As of next week my stepdaughter will be here at Studio Sapique! This photo shows what she looked like when we just met in 1999. She's proudly showing me her new Pikachu hand puppet which I made for her. It became her favorite and soon looked loved & greyish.
My role as a stepmom is a privileged one. We're only 13 years apart, just as much as me and my husband, which makes us really close. I'm not her mother, not her girlfriend, but just Judith.
One of the things that didn't completely change in 13 years, is that she still likes to watch movies over & over again. Her (and my!) favorites then were Kirikou and the Sorceress (by Michel Ocelot) and Morph (by Aardman). These days we watch more embarrassing stuff like The Bachelorette or worse…
As she will be practically living in the Oise, although temporary, I may ask her to pose for a Styloise feature!
Around lunchtime I spotted Sandra who was about to grab a sandwich with some friends. She's a desktop publisher (and aspiring webdesigner & photographer!) from Gouvieux. She moved to live in the Oise only 1 year ago and absolutely loves it! Her favorite place in the Oise is the forest of Gouvieux where she likes to walk her dog. And her favorite resto is La Petite Auberge in Lamorlaye. Merci Sandra!
Vintage Sapique 6
Remember the vintage neon letters in our guestroom that deserved a blogpost on their own? Well here it goes.
When we settled in our village in France 10 years ago, I fell in love with the signage of an abandoned restaurant nearby. The typography was so beautiful!
During the renovation of the restaurant many years later, we asked the constructor if we could buy the signage. He refused and told us to dismantle the letters ourselves the same afternoon if we really wanted to have them, as they would be demolished first thing in the morning.
The metal structure of the signage was HUGE and very heavy. With a lot of help from our neighbours, the structure was hoisted up with a wrecker truck and transported to our parking lot.
From there we detached the individual letters. After a good cleaning they now make a nice wall decoration in our guestroom. I'm still considering what to do with the r e s a u r n t. Any suggestions?
Back to... Iceland part 1
So far, 2012 has been filled with quite a bunch of short trips. For fun (London!), sad (a cremation), exciting (The Hive) and happy (a wedding!) reasons. But only a few more months before we go on a longer trip. As "everybody" is going on holidays soon, I thought it would be nice to look back at some of our travels. To inspire and get in the mood for new adventures! Off we go to Iceland!
In september 2009 we flew to Iceland with 2 backpacks. No suitcases or car rental as we were in for some adventure and wanted to travel by bus. We rented a nice designy apartment in the heart of Reykjavík to relax and start planning the next few weeks of our stay. The only thing on our wishlist: Vestmannaeyjar island, mostly because we loved the name and because there were puffins. Upon arrival at the Reykjavík harbor we discovered that the Puffins had left Iceland, as stated on a note at the Puffin Express ticket office. But we didn't really mind.
Reykjavík feels like a small town, but has some cool & super creative shops. One of my favorites was Elm Design, an Icelandic fashion brand by and for women. A tad pricy, but truly amazing designs. On Laugavegur, the main street of downtown Reykjavík, you'll find second hand shops, yummy bakeries, bookshops and lots of kaffihúses (coffeehouses), where it's nice to relax and watch people. In september the important tourist season (mid june - end of august) is absolutely over in Iceland. Just perfect for us!
As of september some inland roads are impassable because there's already too much snow and a few shops & restaurants are closed. But days are of an average length and the weather is not too harsh. By the way, the weather in Iceland is not as cold as you might think. Average winter daytime temperature in Reykjavík is about 0°C. Although with ice storms, rain and sunshine only 5 minutes apart: layering your clothing is key!
And then we made a mistake. We bought tickets for a guided bus tour called The Golden Circle. On this tour (which everyone visiting Iceland seems to "do"), you'll visit the highlights of a small area on the south east of Reykjavík. And really, these places are truly stunning. The national park Þingvellir, the waterfall Gullfoss, the geothermally active valley of Haukadalur (with geysers Geysir & Strokkur), Skálholt church, and the Nesjavellir geothermal power plant. But we weren't prepared for the many tourists and the need to hurry up to catch the bus and go to the next stop. The tour guide soon hated us because we were far behind on the "group". But anyway, we survived and couldn't wait to see more!
We left our lovely Apartment K, with private hot tub (which was bliss!) and headed to the harbour of Þorlákshöfn by bus. The former Dutch (!) Oost Vlieland ferry was ready to bring 1 Italian backpacker, a few freight trucks and us to Vestmannaeyar. We were told to be prepared for some rough weather: it was late september after all.. While the truck drivers ordered some pylsur (Icelandic hot dogs), the Italian tourist opened his first can of cheap beer. That wasn't such a good idea. The sea got very rough and the ferry started to move in many directions… The Italian tourist became green, while I did my best to not get seasick. My husband felt okay and laughed at me while I was screaming on deck upon every move of the boat.
After more than 3 hours on the ferry it felt great to have our feet back on the ground. We asked around in the harbour and found a simple but huge room for rent with a nice view on the harbour. We were the only tourists on the island (besides the Italian backpacker) and had dinner at a small local restaurant where we ate traditional food (fish & potatoes with lots of sauce), probably best suited for habour workers, because it was very rich.
The next few days we hiked around the island through the pouring rain and saw what's called The Pompeï of the North because of several volcanic eruptions. The last one dates back to 1973. While there was only 1 victim and lots of buried houses & ash, the lava threatened the fishing harbor but stopped right in time, due to the hard work of firemen dousing the lava with cold sea water, and by chance created an extra shelter for the harbor.
Vestmannaeyjar is also home to the puffin, it's where large colonies of puffins nesting inside the burrows around the cliffs. But not in september. However we saw our first puffin at the grocery store! We were talking to a local who told us his autistic son was taking care of an injured baby puffin. He called his wife to bring his son & the puffin chick to the grocery store for us to see. I'm not sure what was more endearing: the baby puffin or the family proudly showing their fluffy "patient".
When heading back to the harbor to check out the next day's ferry schedule, we found out the evening ferry wouldn't leave Vestmannaeyar because the weather was too bad. We were told to check back in the morning to see if the ferry would leave or not… So we were stuck on the island...
More next time!
P.S. Visiting Vestmannaeyjar became so much easier with a ferry sailing off from the Icelandic coast at only 30 minutes from the island!
Oh and if you happen to be in Iceland in august, check out the famous Þjóðhátíð festival on Vestmannaeyjar. Locals told us it's spectacular!
The French Water Lilies
One of the surprises on our short break in Provence was the discovery of this small lake with beautiful waterlillies.
We started our walk at the lake of Mormoiron at the base of the Mont Ventoux. Through the surrounding forests & beautiful AOC Ventoux vineyards we reached the top of a hill from where we had this amazing view on a lake full of pale pink waterlillies! We descended down to the lake and spotted a green lizzard, who was disturbed by our presence. He had this incredible neon green color. Wow!
Down at the lakeside we did this ridiculous Indian Water Lilies dance, inspired by the Efteling themepark attraction called The Indian Water Lilies from 1966. And I snapped a few pictures as you can see. Have you ever seen so many waterlilies?
One of my favorite Dutch fashion brands is Humanoid. They have been around for over 30 years and their identity just feels familiar without screaming for attention. The fabrics they use are gorgeous, soft and easy to wear. It's a pity I cannot wear any wool (sooo itchy!), because in the winter they have the most amazing alpaca wraps.
I recently visited their beautiful flagship store (in a former church!) in Arnhem, The Netherlands. What I liked best was that alongside their main brand, they also carry a nice selection of brands like Hope, N.D.C., Jerôme Dreyfuss, Officine Creative, Isabel Marant, Face Stockholm, Silent by Damir Doma, Acne and many other beauties.
And the best thing is that their sales started today! Have a look and let me know what you threw into your shopping basket!
Impossible to miss this smiling man with the hat in the streets of Creil. Guy was coming home from his work as a swing manager at Mc Donalds in the Val d'Oise department. Even after more than 15 years at Mc Donalds, his favorite place to eat is still Mc Donalds (the one in Saint Maximin). And a Big Mac his ultimate food. He loves spending time near Chantilly's Hippodrome and the Living Horse Museum. Merci Guy!
Vintage Sapique 5
One of many surprises at Studio Sapique was discovered in the entry greenhouse. As the building was abandoned a few years before we moved in, the greenhouse needed some serious attention. It was a very humid space with lots of fertile tropical plants, dead wood and tiny pebbles in between the plants.
Underneath these tiny pebbles we found an indoor pond! It was custom made in concrete and painted in this beautiful mint green color. The pond even continues under the path through the greenhouse.
We once filled the pond with water to cool down drinks during a party, in stead of using a fridge. It worked well, but the next morning the pond was empty (with bottles standing on the bottom). That means the concrete became poriferous and needs a new waterproof coating. But we might loose this great green color... which goes so well with the tiny succulents, don't you think?
As of yesterday you can book your tickets for the Avignon theatre festival. In only a few weeks the Festival d'Avignon will start and during 1 month the rhythm of this city in Southern France will be defined by street theatre performances, tons of visitors (over 150.000!) and great theatre productions. But not last week. Of course the Palais des Papes and the Pont d'Avignon attract tourists all year round, but off the beaten path it was still nice & calm.
The tiles of this Beauty salon on the Boulevard Raspail, reminded me of the Camper boutique in Covent Garden, London.
I also stumbled upon quite a few interesting small boutiques & shops, like Kulte (their hipster owners were enjoying the sun on the pavement) and Le Carré de Blé, a nice biological bakery & pastry shop & "snacking haut de gamme". With beautiful bikes in front of the shop too.
Through Les Bon Plans d'Avignon I found Milkshop, where Thibaut and Maxime serve homemade milkshakes & delicous pastries & quiches with local ingredients. It's on my list for next time!
A provocative stencil on the pavement of Avignon and a beautiful poster drawing by Bastard Fly. So much more interesting than this year's dull festival poster...
If you're in Provence this summer, don't miss out on the Avignon festival. Buy yourself a ticket to 1 of the OFF performances and let some upcoming theatre talents surprise you. Enjoy!
Styloise: Cresus & Claude
Cresus and Claude were hanging out in the sun with some friends and were all smiles when I asked to take their picture. They're both students from Creil and very much into basketball and football. Cresus' favorite spot in the Oise is the basketball center in Chantilly while Claude prefers the football spot near the swimming pool in Nogent sur Oise/Villers-Saint-Paul. Their favorite restaurants are Le Golf in Saint Maximin and Sun Self Grill in Creil. Merci Cresus & Claude!
A few days in Provence
Just what we needed after a rainy and busy springtime: a few days off to disconnect and indulge in sunshine in the beautiful Provence.
After a short & inexpensive flight with the most annoying security check ever, we landed in the middle of the Provence. And it immediately smelled amazing! It is the one thing I like best about Southern France: its very particular smell.
Most of my summer holidays as a teenager were spent here, so the perfumes of pinetrees, sunshine, cypresses, herbs, lavender, mistral, burning asphalt and even the touristy provencal soap shops bring back sweet memories.
The second best thing in the South is the accent in spoken language. Hearing someone talk with a Southern accent always makes the sun shine in my heart.
And of course life is slower in the Provence. A provencal proverb says "Fai pas bon travaia quand la cigalo canto" (it isn't good working when the cicades sing). In the Provence the cicades sing a lot. Even though it wasn't hot enough this week for the cigales to sing all day, people here tend to take more time to just live. So cliché but so true, don't you think?
My love for gradients (the kitchy-er the better) probably started in Art School. Painting good gradients with the perfect transition between two colors is very difficult & time consuming. It's also one of the reasons I absolutely love Adobe Illustrator (or Photoshop or even Indesign): it makes it so easy to create the perfect gradients.
When I look outside through the 3 m high frosted glass windows in our bathroom, this is what I see: gradients in many shades of blue, grey and green. All this depending on the weather of course.
If you want to indulge yourself with more color & gradients, have a look at Chloé's amazing design blog Plenty of Colour. One of my favorite websites ever.
Vintage Sapique 4
In the 9 years we have lived & worked at Studio Sapique, a mayority of the 27 rooms, housed 1 or more of our guests at a certain moment. Naturally one of the rooms in the apartment became a permanent guestroom with a regular bed and functional decoration. Including 2 huge vintage letters which totally deserve an entire blogpost on their own.
Before the renovation this room had this fancy 70s bamboo wallpaper. We thought it was just too ugly & dusty and it was in bad shape as well. After the fun job of ripping, chipping and cutting it off, we covered the walls with this simple structured wallpaper and painted it white. Much better than this dark brownish room with the double loft bed, don't you think?
I spotted Brian, a High School student from Nogent sur Oise, running errands on his cool espadrilles (!) with his mom and sister. As a theater enthusiast, his favorite place in the Oise is La Faïencerie in Creil. His favorite resto is l'Essentiel (32, avenue Aumont) in Chantilly. It opened only a few weeks ago and he told me it's very good. Can't wait to check it out. Merci Brian!
With high summer temperatures in mind, I tried to make a very refreshing treat: sorbet ice. For this ultra simple ( remember I never cook! ) and quite healthy recipe I used one very ripe Honeydew melon. Simply scoop out the seeds and spoon out the fruit.
Then mix this with a cup of water, two table spoons of vodka, some grinded black pepper and a hint of vanilla extract. Squeeze half a lemon and an entire orange into the mixture. Mix it with a hand mixer ( or a fancy KitchenAid! ), chill it in the fridge for a few hours and put it in the ice maker until your sorbet ice has the right texture. Enjoy!
Oh and if you'd like to see what Lein created inspired by my harvest-post, please like joelix.com on facebook.
Vintage Sapique 3
Studio Sapique counts 27 spaces, so when we determined their functions there just HAD to be room for a proper dressing. We dedicated an entire room to our wardrobe and started by using a mobile coat rack. But light & dust deteriorates clothing so fast, that we bought 3 huge Ikea closets which we customized with paint & winecorks as doorknobs. The 3 simple J-hooks are perfect for scarfs, belts & bags.
The dressing room used to have 2 orange and 1 dark brown wall which matched the dark brown plinths. I always dreamt of a lilac/grey dressing room and mixed the perfect color myself. Finally, when we redid the plaster ceilings and flooring, this perfect color disappeared under a fresh layer of white paint. As soon as I'll be fully motivated again, I'll paint it back to this beautiful lilac/grey color, as I liked it much better.
In the wallmounted wooden wine box (a super fast DIY storage idea!) lay these supercute geo earings by A Merry Mishap. I don't wear earrings (no ear holes) but I wear them on my shirt as tiny brooches. Aren't they cute?
Accompanied by her grandfather and her huge sunnies, Anaïs, a student from Saint-Leu d'Esserent, was doing what she likes best besides practising athletics: shopping! Her favorite spot in the Oise is the Jennyfer shop in the Cora shopping mall in Saint-Maximin. Her favorite resto: Sushi Sushi in Nogent sur Oise. Merci Anaïs!
Time to Harvest
Time to harvest! My first batch of radishes was ready to be harvested. As well as some strawberries from the plant that survived the winter without any special care. Both the radishes and the strawberries taste so much better than the ones from the market or supermarket.
It may seem very boring, but nothing helps me better to calm down when I'm stressed than putting my hands in the ground, do some weeding and of course the harvesting! I hope the lettuce I'm growing right now, won't be eaten by any bunnies or snails… because there's a lot of it and it looks very very tasty!
Oh and have a look at the peonies my sister gave me last weekend! I almost prefer their withered shapes over the fresh flowers. The white peonies are holding on just fine and still look super fresh & funky.
My sister knows about my preference for succulents over flowers very well. However she offered me two bunches of peonies this weekend! We very rarely have flowers at home, except fresh ones from our garden sometimes, so I was a little surprised. But she bought these for a special reason: the same peonies were used in her brides bouquet a few weeks ago.
My friend Sonja from FunkyBird Firenze (in Florence, Italy) recently used white/pink peonies in a brides bouquet as well. I love it how she made all these very different flower arrangements for the dining tables with the same kinds of flowers in them. So clever & shabby chic!
Look at that wrapping paper! I love it almost as much as the flowers: my sister called it polkadotted joelix.com paper :o)
It's been 10 years that I live in the Oise department in France. The Oise is a department in the North of France, named after the river Oise and is situated 35km north of Paris and part of the Picardie region.
When moving to France 10 years ago, it wasn't my intention to live anywhere outside Paris. But by chance, we found this spacious parkview apartment with beautiful forests nearby. Situated in the Oise department, at 25 minutes by train from Paris. And it wasn't so bad at all! I've discovered some beautiful places around here, met some incredible people and enjoyed some great food.
As of today I'm starting a new series here, to discover much more about the Oise and its people. While improving my photography skills, I'll learn more about the favorite places & restaurants of my fellow Isariens (natives of the Oise). Welcome to Styloise!
Last week I met Pétula. She's a fulltime mother from Chantilly, who takes care of her two lovely daughters. Her favorite place in the Oise is the Bois Saint-Denis neighbourhood in Chantilly. And her favorite resto: Il Gritti in Chantilly. Merci Pétula!
Vintage Sapique 2
No electricity. Oh yes the memories are vivid! Of course it was one the of the first things we fixed at Studio Sapique. The moment that we switched on the first light bulb in our home was quite a victory!
A tiny temporary cable running through the garden to the mains connection, provided us with a little less electricity than a normal household. Which meant we would shut off the (only!) electric heater for one hour to let the water heater do its job, so that we could take a shower. Any power consuming device turning on at night would dim our lights. And when we used too many (>2) devices at the same time the fuse would blow. Let's say that it makes you very aware of your electricity consumption.
What also happened a few times was that our neighbours drove over our tiny cable with a grapple crane and that it would break. Or that it didn't break entirely but just enough to blow the fuse when it started raining at night… Or that a snail nested in the electricity bobbin causing a short circuit…
We replaced the tiny cable a few times by a thicker version while we were waiting to be properly connected to the grid. The entire wiring in the house was redone and we decorated the light switches as seen above :o)
Those Entrez (enter) & Attendez SVP (wait please) buttons are original from the director's office. We also found old audio wiring between his office and the meeting room: he had this button on his desk so that he could snoop on the discussions in the meeting room. How cool is that?
@joelixjoelix on instagram