Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Catherine "Cat" Larose is the oldest of seven children raised in a large Irish/Italian family – Catholic. Her parents were considered a “mixed marriage” back in the 50s, with family roots originating in Co. Mayo on her dad’s side and Naples on her mom’s side. She calls herself one part hot blooded Latin and one part wild eyed Celt.

She grew up in a close knit Italian neighborhood — think "Moonstruck" but in Cleveland, Ohio. When she was a little girl, her Italian grandmother said to her, “All you need is a place to hang your hat.” Cat has been a gypsy ever since — studying, living, working all over the place. Currently, she lives in Montreal, Canada.

She sells color for a living. What does that mean? The best way to describe it is when you go to a home improvement store and you choose a paint color – those little color chips, Cat's company produces those. It's a color sample, but with a very high degree of color accuracy. Her company produces them for the automotive industry, cosmetics and architectural coatings. It’s a very specialized business. She has the Bermuda Triangle of sales territories with customers in Scandinavia, Western and Southern Europe, and South Africa. Cat says, "It’s the perfect job for a gypsy like me." Her blog is
Now, here's Cat's post:

              FIVE THINGS TO SEE OR
                  DO IN A NEW PLACE
By Catherine Larose
I often find myself in new places for business and because I’m in and out of a city quite quickly, I don’t always have much time to spare. However, when I do get some downtime, whether I’m traveling for work or pleasure, I always do a bit of research before I set out to explore. I like to arrive in a place that I know a little something about, and I’m not talking about its tourist attractions. I’m talking about its soul, its character(s) and its culture.

There’s nothing more thrilling than the flash of recognition you get when you see or visit a place that has some significance for you because you’ve read about it in a novel or seen it in a movie. There is a familiarity that arises from knowing a place’s “back story”. If you have that, you’re no longer visiting a stranger; you’re visiting a friend.

Let me give you a few examples of books and movies that can help you learn the back-story of specific places as well things you can do when you get there to enhance your experience.


Barcelona – THE SHADOW OF THE WIND, by Carlo Ruiz Zafón. The novel includes hand drawn maps that trace the characters’ steps through plot twists and turns so you can follow in their footsteps.

India – A SUITABLE BOY, by Vikram Seth. This sweeping epic does a great job of breaking down the early formative politics of the country. Reading it will give you a better appreciation and understanding of today’s India.

Montreal – Forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs sets many of her thrillers in Montreal. I sometimes half expect to bump into her character, Temperance Brennan in one of the many settings she describes.


Rome – "Roman Holiday." Follow Audrey Hepburn as she hops on the back of a Vespa with Gregory Peck to see the sights in Rome. Fall in love with both the city and the guy.

Paris / France – "French Kiss." Follow Megan Ryan and Kevin Kline from Paris and Province to the Cote d’Azur in this delightful little comedy.

New York – "When Harry Met Sally." For me this is the best way to live vicariously in New York.

Having read a book or seen a movie about a place gives significance to the sights in the places you visit. It makes the experience that much richer. But you can also enhance your experience once you are there. Here are five fun things you can do.

1) Take a class in a “native” subject. Take tango lessons in Buenos Aires, cooking classes in Bologna and an Ikebana class in Tokyo.

2) Attend a cultural event. Attend the local symphony, a dance performance or a concert given by local talent in a club or a restaurant.

3) Take a tour. It’s a quick way to get an overview of a place, after which you can pick and choose your favorite spots to go back to and savor on your own.

4) Treat yourself. Travel can be stressful process at the best of times: standing in long check-in lines, losing your luggage or just getting oriented. Book a massage, facial, or a wash and blow dry at a local hair salon. It lends an air of “normalcy” to a place, and it makes you feel better no matter what situation you’re facing.

5) Sample the local cuisine. Always make it a point to try one local dish, whether it’s pizza in Naples, poutine in Montreal or antelope in Africa.

Finally as a way to relive the experience once you return home, bring back a music CD of an artist or group that you heard while visiting a place. If the music isn’t live, but piped in through a sound system in restaurant or played on the radio in a taxi, go ahead and ask the waiter or taxi driver about the singer or group. They are happy to tell you about the music to promote their country’s talent.

Once home, you can become an armchair traveler and let the music transport you back in time and place to experience those magical moments again and again.


And now, my review of Cat's book,

One evening in Paris, Cat
sees her life in beige
Cat has written a memoir in short, effervescent chapters. She begins married to the perfect man with a perfect life...almost. He's too perfect, and expects everything and everyone to his control. One day in Paris, Cat sees her life in the sepia (or beige) tones it has become and decides to add splashes of color to her existence. She does, and she shows others how to do the same. No, she's not recommending we divorce our spouses, but merely that we add vibrancy and color to our lives. Whether we're painting our bedroom, traveling to the other side of the world, or just rethinking and improving our situation, Cat shows us how to create joy, live with gusto, and make the most of life's every minute. ANY COLOR BUT BEIGE is a mostly joyful (sometimes sad) book that will bring pleasure to readers. The buy link at Amazon is:
And if go to her blog "Cafe Girl Chronicles" with your proof of purchase, she will mail you six color palette bookmarks. (Her blog url is given above.)

To view Cat's video trailer for ANY COLOR BUT BEIGE, go here

Thanks for reading! Have a Happy Thanksgiving!


katsrus said...

Wow I feel like I have been around the world with your post. Your book sounds very interesting. I kind of smiled while I read your post about the paint. I just painted almost every room just because I needed some color in my life.Life does get boring if everyday is the same.
Sue B

Laura said...

I love your post, since I would also consider myself a bit of a traveler! I just relocated to Seattle 3 weeks ago and have enjoyed reading and watching films to learn the backstory about the Emerald city too. Of course I rented Sleepless in Seattle but unf. most of the action is on the East coast, not Seattle!

--> Commenting for the Book Club Contest, cos I would love to read the book with the brand new book club I joined as soon as I got here!

cat said...

Kats - great news about the home makeover. Congratulations on added some color to your space - any metaphorical redecorating planned?

Laura - The Emerald City now that's definitely a colorful relocation. Good for you... people don't realize how brave you have to be to do something like that. Kudos to you.

When I think of the Pacific North West I always think of a childhood TV Series called here comes the brides. Corny I know but it left an impression. Good luck to your book club - let me know if you do win.

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