Pattern Inspiration à la Marrakesh

May 19th, 2011 comments 4

Today I’m looking for inspiration in photos from a recent visit to Palais Bahia…

A palace in Marrakesh built for concubines…

Filled with color, texture, and pattern…

Tiled floors…

Painted ceilings…

Geometric masterpieces…

Proud Momma

May 6th, 2011 comments 1

In anticipation of Mother’s Day, I’d like you to meet my amazing daughter!
She’s the creative inspiration behind these fabulous custom silhouette pendants and she’s the best girlfriend and antiquing buddy a Momma could ask for. At thebrocante her eye gravitates to all things small: things she cleverly uses to craft the most incredible jewelry.

This is how she re-purposes antique French drapery rings… necklace, bracelet, christmas ornament…

She’s been featured in numerous publications and boutiques and in case you’re tempted, you can find her through her Etsy shop LuckyMeBeads.
I’m one proud Momma.

Finding Our Tribe(s)

April 25th, 2011 comments 6

I’m still relatively new to the blogging world (despite my absence for the last several months). My first post as a blogger was a little over a year ago. Not the quickest girl to the party… In my defense, I’ve lived in a SLOW country. Life, love, food, and the internet are SLOWer in my corner of Provence.

My daughter first introduced me to blogging through her own amazing blogs and then to one of her favorites Superhero Journal. I found and still find incredible wisdom and honesty in Andrea’s words. Through Andrea I was introduced to Brené’s (Extra)Ordinary Courage. A healing place to go and grow. I admire that both women and their sites are out there trying to make a difference in other people’s lives. I blurked for a while. I soaked up the love but I never left a comment. I don’t know why, I guess I didn’t think it would matter. I see differently now.

As I discovered more blogs I read about everything from peak oil to creating my own indigo dyes. Around the time I started my own blog adventure I plugged into a small eddy of design related gems. It was there that I began to find my tribe. Each day offered new food for my visual soul. One of my first discoveries was LeAnn’s beautiful blog Linen & Lavender. Through her images I saw a shared vision and she generously offered to introduce me to her readers. James at Garvinweasel kindly did the same and Greet of Belgian Pearls was always there with a generous word. From there one link led to another.

For many of us our daily blog visits are as treasured as a morning chat with a friend. Technologically speaking the medium may be impersonal but I think it’s anything but! The highly personal view that each blogger brings to a collection of visual images or a well crafted story offers a window into their creative soul and permits us to get to know that unique individual in ways that having a conversation alone cannot.

When my kids were in their elementary years I met mom’s of other young kids at school. Most often the only thing we had in common was a Saturday morning rendezvous on the soccer field. Being a creative type, my basement home studio didn’t facilitate introductions to like minded individuals. Finding friends that share similar interests, visions and ideas isn’t often geographically possible.

The blogging world removes those geographic obstacles and it doesn’t limit us. Thanks to blogs I can easily satisfy my design cravings as well as explore the world of fellow sculptors. Next up TED, then my inner foodie comes calling. At another moment I’m off to visit the math geeks and a few heavy thinkers (Dr. Bartlett’s thoughts on the exponential equation are a personal favorite). All of the random musings of a personality can be entertained with the click of a mouse. It’s a giant smorgasboard and we’re encouraged to sample at whim. Talk about personal choice! I think it’s fantastic.

Not to mention the taste tests… Think you might like writing computer code? Check out a blog or two and see if it rings true. Extreme sports? There’s another world out there. The blogosphere allows us to explore our interests, live vicariously, experiment, and learn in ways that might not otherwise be possible.

We’ve all heard the phrase “grow where you’re planted”. How fortunate we are to be planted in the middle of this time of internet magic. Blogging as I’ve experienced it is all about the sharing of information, ideas and self; finding our tribes and building communities through the relationships we develop and the respect we show for other people and their points of view.

But blogging takes time. And for me that’s been in short supply this last 6 months. I’m hoping that another detour leads me back this way again soon, but until then, I want to thank all of the creative and generous bloggers that I’ve shared cyberspace with and I want to send my heartfelt gratitude to the lovely readers who have chosen to share their time, encouragement and thoughts with me.

Playing for Change

February 11th, 2011 comments 2

It’s been far too long since I’ve found my way to post on this blog. So many changes to share since then. I hope you enjoy:

Stand By Me | Playing For Change | Song Around The World

“Quand la nuit tombe et la terre est sombre
Et la lune est la lumière qui brille devant moi;
Je n’aurai pas peur, oh non, je n’aurai pas peur
Tant que tu restes, restes près de moi
Et chérie, chérie reste près de moi, oh reste près de moi
Oh reste, près de moi, près de moi….”

What’s On The Horizon?

August 16th, 2010 comments 12

“if you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I’m longing for the immensity of the sea. To me it symbolizes the vastness of potential at the inception of a new creative adventure, the moment where tout est possible –anything’s possible.

Les vacances of August have relaxed me into a state of yearning accompanied by an all too recognizable uneasiness. It usually appears towards the end of a “house project” -of which we’ve had six in our lives. Six times building the boat, so to speak, with six sets of before and after photos. While realizing our house dreams has brought immense satisfaction, oh how I love the open water and the limitless creative possibilities it represents…

What about you? Are you happiest dreaming or doing?

Sales + Shoes = La Mirande

August 6th, 2010 comments 5

les Soldes -the sales – are a twice yearly phenomenon in France,
They’re a much anticipated social event and almost impossible for me to resist. Avignon is on my solde radar every season so yesterday a friend and I braved the August crowds to see what the final markdowns might offer.

Girlfriends, shopping and sales inevitably leads to at least one new pair of shoes. And so it was, with bags of shoes in both hands, we wound our way behind the Palais des Papes for a celebratory afternoon tea at La Mirande.

La Mirande is my dream hotel and the perfect post (or pre) shopping rest stop. There’s a pair of 18th century chairs tucked up to a small table in the corner of the intimate bar; my favorite spot to savor a glass of red wine on a fall day.

In the winter, the sunny atrium is the place we often stop for hot chocolate. Yesterday we popped in for a cup of Gyokuro and an assortment of pastries they offer at tea time. Alone or with a friend if I’m in Avignon, I make my way here.

The hotel’s decoration beautifully blends 18th and 19th century styles. It’s flawless and old world and not the least bit stuffy. The woodwork, the brilliant panes of undulating hand blown glass, the stone pavers, the period antiques, the wall coverings and fabrics. I walk away longing to redecorate my entire life.

They even offer cooking classes and intimate dinners in the kitchen prepared by the chef as you look on. It’s only 45 minutes away from my home but I’m thinking that it just may be this year’s preferred vacation destination!

What’s Your Color IQ?

July 26th, 2010 comments 6

hue, tint, shade or tone? I lean toward tones – the grayed down version of hue. It’s in the nuances of tone that I become obsessed. Like many, I’ve spent a good amount of time searching for that elusive (perfect) paint color, and I have a jillion quarts of paint to prove it. But I can’t help myself because I know that when the colors are as they should be, an interior space sings. I ran across this Online Color IQ Challenge the other day and according to their test I have perfect color vision. Really? Then why, do tell, is picking a paint color so dang hard!

My favorite book on the subject is called COLOR Natural Palettes for Painted Rooms by Donald Kaufman and Taffy Dahl. It was first published in 1991 but it’s message and photos are timeless.  When I first bought the book – well before we lived in France – I stared endlessly at photos of Nicole de Vesian’s house “La Louve” in Bonnieux.

The book offered a pallet of tones gleaned from the surrounding landscape. I still gravitate to those colors just as I still love the house and garden.

Kaufman offers this advice to those of us who agonize over color:

  • Visualizes spaces as volumes
  • Consider color and space as one
  • Expand the mock up phase
  • Don’t shortcut the execution
  • Forget Trends
  • Credit your individuality and eccentricity
  • Stick to your belief that decoration can be great and still contain your personal expressions
  • Don’t be distracted by the mass market jargon that is masquerading as expert advice
  • Realize the limitations of all advice including mine

On his website he expands on each of these thoughts and it’s well worth the read. The site is inspiring and beautiful and I particularly like the irregular presentation of the color swatches:

Kaufman’s and Dahl’s work as colorists led them to develop a line of paints featuring  over a hundred luscious colors and I’m dying for a chance to use them. Through their eyes it seems so simple.

If any of you have tried or seen the paints in person I’d love to hear about it!

Summertime’s Winter Elixir

July 24th, 2010 comments 1

These summery green gems are the secret to my favorite winter elixir. Liqueur de Noix or Nocino as it’s called in Italy is at it’s finest during the holiday season and is truly amazing when drizzled over gelato or whisked into custard.

I followed David Lebovitz’s recipe here last year and it was a grand succès as well as deliciously addictive. The ingredients are simple: the not yet developed walnuts, sugar, vodka, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla and lemon magically melded with the addition of time.

While searching for my libation’s origins I read that legend claims “that in order to make a ‘divine’ Nocino the walnuts should be picked during the night of the 23rd and the 24th of June by a barefooted virgin who should wait beneath a walnut tree and gather any green walnuts that fall to the ground. If the walnuts remain untouched by anyone but the virgin the nocino will remain pure. If anyone else touches the walnuts however, it will be corrupted. For this reason the night of the 23rd and the 24th of June is known as la notte delle Vergini Scalze (the night of the barefooted Virgins).”

Ok, so that’s in Italy, but in our area of Provence the walnuts are ready now and with sandals on my feet I’m dreaming of cooler weather, a crackling fire and the nutty sweet memory of this very summer’s day.

We Have A Winner!

July 22nd, 2010 comments 3

Thanks to you readers who entered the Two Maisons Giveaway. I enjoyed hearing about your very favorite antiques and discovering some lovely new (to me) bloggers and readers along the way. My random number generator (read: hat with 13 little pieces of paper) has selected the winner of the french market cabas…. and it’s Donna of A Perfect Gray fame! If there’s any chance that you haven’t seen Donna’s blog – which is next to impossible – make sure you pay her a visit. There’s always an inspiring image to brighten a design lover’s day. Thanks again for participating!

Bastille Giveaway Fireworks!

July 14th, 2010 comments 4

Le quatorze Juillet est arrivé! -a rhyming way of saying that Bastille Day is upon us and as fireworks are exploding in many parts of France, here at Two Maisons the call for celebration is the announcement of the winner of my first Giveaway.
I love hosting a giveaway!

Into the hat went the names….

I blindfolded myself then spun myself around in circles…

And the winner is LeeAnn of the wonderful blog Fabulously French!
Congratulations LeeAnn!

The thing I’ve enjoyed most about this giveaway is meeting other bloggers and followers that have stopped by to say hi so please wander back by tomorrow as Part Deux – the second part of the Two Maisons Giveaway will be announced!

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