young rose leaves

image: young rose leaves Provence-sur-la-Prairie May 2023

|| 28 May 2023

Fruit and Bloating

Bloating is not chic. But, unfortunately, as women age, they become more prone to bloating after eating certain foods than when they were younger. Identifying which foods cause bloating — or how, when, and with what you eat certain food cause bloating — is often complicated.

One theory holds that eating fruit with any other food causes bloating. Therefore, fruit should only be eaten at least 2 hours after eating any other food, then waiting at least 2 or 3 hours before eating any other food.

One holder of this theory is the actress Suzanne Somers (not to be confused with Susan Sommers, the author of French Chic). Suzanne Somers credits her flat stomach to never eating fruit at the same time as any other food.

But think of what you CANNOT eat if you never eat fruit with any other food. Blueberries on your oatmeal. Pears with a good chèvre. Not to mention peaches topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

A registered dietitian nutritionist with the astonishing name of Carlie Saint-Laurent Beaucejour offers another possible solution: eat your fruit with foods that contain probiotics. Yogurt and sauerkraut are two possibilities. Probiotics offer good bacteria that can help your digestive system reduce bloating.

If you are having a problem with fruit causing an unchic tummy protrusion, you might try Carlie Saint-Laurent Beaucejour’s suggestion. This would not mean that you would always have to mix your fruit with yogurt — or, heaven forbid, mix your fruit with sauerkraut. For instance, I often add two tablespoons plain yogurt to my lunchtime kale soup. Then I eat a small apple to end the meal.

With a little imagination, you could come up with numerous ways for eating something probiotic with your fruit if you think it is the culprit causing bloating.

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone

|| 25 May 2023

Multivitamin Can Slow Cognitive Decline

This morning, since reading about the recent study of multivitamins to slow cognitive decline in older adults, I have been trying to remember if my grandmother (who remained mentally sharp all her 99 years) took a multivitamin. As best I remember, grandmother did not. As for my mother, who did show noticeable mental decline, I am positive that she did not take one. That said, my grandmother ate a far healthier diet than my mother.

Of course, doctors (who make money from illness) assure us that multivitamins do not make us healthier. And nutritionists (who build their reputations on advice that makes people healthier) say we should try to get our needed nutrients from food.

But is getting sufficient nutrition from food always possible for all older adults with the food products now available in our supermarkets at the prices that are charged? Might not a multivitamin be an economical aid for those who cannot afford — or cannot (will not) buy and prepare a diet that meets all nutritional needs? Centrum Silver 50+ costs only $.09/day ($2.70/month) and Walmart’s equate 50+ at the same formula cost only $.04/day ($1.20/month).

A recent large clinical trial led by Harvard and Brigham & Women’s Hospital shows that taking a daily multivitamin can slow cognitive decline in older adults.

Though I did, after my hysterectomy, begin to take some supplements in my mid-40s at my doctor’s advice, it was not until sometime in my 65th year that I decided to test if a multivitamin would counter my waning energy level. It did. (I took the popular Centrum Silver 50+). Of course I also eat a very healthy diet. I believe it does not hurt to carry some nutritional "insurance".

You can read about what the multivitamin study found.

Multivitamin Improves Memory in Older Adults, Study Finds

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone

|| 21 May 2023

Reformer Pilates

When I was writing the previous Nouvelles about the three elements in Martha Stewart’s preparations for her swimsuit photos, I realized that, even though I have done Pilates for decades, I had somehow never heard of Reformer Pilates, the exercise element.

A quick Google search informed me that Reformer Pilates “combines the traditional principals and movements of mat Pilates with a Reformer machine”. I also learned that signing up for a Reformer Pilates program that uses one of those Reformer machines can be pricey.

Different personalities have different preferences for exercise. I prefer using an exercise video at home for a Pilates workout. The only exercise equipment I have used are a treadmill and an exercise bike, both home equipment. Other people prefer exercising in a group, or at a gym with some of today’s high tech exercise equipment.

What is important is that you do a type of exercise that you like and enjoy. Otherwise you will not get the amount of exercise that you need. And unless you are a truly unusual person, you need some exercise.

Harpers Bazaar UK has a good article on Reformer Pilates.

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone

|| 19 May 2023

Green Juice

The media has widely covered the choice of Martha Stewart at 81 as the oldest cover model for Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit edition.

WSJ’s Rory Satran wrote in her interview article on Martha Stewart and her Sports Illustrated cover experience:

The businesswoman, who modeled decades ago to put herself through Barnard, took the physicality of the shoot seriously. She forwent bread and pasta for a couple months. She does reformer Pilates every other day at 6:30 a.m. with a private instructor. She drank her standard green juice every morning.

If you are a woman of a certain age who wants to put herself in best shape for a special event, you can try Martha Stewart’s regime. Her recipe for green juice is on her website.

Martha's Favorite Green Juice Recipe

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone

|| 14 May 2023

Mother’s Day Mop

There are any number of things for which I will never forgive my stepfather. But what comes to mind early May each year was the Mother’s Day he gave my mother a mop. A mop! For a Mother’s Day gift !

Certainly it was an exceptionally nice mop: very high tech for the early 1960s. And my stepfather was always buying the latest technology. But despite high tech, it was nonetheless a mop. And the irony was that my mother did very little mopping. She worked full time as a social worker. Our housekeeper did the mopping.

Today is Mother’s Day. Whatever gifts you might receive, I hope they are more glamorous and exciting than a mop.

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone

|| 11 May 2023

Bill To Stop Funding Soft Drinks & Junk Food

The memory is seared in my brain. I was standing in line at checkout at the supermarket. The shopping cart of the woman in front of me contained more than a dozen six-packs of a various carbonated soft drinks. Nothing else. Okay, probably a party. But when the checker took the woman’s payment, it was her card for supplemental food assistance. Not one item of food, much less healthy food. All that fizzy sugared water and chemicals was being paid for by taxpayers (including me) in a program designed to provide nutrition to the needy.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this past Sunday pointed out that a substantial portion of food assistance is being spent on junk food. Junk food in turn is fueling our health crisis. And when you consider that a good percentage of Americans receiving food assistance have their medical costs covered by Medicaid, what is in fact happening is that taxpayers (including me) are paying to make people sick — then paying for their medical treatment.

Senator Rubio has a bill that would eliminate carbonated soft drinks and prepared deserts from food assistance. Great idea. But since I am a realist I think the bill, for all its merit, is unlikely to pass. In the USA, businesses’ right to make a profit always tops citizens’ right to be healthy — and taxpayers’ right not to have their tax money wasted.

Wall Street Journal limits reading articles to subscribers, but Spectrum News gives you the main points about the problem and what Senator Rubio’s bill hopes to accomplish.

Rubio plan would cut junk food, soda from SNAP

|| 30 April 2023

Fresh Asparagus

Fresh asparagus is one of the joys of spring. My brother looks forward to the season’s new crop as much as I do. One day last week he got up early and drove eight miles to a farm where the farmer was just finishing up harvesting the morning’s asparagus.

With two large bunches for each of us, my brother then made his way down the turnpike to my house here in Texas. At lunchtime I enjoyed the incredibly tender and flavorful asparagus just hours after cutting.

One thing that helps me stay slim is that I do not like butter or any sauces on vegetables. Just a little salt — and perhaps a squeeze of fresh lemon. That is how asparagus and other vegetables taste best to me. And this saves me a large number of calories that butter and sauces would add.

Of course fresh vegetables can be added to any number of other dishes without adding additional calories. One way I have been eating this fresh asparagus is that, instead of serving the asparagus at the side of my omelette, I fold it inside when the omelette is almost set.

Keep your eye out for fresh asparagus at your farmer’s market or supermarket. The season is short — but fresh asparagus is a joy.

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone

|| 28 April 2023

My Swedish Cheese Cutter

My Swedish cheese cutter disappeared. True, it would be easy and relatively inexpensive to replace it. But I bought my cheese cutter more than 50 years ago on a visit to Sweden. Since then, this old friend has presented me with paper thin slivers of cheese that sit so nicely on crackers or slices of bread. Cheese eating would not be the same without it.

I had last used the cheese cutter on Wednesday on Gruyère for lunch. Thursday, hunting, I found many places where my Swedish cheese cutter was Not. I also found a demitasse spoon (I did not realize was lost) a tomato knife (missing since last summer) — and a small scorpion (now dead).

Late Thursday evening my subconscious bubbled up a memory of having the cheese cutter in my hand, the phone ringing, and putting down the cutter to answer the phone. Beginning at the shelf where I keep my phone I searched outward. And there was the cheese cutter — in my pen/pencil holder at the base of a lamp on my bistro table. I had not been able to see it because instead of face forward it was sidewise and simply looked like another pen.

Having the right tools makes food preparation and eating easier and more enjoyable. You will be less tempted by the convenience of unhealthy processed foods if you have the proper tools for preparing and eating healthy real food.

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone

|| 23 April 2023

Brigitte Macron 70

A little over a week ago, Brigitte Macron, the French first lady, turned 70. The French media covered the event well. But in English-language publications, I found only two articles I think worthy of calling to your attention. More . . .

|| 20 April 2023

Victoria Special French Issue

The 2023 special French issue of Victoria Magazine is now available. This is an elegant issue strong on chateaux and afternoon tea. Château de Chambord, Château de la Villedubois, Château de Bourneau. The article subtitle for Steeped in Tradition tells us: Sharing their individual perspectives, mother and daughter Sally and Sarah Clarkson reflect on how loveliness passes from one generation to the next during the ritual of afternoon tea.

"Let us have tea and speak of happy things."

|| 16 April 2023

Comment on Kat’s Black & White Wardrobe

Recently our Chic & Slim Special Correspondent Kat shared with us photos and text explaining her black and white wardrobe. Susan in Hamilton sent this comment on the wardrobe Nouvelles. She wrote:

Wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed reading about Kat's black and white wardrobe. Although I admit I stopped wearing black years ago in my 50s. Black just seems to wash me out, and I feel happier wearing color, I am envious of Kat's lifestyle that requires such beautiful clothes: my daily nursing home visit "uniform" consists of Gloria Vanderbilt or Charter Club jeans (Kohl's or Macy's on sale + with coupons!) and 100% cotton striped long sleeved or 3/4 sleeved tops from Appleseed's (again I wait for the sales). Definitely not the jet setting lifestyle, but I can live vicariously through others!

Merci to Susan for her comment on the Nouvelles.

be chic, stay slim, — Anne Barone

|| 30 March 2023

Titanic Tea

Generally I am not an impulse shopper. But when I saw the Art Deco packaging of Thompson’s Titanic Tea, I pushed the Buy button. We think of the Titanic in terms of a horrible disaster, forgetting that for its day, the Titanic was a marvel of engineering. (The iceberg was the problem.) I was prepared for the tea inside the package to be a disaster. But instead, Titanic is a wonderful blend of black teas. More . . .

|| 26 March 2023

70+ French Chic

Our Chic & Slim Special Correspondent Kat is back in France. She had hoped to spot some examples of French chic on a trip to Paris, but the protest demonstrations against raising the retirement age to 64 (not to mention the uncollected garbage) there forced a cancellation of the Paris portion of her visit. But in Normandy Kat did spot one example of French chic. She sent the photo along with a comment.

black tweed coat with black handbag and biker boots

Yesterday was sunny, though windy, but otherwise the weather has been overcast and rainy. These conditions do not bring out the chic in most of us, and the French are no exception. Wax jackets, puffers and similar utilitarian clothing rule.

But I did spot a lady in the Boulangerie who was a great exception. Grey jeggings, grey sweater, smart herringbone tweed coat, black bag and — chunky biker boots! She had a well cut grey bob, and was well over 70. Being of granny age doesn’t mean granny clothes!

Merci to Kat for sharing the photo and comment.

|| 24 March 2023

First Lady Books

Every Saturday during my mid-morning tea break, I always read the book review section of the Wall Street Journal. The Journal reviews many books on history and politics. I find a lot of books that interest me in those reviews.

Recently in the Journal's book section, Rebecca Boggs Roberts, the author of Untold Power:The Fascinating Rise and Complex Legacy of First Lady Edith Wilson gave her choices for the five best books on America’s First Ladies. I was surprised (and pleased) to see #1 on the list was Martha Washington by Patricia Brady published in 2005. I featured this book on a 5 o’Clock Tea in May 2020. More . . .

|| 19 March 2023

Kat's Black & White Wardrobe

Our Chic & Slim Special Correspondent Kat volunteered to share with us her black and white only wardrobe. To keep the pages with photos to reasonable length I have organized her text and photos into 3 pages with links to take you from one to the next. Merci to Kat for her photos and text and wardrobe advice.

Wardrobe Part 1.

|| 10 March 2023

Comments On Basic Black

In the previous Nouvelles I quoted from a Wall Street Journal fashion article on including black pieces in your wardrobe. In that Nouvelles, I mentioned that our Chic & Slim Special Correspondent Kat wears only black and white. Kat responded with comments and clarifications:

Just read your latest Nouvelles. I agree that, for many women, a few basic black pieces in the wardrobe would not go amiss. But I would add a word of warning: for some people, black is the kiss of death! I’m not talking about that old Get Your Colours Done thing (the one that restricted black to “winters” like me, and ignored the glory that was a Hitchcock blonde in a little black dress, or a flaming redhead in black anything) but people like my mother in law and a certain friend of mine, all of whom black turned into a version of Mrs. Danvers.

I think the key is contrast. I look good in black (and pure white, but not off white or cream) because I am very pale, with (originally) dark hair. The ladies I referred to above all had quite muted colouring, soft brown hair and eyes, medium skin tone. Black leached whatever colour they had right out of them. Muted people need colour to bring them to life.

As to the prices I pay for my clothes, yes, I have been known to shell out major money, but only for items I will wear for years, such as coats, cashmere sweaters and leather pieces, which, if you buy classics, as I do, will never go out of fashion. I don’t spend seriously on summer clothes (which tend to die in the wash after a season or two): an example is the white cotton Cos dress in the photo I sent you last summer. And, while my black velvet shirt dress is from Marina Rinaldi, it is my one and only dressy winter dress and it was half price in the sale! If something looks good on you, why wear something different every time you’re out on the town?

In short, I practice what many fashion consultants preach: buy less, buy better. It saves you money in the long run: believe me, when you are making a major investment in a winter coat, you think long and hard before finally handing over your cash or credit card.

I learnt this lesson the hard way. Fell in love with a Jaeger belted camel coat many years ago. Camel does for me what black did for my mother in law, and belted anything makes me look fat. Nonetheless, I wore the thing for many years. It was too expensive to replace. I still wince when I think about it!

AnneNote: When Kat mentioned that her purchase of a camel coat did not turn out as well as she hoped, I remembered my own camel coat experience.

In my 20s, I thought a camel coat was the ultimate in coat chic. When I visited Afghanistan in the early 1970s, I bought a beautiful length of camel’s hair wool and took it back to India planning to have my little tailor there make me a camel coat. Before the coat project got started, the tailor had to be put to work on a maternity wardrobe.

With pregnancy, then baby, the camel’s hair wool was never made into a coat. Twenty years later, my son took it and used it for a (very warm) blanket/bed cover. I was saved from ever looking in the mirror and seeing a chubby hamster. Instead, my last-a-lifetime coat investment was a dark brown leather trench coat. Much more slimming. And with my skin tone and hair color, dark brown works better for me than black.

Kat also commented on the length of time one can wear a good quality/expensive piece.

As your Nouvelles refers to the length of time one can wear a good quality/expensive purchase, it may be of interest to know that my black leather bags (purses) are all over 25 years old, as was the black leather biker jacket I have just replaced. I have a sheepskin lined leather duffel coat which is over 40, still looking good, but the coat is living in France because a bit too heavy for town wear. My “good” shoes and boots are all over 30, and serving me well, after being regularly re-soled and heeled a few times.

As for my coats,(two full length, a short “teddy” coat, a wool jacket, two leather jackets, a waxed jacket and a raincoat) well those are quite new, (apart from the leather with a big wool collar I bought in Athens 35 years ago) but likely to be the last coats I buy!

|| 5 March 2023

Has the Basic Black Dress Disappeared?

The Wall Street Journal requires a subscription to read articles. But a 4 March article by WSJ writer Christine Lennon asks the question: Has the Basic Black Dress Disappeared?

Here are some pertinent points from the article.:

As many women are realizing, however, finding timeless styles today is a challenge. Blame Instagram. Fashion brands must turn heads on social media now, and black sheaths don’t snag eyes like pink ruffles.

Elegant ebony basics have almost vanished and most of the available black clothes come riddled with dubious cutouts or functionless zippers, their fussy shapes more suited to Gen-Z TikTok stars.

Also contributing to the dearth of options: the rarity of events that call for chic, dark outfits—civilized dinners out, formal business meetings.

“Reasonably priced, unboring, gimmick-free black clothes? Good luck finding them,” Christine Lennon warns. But she adds, "Any woman’s closet could benefit from a few black essentials: a suit that can be worn as separates, a dress, a knit turtleneck.”

The first place to look for these classic basics is, of course, the back of your own closet. You might have pieces that you have forgotten in the long Covid lockdown when you lived in sweat pants and your bunny slippers.

As for finding new, you can find them today. But you may have to spend more time hunting than you did previously. However, our Chic & Slim Special Correspondent Kat only wears black and white. I know she has found new pieces in black in recent years because she has sent me links so that I can view them on their company websites.

The prices of Kat’s purchases are beyond what many of us usually pay for new clothes. But if you think in terms of “cost per wearing,” paying a higher price may be a good investment. For instance, if you buy a jacket and wear it often for 25 years, you can afford to pay more than for a lesser quality that won’t hold up for more than three or four seasons.

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone

|| 7 February 2023

Retinol Creams

Oh dear! I am looking old.

Partly this is the fault of my wretched cat who has taken to waking me up hourly during the night. By 3:30 AM, I have exhausted my ability to go back to sleep after these disturbances. Not only am I not getting enough hours of sleep for good health, but the quality of sleep I do get is poor. Kitty is soon to be sleeping on an electrically heated pad in a “cat tent” on the back patio.

Partly I am looking old because I am only a little over a year away from being 80. But, happily these days we have so many products to help counter Nature’s signs of ageing.

Since 2019, retinol, a type of retinoid, a derivative of vitamin A, has been available without prescription in various creams, gels, and other products to help with the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and with skin texture and color: those signs of advancing years Nature bestows on our faces.

The website healthline has conveniently provided us with a list of 14 Best Retinol Creams of 2023. Banishing Kitty to the back patio and improving my sleep will help counter the toll poor/lack of sleep has taken on my face. But a retinol product might be helpful in countering Nature’s ravages.

14 Best Retinol Creams of 2023

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone