Linen Lust

May 13th, 2010 comments 8

when I think of linen I think of Provence. We use linen for our curtains, our upholstery and slipcovers, draped over beds, tables, anywhere and everywhere we can. For those of you who experience linen lust as I do, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite European linen lines. Today it’s De Le Cuona.

De Le Cuona is a UK firm, known for it’s extensive range, luxurious softness and in their own words, floppy hand. The weight and drape of their fabrics is sublime. They also produce a collection of paisley’s inspired by antique Kashmir designs. The color ways and  weaves are absolutely incredible. I can’t say enough about these fabrics. You’ll find their distribution network on their website or you can visit Provence and I’ll introduce you to my friend Catherine who represents the collection in our area and you can experience their splendor firsthand.

above images courtesy the De Le Cuona website

My tapissier (upholsterer) just delivered this 18th century armchair which I had re-upholstered in De Le Cuona chevron linen.  It has a fantastic slubby texture and a mat finish, and I think it plays well with the sober rustic style of the chair. What do you think?

Every Girl Should Have One

May 11th, 2010 comments 2

I received an email asking if I had any antique saint’s crowns in my inventory. Unfortunately not at the moment, but I’ve worn had quite a few over the years. I said that I would post a few photos from my archives to give her an idea of what she might find. A single crown placed on a stack of books, displayed in a bookcase, or nested in an arrangement of found objects adds that bit of sparkle we love. A very clever friend of mine built a niche into a wall and stacked a jumble of these beauties. I keep mine in the kitchen.

A Mother’s Nest

May 9th, 2010 comments 2

Colorado Robin's Nest

Although I’m a nest builder, I’ve never paid close attention to the birds that visit our garden, until this spring. So far we’ve had the wayward pigeon (read about Ms. P here), and a pair of nesting doves and their friend, the loner. Doves mate for life so I feel sorry for the loner. He befriended the pigeon but now that the pigeon’s flown the coop he’s alone again. We have a pair of Great Tits (my husband thinks that’s pretty funny) that are nesting in a hole in one of our stone walls. There’s been a good luck visit from the Hoopoe (pronounced hoopoo) of Egyptian hieroglyphic fame and today a flock of fantastically colored European Bee-Eaters stopped by.

They’re all attending to their nests this time of year. I feel an instinctual connection to these busy birds because the nest I’ve built and care for as a mother has been the most important thing I’ve done in my life and has also been life’s greatest gift to me. Birds, like mothers, build nests only to watch their babies fly away. And the flying away is the hardest part (on the Moms that is), but I know that if the nest is built of love it will never be abandoned and our babies will never really leave.

I treasure each and every nanosecond I’m able to spend with my son and daughter. Our non-traditional life has allowed us to be a part of each others lives in a very special way. Our daughter flew off to Colorado just a couple of weeks ago and our son flies off to Brazil at the end of this week. Even though we’ll once again be separated by physical distance, on this Mother’s Day the thing I’m most thankful for is the love and friendship we all share and for the invisible nest that keeps us together, wherever we are in the world.

A very Happy Mothers Day to my own Mom and to all of you lucky nest builders out there.

Great Tit - European Bee Eater - Hoopoe

Graphic Greatness

May 8th, 2010 comments 7

i can’t get enough of these vintage cement tiles I find at the local salvage yard… poussière compris (dust included). I want to silkscreen the patterns on fabric, use the images in a collage, paint a frieze, embroider a border on a linen skirt, knit the patterns, make a tile top table… not to mention re-tile several rooms in my house….. What would they become in your hands?

Thinning The Excess

May 5th, 2010 comments 0

It’s time to thin the fruit on the apricot tree. I dread this simple garden task. Who am I to edit nature? I stare at the freshly plucked potential in the bottom of my bucket and I’m overcome with a sense of remorse.

Gardening in our area of Provence resembles a form of vegetal warfare. If you’ve ever seen a plane tree hacked to knarly nubs or the local fruit trees awkward skeletal frames, you understand the severity from which we coax “appropriate” growth. I have to wonder about the natural world’s willingness to reward such intervention with a beautiful canopy not to mention a sweet crop. Even the formal French garden design I admire relies heavily on taming and shaping the otherwise wild.

Weeding, pruning the dead wood, thinning the excess fruit, all necessary and beneficial, but in my hands these chores have more of a 60’s live and let live vibe. Come to think of it, there’s a tie die T shirt in my dresser drawer and I remember my daughter saying something about it being good gardening attire….

Swedish Meets French

May 4th, 2010 comments 2

Sunday In Isle

May 2nd, 2010 comments 2

From My Kitchen Window

May 1st, 2010 comments 4

brocanting and blogging have been on the back burner for the past 2 weeks. We’ve had our first true taste of spring here in Provence and we decided it was time to attack the north side of our garden. This has been the space that’s housed the stacks of construction materials, the cement mixer, the piles of debris. We never counted it as livable outdoor space, we thought of it more as a buffer. Surprise surprise! What I love about a remodel project is that sometimes a feature you’ve completely overlooked morphs into a little gem.

Our hands are dirty hands and our backs are sore…. the gravel has yet to be delivered and there’s a bit more planting to do, but the view from my kitchen window already makes me smile!

work in progress...

before.....

Humble Beginnings

April 30th, 2010 comments 0

Imagine being offered a beautiful box, hand crafted by your future husband, destined to hold the things you find most dear.

The tradition of the wedding coffer dates back to the middle ages. Originally it was the nobles or the father of the bride that commissioned this piece of furniture, which was designed to hold the future household’s valuables. It was a luxury only available to the affluent and as time passed it became the future husband that offered this treasured gift to his bride. The coffer found it’s place in the master bedroom at the foot of the bed and was painted with symbolic imagery to reminded the couple of their wedding bond. Renowned woodworkers and painters in France and Italy crafted such pieces from the Renaissance through the 19th century and today they’re sought after by collectors around the globe.

The examples of of this tradition that appeal the most to me however, had much more humble beginnings. The small coffre de mariage pictured here were crafted with love, and often by the future husbands themselves. They might have held the family silver or important documents. The base of the box was always wood and their decoration ranged from stylized 18th century paper to simple painted country imagery. I love that the interior is often more magnificent than the exterior. A hidden beauty only the lucky recipient enjoys.

Now instead of receiving, imagine giving one of these treasures as a wedding or shower gift to a bride to be! I like the idea of taking part in a tradition that survived for centuries and even more that these pieces find a new life as part of the ceremony that sparked their creation in the first place.

Market Day In Lourmarin

April 26th, 2010 comments 2

If you’re visiting Provence this summer you’ll more than likely want to spend a morning at one of the weekly village markets. One of my all time favorites is in Lourmarin on Friday mornings.

The village is achingly picturesque: colorful history, a Renaissance castle, lovely cafes for people watching, Côte Bastide, a great antique store and the quintessential weekly market. See you on Friday!