From the category archives:

La Cressonniere

It’s here! Olive Us has officially launched. Tiger in a Jar — the amazing video crew who put this together — has been working round the clock to finish up the edits. And I’m crazy excited about how it turned out! I hope you are too. : ) I can’t wait to hear what you think of it.

Things you can do to join in the fun:

- Watch our pilot episode. It’s called Garden Day. It was made with love!

- Check out the new Olive Us website. You can find out more about the show there, including FAQs and bios of the kids. There’s even a video of Ben Blair talking about the aims of the series.

- Subscribe to Olive Us! We’ll be sharing new videos every week and we don’t want you to miss out.

- Tell your friends. We’d love help getting the word out about Olive Us. If you like what you see, feel free to share the videos on Facebook or your own blog or wherever you like to share things.

We hope you enjoy the first episode. A huge thanks to Pottery Barn Kids for being the sponsor — they’ve been so fun to work with, and their faith in the idea made the series a possibility.

P.S. — Oscar made up the song at the end on the video. Hah!

I’ve been getting lots of questions about props and wardrobe, so click here for a source list.


Are you ready for a longish post? I get lots of questions about family photos, so today, I thought I’d share the process of getting ready for our Vintage Car Photo Shoot, with some tips for your own family photos. I also included a little guide to what we wore at the end. And I peppered the text with 21 photos from the shoot that I haven’t shared yet, including a whole bunch of behind the scenes shots.

I hope it will be helpful!

Tip #1: You don’t HAVE to do an elaborate photo shoot. It definitely takes time and effort. If it’s not your thing, don’t worry about it! (One of my favorite photos in the world is this one, and it was taken with no planning whatsoever.) At our house, a big photo shoot is the sort of event everyone gets into. We work together to figure out wardrobe options, make lists of items we’d like to shop for (like a red bowtie!), and scout out locations.

Click here for more tips and details on what we wore for the photoshoot.


A Few Things

December 16, 2011

Hello Friends! How are you? Any fun holiday plans this weekend? We are headed to a church Christmas party tonight + gift exchange. Should be fun! We’ve ordered a crumble from our favorite bakery to bring to the party. But I think I’m going to want to hog the whole thing for myself. Then tomorrow, we’re having some family photos taken by Wendy. I’m so excited!

While I finish up the laundry for the photo shoot, here are a few things I’ve been wanting to share with you:
- Free labels for foodie gifts.
- Color-blocking.
- 10 ways to upgrade a glass ornament (I love the pom poms!)
- Such a cute idea!
- Speaking of breakfast, I’m dreaming of a cozy nook.
- A sophisticated take on 12 Days of Christmas.

I also write for Babble. Here are this week’s posts:
- The perfect gift for your hippie friends.
- Foxes + monkeys + sparklers.
- What’s that? Instagram magnets?
- I’m super into this Christmas album.
- I don’t think I have enough self-control to own this.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!  I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.


P.S. — Our front door is looking festive in red and green — now we just need a dusting of snow!


A Few Things

December 9, 2011

Hello Friends! Have you had a good week? Anything fun scheduled this weekend? We are planning an ambitious Saturday of Christmas tree buying and a grocery shopping. Not too exciting, but somehow I’m so excited about it anyway. Hah! I think I’m just in the holiday mood. : )

While I make a grocery list, here are a few things I’ve been wanting to share:
- DIY stocking stuffers.
- Excellent calendar roundup.
- Can I buy molasses in France? Because I want to make these.
- 5 Ways to fancy up basic glass ornaments.
- I’m a judge for the Cribsie Awards. You can nominate a favorite new product!
- Paper gift bag tutorial.
- Make a “facebook sweater” and they donate a real sweater to someone in need.
- Festive jars.

I also write for Babble. Here are this week’s posts:
- 20 (free!) printable holiday gift tags.
- Wow. A $30 credit to Paper Coterie for every reader! (Tell your friends!)
- Say yes to this French necklace. Such a great price.
- Remember the Shailie Fashion toy? Here’s 25% off!
- Win a Pottery Barn Kids Foosball Table for Christmas! Easy to enter, I promise.
- The sweetest new book! It’s like Goodnight Moon for Christmas-time.

Have a wonderful wintery weekend. I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.


P.S. — I still grin every time I see our mantel decked out with fresh holly. So festive!


A Few Things

November 18, 2011

Hello, friends! Can you believe Thanksgiving is next week? I’m so excited. I’m looking up recipes and making plans for a centerpiece. Our yard is full of pretty leaves and rose hips and I’d love to come up with something that only uses materials from our garden. Wouldn’t that be lovely? (Also, is it too late to make these?) Speaking of our garden, how crazy adorable is Baby June on the swing? : )

What are you working on this weekend? Any fun plans? Maybe a movie? I’d love to hear! And I’d also love to share a few things I’ve seen around the web lately. Enjoy!

- So rad! What would you write?
- A plaid moose.
- And more antlers.
- Did you know November is Premature Awareness Month?
- Pretty bookshelves are my favorite.
- Happy colored pencil stop motion.
- I would love to see this exhibit.
- A super important topic and a very cool site (go here, scroll down).
- Neat. Design your own labels for drink bottles. Thanks, Joy!

I also write for Babble. Here are this week’s posts:
- Gwen Stefani comes to Target!
- Someday, I want to splurge on this.
- This would make a huge statement on Christmas morning. Only $49!
- LOVE these state/world posters that show where you’re from.
- A new line for kids that looks so cozy and cute!

I hope you have a crisp, fall weekend! I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.




October 10, 2011

Last night, we sat around the kitchen table chatting, laughing and cracking walnuts from our tree. Such a pleasant way to pass an evening! The walnut tree at La Cressonnière (it’s the treehouse tree) has been over-the-top generous with its crop of walnuts. We’ve gathered basket after basket with no end in sight.

The kids pick them up right off the grass.

In April, our friend Stephanie gifted us a bottle of walnut oil and it’s delicious. I wonder if we can take our walnut harvest and have some oil pressed… I’ve never done anything like that. Have you?

Click here to see what the walnuts look like emerging from their husks.



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This morning I took a walk and happened upon a very yellow, very fall leaf. It was only one, but it reminded me that fall will be here in a few short weeks. Before it arrives, I thought I should make a visual record of what La Cressonnière looks like in the peak of summer.

Fruit is everywhere. Apples and walnuts have weighed down the tree branches — they’re so low they almost touch the ground. Flowers aren’t quite as plentiful as they were in the spring, but the roses made a second appearance after disappearing in July. Lavender and honeysuckle scent every path of the garden. The apples will be ripe in a few weeks and we have one small pumpkin. The grapes look glorious even though they’re far from ready — I hope they’ll be delicious.



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Ben Blair’s sister, Lisa, and our nephew, David, are here visiting. And we’ve been having the best time with them today! When guests come, we usually have them stay in Oscar and Betty’s room. It’s a beautiful bedroom and has lots of space, so it’s easy to bring in luggage, or a travel crib, and feel like you can spread out.

As I was changing the sheets and straightening the room yesterday, I realized I hadn’t shared a photo tour yet. I hope you enjoy it!

Betty sleeps in the big double bed. Oscar sleeps in the twin. Their clothes are kept in the dresser and the armoire stores bed linens and extra blankets for all the beds in the house. One of my favorite details in the room is a painted stripe on the ceiling. So elegant!

P.S. — Remember when Betty took a photo of her bed?



A Few Things

June 24, 2011

La Cressonnière has a cherry tree (of course it does!) and I spent some time this afternoon filling a basket with cherry red happiness. I am still waiting to hear if Maude will be released from the hospital today. They just took her menu orders through the weekend, so I have my doubts. : (

6/26 UPDATE: Maude is home! She is still sick, but is getting stronger. She was released from the hospital last night and we’re so happy to have her here. Thank you again for all the well-wishes. You guys are wonderful!

While I wait for more news, here are a few things that are keeping me distracted:
- Do you have strong feelings about the color pink?
- Kitchens on wheels.
- Magnetic map.
- DIY flipflops.
- Wow! DNA is strong.
Simple cakes.
- Paper airport.

I also write for Babble. Here are my posts from this week:
- Best summertime snack I’ve ever seen.
- Your next picnic would be better with this.
- Will my fascination with these ever end?
- Do you love your city?
- Dying over this adorable book!

Have a wonderful weekend! I’ll try to check back in with any updates about Maude. Thank you so much for your well-wishes, prayers and kind words. They mean so much!



French Greys

June 22, 2011

images by Sarah of Modern Kids

As promised, I’ve made a list of all the sources for our clothing and accessories from the Modern Kids shoot. I keep using the term “French Greys”. I don’t think it’s an official term, but I’ve noticed that pretty much every clothing store here in France carries options in muted greys. They are warm greys — some even lean to purple, like a dove grey. Others are sort of creamy.

I love the look! When I was a design student, I had a box of warm grey Prismacolor pencils and I used to admire them when I was bored during class. I feel the same way about the grey clothing and I love that it’s easy to find here.

Click here to find the French Grey sources.


Family Photos

June 20, 2011


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A few weeks ago, Sarah from Modern Kids Photography came to our home to shoot a family photo. We just got the results back and I’m so pleased with how they turned out! I had a hard time narrowing down the images to share with you.

Something fun: instead of shooting with a digital camera, Sarah decided to use film. I asked Sarah about it and she said, “These images were shot on a Contax 645. This is a medium format film camera that makes lovely negatives — about twice the size of 35mm film. The bigger the negative the prettier the results — typically. ;) I love film because the process is slower and makes me more thoughtful when shooting. I also loves the beautiful skin tones achieved with film.”

I’m pleased with the skin tones too! There is one of Baby June (2nd thumbnail, last row) where she is simply radiant and I want to eat her up.

If you’re looking for a great photographer of kids, I highly recommend Sarah. My children adored her and even insisted she stay for dinner! Sarah lives in San Francisco but photographs all over the US (and sometimes Europe). If you’re interested in a film shoot, reserve her quickly, because she only offers a limited number of film shoots per year. Want to see more of Sarah’s work? You can find her on Pinterest and on her blog too.

P.S. — Do you like the French Greys we wore? I’ll share all the sources in another post.

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A few months ago, I gave you a photo tour of the exterior of the farmhouse. But as you can imagine, Spring has totally transformed it. So I thought I’d show some of my favorite images of La Cressonnière in bloom. These were all taken over the last 2 months.

There are more rose bushes than I can count. Huge peony bushes too. It hasn’t rained much this year, but thankfully, that hasn’t stopped the flowers from showing their pretty faces.

Click here to see more images of La Cressonnière in Spring.



June 1, 2011

Another new-to-me aspect of living in France is using shutters. In America, if there are shutters on the building at all, they are generally non-functioning. But in France, shutters are real working parts of the house and they are typically opened and closed daily.

In fact, one of my favorite mornings in Paris was spent watching the buildings on the street come alive as each window shutter was opened and folded in for the day.

At our house, opening the bedroom shutters has become a part of my morning routine. And closing them at night has become part of my evening one.

At first, I wasn’t sure what I thought of it — opening the window to get the shutters in the middle of winter is cold! But we’re four months in and I’ve come to love the shutters. Especially now that it’s staying light until 10:00pm or later. The shutters are so helpful in getting the kids’ rooms nice and dark at bedtime.

Click here to see our shutter opening routine.


Would you like to see what Ralph’s bedroom here in France looks like? I’ve got lots of photos to share!

When you come in the room, the first thing you see is his bed. It’s a beautiful antique piece with turned wooden spindles. The side folds down so that you can climb in easily. It’s actually intended to be for a child in the 5 to 11 range — much bigger than a crib, but a bit shorter than a twin. Ralph isn’t the tallest kid his age, so he actually fits just fine. Although. He’s totally had a growth spurt since we arrived here — his pants are floods all of a sudden! So I think he may need to move out of this bed soon. : )

The second thing you see is the desk. It’s in a quiet corner next to some bookshelves. A great place to study his French conjugations. : )

Click here to see more of Ralph’s bedroom.


Buying Eggs

May 11, 2011

photos by Paul Ferney

Remember when I wondered if we could buy eggs from our neighbor? Well it turns out that yes, we most certainly can. And it’s an errand my kids are always delighted to volunteer for.

We start with an empty basket.

Click here to see what happens next.


The Grand Easter Egg Hunt

April 29, 2011

easter eggs in basket Olive and Maude Blair photos by Paul Ferney

Ready for the Easter Egg Party rundown? I’ve got dozens of photos to share, in case you’re interested.

The party started at 3:00 on Saturday. Guests (there were about 50 people including our family) arrived and scoped out the scene. In the yard, there is a trampoline, a treehouse, a jungle gym with slide and swings, and we set up a badminton net as well. So the kids started entertaining themselves immediately.

The tricky thing for us is always the language. To prepare for the party, Ben Blair translated 20 or so phrases he thought he’d probably need as the host and he did a great job communicating and chatting with guests. My language skills weren’t up to snuff, so I gave lots of big smiles, welcoming gestures and sorry attempts at speaking to try to make guests comfortable. I’m sure I was a comic scene. : )

Click here to see many more party photos.


Spring Break

April 26, 2011

bike with flower basket photos by Paul Ferney

Are you ready to start the new week? Me too. And I have 3 things to mention:

1) The Easter Egg Hunt was so much fun! It really made me happy to gather friends and family for our little celebration — I’m excited to tell you all about it. I’ll start by sharing photos of the welcome sign we set at the end of the driveway to greet guests.

I used scrap wood from the barn and sidewalk chalk to do the lettering, then rested the sign against a charming yellow cruiser that belongs to the homeowners. Potted hydrangeas in the bike basket and a few ribbons help it feel especially festive, don’t you think?

The pictures make me happy.

bike with flower basket

2) The kids don’t have school for two weeks and we are attempting to make the most of their time off. So, I’m actually on a Spring Break roadtrip with the whole family, and typing this up from Hotel Perigord in the Dordogne region of France. Stephmodo & Co. are kindly playing tour guide for us. It’s gorgeous here and I’m snapping photos like crazy. Can’t wait to share them.

3) Mother’s Day is coming fast — it arrives on May 8th, which is less than two weeks away! I thought it would be fun to start the celebrations early, so that it doesn’t sneak up on us. So I’ve got several fantastic giveaways for you this week, especially for Mother’s Day. Watch for the first one later today.


bike with flower basket bike with flower basket


Today, I’ve got a little photo tour of Maude’s bedroom to share with you. It’s one of the funnest rooms at La Cressonnière. When we’re not living here, it belongs to the owner’s daughter. She happens to be the same age as Maude (which is a fun coincidence!) — and if I was guessing, I would say she likes animals.

The centerpiece of the room is a beautiful bed, upholstered in colorful monkey-filled fabric.

Click here to see the rest of Maude’s bedroom.


La Cressonnière: Studio

April 11, 2011

I thought it would be fun to start this week with a tour of the studio (sometimes we call it the atelier) at La Cressonnière. Just outside the half bath, at the bottom of the staircase, is the entry way to the studio. Here is the door:

art studio french farmhouse

I’m sitting in this room as I type. It is where I spend a good chunk of my day. And when the kids are home from school, if it’s not warm enough to be outside, they are in here too. It’s a wonderful room. The light is gorgeous. I can hear the birds outside and there’s plenty of room to spread out, even if I’m working on a big project. I love being in here.

Come on in!

art studio french farmhouse

Click here to see the rest of the the studio.


Today I thought I’d share a photo tour of some of my favorite details in the living room here at La Cressonnière. Starting with the floor to ceiling mantel and fireplace. Amazing, no?

la cressonnière french farmhouse living room

Here’s a closeup of one of the little carving details.

la cressonnière french farmhouse living room

Click here to see the rest of the living room tour.

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