Thursday, December 31, 2009


Long ago I gave up fantasies of keeping any New Year resolutions.

I just...

Keep loving

my life... my boys, Alexander and Hadrian

my husband Luke

my mom and dad

Luke's Mom

Keep dreaming...

Photo by Chris Noble © 2007 High Ground Productions, LLC

Always looking for the powdery steeps.

Dream of making it to the top...

Live every day

fully... look around... smile at life... treasure the gifts of nature

one day at a time

Northern Lights in Iceland

Bonne Annee
welcome 2010

Friday, December 25, 2009


Having just returned from Midnight Mass, I wanted to wish each of you a very Merry Christmas.

Ever since my early childhood, Silent Night has epitomized the essence of Christmas for me. I can remember sitting beside my grandmother at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve as she played this very old and beautiful hymn on the church organ. The lyrics of Silent Night are some of the simplest, yet most evocative of the true meaning of this wonderful holiday.

The silence following a snowfall always brings to mind Christmas.

My two sentry dogs welcome you to my home

Gifts awaiting Christmas morning

19 for Christmas Dinner

From me to you, Silent Night

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth "

Sunday, December 6, 2009


During my October trip home to visit my mother during her surgery, I took a few hours break every few days from my hospital vigil. Camera in hand I wandered through my native village of Clermont-Dessous and later, Bordeaux to show you this beautiful region that I call home.

Clermont-Dessous, my village in Lot et Garonne, where my family has lived for generations:

The view from my bedroom window

The 12th Century church where all my family going back many
generations were baptized, married and ultimately laid to rest.

Surrounding landscape of the rolling hills of Lot et Garonne

Welcome to Bordeaux

Bordeaux, one of the largest cities in France, is ideally located on the Garonne River Delta and the home of the most beautiful and famous vineyards in the world. Bordeaux is also very close to some of the most stunning beaches in Europe.

Bordeaux Riverfront

Miles of magnificent walkways along the banks of the Garonne

My father and my dear cousin Anne-Marie on the permanent artistic
and architectural installation Le Miroir D'Eau.

The Bordeaux "Water Mirror" is the largest water sculpture in the world.

A man needs a dog to be whole.

Medieval times meet contemporary architecture.

The "Palais de Justice" (Bordeaux Courthouse)

Le Grand Theatre

What would France be without its outdoor Cafes?

One of many Plazas spread around the city

Could the brilliant Catalan Architect Antonio Gaudi have
found some of his inspiration in Bordeaux?

Another Bordeaux Plaza Square

Bordeaux, A City for Children

A visit to "ENTREPOTS LAINE" is an absolute must

Bordeaux by night is a very romantic city

And, at last, that for which Bordeaux is best known throughout the world, its sacred Vineyards:

Chateau Haut-Brion
(Photo: Haut-Brion Catalog)

The Vat Room at Chateau Haut-Brion where the vineyard's
2009 Vintage now ferments.

Your Bordeaux Guide (Me, of course) sampling Chateau Haut-Brion's 2005 vintage

Chateau Petrus. Vintage 2004 now available at $1800/bottle. Ouch!!!

My Favorite Store in Bordeaux, L'Intendants...
The Ultimate Hotel for Wines

My favorite Spa, Les Sources de Caudalie, was just rated by Conde Nast as the best spa in the world. I stayed at the spa with my parents a few years ago on a short trip home.

Les Sources de Caudalie
Chateau Smith haut Lafite
Cote Ouest/No. 84 Oct-Nov 2009
Story: Caroline Mesnil/Photos: Francois Goudier

All photos by Francine Gardner unless otherwise credited

Monday, November 23, 2009

Reflections on the Holidays and my Second Home, Interieurs

Saturday morning I woke up to a beautiful pure blue sky. Going outside I felt the crisp cold air of late November here in the northeast and suddenly felt the spirit of the coming holidays sweep over me.

I really love the winter holidays, especially Christmas when its time to decorate the tree, my house and especially finding new and creative ways to gift wrap Christmas presents.

When my children were young, every Christmas over a period of now uncountable years, we hosted "Christmas" lunch for all our friends. Often we would have as many as 28 people (of all ages, shapes, sizes, hues and faiths) trek out to Connecticut from Manhattan for a stunning feast prepared by my husband and we would luxuriate in the gifts, food, wine and, most importantly, companionship. Often my parents would come from France and my mother-in-law would come down from Newport to join us. These celebrations gave my sons a great sense of comfort and community. They now tell me how much they long for and will always remember those great Christmas parties past. Alas, now, almost all of those friends and their children (now all grown up) have scattered to new cities and countries, so re-capturing those times can only be done from our memories and photo albums.

As our friends began moving away in the years after September 11, we left behind the large dinners of Fondue Chinoise (or Canard-a-L'Orange, or Beef Wellington), Rose Champagne, Bordeaux wines, foie gras, salmon roe caviar and chocolate/hazelnut Buches de Noel.

In 2004 we started a new family mini-tradition of traveling to Asia where, that first year, we spent Christmas Day in a Dayak village in Kalimantan (See my post Deep into Kalimantan). For a period of several years afterward we went to Asia every year for the holidays (except 2007 when we went to Whistler B.C. after a very quiet Christmas at home). Last year we spent Christmas in Bangkok and New Year's Eve in Phuket having already fully pre-paid the trip just before the economic tsunami hit here at home.

This year we will spend Christmas at home, something my now college student sons Alex and Hadrian actually look forward to, as do my husband and I. After so many years of semi-nomadic holiday traveling, we look forward to a quiet regrouping of our emotional and financial resources. As I'm sure most if not all my readers can readily agree, 2009 has been a really tough year. Celebrating the holidays at home, with loved ones and close friends will be a wonderful and welcome change.

As I reflected on the holidays, I realized that Interieurs really is my second home. It also dawned on me that I have never fully introduced you to that part of my life, so Saturday morning I headed down to the Manhattan Flower Market district where I loaded my trunk with greenery to style my Showroom's windows for the Holidays. As I worked along, I took a few snapshots of the space to share with you here. If you are planning to be in New York, I hope you'll stop in for a visit.

Interieurs... My TriBeCa Showroom

My Welcome to the Holiday Season

Jose Esteves' "Peace Bird" greeting the
holidays by our "Audrey" Sofa

Interieus' Bamboo "Marcelle" Bed named
for my paternal Grandmother

Interieurs' "Julien" L-Shaped Sofa with re-purposed
industrial furniture from the South of France

I love these old hand Re-bound books.

Our "Aurelie" Sofa and "Antoine" Bamboo cocktail table

The "Jason" Steel Sandwich table.
Most "Jason" tables are unique pieces made
from re-claimed industrial parts here in the U.S.A.

Interieurs' Walnut or Oak "Armande" four post bed

Below, the same showroom, styled for an advertising photoshoot to introduce our Le Bambou Interieurs furniture line. Photos: Michael Grimm, another of my favorite commercial photographers.

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