'Bee a Light' Blog


Leaving a legacy of Sweet Perfume

The fragrance of this last summer in my beloved France is still clearly in my mind. Even though it was one of the hottest summers on record in France, it was for me and my companions one of the sweetest ever. The memories we shared and the spectacular moments of pure delight, in the gifts of the day, were just perfection. To say the least....the fragrance of France was intoxicating and lingers with me as I continue to inhale the remembrance of time that pass almost in slow motion in my little village of France. This fragrance reminded me of the many roses I pass on either walks in my small garden or in the vast chateaux gardens in the Loire Valley. Some of the roses you pass are as fragrant and sweet smelling as they are beautiful and others carry no scent at all. So...I got to thinking about roses and people. How do I want to be remembered during the day? In my business as an Interior Designer and Antiques dealer, it is in my job description to look the part and dress appropriately. Therefore, 9 times out of 10 I dress the part....but do I leave a fragrance behind? People can look amazing on the outside but the minute they open their mouth, there is nothing said to make you remember them. No intoxicating fragrance left behind as they leave your presence. It’s sad really, I want to be so loving on the inside that all I do with all those I meet daily is leave a memory of delight and joy. I want to be the Rose that not only is captivating. but fragrant in every way. We all know the adage....about the rose fading and loosing its bloom. As, I age I can feel this happening, but just because it’s fading a bit does not mean the fragrance is dying as well. That essence can last so long it creates a memory on people’s hearts and minds. When I was a child my mother used to let me take all the fallen rose petals from the garden and boil them in water on the stove, thus creating my own sweet rose water as a fun children's version of expensive perfume. I can still smell that fragrance coming off the stove. So...what am I trying to say in this “be a light” blog.... I need to ask myself daily???? Am I leaving a trail of sweet smelling perfume and fragrance in my daily work and walk? Or...do I have no fragrance at all, do I have a beautiful façade, but no essence to leave people with a sweet memory of the moments they spent time with me? If we all tried to share more of an intoxicating fragrance and less of a toxic mess, the world would be more like walking thru an amazing garden full sweet smelling Roses that leave you more captivated by their aroma, than they do their outward appearance. "Come to my garden and linger awhile for the sweet perfume of life is hidden there"

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Over the last 6 weeks I have had the delight of being in my second home, France. Every time I visit this fantastic country, I learn more of the language and its lovely phrases. Some I laugh at with friends as they sound a bit odd, Like the one "when chickens have teeth"...its kind of the same as when Americans say "when pigs fly". This time however, I discovered a French phrase that my darling friends Emi and Mr. X had pinned to their refrigerator. It stated, " tu mets les petits plates dans les grands"! My heart skipped a beat knowing that this darling French phrase was written just for me....or I felt like it was just for me. 

This phrase means, "to put the small plates with the big ones" or basically to invite friends and family to your beautiful table to show them how very much they are welcomed and loved. This is the story of my life. It is truly my joy in life to entertain my loved ones, friends and family and a few strangers...at my table. I relish the art of setting a beautiful table and putting the "small plates on the big ones". Just yesterday, I had a friend to my apartment in America for brunch, her first reaction to the table was, "you went to all this work to make it lovely, just for the two of us?" Of course, I said, the amount of love you put into dressing the table, shows the people dining that they are of worth to you and appreciated. 

Now I am not saying that a table has to be dressed beautifully all the time, I am just saying to me the art of making it pretty and welcoming is part of how I show my love and appreciation of the person or persons. I have made pic-nics in the Loire Valley feel beautiful as well, with pretty paper napkins, a sweet drop cloth for the ground and lovingly made fresh baguette sandwiches...and champagne is a must at French pic-nics. Lets face it, in todays world sitting for a couple of hours at a table in the home to dine is a rare event. Less and less as we get busier and busier. This is one of the things I appreciate so much about my French friends, they dine they do not eat. It's an event. Lunch even for the French businessman or bricklayer is two hours and includes wine! We are lucky in America to have 20 minutes for fast food. I do understand that the pace in the two countries is very different but somehow I like the way it feels to just relax and feel the joy that dining at a lovely table or pic-nic brings. 

Again, this is my story, it is how I show my love to others. Even with my darling husband, each night when he comes home we have candles, flowers, linen napkins and a lovingly set table. He selects the wine! As we are empty nesters we can take the time to do this and it's a blessing. We share our day, we laugh, we discuss, and we are grateful. It is not a two hour event as it might be when we are in France, but it's about the quality of the time not the quantity. 

The delight I found in knowing that there is a French phase to describe the essence of who I am when I entertain was just too much for me not to share. In the hustle bustle of our lives, we should not look back at the end and say I wish I had taken more time to sit and dine and "be present" for the people in my life. We should allow ourselves the precious moments to let others know that they have value, they are loved and we have taken the time to show them that with a gracious table and the effort made "to put the small plates in the big ones!" These will be the memories you look back on with joy and treasure.

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You don't know you need this wonderful piece of French history until you see how I can repurpose it for you. 

I tell my interior design clients this all the time. I also tell it to myself if I have fallen in love with a certain piece in a French antiques window and have no earthly idea where and when I might use it. But....nine times out of ten if I don't buy the one of a kind piece I kick myself later for not grabbing it.  I still have an ache in my heart for two adorable little wall shelves that I should have bought and passed up on because of the lack of space in my suitcases.  I could have saved them at the French house to bring home to America at another time. Ahhhhh…..C'est la vie! 

Truly my website friends, I would love for you to have the pleasure to purchase one of my pieces on French Bee Boutique and let me have the opportunity to give you ideas of how to use it. There are so many ways to repurpose pieces, the creative challenges are endless. 

In the past I have used old Le Creuset pans as darling colorful planters. I have used darling rustic ladders as bookshelves and racks on walls to hold small antiques, and racks to hang warm blankets. I have used old mirrors as centerpieces for tables with books and vases and candle sticks stacked on top. The way the light carries from them is fantastic. I love, love old books, they add the lifts and levels we need for balance of a small object with a bigger one. Old books add color to a white marble top and they add texture in there warm leather bindings. I have taken French zinc watering cans and made fantastic vases for large arrangements...if there is a hole in the bottom you just cut off the top of liter plastic jug and set it in the container for use to hold the water. 

Also, another great tip for table dressing for a party is don't ever be afraid to mix and match your French silver flatware, I have hundreds of darling French tea spoons, they are useful and perfect to mix and match with other pieces. Another tip... layering your dishes in similar colors but different patterns is a fantastic way to go from flat to fabulous at the table. There are so many choices and so much variation when filling a lovely table for a party....its my favorite part of prepping for the event.

 So take a look one more time at the timeless pieces available on this website and then think to yourself...how can I repurpose that piece or those pieces in a way that says..."wow, I never thought of using it quite like that". You might surprise yourself and if you are still perplexed, email me and I will be delighted to offer some creative ideas. 

Make your day count! All the best,

The Queen Bee

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a sweet puppies life!

This is a blog about my very best furry friend. This last week I had to say goodbye to my fearless travel companion and the most precious puppy faced boy I ever knew. Napoleon my 11 1/2 year old King Charles Cavalier, went over the rainbow bridge as they say. I truthfully have never been so full of tears. You see Napoleon was my constant companion and travel partner. He literally had more stamps in his puppy passport than most Americans. My husband and I have had the privilege of living overseas and our darling Napoleon has gone with us. He was born in England on July 4th and we named him Napoleon....he was destined to live in America and in England and in France. He has so many adventures and truthfully I can say that French Bee Boutique would not have happened without him by my side. He has been to so many French Brocantes (like a flea market) that the people that knew me in the little villages I visited in France also new the dogs name. He would wag his long flowing tale at anyone who would speak to him....in French, in American English and in Proper English. Not all the stories I have of his adventures are sweet...once, he was almost eaten by a pack of mongrel dogs in Belguim, my friend who was with me at the time traveling said, Priscilla, all I saw was Napoleon flying into your arms for protection. Another time while I was staying in a Paris Hotel with him he could not quite make it to the dog walk area outside and proceeded to pee all the way thru the lobbie at 6 am. Oh dear, all I could think at that moment was where in the world am I gonna find a hand towel to wipe this all up. Not his fault of course the lobby was huge and he had held it all night in the room with me. He loved to ride in the car and many times he and I traveled all alone from England to France and back again using the Chunnel. People in other cars would see his darling face peaking out the window and wave and he would wag his tale back at them. Eating in France is a dream with a dog. The French love dogs and so it is normal to see them in restaurants with their owners. Laying quietly. Napoleon thought this was the finest thing ever. He loved all the attention from the waiters and normally got a little treat and they would always bring him a bowl of water. Class all the way. He also loved the English pub we used to frequent. Our local pub in England also included dogs and with his charming red coat on that he had for cold winter nights you could just see that he felt quite dapper in the pub. In America, he hated when I got the suit cases out and he knew he wasn't going....in his final years it was harder to take him...this photo is of him literally laying in my suitcase not wanted me to go without him. He would pout and whine for days leading up to my going. It was very hard to leave him. Why is it we love our animals so much?? I am sure it is because, they bring us so much joy and delight. They never talk back and they are always faithful and the unconditional love they give is a gift from their creator to us. We need it, we long for it, we don't always deserve it but they give it anyway! Napoleon was a one of kind pup and I will never forget all the joy and love and laughter he brought me, thank heaven I have the photos and the stories to bring me back to the days when he was my Faithful and I was his World. 

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"The cruelest thing you do to an artist is to tell them their work is flawless"

"Beauty is not flawless it shines through its flaws" I saw this quote the other day and thought long and hard about what I love about antiques. I realized I love antiques because they have flaws. The flaws are what show their age, give them their character, tell where they have been. In this age we are privileged to live in we unfortunately are pushed from every side to be flawless. In our looks...her skin is flawless. With our talents....that piano piece was flawless. In our work....his presentation was flawless. In our homes...her décor was flawless. But, in the antiques world you must have a really good eye to see the flaws that are right there in front of you and look past them, and understand that the flaws are what give it its character, they are what speaks to you about the life it has lived. 

I love to imagine...where has this 400 year old piece been? Where did it reside? What home? What church? On whose wall did it hang? Or whose table did it grace? Who used it to serve their family, or what vintage wine did it hold? When pieces are 3 or 4 or 5 hundred years old like you find in Europe, it is gonna have flaws. But, these little reminders of its amazing past give its value,its talkability. 

Each piece that I choose to go in my own home or for you to buy for yours or for a family member has character that speaks. Especially the paintings and the etchings. In fact when I buy these I usually, in my minds eye try to imagine a small story that goes with them. The French etchings usually have a story all there own that has a bit of whimsy or tell of a lovers moment....those are easy to read. But, what of the pieces of the single women, the quiet gentleman or the young family. How do these tell you their story. What was the artist trying to say.

Here is the wonderful part, you my friend, you get to add to your chosen pieces history! It will continue its rich life, its history with you. Someday in the future...it will speak to someone else of knowing you. 

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This blog is so named because it is what I encouraged my daughters with everyday before leaving for school...I hope you find encouragement on the pages of this monthly blog for your life!

"By knowledge the rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." - Proverbs

When I was a child one of my favorite things to do was to build Barbie's house. I would use card board boxes, lots of tape and many levels. The walls would of course be designed with either left over wallpaper that my mom might have saved, or she would let me have a small can of paint and paint brush for the décor. There would even be small sets of stairs and cutouts for doors. I would have a little kitchen for Barbie using more repurposed boxes, usually from the trash, like butter boxes or the old oatmeal box. Handles, knobs, pulls and stove top decoration would be made from old buttons found in my Mom's button box or from nails and screws found on the floor of my father's workshop. When I was 5 my Mom gave me for Christmas a real working, yet tiny Singer sewing machine and taught me to sew. Now Barbie could have blankets, bedding, pillows and cushions for her card board beds and sofas. Designing for Barbie was a joy for me and filled my little girl days with creative ideas. 

In life I don't believe anything is by chance, yes, I am a believer in our paths being lade out before us...of course we have choices to make and those choices good or bad lead to our joy or our justice. 

I also believe we are all gifted with innate abilities, mine thankfully as an Interior Designer, for a living...is the ability to see the vision for something before it is created. So whether I was designing for Barbie or for one of my real life clients as an adult, this ability to create beautiful spaces, "filling peoples homes with rare and beautiful treasures" is my joy and gives me great fulfillment. 

I hope with all my heart that the choices you make on your path today bring you joy and that you treasure your abilities.

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