Downton Abbey Inspiration, Holiday table and a little help for my friend

LE ROUGE ET LE NOIR…. red and black

Downton Abbey influence
Downton Abbey influence
Rouge
Mixed patterns, gold and silver working together in this tablescape I created for a friend

Yesterday I was playing around with  tablescape designs, preparing ideas for a friend who asked me for help with a Christmas dinner party she was having at home.  She was a little nervous, it was going to be a semi-formal event and she couldn’t afford the time or the expenses to go shopping just for that. Even though I had to put together something with the few things I had, it shows once again that we can do a lot with what we have at hand, an example of that is the throw I brought from the livingroom to use as a tablecloth, at the moment I had red apples and that is what I used in addition to a leaf pulled from the mantel wreath. I know it’s not perfect or ideal, but I was trying to show her how to put together something pretty with a little imagination. The napkin was actually a hand towel….

Gold, red and silver, and the living room throw!
Gold, red and silver, and the living room throw!

It is amazing the way we can communicate with each other nowadays, instantaneously, with images and sound that rival those of cinema! We can even add enhancements or erase blemishes if we choose to do so, all this in the comfort of our homes and in our pajamas!

My friend was really happy with the results. We “toured”, or to use the interior design lingo, we “shopped” her house and put things together in a way she never had imagine possible, now I am sure, next time she’ll be able to do it by herself.

It is hard to know if all is good about this mind blowing technology but it sure has some unbelievable advantages. I don’t want to go into that now and talk about the problems associated with it either… Overall I believe it is like a dream come true, it brings us all together, makes the world even smaller, show us how alike we are, broaden our markets without limits, keep us connected to our families, helps us create new ones and rediscover old friends.   To me it is like if the Harry Potter’s books I used to read to my children at bedtime, had come to life, it appears that magic has sipped through the books’ pages and became one with reality…  just fascinating…

As always I talk and talk about everything!   Ok then! I was only going to share the first tablescape inspiration I made for my friend and I did. Tomorrow I might have another one if necessary. In the mean time I’ll include some gorgeous images that always inspire me and I hope they inspire you to have some fun and create one of your own.   Have a great friday night!

We can do the same thing in different scale, still keeping the beauty of it
We can do the same thing in different scale while keeping the beauty of it
How beautiful can this be? I almost never wear read anymore but I can appreciate it in other people
How beautiful can this be? I almost never wear red anymore but I can appreciate it in other people
I wish I had all this beautiful stuff to work with...
I wish I had all this beautiful stuff to work with…
Or this ...
My love for candles….
Baccarat
Baccarat
More inspiration..
More inspiration..
Le Rouge
Le Rouge
...
… Exquisite!
scrumptious!
Scrumptious!
Napoleon's Dining Room, Le Louvre
Napoleon’s Dining Room, Le Louvre
Sinful temptation
Sinful temptation, liquid inspiration
Valentino, beyond beautiful
Valentino, beyond beautiful
Wow...
Wow…
So elegant..
A little Downton Abbey to put us in the mood!  So elegant..
reception
Le Rouge et le Noir
THE VICTORIAN TABLE! THEY NEEDED ALL THAT...
THE VICTORIAN TABLE! THEY ACTUALLY NEEDED ALL THAT INDEED.
A princess dress
Lady in red, a princess dress
I wonder if one day we'll be able to travel in time...
I wonder if one day we’ll be able to travel in time…
HISTORY... WHAT CAN I SAY! IT ALWAYS SHOWS US WHERE WE CAME FROM AND HOW FAR WE HAVE GONE.... OR NOT
HISTORY… WHAT CAN I SAY! IT ALWAYS SHOWS US WHERE WE CAME FROM AND HOW FAR WE HAVE GONE…. OR NOT
THIS COLORS ARE SO RICH THAT MAKE THE TABLESCAPE FEEL REALLY WARM AND WELCOMING
THE COLORS ARE SO RICH THAT MAKE THE TABLESCAPE FEEL WARM AND WELCOMING
HOW ROMANTIC!
HOW ROMANTIC! 1904  NOW WE KNOW WHY THEY ALWAYS PUT THAT WEIRD LOOKING FISH FORK! THEY NEEDED ALL THOSE FORKS AND KNIVES FOR ALL THE COURSES THEY SERVED, OF COURSE THAT WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN POSSIBLE WITHOUT THE ARMY OF MAIDS AND BUTLERS THEY USE TO HAVE…
Cristal Room, Baccarat. Paris
Cristal Room, Baccarat. Paris
Remarcable
The Butlers… the wizards of all ! (That was good!)
What a table!
What a table! Cristal Room, Baccarat, Paris
The table
The table
The ladies
The ladies
more Downton Abbey
More Downton Abbey! Majestic..
R.M.S MAJESTIC MENU
R.M.S MAJESTIC MENU – SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 20TH 1890.   Broiled Kidney?!!!! Calves Liver?!!!! Somebody help me please! Disgusting.
The contrasts inevitably...
The contrasts inevitably…

Winthrop House 1852

I FEEL SICK JUST READING THE MENU… I’M SO GLAD I WASN’T BORN DURING THE VICTORIAN ERA…

And with that I say good bye!  xx

A Very Simple Fall Mantel

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Decorating the mantel for each season has to be one of my favorite things. It is always unplanned, that is the way I like it, at least at home … grab a few things from around the house and put them together having a good time, enjoying the process and playing, the same way I used to play with barbies when I was a little girl and also later on, not so little. Decorating their houses, mostly made of cardboard boxes and dividers (I think evaporated milk came that way at the time, I think wine comes that way still now) was my favorite activity along with designing their wardrobe, and since we were eight brothers and sisters, there were always plenty empty boxes available to play with. Those dividers were a dream come true, I was able to change the rooms distribution any time I wanted! (designers dream!)

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This year I wanted to keep things simple, made a promise to myself about not over thinking so stuff gets actually done!  The problem was when I thought about making a post about decorating the Mantel for Fall, I felt the need to “finish” it, to make it better.  Moving things around I “discovered” I needed to purchase a few items … I don’t want to buy more stuff, I really want to spend more time living and enjoying than trying to make things perfect…good is good enough, right? or at least it should be, so…I didn’t buy anything! (Who am I?!   I don’t know this woman!)

These are some pictures of the mantel with a few variations…couldn’t stop myself from playing with the things and broke one of the candle-holders!  I would had liked the moss balls to be bigger and some of the pumpkins to be smaller… oh well, what a surprise!  Isn’t that the way it always goes for everybody?

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Taking pictures with my iPhone is not very professional, I know! the indoor photos look gloomy and colorless and the definition is not that good…This looks so greenish, yellowish, “horriblish”… it looks so much better in person. I promise! perhaps I should upgrade to an iphone 6, just never wanted to do it only because it came out, don’t understand the need to have the latest gadget when I know for sure I barely understand all I could do with the one I already have… that is at least my impression.

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The two windows flanking the fireplace are facing north and this particular area between the two of them is a bit gloomy… There is a big mirror on top of the fireplace to bounce the light coming from other places and a light above it, but for some reason it isn’t enough…very unnatural and cold light!   I know I could do better, but since we’ve been almost moving several times… it wasn’t worth the hustle, or so I thought … it is always worth the hustle!

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I’ve been in love with old silver forever and always have fun imagining where those old pieces could have been…I am a romantic, what can I say…the images in my head are pretty stunning… extremely handsome, elegant, well spoken gentlemen, walking around trying to capture the glance and imagination of  breathtakingly beautiful women exquisitely dressed and coiffed ….everybody is having a wonderful time, conversations are interesting, intelligent and passionate and ….nobody is texting!  The settings are old hotels with amazing architecture and furniture you only dream of  and old mansions full of history and romance, the kind we rarely see anymore …. and of course, All this VERY unlikely to have ANY relationship with my silver pieces found at second hand stores, flea markets or state sales!  No connection to reality whatsoever! … but hey! It is my imagination, right?! No need to be timid or frugal there… no budget restrains!

Coming back to reality I should say, I like freshly polished silver as well, occasionally I prepare a “special solution” to clean it, mostly around the holidays, you only have to line the sink with aluminum paper, fill it with hot water, add the non toxic ingredients I found on Pinterest and Voilà! Just submerge the pieces for a while and they all come out shining and reflecting light everywhere… brilliant!  (Specially when I didn’t have to polish it!)  Soon I will share the formula, it is like magic! I only want to make sure I know how to properly credit the source.  Did I mention that I have an obsession with light? I need it bad, I love spaces filled with natural light and a great lighting plan, that is a must ! You can lose almost everything you’ve accomplished, design wise if you don’t have the right illumination….

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Don’t you think silver pumpkins are gorgeous?! I do, they are just so pretty and elegant!  It’s like they decided they didn’t want to be “loud” like their lovely, more common orange sisters!  These grayish pumpkins are the snobs of the family along white ones! Orange ones are the happy eternal teenagers… Too bad the light didn’t help me here and the gorgeous gray pumpkin  looks almost a shade of one of Pantone’s pastels for 2015…. I had yet to put a candle inside the orange goblet and it was and is bothering me immensely!  Candlelight is so pretty, romantic and soft…. I find it flirty and happy!  Few things can claim they can do for ambiance and mood what these little wonders do!….Contained fire…Do we even realized what we have with candles?! It literally is Contained Fire!!! anywhere we want them, whenever we want them! Awesome! Genius! Priceless! Brilliant! yes, very bright indeed, CANDLES bring magic to every space and make the ordinary look extraordinary!

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That branch with the “caramel drops of Autumn” tilted the vase and went too low, wasn’t intentional… looks bad!

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This is a small space so I should keep it simple… but Fall makes me feel warm and cozy inside and sometimes has me longing for the cluttered look of lived in spaces… I think it’s the same feeling we experiment during Fall and winter when we wrapped ourselves in soft blankets and cuddle in our favorite chair, sofa or bed (yes, more likely a bed..) and lose ourselves in a book or a movie, even a cheese one, a “chick” movie my boys used to call it … and then they watched it with me and even liked it!   (Omg… those sweet memories … I’m not going to cry!)

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I took a couple of things out to create some breathing space, what it’s called negative space, it is as important as all the stuff you want to display, your eyes should be able to rest and travel from one thing to the other with ease, there should be a nice flow and harmony among all the pieces in the composition, here it works because your eyes can take all in without being overwhelmed with too much clutter… almost!

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– Not so much here though!

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So… this is my mantel for the season, sometimes you should go with your impulse and if you like the result, if it makes you happy, then that’s the right one for you at that particular moment,  if you get a pleasant feeling, go with it!

UPDATE -As the season progressed and the bright days of Fall got darker and bare, I felt the need to add color to the mantel and home to replace what we lost outside. Here are some pictures, that for some reason have better light than the previous ones that look so bad…

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That poor pumpkin is dying!…. Hold on baby! Only a couple of weeks to go! You don’t want to be called rotten… do you?…

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The leaves outside are almost gone… That makes me sad… everything is turning gray and dark so I needed to brighten up the mantel inside

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And that makes me happy!

My entrance table
My entrance table

That was it, I didn’t mean to talk forever about so many different things…hopefully it doesn’t read that way…

Decorating For Fall ~ Entrance Urn and backyard half Whiskey Barrels

It is hard to let go of Summer’s long, sunny days, specially when here, in Wisconsin,  Winters are so long and cold.  Spring and Autumn are my absolute favorite seasons, sadly they never last long enough!

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The flowers in my living room’s coffee table are still summer blooms and look as lovely as ever, but even though we are getting a few more beautiful sunny days here in this corner of the world, it is soon and almost suddenly going to change..

These come from my backyard

– These came from my backyard

For a peruvian girl like me, who gets the Winter Blues bad, it doesn’t help if those darker, colder, shorter days… would find me still with a few tired summer planters looking sad and old… this week I decided to take action and start my Autumn decorations even little by little so I won’t feel sad when the cold gloomier days arrive…

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This year I will keep it very simple, there are no kids at home any more and I still get emotional thinking about it.  It is a mixture of feelings, the sadness of letting go of spring’s fresh air, green grasses, soft rains and happy blooms … Summer’s long, bright, lazy days, full of bike rides, picnics, lake swims, bonfires, roasting marshmallows, making s’mores  … my kids’ childhoods and teenage years! … and the wonder and excitement of this new season to come with all the beauty and discovery it brings!  Gorgeous crisp, intensely colorful days full of magic, where you can walk endlessly admiring nature exploding on fire!  So much passion… so powerful … Just like summer’s colossal  thunderstorms!   New lives starting for my boys and myself… I have to work on Not letting the tears obstruct the view of all the blessings around me and all the fantastic things to come….

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring breaks and every special occasion just aquired a new brighter feeling about them and became more exciting and joyful than ever! The promise of the boys coming home makes everything wonderful and special!  Now I can just enjoy them and NOT clean after them! at least I don’t mind it anymore!   When they were still living at home, it was an absolute joy when my daughter and my two older boys, who live in Pennsylvania and Florida respectively at the time (everybody is moving now a days!) came home for the holidays, birthdays and graduations !!!  We were crazy excited and overjoyed for days before it happened!  but, being so far away made it difficult to make it home more often, therefore there were many sad moments and endless hours spent on the phone trying to fill in the blanks that their presence would have filled otherwise….

CHANGE … life sometimes doesn’t prepare us for THAT kind of change…. it’s wonderful, it’s good, it’s right… and like the seasons of the year and the seasons of our lives, IT’S ALWAYS GOING TO HAPPEN!  All seasons have their own beauty and purpose and definitely they bring their own JOY… It’s just taking me a little bit longer to adjust….

Oh, yes! I was writing this to share my attempts to start my Fall decorations with my entrance urn and the two half whiskey barrels I have in the backyard, even though they are not finish yet!  I still need to go find some branches to add!

I decided to spray paint my urn black, it was a cement color before and it was looking very bla, specially with the white outside my house
I decided to spray paint the urn black, it was a greyish cement color before and was looking rather bla, specially against all the white outside my house. There is no need to buy a new planter each time, sometimes a little bit of elbow grease is all you need and some paint  goes a long way! Ahhhhh! the joys of spray paint!
I bought a few plants, it was hard to decide among all the pretty kale available but it had to be done
I bought a few plants, it was hard to decide among all the pretty Kales available but it had to be done.   Doesn’t that grass look a lot like Cousin Itt in the Addam’s Family?!  Just buy something that makes you happy or all cozy and fluffy inside! Trust your instincts, doesn’t have to be perfect.

IMG_1937– Dog not included!

It’s not even necessary to use flowers, sometimes a combination of plants with pretty leaves, grasses in different heights, colors and textures,( vegetables are a beautiful thing to use too!) and some gourds and pumpkins make a gorgeous combination for your planters.

I love the hint of purple in the grass playing with the deep purple of the Kale
I love the hint of purple in the grass playing with the deep purple of the Kale
It was kind of hard to move it to the front of the house but I managed! I need to clean so much around the house, I spent three months in Perú this summer and haven't catch up yet
It was kind of hard to move it to the front of the house but I managed!   I really need to clean a lot around the house after spending three months in Perú this summer! Haven’t been able to catch up yet… In this case I did use mums in my arrangement.

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My backyard half whiskey barrel
One of my backyard’s half whiskey barrels. This time no flowers! It doesn’t mean it’s not going to change… I am always adding and switching things around and it is OK.
I have yet to bring back throws and pillows and all the stuff we decorate with around these days, so I decided to grab anything to take this picture...
I have yet to bring back, throws and pillows and all the stuff we decorate with around these days, so I decided to grab anything to take this picture… Actually most of the books I read now are e-books and I haven’t read Killing Lincoln yet. I’ve read Killing Kennedy and Killing Jesus in my e-reader, this is a  book my husband read recently. Bill O’Reilly did an AMAZING JOB with this series!  So easy to read, so many things to learn… I think it’s gorgeous the way it is! those leaves are as pretty as it gets, all the colors of the fall in one convenient plant!
I added another pumpkin to the container for more color and layers
I added another pumpkin to the container for more color and layers, this is the other side planter… see what I meant about the leaves?  I can’t remember the name of the plant but I know I saved the plastic tag with it somewhere.

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– Added another pumpkin to the right side planter too and it’s looking a little better each time.

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– Look at the subtle changes in colors and textures! Perfection! That Kale is beyond pretty, can’t get over the hues!

I just love how much those little pumpkins look like swans ! (Are those called pumpkins too? )
I just love how much those little pumpkins look like swans ! (Are those called pumpkins too? Are they gourds?) I’ll google it sometime…
Now I just need to add some birch branches or anything I can find and grabs my attention!
Now I just need to add some birch branches or anything I can find … that “Cousin Itt” grass is looking a bit out of place in this vignette I think. but I don’t want to let go! It’s so awesome looking in person and makes me smile everytime I see it
I guess it's not going to be as hard to let go... of my flowers or my children's childhoods and youth if I decide to start focusing in this new season of their lives and mine and concentrate in all the beauty it is going to bring.... like Autumn
Is it just me or those flowers are  really ridiculously pretty?!    – I guess it’s not going to be as hard to let go of my flowers… or my children’s childhoods and teenage years if I decide to start focusing on this new season of our lives and concentrate in all the beauty it is going to bring…. Just like Autumn!

Entertaining and Tablescapes

We all know how important and fun it is to get together with our family and friends as often as we can.  Sharing a meal, cocktails or just a glass of wine is always a great time!  Gatherings around the table, either indoors or outdoors are where most of our best memories are created!   Now that the cozy season is coming, I just wanted to share some ideas for entertaining with you, hoping to inspire someone to give it a try and transform, perhaps a rather boring space, with only a few favorite things, repurposing them to create new memories in a beautiful setting of their own.

This is the perfect time of the year to celebrate being alive! Days are still warm, sunny and last longer than the ones soon to come … some people are squeezing everything they can from the last days of summer, throwing pool parties, barbecues and having fun with any excuse…Others are already preparing for the crisp days of Autumn and all the beauty and cuddling  they will bring, when the warmth of summer goes away only to be replaced, with the warmth inside of us and that of our homes… Which one would be you?

A crisp, white, freshly ironed, linen tablecloth
A crisp white, freshly ironed, linen or cotton tablecloth always looks perfect against the colors of nature, just add some fruits, flowers, a bottle of wine or iced tea, and your favorite dishes, prepared using fresh, local, seasonal produce and you’ll be on your way of having a great time, relaxing and enjoying life!
Mismatched chairs, a big part of the charm!
Mismatched chairs, old, old, tables, lots of candles … a big part of the charm!
Taking inspiration from Mindy Weiss
Taking inspiration from Mindy Weiss
Magic,
Magic, all we need is a little bit of magic in our lives…
Sometimes
Sometimes, no tablecloth is even required! Add a few cozy pillows for  color and comfort and … Voilà! A party is on it’s way
Breakfast,
Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Tea Time, cocktails or dinner, either simple or sophisticated, there is no reason under the sun to deprive yourself of those moments that make life worth living!  All it takes is a little imagination and to run with it!
 bla
Can you feel the love? If you don’t have flowers in your garden or time to go buy them…what about some lemons?! Limes? Oranges?! Fruits? Vegetables? Fruits and Vegetables? Bunches of Lavender? Rosemary and chamomile? Bowls full of sea shells? Sea shells right on the table, forming an ondulating runner? Pretty river stones? Some grass in a container?  Bulbs? Flowering Bulbs? …. A bunch of candles? A bunch of candles in mason jars? A bunch of candles under bottomless bottles of wine?!    Ok… I started to sound like Bubba from Forrest Gump! Sorry.
Girasoles à la table!
Girasoles à la table! Goooorgeous combination of Girasoles and Succulents resembling in shape the Girasoles!
I rest my case!
I rest my case! No excuses. A little corner of paradise, the simpler the prettier! If you don’t have a deck or patio, or the grass is not growing as nicely in some place of your backyard…. put some gravel on it!- It is one of my favorite things- and some pretty potted plants! …  If you think you don’t have a big enough tablecloth…even better! Grab that mismatched, almost unused, flat sheet from a long, long, time ago, the one you fell in love with during your honeymoon! You know what I’m talking about! We all have them, those high thread-count, lonely, flat sheets…We used the heck out of their partners, the fitted ones, but for some reason, flat ones always remain intact. (?)   But of course! if you are one of the lucky ones who had collected vintage, french linens, while traveling in Provence…. Well, you are all set! Now is the time to use them, take them out of the linen closet where they lay forgotten, so much beauty deserves to shine. You don’t want to die without using them, right? The time is here and now. It is all we have.
Simplicity! what a beautiful thing... I love how organic
Simplicity! what a beautiful thing… I love how organic and back to basics this feels
Never underestimate the power of a few
Never underestimate the power of a few humble candles… nothing like it!
I you could, do hire some waiters, that would aloud you
If you could, depending on the occasion, hire some waiters, that would allow you to have a more relaxing and joyful time. If it’s not in your possibilities, swap services with your friends’ or neighbors’ teenagers!
Exquisite,
Exquisite! – But never allow your centerpieces to interfere with conversation, that is a huge mistake, even some event and flower designers still make, I think perhaps most of them do it only for photoshoot purposes. There is no reason for it, just pay attention to details and you will find a way to avoid being limited to only talk to the people sitting besides you, without sacrificing beauty and design.
If you think about it
If you think about it, you can replicate the same feeling of a tablescape you love without spending a fortune, it doesn’t matter if your special occasion doesn’t require an elegant setting, just a pretty one, you only have to follow the concept and simplify!

This one for instance, you could use tea cups, soup or cereal bowls for your centerpieces and place only a few flowers on them, that would cut your cost and time preparing it greatly and the scale would be more adequate for a simpler, more casual and relaxing event. Don’t forget to introduce more texture and movement to your centerpieces by using different heights, mixing different flowers, foliage, branches, grasses, even vegetables or just using only one type of flower for a very classy, elegant look.

It is OK to mix and match your plates and glasses, it is actually desired to be original and unique…. just be careful to follow a color palette you really like and looks good all together. Finally, always try to use cloth napkins, long, linen or cotton ones. There is nothing like it, no replacements for this one! (What am I saying? I do use paper napkins a lot! – More like paper towels actually… I like to choose my size!- but never when you have guests…. unless you are having pizza, of course… or something messy, or… I better shush it, I know…)

To feel like a princess for a night is priceless!
To feel like a princess for a night … priceless!
Oh the possibilities!
Oh the possibilities!
Crimson passion and greek key
Crimson passion and greek key! exquisite.
only
Nobody like Ralph! He’s got the touch.
Ralph Lauren, enough said!
Ralph Lauren, enough said!    – I adore Chandeliers…. ADORE them, they are made of Light, Crystal, Magic and Glamour…  You gather all those ingredients and put them in a huge martini shaker.  First the most beautiful light, then the finest of crystals, a little bit of magic and some oh, làlàs for the Glamour…. Shake it vigorously and throw it to the skies! …… Voilà! Can you see them? I sure can.
There is something about hot pink and orange that make us feel happy, like we were in a big colorful sherbet refreshing dream!
There is something about hot-pink or fuschia combined with orange that make people really happy, like if they  were in a big colorful and refreshing sorbet dream!
Those chairs have the X Factor!
Those X back chairs are quite beautiful, always and forever. xx
It feels like home..
It feels like home…doesn’t it?  Not my home, just HOME
Dreaming of Tuscany
Dreaming of Tuscany
Magic
Enchanted night,  all your dreams might come true…
Oh la la!  you just need one friend for this one!
Oh là là!  You would only need one guest for this one…. and many, many candles!
We'll always have Paris
NOT FOR NOTHING WAS IT SAID:  “WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE PARIS”…

But, what about us?...

Did you like it? I had a blast! Photography transports me through space and time… What about you? What moves you? Good night 😉