image: Anne's daylilies are blooming well this year

daylilies blooming in garden

2024 SCHEDULE: Anne is working on a new book. Nouvelles postings will be sporadic. But usually at least one per week.

|| 31 May 2024

Rain and Raccoons

The more-than-usual rainfall the past several weeks has made Provence-sur-la-Prairie more Provence-dans-le-Marais (swamp). Perhaps all this damp has made my brain soggy. Since I seem to be stuck on a part of the book on which I am now working, I will leave the difficulties to my subconscious for the moment and write a short Nouvelles.

The raccoon had been eating increasingly large suppers so I was not surprised when night before last she brought three babies to the food dish. They are beyond cute: three masked furry balls in perpetual motion. I have not had the courage to look in my garage. The last time there were three baby raccoons in my garage, they ransacked the place.

In the previous Nouvelles titled Dealing With Challenges of Illness I shared with you Synthia’s account of dealing with challenges following her surgery for a carcinoma on her lower eyelid. I was pleased to have an update from Synthia. She wrote:

Thankfully, my recovery is going well. My surgeons will do cosmetic for minor tweaks when all is healed. I cannot believe how much the eye has improved but still is going to take awhile. I am thankful that very large sunglasses are so in style!

As always. I am enjoying re reading all of your Chic and Slim books. Your insights still make me laugh out loud!

Our continued best wishes to Synthia. And my reminder to you as summer approaches of the importance of wearing sunscreen, especially on your face.

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone

|| 19 May 2024

Dealing With Challenges of Illness

A stormy spring here at Provence-sur-la-Prairie. My life has revolved around severe thunderstorms, tornado watches, and working on the new book.

Several weeks ago I reported (along with reminding you about using sunscreen) that one of my brothers had surgery for a VERY LARGE squamous cell carcinoma on his neck. Seeing it, my other brother thought he should see a doctor about about a growth that had appeared below his ear. A biopsy revealed that it also was a squamous cell carcinoma, but fortunately other brother’s carcinoma was benign.

In the meantime I received an email from Synthia, telling me about her recent experience with a carcinoma, this a merkel cell carcinoma on her lower eyelid. You may remember Synthia from her report from Paris several years ago.

Synthia reports that her medical treatment has been first rate. But her recovery has presented new challenges, including those for staying slim. There are good lessons in Synthia’s story. Particularly about how to deal with any sort of illness that limits your ability to exercise — especially if friends and neighbors are bringing you cookies and other sweet treats when you must confine yourself to sedentary activities. Synthia wrote:

My goodness Anne it has been some time. I hope you are well and just wanted to say hello and catch up.

I have been fortunate enough the last decade to travel often. I first discovered you before my France 2012 trip and you made my trip perfect! I had been to Europe as a college student, but now as an adult woman, I had to brush up on etiquette. Since that time, I was able to take my daughters to France and other locations (son and husband too!)

A few years ago i developed a cyst under my eye. After 4 years, I finally had a clear diagnosis and it was Merkel Cell Carcinoma. I just had my 3rd surgery at UCSF this past week. This is no joke and the recovery is not fast. THANKFULLLY, i have a plastic surgeon on my team who is over seeing the plastic surgery. That is the most terrifying as my eye surgeon had to re build my ENTIRE lower lid! You wrote about skin cancer several months ago and wanted to share my story,

What comes next is learning how to deal with this as it is healing. I prefer to keep my eye covered with a patch—most people think i have had cataract surgery. I feel uncomfortable showing the eye and it is very interesting—some say show it with pride! you are a cancer survivor! But I feel it is rude to make people look at it too—I am vain that way.

Anyhow, i have been getting so many beautiful flowers, cookies, treats the past few months. Now I need to re read all your books as I am not able to exercise like I used to. comes down to discipline which is challenging when you are only able to read and watch tv! But I will do it! I don’t want to have my eye heal and then have to be worried about my weight.

Thank you for all you have done and continue to do!
Sincerely, Synthia

Merci to Synthia for sharing her story and insights about dealing with the challenges of her medical experience. And our very best wishes for her speedy recovery.

|| 6 May 2024

Storms, Scorpions and a Saturday Night Ceiling Leak

This is storm season. In my locale that means frequent Tornado Watches. Fortunately no tornadoes have actually hit my area. But more times than is comfortable, we have been warned to be alert. And there have been a number of severe thunderstorms.

The night of Saturday 27 April between 8 and 11 PM, 3.48 inches (8.84 cm) poured down on Provence-sur-la-Prairie. That is more than we sometimes receive in three months. During this torrent a new leak appeared in my living room ceiling. Since then we have had rain (though in smaller amounts) almost every day. Drop cloths have remained down and the furniture moved to a safer location. As I write this I am watching the darkening sky for a forecast possible severe thunderstorm.

That takes care of the storms and ceiling leak. Now for the scorpions.

Scorpions do not like wet. Some small scorpions that had previously been content to hide in wide cracks in my patio have now, in this rainy period, moved indoors. Even though in years past I have been bitten by larger scorpions and survived, I do not like creepy crawlies in my house.

The work on the new book continues to progress. But I find switching between book writing and writing a Nouvelles posting works to the detriment of both. So I am making the book the priority. Nouvelles will be scant until I finish the book. I hope to reach this goal by my 80th birthday barely two months from now. But I did want to check in to let you know that I have not perished in some of the recent storms.

One more thing. If some of you have emailed to my old address and not received a response, it is because I no longer have the AT&T internet service. I now have fiber optics internet and a new email provider. As soon as I decide on a new address that will not (as the old address was) be flooded with spam and phishing emails, I will post it on this page.

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone

|| 24 April 2024

Power and Solace of Clothing

It’s spring. Perhaps the reason I am accomplishing so little is that I have “spring fever.” The privet bushes outside my window are in profuse bloom. Orange and black butterflies that look like monarchs, but aren’t, at least a dozen of them, are fluttering and feasting on the blooms. A delight to watch.

Susan in Hamilton recently sent the link (Merci, Susan) to an unusual and interesting article that explains the power of clothing — as well as the benefits of sewing one’s own clothing in difficult circumstances. You can read this Harper’s Bazaar article at the link below.

For author and activist Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, years of degradation in prison were made more bearable by the time spent sewing her own clothes. Here [in Harper's Bazaar] , our contributing editor recalls the importance of fashion and the solace of creativity.

"Clothes are a crucial part of our identity"

|| 14 April 2024

The French Paradox Is Alive And Well

Our Chic & Slim Special Correspondent Kat has sent another report from France. This one to assure us that “The French Paradox is alive and well.” That’s certainly good news for those of us who want to enjoy good food and still stay slim. More . . .

|| 7 April 2024

Ultra-Processed Foods in France

Our Chic & Slim Special Correspondent Kat is in France. I asked her to look for signs of how much ultra-proccessed foods the French are consuming. Ultra-processed food (UPFs) consumption is high and rising in both the USA and the UK. Consequently excess weight and obesity and their related health problems are also on the rise. But what about in France?

Kat reports on UPFs in France.

Note: Kat also sent a number of photos to accompany her report. I will try to add these photos in an update soon. Along with Kat’s comments she sent in an addition to the main report.

|| 24 March 2024

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

I had written this Nouvelles on squamous cell carcinoma prior to the announcement by the Princess of Wales of her own cancer. We do not know specifically what sort of cancer Catherine has beyond that it was found as a result of abdominal surgery. Skin cancers are much more obvious. And the one my brother recently developed became very obvious. Very quickly.

It began as a small “spot” on his neck under his ear. In three weeks this small growth was the size of an orange. Bulbous and VERY ugly. Medical diagnosis was a squamous cell carcinoma. Cancer. But not as deadly as melanoma. Still the growth on my brother’s neck was enlarging so rapidly that the surgeon delayed his planned vacation to do the surgery immediately.

According to the Mayo Clinic:

Most squamous cell carcinomas of the skin are caused by too much ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV radiation comes either from sunlight or from tanning beds or lamps. Protecting your skin from UV light can help reduce the risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the skin and other forms of skin cancer.

In the summers when my brother was in high school and college, he worked as a lifeguard at our town’s swimming pool. In those days there were no sunscreen products. Most likely that sun exposure he got in the lifeguard’s chair, contributed to the development of his carcinoma these decades later.

To remove the large growth, the surgeon had to take part of his neck muscle. A skin graft (taken from his thigh) was necessary. Thirty radiation treatments are now under way. A preventative measure as these cancers frequently reoccur. The good news, as reported by my other brother who saw the area of incision a week following surgery, already hardly any scar was visible.

Early in the days of the Chic & Slim website, I received an email from a woman who had a skin cancer develop in that sensitive area just below her eye. Surgery to remove it disfigured her face badly. Two cosmetic surgeries were unsuccessful. Finally she was able to find a cosmetic surgeon in Las Vegas who was able to repair her face in the third surgery.

Wear your sunscreen. Wear sunglasses with UV filters. And remember that increasingly medical research is finding a link between excess weight and certain cancers.

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone

|| 17 March 2024

Grandmother’s Shillelagh

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

When I was a child, my grandmother would threaten me that, if I misbehaved, she would beat me with a shillelagh.

I had no idea what shillelaghs were — and was afraid to ask — but they sounded fearsome. Consequently, I was quite a well-behaved child. (Actually, Irish men carried these canes to be used as protection when necessary.)

Years later, in the gift shop in the Shannon, Ireland Airport, I spotted an umbrella stand filled with real Irish shillelaghs for sale. Of course, I bought one. I took it to my grandmother as a gift. We both had a good laugh.

When my grandmother died, I took back the shillelagh. A few years ago, when I injured my knee, I used this Irish cane for a while.

Today, photographing the Irish shillelagh and sipping a steaming cup of Irish Breakfast Tea was a fun way to celebrate the holiday.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone

|| 10 March 2024

French First Lady Brigitte Macron’s Daughter Tiphaine Auzière Publishes Novel

EuroNews writes: Tiphaine Auzière, a 40-year-old lawyer and stepdaughter to French President Emmanuel Macron, has published her first novel, “Assises,” addressing domestic violence and the law. The youngest daughter of French President Emmanuel Macron’s wife Brigitte, Tiphaine Auzière, published her debut novel Wednesday 6 March, a courtroom drama exploring the legal ramifications and responses to domestic abuse.

The book recently released in print will be available on Amazon (in French) in Kindle version beginning 10 April.

Article about Tiphaine Auzière’s Novel on EuroNews.

be chic, stay slim —Anne Barone

|| 3 March 2024

The Longevity Diet

It's spring at Provence-sur-la-Prairie. Difficult to stay indoors when everything is green, birds are singing, and flowers bursting into bloom. The daffodils were first over a week ago. Yesterday I discovered a patch of deep purple grape hyacinths near the back fence. Flowers are such a delight. But diets, usually not.

In any case, someone is always coming up with a new diet. In the previous posting, I told you about the Atlantic Diet. Now we have Prof. Valter Longo’s Longevity Diet. The link below is to a posting on Dr. Longo’s website in which he tells us how he believes we should eat to live longer. I don’t think I could manage the fasting part — eating only 750 calories a day. I am sure I never in my life ate only 750 calories in a 24 hour period.

The Longevity Diet

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone

|| 5 December 2023

Hidden Stretch Waists: How They Work

I thought I would have today’s Nouvelles finished by lunchtime. But the painting and repairs go on. I have had frequent interruptions for consultation: Which windows will open? Which will be caulked shut (so the glass won’t fall out)? Do I want the security grills repainted? Flat paint or gloss? And so on.

But now as I approach afternoon tea time, the Nouvelles is in good enough shape to upload. (Though I will surely have to do some fine-tuning.) Rather clever design these hidden stretch waistbands. More . . .

|| 27 November 2023

Problem With Expandable Waists

For the past few days I have been shopping the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Looking at all these websites, many which sell clothing geared to women of a certain age, I have become aware that trends in clothing design today may be contributing to the rise in overweight and obesity. And we here in the USA are obese. See the chart above.

When recently I took stock of my cold weather jeans and pants, I discovered that all were disreputably worn. Not surprising. Those Calvin Kleins were at least 15 years old and the L. L. Bean classic chinos were more than 20. In any case, time to buy new.

Since I had not bought pants or jeans in some time I was not aware how many in both categories now are designed with expandable waists.

For example: A pair of Coldwater Creek chinos offer “hidden self-expanding bands on each side that stretch for up to 4" of added room at the waist." Four inches!

Some Talbot ankle pants featured “new Invisiflex Comfort Waist Technology with an invisible elastic back waistband that adjusts to your body for the perfect, comfortable fit.” Maybe too comfortable if you gain pounds.

I can see good points to these design features. But the serious downside is that with expandable waists, if you gain weight (and don’t those pounds usually settle around the middle?) you might not be aware you are gaining until the problem becomes serious. Especially if you are pairing expandable waist bottoms with those generously full tunic tops that are so popular today.

Since so many pants and jeans designs come with this new expandable waist feature, perhaps they too are fostering the rising obesity statistics. Be aware !

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone

|| 12 November 2023

How Much Restoration?

The repainting of the trim on my house and the search for — and repair of — any place where water might be coming in and leaking from the living room ceiling — continues. (And a lot of those places have been found.) As the house restoration work progresses and decisions are made about the work, I have found myself thinking often about how much is the “right” amount of restoration for ourselves as we age.

My guiding principle for any work on this almost-100 year old house is that I do not want it to look like a “new” house. I want it to look like an old house that has been well cared for over the decades. I try for the same for myself. I do not try to look young. But I do put out effort to look like someone who has taken care of herself.

In any case, restoration work on face and body is expensive. And if you are paying for a lot of repairs and maintenance on an old house, there is not a lot left over for cosmetic surgery and the like even if you wanted it. Healthy eating, ample exercise, good posture, and a smile will have to suffice.

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone

|| 5 November 2023

The Brilliance of Simplicity

Americans visit Europe and often find themselves envious of the lifestyle. But when they return to the USA and try to replicate that European lifestyle here, they often fail.

Why can’t American live more like Europeans? Susan in Hamilton sent a clipping of an article from The New York Times that helps answer that question.

It is the beginning of the month, so even if you do not have a Times subscription, perhaps you have not yet used all your free articles.

A Meal in France Showed Me the Brilliance of Simplicity. An ordinary, unfussy meal can still contain wonders.

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone

|| 31 October 2023

Fitness at 97

As I wrote previously, the cold which struck me down last Wednesday made me seriously miserable and lethargic. With a few periods in which I prepared and ate meals and did a few household chores, for three days I mostly slept. No doubt paying back a sleep debt for those nights I was awake monitoring my ceiling leaks. And most unfortunately I did not exercise.

Yesterday, my cold more or less gone, I realized I MUST get back into my regular exercise program. You must keep moving. Or you stop.

I found inspiration in an Insider article about 97-year-old Elaine LaLanne and how she stays fit.

4 things that keep Elaine LaLanne, the first lady of fitness, feeling young at 97

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone ,

|| 24 October 2023

A Minor Leak

I am happy to report that despite the downpour with wind that dumped an inch and a quarter of rainwater on my dwelling last night, the sources of the two major leaks in my living room the last big rain seemed to have been patched. BUT I did have one small leak in my living room ceiling. There is still work for the roofer and/or the mason to do.

Despite that I woke and checked the living room at midnight and again at 2:00 am, my sleep-fogged brain did not think to check in the area of the small leak. I did not find it until my 4:00 am check, when a drop splatted down on my head. Some damage to my hardwood floor, but I did get plastic and a pan down immediately and have a fan blowing in that area now the rain (and the leak) have temporarily halted. And I will be prepared for that leak in tonight’s forecast heavy rain. The mason was here this morning inspecting the new problem, and we have an idea of the source. But repair will have to wait until the rains stop.

When you write a website for women, the subject of leaks naturally leads to that plague of ageing women (and many younger ones) urinary incontinence.

An informative article on Healthline on that topic.

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone

|| 15 October 2023

Will The Scandinavians Make Us All Slim?

We are at a new point in weight control. Or are we?

I am old enough to remember a series of medical solutions to excess weight and obesity starting with the amphetamines the doctor prescribed for me when I was six. But despite the number of medical weight loss “breakthroughs” over the decades, the population has only grown fatter and fatter.

Recently we have from the Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk two products: Wegovy and Ozempic. Both delivered by injection. And very expensive.

Now the Swedish company Sigrid Therapeutics has clinical trials in progress for SiPore, granules that you swallow at the onset of meals to make you feel full with less food. Sigrid describes SiPore as a molecular sieve that captures digestive enzymes in the stomach to slow the food-burning process. This, they say, will lower blood sugar and thus food cravings. It is designed for diabetics and pre-diabetics as well as for weight control.

From what I can understand, SiPore is based on the premise that it will make it easier for people to make healthy lifestyle improvements that will become permanent. That could prove useful.

When I was working toward a healthier lifestyle that would make and keep me slim, I had the good example of chic French women I observed and copied. Now, according to reports we have received from our Chic & Slim Special Correspondent Kat, except in Paris, it is difficult to spot many of those chic French examples.

So a product that helps with working toward a healthier lifestyle definitely could be useful. As long as that product does not produce unpleasant side effects. And if its price is not prohibitive. We shall see.

SiPore will likely not be available until 2025. And Sigrid Therapeutics is also planning to develop a version for overweight cats. This is surely a challenge, felines being known as finicky eaters — very particular about taste and smell of their food. As are a lot of overweight humans.

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone

|| 8 October 2023

Keep Calm And Call A Repairman. Then wait

Wednesday we had a torrential rainstorm with wind — and a considerable amount of thunder and lightning. A window in the office and another in the living room were open when the storm blew in. When I closed the living room window and checked the floor, I found water on the other side of the room and a steady stream of water flowing OUT OF THE BASEBOARD. Bizarre.

Worse, when I turned around from putting towels against the stream of water, I looked up at the ceiling and there in the center of the room was a bulge in the ceiling dripping a steady stream of water onto the carpet. A plastic drop cloth over the carpet, a bucket, more towels for splatters were quickly recruited.

When the rain stopped, the water flowing out of the baseboard stopped. But leaving behind some damaged hardwood floor. The ceiling leak, however, continued until mid-morning the next day dripping (I measured) a little more than six cups an hour at its peak. I stayed busy emptying the bucket.

My roof repairman who, when phoned, promised to investigate the problem on Thursday has still not arrived. But I think I have a clue to the source of my leaks based on an experience we had with a house in Virginia. There, the house was relatively new, about 3 years old, three stories with an attic. During a heavy rainstorm, a mysterious leak appeared in the ceiling of a room on the second story. Though there was no sign of a leak in the ceiling of the floor above it, nor in the attic. Bizarre.

When the source of the leak was finally identified, an attic vent was found not to have been properly sealed. The wind had blown rain in around the vent where it ran down an inside wall until it hit a rafter for the second floor. The water then ran across the rafter until it hit a point where it dripped down onto the ceiling. When the attic vent was properly sealed, we had no more mysterious leaks.

At least for my living room baseboard leak last Wednesday, I think something similar to the Virginia leak was the cause. I am not so sure about my ceiling leak. But one more heavy rain and that living room ceiling will likely end up on the carpet below.

That was not all my leaks. Things come in three they say, and the bathroom faucet had a few days before developed a major leak. The lead-in hose for the garden hose reel began to leak at both ends. A new faucet has been purchased — as has a new lead-in hose. But these have not yet been installed.

Keep calm and call the repairmen. Then wait.

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone

|| 1 October 2023

Why Some People Cannot Take Tylenol/Panadol

We have been having beautiful moonrises here at Provence-sur-la-Prairie. In the photo above, I tried to capture with the camera what I was seeing with my eyes so you could enjoy my moonrises too.

As for the pain reliever Tylenol (Panadol in the UK), my digestive system has never tolerated it. Yet I have never had a problem taking either aspirin or ibuprofen.

A year or so ago, I learned that many other people cannot tolerate Tylenol/Panadol. But it is only very recently that medical science has clues as to why.

In a recent large study in the UK by Zoe, the personalized nutrition company run by the co-founder Dr. Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, previously unknown microbes were discovered in the human gastrointestinal system. One explanation the study was looking for was why some pharmaceutical drugs do not work as intended for some people.

Dr. Spector said that the study results suggested this may be due to different intestinal microbes. These differences may explain why even Tylenol/Panadol affects people differently — and why some people more than others are more sensitive to the pain reliever’s effects and to toxicity from it.

I am always glad to have a medical explanation for phenomena I have experienced all my life.

So if your medication produces a different reaction than intended, it may be those little critters living in your gastrointestinal tract.

Of interest for weight control, the Zoe study also discovered that of the new bacteria identified, the bottom 50 bad bacteria are associated with obesity while the top 50 good bacteria are linked to a lower BMI.

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone

|| 25 September 2023

Chic & Slim Success Factors

If I were as successful at making money as I have been losing weight and staying slim, I would be rich — or at least far more affluent than I am.

But while I have never earned much money from my Chic & Slim writings, I have reaped much joy and satisfaction helping other women — and a few men — have happier, more satisfying lives.

But I can only put the techniques and other information into written form and make them available. The key to success is how the reader uses my information. Some have been far more successful than others.

Recently I received an email from Kimberly who, over the past 20 years, has put Chic & Slim to excellent use in her life. I want to share the email with you because it points to several factors that have shown themselves repeatedly to being key to Chic & Slim success. More . . .

17 September 2023

Certain Age Chic

My tea reading lately has been Christian Dior: The Man Who Made The World Look New. The book on the legendary French fashion designer is by Marie-France Pochna. Originally written in French, the English version was translated by Joanna Savill. The book published in 1996 has long been on my bookshelf, but I had only dipped into parts, specifically about Dior’s death from a heart attack while trying to lose weight at an Italian spa. This time I read the book cover to cover. More . . .

|| 10 September 2023

Rewards for Difficult Tasks

I put much thought and effort into the Nouvelles I write and post for you on the website. I know how busy you all are, so it is a special reward for me when you take the time and effort to write and comment. After I posted the Nouvelles on my struggles with the assembly of my new exercise bike, I received two especially nice emails.The first was from Kate. She wrote:

Dear Anne, Congratulations on such a fantastic endeavor and success putting together the exercise bike! And you look absolutely wonderful, I might add. You are so inspirational, and I am delighted that you are still writing and influencing all of us who love to read your nouvelles. Thank you Anne, and I look forward to reading many more of them in the years to come. Have a beautiful labor certainly earned it. Warmest regards, Kate

The second email was from Ann Leslie in New York who also sent congratulations on my successful assembly of the exercise bike. She then posed two questions concerning rewards. I answer those two questions in today’s Nouvelles. More . . .

|| 3 September 2023

Assembling Exerwork 7150 Exercise Bike

Among the numerous projects I tackled during my time away from the website, the most challenging was assembling my new exercise bike, an Exerwork 7150. This model features a desk which, I believed, would allow me to write while I exercised.

When the bike arrived, and I opened the box, saw the numerous parts, looked at the tools and parts included, and read the assembly and instruction manual, I saw that this job was FAR beyond my skills level. Besides the instructions said that because of its weight, it needed two people to put it together. But when I couldn’t find anyone to hire to assemble the bike, nor even help, I knew I would have to do the job myself. More . . .

|| 14 August 2023

Today an update to the previous Nouvelles about clothing for extreme heat. Karen in Rosemount emailed about some linen pants she has found cool and comfortable for the summer heat. More . . .

|| 10 August 2023

Best Clothing For Extreme Heat

In the previous Nouvelles I wrote about several of my strategies for dealing with the extreme heat we have been having here at Provence-sur-la-Prairie. One of those strategies is to wear light-weight loose-fitting 100% cotton clothing.

My latest acquisition in this category is the dress you see below. This one is light weight 100% Indian cotton. More . . .