Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Relaxing........and civilized

I would like to think I could enjoy a lovely New Year's Eve dinner all bundled up on our covered veranda as it does look romantic, but after flying into the Oklahoma blizzard on Christmas Eve and cancelled flights on the return home to Canada via Detroit, I think we are really in the mood for a quiet fireside dinner. Something relaxing and civilized........ something air travel is not these days. It sets the mood for New Year's Day, my "reflection" day as my husband does his annual and uninterupted sportsfest on TV and I make lists for the year ahead. This year I am going to approach it in a more organized fashion with a flow chart of what I personally and professionally want to accomplish this year, blog included. Sounds daunting doesn't it? It's not as serious as it sounds, I will be wearing my pajamas all day long. I love that part.

Holiday clean-up is ahead for most of you and I hope you saved all of your gift ribbon because you have a bit of ironing to do. Ribbon, tissue paper, and most gift wrap can be ironed on low settings and re-used. For gift wrap cut out the gift wrap sections that aren't covered in tape (the center) and re-use for smaller gifts throughout the year. One of the reasons I believe in all season gift wrap. I was so taken with this holiday wreath from the blog My Notting Hill, I asked Michele if I could share her beautiful Beacon Hill photo with you as an idea for using a varied collection of leftover ribbon lengths. I love the simple but festive look of this fresh boxwood wreath, especially the bright ribbons adding colour and movement on a gray winter day.

Another idea for leftover ribbon? Save it for upcoming occasions where you can ribbon embellish the chair for the guest of honour. A bridal shower, a wedding or birthday party, any time you want someone to feel special. Lovely isn't it?
Have a safe and sound New Year's Eve and wishing each of you the most fabulous 2010.
May your next year be beautifully wrapped in love, happiness and good health.

A most special Thank You to all my readers, followers and fellow bloggers.
You are truly the most talented and inspiring group of women
and I am honoured to be heard and included in this
amazing community of support and creativity.

Meeting each and every one of you has made 2009 one of my best years yet.
I can't wait to meet more of you in 2010.
Top photo by Laurence Pasquier ~ Sarah Kaye/2nd photo by blog My Notting Hill/3rd photo by Mario Villa via blog A Room Somewhere/Bottom photo by Chris Everard ~ Sarah Kaye

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

One last Wrap

Simple holiday pleasures....

A moment to yourself......

wrap your holidays in love.

Wherever you are, whoever you are with.......XO

Top photo by Arabella McNie/Middle photo by Polly Wreford - Sarah Kaye/Bottom photo by Laurence Pasquier

Monday, December 21, 2009

Still Holiday Red

Still wrapping................of course!
I am sure you are too.

Yards and yards of gorgeous satin ribbon....
and always a bit of sparkle.

This year's signature gift wrap.........
vintage & velvet orange poinsettas and red satin too.
Customer orders lined up and ready to go.
Then time to wrap up a few of my own.
All photos by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Busy Wrapping

Will be back. Busy wrapping.
I like this idea, petite gifts hanging
from a bedroom door. A special something
on Christmas Eve~ just for them.

Photo by Daniel Farmer ~ Sarah Kaye

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

All I want for Christmas is French Essence ...........and I can't have it!

It wasn't that I didn't try. All I wanted for Christmas for myself and my website was Vicki Archer's new book French Essence, all the way from Australia. I simply thought it would be the most fabulous book gift ever. But like the rest of us in North America, I will have to wait until the New Year to get this fabulous book back in hand. I repeat, it wasn't that I didn't try, in fact in talking to the Australian publisher I knew ahead that shipping might be a tad high. But a large heavy book shipment coming across the Atlantic? You can imagine........but the minute that book lands in North America in January you can be assured it will be on my website. But I do have plenty of readers outside of North America so let me just say that if you live on the other side of the pond this "this is the best book gift you can buy for any woman this Christmas". Now you are supposed to ask me "How do you know this"?

You can ask me a million times and I won't tell you how I came to have one copy of this magnificent book but I can tell you it is simply the best book a woman could ever want, maybe even need. We all need to be transported at times and Vicki Archer has the remarkable gift of graciously and beautifully transporting us to that exquisite and beautiful place we all want to go..............that la Mas Guest Room for Christmas. Just kidding, but that would be 2ND on my list if I still actually believed in Santa Claus and his sleigh (wink, wink).

I would like to say that I still have this exquisite book in my possession but I do not. I know, I know..........but it was the best gift for the best person and off it went in October though I did hold on to a few minutes longer than normal when handing over a gift. You are darn right I thought about keeping it for myself but I truly was trying to be a better and giving person that day while listening to myself think of other possible gift options. Anything but this one glorious copy of French Essence. But absolutely nothing was better than this and I knew it.

I did give it up so to speak and felt quite good about it in the end. It was the gracious thing to do. But not before I took a few photos of some inside pages and how it looked as a wrapped presentation. I have no doubt Vicki could do it better, in fact the gift wrapping in her 2ND book is as stylish as you would expect from our favorite author and blogger (you will adore her feather detail). All I am going to say is if you are lucky enough to be giving this book this Christmas I do think it should be gift wrapped in red. Don't ask me why, it just feels right.

If you or a friend doesn't have Vicki Archer's first book My French Life what on earth are you waiting for? Impress yourself with your own self-gifting ability and then your friends with your impeccable gift style, follow it up next spring with French Essence. They are equally captivating and inspiring. Once you have read the first one, the second will be irresistible. My French Life can be ordered online {click here} or bookstore-bought on both sides of the pond. And you may have just enough time.

All photos by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life

Friday, December 11, 2009

Holiday Gift Wrap - No. 1

Something liberating about a plain white box isn't there? And this is the simplest white box I could find. No need to wrap it with paper, just work with the colour scheme of those department store boxes you will be passing along this season. A bit of glitz never hurts this time of year and in this case the more the merrier as I took on this neutral palette. These mini metallic ornaments are easy to find in any colour and I simply used them in volume (about 20) to make a beautiful topper. I used dental floss through the ornament top and the more ornaments you add the bigger the ornament ball will be, keeping a few aside for an extra embellishment. Just keep adding and when you tie the two floss ends together it forms this ball all by itself. A lot easier than I thought.

For some reason, I am low on solid white ribbon so I used a 1.5" white organza ribbon to make my ornament ball "nest". I had this frothy picture in my head anyways and wanted this over-the-top glamour presentation that would be easy to do. And it is............. anybody can do this.

My organza "nest" is made by tying bows to to the main box ribbon. Use the main ribbon as the anchor for your four-sided bows. Once tied, you can easily "slide" the organza bows in closer to the center or all the way to the outside edge of the box. I actually doubled up on the bows to give it more volume, but it works just fine with a single bow as well. You want to position the outside bows so they "nest" your ornament ball, moving them in or out depending on the size of the ornament ball. I don't need to tell you that this technique would work for any colour combination you are working with for the holidays. A "paperless" way to work with any plain department store box.

Though this technique would work with any style of ribbon, I do like the volume and shimmer of an organza ribbon with the metallic ornaments. It''s my version of a White Christmas gift wrap. Those two mini ornaments I told you to put aside? I like a few dangling on the front as shown here. Just thread them through any of the ribbon tails and then knot them into position. I have a "male" version of this idea coming up, so keep posted. I are wrapping and posting in brillant colour all week long. You didn't think I was going to leave you now did you?

All photos by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life

Romantic Gift Style at a la parisienne

Gift Wrapping ~ A la Parisienne

If you haven't met Mandy at her blog A La Parisienne by now, I hope you will today as she shared her Holiday ~ Romantic gift wrapping . Look! She used one of those store-bought bows but in all the right ways. Mandy is one of my incredible friends who I have met through blogging. Over the months she has become one of those blogger friends I really would love to meet in person, I know she would be even more wonderful in person. We could wrap together! She is gorgeous, sweet, adorable, generous, supportive, and full of talent and her Parisian taste just keeps evolving. As a stay-at-home mom bursting with creativity, Mandy really is inspiring and I hope she knows this. I watch her explore, design, and create and I think to myself.............boy, do you remind me of myself in my younger years when I too was a stay-at-home. Except I didn't have blogging and Etsy to keep my creativity so well-nourished. I am going to love watching her talent grow and blossom.

Mandy blogs, designs fabulous blog headers, blog embellishments, and Etsy shop banners for a growing list of admirers and her latest creation is her newly-launched Etsy shop. Gorgeous fabric layered flower brooches with exquisite fabric choices and perfect details. I love how she tucked this gold fabric pin into this Versailles pocket for her Etsy shop photos. I meant to order these as gift toppers (how fabulous would that be?) but I didn't act act enough because I noticed this style is sold out. Not to worry though.......

......I found this vintage-faded creation and this will do beautifully! You can wear it (on a denim jacket as Mandy suggests) or in your hair, but I have to say if you are giving one of these creations, attach it to the top of a wrapped gift and you have one breathtaking presentation. Buy as many as you can (this one is 16.95) because I suspect Mandy is working to save for a trip to Paris. We really have to help get her there as I believe she must have lived there in a former life. Next door to me I think. I am sure of it.

Mandy used seam binding (very affordable ribbon by the way) and cut offs from her floral brooches to make these exquisite and sparkly hand-stamped gift tags. Mandy emailed me a few days ago and wrote " do you do this wrapping thing everyday". Oh Mandy didn't you know? I get all my inspiration from other bloggers. You included.

Which reminds me, I better get back to my own gift wrapping, the helper elves are back.

All images from a la parisienne

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My Kate Spade Christmas Gift List makes me smile

There I go in my last post somewhat snickering about those pre-bought bows. Darn that clever Kate Spade for taking what the rest us know as tacky and somehow and making it suddenly cool and stylish...........downright fun too. You know how those keyless car keys never have to move from the bottom of your purse? Where they get lost and impossible to find? This vibrant patent bow and 14 karat keychain is easy to spot and will bring a smile to her face, even the smug ones that originally thought this type of bow was tacky. $60.00 at

After the past 4 weeks spent recovering in my pajamas and robe, I have a new found respect for pre-bedtime casual apparel. Anything that keeps me warm and cosy. Colourful is even better. That these combine one of my favorite colour combinations and have those fun little bonbons on them just makes me want them all the more. $95.00. Yes, I would wear these Zoe (what are these these called anyways?) around the house, even at my age. They would make my feet very happy and make me smile, maybe laugh out loud. So adorable.
Give this woman who wears far too much black a pair of these "Guest" suede platform shoes with pleated satin (a more sophisticated bow style) and I am going to party somewhere. soon. with a smile. $398.00. I love these shoes.

I have the first versions of these Kate Spade earrings, the shorter version, gold with sparkly clear crystals, and boy do I wear them. Lots of compliments too. Add in all these colours that go with just about any outfit and on my list these Marmalade Ball Dangle earrings go. Great glam and keepsake gift for that special friend. And I think they gift box them in their so-fabulous petite round boxes (see Kate Spade box re-gift post here). I would ask if they can put their petite box in a slightly-larger square one so you can gift wrap in all these colours. Another pair of Kate Spade earrings........real big smile, especially since I get another little box too. $98.00
The biggest smile of all. Are these Guilia suede shoes with their peep toe and jewel-encrusted clasp the absolute best.? I feel another party coming up. Maybe I will invite that clever Kate Spade. $325.00

All photos from Kate Spade

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Keep it simple.......sometimes

created by Karen Bartolomei ~ Grapevine Invitation NYC

I have a full confession to make. I am surprisingly low-key when it comes to holiday gift wrapping. It is only the rest of the year that I go crazy with gift wrapped detail. I am sure that this is such a preposterous statement, that you have a hard time believing me, right? Shouldn't this be the time of year when I personally go all out? Wouldn't my bows be bigger than usual, more opulent, shouldn't they just be drop-dead gorgeous? Not really and I will tell you why even before you ask me, because I have thought about this a great deal. I don't even buy holiday gift wrap, I use what I have and just re-work it with seasonal embellishments (which you shall see). Before I start explaining myself, all these lovely gifts were found on Country Living.........yes, it appears I completely missed their Gift Wrap section when I did yesterdays post. They asked paper experts to come up with novel holiday wrapping ideas and I impressed enough that I thought they were worth sharing. This particular favorite of mine was created using old "Jingle Bells" sheet music that was enlarged on a heavier weight copy paper, tied with beautiful gold ribbon and real jingle bells of course........simple but beautifully done.

created by Wrapagai author Jenn Playford - Victoria, BC

So now back to the gift wrap question. Why of all occasions would I think it best to keep it somewhat more understated? Two reasons actually, the first being it's a reciprocal occasion. This is the one time of year when I am giving a gift and then receiving one and to over-indulge my wrapping just doesn't feel right in many cases. I am much more comfortable when I am doing the giving, when I can indulge any gift-wrapping talent I have, all in the name of spoiling the recipient. I am all for that. Second reason, I think the holiday season upon us is fraught with stress for most people. It is the time of year when we are likely buying for multiple people, wrapping 10-20 gifts with any sort of detail really becomes just one more task for most people to say nothing of the time and cost. I am not suggesting that you go buy tacky store bows by bulk or anything (though most sensible for infant and kids gifts only) but to relax your expectations if time or budget demands it. The gift shown above is creative and easy ........take a closer look. Inspired by the Japanese furoshiki (fabric wrapping cloths) the author of Wrapagami used a thrift store shirt and brooch to wrap this shirt box in remarkable eco-style. You could maybe add a sprig of holly. Just one, ok maybe two.

created by MinLee Cho - Paper & Cup NYC
While you are still reeling from this revelation of mine, I will qualify this statement and say I still do pay particular attention to gift-wrapping with a few friends who share the same creative propensity. The exchange of gifts and wrapping techniques only adds to the holiday fun. But I am not going to suggest that every holiday gift should be gift-wrapped to the hilt and in this economy it is a time to be sensitive to the reciprocal budgets and efforts of other people. It is a time of giving, not competing in any way, shape, or form and that includes gift wrapping. There are clever ways to add style to holiday gift giving and wrapping and have some fun. Whimsical clip art images and personalized speech bubbes (no gift card needed) were glued to the affordable tissue paper wrap (use 3-4 stacked sheets to obscure bax) though it would just as clever if you lets the kids draw or write a message on the tissue. You can't see it well here, but a top cello layer gives it some extra gloss and polish and protects the artwork. We will come back to this idea in the future, it's a good one with lots of creative possibilities.

created by Joy D. Cho ~ graphic designer San Diego
Plain Kraft paper is ribbon layered with colourful masking tape ( I have a few of my own Kraft paper examples coming up) makes for a very festive package, especially when you fray the ends of striped drinking straws, and tie them together as a candy cane ornament topper. Kids could have fun with this idea. So this is what I think, when gift wrapping at this time of year always think of the other person. I am no way letting you off your wrapping effort, every gift conveys a thought and feeling and it does begin with it's packaging. If your gift wrapping effort will make the other person feel awkward or inept in the exchange then scale it back, keep it simple. If it is a family member, friend or relative that delights in your presentation efforts, , then go for it with all you got. You know exactly what I mean. Though if you ask me this any other time of year, I will totally deny ever have said any of this. That's a given.

All photos ~ Country Living

Monday, December 7, 2009

Do not take my computer.........ever

photo ~ Country Living

Ok, finally feeling a bit better, helped my father move into a new apartment, then head down last week to the studio ready to wrap up some holiday cheer and publish overdue Christmas blog posts. Hear a scary rush of water, somewhere, somewhere and walk into water, lots of water, pouring into my basement studio. This is not good, not good at all. Hint: always know where the water main is located (thankfully I did). For the next eight hours crew of helpful men move all gift wrap materials and work space to temporary and much dryer location, tear down drywall, rip off baseboards, remove all soggy material and inventory, set up 6 loud fans to dry wet studio, then leave for weekend. Plumber starts repair but will finish Monday, in the meantime no water over weekend as problem is not resolved. We both sleep all weekend with one eye and ear open. Overloaded breaker system fails and security alarm beeps non-stop for 2 days, repeated breaker failures zap and fry computer screen.................are you telling me I don't have a computer? Husband concerned, non-showered, shingles- recovering wife looks like she is going to lose it. Lets edgy wife make non-disputed executive decisions, buys one new Mac laptop and books 2 flights to Oklahoma to see son at Christmas. My plan this upcoming week? Wrap and blog while ignoring non-stop workers and repairs in other part of basement (can't leave house), wrap and ship orders, forget holiday decorating (out of town), find Tulsa restaurant that serves full Christmas dinner on Christmas day, nap at whim, and go with the flow. I just tell you everything, don't I?

While I get settled in my temporary work space and get on with holiday wrapping ideas that should have started weeks ago, I did come across a Christmas Crafts section on the Country Living website that reminded me of what I think is a great holiday gift. Baking, pure and simple. I know you already know this, but if you think it is a tired, worn out, magazine kind of idea, it isn't to anyone rushing through the busy holiday season. Especially when it is that delicious signature item everyone just loves. Make the best apple pie? Give them one fresh, warm one and a few unbaked for the freezer. Wrap them up in white bakery boxes with baking instructions and pretty ribbon and your gift is as good as the latest Coach bag. I probably have too many purses as it is, but a freezer with homemade apple pies.........what a treat since my pie-baking weekend is pretty well shot. If you want to put it along with a lovely linen monogrammed apron (instructions online- click here) and some baking accessories, all the better, but really it's the home baked pie (or that specialty) that they really want this year. Pure and simple. It's that kind of year.

Both photos via Country Life

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bed piled with holiday gifts.....look familiar?

Photo by Chris Everard
I have been patiently waiting a 8 months to use this spectacular holiday photo. And the other 7-8 Chris Everard and Polly Wreford Christmas photos you will see coming up over the next 3.5 weeks. These stunning photos will be used along with my own gift wrap efforts to hopefully inspire you in your own personal gift wrap efforts this year. Along with using my own supplies, I am heading locally (in Canada) and across our border to stores such as Costco (Sam's Club), Target, to see how creative I can be with their gift wrap products. I know many readers will be loading up on wrapping supplies from these stores so let's see how creative I can be with using more generic but less-expensive options. I think this approach will serve your needs best at this time of year. I will sneak in some great gift ideas, some gift tips, and as many ideas as I can come up with over the next 23 days (or is it 22?). Gotta helper elves just showed up and we better get to it.
Chris Everard photo ~ Sarah Kaye

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I am so jealous of your turkey....

Mr. Poultry ~ Dutch Touch Art

I am actually quite envious of my American readers and friends this week. I much prefer the date of your Thanksgiving. Our low-key Canadian Thanksgiving is a much earlier (October) and much more sedate. Yes, the turkey dinner, but really that's about it, one big meal. Your timing is better, having it a month before Christmas is much more exciting, sort of a prep for the biggest holiday coming up as it opens the Christmas season. You get the added benefit of Christmas decorations in stores and streets which makes your celebration all the more festive. And you keep all the men out of the way with all those football games....genius! Even though our family lived on the Canadian side of a border town, my Dad worked in Michigan. We always celebrated American Thanksgiving so it was a day off school for us as we headed over to see the Thanksgiving parade, then headed home back across the bridge for turkey and pumpkin pie. For one day a year we pretended to be Americans (actually half of my siblings are) and we were always awed by the American way. You just seem to know how to have a party! You know, I can be ready at a moment's notice.

Mr. Wild Turkey ~ Dutch Touch Art

To all my American readers and friends, have a safe, warm, and wonderful Thanksgiving with your families.

I shall be thinking of you all.


Both hand-painted oils from Dutch Touch Art

Monday, November 23, 2009

My kind of prissy store......

By the time I was 6, my mother had likely relized she had created a prim, but polite little fashionista. I insisted on wearing white gloves to go along with my long blonde ringlets (it was the 50's) and little handmade princess dresses whenever we went socializing. As the only daughter with 4 brothers, I was a willing girly girl all the way. At 7 yrs. old we moved across the border from Michigan to Canada and right next door to a rambuctious Irish family of 4 girls. They took one look at this fussy and girly import and pretty well told me to lose the immaculate white Keds, flowing hair, and princess attitude if I had any illusions on joining their club. I must have wanted new friends and new adventures (being prissy was getting boring) because I lost the tiara real quick, got a pixie haircut, quit cleaning my white Keds and joined in all the fun. I got to thinking of this recently (not that my old friends have ever let me forget it) when we happened upon this exquisite store in Cannes recently.

Another illusion that I operate under is that I am the detail person in my household. I was so busy absorbing the window display seen at I Pinco Pallino that I failed to notice something and I still can't quite believe it. It was my husband who casually said "did you notice the hem?" Wait, this can't be happening, that the logical, non-creative one in this marriage would notice this exquisite detail and I would miss it? My reply " Yes, of course I did". I have to preserve my reputation.

I Pinco Pallino is an upscale and Italian-based chain of children's clothing stores. Which means you can usually find one in major cities during your European travels. It could only be princes and princesses of royal or celebrity lineage who could actually buy and wear these clothes, but what exquisite detail, style, and craftmanship. It is a not-to-be-missed store for anyone who appreciates beautiful things and truthfully it is more lovely than this interior web photo suggests (love the floor). I could have bought that ivory window display outfit just to look at and admire, it truly was that gorgeous with the lace skirt, fur jacket with embroidered crest, and suede boots! But I did mention my husband was the logical one didn't I?

A hearfelt Thank You to all the readers and fellow bloggers who commented or emailed me directly with thoughts of lovely support during my poorly-timed recovery. I haven't forgotten the seasonal countdown has started ........and we have some Christmas wrapping and gift ideas to get going on so I am resting and getting there slowly but surely. PS. Pricey bed linens are worth every penny.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Lights, cameras......and real estate

In order to survive a case of the Shingles (which I realized I had about halfway over the Atlantic 10 days ago) you must take liberal doses of very hefty pain killers. You need to rest, a exceptionally good and lengthy ipod playlist, non-depressing Oprah shows, and you need to stay away from commenting on any other blogs while laying about in a pain-medicated state. Otherwise, people might take you serious and as we all should know............sounding serious and ingesting pain meds do not mix. You probably shouldn't blog either although I have checked and my previous travel post reads relatively normal considering my necessary consumption that day. I didn't purchase that apartment in Nice I mentioned but it did lead me to leave a glib comment on a one of my favorite blogs last week while in said pain-medicated state and that led to another email which I will get to in a few minutes.

First, if you wanted to get a bunch of friends together and rent this gorgeous Provence farmhouse named La Goutte D' Or (named after a local variety of figs) for a week, you could do so for 1,525 - 2,300 Euros per week depending on the season. It sleeps 8 so you do the math as I am not sure I am capable yet of doing it for you (even though I have reduced the pain meds). I find these enticing offers of rental properties on the Provence-based blog The Provence Post. As a freelance and travel writer, blogger and expat Julie Mautner has lived in St. Remy since 1999 so she knowledgeably shares local travel information that future travelers or homeowners would find helpful when heading to this region. Traveling aside, I find her blog highly entertaining as she blogs about the food, wine, and happenings of her adopted home. Julie posted this past week (click here) on the show House Hunters, the American producers of the hit show House Hunters International on HGTV are looking for homeowners looking to relocate or buying a second home outside of the US. You can see where this is going don't you? No, I am not moving to Nice and cannot participate in making myself an international TV star but if you know anyone from any country who is "lively and interesting" and is lucky enough to be seriously searching for a property in France or anywhere outside the US and who would like to be featured on House Hunters International, then you should tell them to quickly contact producer Holly Schwartz. Lights, action, a camera crew and some funds for your time........could maybe cover some foreign moving costs. The camera-ready buyers must be seriously planning to buy and be available for filming for 3-4 days in early 2010. The Pietown production is also looking for "animated and engaging" English-speaking real estate agents who sell property outside the US. Call me if it works out for you, I am so going to need another vacation when I recover and anywhere international will do. Visit the website or contact Holly Schwartz at for more information.

Both photos via blog ~ The Provence Post

Monday, November 16, 2009

A bit of the French Riviera........

I did, I did...............missed you that is. But I sure did enjoy visiting another part of the world and spending time with that romantic man of mine. It was an incredible trip and I thought I would share just a few of my favorite photos as I ease back into the work groove and everyday life. This first photo is my favorite, a street in Sorrento, Italy (my favorite town to revisit for a longer stretch) and a reminder when touring these European towns and cities to always take time to look up. Isn't it an incredibly beautiful building?

I didn't notice the wording on this beach sign until I was downloading this photo taken along the spectacular Amalfi Coast. I would love to see this "Bikini" beach in the summer, it looks like a fun place to soak up the rays.

The ride along the Amalfi Coast was breathtaking and not for anyone with a fear of heights. It's landscape is surreal in it's majestic and rugged beauty. We live in the flattest part of Canada so this stretch was particularly captivating to me. Such natural beauty........ we couldn't shoot photos fast enough as we navigated the countless twists and turns.

The Trevi Fountain in Rome has to be one of the most beautiful fountains in the world. It was extremely busy with tourists and the guard told us the only time to see it without masses of people is around 5-6 in the morning. If staying in Rome I think it would be most worthwhile to pick up an espresso and quietly wait as the sun rises and shimmers over this glorious piece of history.

Trevi Fountain ~ Rome, Italy

When we came out of the Vatican and St Peter's the sky turned a weird colour and I saw a few bystanders make the sign of the cross. It was a reflective moment as most just stood still and absorbed the somber mood in St. Peter's Square. Probably more than a few were thinking it was some kind of sign from you know who. No really, it was that weird. Maybe it was just me (spiritual but not religious) but I don't think I was alone in feeling a profound feeling of awe.

As we stood there in St Peter's Square and turned to leave, the lights came on in the Pope's apartment........

Thankfully, on to some of that incredibly reflective sunshine in Nice and Cannes a few days later. Our weather had been windy and overcast up to this point, certainly nothing that hindered our enjoyment but our ship did miss two ports, Livorno and Marseilles, because of strong winds. I used those days to sleep in after a series of 6 am wake-up calls, pamper myself with a massage and manicure, and have others get my unruly hair back in order. If I was going to miss Florence, Italy and a lovely arranged lunch in St. Remy de Provence at least I was going to feel good about it.

Just relaxing on the Cote d' Azur . The Promenade des Anglais in Nice. My kind of place.

I was entranced with the detail and brilliant colour of these shaped marzipan fruits and
des cochons seen in the outdoor markets in Nice.

My husband was taken with this most civilized approach to daily reading outside a cafe in Cannes.
I think he fancies himself living the life of a French artistrocrat.

Upon our return we (jokingly) emailed this photo to our son with the following message "Please don't expect any inheritance in the future as we have decided to leave absolutely no funds behind and we have purchased this lovely little spot in Nice which overlooks the Mediterranean coast. We are sure you understand and approve. ~ Love Mom and Dad XOXO

Return email from said son " Need nothing.......spend away starting now" Love Ozzie ~ XO

All photos by Jim Chase


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