A LITTLE HOUSE IN PARIS … UNE PETITE MAISON

I will tell you a story.

I have a house in Paris.

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The door of my little house opens onto a quiet street.

Around the corner the open-air market.   Every morning  I fill my basket with rich cheeses and plunder from the country.

There’s an old bookstore.  Shelves musty with words.

And a tiny bistro with a zinc bar where my wine glass makes circles of happiness.

 

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I have a little house in Paris with a courtyard.

Where grinning lions spill water into a stone-gray trough.

Water  to refresh body and soul on a hot summers day.

 

 

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I have a little house in Paris.

With  sparsely furnished rooms leading into one another  – enfilade.

And ancient wooden floors that creak and complain.

 

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Tall windows overlook the courtyard of my little house,

Tall windows where I hang linen curtains that  float and dance with every breeze.

The kitchen in my little house in Paris has cold stone floors.   An  ancient stove.   A wooden table scrubbed white.

My house,  my little house in Paris is in my mind.  To journey to it I have but to close my eyes and I am turning the key on the big front door.

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WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU RUN OUT OF WALLS . . .

I have run out of wall space to hang art.

I have  hung art in the laundry room.

The powder room.

Over the kitchen stove.

Even outside on the patio.

There simply wasn’t anyplace left to hang

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SACRED AND PROFANE LOVE

I had discovered this wonderful portfolio of Titian’s painting in a used bookstore.  They were closing shop.  The portfolio cost me all of a whole dollar. I knew exactly what I would do with  the series of close-up sections of the painting.  I could mount them on artists canvas and create my own gallery, but I had run out of wall space.  Unless I could figure out a way to hang art on tile and mirror.

The solution was almost magic.  3M Command strips.  They stick to anything and can be removed without living a trace.

A six-foot by six-foot mirror.   A few measurements.  Put up the strips.  Voila – my art gallery.

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Six bits of art hung and nary a nail in sight.  The painting was commissioned by Niccolo Aurelio to celebrate his marriage around 1513 – 1514.

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Here’s the bride …

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and her beautiful face.

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Partly facing the bride is Venus, goddess of love.

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She looks rather thoughtful.

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In the background a romantic pastoral scene .

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Love the two rabbits in the foreground.

I have left the best to last.  The very best.  In the centre of the painting cupid fishes about in the fountain.  What better place for cupid then in my bathroom.

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Cupid is the first thing I see every morning.  He makes me smile.

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The shower is separate so the rest of my gallery is safe all because of 3M Command Strips.  If you don’t want to put nails in walls, or want to hang your art in unusual places these Command strips are your answer.

SACRED AND PROFANE LOVE has found the perfect home.

HOW I BROUGHT PARIS INTO MY PANTRY

 

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This is a story about a dated, old piece of furniture, a stack of art, and a gathering of treasures – and how they turned a sow’s ear of a room into a chic French purse.

 

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Years ago I painted this heavy oak buffet a cheery red and added a folk art design in the style of Peter Hunt.  Back then it was the latest shout.  But after four decades of red I was tired of the look.  It didn’t fit with the decor I had in my head.

I turned the big laundry room into a butler’s pantry.  Moved in the seldom used microwave, ice cream machine,and  special occasion dishes and platters.  I covered the walls with French photographs, maps and art.

Then the search for the perfect French gray paint began.

 

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Paint samples came and went.

At last I found the perfect gray.

A gray reminiscent of the gray you see  on old furniture in France.

The silver-gray of the dust that covered my shoes when I walked the streets of Paris.

Benjamin Moore’s DEEP SILVER!

I repainted in my version of instant French paint finish.  Two coats of Fresh Start  – a high-hiding all-purpose latex primer .   Little touches of white around the trim .   When completely dry – two coats of Minwax clear wax.  What could be simpler.

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In the pantry I resurrected  a Beaujolais wine barrel used in one of our restaurants.

 

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Then I created  a mise en scène from bits and bobs  – found treasures gathered over the years.

Into the garden to plunder the lavender.

My Paris Pantry is complete.

THRIFT SHOP TREASURE HUNTING

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It’s rather like going down the rabbit hole – this Thrift Shop treasure hunting.  One simply jumps in and the fun begins.

Sharp eyes are required to ferret out the gold from the dross.

To find the  brand-new pink linen Max Mara jacket consorting with   black polyester jacket from Le Chateau.   It’s not my size but it would look fab on my dear-to-my-heart friend Amy.   How can I go wrong at four dollars.

When you’re in the rabbit hole it is a good idea to always look up.

Way way up on the top shelves.

To find the second treasure of the day.  Three gorgeous Panama straw hats dreaming  together and ignoring the gray clouds and rain.    Magenta, red, and black hats and just one dollar each.

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Panama hats are actually made in Ecuador from the pleated leaves of the toquilla straw plant.    Originally they were shipped first to the Isthmus of Panama and from there to the rest of the world.    Now you know why they call them Panama hats.       Glorified since the 19th century the Panama hat is considered the prince of straw hats,   or in this case the princess.

 

My beauties simply called out to be dolled up.  Spiffed up and tricked out to become the soigné of all Panamas.   I riffle my trunk  filled with ribbons and trims.  A red Panama will be crowned with an enormous red rose and trimmed with a little grograin ribbon.   A hat to wear on the beach at Cap Ferrat.

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A black Panama speaks of Paris  and late night supper.    I trimmed it simply with Chanel inspired ribbon.   A hat for Deuville should be able to go to the beach or to  the races.

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When a hat is pink it should speak of romance.  Of  lingering looks across a crowded room.  Of dancing on the beach  under the  stars .  Gray silk flowers the colour of moon light caress this hat of love.

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All you have to do is follow me down the rabbit hole.   Have tea with the Mad Hatter  and dance in the moonlight.  All it takes is a Panama Hat.

A PARIS INSPIRED WEDDING GIFT

Our eldest grand-daughter is getting married in six days.    Two more sleeps and we fly to Toronto.   This will be an intimate fairy tale wedding in the romantic surroundings of a winery in Prince Edward County.

We wanted to give the perfect wedding gift.  Younger sister AJ was in charge.   She said “Cait and Angus would like you to make them something”.

A few years ago Cait celebrated am important birthday in Paris.  I had my theme.  In anticipation of the wedding I had found one dozen gorgeous Irish linen napkins at an antique store.    This is what  I made to hold these beauties.

This is how I did it.

I gave this Thrift shop find a coat of gray water based primer, then a coat of water base white flat paint.  When the white paint was dry I rubbed the tray with sandpaper to give it a distressed look.

I went to THE GRAPHIC FAIRY  downloaded the graphic with reverse letters because although I am using Mod Podge I am not decoupaging the letters on to the tray.

This is  how you put those letters on to the tray.  You copy your graphic on a toner based copying machine.  You will find toner based copying machines at libraries, some grocery and drug stores.   It appears they are a little old-fashioned for Staples.

I cut around the letters to eliminate as much of the surrounding paper as possible.  I brushed  the Mod Podge generously over the graphic and then put it FACE DOWN on the white tray.  I rubbed the paper gently to ensure the letters were sticking to the surface.  Then I sat it aside for a good 12 hours.  Over night is a good idea.  You won’t be tempted to peek.

The next morning I dampened the paper and gently started rubbing it away with my fingers.  This is when you’ll appreciate cutting away the excess white background.

Finished.  A few of the letters aren’t perfect, but it’s OK because this is supposed to look a little worn.

After you’ve wiped away the paper rubbings, and let the tray dry finish it with a light coat of wax.  Leave on for a few minutes then buff it up.  Presto.  You’re done.

This tray is just part of Angus and Cait’s Paris theme wedding gift.    In my next posting I will spill the beans on the rest of the gift.  Meanwhile I’m off to my almost second Home in Toronto.

OF CABBAGES AND KINGS ….

“The time has come” the walrus said,

“To talk of many things:

Of shoes

and ships

and sealing wax

of cabbages and kings”  …

– Lewis Carroll

Thrift Shop and Flea Market shopping is rather like tumbling into Alice in Wonderland.  You may come away with Chanel shoes, a ship in a bottle or in my case  CABBAGES.

It was the color of the glaze that caught my eye.  A luscious, luxurious, garden green.

The green was partly buried in a basket of odds and ends of crockery.

It beckoned from across the shop.

“Whatever it is, I’ll buy it.  Just for the colour,” I thought.

Wonder of wonders.  Not only was it a magnificent shade of green, it was a bowl, plate and lid in the shape of a cabbage. I collect china and crockery in the shapes of fruit, flowers and vegetables.  I turned the cabbage leaf plate over and read the inscription “Holland Mold”.   The price for the three-piece set $2.00.

Later I researched Holland Mold on the Internet.  It was an American company founded in l946 by Frank Hollender, an Austrian immigrant who learned mold making in his native land.  His company produced Holland Mold pottery for arts and crafts people to glaze and fire for themselves.  Every piece of Holland Mold is not only vintage “but one of a kind”.

I found many photographs  on the Internet of this particular mold but none was as  beautiful painted and glazed.  The heyday for Holland Molds was in the 1970’s.  The average price for the cabbage bowls was around $40.00 for the two pieces.  My cabbage has the plate as well.  It was half -price- day when  I found my cabbage set .  It cost $l.00

“And why the sea is boiling hot

And whether pigs have wings.”

-Lewis Carroll  l872

Now I just have to find a flying pig.