I always find this time of year tricky. The ultimate sense of anti-climax after the Christmas holidays, taking down the decorations and the trepidation of stepping into a new year in which we have poured so many hopes and dreams.
So I wanted to look back and be thankful. For the laughter; the many friends that I’ve been blessed to welcome into my life; the personal creative challenges that I’ve pushed myself to achieve; and the beauty that we’ve experienced thanks to our French Muse Experience.
A year ago today we brought home this little guy, Elvis. A bundle of love, slobbery kisses and energy – the best Christmas present ever!
For Valentines day my French husband offered me a week long natural dying seminar at the Conservatoire des Plantes Tinctoriales in Lauris where I learnt how to dye with thirteen natural plant dyes, falling in love with Garance, Indigo and Cochineal all under the guidance of world renowned Indigo expert Michel Garcia.
Natural Dying workshop
This was taken on my husbands birthday, aka Valentines day, the 14th February. We braced the February chill for a walk (and an impromptu family portrait) in one of my favourite Lacoste locations, the sculpture quarry de Lacoste.
Later in February, we took a family road trip, driving down through the Camargues and to the Mediterranean for some much needed ofresh sea air, rest and eating ourselves silly.
We experienced the electric atmosphere of Carnaval in Murs. The earth moved with every beat of their drum, chasing the Winter away and ushering in Spring with hope, beauty, new life. Can you feel it?
One more for luck! This is the traditional festival of Carmentran, who represents all the sins of the village. The day it rained during the summer festival (that was Carmentrans fault); or that time the internet went down; or when so and so had an affair with her neighbor… Every villager shouts their accusation (usually in Provencal), carmentran is judged and condemned and then burned – pretty heavy stuff but done in a light hearted (rosé fueled) way #Provence #tradition #Carnaval #spring #costume #music #folklore #instaprovence
2016 was a year of collaborations and one of the funnest for me was the Instagram Takeover with Irish brand Cuisine de France to coincide with Saint Patricks day and their #vivelesdifferences campaign!
I roped all the family in and was very proud to be able to share glimpses into life in the French countryside, and days filled with good food, sunshine, dancing in the streets, and antique textiles.
"Le Goûter", the French are very strict on the no-snacking between meals rule …. With one exception! Every day, after school, at 4.30pm French children all have their afternoon 'gouter' or snack… One typically French goûter is a fresh baguette stuffed with chocolate… enjoy! Ruth @familleribeaucourt #vivelesdifferences #gouter #lifeinprovence #food #foodstyling #dslooking #thefrenchmuseexperience
On Mothers day, my husband had to work so I decided to take the kids on another adventure. We ate pizza, and drank Orangina and Creme Brûlée. We went to the parc to see who could swing the highest and on our way home – we passed a huge field of poppies. Seeing the world through their eyes is the greatest gift!
Bonne Fete – Happy Mother's Day to all the many Mamans who inspire me every day! 🌺💐🌷🌸@inechadesign @myriambalay @emma_cassi @coreyamaro @bodieandfou @houselarsbuilt @reves.dargile @decor8 @folkfibers @m_o_g_u_l_l @kclrparis @nathalie_lete @mimithor @ssanfordart @merci.a.bientot @thedesignfiles #happymothersday #family #dscandid #bonnefetemaman #mothersday
Getting to collaborate with one of my dearest friends, Corey Amaro (pictured above prepping flowers for our French Muse bastide)! The French Muse Experience soared in 2016 and we were very lucky to meet and look after the loveliest clients. From magical week long retreats to fab Mini Muse private buying trips – 2016 was the year where inspiration and creativity were king!
We have three Provence French Muse retreats planned for 2017 in May, September & October so don’t hesistate to get in touch if you would like to join us on a life-changing, beauty-filled adventure. You can read some of the feedback from our 2016 guests here.
French Muse Chateau Picnic and brocante… Hope you can sense how I feel when I walk inside these doors… One part terrified (when I grow up, will my house have this much stuff in it) and one part awe and wonderment (wow I wonder what's in all these trunks) #thefrenchmuse #thefrenchmuseexperience #chateau #brocante #fleamarket #vintage #frenchstyle #inspiration #dslooking
More unforgettable highlights from 2016…
I’ll never forget the meals with friends especially this impromptu picnic hidden in the forest beneath Lacoste followed by a dip in the source with George & Crystal.
My friend, Trish Andersen came back to Lacoste in June to create incredible textile /paper / floral installations for the event design of Sam Lasseters Summer SCAD Parade. Painter Aurelie Alvarez and I helped out and spent the most surreal few days bringing it together. This was the view from our ‘office’.!
Sam Lasseter bestowed a huge honour on my French husband.. He asked if he would be a flag bearer. I love that the photograph below captures the moment Raphael passes proudly carrying our tattered and torn silk antique French flag, you can just make out my friend Joanna and I grinning on the sidelines. Joanna and I found the huge flag at the flea market and she dared me to buy it, when I did she whispered to me “I knew the moment you bought it that we’d be friends forever”.
Getting it home was another adventure. The only way it would fit in the car was if it rested over Joannas shoulder on the passenger front seat and so my dedicated conspirator cradled the ripped and dusty silk for the hour long journey home, giggling along the way.
I thought where am I going to hide a 5m high flag (that I don’t really need) from my ‘brocante-allergic’ husband… so I propped it up against an outside wall behind a rose tree. The disguise didn’t fool Raphael and no need – he LOVED it, announcing happily that I could buy an infinite amount of tattered French flags at the brocante and he wouldn’t complain – be careful what you wish for I said in return!
Balmy Provençal summer evenings are made for wild dinner parties – and we hosted a few. It helped to have the event designer to the stars – Trish Andersen – as a house guest… dinner chez nous never looked so pretty!
Setting the table
Farm to table – our friend George picking out only the best melons for our dinner
…and they were like tasting sunshine!!
My desert island, kindred-spirit dinner party people, sculptor Gabriel Sobin, painter/goddess Aurelie Alvarez (+ Freddie and Aggie), and straight off a plane from NYC @brooklyninteriors @stephencantonson.
King Louis got to taste quite a few desserts this year!
A stolen moment from our family break in August where we escaped to the Atlantic coast for sandy sandwiches and quality family time with cousins.
Just before Christmas I was thrilled to participate in the Boutique Ephemere du Sud alongside seventeen of Provences most talented makers. It was a first for me to show my jewellery in such a setting but I loved every minute and lots of new jewellery has been added to the Rubanesque etsy boutique.
I’m wishing you only the best for this brand new year ahead. May we achieve our dreams, laugh until our cheeks hurt, and when things get tough, let us be surrounded with love and music and dance off uncertainty!