Pretty in Pink

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Jeeps

Does the image of this Jeep (not again!) conjure up good memories?  If so, you’ve probably stayed at the Acapulco resort hotel Las Brisas!  I did!  These cute pink and white striped Jeeps drive you up the hills to your casita and back down again to the beach.   The view of Acapulco Bay from the hotel is phenomenal and strategic, as well.   Las Brisas was actually built on what was once a Mexican fort – and the ancient walls and cannons can be still be seen today.

 

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Built on a curving beach, in front of tall cliffs, Acapulco is today a resort town filled with modern hotels and condominiums.  Famous for it’s trendy night spots and cliff divers, this town was once THE place to vacation in Mexico.   But, stiff competition from newer resort towns and Mexico’s crime rate has taken it’s toll on Acapulco.   Things appear to be changing though.   During the 90’s Mexico tackled the problems of Acapulco’s  infrastructure and replaced all the sewers and undertook a massive cleanup of the beach, spending over $1 billion on the project.  Spring breakers started to come back in droves – after a decades long infatuation with Cancun Mexico on the Gulf of Mexico coast.   While Acapulco will never be the hot spot that it once was, it is still a place of remarkable natural beauty with a wonderful climate, year-round.

 

 

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One of the best known hotels in Acapulco is the Las Brisas.   Over 50 years old, Las Brisas has maintained its reputation for romance and charm.   Built into the cliffs, the hotel is famous for it’s pink casitas (rooms) that all have private (or semi private) pools.   These private pools have made Las Brisas world famous with honeymooners.   The property is  surrounded by lush landscaping and flowers are everywhere, especially hibiscus which are placed floating in the private pools each day by the attentive staff.    The Acapulco Las Brisas is the star of the Brisas hotel chain, which has recently completed a massive remodeling of the pink palace.  Over $2o billion was spent on the renovations, bringing the resort up to date.  The reviews have been very positive.

 

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With the major renovation completed, the emphasis is now on the pink!  If you don’t like pink – don’t come!   The hotel is utterly romantic – so  much so that it’s motto is “A place where children are rarely seen, but often created!”    The resort is often cited as the most romantic hotel in the world.   While that is probably stretching it, it IS a wonderful place.  The property is over 40 acres and there are just 251 casitas, allowing for much privacy and quiet relaxation.

 

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The line of pink and white striped Jeeps waits to take you up and down the hills.  Aren’t they the cutest?   The view of the Bay of Acapulco is the main attraction at Las Brisas.

 

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This picture was taken from a casita.  Since the Pacific faces west, the sunsets are spectacular.

 

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Even the gift shop is themed pink, although I do spy a blue and white striped t-shirt in there!  Everywhere are pink hibiscus – the Las Brisas logo. 

 

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The casitas are flat roofed and are reminiscent of  mid century modern design.  The flat roofs allow each casita a clear view of the Pacific.

 

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In this picture you can really see the ancient fort walls and the lookout posts on the top left.

 

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The amazing night view from a casita – taken by a guest.

 

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Each casita has it’s own swimming pool.  I love that banquette in the corner!

 

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 All the casitas were renovated to great reviews and each one is just a little different from the other.   This casita has a pink wall with a limestone floor.

 

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 This casita has a stone wall and onyx floor.  Look at that sunset!  On the table – Bienvenidos, or Welcome in Spanish is spelled out in flower petals, a Mexican tradition.

  

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This casita has a living room and dining room.  All rooms have a bar and a refrigerator filled with goodies.

 

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 The bathrooms are made of travertine and rock with rain showers and skylights.  The basket on the right stores pink and white striped towels.

  

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 This room is surprisingly free of pink!  Notice the lamps – the bases are made of wood, probably faux wood – but still very attractive.

  

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This suite  has an indoor pool that opens to the outdoor pool!  Perfect for honeymooners.

  

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Every morning you are greeted with two things:   first, your pool is filled with fresh hibiscus!

  

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And second, through a small door, your coffee and Continental breakfast is waiting.  This way, the staff doesn’t have to wake you up!

 

 

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This picture is from Flickr.com – a guest took it of their room, praising the 1000 thread count sheets!  This shot looks remarkably as good as the hotel’s press photographs, which is always a good thing.

 

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 The pools all overlook the Bay of Acapulco.  Well, I should say, ALMOST all pools overlook the bay – but I’ll save that story for last!

  

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There are lots of destination weddings at Las Brisas. 

 

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There are a few restaurants at the hotel – this one overlooks the bay, of course.

 

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Or, you can order a romantic dinner at your casita – gorgeous!!!

 

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Everyone hangs out at the bar at night, overlooking, the bay, of course!

 

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 During the day, the most fun is at the La Concha Private Beach Club which is  where the hotel’s swimming pools are.  There are three swimming pools, one freshwater and two saltwater tide pools that lead directly to the bay.  Everything is, of course, pink even at the beach club.    The club is just minutes from the grounds and the Jeeps take you there, down from the cliffs. 

 

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The saltwater tide pool at La Concha. 

 

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The tide pools are actually built around the bay.  Even the rocks are painted pink!

 

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The freshwater pool at the La Concha Beach Club is preferable if you don’t like fish in your swimming pool.

 

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One of the saltwater tide pools.

  

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The restaurant at the La Concha serves great grilled seafood. 

 

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And after you are tired of swimming and shopping and discotequeing – no trip to Acapulco is complete without seeing the famous cliff divers.  This is extreme diving – the water is shallow and  they dive into a small cove.    I saw these divers years and years ago when I was a little girl.  The first airplane trip I ever took was to Mexico City and Acapulco – where  we saw this famous stunt.  Hopefully, these are not the same men!

 

Alright, so how do I know that some casitas do NOT face the Bay of Acapulco?  Well, a looong time ago, before I was married, my best friend was a travel agent.  As an agent, she traveled the world for free on what was known then as Fam Trips - trips that travel agents took to familiarize them with the product.  She treated me a few times to some wonderful places, one of which was Acapulco.   The cute pink and white striped Jeep drove us up to our casita and we were thrilled!   We had our own swimming pool – the whole nine yards.  Except, our casita was facing the cliffs behind the hotel, NOT the bay – not even a hint of the bay!     We were  young and really didn’t care that much, in fact, I don’t think we cared at all!    I didn’t even realize what we were missing until right before we left for home, we went to the hotel’s restaurant and experienced the breathtakingly beautiful view of the bay.  Only then did we realize that the hotel had given us  probably the worst casita on the property, the one casita that faced the cliffs.   But of course, it was all free!   Well, almost free.   You see, unbeknownst to us, my older, single cousin was also in Acapulco.   I don’t remember how we met up with him, but somehow he ended up barging in on our free vacation.   Every night he would raid our room’s refrigerator and eat the expensive Toblerone chocolate candy and lots of other goodies from the bar.  We ended up having to pay for all that PLUS his La Concha Beach Club private membership that he joined on our expense tab!  Actually we had a great time and many laughs over the Toblerone candy, which whenever I see it today, I think of that vacation.    Seeing this romantic hotel, all fresh and remodeled, really makes me want to go back, not with my friend and cousin, but with my husband!

 

If you are interested in learning more about Las Brisas, their web site is here.    Also, reading tripadvisor.com is great advice before taking any vacation these days.  The reviews of Las Brisas are mostly outstanding.  The renovation is said to be wonderful, though of course the resort is over 50 years old, which is part of  its charm and history.  If you desire brand spanking new, this resort probably isn’t for you.   Also, a few reviewers do point out that driving around Acapulco in a rented car is not advisable and state that it’s best while vacationing anywhere in Mexico, to stay close to the resort. 

Lessons from a Town House

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As most of you know – searching real estate listings can either be great fun or a terrible bore – depending on the zip code and what’s available on the market.  Hours can be wasted in the hopes of finding just one house that is decent – manicured and decorated.  The majority of  houses for sale are neither.   Finding one appealing house is like finding a needle in the proverbial haystack.  You’re extremely lucky if you do.  I got lucky this time!    This town house in Houston is located in an area close to great shopping and within the inner loop.  The 1950’s era houses in this neighborhood are being torn down and replaced with town houses, sometimes 3 and 4 per lot.  Still, it’s a lovely area with towering trees and mature landscaping – and it’s highly sought after by empty-nesters and young married couples alike. 

 

I thought I would show you this particular house because the owner got so many details “right” – and there’s a lot to be learned here.   The owner is a single woman, I believe, and she is either an interior designer or hired one – not sure which.  But certainly, this wasn’t put together by an amateur.   It’s three story – a piano nobile design, which is typical of high density lot town houses in Houston.   The square footage is around 4,000 and it lists for about $900,000.   Oh, and don’t fall in love – it’s a Sale Pending!

 

 

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The public rooms are located on the second floor.  The living room is arranged with entertaining in mind.   There is no coffee table, instead a small dining table is set in the middle of the room – centered in front of the fireplace - with two large antique chairs surrounding it.  A beautiful antique chandelier is centered over the table.   This arrangement is a brilliant idea for a living room which probably doesn’t get much daily use.  When having a large family dinner – this extra table will come in handy.    It’s an unusual arrangement, but I think it is very practical.

 

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Looking at the room from the other angle, you can see how large it actually is.  There is a baby grand piano in the corner – another great idea for entertaining.  The front windows are left undraped while the side windows have silk curtains, probably for privacy from neighbors.   If this was my client, I would have draped all the windows – and taken the curtains up to the ceiling molding – but that’s me.  It looks perfectly lovely as is.  What is notable  here is the different furniture heights.  LESSON:  try to vary the height of furniture in a room, otherwise it gets rather boring.  Here, the two tall French chairs, the clock, the large mirror, and piano all lend different heights to the large room, thereby creating interest.

 

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The dining room is through the double arches and shares the fireplace with the living room.   Notice how both mantles are clean – just a small hanging sculpture was placed on each fireplace.  I love this room with its gilded wooded chandelier and silk skirted table.   The chairs are gorgeous.  It’s simple, yet very elegant. 

 

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Past the dining room is the kitchen with it’s granite countertops and trendy stainless appliances.  The bar stools are too low to be functional.  LESSON:  be sure when ordering bar stools that you buy the correct height – they come in two standard heights.   I like the touches of texture – the window shade, the large wicker basket, the rattan seats. 

 

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Past the kitchen is the sitting room.  Here, the owner made perfect choices.  First – she ordered a custom cut seagrass matting rug.  Notice how closely the rug is cut to the walls.  A store bought seagrass rug or an ill fitting one can ruin a room – it would be better to do without.  LESSON:  A properly sized seagrass rug should cover the room almost as if it was wall to wall carpeting.    I love this room – to me, this is a wonderful family room.   The sofa is high backed and is fashioned after an antique style.  The two wing chairs with their French mouton legs are again, copies, of antiques – but they seem almost contemporary here.  The classic club chair with its English saddle arms adds just enough pattern to this quiet interior.  The French side chairs surround an iron based table which adds a needed texture.  A large French antique mirror reflects the daylight.   LESSON:  Always place your mirrors where they can reflect something beautiful – an important rule to remember.   The set of large botanicals are perfectly placed and hung.  LESSON:  place art just a few inches above the sofa.  This is a good rule to follow.   This helps to connect the art to the large sofa – otherwise, if pictures are hung too high above the sofa, or the buffet or the console, it looks like they are flying off into space.   Remember – just a few inches above the grounding piece!  Notice too the size of the prints – together the six look like one large element – the scale of the six prints to the sofa and room is perfect.  Absolutely perfect!   And lastly – instead of curtains, the owner has used antique doors or shutters – again, to add texture and interest. 

 

 

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A view from the opposite direction.  Here you can see the contemporary glass coffee table – which plays off all the antique styled furniture.  Notice, here the wing back chair with its beautiful nail heads, a nice way to update a classic. 

 

 

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The master bedroom is divine!  The architecture is wonderful – notice the low, wide arch that creates an alcove for the bed.  LESSON:  notice how high the bed is – it was probably placed on risers purchased from Bed, Bath and Beyond or somewhere similar.   This is an excellent way to update a bedroom.  Notice the two stacked baskets that double as a night table.  The bedding is simple, a plain linen coverlet and pillows – no fancy trims to spoil the look.   The sconces are just the right touch of “industrial” to add another texture – iron.   Again, antique shutters are used to bring texture and architectural detail to the room.  I love the low hanging trendy lantern over the sitting area.  And notice the placement of the furniture, floating in front of the bed.  I love the antique wine table, simply decorated with a few books.   The chairs should probably be slipcovered in a tight cover to keep them fresh – but then you would lose the lovely nailhead detailing.  LESSON:  Visual Vamp came up with the perfect solution for white upholstered furniture:  she purchased yards and yards of white pleather and recovered everything in it!  The white pleather is a wonderful alternative to slipcovers and allows the use of trendy nailheads.   In the seating area, I love how the ottoman doesn’t match the chairs, interest and texture comes from its wood frame.  LESSON:  notice the great wall to wall seagrass matting.  It adds a wonderful, live texture and color to the room.     I think this room is perfection! 

 

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To the left of the bed, is a small “breakfast” bar.  LESSON:   the wood has been fauxed to look like an aged piece of furniture.  The iron hardware continues the deception.  Wonderful, simple accessories add just enough to maintain the spare look of the room.

 

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Across the bed and furniture grouping is this French antique day bed.  What a luxury to have a one bed for the day and one for the night!  Again, simple linen pillows are mixed with striped bolsters – this fabric is the only pattern in the room.  LESSON:  use a large wicker basket instead of a coffee table, side table or night table.   If this was my house – I would have added curtains and shades to the windows – but again – it looks perfectly fine without.   LESSON:  I’m just one who believes that curtains add so much warmth and romance to a room, they should always be used!

 

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Off the master bedroom – there is a balcony – and notice how the owner chose to furnish it:  using antique iron furniture instead of modern pieces.   They add just the right touch of romance to this French inspired home.    And I love the single, oversized French vessel!   Wonderful!

 

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The owner brought furniture into the master bathroom to warm it up – I love the large antique bookcase used here.  LESSON:  bring furniture, lamps, and paintings into the bathroom to make it a more warm and livable space.

 

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The guestroom – again, the bed is raised.  Notice the wonderful dust ruffle with its hem slightly puddled.  Another wine tasting table with two chairs float in the room – with another lantern over the setting.  LESSON:  if a look is great – why not repeat it?  I think this is a great looking bedroom!  Simple, quiet and elegant.  The buffet a deux is gorgeous.  The iron table adds just the right amount of metal in the room.  The curtains are paired with woven shades – again I would have brought both the shades and the drapes up to the ceiling molding.  I think this is an important point to emphasize.  LESSON:   if the curtains are brought  up to the ceiling it creates a clean line, it adds height to the room, and it increases the size of the window by camouflaging the sheetrock above the window and below the ceiling.   Personally I think curtains should always be hung that way, if possible.  Again, the owner used wall to wall seagrass and I think these rooms are a wonderful example of why I stress using a textured, natural fiber for floor covering.  LESSON:   natural fiber carpet adds much texture and color and warmth to a room – as opposed to plain carpet!   If seagrass is not an option, opt for using a flat weave, patterned carpet instead.     All in all – I love this room and think the owner got it just right!

 

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The third bedroom – it’s nice enough – we can’t all totally decorate every room!  Actually – the four poster bed works great with the unusual, small windows.  I think this room might double as an office.

 

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The powder room continues with the  French theme found throughout.  LESSON:  the owner came up with a brilliant idea to hide the space under the sink counter by using the large wicker basket.  I love how casual this room is.  The books stacked in the window is a charming touch  – as is the wonderful mirror and glass sink. 

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at this town house and getting ideas from the owner on how to achieve a French inspired home!   It’s always great when you can learn from someone who understands design and knows what looks good in a home!

New Car Blues (and white):

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Last week, when I pointed out my car parked outside the window at the Austin Shabby Slips,  I got a few comments about it.    Mrs. Blandings said she had always taken me for a Lexus girl.  Nah, not moi!   Another  email comment was not quite as kind.

 

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But, in all honesty – I love my Jeep Commander.    I happen to think it’s one of the cutest cars on the road (Oh, ok - after the Range Rover or the Mercedes G-class truck,  of course.)   To me, a car’s worth is it’s “cuteness,” as opposed to its abilities or good gas mileage – two things the Commander is surely lacking.   I had wanted a Jeep for ages and ages, but my husband always “surprised” me with some other car, like a Ford (twice) and a Chevrolet another time  - both, really sexy cars.    So, I waited a long time for my Jeep, in fact I’ve been waiting since this:

 

 

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This is the Jeep I really wanted – the old, great Grand Wagoneer with the faux wood side panels.  Isn’t this gorgeous?  I honestly don’t know why they don’t make these anymore especially since there is a large market for these old beauties.   This particular car is for sale for around $26,000.  Pretty expensive for a car that probably didn’t even cost near that when it was first built back in 1987.    Few American cars hold their value like this.    For some reason I like square cars – in fact I don’t think I’ve ever even owned an aerodynamically designed auto.   I just don’t care for those sleek lines -  I LIKE to block the wind with a big mass of iron and steel.    

 

 

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Truth be told, I would have been thrilled with the Jeep Wrangler.   In fact, I wanted it, but Ben didn’t think it was sturdy enough for in town freeway driving.  I’m sure Jeep USA would disagree.    But the Wrangler sure is cute, isn’t it?   At any rate, I was ecstatic and very grateful when I got my Jeep, vintage or not.   It’s my favorite car I’ve ever owned – until today that is. 

 

 

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This one really used to be my “dream” car – a Range Rover.   You know, for driving in the Sahara to carpool.

 

 

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I’d even settle for the cheaper version – the Land Rover (but even the cheaper version is out of my price range!)    It’s great for all that mountain driving we do in Houston.  But over the years, these cars lost their luster for me.  Their sharp, square look became less severe, more mainstream.   Besides, another car came along to take its place.

 

 

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Lately, my absolute dream of dreams, lottery-type dreams, is this car – the Mercedes G series.  Ahhhhhh.   It doesn’t get much squarer than this – or more expensive, unfortunately.   This one will always be a dream – it’s not going to happen in my lifetime.   Although, it has happened for my teenaged daughter, sort of.  Her boyfriend drives this car.  The brat!   ha-ha!!   Well, in his defense, it is a used, hand-me-down from his father, but still.    My daughter is high-faluting it around town in MY dream car!    Doesn’t seem fair!

 

 

But all is not lost for me.  Today, when I least expected it, I finally found MY car – the one that was MADE just for me.   It’s amazing, to tell you truth.  It’s like they had me in mind when they conjured up this beauty.    I don’t really care what it costs, it’s going to be mine!   I’m placing the order for it today.  Shhh – don’t tell my husband though!  It’s a surprise for him!   He’s going to love it just as much!  hee-hee!!

 

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Yes!   A TOILE car!  And it’s even French - how fabulous is that?!!!!   It’s a Peugeot.  And check out the Louis XVI seats.    I mean, why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?   I am SO buying this car!!   Don’t even BOTHER telling me how much it is.  I DON’T CARE!!!!!!  

 

 

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Check out the rear.  I even love the toile pattern that Peugeot used.  And thank God, they picked blue and white toile!   I might not have wanted to buy the car if it was a red and white toile, or a green and white pattern.   Brown and white toile would have been just as good, though.   I love how you can see the rounded seat backs of the French chairs in the rear window.

 

 

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Now, that’s some paint job.  Notice how perfectly the pattern is matched where the hood opens.   That takes ability and talent.   Whoever fauxed this car deserves the big bucks, not that faux painters are starving or anything.

 

 

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And it’s a  mini-van!   So convenient for the carpool kids!!!   And finally – no seatbelts.  God, I hate seatbelts so much.   One thing though, I think I would have slipcovered the chairs.  Easier to keep clean, of course.   Plus, I would have put seagrass matting inside the car instead of carpet – it would blend much better and be more stylish.    And I might replace the back chairs for a French settee – I could get more people in the car with the settee.   And curtains?  I probably would add tortoise shell blinds to the back window – keep the sun out…….And, let’s see, what else????? 

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Leave it to the French to come up with this beauty.   No one, I mean no one, does it better than the French.  Viva la France!   OK, I’m off to transfer the funds to Paris.  Au revoir!

 

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Thank you to Beadboard UpCountry in Brenham, Texas for the tip!    Be sure to visit their web site here AND if you go to Round Top or you just happen to be anywhere near Chappell Hill or Brenham, stop by and visit.  Beadboard UpCountry is the best decor store in the Brenham  area – by far!