Hear me! Hear me! Actually, hear the audiobook of, “Finding Paris” narrated by award winning narrator, Jane Oppenheimer! Can you believe my luck! Her versatile vocal cords have brought to life many a character in all types of genres from Southern Belles to Cockney Curmudgeons and now they’ll grace the voices of Kathy and Julia as they “marche dans les rues de Paris!” You can find it now on audible.com!
Now that I’m done writing/editing/publishing/promoting my book, “Finding Paris: The Novel”, I’ve had some free time on my hands so I thought I’d crack open my kid’s elementary school watercolor set from years back and brush up on my painting skills (brush up…painting…get it?…yeah…seems I need to brush up on my humor as well). It’s been hard trying to mix the right colors and not have them run nilly-willy all over the page, but I’ve been enjoying it. I’ve even challenged myself to draw one picture a day which gives the illusion that I’ve actually accomplished something in the day. I made an art account which you can follow on Instagram @Jolikestodoodle. If you start a creative endeavor, LMK and I’ll follow you too!
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Before the world turned to COVID crap, I used to work-out. I went to the gym with my gal-pals and squatted my way to a semblance of a feminine form. I took advantage of living walking distance to a hiking trail with lovely flowers and spanning views. But now the gyms are a solid no-no on the COVID Richter scale and the trail is filled with anti-maskers who huff and puff their invisible germs at me despite my death-ray glares.
I’ve tried to keep my work-out momentum going with walks around the neighborhood but between the scalding heatwaves and the recent California fires that turned the air into an ashtray, I’m now on home confinement. Combine that with my newly acquired sourdough bread making skills and the discovery of Epicurus, the hidden gem French market with authentic fleur de sel butter to go atop my scrumptious carb filled creation, and my muscles are now as toned as Nickelodeon slime.
Oh how I envy women like Adele and Rebel Wilson who turned COVID lemons into low-cal lemon water and whittled their way to their new svelte forms. They were able to work-out despite the heat, the smoke and the sourdough, and I applaud them. Sure they have personal trainers, professional home gyms and gourmet chefs, all of which make their journey far easier to follow than your average Jo(anne), but I guess I’m sounding as bitter as those lemons.
With any luck, the air will clear and the heat will cool and soon I’ll be walking around my hood once again. And later, with the help of a vaccine, the gyms will re-open and the virus will disappear. Only then will I be able to squat and hike my way back to my pre-pandemic form. Well, maybe not quite the same form. After all, I’ll still have the sourdough and fleur de sel to contend with and, unlike the virus, that shit ain’t goin’ anywhere!
As I hunker down in my Los Angeles home, afraid to go outside due to the record breaking heat (115 yesterday?!?) and the dangers of inhaling due to the surrounding California fires, you can understand my need for a mental prozac. And what better prozac than reminiscing about my croissant making class at La Cuisine Paris several years back. Ooooo, I can almost smell the butter! While Paris understandably wants nothing to do with us due to our stupid high COVID rates, I thought I’d bring the class to you and share a few things I learned.
You need the skills of an origami master to properly fold the la pâte levée feuilletée (croissant dough). There’s the envelope fold, the double fold and of course, the precise rolling technique needed to form the classic croissant shape.
If the croissant is made with margarine, as it was during the war when butter was rationed, the ends are curved. With butter, they’re straight.
There are twenty six beautiful layers in a croissant, each one sandwiched between the exact amount of butter before baking off in the scalding oven.
There is no such thing as a chocolate croissant in Paris. It’s called a Pain au Chocolat.
It takes two days to make a proper croissant!
If you’re also in need of a mental prozac, read my new book, Finding Paris and escape to La Cuisine Paris for both a croissant and a macaron class! Bon appetit!
You may remember yesterday I went to Paris, (or at least a nearby French market). Well, today, along with my daughter, I traveled all the way to Mayberry! Yes, THAT Mayberry, where Barney and Aunt Bea would shoot the breeze with Gomer and Floyd. And the best part is, Mayberry is a mere six minute drive from my home in L.A.! Who knew that just a short ways round the fillin’ station and a right at the ol’ fork in the road is the Andy Griffith lake, the same place where Pa and Opie would fish for hours in the cee-ment pond (oh tarnation, I’m getting my classic TV shows mixed up).
It truly is a a gem of a spot with towering pine trees, chirping birds, a soft breeze, and a big ol’ tootin’ mansion on top of the hill (it still is LA after all). There’s a small pond on one side packed full of quacking ducks and chirping frogs, and the other is the large lake, big enough for all types of shenanigans that can happen between a father and son in the fictional town of Mayberry.
I may bitch a lot about the smog and traffic, but I’ve had some great La La Land moments here as well. I’ve gone out with a member of “The Partridge Family,” shared a bonding moment with a Kardashian, I’ve been Pee Wee Herman’s assistant, worn a sequined gown to the Oscars and had Mick Jagger sing me Happy Birthday at a trendy L.A. nightspot. But, right now, with the horrors of COVID, the bitter election, the racial unrest, the “unsurvivable” hurricane and…wait…are we done with the whole killer hornet thing?…shootin’ the breeze with my kid while watching the ripples of the water gently wash up on shore, it just be my favorite La La Moment of all. I’m transported to another time, a better time, a simpler time. And if you press the PLAY tab below and close your eyes, I’m sure you’ll be transported there as well.
Ooo la la, I just came back from France! Well, maybe not France exactly, but the closest thing you can find in L.A.! I took a jaunt to Epicurus Gourmet, a little French market my friend Cindy has been telling me about for years. God knows I got nothing but time these days, so I grabbed my keys and headed off to the anal sphincter of the San Fernando Valley, an area known for buildings supplies and bags of meth (that is how they sell meth, right?).
I passed the place twice, looking for a storefront that didn’t exist. Instead, I tracked down the market housed in the back of a warehouse district, no doubt where the meth is cooked (that is how they make meth, right?). The only clue that I was even in the right place was a sign above a metal security door, hands down the worst curb appeal I’ve ever seen. But once I passed through the bars and into the warehouse itself, I was greeted by the soothing sound of Edith Piaf singing “La Vie en Rose” which transformed the sterile environment into “le French marché”!
There were rows and rows of glorious pantry items…a whole section devoted to different types of salts, another to a vast variety of honey, ones with chocolates and crackers and jams…oh my! And then there was the refrigerated section where I drooled my way through the butters and cheeses to the lardon and sausages, leaving my mark like a snail does on the sidewalk. They even had a freezer with authentic French baguettes, no doubt fired off in a Parisian oven that morning and flown first class via Air France, the beloved breads sipping on rosé and reading my new book, “Finding Paris: The Novel” (yup, shameless self-promotion).
I’m now back from my sojourn, and while I may not have jet lag or a new stamp on my passport, I do have glorious souvenirs such as chestnut cream and white truffle butter to remind me of my voyage. If you’re in need of a little foie gras or duck pâte to push you through the pandemic, allez to Epicurus Gourmet at 12140 Sherman Way, North Hollywood… à bientôt mes amis!
Ugh! August! It’s the worst. The absolute worst. It gets so hot where I live, it’s like walking on the surface of the sun. How can the temperature rise so high, and how can things live when it does? Tender little dog paws should ignite in flames when they walk the sidewalks, and birds should fall from the sky, their carcasses seeping into the sizzling hot asphalt when they land.
Some people don’t mind the heat. They enjoy a good sweat and relaxing in the sun. Others prefer the chill of winter. Me? I’m not a fan of either extreme. I actually only have a three degree window of comfort, that of between 72-75. That’s it. Outside of that window I’m either shivering or melting, all the while bitching about the brutal weather.
I know things are only going to get worse. With global warming, every summer will get a little bit hotter and last a little bit longer. Lucky for me I’m old. Sure my wrinkles are so deep I can hide a few snacks in the folds, and my chin hairs are so long I can French braid them for special occasions, but I take comfort knowing that soon, my days of dealing with heat waves will be over. That’s because I’ll be dead, my body resting comfortably in the cool, cool earth that lay six feet below the surface. On a scalding day like today, I’m actually looking forward to it.
I’m new to this self-promotion world. My other dozen or so books were put out by traditional publishing houses who did all the promotion for me. They marketed my books and got me on radio shows and TV shows, including the TODAY show! I mean, come on! That’s about as high as an author can soar! Back in the good ol’ days, the authors wrote the books and the publicity experts spread the word. Back then, no one cared if I had a strong social media presence and thousands of twitter followers.
But, like iPods and Bradgelina, those things are gone forever. No matter if I self publish or go through a publishing house, I’m expected to market my own book. So I’ve been building up my social media followers and pursing podcasts and other things that are way outside my comfort zone. So when I made my author page on Facebook (author Joanne Kimes…see, I just marketed myself), I noticed a “promote” tab and was intrigued. Could it be that easy? I simply press a simple button and all my promotional needs are met?
So I did. I pressed that simple button but there was nothing simple about it. I spent the next two hours desperately trying to make an ad for my book, figuring out how to get the “shop” tab instead of the “like” tab, getting my pitch in under my 60 space allotment, setting my daily budget and honing in on my audience. In frustration, I gave up, watched an episode of “The Waltons” and tried again (if they can live through a depression and a world war, I can surely get through the hell of making a FB ad).
I took a deep breath, logged in and pressed “promote again,” only this time, I somehow actually ordered my ad…but without writing my pitch, setting my budget or picking my demographics! I don’t know what the hell ad I even posted! With no human to talk to, no working FB link to cancel the ad (see above picture when I tried) I was horrified, desperate to cling to the bosom of Mama Walton for comfort.
So, if you happen to get an ad on your FB feed for my book, please send me a screenshot so I stand a chance of getting back the thousands of dollars FB is no doubt charging me.
Like I previously mentioned, I haven’t written a word on my blog for years. So, now that I’m getting reacquainted with it, pressing tabs I haven’t pressed for eons, I notice that I have many unanswered comments…and amazing comments at that! But, they remain unanswered because I never saw them! If any of you amazing subscribers previously commented on a post and I never wrote you back, PLEASE forgive me and give me a second chance! I couldn’t be more sorry. Here are some cyber pastries from me to you. Enjoy!