Final Post from Provence du Jour

Bonjour Mes Amis!  (Hello Friends)!



In my post on 9/24/16 titled “What’s in a Name?,” I announced I have been working on a transition from my first Blog, Provence du Jour, to develop and turn it into something bigger.  My new Blog, Chez Suzette, is now up and running!  It is replacing the old Blog and here is a link to the new site:

When you click on this link (or copy and paste it into your browser) it will take you to the Home page of my new Blog.  Please Subscribe to the Chez Suzette Blog so you won’t miss any updates, new posts and other news as I continue to refine and grow the website.  (Note:  My new site domain is,  NOT  .com.)

Many of you have been subscribed to follow the Provence du Jour Blog, and I want to thank you for following along and for your support as I’ve gone down this new path.  Your encouragement along the way has been one of the reasons I’ve decided to continue this venture.  And I especially want to thank you for your comments and I hope you’ll continue to respond — I want to know what you think, and what you’d like to see more of in the way of content.  NOTE:  If you have been subscribed to follow Provence du Jour, you will NOT get posts from Chez Suzette.  You must go to the new Chez Suzette Blog and subscribe to the new Blog.

I also have a new Chez Suzette Facebook page, Pinterest page and Instagram account.  You’ll find the links to follow any of these at the bottom left of the Chez Suzette Home Page.

There won’t be any new posts coming from the old Provence du Jour Blog after this so please be sure to go to the new site,, and Subscribe to ensure you get new Chez Suzette postings.  Merci!

A bientot!



What’s in a Name?


What began as a challenge to document a trip to Provence has turned into a passion for sharing my love for home, travel and treasures.  Provence du Jour was to be a way to chronicle my escapades and share a few photos along the way with family and friends.  As I wrote about the adventures, the food, wine and the French flea markets or brocantes, however, it connected me to so many people who share the same loves and dreams.  And isn’t that what life is all about, challenges and passion?  It’s been more fun than I ever anticipated and I didn’t want it to stop.

So it’s time for my baby blog, Provence du Jour, to begin a new journey.  Get ready for the new edition of my grown up blog, and a new name — “Chez Suzette”!


The next post you see will come to you from Chez Suzette (website is under construction at and it will continue on the WordPress platform.  I’m learning every day how to transition to a “real” blog site that will have more robust content, links to lots of resources and information, and the ability to grow along with me as I continue to explore so many of the things and places I love. All with a French twist.  I love to learn and believe you should learn something new every day, but I gotta say the blogging world of platforms, host sites, RSS feeds, SEO and plug-ins has been such an eye opener and feels like learning a foreign language.  I do think learning French is easier!  Or at least I sound sexier when I say French words out loud instead of all those technical blogging/coding terms.


Come with me on this journey to discover how to add more beauty, fun and treasures to our everyday lives.  At Chez Suzette we’ll explore French and other cultures through travel, decor, food, wine and friends.  We’ll go in search of flea market and antique treasures, both in the U.S. and in Europe, but particularly in France.  Some of these will become available through an online shop I will be adding to my Chez Suzette site.  I love to cook (and eat!) so I’ll share recipes and ideas for entertaining or a cozy meal at home just for you.  And sometimes you’ll just get random musings that wake me up at night and won’t go away until I write them down.


I hope you’ll join me along the way in search of a life well-lived, perhaps sometimes with a slower pace that forces us to stop and be more present in our daily lives.  Although those who know me would say I usually don’t slow down much, I’m finding as I grow older that I am longing to spend time every day in a more meaningful way.  We can all live an authentic, interesting and fulfilling life.  We just have to figure out what that means to each of us and through Chez Suzette I’ll try my best to add to your La Vie Belle, a beautiful life for you.

Here’s hoping that the best truly is yet to come for all of us!

A bientot! (See you soon!)


A Commitment to Words and Numbers


I love the old French enamel plaques that you find in the Brocante or Marché aux Puces (flea markets) —  if you’re lucky enough to score such a find.  There’s just no comparison to the temporary versions that adorn offices, entry ways, doors or drawers in today’s world.  Clearly you are making a commitment if you put the name or words or numbers on a metal plaque that was enameled, thereby preserving it with a permanence that doesn’t exist with paper or vinyl or even wood. It was such a more beautiful and detailed way to label the various comings and goings, the numbers of hotel rooms, whether petite or grand, or to give notice where special attention should be heeded.


I found this plaque at a Paris flea market a few years ago, and it’s now above my rear doorway.  Essuyez vos Pieds, S.V.P. — “Wipe your feet, please.”


My friend Wanda gave me this one as a gift not long ago, and it now adorns my terrace garden — Le Jardin.  I love it.


It’s exactly like this one that has a little more age on it, in the home of Kristin in Provence. I really like the way she has displayed it here along with old French sheet music cards.  I have my eye out for a rack like this one.


Thankfully I don’t have a cat (un chat) who is very bad tempered — so I don’t need one like this outside my front door to warn anyone who dares to knock, like this person’s dog (chien) who apparently suffers from a very bad humour.


I will be looking for more of these on my next trip to Provence in a couple of weeks.  Do you have one that’s special, or are you looking for one?

Barbara and the Sticky Wicket


Some people you meet for the first time and you just get on from the very beginning.  That was the case when I met my fake Canadian friend Barbara on the French Muse trip in May.  She became known as a “fake Canadian” due to the fact that she was British but now lives in British Columbia, Canada.

Barbara quickly became my comrade in arms.  Whenever someone asked, “Does anyone want a glass of wine?,” we were the first to raise our hands.  Good friends don’t let friends drink alone, ha ha.


On our first day after arriving at the bastide where we would stay for the week, our host asked if after we had a chance to settle in we would like to gather on the terrace for some champagne.  Without missing a beat, Barbara stomped her foot and exclaimed “Champagne?  I HATE it when we have champagne!”  (She was kidding, of course.)


Barbara stayed on in France after I returned home from that trip and went on to visit with her family in England.  We were all very curious as to how she was going to get away with carrying these large old wooden fork and rake treasures back to Canada on an airplane.


She does a spot on impression of her mother in a royal British accent that always had us falling off our chairs laughing.  I so regret that I didn’t record her so I could listen any time I needed a laugh.  It sounded as if Barbara had been a challenge when growing up (for those of us who’ve met her, that comes as no surprise), and her imitation of how her mother used to admonish her was hysterically funny.  


When we stopped to take photos of the poppy fields, I stepped out of the car to take a photo with Barbara’s camera and I handed her my phone to hold.  Not until later that day when looking through the photos on my phone did I realize that she took a photo of my butt.  (Thanks, Barbara, I’ve always wanted a photo like this one.)

Later that first day as we gathered for champagne and dinner on the terrace, we learned that after many hours on airplanes from Canada to France the person seated next to her on the plane had spilled wine during the flight directly into her lap.  She had come from the airport and an overnight flight and then spent a full day wearing the same clothes as we spent that first day visiting antique dealers.

When we learned about her mishap she promptly informed us, however, that  “I did NOT wet my pants, but I’ve been walking around with a sticky wicket all day!”


Missing you, Bah-bah-rah.  Hope your wicket has been dry but that there’s been no shortage of wine and champagne in your fake Canadian corner of the world.

Tiny Treasures

You know that saying, “Good things come in small packages?”  While I think that’s true  — hello jewelry and diamonds! —  I especially think it’s true of the unique tiny treasures you can find at the French brocante, estate sales and American flea markets.  The tiniest of finds makes me smile, and here are some of my favorites.

A small alabaster and metal urn found at the brocante at Carpentras.  No more than 4 inches high, it just shouts “look how elaborate I am!”  I don’t remind it that I only gave one euro for it, and I keep expecting that one morning I’ll walk by it and it will actually have grown a little.
An 18th century silver money purse from the brocante at Villeneuve-les-Avignon.  It was attached and worn on the garments to carry coins.  Can you imagine how long it took to create the mesh from all those tiny silver rings?


A tiny porcelain pitcher from an American flea market, holds about 5 ounces.  Perfect for serving salad dressings or cream.
A set of four small glasses from an estate sale, $9 for the four.  The grapevine design etched into the glass is exquisite, the size just right for serving a cordial.  As they only hold three ounces, they definitely can’t be used as wine glasses in my house.



Tiny glass beaker from the brocante at Carpentras.  Marked in “Grammes” it was probably used in a pharmacy or medical office.
Miniature two-inch magnifying glass in a soft leather pouch, found at the brocante.  Since I can’t see anything up close anymore without reading glasses, it’s getting a lot of use when I really need to see something tiny.  And I have to say I have never seen a more beautiful magnifying glass!
A small three-inch flower vase that is perfect for a single bloom or stem.  A gift from a dear friend of mine, it makes me focus on the beauty and marvelous detail of just that one flower it holds. 

Life doesn’t have to be elaborate to be grand.  What’s your tiny treasure?

A Keyhole or a Portkey?

“A Portkey is an object enchanted to instantly bring anyone touching it to a specific location.”      



I have a thing for old pieces and fragments of brass and bronze hardware.  Some are keyhole covers from old doors, others are perhaps decorative fragments that once adorned beautiful pieces of furniture.  Somewhere along the way they have been removed, probably when people have updated locks or replaced doors, and thus they began a journey to the land of “Things No One Knows What to do With.”  Some pieces were salvaged off broken furniture or likely removed because someone wanted to “update” the piece.  These pieces definitely don’t give off a contemporary vibe in furniture.


All the lovely fragments I’ve found digging through dirty boxes fall under one of my favorite categories — “Things they don’t make like this anymore.”

This bronze beauty becomes the center of attention when placed behind an old, beautifully gilded and ornate frame from Belgium.

To me they are Portkeys that can transport you to another time, another place.  Back to a time when an artisan spent hours casting a mold and carving intricacies into metal, never knowing who would one day witness the result of their labor.  I see an individual work of art forever cast in metals that glow.  Each piece carries its own character within, sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical.

All of the pieces pictured in this post are from the brocante at Carpentras in Provence or from a flea market outside of Paris.


I like to add them to walls to accent paintings, they add a little je ne sais quoi to what would normally just be a picture hanging on a wall.  They also could be added to a buffet table as a decorative piece or positioned on a garden wall.  The possibilities are endless.

A self portrait painted by my daughter J. Morgan several years ago when she was in college.



The faces are always so beautiful, I am always enraptured with the level of detail.


The face of Bacchus with grape clusters on either side of his face.  The god of wine is known for the frenzy he induces.  

At times when I am longing to be on an adventure, traveling to and experiencing life in a place far from home, I walk past one of my Portkeys and remember exactly where it found me.  And then I get transported back to a different time and place, just long enough to tide me over until the next trip.  What is your Portkey?

Happy Birthday Julia

Yesterday we celebrated my good friend Nancy’s birthday so I’ve got birthdays on my mind.  As a follow up to last week’s post, today I want to highlight some favorite quotes from Julia Child who would have been 104 today, August 15th.  If she were still with us I’m sure she’d be having one hell of a party.


“The best way to execute French cooking is to get good and loaded and whack the hell out of a chicken.”

Well, why not?  Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, pun intended.

Probably my all time favorite quote is

“I enjoy cooking with wine, sometimes I even put it in the food…”  

Isn’t it awesome how much a little wine added to a dish can transform it into something special?  And I know when you add a little wine to me I’m certain that I transform into something special.

“If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.”

To follow this one, I have to share part of her introduction from The Way to Cook, published in 1989.

“Fear of food, indulgences, and small helpings. Because of media hype and woefully inadequate information, too many people nowadays are deathly afraid of their food, and what does fear of food do to the digestive system?  I am sure that an unhappy or suspicious stomach, constricted and uneasy with worry, cannot digest properly.  And if digestion is poor, the whole body politic suffers.

An imaginary shelf labeled INDULGENCES is a good idea.  It contains the best butter, jumbo-size eggs, heavy cream, marbled steaks, sausages and pâtés, hollandaise and butter sauces, French buttercream fillings, gooey chocolate cakes, and all those lovely items that demand disciplined rationing. Thus, with these items high up and almost out of reach, we are ever conscious that they are not everyday foods.  They are for special occasions, and when that occasion comes we can enjoy every mouthful. 

Servings indicated in the recipes are for conventional amounts, but for all of us it’s sensible, indeed, to make a habit of smaller helpings.  I,  for one, would much rather swoon over a few thin slices of prime beefsteak, or one small serving of chocolate mousse, or a sliver of foie gras than indulge to the full on such nonentities as fat-free gelatin puddings.

The pleasures of the table — that lovely old-fashioned phrase — depict food as an art form, as a delightful part of civilized life.  In spite of food fads, fitness programs and health concerns, we must never lose sight of a beautifully conceived meal.”

Well said, Julia.


“A party without cake is really just a meeting.”

I think I’ll start taking cake to all my work meetings and turn them into a party.  They’re bound to be more fun that way.  I’m game, are you?

Happy Birthday Julia, and Bon Appétit!

Me and Julia


I had the distinct privilege to meet Julia Child in 1990.  I was one of the millions who used to watch her cook on television and had tried many recipes from her Mastering the Art of French Cooking. So I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet both her and Robert Mondavi of Mondavi Winery when they came to town as co-founders of the Atlanta chapter of the American Institute of Wine & Food.  As Julia was then 77 years old I figured I may never have another chance to meet her.  But she went on to live 14 more years until her death at 91, 2 days shy of her 92nd birthday.  


I will never forget the delightful conversation I had with her.  She was so approachable, so pleasant and so passionate in talking about food.  And yes, she was VERY tall.  


She had just published her tome The Way to Cook, which she autographed for me that day.  Julia had fun in the kitchen, which I think is a key to cooking and not taking yourself too seriously.  



Julia had a passion for food and she loved to eat, and when she discovered her passion for cooking while living in France, she also discovered what it meant to eat real food that was well prepared.  Of course, France is famous for its Michelin starred restaurants and sought out chefs.  But you can also enjoy wonderful, simple food in any bistro or cafe in the country.  I’m happy that in the U.S. we have had such a surge in “farm to table” and “whole food” restaurants and cooking.  That’s the way I grew up eating with a fresh vegetable garden planted every year.  Good food, fresh and simply prepared.


One of my favorite recipes from The Way To Cook


Julia preparing Crêpes Suzette

That day in 1990 Julia told me, “Americans are afraid to eat good food.  I believe you should eat what you want, but just do so in moderation.  If you want to eat butter, have a little butter, but make sure it’s real butter.”   Considering Julia lived to almost 92, I think she was on to something.  And when I came home from almost two weeks in France I had only gained half a pound.  With wine and cheese and dessert every day.  Still haven’t figured that one out.  But Julia would be proud.


Bon Appétit!

My Salty Obsession

I’ve known lots of people who will say they are addicted to chocolate.  Or cake.  Or cookies.  Or Diet Coke. (Really?)  But I will fully admit that I am a saltaholic.  My confession is my salt obsession.  Food just isn’t the same without it.  Potato chips versus a candy bar?  Crunchy, salty potato chips will win out for me every time.  Thankfully I don’t have any problems with high blood pressure, and if that day ever comes just be prepared that I will be one unhappy camper.  I do drink on average about 14 full 8-ounce glasses of water every day, so I’m hoping that helps with the salt intake.  Keep flushing all that sodium out while flushing.  And in my book all those trips to the bathroom also count as exercise.


Years ago I discovered so many more salts than I had routinely been using in daily cooking.  My “go to” salts had been kosher salt, grey sea salt from England and French fleur de sel (I love that the name means “flower of the sea”).  Then I stepped inside the Spice & Tea Exchange little shop on a trip to Asheville, NC and I stopped dead in my tracks.  Holy mother of salt, this was like walking into a candy store for me. My tastebuds had a heyday.  I’ve hosted plenty of wine tastings, but if you come to my house you may just have a salt tasting too.  Or we can just kill two birds with one stone and taste Chardonnay infused sea salt (yes, it’s a real thing).  If you don’t have one near you, here’s a link to The Spice & Tea Exchange website, of course they ship!


Maldon flaked sea salt from Essex, England is a beautiful, bright white large-flake salt crystal.  It is perfect as a “finishing” salt, especially on desserts where you can see the large flakes.  You’ve probably seen it in the dessert case atop Salted Caramel Brownies or truffles.  There is something SO satisfying about biting into something sweet like a brownie, and encountering that unexpected crunch of the salt.  It’s the ultimate yin and yang party in your mouth.  Because salt adds that little something, a je ne sais quoi you might not know how to describe but you know that it was perfect.

Friends have been astounded (or maybe horrified) that I carry those little salt packets from carry out restaurants in my purse.  I don’t know why people act surprised by it. Nothing worse than getting stuck with food that isn’t seasoned enough.  Once at a breakfast meeting a colleague couldn’t believe it when I sprinkled salt on my oatmeal, along with the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.   I explained that it’s the difference between eating an oatmeal cookie with salt and one without salt. There’s a reason that cookie recipes, and cakes and pies and other desserts, include salt.  Trust me, try it sometime.


I keep many of my salts, along with grinders for black and white peppercorns, on a marble lazy Susan next to the cooktop so all I have to do is reach over when I’m cooking.  For years they just sat on the countertop until I discovered the turntable in Cost Plus World Market.  You can find one here –  Now every day when I am cooking I give the turntable a happy little twirl to select which salt or pepper I want to use.   Sexy action in the kitchen with every spin.   


This gorgeous copper topped grinder is my favorite.  I think it’s the sexiest kitchen tool I own.  I found it unexpectedly in Crate & Barrel a couple of years ago, and I love it filled with the pink Himalayan salt.  Here’s a link to the copper grinder, and they also have a matching pepper grinder.   I first discovered the Himalayan salt in Cortona, Italy about eight years ago where it was on the table in a little ristorante.  It was such a special touch, and now you can find  it anywhere. (Hint:  In the US, stores like TJ Maxx and HomeGoods are great places to buy pink Himalyan salt, a much better value than in a fancy gourmet shop.)



For large crystal or small nugget salts, it’s easiest to use a salt grinder.  But be sure that it’s made specifically for salt, as most of them have a ceramic grinding mechanism.  Salt will corrode the metal in a traditional pepper grinder, and that’s not a pretty sight. 


IMG_1550I found this amazing, beautifully flaked salt at Hediard, a historical boutique in Paris at Place de la Madeleine, . It is from Cyprus, Chypre en francais. These stunning salt crystals are imbedded with the color of the sun, and every time I pick them up they sparkle. I’ve never seen it anywhere else, but I also found it in this rosemary infused salt.  The color is not the same, but the smell is heavenly.  It’s terrific on grilled meats and vegetables, and it’s dynamite as a finishing salt on top of cream of potato soup drizzled with olive oil.


If you’ve never tried smoked hickory and alder wood salts, you are in for a treat.  They are terrific on grilled meats and fish but also wake up most vegetables in an unexpected way. But I have to admit I’ve never tried chocolate sea salt, which you can also find at the Spice & Tea Exchange.  I’d rather enjoy a piece of good quality dark chocolate that has sea salt added in.  Yum.


And one of the most prized salts comes from (yep, you guessed it) Provence.  The Camargue is a natural region located south of Arles, France, where the two arms of the Rhone River meet the Mediterranean Sea. Salt marshes in the southeast corner of the Camargue are famous for their salt production, producing up to 15,000 tons a day in the summer.  Fleur de Sel de Camargue is hand raked and harvested by hand by a master salt maker, un saunier, a process that has changed very little in more than a thousand years. So just when you might think “salt is salt,” just ask a Provencal master who gathers this salt and is so proud of it that he signs his work.  I think if I were un saunier I would put my name on my salt too.


So now you know my obsession.  Which is yours, salty or sweet?

Memories of More than 80 Years

My mom, Sara

I spent this past weekend tackling the achingly arduous task of cleaning out my parent’s house of the last 40 years.  Two years ago my mom and dad both died within months of each other and my sister and I have put off this chore, mostly because of being busy with work, families and life in general, but I’m sure partly because neither of us wanted to admit that they are gone and now it’s time to move on.

My dad, Dock Jr., but who was always called “Junior”

Going through every closet and drawer and cabinet in the house (not to mention the basement that must have 500 pounds of nails and screws that my dad could never throw away) makes us have to admit that this part of our life is over and will never be the same again.   The task of cleaning out after someone has died brings back many memories from your own life thus far, and you find yourself laughing and crying and then wondering “Why on earth did I ever give them this thing as a gift?” as you cart out box after box of things that now no one knows what to do with.


As I’ve written before my parents were not travelers. They had no desire to explore the United States, let alone the big wide world.  Still not sure where my wanderlust gene came from.  I think my dad saw enough during his Army days in the late 1940s and after he returned home, that was that. They never lived anywhere else except the small town in northeast Georgia where I was born.  Their entire family didn’t reach much beyond a couple hundred miles radius. Their home was their oasis, their touchstone, where they lived their lives and raised their two girls and grew old together and took care of each other. 

My mom was that proverbial person whose floor you could eat off. I’ve known for a few decades  that I got that trait from her because my house is pretty spotless too. I hope I’m not too compulsive about it, I just know it makes me feel better when things are clean and organized.  And my mother taught me to cook when I was a child, I’ll never forget standing next to her on a step stool so I could reach the countertop and help stir something in a bowl or roll out biscuit dough.  I thank God every day for that, because cooking for myself and others is something I love, never mind that it comes in handy because I also love to eat.  Some of her favorite handwritten recipes are now priceless treasures to me.  Despite our technological advances, I think everyone should leave a few handwritten recipes behind.


My dad was Mr. Fix It, he could repair anything and had a talent for making something out of nothing.  He believed in hard work and that everyone had to pull their own weight.  My father was responsible for me getting my first job at age 15 when he came home one day and told me he saw a sign in the window of a photography studio in town, Help Wanted.  I knew there was no other option than to go and apply, so I did and I got the job, and I worked there my last three years of high school. It turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me because I learned so many valuable lessons that have served me well to this day.


You realize when going through all the “things” left behind that what matters most are all the old photographs. You’re never prepared for the number of pictures you discover that span a life of over 80 years.  We finally had to stop ourselves from going through box after box of old photographs or we knew we’d never finish the task at hand.  I wonder what will happen with future generations, when everything is digital and when families are cleaning out and they won’t have old black and white or faded color photos to touch and reminisce over. The smell of yesterday and of old love and fond memories just won’t be the same when viewed on a computer or a phone.

Me and my older sister with my maternal grandfather, one of the most gentle men I’ve ever known.
There weren’t that many photos of me compared to my older sister so I’m happy to have found this one.  I remember my mom telling me that when I came along, the money ran out. 


I have no idea who this man is in this photo with me and my sister, but I just love that he has a cigarette hanging out of his mouth with two little girls by his side.


Sometimes I wish I could have known my parents when they were this age.  What did they think about, what did they laugh about, what made them cry?  What were their dreams and aspirations?  The one thing I do know is that I will be forever grateful to them and thankful.  Two lives well lived.  And memories that will be with me forever.