when Violette does get a blowout, she is careful to plan her appointment for the day before she actually needs to look good.)

Rule #5: Commit to Regular Cuts
“French women like their hair to be very healthy and shiny, so when they wear it messy, it doesn’t look dry and damaged,” according to Violette. “We’re much more about looking for a good haircut than a good styling product,” she continues, pointing out that most French women like short or shoulder-dusting crops—which, admittedly, puts her own chest-length hair at odds with her countrywomen. “I actually get my hair cut at Eva Scrivo in New York,” she admits. “I find that American hairstylists understand the long-hair culture more than the French!”

Rule #6: Say Yes to a Red Lip
Bardot and Deneuve might be best remembered for the black, feline flicks they scrawled onto their upper lash lines, but French women don’t really use eyeliner, says Violette. “I think we’re more about red lips,” she claims, listing MAC’s cult-classic lipstick in Ruby Woo as one of her all-time favorite bullets. “That’s the identity of a Parisian woman.” It’s how you wear a crimson or scarlet shade that makes it fully French, though, she insists. “Red lipstick is a fashion accessory. So we won’t wear any other makeup with it. Then our hair has to be messy, our skin has to be perfect, and we’ll just wear jeans and heels because the lipstick makes the statement.”

Rule #7: Bring Light (Not Shadow) to the Face
“We never contour,” Violette says of an inherent dislike of brownish shading powders or creams. “For French women, contouring is very scary, because it changes the sculpture of the face. It’s much more about adding highlights,” she explains. “They catch the light on the cheeks, and on the Cupid’s bow of lips so you don’t really need contouring.”

Rule #8: Make Your Smoky Eye a Little Bit Messy
“The other makeup that is really French to me is the smoky eye—but it’s a messy smoky eye with a creamy texture,” contends Violette, who points out that dégradé lids, “sparkly effect” shadows, and perfect lashes are the opposite of chic, as far as French women are concerned. “We’re very lazy! We’ll just use one product, put it all over, and blend it with our finger. Then we’ll [groom] our eyebrows, put on a bit of blush and concealer, and go.” Her personal favorite is Dior’s black eye pencil, which she applies at the roots of her lashes to make them appear darker, before scribbling it across her entire lid, “like a kid would,” and smearing the pigment with a tiny bit of pharmacy-procured calendula lip balm. “Just a little bit so you have dewiness. French women don’t like powder shadows,” she adds firmly. “They’re too complicated.”


How To Get A Dog, Yourself and a Lot Of Luggage, From the UK To Ireland: Car Ferry

How To Get A Dog, Yourself and a Lot Of Luggage, From the UK To Ireland: Car Ferry

The question was:  How to get from the Southern most tip of England to Ireland with a dog?  The answer was a car ferry, and we wanted the shortest crossing in case Bella wasn’t happy with this decision of transport!  The answer to that is high speed ferry and there is only one and that is from Northern Wales across the Irish Sea into Dublin.  Off the Isle of Wight, back to the UK mainland of Southampton and up the motorway to North Wales!  An all day journey.


We were able to see fantastic Castles in North Wales on our way out to the tiny tip of Holyhead on the island of Anglesey, where the fastest ferry from the UK to Ireland is.   Under 2hrs vs almost 4 hrs,  at all the other crossings.  Irish Ferry is like a giant cruise ship that happens to carry cars underneath.  The only bad thing is No dogs allowed on deck; so either they stay in your car or they have kennels on board for them.  With Bella having her bed and toys in the car, we chose to leave her for the journey in the bowels of the boat,in our car and leaving me a nervous wreck for 2hrs.  All was for naught, as she did Famously and it appeared she slept the entire way and was all groggy as we greeted her on the dock of Ireland. (you are not allowed to stay in the car or go check on your car during the trip)

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There’s a huge duty free shopping on the Irish Ferry and lots of good deals so go ahead and shop as we didn’t see that selection for the rest of the trip.  Ireland is not big into gift shops and souvenirs.

Our return trip from Ireland To Scotland,  was also from a tiny upper North Ireland tip called Larne, 30 min from Belfast and also under 2 hrs.  A much bigger, slower, as we covered less ground and not as nice.  But, It landed us right on the shores of Scotland at Cairnryan which is a gorgeous West shore of Scotland in the Galloway Park district and just gorgeous country and seashore.


Getting off a ferry and arriving into the gorgeous countryside, with no noise and chaos of an airport or train station and all your stuff and car right with you, is just the most exciting wonderful way to travel we have discovered.  The cross over of less than 2 hrs is so relaxing, gorgeous views and no complaints.  The arrival into Scotland was much better than Dublin which was commercial and a bit chaotic but not too bad.

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We highly recommend it, its not cheap but you have ALL your luggage, your dog, there is NO security which was astounding, they don’t even check passports.  Walk all around a huge ship so no cramped spaces, comfy seats with tables, Restaurant and bar (we didn’t partake and it looked like airplane food only a bit better) but all very easy and no cramped leg space.  Next time you travel, check it out, we think it is the only way to “fly” now and will always search it as the best solution for future travels.

If you don’t have a car and want to travel on a ferry, you can also be a walk on passenger to the ferry.  Unsure how the luggage works but they bring you on via an airport style shuttle and then return you to shore the same way.  You don’t have to have a car to travel via ferry.

How To Travel and Stay for FREE?

How To Travel and Stay for FREE?

House Sitting, a fairly newer if not even known concept for Americans but a Big deal and quite normal for Australians where the concept seems to have originated based on activity and websites I’ve read.


Usually House Sitting is a NON paid, (although sometimes you can get paid) gig whereby you, the house sitter,  stay in someone’s home whilst they are away on holiday.    Usually, again exceptions to every rule, you stay for Free in exchange for taking care of their home and most the time, taking care of pets/animals.  You can get house sits with no animals as well.

In Europe, many areas are remote and people need someone in the homes for security reasons and peace of mind to the homeowner for things like taking in the mail and communicating to the homeowners any emergency business matters in the mailings.

Ensuring the toilets are being flushed and kept going, making sure gardeners are coming on time if employed, or you become the gardener in exchange for free lodging!  Sending emails or skype feedback to the owners as they travel and can be assured that all is well back home.

We joined a house sitting site, Trusted House Sitters,  We pay money to join and the homeowner pays money to join, to give somewhat of a security blanket of both parties being registered to the website with personal information and credit cards. (INTERESTED? in doing this yourself? email me and I can save you 20% on membership)   In America it is more common to have to get a Police Report attached to the website.  You have to go thru different processes in each State so consult the website for your area.  In Europe, it seems people are much more trusting and the process of police reports aren’t needed as much.  (don’t mind doing them but they are a bit of handwork to obtain)

Daily you receive updates of house sits available and you email the homeowners to the ones you qualify and want to do.   The downside is there are ALOT more house sitters than home owners so you have to be a really good writer and have a good website online to convince homeowners you are the one to stay in their home!  Be creative, highlight ALL your skills that help you be a good house sitter or pet sitter.

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Then once they find interest in you, normally you talk via phone or skype/facetime to do a meet and greet.  Then you both agree and boom you have free lodging from several days to months or even a year in some house sits!

We use the house sits as our itinerary telling us where to go next and finding places we would have Never gone to or thought to go to.  You get to live like a local to really see if you like that area or not.  Its a great way to test an area if you are thinking of moving.  Or its just a great way to see a country/town thru the eyes of those that live there.  Really get to Know a place versus just visiting.

However! (you knew there was a catch right?)  However, if fancy hotel rooms, maid service and fresh sheets/towels each day is your idea of a holiday, then house sitting is Not for you!  Housesitting and living like a local, is well, living like a local and/or a homeowner.  Meaning, you have the house to keep clean, do dishes, cook at home, clean bathrooms, bring in the mail and sometimes even mow the lawn!  If they have pets, then there is the responsibility of having to be gone no more than 4 hrs at a time to entertain and keep company the animals. Feeding them, loving them, cleaning cages, picking up poo-animal owner type of things.  also communicating with the owners is an important part of the house sit as well.  Either emailing or skyping to fill them in on the weekly goings on of the household.  Being responsible is a Must.  Plenty of time to have fun, but just like at home, responsibilities are a priority.

The owners expect you to be them or even better than them, at keeping the house clean and loving and tending to the animals. If you aren’t prepared to share your holiday fun with those duties and responsibilities, then its not a good match.  We love it, have met great people, stayed in nice homes, and loved on cute fur babies.  There’s been some tougher assignments, not all have been perfect, but all have offered something that was unique and great and staying for free in top Holiday Destinations is pretty awesome.

Need to Know Where to Eat, Sleep or Play?

Need to Know Where to Eat, Sleep or Play?

Bella Travels Member Profile – TripAdvisor via Member Profile – TripAdvisor.

We are building a resource of personally reviewed places for your perusal!

We use Trip Advisor ALOT when traveling and deciding where to eat/stay, figured it was easier and more centralized to link you to our page there, vs adding it all the time with our blog.  You can see Cities and categories, or always feel free to contact us directly as well

clicking on the link will take you to my trip advisor entries. scroll down and they show cities that I have commented on restaurants hotels or attractions. If you are going somewhere, check out where to go or not go, I write my reviews honestly and have not been paid by anyone (darn it!)

A Bad Day in Paradise!? Yes – It Can Happen

A Bad Day in Paradise!? Yes – It Can Happen

Living the DREAM, living abroad;  how exciting, wonderful, fabulous, and its ALL the time right?

Well not exactly and not always;  And, its ok to admit it to yourself and go ahead and have a bad day.  Because sometimes it just is a bad day no matter where you are.

Sad Tourist

Missing family, weddings, showers, birthdays.  Missing just “normal” things like Whole Foods, sunsets, BBQs, your own bed, your STUFF – it will happen. It does happen!  Those “things”,  sometimes just make your day feel like you can’t take it abroad any longer.  In my world I call it my 10th day

Whenever we traveled on holiday, before we moved;  it always seemed I cracked on day 10.   Meaning, I had a  melt down of frustration or crying, because I just wanted to be home in my bed, my house, with my things.   I was tired of not speaking the language, my feet hurt from all the walking, tired of the food being weird, taxi drivers being rude, or,  who knows what IT was but on day 10, I always seemed to melt down.

Once we ID’d that as a known fact, We knew to always fly home on Day 10.   But NOW?  Now,  we live here and you know what, I had Day 10, it was just a bad day and I had to just let myself do it.   Let myself Know, hey its Day 10,  but its ok.

Get whatever makes you happy, makes you have comfort:  a cup of hot Jo or tea or great glass of wine and just stay home, even if home is a hotel room.  Don’t shower, don’t get dressed, just stay there and watch tv all day and surf the web.  It WILL pass and then you are back to your adventurous self once again, ready to get going and see new sights.

You are going to feel like a fool complaining about a bad day as a world traveler to your family and friends;  boohoo poor you in the middle of Rome feeling Blue!   Tell me a sob story right?   Well, yes, there are reasons why traveling can make you have bad days even when you are surrounded by wondrous beauty, history and sights.   #1 thing I can suggest- is Its ok to let yourself feel it.

Just live it, deal with it and then let it go and get back to the FUN you dreamed of and are Now living.  Let Day 10 happen, and then go kick ass sight seeing on Day 11 🙂

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