Just a few weeks ago I was in France shopping  with a friend for her antiques business. It was a whirlwind visit, up early, site - seeing late and bargaining with the best ... we came away from those hectic and exhausting days without even one sour experience in spite of the fact that we were often mistaken in our understanding of prices and did a lot of scribbling on our palms. This, not,no,yes.

So, the little gestures were all kind and helpful to us and we needed a lot of help and asked a lot of questions. Where is a pharmacy - what do you call aspirin .. what is a large coffee called - what is the check-out time. In other words, we needed to communicate all of the everyday aspects of life and we received smiles and answers and the absolute feeling that while were strangers if we asked, we would be helped.

And so,it pains each of us who want to be global friends to see the pain in Paris, in all of France and we ache for you - and,Thanks for the memories!

As dawn is breaking, we are searching for antiques.

We are ready for the "starting bell" - ready for the search. I thought it interesting to note that most of the buyers and sellers are middle aged. Have you noticed  that?

The flip side is that nothing can be put out until the bell rings either.

There was lots of good shopping.

Again, a wonderful experience, good shopping and great people - Thanks, again and hope to be back soon.

A Boston Design Center Visit

The nearest design center to me is in Boston. It is currently being renovated to accommodate retail and trade showrooms. This has made for a large amount of change in the past months as many of the showrooms have begun to relocate to accommodate this change.

Why do designers go to the design center you ask? This is home for the fabric and trim lines we use and we depend on them to have large and current samples, delete obsolete patterns and have fresh ideas. Here we can invite clients to test drive the various furniture lines, show rug and carpet samples - these are just a few of the services we depend on. The showrooms, in addition to this, have their own personalities and are design meccas in their own right.

These photos are shots taken on my last Boston visit to the Webster showroom.

An example of their fabulous lighting.

I like this bench but love the sculptural melons ...great form and color.

A display showing furniture styles, colors as well as porcelain and lighting - many choices.

Again, choices.

Love the way the buttons are rosettes on the chair back cushion.

Hope this has shown a bit of the choices at the BBC.

Books for the Holidays

One of my favorite gifts for the holidays is a new book. In the fall, I can usually count on there being some new releases of decorating and gardening books just in time for giving - and receiving.What is not to love about a new book after the flurry is over to curl up with?

This years timely selections included Rooms for Living by Suzanne Rheinstein and Parish Hadley Tree of Life. I pre-ordered these and was most excited when these arrived and, I must say, got the flu just in time to have time to settle down and and read them both.

There is a real connection for me when I find a home book (decorating) which I love. It becomes a friend whose pages are turned time and time again for comfort, inspiration and admiration. Suzanne's first book will never be a friend but it is certainly admired and is inspirational and so I had hoped this book would be more of the same. I found it to be a most unlikely candidate to snuggle with again.

I am most tired of this severe design. Rooms are meant to be lived in - where is the collection, the stuff of life in these perfect palaces? I wish for just a bit of fun. I can remember ( or is it just my youth?) when how I would envy those happy homes in magazines - colorful, full of life and pets and whatever. The perfect rooms don't make me want to move into them, emulate them, but to run. Hey, we all have stuff - don't we?

The Parish Hadley book disappointed too. Who cares who worked there and what their work looks like? They are all terribly talented designers and decorators  but they are not Parish or Hadley. For some reason, I misunderstood the concept of this book and thought that the tree of life concept were the ideas passed down and that the scope was a bit wider. Still, there are some beautiful rooms and, hey,maybe they have a person living somewhere nearby. I hope so.

I did order Carolyne Roehm's At Home in the Garden ( big and heavy) and Mrs. Howards Room by Room.Will report back.

French Stockings

Lat week I was in a small town in France and when my friend and I decided not to go out to dinner (too tired); we popped into a small department store to pick up a boxed dinner. A major difference here between US and French and English shops is that a small department store may well be a grocer and a variety store - and I do mean a moderately nice store too.

While she was grocery shopping, I was observing the rest of the store which was divided down the middle - half stockings, hair goods and make up and the other half very nice silk scarves, cashmere sweaters, gloves, shoes, coats and the like.

Back to the stockings - this was a major department and clearly important to the local women as there were more than four aisles of stockings in all weaves, colors, and textures with generous samples attached for trial. In addition to this were socks and leggings but not as many. Clearly, this small town has a female population who dresses and pays attention to their apparel. I was impressed.