Our First Year!!! Giving Thanks and a Give-away

We are ecstatic to be celebrating the first anniversary of our blog. 
We posted our first entry last year on November 24.

I had begun to follow several blogs and was intrigued by their power as a source of inspiration. I could see how some of the bloggers were really dedicated and paid attention to detail. They took pride in what they delivered. One of my favorite blogs was Trouvais by Trish.Here To my surprise, she blogged about us one day.  It turns out she had seen Trinidad selling at the Alameda here and later she came to one of our container sales and again blogged about it. Here Meeting her really prompted me to work on creating our own blog. We also discovered that Christina from Greige had included some of our photos in one of her postings.Here and here 

          Jardiniéres here      Ma Petite Maison d'Hotes here

Our first posting was about our "garden house." here. I had cleared out the shed we normally used as storage and created a sort of garden house. I staged it with the items we had just brought in our most recent container, took some photos and posted them.  My goal was to create  a blog that would cover the different styles of  merchandise we offer to our clients, which we bring from Europe. I wanted to create vignettes of items to combine and integrate in interior as well as exterior environments.  I also wanted to post about vacation spots, other businesses, our travels and our experiences hunting for antiques and other treasures in the markets of France and throughout Europe. I had all this in my mind but the truth was I did not feel equipped with the writing skills to do it. My first postings had but a few descriptive sentences of the content. We also didn't get but a couple of comments. 


Ile de Ré here and here            En Route here 

When Johan started blogging for Atelier de Campagne I was mildly curious, but was still not sure of how blogging would support the growth and development of our business. I am a self-admitted technophobe and was definitely not interested in blogging or even following blogs. Johan tried to get me excited about it, but I wasn't buying it. Teasingly, I told him he just wanted an excuse to "play house" which is what I used to call the time he'd spend on creating vignettes and taking photos even before he started blogging. "Johan, did you spend all day playing house?" I'd ask him when I'd get home and he'd have some area staged in a special way. Even though I teased him about it, I recognized his talent and the importance of experimenting with design. He'd always do a great job at our store, and at the fairs and gift shows.

Top left Aging with Grace and Beauty here 
Tor right Creations D'Ambiance here 

One day, while selling at an antique show, a customer approached me and said, "Trinidad, what is going on? I am following your blog, but you guys have not blogged in a few weeks." I didn't know what to say, so naturally I blamed Johan. LOL! I said, "You know, Johan has been busy and he is just learning." "Well," he said, "I think he is doing great and he needs to do it more often." I remember calling Johan that night and saying playfully, "Johan, your fans are clamoring for more postings!  "Some guy came up to me and was somewhat upset you haven't posted lately." Johan followed the humor and said, "What? Fame at last!"  I said, "Seriously Johan, people who read the blog will expect more constancy." He laughed and said, "People who read the blog? Trinidad, I barely write a sentence or two. You should write it, you are so good with words and your writing is more engaging" I did  not want to give in because I was still working as a consultant and teacher educator and flying all over the country. Then a few other people blogged about us and I started getting excited. 

Style Industriel here  Aging with Grace and Beauty here    Baskets here  

I remember Andie from Divine Theater here posting about us with a sentence, "I cannot believe this site has only a handful of followers?" here I decided to write one of the postings with the condition that Johan would still be in charge of the photo selection and the technical part. My first post was in February and I wrote about baskets.Here. I was thrilled that I got eight comments! Well, Johan and I started sharing the task of writing and selecting topics and photos. We started getting a few more followers and then a few other people blogged about us. Glenda from The Paper Mulberry here & here and others started to include us in their blog rolls. It was exciting to know more people were finding us and that they liked what we were doing.

The Sign of the Time here

Sometimes, it's hard sharing the task of blogging with Johan living in Belgium, and the difference in time. I am getting ready for bed when Johan is waking up and vice-versa so we have to find the right time to get it all together. Tonight, we have already talked a few times on the phone. We are not always in agreement as to which photos to use and how much text to include.  Even though I have always enjoyed writing, I was timid about sharing my writing publicly. Not that I now think of myself as a "professional" writer, blogging seemed casual enough as to not feel intimidated to make my musings public, and you are all so forgiving. 

Rassembler les Tresors here


Bring France to Our Garden here

It has certainly been an enjoyable process and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who follow us, especially to all of you who comment and give us feedback. Our gratitude to our fellow bloggers who have taught us so much, and to all the folks who have given us more visibility by blogging about us. We are so indebted to so many folks! We are looking forward to another year and plan to include more topics. This first year we tried to establish ourselves and focused mostly on ourselves: our merchandise, events, etc. Our plan now is to be more inclusive of others, but continue to share about our work and of course images of the treasures we find for you.


 Bezier, Avignon, and a bit of Isle Sur La Sorgue here

I normally don't have a role in the writing of the blog and have just recently joined Team Atelier, but I have been able to see how this blog has developed. Sometimes I get to hear these two (Johan and Trinidad) argue about the topic or the photos or whether the posting will be done by a certain time or when to post, but I have also listened to the joy when they read the comments, and enjoy when customers approach us at the fairs and exclaim,"I follow your blog! I love it!" As we traveled on our buying trip through Europe last summer, which was a first for me, we would all take photos and Trinidad and Johan posted along the way.Here. It was cool to read comments of people who said the photos and writing made them feel as though they were traveling along with us. The trip was an amazing experience and it was also gratifying that we could share it with others via this medium of blogging.


We'd like to celebrate this first year and this Thanksgiving holiday by giving away a copy of the French Atmospheres book to one of our regular followers, and a holiday issue of Jeanne d'Arc Living magazine to a new follower. If you are a new follower, please introduce yourself, and make a comment telling us about something you feel grateful for this year. We will select one of the entries or comments of a new follower and one of the names of our frequent visitors. You will be notified on our following posting if you are a winner.

We also invite our new and old followers to peruse through or archived posts and give us some feedback. We always appreciate your comments.

Trinidad, Martin, Johan


Rococo, Late Baroque? Just call it beautiful!

As I'm driving to antique and brocante markets along France, I pass by many beautiful old houses. The kind that attract me most are the Maison de Maître. These were the homes of the upper class in the 18th and 19th century.  I get carried away imagining how I would decorate such a home, were I living in that era.

XIX century  Maison de Maître in the Cognac area here

Some of the  trumeaus, and other fancy mirrors, armoires  and chandeliers  come from houses like this.  The detail in each item shows craftsmanship  in every piece. The sculpting of flowers in the furniture,  plaster and wood ornaments in mirrors as well as ironwork of window guards, garden doors, and balconies are evidence of the artistry of woodworkers and blacksmiths. This era in design was known as Rococo or Late Baroque.

To borrow a bit from Wikipedia(yes, we know it's not totally reliable) Rococo, also referred to as "Late Baroque", is an 18th century style which developed as Baroque artists gave up their symmetry and became increasingly ornate, florid, and playful. Rococo rooms were designed as total works of art with elegant and ornate furniture, small sculptures, ornamental mirrors, and tapestry complementing architecture, reliefs, and wall paintings. It was largely supplanted by the Neo-classicstyle. In 1835 the Dictionary of the French Academy stated that the word Rococo "usually covers the kind of ornament, style and design associated with Louis XV's reign and the beginning of that of Louis XVI". It includes therefore, all types of art produced around the middle of the 18th century in France.

We are fully aware that this style, florid and elaborate does not meet everyone's taste. "Cada cabeza es un mundo." But even if it's not your style I am sure you can appreciate the ornate craftsmanship and artistic flair in it.  We like to select  pieces like these and breathe new life into them. Some of the pieces, I leave as they are, depending on the patina and age on them, while I choose to paint some of them in a chalky gray.  I mix my own, and add my own touch. I call it "a touch of frost" You might want to see a previous posting on this. Here
Maison de Maître in right corner photo above info here

Sometimes I like to take a piece from an armoire, bed, or other furniture and turn it into something else, something new and provocative.The top of an armoire can easily become a ciel de lit or canopy, while a fronton or splash, or any decorative top from an armoire can look stunning above a door or window. I have taken the headboards of old beds and created a mirror frame or the back of a bench.

I am now on my way to a market in the west of Paris 
and wonder what treasures I will find there to send back to you folks!


Retreat to Relax and Re-Create at Kenwood Ranch 

A couple of weeks ago, before Johan returned to Europe, we managed to carve out a few days to relax and enjoy the fruits of our labor. Our friends Sarah and Darius Anderson, who host The French Flea Market at Chateau Sonoma each spring, also have a wonderful vacation rental in Kenwood near Sonoma, 
and we were able to book a weekend there. 

We were aiming to relax and enjoy the wine country, but also to combine this retreat with some strategic planning  so we can bring you, our customers, better goods and services and find more ways to enjoy doing it. 

       "Find a job you love, 
and you will never work another day in your life."

This place is amazing and definitely the right place to clear your mind and come up with fresh ideas. The serenity of the countryside is so conducive to meditation but there are plenty of other things should you choose to socialize. There are plenty of wineries, restaurants, spas. We did venture out a bit and enjoyed some of the local cuisine, but we were also treated to Martin's exquisite meals. The food, the clean air, the spirit of the land and the spirits from its vineyards got our creative juices flowing and we ended up not just having a wonderful time, but also came back with new ideas and ready to take next steps. 

Speaking of steps, this vacation rental is surrounded by 75 private acres and we did take advantage of the morning to go on a hike and admire the beauty of the vineyards and get some fresh air into our lungs. As we walked, we were startled by a sudden flutter and odd noises and were able to see a flock of wild turkeys running into the woods. As you walk along the small road going uphill, you encounter statues and other beautiful artwork. There is a beautiful, 9 ft. majestic rooster in pique assiette style, a beautiful bell that conjures up images of Provence, and a few other items that will make you smile. As you get to the top of the hill you can see surrounding vineyards and hills and on a good day, glimpses of the San Francisco Bay. 
You will also find at the top of the hill, a small platform where Darius and Sarah celebrated their wedding. This is such an idyllic place for that! I see a ring, I hear wedding bells...catered by Ramekins...   here

Photos above by Kenwood Ranch

I could write more on the description of this lovely place but I want you to go over to their page and read all the details. One warning for Francophiles, bring your smelling salts for you WILL ooh and aah, gasp, 
and eventually swoon. 

The home is exquisitely decorated by Chateau Sonoma and you will roam through 
each room mesmerized by the beauty of the treasures. 

You have been warned but there is good news, and that is that you can go visit Sarah at Chateau Sonoma and select items to make your own home your personal French get away.  
Here is a link to the vacation rental Kenwood Ranch and here is a link to the store Chateau Sonoma

Photo above by Kenwood Ranch

Thank you Sarah and Darius for sharing your beautiful space with us and for the friendship! Un abrazo!

Trinidad, Johan, and Martin