Opening Day at Marburger Farm Antique Show

Today was the day. The day when city girls invade the Texas Hill Country in Round Top, Texas, in search of treasures large and small at the Marburger Farm Antique Show. This semi-annual show (known simply as "Marburger" to regulars) has gained a national reputation and attracts a big time crowd, but since it's in a huge, open field, there's plenty of room for everyone...and everything!

I will say this: in the years that I've been going to Marburger (my first show was in 2001 with a seven-month old baby in tow...never again!), the booths have become more sophisticatedly styled and the goods have gone up in price, but I still love going and finding inspiration in the middle of a hayfield!

I'm by no means the authority on trends, but if the vendors at Marburger are an indicator, here's what's HOT (meaning everywhere!): nubby French linen and European grain sacks. I wish I had bought more when I was in Provence years ago!

I enjoyed this booth (Machtolff's Mercantile Antiques) because everything was so beautifully arranged and easy to access vs. the boxes and tall stacks you have to rummage through at the markets in France.  The red stripe was what I saw most frequently in the parts of Provence I visited, but the blue is popular as well. And take a peek at these unusual stripe combinations:

Pillows and seat cushions are the obvious way to put these textiles to use, but I've also seen chairs, stools and ottomans upholstered with them. Sturdy, great texture and neutral tones...the perfect upholstery fabric for the small piece you're dying to recover. Why didn't I think of the wing back chair in my studio?
If you find a large roll (or two that could be connected), how about a stair runner? Oh, my! If I walked into a house with a French grain sack / nubby linen-lined staircase, I would have to pinch myself to be sure I wasn't in my French dreams!

Of course, the French are not only known for their nubby linen, but they have also produced some of the finest hand-embroidered linens in the world. During my first trip to Provence, I drove two hours by myself in uncharted territory just to step inside of an  embroidered fine linen shop (the town was Lumiere, I believe). It was worth it!

I was happy to have an embroidered linen fix at Marburger today!

I taught myself to embroider in the French monogram style with a book I bought in Provence, but I can tell you I have never and will never be able to do it like this...with such perfection and depth. Gorgeous! I wish I could make stationery monograms look this good on paper!

And speaking of paper, these French book bundles are another hot item! You'll see these all over Marburger and in French antique stores, but you'll want to buy them from Murielle Abeger's booth, French Influence. She has the best price ($20 a bundle) and by far the best selection.

I love seeing Murielle at Marburger. Her French accent and easy smile charms me into speaking French despite my lack of practice...and in the middle of a Texas hayfield of all places!

One final photo:
If you're thinking I have a small pot fetish, I think you might be right. I wanted to buy the whole box of these French hand-potted clay and miniature zinc pots! And if I knew that some of you might want a few, I would have! I did allow myself to by a dozen of the little zinc pots (I've got a zinc fetish going right now, too!). I've got a few creative thoughts on how to use them, but am looking for inspiration! Open to ideas for these two-inch tall treasures! Anyone?

There is much more at Marburger than what I'm sharing, which is why it attracts so many different people, but these are just a few of the things that caught my eye and inspired me today. If you get the chance to go, it runs through October 3rd.

However, if travels to Marburger and France aren't in the plans, don't despair! I've got some great online French finds to share with you soon! All for a great price and one to be given away to a lucky reader! Stay tuned!


My heart is in France

I love my life in Houston, but today, my heart is in France.

My first trip to France was with my mom the week after I graduated from high school. A reward for my fluency in the French language. I remember hanging out in the hotel lobby until the wee hours of the morning talking to the bellboy (le chasseur) just so I could use the language I had studied for so long. My mom and I walked all over Paris for ten days, never even visiting the obvious Tour Eiffel and L'Arc de Triomphe (which I'm pronouncing in my best French accent as I type!), because there were so many other incredible things to see and do! Thanks for that fabulous first trip, Mom! I've never been the same.

My next three trips to France were to Provence. L O V E. Oh, my! Provence stirred my soul. It is the only place I've ever been where I knew was absolutely MADE to be there. Maybe not made to live there (for now anyway) because I'm a total homebody, but made to be there and soak in every bit of inspiration Provence had to offer - the lavender and rosemary, open-air markets, fresh cheeses, antique linens, hand embroidery, leather books, wire baskets, mountain top villages, simple decor, the colors of French country homes...oh my goodness, the stone farmhouses with their impossible to match color palettes, the weathered blue-gray shutters, the doors, the iron work...I could go on and on...and I probably will in future posts!

But as much as I'd like to keep writing, good photos are worth a thousand words, so here are a few of my favorites from my month-long 2003 and 2005 trips to Provence. If you've bought cards from me, you'll probably recognize a few!

I actually remember taking every single one of these pictures, but the ones where I can close my eyes and remember every detail are these next three from a teeny, tiny village that even the most frequent French travelers don't seem to know about: Cliousclat. I love to roll that name off my tongue with my best French accent...Cliousclat!

This last one is my personal favorite because I can close my eyes and remember the scent of those white climbing roses on a perfect, blue-sky day. This was actually a store front. Don't you love the baskets? And notice the wine bottle holder in the bottom left. Reproductions and originals are really popular right now (this was from 2003). The card with this image on the front is one of my best sellers.

I have several of these images framed and hanging in my home as 11x14 fine art prints. I never tire of looking at them (if only I could step inside!) and always receive compliments. If you'd like one, let me know! They are limited edition, signed and numbered.

I'll be back with LOTS more French inspiration along the way, so stay tuned!


A Treasure Trove in The Heights

I'm so inspired I'm about to BURST! Isn't that the best feeling? I'll try to settle down enough to share the highlights of my inspired morning without taking rabbit trails all over the place, but the truth is, this post could be broken into many separate ones: The Heights, Antiques, Sconces, Home Accessories (or "smalls" as some like to call them), and the amazingly talented Maura Cannon. Perhaps I'll get to all of those in time, but for today...

I took a break from the non-stop work that characterizes my life from September to December and treated myself to one of my favorite shops: Heights Antiques on Yale. (The shop is better than the website.) In case you've never heard of it, I'm here to tell you it's a treasure trove worth visiting once a month or so. It isn't beautiful in that high-end-can't-afford-anything kind of way, but it has its own low-key kind of charm that I find quite refreshing!

The "road dogs" just returned from the Midwest with a trailer full of goodies. The sheer amount of stuff at this shop can be overwhelming, so I have to walk around several times just to take it all in, but here are some treasures that jumped out at me:

Weathered little flower pots. You'll see these at Marburger next week for 10 times the price. These were a steal: 4 for a dollar! I bought 12! The less perfect looking hand-tossed pots with the potter's fingerprints still showing inside sold out on unloading day. I bet they were beautiful!

And how cute are these?!?! Little flower pot baskets. I plan to use mine for organizing little things (pencils, rubber bands, paper clips...). If it didn't look silly to put one in every room, I really would! I may have to go back and grab one more.

A snapshot of my growing stash of goodies: the flower pot basket, zinc buckets with numbered metal tags (numbers are super trendy right now), fat rolls of burlap ribbon that I plan to use on my Christmas tree this year, and a bundled stack of paper back books with the spines ripped off (again, something you'll see at Marburger next week for a LOT more $$$).

And a sconce I couldn't leave behind! I think it's fair to say that I'm addicted to sconces...and when they are well-priced like this one, I can't resist!
The rosette gets me every time...especially when it's a part of antique iron work. I could write a whole post on the different iron rosette details I have in my house...and another post on sconces! Hmm...stay tuned!

And one last picture. Here's what I did with the pots when I got home: tossed them into a wire basket with some antique spools. Seeing them displayed in the basket at the shop gave me just the inspiration I needed to go ahead and buy those 12 little pots for $3.24. And I'm betting that little display was the handiwork of Maura Cannon. I'll be back to tell you more about her for sure, but if you pop in to Antiques on Yale, be sure to tell Maura I sent you.

Here's to inspired living!


Lampshade Story, Part Deux

Back to the lovely little lampshade shop in Small Town, Vermont, summer of 2001. I bought a lampshade, and I absolutely LOVE it! An antique French fabric with a sweet little bird for a finial.

But if you read part one, you know that it wasn't all about the beautiful fabrics and fabulous lampshades. It was her story that inspired me most. Since I was the only one in the shop that day (imagine that!), I had to ask: "How in the world did you get into this? Did you just love lampshades your whole life?"

Nope. It wasn't about the lampshades at all. It was about her love of flea markets and fabric. She grew up going to flea markets and fell in love with vintage fabrics. And you know how it is when you fall in love with something: you buy it again, and again, and again with no idea what you're going to do with it all!

Sure she made some crafty things over the years with all the crazy amounts of fabric she had collected, but lampshades? Who could have imagined?!?! It was an idea that came about in an unexpected way (a gift from her husband inspired her) and at an unexpected time (after years and years of collecting vintage fabrics). That's what inspiration is: an unexpected gift at an unexpected time!

So why do I share this story above all others at the start of my new blog? Because I walked away that day with a burning question: "What is my lampshade in life?" It took a few years to find the answer, but when I found it, I just KNEW. My business found me just the way lampshades found Judy Lake. A lifelong love coupled with a few God-given gifts equals a business that I love.

So my question for you today: What is your lampshade in life? If you haven't discovered it, what do you love? I'd love to hear from you, so leave a comment!


Inspiration from the Lampshade Lady

Wow. Here I am. A blogger. Make that a card lady with a blog. Or a crazy lady with a blog. Taking on another task just as card season is ramping up is a little on the crazy side, but it's an inspired kind of crazy, so I'm going for it!

Deciding where to begin sharing inspirations is nearly impossible. Do I start with how I got into the design business? Do I tell you about my background? Do I share my goals for this blog? Hmm...that all sounds very official (and boring for now). How about I start with the story of a lampshade lady in Small Town, Vermont?

Oh, and before I share that little secret, here's one thing I've promised myself: to write in a fresh, inspired voice vs. the overly-edited, perfectionistic style that the English major in me knows so well. No time for all the fuss. I hope to use the backspace key as little as possible (a real challenge for me...just ask my husband!).

So, back to the lampshade lady. My husband's family has a house on a beautiful little lake in Vermont. It's one of those sit-in-a-hammock-and-read-all-day kind of places. No pressure to do anything else...but SURELY there must be something else!  So, eight or so years ago, my sweet husband took me into "town." I laughed at myself for bringing a purse because it was clear there was nothing to buy in this little town. Nevertheless, we walked around and my husband spotted an actual shop: Lake's Lampshades.

Sounds...kinda...cheesy. I'm thinking nautical/lake-themed lampshades with a Vermont syrup bottle as the base. Not exactly the kind of place I'm interested in perusing, and I wasn't exactly a lampshade girl back then either. But my sweet husband is feeling so proud to show me around and even more proud that he's found a shop for me.

WOW. Not at all what I expected.

This photo doesn't even begin to explain what it was that really inspired me. Lampshades are her thing for sure, but her walls inspired me as much as the shades themselves. They were lined with beautiful fabrics draped from pegs or folded up on the shelves of antique armoires and cabinets. French florals and toile, vintage chenille, shabby chic poplin, and my personal favorite: white on white embroidered linen (preferably French, of course!). And the gorgeous trim, ribbon and finishing touches!

OK, so maybe you're not in inspirational heaven the way I was if you aren't a fabric and trim person or a small town shop girl, but wait until you hear the rest of the story...tomorrow!

Until then, here's a picture of the way Lake's Lampshades looks now. Pretty charming for a little tiny town near a little tiny lake, right? She's painted and "fancified" since I first visited. Way to go, lampshade lady!

Very Country Living-esque!  Stay tuned for "part deux!"


Let the card season (and blogging) begin!

I honestly don't have a clue what's gotten into me. I am just flat out INSPIRED! This happens to me more during the Christmas card season than any other time of year. I love it! Designing, printing, card folding, packaging (sleep deprivation) layered with motherhood, house-keeping and trying to show my husband how much I love and respect him makes for a full plate. But inspiration just keeps coming my way, and when inspiration comes your way, you follow it and see where it leads! Praise God from whom all blessings flow...that's how I'm feeling right about now!

Since a new website with new designs for a new card season wasn't enough to keep me busy (HA!), I've decided to start a BLOG. I hope this will be a place where I can share with you the many things that inspire me - from photos, to fonts, to song lyrics, to all things French, and even lovely interiors. (I'm quite the nester here in my home!) And my greater hope is that what inspires me just might inspire you, too!

Now I'm not making any promises or predictions about my success as a blogger. The former English major in me loves to write (and the perfectionist in me could re-write all day long), but my priority is card and stationery design. We'll see how this blogging thing goes on the side. When inspiration comes, you just roll with it!

Here we go!
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