Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Never forget. . . . . . . . . . . .

Today was emotional for everyone who toured with us along the Normandy 
coast and walked the beaches - whether you had fathers, grandfathers, uncles,
 or others who fought in World War II.
We thank them - we miss them.
We remember them on each D-Day on June 6th.
More details coming later.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Claude Monet's Giverny. . . . . . . . .

It was lovelier than I ever imagined!
Especially for the time of year. 
Who would have thought (other than those of you who kindly shared such positive 
comments on Claude Monet's gardens when you visited in other than spring or summer),
that late September, in northern France, would bring perfect weather to view one of 
the loveliest small, almost natural gardens, in the entire world.
The fact that one of the most famous, most talented, most loved, Impressionist painters
 ever, designed and planted such an abundance of glorious plants, shrubs and trees,
is a wonder. That Monsieur Monet sat in a wooden boat in the water lily
 pond - and yes there were still some blooms floating in the early morning 
sunlight - transferring his garden with paint onto canvasses to make them last forever,
 and bring much joy to those of us who love this painting style, cannot be explained in
 just a few words here.

Please enjoy a quick look around the gardens - I only brought my light and easy to
 carry Nikon Coolpix on this trip (and of course kick myself every now and then wish
 I had the DSLR!), but I think you can get the idea of how beautiful yesterday
 morning actually was for all of us who took the excursion to
 Monet's gardens in Giverny.

Later, I'll share more of the gardens and the interior of the lovely Monet family home

Hope you love it all as much as I did.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

A quick six mile wander around Paris. . . . . . . .

 It was the perfect morning to see Paris again - early Saturday, sunny, 
blue sky, fewer people, more cute dogs, less honking traffic, more fragrant
 croissants baking, people sauntering, no rushing or pushing - until we reached
 Avenue des Champs Élysées!

 Met our friends this afternoon - all boarded the ship and we are now cruising north
 toward Normandy.
So far all is lovely and tomorrow I will be visiting Claude Monet's beautiful house 
and gardens at Giverny. The water lilies will no longer be in bloom but I think
it will still be a colorful place to see.

Good Morning from Paris. . . . . . .

Beautiful day to cross from England to France yesterday.

Eiffel Tower from the Place de la Concorde.

Quick walk around the city last evening before a cafe supper and 
at last getting into a comfy bed at the beautiful Paris Hilton Opera Hotel.

Breakfast done, croissant, yogurt and coffee . . . . now another walk, perhaps some
 window shopping for a couple of hours, before joining our friends at the ship this afternoon.
 Boarding at 4 PM and starting the cruise north along the river Seine to Normandy.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

It's in the bag. . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . and these few items still on hangers that aren't packed will be 
keeping me comfy as once again I cross the pond tonight!
This is our third trip to Europe this year so will have spent time in Spring, Summer
 and now Autumn - each season bringing its particular beauty and weather. 
 BTW, the vintage blouse doesn't go - it's just the guest room window decoration.

Below is a map of the upcoming trip, We will be traveling the entire 
length of France with our usual group of wonderful friends
 Transportation will be on two river boats, the first one Paris and 
north to Normandy, second one from Dijon - mustard anyone? - then south to 
Provence. Connecting the two boat cruises we'll be taken by the high speed
TGV train from Paris to Dijon.
Sounds like rather a lot of unpacking and packing that bulging suitcase,
 but also some wonderful places to see along the waterways of the Seine,
 Saône and Rhône rivers.

Our trip doesn't end when we disembark in Arles. 
Bob and I will be taking a train westward to meet my brother and sister-in-law
who live in the vineyards corn merchant's house in a tiny Languedoc village 
near the historic walled city of Carcassonne. 

Early morning at my brother's house - Caunes Abbey in the background - 2008

Last there in Autumn 2008, we know what to expect. . . . . . all of it colorful,
 pastoral, historic and relaxing, with good food and excellent Languedoc wines.
 After visiting for a few days, the four of us take a train to Spain where we'll enjoy
 a few days in Barcelona, olé!

Will try to post along the way and share Autumn scenes from these lovely places.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Before I leave. . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . sharing a little Autumn decor.

The golden pumpkin was roasted, cut up, and packed into the freezer 
yesterday - ready for Autumn soup later.

I'm not sure I'll have much free time in the coming days before flying  
to Paris, so leaving you with some seasonal decor today.
Will try to post whilst away but forgive me if I'm unable to comment . . . . . I'll be 
on planes, boats and trains, with friends and family. It will be a very busy trip.
Experience has shown that Internet is usually slow, especially on boats.
Will be thinking of you and hope to read your posts as I travel through 
France and into Spain.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Time for house warming. . . . . . . . . .

Some friends in northern England are already toasting their toes.
Lighting their fires and relaxing by the hearth.
Tomorrow we will schedule our chimney sweep William for his
annual visit as soon as we return from France.
We have our wood stacked and ready to burn. Thoughts
of Winter evenings in a warm cottage by a blazing fire are good. 

via Anthropologie 

Anthropologie has just come out with a thick HOUSE and HOME catalog
 full of incredibly lovely things for the seasons ahead.
Thoughts of winter evenings around the fire and then climbing into bed under
 cozy throws and blankets come to mind.

Some sweet vintage things which caught my eye at SuzAnna's Antiques recently.
Prices perhaps geared more to my pocketbook than those rather costly
 Anthropologie offerings.

This would be a great necklace or scarf holder.

These parrot prints are lovely. If only I had more wall space!

Cream colored Fleur-de-lys style ceramic tiles - always classic in design.
A few mixed in with plain tiles would bring a touch of France to a 
bathroom or kitchen.
OK, so I have France on my mind constantly these days.
My brother just informed me that the brocante I love in Carcassonne has moved. . . . 
but only across town. I hope he'll take me back and I find something small and 
special to tuck into my one allowed bag to bring home.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Moveable art. . . . . . . . . . . . .

It's a warm Saturday here.
I'm ready for cooler days and slightly chilly 
Autumn nights, my favorite season of the year.

I'm busy packing and organizing before leaving home.
I'm hoping France is already cooler. Paris and the River Seine call,
 the beaches of Normandy too - have a feeling it will be perfect weather
 there. Then heading south, still by water, so should be comfortably cool but
hopefully sunny and dry in Provence and the Languedoc.

My little original oil hanging on the armoire - it cools me down just looking
at the winter shoreline!
However, this small painting is now on the mantel and was noted by my 
blog friend Deb of JUST CATS in Canada, when I showed
 it HERE few days ago. A visit with Deb is always a highlight of my day. 
She is a lovely lady who writes about her cats and so much more around
her beautiful Canadian countryside.

I love unframed art, especially small oils. I feel they are easier to move

 around, lean against something, prop on a shelf, or just hang on a nail.
This one was great find at SuzAnna's Antiques a few years back.

Do you collect oil paintings? 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Ornamentation by Nature. . . . . . . . . . .

I recall when most ornamental squash were very small, knobbly and gnarly. 
I'd pick up a couple of plastic net bagfuls at the grocery store, that many were needed to fill my French dough bowl for a worthwhile Autumn display of color on the dining room table. Just three or four of these larger squash will fill a bowl or basket and make quite a statement, and I'm loving the taller ones this year which I'm tucking into the IKEA glass vases on the mantel. The smaller ones are still out there I'm sure, and they are pretty, as are all Nature's offerings, however my lovely farm friend Freda grows these larger ornamental squash, along with her magnificent pumpkins. These squash are edible also.

Sometimes we classify all these as 'gourds' but those are really the big plain green ones, such as bottle gourds, often crafted into bird houses, and not considered edible due to their bitterness.  Speaking of eating - Freda also has really nice spaghetti squash this year and I'll prepare one for supper this weekend. I'll also be making a pumpkin soup and, with this gorgeous weather, we'll be dining in the gazebo.

Aren't the colors beautiful?
These lovelies, fresh picked, should last for a while at cooler room temperatures
 (they should not be stored in the refrigerator if you plan to cook them). . . . . . perhaps
until it's time to think about Christmas decor!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The country drive. . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . on Sunday afternoon was perfect.
Our first day of cooler temperatures after such a long hot Summer.
Autumn definitely now in the air. In fact this morning it was so cool 
I decided the heavier duvet needed to be dug out from storage.
Of course with the sun out it's now warming, and by noon it will be hot, 
but the thought of cooler nights from now on is wonderful. 

Anyway, on Sunday a brilliant 'Carolina Blue' sky beckoned and we headed 
south through the city in search of these. . . . . . . . . 

Perhaps a wee bit early to be thinking pumpkin decor however I just don't want 
them all gone by the time I return from Europe in October. 

The above pic shows some of the pumpkins I bought on Sunday.
The green-gold pumpkin on the left has already been enjoyed - oh my, roasted 
with fresh sage and olive oil, it was SO tasty. I will be making a delicious
pumpkin soup today with the leftovers. . . . . and will roast the seeds.

Driving through the ever burgeoning downtown area - Raleigh just continues expanding, 
upward and outward. . . . . . but if you keep going it's just 30 miles south to the country.

I love looking at the homes along the country roads, wondering who is enjoying
 life away from the hustle and bustle of the city. . . . . .hanging out in a red painted barn, 
mowing all that grass!

Our destination of course. . . . . . the Johnson's farm where we come each year 
for pumpkins. This is just a corner of their front yard. Freda, who plants each
 seed by hand, is already bringing in the beauties from her huge pumpkin patch
 in the surrounding fields.
 Sadly we missed seeing farmer Doug this visit - he was out searching for a lost cow.
  We plan to go back in late October to visit the Johnson family again, always enjoy the
 lovely chats and catching up on country news.

Here are links to our visits in the past years where you can see the incredible 
selection of pumpkins, gourds and veggies offered at the Johnson's farm between
 the small towns of Angier and Coats in Harnett County, North Carolina.

Johnson Farm Pumpkins in 2013
Johnson Farm Pumpkins in 2014

As always, homemade country ice cream is a treat and this is one of the best.
We stopped, along with the motor cyclists, pick up trucks, big families
 with cute kids, texting teenagers, and a good excuse for 
two scoops as we'd not eaten since breakfast. . . . . .  
 black cherry and butter pecan for Bob, tiramisu and coffee for me - it was really good.

Later I'll share more of the pumpkins and gourds I bought for decorating - they are
 in the cool of the cottage where hopefully they'll stay fresh until I return home from
 France and can decorate for Fall/Halloween.

Happy pumpkin hunting - I hope you get out into the country soon - nothing
 more pleasant and exhilarating on a sunny almost Autumn day.