Well, summer has come to a close. Time to stock up on tea lights . . .Tea Lights Lit and ReadyOkay, these gorgeous tea light holders ↑ are Lexi’s, not mine, but trust me, I use tealights. Bags of them. This is me just getting warmed up for the season . . .↓IMG_8896

But before we move on to fall, I can assure you this last bit of summer has been jam-packed. We’ve helped our daughter Brittany move into her new house. We’ve celebrated babies and weddings and even helped a bit with a rehearsal dinner. . .

Josh and Kelly practicing for the wedding reception
Josh and Kelly practicing for the wedding reception

Here’s David confirming the quality of the wine and our friends’ new deck before the guests arrive . . .

David confirming the quality of the wine and our friends' new deck.

I’ve had my turn to host both Book Club . . .

Sarah and Janie at Book Club
Sarah and Janie at Book Club

. . . and French Club (so busy concentrating on speaking French, I forgot to take pictures). We’ve been to neighborhood BBQ’s and hosted friends for dinner or wine and cheese on the deck. One night our friends Tom and Lexi agreed to be guinea pigs for a trial run of the mini-grill dinner party, like we had at Pascale and Jacky’s, and I’m happy to report, not one of us sustained any injury from inexpert tong usage.

We even had a mini-visit from our Minnesota daughter Courtney . . .

Courtney and Brittany
Courtney and Brittany

. . . who was visiting Brittany for a long weekend. So summer has not been wasted. We’ve appreciated radiant evenings, full moons, and lots of sparkling sunrises out our back door.

Glorious morning out back
Glorious morning out back

We’ve toasted and tasted and shared and enjoyed it all (well, maybe not mosquitoes, but most of it). So now fall is here: more plans, trips and projects, and best of all, new opportunities to celebrate life with those we love.

Nothing but heaven itself is better than a friend who is really a friend. 

Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words. ∼ Plautus

To all of you, both near and far, those we see regularly and those for whom a face-to-face takes a bit more planning, you have a place in our hearts. We celebrate you.

French Connections

I’ve been feeling nostalgic for France lately, so have been trying to find bits of la belle France wherever I can. Our stone fireplace surround is now installed and looking fabulous and very French . . .

Living Room 2. . . and I had another appointment recently with my Longmont doctor (who helps me keep the skin cancer at bay). This allowed me to revisit one of my favorite shops, the very excellent Cheese Importers, where there are so many French things–books, linens, jams, shopping baskets, knives, butter and cheese (of course)–it’s all I can do to keep speaking English while I’m in there. Bonus, I found a wide selection of French butter, not Beurre aux Cristaux de Sel de Noirmoutiers, I’m sorry to report, but a couple of brands of butter with semi-noticeable sea salt crystals, so that’s a plus. Definitely taking a larger cooler next time so I can stock up!

Closer to home, here in downtown Fort Collins, there is a wonderful shop called EsScentuals with all kinds of fabulous products for body, bath and home. The whole place is a treat for the senses, even the entrance . . . ↓

EsScentuals--142 South College
EsScentuals–142 South College — Note the French watering can.
EsScentuals Front Window

The owner, Meg DeWeese, has lived in France and is married to a Frenchman, so the French flavor of the shop is no accident. The main floor is full of oils and lotions and soaps and other temptations, but my favorite part of the shop is downstairs, called 142 Bis, where you can browse and discover all kinds of arty, beautiful French things. Love it.EsscentualsEsscentuals Downstairs

Also here in Fort Collins, this weekend saw another running of the annual Tour de Fat, which has almost NO connection to France except the obvious play on words with Tour de France and the fact that bicycles are involved.

And yet, it did remind me of a few of the crazier Saturdays in La Rochelle, which you can revisit here and here and here and here. It was clearly an opportunity to celebrate the joy of friendship.

So today, I’m very grateful for our many stateside friends and family, but I’m also missing Pascale and Jacky (La Rochelle), who took us on so many adventures and opened their home (and la cave) to us for so much delectable wining and dining; Dany and Francis (Tours), who actually interrupted their vacation, returning home for a few days to take us wine-tasting in the Loire Valley; and Natacha (La Rochelle), my patient and encouraging tutor, without whom my ability to have ANY French friends would have been severely limited. Merci mille fois à tous! S’il vous plait, venez nous voir bientôt!

Let us be grateful to those who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. ∼Marcel Proust

Wishing you warm connections, French or not!