Posted in OUT & ABOUT, Uncategorized

St. Antonin Noble Val Sunday Market

local market

Summer time is here again and the Sunday market at St. Antonin-noble-val is hotting up, so if you are planning a holiday down this way in the next few months make sure you wake up early on Sunday mornings and drive down there as soon as possible to grab your parking place!

St.Antonin

Lovely fresh local fruit and vegetables, assortments of cheeses and local honey, and then a sit down for a well earned drink – cappuchino for me or a nice cool beer from one of the local bars is very refreshing.

Are you in holiday mood yet?

We now have our vacation home ready and waiting for you just 10 minutes drive from St.Antonin-noble-val here in South West France. More of this later, but if you would like to take a look, “CHEZ MACKENZIE” is here on “HomeAway”

GO HAVE A LOOK!

Posted in Blog, OUT & ABOUT

An Evening in Biarritz — with an ipad

biarritz eveningIt was Denise’s birthday recently. What to get her? Since the release of the ipad3, there was never any other solution. I knew this was right up her street. I was always hogging the camera, so this was the ideal present.

AND, I got to grab the old ipad, he,he!

So here we are in Biarritz—for the first time. Weather hot and sunny. The hôtel was just a few strides from the beach, by the Casino, and we could walk leisurely around the old town, through the narrow streets full of little trendy gift shops backed by impressive victorian villas and grand apartments, down to the old harbour, with its boats, and old fishermen’s cottages.biarritz-night02

biarritz-night04As night fell, I was tucking into sole while Denise had chosen fresh tuna and risotto.The breeze had dropped and the lights made it all very picturesque.

Taking night-time shots with my SLR digital I’ve never found satisfactory—I don’t like to use flash as it always seems to ruin the ambiance and delicacy of the view—but without flash, the long exposure time means blurry images.

The ipad was very simple to use—you do need to try to be as still as possible when shooting—we dumped quite a few images that were way too blurry—but considering the lack of light, I really liked the results. They give the right atmosphere and “feel” to the evening.

“a picture is worth a thousand words”

In common with all images that we post on the web, these photos have been “corrected” — I always open my images in a photo editor and check overall exposure, crop if necessary, size down to 1000px wide, then sharpen a little before “saving for web” to get the final file size down to around 120kb.  I use Photoshop, but smaller, simpler editors will all handle these functions equally well.

But I do feel strongly that it is worth taking a little extra trouble to learn a few simple photo-correction techniques before uploading images to the web—as the saying goes—”a picture is worth a thousand words” and it’s a shame to spoil well-written content with underexposed, or poorly cropped images.

“Le Port des Pêcheurs” is wonderfully photogenic, with the boats in the harbour, backed by rows of “crampottes” —  little fishermen’s cottages, colourfully restored, each sporting its owners name painted over the door. I’ll be posting some more photos of the old fisherman’s port soon. Meanwhile, we’re looking to revisit Biarritz when we’ve more time—there’s a lot yet to see and do in this lovely little corner of South West France.

Posted in Blog, HOUSE & GARDEN, OUT & ABOUT, The Garden

Summer Thunderstorms in SW France

Last Sunday was hot and sunny, then suddenly everything changed.

The sky went dark. The clouds moved in at remarkable speed. All went deathly quiet……….

Summer thunderstorm SW France

Martin took this photo just before all hell let loose….

Thunder, Lightening and Hail Stones the Size of Golf  Balls!

I’ve heard of hailstorms where ice the size of golf balls fall from the sky, but never seen the like before last Sunday afternoon. Quite a spectacular affair seen from our balcony.

Unfortunately, it meant no electric for the next 2 hours. A bit annoying when you are trying to watch the Olympics – London 2012. Still, all lights and TV connection were restored in time to watch Usain Bolt win the 100 meters dash, so I was happy!

Posted in Blog, DÉCORATION, Inspirations, Let's Be Creative!, MACKENZIE FRAMES, Wall Displays

Work In Progress – Hand Painted Frames For A Collection Of Mirrors

The summer season of craft shows is upon us, and although I don’t do many of them these days, whenever the ladies of Varen phone me  to participate in their annual summer craft show – I usually say yes.

hand painted mirror frames

Varen (zip code – 82330) is a very pleasant village near St. Antonin Noble Val, in the Tarn-et-Garonne about 15 minutes drive from where I live here in the Midi-Pyrenees region of South West France. The good ladies of Varen, take it upon themselves to manage ‘La Shoppe’ every summer in the hope of luring tourists and locals alike into their little stone clad den below the ‘mairie’ (the mayor’s office) which is full of hand made delights from local artisans.

hand painted mirror frames 1

The theme this year is ‘Reverie’ – a very subjective word  that summons different things to different people. Well, to my mind, in the realm of interior decor, this means ‘The House of my Dreams’ and as Marie-Claude (chief lady in charge) specifically asked me to provide some of my Hand Painted Framed Mirrors, this is what I had in mind.

Hand Painted Mirror Frames 03

I hope there are a few people passing through Varen this summer who have the same taste in colors and framed mirrors as I have!

Hand painted Mirror Frames 05

So I thought you would like to see the ‘Work In Progress’ of the hand painted frames at the moment. As you see, my color theme is very neutral – white, taupe and beige. A variety of sizes and styles from my ‘odd box’ of moldings that we seem to collect over the years in our Framing Workshop. Any one who has been following my blog here only has to to go to the DIY Tutorials to see that I love ‘Up-cycling’ old frames to make them into objects of desire once again!

Small White Mirror Frames 06

Well, Martin has just cut the individual pieces of mirror for each frame. He still needs to cut the backing boards and then I can finish the transformation of these frames into the mirrors of your dreams.

When they are ready, I’ll give you an update. And if you are on holiday here in our corner of South West France this summer, perhaps you can come and visit Varen and have a little peak into ‘La Shoppe’!

Posted in MACKENZIE FRAMES

Is your Mom Your Best Friend, Your Dad Your Best Buddie?!


So, is your Mom your Best Friend? Your Dad your Best Buddie? Well, perhaps YES, perhaps NO! Whatever – I am sure they will love to find these tiny little framed custom table names at their place at your Thanksgiving and Christmas table this year.

Hey – and don’t forget Little Brother & Little Sister!

Because of the time of year, I’m thinking of the holiday period that is nearly upon us, but these little place names would be a great way to personalize your table decor for any coming event – perhaps your wedding or an anniversary party and don’t forget they go very well with the table numbers that are also available in my Etsy shop in the Table Numbers and Names Section. No need to go with the names I have illustrated – I’m quite happy to custom print your own name suggestions for your little Table Numbers!

Posted in Blog, Wedding Table Decor

Table Numbers in Silver Boules Mini Frames for Weddings, Events, Restaurants, Banquets

My new range of TABLE NUMBERS are here at last! They are the cutest little frames that will really enhance your table decor. I have used a variety of our Narrow Gold and Silver style frames as well as the very popular Shabby Chic in White and Gold and Black and Gold styles. Well, pictures are better than words, so here are a few photos. Let’s start with the NARROW SILVER BOULES:

You can buy these little silver framed table numbers in packs of  FIVE (5), SIX (6), TEN (10), TWELVE (12). Find them in my Etsy Shop or on ArtFire
More Styles later!

Posted in Color Shape Space, Let's Be Creative!

Deluxe Red Hand Painted Photo Frames Ready for Etsy

Well, just spent the afternoon photographing the Red Frames Hand-Made-By-Me. Why? You did that a few weeks ago! Well, since then, I have done a complete set of a deluxe Red Range of the hand painted frames that I am going to post in our Etsy Shop. These frames are all covered on the backs and struts with our textured black paper so they look just as good on the back as they do from the front, include glass and a neat paper insert, giving the frames a smart deluxe feel that makes them an ideal  gift for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries  or just a treat for yourself!

Here are a few of the photos that I will be posting on Etsy tomorrow:

Posted in Blog, Color Shape Space, DÉCORATION, Let's Be Creative!

Red Frames Hand Made By Me!

Well this is RED WEEK on ‘Details in the Decor’ and I have just spent the afternoon preparing a whole bunch of photos that I took earlier this week of the Red Frames that I painted a couple of weeks ago. I just had to put a few up here to give you a sneak peak! More later…