Monday, January 31, 2011

My sweet son

My son arrives home from college tonight, a short break between the winter and spring term.

Today, after work, I will bake his favorite cookies, give his room a quick clean, and leave a small gift for him on his bedside table, a book he's been wanting to read.

And for the next week I'll bask in his stories about school, friends, his current favorite music. I'll listen to him play the piano and the house will be filled with waltzes and sonatas (or the music from Final Fantasy XI).  I'll tease him about how much longer his hair is since the last time I saw him.  I will celebrate how big his world has become and how easily he moves through that world.

I'll notice the shoes on the floor, the crumbs on the counter, the unmade bed,  the coat and books strewn everywhere, but I won't complain.  Because for a few days, my son will be home and the house will be filled with certain, reckless joy.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

L'avenir, or the future

Earlier in the week my friend Leigh asked why I hadn't been posting.  When I went back to look at the blog, I realized almost two weeks had passed since my last post, and, I have no good reason other than I've been unusually busy.  Sometimes, we are just busy, n'est-ce pas?

A classroom that demands a lot of time and a new house that needs lots of work have kept me busy for months; blogging has slipped.  Some days, I don't have the time, and some days I simply struggle for writing ideas.  And some days I consider a new blog, a different blog inspired by the home design and renovation blogs I visit.

I don't like to whine or vent on my blog, so I apologize.  And I do like to stay on message, stay true to my original intent of  " . . . exploring ways to bring a bit of France into my home . . . ways to introduce small but authentic French touches into your life."  I regularly need to ask myself if that's what I'm doing. 

I know other bloggers have puzzled through this.  As I look back over the nearly 300 posts on my blog, I wonder if I've said what I wanted to say, if there's any more to write about.  I wonder if my trip to France this summer will inspire me to continue blogging, or, if it's time to close up shop . . .

Friday, January 28, 2011

Week-end Simple: Drink chocolat chaud

Inspired by our first big snow of the year, these past two days I've been drinking sinful amounts of chocolat chaud.

I've had two snow days from school, and it's been satisfying being home, enjoying the snow, and indulging in late morning cups of rich hot chocolate. 

I don't have a favorite chocolate, though many swear by the French Valrhona.  But, I think any quality chocolate with a high percent of cocoa solids will do.  I also like to sprinkle a little salt on my chocolat chaud--strange, I know--but I enjoy the combined sweet and salty flavors.

So whether it's snowing in your world or not, wouldn't it be nice to enjoy a cup of deep, rich chocolat chaud this weekend?

Bon week-end!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Métaphore

If you follow My French Corner, you know my love of kitchen textiles. I'm delighted by the way color and texture can combine to create utilitarian items, like dishtowels, that can be as beautiful as more expensive, decorative textiles.

I love patterned kitchen textiles and have a special love for those made in France; European designers see the opportunity to make something simple, like a dishtowel, into a thing of beauty, n'est-ce pas?

Which is why I was excited to discover Métaphore, a shop that carries European linens.  Located near Yale on New Haven's Chapel Street, Métaphore carries several lines of kitchen textiles, including Libeco and my personal favorite, Moutet.  You can also shop Métaphore online by visiting their website.

Bon lundi!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Week-end Simple: Brew a pot of tea

Recent French Chic posts on the subject of tea reminded me that it's been a long time since I brewed a pot.

I received a housewarming gift of Mariage Frères Earl Grey Silver Tips tea; I love design of the tin--black enamel with a creamy yellow Mariage Frères label that probably hasn't changed since the late 1800s.

I'm thinking that this would be a perfect weekend to enjoy a pot of tea.

Bon week-end!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ceci n’est pas un Birkin

If you've always dreamed of owning a Birkin, this may be your chance.

Well, sort of.

For $35 you can own the Together Bag, a canvas tote featuring a screen printed version of the iconic Hermès's Birkin.  The Together Bag comes from Thursday Friday, a design team who are into "accessible high style."

You can read more about Thursday Friday on their site, or check out this recent New York Times piece about the Together Bag.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Culinaria France

Browsing the bargain shelves at Barnes and Noble I always seem to find a book:  books on decorating, books for my classroom, and this find on French cuisine.

Culinaria France is part of the successful Culinaria series, which includes volumes on Italy, Greece, Spain, as well as France.  More than cookbooks, these beautiful books are filled with information about the food and wines of each country.

Culinaria France is organized into 12 gastronomic regions--Ile de France, Provence, the Loire Valley--and features food specialties and recipes from each region.  But there are also discussions on regional cheeses, breads, and wines, as well as information on how each region capitalizes on its natural resources.  Beautifully photographed and illustrated, Culinaria France is a primer on French gastronomy, where you can read up on topics including the history of the Parisian baguette to the salt farmers of Carmargue and the wines of Languedoc.

If you are a serious foodie, or interested in more than recipes and cooking, you will appreciate what the Culinaria series offers.  The series has recently been relaunched with a new format and new photos, and whether you check it out from the library, browse a volume at the bookstore, or, pick up a bargain copy, you won't be disappointed.

Friday, January 7, 2011

French Finds on Etsy: Vintage grain sacks

Since moving in to my new house I've purchased a few things--my Staub braiser, my Pullyviyt dishes, and a vintage grain sack from Simply French Vintage on Etsy.

Simply French Vintage is owned by David and Jane, a couple from the UK who live in France.  They have a number of these grain sacks available for sale in their Etsy shop, as well as other vintage French items.

This sack that I purchased is from the 1960s; there are a couple of tiny mends which add to its charm and authenticity.  And it's large--27 inches wide, 48 inches long. 

I've seen these grain sacks made into throw rugs, or into pillows; my current plan is to have it stretched and framed under glass and hang it in my kitchen after my renovation on a tall, narrow that will lead into the kitchen from the dining room.  But if you have an idea, I'd love to hear it!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

French Finds on Etsy: Paris calendars

Looking for the perfect 2011 calendar? Visit Little Brown Pen and you may just find it.

There is the perpetual calendar which is creative and clever, and captures a lot of what Little Brown Pen is all about.  Click here and take a minute to watch the video; 
I guarantee you'll love it.

Then, there is the sweet, business card size mini-calendar
that is perfect for almost anywhere.  And my personal favorite, the Paris calendar, printed on archival paper so the photographs can be trimmed and framed at the end of each month.

Nichole and Evan Robertson are the creative force behind Little Brown Pen and you can read about them here, on their Etsy site.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

French Finds on Etsy: Chanel button jewelry

No, this isn't authentic Chanel jewelry, but it is an authentic Chanel button!   Located in the UK, Sarah, known as speedster310 on her Etsy shop, has great jewelry fashioned from her collection of Chanel buttons. 

I don't have a single piece of Chanel in my wardrobe, but this seller's beautiful pieces make Chanel within reach.  I love chunky bracelets so I am tempted by this black cuff adorned with a gold Chanel button.  I also love this artist's take on the traditional Tiffany silver link bracelet adorned with a Chanel silver logo button.  And there is something so lovely about the signature black and white logo button centered in this vintage style silver necklace.

Vintage Chanel buttons are collectors items; I've seen some sell for as much as 150 USD, but these original pieces are priced at half that, and make beautiful use of these classic logo buttons. And if you don't see something in her shop that you like, this artist "can make anything for you" from her collection of Chanel buttons.

So, what would you like?

Monday, January 3, 2011

French Finds on Etsy: Cathryn Nicholson prints

I'm not exactly sure how I discovered UK designer and illustrator Cathryn Nicholson's Etsy site, but I'm so happy that I did.  Cathryn sells under Cathryn's Designs, and I know some of you will adore her Chanel parfum bottles.

These are prints of Cathryn's original illustrations, which are  affordable--about 20 USD--and perfect for a store bought frame.  If shoes and purses are more your thing, you'll want to check out her illustrations of the iconic Christian Louboutin heels or Mulberry's classic Bayswater handbag.

I could easily imagine one of these parfum prints in a bedroom, bath, or dressing room. Or how about a series of three hung together?

You can see more of Cathryn's fashion illustration at Cathryn's Designs, or check out her Pencil Stiches blog!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

French Finds on Etsy

I am a huge Etsy fan and can spend hours browsing everything from vintage linens to abstract art. For me, Etsy is what magazines and catalogs are for others: a chance to browse and window shop for ideas and inspiration.

Last week I had a break from school and I used the time to catch up on reading, sleeping, visiting, and of course, browsing Etsy.  Then, I thought it would be fun to share some of the French inspired finds I found, and hope that you will share any that you've discovered.

So this week it's going to be another series on My French Corner:  French Finds on Etsy.  Some items are authentic French, others are French inspired, and others are, well, you'll just have to wait and see!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Tiny Kitchen Tour: Merci and bonne année

Thanks so much for visiting this week and following my tiny kitchen tour.  I appreciate your thoughtful comments, and your suggestions will help me think through some possible solutions.

I also think I'm a little bit homesick for my old house, especially this kitchen.  I loved the crisp white cabinets, the inviting lighting, and the way the wood floor warmed up the space.  But most important, it was the place where everyone ended up no matter how large the gathering.  It is the place of some of my fondest memories.

But it's a new year, a new time in my life.  There's no reason why I can't create a kitchen in my new house that I will enjoy just as much, a space that is inviting, and where everyone will want to gather.

And bonne année to my readers; thank you for gathering at My French Corner.  I wish you all good health and much happiness in this new year!