Are you this guy? Remember… life isn’t only about work. 

Remember:  take time to break away and have some fun!

We had a blast creating this video & finding the most amazing locations in Paris.

All rights reserved Bellanda ®

All rights reserved
Bellanda ®

 AGAIN AGAIN – Music performed by AFTERMOON

Video  –  A Story developed & created by Steve Guibert & Bellanda

Thank you to AFTERMOON for trusting us to create this clip for your music.

Recorded and mixed by Benjamin Le Jean @Gaijin Studio

Mastered by Chab

Video  –  A Story developed & created by Steve Guibert & Bellanda

Directed and Edited by Steve Guibert

Actor – Jean-Rodolphe Laclau

Film locations : Paris, France – CD&B offices and Caveau des oubliettes

Special thanks to CD&B, Ramcesprod, Crisprod, Caveau des oubliettes, Kasia Dietz, Fanny Mikol Frequelin, Zoé Mikol and to all of you in the bar scene who helped make this clip happen.

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A candle burns… and with it shines the light of my hopes for a better world filled with peace

This candle burns for you...

This candle burns for you…

I cannot go on with life as normal today, as we are once again reminded of the violence in the world we presently live.  Being an Expat can be wonderful, but it also means that we are not with those we love in times of need.  This is the part of the package of ‘living one’s dream’ that is the hardest to handle.  Although far in miles, you are all near and dear in my heart… as are those who suffer in other parts of the world.

I have never understood the hate and harm that takes place in so much of the world.  Life is so very precious, and yet every single day lives are lost to terror and hate.  When will this ever stop? When will we begin to respect and allow others to live peacefully the way they chose?

When I look into my innocent children’s eyes, I wonder what kind of world awaits them. Perhaps this will sound naive, but it would be wonderful if everyone would wake up and realize the value of each life, in all forms, so that we can live & let live… in peace.

This candle burns… and with it shines the light of my hopes for a better world filled with peace.

Only we can make a difference...

Only we can make a difference…
Bellanda ®

Coffee… Coffee… Coffee!



I know that you are totally shocked that I, of all people, would choose to write about such a topic. Okay, maybe not.  It’s true, go ahead and laugh, but here’s the scoop for those who don’t know me very well. I’m having a real love affair with coffee.  Shhhh… don’t tell my partner… I’d hate for him to be jealous.

Despite my clear addiction, bias and love for a good espresso, I think it’s obvious that whether you drink coffee or not it is one of those subjects that you are sure to see in your Twitter or Facebook feed on an almost daily basis.  I can’t possibly be the only one who sees those tweets and posts begging for a coffee at pretty much any hour of the day.  Better yet, I love the posts with photos of cups of coffee that make us coffee lovers either drool with envy or motivate us to get up and make one for ourselves. Then, there is that cute little symbol some of you use that looks like a coffee cup.  c(_)   Truth be told, I’m actually guilty of all the above and I am not ashamed to admit it.  I love coffee!  I love drinking it, reading about it, tweeting, posting and now blogging about it.  It’s official, if by chance there was any doubt left.

That said, last week, I created a new blog that had nothing to do with coffee… or so I thought:  It features a ‘Virtual’  Art Atelier, which shares the before, during and after creation process of my Oil Paintings and One of a Kind Photographic Art.  ‘Live’ sessions will be planned so that you can follow, interact and share in the online Atelier experience.  After my many visits to museums and galleries around the world, I had always wished that I could have witnessed the artists at work. The concept of my new blog was born with this thought process in mind, and yes, it was born with an espresso in hand.

Since the start of my Atelier Bellanda Blog, I’ve been asked by a few people how on earth I find the time to write books, screenplays, run two blogs, paint, do photography, be a social media manager for a French companies/Chefs, play with my little ones, run them around to activities, all the while being in a good relationship with a wonderful man. In response, I often make jokes about it being the effects of drinking way too much coffee… that, and the help of my Pink Super Cape that I take out in real emergencies.  Recently, a Twitter friend wrote, “I’m loving the new Blog… Keep drinking the coffee!!!”

Since then, I’ve been giving coffee a lot of thought.  Have you ever wondered how many careers were made while under the ‘influence’ of coffee?  How many deals were made over coffee?  How many books, scripts or blog posts were written with a cup of coffee in hand?  How many of you have ever tried to meet business deadlines or studied late nights with a fresh pot of coffee or cup of espresso?  The, “Let’s meet for drinks,” has almost been replaced by the, “Let’s meet for coffee.”  Oh wait, maybe that’s just because I am getting old?  No need to answer that by the way.

Anyway, I looked back at where my “espresso addiction” began and immediately began to laugh.  Of all places, it began in Paris back in the summer of 1990.  Okay, my head just began to spin when I typed that date.  (*Presently taking a deep breath with the confirmation that I’m no longer a spring chicken.)  Yeah, moving right along… It seems so appropriate and somewhat strange that this magical city I now live in, is the place of origin of my very first espresso!

I had always been a tea lover and although I liked the smell of coffee, I hated the taste.  It wasn’t until I arrived in Paris during a one and a half month European ‘self-discovery’ backpacking experience that my tea drinking days came to a screeching halt.  On one  gorgeous sunny but cool Parisian morning I asked myself, what better place to people watch than an outdoor café?  I found a wonderful little café.  There was an available table with the morning sun shining on it, so walked over and sat down with my little writing journal.

To immerse myself into a culture as much as possible, I often traveled alone.  As a result, I was also on my own when it came to trying to communicate with my either non-existent or little foreign language vocabulary.   Timidly, I uttered, “Un thé, s’il vous plaît,” with what was probably one of the worst accents the waiter had ever heard.  He looked at me with that puzzled, razed eyebrow expression.  Seriously, how could I get that wrong?  It looked like such an easy thing to order.  I spoke a little louder and he immediately started asking me what seemed like endless questions of which I had no idea what he was saying.  Even though there was a cool gentle morning breeze, I began to sweat.  I kept saying, “Désolé” (sorry) because that was one of the few words I knew.

Eventually, the waiter held up his hand as if to say, wait a minute and walked away.  He came back with a box filled with a variety of tea bags, milk, lemon and sugar and looked at me with a smile and an okay, what do you want kind of expression.  I thought, my savior!  I smiled timidly, as I could feel myself blush with embarrassment.  Who would have thought ordering tea could be so complicated?

After making my tea and sugar choice, I sat back relieved that this chapter in my journey was over.  Just then, I noticed a man sit down at the next table.  He looked at the waiter and said, “Un café, s’il vous plaît.”  The waiter nodded his head, and brought him a café.  He placed it on the table and that was it!  There were no questions asked… no need for further discussion.  I think my mouth literally dropped open as I thought, I can do that!  Thus began the birth of my coffee obsession.

I must admit that at first I needed to add several sugars just to get it down, but hey, that’s the price to pay when one has the courage to travel alone, yet doesn’t have the courage to ask for tea.  Go figure!  Over the years, my tastes have refined and I have even left a bad cup of coffee untouched after a sip. Admittedly that doesn’t happen often because I hate to waste coffee, but it has indeed happened as I search for the perfect espresso.

Since Paris is the place that introduced me to coffee, I thought it only fair that I introduce you to one of my favorite coffee places in Paris.   STAY TUNED… a future blog post will do just that!

Until then, feel free to add your favorite coffee stories or locations across the globe in the comments section below.


UPDATE:  My favorite Paris Coffee Café Blog Post is almost done! The photos have been taken, and the article is in the making.

Just when we were getting ready for spring in Paris, it snowed!

Paris Snow in March 2013 - Photos/Graphics by Bellanda ®

Paris Snow in March 2013
Photos/Graphics by Bellanda ®

Surprising March view of a Paris park in the 12th District.Bellanda ®

Surprising March view of a Paris park in the 12th District.
Bellanda ®

Oops! Perhaps someone should have closed the roof to this glassed-in café?Bellanda ®

Oops! Perhaps someone should have closed the roof of this ‘enclosed’ café terrace?
Bellanda ®

This is an adorable little children's attraction in Paris, 12th district.  The sign says, Attraction open every day.  Don't think they envisioned this snow storm either.Bellanda ®

This is a cute little attraction for kids in Paris, 12th district. The sign says, Attraction open every day. I don’t think they envisioned this snow storm, either.
Bellanda ®

Cool sculpture in a Paris 12th district park, St Emilion, surrounded by a partially frozen pond.Bellanda ®

Cool sculpture in a Paris 12th district park, St Emilion, surrounded by a partially frozen pond.
Bellanda ®

Paris, 12 DistrictBellanda ®

Paris, 12th District… Very pretty but not exactly ‘walking friendly’
Bellanda ®

Lone bench in Paris... We didn't really need to sit there anyway.  Opted for a nice hot chocolate... indoors.Bellanda ®

Lone bench in Paris… We didn’t really need to sit there anyway. Opted for a nice hot chocolate… indoors.
Bellanda ®

"Look! The water is frozen." ... "Do you think we can walk on it?"   Yikes!Bellanda ®

“Look! The water is frozen.” … “Do you think we can walk on it?” … “Well, the snow isn’t sinking, so I think so.”    Me, “NO!”    Yikes!
Bellanda ®

Paris, Chinatown – Letting you in on our favorite restaurant and pastry shop!

Feature Photo for Chinese New Year Resto picks 2013

Images/Graphics by Bellanda ®

I have been going back and forth on the subject of revealing some of my favorite places to eat in Paris ever since I started my Twitter account (@BellandaInParis).  At the time, I was rather reticent.  I’m a private person when it comes to keeping my family life and my public life separate, and believe it or not this subject actually became a household one.  There was even a fleeting moment during the discussion in which I was horrified to discover that I have a selfish side I never knew existed.  What if everyone found out about these places and there were no tables left for us?  I was appalled!  Could I be that selfish?  I quickly tried to push that thought out of my head as my dear man and I decided that it would be best to keep the places we frequent to ourselves.  At the time I convinced myself that I was just protecting my family.  That seemed to ease my conscience, somehow… that is, until the day when I started my blog.

It’s funny how a blog can put a whole new perspective on the way you look at things.  In addition, there is a lovely relationship developing with those of you who follow my blog, Twitter and Facebook accounts that I never imagined.  Your tweets, comments and interactions have touched me greatly, and the tremendous support I have received on my relatively new blog has amazed me.  It feels much like a ‘family’ the way you share your stories and experiences in the comment section of this blog.  I love what is developing here… and it seems only normal to share with you.  I mean, how could I not let you in on some of these places?

On one of our last visits to Paris, Chinatown.  I just had to share this wonderful experience with you.  The restaurant that I am going to let you in on is called “La Lune.”  At first sight, you might walk by this place… but don’t!  We have tried many places over the years, but have been going to this little ‘find’ for the last seven years.

Images/Graphics by Bellanda ®

Images/Graphics by Bellanda ®

I couldn’t stop myself from taking pictures for you and wouldn’t let anyone eat until I had taken at least one good shot of a few of our favorite dishes.  I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist, which can be slightly annoying if you are hungry and the person standing between you and the food is taking their time to carefully place the dish, moving it around in such a way so as to show the food as it should be presented.  I have to admit, I’m lucky.  I think my little ones and sweet man are starting to go with the whole photo blogging flow of things… but after a while the kids were like, “Okay, Mom, can we eat now?”

The food is the best we have found in Paris, Chinatown to this day.  No, we haven’t tried everywhere, but it did take us 3 years to find this place and we have no intention of going elsewhere.  I think you will understand why when you see the photos.

Nems, as they are called here.  I can feel my mouth beginning to water for these crispy delights!

Nems, as they are called here… They are crispy delights!
Photo by Bellanda ®

Spicy Caramel PorkPhoto by Bellanda ®

Spicy Caramel Pork served in the pan it was cooked in!
Photo by Bellanda ®

Let me start by saying, no, they are not worms!  This is a sort of country style pasta that goes amazingly well with our usual Spicy Caramel Pork.Photo by Bellanda ®

Let me start by saying, no, these are not worms.  This is a sort of country-style pasta noodle that goes amazingly well with our Spicy Caramel Pork.
Photo by Bellanda ®

As we were leaving the restaurant, the owner gave us each an orange for luck and wealth in the New Year of the Snake.  With stomachs full and a happy heart, we walked down the road to our next favorite spot.  The sights were wonderful to see.  We happened upon some of the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Images/Graphics by Bellanda ®

Happy New Year and Good Health Banners lined the streets as local merchants prepared for a parade.
Images/Graphics by Bellanda ®

For us, no visit to Paris, Chinatown would be complete without stopping off at our favorite pastry shop.  It’s not surprising to find a line, but we definitely believe it well worth the wait if you are looking for delicious traditional Chinese cakes, cookies and pastries.

Images/Graphics by Bellanda ®

Images/Graphics by Bellanda ®

Take a look at some of their specialties!

On the left, you will find a vanilla cake that is cooked using vapor.  At first I cringed at the idea of a cake being cooked by vapor, but am happy we listened to the wonderful sales lady who recommended it.  One little detail not to be missed is that this cake can only be found during the Chinese New Year season.Photo by Bellanda ®

Photo by Bellanda ®

On the left, you will find a moist vanilla cake that is cooked by using steam.  At first I cringed at the idea, but I am happy we listened to the wonderful sales lady who recommended it.  Oh, one little detail not to be missed is that this cake can only be found during the Chinese New Year season.

Candied Coconut and Candied Lotus Seeds are also Chinese New Year treats found once a year.Photo by Bellanda ®

Candied Coconut and Candied Lotus Seeds are also Chinese New Year treats found once a year.
Photo by Bellanda ®

We obviously haven’t tried everything, but have every intention to do so.  With each visit, we add something new to our ever-growing list of favorites.  And yes, we wait impatiently for the ‘coco confit’ each year and have added the moist vanilla steamed cake to the list of New Year’s treats.  If you are like us, we stock up and fill up to help us wait it out.  In the meantime, their various other cakes and cookies fill the void perfectly.

There you have it!  Now that I’ve revealed our two favorite Paris, Chinatown locations… the only request I make is that if by some chance you happen to be at the restaurant… and there are no tables left for us… would you mind sharing yours like one big happy family?

Somehow I feel I might need to apologize for this blog post.  As my mouth waters and my stomach growls, perhaps I should have warned you that reading this would lead to the possibility of making you hungry for Chinese Food.  I don’t know about you, but I know what I am going to eat as soon as possible!

It’s no longer a joke! My overalls were not only illegal in Paris… they were illegal in all of France!

Bellanda ®

Bellanda ®

The last several months, I have joked that wearing my overalls in Paris might be considered illegal. Little did I know how right I was! Ever since that very first day I ventured out into the streets of Paris wearing overalls, there has been ongoing banter on Twitter and Facebook about the fact that this could be illegal.  There were some of you who gasped with laughter saying, “No, you didn’t?”  There were others who said things like, “Good for you!  Be yourself and be proud.” In my defense, and yes, I somehow think wearing overalls… more exactly wearing paint stained overalls in a city where people only wear jogging/sports attire if they are actually running, does indeed need defending.  My overalls have remained in my closet for many years, untouched, as I wondered why on earth I even bothered to bring them to Paris in the first place.  That is, until I began painting.  I was thrilled to have them, but never did I have any intention on wearing them in the streets of Paris. That said, I tend to get lost in my work.  Knowing this, I always set a little alarm in order to take a few moments to make myself look somewhat presentable before picking the little ones up at school.   When I write, work on my photography or social media managing jobs this task is pretty easy to do. However, on days when I get lost in my painting, things always seem to take a rather interesting turn.  Maybe I’m just a messy painter, but sometimes when I paint I wonder if there is more paint on me or on the canvas.  I literally throw myself into my work and disappear into the painting, letting go of all awareness as I get lost in the music, emotions, colors and the movement of my paintbrush.  It’s almost trance-like. That is until I hear my alarm go off telling me that I have exactly 40 minutes to be at the school when the doors open.  40 minutes sounds like a lot of time to get ready and walk just a few blocks, but have you ever tried cleaning off oil paint?  When you are up for some fun… give it a try.  Be sure to take photos!  I’d love to see how that all works out for you.  Oh, and no using any of those nasty easy oil paint removers that actually work but kill your skin.  Only use the natural ones so that you can truly have some fun. On most days, I manage to get cleaned up, throw off my overalls and slip into a pair of jeans, but one day in particular I was so deep inside my painting that when the alarm went off, I didn’t stop.  I kept telling myself to take a few more minutes.  It’s as if this painting posted below had taken me in and wasn’t letting me out.

RED RED  300

Bellanda ®

The next thing I knew I had 15 minutes to get to the school.  Changing was not an option, so I figured I would throw on a coat and hopefully no one would notice.  I quickly washed my face, and tried to get as much paint off of my hands as I could.  I threw on a little make-up to hide the redness that had formed on my face from all of the rubbing and ran out of the door.  I walked out of the door cringing at the fact that once again this American was going to stick out like a sore thumb, even though I knew very well in my heart that I would never truly fit in. I walked to the school at a rapid pace.  It felt almost criminal to be parading around Paris in overalls.  I imagined all of the French Mommies and Daddies looking with disdain at me and my half-hidden paint stained overalls.  There she is again, that American… has she no shame?  Then I thought, they probably won’t even notice.  I mean really, they have better things to do than to stare at me. Just then, an expat friend passed by on her bicycle. She waved and shouted, “Love the new punk look!”  She gave me a huge giggle, blew me a kiss and said, “Catch you later!” I was confused.  When did overalls become punk?  I quickly forgot the whole punk comment when I ran into another friend in front of the school.  I tried ever so casually to put my hands in my pocket and slide my coat closed, hoping this French friend wouldn’t notice. “The overalls are a nice touch,” he said with a wink and a huge smile. So much for no one noticing, I thought.  Then, the New Yorker in me said, who cares?  Let them look.   Maybe I’ll start a new trend.  That made me smile and I stood there proudly waiting for my little ones to come out of the school.  When they did, my six-year-old little princess ran over to me and screamed for all to hear, “Wow, Mommy, you went to the hairdresser today!  I love your new red highlights!  Can I get some, too?” Red highlights? What on earth was she talking about?  “Sweetie, I haven’t been to the hairdresser.” Just then, she reached up and pointed to my head, “Your hair has red in it… It looks funky Mommy!  Can I put some in my hair when we get home?” I was so worried about my overalls being “illegal” that I hadn’t noticed until I got home that I had left the house with streaks of red paint in my hair. One might actually say that it looked professionally done!  Well, I thought, at least I gave everyone something to look at, giggle at or downright laugh at.  That can’t be all bad now, can it? Unfortunately, this wasn’t the last time I would be obliged to run to the school in my paint stained overalls, and I would continue to tweet and post on Facebook wondering if there was a law forbidding this in Paris.  Well, it seems that my fears turned out to be correct!  Not only was it illegal for a woman to wear pants in Paris, it was illegal to wear pants in the entire country of France!   I like to use humor on my blog posts, but this time I am being completely serious. According to an article I read on the BBC News website,, the French government recently overturned a more than 200-year-old law stating that women were only allowed to wear pants or “dress like a man” if they got permission from the police beforehand.  I know you are shaking your heads in disbelief and I wish I was kidding, but it’s true.   The law was put into effect in the year 1800 and was modified in the years 1892 and 1909.  Only then did it begin allowing women to wear pants “if they were holding a bicycle handlebar or the reins of a horse.”  No, unfortunately I’m still not kidding. Somehow this law was forgotten… or at least I hope that is why it took until now for the government to overturn it.  According to the Minister of Women’s Rights, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, “This order was aimed first of all at limiting the access of women to certain offices or occupations by preventing them from dressing in the manner of men.”  Apparently she felt that the “ban was no longer compatible with modern French values and laws.” Really?  I’m so glad that someone has figured that out!  Now, I can wear my overalls and not worry that I will be taken away by the police.  Then again, they only mention pants.  I’m guessing that my paint stained overalls might somehow still be illegal in Paris and if they’re not, perhaps they should be.  On second thought, life would be boring if we were all so perfect; wouldn’t it?   No need to answer that; I’m just going to pretend you agree with me. This old French law got me thinking.  I’ve heard of many strange laws in certain states in the United States that have been forgotten about and are no longer practiced but are still in the books.  Please feel free to jot down an archaic law that no one practices anymore, but are still officially laws where you live.  It might be fun to add them in the comments section below. As for me and my overalls… only time will tell.  I’m guessing that they will see the streets of Paris again.  If I promise to try to clean my “punk” hair before leaving the house, will you be so kind as to keep your laughing to a quiet minimum if you happen to bump into me while I’m wearing them?

Bellanda ®

Bellanda ®

UPDATE:  Thanks to one of my Twitter contacts, I have a wonderful example of a female artist who received permission to “cross-dress”  from the Paris Préfecture de Police in 1857. Thank you, Rosa, for paving the way for us women.

Here are the links that I received from my Twitter contact about Rosa Bonheur (Thank you, Tim) :