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My Weekend in Provence with Romy Grace and The Apricot


Before we get to today’s blog posting, I just want to say thank you for another great sale! I’m so glad you liked everything. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to do something I truly love. We have already started shipping out packages so all of you will have your items very shortly. Merci beaucoup!

Alors, remember I told you about my wonderful friends in Provence?

My friends, the B family, have invited me to their house in Provence since they bought it and started renovating it years and years and years and years and years and years ago. I finally made it there for the first time last week. Everything and everyone got in the way of my trip to Provence previously.… Living in California, a little something called ALS, husbands work, other invited guests who husband “refused to vacation with”, unavailable caregivers, the weather… You name it, something was always getting in the way of my happiness with my friends in Provence. But my friends and I never gave up hope. We knew we would be together in Provence one day and it finally happened. Our excitement was palpable.

To say that I adore these friends of mine is an understatement. The wife of the couple, we call Romy Grace because she is the exact perfect embodiment and combination of Romy Schneider and Princess Grace of Monaco wrapped into one petite person. She has a heart so full of life, kindness and love that sometimes I feel like I don’t deserve to be her friend. But for some reason she just loves me and I love her too. She hugs and kisses me a lot and never lets go of my hand when we are together and I love her for that. Come to think of it, most of my friends are very huggy/kissy. Apparently ALS has caused my friends to have no boundaries. When they come to my house, they just march right into my bedroom and crawl in bed with me. Yolanda basically kisses me, right on the lips. Jenny sits so close to me that it’s like we are one person. Chris keeps his hand on my foot for our entire visit. Susan and I share the same glass of wine. Mer literally gives me the clothes off of her back. Christy and I are so close that I sometimes fall asleep when she is talking because I feel so safe and cozy. Christy is like a human lullaby. I think my friends would digest me if they could. I think they’re scared of losing me so they want to feel every part of our relationship. And I’m a lucky girl that they do.

The husband of the couple in Provence whom I call the Apricot is everything you would want in a husband but you can’t have him because my friend got there first. Handsome, witty, gentle, funny, debonair, protective, well-dressed, elegant, charming and has a perseverance quality that rivals my own. The love between the Apricot and Romy Grace is the most inspiring thing I’ve ever seen. I honestly doubt that they have ever even raised their voices at each other. They are so in love even all these years later that it’s like they met yesterday. When the Apricot walks into the room, Romy Grace lights up like a Christmas tree and vice versa. In all of the years that I have known them, I have only seen them apart once and that’s because Romy Grace was at my house sitting with me while I had my hair done. Other than that, they are glued at the hip and they wouldn’t have it any other way. I have to say in all honesty I’m pretty sure any other relationship pales in comparison to theirs. Be jealous.

So my trip to Provence was more than just going to Provence. It was more than getting to bask in the sunshine of the south of France. It was more than getting to stay at their big fat mansion. It was more than walking through the village of Provence with its charming architecture, it was more than the glorious food and loaded cocktails. It was more than being waited on hand and foot. It was more than the lavender, the sunflowers and breathing the same air as van Gogh did. No, it was about spending time with friends talking about everything and nothing, holding hands, loving each other and feeling very very lucky that after five years with ALS, I am still here enjoying precious time with my friends.

So, I thought I would share it with all of you. It was such a big weekend that I’m going to have to break the blogs up into a series, if you don’t mind. For the first Provence posting, I thought I would give us a little lay of the land. And by land, I mean their property and house. The second we drove up to the house and I saw it for the first time, I remember my friends telling me that it was over 400 years old and then I lost all consciousness after that so I thought I would just let the pictures do the talking. Even though my friends are very very private, they gave me permission to use the photos. Merci Romy Grace and Apricot.

Here we go…


 






















 







 
Okay, so now that we have our bearings, stay tuned for the next series of blogs about my trip to Provence in August… The food, the cocktails, the fish, the dog, the museum, the gardens, the shopping, the adventures etc.!!!

*Something you don’t know about me? I have an unhealthy obsession with croutons. I could look at wallpaper samples for a good 10 hours a day. I hate burl wood. While Gracie, David and I had dinner last night together we discussed (in a very diplomatic fashion) the three things that we hate about each other. I’m very particular about my leopard prints. Sometimes I think I need to move to Normandy to a farm, get some sheep, prune some apple trees and wear mud boots all day. Sometimes I think I need to move to the seaside of the Mediterranean and put yellow mimosa branches into a vase all day. Some days I’m a vegetarian and then some days I want a cheeseburger. I love to read and I love to study antiquities. Mathematics are not my forte. Sometimes I’m super nice and sometimes I’m super rude. I hate when people use #Blessed. What about you guys? What do I not know about you?

50 comments:

  1. And here I thought I was the only person who dislikes the use of the word BLESSED! Excellent--I'm in good company! The house in Provence looks beautiful, and I can't wait to hear all about your stay. Something you don't know about me--basically, everything! But here's a fun tidbit to start out with: back in my dating days I could tell pretty soon into the first date whether or not I would want a second one by the simple fact that I would start to fall asleep mid-conversation. No medical condition involved--I think it was my mind's way of cutting to the chase. NEXT. More important for you to know, though, is my entirely healthy (in my opinion) obsession with antiques, houses (especially stone) big and small, gardens, food, France........all of the wonderful things I find in every one of your blog posts. So THANK YOU, truly, for always focusing on my needs :) Katie E.

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    1. Ha ha ha ha. That's funny. You're right, it's nature's way of self preservation! Either that or you have narcolepsy. :-)

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    2. Totally agree about #Blessed. "No, you're not...liar", is what I think when I see that. I guess I'm secretly evil.

      I love that this gorgeous property has oleander growing all over the place. As a child in Arizona, it was implied to me that oleander was for poor people, like my family. Ha, those stupid richies of my past were wrong!

      Love you, big hugs
      CG

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    3. I wouldn't worry too much about what those people said about your oleander considering they probably had a rock yard. XOXO

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  2. I just want to be friends with your friends. I also enjoy eating Hot Tamales candy on road trips. Oh and um,I'm obsessed with pillows. I have stacks of them. feel my shame. :)

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    1. OMG, I thought I was the only person who would dare to eat Hot Tamles candy and still have enough class to love this blog.

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    2. I absolutely love Hot Tamales candy! What a glorious invention!

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  3. I have never been anywhere so beautiful and stayed in the most special place. WOW, Also most people I know do not have friends that show that kind of love, you are having a special life and you deserve it. Makes me want more out of life and I am 70 years old, may be too late for all of that. Love your stories, they make me happy. Thanks for all your work.

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  4. Oh my god this place is spectacular. What interesting taste they have. Where are they from? There is a touch of Charleston, South Carolina in their look that I adore. I could be wrong-I am not the student of design you are. I dont think I've ever seen one of those chandeliers used to a more perfect effect. Can't wait to read more.
    I realized a while ago that I actually don't like leopard print very much. It's ocelot print that is my favorite; for which I go mad. I love hearing what people hate about me. I also love to hear things I've cooked that they didn't like. I promise not to get defensive and then leap into an irate and defensive tirade. I make horseradish croutons that you'd love. I make them from over-proofed bread with big obnoxious air holes that capture the spice so well. Other than that, I'm just enjoying the high from this morning 1) not being murdered 2) an amazing deal I got on a set of china I've been looking for for years. Finally found on Craigslist. 79 pieces for $60! Except I did feel kind of awful as I had whittled the price down so far and the seller told me he really hated to part with it. But by the time I was back on the freeway I clicked back into giddy excitement. I know what you're thinking. Yes, I am a hoarder. But a very organized one.

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    1. Yes the Zuber wallpaper has a definite beautiful Charleston feel. Yes, I also adore ocelot print. Another part of our "family discussion" about what we hated about each other was that the other person had to "own it" which none of us did. We all had excuses for everything. I need the recipe for your horseradish croutons! And we definitely need to see your china! I'm so glad you weren't Craigslist murdered. XOXO

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    2. Yes, please! I'd also love the recipe for your horseradish croutons.

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    3. Yes, please share your recipe for horseradish croutons! Thank you in advance.

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    4. Yes, please, Stephen Andrew ~ I would ALSO like to see a picture of the 79 pieces of china that you got for $60!!!

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    5. I will post a photo of the china to my blog...uh...sometime :) it's nothing exquisite or rare, but one of the white, ivory, and gold Noritake patterns I love. The pattern name is Bancroft.
      The croutons are so easy. If you're going to make your own bread, do a basic focaccia but let it overproof on the baking sheet before you bake it. You want big air holes. Then cube the bread and set aside. If I'm making a sheet pan's worth of croutons (a lot), I'll melt a stick of butter and after it's been off heat for about a minute, add 1-2 T (depending on your tastes) horseradish (grated horseradish in vinegar is what I use), 1 t sugar and 1/2 t minced tarragon (optional but so good). Let that steep a few minutes. Toast bread cubes just about 4 min in the oven. pour the infused butter into the bottom of largest available bowl. Once bread has toasted about 4 min, take out of oven and slide into the bowl with the butter. Quickly fold the butter into the bread. You need to work quickly to ensure the butter evenly coats the cubes. If you need to stretch it, pour in olive oil in 1/2 t increments. Then toast the coated cubes until they're golden brown.
      The proportion for butter to bread cubes is about 1 Tablespoon to 2ish cups bread cubes. And the proportion of horseradish to butter is about 1 teaspoon to 2 Tablespoons. I'm sorry it's not a more precise recipe! I'm not very good about that :) they're kind of a love them or hate them item, especially the stronger you make them. If you feel they're not strong enough, toss them in horseradish infused oil after they've toasted the final time.

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    6. The horseradish croutons! Will you marry me, Stephen?

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    7. YOUR GUY STEPHEN and I have been in CONTACT!
      MADE MY WEEK!
      I think my next trip to OHIO is to get my hair done by HIM!!!
      XX

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  5. Ellie, what a magnificent place and more important, what magnificent friends. I love touchy-feely friends. I grew up in a house where both my parents were extremely cold, I do not know how I came out touchy-feely but I did and some of my friends are, and those are the ones that I love the most. There is something wonderful about human contact, as long as it is from a human that you love, you are surrounded by love, not only in your "real" life but also in the life that you share with us. I believe that I can speak from every single person that shares in this journey with you through this blog, we all adore you.
    Something that you do not know about me, I am obsessed with handbags, high end, beautifully made handbags, I also detest the word "blessed," I love chocolate chip ice cream and I hate change which sometimes I feel hinders my ability to life my life to its full potential, enough disclosures for one day! Can't wait to read about your Provence adventure
    Love you and would hug you if you were next to me
    Lourdes

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    1. I adore all of you as well and I wish I could have a big party and invite everyone. My daughter is obsessed with handbags as well. It's good clean fun. I love change! You should embrace change! Would hug you if I could as well!

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  6. Ellie love - What a beautiful home and from your description of the love that engendered it, it must
    be mesmerizing to bask in its warmth and rhythms;... May you and BH have a grand time with the
    other great love match... looking forward to next installment...be well and happy

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    1. Thank you! And I think you will love the next installment.

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  7. Ellie, What a feast for the eyes and the senses I'm sure!
    I look forward to hearing more about the adventure to Provence!
    Lets see, so much, I like to think I am quite the reserved lady; however I have 5 brothers and 2 sister and a zillion nieces, nephews etc, so family get-togethers are pretty raucous. ( and often includes a bit of swearing) Like you I could almost be a vegetarian then crave a great filet or burger! I can spend hours looking at art and design books! Love, love Netflix. More later.....

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena
    Featuring India Hicks!

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  8. Wow, just wow!! Their home is restored beautifully, a true labour of love. I can't wait to see more!
    Miri xo

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  9. That house and the surrounding gardens are holy crap amazing! I think I might have drooled on my keypad. The parterres, the koi pond and those murals (or is it -- gasp -- Zuber paper). Looking forward to seeing more of your adventure. Re: #blessed -- overused and abused. Yet I have have friend, who when she writes "blessings," I know it's heartfelt. Something you don't know about me: I dropped out of interior design school because I loathed hand drafting (and the instructor). I know, no fortitude. But why the f**k does anyone need to hand draft these days?!

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    1. It is Zuber! And by the way I hated hand drafting as well. However, I loved my instructor at Santa Barbara City College. I think her name was Dr. Welby. She had such a love for her career and was such a perfectionist. Even though I was really bad at drafting, I learned a lot. At least I can read a floorplan, thanks to her.

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  10. The house is gorgeous but I'm stating the obvious there. I agree with our Stephen Andrew there is something Charleston-ish about that house? As in it is classy and perfect but I can just SEE the party on the terrace, by the pool, in all of the other outdoor spaces... Something you don't know about me, one of my best friends lives in Charleston in the winter but down the street from me in the summer, how smart is she? I cry when she leaves for the south every October... she never comes back until middle of May, too cold here, also she makes the best pimento cheese. She's going to teach my daughter how to make it and I'm going to write it all down. I'm thinking it would be a good apres-ski snack and also remind us of our friend.
    Your friends sound like the best. So affectionate!
    Please keep having your amazing sales, I was visiting my mother-in-law on Saturday and I missed the whole thing, there were about 6 things I wanted to buy, all gone. Testament to your discerning eye. XO

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    1. My sister lives in Charleston and makes the best pimento cheese spread also! Charlton is very French, don't you think? Don't worry the October sale is going to be coming up soon and there will be lots of things for you! XOXO

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  11. I absolutely hate, hate, hate, being called love, darling ,or dear, by people I don't know! (Happens a lot here in Oz).
    I feel better now, thanks for giving me the chance to let off steam about my pet hate!! x

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    1. They do that a lot in the South as well but I think it comes off differently. My husband always uses the word darling but with a negative connotation like, "Look, darling, you are an idiot." :-)

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    2. My Son's name is Bodie, after the ghost town North of Bishop, California. Don't see that name often.

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  12. What a glorious home. I am so glad you finally got there. I love the murals in the dining room.
    I am a pluvophile, I love wine, chocolate, coffee and reading. I feel the same way about my husband as Romy Grace feels about hers. Thank you for sharing your visit, can't wait for the next installment.

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  13. Glorious post. I'm so jealous Tom gets to see you soon :)

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  14. What you don't know about me is I'm a Target shopper whose only touch of class comes from the vacations I take and your blog that I read. Each time I read you, I feel classy.

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  15. I shop at Target and the my only touch of class comes from the vacations I take and your blog that I read. Thank you for exposing the world to your elegance.

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  16. What a gorgeous sounding couple! One thing you don't know about me...I become almost obsessed if I am watching a movie and can't quite pinpoint what I've seen the actor in before, I will dredge up the memory or Google their "wiki" page until solved!

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  17. This home is stunning. I would love to live there even for one day. My sister had a dining pom covered in Zuber paper; there is nothing to compare. What you don't know about me: in one of my past lives I was an interior decorator (like Mario Buatta, I prefer the term "decorator" for myself rather than designer). I love doing pro-bono work for my neighbors and friends, although I am sometimes a little too bossy about their decisions. I must keep reminding myself it is their home and they have to live in it happily even if their choice would not be mine. I make delicious manicotti (light as a feather) and eggplant parmigiana; also loved to make sorrel soup but I cannot find it anymore. My favorite activity is to decorate my home...lots of pillows to change out the look, lots of silk satin curtains, lots of antiques. Simple, spare rooms are fine for others, but not for me. I cannot tolerate one more person saying how blessed they are, especially sports figures. Does anyone understand the meaning of cliche anymore? I love your blog, Ellie, and am grateful I get to be one of your virtual friends just by knowing a little of your life. I love hugs. Did you know they release chemicals in your body that make you happy if the hugs last more than three seconds? I think your friends already know that. Looking forward to the next installment...XOXO, Victoria

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    1. Victoria, I'd love your sorrel soup recipe if you'd share. I have a wonderful urban farm CSA in Houston and we get it every week for months (hope I'm not rubbing it in).

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  18. New to your blog. Wish I had known you when I lived in Europe. My girlfriends from Zürich and I did trips to Provence to go to markets and brocantes and to just have fun. We called it 'women in a van, with no man looking for stuff to buy.' Last week husband and I moved to California to retire- from Lugano, Switzerland. (originally from Minnesota, so California is a new and bewildering culture to me). We have been here one week. Staying in Rancho Mirage at friends place during this homeless stage. I hate saying 'blessed' if it refers to material things. For those things I am grateful. I like saying 'blessed' if it refers to relationships and loved ones.

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  19. Eleanor O" Connell You ROCK !! all your friends are a real interesting bunch of well, great people . I am quite addicted to your blog so don't get too sick to post , please . I worry if you miss for very long . I too have worn many hats cater , antique dealer, garden designer, wife , mother & grandmother . I can't figure out how you got so savvy at such a young age , you sound as if you have lived many creative colorful lives . You your Mother and Daughter are all beautiful & I love you !

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  20. Love love love the house and your friends sound charming. Something you didn't know about me, my family and friends ridicule me over it but I am obsessed with mirrors, large, old, ornate and French or Italian. I don't spend my days looking at my reflection, no no no! I love the vistas they give me all around the house and garden, I could be in the kitchen washing up and turn around as see a view of my garden in relfection. Bliss.

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  21. What an amazing house and what amazing friends. As always, I am looking forward to you posts about your adventures. We just bought a house in Provence with 9 other couples -- we rotate through -- and we have our first upcoming visit next month. It's not our first time to the area, but there is definitely something different about being in one place for 5 weeks! And since I've started a personalized travel service to Provence, among other favorites, it will be wonderful to hear more about your travels in the south

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  22. Wow that house and garden is just so divine.

    I never get more than 4 jours of a sleep at night, I love ocelot print, I iron everything and make a killer cheesecake.

    Love the blog x

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  23. Ellie this house is stunning and your friends sound wonderful. I can't wait to read more about your Provence adventures!!

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  24. I hate conjecture, bright orange makes me nauseous and I swing between wanting to murder my husband in his sleep and abject terror that he might just drop dead.

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  25. I love your blog and your wonderful writings! I call everyone dear and sweetie and honey and I mean it. I think all strangers are friends just waiting to happen and I find every person interesting and call everyone I have even known my friend (drives my children crazy!!). I love your pictures and your store by the time I check everything is always sold out. I worry about you when you don't post! By the way I talk about my friend Ellie all the time. My other friends think we have drinks together! :)

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  26. You are a treasure and a blast!! Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with us, I feel like we are friends as we share so many similar sensibilities. And I did a marathon of Odd Mom Out-what a hoot!
    What you don't know about me is that I was lucky enough to reunite with my high school sweetheart at our 20th reunion and we have been going strong since (25 years). I can't imagine life without him since I was without him for 20 years. the love that Romy Grace and the Apricot is possible for others. Thank God!!
    Your blog is the bright spot in my day!

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  27. HERE I HAVE ARRIVED AGAIN!Took a little side trip to LA QUINTA this weekend.........have you been there?Greta GARBO's house is there on the property just falling apart with ALL HER furniture INSIDE!!!I about broke through a single pane window!!!
    I took the weekend off from email........REFRESHING however I am SO behind with YOUR POSTS..............
    This house reminds me of some in TUSCANY.STUNNING Is my preferred word here............by the way your link on POST TWO click HERE for POST ONE does not WORK!
    YOU asked something about me.................thinking.I have a cat on my lap who has been sprayed by a SKUNK and my foot in a boot from TENDINITIS............not moving too fast this morning and I have SO Much to DO!!!
    Still thinking what I CAN SHARE with YOU .................be back!XOXOXO

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  28. As I looked at the photos of your friend's home, I was reminded of how "golden" California is right now. (And in some places - burnt.) Those gardens are so very green. Even the field at my farm house in Provence is very "golden". I am fascinated by the murals. I would love to see them up close..hint hint. I'm not a mural person but could be with those. What you don't know about me,,, I use to like white walls and now I like color everywhere. I think that artwork is more interesting when the walls are more interesting.
    Judy

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  29. Well, I found you through the above La Contessa. Since then we've become best buddies. I feel so fortunate to have her for a friend and through her you too. We've had lunch together at your place The Ivy, in LA. We celebrated her birthday there together. I've now been to her house where her husband made our family divine pizzas. We're kinda joined at the hip. And who do we rave about? You!

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  30. I'm so behind on your blogs but I shall sleep soon with visions of these stunning photos dancing in my head... its 2:30 am on the east coast and we're wondering what path this hurricane heading our way is going to take...maybe its not too late to hop on a flight to Paris..my passport is ready...xo J

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