Besides all the tree trimming, baking, entertaining and decorating that is d'rigeur for this time of year, Duchess and I love to prepare the guest rooms for our guests. We have traveled widely and know what pleases us besides fresh sheets, a stack of fluffy towels and an array of pillows.
We have a few rules we follow to ensure our guests feel like VIPs.
Lighting~ a bedside lamp should be tall enough to read by (the above photo has a low lamp that would just shine in your eyes!)
Comfort~ The closet should be well stocked with extra blankets or quilts in case your guest get chilly during the night. Try and find some pretty padded or wood hangers for their clothes. Get the wire ones out of there! A book you know they will enjoy and a few magazines of their interest is a well received treat. If you don't have room for a chair and ottoman try to have a luggage rack for them to use while unpacking. You don't want dirty suitcases on your lovely bed.
Hunger pangs~ It is fun to fill little boxes with treats for your guests to nibble while they read in bed. We use our florentine boxes and just line them with wax paper. Y Hard candy, chocolate and homemade cookies would be sure to delight them. A basket of fresh fruit is welcomed. Water in a carafe with its own glass is a necessity.
Things not to forget~ We always have a pretty stack of stationery and a pad of paper and pens beside the bed or in a drawer nearby. With everyone using smart phones it is nice to have a docking station so they can listen to their music selections and charge their phones. A spare robe and slippers is very well appreciated when theirs is just too bulky to bring along.
Of course there is always the possibility your guest will not want to leave!
Today marks the one year anniversary of Duchess and Bird. What started as a "what if" between two old friends has become a delightful reality.
This year has seen us in San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, Denver, Dallas, and towns in Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire searching for treasures for you. We are branching out in 2011, adding "Tour Guides" to our resumes as we endeavor to introduce Paris to a group of women going for the first time. We will be at their beck and call, but are going early to scour the French and Belgian flea markets for Duchess and Bird. We anticipate adding more tours to Paris in the future, so do check in with us if you are interested.
We hope you have been in touch with your Pierce Brosnans and Gerard Butlers, ( see post below) to whisper your Christmas wishes to them. You must remember, however, that Pierce and Gerard belong to US, and will be getting us something special again this year. So you will need to find your own guys who are eager to indulge you. You can be sure that they have all been in touch with us, and have put your specially chosen gifts right here on Duchess and Bird. Go to "Gerard's Picks" to find the very one that has your name on it. They want to spoil you. Let them!
Thank you, one and all, for helping to make our first year such a grand and exciting adventure. We hope you will return to visit us often, and we look forward to meeting new friends. We sincerely hope you enjoy the beginning of this wondrous holiday season.
Okay, yeah it's big. But I don't hear Bird complaining when she has "flea market" blisters and wonders if I happen to have a Band-Aid. Or has a little foie gras in her teeth and desperately needs floss. Or how about a stray hair on the chinny chin... Tweezers? Mais oui! But the poor shop-keepers! They are horrified as they watch me meander through tiny aisles of crystal and china, and I believe I hear sighs of relief when I leave. But here's the thing: Gerard Butler bought me this huge purple leather bag. When we were kids, Bird's mother used to wrap up a lovely gift for herself and put it under the Christmas tree, "from Frank Sinatra." Bird continued this tradition with her annual gift from "Pierce Brosnan." Last year I believe it was a lovely cashmere throw, but don't tell her husband. I saw this lovely bag and just knew that Gerard wanted me to have it. He loves me this much, you see. So, walk softly and carry a big bag. Your friends will thank you.
A bientot, mes amis
The Bag Lady
One day, as we sat waiting for our train, our attention was drawn to a gentleman on the other side of the tracks yelling at us in a long strring of french and huge arm waving. Luckily Duchess could understand bits of it but before she could translate for me I noticed a group of raggity preteens heading towards us.
There weren't many people near us on our side and it was dawning on me we were quickly being approached by a band of gypsies! Duchess and I quickly moved our handbags to the front of us and stared these urchins down! They were not going to pick our pockets if we had anything to say about it! And, pleassse! have you seen the size of Duchess's handbag??! She could knock over a herd raging bulls if she had to!
But we don't want to discourage you from using this wonderful system. Every stop is a wonder in different designs. The Louvre stop has Egyptian wonders, the tile work in others is marvelous and some of the best musicians play in their echoing hallways. Its always a theater but do watch your backs for maundering gypsies!
I was walking along a deserted street at dusk talking to my lover and planning our evening together. All of a sudden a crazy lady jumps out of a side street and snaps a photo. Merdi! What is a stylish french girl to do? I just ignore her and continue my conversation with Frederic and discussing our plans. Is Paris not full of crazy people these days?
We always stop by this enchanting place when we first arrive to pick up the latest issue of "Paris Walks" to see what is new and walks we haven't be on before. These low cost walks are in English, always entertaining and the groups that show up for them can be 2 people to 10 and the international mix is wonderful.
Do you recognize where we are by the quote above one of the doorways?
Did you see us? The magazine found our site and asked to highlight one our treasures. They were smitten with the florentine stationery caddy. It was one of the eleven items featured in their "A Vintage Year" Browsing section! In no time at all, it was being whisked off to Casa Grande, Arizona. Merci beaucoup Romantic Homes and Patricia!
This is what I've been reminding myself lately. I had found myself being envious of a good friend who is on a 3 week journey to the south of France and Paris. And envious when I read the wonderful blog of Corey Amaro, "Tongue in Cheek" who is an American married to a (gorgeous) Frenchman, living in a quaint Provencal village.
But I decided to take a break yesterday from lots of hard work lately, and relax with a book in my courtyard here in Colorado. I was so awed and uplifted looking at my quaking aspen trees, beautiful window boxes of red geraniums and lobelia, and other potted flowers, I tossed the book to the ground and just drank it all in. Our summer day was 72 cool and breezy degrees. I decided there was no place else I would rather be.
I wish you the joy of being in the moment.
Here's to all the Dads that we can only wish Happy Fathers Day to in our prayers and thoughts. Whether they taught us how to mix a Presbyterian or how to be a good one, we think of them today with gentle fond memories and a smile on our faces.
First we apologize for being gone- life has been busy at Duchess & Bird...
While at our favorite flea market we think we have spotted a trend we wanted to share with you and see what you think.
Everywhere we looked we saw these. In all shapes, sizes and adornments and wondered if you are seeing them too? Duchess just found one in her travels and will be showing it in our store soon so do check it out!
We like the small size for showing off neclaces and to keep them from tangling in a drawer.
What an awful old expression! But we do wonder why the French make such marvelous enamelware. We have seen in the US many enamel pieces in white, blue, mossy green and red but leave it to the French to make useful things in pink with a white rim.
This lovely tub was found at our local brocante early Easter morning before a horrific storm came blasting into the Bay Area. We found many fun things which we will be adding to our shop as soon as we can photograph everything but we couldn't wait to show you this! Can't you see it filled with ice for pick lemonade or chilled wines at your next soiree'. Or perhaps you are giving a shower in the coming months. You can put the gifts in here or the gift bags. Of course it would be wonderful planted with flowers too!
Please see what other new things we have added to tempt you at Duchess and Bird!
I have an urge to save homes. Period. Maybe it is because I don't have a childhood home. Perhaps I am longing to have a place of my family memories. We moved all the time as children and even my parents last home was where none of us lived. They bought it after we were all grown and gone from "home". See what I mean?
I started collecting these discarded needlepoint houses lovingly worked by hands at home. I have many more that I need to finish. I had them applied to scraps of fabrics I found in my travels. Even the trims have meaning. Most of them were found in Paris. You know that little one crammed to the rafts with treasures in the very back corner in Clignancourt named Irma some came from her.
Anyway, the most special pillow of all is the little one in the front. See the plaid fabric? That was my Dad's favorite sportcoat. I just could not give that coat away after he was gone. He wore it at my sister's rehearsal dinner, he wore it all the time. This was a guy his children thought kept the old Abercrombie & Fitch and later Orvis in business. He was the original preppy. I could eke out just enough of the plaid to make this little memory. It makes me smile every time I see it.
As I was putting away until next year all the eggs I've collected over the years, I saw these and instantly remembered another Sunday in Paris.
Duchess and I were enjoying a stunning beautiful Sunday and decided to dash to San Chapelle knowing the light would be streaming through the glorious stain glass windows. As we left the chapel and were heading across Ile de Cite to the Metro we found ourselves in the midst of the Bird Market! As we wandered through the stalls I found the blue eggs. On our next trip I picked up the single yellow and the following trip the brown ones. Now I remember those days and can't wait for our next trip to add to the memories.
When we travel to find treasures in France we like to go in the winter or early spring when the tourists are gone and you are surrounded by the locals. A little cold or rain doesn't deter us in the least.
The Sunday market offered goods of all kinds. Locally made tapenades, honey from lavender and many more flowers, provencale' fabrics in tablecloths, duvets, napkins, seat covers and even vinylized yardage to make your own! You know the foodstuff are fresh from local sources. We found a trove of sweet smelling guest soaps and shared a chocolate croissant as we wandered through on our way to brocantes across the bridge.
Have you ever seen so many varieties?? The colors bowled us over. We wish we dared to bring the olive oils back with us.
We only took one photo inside one of the shops since our bags were getting heavy and we had miles to go. The colors with the red fire buckets on the whitewashed trestle table really sang to us. Every stall had enchanting displays and you sort of hated to buy anything and ruin their vignettes but we did! We then headed outside to the Sunday market where the locals pull up to the street beside the river and set up tables to sell their wares. We meet some wonderful people and found some wonderful old finds.
We were sad to say good bye to this magical place but we were heading back to Paris to seek out more treasures and our cute driver was waiting.
We will be returning again and again I am sure in the years to come.
Did you figure out where we are? This small enclave is known for their antiques. We heard from dealers in Paris that they like to shop here, so voila'-off we went to see for ourselves!
As we rounded the corner we thought, Oh no this could be really bad! But as we got closer to the place we were to stay we became enthralled with the entrance. Remember we have not seen this place online or knew the owners as we were transferred to this spot. But lo and behold!
The owners couldn't have been sweeter and we loved the climb to our suite.
Look at our wonderful room! We quickly unpacked and set out to explore the area while it was still light. We also made reservations in the restaurant within this small hotel. The smells wafting up the stairs was making our mouths water!
I can't wait to show you what we found as we wandered through the town the next day! Do you know where we are yet???
Happy Valentines Day to all of our friends, old, new, and yet-to-be.
We hope that your lives are filled with love. Love of family, friends, your work, your hobbies and passions, your lives.
In some parts of the country, winter is waning, and early spring flowers are trying to wake up from a long slumber. In other parts, winter is still with us. It is snowing here in Colorado as I write this. But Spring is not far, and we are excited about new beginnings. Duchess and Bird are planning to take a group of 4 women to Paris next year. They have never been, and we are eager to introduce them to our favorite shops, museums, restaurants, parks, flea markets, tearooms. If you would like more information about our tours, we would love to hear from you.
We hope to make new friends as a result of two new ads we have coming out. One is in the debut issue of Flea Market Style this month which we will be selling in the shop and the other will be in Romantic Homes magazine beginning in June. Stop by, sign our guest book, browse our shop, or just share your thoughts with us.
We look forward to getting to know you.
Enjoy the final days of winter as you anticipate the arrival of spring.
Duchess and I boarded the TGV from Gare Lyon anticipating our trip south. It was a cold and rainy day but we didn't have time to stop for a cup of tea at Train Bleu that morning. On the trip to Avignon to meet Phillipe we wondered what treasures we would find in that little town. We were a bit nervous as the hotel we were to stay had called and they decided to go to Africa but promised we would be pleased with the arrangements they made for us. We were so disappointed but trusted they would not steer us wrong. We were met by our friend and driven to the enchanting city at a perfect time- as the light was magical.
As we wandered down a small alley rolling our baggage, we were very concerned the accommodations would be iffy at best. But the colors were drawing us in and relaxing us. What was around the next corner?
As we rounded the bend we came upon the town square with enticing cafes and shops with the majestic church in the center. We decided to stop for tea before continuing to our quarters. Have you guessed where we are yet?
After a snowstorm everyone came out to play. These wonderful spheres are in the courtyard by the Palais Royale The snow didn't last more than day but it was certainly enjoyed by all!
While in Rouen we stumbled upon the Ceramics Museum filled with lovely china and porcelains. It was their motor court that caught our imaginations. The urn overflowing with flowers is actually glass. The ice and snow on it made it shimmer through the glimpses of the sunshine. The trellis on the garden wall was so magical we wanted to bring it home and build a folly to house them!
Everyone and everything was caught by surprise by the sudden snowstorm. This climbing vine across from the apartment window made us think of the snow we add to our Christmas trees so soft and puffy. This just cascades down the side of the building and softens the hard edges.
Do look at Duchess & Bird to see new items being added daily! Adieu!