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Guest Blog: Souvenirs de la Reine: le porte-cigarettes

“Mais non, la Reine is not a smoker”, so you might be asking why I needed a cigarette case?

When I moved to Paris in late 1997, starting nearly a decade living overseas, my husband “The Big Guy” and I brought only our clothes and photos and books and music and some treasured personal items; TBG’s employers’ corporate policy was no furniture or big items could be moved, we’d buy what we needed once we arrived. So all our belongings from a huge 4 bedroom suburban home and 22 years of marriage, children, careers, pets and life had to be sorted, catalogued, and stored. And the things we were selecting to travel with us had to be carefully selected and itemized and packaged for air shipment…meaning weight counts!

This vintage cigarette case is the style La Reine was looking for!

Naturally, upon moving to Paris, I decided there was one item which I needed but hadn’t yet thought to purchase & bring with me overseas: it was tiny, but perfect for my new life abroad – an antique cigarette case, which I decided would be perfect to hold my metro tickets!

For 7 years living in Paris I scrounged the brocantes, puces, vide greniers, salons and boutiques antiquare, but never found the perfect chic little porte-cigarette: too expensive, too large, too small, too fussy, too plain; always close, but never just right. Then we moved to Copenhagen, another transfer with TBG’s job, and voila, I finally found what I was looking for – of course as I was no longer living in Paris so I was no longer looking for it!

Notice how this case is spring-loaded, to hold its contents inside.

TBG and I spent a week’s vacance in Skagen, a charming fishing village known for the many artists who made their homes here especially during the summer months, enjoying the picturesque towns, the hiking and biking, the gorgeous beaches, and water water water everywhere.

As we were driving into Skagen, TBG and I had already stopped and visited several Nordic antiques shops and purchased a set of silver and a set of crystal drink coolers/stirrers. These coolers are stored in the freezer, and when a drink is served, use these stirrers in the glass to keep the drink cold…and to make your drink look tres chic!

Drink Stirrers courtesy of Flicker

On the last day of our vacation, as we walked the town of Skagen, I noticed the shop Skagen Antik + Design, which we had missed on previous strolls. Filled with mariner antiques such as wooden duck decoys, glass floats, and brass boat fixtures, there was a small display case holding one silver cigarette case! No longer living in Paris, it was off my “to buy” list, but once I held it in my hand, I fell in love with it: it was the exact case I’d been searching for! Fairly plain with engraved stripes on the outside, inside engraved “Til Guddo fra Mov 29.9.56″. I had to have it! Shockingly, it was only 250 Danish kroner…about $50. Sold!

My cigarette case has two elastic straps inside, which for everyday use perfectly holds my paper money on one side (I’ve since returned to the United States, dividing my time between Florida, NYC and Chicago), and my credit card, driver’s license, AMC Movie Card, NY Botanical Garden card, Metropolitan Museum card, a few business cards and my Costco card on the other.

  

If you get a special case like this, you can even keep track of your purchases throughout the day!

The case is small enough to easily slip into a jeans back pocket or jacket pocket, and chic enough to use alone as a tiny evening bag (alas, my lipgloss still has to go in TBG’s pocket 🙂 And yes, on my return visits to Paris, my metro tickets fit perfectly!

Bonne Courses!
la Reine

Another Diva-Worthy Idea!
Need an evening bag for a night out? La Reine has a gorgeous, quilted, white Chanel sunglass case, which perfectly holds not only her sunglasses, but also her lip gloss, a credit card, mints, keys and a few dollars; this makes a tres ch
ic little evening bag and doesn’t sag The Big Guys’s pockets!
 

 

Guest Blog: Roving Reporter La Reine Explores the Hudson Valley


Another Exciting Guest Blog From La Reine!

Since there was not a Notre Dame home game this weekend, my husband The Big Guy (TBG) and I found ourselves at home in New York City instead of jetting off to our alma mater to fill our season ticket holder seats! This meant we had a whole free Sunday to occupy. My husband decided it was a good time to see and photograph the Northeast’s colorful Fall foliage. To see the best foliage in our tri-state area, The Weather Channel was recommending a trip to the Hudson Valley.

TBG asked me to arrange a scenic car trip for Sunday up the Hudson Valley…not more than 2 hours driving time from NYC. SCORE! The NY Times had recently run an article on spending an antiques weekend in the Hudson Valley. Naturally, as every good “antiquing diva” does, I had saved this article which meant we had a great scenic route to follow north. And then we had a different scenic route to follow back to NYC. And even better, I was loaded with shopping recommendations along the way.

We left NYC early after a Starbucks stop, and crossed the Hudson on the George Washington Bridge and went north along the gorgeous Palisades Parkway until we reached route 9W North. From there we took this local road, filled with scenery, restaurants and shops, and shockingly little traffic. After several impromptu pullovers for perfect scenic photo ops, we drove slowly through West Point, the US Military School, to enjoy the beautiful campus. Then we continued north through Hyde Park, home of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), and passed many antique stores and markets (not a very pretty town). Here we also drove past the FDR Home and Library, and the Vanderbilt home… we decided next time we’d spend more time in Hyde Park and enjoy both the antiquing and the cultural stops, but since we had another 60 miles to cover, we kept going.

We continued slowly up 9W until we came to Rhinebeck and Asher House Antiques. My heart started beating faster: this is my kind of store – loaded with French and English antiques, big and small, expensive and very affordable! As I always do, I started picking out things I already own, to get a sense of pricing for what I purchased while living in Europe, and what I’d have to pay to buy them in the US… thankfully I made good purchases while living in Europe! In the end we only purchased a few small items, an aged French terra cotta flower pot being my favorite. But, after we paid and were heading out, the owner said: “It’s almost 11:00, the antiques fair is opening”.

“Antiques Fair? What Antiques Fair?” I asked!

The Rhinebeck Antiques Fair was held October 11th and 12th 2008 at the Duchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck…less than a mile up the road! Several other shoppers at Asher were on their way… they were just waiting until 11am for the Fair to open.

TBG and I were famished. Deciding to bypass the food court at the Fair, we opted instead to brunch at Calico, a cute little restaurant and patisserie located next door to Asher House. Since we were in CIA territory, we were anticipating many of the local restaurants would have CIA graduate chefs, and we were very pleased with Calico. I had smoked salmon and toast points with crème fraiche, onion and capers, TBG enjoyed a steak panini. Prior to being served we were treated with hot homemade yeast rolls. Throughout our meal we watched the locals practically buying out the pastry counter: we were too late to score the very popular chocolate chunk cookies, but we did buy a few oatmeal-with-raisin cookies for the car. The other pastries were tempting…but looked too sticky for a car ride.

Before we made it back to the car, we took a little walk around Rhinebeck: it’s a charming downtown filled with antiques shops, restaurants and boutiques. I stopped in Cesare + Lili, a women’s boutique, and now own a beautiful new cream sweater cape…I was chilled since it was much colder up north than in NYC! TBG found a pair of khakis on sale… a very pretty, walkable little downtown, we’ll be back!

With the back of our SUV rapidly filling up with bags, and not even being halfway along our route, we headed to the Rhinebeck Antiques Fair. Held entirely indoors, the Fair has a good mix of antiques and vintage, everything from furniture to Christmas ornaments to books to jewelry to dishware, leaning towards a country motif, but with plenty of goodies that even the most urban shopper would enjoy…in short, an antiquer’s heaven. And there were plenty of “mantiques” to distract TBG: he found a booth specializing in antique sports equipment, so found a sympathetic ear to discuss the tragic ND v UNC game the day before. We’re on the mailing list for this fair: the next date is sometime in the Spring, probably May. Check the website. That will be the perfect excuse to return to beautiful downtown Rhinebeck! One last stop: the food court. We had 2 very good, but expensive, cappuccinos to go!

Back in the car, continuing up 9W towards Hudson, another 60 miles north. Along the way, a few more Kodak moments and stops at a few garden centers to buy our fall gourds, pumpkins and mums. Finally, we reached Hudson. This main street is filled with antique and vintage stores and restaurants, but this is not a pretty town. It looks like it was a pretty town, and it could again be a pretty town, but the local Chamber of Commerce needs to put some thought and money into making Hudson a destination spot. We ended up buying only a book (Pierre Deux’s French Country: A Style and Source Book, 1984) at Hudson City Books on Warren, the main thoroughfare. We were both disappointed…I doubt we would make Hudson our destination in the future, although if we were in the neighborhood, we’d happily spend some time visiting the shops again.

Back in the car to NYC, this time taking the Taconic Parkway, again very scenic and shockingly car-free. In all, this perfect day of beautiful scenery, leisurely antique browsing, good food, and fabulous company took 11 hours, covering 230 miles. What a pleasant way to spend a gorgeous Sunday!

Ciao!
La Reine

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