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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Visit To Montpellier, Regional Fare & Camargue Horses

Several years ago my cousin and her family hosted a French foreign exchange student. Over the years they have continued to correspond and visit one another. Their French student, Thérése, grew up to be a beautiful dentist.  While in Provence we traveled to her home to visit with her so that she could show us Montpellier.

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Montpellier is a large city located on the south coast of France on the Mediterranean Sea. It rose to prominence in the 12th century. It has all the conveniences of a modern city nestled within lovely 19th century architecture.

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The city center has a lovely fountain. You can see the opera house in the background.

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Here is a close up.

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As with most French cities it pays to look up. The detailed architecture was stunning.

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The lovely Thérése took us to lunch at a very nice seaside restaurant.

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All three of us opted to order the special of the day which was a lovely salad accompanied by a seafood pâté. Oh my when I put it fresh French bread….it was delicious!

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Dessert was equally spectacular. The moelleux au chocolat or chocolate lava cake was superb as was the French vanilla ice cream that accompanied it.

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As you may of surmised it was a rainy, overcast day. It was the only time it rained while we were in France. I enjoyed it immensely as it hardly ever rains in Phoenix.

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We spent the afternoon looking at real estate which I will expand upon in Friday’s post. That evening Thérése took us to her parents countryside ranch. Our lovely hosts, Michéle and Bernard, raise Camargue horses.

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The Camargue is one of the oldest breeds of horses in the world. A smaller horse, they are known for their stamina, hardiness and agility. This is the foals mother.

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Camarague foals are born with a dark coat but it becomes white as they reach adulthood. Isn’t this baby sweet? You can see that his coat is starting to transition to white.

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While Monsieur Bernard was busy in the kitchen Madame Michéle shared with us the French quilting art of boutis.

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You begin with a detailed pattern that takes many days to transfer to white cotton fabric.

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Once the pattern is in place you hand stitch the channels. Then the channels are gently stuffed with the finest of cotton. It takes years to complete just one piece.

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My apologies as I did not capture a photo of the charming Chef Bernard. But oh what a meal! We began with local raw oysters. It is a good time to mention that I had never eaten a raw oyster prior to this. I took the plunge as I wanted to experience what all the fuss was about. In addition I must stress what an absolute GIFT it was to be invited into Michéle and Bernard gorgeous home. They had never met me before and were truly gracious hosts and lovely people. It is just good manners and common courtesy to at least try what your hosts offer particularly when it is a specialty of the area.

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The entire meal was just full of lovely regional fare such as this lovely mushroom and potato gratin.

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I had two helpings of ratatouille.

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The Boudin sausage was superb and it made me wish Mr. Décor was by my side as he so loves a good sausage.

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It was truly a wonderful evening that is now a treasured memory. While many prefer to dine in a 4 star restaurant I prefer a delicious meal cooked in someone’s home. It is truly a priceless gift.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Would You Choose The Move in Ready Option?

There are no shortage of lovely houses for sale in the Fort Worth area.

1528 Lakeview Dr, Keller, TX 76248

This beauty is pretty much move in ready.

1528 Lakeview Dr, Keller, TX 76248

It’s all recently been redone. But therein lies the issue. Although the kitchen is gorgeous I personally would have selected white subway tile for the walls and I probably couldn’t bring myself to rip out perfectly good tile. So should I just settle?

1528 Lakeview Dr, Keller, TX 76248

I would have selected just one color of wood laminate flooring all through the house. Would you just settle for oak and walnut?

1528 Lakeview Dr, Keller, TX 76248

Should my fur boys settle for no grass in exchange for low maintenance?

1528 Lakeview Dr, Keller, TX 76248

Yes, it is a gorgeous house but I’d like a home I can transform to my hearts desire, not someone else's vision.

1528 Lakeview Dr, Keller, TX 76248

What would you do?


Monday, July 28, 2014

Beautiful French Fabric ~ A Bit of History and a Factory & Museum Tour

While in France my cousin and I visited several stores, a factory and a museum that all specialized in Provençal fabrics. The gorgeous fabric was originally made in India and the process was brought to France through the port of Marseille in the mid 17th century. The Indiennes stylized fabric, which is often referred to in England and America as chintz, featured bright and cheerful flora and fauna. As it was affordable and easy to care for it became an instant hit.  

Seamstresses, Museée Réattu - Arles | Indienne Textiles | Paint + Pattern

“The Couturier's workshop, Arles”~ Antoine Raspal, 1760

The French locals soon started producing their own version of the cloth. A playing card manufacturer, Benoît Ganteaume, and wood engraver, Jacques Baville, were the first to apply their card printing techniques to cloth. Once the design was applied, layers of color were added. But the dyes used were inferior to those in India.

Wetter Factory Making Indienne Cloth After Prohibition | Paint + Pattern

“Brothers Wetter Textile Factory at Orange” ~ Joseph-Maria Gabriel Rossetti, 1764/65

In order to take a controlling role King Louis XIV had his Minister of Finance, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, create the Compagnie des Indes (East India Company) in 1664. Armenian fabric weavers and dyers were brought to Marseille to share their skills with local producers.


No surprise, the Indiennes fabric became all the rage at the French court. As the cost to produce the fabric was far less expensive than silk and wool French factories in Lyon were forced to close. The manufacturers successfully lobbied the government to have the import and production of the Indiennes fabric banned in 1686. The Indiennes manufacturers avoided the ban by moving to the Avignon region which at the time belonged to the Vatican and was under Papal jurisdiction.

Madame-de-Pompadour dressed in an Indienned textile fabric | Paint + Pattern

Madame de Pompadour wearing an Indienne robe “Madame de Pompadour at her Tambour Frame” ~ François-Hubert Drouais, 1763/64

The ban lasted 73 years. It was lifted in 1759 and Indiennes fabric once again became extremely popular. It was used in Provence for tablecloths, bedspreads and items of clothing. Men wore shirts, neckerchiefs and waistcoats while women wore skirts, scarves and aprons, sometimes several designs all at once.

Chintz Jacket Shawl and Skirt via Wikipedia | Indienne Textiles | Paint + Pattern

Original Indiennes fabric had Arabic and Mughal art inspired flora and fauna.

After the ban was lifted one producer of cloth, Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf,  set up a factory in Jouy-en-Josas. It was located near a river just up from the court of Versailles. The company focused on producing floral designs originally made in India. It grew into a large and successful factory. The fabric of the region became known as Toile de Jouy, often shortened to Toile.


It is easy to see the Provençal influence on the Indiennes fabric in the form of sunflowers, lavender, fruit, and olive themes.

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It generally is produced in sunny shades of yellow, red and blue.

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These fabric images were taken at the Les Olivades factory.

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Les Olivades was begun by Léonard Quinche in 1818. His factory was located in the small Provençal village of Saint-Étienne-du-Grès (which you may recall is the same small village where we stayed at Mas Predon). In 1948 the company was sold to Pierre and Paule Boudin. Their son, Jean-François Boudin is the current director of the company and several other family members are also involved.We happened to meet Monsieur Boudin while visiting the Paris store.

Can you tell it was very hot and humid that day? :)

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 My cousin is a fabric artist who creates beautiful quilts and she purchased some fabric from the Paris store and we discussed with Monsier Boudin that we also would be traveling to Provence and staying in the same small village as his family’s factory. There is a shop there as well that is open to the public but factory tours must be made in advance and generally with a group of 10 or more. We were VERY lucky to be given the opportunity to see how such lovely fabric is created.

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There is a short video of the creation process of the fabrics in the factory you can see HERE.

In the village of Tarascon in Provence there is a wonderful museum of the history of French Indiennes fabric at Souleiado, another producer of cloth. 

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It’s a bit of a hunt through several small, winding streets to find Souleiado but well worth your time.

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You know you are headed in the right direction when you pass under the arch with the gold Virgin.

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Then past the town theater.

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We finally just parked and walked the rest of the way. But you could go right up to the door if you had one of these:

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The museum itself does not allow photographs due to the delicate age and nature of the fabrics in their collection. It is housed in a charming old building.

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 There was great detail on how scarves were folded and pinned in place and the lovely quilting on the skirts and petticoats.

Les Olivades 

1 Rue de Tournon ,75006 Paris, France

Chemin des Indienneurs,13103 Saint Etienne du Grès, France

39, rue Charles Demery, 13150 Tarascon, France

What color and pattern would you choose?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

And Sometimes We Ignore That Still, Quiet Voice

After two weeks of working non stop I had plans to work even more. There were images to download, photos to edit and blog posts to write. You can be quite sure that I was not taking the time to stop and smell any roses, let alone some lovely peonies. 

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Then I noticed a small screw had fallen out of my laptop. And I chose to ignore it. Even though my Jiminy Cricket was working overtime I continued working. Feverishly. The next day the entire screen separated. I took it to my favorite repair guy and he said, “Oh if you would have brought it in right away we could have just replaced the screw but now a crucial part has broken off.” This constituted having to order a replacement. 

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Which of course meant a lot more money for repairs.

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Oh if only I had listened to that quiet, still voice.


“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” ~ Proverbs 18:13