Twenty four years ago I gave birth to Sacha.
Today he is in Willows celebrating with my family,
I wish I could be there too!
Though I am very happy for you!
Happy Birthday Sacha!
Twenty four years ago I gave birth to Sacha.
Today he is in Willows celebrating with my family,
I wish I could be there too!
Though I am very happy for you!
Happy Birthday Sacha!
Saturday at the brocante I spied this darling handmade cup.
I didn't buy it, and that is okay.
Thank you for all the advice, thoughts and ideas about the sink.
It is too big for the bathroom, and regarding the surface it might be too hard to
keep clean. I will have to think about it, and maybe let it go.
Thinking to use this as a kitchen sink...
Because after buying the tub why not really make a splash.
Yann what do you think? Just say, "Yes, wow, great!" And not, "We have a kitchen sink," or worse, "but Corey that is a bathroom sink."
Yes it is a bathroom sink, shallow, not practical and utterly cool.
Do you go more with your heart or your mind?
Practical or Pretty?
Ding or Dong?
I kind of bought an enormous hand made very old copper tub. It doesn't seem enormous in this photo... But believe me, you are going to freak out when you see the pool aks tub that I bought for the bathroom we are renovating.
You might want to take several deep breaths when you come home. You might want to have a stiff drink. You might want to remember how creative I am and how much you love that about me.
By the way we need to build stairs to get inside the tub. The lowest point is higher than my belly button.
The water consumption is scary. I promise never ever to fill it.
I know you are probably blowing out air as I write this.
I had to buy it regardless that it barely fits in the bathroom.
It fits... barely. Rizzuto René said I had to buy it, blame him.
Besides who needs practicality, who needs a sink, who needs a room mate, cause I might be kicked out of my home when Yann sees this.
Your Spontaneous, Beauty over Practical Wife.
The stories of sadness, reminds me of when Ruth and I were in Paris not far from the attacks, how silent the city was, how you could feel the pain in the air.
The stories of the Orlando survivors and the guilt they feel for being alive.
When someone is hurting, and you do not know what to say, or what to do...
My mother always said, "When someone dies everyone is very present to the the loved ones for the first few weeks, which is good and needed. But do not forget in six months, or even a year after that those who have lost someone still need loving attention, maybe even more so as the weeks turn into months. Life goes on for those who haven't suffered, but those who have suffered, suffer long after."
No words are needed to show love.
To be loving kindness.
Wherever we are there is something to share.
To be there in silence, sharing their emptiness.
A gentle smile.
Tears are water from the soul.
Making space for roots to enter.
Petal by petal,
rain or shine.
Standing alone if need be.
Adding light to the darkness.
Side by side.
A soft place to breath.
Until the way is safe again.
My Grandmother Frances, came to America from the Azores. Her trunk was filled with simple necessities: A linen towel, a few chemises, a hair brush, a dress in cotton for Spring, and another in wool. Probably an apron. Certainly a rosary, and a biscuit porcelain angel.
Unfair this life thing.
I cannot and do not want to imagine the fear,
but there it is staring and it doesn't go away, and it shouldn't.
Dancing, as the gunshots mixed with the music, only when people fell to the ground did they know something was wrong.
How cruel. Hatred is.
Feeling defeated when I read: "Two hundred mass shootings since Newton."
Pray yes, but something has to change.
A rose in Provence against an old wall.
Ready to bloom.
Rose petal tips.
Stand by me.
A midnight rose flooded with moonlight.
We become our thoughts.
Do you believe that?
A happy note fills the room.
Views from my kitchen counter. Where I am most of the time.
Brocantes finds take center stage. Recycling at its best.
Silver utensils in a mustard pot, yes that one chunk mustard pot. The French had a thing for mustard there is no denying when you see the mustard pots.
Silver is a good buy at the brocantes. When buying it make sure the joints are solid and the silver is not worn off. Most people do not buy it because they thing it is too fancy or too much upkeep. I use it everyday. If you use silver it does not have time to tarnish.
Creil pottery stained from usage.
Before jars, plastic, before throw away... before buying things pre-packaged...
A household had to have a great deal of pottery to store food.
A glass measuring cup from the 1900s
One of my favorite pieces.
The glass measuring cup has etched markings.
Do you like silverware?
What kitchen things do you collect? Do you use it?
A clown mustard jar, isn't it darling.
The pitcher use to hold lamp burning oil.
The painting, Yann calls her Eglatine.
Eglatine is in our kitchen.
Her eyes follow us.
Sacha painted the kitchen green for me in January.
An old wooden scorekeeper board, with pharmacy jars and the word menu made in metal.
What does your kitchen look like?
My latest purchase from the brocante.
It was the first thing I saw, but I did not buy it until the end. As I was paying for it a couple came up and asked the dealer about the it, they wanted to buy it. If I had been two minute later I would have missed out on it.
It is oil on canvas, original frame and about 30 inches high.
It now is in our kitchen.
The reason I haven't been writing much and posting so late at night is that we have started another project. Crazy, certainly. My mother would say, "I am burning the candle at both ends." Actually the candle was lite in the middle which caused a bonfire of activity.
Yes, we bought another property. When the house next door came up for sale, we asked several friends if they were interested in it... as the house wasn't on the market yet there was a deadline to beat. When nobody bit, French Husband couldn't resist, saying, "It is too good too pass up, plus it was part of our home over a hundred years ago."
I know what you might be thinking, "Gee they buy houses like they are gumballs." Well yes and no. You see Yann"s work is in real estate (long term) investment so he tends to buy gumballs. And lately I have taken an interest in fixing them up.
We are waiting for the stairs to go into Cassis. As the stairs have to be made inside the apartment, we decided to put it on hold, as the apartment needs the kitchen space to became the workspace for the stairs. I would rather not have any worries regarding scratches or soldering marks in the kitchen. So once the stairs are up, then we will return to complete the kitchen etc.. Meanwhile we started on the house next door.
And I am burning the candle at both ends as my mother would say, and loving every minute of it!
As soon as I can I will add photos of the before and after of this new project. Until then here is a peek.
Since Chelsea lives in Paris I asked her to take some photos of the rising of the Seine. She took these on her daily run.
French Husband had barely parked the car at the brocante when I jumped out.
Having the brocante bug is not easy to control.
Is there a cure?
As soon as my eyes fell upon the thickly painted, white-ish grey cupboard/buffet, I knew the brocante bug would begin to boil.
Why couldn't I have the shoe bug, or the candy bug, or the magazine bug, or the makeup bug? Why do I have the furniture sized brocante bug?
Looking over the white-ish grey cupboard/buffet piece, I knew it would fit height and length wise in the kitchen. Fit against the wall perfectly, like a silk glove on a hand, IF only there wasn't already an armoire there and one that I like.
Have you ever done that? Mentally start moving things around in your house so the something you want will work? Usually I have an utter mental gymnastic of moving every thing around in my mind it goes like this: I could move it to the right, no to the left, better yet upstairs, no no no downstairs, I could move that piece here and that piece there, inside out and backwards to make thing work.
Today my mental gymnastics went like this: I could sell my armoire. That was the only option.
I stared at the one of a kind beauty and whispered, "Bad bad brocante bug!"
To make matters worse, next to the cupboard/buffet piece were six dining room chairs. Caned seats, grayish color, late 1800s perfect condition.
I do not need another chair.
Now here is the ticker... the chairs all six of them cost less than one chair at Ikea.
That is when I think why do I have this brocante bug? It is haunting when I find antiques in good condition, lovely patina, authentic, under price and DO NOT NEED THEM, nor have room.
Wait a minute... I could fix things to the ceiling?!
My name is Corey and I am a brocante o holic.
I kissed the cupboard/piece and the chairs goodbye, then wished I wasn't on a stupid diet otherwise I would have had some wine and every big salty delicious thing I could find... that is another bug completely.
Along the winding way to Sacha's BMX track, which weaves through olive orchards, vineyards and goat farms. The road is narrow with spectacular views. Views I barely notice because the twisty snake of a road is similar to Stelvio pass minus the crazy motorcyclists.
Yet the other day, let's just say the one millionth time as we climbed the mountain pass, a sparkle, a flicker of light caught my eye...
I looked back trying to detect the sparkle, "What was that?" I asked Sacha who was listening to the Black Eyed Peas on his I-Pod. I could tell by the nod of his head that he was grooving to Boom Boom Pow which didn't seem to have the same beat as my question.
So I slammed on the brakes, nearly driving the car into the ditch.
"Mom!" shouted Sacha.
"Boom Boom Pow, do you like my swagger?" I said, though Sacha didn't catch my tease. "I saw something sparkle, that I want to investigate."
"Can't you do that on the way back, I don't want to be late." He sighed.
Obediently I drove on, he was right, on the way back I could check out that sparkle that caught my eye.
Fly catchers in olive trees. One old glass fly catcher per tree.
I wanted to be an olive tree!
I had to slap my hand's desire to pluck off those fly catchers and take them home with me.
"Diamonds!" I hollered.
"Mom really, aren't you exaggerating a bit?" replied Sacha who thinks I am nuts most of the time, "Besides they're dirty!"
"Diamonds!" I shouted back listening to the Boom Boom Pow of my own heart.
Fly catchers in olive trees nearby my home.
When friends come to visit from back home there is a feeling of being transported back to my family. Sue and Tom came over for lunch yesterday.
Since baking to me is rocket science compared to cooking, I made a mash-up strawberry shortcake.
Coconut ice cream-
Thank you Sue and Tom for coming over
The lavender in my garden is blooming, weeks earlier than usual.
The bees were busy gathering.
Lavender in Provence, a sign of summer.
Tonight there was a party,
it is an annual thing.
It is always in June, and never in the same place.
This year it was on the beach.
The flower vase was a pineapple.
The amazing view.
I managed to take a few snaps before the crowd gathered.
Later in the evening there was a show.
The dancers wore straw skirts and had coconut shells for their tops.
How they stayed on by the tiny string was a feat in itself.
A lovely party.
My feet hurt from dancing.
The best moment:
For dessert they had sorbet popsicle. French Husband and I took one, then grabbed one of the massive bean bags, walked out to the beach, then laid it down, cuddled up and ate the popsicle.
Last days of Spring.
The raincoat and hat, especially the hat, well actually only the hat, the hat that made me laugh, and that would embarrass Chelsea and Sacha whenever their father wore it. The raincoat that French Husband bought when he was in his twenties, and the hat he had since he was fifteen. You see French Husband's clothes are vintage, because he rarely buys clothes you know. I wish he did, but he doesn't. I like old things, but there is a limit... I think.
The raincoat and hat were iconic, such a part of French Husband's lifestyle. The other day when French Husband was coming home by train from Paris someone stole his raincoat and hat from his backpack.
Why the raincoat and hat?
As funny as that hat was, as much as we detested when he wore it, as often as I begged him to carry an umbrella instead... I miss it and so does he.
Last weekend Arnelle and Rodger, friends I met through blogging, invited French Husband and me to join them at their home away from home in Ardeche. Arnelle gave us very good directions, directions her family from the States found without a hitch. French Husband and I weren't as clever. We were five minutes from their home, yet we were lost for over an hour. Driving up and down one lane, mostly dirt roads, reading and re-reading the directions. Basically, I think it was a French/American lost-in- translation-then-nearly-ready-to-clobber-one-another-out-of-frustration type of moments: "I said turn right! Not left, turn around, oh my God you nearly drove the car into the ditch..."
Finally, our phone service kicked in and Rodger found us, and lead the way back to their home.
Arnelle is a interior designer from San Francisco. I knew I was in for a treat extraordinaire but I wasn't ready to have my socks blown off. From the moment we drove up to the front gate my mouth fell open and I could not close it. The table was set, lunch was served and every inch was perfection.
Their home is a hamlet consisting of several smaller homes that interlock with one another:
"During the 18th century, for rich or noble, it was classic to create their own hameau (hamlet) in their gardens. A hamlet was a group of houses or farms with rustic appearance, but in fact were very comfortable. The best known in the Hameau de la Reine built by the Queen Marie-Antoinette in the park of the Château de Versailles." Via Wiki.
Arnelle and Rodger's Hamlet was a silk worm menagerie and made completely in stone.
If you have ever tried to find your monogram on old linen in France I can tell you it isn't easy.
Arnelle and Rodger found theirs.
Luck is on their side.
Arnelle is about subtle details that can easily go unnoticed but add enormously to the whole picture.
I love how she took three iris stems and made a trellis for the basil plant.
Wildflowers spring's crown.
A small view of one of the courtyards.
Their home is a few centuries old...
A few story live amongst the stones.
Arnelle and Rodger are the guardians faithfully keeping it safe as it continues on to tomorrow. Arnelle said something that struck me, that we are the guardians of these beautiful things, we need to be mindful of the history and know that these old homes have lived and will live longer than us.
Straight to my heart.
Art history. Living memory. The story objects hold and give to those who listen.
If you look on the top right hand corner of the above photo you will see a slot in the stone wall that was used to hold the long handle sauté pan.
Loved that detail that has been left intact all these years.
It is hard for me to believe that I only took a handful of photos. Not even one of the view, or of the pool, or of the bedrooms, or of the kitchen, or of the incredible meals, or of the artwork, or of the tiles, or of the amazing tub, or of the walk in fireplaces, or of the mulberry trees, or of the landscape, or of the stone work, or of the beads on the kitchen door, or of the basement, or of our walk down to the old laundry and water source, or of the king's soldiers burial ground, or of the homemade chocolate prune cake or of the bleu cheese fig crackers Arnelle made, or of Arnelle and Rodger!
What was I thinking?
I was happy in the moment. Soaking it in and letting it form memories deep within me. I am grateful for the imagery enriched with history, mindfully kept by Arnelle and Rodger's graceful touch.
Every room, each entry, stone, beam, ironwork, handle spoke of a generation no longer living yet alive.
What will we leave behind?
A future of beauty I hope.
And a kitchen window that looks out to an olive grove.
The following blog post is from Suzette who was part of the French Muse Experience. Suzette's blog is:
At the brocante in Villeneuve les Avignon, we visit vendor after vendor and find a staggering number of 18th century and early 1900s prayer books, diaries, papers, copper, silver, old jewelry, paintings, pottery, old French linen and cotton knickers — you name it. It definitely is a passion.
Every vendor can tell you something about the provenance of the things they are selling. Old silver “coin purses” were worn on one’s belt or tied on with ribbons. An 18th century copper chocolate pot is engraved with the chef’s name and he must have been right-handed the way the copper is discolored on one side. I hope he used it every day to create delicious confections, I like to think of the pleasure on the faces of those he served. The pot pleaded with me to take it home.
I knew exactly where I wanted to use these 18th century silk sashes. Such precious handwork and colors in the tassel fringe. Now enjoying a new life on Madame du Pompadour. She was a little self conscious about the stain on her neck anyway. King Louis XV was starting to ignore her.
This handsome fella had paintings lying all around in the blazing sun and I spotted one I just had to rescue. After some clever and talented negotiating by Corey, I got it for almost half of what he was asking. He shows me the book where the artist’s work is documented for having sold at various auctions in recent years anywhere from 1,600 to 65,000 euros. The brocante is definitely the place to get a steal. He chatted away and I only understood part of what he was saying in French, but I think he wanted to know if I was married and perhaps could I take him back home to the U.S. with me?
Alfred Casile, 1848-1909
Photo by Suzette of her beautiful home.
Photo via Suzette's blog, she found the painting at the brocante
Then we move on to L’Isle sur la Sorgue, one of the most beautiful and picturesque villages in Provence. Gorgeous place to walk around, and some new places to look for treasures or just be inspired.
And at the brocante there is live music and an elderly white-haired gentleman with cigar in mouth begins to dance with a dark-haired beauty in heels. It is a joy to watch because they are having so much fun dancing outside on a beautiful Saturday. I long for a life filled with more impromptu fun and more dancing. How about you?
One of the best parts of the French Muse trip was the inclusion of visiting with artists, designers and exclusive dealers in their homes. It allowed a glimpse not only into the work of local artisans but also their homes to see their collections and decor. A wonderful opportunity to see how fellow brocante lovers use and display their special finds in their own personal way.
There is a very special and unique exhibition on the history of silk production in Provence that opened May 15th in Bonnieux by Joanna Staniszkis. We were treated to a private showing of her creations in a magnificent space adjacent to her home. The silk worm and the mulberry trees in Provence have a fascinating history and Joanna’s artistic interpretation is spellbinding. These photos do not do it justice. Please visit Joanna’s website to learn more about her and see additional photos of her current exhibition. Such a talented lady, and a gracious host. My world is bigger because of this very special experience.
One of the most impressive pieces in this exhibition is the World War II silk parachute, with attached carved wooden pins of moths and WWI fighter planes.
At the end of our visit, Joanna gave each of us a few mementos – a book about the exhibition, a carved wooden moth, a silk worm cocoon, and three woven pieces representing the stages of the silk worm’s metamorphosis. Treasures forever.
The following are some photos of mine that I took while The French Muse Experience visited Joanna.
Joanna's friend made her this ring a silk worm moth made out of mulberry wood.
Cocoons taking shape and their place nestled in the roots that Joanna found on the road side and had installed in her home as a piece of art.
The WWII parachute, handmade in silk made in France, found at the brocante by Joanna.
Wooden sculptures of moths and planes that Joanna had made to show what brought the silk parachute to life, letting it be life giving to the victims of the war below.
Thank you Joanna for sharing your exposition with the French Muse,
and thank you Suzette for the blog post.
I hope this inspires those of you reading to join us and or to tell your friends about the French Muse Experience in Provence. Please feel free to share on your Facebook.
The next dates are:
17th – 24th September 2016,
2nd – 9th May 2017,
12th – 19th September 2017,
17th – 24th October 2017,
Each French Muse Experience is limited to four or five people and is tailored made for the desires and expectations of those coming. If you have a group of four (counting yourself) and want to come during or at another time, please let us know and we will plan something for you.
The French brocante offers more than old things from someone's attic and more than boxes of disheveled junk. The French brocante is not just a place to find unbeatable prices for disregarded items, or the chance to find an unbelievable Picasso. It is a living museum with touch-able history where you can be the digger in the archaeological site and take your finds home.
At the brocante French Husband and I met a dealer who collects Roman artifacts. The dealer has been collecting for years, he started selling not so long ago. His stand was full of rare interesting pieces... he freely shared his knowledge and stories. I became a sponge, soaking up every word. I think I must have asked two thousand questions that started with: "What is this?"
I must admit I usually spend most my time at the brocante looking for things that speak in muted colored romance, old things that have more than their fair share of age, brocante items that have little monetary value but rather tell a story, depict a feeling. I guess you could say I am a sucker for worn beauty. Uneven certainty in worn items strikes a balance with me.
Old coins, especially Roman artifacts, the dealer at the brocante told me are often found in fields where Roman roads traversed... he mentioned that when a field has recently been toiled bits and pieces from the past are brought to the surface.
Driving home I looked at the poppy fields with new insight... Battles fought, lives lost, bits and pieces, stories, memories, buried within... and red poppies bloom.
Maybe my new hunting ground should be in recently toiled fields
but I think I would pick flowers instead.
The brocante offers plenty without trespassing.
What is your newest find?
Okay smarty pants, most of you guessed around the tool's name an Adze. Though Kipper said it first,
"A woodworking tool, maybe used to make barrel staves?"
That is it, that is why the handle is so short.
Via Wiki, "The adze (/ˈædz/; alternative spelling: adz) is a cutting tool shaped somewhat like an axe that dates back to the stone age. It can be any tool with a sharp cutting edge. Adzes are used for smoothing or carving wood in handwoodworking, similar to an axe but with the cutting edge perpendicular to the handle. Two basic forms of an adze are the hand adze, a short handled tool swung with one hand, and a foot adze, a long handled tool capable of powerful swings using both hands, the cutting edge usually striking at foot or shin level. The blade of an adze is set at right angles to the tool's shaft (like a hoe orplane), in contrast to an axe's blade, which is in plane with the shaft. A similar, but blunt, tool used for digging in hard ground is called a mattock."
On Ebay there are a few, not as old, but nevertheless good shape.
The creative response goes to:
Every now and then I come across an antique at the brocante that I do not know what it is. During the French Muse Experience I came across this piece and was stumped.
Do you know what it is, what it is used for? If so write it in the comment section, or if you do not know what it is make up a response in the comment section. The first one to guess correctly will receive a gift as well as the most creative response.
It is hand made. Solid iron with a wooden handle. Early 1800s, French.
As you can see it isn't very big, but I am holding it with all my might.
Ruth says if I call shibori, "tied dyed" one more time she is going to dye me blue. Ruth is already a blue Smurf, so I guess I will be joining her.
Ruth's garden was transformed into a Shibori studio, we had a blast and did not spill dye on us.
Oh Ruth I couldn't help myself, look what I found,
"The common English translation of the Japanese word shibori is "tie-dye". However, a more accurate translation is "shaped-resist dyeing," which describes the inherent patterning." ...via rugrabbit.
The French Muse Experience had a marathon weekend: a brocante Saturday in Villeneuve les Avignon, then Isle sur la Sorgue, followed by Sunday in Carpentras, then a long lovely lunch at Chez Serge where we had many laughs and shared stories about what we found, and did not find. You would think we would be brocante-out after five days of brocanting, but no we are not. Simply because the group was easy going, fun loving, kind, considerate, enjoyed everything about Provence and loved to go antiquing.
Lemon tart at Chez Serge.
Sharing was constant.
A French tradition has it that the person who has the last drop of wine from a wine bottle will be married before the end of the year. Suzette did not have the last drop.
Who had the last drop?
The Guard's Door.
The French Muse Experience day five.
Fields of poppies surprise us every day. If you want to see poppies May is the month to come to Provence.
The French Muse is tailored made for each group that comes. Of course Ruth and I are crazy for the brocante so that is our main focus. Though there is much more to share and we gladly do. Private homes, artists, textiles and the countryside.
Charland, one of our guest who also came last year, has a thing for trees. She has asked us about every tree she has seen... Olive, plane, chestnut, cherry, parasol pine, cyprus... but there are many more we simply do not know about. Ruth reminded Charland, "We are about the brocante, not trees." Charland did not miss a beat, and started asking us about flowers.
Thank God for poppies.
Amongst the poppies I found these.
Daisies and clover, right?
that never fade.
Villeneuve les Avignon, a well known brocante every Saturday has a fantastic view.
At the brocante in Villeneuve there is a cafe, an oyster bar, a pizza truck and Gaston's. Often there is music, a park across the street and many antiques.
Not far away is Isle sur la Sorgue. The largest antique gathering in the south of France.
So we did both today.
Yellow confit pots.
Plenty of them.
A darling carousel rabbit. Wooden and hand-painted.
An easel with paint buckets full of used paint brushes and a painting.
A toy horse with a hat.
The lavender museum. The lavender is starting to wake up. If you want to see it in full bloom the end of June to the first part of July is when to come.
We had dinner on the terrace.
Of course we had cheese, baguettes and wine.
Friendship, brocante, spring evening, with the promise of more.