Saturday, February 16, 2019

A Little Bit About Me...

Bonjour! You may be wondering just who is this loud, chatty Vicki Lesage. Maybe you heard about one of my books, or maybe you even read one (thanks!). Perhaps you came here to learn a little more about me. Cool.

I'm a 30-something girl from St. Louis who lived in Paris for more than a decade. I'm now back in the suburbs of good ol' St. Louis with my French husband and two kids. We loved living in Paris. We didn't love all cramming in to a one-bedroom apartment. Now we have much more space to cause trouble in!

I wrote a few books about my life in Paris. Feel free to check them out! Petite Confessions is free on Amazon and Confessions & Cocktails is free if you sign up for my newsletter (don't worry, I only send a few newsletters per year).

You can also check out a few of my blog posts or visit me on Facebook. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, February 15, 2019

Fireplace Makeover: Before and After

When we first moved into our house about two years ago, it was pretty much perfect. And not just because it has five bedrooms when my family of four had previously been crammed into a one-bedroom apartment in Paris. (But mostly because of that.)

The most perfect part? My Photoshopped grass.

The house had recently been flipped, so we have a new kitchen, new bathrooms, fresh paint, newly refinished original hardwood floors, and lots of other nice stuff for a house that was built in the 60's.

A shiny new kitchen!

And a shiny new bathroom!

The fireplace, however, is not one of those things. While the exterior of our house has this pretty, classic red brick, the fireplace brick is dark red and brown, and the mortar is dark gray. Add to it the dark mantle and it really brings down the whole room. But that's not the worst part, oh no. The worst part is the unfinished concrete hearth. And not unfinished concrete in a trendy, hipster loft way but rather in a did-they-forget-to-finish-this way.

To make matters worse, the black doors of the fireplace are attached to this contraption that you plug in, which then cycles the heat from the fire throughout the room. Let me tell you something. Ever since the time back in Paris when our brand-new microwave caught on fire and our hot water heater went on the fritz (meaning we had to manually light it every time we needed to use it), I decided I was done with anything to do with gas, matches, or fire. We will not be using this fireplace anytime soon. So that weird contraption? Don't need it. Ugly concrete hearth? That needs to be covered up. Really, the whole dang area needs to be lightened up.

Here's a closer shot of the "before" fireplace

And so we embarked on a very quick, very inexpensive, very satisfying DIY project. We did the following:
  1. Removed the funky heating contraption from the doors
  2. Whitewashed the brick (which involves painting it with this special white paint, then spraying it with water and wiping with a washcloth and repeating until it's the shade you want it)
  3. Painted the mantle and hearth white
I already had a paintbrush and white paint, so I only had to buy the supplies for whitewashing, which were less than $50. Then I dropped another $50 at At Home for the décor on top of the mantle.

And voilà… the result:

It's a little hard to read but the big wooden sign says "Every Hour is Happy Hour" which is part homage to the room the fireplace is in (we call this room "The Pub" because of the pub-height table in it) and part homage to my general love of happy hour (hello, have you read my books?). The smaller metal sign thingy says "love." And the plant is the realest-looking fake plant I've ever seen, which is great because all my real plants are the deadest-looking real plants I've ever seen.

So there you have it! Extreme Home Makeover: Fireplace Edition.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

I'm in Croatia!

A while back I was interviewed by Magda Dežđek of Sensa Magazine, a Croatian women's magazine, about French parenting. Like I know anything! Below are my answers in English, which she then translated into Croatian for the actual article. I hope I'm as funny in Croatian, ha!

View the original article in Croatian

French kids have a reputation of being very well-behaved. Why is that?
I think it’s partly true and partly just reputation. It’s true that at mealtimes you won’t see kids running around restaurants as much (or as loudly) as you would in, say, the U.S. But I’ve definitely seen my fair share of tantrums and naughty attitudes!

Why are French parents so strict?
As an American, I think even my parents were somewhat strict, and their parents even more strict. I feel like only recently have Americans loosened up their parenting styles to what we see today. It seems the French haven’t done that (yet).

What are the most common rules and boundaries (regarding sleeping, eating, playing, manners, studying) that children need to obey?
It seems most French kids have a bedtime that is pretty well adhered-to. You rarely see French kids snacking between meals, and I think that helps them stay behaved during meals because they’re actually hungry and will sit and eat! They almost always say hi, bye, please, and thank you – something their parents do as well, contrary to the stereotype that French people are rude. I don’t know as much about the schoolwork since my kids were 2 and 4 when we moved from France to the U.S.

French parents are not ‘obsessive’ with kids like other European nations. For example, they need to have their “grown up” time in the evening and “grown up space” (so that children’s toys are not allowed in the living room). Can you explain that or maybe give me some examples?
I had always heard this before having my own kids but I never managed to make it work for me! My husband and I are what the French call “fusionnels” with our kids – we make them way too much the center of attention and don’t always leave enough time for our own needs and space. Although when you have four people crammed into a tiny one-bedroom apartment, space is all relative anyway!

Is it true that they don’t hesitate to small acts of violence? And, on what occasions?
It could be true but I haven’t really seen it.

I’ve read also that French kids are more patient (and, even so that they don’t have ADHD like in other countries). How are French parents “training” children’s patience?
If you find someone who knows the answer, could you share it with me? I feel like I observed most other French children having patience but couldn’t figure out what the parents were doing differently than me. Even the parents I asked couldn’t really articulate it. I’m guessing it has something to do with the above, where they (consciously or subconsciously) don’t put the child at the center of everything.

French mothers are not plagued by guilt. They do not spend time second-guessing themselves, how so?
I think a lot of American parents feel they need a “parenting style” and many research a lot before having kids. Whereas I feel like French moms don’t put as much thought into it, they just seem to do whatever their parents did or whatever comes naturally to them as far as parenting. Therefore they don’t feel the need to question it because they’re not even really thinking about it. And it seems to be working for them!

One of your books is about potty training in France, can you tell me more about it?
Sure! I wrote Confessions of a Paris Potty Trainer while I was on bed rest for 14 weeks with my second child. I wanted to write a follow-up to my first book, Confessions of a Paris Party Girl, which was about moving to France and falling in love. Once I had kids, a sequel was a natural step! The book’s title is a bit misleading – my kids were too young to be potty-trained at the time I wrote the book – but the sentiment is still there: It’s all about the ups and downs of having kids in Paris. It’s a mostly humorous account of what I went through, with some heartwarming bits thrown in.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

A new book about Paris...

Do you like reading books about Paris? I assume so, if you're here reading my blog! And while I wish I could say that I had written a new book (I'm still too crazy-busy to give that much attention right now), I did recently publish a book by fellow Francophile author K. S. R. Burns through the boutique publishing house I co-founded, Velvet Morning Press. So if you're looking to set off on another journey to France through the pages of a book, look no further than Paris Ever After!

Paris Ever After is an engaging tale about Amy, a food-obsessed American trying to start a new life in Paris. Much like me when I first moved to Paris! Though Amy's story is fiction, it feels so real. K. S. R. Burns gets even the tiniest details right, painting a vivid picture that drops you right into the sights and sounds of Paris. Just be careful not to step in any dog doo or trip over any cobblestones!

Here is a little more info about this delightful novel:

Find Paris Ever After on Amazon!

Can Amy’s rocky start in Paris turn into a happy ever after?

Amy didn’t realize how stale her life was until she jetted off to Paris without telling a soul—not even her husband—and had the adventure of a lifetime. Now as she tries to establish herself in the City of Light, she finds that despite a fun (and quirky) group of friends and the ability to indulge in French pastries whenever she wants, reinventing her life is much harder than she imagined.

Then on Amy’s thirtieth birthday, two unexpected visitors leave her wondering if she will soon be saying au revoir to Paris and the new life she’s struggled to build. Her estranged husband, Will, shows up—but is he interested in reconciliation or separation? And a young woman who arrives on Amy’s doorstep unleashes chaos that could push Amy out into the street.

As Amy’s Parisian dream starts to fall apart, she must decide: return to the stability of Will and Phoenix (if that’s even still an option) or forge her way forward in Paris? Amid secrets and surprises, set in enchanting gardens, cozy cafés, and glittering Parisian streets, Amy must choose between two very different worlds. And each has a claim on her heart.

Praise for Paris Ever After:

Magnifique! Fall in love with Amy as she stumbles through her new life in Paris, gradually learning what means the most in her unscripted world. Burns’ dry sense of humor and intimate knowledge of Parisian life are woven through the story as perfectly as the Hermès scarf in one of the book's most unforgettable scenes. Heartwarming and full of colorful characters, the surprise-filled narrative is smart, wry and poignant. You won't want to put it down. Five stars!
- Patricia Sands, author of the best-selling Love in Provence series

A roller coaster of a ride, Burns’s Paris Ever After takes us on a fast-paced adventure, the plot plunging through the streets of Paris and right into the hearts of its beautifully flawed characters.  Readers—buckle your seat belts, hang on to your hats, and get ready for unexpected twists and turns. Full of wit and humor, this novel is unputdownable! - Samantha Vérant, author of Seven Letters from Paris and How to Make a French Family

Embark on a new journey … pick up Paris Ever After today!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Confessions of a Paris Party Girl now available in audio!

It's here! Confessions of a Paris Party Girl is now available in audiobook format. Woo hoo!

The narrator, Em Eldridge, did a wonderful job – she sounds more like me than I do! And a big thanks to Tantor Media for producing the audiobook.

If you give it a listen, let me know what you think! Happy listening :)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Confessions of a Paris Party Girl coming soon in audio!

I have some exciting news: Confessions of a Paris Party Girl is being produced as an audio book!

Confessions of a Paris Party Girl coming soon in audio!

I'm thrilled because, as all of us busy people know, there's just not enough time in the day! I love to support other authors' work and travel to different worlds through the pages of a book. But there's also laundry and bills and buying Leo's 8th pair of shoes for the month because that kid is inexplicably rough on shoes.

Enter audiobooks. I listen to them while I run, which has the added benefit of encouraging me to run nearly every day so I can find out what happens next!

So I'm pumped that one of my own books will be available soon in audio format from Tantor Media. I got to pick the narrator (she's awesome!) and production is underway. Stay tuned for a release date!

In the meantime, here are a few of my recommendations for some truly fab audiobooks:

The Martian, by Andy Weir

The narrator, R.C. Bray, nails all the different accents, and you really feel like you're alone on Mars with Mark Watney the whole time you're listening. An incredible experience. No wonder the audiobook won multiple awards!

Yellow Crocus, by Laila Ibrahim

A fantastic book made even better by the talented narration of Bahni Turpin. Her voice shifts seamlessly into different characters, transporting you to another time and another place.

Yes Please, by Amy Poehler

What's better than reading Amy Poehler's hilarious and fascinating book? Listening to her read it to you. I felt like I was hanging out with Amy, you know, just me and my best friend Amy Poehler chatting about really funny stuff. I never wanted it to end!

Happy listening!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Kentucky Derby Party Recipe: Mint Julep Brownies

We were invited to a Kentucky Derby party at my aunt and uncle's house, which was a great excuse to get dressed to the nines (or the sevens or sixes as our case tends to be these days) and throw on some crazy big hats. And we brought some delicious Kentucky Derby-themed Mint Julep Brownies (recipe at the bottom).

But first, photos of the big day:

Say, "Always Dreaming!"

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The New Maison

We've been in the US for a few months now, and in our new house for a few weeks. The kids (and honestly, me too) still call it "the new house" even though now it's really just "the house." I guess we're all still so excited!

So here are some pictures of our new abode:

OK, I *might* have Photoshopped the grass a bit to make it just a smidge greener. But I swear this is what it's gonna look like by the time I'm done with it! I also might have Photoshopped our two fallen shingles back into place. If only the actual fix were that easy...

Monday, November 7, 2016

Je T'aime... Maybe?

A while back, I met up with fellow expat-author-living-in-Paris Lily Heise, who penned Je T'Aime, Me Neither. We had a fab afternoon filled with quite a few drinks and lots of laughs, and wrote about it on our blogs (along with some tips for going out in the Marais).

Now, two years later (how has it been THAT long?!?) she and I are back: Lily with her new book and me to tell you how much I loved it!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

A Birthday + Global Living Magazine

My daughter just celebrated her 2-year birthday, which means it's roughly the 2-year birthday of my second memoir, Confessions of a Paris Potty Trainer, as well! I'd written most of the book while on bed rest and wrapped it up while I was in the hospital after delivering her.

And now, to celebrate (though I'm sure they didn't realize it at the time!), Global Living Magazine has released their Summer 2016 issue, which includes a review of Confessions of a Paris Potty Trainer in their Expat Bookshelf section:

Vicki Lesage leaves you guessing about nothing. If you want to know what it's like to give birth to and raise young children in France as an expat, this book will give it to you straight.

Vicki, an Amazon best-selling author, lives in Paris with her French husband and two children, a boy and a girl, and hilariously recounts what life is like for a new mother navigating the cobblestone streets in the City of Light. Confessions of a Paris Potty Trainer is an honest yet delightful memoir of a former party girl who reaches more for baby bottles than champagne flutes nowadays.

Filled with pregnancy humor, insights into French healthcare and childcare (yes, the kids eat amazing food in daycare in Paris…), dealing with relatives who live far away, French maternity leave, managing "baby brain" in a non-English-speaking country, obtaining dual citizenship for a newborn, and apartment hunting for an expanding family, anyone raising a family abroad (or thinking about it) can get something from this book.

- Global Living Magazine,

Thanks for the review!