Life, Our Home

Our French Village Home – The Beginning

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First, I’d like to apologize to email subscribers for the various ‘test’ posts yesterday. My fingers are crossed that we have definitively rectified the issue that was preventing me from publishing this post two days ago!

Hello Spring! Hello you!

What a whirlwind since my last post. Moving across the country is no easy task and while we didn’t have any horrible issues arise, it was hard, very stressful, and very physically taxing and I think we are just recovering now, a few weeks after the move.

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Here we are, though, in the famous Occitane region of France and trying to re-find our footing. We haven’t changed countries but the culture is a bit different and, even more than that, we went from one of the most densely populated areas in Europe (with the transportation to match) to a small country village about 25 minutes from the city. A lot of changes come with that. We feel less harried and there is so much more sun. The people smile and say hello when you pass on the street and the expansive landscape is covered in the low, silvered flora of a hot region. The Roman Empire is still palpably here.

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But the stores close earlier and we have access to just the basics in town, though of a very good quality. The bus only comes by a few times a day and I have no French driver’s license yet. We spend the weekends running around doing errands and trying to find our patterns, the ‘regulars’ that we had figured out ages ago in Paris. I can’t wait to get back to a point where Saturday isn’t only about shopping and errands and more about exploring! And that sunny 75°F in March is making me panic a bit about what that means for August!

On pictures and location alone we rented an old stone house in a the center of the village (that stone should help immensely in August!). We’re almost lost in it as we went from a two bedroom, compact apartment to a four bedroom two story house with a deck. I’m not complaining, though. We’ll adjust!

It’s a huge change for all three of us apartment dwellers but I think that now that most of the boxes have been unpacked, and a modicum of organization has made the space functional, we’re starting to settle in a bit. So today I wanted to share what the space looks like now because I have big plans over time (got to let the bank account recover after the move 😉 ).

Come on in? (And while I ran around straightening a bit before snapping these, this is real life so please excuse the clutter/mess/laundry!)

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The first floor is an open plan dining and living room with whatever original finishes it had now renovated over. Everything is tiled here in the south and that has been one of the biggest adjustments for me honestly, not only because it’s really not my favorite look or color but also because it is so hard on the joints walking on the cold hard tiles all day. My knees and feet were in so much pain that first week and a half with so much walking to work on the boxes! So I’m not sure how we’ll approach that aspect yet but I think we need a billion rugs.

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The kitchen is off the dining area and it’s huge! The layout is an odd inverted L because of a powder room off the dining area but it’s roughly 6 times larger than what we had before so all thumbs up! The beige tile follows us in here with sand colored cabinets, strangely purple laminate counters, and an orangey beige tile backsplash all pulled together with my least favorite paint color: peach. But not a sweet, airy peach, this is kind of muddy as a color and the symphony of all those beige/sand family hues is just not inspiring anyone around here. But we are only renters so I have some creative plans up my sleeve!! The wall sticker on the back wall drove me nuts when we first got here (pepper & salt). The color, the kerning, the reasoning (?), and the order (SALT & pepper!) made me crazy. But when I started to pull off the letters, beginning with ‘T’, I stopped because Pepper & Sal sounded like some crazy friends of Mitch and Cameron on the Modern Family and now I’m thinking of it as their kitchen. 😉 Also, our stove is currently just a countertop as we have a new oven under the counter where the stove is.

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Off the kitchen is a small garage (the door by the stove) and a second full bath that is a bit ‘vintage’ but will mostly serve as a laundry/utility room for us. (A disaster right now!)

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Back in the living room area is a door to another small garage (!) and the stairs to the second floor. More tile! Cat on a suitcase!

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At the top of the stairs a door on the right goes out to the deck over the second garage and a loooong hallway goes off to the left leading to the bedrooms and bathroom.

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Here starts what is left of the original stone floors which are beautiful and run through the closet, Élie’s room,

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and our room.

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Further down the hall the flooring changes back to beige tile in an open space in the hall and the bathroom and toilet.

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The tile in these rooms is the strangest greeny-beige color with an accent stripe. While the space (our previous bathroom was less than a yard wide) and that gloriously big tub/shower are making us so happy, I have plans to soften the effect of all that tile!

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Around the corner and at the end of the hall are two stairs up to the third and fourth bedrooms and our third and fourth types of flooring.

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Confusing, right? This space is really big actually but we think it was added on from the neighboring property or at least vastly changed because it is on three levels (partially to accommodate the garage below) and, since you have to go through the third bedroom to access the fourth and there are no doors, I suppose it isn’t technically two rooms but the amount of space sure is! That first room is my new office and studio and I am so thrilled to have that space!! Now it just needs to be made functional.

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The mezzanine of the fourth bedroom (finally some wood flooring!) will be R’s office and the lower level (currently É’s “new home” as he calls it) will be a guest room. Again, we’ll be needing a lot of rugs, and furniture!

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(That DIY runner is from the old apartment and doesn’t even make it halfway down the length of this hall!)

So you’ve had the tour! So much potential, right? I’ve got a lot of ideas brewing and I’m looking forward to finally getting them sorted out and start planning these spaces to fit our family now that we’re mostly out of the boxes. Here’s to spring and new beginnings!

Xo,

A.

P.S. These are all iPhone pics but I’ll have more and better shots of the region to share soon!

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Enregistrer

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Life, Night Au Musée

2017

egg & dart blog

The weekend before last we went to the Louvre. If you’ve stuck with me this long, you might remember that we went all the time before parenthood changed our schedules. We had the amazing annual membership for those up to 30 years old (if you live in Paris and that description fits you, get it!) and we would meet after work for the Friday late night openings and just wander.

Musée du Louvre - egg & dart blog

The year I was pregnant with Élie was the same year they held the campaign to raise funds for the restoration of Winged Victory, my favorite sculpture, and, as you could donate in someone else’s name, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to donate in the new a baby’s name!” But É was due in January and we didn’t even know that he would be É since we were waiting to find out the baby’s sex.

I waited until that last minute anyway. Just in case. And what do you know, the baby was in a rush and made December 26th his birthday! So his first action on Earth (after stealing our hearts) was to help, in a small way, preserve that statue for many more years of visitors to one of our favorite places and I really, really love that. But we had never gotten to go see it with him and see the work that was done. We finally checked that off the list two Sundays past.

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I’ve started to feel an intense necessity to do all those things we haven’t done yet here or try all those restaurants I follow on Instagram or go back to our favorite spots in the city for a visit because 2017 is taking us away from Paris and into the south. We are moving! Sooner than R expected, MUCH sooner than I expected. I could write quite a bit about how being an expat has been for me, my love/hate (sometimes really hate) relationship with this city that everyone else seems to have stars in their eyes about, and how wrenching it feels to finally be leaving it but I will save that for some other posts, because it does bear talking about.

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A Eugène Isabey painting from a 2012 exhibit* – olive trees like those covering the South of France

The past month or so was been a blur of trying to wrap my head around this, a job interview for R, thinking, talking, thinking more, holidays, visiting our new city, Montpellier, scouting places to live, negotiations for a rental, prepping for and hosting visits of our current apartment, coordinating moving company quotes, and I don’t even remember what else. We’re sad to leave this little apartment that we love in a suburb we finally felt home in but come late February we will be starting a whole new adventure of living in a small village near Montpellier in the south and renting a whole and entire HOUSE! I haven’t lived in a single family house since I was two. Those are things we are pretty excited about! So while we try to soak up every second we can here, I’m also dreaming of spreading out in my own space for a studio/office in the new home. And I’m looking forward to sharing all those fun new things here on the blog come spring.

So cheers 2017, let’s make it a good one! I have so many thoughts and dreams to turn into plans but for now I’m wishing you all the best of years and hoping you’ll spend some of it following along here as we set off into new waters!

xo,

A.

  • You can read a bit about the Eugène Isabey exhibit here (my blog) & here (in French).

 

 

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design, Life, Styling

One Bamboo Table – A Design Exercise

egg & dart blog

Last time I was at my favorite brocante, one of the last things I picked up, arms full of bags and a toddler, was a bamboo folding table. For me, the best way to go at the flew market is with your gut: do you love it? Go with it! Are you not sure? Walk away. This method has never led me astray in almost ten years of brocanting. Do not over think it! So when the price was great and I didn’t have much to lose, I grabbed this little table knowing I’d figure out what to do with it when the time was right.

In the mean time, I decided to give myself the challenge of styling the table for two different set-ups: one as a bedside table and the other as a little writing desk using only what I had access to already at the house.

Bedside table

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I love this as a bedside table. If you have the space, it feels luxurious to have such a large surface to keep some of your favorite things nearby while still having space for the necessities.

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For me, those necessities are a place to have a glass of water at the ready and a dish for taking off jewelry at the end of the day. For years now, my favorite type of dish for that has been these beautiful vintage salt and pepper dishes! While I don’t keep pinch bowls of salt and pepper for daily use, the little bowls of these dishes are perfect for rings and earrings.

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Add books, a focal piece of artwork, maybe a favorite photograph (that one is my husband as a wee one!), and some green and you’ve a bedside table that is useful and inspiring!

Writing Desk

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I think we would all like to be better at finding the time to write notes and thank yous by hand. The time you spend thinking of someone while putting pen to paper creates something that feels so much more special than a digital note. I’m pretty sure if I had a pretty little writing spot like this, I’d be better at it, non?

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Favorite books and some to pull inspiring quotes from, a box for stamps, envelopes, and writing tools, and some cards ready to be addressed. What else does a writing desk really need? Oh, that pretty little box will be in the shop Friday!

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It was wonderful to sneak in the time to try these two set-ups and I’d love to try to find time (and space!) to do more. When I bought this table, I first pictured it for plants and artwork, but who knows how it will end up being used! What do you think?

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A special note of thanks to my assistant, above. I could have done it without you. But it maybe wouldn’t have been as much of a challenge. 😉

xo,

A.

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Vintage French Jam Jars at Brocante Moderne
design, Life, Styling

Brocante Moderne

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I opened my first Etsy shop, Gloaming Designs, in 2007. Looking back at the date just now, that feels both a long time ago and like yesterday! I filled it with special pieces I hand-crafted from vintage and reused materials as well as fun vintage finds. Looking back through the sold listings is a bit like remembering old friends.

Vintage French Butter Papers at Brocante Moderne

Behind the scenes I have been working hard on a new incarnation of that shop: a new space filled with the best of the treasures I love seeking out in the French brocantes (flea markets). So I’m very excited to announce: Brocante Moderne is open!

Vintage French Soup Plates at Brocante Moderne

What you’ll find is a curated selection of vintage French pieces that I adore (seriously, it’s so hard to say goodbye to these!) and that mix perfectly into the modern home.

Vintage French Kitchen Towels at Brocante Moderne

Functional, beautiful, and unique, I believe that every home needs some pieces that tell a story all their own, that have a soul.

Vintage French Etchings at Brocante Moderne

And that’s my design philosophy: that the old, worn, and storied should live alongside the simple and clean-lined modern for a home that isn’t like any other. A home that is you. That is why the shop is named Brocante Moderne – a place to find the world of the brocante curated for your modern life.

Vintage French Marquetry Box at Brocante Moderne

There will be new additions regularly so check back often and sign up for the mailing list here to hear all the latest news and special offers. You can access the shop here or through Etsy (they share the same inventory so you won’t miss anything going to one versus the other). You can even click on any of this post’s pictures to go directly to their listing.

Vintage French Jam Jars at Brocante Moderne

I hope you enjoy and let me know if there is anything you’d like me to keep my eyes open for on my next trip to the brocante!

xo,

A.

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French Potager - egg & dart blog
Life, outside

The Edge of a New Season -Yvonne’s Garden

French Potager - egg & dart blog

The seasons are turning. But I guess I should start with Hello! How have you been? It always feels overwhelming how much there is to catch up on but let’s say that here we have been busy loving a bright baby boy turned toddler, spending time with loved ones and friends, and just generally working at the great balancing act of life. Ya know?

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But the seasons are turning now, outside and at home. My little love has started his first year of preschool. He is a bit past 2 1/2 years old and that feels oh so very young to me but now, in the third (fourth? I’m forgetting already!) week I am finally picking up a smiling boy at lunchtime instead of a devastated one. It feels both amazing (chunks of free time to get things done!) and heart-wrenching (my baby-who-will-always-be-my-baby, isn’t a baby anymore).

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But these new free mornings! Oh do I have big plans.  I am nothing if not overambitious with my to-do lists. And I can’t wait to share more on those plans very soon. First, though, I wanted to share my dusk walk through my mother-in-law’s garden, one of the first of many more moments to come I hope of re-tending that creative spark.

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Motherhood brings so many things into sharp focus (and others are thrown out of field), perhaps none of these being more evident to me now than my absolute need for the natural world. To see it, to study it, to be near it, to be inspired by it. I need nothing more than 5 minutes and my camera in the garden to let my mind go and my creative instinct out. So here’s to more inspiration, and passions, and adventures coming up! Enjoy a little peek into the potager.

French Potager - egg & dart blog

French Potager - egg & dart blog

French Potager - egg & dart blog

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French Potager - egg & dart blog

French Potager - egg & dart blog

French Potager - egg & dart blog

French Potager - egg & dart blog

French Potager - egg & dart blog

French Potager - egg & dart blog

xo,

A.

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Life

Sancerre in the Fall – Fields of Golden Vines

É in the country | egg & dart blog

Hello again! It seems I haven’t mastered the working/being a mama with baby at home/having a life balance yet. Has anyone? Ha! But that seems like a post for another day. I wanted to pop in with a couple glimpses of the beautiful Sancerre region of France I took this weekend because, well, how could I not share this?!

Sancerre Autumn | egg & dart blog Creek adventuring with Papa | egg & dart blog

We went for what felt like a super short visit to R’s grandparents because usually we get to take advantage of a long weekend at this time of year as November 1st (All Soul’s Day) is still a work holiday for a lot of French people but this year both Halloween and All Soul’s fell on the weekend. Dart! But we had two frankly balmy (near 70°F!) days and we tried to soak up those views as much as possible.

Sancerre Autumn | egg & dart blog Sancerre Autumn | egg & dart blog

We also climbed to the attic and investigated some of R’s old toys for É which was so sweet – like opening a time capsule that, I’m sure, feels like it was just yesterday for both of us. This little guy was quickly adopted and I love his glowing red wheels with the pumpkins in this shot.

Sancerre Autumn | egg & dart blog Sancerre Autumn | egg & dart blog Sancerre Autumn | egg & dart blog

Despite it being only two days, we managed to squeeze in a bit of adventuring an visiting new-to-me places and seeing them in another light for R. The country roads – I don’t even know how to resist wanting to see what is just around every bend!

Sancerre Autumn | egg & dart blog

Sunday afternoon ended on the hillside among the vineyards looking back at the town of Sancerre as the evening’s shadow swept over it. It changes so fast at that time of day but for a few brief minutes, the fields turned an almost iridescent violet that I would have loved to drink in for a while. I only caught the tail end of it here.

Sancerre Autumn | egg & dart blog

There are even more images over on instagram because of course I couldn’t help from overgramming.

Here’s to November! I can’t believe it is here. But I’m trying to get myself into the holiday season gear because here it comes!!

xo,

A.

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Friday Postcard, Life, Our Home

Friday Postcard

Chive Blossom | egg & dart blog

It’s been too hot to think, and by extension, to blog. Several days hovering around 100°F and I hope the end is in sight for next week. In any case, it has been great for my cooking creativity and I’ve came up with a few make-ahead, serve cold meals that have refreshed and consoled us after scorching days. I’m planning on sharing one of my favorites on Monday!

The heat has also been great for the windowsill garden which I shade everyday with a kind of homemade plant tent. The biggest problem I’ve had over these past years living on the 6th and, now, 3rd floors is that the sun and wind currents just turn the soil to dust in no time. This year I decided to shade my plant babies on the hottest days and it’s been working wonderfully! Everything is growing in leaps by the day and I’m afraid they’ll just go right to bolting if we can’t eat them fast enough. It’s so amazing how much you can get out of such a small surface area.

I hope you’re staying cool where ever you are and happy Friday!

xo,

A.

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