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?

French Potager - egg & dart blog

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).

French Potager - egg & dart blog

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.

French Potager - egg & dart blog

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

20160926egg_dart_yvonnes_garden03

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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Gallery Wall | egg & dart blog
design, Life, Our Home

Our Home – The Hall and The Bathroom

This is the last in a series to take you on a tour of our home in progress.

You can see other spaces here: Our Bedroom, Élie’s Room, The Living Room, and The Kitchen


One of the best features of our apartment is the long hallway that connects all the rooms. It isn’t very wide, less than 3 feet actually, and has seven doors leading off of it (so. many. doors.) but it is such a great opportunity for storage!

Did I ever tell you about the move? About how we sent Albert away to kitty camp (chez R’s mother and her fantastic garden) so the move wouldn’t stress him and how we left for a three week summer vacation two days after moving in? We did. On the one had, it was fantastic to recover from the stress of the move without looking at boxes and it gave us time and distance to daydream about how we wanted to set things up. On the other hand, coming back to a strange space packed with boxes. Ugh. So here was the scene when we came back from vacation, Albert in tow.

Hall Before | egg & dart blog

He adapts quickly. Ha! But to start with, we only had our former dining table bench to toss our keys and mail on. It was a start but there was so much more that space could do! So we grabbed a shallow Besta unit from Ikea, knowing that we wanted something to maximize storage but also that would float on the wall, keeping the space from feeling too cramped and giving us a spot for shoes underneath. Here was the hall after the unit was installed, but before we bought doors, and we had gone on (yet another) Ikea trip.

Hall Before | egg & dart blog

You can catch a glimpse of another problem we had to tackle, the beautiful electrical board and electricity meter on the end wall. Here’s where this space is today:

Apartment Hall | egg & dart blog Hallway Gallery Wall | egg & dart blog

Right next to the front door, the floating cabinet houses umbrellas, pocket tissues, mittens and hats in the winter, travel and guide books, things for venturing out like refillable water bottles and binoculars, but also extra lightbulbs, candles, shoe polishing supplies – a lot! Deceiving what you can fit in it despite its narrow width.

Above it, the gallery wall of frames has gone through quite a lot of changes and probably still will but for the moment I still love this collect of bits and pieces from our life, pictures from some of our favorite places, the Louvre and a vacation spot, a little Dürer owl that was my parents’, a sketch by my Uncle and found bits like the cork bark and pressed leaves. Even the key bowl is found – people throw out the best things sometimes! This mix of pieces on the wall helps disguise the lovely intercom phone which, believe me, I looked into changing. Farther down the hall, you can see in the first picture a basket that hides the recycling and yet another basket and collection of Élie’s toys. Having pretty baskets everywhere to toss those things into makes clean-up a breeze!

Blue Star Fern (Phlebodium aureum) | egg & dart blog Apartment Hall | egg & dart blog

Under the cabinet we have space for a tray for shoes and I keep a big vintage glass container by the door for wet umbrellas and a basket keeps reusable shopping bags handy. Taking them all out of the basket is also an excellent baby game.

And from this angle you can see our solution to hide the electrical board: we built a simple custom cabinet with a door to mount directly on the wall around it. This gives us even more storage that I haven’t been able to outfit yet but will soon. It was a challenge because these old walls are far from straight but luckily you can only tell when nothing is on the hooks and you stand at a certain angle looking from Élie’s room.

Hallway Gallery Wall | egg & dart blog

We’ve accomplished most everything on our list in the hall but there are still just a couple tweaks on my list. I’m considering finding an old wooden door to replace the modern one we put on the electrical board cabinet, to add a bit more texture to the space. Originally I had wanted to make the whole thing disappear with an all-over wall treatment (that would wrap the cabinet too), in my dreams with the Nuvole paper from Cole & Sons, but I’m reconsidering that. I’d also like to find some runners for the length of the hallway to soften the sound (baby feet!) and insulate the floor in the cold months.


The last space to introduce you to is the bathroom, which, as is typical in French apartments, is two rooms: the actual bathroom and the ‘loo’ as we’ve taken to calling it. Like the hall, these spaces are less than three feet wide and require creative space planning for storage. The sight right before we moved in:

Bathroom Before | egg & dart blog

The gray tile is so clinical looking and a bit wonky and, while you can’t see it here, the enamel on the “tub” is completely gone and there is nothing to be done about the hard water stains and paint drips in there, Lord help us. We’re still hoping the landlord will agree to refinishing it.

The paint was fresh here but sloppily done: they simply painted around existing wall hooks leaving us with interesting paint outlines on the wall and door when we replaced the hooks and towel bar. In such a narrow space, we needed some better towel solutions.

Bathroom Before | egg & dart blog

(Albert for scale.)

For a while we transplanted a little wooden bedside table we inherited with the apartment to the bathroom for storage. Of course, the medicine cabinet had to go too: not only did it barely produce any light in this space with no natural light, I could only see my eyes and above in it, it was mounted so high! I pretty quickly pulled that as well as all the existing hooks and the shower caddy (again, so high!) off the walls and door and started from scratch. After a lot of tweaks, the bathroom looks like this now:

Tiny Apartment Bathroom | egg & dart blog Bathroom Details | egg & dart blog

Tiny Apartment Bathroom | egg & dart blog

Bathroom Details | egg & dart blogBathroom Details | egg & dart blog

Little oak shelves on mat black brackets take the storage all the way up the wall with lots of baskets for texture and little spots for pretties. A vintage mirror has so much more personality then the old plastic box of a medicine cabinet. We replaced the lighting with a double scone giving us double the light without changing electrical. Of course, Albert’s little box has to live somewhere and that spot is here. Keepin’ it real! And for the shower, I used my favorite trick: hanging a real curtain with a plastic liner as high as I could. Such an easy way to make a simple space feel more luxurious!

Tiny Apartment Bathroom | egg & dart blog Driftwood Towel Bar | egg & dart blog

On the opposite wall are a row of simple mat black hooks and two more are on the back of the door giving us space for all of our towels and those of guests if needed. I love the towel rod! It’s a simple piece of driftwood from our walks that I simply screwed two extra long screws through, passing them through long coupling nuts (all painted black) on the back side.

17 Tiny Apartment Bathroom | egg & dart blog

But the biggest improvement of all was the flooring. I found a 14€ remnant of seagrass flooring at the hardware store (I couldn’t believe my luck!) and simply cut it to fit the floor snuggly. The hardware store guy insisted it need to be glued down “in case there is a water leak” but I didn’t want to do that, and it seemed to me it would be easier to be able to pull it up quickly if needed. It has been down for more than a year and not only is it wonderful to walk on, we have had no problems in terms of it coming up or any mold since the seagrass naturally repels water. For such a small investment, it has gone a long way to making a basic, kind of sad space feel a bit luxurious, which all bathrooms should, I think.

Again, most things have been crossed off our list in here. I do want to build a simple solution to create a bench over the litter box to disguise it and, if we can figure it out, the scone needs to be moved up the wall as it is a bit low. Then just some finishing tweaks like oiling the wood shelves to protect them and re-hemming the curtains just a touch longer.

Just next to the bathroom is the “loo”. This is the least glamorous space and not much has been done to it.

Tiny Apartment Bathroom | egg & dart blog

As you can see, I continued the seagrass in here. It has the same chipped gray tile and, at the price I paid for the rug, I thought if putting the seagrass in there doesn’t end up working out, no big deal. But it has been great in there too – insulating the floor so it’s warmer as well as insulating sound. How do you like what I call our “dancing toilet”? I can’t for the life of me figure out why they installed it at that weird angle so far from the wall.

Other than hanging a Monrovian star light fixture and painting the ceiling Farrow & Ball’s Pavilion Blue for a fun little surprise, we haven’t done much in here. Yet. I have a plan for a cabinet to create storage for cleaning supplies and personal items as well as masking the tank. And I can’t wait to properly frame those two little abstract landscapes by Lauren Adams.

Tiny Apartment Bathroom | egg & dart blog

So now you’ve had the whole tour! I’m always hoping that we will finish up the spaces in the near, near future, but I’ll come back with updates when we manage them and some posts about my favorite small space strategies.

xo,

A.

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Food & Recipes, Life

The Day the Tomatoes Came Back

The First Tomatoes | egg & dart blog

The First Tomatoes | egg & dart blog

I’ve been planning during the quiet of naptime and dreaming in between. But today I am going against the rationalist that says I should have more prepared before I jump in this lake, that I should know where I’m headed. The little one has already woken from his nap and is telling himself stories in his crib. The minutes have ticked by and it’s getting so close to the end of the day. But I’m jumping in this lake. I’m throwing caution to the wind. Because today is the day that I walked into the marché and couldn’t help grinning at everyone. Today was that day, like at the turn of every season, that the newness on the farmer’s table makes my mind bubble with things I want to make, to taste! Today is the day the tomatoes came back.

(Just like the feeling of seeing that table brimming with the first signs of the new season, I am so excited to hit ‘publish’! I’ll be back soon with a little bit about what I’ve been up to.)

xo,

A.

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Food & Recipes

Raclette Pizza because baby, it’s gettin’ cold outside

Raclette may be France’s best kept secret. At least I had never heard of it before I married into a French family. But it was destined that I would love this winter dish because I love potatoes so much I consider them a meal even when they have no supporting cast. Even when I am sick and nothing else sounds good, potatoes will save me. Or ice cream. But that’s another post.

So when I was introduced to this dish at R.’s grandparents’ home one wintery evening, you can understand it was love at first sight. Raclette is actually a very humble meal: boiled potatoes are served and kept warm in a bowl on top of a raclette machine which is, basically, a tabletop broiler with individual little trays each person can fill up with raclette cheese, which can be plain or have pepper or spices in it, and what ever other goodies they like (cured meats and ham are usually on the table, too) and then warm it under the broiler. When the cheese is melted and bubbling you pour it out on top of your potatoes and the whole thing will disappear from your plate instantly. Magic. With potatoes.

I knew I couldn’t wait a whole year to have another raclette and since we don’t have a machine (or a place to store it – Parisian apartment!) I have made a gratin version in the chez nous in the winter. But in search of cooler weather comfort food last week, I put the raclette formula together with another of our favorites: pizza. I’m just going to say this because I don’t think you really need to know anything else: thinly sliced potatoes, coppa, melty raclette cheese, creme fraiche, and chives. Shall we?

Raclette Pizza

Serves 2

– 1/2 pizza dough (recipe follows)

– 1/4 lb. fingering potatoes, sliced very thinly preferable on a mandolin

– 5 slices raclette cheese*

– 5 slices coppa

– 1/2 c. creme fraiche

– a small handful of chopped chives

– olive oil

– salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven on its highest setting with a metal baking sheet inside turned upside down. Baking the pizza on a preheated sheet will give it a nice crispy bottom and turning the tray over makes it very easy to slide the pizza right off and onto a cutting board.

2. Lightly flour the counter and your hands and start flattening out the pizza dough from the center until it is roughly 5 or 6 inches by 8 inches. You can make it round or rectangular as you like; mine are rectangular to fit the shape of my baking sheet. Once the baking sheet is very hot, remove it from the oven and place it on a heat safe surface. Drizzle the sheet with olive oil and place your pizza dough on it, stretching it gently to about 7 inches by 10 inches. Lay out the coppa slices on the dough followed by the potato slices, slightly overlapping until the pizza is covered. Drizzle the potatoes and crust edges with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Finish with the raclette cheese torn over the top.

3. Carefully put the baking tray back in the oven and bake until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbling, about 25 minutes. When it is done, gently slide it onto a counting board and let it cool for just a minute or two before putting dollops of creme fraiche over the top and sprinkling with the chopped chives. You can serve some French cornichon pickles on the side to be extra authentic.

Pizza Dough

-2 1/2 c. all purpose flour

– 1 package dry yeat

– 1 c. warm water (105 – 115°F)

– 1 tbsp. salt

– 1 tsp. sugar

– 2 tbsp. olive oil

1. Mix the warm water, yeast, and sugar together and set aside to bloom for 5 minutes.

2. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl and form a deep well in the center. Pour the yeast mixture and the oil in and slowly start incorporating the flour into the wet ingredients with a fork until all the flour has been mixed in. Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead until the dough is silky and smooth, about 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Put it back in the bowl and cover with a tea towel. Let rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size. I push this sometimes by putting it in a warm oven and using it in 30 or 45 minutes.

4. Divide the dough in two for the recipe above. It freezes beautifully if you need to. Done!

xo,

A.

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Food & Recipes, Life

Finding Lunch with a Tartine

The past two weeks have felt busier than usual as I’ve been trying to push ahead on a big work project. I’m finally starting to feel like I’m making headway and I hope next week things will even out a bit and I’ll have more time to shoot (I miss having a camera in my hand!). But there has been a small recent breakthrough in my kitchen nonetheless. You see, for all my love of taste and meals, I’m very bad at feeding myself at lunchtime. I work from home and it’s so easy to forget as you’re running in every direction chasing after details. Or sometimes I look into the fridge and I can’t seem to think of something quick and wonderful to eat. But I finally found a winning combination, something endlessly adaptable, and so traditional in France that I’m at a loss for why I never thought of it before.
Tartines. A slice of beautiful crusty bread and lovely layers on top. It may sound very much like a sandwich with only one slice of bread, and it is, but somehow, it’s so much more elegant. So, here is the tartine that I’ve made five times in the past week or so, including once this past weekend when I effectively disproved both of his theories that he doesn’t like mixing fruit with savory nor does he like balsamic to the Frenchman (he loved it): Warm Coppa, Apple, and Cheddar Tartine topped with greens with the perfect balsamic dressing. It’s warm, bursting with flavor and so quick. And if you’re anything like me and you have to leave it at the table after a few bites to go pull the cat from the closet where he is hunting plastic bags, it will still be delicious when you get back and it has cooled down. So, enjoy lunch.

 

Warm Coppa, Apple, & Cheddar Tartine

makes 2 for one person

2 slices of lovely crusty bread*

1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

4 slices of coppa

1/2  medium sized tart apple, very thinly sliced

1/2 cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese

one handful mixed baby salad leaves

balsamic dressing (recipe below)

Turn the broiler of your oven on to heat and place a rack in the top third of the oven. Spread a very thin layer of mustard on each slice of bread and place it on a parchment lined baking sheet. Top each slice with 2 slices of coppa, half the apple slices, and half the cheese. Place this under the broiler until the cheese is melted and golden, 3 or 4 minutes. Don’t leave it alone, it can go from perfect to burnt in seconds.

Remove from the oven and let cool while you prepare the dressing. Transfer to a plate and top each half with a bunch of salad greens and drizzle with the dressing to taste.

* The amount of toppings you will need for each tartine will, of course, vary if you have particularly small or large slices of bread.

Perfect Balsamic Dressing

makes enough for several salads, to keep you going all week!

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

4 tbsp. walnut or extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

salt and pepper to taste

Combine the ingredients in a jar, cover with the lid, and shake it up, baby.

xo,

A.

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