chateau de gudanes

chateau de gudanes france renovation Have you heard of Chateau de Gudanes? It’s an eighteenth century chateau in the South of France that an Australian family has purchased and is restoring, sharing their progress online and via instagram. I had read about the project a few years ago when they first bought it (their story has been featured on Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar) but forgot about it until I came across this update.

The abandoned house had been neglected for years and was/is in need of major help; there was water and structural damage, parts of the interior were just rubble and the roof had caved in in various sections. I can’t imagine taking on such a project, but it’s kind of magical and addicting to watch as they go about their renovations. The family is hoping to be finished with the project this year, and is planning to open to the public for weekend stays – who’s coming with me? 02-chateau-gudanes-update 06-chateau-gudanes-update 08-chateau-gudanes-update 04-chateau-gudanes-update 11-chateau-gudanes-update 09-chateau-gudanes-updateIMG_9351 IMG_7747 chateau gudanes france french chateau renovation chateau de gudanes

Interview: Artist Ben Junta

ben junta

Today I have an interview with Redondo Beach based photographer and artist Ben Junta. I first discovered Ben’s work at the Serena & Lily shop here in LA, where I spotted one of his gorgeous seascapes which led me to the happy discovery of his website and full breadth of work. In addition to creating his dreamy landscapes, Ben works with a variety of media from oils to spray paint to sand. He’s currently working on a series of colorful acrylic paintings.

Check out his website here, and read on to learn a bit more about Ben below:

How did you get started as an artist?

I was not a young art prodigy. I was heading to college to study and play football and had to take a “creativity” class as a General Ed requirement. I chose a black and white drawing class from the now well-known artist Squeak Carnwath. She made all the difference in the world. She was just an amazing teacher, especially to a guy not familiar with many art materials, etc. Timidly, I began to draw, found I had a bit of talent, and the rest is history.

What inspires your work?

The human condition and simply trying to express or record that as I experience it, be it in landscape or abstract form.

I first discovered your work in the Serena & Lily store, where I fell in love with one of your seascapes. How did you end up working with the brand?

This is sort of a typical artist answer in the sense that a friend thought my work would be a good fit with Serena and Lily and told me as much. As many artists can sometimes do, I didn’t jump on the idea for about a year, but rather continued simply to focus on making the art itself. About a year after the first recommendation, I simply sent the art director jpegs of my work and within an hour she responded and that is how it started.   I can’t say enough about what good people I have worked with at Serena and Lily.

If you had to choose a favorite artwork of yours, which would it be?

 Such a great question. Very early on in my career, I was on a half year trip to see the world and to see as many of the world’s great art museums as I could. I started with the Prado in Madrid, Spain and ended up with the Musee D’Orsay in Paris. Along the way, I spent some weeks in the Greek Islands.   Upon returning to California I set up an early art studio in Santa Cruz, CA. It was there that I did a small pastel drawing in an impressionist style of a photo I had taken while in Greece. That was over 25 years ago. Not only did the work give me a strong sense that I had the ability to make art on a serious level, but to this day it hangs in my house as a reminder of that inspiring life changing journey taken so long ago.   Many people have offered to purchase it through the years, but it will never be sold.

I know you live here in Southern California…what would be your perfect California day?

Oh man, I write this as the beginnings of El Nino have set in, and it seems we have had mostly gray days for the past month and a half. No thank you. I need the sunshine! So a perfect California day for me would be to wake up to a clear sunny morning knowing the weather temperature would settle somewhere in the 70’s. Have my morning tea, head out to my painting studio and get some work in. Then before lunch, the winds would not be a factor, and the surf would be in a gentle 3-4 foot range and I would head out for a midday surf. Then back for some lunch, a quick power nap, and back to the studio to finish the days’ work. I would finish it off with the company and cooking of my girlfriend who is an amazing chef. A bit of gentle Miles Davis or Roy Hargrove playing in the background, and a soft candlelit ambiance to round it all out.

10 Best Wines Under $25

best affordable winesI love wine (and I know you do, too!) but it can be confusing and difficult to know what to choose, particularly when you’re on a budget and want something affordable that actually tastes good. So, I reached out to Gwendolyn,’s Director of Education, and asked her to list her 10 favorite wines under $25. Read on for her recommendations, and don’t worry no one will judge you if you add them to your cart even though it’s not even 8 am…

Gloria Ferrer Blanc-de-Noirs ($20)

Champagne can be expensive. I love sparkling wine and certainly don’t want to wait until an “occasion” to drink it. So finding great value sparkling wine is a must. This Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs is a consistently reliable sparkling wine for under $20. They do a fantastic job.

Miraval Rose ($22)

While rose may make you think summer, pink is ideal for the fall. The Miraval, produced on the Provence property owned by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, is a delicious example of provence rose. Crisp, refreshing and a lovely texture, this is a food-friendly and party-worthy rose.

King Estate Acrobat Pinot Gris ($15)

This is one of my favorite everyday, bring to a party, break out for take out, drink just because kind of wine. Refreshing, but with layers of ripe fruit, this white wine is ready for anything.

Iron Horse Estate Chardonnay ($23)

For Chardonnay-lovers, this balanced estate Chardonnay from Sonoma is fantastic. Not overpowering in oak or butter, the balance and complexity you get for the price is a steal.

Man Vintners Chenin Blanc ($12)

Sauvignon Blanc lovers should try this – Chenin Blanc from South Africa makes wine with the acidity of Sauvignon Blanc, but a more ripe fruit character in the background. Not as aromatic as Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin is a bit milder, but still zesty and delightful.

Eroica Riesling ($17)

Spicy meal? Wine for brunch? Something light on a hot day? This Riesling is perfect. Classic aromas and flavors for Riesling – peach, pear, mineral, floral… and then the zing of acidity with the slightest touch of sweetness.

Hewitson Miss Harry GSM ($20)

GSM, which means Grenache-Shiraz-Mourvedre, is a common blend, and quite popular in Australia. Hewitson nails the blend in this wine with the perfect balance of ripe fruit, spice and savory character. Perfect for BBQ.

Primus The Blend ($20)

Chile makes some pretty incredible value wines, and this blend is a perfect example. Ripe fruit dominates, with a smoky undertone. Excellent for grilled meats or anything slow-cooked.

Il Poggione Rosso di Montalcino ($24)

If you had to have one go-to for any meal, this would be it. Italian red wine is a classic food-friendly wine and this Tuscan red from a great vintage totally delivers. Good structure, ripe red fruits and a touch of earth make it the dinner table winner.

Ancient Peaks Paso Robles Renegade ($19.99)

Everyone wants a dense and juicy red blend. This big and bold red from Paso Robles in California gives just that – fruit-forward and rich, this blend is all about big flavors.

image via domaine home

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