April 21, 2018

Mes GRANDES Nouvelles: Fleur de St. Louis is going to France!

Here I am in the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris this past summer, the day of my engagement to Tony.  ♥ Paris had my heart well before that trip, and now it is a city that means more to me than I ever imagined it could. 


Just before the arrival of 2018, I posted 12 Dreams for Doing in the new year. Among them: making it back not only to Paris but to other parts of France, and trying a little solo travel. Today I am beyond thrilled to share mes GRANDES nouvelles, my big news, with you! As of a few weeks ago, these dreams have become my reality and I will be spending the 2018-2019 school year teaching English to primary students in the Académie de Amiens (a school district north of Paris). For me, the opportunity to join my passion for teaching with my passion for the French language and culture is truly a dream come true. 

Spending an extended period truly immersing myself in France has always been my dream, but the journey to arrive at this point began about three years ago when I started paying attention to my inner voice, honoring that my passion for all things French was more than a hobby on the side. It became important to me that I find ways to integrate my passion into my every days and I became very intentional about making that happen. Getting back into my studies of the French language at the Alliance Française de St. Louis was a start, followed by the creation of this blog and the decision to finish my degree en français.

I believe that if you follow your dreams, doors will openIt was because I chose to commence with these endeavors that I learned about TAPIF, a Teaching Assistant Program in France. This program would allow me to spend 7 months teaching English while living in France. My first thought: this sounds amazing, but could I really do this? And then I couldn't stop thinking about it. 

I casually mentioned it to Tony, and his immediate response was that this would be an incredible opportunity that he knew I would really enjoy. From that moment, he has been my biggest supporter and source of encouragement. To know that I get to marry someone who believes in my dreams as much as I do has made my heart so incredibly full. While this is something I am very much doing for myself, it is also an experience we are thrilled about as a couple. Tony will be visiting me in France several times (we already have one of his tickets!). We are so grateful for this opportunity to continue to travel the world together. He knows that when it is time to take a big leap towards his dreams, I will be right there by his side. We will be taking this year to chase dreams and travel, followed by our wedding in 2019. I can only imagine what the future holds for us.☺

I don't say bon voyage until September, and there are many preparations that will occur in the meantime. I will be sharing my journey to France and in France here on the blog if you are interested in following along! There is much more to come!

Warmest of wishes from me to you 
as I celebrate this next chapter of my journey,


April 13, 2018

le weekend à Chicago

*All opinions and recommendations shared in this post are mine and mine alone, shared out of a genuine desire to share my love of all things French. 

It was almost a year ago that I posted about a weekend in Chicago with a little French flair. Tony and I have made several visits to the windy city since, but this last weekend in Chi was particularly full of the French flair que j'adore. ♥ I was amazed at the quality experiences we got out of a 24 hour get-away. 

Where we stayed: I had recently heard about the Sofitel in Chicago as Rebecca of Every Day Parisian reviewed their restaurant, Café des Architects. When we found a room on Priceline for less than $100 we couldn't pass up the chance. The Sofitel is designed by a French architect,  and seeks to bring "Parisian savoir-faire to Chicago". We were greeted with a bonjour from Chloé who got us all checked into our room with a view and gave me an authentic opportunity to parler en français. Even the room was adorned with petit French touches including an issue of France-Amérique and bath products by Lanvin. While we didn't eat at the restaurant this trip, it's on the list for future visits along with the Petit Margeaux at the Waldorf Astoria. 

A few special events: A good hotel deal is enough of an excuse for us to spend a weekend in the city, but it was doubly exciting that Jesse Kanelos Weiner of the Francofly was hosting a watercolor workshop at one of my favorite Chicago bookstores, Read It & Eat. (It is at this same shop where I heard Lindsey Tramuta speak about her book, The New Paris.) If you've been following along you know I dabble with watercolor. I have a style that isn't at all based in any official technique, so it was a lot of fun to learn more about light, shadow, and the use of complimentary colors from Jesse. 

I saw Jesse again on Saturday where she had a book signing and discussion with Rebecca (I mentioned her and her blog above) at 57th Street Books. Her latest book Paris in Stride is choc full of her beautiful watercolor illustrations, and features different self-guided walking tours that can jump start your days in Paris. My favorite thing about Jesse's book is that she gives you a place to begin and encourages your own exploration from there. It's truly a chance to be a flâneur. While Lindsey's book sheds light on the new, Jesse keeps her Paris walks a bit more timeless. The books are beautiful companions for planning a trip to Paris with a balance of both.


During the discussion Jesse described what she loves most about living in France. She highlighted the work/life balance, the value of time for family and leisure, and the ability to simply slow down. I truly admire the way Jesse took her passion and made it her career. She shared advice about being your own person and pursuing your passion by working toward it little by little, every day. This is advice I very much cherish and wanted to pass along to you!

A few more tastes of France in Chicago: Ever since we first visited La Fournette, an authentic French bakery in Old Town, no visits are complete without it. I changed up my order this time, adding a raisin roulade to my traditional croissant aux amandes. The roulade will definitely become a part of my regular order. It was absolument délicieux. 

What's more? I finally made it to Vosges Haut-Chocolat for a decadent chocolat chaud. I was purchasing a bag of their matcha petites on the way out and ran into Rebecca in the shop! Connecting with Rebecca and Jesse, two people who very much share my interests and passions, was a joy.

Do you seek out a French connection when you travel? I would love to hear about where you've been and the touches of French flair you've discovered.

Warm wishes and bon weekend from me to you,


April 1, 2018

Joyeux Anniversaire, Fleur de St. Louis! (Celebrating 1 Year)

March 31, 2018

Il y avait un an. A year ago today I chose to commence and started Fleur de St. Louis. The name is a play on the fleur de lis, an iconic symbol of France and St. Louis, Missouri, my hometown and a city with much French heritage. In French, St. Louis is pronounced "san lou-ee". With this pronunciation in mind Fleur de St. Louis rolled right off of my tongue. As I began writing, the meaning behind the name developed. I came to think of myself as the flower of St. Louis, this blog a part of my blooming process. I developed the subtitle: where wellness, learning and creativity flourish (with a little French flair), and this blog became a place of continued growth and opportunity.  

Click the image for a link to its source.

Today I have enjoyed looking back on the letter I wrote exactly one year ago. In it I pay homage to one of my biggest sources of inspiration, Shannon Ables of the Simply Luxurious Life. While I am budding, Shannon is in full bloom (and becoming more vibrant each day). Learning from her journey, I went back to her archives to find one of her very first "blogiversary" posts.  The post, celebrating her second year, is over 6 years old. In the post she writes:
"I can say with all certainty that by being true to what I love... I have created a better and most fulfilling life for myself that excites me as I move forward. This, dear readers, is what I wish for you as well." 
Shannon's blog is still going strong. She has 12.8k Instagram followers, an incredible podcast, a published book (that is also available in audio), a vodcast in the works, and more. It is people like Shannon that continue to inspire me along this growth journey.

So how have I flourished over the course of this year? Fleur de St. Louis has over 100 published posts and over 25,000 page views. I can only hope that those clicks have left readers feeling inspired to nurture their very own growth journeys. 

A year ago I was getting back to my French language studies. Today I am nearly half way done with the 18 credit hours I needed to complete my French BA. A year ago I was hoping to connect with francophiles close to home like Rebecca Plotnick of Every Day Parisian. This coming weekend I finally get the chance to meet her at an event in Chicago. A year ago I was hoping to travel in France. Today I remember this past summer in Paris and am making plans to be back in a country that so inspires me. In being true to what I love, I too am creating a life that fulfills and excites me. 

Some of my favorite posts from this first year:

A Très Chic Morning Routine - This most read post featuring New Zealand francophile, author and blogger Fiona Ferris got me my first shout out. Merci, Fiona, for spreading the Fleur de St. Louis love on your beautiful blog, How to be Chic

Follow Your Dreams and Doors Will Open

Absolument, Oui! - It's impossible to celebrate this year without mentioning my Parisian engagement to my best friend. It was so fun to have this space as a place to share this milestone in our journey of growth together. 

This year I have learned so much about myself. I have learned that I can only take on so much at once, and that I truly value quality over quantity. In the spirit of the flower and being organic, I have learned to be better about letting things flow and trusting the journey. This journey has already taken me places I never imagined, and I can't wait to see what this next year has in store. It might involve taking a leap of faith just as I took in starting this blog, but as I wrote in my 50th post, what may seem overwhelming or "scary" at first might end up being the best thing I've ever done. Only time will tell.

Merci de tout mon coeur, thank you with all of my heart for being a part of this journey with me. As has become my signature send off, warm wishes from me to you. ♥ Let the next chapter begin! 

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