Bonjour, mes amies! Currently I’m home and settled back into daily life, after a nearly month long visit to France to prepare for, teach, and host – The Academy. At the moment, I’m finding it somewhat difficult to express how I feel about my experience without using words that make me sound like a simpleton – amazing, memorable, and truly inspiring come to mind. But then, they do accurately describe the time I spent with those who attended, as well as my friends and team that help me pull off such an enormous event. Something remarkable happens when you bring a diverse group of creative women together. Friendships are born, creativity sparked, dreams and goals revealed, and authentic encouragement envelopes the group as a whole.
In my next few posts, I’m going to touch on our incredible week together and hope that you are able to get a sense of what it’s like to experience the little bit of the “magic” that is – The Academy!
Our first full day is spent at a large annual brocante searching for treasures and props to use in our styling sessions. After an early morning French breakfast of warm croissants with creamy butter and homemade jam, fresh fruit, yogurt, and piping hot coffee, the attendees gather their market baskets and we head off for the day.
Along with copper pots and pans, vintage artwork seemed to be on many wish lists. For years, I’ve been collecting oil paintings as souvenirs from my travels and it made me so happy to see original art popping out of their baskets. It really does make a wonderful memento. Just imagine the gallery wall one could create.
Throughout the day, we made frequent trips to our vehicles to unload heavy items and take short breaks at one of the many local cafes for a glass of wine or café crème. The narrow village streets are filled with charming scenes – window boxes spilling with flowers, ancient doorways, and the daily life of French culture.
Kelli traveled to France with two of her dear lifelong friends. During our long lunches and dinners, they shared hilarious stories (never to be repeated) and were a pure delight to be around!
When we returned to the chateau, I prepared apéritifs to enjoy while we had ‘show & tell’. Included were locally made cheeses (Saint Agur bleu, chèvre aux herbes, comte, and brie), fresh berries, cornichons and provençal olives, French radishes with butter and salt, and a rosé and sparkling cider from nearby Bordeaux vineyards.
Just like the Show & Tell you may remember from grade school, everyone piles their overflowing baskets on the steps and we take turns sharing our favorites. We would claim victory on scoring a bargain, lament over the ones that got away, and generally tried not to covet each others newfound possessions. Which is actually more difficult than you might think, when there are 18 black-belt shoppers with similar taste in the mix!
Marisa was our light traveler of the group, and remarkably, managed to resist buying large items. She did however find a gorgeous vintage Celiné silk scarf and a few small kitchen items for her work as a food stylist.
Debbie bought an antique washboard I’m still thinking about. You can see it peeking out of a basket behind her. Wouldn’t it make a unique charcuterie board? There were also lots of worn woods and neutral pottery purchased by our group….and just look at all that copper!
Alissa (who lives in the most charming thatched roof cottage in all of Amsterdam!) bought a pretty Delft vase and other sweet items for her fairytale home. She also owns a completely adorable giant rabbit named Wubbie!
As you can see, our brocante day ended with an armful of treasures and memorable stories for everyone to bring home. And we still had a full week ahead of us to practice our styling and photography, visit French markets, and explore the rural countryside together!