It’s been a long time since I’ve managed a loving list but this Friday seems like a good time for some things that make you happy, non?
There’s not a lot to say. And there doesn’t need to be on a day like that one. But when we took a foggy morning balade along the Loiret River that we love so much on the first day of November, I couldn’t help but want to share what we were enveloped in.
It was an unusual day. The previous day, October 31st, had been balmy and beautifully sunny. But the next day brought the mood one might have hoped for for Halloween: thick fog from morning well into the night.
There is something about the fog. Something that makes light both softer and sharp, colors diffused but vivid, sounds muted but clear. And something else too, something that makes the space between us and the mysteries of the world much, much thinner. It’s a time for listening.
It was a peaceful and beautiful start to the month. I hope maybe a sign of some small comfort as France heads towards the one year anniversary of the terrible events of November 13th. But whatever it was, the fog that day on the river was too special not to share.
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.
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!
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.
Functional, beautiful, and unique, I believe that every home needs some pieces that tell a story all their own, that have a soul.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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).
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.
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.
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?!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!!
We’re off to spend a four-day weekend with R’s mother and Tuesday is Bastille Day here in France which I still, after all these years, have not seen the celebrations for! I’m really hoping to show Élie his first fireworks, especially since he loves saying “booo!” (boom) after any loud noise.
Have a wonderful weekend, long or short!
We’ve survived the heatwave.
Last week was rough. As I already bemoaned on Friday, we had several days of 100°F weather or nearly. It meant that I really had to think ahead and maximize those precious morning hours when I could have the windows open. But even so, it was just too hot to turn on the stove or the oven even in the morning some days.
Luckily I managed to come up with a pretty decent plan for the week and grouped all my cooking into Monday morning and just a few extras Thursday morning after the market. It really made such a difference not only to not have to risk raising the temperature when I had worked so hard to keep the heat out as much as possible, but also to have something cool and refreshing to look forward to at the end of the day.
One meal in particular hit all the right notes for me: a chilled Cucumber and Avocado Soup sprinkled with chives, Artichokes with a Lemon & Fresh Basil Vinaigrette, and toasts spread with goat cheese. What’s a soup without something to dunk after all? The soup, adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe, is simply made in the blender and the artichokes I steamed on Monday and pulled out of the fridge a while before dinner to bring them to room temperature. A glass of rosé (always rosé) and I promise the depth of the heatwave will ease just a bit around you.
Chilled Cucumber & Avocado Soup
adapted from Jamie Oliver Magazine
1 c. full-fat plain yogurt
juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cucumber, chopped
1 avocado, peeled and chopped
salt & pepper to taste
a small handful of chives, chopped
Place the first five ingredients in the blender in that order. Putting your liquids in first will help make blending easier. Blend until smooth adding a little water to thin if needed. Season to taste. Chill until needed. Serve with chives and a drizzle of olive oil over the top and toasts spread with goat cheese for dipping.
Artichokes with Lemon & Fresh Basil Vinaigrette
I love using both lemon juice and zest because the zest adds even more lemon flavor but has a softer, less acidic flavor.
2 globe artichokes
zest of 1/2 a lemon
juice of 1 lemon (about 2 scant tbsp.)
1 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
as small handful of basil leaves to serve
Prepare the artichokes by removing the first few layers of tough leaves, chopping off the stem to make a flat bottom, and cutting the top flat as well. Trim the tips of any leaves that still have their thorns. Quarter each artichoke and rub them all over with a half of a lemon to prevent browning. Steam until the hearts can easily be pierced with the tip of a knife, about 30 minutes. Cool, then with a teaspoon, remove the choke from the heart of each quarter. Chill until needed.
To prepare the vinaigrette, whisk together the lemon zest and juice, olive oil, and basil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
To serve, arrange the artichokes in a bowl on their backs so the hearts act like little bowls to catch the dressing. Pour the vinaigrette over the artichokes and top with fresh basil leaves.
Any favorite cool dinner classics of yours I should know about?
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!
Today starts a heat wave here in France and heat always makes me nervous. I am such a Northerner. But I’ve got the apartment shaded, lemon sorbet in the freezer, and thank goodness for double pane windows, so we’ll be fine.
I was wrong about the yard sale last weekend – it’s this weekend! Opps. So I’m still looking forward to that and my list may have grown. Stay cool and happy Friday!
My little love sleeps late like Mama and Papa. Bless that baby. But it means that we don’t often have time in the day to have an afternoon snack or “goûter” like most French kids. Sometimes there is a spot to squeeze a little something into and we have been loving smoothies. Élie gets so excited for a treat and I can try to pack some extra nutrients into his day. We haven’t quite gotten to all having the same things at mealtimes, it will come, but smoothies are something we can share which is extra sweet.
My current favorite is this creamy mix of yogurt, raspberries, mango, and almond butter with a little maple syrup to sweeten. It tastes surprisingly like ice cream and, in fact, could be a quick version of that is you left out the water and used a food processor.You can try tweaking it too, add some fresh mint or maybe pineapple juice instead of orange. How about a dusting of grated chocolate if you’re feeling really indulgent?
Mama Baby Creamy Raspberry Mango Smoothie
Serves mama and baby generously
1/2 c. whole milk yogurt
1/4 c. fresh orange juice
1 1/2 tbsp. almond butter
1 c. frozen raspberries
3/4 c. chopped frozen mango
2 t. maple syrup
1/8 – 1/4 c. water
Place all the ingredients in a blender in the order listed. Putting your liquid ingredients in first helps the machine blend the mixture. Blend until smooth, adding more water if necessary. Thin with water for baby. If you think your little one will be bothered by the raspberry seeds, you can strain the mix after thinning with water. Enjoy together, maybe with a good book?