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It was sunny today.
When we went to Canada this summer, we stayed with some friends who had a very stylish house, including their plates, cutlery and glasses. My friend, Joanne, served us red wine in stemless glasses which, I admit, shocked me at first. To me, they seemed more like hard liquour glasses than wine glasses. But when I took one in my hand, I immediately understood. It was a luxurious wine glass without the stem. I realized right then and there that the stem was not necessary. The stem meant that the glass was higher and therefore a potential danger, especially in our house. I have quite a collection of oversized wine glasses… for white, Bordeaux, Bourgogne, champagne and little by little it is diminishing. It’s not even the fault of children ! It is our fault because we are rather clumsy  and those oversized, abnormally high glasses tend to fall over frequently, especially near the end of a meal.

I love oversized glasses because it makes sipping wine even more enjoyable. My whole hand is cupped under the rounded base and when I sip, the wide glass opening allows the wine’s aroma to flow out. It is simply one of life’s luxuries.

The other day I was at Gifi, a chain store that sells household products, cheap furniture and gadgets. I get a kick out of roaming the aisles looking for out of the ordinary stuff. I never know what I might find … cupcake liners, silicone spatulas, a turkey baster, cool colored bowls, a very practical turtable spice rack, slate serving plates and these wine glasses !

No, they aren’t crystal and fine. They are fairly heavy and cheap. And they are perfect for everyday wine drinking. Personally, I think they are perfect for nice dinner wine sipping as well. They aren’t fragile, they can go in the dishwasher (my fancy one’s can’t !) and they are a new table fashion statement, at least in my opinion.

If I find some crystal ones, I might have to invest. But in the meantime, this is what wine comes in at our place. And none have yet to be broken !

It was kind of cloudy today.

After two full days of sawing, assembling, sanding, cleaning and reorganizing, the living room is finally finished ! Every slot in the new TV stand/shelving unit was measured in order to hold certain items, electronics placed according to nearby plugs. That is the advantage of home made furniture.

But the problem was the color. We live near a very small city with only one DIY store when we went to get supplies the liquid oil tint colors were not in abundance. On one of the cans, the color looked like the one we hoped for but the result was completely different ! My husband started to get worried as I was wiping it in to the very light pine wood. It was turning dark chocolate brown. After a few seconds, there was just NO going back. Thoughts of hours sanding the wood down to bareness in order to ever get back to a light color seemed much too daunting.
We have children and have raised a couple of dogs from puppies. This may seem irrelevant, but it isn’t. You see, when the children were really small (and actually some of them are still small) and when the dogs were puppies, things would go seriously wrong, very often. Items of clothing, sunglasses, brand new furniture, really nice looking area rugs … almost everything is our house that I had special love for, was RUINED. When we moved in to our house, we bought brand new furniture for our living room and Tiguak, our puppy, would wait for us to leave the room and then proceed to chew on all the edges of the coffee table and the bottoms of the bookshelves. He also chewed up my beautiful prescription sunglasses. The children drew on freshly painted walls and even carved and dented the dining room table with knives. I found quilt covers with holes in them, chair cushions doodled on or cut up. My children aren’t demons nor the dogs abnormal. I just have too many of them. I have never been able to keep my eye on all them carefully enough to prevent permanent damage to our belongings. And I have shed tears, many times.

Fortunately, they have stopped. Well, almost. I have spotted Margot’s signature in some fairly odd places this week (like the dining room table) and I can understand that because she is five and wanting to prove that she can write just as well as her older brother and sister can. I don’t really understand the need to write in places other than a sheet of paper, but I guess graffiti desires are human. That feeling of I was there, here’s the proof! I don’t even notice the graffiti on the wall in the stairwell because I know it will be painted soon. We made a decision to wait until the kids were older and finally understood what was acceptable or not and that all the dogs were adult and officially non-chewers before trying to make our home beautiful.

I learned a long time ago not to become attached to my clothes, my glasses, my jewelry, makeup , shoes and belts (which disappears because I have a teenage daughter), my kitchen stuff, my furniture. I don’t seek to have a perfect style in the house, with items of furniture in precise, fashionable places. Colors just don’t matter too much. What is stylish today may not be tomorrow and , if someone gets pen happy on the walls, they’ll probably just need painting over soon anyway, so I can change the color.

So the shelving unit isn’t the “right” color. We have decided to make it the “right” color by changing our vision. We are viewing it as more sophisticated, nicely accented with the white wood wall behind it, making the room more cozy and less IKEA looking. We LOVE it!

It might be gone in a few years after the kids and dogs have taken care of it … or maybe we’ll be stuck with it for another twenty. I can always crack open a can of paint.

Jennifer is a Canadian/American, living in the South of France for the last 18 years. Married to a frenchman who's job forces him to spend a lot of his time overseas, she has learned to cope with all those everyday challenges brought about by her sometimes crazy life. Adapting to a new culture, raising children, taking care of animals, growing a vegetable garden, cooking for her family and friends, teaching cooking classes and trying to maintain a fairly organized and inviting home. Here are some of her thoughts about it all.

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