Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas Vignette

I love putting together seasonal vignettes.  There's something satisfying about taking what I already have and rearranging them in new places.

As I mentioned in the last post, I found a fabulous chest of drawers at ReStore. The price was right, probably because the top was cracked.   For now, I'm hiding the crack with a large tray.

I always manage to buy too many floral picks, so I always have leftovers from my projects, so I tucked a few spares in a jade plant.

Some of our solar lights stopped working this summer, but the crackle glass globes make pretty decorations.

I'm really in no hurry to make the repair to the cracked top now.

Do you love creating tabletop vignettes too?

I'm linking up...
Savvy Southern Style
Handy Man, Crafty Woman

Monday, November 26, 2012

Antique Chest of Drawers

Did you ever find something fantatic and you bought it even though you didn't know where you will put it?

That's what happened when I found this antique chest of drawers at ReStore.

While it was a great price, I wasn't sure what my husband would think of it, so I took a picture with my phone, and practically danced around it while I waited for a response from him.  There was no way I was going to walk away from this beauty.

He approved.  Smart fellow.

I love the grape cluster pulls, the spindle details, and that amazing patina of worn wood.

The top has a large crack down the middle, which has been poorly repaired so it was priced accordingly.  Some day I'll either pull the top off and repair it properly or replace it with a piece of marble.  For now, I set a large tray on it for seasonal vignettes.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


True to my word, we were up early the next morning ready to leave Aix en Provence to board the train to Nice.  After dealing with a series of unfortunate events the day before, I was ready for some relaxing time on the beach.

The beach at Nice is made up pebbles and small rocks.  I loved the sound it made when the water retreated with each wave, kind of like a rain stick.  When the sun was out, the water was a brilliant teal.  And when the sun began to set, the coastline turned to gold.  Gorgeous!

The next morning we returned to the beach for breakfast.  Our time is France was dwindling quickly, so we're making the most of every hour left. 

Do we have to go home?

I wish I had a good photo of the twilight sky that evening with its deepening blue.  Imagine Van Gogh's "Starry Night Over the Rhone."

It's breath taking, and I can't help but whisper, "Vincent, I see it, your glowing blue evening sky." 

But I was able to get a great shot of this cathedral.  Wow!

We spent our last day exploring the market and shops of old Nice for gifts to take home.  And eating a lot of ice cream.

Thank you for allowing me to indulge in re-living our trip.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Aix en Provence

After getting lost in Nîmes, we decided the next morning we would take it easy and hang around Avignon until our train leaves for Aix en Provence.

We wanted to go to an outdoor market in Avignon.  Walking while studying the street map, I fell off a curb in front of some rather chic-looking young ladies.  Oh, the embarrassment!

I brushed myself off, a little sore, but it's not going to ruin my day. 

We strolled through an antiques market, paused in a church, and bought a pretty painting of Avignon's famous bridge from a charming artist who has set up shop in a garden.

Then we boarded the train to Aix en Provence.

We'd heard good things about Aix en Provence, so we thought we'd stop along the way to Nice.  Receiving our train ticket, we noticed that we're also given a bus ticket.


As it turns out, the train station is a good distance from city center.  We found the right bus to take us into the city, and which let everyone off in the middle of a very busy roundabout.  There were no traffic signals and driving seemed like a complete free-for-all.

Remember the video game Frogger?  Except we're pulling luggage.

I saw a sign for the city center, and we started down that street until the sidewalk ends, and we realized that the street is more like a minor highway.  An off-duty bus driver parked on the side of the road saw our dilemma and offered directions.

Once again, who said the French aren't nice to Americans?  Not us!

I could go on and on about how we're sweaty and irritable by the time we spot a bus stop that would take us toward the center of the city.  My husband proclaimed, "No matter where it's going, I'm getting on the next bus."

I started under the bus shelter to consult the map, but stop short.  A man was lying on the pavement in his own vomit.  He was not moving.  His head was turned away from us, but the angles of his body don't look natural.  Two people were standing nearby in official-looking dark jumpsuits.  They weren't helping the man on the ground.

I whispered to my husband, "I think that man is dead!"

"Me too.  Keep walking!"

Now my day was ruined.  At this point, I'm finished with Aix en Provence.  Forget about the bus.  Find me a taxi and take me to the hotel where I can book the first train out of town tomorrow!

So much for charming Aix en Provence.

Last stop...Nice.  Much nicer than Aix en Provence.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Pont du Gard and Nîmes

I went to France to see ancient Roman ruins. 

Ampitheaters and arenas and aqueducts, oh my!

Pont du Gard is one of the most visited sites in France, and one of the best preserved aqueducts in the world.  I overheard a college student tutoring his traveling companion about the Romans.  "There weren't great artists, but they were great engineers and planners."  Well said.

The sky looked threatening while we hiked around the aqueduct, but we managed to stay dry until a cloud burst open while we waited on the side of the road for the bus that would take us to Nîmes.

This would begin the most challenging 24 hours of our entire trip.

First, I hate buses because I get car-sick.  So while the scenery was very charming, I felt lousy once we arrived in Nîmes.

And we realized we didn't have a map of the city.

We wanted to see the arena, and we figured it would be easy to find.  But due to some construction along the esplanade, we couldn't see the arena, turned right when we should have veered left, and wandered up and down the wrong street for a good 40 minutes.

Somewhere along the way, I lost a button on my jacket.

After walking a loop around the city center, we finally found the arena.  Good grief, how did we miss it?

We stroll along Les Quais de la Fontaine, and Nîmes began to redeem itself, even though it took my button. 

A lost button would be nothing in comparison with tomorrow's adventure.

Coming next...The challenges continue in Aix en Provence.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Arles and Orange

I was looking forward to seeing Arles since Van Gogh painted many of his most well known works while living in Arles.  I completely understand why so many artists fall in love with the light in Arles.  There must be something about the angle of the sun because the light is truly fantastic.

So many beautiful shades of blue and lavender on shutters throughout the town.  And these red doors!

We toured the Roman amphiteatre in Arles, which is still used today for bullfights and concerts.

It was also inhabited by a few cats.  I'm missing our pets at this point.

The best part about Arles?  These lavender tarts.  It was the most delicious thing I ate on the entire trip.

Oh my.  I probably would have circled back for seconds if we didn't have a train to catch to Orange to see the Théâtre Antique d'Orange.  Dating back to the 1st century CE, it's still used today for theater, operas, and concerts.  See the statue in the alcove?  It's head was interchangable, making it easy to switch the noggin when a new ruler came to power.  Weren't those ancient Romans clever?

So, what did you see in France?

A bunch of Roman stuff.

Actually France has some of the best preserved Roman ruins.  We actually crossed one site off our list because we felt like we'd seen enough Roman arenas.

Next stop...more Roman architecture at Pont du Gard and Nîmes.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Everyone sing along...

Sur le pont d'Avignon
L'on y danse, l'on y danse
Sur le pont d’Avignon
L'on y danse tous en rond

Most likely, the dancing would have been under Pont Saint-Bénezet, not on it.  If you aren't familiar with this French tune, it dates back to the 15th century when there would have been cafés on the banks under the bridge's arches which spanned across the Rhône.  Flooding took its toll on the bridge over the years, causing parts of it to collapse.

 From 1309 to 1376, the popes resided in Avignon rather than Rome.  Seven popes resided the papal palace of Avignon.

While the palace is largely unfurnished today, there are some rooms with impressive paintings still remaining on the walls and ceilings.  In the 1980s, several hidden vaults were discovered in the floors (no mention if any papal treasure or church documents were still inside).

We used Avignon as a base for exploring nearby towns, but Avignon itself is charming and pedestrian friendly.
How about this darling terrace?

While we really didn't have a bad meal on our trip, we had two of the best dinners in Avignon.  One was at this café on the left.  It was recommended in a Rick Steve's book, so my husband made a reservation.  It was tucked away from the street, so we almost couldn't find it!  Check out those blue shutters in the building connected to the church.

I forgot to adjust my camera settings back to outdoor lighting so some of my pictures had odd colors.  No matter.  I'll just switch them to black and white. 

Next stop...Arles and Orange (the town, not the color).

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Mary Carol Garrity Holiday Home Tour 2012

I'm going to depart from my tour of France series because Mary Carol Garrity's Holiday Home Tour was today.

For those of you not familiar with Kansas's decorating darling, Mary Carol Garrity is the founder of several home decorating stores in Atchison, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, including Nell Hills, plus the author of several books.  She lives in a historic Greek Revival home in Atchison, and she opens her home a few times a year for tours.

And after the tour, we go shopping at her two Atchison stores.  I almost bought this lantern, but I decided I have enough lanterns to decorate.

I think Mary Carol was a little under the weather, but she kept smiling and played the gracious hostess like a champ.

I loved this statue in the urn next to the door.  I'm planning on copying this look!
Let's go inside!
Imagine a holiday party here.  Oh, that red against the buttery yellow walls!  This statue is available in her stores.  Someday, I'll probably regret not buying her, like those orbs from the fall open house.
I asked Mary Carol about decorating trends this Christmas, and she said that anything goes, but understated elegance was popular.  I love how she layers on vertical surfaces, like this wreath over the mirror in the foyer.  Understated yet elegant indeed.
Mary Carol's style is very busy with lots of books, artwork, and knicknacks.  I like how she uses a more monochromatic color scheme for her holiday decorating.
The pretty mantel sings "holidays" without screaming "Christmas."
Let's get a closer look.
The dining room was more understated this year.  It was set up to serve a buffet rather than a formal meal, which was clever.  My side of the family sits around the table for holiday meals, but my in-laws serve them buffet-style.  Neither family is as fancy as this!
Shall we go outside to look at the garden?

Today's weather was clear with temperatures in the low 60s.  I doubt she keeps those ginger jars outside all winter! 
I always admire how she uses basic foundation pieces, like these iron posts, to decorate for each season. 
It isn't Christmas quite yet, so if you would like to see the fall home tour, click here for the home tour and here for the garden tour.  If you pin, please be sure to give Mary Carol credit for her work.

I'm linking up...

Friday, November 2, 2012


There's a difference between going on vacation and traveling.

Vacations are nice.  But, I like to travel.  Traveling comes with adventures.  And sometimes, these adventures aren't always expected.

Like when I am sitting on a train in Paris, bound for Lyon, and my husband reviews the email he saved with the hotel information, only to discover there is a disclaimer at the bottom which reads, "This is not your reservation.  Click here to confirm your reservation."


It was a nailbiting ride to Lyon.  At least he was biting his nails, freaking out, thinking in his jet-lagged fatigue he overlooked that last step.  Or did he? 

Me, I was calm as could be.  No worries.  We'll find Wi-Fi service when we get to Lyon and see if there is another email that arrived later.  Or we'll just start walking until we find another hotel, regardless of the price, for just one night.

Walking out of the train station, I spotted a hotel across the street.  Yes, they had a room available for 279 euros (gulp).  Yes, we could use their Wi-Fi to check our email.  But the front desk clerk could also just call the original hotel where we thought we had a reservation.

Who said the French weren't friendly?  Not us!

And we had a room reservation.  Whew!

At that point, I suggested we splurge for a taxi to take us to our hotel, where we would sleep in the next day, then find a laundromat.  By this time, we've been living out of two carry-on suitcases for nearly a week.

Nothing like a good night of sleep and clean clothes for these travelers to get their groove back!

We finished the day taking it easy, exploring Lyon on foot.

The next day was a huge market, arts and crafts on one side of the river, food and flowers on the other.

And that email to confirm our hotel reservation?  It arrived in our inbox three days later.  Thanks, Expedia.

Next stop...Avignon