Monday, January 24, 2011

Brocante Booty

I am so fortunate to be able to add to my collection every time I go to France. I had these books from my last trip and added on...................
....a beautiful 18th century rosette to the top of the books on my mantle .J"adore!
... two gorgeous green urns faded in the sun of Le Mans France hitched a ride home in my suitcase."You are over the weight limit the baggage agent says." "I am "? Not a surprise. It happens everytime. 30,00 euros for a extra bag of 50 pounds not too bad. Then she says,"Be careful next time". I wish I could explain I had run out of room in my carry on as I had three sets of angel wings and a glass candy jar with finials inside of that. That would have been hard to make her understand especially when I would have had to end with................
I had to put my heart in my pocket. Crazy brocante loving americans. We are shameless.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Whats on the Menu................

I arrived home from Paris two days before Thanksgiving. (As Shirley calls it my first Christmas. Those english folk do not know what they are missing.) What was on the menu for me was the second Christmas and I was in charge of two parties, one daughters 13th birthday and a little wedding reception for my niece.115 people move the furniture out of the house reception. No big deal. Did I mention I was in charge of all the flowers? At least I did not have to cook. If you click on the menu above you will see what they were having for dinner 1898 style in France. At the second course of oxtail soup I lost my appetite fast. With all I had to do it looked as if my mind was close behind.
But all was not lost. I knew I would have a stunningly beautiful table this year. Upon arrival to the Chateau I had the most delectible confection waiting for me. A beauty and I mean beauty of a tablecloth from the Hotel Ritz Carlton in Paris. Shirley, the best antique truffler I know had not one, not two, but three of these. Who has one of these let alone three? As I was coming over the ocean they were selling like hotcakes on Ebay and she saved one for me because she knew I had a couple of napkins to go with it. Or maybe she gave it to me because she would get some sick sense of humor picturing me ironing it. This is Shirley we are talking about.I love her but love the tablecloth even more. Thanks you old tarte. Yeah, I went there . You english people know what that means don't you ? That means street walker in your neck of the woods. Street walker. As a english american person I can tell you I did not know what it meant . I assumed that it was a very fun way of saying I was sassy,you know me being so innocent and all. So picture me 7 hours into a international flight with a 9 year old english boy sitting next to me starting to act sassy.I told him" your a little tarte aren't you"? His eyes open as big as silver dollars (Or pence or quid whatever you fish and chips lovers call money) at the same time his brother in front of me turned around as the 9 year old screams" Mummy, she just called me a tarte!!!" She thinks he has misunderstood as his brother says he heard it as well no mistake.I then had to explain that my friend used it as a term of endearment. You can imagine her thinking what kind of friend I had as I myself had to ask myself the same thing.I then realized I had a wonderful fun loving friend who would throw me under the bus kind of friend. I immediately started thinking of ways to get her back. Oh yeah ,she taught me the W word too which is for wally ,which means stupid. I had to find that out the hard way as I spoke to her daughter the first time and said Hello, Wally and she said "Why are you calling me stupid?" I have had to learn English lessons as well as French to hang out with Shirley..... I could go on on but will stop for today.
I got the tree trimmed...........................
.........and the mantles decorated. This is a precious angel that was used in theatrical productions. I got three of them last year at a flea market in Nimes . Living in 120 year old house I have six mantles to decorate. Before you get all jealous you might feel better knowing none of them work as they only burn coal and our heat bill for December was 492.86 but they look fabulous................
....... and speaking of angels , one of them is missing their wings as these came home with me. O.k so you caught me. So, three angels are missing their wings cause three sets came home with me. Is it a crime? Yeah, a crime of passion. One of them moved to California to French Blues house as they don't like the cold Oregon weather. She can offer them the fresh ocean breeze . I know they will be happy there. These came from Clingancourt in Paris and when I saw them I was screaming on the inside. I marched up and took every pair they had off the wall as quick as I could. I would have had four but this sweet English lady ran all the way to get money to buy a pair and I felt sorry for her so I let her have one. She said, "thanks wally" and was on her way. Just kidding. I have only seen these in magazines and I don't know if you can see the laces hanging off of them but that was so the children could hang them off backs for the Christmas Pagents at the Catholic church.Thank you Jesus for Christmas and soft grey white hand sewn wings. I think he is the best for coming up with all these good ideas. I will show you more treats I got if you want me to tomorrow. Bonne Nuit Ma Belles. I love you Shirley girly....and Janet from French Blue too!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Au revoir for now Paris......

I arrived back in Paris for a afternoon of strolling by one of my favorite places,the Jardin Luxembourg. It is a huge park in the middle of the city. This planter was oozing with pink daisies. It just makes me weak in the knees. I love pink and the Frenchies do too. A match made in heaven.
... and of course they had windows decorated for Chistmas in Pink.I tell you that is tre chic . Who needs red and green anyway?
Certainly not these pooches who had their holiday finery on lounging upon none other than a pink rug.

For kicks and giggles this window had pink pom poms in a box. Delicious.
As night fell I thanked God for another trip to France. I still am in awe that you can get in a airplane and fly across the ocean and 13 hours later arrive in Paris. This was the sixth time we have met and we are still getting to know each other but it looks like Amour to me.
I mean were else can you go and sleep on pillowcase twisted up like a tootsie roll?(that is pink I might add.) Sweet dreams were sure to come my way.
Until we meet again Paris,I bid you adieu.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Paris bound again

I fluffed my pillows for the last time........
As I did I thought about all the nights I slept under that glorious box beam ceiling and I could not help but giggle remembering my party Shirley had for me upon my arrival. All of her english friends came to meet me inculding a Countess from the village. NOT! All of her cronies had lunch before I arrived and they hatched a plan that would involve a countess and her chauffere coming over for apperitifs. Shirley told me I had to bow or courtsey and follow the cue from the countess to know what to do. As I greeted the"Countess" complete with fur coat Shirley was in the corner wetting her pants seeing I looked like a dear in the head lights........ So now you know why I tease her a little as she has it coming.
I was the first guest in this "new room". It was adorned with a precious chair having original upholstery and dreamy ribbons carved on the top .It looked so stunning with the little banner with a B in honor of ....
the Chateau Brueil
As I glanced back for one more look I snapped a few last photos of the chateau.
I guess I know were to find her....J'adore Mon Ami Shirley

Swans and a Salle de Bain with a view

This is the salle du bain at Shirley and Marks house.It is fab with its open beams and coir rug going floor to floor.It is truly country french.A old house Hundreds of years old. The kind of thing us americans try to do only we never seems to do it justice.I adore the way it leads you to a calm and peaceful place. So thoughtful and charming. A work of love that was a long time coming and they deserve it.
I got excited just looking at the door. They really did an incredible job in restoring it in period style.It takes a lot of time and patience to wait for doors and windows the right size.
As I got out of the tub and went to the window I was so overcome buy the beauty of the grey skies and what I saw.(yes,I had the camera with me)I then ran outside hair soaking wet in Marks wellies to snap the pictured below.
Swans. Swans a swimming to be exact. Why did I not take the pic from inside? I paniced.It is not every day you see a couple of swans outside the window your looking out of. I know this picture does not do justice to what I saw. In vain I tried to have some help making this picture better but my people could not help. The swans were leaving for the day and I was too.We were both having our swan song.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Le Petite Chateau Brueil

Welcome to the chateau Mark and Shirley call home. Charles the three legged cat and Digger the Jack Russel make it a family of four. It was so fun coming down the long road and seeing the chateau come into sight. If we went any further we would run into the water!! They live on a marsh that floods in the winter and is dry in the summer. Absolutely stunning! Wait until tomorrow and I will show you the view from the bathroom.

Of course there are geraniums in the windows with shutters . Soft grey exterior and shutters. So quintessential country french .
Everyone has a wine cellar right?

Tomorrow were going in.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Brocante day deux and then to the chateau.......

This is the precious gate that goes to Mark and Shirleys house.(chateau)Yes ,I said chateau. A petite chateau. J'adore. Were not going there until tomorrow. There is more brocanting to do.
Here I am all bundled up for the wet weather with my rain boots on. Shirley was making fun of my boots but at the end of the day I had dry feet and she did not. I am just saying.
Everyone and there dog was at the brocante.This little frenchie was so cute.
All of the vans line up and then a person on his bicycle rides buy and declares the market open.
....then we are off and running.Sooooooooooooo much fun. I got bottle holders and a french map on canvas. Old reels of french film and hemp towels. Millenary feathers and old menus and boxes with french writing. Shirley got the most amazing wallpaper sample book she has listed right now on her ebay store and I am going to be wanting that. She also bought pages with french crowns and monogram scraps. It was a great market, I hope to go to again .And were is Mark in all this? He is running back and fourth to the car carrying our things emptying the bags and then in between he makes sure we have plenty of cafe and water. He is a english gentleman. You cannot carry anything or open your door.And he laughs at all his own jokes so we don't have to entertain him at all. No you cannot come so don't ask.It took me 4 years of begging and I do mean begging. I will tell you more about that tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

To muse or not to muse that is the question......

I present to you Madame Shirley(she is the one in the middle) She only looks like this at the brocante when people are eyeing her gear. Really to give you a visual of Shirley and Mark think Angelina and Brad......then forget about it. Maybe throw in some oompa loompa and your getting close.(On another note you cannot believe the things you can find at the brocante.I found Brad and Angelina there in Auqust a year and a half ago.I will have to post those photos sometime.) There will be no photos of Mark and Shirley as some things are just to sacred to share. Outside of her face etched in my mind we have our Jane Fonda workout nights to remember. It is how I shall carry on until we meet again.
Shirley plus textiles equals insanity.She has been at it for 25 years and is going strong. She found this building outside and called me on the telly to get me to come over.We bought a ton of stuff from this couple.Shirley got some incredible silk curtains and fabrics and gorgeous rouge ribbon on the original spool.I found a box of crowns and medals that were brass and tole painted from costumes .After much bartering I bought them all.It was a great day of fun.
We ran out of money or would have bought even more as it truly was one of the best spots for textiles. We found it towards the end of the day but what a great way to end it.
The last time I was at Le mans with Shirley I got this fabulous bed couronne. Snatched it right from under her nose.I feel a little bit guilty....NOT!!! See you tomorrow at lisieux.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Shirley Shirley Shirley

I met my Shirley some ten years ago on Ebay. She had sold textiles for years and owned a store in England and then moved to the Normandy area of France. She is so charming she even coaxed her lawyer husband to quit his job and move to the country. (He is the poster child for a whippin boy though Shirley prefers to call him a love slave. At least she has the slave part right.) I furnished a whole vacation cabin with finds from her online store. Sheets so thick in linen they must have wieghed 4 or 5 pounds each.Vichy check in red and lampshades with the same. Hemp towels and curtains. I could go on for hours. I had never been to France and she was my only association with it. All I knew was she sold what I liked. It has been a love affair ever since. Don't get me wrong, she is not perfect (but close.) Her issues are ones you can work with as you will come to find out. She sells under simply chateau on Ebay and has a blog with the same name. If you want to shop for French Brocante items and want it to be open 24 hours a day this is your ticket. New listings every week,straight from the country untouched. Just typing this makes me want to go shopping. I will finish this blog. Focus Amy Focus. If you're reading this Mark (her husband) you know I love you and feel sainthood is in your future for living with Shirley. I am sorry she always borrows your razor for her face. I will bring you a fresh one next time and we will hide it from her....... Here are a few of my favorite things from years past that I purchased from Shirley's store. Mark, I will look forward to seeing you with Shirley tomorrow at the Brocante in Le mans.

Antique french sheets with crowns from a royals trousseau ooh la la
an enchanting cherub plaque with bird in hand from a building
( she probably pryed it off herself)
petite shells in test tubes with the writing in french.I get to look at these everyday courtesy of Simply Chateau . Merci Beau Coup Madame Shirley

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Are we there yet?

Yes,were loading up to head north for Shirleys but
not for a few days.I had to wait three days to see her and so do you. But,were gonna have fun. Plus the truck is too small for us so were gonna have take the train.
The good news is more shopping in Paris. This time we are leaving the window and going inside. Two words.Cire Trudon . One word Magnifique! They sell candles in fragrances that you have to develop a sixth sense just to process it in your mind.

Blue toile linen fabric walls with gorgeous drawings and antique domes over candles .Eye candy !Yes yes yes!

They also have walls of tapers for about 2,60 euro a piece. How fun that can tell all your friends you went to one of the oldest candle stores in Paris. If that is not enough, you can tell them they make all the candles for the Palace of Versailles. It's that little place that old King Louis and Marie lived......Not to be missed while in the city. I go everytime I am there----I think that is why they let me take pictures inside.So greatful.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Three days in Paris at Joyeux Noel time!

I am going to get to Shirley but first I need to show you some windows I saw during my three precious days in the city of lights. At Au Printemps department store the windows were bejeweled for holiday magique.............

...even the ceilings were festive. Lights and ribbons and ornaments hanging from the walkways outside!!! The french never leave you wanting more details. They just leave you wanting more ... insert sigh here at the memory of it all.

...from ghosts chasing children around at a christmas feast to busts that look like they came to life just for the holidays the windows were truly something from a dream of a place you can only find in Paris.

I found myself wondering if this man was real from another time or just a real dream of someones mind for the holiday season. Either way it fun to think of his life and how he ended up with his louvre museum like image hanging out for the holidays in Paris ....just like me.