Shopping, Eating and Exploring

Come along with me and discover some off-the beaten paths in Southwest France

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Antiques in France Has Moved

The whole packing up and moving thing is a drag. Moving from home to home, is exhausting, I don't even want to think about it. The last two weekends I packed up and did antique shows, not as bad as packing up a home but not my favorite thing.

Packing up in cyberspace is a little easier....and my daughter did it for me. I've moved over to WordPress, which she tells me is easier to do, we will see. The name is changed just slightly, too:

New address is Easy, and now is all lines up with my web address and business name. So I hope you will come and visit me on my new little piece of cyberspace.

In just a few days, I will be heading off to Paris, and then down to the Southwest. I am really going to be shopping up a storm....euro is $1.29 tonight, the lowest it has been in a long time.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

New Home

Come join Terry in her new home at !

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Time to Plan a Trip

Even though Easter was stormy and unseasonably cold here in California, it is Spring. And if it's Spring, it's time to plan a trip to France. I am burning up the web, looking for a way to use air miles, or find a great price.

I have some time to take a small group early in June. This will be a week of antiques, gardens, chateaux, food, wine, and much more! Cost is reasonable, accommodations are comfortable and charming. Food is terrific and wine is unlimited. Best of all, you don't have to think about anything except what to pack. Email me for details.

A typical week will include stops at some great local brocantes, a day in the medieval village of St Emilion (see today's photo), Bordeaux marche aux puces on Sunday morning, wine tasting, visit to Brantome, Ch Hautforte, Bergerac and dinner at a Ferme Auberge.

I can't wait to go, and I love nothing better than sharing my other home with friends.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Where do you want to spend your vacation?

France is a major destination for vacationers from all over the world. Most of these visitors head for Paris or Provence; both wonderful places. That leaves a huge and diverse area largely undiscovered by many Americans.

When Sally and I started renting vacation homes in Europe, we had to look through books with grainy photos, and read "Brit Speak" descriptions. Now with the internet, you can go to sites and scroll through dozens of rentals. Still, I think Americans are a bit timid about venturing far from Paris and the south of France. Today, I am going to tell you about a vacation spot in an unspoiled village near where I live in the Dordogne, Chez Lili.

To begin, Chez Lili and the village of Carsac de Gurson is easy to get to. From Paris, a simple transfer by train or plane to Bordeaux. Pick up your rental car, and drive through miles of rolling hills planted with the grapes that will be turned into Bordeaux wine. Stone villages, church spires and chateau can be spotted with great frequency.

Paul and Lisa are the hosts at Chez Lili. Content to let their guests make discoveries on their own, they are also there to help with suggestions for local markets, restaurants, or happenings in the village. They provide a perfect home away from home, outfitted with everything you would need. In France, these homes are called "gites". Basically stand alone homes, that for less than the cost of a hotel room, Chez Lili provides you with a fully equipped kitchen, two bathrooms, private pool and hot tub, laundry, living room, and garden. Perfect for a couple, or small family.

Now, one of my favorite things is to sit in the garden, on one of the long summer nights (it stays light past 10pm) and enjoy a bottle of wine with Paul and Lisa. The French would say "tres drole". I would just say they are completely entertaining. The lovely Lisa, with her kind heart and love of stray animals; Paul with his quietly quick wit.

Chez Lili is a perfect base to explore the 1,001 chaeaux in the Dordogne, visit St. Emilion, see where the last battle of the 100 Years War was fought, bicycle through the vines, and enjoy some of France's best cuisine. Of course, I go for the ANTIQUES!!!!!

I almost forgot to mention, this charming gite is available for less than $80 a day.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

It's Not Always About France

It wasn't looking good for a quick trip to France for a couple of weeks in March. Too much work at home to get away for two weeks, April was out of the question, because of the Remnants of the Past antique show, and a simultaneous visit from two dealer friends from the East Coast. So, when a friend, casually asked if I was interested in going to Ixtapa Mexico in five days, I jumped on it.
Nothing wrong with sun, great food, pristine beach, and warm tropical air in February is there?

Last Monday morning, we were jetting south. I have been to numerous areas in Mexico; Cabo (30 years ago, before it was so cool), Guadalajara, Cozumel, Oxacca, Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, but never to Ixtapa. Ixtapa, is really two different destinations; Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa. Ixtapa is the newer, fancier, resort and Zihuatanejo is the older, more really village.

The group I was with was primarily interested in golf, so I had plenty of time to get into trouble on my own. I checked the internet for cooking classes. What a treasure I found with Monica! She didn't answer my emails, she shyly explained, because it is difficult for her to write in English. Her English was up to the job of explaining all the nuances of one of the specialties of the region, chili rellanos. We charred, peeled, stuffed, rolled in flour, and then beaten eggs and fried. This was all under the watchful eye of an enormous iguana. Monica said he was more of a pet and lived in the tree with a couple of smaller females.

Just to add to the atmosphere, the authorities came through the neighborhood and announced the possibility of a tsunami between 2 and 5 pm, the result of that monster earthquake in Chile. I am going to post a video of Monica on UTube later tonight.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It's Spring Somewhere

Even though the weatherman says there is snow on the ground in fifty states, here in the Bay Area, it is 70 degrees; trees are blooming, daffodils are up, and all is right with my world. While we enjoy the early Spring weather in California, a I planning trips to France. If you are interested in coming along on a trip, please email me, and I will get you detailed information.

May and June are great months to visit France. For those of you seeking brocantes and antique fairs, it is a spectacular time. In May, there are no less than three special holidays, which means three extra shopping days. Those same holidays may wreak havoc with normal travel plans; but if you know where to go, these holidays can be a lot of fun.

A couple of years ago, we were shopping the May markets. The weather was not cooperative....rain was a real problem. They don't generally cancel a large market, but the smaller vide grieners can be a real waste of time in inclement weather. This May, we decided to visit Libourne, which had a small market, and what was advertised as an "Omelet Giante". This was an omelet made with 1,001 ouefs (eggs). They had tents and most of the market was covered, except in true French fashion, the giant omelet pan was exposed to the elements. Needless to say, it turned out a little runny. It did not dampen the spirits of the locals, or maybe that was the wine.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Talking Politics

I usually don't talk politics in social situations while in France. It's not that I don't like to talk about politics, I just don't want to offend. Here at home, I have some friends, whom I enjoy, but their politics are so far from mine, that we generally leave it alone. But it is always interesting to hear how people who live in Europe feel about America and our politics.

Several years ago, at a neighbors barbecue in France, Monique, turned to me and said, in French, "and what about George Bush?" I responded, "and what about Chirac?" At least George Bush hasn't been brought up on charges yet. I never feel it's proper, when I am visiting another country to bad mouth my president. (even if I didn't vote for him)

The other evening I had dinner with my French tutor and her family. Discussion was quite lively. I was really glad to learn that it was the French who introduced democracy to Europe, and that was a reason the British were often at odds with the French. It's great, even when you live in a new country, to be proud of your native heritage. I suppose it's a good thing that each country is allowed to write their own history.

Today, a couple of photos of a famous Frenchman, alas, not a politician, more a would-be lover; Cyrano d'Bergerac....I took these in Bergerac, I try to snap one every time I visit this town. Sometimes his nose is there, sometimes it's not!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Casting on is a Commitment

Thankfully, life has been very busy; which is a great excuse not to write. We finished the cottage remodel in Walnut Creek, and have put it on the market. No more Home Depot trips for a while. Tennis resumed after "Christmas Vacation", only to come to a screeching halt with all the rain. My daughter was home for the holidays and came with me to Alameda Point Antiques Market, thanks Mary, you are great company.

As we have been transfixed to the earthquake aftermath in Haiti (and reminded that we live in earthquake country) I am so proud of the way people step up to donate to relief efforts. The Yarnharlot (Stephanie Perl Macphee) has made an amazing posting on her blog with an appeal to donate to the effort. Please look her up and read it, if you have a chance.

The Yarnharlot won my daughters heart when she called her an "over-achieving knitter" as she was learning to knit by making socks. Some 30 plus pairs later (in a year), I have to agree. I really like to knit. The whole package is appealing; browsing Ravelry or books for a pattern, picking out the yarn, maybe some new needles. Until finally, you cast on. I never cast-on once for a project, I usually don't leave myself enough yarn, so I frog the cast-on, and try again.

Once I have cast-on, it is a commitment. After all, some little animal grew the wool, someone had to get the wool off the animal. Someone took the time to spin the wool (lace, fingering, DK, sport, worsted, bulky), someone dyed the wool, and someone ordered it so it could be sold to me. Then there is the pattern; a simple scarf, cardigan, or socks, it's people who count the stitches and write it down. So behind every garment that is cast on needles, there are people, faceless, but not unknown, and not unappreciated, who are pulling for you to finish your project.

Knitters have all these terms; WIP (work in progress), FROGGED (when you rip it out) and on it goes. It binds them into a wonderful, ancient tradition. People coming together, creating something beautiful. So, when I cast-on, it is a commitment for me, I don't want to be the one to break the tradition. I am currently finishing up all the WIP's, and deciding what wonderful project to tackle next.

Next up: Spring trips to France!!!!!! It's just around the corner.