Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

It’s been 3 years since I visited my family in France and I’m way overdue. So I took the plunge and booked a ticket (slowing down and asking myself what’s really important) and I leave in 2 weeks. I’ll be staying in the studio my dad keeps near Bastille. It’s in this amazing old courtyard where I spent my earliest years, have my earliest memories and where I lived when I was 20. (also, it was featured in this movie).

That’s me with my dad in the courtyard before my parents split up and my mom and I moved to LA. My parents’ old apartment was sold to the designer Paola Navone a couple years ago. She renovated it and got a ton of press (here). Here are some pics of it when it was under construction (here).

The studio we still have is on the floor above that apartment and is teeny tiny but has a beautiful view and good neighbors. I guess you could call it a pied-a-terre if you wanted to make it sound fancier than it is. It just got streamlined so I’ll take pics when I get there. We still have the house in Provence but I probably won’t have a chance to make it there on this trip.

I’m planning on working on a couple of special assignments while I’m away. I’m almost as booked as I want to be but If you’re looking for a photographer in Paris (or London) between Oct 20 -Nov 10, you can email me laure (at) laurejoliet (dot) com.

I’ll also be updating my various guides to paris I wrote a couple years ago.

What would you guys like to see from Paris?


Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

My French grandfather, Bernard, was in the business of textiles in France in the 60′s and 70′s. Apparently he was big enough that someone decided he was worth a little magazine spread. My mom just dug up the clipping. We figured it must be 1980 because, that’s me as a bebe! (I got my 15 minutes of fame over with early, to take the pressure off).

This was their house in the Dordogne. I have vague vague recollections of being there. But I recognize some of the furniture from their house now. And I kind of wish I had that table and those pendants…and that whole house. This clipping is totally going into the box of memories.

my dad’s favorite store in paris

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

It’s where the rugs in the house in mexico came from. Dad loves the briht colors, fun patterns and low low prices. La Compagnie du Sénégal et de l’Afrique de l’Ouest is in the 3rd arrondisement in Paris, but you can also order things online. Dad sent these images the other day along with a bunch of others seemingly designed to make me feel jealous (?).

oh, and now he’s in Portugal, in case you weren’t jealous yet.

scavenger hunt

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

We put together a scavenger hunt for my aunt last week. My Aunt had said no gifts so we did this instead and spent around $10/each. It involved clues, fun toys and decorations from china town, a terrarium, monkeys and silly paper hats that we all wore (including a giant one for the lalanne gorilla). The grand finale was a pinata filled with plastic army soldiers, glow sticks, easter eggs and toy dinosaurs.

(It was pretty dark so I didn’t shoot many pictures).

making croissants from scratch

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

I have wanted to make croissants from scratch at least once in my life. I feel it is my duty as a partially french person. So enlisting the help of friends, an absurd amount of butter, so much waiting, and about 48 hours, we made croissants. We also threw in some pains au chocolat and pains aux raisins for good measure. What follows is our process. It’s going to be long, so get comfy! The recipe is at the end if you ever care to do it yourself. It’s not really hard just incredibly time consuming. I will say that it’s worth it and that I will probably never do it again.

We used this incredibly classic, and dog eared patisserie book and translated not only the french to english but the grams to cups. At times it was not pretty. I love all the notations written on the side and all the history you could feel. The book belongs to my friend’s french mom and she’s used it for ages.

The actual assembly of the dough is not complicated. You mix three bowl of different simple ingredients and then combine them. It’s everything after that point that makes you feel incompetent.

So here is the dough. Now comes the fun part of letting it rise, rolling it out, cooling it, rolling it, adding loads of butter and then repeating.

Yeah, that’s butter. And only half of what you ultimately use.

This is the folding step (you can see that the butter has been spread out to form a thin layer over 2/3rds of the dough. The part that’s being folded over does not have butter (in case you’re actually making the recipe. Then you would roll it out in front of you, not side to side).

Once you do all the waiting and rolling cooling and folding and waiting you’ll be at this step (approximately 24 hours, you can see the butter step was at night and the rolling out was in the morning). Here is where you use even more muscle and you roll the dough out super thin and cut it into triangles to actually make the croissants!.

Rolling them up was super fun, who knew it would ultimately be so simple!

You arrange them on a baking sheet, brush them with some egg to make them shiny and then let them rise in a warm spot (if you have a gas oven with a pilot, then stick them in the oven where it’s perfectly dry and warm) for an hour.

then if you’re us, you also add in some pains au chocolat (basically you cut a rectangle and sprinkle some chocolate chips and roll them up) and some pains aux raisins (Almond paste and soaked raisins that you spread out onto the dough, roll up and then slice like cinammon rolls).

Here they are all puffed up from being warm for an hour and now they’re ready to bake!


Croissants From Scratch
(Disclaimer: If you have a kitchen scale I highly recommend using the grams measurements as it seems like some of my conversions might be off!)

Ingredients (clustered for a reason)
20 G (4tsp) yeast
50 G (3 Tbsp) sugar
2 Tbsp Milk
15 G salt (1 Tbsp)

40 G Melted butter (2 1/2 tbsp)
120 G Water (1/2 Cup)
120 Milk (1/2 Cup)

500 G wheat flour (4 Cups)
260 G butter (room temp) (1 Cup)
1 egg


1. Dissolve yeast with 2 tbsp room temp water, set aside
2. Mix sugar, salt and milk together, set aside
3. Mix butter, water, milk in a pan over low heat.

The process:

1. In a stand mixer or with a wooden spoon mix the flour with the sugar, salt and milk mixture. Once well mixed add in the butter water and milk mixture. Combine and add yeast last. When the dough separates from the sides of the mixing bowl it’s ready.

2. Place the bowl of dough in a warm spot of the kitchen, cover with a wet cloth and allow the dough to double in size, about an hour.

3. Sprinkle an 8×10 (or close) baking dish with flour and mold the dough into it (you’ll need the shape later for rolling out) and put it covered in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours, or until stiff.

4. Divide the butter into two equal amounts, set one half aside.

5. Remove the dough from the fridge and on a floured surface with a rolling pin (and some muscle) roll it out into a rectangle about a 1/4″ thick. Spread one portion of the butter over the left 2/3rds of the rolled out dough. (the butter should be softer than the dough so that it spreads easily).

6. Fold the dough in three starting with the 1/3rd on the right that has no butter. (like folding a letter in thirds, see picture above). Roll the dough out away from you and not side to side.

7. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and fold it in three again and roll it out to the approximate size of the baking pan. Wrap the dough in a dry dishtowel and place it in the baking dish and back in the fridge for at least 2 hours or ideally overnight.

8. Take the dough out of the fridge and repeat steps 5 -7 but instead of placing back in the baking pan, place the dough on a floured baking sheet and place, covered with the dishtowel, in the fridge for an hour.

9. Take the dough out and roll it out on a floured surface to 1/8″ thickness (90×30 cm rectangle) (35×12 inches). Cut the dough in half along the length.

10. Cut each half into 12-15 triangles keeping the base narrow. Starting with the base, roll each triangle into croissant shape.

11. Place the croissants on a greased baking sheet leaving space for each to rise. Brush the tops with egg (this gives it the shine)

12. If your oven has a pilot light then stick the baking sheet of croissants in the oven to rise for 2 hours. If you don’t have a pilot light in the oven then find a warm spot in the house.

13. Preheat the oven to 200C (390F) (not if the croissants are rising inside it though).

14. Brush on one more layer of egg and put the tray in the oven for 15 minutes. It’s best to keep your eye on them towards the end so that they don’t burn.

Voila! Croissants!

elle decor + frog chair

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

wow, what a nice surprise to be featured on elle decor’s design insider’s weekly finds! Thanks, Emma at marion house book for the shout out! And just for you, here is the unveiling of the lalanne crapaud in my living room. Sure, it’s a little tight, but I think it’s working.

claude et francois xavier lalanne

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

As I may have mentioned, I am half french. And my french side is full of prolifically talented artists. My grandmother was a weaver who had a retrospective at the Pomidou, her husband a modern architect, and her sister and brother in law made up the artistic team known as: claude and francois xavier lalanne.

Growing up, I was heavily influenced by trips to france visiting my grandmother and claude and francois. Claude and Francois lived in an old stone house outside of paris with a courtyard and a cutting garden, their sculptures embedded into the environment.

The workshop was adjoined to the house and everything about their life was an expression of creativity. It was not about knowing the right people (although man did they actually know all the right people) or owning the right things. They were blazing their own path and the focus was on their work and on quality of life (they were the best cooks).

Everything was beautiful. Everything was a moment.

My new nephew is Claude’s great grandson and so she came for a visit last week. It was wonderful to see her in california and she surprised me with a very special gift. A crapaud of my own. She even apologized for it not being the green one that I prefer (it reminds me of my grandmother who had the green one in her home) but the brown one instead.

I am seriously touched since their presence in my life has meant so much to me. It makes me feel like a real part of the family and it’s basically just incredible to be handed such an important heirloom. It arrived from france and is sitting in my apartment; gleaming and beautiful and a reminder of so much more.

so merci, claude. je t’embrasse.

(Images are from their catalogs or are my own. The interior with the crocodile chair is from Vogue Living and the one above is obviously from Life)


Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Went to Bonpoint for some last minute gifts for my cousin who’s about to have a baby. The brand is classic french and filled with high quality (I mean heirloom quality, really) clothes and blankets that will last for generations of babies. I still have a couple sweaters from when I was a wee thing.

baby shower

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

I’m going to be a (sort of) aunt soon! I don’t have siblings so I blackmail my cousins into promising that their children will never know that I’m not a real aunt. Here comes the first one. The baby shower was this past weekend — I made terrariums for the table and Ariel made incredible food (how much do I love cheese).

Em is about 7 months along and freaked out that she’s huge but of course she isn’t.

Only she and louis know if the baby is a girl or a boy so everything had to be unisex. I got the baby this mobile and some wooden cars (I’m sure it’s a boy). But I loved this gift wrapped in black and white stripes with an embroidered yellow ribbon.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

I found an apartment to move into of my very own thus ending this 4 month ‘in between’ period of dealing with breaking up with E and living with my French Aunt Marie in Venice, back in a house I lived in when I was 10. I’m looking forward to moving to a new part of town and sharing my travails with a new challengingly small apartment. But for now…

Marie makes cookies at least once a week. These are her famous chocolate chip cookies (basically because of her chocolate chips. She won’t divulge the recipe but I will share my favorite all time recipe for chocolate chip cookies instead:

The Famous NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies from a couple of years ago. The trick is to let the dough rest for 36 hours. And you make a slightly larger cookie. I still have people tell me that they are the best cookies they’ve had in recent memory. That’s good enough for me.