Oh, so thankful for a good ol’ rainy day…without feeling guilty, I can stay inside and work on any of the multitude of projects just waiting for a start. So…take the advice pictured by this sign hanging on my front porch…and remember…”the sun’ll come out, tomorrow”, my dear friends!
SO, some of my thoughts on home projects…
I really want to whitewash the brick fireplace and wood mantel…This type of treatment will provide a focal point to design the room around. And, this hand-painting technique will give the fireplace a much softer look and feel..something I strive to achieve in MY living room…comfortable with a patina of age and humble elegance, a bit feminine with romantic flourish, whimsical, and full of collected treasures and vintage charm! At first glance…maybe a bit shabby! [ Will keep you posted…]
Winding my way around the desk, towards the kitchen…my first thought…oh, for need of unlimited funds! The original countertop needs to be GONE…here, I’m again thinking of whitewashing the old pine cabinets and replacing the countertop with thick, reclaimed pine boards, or maybe bamboo butcher block…at one point I considered stainless counters but can’t find a contractor in my area who can do this, reasonably. For a the space between counter and cabinets, I may revisit a previous idea used in the kitchen of our old 1917 house in Texas…pine countertop and a mosaic backsplash. For the mosaic I used pieces of antique flow blue and white china plates, broken during an earthquake [we were living in Pasadena, CA at the time] that I had been saving for years…I also added tiny medicine bottles found in the garden, odd jewelry bits and pieces, half broken cups with handles and…well, you get the idea! It was so charming and colorful. I have a few pieces of the china left and have been collecting other items I could use so that seems to be my choice for now. I think I’ll call Jim to see when he can start…
I used the broken china
pieces to fashion a backsplash…
to the, right, some of my surviving
blue and white pieces…
On the old cabinet, moved several times back and forth across the country… shown below… are just some of the many other bits and pieces I’ve been collecting for years…every few months I take everything off the shelves, wipe down the wood and then clean every little item with lavender water. While doing this, I reflect on where and when I found an item and the memories associated with each of my treasures…this sometimes takes quite a while to finish…but so enjoyable! Especially while thinking of all the little shops in Southern California, Texas Hill Country, and places I visited and ‘shopped’ throughout Provence…it’s like mini trips!
Although most of my treasures are on display…I use some of them daily and more when I take an opportunity to entertain friends…usually book club or wine-tasting! Fun to add a touch of sparkle or
I prefer to use some of my old things for purposes not as always intended: versatility… for example…a collection of very nice old crystal stems are used to hold cosmetics and make-up brushes, small plates fill in for a soap holder, silver sugar shakers for dusting powder, silver bowls for lavender buds, crystal compotes hold chubby candles, espresso cups filled with flowers or herbs and such!
The wood candle box is now used to hold my French made LAGUIOLE flatware…this makes it easier to find when sitting down to eat dinner or set my able.
Behind the cabinet doors below are tablecloths, bundles of napkins tied with lavender, cloth bags filled with antique silver flatware, my boxes of broken china pieces…and even an old champagne bottle holder found in a Paris flea market! This is used on special occasions for bouquets of flowers, especially roses and phlox, from my garden. Inspiration is everywhere…and, I love the hours spent whenever I can, joyfully scavenging through endless baskets and containers of treasures at flea markets and shops wherever I travel…this definitely lights the fire and challenges my creative nature again and again.
Most of my special books are garden, home or design related, and I have hundreds of them…many about French culture, art, history, gardens, cooking and especially traveling through Provence via camera and story…
Other books I’ve been reading provide vicariously great pleasure…the series by Karen Wheeler are especially enjoyable…TOUT SWEET, TOUT SOUL and TOUTE ALLURE…and I’m impatiently awaiting her next in the series. My French sister, Jeanine just sent me a book that I’m reading now…Lunch in Paris, A Love Story, With Recipes by Elizabeth Bard a charming memoir of eight years living and eating her way through Paris.
Anything written by Peter Mayle…especially one of his latest books, A GOOD YEAR and a very special movie for me too, COOKBooks by Patricia Wells, Living and Cooking ON RUE TATIN by Susan Loomis, Entertaining with Roger Verges, Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Heller [a Bocuse d’or winner] and countless others…all find their way into my home. I spend hours perusing the books and photos and recipes…
And please, do not forget to enjoy a bit of wine from Provence while looking through the books I just mentioned…the flavor adds to the enjoyment! pronounced… La VEEEL Ferrrme
As I mentioned in past postings, my friends just call it the “chicken wine” !
It has a lovely crisp taste, a hint of fruit but nicely dry as I prefer, and takes me back to our picnic in the lavender fields circa 1999…
This is a good friend, Cynthia Chippendale, who lives in Fort Worth, Texas. A few years ago she opened a little place called POTAGER CAFE in Arlington and has been doing very well since. She goes to market daily and cooks/prepares her menu…from scratch… according to what is available locally. The meal is priced and her one menu for the day is posted on a chalkboard as you enter…she tells surprised first time visitors…” if you don’t like it, well there are other places for you to eat, now, GO!” Love the attitude!
Her reviews are great, ranging from 4-5 stars out of possible five. She uses as many organic products as possible and her beef comes from Burgundy Beef, a French style, pasture raised cattle ranch in Texas…all countering the claims originally that HER style of cooking will never succeed. BOY HOWDY, has she proven them all wrong. Last time I was there, I did not want to leave the table!
She provides mismatched chairs and tables in an old fast food building…all which adds to the ‘homey’ experience. She cooks and serves alongside her great help…and continues to marvel and mystify all the so-called food critics…she is providing her customers and friends with good healthy food and an enjoyable experience, like being in MOM’s Kitchen, if she could cook like Cynthia…the last time I was there…I had quiche, soup, salad and a dessert tart…oh, my mouth is starting to water. GO NOW, visit her little POTAGER CAFE!
Holly and I took a short break and walked down the road in the rain…I put an old T-shirt on her to keep the moisture from splashing up on her stomach…it worked. Usually if she is out on a rainy walk she gets soaked underneath and also gets her ‘fur’ rather dirty. This new trick kept her clean and she was quite easy to dry with some vigorous toweling!
Funny, she kept walking next to me under the umbrella…hummmmm…smart Border Collie!