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It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times...

Hi everyone!  This is  Heather, Ellie's sister - the pretty, nice one.  Ellie just wanted me to give all of you a quick update.  Ellie has had a very tough three weeks.  And unfortunately she is not getting better.  We have taken her out of the horrible palliative care center, and we have her at her favorite little hotel that she has been coming to for ten years.  Regrettably, Ellie can barely speak, can neither eat nor drink, and she can no longer hold up her head.  However she still has her sense of humor and sharp tongue intact.  Her favorite caregivers are here around the clock.  All of her dearest friends will be arriving to provide love and laughter..  Ellie is doing her best to stay strong and will, by the grace of God, get better.  Ellie wants me to tell all of you that she loves you and thanks you for your prayers and well wishes. 

I will keep you updated on her progress.

Love, Heather

Bonjour from Paris...


Just wanted to give you a quick update because I don’t want any of you to worry about me. I am still at the palliative care center in Paris. ALS is giving me a good fight right now. Unfortunately, I cannot hold my neck up very well, I cannot swallow food, and my voice is very weak so I cannot do the blog (Gracie is typing this for me) … Oh, and I shit my pants every day this week. So, my world is a little rocked right now.

I hate 90% of the staff here because they are stupid and if you don’t believe me, I invite you to spend a week here. Let’s see, where should I start… Nurse Francoise told me to stop talking to her but I explained to her that I was talking to my computer, so she decided to close my feeding tube with the back of her clenched fist. That is how the week started and ended with two psychiatrists trying to medicate me against my wishes. #BitchesWithAnOunceOfAuthority

There are some nice nurses like Nurse Sophie, who kisses me every time she leaves my room. Then there is the big nurse named Yolande… who we will obviously love just because of her name. There is a 26-year-old nurse who is in charge of 13 terminally ill patients at night and the funny thing is she has more competence and better bedside manner than all of the old hag nurses put together. I also like the chief of nurses, Nurse Bernadette.

BUT THAT’S IT. The rest are bitches. I will be leaving the center this week to move into an apartment to see if I can gain my strength back. All of my caregivers are back, because it turns out they just hated Provence. My sister, Heather, and my mother will be here within a few hours. I’m not promising anything but I will try for the next month to live the best life that I can. Hopefully it will be filled with flowers, gardens, churches, chocolates, and perfume because after all, it is springtime in Paris.

I will not be able to write the blog very much, if at all. However, follow me on Instagram for daily updates because I will eek out enough strength for that.

Follow me on Instagram HERE

The good news is that because my mother is here to help me, the shop is still open. Not sure if I will be able to do the shop in the future so shop til you drop.

Gracie is helping me finish the book and I promise it will be finished by the end of April.

Thank you all for your well wishes, prayers, and love. I can feel all of your warmth.


Houston, We Have a Problem...

What a difference a day makes… Just last week I was cozying up in my cute farmhouse in Provence with my favorite caregivers, Teddy the big dog with a heart of gold, Valentine the little dog snuggled between my boobs, and Iris the little injured black stray kitten holding on for dear life, 50 sheep outside, plane tree lined streets, Alpilles mountain views and the promised Provençal lifestyle depicted by my favorite Impressionist painters at my fingertips…

And today…

I am in a palliative care center in Paris.

But let’s back up… What could have possibly happened within a few weeks for this drastic change? Well, it turns out I am a tad bit more delicate than I thought. With the past six years that I have had ALS, I have had everything under control, monitored and finely tuned… Caregivers, medication, feeding tube formula, vitamins and my sanity… And then all hell broke loose. My caregivers quit because I had too many animals and they hated living in Provence. I stopped taking my medication, couldn’t find a good masseuse, the kinesiologist never returned my calls, the post office couldn’t find my little farmhouse to deliver my feeding tube formula so it got lost, the new Moroccan Muslim nighttime caregiver was too busy smoking, drinking espresso and praying to Allah to give me my vitamins, I didn’t have the energy to ask for my regular chai soy latte and green juices. My husband, David, showed up at the house on Friday with three new caregivers who, bless their hearts, were/are idiots and I think one of them had elephantiasis of the balls… literally… which was the straw that broke the camel’s back. My little body just couldn’t take it anymore and I crumbled.

I couldn’t hold my neck up, I couldn’t even swallow water or food, and on a TMI (too much information) level, I couldn’t go to the bathroom without some powerful drugs. A recipe for disaster. Time for a little hospital visit, wouldn’t you say? The paramedics arrived and got me ready for transport to the hospital. Here’s the best part… They took me out through the window like a fat person because my doors were too small for the stretcher but probably just to humiliate me. The doctors at the hospital thought it would be best to check into a palliative care center (whatever that is) that specializes in ALS losers. David thought it would be best if I did so as well, but… in Paris. Au revoir, Provence.

So here I am. I arrived with a broken heart, a broken body and broken moral. I thought to myself, “Maybe it’s time that I exit gracefully, while I still can.” I had David take me to Notre Dame Tuesday night like to, I lit a candle and started to have a little discussion with the man above. I wish I would have politely asked, “God, why must I carry such a heavy burden?” But instead, it came out more like, “Dude, what the fuck?”

I asked him, “Why are you throwing so much at me? Are you trying to force me to quit? Are you trying to break me? Are you trying to see how much I can take? Are you searching for my breaking point?” As I sat there waiting for answers amongst a sea of tourists, I felt alone. All alone for the first time in my life and especially the first time with ALS. As I waited for some sign from God, I started to feel myself break. All of my six years of bravery were being reduced to rubble right before my eyes. I was losing my mojo in Notre Dame of all places.                                                             

Then I thought to myself, “Ellie, this is what separates the mice from the men.

You can either give up like a coward or forge ahead and prove to yourself that your life is worth fighting for. You just might have to fight a little harder."

So, call me a fool, but this is what I decided to do. I am going to fight my ass off to stay alive. I have now transformed the palliative care center into my wellness center. I have informed the staff that I am not here to die, I am here to thrive. I will spend the next month recuperating on my own terms. This means doubling my food intake, everything natural and organic, increasing my amino acids, pounding my medication, sucking down green juice after green juice, chai soy latte after chai soy latte, coconut oil, coconut water, flaxseed oil, turmeric and guacamole… Lots of guacamole.

Massages, meditation, acupuncture, physiotherapy and kinesiology.

That’s what I will be doing physically. Mentally, you know what makes me happy… My blog, my shop and writing my book… So that’s just what I’ll do. Little does this palliative care center now that I will be transforming my room into an office, an antique shop and a writing retreat.

Gracie and David have been with me every step of the way. My mother and sister are keeping me laughing and all of my friends, as usual, have been fucking champions. And I have decided to treat myself like a princess while in Paris and I will order beautiful flowers from Odorantes on rue Madame and chocolates from Patrick Roger on Boulevard Saint-Germain.… To keep my spirits up, of course.

I will be here for a month, so let’s make the best of it!

Well, Hallelujah!

Well, hallelujah! Finally, an inspiring design magazine issue. Veranda did me proud this month. Maybe, probably, Veranda magazine read my blog and all of your comments and decided that they better up their game if they want any of us to subscribe ever again. This month’s issue is definitely worth it. I thought it would be fun if we flipped through the pages together…

There is great page dedicated to Veranda’s favorite antique dealer's Instagrams. I love this and started following every one. I hope Veranda does this Instagram round up every month!

Love this little ditty about Temple St. Clair’s jewelry line…


“A constellation of topiaries in uniform garden planters at Versailles…” begins the article…

“Against a field of green leaves or a confetti of vivid blooms, a garden planter brings an appealing sense of focus: drawing the eye, grounding a vignette, crowning a crunchy gravel path with symmetry.”

Some of these garden planters come from my favorite sources… Authentic Provence, Dennis & Leen and Formations. Can you believe that first gorgeous planter, perfectly called Brugge, is from Restoration Hardware! I would totally buy that!

Great little article about kitchen designer, Matthew Quinn, and his new book fittingly titled, Quintessential Kitchens. That custom orange La Cornue range! To die for. And if I don’t get that La Cornue Flamberge Rôtisserie, I’m going to kill myself… Not that I eat chicken.

And because I am on Season 5 of Downton Abbey, this article about Lancelot “Capability” Brown, an 18th century English landscape designer, is right up my alley…


Continuing the garden genius theme, an article about Arne Maynard and his layered approach to garden design complete with a knot garden, crab apples, oxeye daisies, rosemary and germander.

The first feature is of a house in my beloved hometown of Montecito, California. My first question is, “Why don’t I know these people?” These are the type of people that I would be friends with and to answer your question… Yes, I choose my friendships based on decor. Why do you think I’m friends with Diandra Douglas and Hollye Jacobs? :-)

Everything about this dining room works. The pastoral grisaille Zuber wallpaper with the gray moldings and the gray curtains! Be still my heart. Those French point-to-point hardwood floors with that Italian dining room table! Again, that round dining room table with those Christian Liaigare round back chairs! Are those chairs upholstered in ivory leather? Fucking fabulous. That chandelier is so perfect on so many levels. Yes, Hines family, I accept your dinner invitation.

Look at those Swedish cabinets and thank God they put that zebra at an angle. For a complete view of my opinion of zebra rugs you can read a whole blog I did about it HERE. Love that Italian bench back there covered in what looks like lime green satin.

While I am not in love with the chaise or coffee table, everything else is perfect. That silk velvet custom banquette with that Swedish rococo chair upholstered in Scalamandré Le Tigre fabric. Divine! I am so in love with that chandelier, I would marry it and never divorce it. Love the wall color… Benjamin Moore’s Dash of Pepper.

Love the bedroom. Love the curtains, the bedside table lamp, the tapestry, the chaise. While I love the bed coverlet, I don’t love the monogrammed pillows… Too hotel-ish. I am sure there was a more subtle monogramm to choose from, non?

Nothing to hate about this house. Antique oak paneling, antique Georgian eagle gilt consoles, Christopher Spitzmiller blue lamps, Regency armchair with Rose Tarlow fabric. Love how the outdoor stone obliesk draws your eye.

Octagonal dining room with Sherwin Williams Butterscotch walls! Heaven! If I am not mistaken, we had those chairs at our shop. Perfect chairs for this room and I love the floors.

I can’t even tell you how much I love these Benjamin Moore Cushing Green walls. And I love how they painted all of the trim, including the baseboards, the same color.

Oh hell yes! That 17th century tapestry that picks up the red original ceiling beams and the French chandelier! And the wood under the bench! Fabulous.

That teeny tiny antique chandelier on that long chain! Perfect. The bench with my favorite fabric company, Le Manach, in red check. Those doors! The Royal Copenhagen tea set and look at those tall skinny lamps in the windows back there! Love!

Love the enormous lantern.

So you can see, this issue of Veranda magazine is totally inspiring. The Editor in Chief, Clinton Smith, can keep his job.

By the way, some of you have asked how I read magazines. I have an app called Texture where I can read all of my magazine on my iPad or computer… Downloaded within seconds. Even archives all the back issues! Totally genius.

*Something you don’t know about me? Three of my caregivers quit this week because “too many animals, Madame.” My thoughts? They can suck it. If I can live with ALS for six years and yet three grown men cannot take care of two dogs and kitten… Don’t let the door hit you on the way out… Morons.

Worth a read…

Good news! I have dotted my “i’s” and crossed my “t’s” on my book! Can you believe it? It has only taken me three years to write the stupid thing! Now I just need to finish the photos. Thank you for your patience and well wishes… Give me a few more weeks and it should be ready. However, in the meantime, I wanted to share a great article that I read in the current issue of Vanity Fair magazine. It is titled The Battle for Picasso and delves into the familial world of Pablo Picasso’s heirs. A loaded lot full of sibling rivalry, inheritance rights, cataloging discrepancies, trademark morality and drama… You know, the typical fodder for dysfunctional families.

Definitely worth a read…

*Something you don’t know about me? In typical Ellie fashion, I got married on a leap day so I really don’t know how long I have been married. The good news is that I at least know whom I married. I married a man who drives me crazy but still shows up bearing chocolates. We fight every day but he still washes my hair and wipes my nose. He annoys me to no end but there is no one I would rather spend my day with. He won’t do anything that I say but does everything that I want. He hates when I buy expensive fresh flowers because he thinks they are a waste but brings me (from Paris to Provence) gourmet Hollandaise sauce for our Sunday eggs Benedict. He is a self-professed French atheist yet lights a candle in every church that I force him to go into and begs God for a cure for his wife. We have been together for 10 years, married for four (I think) and I have been sick for more than half of our relationship. This past weekend was our anniversary and we spent the day bickering Virginia Woolf style, hunkered down under a Provence monsoon wearing matching pajamas and eating our combined body weight in fondue. A perfect anniversary for a perfectly imperfect couple.