The Skirted Roundtable – Knock, Knock, Knocking on Blogging’s Door





This week, it’s Linda, Megan, and me – talking about opportunity knocking on our doors from blogging and social networking in general.  It’s amazing how in tune with social networking the younger generation is – but baby boomers are very slow to the party.   After you listen to the Skirted Roundtable – watch this You Tube video (below) on Social Networking – it’s fascinating and a little scary.   If you didn’t believe in the power of Twitter, blogging, and Facebook – you will after you watch it.


To listen to this week’s Skirted Roundtable, go HERE.


WATCH THIS BELOW:   Double click arrow on the bottom left.


Chateau de Montgeoffroy: Same As It Ever Was


Chateau Montgeoffroy in the Loire Valley.   The central building was built in the 18th century in between the 16th century wings with rounded turrets.   The moat and chapel are also from the 16th century. 


Of all the 300 magnificent chateaus in the famous Loire Region in France, Chateau de Montgeoffroy, one of the last to be built,  is considered one of the finest.   The region surrounding the Loire, France’s longest river,  is known as the Valley of the Kings, or the Royal River,  because so many French royals and noblemen built houses among the vineyards and gently rolling lands that make up the fertile landscape.   Many of these chateaux were built on older sites dating from medieval times and even further back, on the fortress ruins of Neolithic sites.    Most were built using the white limestone (Pierre de Loire) found in the region, giving a certain unified appearance to the graceful and elegant chateaux.   Today, many of the chateaux are private homes, while some are museums and some are active vineyards.  What sets Montgeoffroy apart from other Loire chateaux is simple – it has remained the same as it was when it was built.  A time capsule of sorts, it provides a glimpse into everyday life among the privileged few right before the outbreak of the Revolution.    Montgeoffroy was one of the few chateaux to escape destruction during those violent times of Marie Antoinette.   Nothing of Chateau Montgeoffroy has changed through the centuries  - all the furniture and household goods that were listed on inventories taken before the Revolution remain  in the house today.  The catalogued archives are proof of this.   Every piece of furniture, painting and accessory remains in the house as it did when the chateaux was first designed.   Even the kitchen retains its original 260 copper pots, which look remarkably in vogue today.   Even more amazing, the same family still owns the chateau.       Thus, a visit to Montgeoffroy is witness to the most beautiful period in design – the 18th century.     Time truly stands still at Montgeoffroy.  

The chateau, located in Maze, as it is today, was built in the 18th century between 1772 and 1775, but its history dates back several centuries before that.     The two distinctive round towers of the chateau, the moat and the chapel actually date back to 1543.  The main large, central portion was designed by Nicolas Barre for Erasme de Contades who was the commander of the German army during the Sevens Years War.   The Marquis had several mistresses which he kept in secret rooms he had built in the chateau.  One apartment even had a spiral staircase that led to the mistress’s handmaiden’s room.    All this of course, is what life was like in the 18th century for the privileged class.    Chateau de Montgeoffroy is considered a masterpiece of the 18th century French architecture.   For lucky Francophiles, the family opens part of the chateau to visitors each summer.

This month, the French magazine Art and Decoration, published several gorgeous photographs of Montgeoffroy.   Taking photographs of the interiors during tours must not be   allowed, as none show up in Flickr or Picasa.   Additionally, there are very few published photographs of the chateau, so these pictures from Art and Decoration are all the more valuable.   It is amazing to look at these interiors which haven’t changed for centuries and see how current certain parts look.   Luckily the few  old photographs of the chateau exist to compare then and now.   As it is often said, the best way to keep an interior from quickly dating  is to use French antiques.  Montgeoffroy certainly proves that theory. 




An aerial view of Montgeoffroy showing the long gravel drive and stables off the left.   Notice the two guard houses at the corners of the front property.





Portrait of Erasme de Contades,dressed for battle,  who commissioned Montgeoffroy.  This painting hangs in the Grand Salon today. 





The gates that stand at the end of the long drive.  





A rare early postcard of the chateau.  





As it looks today, here you can see the wonderful shutters and Versailles planters.   Notice how the center front doors and the end doors are arched.  And notice too, the dormers, the Oeil de boeuf windows that are often removed from buildings and sold in antique stores.  The creamy limestone blocks are so gorgeous!!!  


 imageFrom Art and Decoration, the butler’s pantry, overlooking the front courtyard, with its marble floor and sink.  What a sink!!!   The enfilade on the right is like those seen in fine antique stores.   Remember,  everything is like it was during the 18th century!  




From Art and Decoration – the Grand Salon with its Versailles parquet floor.    The article is written in French, so it was hard to follow, but apparently, the family has recently refreshed the upholstery – many of which originally came from Braquenie, now owned by Pierre Frey.     I adore these Louis XV chairs with their painted finishes.  Notice the console between the windows – painted gray, like the boiserie, so trendy!     The lantern is to die for.  




A close up of the beautiful chairs, with their graceful, curving lines.  The bottom cushions are plump, filled with down.  The fabric is attached to the frame with today’s hot nail heads. 




I love this painted console – I have seen these in so many antique stores, just not quite as ornate or pretty!!    Notice the carved urn on the stretcher – divine!




A close up of the French door, showing its age.   Notice how you can see the limestone facade, then the exterior shutter, along with an interior shutter.  The hardware shows centuries of use.  





A rare photograph of the Grand Salon from years gone by.  Notice how nothing much has changed.  The painted console remains between the two French doors.  The same lantern is hanging.   This view of the salon is of the other side than shown in the magazine Art and Decoration.   





In an older photograph from a book, here  you can see how the room is shown with two different sets of chairs.   Notice the clocks or barometers flanking the doorway!   Beautiful.  The lantern remains, as does the backgammon table.    The fabric looks changed here from above and from today. 





In another set of early pictures, the yellow chairs appear in a striped fabric.  The same small end tables are seen here.   Here is the portrait of the original owner.   The sconces remain, but the mantelscape is a bit different




The Grand Salon:  The other side of the room with the backgammon table.   This looks remarkably like the earlier postcard shown earlier. 





Art and Decoration:  the dining room with its raspberry colored table cloth.   Another beautiful lantern.   Notice the urn in relief above the door.   It reminds me of an antique fragment I bought a few years ago.   The curtains are Braquenie  - Grand Corail.




Braquenie fabric on curtains – Grand Corail.




Past the dining room is another room, with another game table.   These chairs appear to wear the same fabric as seen in the older pictures.  The chest to the right of the table is like ones seen in antique stores time and time again. 





The beautiful, graceful iron staircase with stone tread and risers.    Perfection!




Part of the kitchen area, notice how current the hanging arrangement of horns look!    Beautiful tall buffet.  




Another view of the same room, showing the large fireplace.  



Art and Decoration:  a view of the kitchen with its famous collection of copper pots.  




    image Found in a book – it’s the same view as above, just wider.  This larger view shows more of the incredible copper pot collection.






Art and Decoration:  it appears fresh fabric recently went up in the bedrooms, courtesy of Braquenie. 



This room is done in the beautiful Anet by Pierre Frey’s Braquenie. 




This bedroom has a beautiful gray painted French bed.  Notice the adorable fringe trimmed end table. Again, the French style, one fabric covers everything in the bedroom.   




Its fabric shows 18th century flower vases and angels.   Pierre Frey sells this fabric called Aix de Provence.




image A third bedroom is in crisp plaid – one fabric covers everything in the room, including the walls.  Notice the small vanity chair – so feminine!!!





Beauvoir – from Pierre Frey’s Braquenie.




imageThis photo from the Braquenie web site shows a damask named for Chateau Montgeoffroy.  This looks like it was taken in the chateau – the bed and chair are so familiar to others seen in Montgeoffroy.





An old photograph from a book shows another room with French chairs covered in tapestry fabric.   The desk is an incredible antique.   Notice in this room the floor is not in the Versailles pattern, nor do the walls have full molding.   Those details must have been saved for the Grand Salon only.




image Art and Decoration:   the empty stables and horse drawn carriages, left over from another generation.  





Finally, looking again at the Grand Salon in Montgeoffroy – it reminded me of another beautiful French chateau:




image Marie Antoinette’s Petit Trianon in Versailles.  Though Montgeoffroy is not quite as opulent, it’s a close second.  I love how all the chairs and settees are painted gray – today, this is so trendy and in vogue.




And this carving, above the door in the dining room, reminds me of a wood fragment I bought in Austin a few years ago:




The fragment is above the cabinet in the dining room.  Though not exactly the same, I can imagine that my fragment once was lived above a doorway in France somewhere……..!


Unfortunately, there is no web site for Chateau Montgeoffroy, but if you google it, there is plenty of information from travel agencies regarding dates the house is open to the public.   Let me know if you go, or have gone!!!!

Happy Mother’s Day From the Other Side of the World



On a personal note, I think today is the first Mother’s Day I’ve spent without my child.   In fact, I’m sure of it.   I suppose this makes good practice for next year when Elisabeth will be at college and Mother's Day isn’t one of those holidays you come home for.    Still, she is missed, though she left me a  message early this morning at 4:00 am wishing me a happy day.  She certainly sounded happy herself, off with her classmates in a Bedouin tent somewhere in a biblical desert. 



Leaving for Poland and Israel:   Elisabeth, first row, far right – face half cut off in the camera. 


She left with her senior class for a week in Poland, then three more weeks in Israel.  Elisabeth has only attended two schools – Shlenker, her elementary, and Emery-Weiner, her middle and high school, both are private Jewish day schools.   The graduation class consists of 60 teens, most of whom have been in school together since they were two years old.  Sheltered?   I’m afraid so.   This trip is the culmination of 15 years of daily classes on Judaica, Zionism and Hebrew.   School is over for them now.  Finals are history, as is the senior prom. The graduation ceremony will take place when they return home.   A few in her class will be headed back to Israel for their first year of college.   For a while, that was Elisabeth’s plan, instead she’s chosen to stay in the states.  I wonder if she will regret that decision after this adventure.




After a grueling and very depressing week in Poland spent visiting concentration camps and ancient synagogues, the seniors arrived in Israel.   They first went for a swim in the Dead sea.  Then, before sunrise, they climbed to the top of Masada where they watched the sun come up.   That’s her, smiling, the first blond on the left, at the top of Masada.



image For their first Sabbath in Israel, the group dressed up (as dressed up as you get in Israel – meaning no ties EVER!) and headed to the Wailing Wall for services. 



lizzyisrael3 Here, two of her classmates write out their prayers and place them in the cracks of the Wailing Wall, a tradition that most visitors do, regardless of religion. 






The next day, it was another desert – this time in the south - and a camel ride, along with a feast and sleep inside a Bedouin’s tent.   With Skype and cell phones, the world is a much smaller place than it was when I first visited Israel.  A call home back then, cost a fortune.   We are lucky to talk, almost for free, to Elisabeth every day.  Texting goes on all day long.    She is already hoarse and sounds tired and run down.  I imagine she’ll be sick by the time she gets home in a few more weeks.    The school informed us that a small group already have visited the doctor.   That’s what happens when the schedule is so full, bordering on brutal.   Of course, it’s not all religion and seriousness, she happily told me she had gone shopping for clothes to take to college.  Only Elisabeth would find trendy fashion in the Holy Land.  

If you have never visited Israel, I urge to think about doing so.    What most people don’t realize is Israel is on the coast of the Mediterranean.   It’s a beautiful country, with  its long border a bright blue ocean reflecting the brighter blue sky.  At night, the stars are amazing.     The food is delicious and fresh, with vegetarian or dairy breakfasts and lunches – all cheeses, juicy tomatoes and cucumbers, and wonderful traditional Middle Eastern cuisine at dinner.  Since Israel built the protective fence around their country several years ago, terrorism is almost non existent now.   It’s a vibrant, young country, a world leader in technology, medicine, and agriculture.  It’s an oasis in the desert, a verdant miracle created from the sweat and tears of the generations before.   So, while I miss my daughter terribly today, I’m proud she’s visiting her homeland.   After studying it for so many years, I can’t imagine how it must feel for her to see the bible come to life.


image A special poem to Elisabeth, who was, after all, born on the Passover holiday:


A Newborn Girl at Passover

by Nan Cohen

Consider one apricot in a basket of them.
It is very much like all the other apricots--
an individual already, skin and seed.

Now think of this day. One you will probably forget.
The next breath you take, a long drink of air.
Holiday or not, it doesn't matter.

A child is born and doesn't know what day it is.
The particular joy in my heart she cannot imagine.
The taste of apricots is in store for her.


Wishing all of you, a wonderful and happy Mother’s Day!!!


Vieux Interiors – On The Move




Vieux Interiors:   The matching arched mirrors are so pretty!    I really love Vieux’s collection of antique chairs.


Houston now has several great shopping destinations for antiques and decor – the Bissonnet-Kirby area is one, another is Lower West Alabama.  There is also the Westheimer area, the Heights, and Ferndale.   Each destination is home to many wonderful shops - after all, competition brings more customers.   Lately though, the area around Upper West Alabama is the hottest destination, garnering lots of attention and traffic.   It is teeming with antique and decor stores such as Indulge, Thompson-Hanson, 2620, Chateau Domingue, Pilie, and The Gray Door.   Within just a few blocks along this stretch of Upper West Alabama, you can satisfy every need for the home – antiques, landscaping, bath, bedroom, architectural elements, furniture, and you can even satisfy your appetite at the trendy Tiny Boxwoods. 

The latest neighbor to move in is Vieux Interiors.   Last January, Vieux finally pulled up stakes from their former, God-forsaken address to move to 3701 West Alabama.  I’m teasing about their former location, but honestly, I could NEVER find it!!!  It was so isolated and out of the way, that I’m thrilled Vieux is now inside the loop!!!  I dropped by the other day to say hi and check out their new shop.   The store is large and bright with windows and doors that run along the front and back entrances.  The merchandise is a wonderful collection of old and new - antiques mixed in the mid century designs and even contemporary pieces.   There are also lots of accessories, things with a small enough price tag to make shopping guilt free.  As usual, the staff is super friendly – DeWayne Formby might just be the absolute nicest person in the business. 




The store is large, but nicely organized into smaller vignettes.   This gray painted furniture section was one of my favorites.




They have a beautiful assortment of lamps and vases like these persimmon colored ones.    Loved the double clam shells!!



image A rare pair of painted gray armoires.   I loved the map and the gray chest. 



image These painted chests would make great nightstands!!



image I really liked all the smalls – such as these alabaster grapes and the books in gold or silver.




image Favorites:  aqua and green covered books.    These would look so great in bookshelves.




image There were several gorgeous coral roses in the shop.   And, these photo albums would make nice gifts. 




image So unusual – a rustic dough table.  It would make a wonderful island in a country home’s kitchen. 




image I really fell in love with these glass jars that are hand painted in red and gold.   So beautiful!!!





image More gorgeous lamps!!!  There is also a large assortment of contemporary art work. 





To give you an idea of how big the store is – this is just one half of one side!   The shop goes on and on.  



Let’s Party:


To celebrate their new location, Vieux Interiors is having a opening party today – Thursday, May 6th at 6-9 pm.  It is open to the public, so stop by for wine, hors d’oeuvres and mint juleps – and to shop, of course!!!!!   

The location:  3701 West Alabama St. at Timmons.



NOTE:   Vieux has a great web site with online shopping – to visit, go HERE.