The world becomes smaller and smaller every day and while I sometimes mourn the learned patience that came with waiting for an overseas letter and the well thought out reply that took weeks in its own turn I am eternally thankful for the technological changes that make living as an expat easier. This evening my nearly 7 year old son spent two hours playing Uno, reading comic books and generally being goofy with his best friend who's moved back to San Raphael, CA. All this via Skype, each kid on his own couch, one just starting his morning, the other watching the light fade away for another day. Listening, I imagined both of them here together and am amazed how they could have a full fledged play date with an ocean and continent between them, and how unexceptional it seemed to them.
In the meantime, I was test driving out my husband's new crepe maker in the kitchen... As a crepe chef, I was an an utter and total failure.... I did much better with a steel pan than the fancy-schmancy contraption Arnaud got for his birthday. Mine looked nothing like these beauties, nothing at all. But I'll try again, kids are already clamoring for them.
All this while my 9 year old delighted her Papa with her Louis de Funès impersonation in the dining room....
In fact, they're all off watching Le Corniaud as I type..... They're cracking up in there, seriously. I get it, but not to the extent they do. I think you need to be born French. Coming from the smallest city in one of the smallest states (Derby, CT), I'm constantly amazed at my worldly children, all they know, all they're exposed to - music, language, film, food...... and incredibly thankful that world has become small enough for them to keep their ties to the States as strong as ever.
I picked up this beautiful antique grain sack in Germany last year and have been waiting for a little break in the routing that would give me some extra time to work on it - If you're anything like me then you know that free creative time rarely presents itself so messy house be damned, I dove in. Whenever I'm working with true antique sacks I get a little lump in my throat before I cut, this time was no exception. But I'm happy with the end result of two one of a kind grain sack cushions.
I love the original tar stencil and darning work........
They're finished with a discrete zipper closure.
You'll find these and other designs here:
Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate each and every comment, please keep them coming!x jess
I thought that might get your attention - My girlfriend Abbie at Celebrations came through in a pinch and came up with this beautiful Pétanque ball or boules cake in celebration of Arnaud's birthday. The fact that she is completely self trained, with a passion for creating beautiful and original gateaux makes it all the more amazing.
Look at these details!
This isn't the first time I've given her a simple theme only to see her run with it and come up with something fabulous.
Allons enfants de la Patrie Le jour de gloire....... Three things a Frenchman takes seriously, le bleu, blanc rouge, his bread and the national pastime.
Cake pop petanque balls, the kids loved them.
When we moved to Europe we had very fixed ideas about the kind of home we wanted..... Older, grand rooms with beamed ceilings, a fireplace, and a light filled, gracious eat in kitchen..... bref, un trésor.
Reality hit us like a ten ton truck. After our agent, Ingrid, showed us our first possibility, I was in knots. It was an apartment which looked like a stone bunker with cement walls, lots of steel & glass, très moderne. The architect quickly pointed out that if I put up a café rod in the kitchen I would block the view of the gas station across the street and notice only the Alps in the distance. Thanks, but no, we'll pass.
We became a real thorn in Ingrid's side from that point forward, nearly walking out of house after house.....
I knew that once we moved overseas, we would not be changing houses anytime soon and that I had to find the right place once and for all, and that it was then or never.
Ingrid was of the mind that we should see a bit of all styles because "one never knows........" But I did know, so I kept pushing until she stopped showing us modern flat after modern flat.
Finally we got into the maisons vigneronnes, or wine-makers houses. These are situated right in the vineyards and often boast many of
the amenities we were searching for....
We saw one, then another and both had potential but had been badly updated. Fine for a purchase where you can put your mark on something, but in a rental, you have to just live with it.
And then finally there was a third.... And I knew the moment we walked in and up the stone turret that leads to our door. Built in 1610, set not only in the the vines, but in the center of a 10-centuries old village, it had almost everything we were looking for... High, beamed ceilings, a fireplace that we can stand in, light filled rooms but not, sadly, an eat in kitchen. Arnaud nearly talked me out of it, sure I would go crazy in the tiny galley, really just a pass through, but well appointed, since I really, really love to cook. It's actually quite lovely, but the light is so poor and it's so tiny that I cant' even get a good picture of it. I've adjusted, pared down my cooking utensils to the bare necessities (actually, that wasn't a bad thing) and learned to be more tidy while working since one thing out of place in that tiny space throws a serious cog in the machine. I've gotten used to having dinned totally prepared before guests arrive since we can't socialize around an island while I cook. And so it works.
But every once in a while I let my mind wander to some of these beautiful cooking spaces, open, light, inviting. How wonderful it would be to have our parties center around the kitchen like at home on the States. It's the one thing I really miss here. Do you rather an eat in kitchen (where your guests can see you cooking and all the disorder that goes with it or separate dining room that leaves the mess a mystery?
These are come of my favorite spaces, I hope you've enjoyed them!
all images from www.maison-deco.com
Sometimes a surprise awaits you on he most ordinary day. When I left a family party to drop Lutin & Lutine off at pony camp, I expected to return shortly thereafter, finish off the cheese plate that awaited me and spend the afternoon lazily chatting with Arnaud's cousins who were gathered in Locmariaquer.
Once the kids were settled in, I saw apprehension rising in Chloé as she realized she was to mount a double pony, Étoile. What she had been looking forward to all Summer was turning into her biggest fear and I quickly saw my relaxing afternoon drifting out of reach.....
Once I let go of the idea of my chair in the sun, spending the afternoon following the kids around on ponies began to be just appealing. And that's where the surprise came in. The pony farm in Crach (Morbihan, Brittany) is set just a few miles away from the house on a private estate of forests, fields and salt marshes.
There are uncounted stone buildinds that clearly haven't been inhabited for years and ruins that got me dreaming if only.....
The kids rode along the salt salt marshes and all the way to where the locks open from the
Golfe du Morbihan.
Ecolo, a giant Newfoundland was our constant companion.
The big surprise turned out not to be the magnificent hidden estate, but that in just one week my kids were gate jumping and galloping around it. And at the end of the day, someone got to relax.
Thanks, as always for stopping by. I appreciate your visit and wish you a wonderful weekend. X Jess
An evening walk though Chenonceau, in the Loire Valley. Known as the Château des dames as it was the cherished home of many powerful women, and gracious host to lavish parties for the amusement of Kings and other French nobility throughout it's history.
A gift from Henri II to Diane de Poitiers his mistress, Catherine de' Medici claimed it after he was killed in a jousting accident by Gabriel de Montgomery, the great, great, great (etc, etc, etc.......) grandfather of my Husband. So to my children's delight, we have an (albeit macabre) link to this amazing place!
The Gallery, perhaps the must beautiful space I've ever been in and our little lutin recognized it from the Amazing Race.
The gracious gardens, begun by Diane de Poitiers, were expanded upon by Catherine de' Medici, perhaps in an attempt to outshine her former rival.
Just before sunset....
Of all the castles we've visited, this is by far my favorite....... the light alone opens it up and makes it feel so welcoming, as if someone could actually have lived there as opposed to the grand Chambord which is so overwhelming in scale. It is intimate and well, femenine. Of course, the perfect, clement evening helped to make this, our last night night of vacation, one to remember.
Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate your visit and love reading your comments. Please, keep them coming!
En fin en Bretagne, after a thousand kilometers and not nearly enough sleep.... Now to relax, enjoy and breath. This is la Ferme Fleurie where we buy our eggs and produce...
It's calm and quiet, we take our time, enjoy the sights and scents, spend long lazy afternoons in the garden.....
I'll bring home sacks and sacks of lavender for the Atelier....
And our favorite délices including honey, cider and dried sausage.
It is perfectly quiet here, I wish you all just as relaxing a day.
Long seen in country homes and farms throughout Europe, these Agricultural award plaques are making a big splash in refined country decor. They make a great statement in a gourmet kitchen or gift for your favorite chef. I just love them!
Chiné from France on my last trip, I have six of these at the moment with more arriving next month. Click on the images for more information and have a great weekend!