Now that I’ve lived in France for a solid two years, all I want is sunshine. Like John Denver says, “Sunshine on my shoulders, makes me happy.”
At first it used to annoy me that whenever there was a glimpse of sunshine, lily white vitamin D deficient Parisians would slither out of their apartments, eyes squinting, searching for their slice of sunshine in every garden, terrace and café… And then milk it… for hours… Hogging the light. And now, two years later, I am one of them. Sunshine is my holy Grail. I actually check weather reports which is something I’ve never done, praying for sunshine on the weekends when I go outside. Now I understand (and appreciate) why the French take their August “vacances” so seriously. Jeez, Frenchies, I hear ya.
While I love my apartment, appreciate my apartment, respect my apartment… I also hate it. My apartment offers me everything a girl would dream of in a Parisian apartment… Point de hongrie hardwood floors, high ceilings, detailed molding, skyscraper French windows, three fireplaces and in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. However, it’s lacking one thing… A terrace (and a view but I can’t get greedy.) Yes, I have six little Juliet balconies just big enough for a topiary and Frances (yes, it annoys me that my cat gets more sunshine than I do) but it’s not enough… It’s just not enough! I have spent the last year searching every real estate agency for the equivalent of my apartment but with a terrace.… For the same price. Apparently, I have learned, this is just asking too much… Unless I want to spend €8000 a month and even then it’s still difficult. I have found other apartments for the same price but they lack the high ceilings, the fireplaces and the 7 feet tall French windows because usually places that have terraces are on the last and top floors of the quintessential Haussmann Parisian apartment buildings which were generally reserved for the servants. Lucky maids. (I often wonder that if architect Monsieur Haussmann had just designed these apartments on the lower floors with balconies 3 feet wider if Parisians wouldn’t be so grumpy because they would have a usable balcony with some fresh air and sunshine.) Was I willing to trade my beautiful apartment for a tiny top floor (probably no elevator) unadorned apartment that had a terrace? I went back and forth, trust me. On our weekend walks through Paris my neck is usually craned upward admiring the few lucky souls that have a terrace. I actually take pictures of stranger’s terraces. At least 300 times per walk I ask my caregivers, “Can we please walk on the sunny side of the street?” I need light!
What to do? What to do? The last thing my husband wanted to do was move to a smaller apartment so we made an agreement that the weekends were spent outdoors in the summer and in the winter my husband promised to take me at least one weekend a month to the south of France so I can spread my wings and bask in the sunshine. It’s too early to tell if he will hold up his end of the bargain.
Who knew that sunshine would become such a valuable commodity? I remember spending more than one Thanksgiving outdoors while we lived in California. Thanksgiving outdoors? That’s unheard of! I remember wanting to spend Thanksgiving somewhere that “felt like Thanksgiving,” somewhere the leaves were changing, somewhere there was a crisp breeze and somewhere I could wear a cashmere turtleneck sweater. Now all I want is to wear a T-shirt 365 days a year and I’m thinking we should probably move to the Florida Panhandle. I just want to be outside in the sunshine eating breakfast, lunch and dinner. So, this brings us to today’s blog… Alfresco dining. Glorious, glorious alfresco dining.
If we are going to have our meals outside, let’s do it right, shall we? We need the right ambience, the proper accoutrements, and the perfect menu. First let’s start with the look…
Sundial Side Chair from Serena & Lily. Click HERE to purchase.
Riviera Side Chair from Serena & Lily. Click HERE to purchase.
Garden String Lights from Serena & Lily. Click HERE to purchase.
Rablabs Lumino Azure Agate Coasters from Barneys. Click HERE to purchase.
Oscar de la Renta's Portuguese hand-cut glasses with blue trim available through Mark D. Sikes. Click HERE to purchase.
Oscar de la Renta's caned tray and stand available through Mark D. Sikes. Click HERE to purchase.
Juliska's English Country Estate Dinnerware available through Mark D. Sikes. Click HERE to purchase.
Woven Seagrass Tray from Williams-Sonoma. Click HERE to purchase.
Flamingo Tapestry Weave Provençal Tablecloth by La Cigale. Click HERE to purchase.
Unbreakable Acrylic Tumblers by Williams-Sonoma. Click HERE to purchase.
Melamine ( these are plastic, people! ) Bumblebee Dinner Plates by Mary Lake-Thompson. Click HERE to purchase.
Melamine (yep, plastic) Le Cadeaux Provence Dinner Plates. Click HERE to purchase.
Now, what are we going to eat? I have am some ideas…
Grilled Shrimp and Lemon Skewers with Feta Dill Sauce. Click HERE for recipe.
Soy Lemon Flank Steak with Arugula. Click HERE for recipe.
Oven Roasted Tomatoes by David Lebovitz. Click HERE for recipe.
Endless Summer Cookbook by Katie Lee. Click HERE to purchase.
For more inspiration, follow my Pinterest Alfresco board HERE. It has everything you need to create a perfect alfresco environment from the overall look to the details… the furniture, the lighting, the tablecloths, the serving pieces, the plates, the glasses, the recipes… Alfresco heaven.
In the meantime, your little sun deprived friend Ellie will “do as the Parisians do” and milk the summer sunshine for all it’s worth.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s summer series. Hint: “faux plage.”A toute!