Art Weekend

• 30 September 2009

Have you ever wished you could hone your photography, floral arranging, photoshop and book-binding skills in one location? Look no further than an upcoming event called Art Weekend. Created by talents Nicole Hill and Alma Loveland, these two days are destined to be some of the best time you've ever spent developing your creative side. You will learn from the best!

The events will be held in the Washington, D.C. area (this weekend!!) and in Salt Lake City, Utah. If you are not located in one of those two areas, consider flying in for the weekend! You can read all about and sign up for these amazing classes here. Spaces are filling up fast so don't wait too long...:)


the "Lounge" at La Maisonnette

On the second level of La Maisonnette we decided to take out a bedroom wall and instead create a lounge/family room/entertainment area for our guests. We are sooo glad we did this my friends. Walking up the stairs to this open, airy space is exhilerating. And the view from this door is incredible! I miss it already...September is such a beautiful time to be in Beynac.

To develop a full appreciation for this room be sure to check out a few other posts:

1. nighttime view from the balcony here
2. view from the outside looking in here.
3. this incredible video of Scott jackhammering the stone wall as well as some "before" footage

I would've liked a more traditional-looking sofa in the cottage; but this is--to be sure--the only leather couch in all of France that would fit through the balcony door. Being so easy-to-clean, leather seemed like the best option. They don't exactly have upholstery cleaners readily available in the middle of rural France!

Jackhammer Time Lapse from Scott Lunt on Vimeo.


Apple Green Baker's Twine

• 29 September 2009

Loving this apple green twine from Whisker Graphics. I've never seen this color before in baker's twine and I can only imagine all the fun things you can make in this colorway. Rumor is that more not-found-elsewhere colorways will be showing up in this Etsy shop around November. I'm hoping some of the fabulous colors you find at Paper Source make their way into Whisker Graphic's baker's twine collection.


More Kitchen Images

Here are a few more kitchen images...in case you missed the "before" shots, you can find them here. You'll appreciate these "after" shots so much more after seeing what we walked into. Oh man...

Update: I just found one more kitchen "before" shot...this shows the kitchen after the demolition of those heavy white walls you see in the "before" shots on Design*Sponge. What a mess!


Salle de Bains no.1

• 28 September 2009

Okay, are you ready for some more before + after images? Check these out and you'll see why we gutted the entire bathroom :) Yes, the bathroom was so gross that a portable potty was almost preferable! We moved the water heater to a completely different location to give the bathroom an airy feel, took out awful wood paneling to again, create more space; and then also ripped out equally awful linoleum flooring. Just as we suspected we found hardwood floors underneath...yay! (view the video here).

After redoing all of the sheet rock, we painted the bathroom RH's Butter Cream (trim in "Right White") which ended up being the perfect color for this space. A local professional worked wonders on the hardwood and was able to bring out their rich beauty. Next, we installed a luxurious shower pod (such a treat!), new sink, toilet, lighting, a Tolix storage piece and towel warmer. From the large bathroom window you overlook a large grove of trees without a single residence or building in sight--it also creates a considerable amount of natural light, which I love in bathrooms. On the walls I hung framed,vintage botanical prints that my husband and I chose at an antique market.




Koo de Ker Autumn GIVEAWAY Winner

I love this part...announcing winners...it's so fun to share good news! Many thanks to all who participated and to Koo de Ker for sponsoring this giveaway. Once I come up for air, I can't wait to stop by and see all these fabulous pieces in person. I hope you do too!

"Stephanie" who said, "wouldnt it be awesome if i won? indeed."

Stephanie, please email me with your mailing address once you read this good news. You are in "indeed" the winner of a $75 gift card to Salt Lake's Koo de Ker boutique. Enjoy!


Chambre no.1

• 25 September 2009

I love this room for a lot of reasons. Mostly because I absolutely love every single thing in it! I'd never mixed antiques with modern elements before but I enjoy the melange it turns out. I confess I had no idea that clean lines existed in antique French furniture. I thought it was all kind of frilly (I stand to be corrected apparently!).

The two antiques in this space are really lovely and really old. The armoire is from the late 1700's and the chest is from the 1600's. How cool is that? Even cooler...the chest came with the house. Yup. The armoire, however, was more difficult to procure--and just as difficult to get inside the house--but definitely worth it (did you see my post about that?).

I've noticed that when I design a space in my own home, or even an event (like a birthday party), I typically take one element and build around it. For this room that element was the Denyse Schmidt quilt (I found a great deal at the Sundance Outlet). From there I found the Tolix stool (best prices in Paris on those are at Merci), the antique stool with similar lines, the accent pillows and the lamps (Habitat). The cute little windows add to the charm as well and with the light colored walls, they are natually showcased. I miss the house already...can you tell?


Kick off on Design*Sponge

• 24 September 2009

Ready to finally see some images? Well, Design*Sponge is kicking off the unveiling today with some of those scary "before" images I mentioned two days ago, as well as some lovely "after" photos as well. I'm curious if you are as shocked as I am with the changes. Sometimes when you are emotionally involved in a project you see things differently.

And while I have your attention, I'd like to thank you all for being incredibly supportive throughout this process. I realize not everyone says nice things and I am grateful that you all do! Merci beaucoup.

Check out the post on Design*Sponge here. I think you're going to love it!

p.s. over the next week or so I'll be sharing many more images here so stay tuned.


Project La Maisonnette du Coteau

 over at Design*Sponge featuring "before" and "after" shots.  

Home Tour on Houzz - more images and details about the cottage.

How it all began - the story behind how it all happened and why.

ALL La Maisonnette posts (the real deal, the full story, the project in its entirety--you get the idea!)

Before it became crazy - looking back, we were a bit naive about the project and what it entailed...ignorance is bliss?!

Chipping away, literally - we couldn't bear to cover up any of the cottage's gorgeous stone, but it was a tedious process to remove the plaster.

Sandblasting ancient stone - 4 tons of sand later...

The Town Oven/ La Four Banal...La Maisonnette du Coteau in a previous life

Our daughter attending school in France, her school menu (next year's menu too) and scenes from the playground - she learned a lot and her American accent hit the road.

Kitchen installation part 1 - the kitchen, to me, is the most important part of a home.

Unglamorous side to it all (and it continues here) - a renovation in southern France sounds glamorous, but it's still a big mess until it's all said and done!

Logistics behind purchasing a home in France - it's not easy.

Moving in the furniture - it does not get more creative or complicated than this!

Observations on France, it's culture, and our experience (more here a little later)

You can check out rates, availability and other details regarding renting our cottage in Beynac, France.

You can also reference a magazine article we wrote about our story in Simply the Sweet Life Magazine (summer 2011 issue).  They did an amazing job with the layout and capturing our vision.

image by Sigfrid Lopez 



• 22 September 2009

Can you believe it? The renovation of La Maisonnette is finally completed and we couldn't be happier with the results! We are very, very satisfied. Funny enough, we hardly know what to do with ourselves now that we aren't running around at 80 mph :) I am so grateful for this project, for the opportunity to live in France for a season, and to see this beautiful cottage restored to it's old, beautiful self. La Maisonnette du Coteau exudes such a wonderful feeling and I have great confidence that she will bring happiness to all who sleep within her walls. She is happy to be beautiful again and we are happy to still love each other :) Extensive renovations are not easy as some of you may know all too well!

I am getting so excited to share all the post-renovation images of La Maisonnette du Coteau and hope to do just that very, very soon. It's funny, as I look back on the "before" pictures I can't help but ask myself, "what were we thinking?" They are s.c.a.r.y.

Stay tuned as I'm steadily rounding everything up...she's well worth the wait.


Koo de Ker Autumn GIVEAWAY

• 21 September 2009

I find that the end of September is the perfect time to add a few pieces to the existing wardrobe...the kids are settled back into school, the weather is cooler, and the sales are abundant. Oh the anticipation of Fall! It is truly my favorite season for many reasons, one of them being the chance to don a sweater and a pair of boots. For me, fall = cozy and I know many of you would agree :)

One of my favorite local stops for unique pieces that fall into the "cozy" and "cute" category is Koo de Ker. I love having the opportunity to pick up a piece that is both unique and moderately priced. This week, to kick off the season, Koo de Ker would like to offer one reader a $75 gift card to spend as she wishes! Now, doesn't that sound fun? I must share that I've been following Kyong of Koo de Ker on Twitter and I've been swooning over the many stylish jackets, blouses, skirts and outerwear she's added to the shop. I highly recommend a visit!

So step right up and comment away...enter for you, a friend, a family member or for a blog buddy (bloggers, as you know, oft make wonderful friends). Have a wonderful week friends!

p.s. if you missed Kyong's Fall fashion tips, check them out here.

Giveaway Guidelines:

- You have 5 days to enter this giveaway (closes Friday, September 25th at midnight).
- Make a comment on THIS POST to enter.
- One entry per person please.
- Anonymous comments will be ignored so make sure we know who you are!
- The winner will be chosen via random.org and then announced on Saturday, September 26th.
- Winners, please respond by Wednesday, September 30th to secure prize.


French School Lunch Menu no.2

• 18 September 2009

Remember last year's school lunch menu? Well, this year's menu looks just as crazy good. I tell my daughter every day how much I wish I could eat lunch with her. She eats waaaay better than we do! Seriously, Rabbit with Mustard Sauce, Zucchini Flan and Chocolate Mousse? And Roasted Duck with Haricots Verts and Chocolate Cake? And all for 2€ ?

Oh, and it doesn't stop there...after school they give the children a little snack and it's typically something like a fresh peach, a banana or a little baguette with dark chocolate. I love that someone in this world understands the importance of feeding children well. My daughter tells me how the server makes all the kids eat their vegetables too. Talk about a different situation than what you'd find in the US! There are some aspects of the culture here I'd pass on but this is one thing I admire so much about the French--they get that eating well promotes a better overall educational experience.


American Apparel Flea Markets - "Western Style"

Alright locals, grab a few bucks and head to the U today. You'll want to take advantage of this what-appears-to-be-fabulous-flea-market by American Apparel. Let's be honest, who couldn't use a snazzy t-shirt for the price of a smoothie?

Locals, check out the details here...get going! For those of you in the West, check out their next stop here...it could be in your town!


Magpie Lovely

• 17 September 2009

We are all fans of one-stop shopping given our limited time...this I know to be true! But outside of Etsy (which is more like a bajillion websites in one), it is difficult to find a single site offering a variety of handmade goods from independent artisans. This is why I'm excited to introduce you to eco-chic Magpie Lovely! You'll feel like you're shopping in a boutique except this time you'll be spared the hefty price tags (Magpie Lovely is very modestly priced) and the inconvenience of schlepping there. It's simply fantastic!

There are many, many things to love over at Magpie Lovely, but I handpicked a few of my absolute favorites for your viewing pleasure. You can create your own list of favorites right here. Welcome Magpie Lovely!

key chains
toddler dress
ruffled blouse


Baguette Sandwich

Something always on my mind over here is the possibility of replication back home...without the luxury of a French grocery store nearby. I become especially excited to discover a yummy lunch that is simple to create when I just can't handle pb&j anymore.

The French make an excellent tuna sandwich and from what I've gathered by multiple "tastings", this is what you'll need to recreate their version:

* crusty baguette (in SLC it's Crumb Bros.; in SF it's Bay Bread)
* best quality tuna (get the highest quality version in water, not oil)
* add some mayo and a little bit of Dijon mustard
* butter lettuce
* thinly sliced tomato

...and for the ultimate in authenticity, add chunks of boiled egg--a delicious addition. This sandwich is tasty and also packed with protein for that extra boost we all need right around lunch time :)


the Unexpected

• 16 September 2009

Since this was my 7th voyage to France, I thought I knew what to expect. I prepared myself mentally for certain things yet found myself quite surprised at how much I didn't see coming. For record keeping purposes, I thought I'd write down several surprises about living here for 3 months, with 3 kids, to complete the renovation of La Maisonnette du Coteau. If you are considering renovating a home in a foreign land with small children for an entire season, read on :)

I didn't expect...

1. The loneliness...not speaking the local language fluently is socially isolating; how I longed to have a casual conversation in English with a good friend.

2. Beds + bed skirts = total living nightmare...combined travel time for acquiring the proper size bed skirts, box springs, and mattresses came to somewhere around 40 hours; and it's all more expensive here too. To think, I could pick up a simple bed skirt for $20 at Target back home!

3. It would take so long...did we seriously just extend our trip 2 months?

4. It would be so difficult...I'm going to leave it at that :)

5. Finding good workers would be as challenging

6. That once you found the good workers, it would be difficult to get them here more than a few hours at a time considering how busy they were and the short work week here in France.

7. Only one leather sofa in France would fit through our second story door!

8. I would be required to do so much legwork by myself; meaning I would have to try and speak French on my own about house-related subjects! It's one thing to ask for a bunch of onions, but another to discuss the dimensions of a room and how old something is in a foreign language. If only I had a nickel for every time I made a complete fool out of myself!

9. I would see my adorable neighbors and meet a lovely blog reader right here in Beynac.

10. I would meet an old friend of my stepmothers' in Paris--and that Natasha would become my angel for a day

11. This project would be so challenging (I said that already though, right?)

12. How much joy I'd feel knowing our first guests enjoyed themselves immensely

13. How much I want to stay here now...with just the Husband; La Maisonnette is quite romantic and honestly made for 1-2 couples.

14. I could get used to "bising" without blushing

15. Produce could be as good or better than what you find in Northern California

16. To receive mail...thank you Christine for everything!

17. The Husband was so handy!

18. To gain a whole new appreciation for quiet


a Morning Off

For the first time in almost 3 months, I took off for a couple of hours BY MYSELF. Oh the pleasure in that...I enjoyed every minute! This renovation has certainly taxed us in many ways...personal time and space being just one. Anyway, I took the time to photograph the blanket of fog sweeping over the corn fields and my favorite grove of trees in the area. It was so freaking awesome. There really aren't any other words to accurately describe it other than those. When we get home and go on a real date for the first time in months, I may just write a post about that too. I'm just warning you...


After Work Comes {a little} Play

• 15 September 2009

With the arrival of our first guests (who could not have been more perfect btw), we split to the kid-friendly farmhouse and used the week to take care of business and to have a little fun locally. Our kids were so excited to get to do something non-renovation-related so we made sure to document the handful of outings with lots of pictures. Maybe they'll forget the 11 weeks of stressed-out-parents and just remember the one week with fun parents? Let's hope so as it's back to a few cosmetic projects again this week. Thankfully we are feeling far more relaxed this time...the end is nigh!

#1. Marqueyssac Gardens

#2 Castelnaud

#3 Hautefort (look familiar? think "Ever After"; which was filmed both at Hautefort and here in Beynac too)


Walnut Trees

Down here in the Dordogne you find yourself in serious walnut territory! It's easy to find quality hand-pressed walnut oils, walnut tarts, whole walnuts, shelled walnuts, walnut cake, walnut bread and walnut salad. It's fun to add a new ingredient to my repertoire...I'm really enjoying the flavors.

Until we arrived here, I'd never seen a walnut grove before, let alone a walnut tree. I had no idea what they looked like if you can believe it! In case any of you are in the same boat and curious, I want to share a few images here. Oh, and I asked a grower how they harvest the walnuts and he replied that they utilize the uber-modern technique of shaking the tree branches with a stick :)


Fall Fashion in a Nutshell

• 14 September 2009

Stylish Kyong, owner of the fantastic SLC boutique Koo de Ker, shares some Fall fashion tips with us today. If you are in the Salt Lake area, stop by for a visit and check out all the new pieces pouring in everyday!

"Fashion this fall has become rather season less. It's all about incorporating what you already have from summer and pairing it up with key pieces for fall."

1. The must have this season is a leather jacket. It can toughen up a dress or a frilly skirt. It's a classic piece that you'll be able to wear for years to come.

2. Don't stash away your pretty summer dresses. Pair them with tights and a leather jacket, or a long cardigan and your set. I love the look of booties and tights with dresses.

3. Another classic piece to have this fall is a long cardigan. This is something that can be worn with skinny jeans,leggings, over skirts, and especially worn over dresses with tights. A great way to dress up your cardigan is a skinny belt at the waist.

4. Everybody has a black or Grey coat in there closet. Why not spice things up a bit and get a bright coat for winter? Sometimes we end up leaving our coat on and it becomes the outfit. Be sure to get a coat that can be dressed up or down. Adding a colorful scarf, brooch or belt can do wonders.

5. Skirts are still a great way to transition to fall. Any skirt will do, high waisted, pencil, wool skirts with plaid. Again these can be paired with tights or for more warmth leggings.

6. Don't be afraid to mix patterns, textures, and lengths.

7. Keep an eye on proportions. For example, pair a shorter skirt with a longer top tucked in or loose top with a belt. Also, when wearing skinny jeans add a "flowy" top to balance the bottom half. You get the idea!

8. There is nothing fashionable about being too matchy-matchy and too put together. Remember, there is nothing wrong with wearing a casual printed tee, a pretty floral skirt, and leather jacket. Mix it up and have fun!

{Koo de Ker}
1027 East 900 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84105


Le Donjon

I think what I’ll miss most about Beynac is eating at Le Donjon, a little restaurant a stone’s throw away from La Maisonnette. Our association with Le Donjon is not solely based on food however; it’s about friendship too. The couple who owns the restaurant is quite the duo. While Jean-Luc is in the kitchen creating delicious food, Francoise is managing the restaurant and the boutique next door (a great stop for a quality Halloween costume btw). Each morning we pass by and exchange “bonjours” and then each afternoon we repeat the same routine. Some evenings we stop by and chat after our nightly trash run too. What I am trying to say is that we socialize with them more than anybody else in the village (are you surprised it’s not the patissier?) When we eat there Jean-Luc often creates something special for us, as he knows how much we appreciate good food and are willing to be surprised. Even though my own personal communication with them is not very extensive (my French is limited and their English is limited), I am amazed at the camaraderie between us. Yes, I do believe I’ll miss them the most.

A few pictures from what might end up being our Last Supper at Le Donjon. It was incredible…Coquilles St-Jacques, Cassoulet, Salade Noix, crusty bread, and Fraises Melba. Topped off with free ice cream for the kiddos and that’s what I call the perfect meal.


Original BTC Lighting

• 10 September 2009

I love the pretty lighting from Original BTC and I'm thrilled we were able to incorporate a couple of them into La Maisonnette. I am certain I will never tire of them. Let's all cross our fingers they come to the US sometime soon.

p.s. Merci is the place to pick up these suspensions in Paris--they are 25% cheaper than the Conran Shop. They'll give them to you in the perfect size box to take back on the plane.


La Maisonnette Logo

Awhile back we asked Leah to create a logo for La Maisonnette—she has excellent taste and I feel like we are on the same page style-wise so she seemed like the perfect solution. I love what she came up with and I can’t wait to use it on our soon-to-be-live website. In all our spare time we haven't quite finished it yet :) But, you can find us on VRBO in the meantime.

You can view Leah's portfolio here and her photography blog here. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention she also took our family picture a couple of years ago too. We, of course, loved that as well.


French School Supplies

• 09 September 2009

Something happened last week we never predicted…our oldest began the school year here in France. We couldn’t believe it…how in the world have we found ourselves in this situation? How unpredictable life can be. Anyway, off I go to buy a set of school supplies for her three whole weeks here, and then I'll go home and do it all over again for her school back home. Gotta love it!

While cruising through the back-to-school aisle, I decided to scope out “school” supplies that are pretty enough for grownups too. After skipping over all the cheesy licensed backpacks (yes, they have that overpriced stuff here too), I zoned in on these two favorites: jade green pencils and a cherry red notebook. They almost make me want to do math or something. Or not.

p.s. after Jordan's post on French and German school supplies I'm tempted to scope out art supplies now too...or just admire the pretty picture :)


Laughter is the Best Medicine

This past week I stumbled upon some humorous images documenting the earlier stages of the renovation here at La Maisonnette. I love a good chuckle…enjoy!

1. this big mama tractor was the only thing large enough to carry the big mama generator, yet small enough to get past the castle wall
2. no, not an alien…just the Husband in a sandblasting suit
3. the sandblaster itself—I swear all the equipment around here looks incredibly dated

4. my mother-in-law helping out with a tower of styrofoam insulation
5. that same styrofoam flying out of La Maisonnette
6. our kitchen cabinet installer in the shortest shorts I’ve seen on a man not at the beach

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