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The Most Romantic Nights…

July 13, 2018

A few years ago, my cousin got married at our family house in France.    The house was brimming over with women preparing for the big weekend, and there was so much chatter about manicures and hair appointment times, I could tell that my (new) husband was hitting his limit (bored senseless, and he has a very high tolerance!).    I quickly and quietly extracted him for a mind-clearing drive.   Naturally, we ended up at the beach.   It was a windy beautiful June day, perfect for a swim.   Because we had rushed out, we didn’t have any of our beach things — suits, towels, etc.   We ended up buying cheap bathing suits at the nearest stand, and then we splurged and rented a jet ski.    We spent an hour tossing and turning in the Bay of St. Tropez and re-emerged refreshed, sated and happy to have had this private moment together, doing something fun and spontaneous.    Whenever Will wears those swim trunks, I am happily reminded of that afternoon.    All this is to say that sometimes the most romantic things are best unplanned, at least for us.   And this little car rental ended up being a lovely follow up, just the two of us…

The Most Romantic Things - Moke Picnic for Two! The Most Romantic Things - Moke Picnic for Two! The Most Romantic Things - French Picnic - Wine, Cheese & FruitsThe Most Romantic Things - Moke Fun!

The sun sets so late in France, our little one has often gone to bed well beforehand.    With enough support at home, Will and I were able to sneak off once again, this time for a romantic picnic nearby.    Funny how taking a quick moment to really set it up, pillows and all, made it all the more special for us.    The cherries and nectarines are bursting, sweet and juicy and were the perfect match to the buttery soft cheese and ice cold rosé.   And, it’s hard to feel anything but happy when you are bathed in beautiful, golden light with your love.

The Most Romantic Things - Delicious French Cheeses! The Most Romantic Things - Moke Picnic for Two! The Most Romantic Things - Sunset PicnicThe Most Romantic Things - Earrings!!The Most Romantic Things - Local Cherries and Peaches - Yum! The Most Romantic Things - Moke Picnic for Two!

I have been trying to figure out how to recreate this at home and am open to any recommendations.     I think in Charleston, it would probably involve biking to a nearby park (when it cools off a bit).    I’m looking forward to more time in the Northeast as we love watching the sunset from the dock or beach.

The Most Romantic Things - Moke Picnic for Two! The Most Romantic Things - Moke Picnic for Two!

France Style

Poolside Cards With Over the Moon!

July 12, 2018

One of the most special things about the house in France is the pool.    It sits down the hill between the two houses and provides an oasis for guests, as well as a totally relaxed daytime activity, especially after a big night.    It has lots of day beds and floats and is just a really lovely relaxed way to spend the day at home with no pressure or agenda.     I remember growing up, we spent most days by the pool entertaining ourselves, eating cheese baguettes and drinking ice cold coca colas or Oranginas (they have never tasted so good!).    Nowadays, we have upgraded to rosé but still go for the simple sandwiches, or grilling by the pool.    I love to dress up the occasion with some added flowers and lovely cocktail napkins (like these from Over The Moon – to go with our plastic glassware).   It’s a bit of a hike to get up so we end up packing a picnic…

Will and I will take any opportunity to play cards.   When we travel alone, we play the whole way through the airport, on flights, in hotel rooms, at dinner (eek), and so forth.    I suppose it is more challenging to find the time these days which is why we go crazy when it’s just the two of us but, it’s really fun, amusing, competitive and a nice way to check out.   I have always admired Alex and her site, Over The Moon, and I couldn’t believe my luck when she came out with these monogrammed playing cards (I went with the animals and flowers to match my napkins).   What a fun little luxury and something to make me smile.    I treasure them and think they are such a lovely present for a friend, too!   My family plays a lot of cards so I am sure that I will be getting lots for birthdays and Christmas (stocking stuffers!).

As someone who cannot sit still for too long, the Over The Moon playing cards seemed the perfect activity to bring down to the pool with us and inspired me to think of other games to play during our long days in the sun.   Thank you Alex, for the beautiful inspiration!  I now don’t go a day without having them in my handbag.   xx

 

Entertaining France Style Tables

Setting the Table from Start to Finish

July 10, 2018

By now you know that I love a pretty table, especially one adorned with lots of flowers and candles.   I thought it might be a fun change of pace to talk about how I think about setting the table, and at the bottom, there’s a video of the entire process of getting ready for the evening with friends.Setting the table from Start to Finish - et voila!

We were so lucky to be able to pick up fresh flowers and produce from the market in St. Tropez on Saturdays and Tuesdays.   Peonies were in full swing, which is such a treat.   I visit the wholesale florist a lot at home in Charleston but there’s nothing quite like walking into a bustling market.   I kept the arrangements very simple (and usually do so).   I had some left over chicken wire which I curled up and submerged in the vessels.   Chicken wire is a great trick to support each stem (especially as the vase is shallow here and the peony is top-heavy), and to allow space between each flowerhead, thereby using less per-arrangement and also enabling them to stay still!   These peonies were this open the day that I bought them and still lasted nearly a week — miraculous!  I ended up putting the lavender in the bathrooms rather than on the table.   I don’t love to use too many strong scents when setting the table.

Setting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy CuneoSetting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy CuneoSetting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy Cuneo

I rarely place a napkin on top of a plate in day to day practice but these puppies are so enormous and the monogram suits this fold.    These napkins are vintage French linens which have been hand dyed in this amazing French blue… they make my heart sing!  The tablecloth is the same, and is a slightly different shade but the thick weight of the linen is so beautiful and it was a pleasure setting the table with them on top of these Chinese plates which I picked up at the brocante.    Now to the arrangement of the fork, knife and spoon. Typically I place my spoon outside the knife, even if it’s for dessert but we had English guests and this is how they do it… makes sense as it’s the last to be used!

Setting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy Cuneo - top up!

I love transferring all the drinks (water, wine) that we’re bringing to the table into glass carafes — simple, pretty and an instant upgrade.   It’s also helpful if you’re like us and you’re drinking rosé from the box…which is far more normal in France… 🙂Setting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy Cuneo

These etched glasses are a favorite, sadly they’re not available anymore but I absolutely love this set and have it at home (in full).  Setting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy Cuneo - Candles!

I try to stagger plates/flowers so that the flowers never block a view.  I would prefer candlelight in front of each place vs. flowers as it’s more flattering.  I try to be aware of the view, and try to think about the table from the guest’s perspective. Setting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy Cuneo Setting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy Cuneo Setting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy CuneoSetting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy Cuneo

Now to getting dressed up for dinner, and to an onslaught of photographs of this dress!   I wore a dress and sweater to dinner most nights, and always changed out of my clothes from the day.    Some nights were more casual and I particularly love how this one (and it comes in blue, too) can dress up or down and still feels feminine and comfortable.  It also breathes so well in the heat.   And, cheers to these earrings which I wore a million times….!

Setting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy CuneoSetting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy Cuneo - Love these earrings! Setting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy Cuneo Setting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy Cuneo Setting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy Cuneo Setting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy Cuneo Setting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy CuneoSetting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy Cuneo

See the video below !! XX

 

Entertaining France

Slipping into French Routines: 4 Habits to Bring Home

July 9, 2018

Habits to bring home from France - Playtime with the little man!

We are rattling up the hill in a twenty year old Land Rover, my childhood car.   The late afternoon sun bathes my bare legs and the warm wind whips through the open window.   My son is in his car seat in the back, happily eating a basket of freshly picked blackberries.   The juice dribbles down his chin and arms, one of which he is swinging in the air to the raspy music which comes in and out through the thick haze of white noise; it’s a good song and he’s repeating some of the words.  

Next to him sits a wooden crate with tonight’s dinner in it, fresh from the market: pasta, vegetables to grill, a bottle of cold salmon pink rosé, arugula, avocado, tomatoes and milk.     There’s enough time for a play in the garden before I prepare his dinner, which he will eat outside, followed by a hot bubbly bath and a few books before bed.   The sun sets late here and he will fall asleep in the last bit of light.   With the onset of evening, the mood will shift.   Music is on, perhaps a bath before dinner?  I will slip into something more special, add a spritz of perfume, a swipe of lipstick and a pair of sparkly earrings.    The table is set, the candles are lit.   Evenings are for the adults, and will carry on far too late…

Habits to bring home - Always making the effort to dress up in the eveningsHabits to bring home - Make every evening special

1/2/3/4/5/6  and not pictured but used very often, see here.

Habits to bring home - Candles as always!

Perfume, earrings and a quick change for dinner.   Not every night was this dressed up, but it was fun on occasion.  Here I am wearing a fun sparkly number from  Cabana Vintage and my favorite new strappy heels which are on sale:

Habits to bring home - Lucy Cuneo

I am taking note of our rhythms here and marking the small habits to bring home:

A Morning Bath.   There are no showers to speak of.   It is surprisingly relaxing and energizing at the same time.

Simple, fresh meals, exceptional ingredients.   Croissants and fresh melon for breakfast.   Cheese and baguette and tomato salad for lunch.  Bread always picked up and eaten on the same day.  A slew of little salads, grilled vegetables, local sausages or fish for dinner, topped off with the most delicious gelato, a different flavor each night — pure pleasure!

Disconnecting.   With very little service, and inconsistent wifi (especially because we had lots of unseasonal storms), we found ourselves on our phones less and focusing more.   My husband doesn’t have an issue with this at home but I do.   I couldn’t believe how often my phone went without charge, and how my anxiety level dropped.   More time to take in the view,  exercise,  and most importantly, spend time with friends and family.

Habits to bring home - Local fresh produceHabits to bring home - Lucy Cuneo

Making the effort in the evening.    Whether it was cozied by the fire in an intimate group or a long, candlelit table in the balmy evening air, every night held a touch of magic.   Even our dinners for two were properly set up and enjoyed.   We celebrated one another’s company, phones were left behind and laughter-filled conversations ensued.   We dressed up, we danced, we drank too much and sometimes we cried.   The excitement of being in such a beautiful places with wonderful people was reason enough to make each night special but there’s also the subtle hint the way the houses are set up.   The kitchen and dining area, as well as the outside (which is where we ate every night save three) are at the center of the home.    The making of the meal is the event, the TV is outdated, upstairs and never even crossed our minds…

Habits to bring home - Always making the effort to dress up in the evenings

Will & I made a habit of eating very late, and always set the table, even for the two of us alone. 

Habits to bring home - Lucy Cuneo

Although eating outside was always first preference, even on cold evenings by the outdoor fire, there were some nights which were so rainy that eating in was necessary.    On this particular night, we candle-lit the whole room to create the ultimate cozy environment.   The flowers from the Saturday market in St. Tropez were a superb touch.  I will be sharing a dinner party playlist soon, too!! XX 

France Style

The Ultimate Romantic Summer Dress

June 27, 2018

Hi!  I’m planning to do a post on everything I packed for France but just wanted to quickly share this dress as it has been a highlight for me.    This is the ultimate romantic summer dress:  soft, flowy, and ultra feminine.    Even with the high-cut neck and billowy sleeves, this dress feels slim and sexy.   The snug fit through the waist to right above the hips and the way that it moves, combined with the breathability of lovely linen makes it impossible not to feel fantastic in.   I also love the warm color palate of the creamy camel and soft floral pattern.   I have worn it to countless dinner parties, with casual espadrilles during the day and even to a friend’s wedding with nude strappy heels.   It has been an absolute favorite and a “forever piece” in that I don’t see myself falling out of love with it anytime soon.

You can always count on Zimmermann to make a beautiful, feminine dress ready for summer.    To me, this feels like one of their most special pieces without the price tag to match — of course it is still an investment piece but feels do-able to me compared to some of the other ones that I love but might be too nervous to wear as readily and freely as I do this one.

I have been trying to really hone in on my personal style and what I look for after getting lots of questions about it in the new year.   I definitely tend towards soft, flowy, romantic dresses which are comfortable.   I love a floral pattern which isn’t too bold and stick to warmer tones, hues of soft camels, creams, pinks, etc.   This dress ticks all the boxes!! XX

France Style Travel

Sunset Picnic

June 22, 2018

We landed back in France in the early hours of yesterday morning, and it feels like a completely different place – summer has (belatedly) arrived! Everything is now dry and the temperatures at night are balmy. What better way to celebrate the change in seasons than with a picnic at sunset on the edge of the property.

For the best evening views you have to climb out onto a fire-road that follows a ridge past our temporary home. The sun sets beyond a mountain range in the far distance. Yesterday was one of the longest days of the year so we had plenty of time to soak up some golden light and a enjoy a glass of something cold.

We loved our time in England, particularly that spent with family and friends, but the cheese and bread simply do not stand up well by comparison. A very fresh baguette and some brie that responded to the warmth by beginning to ooze, were the perfect paring as we spent some time alone looking forward to the last  section of our wonderful adventure.

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