the – very rare – guest blog – my daughter takes the reins!

by Sharon Santoni
This is a guest post – unusual in several ways.  Firstly because I don’t normally do guest posts on MFCH, and secondly because the author today is one Ella Santoni, yup .. we are related!
Ella is one of my daughters.  At the very outset of her professional life,  she has created a start-up offering edgy events on the Cote d’Azur.   She is talented, she is  strong, and – as for all  four of my ‘little ones’ – I am fiercely proud of all she does.

When Marsha of Splenderosa suggested we invite a guest to write this month’s post, I immediately thought of Ella: the born communicator ….. I asked her to to talk about blogging from the point of view of the blogger’s family: those offstage, behind the scenes.  This is what she came up with, we hope you enjoy!

The love story between my mum and her blog.

Ironically, today  I am My French Country Home’s ‘guest blogger’. Why ironically ? Because I am Sharon’s daughter and her french country home is also MY french country home.   So you know, the whole “the way we like to live ” thing ? … well I’ve been there, done that !

The reason I accepted to write today, is because I liked the theme my dear mother suggested: ‘The family’s vision of the blog’. 


Since Mummy started writing My French Country Home, I have observed and read a lot about this little blogging world. I must say, it’s like the Third Dimension: everyone is so nice to each other, every blogger is so interested in other bloggers’  projects. It’s like a slightly surreal worldwide family. 

Today the blog is part of my mum’s personality and we have accepted her “virtual life”. But at first, I didn’t see it that way.

I remember when she first told me that she wanted to start a blog. I didn’t really take it seriously. She asked for my help, but I was too busy with my “cool teenage life” and preferred to ignore the whole thing. But she persevered.  Every evening after dinner, she spent long hours in front of the computer screen, (which in itself was pretty surprising!) Figuring out the colours, fonts, how to do this and that …  And then after a while, her first post was up, followed by her first comments.

In what felt like the lapse of a minute, strangers from all over the world could read and see what our lives looked like. It was as if the computer screen became a new window in the house. Even though Mum never showed much inside the house, or never showed any of us.  It was flattering but at the same time a little weird. We – the kids –  sometimes didn’t really get the point of it. But we adapted…. 

Little by little, we all got curious. People around the world would read about our house in Normandy. So surprising ! 

Mum got to know so many different people. Then we actually met some of these bloggers physically, which was great.  We heard so many different stories, got to know different cultures, we loved it! 

Now, a few years down the road, as the four of us have grown up, and left home (all except for Jim, sorry mate!), without realising it, her little website has become a way of staying connected with home.

Today, I always take a moment to read what my mum has posted.  It’s as if  I was back in Normandy for a couple of minutes. 

Sometimes, I laugh when I read about the adventures of my naughty Ghetto. (Ugh! my dog is so badly behaved! )


Sometimes, I wipe away a tear as I read articles about how mum worries about raising her kids (that would be us!). 

Sometimes, I smile when I see pictures of our beautiful home and the flowers in the garden. 

Sometimes, I feel wistful when I read about the horses and our rides in the forest. 


I guess that even if the blog has slightly invaded our private lives, it is a very small thing compared to the joy and pride it has given us. 

So I want to take this opportunity to thank you, readers, for the enjoyment you have brought my mum over the past couple of years.

I hope you liked these few lines, 


Thank you to Marsha, for another in the By Invitation Only series.  If you’d like to read the input from other non bloggers, then pop over to Splenderosa and enjoy the fun!

PS  Ella  has asked me to add a collective word of thanks to this post, she is thrilled and flattered by your kind comments, but her day has been pretty busy and there simply wasn’t time to reply to each


Sophia Home November 5, 2013 - 9:11 am

Thank you Ella! I so loved reading your views on your Mum's blog and they made me smile……my own three children who are all in their early twenties, went through very similar thoughts to you when I first started writing my little blog just over a year ago! They didn't quite 'get it' either, but now they too seem to love it, and especially having that little connection with home most days, now that they are all busy living and working in London and can't come home as often. Your Mum writes such a wonderful blog that so many of us around the world enjoy reading… should be very proud of her!

Thank you for your lovely guest post…..

Sophia x

Today's Treasure by Jen November 5, 2013 - 9:24 am

What a wonderful post Ella. You are indeed your mother's child… beautiful & a very talented writer. I thank you and your siblings for sharing your Mum with all of us! I am honored to be one of those bloggers lucky enough to visit your home and will always remember your entire family's generous spirit!!!
P.S. That is my favorite photo of your Ghetto (as well as the story that goes with it!) Fondly, ~Jen

david terry November 5, 2013 - 9:43 am

Dear Ella,
What a lovely posting…..thank you (apparently, "Sophia Home" and I think similarly). That's a wonderfully dramatic photograph of you, by the way. To be honest?…you do look more like a "Santoni" than your blonde, English mother does. Sorry, but I draw & paint folks for a living, and I do tend, for better or worse, to be alarmingly assessive of their appearances.

In any case?…it's gratifying to read of your initial bafflement and eventual encouragement regarding your mother's creative efforts. I've never met your mother in person, but I would bet a shiny red apple that she did the same for you and your siblings when you were young (and, as just evinced, even now).

My own parents (who have three sons; I'm the middle one) have a rather odd mix on their hands…..I'm publicly known/published/reputed-to-be a sort of curmudgeonly, acerbic, "Southern Gothic" (the critical label I finally just accepted as my personal tar-baby, since that's how the critics want to regard me/my work) writer/artist. It remains that I'm pretty much just an ordinary guy…..just as my older brother is (he was widely known for years as a sessions player who traveled and hung out wildly with several well-known, rowdy bands). In short?…my parents (particularly my father) have had to grow accustomed to having sons whose "public" personae don't in the least represent their baby-boys.

It's nice, though…..your mother obvious supoorts and encourages your creative efforts, as you obviously support hers. At a certain point, parents and children need to become just FRIENDS….supportive and encouraging in the way friends should be (and that includes witnessing their mistakes and murmuring to yourself "Oh, S**T….I'm going to have to hang around to help him/.her pick up the pieces when this particular piece of foolery is finished…."

As I've regularly told my mother and father (and, yes, I call them "Mother" and "Father")?……
"We're lucky….I don't 'need' a mommy or a daddy these days, and you don't need some baby-boy-son. At this stage of the game, we're just Good Friends". They always agree with me.

Thanks for the lovely posting.

David Terry

Anne Holford November 5, 2013 - 9:52 am

Bravo for the lovely post and being so generous and gracious about sharing your mum with the world!

pve design November 5, 2013 - 10:32 am

For all the grief and teasing I receive from my own children, I know that some day they will find that my very own blog has reached an audience that I might never have known existed working in my little ivory tower. I too have felt support, kindness, motivation during raising my family. My choice to be home for my family, to work from home and blog has added such dimension to my life. I illustrated your Mum's "French Country Home" years ago and although we have not met, I feel a kindred spirit lives and breaths behind the facade of this lovely spot here. You are fortunate to be a guest here and a daughter too.
Thank-you for sharing your side of blogging and making me teary eyed.

DREAMS ON 34th STREET ~ French Bread & Family November 5, 2013 - 11:19 am

So pleased to meet you, dear and lovely Ella. Your first post in blogland is brilliant and sincere! Your Mum and so many of us are in the same stage of life. That is why we relate to one another so very well.
Your Mum's inspiration has lifted this heart time and time again!

vicki archer November 5, 2013 - 12:45 pm

You have articulated so beautifully the relationship between blogging and family… I am sure my children would tell it in the same way… Your mother and I spoke at length the other day about all these blogging moments… our families… and all of the interconnections we have found through this very strange medium for communicating…
Good luck in your new venture, Ella… it would seem to me that your enterprising spirit and creative talent may be attributable in some way to your very clever mother… 🙂

Francine Gardner November 5, 2013 - 12:56 pm

You are indeed a lovely, charming daughter. Your mom is a lucky lady!

Veronica November 5, 2013 - 1:24 pm

Loved reading your views Ella and my daughter felts much the same! One of her friends got me blogging! Your Mom's blog was one of the first I landed on in the Blogisphere and also one of my very first followers! The blogging community is indeed an incredibly talented and generously spirited community who live by the mantra ~Pay forward the Love ~ incredibly really and what a previledge to get a peek into your lives and gorgeous home! Veronica xxx

Lynda Bergman Decorative Artisan November 5, 2013 - 1:51 pm

What a nice life! Your daughter is beautiful!! Always enjoy reading your blog. Lynda

Delaine November 5, 2013 - 2:00 pm

What a wonderful post, Ella…so heartwarming to hear your thoughts about your mother's blog in which she has so graciously shared your family's world with us…Merci!

Limezinnias Design November 5, 2013 - 2:10 pm

Ahhh…loved your post! I love this blog.

Jacqueline @ HOME November 5, 2013 - 2:15 pm

Dear Ella,
How lovely to read your thoughts on your mum's blogging ….. I'm sure that my children were very suprised that I could begin to start a blog let alone load images and videos etc !!!! { … and, why is it that our children are always ' too busy ' to help !!!!! haha ….. mine used to say the same thing when they were younger as do all children of a similar age !! } We often suprise you, don't we !!
….. and what a lovely time you must have had, having lived in such a beautiful country.
Your post was such a pleasure to read and just perfect for our BIO subject this month. XXXX

Anonymous November 5, 2013 - 2:33 pm

Hi Ella just wanted to say I love reading this blog. I wouldn't miss a day if I can help it. Thank you for sharing. Regards Esther from Sydney.

Stacey Snacks November 5, 2013 - 3:06 pm

Hi Ella,
So fabulous that you wrote on your mom's blog today!
I have met your sister Nicki and brother James when we visited last summer thru blogging!, as well as your pups and your beautiful mother and dad. Perhaps one day you will come to NYC and we will have a chance to meet!

Isn't it fab that your mom is doing what she wants and loves to do and is so GOOD at it????

You are so lucky to live where you do, and have such wonderful parents that support you.

xo Stacey

Jennifer November 5, 2013 - 3:44 pm

Wonderful! Thanks, Ella.

Cindy Albert November 5, 2013 - 4:14 pm

Ella, thank you for such a lovely post. You are such a beautiful girl. My best to both of you.

Marsha Splenderosa November 5, 2013 - 4:15 pm

Ella, what a splendid young woman you are! I absolutely loved reading this post, reading your loving words about your mother. Sharon, you totally rock! I know you don't have time for anything extra unless you're snowed in, but you have done something extra in the most wonderful way. Yes, blogging has changed all of our lives. I do wish I could be one of those who is fortunate enough to visit you at your country French home. Thank you so much. xx's

Sarah Malone, European Farmhouse Charm November 5, 2013 - 4:21 pm

Hi Ella,
Lovely post, thank you for sharing! I so enjoyed meeting many of you while visiting last year. You are a charming bunch for sure! Your Mom and her blog inspired me beyond words.
Best wishes to you in your future pursuits!

Sarah Malone, European Farmhouse Charm November 5, 2013 - 4:25 pm

Hi Ella,
Lovely post, thank you for sharing. I've had the pleasure of meeting many of you while visiting last year. You are a charming bunch for sure! Your Mom truly inspired me-and meeting her in person was the icing on the cake :)!
Best wishes to you in your future pursuits.

ArchitectDesign™ November 5, 2013 - 4:36 pm

what a great idea to have your daughter post! So fun to get a 'behind the scenes' look!

Caryl November 5, 2013 - 4:49 pm

Hi Ella,
I so enjoyed your post and appreciated your point of view. I read your mom's blog (from my loft
in Tribeca–that's NYC) but I have never commented before. After reading this, I wondered what
my own daughters might think of my blog. I love the notion of a worldwide family–kind, generous
and inspiring. Thank you for taking the time to post this. All best, C

Emm November 5, 2013 - 5:22 pm

What a lovely post, Ella, thank you. I've come to "know" Normandy a bit through reading MFCH, and like you am intrigued to see how many people around the world come together through blogging.

hostess of the humble bungalow November 5, 2013 - 5:27 pm

Ella, How lovely to meet you!
I enjoyed your perspective on your mother's blog. I find it interesting too that you can "keep in touch" by reading her blog now that you have moved away from home. My own daughter does the same!
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

Laurie November 5, 2013 - 5:49 pm

Well said! I have tears in my eyes. I guess as a mom of young adults who no longer live at home it warms my heart to hear your daughter's warn and well spoken response to your blogging and sharing from her heart. Thank you!

kerrie of sea cottage November 5, 2013 - 6:21 pm

How lovely this is to read. I dare say my children have felt similar about my blog but my writer daughter away at University, I believe understands and appreciates it now. She will probably have a blog of her own one day 🙂

Pura Vida November 5, 2013 - 6:23 pm

such beauty in the words and how you captured in your photos!

david terry November 5, 2013 - 6:25 pm

By the way, Ella?….. one of my favorite passages (written by one of my favorite friends, who's a well-known Jewish & female author) involves a daughter's trying to give her 60-something mother some "constuctive criticism". The Mother snarls at her…..declaring "When I'm DEAD, you'll be sorry you said that to me!"…..and the daughter wearily says "Oh, God, Mother. you're going to be alive for a long time, you know?"…….and the mother replies:

"Yeah, Sure. but when I'm dead, I'm gonna be DEAD for a very, very LONG TIME, too! You are going to have PLENTY of time to be sorry for that comment you just made, Little Lady!!!".

MORAL: Never say anything to your mother except "Thank you", "I wouldn't even be alive without you", "What can I do for YOU to repay youfor all you've done for me?", "Everything I am or do is due to your benign & nurturing influence", or (at the most extreme) "If I killed myself now, would that make you feel better about your latest marriage or your current ceramics class?".

I'm lucky; both of my parents grew up in the same orphanage, so I and my brothers got to skip a lot of predictable Freudian maternal-conflicts. Of course, it was also the case that my paternal; grandmother was the matron of that orphanage and basically raised my mother….so that my father
(her biological son) and my mother (married at age twenty and 21 and still quite married) have lived under the same roof since they were 6 and 7.

Oh well…..nice to see that you and your mother get along. Oddly enough (and contrary to anything Mister Freud might write) my parents get along just fine, and I get along with them. None of us has a blog, though, and only one of us has married a Frenchman.

—-david terry

Madonna/aka/Ms Lemon of Make Mine Lemon November 5, 2013 - 7:56 pm

It is lovely to me you Ella. I love reading your Mom’s blog because it is how we all “want” to live. Besides being so supportive to all of us, she always shares her beautiful flower garden and arrangements, and her special loot. I especially love her elegant recipes, and a peek into her children’s life. We have all grown to love that rascal, Ghetto. I love the horses. We no longer have horses, but I love to see the bonding that families develop when they ride together. My children were hardly out of diapers when my husband put them on their first pony.

My family is still creeped out about my blog. I have promised to not divulge any family secrets. They can’t believe anyone would be interested in my recipes much less someone from another country. I just am glad they are.

Now with all of that who would not want a friend like your Mom?

Sorry this got a little longer than I planned.

Madonna/aka/Ms. Lemon

Sammy November 5, 2013 - 9:18 pm

Oh, that was fun! Visit again. : – )

Katherine November 5, 2013 - 9:30 pm

Ella, you described the blog life perfectly. I know as a blogger and Mother that protecting my family and sharing is a fine line to walk. It doesn't surprise me that your Mother walks that line as well.
I loved reading that your Mother's posting help you both appreciate home and feel connected when you are away. That is a special gift.
You write with the same warmth and kindness – you know the saying 'that apple doesn't fall far'. And thankfully it doesn't. This was really a lovely post.

ella santoni November 5, 2013 - 10:22 pm

Hi David, I heard you wrote good comments, it's nice to receive them first-hand!. I need to reassure you though, don't get the wrong idea, my mother and I have had our moments!. As I have more of the corsican vibe, you can imagine that feelings have run high between the two little islands. But you know, we grow up, and get to like our mother ! I would say what a good friend once told me : " Le mal que l'on s'inflige, fait écho à l'amour que l'on a l'un pour l'autre." In simple words, we scare because we care ! So it’s all forgotten now Love, thanks for the fun comments. Have a great evening

Anonymous November 5, 2013 - 10:45 pm

Thank you so much for your comments Ella – wonderful, just like the MFCH blog!

Poppy Q November 5, 2013 - 11:47 pm

Loved your post, you are lucky to have such a beautiful home. Thanks for sharing it with us. We love the adventures of Ghetto, what a wonderful picture of him.

Julie Q

LOLITA November 6, 2013 - 2:51 am

Yes, lovely….. like another window in our homes, the web is and fellow bloggers neighbors. Hmmmnnnn, pretty and so like her Mum. Thanks Ella.

I've been a silent follower from the 3rd world Philippines, dreaming of France, heh!

I love your Mums pictures, french food pictures, flowers and arrangements, the finds etc….. looking inside from my own window into yours. Sorry if my window is closed from yours, I got nothing to show. I just love looking in here and figuring out French life and the vintage setting merged with the new.

helen tilston November 6, 2013 - 3:01 am

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on you mother's popular blog. It is lovely to see you and hear from you. I hope you make an appearance here again, if only once a year.
Helen xx

Brenda Murphy November 6, 2013 - 5:20 am

Ella, your comments echo my daughter's exactly. We are not so different no matter the country of origin.

martinealison November 6, 2013 - 7:13 am


Une publication très émouvante et touchante de la part de votre fille… J'aimerais croire que mes quatre enfants soient aussi élogieux en pensée s'ils regardent mon blog… Je ne sais pas.
Marscha est une belle personne et j'aime également beaucoup son blog…
De très belles rencontres via la blogosphère…
gros bisous

david terry November 6, 2013 - 11:11 am

Dear "Lolita" (sorry, but my browser won't allow me to "respond" directly below your comment, which
I just read).

You should know this poem by Emily Dickinson. Suffice it to say that I seriously doubt that you "got nothing to show"…..I think that all of us have something valuable to show.

"To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee–
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do
If bees are few. "

—–Emily Dickinson (circa 1820)

Best wishes,
david terry

Le Farm November 6, 2013 - 1:10 pm

Seeing the individuality and creativity that develops in our children takes the very breath away from moms.(And NOTHING but that gets to us!) it's the miracle of "roots and wings".
Suzanne@Le Farm

Bleu Chine November 6, 2013 - 2:12 pm

Hello Ella, just a 'coucou" from south of France ! I don't remember how I discovered this blog but I do follow it. I like its simplicity and admosphere.
Even French people dream to have a house in Normandy : it's so romantic, so british and had such a great role in our history ! Bonne journée, Stéphanie

Pam Greene November 6, 2013 - 2:39 pm

Such a beautiful post! I have two grown daughters … Friends 🙂 I love your blog and added it to my blog list! How can I become a part of the international blog group? I would love to participate :). Hugs

Debbie Lynne Malison November 6, 2013 - 2:53 pm

How wonderful to read a family's point of view about blogging. Beautiful writing and words, your mother must be proud.

La Contessa November 6, 2013 - 3:05 pm


Frieda November 6, 2013 - 3:15 pm

Du bout du monde à 6 h de décalage j'adore ton Blog
J'entends mes enfants se confier à des amis de ma famille
dans ces beaux mots de ta fille
Super Mama Blogueuse
Bonne journée

Kat Miller November 6, 2013 - 3:26 pm

Such a sweet post!

Colleen Taylor November 6, 2013 - 4:04 pm

Deal Ella, this was such a priceless favor to do for your lovely mother. I'm a regular commenting contributor to your mother's fabulous blog & one of the featured artists for a giveaway a few months ago.

This was an absolutely sincere and heartwarming post and how sweet to have such an introduction to you. Any mother would be so proud to call you their daughter. You are a such a beautiful young woman & write very well indeed. I certainly hope we get to see & hear from you now & again. Merci Ella!

peggybraswell November 6, 2013 - 5:20 pm

well it could not have better said + i hope my children think as much of me one day. + love what you wrote ella. may your life be filled with miracles.

CWoodyard November 6, 2013 - 7:10 pm

Ella, this post of yours has been the most enjoyable I've read for a long time! You're brilliant, beautiful and a great compliment to your mother! You have a great future ahead, I can tell……WOW!


Kimberly Collins November 6, 2013 - 7:10 pm

Absolutely lovely and quite eloquent you are, Ella. I'm not a blogger, nor live in Europe, but a designer. Following your Mum and reading her blogs has helped inspire me to brand my latest collection. Thank you for allowing me to trespass.



Anonymous November 7, 2013 - 1:36 am

I live in NY & turn to this blog every day for a vacation get away / escape to read about life in Normandy. THis is my feeling as to why I read this blog but always wondered how a blogger felt from their side. THankyou for sharing – delightful read on your thoughts of your Mother's Blog.

SisterBrendy November 7, 2013 - 4:12 pm

What a dream…to have a daughter who stepped up to be a guest contributor on her Mom's blog. I loved reading your post Ella and love your Mum's blog!

Lady of the Cloth November 7, 2013 - 6:22 pm

Thank you Ella and thanks to your Mum for sharing with us, her bloggers a glimpse into the French Countryside. It is like a few minutes to dream in my oft times, boring day here in the Northwest of the US
You are a lovely young lady.

Heather Robinson November 8, 2013 - 10:32 am

Ella, I see that you are just as beautiful and as generous in spirit as your Mum. 🙂

I loved this "insider's view"–a brilliant idea! I know with my honey there have been lines to be drawn about what is allowed to be written about and what is a no go zone. I think that your Mum actually does a very fine job at sticking within her "lines."

Wishing you all the Best as you go forward with your adventures. A good start helps and a strong family too…
PS. We all love hearing about Ghetto being such a rascal!

Jeanne Henriques November 9, 2013 - 7:26 am

Bravo Ella…I love your perspective and I imagine if I put you together with my daughters you would have a good laugh over the blogging antics of your mothers. Like you, I know they see it as a connection to home as well and I feel blessed that I can give them just a little bit more. I am sure your mother feels the same way. She is a truly special and talented woman and there is no question that her daughter is following in her footsteps. A big wave and cheers from Saigon to you both and thank you for such a thoughtful post. The best kind! xx

Pamela Barber November 9, 2013 - 8:13 pm

Dear Ella,your words' ( just perfect),now can you help me with my blog 'PRETTY PLEASE'? heheeee
sending you and your mum much love xxx

a breath of fresh air November 9, 2013 - 9:51 pm

Ella great to see your perspective on blog world! It has me wondering what my sons would write ?

Terri Cheney November 9, 2013 - 11:20 pm

I always find it nice when I begin to tell my children of an event or moment in my life and they say "Oh I know! I read your blog…"

LOLITA November 11, 2013 - 9:39 am

Thanks for the response, David. I know but I am shy. The poem also points me to the thought that I am a King's daughter and my Father is in heaven. Amen……

florence November 11, 2013 - 9:12 pm

Opening a blog first seems to be just simple, but not knowing the wonderfull new life it brings : mainly new friends, real or virtual…. It is like I feel mine ! do you?

Amanda R November 12, 2013 - 3:16 am

Thanks for your interesting post Ella. It is certainly a very special way to keep in touch with home, with the added bonus of a digital timecapsule in the archives section. With all of Sharon's beautiful words and photographs you have illustrated memories from these blogging years – of your family, home and garden, life in Normandy and especially the thoughts of your very special Mother. Best wishes in your new venture from Amanda in Australia

FRA January 13, 2014 - 2:57 pm

Wow…I missed this post Sharon!

It is so interesting to read what a daughter can think of her blogger mom!
My sons are so little…. I wonder if they will be as happy and proud of their mom as your Ella is!
Beautiful, really beautiful and captivating post!

As for today post instead…we begun blogging in the very same month of 4 years ago..can you believe it? And you were the very first to award me a “beautiful blog”!
I still can remember my excitement.
Wonderful idea that of highlighting new blogs.


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