how blogging brought me friends around the world

by Sharon Santoni

The most amazing thing that my blogging journey has brought me, are the friends around the world that I have made solely because I blog.    I’ve formed  friendships with some astoundingly talented, energetic (or should I say driven) women that I have met along the way.

I was thinking a lot about these ladies as I recently spent the weekend with one of my daughters, who hadn’t been home for a while and who is currently caught up in the excitement and whirlwind of beginning her own professional life.   She has created her own company, which is  no small achievement at only 23 years old and I am one proud mama!   She is passionate and driven, and over the weekend I smiled to watch her take astute business decisions and field multiple phone calls as if she had been in business for years already.

I’m not sure where we girls find this energy, and I’m certainly not saying that women have cornered the market when it comes to surprising exploits, but today I simply want to celebrate some of the amazing talent I am fortunate to have met.  Some were originally readers of the blog; some were clients buying antiques; others were simply met over a luncheon in Paris … today they are all good friends and I am proud to be seen in their company.

So here in no particular order are a few of the talented people that the blog has brought my way:

Tish Jett – blogger, journalist and best selling author

My dear friend Tish, always so generous and so quick to encourage.   And so modest!  Did you know that her first book Forever Chic was an Amazon best seller for years and translated into 14 languages!    Her second book is released next month and I’m already a fan.

Book announcement for Forever Chic by Tish Jett

Carla Coulson – photographer and life coach

Carla is the most Italian Aussie that I know!  Exuberant, energetic and so full of life.  She is a very gifted photographer with a specialty in portraits of women.   She has the rare gift of knowing how to listen and understand people, and this makes her a   successful life coach.   She also sells prints of her pictures and has published several books about life in Italy.


portrait of carla coulson in front of dog wall mural

Jeni Maus –  stylist and entrepreneur

Jeni popped into my life quite out of the blue, many moons ago, when she came to Normandy to shop with me.   I didn’t know at the time that this young energetic woman was going to become a dear friend.  Today after all these years, her sure eye and business acumen continue to leave me in total awe.


She created the successful company Found Rentals the same year as I started My French Country Home.   We meet up whenever possible and have shopped and traveled together ex-tens-ively!     I’ve stayed with her family, and they have all been here too.    She is a precious friend and our meet-ups are never long enough for all that we need to talk about.

outdoor white table setting

Sandra Sigman – master florist and entrepreneur

I first bumped into Sandra at the Chatou antique fair.   She was looking gorgeous (which I now know is normal, because she always does) and we spoke briefly about buying antiques in Normandy.  A few months later she visited me and we shopped together and a friendship was born.   I have visited her awesome store in Andover, Les Fleurs, and each Spring, we host a tour in Provence together for her private guests.

portrait of sandra sigman holding flowers

She specialises in wedding flowers, and also sells a beautiful selection of French antiques.   I love chatting with her about family, flowers and also about business, and our compared experiences.

Vicki Archer – author, blogger, influencer, and hotelier


When I started blogging Vicki was my (and many other people’s) icon!      She has a true flair for design both in the home and in the wardrobe.   Globetrotter and successful author, she also owns a stunning boutique hotel in St Remy de Provence.  We regularly meet for a lunch or a brunch in Paris and we always have too much to talk about.

Shannon Ables – author and life coach

I was thrilled to meet Shannon for the first time this year, after several years of corresponding or talking by Skype.  She did not disappoint!    Her beautiful blog The Simply Luxurious Life is a true reflection of her personality and the way she lives.    Clear-minded, organised and great fun!   We share a love for walking our dogs in the forest, and we both enjoy highlighting the talent we see around us!   I am in awe of her energy and her entrepreneurial spirit.

Her first book , Choosing  the Simple Luxurious Life  appeared in 2014 and I’ll be featuring her new book on my Instagram story this week, it’s called Living the Simple Luxurious Life, and is a new release this month.  In this new volume you’ll find pages of ideas for living a rich and fulfilled life while keeping the right balance and staying focussed on the essentials.

Also on her website she has started her own cooking videos, which are such fun to watch!


Susan Blakey – blogger, stylist and influencer

Susan and her husband live in California but visit Paris regularly and have stayed with us here in Normandy.     She started her blog Une Femme d’Un Certain Age when she was still holding down a high powered full-time job.   A few years ago she gave up her ‘day job’ and since works full time on her very popular and successful website where thousands of people visit every day for her wardrobe and travel tips.

Stacey Caron – blogger, cook and raconteur

I first met Stacey when she came to Normandy with her husband Henry many years ago.   They emerged from the taxi that brought them here, and I was somewhat intimidated by this striking, sophisticated couple, who brought an air of New York glamour to our Normandy countryside.

Since then we have become good friends and enjoyed many meals together on both sides of the Atlantic.    She writes a wonderful blog Stacey Snacks where she shares her delicious recipes every day, and it is a mystery to me why she hasn’t published a cookbook.

bowl of gazpacho with shrimp


Tina – blogger, stylist and entrepreneur

Tina is the only lady on this list that I have not yet met in person, although I feel as if I have!  She started her blog The Enchanted Home a couple of years after I started mine, and as well as watching her blog grow we also watched her build a very beautiful and enchanting home.

Her taste was so perfect that she soon found herself inundated with requests for information to buy the pieces she was using to furnish her new home, and that is how her shop came to be.  Today her thriving business is a byword for New England glamour and beautiful home decor.   What  I love the most about Tina is her down to earth approach to everything she does.  We all want to be her best friend, and we certainly all need her shopping tips!

outdoor dining tablescape with flowers

Jeanne Henriques –   blogger, mother and globetrotter

Jeanne is a truly elegant lady.   I’ve been fortunate to meet her a couple of times, and we exchange by email regularly.  She has never diverted her blog, Collage of Life, into a business of any sort, and that sits well with her personality.

Mother of four, I believe that she has a family member on nearly every continent.    She is by definition a globetrotter as she and her husband travel for professional reasons, while renovating their stunning Tahilla Farm, and visiting various children at the far ends of the earth.  She surely knows a thing or two about having friends around the world!

Jeanne has an artists soul, and a curious, open-minded approach to life that is very charming.  She has also undertaken a landscaping and garden project at her home that is quite breathtaking.

Charlotte Ann-Fidler – mother, gardener extraordinaire, and recent entrepreneur

Charlotte shot to sudden instagram fame because of this very enviable view from her home.   She shares her home, her beautiful garden and her life with her two girls growing up in the English countryside.

Most recently though she has launched a brand of skin care products for teenagers called Spots and Stripes, and I look on in wonder as the brand is taking off and looking quite fabulous.


And last but not least …    Paula of Hill House Vintage

Paula lives in the English countryside in Norfolk, in a house which she and I refer to as the sister of my house here in Normandy.    She worked in the world of fashion for many years, enjoying the excitement of London, but is now most definitely a country girl, and shares with the world her daily pleasures , be it decorating, antique buying or simply walking her dog.

Visit her blog Hill House Diaries



Karen Mary October 30, 2018 - 8:16 pm

You’re so generous to share these beautiful women with us, Sharon! I’m always looking for role models and am eager to check out the work of each of these women! Hope I make some wonderful new friendships via my new blog as it develops, too!

Mary from Life at Bella Terra October 30, 2018 - 8:28 pm


I am so excited you have shared this and I look forward to following each of these incredible women. I follow The Enchanted Home and love everything that Tina does. I am a relatively new blogger and have met some wonderful, talented but most importantly, kind women through this experience. Friendship occurs in many forms today~~personal and often, virtual. Based on your blog and your beautiful box business, you have generously shared a bit of yourself to many people. Know that you have positively touched and inspired me!

Colleen Taylor October 30, 2018 - 8:52 pm

Lovely post Sharon & thank you for sharing these inspirational women. X

Joanna October 30, 2018 - 9:15 pm

Thank you for sharing. Your blog is just lovely.

Hill House Vintage October 30, 2018 - 10:50 pm

Darling Sharon! Thank you so much for your kind and generous words – it’s an absolute honour to be included on your list and the feeling of friendship and camaraderie is absolutely mutual! I count my blessings to have ‘discovered’ you via your inspiring blog what must be nearing a decade ago now – how time flies! You came into my life and offered friendship and wisdom through your writing at a time when I was seeking inspiration in my new life in the English countryside, and for that I will always be grateful. It’s also clear to see that your beautiful daughters get much of their drive and passion from their fabulous Mama – they are very lucky girls indeed! Paula xxx

Jeanne Henriques October 31, 2018 - 12:37 am

Awww…Sharon, I am truly touched to be included in this lovely list of women, many of whom I know well. We are both coming onto a blogging anniversary, I can’t believe it has been that long and yet look how remarkable the connections have been. They have touched our world in unimaginable ways…ones we couldn’t have imagined during those early phone calls years ago about the ins and outs of blogging. It’s been a blessing and incredibly fun! Sending you a big wave and a hug from Hong Kong. Can’t tell you how excited I am to return to Tahilla Farm to open My Stylish French Box. I have loved each and every one…Jeanne xxx

Mag Lurie Brammer October 31, 2018 - 2:17 am

Thank you for sharing your AMAZING friends with us. All of them very inspiring and I certainly will read all their blogs 🙂 Wish you a beautiful Wednesday:-)

Susan B. October 31, 2018 - 3:47 am

Sharon, thank you so much for the mention! I’m honored to be included among these amazing women you know. I look forward to seeing you again during my next Paris visit.

Pamela October 31, 2018 - 5:58 am

Thank you for sharing, it was a good post!!!

Taste of France October 31, 2018 - 7:46 am

There are many that I know or have read about here, but also some who are new to me–what fun it will be to settle in with a cup of coffee to check them all out. Thank you for this lovely list!

Anne October 31, 2018 - 9:50 am

What a lovely post
It was a delight to read, thank you for sharing how your friendships began, and blossomed through initially meeting on line because of your blogs.
It was lovely to discover that I already follow most of your friends blogs already , but there are a couple of new ones I can’t wait to explore.
I think I ‘found ‘ each of you by following a recommendation from whichever blog I was reading at the time , and it is lovely to know that you have all become more than just ‘virtual friends ‘
You write beautifully, Sharon, and your photographs are stunning.
Thank you !

A.F.N. October 31, 2018 - 5:00 pm

Perfectly delightful and informative. Appreciate all your inspiration. Thank you, Sharon.

stacey snacks October 31, 2018 - 5:33 pm

I too have met so many wonderful women thru 10 years of blogging….including YOU!

So happy to call you a friend (as is Henri!)…….what a wonderful surprise to be included in this list of talented ladies.
xo Stacey

Emm October 31, 2018 - 7:24 pm

What a treasure trove of new people and places. Thank you for sharing them.
Shannon Ables is a new name to me, but if she has a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, she’s OK in my book.

Deborah Axelrod November 1, 2018 - 12:49 pm

You are quite generous to list these formidable women. I am excited to read your books and peruse the websites and buy these innovative eproducts. My connection is to my creative and delicious friend Stacey. She has planted my feet in many great NYC restaurants. Thank you for sharing this site and good luck to your daughter.

This & That: November 2, 2018 – The Simply Luxurious Life® November 2, 2018 - 5:00 am

[…] ~Sharon Santoni’s recent post on friends and blogging introduced me to a lovely list of ladies to check out, and I was humbled to be included. Have a look at How Blogging Brought Me Friends from Around the World […]

Sandra November 4, 2018 - 2:02 pm

Aww…Sharon what a lovely post! I am honored to be included in your list and call you my friend. I always treasure our time together, whether it be sitting in your kitchen talking about our day, riding side by side on our travels through the French countryside or picking beautiful flowers together at the Nice flower market. Those memories I treasure and I count my blessings everyday that I have you in my life. Thank you dear friend, I am forever grateful.

Freddie Ann November 7, 2018 - 7:54 pm

Oh my, this really opened up my small world. I am now enjoying Tish Jett, Shannon Ables, and Susan Blakey. Thank you again for sharing your world with ours.

Tina April 1, 2019 - 11:38 am

Wow not sure how I missed this but THAN YOU Sharon for including me in this wonderful list of tastemakers, I am honored. And like you, I feel like I know you and sure hope to meet in the near future. Blogging has been such a gift in allowing us to meet and connect with people all over the world that we would otherwise not meet so I am incredibly grateful for that.

Thank YOU for being an inspiration and showing us how to enjoy the simple and beautiful pleasures in life Ala the French way. It is truly both inspiring and aspiring and the blogging world is a better and more beautiful place because of you.

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