Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fine Little Day

As much as I love children and my own lovely daughters, I often find it annoying when people implicate their children in their professional activities. But, I stumbled across this website/blog with wall paper and fabric designed by children (among other things) and it is amazing and simple and just not at all self-serving. Check out Fine Little Day

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fall Finds from France

I have been obsessed with two things all my life. The obvious one, France, has become so integral to my being that I dream in French, I wear French clothes (and have since the age of 17,) I eat French food, drink French wine and I breathe French air everyday. Enough said!

My other secret obsession is dogs. My family is a dog family. My father's family who were from Winchester, Massachusetts raised (for fun) springer spaniels. So on my 10th birthday, I got a springer spaniel, who I aptly named Freckles (by the way, these were the Nixon years and my father is a conservative Republican who still to this day defends Nixon, post mortem.) Anyway, fast forward to my immediate family and our small apartment in Lyon and voilà Clementine and Daisy: Daisy, adorable bichon frisé adopted from a family in Red Hook a week before Christmas 8 years ago, and Clemmie, gorgeous field pointer, who wandered onto our farm as a 6 week old puppy on the hottest August afternoon, 9 years ago.

When I go away to non-dog-friendly places, I am forced to find a happy home for Clementine (Daisy I can usually hide in a bag.) My friend Claire, turned me on to le Domaine des Brevonnes, a 4**** pension for large dogs and a top breeder of Weimaraners. It takes 50 minutes to drive to the little town of Monthieux, in the department de L'ain (a place that for some wacky reason reminds me of the Jersey shore, even though it has no beach,) but it's well worth it.

I had to pick Clem up this morning and you know she had a good weekend cavorting outside with all her handsome Weimaraner pals. She was absolutely giddy.

But the best Fall Find of all was what I found in the front yard. More than the Agnes B tweed jacket, more than the Heschung men's shoes, more than the Loft Design By cashmere sweater, I NEED one of these.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Halliday Chic

I love Halliday's natural style—very Halliday!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Loving the Contrast

We were all so happy to get back to Lyon after the craziness (and expensiveness of Paris.) Really and truly, Paris is too busy for me.

I am essentially half country girl/half city girl, equally comfortable in the two environments. And after such a crazy trip, we all needed to recuperate in the country.

We lounged all weekend and the weather was perfect. We ate every meal outside (except the first night when we had to light a fire to heat up our 200 year old stone house,) toured around a bit, shopped the amazing farmers market in St Symphorien sur Coise, passed by the butcher and boulangerie, made very authentic meals, star gazed, chatted outside in the field which we call our patio, saw our lovely neighbors Zizou and Joseph and went to a yard sale to visit my good friend Isabelle Grange, a fabulous painter.

Such a perfect weekend that Bob wanted to stay, and I was tempted too. But it's back to reality we go. Whoppee!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Oh Mercy Beaucoup

Ok, I am officially in love with this band, Oh Mercy, Alexander Gow and Thomas Savage, the soulful duo from Melboure, Australia. Please come to Lyon! Ecoutez:

Friday, September 10, 2010

Our Great Parisian Adventure

Barb and Bob are like family to us. We have known them since Halliday was 9 months old, when Barb (just barely one toe into retirement,) answered an ad I had placed in the local "Register Star" for a full-time babysitter. Those were the days of I & Company, my busy graphic design studio and I was whizzing in and out of Manhattan trying to be supermom and have my cake and eat it to. Basic French was just a glimmer in my eye and Barb signed on for the long-haul when she picked up that phone. I thought it was Mary Poppins on the line, she was so nice and lovely and professional that I nearly cried.

So, here we are 15 years later: Barb, (now retired from years of manning the Basic French store in Red Hook, always smiling and making our customers feel special and important—something she is so good at, in all facets of her life) is finally free to travel!!!!

I had always wanted her to see Maison et Objet and so we all made a plan to meet in Paris and spend 2 incredibly busy days doing our version of Paris, before heading back to Lyon. I take some things for granted in France I think—the way things are different from the US, the simplicity of shapes, the smells, the architecture. You know when you live somewhere you half stop seeing things, so having her at the show with me was great and fun and incredibly helpful.

We sped around the 7 immense halls (like at the Jacob Javits Center in New York) taking in all the trends, new colors and products, placing orders with some tried-and-true suppliers and discovering some fantastic new ones too. Great pajamas and boxers, X-mas decorations, lots of dog stuff, children's tees and aprons, organic (bio) toiletries and home cleaning products that smell divine. Can't wait for our holiday shipment to arrive, but let's not think about Christmas just yet. I am savoring the Indian summer that has set in here. Vive le soleil!

Monday, September 06, 2010

To Combi or not to Combi?

I know the summer is over but the weather is still temperate here in Lyon and it seems that les lyonnaises are trying to get the most out of their summer outfits and most notably, their combi-shorts. Ok, I know I am not 5'8", 110 lbs and a size 4, and perhaps if I was I would have a different take on the combi, but truly, it is one fashion style that I just don't understand. This summer it was all the rage: combi-shorts, combi-pants, combi-pedalpushers, in liberty, in silk, belted, cinched, you name it, the combi was there. I guess they just remind me of a play suit, a romper, a jumper, a jump suit and they seem to infantalize the women wearing them. Since I am someone who likes to be taken seriously, probably to a flaw I might add, I could never be caught dead in a combi. Perhaps it's a take on femininity that I just don't appreciate? What do you think?

"Made in France" label for firms

Reprinted courtesy of 'The Connexion'

A PLAN to create a ‘Made in France’ label to emphasize the Frenchness of products has been met with mixed reactions from business people.

The idea, being pushed by former Overseas Minister Yves Jégo, was labeled “xenophobic” by one businessman, while others said it was ecological or good for the image of their goods.

Mr Jégo says France should capitalize more on its national brand image. According to the Nation Brands Index, it is second only to the USA in terms of attractiveness when associated with goods (Germany is third, Britain fourth).

The country should create a recognizable “Made in France” brand, he says. The logo could be accompanied by a star-rating to show if a product was French at all of the stages from concept to sale.

Mr Jégo has asked that a law proposal be drawn up this year.

He also wants France to lobby the EU to make identifying country of origin obligatory for all goods (it is only required for those from outside the union). Garden accessory manufacturer Nigel Gubb of JMH French Solutions in the Vendée said quality counted more than origin.

“You could be encouraged to buy something because it’s French when it is rubbish and not as good as a product from somewhere else.

“It sounds xenophobic and not in the spirit of the EU.” He added: “If something is from the EU all that matters is quality and price.”

Mr Gubb, whose products are all made in France from French materials, said if anything he prefers to emphasize a local angle.

“We sometimes put the Vendée heart on them,” he said. He added: “A star-rating would be impractical for small firms – how would they check?

“Would someone come out to inspect how French my products are?”

Sophie Hicks of La Boucherie à la Ferme in the Corrèze said Frenchness was important to the image of their meat products. “The French are proud of their country and to integrate successfully you have to embrace their ways. The reason we came to France is because we enjoy its Frenchness and it should maintain that.”

She added: “We already put ‘Made in France’ on the products, as we use meat from our own animals. We source some spices abroad, but it’s not a significant percentage. Also, by law, we must use at least 60% of our own produce in everything or we become a commerce instead of a farm.

“We are also going to start selling in a farmers’ market which will involve having special bags and badges showing the produce is ours.

“So, in way the fact that we use local French ingredients is already apparent, but an extra logo could be a good idea. As for a star-rating, it would depend how strict the rules were. Would the ingredients have to be 100% French?”

She added that while French branding would add value for food, because of France’s culinary reputation, “we’re not so impressed with some other things made here, like washing machines.”

Claire Morris of Ty Skol, who makes stained glass items in Brittany, said individual artistry was more importance then Frenchness, however the branding might attract tourists wanting French-made souvenirs. “Buying French also makes good ecological sense in terms of air miles,” she said.

She mainly uses French suppliers. Although some of them source some of their glass abroad, there are some very good French manufacturers, like Saint-Just glass from Saint-Etienne, she said.

Would you trust a Made in France brand? For which products? Do you market your goods as being French? Email mentioning “Made in France” in the email title.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

La Rentrée (Back to School)

We are suffering from la Rentrée Blues.

This back-to-school schedule of getting up at 6:15 am and racing around, filling out form after form, making appointments, getting insurance, doing homework, going to bed early is always soooooooooooooooo hard to adjust to.

This weekend we are headed to Paris to meet our lovely friends Barb and Bob, who arrive from New York for their first European vacation. Barb (who worked in our Red Hook store for years) and I are going to Maison et Objet, the Paris home fashion show to buy great stuff for Basic French for the holidays. Yay!!!