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Thursday, September 26, 2013

From Country Cottage to Urban Dwellers

The last time I wrote I was tearfully saying good-byes in the U.S. and if I now tell you of my recent toils you are all going to think I am a constant blubbering fool! But it is necessary to get you up to London (yes, LONDON!) where Jim and I are now surviving! I say "surviving" only because we are in a studio apartment piled high with suitcases and boxes and without our dogs. But it is going to be O.K. because we are in London (!!!!!) and I'm planning to be out of the apartment ALOT! After just a few days in our apartment I now know why there are so many people on the side walks, in the coffee houses and museums, and relaxing in the parks......they all want to get out of their tinnie winnie apartments...... just like me.

We sold our cottage in Castle Combe for many reasons, but mainly because Jim and I were separated Monday through Friday because he works in the city. Once Devan left for uni, it was hard on both of us being apart during the week. And the weekends flew by too fast. So, now we enter a transition phase that has us in Shad Thames/London by Tower Bridge and our two dogs on "vacation" at a kennel in Westerham - seriously this kennel is close to being  in dog heaven! Of course, I cried saying good-bye to friends and our cottage in Castle Combe and Jim cried saying good-bye to our be honest, I did too, so yes, I am the constant blubbering fool!

From the quiet countryside of the Cotswold area to masses of people, sky scrapers and a constant noise buzz in the air we have begun to get in to our city routine. I have never lived in a big city in my lifetime. Phoenix was the biggest, but it did not feel big because it sprawled for miles and the down town was always disappointing until the Diamondbacks came to the city. London is sprawling too, but it has quaint villages, nestled below towering corporate buildings, a fabulous river (Thames)

rambling along Westminster, The Eye, Tower Bridge and of course so many stunning old architectural buildings. It recently was voted the world's second favorite city behind New York City and it topped the list as the best city in Europe. So, I am pinching myself that I have this opportunity, for awhile, to live here.                                                                        
Over the ten years we have lived in England we have come to London on day visits and a few weekends to Jim's apartment, but we always seemed to go to the same events and venues. Now, we can explore some new sites and areas. We went out this past weekend and had a great day with an unexpected surprise at the end. Our day started with our love for Farmer's Markets and there is the largest and most famous in London called Borough Market just a ten minute walk from our apartment.

It is a gourmet destination for the eyes as well as the stomach. There are endless booths of European cheeses, butchers, fish mongers, salamis, olive oils, breads and seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Mustards of  every flavour and fragrance with samples in antique crystal jars and set upon an antique alter.                    

Mushrooms, varieties I have only ever seen on the 'telly' oh what amazing recipes come to mind as you wander the stalls.

I found some oranges, lemons and tangerines in one booth coming from Israel!!! They were quite "dear" as the British say; meaning expensive. Seeing the citrus display made me think of Jackie's clever blog on Arcadia in Scottsdale and her new line featuring orange soaps, towels and honey. When we lived in Arcadia I remember all the oranges dropping and just laying around!  I bet in the 1920's every orange was "dear" to the grower in Scottsdale! We left with our bags filled with some cheeses from Switzerland, breads with green olives and tomatoes, rabbit and some venison to be adventurous with!!!

We attended church on Sunday at the Southwark Cathedral, right next to Borough Market.
 Its history goes back to 606 when a convent was established on the River Thames. It is one of the oldest churches in the City and it is gorgeous. We were warmly welcomed. The service was wonderful, being well attended, having an adult and children's choir in full robe that sounded first class and a precious baptism of a little boy named Dev. It truly is a holy place both ancient and current praising and worshipping God.

 It was a blessing to both of us to sit for an hour and a half and get grounded in a parable by Jesus.

Recharged we rushed on to the home of Ben Franklin's near Trafalgar Square to be sorely disappointed that it was a two hour wait to get it......we'll go back another time and get there first thing in the morning! On to the National Gallery, which is floors of art collections and the bonus is it is FREE (well, no admission fee)! Always a treat to wander, but sadly they don't let you take any photos so I have nothing to show you'll just have to do a trip to London!!!

This is when our day got fun!!! We started to head down to the Thames to walk back on the North side of the river when Jim noticed hoardes of people lining the road along the Thames. This triggered that the British Tour Cycling race was happening and this race culminates with the champion of the world being crowned. Cycling is huge in Europe and Great Britain and we have the lead cyclist in the world Bradley Wiggins
 who won the Tour de France and several gold medals in the Olympics and he was riding for the crown to be number 1 in the world. The race was to start at Westminster and go to London Bridge right alongside the River Thames. The riders racing this course eight laps/eight times back and forth. We got there to see them race by on the first lap. It was so exciting. These bikers are flying (40 mph)

and they are only inches from one and other. Each lap took about ten minutes, so Jim and I would keep walking a long the Thames and then you would hear crowds beginning to clap and you would know the riders were approaching. We would then get over to the road and watch them whiz by again trying to spot Wiggins to see if he was in the lead. It was the most exciting eighty minutes watching this race. It was like the Olympics all over again with the streets lined with fans and Union Jack flags flying. When they flew by for the last time we were getting close to London Bridge and Wiggins was in sixth place. We immediately turned on the news when we got home to see how the race finished and Wiggins was crowned number one in the world after this race. Oh what an unexpected fun walk home!!!!

Now, I'm sorry this does not have much to do with the doings of FMF Compagnie in this blog, but I promise next time I'm going to explore an area called Shoreditch which I think will be inspirational to all of you out there who love vintage and antique stores and ideas. Our cottage was filled with some old treasures for FMF Compagnie and they are due to cross the pond in the coming weeks. Here are a few pictures of some of our new finds coming to Scottsdale.

If you live in the Arcadia area, cycle to the fund raiser at Prince of Peace October 19th to see Jackie and her new collection of Arcadia Citrus products plus our antique collections.

Cheers from London....Beth

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Arcadia Citrus Groves, 

Phoenix & Scottsdale, Arizona

Remember our post back in May about "Special Occasions"...there were a few reasons for the post, one being the opportunity given to us by our friend Heidi to re-make her beautiful burlap Arcadia Citrus Groves pillow. The pillow highlights a very special and loved heritage of our neighborhood, fondly referred to as "Arcadia" by its residents. Arcadia's name and roots have deep meaning "...This desert oasis of beautifully landscaped Phoenix homes was named for Virgil’s Arcadia: a peaceful, pastoral region of ancient Greece", and has its own page on the Historic Phoenix website as well as its own neighborhood newspaper publication, Arcadia News. Residents here in Arcadia enjoy large lush lots that were literally once acres and acres of citrus groves. Since divided and dotted with large homes, built during the 1920's. It is a very special place and feels much like a small town tucked away, crossing over the borders of Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona. 

When you drive down the wide streets and boulevards in Arcadia, a prominent feature in the landscape are the rows upon rows of citrus trees......oranges, lemons, and grapefruit. Beautiful and rich in color and a reminder of the bounty that bursts forth during the winter months in the southwest.

On October 19th, FMF Compagnie will be participating at a fundraising event at one of the local churches in Arcadia, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. The fundraiser will be benefiting many important causes, including the Prince of Peace Preschool where neighborhood little ones are cared for, and learn and grow every day. We are thrilled to be part of the festivities!

If you live in the area, do stop by! You will find some amazing treasures and support your local community at the same time. FMF Compagnie is also donating 10% of proceeds from sales that day to the preschool.

As Beth and I have been planning for the event, we were immediately inspired by Heidi's pillow........of course, "Arcadia Citrus Groves"! Of Course! Not only will we have many of our beautiful antiques and vintage pieces, pillows, and unique treasures, but we are highlighting our new line of soaps, citrus crates, homemade honey orange sauce (yummy!), kitchen towels, linen & burlap tote bags, fresh squeezed orange juice, beautiful preserved boxwood and citrus wreaths, Arcadia Citrus Groves T's, and we couldn't forget the citrus scented sachets........everything Arcadia Citrus Groves!
Beth and I are so fortunate to have Daryn Dree McCluskey (a.k.a. Beth's daughter) doing some amazing graphic design for us. She designed the labels you see above. Aren't they fun?! Since the Arcadia groves were at their peek during the 1920's, we've kept that theme, honoring the history and legacy they have left behind. You will see them at the event, in living color adorning our new line of products!

Before I go, I had to show you a sneak peak at another item we are debuting at the POP fundraiser. They are made from vintage books and re-designed as the most charming journals. The one in the photo is Louisa May Alcott's "Little Men"'s just precious. Note the 1940's dominoes and the "Author Cards" from the very old card game of authors.........they are all going to become part of the special packaging used for the journals. 

Come and see us in person.......October 19th, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 3641 N. 56th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85018. For more information call the church office: 480-945-9537 and you can always get in touch with us at:

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Tearful Goodbyes

There was much heartache and lots of tears as I left the States in August to return home to England. Especially after such a wonderful holiday. Tears flowed at goodbyes from Santa Monica, Scottsdale, New Jersey, Penn State and the last to our son Cody at the Newark Airport as we went through security on our return flight to Heathrow.

My heart truly aches with pain on these goodbyes knowing it will be AWHILE until we will be reunited. But God is good and since returning home the sun has been shining and that makes the return a lot easier. I LOVE England on sunny days!!!!

After a few days of jet lag recovery, our first Saturday back the sun was out bright and warm first thing in the morning and Jim and I decided to go to a National Trust site (British spelling!!!) near by. This is one of our favorite past times, right up there with antiquing. Jim selected Tyntesfield outside of the city of Bristol. He said it was a "Manor House with nice gardens". "Nice gardens" was all I needed to hear and I was ready to go.

Neither of us had ever heard of Tyntesfield Manor so we were very surprised as we arrived early morning to an overflowing parking lot and a sign that tickets were all ready sold out to see the house. Of course we were disappointed, but knew we could still wander through the gardens, parkland and around the perimeters of the house. As we entered the grounds, we handed the attendant our National Trust membership card. He swiped our card and said, "you've come a long way." Jim and I were a bit puzzled and then we realized our membership shows we are Royal Oak members, which is the American membership to the Trust. Before we could explain we just lived a half hour away, he handed us 2 tickets to see the house!!! We were so grateful!! One of those moments when I was glad to be puzzled and an American!

What a treat for Jim and I to see this beautiful Manor House from the inside. Tyntesfield Manor is a spectacular Victorian Gothic revival house which was created by one of England's richest commoners, William Gibb.
He made his fortune in fertilizer - smart man, the English have always had a passion for their farms and gardens. Four generations of the Gibbs family lived @ Tyntesfield Manor and they loved collecting "bits and bobs" (British slang) of treasures. It is the largest collection (50,000 objects) catalogued and owned by the National Trust.

As soon as we entered, the first room was the family library. I wish Jackie had been with us to see this room. It really is the feeling that we both love in design. It leans to a more masculine and comfortable look and has the collections that say one has travelled, collected and researched. The collection of leather bound books was endless and we admired the decorative leather cuttings attached to the wood shelves.

We always love it when we go in to the servants work areas and are reminded of Downton Abbey....

can't wait for the new season!!! In Tyntesfield's kitchen and work rooms there were so many treasures that reminded us of "finds" that are in our FMF collection (check out our Shopping Section at FMF Compagnie).

Sadly, as has happened numerous times in England, these wealthy families through the generations have a hard time continuing to maintain these enormous properties and in 2002 the last heir left it to be sold. There were rumours that Madonna wanted to buy it and that caused the National Trust to have an immediate plea for donations to save this property for the National Trust. Millions of pounds were raised by generous donations, including 4 million pounds coming from Americans. As you wander in to some of the last rooms to visit, you are surprised to see the Trust has left these rooms as they were upon their possession of the property. Furniture and collectibles are stacked everywhere, floor to ceiling and tagged with Christie Auction tags throughout. The Gibbs family was about to sell all their treasures before the Trust purchased everything with the property. Upon seeing the first room, Jim and I smiled at one and other and thought wouldn't we have loved to come to this sale!!!!

Just want to show you a few more pictures of the house and the grounds. Now you can see why Jim and I were so grateful for the house tickets. It was a wonderful day out....good for healing the heart and wiping tears away.

Having enjoyed the 52-rooms and gardens of Tyntesfield it is funny to think of our daughter Devan in her dormitory room at Penn State. Lacking 50,000 items to choose from to decorate her room, we relied upon creative 'bits and bobs'!

Photographs of friends and family are reminders of fun times and for those who remember 'Kodak Moments.' We used a lot of 'Homemade" votives wrapped in fabrics, God bless you kleenex box made with letters from old t-shirts and one of Devan's watercolors from 3rd grade.

We had so much fun with the variety of colourful and patterned tapes we found. Probably not new to those of you in the States, but novel to me!

The tapes were fun to make a grid and fill in with Dev's old tickets from Hunger Games, Twilight, Wimbledon, and pics of her dream VW BUS in every colour imaginable.

A wall of haberdashery... pages from old atlas' (now found on the internet!), caricature of Devan and her friend Rebecca on a visit to London. And Devan's favourite personal thought...."Give me food and a library and I'll be fine".

What fun we had setting up Devan's Penn State Uni "nest". It was a team collaboration and two of the star team members and best buds are pictured below.....our Cody and Devan. This has been a therapeutic tears, just happy memories looking through pictures from the whole holiday in the States. You all know who you are that I miss and love and treasure....God bless you all. Beth

P.S. Jackie has some really fun things to show you coming up...her juices have really been squeezing...there is a hint to you all in "juices"!!! Come back next week to find out.