Thursday, October 9, 2014

I am going to France in a few hours!

I cannot believe I will be in Paris in just a few hours! 
Mr. Maison Decor and I will be traveling via Air France
to the city of light and arrive for ten whole days of a vacation that is 
mostly pleasure with a little business thrown in the mix! 
 Our home and dogs will be in the capable and good hands of family members so 
we can go off with nary a worry.  My shop will be staffed by 
my right hand, Gina, and with all that in place, we will really 
be in a comfort zone on this trip!
I am so excited to head over there with my hubby and explore France 
with him and meet up with friends that I have met with my association
ever since I became an Annie Sloan Stockist.  Yes!  I will be seeing Annie
on my trip! Being invited to her European Stockist Conference is the 
main reason we are headed to France, but we plan to do a lot of other fun stuff.
First of all when our plane touches down there will be someone waiting for us in 
the airport lobby.  It will be a driver from our hotel who has a card in his hand with our
name "CHALMERS" as well as one other name:  "METZGER".
We will be traveling with the Metzgers! 
 Janet Metzger is also a Stockist in Virginia at the Empty Nest
She will be bringing along her hubby and we will
 spend this vacation as a foursome.
She is both kind and hilarious and I am sure all kinds
 of unpublishable acts are yet to happen.
But share I will, if it is fit for print, you can bet I will put it on the blog.
 The hotel driver will whisk us off to our first destination~
the Hotel de Fleurie. It is in the charming and chic St. Germain section of Paris.
We will only spend one night here, so there are a few things we must do right away.
One is to walk a block or two to this big Paris attraction: Laduree.
Laduree sells amazing macaroons.  I am almost tired of hearing about how 
tremendous these macaroons are, so I must go and get a dozen and sample them
and report back here and let you know if these Laduree macaroons are really 
all they are purported to be.
Now I will admit I won't be too disappointed if they aren't delicious because I 
am really going to buy the beautiful box that they put these macaroons in when you 
purchase them.  People wait in lines and get their macaroons and then stand out on the 
street and devour them.  Then the boxes are saved as artwork. 
 I covet these Laduree boxes. They are simply beautiful!
You can sample pistachio, caramel, coconut, orange blossom,
and a zillion other kind of macaroon flavors.  I plan to get a chocolate
coconut one for sure and the pistachio because everyone raves about those.
After we eat our macaroons and walk about St. Germain it will be evening
and we will find a lovely place to eat and drink lots of wine.  Then off to 
bed at the Hotel de Fleurie as we will wake up to get into our rental car
to head to our next destination.
I am quite sure the rental car will be tiny
 and I am hoping to heck we all fit
inside with our luggage.  Then hubs will take the wheel
 and we will set off to fabulous Dinard on the coast!
 Dinard is on the northern coast of France in the Brittany area.  
You can see it highlighted in red ink.
 It was once the playground of the rich and famous~
but then came the French Riviera and Dinard soon was a bit passe. 
 However the British Film Festival is still held here and will actually be in its
last day as we roll into town.  "No pictures please" we might have 
to say as we step from our car with our sunglasses on and scarves wrapped about our heads like Catherine Deneuve or Tippy Hedren. 
Yes they were often seen in Dinard, as were many stars back in the day. 
 With the film festival you just never know who you might bump into. 
Above is the Crystal Hotel during the summer time, 
and the whole of Europe seems to go on vacation in July and
 apparently many stay at the Crystal in Dinard when this pic looks like
it was snapped during the height of summer. 
Some of the Annie Sloan stockists will be  staying in this lovely hotel. 
 I will visit the bar for sure to check it out.  
With Janet. And our bodyguards husbands.  
Our Stockist conference is in a place right along the oceanside in Dinard. 
There is a walk that follows the coastline and it has breathtaking views.
I am most excited to reunite with my close friend Claire Chalkley, who
lives near Dinard and is a French Stockist and Distributor for Annie Sloan.
Her shop is called Les Couronne Savage and she is a florist who paints! 
And she is very witty and irreverent and never dull. Never. Dull. 
We met two years ago in New Orleans at the American conference, and now
I am excited to go to her backyard and watch her help Annie host this special event.
Left to Right: Claire, France, Justin and me, Janice, England, Sherri, Poland
This was the last day of the American conference and Justin and I went out to 
lunch with some of the European stockists.  
 It was freezing that day, and we all thought it was going to be lovely and warm.
  I think I had two thin coats and a pashmina wrapped about me. 
Fun times and fond memories of a great event with new friends.
And soon I will see all of them again at the Annie Conference in France!
I had a blast with Annie Sloan too of course!
Here I am forcing my selfies on her!! lol
I am sure we will cook up some new memories at her latest event.
This lady never ceases to amaze me, and I cannot wait for her presentations.
They often inspire me like nothing else~so I just let it wash over me
and enjoy all that creative think tank stuff that just lets your imagination
and creative muscles stretch and flex.  We will have two full days of
 conferences with presentations by Annie and and others 
she hand selects while we are ensconced in lovely Dinard.  
Now this map is for my Dad and little sister Susan.  
See where Dinard is Dad? Its up at the top near St. Malo.
When Susan was about 16 she went to live in France as 
part of an exchange program.  She had to live above a charcouterie
as I recall, and she was only allowed one shower or bath per week.
That is about all I recall as it didn't sit well with her.
 My sister Susan lived in Rennes 
 and our Dad went over and visited her because she was homesick.  
Such a good dad, he was the best!! When we go, our car ride  
will be from Paris to Dinard and we go through Rennes and LeMans
 (although I don't see that on the map).  But hubs likes to drive 
and if there are race track like roads, he will be in heaven.
Anyway, when we arrive in Dinard we will NOT be going to a hotel. 
Oh no....we will be staying in a private chateaux
So that means its a big house in France that is privately owned
 and the family will rent it out!  A group of us visiting 
American stockists are sharing this lovely manoir/chateaux.

This chateaux is on the ocean and it is going to be AMAZING to stay 
in such a place!! I can only imagine what it will be like, waking up 
and looking out my bedroom window to see the French coastline
 and then stumble down the antique stair case into the antique kitchen
 to get a cup of coffee.
There is a chef and a maid if we choose to use their services....
errrrr, sign me up please!!
From this chateaux we will go to the Annie Sloan conference 
and parties she is having, as well as do some exploring and sight seeing.
  I know the guys will be headed to Normandy, 
and maybe us ladies will join them, depending upon how the schedule unfolds.  
We have this house for a week, but Janet
and I and our guys will be leaving a bit early as our 
adventure awaits in the most amazing place of all:
We will drive to Versailles from Dinard 
and spend three nights at the luxurious Waldorf Trianon Palace
 of Versailles Hotel! I know, I know!!! Its just all too much!! 
Its like I won a big lottery and I get to do all these amazing things for ten days!  
So excuse my excitement but I have been working like a dog for 
the past two and half years and I am ready to get some vacationing on!
The beautiful and stately 4 star hotel, Waldorf Astoria Trianon Palace Versailles Hotel.  This hotel used to be a palace.  I mean it really does look like a palace, and I read it used to be a palace, so maybe it was an extra little palace that Louis XIV wanted to get rid of, so they turned it into a hotel.  I am not sure, but I will find out what the deal is.  Janet and I were looking at places to stay and first we were on the site AirBnB to find people's homes and apartments for rent. But we really didn't find anything very nice, and we just decided to splurge on this once in a lifetime visit.  So there! We are WORTH the L'oreal commercial told every woman who felt guilty about spending more money than necessary on themselves.  This time I will not be feeling guilty. Not on this trip!
 This is an antique map of the Versaille area, 
and our hotel is right on the edge of the palace grounds.
Our hotel rooms will have views of the lawns and the palace which is simply amazing!  We will fling open our balcony doors to see the sun rising up over the Palace of Versailles and I will think to myself that the kings and queens walked these lands and looked over these gardens and lived their lives in this very place.  Janet and I are very excited to visit Marie Antoinettes special private palace, called Trianon.  She had a palace made for herself that was walled off and only visitors with her approval could come inside the boundaries of Trianon. 
She was a free and independent thinker and wanted to live in a more free spirited fashion inside the private walls of her own private palace.  Pretty modern woman who cast a big shadow on history and design.  Of course she also was a blonde who loved dogs and aqua and pink and chandeliers and gilded things and all those kind of things that I can relate to.  I will be taking lots of pics on my travels through the various areas in the Palaces and will share upon my return.
As you know I am fond of French style furniture and decor and this trip to 
Versailles will just be Frenchy overload for moi!  So until I get to France and hook up
 with some Wifi, this post gives you an idea of what I am up to next week. 
 My store, Maison Decor, will be in capable hands, 
run by my manager and right hand decorating assistant, Gina.  
So until we meet again on the pages of the blog, I bid you adieu!
(Upon my return, I may find I  just have the urge to redecorate....
do you think this is too much pattern and gold gilding for one room?) 


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Our son's wedding, through an iPhone lens.

 Justin married Madison this first weekend in October in Portland Maine!
Since it was a two hour drive from our Boston home, we rented a place
for our family and dogs to stay so we could all be together and share in 
this major event!  I found this amazing home on a 60 acre Audubon preserve
only ten minutes outside of bustling Portland and it proved to be the perfect spot.
 There will be tons of photos, so  I will try keep the story telling to a minimum.
Upon arrival to Sea Cove (this house even had its own name!) we were excited to get
inside and check it out.  It sleeps 9 and I had a bed for everyone!  My parents, my 
mother in law, my sons, one girlfriend, me and hubby and the dogs.  How 
cool is that? It was like a big chill weekend for us topped off with a wedding!
 Sylvia, Justin and Madison's schnoodle checked out our view~
spectacular vistas of Casco Bay
were on the horizon, with fields and
 walking trails for birders, dotted with stone walls.
 First thing I did was sit out on the front porch with the guys and have a glass of wine before we headed to the Rehearsal dinner that night.  I had about 90 minutes to get ready and make floral centerpieces for 6 tables at the Irish Pub called Ri Ra that would be our destination.
Then it was up to my bedroom to get ready for the party!
I was honestly feeling like Oprah, 
staying in such a beautiful home in such a private setting.
Don't you just love it when something exceeds your expectations?
I went into my private dressing room and donned my sweater dress and boots
and headed down to the lovely kitchen.
 I had to quickly whip together some simple floral
centerpieces for the bar top tables using my collection of antique
purple transferware pitchers and teapots. I got some purplish pink roses 
from Costco and clipped wild asters from my garden and brought them with 
me to make the arrangements before the rehearsal party.
After I made them, we would pack them into a box and head over to the party~
I set them up on the long harvest wood dining table in our home. 
 I was falling in love with Sea Cove! Every little detail was so well thought out.
Our house was filling up with family!
Son Brandon and GF Mimi had flown in from LA for the wedding.
Colin would be sharing best man duties with Brandon.  This is one of the few shots I have
of the living room area~a huge linen sectional sofa wrapped around the room,
and large picture windows afforded us the gorgeous view.
And suddenly the party was a bit of a blur~
I didn't take that many pics, but here are a few of my family.
My mom and Colin
 Dad and my sister Ellen
 Brandon and his Dad Barry
 The brides family sat near a chalkboard that read
 "Today's Special: Love and Marriage"
The groom and the bride looking ever so perfect and happy!
We had a nice dinner with toasts to the couple.
We were laughing and crying and all that kind of raw emotion
that just seems to bubble out of you at special times like these.
Before I knew it morning had come!! We had a wedding to set up for!! 
 I grabbed a quick cup of coffee and a  croissant
 before we headed out to the wedding reception venue to decorate.
Sea Cove was stocked with charming Polish stoneware and lovely furnishings.
It made our stay all the more wonderful.  Room for everyone to gather
and assemble, and plenty of bathrooms for all to get ready.
And then we were off~
 Mr. Maison Decor towed a trailer loaded with wedding furnishings and when we arrived 
we had lots of helpers including my 84 year old dad! You can see them 
offloading my antique French settee that would be the wedding bench at the head table.
 Earlier I shared pics of how we got the room together~
It was essentially a blank canvas that Justin needed to fill up to create his vision.  
And so it all came together as easily as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Everyone
was busy doing tasks and at the end we thought to ourselves
 somehow it looked better than we had imagined!
The long tables in the middle would be pulled out later to form a long row
after the wedding was over.
 J's dad Barry was hanging air terrariums from the beams, 
while wedding chairs were set up 
to accommodate the indoor wedding, as the threat of rain
 had descended and the outdoor wedding was scratched.  
 One corner of the room was set up for the wedding and the
 rest of the room set up for the reception.
After the wedding ceremony the chairs would be returned to the 
tables and the wedding area would
become the dance floor. Easy peasy, and it worked out seamlessly. 
In a few short hours Justin and Madison would tie the knot!
 Chalkboards were made by Justin to help guests find their way
 in this rustic marine complex.
There were two large brick buildings on the water that were
 connected by a walkway.  The larger 
of the two was a set up station and meeting area that fed down 
the long hallway to the reception venue.
This photo is taken from the larger room that we would gather
 in to have our posed wedding
photos taken right after the ceremony. It is also where the bride
 and her bridal party would wait before the ceremony.
 The head table was set up with clusters of flowers in vintage bottles
 and the old French settee was dressed with linen pillows and one Mr and Mrs pillow
so there was no room for doubt.
Old chippy doors were scavenged by Justin for his wedding and
 used as a rustic backdrop. The wedding venue was all set up and we left to get ready~back to the house and into the shower and then
on with the lovely dresses and suits and brand new shoes.
 The photographer and videographer would be coming to our
 house to shoot the groom and his groomsmen as they prepared for the event.
 The guys gathered round the island and Justin handed out gifts.
Henry and Mac's photographer Zac was shooting the guys,
 while Dana, his wife, was shooting the bridal party at Madison's hotel.
 Sailor Abe Films was videoing
the entire day, creating a love story movie that I cannot wait to see!
After opening gifts and last minute adjustments, 
it was time for the guys to hit the road. 
They were ready to get going and I was lucky to grab
 these quick shots as I came down the stairs.
 Off into the fog they went, looking splendid and dapper.
 Oops, the groom forgot something and came sprinting back to the house!
He was looking so handsome in his custom made suit from
Alton Lane, on Newbury Street Boston.  His shirt had the date
monogrammed on the sleeve, and the inside of the jacket did as well.
 I stole him for a few seconds for this photo on the porch. 
 Justin was cool and collected all day long from start to finish. 
 I was in awe.
 He sprinted off and then Mimi took one of me in 
my navy lace dress as I watched the guys depart.
Next, I took one of Mimi in her beautiful smokey blue dress.  
Blue was proving to be the color of the day.
 My handsome husband and his sweet mother Claire were all ready to go!
 We got to the Portland Company and headed into the back room
 where the bridal party awaited.
We would all get our marching orders and assemble in the long hallway
 to be ushered into the wedding. Madison looked so beautiful in her dress! 
 We all lined up....the girls carried bouquets of ornamental cabbage. 
 A nod to Madison's farming background and perfect for this country wedding.
 And the moment had finally arrived. They were being married.  They wrote their own vows  and shared them in front of the small gathering of invited guests. It was the prettiest and most genuine wedding.  I was so proud of my son and so happy to have a daughter in the family.  
I shed a few tears, even though I didn't think I would.  
Then as soon as they were married we were all whisked back
 to the big empty room where the photogs had their sessions~
one group after another. The light was fading and they were so professional 
in their manner and execution.  You have seen some of the preliminary photos 
on my post before this one, and I cannot wait to see
 all the photos and of course I will share.
 Our family gathered for one shot after another by Dana and Zac of 
Henry and Mac.  
It was so wonderfully excited and happening so quickly! 
They were married!! 
We would soon be dancing and eating and making merry!
 And suddenly we were!  It was a pizza party with a 
brick oven pizza company that set up 
a brick oven outside and wonderful crispy tasty pizzas were being
 delivered into the room!  The beer and wine were flowing!
 And after the eating there would be lots of dancing
 and taking photos and all that good stuff.
Blurry or not, these pics give the feeling of how happy we all were to be there!
My sister Ellen and I were captured by my sister Susan who traveled out from KC.
Say cheese!  Lots of this going on all night long!
Madison's little sister Taylor was snapping a pic while my
 sister Ellen was snapping her near the dance floor as Justin's dad Barry looked on.
And soon the night was over. 
 Just like that. 
 And the sun rose that Sunday morning and it was a beautiful day. 
 Lots of time to remember the moments and look at the pics 
we took and share a few laughs over brunch.
 Dad got the coffee going, I settled in and put up my sore feet. 
 The house was quiet with the revelers still tucked in their beds.
 And the day passed and turned to night.  Justin and Madison 
came from their hotel to spend the last night with us.  
Brandon and Mimi flew back to LA, Colin left early as he 
was now a working guy and had to be to work in the morning. 
 So with just my hubby and our parents left we had a lovely dinner
 together with the new Mr. and Mrs. Power.  
 I tried to get a group photo as we gathered around the harvest table...

 But it was harder than I hubs took a selfie, 
and the only one cut out was his mom. Later that night we watched Tom Brady
 and the New England Patriots kick butt and we went to bed happy and tired, 
with the new couple sleeping as man and wife. 
 All was right in the world,
 at least in this little slice of heaven called Sea Cove.
 Then came Monday. 
 The sun was out, and finally it was time to go home.
I caught Justin outside on a solitary walk in front of the house, 
I am sure he was reminiscing about his wedding and his new bride.
 One by one we gathered on the porch to take one
 last look at the beautiful Maine seacoast.
 One last posed photo with my parents their first grandson
 and his bride before we all went back to real life.  
What a weekend. What a wedding.
 Real life, real love.  It is so good.

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