Lifestyle

Crêpes & Hazelnut Spread by Notre-Dame: An Airbnb Online Experience

Megan, The Classic Editrix

I started to prepare for “Crêpes & Hazelnut Spread by Notre-Dame” well before I officially signed up. Deciding what pan to buy was the most challenging issue to resolve. The Airbnb listing instructed participants to bring a frypan to the experience, but I knew not just any pan would do. After enlisting the help of a friend (an expert crêpe maker), I decided on a carbon steel De Buyer pan. I seasoned it (a new process for me) just before joining my host Christopher on Zoom. It was 11:30 PM in Paris and 5:30 PM in Philadelphia. We were the only two people on the call, which I was pleasantly surprised to discover. I’ve participated in enough Airbnb Online Experiences to know that hosts will often offer single participants alternative group meeting times to avoid rolling out the red carpet for an audience of one.

Chris mainly conducts private group cooking classes but will periodically open listings up to individuals. Thus, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to cook with him. My host and I talked a lot about crêpes—their history, their varieties, the technique one should employ whilst cooking them—but we also discussed France’s second Covid lockdown, the proper food education we received from our mothers, and our common goal to enjoy life. My crêpes and hazelnut spread turned out well. I’m eager to perfect my technique, but first, I’ll have to recruit some friends to enjoy them.

Works Sighted

J.Crew ruffle sleeve tee (old); crêpe with hazelnut spread by me

Hazelnut spread by Chris

A fabulous day in Paris with a Parisian: An Airbnb Online Experience

The Louvre pyramid (by I. M. Pei) at night.

I often imagine myself back in Paris. I don’t mean the lockdown version. I mean the Paris where one can flâner without attestation papers. Strolling the Covid-free, virtual city with our guide Herbert was a real treat. My tour group visited le musée du Louvre, le Palais-Royal, les Jardins du Trocadéro, and le Moulin Rouge to name a few sights. Herbert is not a typical guide. He and his colleagues teach their guests about French culture and challenge them to think deeply about the value of their social interactions. Since I’ve learned French from a French person, I’m versed in this topic. In fact, I find it refreshing to acknowledge someone with a “bonjour” or “bonsoir” at the beginning of every conversation. I often greet my English-speaking friends with these very words. They’ve come to accept my French soul.

One thing I learned from Herbert: how to plan the perfect Parisian picnic. You’ll recall that dining outside was one of my summer goals. Well, Herbert gave me a bit of insider knowledge to mull over. I’ll be an expert at hosting meals outside by spring 2021. I enjoyed A fabulous day in Paris with a Parisian so much that I’d like to repeat it. I’ll have to come up with an excuse to book a private group—perhaps a birthday. I’ve even suggested it to my work colleagues as a team building exercise. But, let me not get ahead of myself; I’m making crêpes next.

Works Sighted: A rainy night at the Louvre (December 2013)

Bake French Pastries in Paris: An Airbnb Online Experience

Choux Pastry (Pâte à Choux)

My first virtual day in Paris was spent making chouquettes via an Airbnb Online Experience hosted by Carlos of Aten-Te Aute. I signed up for “Bake French Pastries in Paris” even though I’m not skilled at waking up early on weekends. The class started at 9:00 AM Philadelphia time (2:00 PM in Paris). Not only was I awake and presentable when logging in to the Zoom meeting, but I also had all of my ingredients measured before the start of class…mise en place, as they say in the culinary world.

Aten-Te Aute offers several online cooking classes, but I couldn’t have been more pleased with the one that I purchased. It was my friend B. who suggested that we attend the experience together (which we did). She’s been meaning to perfect her pâte à choux technique. The third guest also joined us from Philadelphia. Carlos was a welcoming host. His backdrop, a colorful depiction of a lively, but intimate, café scene, created a cosy ambience. He checked our progress after each step; no one was left behind. On account of his knowledge and anecdotes of Parisian life, I’d like to take another cooking class with him. Carlos’s composed teaching demeanor made me feel calm and confident in the task at hand. I wouldn’t say that I’ve had as much French culinary training as Sabrina (played by Audrey Hepburn) in the 1954 movie of the same name, but I left the class with a newly acquired skill and a plate full of savory chouquettes to show for my hard work.

Packing for Paris

Trench coat, blazer, striped shirts, slim pants, A-line skirts, cashmere sweater, button-up, ballet flats, Veja Sneakers, boxy leather bag, and a cashmere scarf.

Paris is my second favorite city (surpassed only by London), and I’m heading there now. Goodbye Palombara Sabina. Thank you Nonna Angela and Mariana for my incredible stay. Let my virtual trip around the world continue! Here’s my itinerary of Airbnb Online Experiences:

My virtual suitcase is packed. Allons-y!

Works Sighted

J.Crew Factory schoolboy blazer; J.Crew 2011 icon coat; Italic Annie mini trunk bag; Cuyana alpaca scarf (heather light grey)

Everlane modern Breton tee; J.Crew Martie pant (navy); Veja Campo

J.Crew striped boatneck tee; J.Crew Martie pant (black); Margaux Demi flats (cerulean)

Eric Bompard classic V-neck pullover; Grace Karin vintage pleated A-line midi skirt (black); Margaux Demi flats (black)

Hinson Wu Isabella White Stretch Cotton Tunic; Grace Karin vintage pleated A-line midi skirt (navy); Repetto Lou ballerinas (lux patent leather beige)

Pasta with the Grandmas: An Airbnb Online Experience

Antimo Caputo 00 flour; eggs; Corelle bowl; Anchor Hocking measuring cup; Trader Joe’s Tunisian fouta towel.

“Making Pasta with the Grandmas” offers virtual cooking classes for various types of pasta. Each Zoom meeting is hosted by one of five Italian grandma/granddaughter duos. My lasagna class began with lively Italian music and was lead by Nonna Angela and her granddaughter Mariana. The event started at 5:00 PM Philadelphia time. Palombara Sabina was six hours ahead, but the time difference didn’t show on the presenters’ faces. Nonna Angela was an attentive instructor, and Mariana translated the directions for the nine guests in an upbeat manner.

In an effort to bring Italy to their students, the hosts played a video montage containing footage from the in-person version of the experience and scenes from the town. I imagined that the stunning Lazio landscape was right outside my window. We rolled dough by hand, made sauce from scratch, and, an hour and a half later, finally put our creations in the oven. The guests thanked Nonna Angela and Mariana for the delightful evening, releasing them from their teaching duties. My husband and I enjoyed our lasagna with salad, Chianti Classico, and S.Pellegrino. Dinner was straight from Italy.

I’ve spent a bit of time researching Palombara Sabina. Here are a few sights that piqued my interest:

Works Sighted: Antimo Caputo 00 flour; eggs; Corelle bowl; Anchor Hocking measuring cup; Trader Joe’s Tunisian fouta towel

An Introduction to dōTERRA Essential Oils

Doterra essentials oils: lavender, peppermint, DigestZen, lemon, On Guard.

I was first introduced to essential oils in March 2018 at a dōTERRA demonstration. My friend K., a natural party planner, hosted the event at her house. Guests were greeted by lemon-infused water and a rather pleasant scent emanating from the diffuser. An abundance of snacks, such as lavender muffins, soon followed. My friends and I spent the night on K.’s comfy sofa sampling the thoughtfully-prepared assortment and passing around bottles of wine. J., the product consultant, shared her testament with the group; the oils had helped her recover from numerous medical complications.

Twenty days after attending the demonstration, I purchased the family essentials kit along with individual bottles of lemongrass, thyme, cypress, and fractionated coconut oil. I hadn’t planned on making a purchase so soon, but I encountered a minor health hurdle that needed to be addressed. The oils contributed to the resolution of my issue. Initially, I’d spent a generous amount of time deciding which kit to buy, but the one I selected has proven itself quite essential over the years.

You may be wondering if there is a difference between dōTERRA essential oils and less-expensive ones manufactured by other companies. Allow me to clarify; you get what you pay for. dōTERRA essential oils are pure, which is why they are so versatile. I only use a few drops at a time due to their high potency. Although they have an expiration date, you probably won’t have to worry about that for a few years after placing your order. In this post, I’ll discuss my five most-used essential oils, all of which are included in the aforementioned kit, which, by the way, comes with a useful guide detailing all of the brand’s products.

Lemon / As I write this, I’m making a plan to replace my almost-depleted supply of lemon. I enjoy at least one can of chilled sparkling water every day, and I’ve been flavoring my cans of plain water with a drop of lemon essential oil. It’s cheaper than buying an excessive amount of Spindrift (which I still love but can’t afford to drink like champagne at the club).

Peppermint / When a family member gets a headache, I’ll break out the peppermint, dilute a drop with fractionated coconut oil, and rub it on their forehead. The pain dissipates with a tingling sensation. In the olden days of commuting to work, I’d pass out peppermint beadlets to my friends when they weren’t feeling their best.

Lavender / On nights when I can’t sleep, I fill my diffuser with water and add a few drops of lavender. The calming scent puts me to sleep.

DigestZen / This product is a blend of the following essential oils: anise seed, peppermint plant, ginger rhizome/root, caraway seed, coriander seed, tarragon plant, and fennel seed. When my stomach is upset, I diluted a drop or two of DigestZen in a cup of cool water. This concoction is best consumed at a sipping pace.

On Guard / This product is a blend of these essential oils: wild orange peel, clove bud, cinnamon leaf, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus leaf, and rosemary leaf/flower. It smells like autumn in a bottle. I diffuse this in the air during the day. The idea of boosting my immune system with minimal effort makes me very happy.