Still Life and Quebec

First, I am sorry for my absence as of late. I think I finally will have desk reveal for you in the next few days.

For now, I wanted to tell you about a book that I have been reading. The title is “Still Life” by Louise Penny. I have been a bit enraptured with this book over the past week. It is the first in a mystery novel series about Inspector Armand Gamache.

I love to read, but I often struggle with making time for it. Also, I have a hard time just going into the bookstore without knowing exactly the book I need. I will usually wind up wandering aimlessly and never selecting anything. Overall, I am the kind of person that needs to know a book will be something I’ll like before committing. My mother-in-law suggested this book series to me and was also nice enough to lend me her copies so that I can catch up before the newest book comes out in late summer. For this, I am quite grateful because I have been in need of a good book in which to immerse myself!

In reading Still Life, I found myself reminiscing to a trip I took there with my grandparents in 1999. I was quite young at the time, but I have always thought of it as one of the most meaningful trips I have ever taken. We drove from New Orleans (my extended family’s home base) all the way up the eastern seaboard to Quebec where we were participating in a hot air balloon festival. (That’s right my grandparents owned and flew their own hot air balloon) We stopped for a few days at a time in cities like Washington, DC, New York, Philadelphia, etc. They even went so far as to drive through each and every state on the east coast just so that I could say I have been in each state.

Although we spent about half of the trip travelling up to Canada and in the major historical US cities, we spent nearly two weeks in Quebec at the balloon festival. Being in Quebec is so different from the rest of Canada for two reasons; the main language is French and the culture is definitively more francophone. In Quebec, there is a mixture of French speaking Quebecois and English speakers; each with different backgrounds, cultures and ideas.

The International Balloon Festival of Canada is hosted in Ville de Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu; which is about a 45 minute drive southeast of Montreal. We had a great time in this town and there were always wonderful crowds gathering to see les montgolfières (hot air balloons). Here are a few current day Google images of the town.




And a few others during the International Balloon Festival, the largest gathering of hot air balloons in Canada.


We made a few day trips as well. One of which was to Mon Tremblant resort, further north.

Oh, how I would love to go back to this beautiful place. It’s like a small slice of Europe.

And just look at it in winter!

…though I am not sure if this thin-blooded southerner would survive a Canadian winter!

Back to the books though…. I started on the next book in the series, “A Fatal Grace“, last night and I am smitten once again by Louise Penny’s writing.


If you are interested in reading books in this series, you can find them here.

I hope to be back again soon with new design related posts!





**This is not a sponsored post. All opinions stated above are my own.**



To Geoffrey:

Today I had the opportunity to uphold my civic duty by serving on a jury. It was not a big case, but it still felt important. As much as I am proud of what I did today, it pales in comparison to the how I feel about what I was doing on this very day 3 years ago.

Around the time I got out of court today, I would have just finished saying my vows to this great guy.

With the sun beginning to set in the background, I thought back to that exceptional moment. Ironically, the court house where I had jury duty was just a few blocks from the venue where we had our reception.

Which, I might add, was a blast!

So many great memories from that day came flooding back as I made my way to my car. I was reminded of how far we have come in 3 years and I can’t help but look forward to at least 77 more together 😉

So, here is to the next 77, my love!

Autumn is in the Air

There ought to be a way to combine “autumn” and “morning” into one word, the combination of the two is special enough to be its own entity.
-Terri Guillemets

That is precisely how I felt when I stepped out of my back door this morning. It was a gorgeous day here in Houston and one which I reluctantly spent inside my office.

A few weeks ago, I made what was to be a small trip to Jo-Ann’s fabrics for some simple notions. I printed up a 20% off coupon from my email and took off. A few hours later, I ended up coming home with quite a hulking bunch of faux fall foliage. (say that last part 3 times fast) The good news is that all of their fall floral was 50% off plus I got to take an extra 20% off with my coupon. That’s right… cha-ching! Super great bargain! Even better, I was able to get some foliage in Plums and Greens.

I have decided, after writing my recent post about these two fun hues, that I will be using this color combo as my late summer/early fall décor. So many times in the deep south it just feels like a falsehood to put out tons of pumpkins and leaves when it is still so hot and humid!

So I would like to share with you some of the results.

Here is the floral arrangement that I generally have on the top of our entertainment center.

Our townhome does not have a fireplace a.k.a. no mantle so the top of the entertainment center is as good as it gets for now. The silver vase was given to me by a friend. The green apothecary, which my husband not so affectionately calls “the baby bottle”, was an item from our wedding and houses well wishes from friends and family.

Generally, I keep these simple branches in almost year round. And here is what I was able to do with my fabulous new flora.

I added a white pumpkin from Hobby Lobby to make an odd number in the grouping. As you may know, the eye loves odds when it comes to groupings and vignettes.

Here is a more close up view of the components.

I kept in the berry branches from my year round arrangement and added plum and green elements. For the life of me, I cannot remember the name of the large purple flowers shown… I love that they are an ode to the last throws of summer while still embodying the deep colors of fall.

One of my most favorite parts of the arrangement is the burlap leaves that I stumbled upon. This picture doesn’t do them justice… they have great texture. Needless to say, I bought all 3 of the remaining stems. My other favorite is the cluster of acorns. They are a beautiful ebony plum and add that extra bit of autumn.

The next arrangement was in my kitchen… I failed to get a before of that arrangement, but it is usually just a few berry branches. I had also grabbed an adorable silver pumpkin on my last Hobby Lobby run and decided to pair it here with another pumpkin that I painted gold.

The other two burlap leaf stems were used here along with more acorns and this time a beautiful aubergine orchid.

I am delighted with the outcome and especially pleased with the steal of a deal I managed to get away with. There was quite a bit of the fall floral still left, but I have decided to use them in a bit later. Possibly post Halloween and through Thanksgiving.

More on that later!