Guest Blog: Souvenirs de la Reine: DIY Diva Magazine Rack

Today’s Guest Blog comes to you from my dear friend whom I call La Reine – she’s the fab bloggess of She’s Shopping Now and from time to time she graces Antiques Diva readers with royal presence! Without further adieu, let me present to you her royal highness – La Reine with today’s Guest Blog.

Photo Taken on a Cross Country Drive in the USA last winter–
The Antiques Diva & La Reine of She’s Shopping Now Blog


GUEST BLOG DIY Diva Magazine Rack!

Dear Diva Readers,

There are many good reasons why The Antiques Diva and I are friends:

  • we met as expat spouses living in Paris with time on our hands, no children, and husbands who worked long hours  
  • we share a passion for travel, antiques, shopping, food, collecting and entertaining
  • we tend to be a little quirky at times: friends and family often smile, incline their heads, and decline to comment on our ideas and adventures
  • sometimes our creative ideas challenge our capabilities…and our time constraints

Recently The Antiques Diva® shared with us her latest DIY project, a footstool fashioned from a moneybag she’d purchased 13 years earlier, and carried with her through 4 moves to 4 countries: voila!

tool.jpg”>tool” src=”https://antiquesdiva.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/AD-DIY-footstool.jpg” alt=”” width=”452″ height=”614″ />

The first time The Antiques Diva and I traveled together, we visited Île de Ré a charming island off the western coast of France (near Cognac).

La Reine, The Tampa Girl and The Antiques Diva (all looking incredibly young!)

Why were we there? To track down the island’s famous sel gris (grey salt) and fleur de sel (finishing salt), and sample some of the incredible salted caramel ice cream (caramel à la fleur de sel)! On our visit we also discovered the Ré wines, and a lovely salted caramel liquor.

Along with the bags and bags of salt, a fabulous chandelier I found at Barbotine (and hauled home on the train!) I also carried home a 3-pack of wine from Vignerons de l’Île de Ré so that my husband, The Big Guy, could appreciate a taste of Ré (the ice cream would have melted!) And over 8 years, 3 countries, and 6 moves (Paris to Copenhagen to Hoboken to St Louis to Chicago to New York to SoFlo!) the empty box has traveled with me, just waiting…

TBG was out of town for a few days, and I was resolved to flip my way through a stack of magazines that was so tall it kept sliding off the coffee table. When we repatriated I was so overwhelmed by how cheap it was to buy US magazines: I could get a year’s subscription for $10, when I’d been used to paying €10 for a single issue on the Champs Elysee : I over-subscribed. Unsettled since our recent move to SoFlo, most of our furnishings were still in storage, including our magazine racks. But: I knew right where the wine box was, and I’d planned for years to turn it into a magazine rack. So inspired by The Antiques Diva® recent DIY Diva blog post, I got to work:

I took the side off the box because I wanted to preserve the so-charming rope handle.  Et voila: a mere 30 minutes late, a tres chic and tres unique magazine rack.

Now every time I grab a magazine, I’m reminded of our visit to Ré and wonderful friends and food and adventures. Je mes souviens…

à la prochaine,

la Reine

Thanksgiving Wine

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>Dear Wine Guy,

I love it when you write Guest Blogs on your wife’s Antiques Diva blog. I have another “reader’s question” for you. I was reading a wine column on Epicurious.com and it recommended several wines for a turkey dinner. One of our guests does not like any sweet wines and another only likes white wine.

Which of these Epicurious recommendations would you choose to accompany Thanksgiving Dinner?

Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Pinot Gris

Thanks for the help!
The Contessa

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top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>Dear Contessa,

I always enjoy reading your Guest Blogs on my wife’s blog as well!

For Thanksgiving dinner, I typically go with two options. I always serve a red wine for Turkey Day because, well, I’m a bit of a red wine snob and I’m hard pressed to find any large dinner where a good red wine won’t fit… Since Thanksgiving is a traditional American holiday, I always pair it with a traditional wine found only in America – red Zinfandel*. It’s a pretty robust red! For some people who prefer something lighter, I’d recommend a Pinot Noir from Oregon.

For whites, I would choose between a Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc. Creamy chardonnay can go with the creamy potatoes, but a Sauvignon Blanc would go well with your stuffing, especially if it’s a bit spicy (flavorful, with herbs, etc). If the wines above are the only options, and there is a requirement to avoid sweeter wines, then I would go for the Pinot Gris or a Pinot Blanc from Alsace.

* A little side bar on Zinfandel…It’s a grape varietal (just as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are varieties of grapes) that is really only successfully grown in the United States, notably in California. Like most everything else in America, the Zinfandel grape itself probably has origins in other parts of the world, but nowhere does the successful production even come close to that produced in California. As I mentioned above, the red Zin you will find in the shops today will be big, bold and jammy with a rather high alcohol content. One of my favorites is “7 Deadly Zins” because it’s a value at around $12-14 and is one of the better names I’ve stumbled across! Another one I try taking as a hostessing gift here in Europe is Bonny Doon’s Cardinal Zin (another clever name!). This will run you a few more dollars per bottle but I find it’s worth it and gives me the chance to learn a little more about the Bonny Doon fascination (you may be surprised to learn that you will find nary a one cork in any of their wine…all bottles come with screw caps). So, crack open a bottle of Zin and celebrate two “American traditions” – Happy Thanksgiving!

~The Wine Guy

Roving Reporter La Reine’s Hungarian Bathtub Herb Garden

THE ANTIQUES DIVA™ TOURS – CLOSED FOR ANNUAL VACATION DURING AUGUST – REOPENS SEPTEMBER While my tour guides are taking a much needed holiday and I’m away for the month of August sipping champagne at sunset on a Mediterranean Cruise (after taking a driving tour of Italy), I haven’t forgotten you, my loyal readers, in my absence. August 2008 you’ll enjoy a multitude of guest blogs, pre-posted light blogs and miscellaneous reader questions. Don’t worry, I’ll be back with more great addresses and shopping tips this fall! All email inquiries or posted comments will be responded to come September!

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top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>Roving Reporter La Reine emailed a few weeks ago with a sensational idea! She’d recently moved into a penthouse apartment in Manhattan and was looking for ways to decorate her huge wrap-around balcony. While surfing the net, La Reine discovered a vintage Hungarian Baby Bath Tub at Garnet Hill and decided that it would make the perfect home for an herb garden! Apparently it was a limited item as I can’t find this item for sale on the Garnet Hill website anymore, but regardless of where you buy your baby bath tub – the idea is a sensational one! As I have a roof-top terrace as my back yard, I am always searching for planters and this photo has me rethinking how I will go forward with planning my plantings this fall!

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Repurposing antique and vintage unique objects such as bath tubs, or lobster pots, or any number of things, are an excellent way to make a diva-worthy eye catching display
! Do you have a diva-worthy idea that you would like to share with Antiques Diva readers? If so, email me at to:theantiquesdiva@yahoo.com”>theantiquesdiva@yahoo.com

Until next time,

The Antiques Diva™

Reader Question – Brocante Temploux in Belgium

THE ANTIQUES DIVA™ TOURS – CLOSED FOR ANNUAL VACATION DURING AUGUST – REOPENS SEPTEMBER While my tour guides are taking a much needed holiday and I’m away for the month of August sipping champagne at sunset on a Mediterranean Cruise (after taking a driving tour of Italy), I haven’t forgotten you, my loyal readers, in my absence. August 2008 you’ll enjoy a multitude of guest blogs, pre-posted light blogs and miscellaneous reader questions. Don’t worry, I’ll be back with more great addresses and shopping tips this fall! All email inquiries or posted comments will be responded to come September!

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Hello Antiques Diva,

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>I am an antiques dealer in Atlanta who currently buys stock in France. I would like to expand my buying area by including Belgium and hope that you can help me with this.

I am interested in attending one of the brocantes you listed in a recent blog — the Brocante Temploux 23-24 August, 2008. BY any chance do you know if there is shipping available?

Thank you for your help.

Antoinette from Atlanta

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Hi Antoinette,

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>Sadly the fair coordinator, Luc Halleux, has explained that “With 1000 exposants and 150,000 visitors, we already have a lot of work. So we cannot organize any shipping and we do not have contact with any company to do it. Apologies and Best Regards!” Should you have any more questions, you can contact Luc directly at to:brocante@temploux.be”>brocante@temploux.be

Even though The Antiques Diva Exclusive Antique Shopping Tours of Holland, Belgium and France does not organize shipping, I didn’t want to leave you high & dry on this question so I put my Belgian Antiques Diva Tour Guide, Lucretia, to work searching for a solution! Her advice is that as Temploux is nearby Namur, your best bet might be using a shipping agent there to help orchestrate your overseas shipment. While The Antiques Diva™ Enterprises cannot make any official recommendations (as we haven’t tested these companies yet), we did find a few potentials for you to investigate.

One Entry is an interesting company which allows you to compare costs for a multitude of services – international shipping included. The website http://www.antiek.com/ recommends a few vendors who are helping antique dealers by organizing overseas shipping. Antiques Carriers looked particularly interesting as did Belga Traders.

Last but not least, should you need antique shopping advice while in Belgium (or before going), please feel free to ask! The Antiques Diva Offices are closed the month of August but whenever possible we try to help and might be able to squeeze in a last minute appointment if you’re in jam!

To shop with a local on your arm while in Belgium, Lucretia’s fees are 25 Euros per hour + transport costs (i.e. fuel/train) or for a full day shopping service 140 Euros. Lucretia is Belgian, speaks English, French and Flemish fluently (as well as pretty good Italian & German) and is an expert at bargaining in all these languages! Her Masters is in Decorative Arts and she’s an absolute delight to shop with! You’d love her!

Good Luck with your shopping adventure!

All the best,

The Antiques Diva™

Old – Not Necessarily Antique – Kimono Shopping in Tokyo

THE ANTIQUES DIVA™ TOURS – CLOSED FOR ANNUAL VACATION DURING AUGUST – REOPENS SEPTEMBER While my tour guides are taking a much needed holiday and I’m away for the month of August sipping champagne at sunset on a Mediterranean Cruise (after taking a driving tour of Italy), I haven’t forgotten you, my loyal readers, in my absence. August 2008 you’ll enjoy a multitude of guest blogs, pre-posted light blogs and miscellaneous reader questions. Don’t worry, I’ll be back with more great addresses and shopping tips this fall! All email inquiries or posted comments will be responded to come September!

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Dear Antiques Diva,

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>A recent blog entry from one of your readers who was on vacation in Singapore made me think about how much I love all my Asian treasures. After living in Tokyo for a year and a half and traveling to Japan, China and Korea numerous times, my house is filled with Far East memories. One of my favorite pieces, and definitely the most admired, was purchased on a trip to Tokyo last August. It’s a colorful silk kimono I display on the wall in my living room.

I realize that most of your readers prefer antique clothing, but I always found the Asian pieces to be out of my price range since the ones I preferred started at several thousands of dollars. But last year a Japanese friend of mine alerted me to a surprising fact. If the kimono is just “old”, then it is not nearly as valuable as an antique one (or even a brand new one, strangely enough). “Old” seems to be in a vague category that is more likely considered used clothing. But given that Japan is an established civilization, “old” could be anywhere from 10 years to 100 years old. to+be+to+become+an+antique%3F/” target=”_blank”>Some of us without the proper vernacular would probably call a 100-year old kimono “antique”, but I guess that’s not correct.

Under the guidance of my friend, I found that the selection and price range for “old” versus “antique” was very pleasing. I found racks of choices in several shops around the to/aoyama.html” target=”_blank”>Omotesando area, and would have seen even more if I wasn’t too lazy to walk further. My favorites included Oriental Bazaar (5-9-13 Jingumae), Gallery Kawano (4-4-9 Jingumae) and tokyo/attraction-detail.html?vid=1154654670127″ target=”_blank”>Chicago (6-31-21 Jingumae).

Oriental Bazaar is a four-story souvenir shoppers dream. If you can get past the dishes, furniture and chopsticks, then head downstairs into the kimono area. They sell both new and “old” pieces, with each priced individually from $150 – $400. I found the employees to get a bit tense when you touched anything without assistance, but otherwise they were helpful.

Gallery Kawano is staffed by two lovely Japanese ladies who will rush to help you pull numerous kimonos off the shelves and racks. The pieces are good quality and prices hover around the $300-$400 mark. They also sell lovely obi (the sash worn around the kimono) if you’re looking for something smaller or less expensive. After a bit of persuasion, they even offered to hold one for me until my husband could see it the next day.

Chicago is a bizarre shop featuring 1950s American clothing. If you walk down the long staircase (thinking to yourself that this cannot be the place!) and wander through the huge basement into the very back left corner, you will find hundreds of old kimono, yukata (worn while sleeping) and obi. The selection changes frequently, but the day I went there were even several wedding kimono. Prices ranged from $20 to $500, depending upon quality, color and amount of wear and tear.

My husband made the final decision after I had narrowed it down for him, so in the end we bought our kimono at Chicago. This piece is about 80 years old and cost $300. Since I had budgeted $500, that left me with enough to also throw in a couple of obi with gold threads, which I use as decorative table runners.

Happy Shopping, Antiques Diva™ Readers!

Lady Lotus