Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanks “Living”

On this occasion of giving thanks for the many blessings that we have, I challenge all of us to live with an attitude of “thanks” everyday of the year.

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This year, my Thanksgiving table is very simplistic.  I’m not a fan of big centerpieces which inhibit conversation, but instead like low-cut fresh flowers to make a table sing. I decided to stick with mostly white, using roses and baby’s breath, and didn’t even add a lot of fall colors. I like the neutral background that my European grain sack runners have.

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I found these great post-consumer recycled brown (thin cardboard) placemats at a local bookstore which have the most elegant letterpress writing “Thankful” in the upper left corner.  I offset the plates to the right, and added a sprig of baby’s breath to the pewter napkin holders. 

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I love using soft vintage white linens that I’ve found while antiquing over the years.

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A tradition that I started last year, will be continued this year.  Everyone wrote on a card what he or she was most thankful for, and they were read after dinner.  I saved those cards and will have them re-read again. In addition, I bought these small letterpress cards from Paper Source which have a rich green matching envelope.  Placing them at each place setting, everyone can write on them what they’re most thankful for this year and they will be displayed on a photo holder on the sideboard. 

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Yep… I had to get one fall- acorn- squirrel thing in the mix. A snazzy decorated pinecone that hangs from the bombe chest!

May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends and remember to practice Thanks-Living.

Blessings,

Kim

Linking up to these great blog parties:

Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style

{Primp} Your Stuff Wednesday at Michele Raven Designs

White Wednesday at Faded Charm Cottage

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Decorating Dogs

What do Murphy, Zoe, Riley, Darby, Nicholas, Ruby, and Lila all have in common?
They’re all Cavalier King Charles Spaniels who so happen to own humans who love French Country décor or who are decorators in the French Country style.
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There’s just something about Cavaliers that  seems to say “design dog”. They have a certain je ne sais quoi that makes them the perfect decorating accessory.  You see lots of  photos of these canine companions in home magazines perched upon French chairs with luscious fabric.  They must have exquisite taste as they always choose to sit upon the finest furnishings.  I guess they are showing their royal blood, and no other breed is the epitomy of a lap dog as much as the melt-your-heart-with –their-eyes Cavalier. 
Let me introduce you to these cute doggies…
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Riley, owned by Debbie Chamblin of Belle Maison Antiques
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Darby, owned by Debbie Chamblin of Belle Maison Antiques
I fell in love with the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel when I met Riley, a gorgeous blenheim Cavalier owned by my good friend, Debbie Chamblin, owner of Belle Maison Antiques in Lexington.  I’ll never forget the first time I met Debbie and visited her shop. Riley was sitting ever so regally by the large glass front doors and I gasped when I caught sight of him and I kept saying to my husband as we approached to enter, “Oh, honey, it’s one of THOSE dogs…THOSE dogs that I have only seen in pictures, one of THOSE dogs that reminds me of France (even though he has English origins!), one of THOSE dogs that I would love to have…and blah, blah, blah, I kept going on about him all the way to the front door.  And, he didn’t disappoint.  With his sweet disposition, it was love at first sight. I now consider Riley a doggy friend and he has since been joined by a sister, another blenheim named Darby.  Together, they make great store mascots, who are always ready to greet customers.  Debbie says some clients stop by regularly just to visit with Riley & Darby.  Now these dogs know how to make friends and sell French antiques!
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Here are Riley & Darby outside the shop this spring showing off the Fermob line of outdoor furnishings from  France.
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And, they always model the latest fashions!

Then, I met Shawn Stucker, owner of European Antique Market in Louisville and she too has a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  Hers is a beautiful Ruby, named Zoe, who also hangs out in the French shop.  O.K. there’s something to this French thing and Cavaliers!
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Zoe, owned by Shawn Stucker of European Antique Market
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Lucky dog, Zoe, getting to lounge around on all those great French pieces!
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Zoe just seems to go with fabby French pieces and makes a wonderful advertising dog.
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And, can you believe it? Shawn and I got our Cavaliers from the same breeder in Tennessee when we begin to compare notes.  Nope, they don’t have the same parents, but they sure do resemble each other!!!

And, then, there’s my  good friend, Charles Faudree, (O.K. I could be stretching that statement a bit, but I did get to meet him in person at Keeneland in Lexington a couple years ago, and he is absolutely charming!).  You know, Charles Faudree, French Country designer extraordinnaire and author of several decorating books. It’s not surprising that he loves Cavaliers, and has 3 of them. You can see them throughout his books in photographs of lovely interiors and on the covers of some of them. Their names are Nicholas, Ruby, and Lila.
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I highly recommend all of Charles’ books! That’s another post.
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They’ve even been featured in an ad for Charles’ fabrics by Vervain. He also designed a Cavalier Toile, but I couldn’t get a good clear image of it.

And, here is my canine baby, Murphy. I love his big soft floppy ears
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He does look a lot like Zoe.
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Melt your heart eyes
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He’s the official mascot at La Belle Epoque.
What about you? What is your decorating dog mascot? Any of you out there have Cavaliers?
The French love their “chiens”.  Maybe everything is going to the dogs!
Smooches,
Kim
Be sure to check out the All Things French Giveaway at Debra's Common Ground
Linking up to:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cloche Re-Do

I was working on some Christmas décor today, and decided to re-do a cloche that I use for Christmas.
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I put this vignette together a couple years ago and thought I would make a change. I love little scenes contained under glass. I can’t remember where I purchased the bell jar, but it was new, not vintage.
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And here it is without the glass  right before I de-constructed it. The silver deer and the teeny snow baby are vintage Christmas items that I found years ago while antiquing.
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J’adore antique French garden cloches, but they are always a bit cloudy from years of weathering and use. Plus they can be quite large (wide at the base).
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And here it is after. I got my inspiration from the Christmas issue of Jeanne d’Arc magazine. I wanted to go more natural and used apples and reindeer moss (I love that stuff!). Very simple to do and such a big impact.
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The red is certainly a burst of color, but I promise it’s not that much “in your face” in person as it looks in the photos.
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I think I may need to change the satin ribbon to jute twine with a sprig of holly or other fresh greens.
What do you think? Which do you like best?

Linking up to these great blog parties:
Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style
{Primp} Your Stuff Wednesday at Michele Raven Designs
Open House Thursday at No Minimalist Here
French Inspiration Thursday at French Cupboard
Show and Tell Friday at Romantic Home
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Vintage Inspiration Friday at Common Ground
Hugs,
Kim

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Celebration & Crème Brulee

Today, the 14th of November,  my husband & I celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary.  We love to re-count the story of our dinner the night before our ceremony.
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Being that I love all things French, we  found a French restaurant named La Boucane in Napa Valley and had made reservations for the evening.  It was a small, quaint restaurant situated in an old house.
The chef, whose name was Jacques, came to our table toward the end of the meal to see how we liked our food.  We exchanged pleasantries with him, and to this day, we both remember the conversation and advice that he gave us. 
We told him we were getting married the next day and he told us that he too was  on his second marriage.  He proclaimed in his most wonderful French accent and squeezing his fingers near his mouth said, “I luv looveerss!  Never go to bed mad at each other.”
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He then proceeded to tell us, after we ordered the crème brulee, that Americans don’t make it correctly using a kitchen torch.  He said in France a crème brulee never sees a torch, but is carmelized properly under a broiler!  We have never forgotten what he said. 
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As Thanksgiving approaches, we are still thankful for each other and for wonderful memories such as these. It’s wonderful to be in love.
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Eleven years ago today!
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P.S. I received Gin Fizz parfum, the signature fragrance of Lubin of Paris (and created for Princess Grace) and a floral scroll engraved twin locket set by Monica Rich Kosann. What a great man I have!

Blessings,
Kim

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Getting in the Christmas Spirit

While we were traveling last week, my husband and I attended the annual Greentree Close Holiday Open House in downtown Lexington.  Greentree Close is a  myriad of upscale shops that have a personal quaint small town charm yet big city  chic feeling about them.  It is always a treat to visit them, (especially this time of year) and this trip didn’t disappoint as usual.  It’s also a wonderful excuse to get all dressed up and go out for the evening. They were all decked out in their holiday glamour, with Christmas music, delicious hors d’oevres, and even Santa!
A very special destination that is one of my all-time favorite places to shop is Belle Maison Antiques owned by my friend, Debbie Chamblin.  She has a wonderful way of mixing period French antiques, mid-century modern pieces, and sophisticated urban city style displays that always grab your attention.  She has a great “eye” for tresors, and pays such attention to every detail.  She also has an attached sister shop, named Trillium, which is a lifestyle store filled with all the latest trends in fashion accessories, pampered pet items, and fine accoutrements for the home.
Here are a few photos that I took the next day after the big event.
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I love mixing old and new. The antique French iron garden piece and rustic table blend effortlessly  with the whimsical stone rabbit and lighted branch trees. You can’t exactly tell from the photo, but these little trees were wrapped in burlap sacks and contained  in mercury glass vases. The drum also came from France and is antique.
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I’m crazy about this oil painting by French artist, Paul Lambert.
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She had a wonderful display of ornaments by local shell artist, Ron Meece.  You can see other examples of his work on the table below. She used two long natural branches suspended from the ceiling to hang the ornaments.  How simple and genius. Yes, you can see more French antiques in the background.
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Faux bois planters and huge lanterns.  Love them!
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There’s a lot going on here. More French antiques (like the round metal gueridon table between the two fauteil chairs), important shell pieces, and modern horns, skin rug, and copper drum table.
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I have a thing for mirrors, and think everyone should have at least one sunburst mirror. So chic and French.  Notice the custom lamp shade by The Shade Above. Debbie has the coolest lamps-antique and modern.
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Lots of sun pouring in, but I can’t get enough of the warm rich patina on French fruitwood furniture pieces. A Louis Philippe mirror sits on top.
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And, here is a shot of Debbie’s other store, Trillium, more modern and cutting edge.
What did I come home with?  Well……I had to have those great lighted branch trees in the mercury glass vases, several artist made shell encrusted ornaments, and holy smoly, some of those awesome feather trees above in different sizes.  Stay tuned for what I’m going to do with all these goodies. 
Blessings,
Kim
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