5

Easy Ways to Modernize a Home's Exterior

• 31 October 2012



I am always a fan of Emily's projects and tips (do you remember her gorgeous kitchen and nursery renovation?) and am loving her latest DIY.  After leaving the city and heading to a subdivision in a small, Texas town, she decided her home needed a little modernizing; something that would differentiate it from the others on the street and also require little expense.  So, in addition to extensive trimming, pruning and other outdoor attention, she decided to paint her front door a daring color and spruce up the mailbox and curb as well.  



Now you may wonder why she chose orange for her front door.  It's not the first color that comes to mind when considering red-ish brick homes, but Emily longed for something bold enough to draw one's eye away from the prominent garage.  I'd say "mission accomplished"!  She then swapped out the traditional house numbers with a modern set from this site.  Love!  But the exterior updating didn't stop at the facade of the home.  Emily also extended the orange to mailbox numbers and a curb stencil, nicely tying in all of the new, modern elements to each other.  And while she isn't quite finished updating the home's exterior (she did just barely move in after all!), she is satisfied with these fun changes and already moving on to bigger projects.  Emily, I can't wait to see what you come up with next...



images by Emily McCall Photography

8

A PIcnic Along the Dordogne River

• 30 October 2012



Tonight we watched delightful film, Chocolat, with friends both old and new.  Our hostess provided several chocolate treats for us to enjoy during the viewing (a must during the scene when Juliette Binoche mixes her first batch!), thanks to her recent return from France.  We were all so grateful she took the time to fill her suitcase and plan this little get together.  Throughout the night I kept thinking how I need to be better about organizing gatherings and parties more often.  Isn't it so nice to be invited over?  And to hang out with friends after the kiddies are in bed?  And to remember what uninterrupted conversation feels like? (bless their little hearts).  I daresay "yes" to all of the above!

During the film we spotted the portion of the Dordogne River right in front of Beynac and I remembered that I hadn't posted images yet from the last day of the food styling and photography workshop with Aran.  So here it is...day 4...



The morning started with a tour of the Château de Beynac, perched atop the cliff you see in the image below.  This Medieval fortress was built in 1137 (or at least that is when construction began) and is one of the best preserved in France.  If you've seen the movie Ever After, perhaps you recognize it as the home of the creepy man who wanted Drew Barrymore's affection...


After bouts of rain on and off during the week, we were so happy for the sunshine that morning.  Following the tour of the castle, the group slowly meandered down the cobblestone path to the river below, stopping for a moment at La Maisonnette where I was prepping our lunch picnic.  I had in mind a spot where my own family picnicked often during our renovation and hoped it would be comfortable for everyone that day (i.e. sans soggy ground from the previous night's rainfall).  Thankfully we were in luck!

Putting together this picnic was one of my favorite parts of the workshop.  Eating on location requires more effort, but once you are there with all of your supplies, it is so worth it (Jordan shares some great tips about this subject here). There are few things better than a simple, but delicious meal...with a view.



I brought my newest pie box style for the occasion (which will be in the shop soon) and filled them with 2 kinds of quiche--one with morels (my all-time favorite fungi) and one with lardons and gruyère .  I also brought a basket of little yogurts in glass jars, as well as cheese, baguettes, fruit, greens, charcuterie and chocolates.  I spent many moments looking around at all the wonderful women attending the workshop and how grateful I was to get to know them better in this beautiful setting.  If only we could all dine together there...I would love that!


If you are interested in their posts about the workshop, and/or previous posts I wrote about the workshop, take a peek at these links:  

Day 3  |  Day 2  |  Day 1

Also, I'd like to share some of our guests' posts with you too.  Whether they posted on their personal or professional blogs (i.e. Martha and La Cucina Italiana!), all of them are beautiful posts and all very much different from each other:   

Jennifer  |  Kathleen  |  Leen  |  Tracey  |  Juliana  |  Emanuela

6

Halloween Songs

• 28 October 2012



When I was a child, my mom really got into holidays with decorating, dressing up if needed and having fun (she still does, in fact!).  One of my favorite things she did to celebrate Halloween was sit our boom box next to an open window and play the Monster Mash over and over.  No one knew it was on repeat, as they visited our house for only a minute or two before moving on to another.  As far as every visitor knew, the Monster Mash played for them, just as they walked up the path to the front door.  Perfect timing.

Today I keep that tradition alive every Halloween, but I've added a few more songs to the playlist.  It turns out, there are more Halloween-appropriate songs out there besides the Mash!  Granted, they are a bit more subtle in their spooky sentiment, and many of them classify as "oldies", but they are awesome tunes nonetheless.  With Halloween just a few days away here in the US, I want to share my picks with you--may they make your Halloween parties and Halloween nights that much more fun.

Superstitious, Stevie Wonder
Abracadabra, Steve Miller Band
Trick or Treat, Otis Redding (favorite!)
Black Magic Woman, Santana
Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead, Ella Fitzgerald
Thriller, Michael Jackson
Spooky, Atlanta Rhythm Section
Witchy Woman, the Eagles
Moondance, Van Morrison
Ghost, Indigo Girls
Harvest Moon, Neil Young
Witchcraft, Frank Sinatra
Moon over Bourbon Street
and of course...Monster Mash, Robert Walsh

If you have any favorites to add, please chime in...thanks!

image of the Chateau de Beynac on an eerie, stormy night by Rachel Jones via Black Eiffel

11

I Promised Them Apples

• 25 October 2012



On the way to the airport last month, I told my children I would take them apple picking as soon as I returned home from France.  So two weeks into October, we decided to pay two orchards in Eastern Washington a visit during a little family getaway--Bill's Berry Farm (which is apparently  more than berries) and the Ray French Orchard (which has been in their family for about one hundred years!).  While they were very different from each other, we loved them both.



For me, nothing feels more like Fall than apple picking.  And if you've ever taken a bite out of a crisp apple, right off the tree, you probably feel the same way about this colorful season.


Picking apples conjures many memories of a childhood spent in New England; where farms and Apple Orchards were in abundance.  I remember making homemade cider in a barn at the local 4-H club.  Boy was it cold--wet cold--and it smelled of nothing but apple peels; but, this was a good thing.  The cider we made was naturally chilled and tasted like perfection to me, even as a kid.


My children were thrilled with the opportunity to climb trees--a favorite past time.  I've actually never seen them more excited to pick anything.  Hanging their buckets on branches and then filling them up while they clung to the tree trunk was pretty much their idea of a good time.



While Baby Gray missed out on tree-climbing, he made sure to grab a few fallen apples to place in his bucket.


A sweet, little, vintage ride at Bill's Berry Farm.  Even though my older kids felt a little silly participating, they loved it.  It was good to see them being so carefree.


Bill's Berry Farm was hosting a festival the day we arrived so there was music, cider-making (!!), apple-cider donuts and lots of people (although the rain chased them away so I snuck this picture in quickly :)).


Kicking myself for not stocking up on gourds and pumpkins.  Check out these offerings!


I wish you all a wonderful weekend--whether you're apple picking, planning a Halloween fête, or starting to think about what in the world your children are going to wear for the upcoming holiday (you're not alone in that!).


Ray French Orchard
921 Harvest Lane Pr NE
Richland, WA 99352

Bill's Berry Farm
3674 N. County Line Road
Grandview, WA  98930


6

A Birthday Special + Pie, Cake and Tart Boxes Galore


In keeping with tradition (thank you Gail!), I'd like to offer you free priority shipping today on all orders from my shop over $36 (I may have to rethink this whole idea once I start having major issues with my age...I feel it coming). This is a great time to stock up on pie boxes for gifting, Thanksgiving leftovers, bake sales, an upcoming wedding, etc. In fact, if pie isn't your thing, fill these sweet boxes with a slice of cake...or quiche...or a tart you picked up from your favorite bakery.  Surely you will make someone's day, which is one of the best feelings in the world.  


I'm planning on running this special through midnight PST, so you've got almost exactly 24 hours (from the time I publish this post), to stock up on original packaging you can only find at Petit Moulin on Etsy.  As always, thank you for your support and have a wonderful day today wherever you may be!  


images by me, Stephanie Brubaker for stephmodo - thanks for stopping by!

20

Bateau Birthday Party

• 21 October 2012


If I had a penny for every time I heard my Baby Gray say "bateau!" with all the enthusiasm a 2-year-old can muster (which is a lot!), I would be a rich woman.  We live near this grouping of boats pictured above and pass by them at least once a day; thus providing many opportunities for him to practice one of his first (and favorite) French words.  From the time we are in sight of the Ballard Bridge and then take the turn next to Fisherman's Terminal, it's "Mama! Bateaux bateaux!", over and over.  Each day it is the same drill, but I never tire of it.  I am keenly aware that someday in the not-too-distant future I will be wishing with all my might to go back to these precious moments when he was just figuring out how to express his joy for the beautiful world around him.  

So, needless to say, when it came time to plan his little party, it was easy to decide on a theme :)


We were grateful for the late afternoon sun on this particular Saturday--a stroke of good luck here in Seattle.  The little party was held at the Model Boat Pond outside the Center for Wooden Boats, just off Lake Union.  The children made their own vessels with wooden boats/trays and skewers I painted and adorned with washi tape and tape I procured at one of the boating supply stores nearby.  


The model boat pond proved to be the perfect diversion for all the kids, regardless of their ages.  I wondered why we hadn't visited before, especially when we live fairly close by.  It was such an ideal location for a family picnic and people watching.


While setting up the edibles, the wind caught ahold of the balloon bouquet and off they went...

Cousins and friends hanging out...a great crew of kids.  Gray was tickled with all the attention and the big kids' willingness to let him hang with them.  You could just see it in his face--he was so happy!


More "floation devices" from the kids' favorite donut shop in town and other snacks Gray enjoys.



Sneaking away for some solo time with his new spoils.  It turns out the shallow wall surrounding the model boat pond is the perfect height for playing with matchbox cars--his toy of choice these days :)



And to cap off Gray's bateau birthday party, the kids were entertained by sea plane after sea plane landing on Lake Union.  They cheered on every single plane with equal enthusiasm and simply couldn't believe their luck.  Three plans in ten minutes?  Yes, please.  Their excitement was contagious and we adults couldn't help but join in over this very unexpected experience (usually the best, right?).  A good way to conclude his little party to be sure :)


p.s. I still can't believe he is two.  Do you remember when he was born?  And when he turned one?  His curls were just starting to show and we were going nuts over this unexpected trait (we both have brown hair and brown eyes).  Time is a flyin' my friends...

images by me, Stephanie Brubaker for stephmodo

5

Claudie Pierlot

• 18 October 2012


Paris.  My happy place.  And perhaps yours too.  Good food, great chocolate, renown art, beautiful side streets and lots of people watching.  Loud people, quiet people, cranky people, passionate people and stylish people.  It's all so interesting!  So the next time you're in Paris (which is hopefully sooner than later), I encourage you to take a moment to find a park bench; and then sit there for awhile and simply watch.  I think you'll see what I mean...


I recently had the chance to spend a day there after the workshop with Aran, which I was so very grateful for.  For some reason I noticed a designer this time, one I hadn't spotted before, Claudie Pierlot.  I even think I like it more than longtime favorite, Comptoir des Cotonniers.  The line is very chic (just the way you'd expect a French label to be), yet casual.  Such a perfect combination!  Think: lots of knits with a little lace, leather, sequins and...peter pan collars :)  


This gal describes it clothing you'd expect 'a grown-up version of Amelie to wear' and I think she's spot on! Since it's always fun to peek at sites like this to procure style ideas and such, I just had to share. Sometimes all it takes is a petite look-see on a great site to fall in love with your own closet all over again.  It's an exercise in creativity and discipline to rework what you have to make it feel more current; and definitely worthwhile in the end! 

images 1, 3 - rouge, lanc, noir  |  image 2 - me

8

Day 3: A Walnut Grove, Pretty Aprons + the Grange

• 12 October 2012


The third day.  One full of haziness and overcast skies--truly the ideal backdrop for a food styling workshop, yes?  Instead of mourning the full sun and eighty-degree weather we experienced last year, we embraced the weather for what it was and found joy in never really knowing what to expect.  C'est la vie! 


Two very lovely etsy shops, Sew a Fine Seam and The Apron Society graciously provided absolutely gorgeous aprons for the workshop guests to use while cooking and photographing.  Since I always wear an apron when cooking or baking (and even sometimes just putzing around the house working on little projects), I am thrilled with the discoveries.  They looked amazing. 


Three pretties--autumn apples, vintage tape details and an espalier rose bush stretching up one side of the manoir.  Couldn't get enough of 'em.


Les boules


Have you ever tried photographing delicious food when hungry?  Not a good combo :)  #torture
Also, pretty details on this ivory, linen apron.  It certainly emanates that European simplicity I have come to appreciate.   



Aran happily taking a turn on the other side of the camera...




Exquisite balsamic vinegar from St. Helena Olive Oil Co set the stage for the simply elegant farm-to-table picnic Nadia created in the manoir's grange.  Such a treat to enjoy with fresh greens.

Next week..one last post on the Food Styling and Photography Workshop with Aran Goyoaga in France.  And then we will move right back into real life :)

Day 1  |  Day 2

All aprons pictured here are handmade by Swiss-based The Apron Society, Jill Flory of Sew a Fine Seam and Debbie's Porch

10

Jouets en Bois: Top 5 Favorite Wooden Toys

• 09 October 2012


A few years ago my sister and I were discussing the subject of "toys" over the phone--how many do kids really need?  how to keep them tidy? (is this even possible?), etc.  She went on to joke that maybe if her kids played with pretty, wooden toys (versus the plastic, noise-making ones), that she wouldn't mind if they were left all over the house.  I thought it a sound suggestion and made a mental note to focus a little more on quality toys that would survive my monthly run to the local thrift store drop off.  And while my children will probably always be more attracted to the obnoxious toys (which is totally fine!), I figure I can still provide a handful of heirloom quality toys they won't have to ever put away :)

Here are my Top 5 "jouets en bois", or wooden toys.  You can't go wrong with any of them in my book!

1.  Janod Fox in Natural Wood (also here)  |  2.  Manhattan Toy Classic Baby Beads (also here)

3.  Ikea Walker in Blue  |  4.  Vilac Fire Department Helicopter (also here)  |  5.  Ready Set Go Car (also here)

image above of Gray's new fox...if only I saved the clever packaging to share with you...

8

Les Jardins de Marqueyssac

• 05 October 2012


Photographers--both aspiring and professional--you can't take us anywhere!  I smiled to myself as our happy group descended upon any location.  All eleven of us with cameras snapping this way and that (including window sills and stone walls:)).  Each person took in the moment from their own lens and as I watched them, I could only imagine the beautiful results.  We found ourselves in an exquisite location and took advantage of the moment.




On this particular afternoon we set off to visit Les Jardins des Marqueyssac--beautiful, sculptured gardens nestled behind a beautiful, little chateau (at least relative to the other castles in the valley!).  Added bonus: locally-made, artisan ice cream was on hand.  Delicious flavors like local walnut, wild strawberry, honey and nougat saddled up next to exotic tones like daffodil, rose and poppy.  You can't go wrong with any of them in my book.



Our guests walked around munching their cones, taking in the views and listening to instruction from Aran while the weather seemed to change by the minute (for some reason whenever I visit these gardens the weather is wonky).

p.s. above, you'll see the village of Beynac perched atop a cliff...this is where La Maisonnette is situated.  



Aran at work photographing the rustic, blue door...(coming to her blog soon, I am sure).



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