Before I had the bust, I saw a photo of one in a magazine. I cut it out and glued it into my journal of wishes to come true.
Before I had the bust, I saw a photo of one in a magazine. I cut it out and glued it into my journal of wishes to come true.
Daily feast: food, family, friends, health, work, home and all the pieces in between that make it such.
I love cooking for Sacha as well as French Husband. They are glorious feasters.
Cooking for anyone who likes to eat, not that any of us do not, but some people can make a feast out of a cracker if you know what I mean, is a true pleasure.
Homemade vegetable pesto soup. Oh isn't soup the best on a cold day? Especially a freezing day like today. Of course in the summer I will sing the praises of chilled soup, but for now...
Shallots, leeks, carrot, celery, potato, green beans and vegetable broth with pesto added at the end, then blended. Simple and delicious.
Puff pastry with a fresh milk camembert, garlic and sautéed mushrooms.
Sacha brought over an Haut Medoc wine.
Two peas in a pod.
Chelsea joins us tomorrow.
By the way, nearly a year ago I had the BRCA 1 : BRCA 2 test as I had ovarian cancer in my thirties I wanted to know if I was a genetic carrier for the sake of my children. When the test came back it took me a month to have the courage to face whatever the results may have been. When the doctor told me the test was negative I teared up. The doctor seemed surprised by my reaction and asked, "Were you worried?" I found that to be a silly question, if I weren't worried why would I have had the test? Instead of saying, "DUH!" I simply nodded yes.
Daily feast! Enjoy what you have and make the most of it.
Photo via Kristi taken this afternoon in Cassis.
The three of us (Kristi from French Word a day, Barbara and I) met twenty some years ago in Marseille. We were three Americans who shared familiar stories of what it was like to live abroad and be married to Frenchmen.
The afternoon flew by with a flutter of conversation.
A happy reunion.
"The Petit Trianon and its park are linked to the memory of Queen Marie-Antoinette. She is the only queen to have imposed her personal taste on Versailles. Sweeping away the old court and its traditions, she insisted on living as she wished. In her Trianon domain, which Louis XVI gave her in 1774, she found the heaven of privacy that enabled her to escape from the rigours of court etiquette. Nobody could come there without her invitation." via Chateau Versailles
A taste of elegance. When I went to the Trianon instead of taking wide angle photos of the scope and beauty of the gardens, surroundings and architecture. I was intrigued by the details, the colors, the textiles...
I took these photos years ago when we went to Versailles for Christmas. The line to go inside the chateau of Versailles was incredibly long. As French Husband and I had been there numerous times, though our children never had, we knew going inside when there was a crowd such as there was, would only mean we would see little, and feel as if we were a herd racing through.
The first time I went to Versailles French Husband took a photo of me alone in the hall of mirrors. Never have I been that lucky again.
So instead of going to the Chateau of Versailles we went to the Grand and Petit Trianon.
Last night while we were having dinner at home, a song came on the radio. It was a French song, one I heard before but never paid attention to the words. French Husband between mouthfuls of potatoes and brussels sprouts, says, "Oh you know this song? When it came out I was probably six, seven or eight years old, as a little kid and I loved it," a smile familiar to childhood came across his face, "You know, probably because of this song I met you." I stopped chewing my avocado salad with orange peel, and tried to catch the words of the happy tune going by, "What? Why?"
The song is about a young man who wants to leave everything, "throw away the keys" because since he was born, America calls him:
"Mes amis, je dois m'en aller
Je n'ai plus qu'à jeter mes clés
Car elle m'attend depuis que je suis né
"That song was on my lips,"L'Amérique..."
French Husband started singing with it, which helped me understand the words, and make my heart melt:
L'Amérique, l'Amérique, je veux l'avoir et je l'aurai
L'Amérique, l'Amérique, si c'est un rêve, je le saurai
Tous les sifflets des trains, toutes les sirènes des bateaux
M'ont chanté cent fois la chanson de l'Eldorado
mais l'Amérique, l'Amérique, je veux l'avoir et je l'aurai
L'Amérique, l'Amérique, si c'est un rêve, je le saurai
Tous les sifflets des trains, toutes les sirènes des bateaux
M'ont chanté cent fois la chanson de l'Eldorado
2015 photo via Alice
Now, if you translate the song word by word, not necessarily how it should be done, there is a verse that would say:
"Because she has been waiting for me since I was born... (North America)."
And that was a sweet Anniversary eve gift to receive.
Yesterday Typepad the server I use to create my blog was down which did not let my blog post download properly. Finally this early morning it appeared, I am sorry if I worried any of you. While creating yesterday's blog I came across a blog post about Mari that I posted in 2010: Yes I have been blogging for sometime, since 2005, and am so glad some of you have continued reading it. Mari is a blog reader who I met years ago and who is in love with France. Since she comes to France often we met up and always have a crazy fun time together. Here is the first post I wrote about her:
When in France eat.
If you want to experience the French lifestyle... Then you must eat, and in doing so you will entertain every sense you have regarding France.
Sit in cafes, take your time,
Converse over your meals, have dessert and drink coffee.
The French way is to savor the moment. To dine at the proper time:
Breakfast up until 9:30
Lunch between 12:30 - 2:00
Coffee at 2:00
Tea time between 4:00 - 6:00
Cocktails between 6:00 - 8:00
Dinner anytime after 8:00
And nothing in between or out of order.
A white tablecloth and wine glasses on the table doesn't mean the meal is going to cost a fortune. A cloth on the table is how it is in France. Setting up the atmosphere is part of the mis en scene.
Mary came to France to buy for her stores in Austin. She also wanted to be inspired. She asked me to tag along and show her the France I love. Boy oh boy was that an easy task to undertake.
I asked her one question and gave a statement:
"Do you like to garlic?
I hope you like old things."
Luckily she answered correctly.
The First Day we dined on salad with a garlic sauce. Talking was from the side of our mouths the rest of the day.
Mari asked me if I ever thought of given tours, taking people around France, showing them the brocante.... being a tour guide.
"Sure. I even know how I would do it." I smiled.
"Really," she said, "Tell me what your plan would be."
"I would only take one or two people at a time. Custom Tours, my way. The client(s) would pay for everything: The beautiful hotels, the car, the glorious restaurants, the tolls, the cafes, etc. etc. and I would plan where we would go, and where we would stay and where we would eat." I offered.
"Would the hotels or restaurants be negotiable for your client(s)?" Mari asked.
"Nope." I said and continued, "And I would plan the whole tour around creative inspiration, food and antiques. Plus two critically important details," Mari interrupted me and asked;
"...and what would that be?"
I chimed, "I would have first dibs on everything at the brocante regardless if they bought it or not... actually it would be better if they bought it for me," I grinned.
Mari cracked up laughing, "Is that negotiable?"
"Nope." I offered.
"I do not think you will have many clients. Though I think that is what you are saying."
Lunch out everyday.
The Second Day: Fish soup baked in a shell.
Garlic puree for the fish soup. Mari licked it clean. She is a kindred spirit.
Third day Mari had grilled duck. I forgive her because she likes garlic and old things.
The Fourth day: Fish with two types of mango sauce and sesame garlic oil.
The Fifth day: Cod with creamy garlic potatoes and roquette.
A carafe of water was my luncheon drink... I drove ( I could back then...)
The Sixth day: Pumpkin soup with whipped goat cheese on toast.
Mari made the mistake of asking French Husband how whipped goat cheese was made. French Husband felt so honored, nobody ever asks him about cooking or recipes. He barely knows the difference between mustard and chocolate. I am not kidding.
French Husband told Mari, "Well, whipped goat cheese is made by grabbing a goat, holding it above your head and shaking it."
Mari not missing a beat continued, "And whip cream from a cow is made the same way?"
"Oh no," French Husband grinned, "A cow is too heavy to shake over one's head. I buy my whipped cream in a can."
We had tea.
(This is how I found this old blog post, I was re reading about when I drank tea.)
Creme Brulee was Mari's favorite.
Mine is Tarte Tatin.
Of course if you love cheese... France is the Royal Kingdom of Cheese.
Cheese and salad was on the menu on the Seventh Day. The cheese was served with a fig, mango jam.
Deliciousness at best.
Oh, the tab. Or reality check.
Usually I make dinner every evening.
On the second to the last night we made Dolmas, or Stuffed Grape Leaves, I wish you could have heard the part of the conversation where I say O.K. a million times to Annie while she is teaching us. Annie told us we are doing it wrong, she would shake her head, and then there was a big crash because Mari dropped the pan.
Mari said, "The Stuffed Grape Leaves were the best! Annie was the highlight of my trip to France."
I poked her, then corrected, "Annie, the stuffed grape leaves, Corey and garlic were the high lights of your trip."
The New Year's Week is not like other weeks. Though sometimes I wish it were. Usually the New Year has a way of getting under my skin pushing up memories of the past years to the surface. The New Year week feels like someone opens my front door, takes the rug off the floor and shakes it out the window of my being. Buried feelings, promises not kept, ideas that never made it to form, words said, words not said, paths not taken....
As the emotional dust billows over head I found myself contemplating on what needs to be cleaned up and how to let go of things that don't need to be around anymore. And yes... of course I swept a few things back under the rug.
Last night when we came home after having lunch with friends, I went for a walk in our village. Down the hill, under the moon, along the little road with the cold misty night air, scented with pine and rosemary filling my senses. I listened to the sound of my feet on the path, listened to the night birds singing, and as I approached the center of the village I heard a few champagne corks pop. I felt a rush of happiness.
The dust cloud settled. The feelings of "New Year" paved evenly underfoot and the moon came out from behind the cloud. I unlocked the front door, wiped my feet on the rug and felt at home.
One of the most cherished French traditions for Christmas is putting up the creche, the nativity set.
The Provencal creche is similar to North America's nativity scene, except it includes the entire village not just a handful of shepherds, drummers, angels... The Provencal santons are made of harden clay, either painted or dressed. The creche (nativity) includes over fifty santons depicting a Provencal village and their occupations. The santons symbolize the people in the village who brought their gifts of labor to the Christ Child.
The first time I saw these little figurines was at the brocante. Instantly I was drawn to the ones that had been around the nativity scene for awhile, the ones that had taken a few tumbles, and looked like they had put in a full days work. You might say perfection was in the idea that they were loved, that a few children along the way had played with them, and that they had been around many more Christmases than I had.
For example looking at the photo above you can see that they santon has no feet. Her hat has kept the sun off her face, and speaking of faces.... The santon is blind.
L'Aveugle = The Blind Woman, is one of the santons of the traditional French creche = nativity scene.
What is her gift to the Christ Child?
The gift of believing without seeing.
The Stick Gatherer is this santon's job. Some brought gold to the Christ Child: This santon brought wood for the fire.
On a cold night with no room in the inn, a warm fire would be golden.
Le Berger et son chien = A Shephard and his dog,
La Jardiniere = The Gardener,
Les Vieux = The Old Couple,
Le Tambourinaire = The Drummer,
Le Bucheron = The Woodcutter,
Le Pecheur = The Fisher
La Posissonniere = The Fish Monger....
A santon depicting a Provencal woman carrying a large basket and a jug. She is bringing the gift of her cooking to the Christ child. The Kings brought gold, frankincense and myrrh... She brought food.
Riches are needed, we cannot deny that money (or gold frankincense, and myrrh) is important. Each of us has a gift to share, and each gift is worth a fortune.
The gift of time, the gift of listening, the gift of standing by someone's side, the gift or being there at the right time. The gift of who we are without fanfare. The gift of knowing what to say...
What gift will you bring today?
From Wikipedia: "Santons (Provençal: "santoun," or "little saint") are small (2.5-15 cm.) hand-painted, terracotta nativity scene figurines produced in the Provence region of southeastern France. In a traditional Provençal crèche, there are 55 individual figures representing various characters from Provençal village life such as the scissors grinder, the fishwife, the blind man, and the chestnut seller.
The first santons were created by Marseillais artisan Jean-Louis Lagnel (1764-1822) during the French Revolution when churches were forcibly closed and their large nativity scenes prohibited. Lagnel crafted small clay figurines in plaster molds and let them dry before firing them.
A maker of santons is a santonnier, and the creation of santons today is essentially a family craft, handed down from parents to children, Santons are fashioned in two halves, pressed together, and fused. Hats, baskets, and other accessories are applied with an adhesive. When the figure is completely dry, it is given a gelatin bath in order to harden the figure further and to provide a surface for the application of pigments. Faces are painted first, then hair, clothing and accessories. Until the end of the 19th century, santons were air-dried rather than fired in a kiln. As a consequence, such figures were fragile and easily broken. Modern santons are generally fired in a kiln. There are two types of santons: santons d'argile (clay figures), and doll-like santons habillé (clothed figures).
Since 1803, santonniers have gathered in Marseille each December to display and sell their wares at the Foire des Santonniers. Aubagne holds a two-day fair, Biennale de l'Art Santonnier, and the Musée du Santon in Marseille exhibits a private collection of 18th and 19th century santons."
1988 "Buche de Noel is my favorite cake!" Bright eyed and hopeful was the response eagerly given by my French Husband, the newlywed. The flavor was a known fact: Spread chocolate on anything and it was labeled: Yann's.
My mother had made jelly-roll cakes for my brothers and me when we were younger, was that the same thing as Buche de Noel?
18 years ago, before Internet and expatriate membership was a given at every corner in France, anything English was like having a 20/20 in Lycee. Peter Mayle was probably writing, "A Year in Provence," while I was struggling in Paris with only three words of French in my pocket of vocabulary. How was I going to find the recipe? Calling my Mom in California was out of the question given the nine hour time difference and expense.
To make a French Christmas cake, a Buche de Noel, for my husband's 24th birthday in September that was going to be a challenge equal to anything Napoleon had to do! Napoleon is believed to have said, "That the man who never makes mistakes never makes a war." Couldn't Yann have said brownies. With Napoleon in my mind I decided chocolate anything even batter would be a hit.
Down to the metro, direction Rue de Rivoli, destination: Brentano's, the bookshop in Paris (since 1895) with a large English section. Certainly they would have a cookbook in English.
On entering Brentano's there stood an American man the size of a fortress. Soft drink in hand, he was carrying on like his world was coming to an end, demanding the sales-girl, "...Don't you understand, E-N-G-L-I-S-H! I want a map of Paris IN English! A map that says, "Big White Church on top of the Hill," none of this rue crap, you understand? Why, tell me why, can't you folks just print a map that says street instead of rue?!" The petite sales-girl looked bewildered as she tried to explain. I left the bookshop, to embarrassed to request a French cookbook in English.
Up above the markets of Les Halles, battling in our kitchen the size of a nutshell, mustering up memories of my Mother making jelly-roll cakes, gathering allies in chocolate, sugar, eggs and flour I conquered my Waterloo! We had French Husband's favorite birthday cake that evening.
Buche de Noel
Follow the jelly roll recipe for the cake part by Betty Crocker,
Instead of jam I used Chestnut cream (very easy to find in France, so if you want some I can send it too you.) After spreading it on evenly and thick I added shaved chocolate about a cup's worth.
Have ready a thin cotton dishtowel, that is larger than the cake, cover it with powder sugar. When you take the cake out of the oven, turn the cake pan upside down directly on to the sugar powered dish towel. Then sprinkle generously powder sugar all over the cake and roll it us instantly. Also have your warm ganache ready, after a minute or two *unroll the cake and lather the ganache all over it, roll it up, gooey and all, and toothpick it if you must, and put it in the fridge for an hour two or three...
*Unroll the cake with care, but if it should crack do not worry too much, the ganache will cover the mishap. Put the rolled cake in the fridge, adding a toothpick or two to keep it rolled (put the rolled end on the bottom of the plate.)
For the frosting I made a ganache, then with a fork drew in tree trunk designs.
When I arrived in France many moons ago Christmas trees were not part of Christmas as they were in the States. The Christmas consumer market had not yet taken off. The French florists usually had a few dried up pine trees for sale, reminding me of Charlie Brown's Christmas tree for a small fortune.
Given this bit of history I want you to imagine a young woman, nine months pregnant, determined to have a Christmas tree, for her soon-to-be-Franco-American baby.... Imagine her buying a Charlie Brown tree, then dragging it behind her as she walked the streets of Paris back to her apartment. Then hauling it up the three flights of stairs where she placed the tree upright. One side had bare branches. The other side had needles dangling. The scattered scent of pine, was replaced by sweat and a funny feeling.
We had a Christmas tree just in time for the first ornament that would be Chelsea on December 20th that came bright, beautiful and big.
French provencal pottery, you see the piece with the green spot do you know why it is there?
When people come over to our home I am afraid if they ask me a question about anything in our house I will carry on for the next twenty hours or so, non stop. Passionate- yes, brocante fever from the bite- yes, love to share the history- yes, like to talk? I think yes.
What are antique French quilts called?
My friend Valerie brought a group of sixteen American women over to my home for a personal brocante that Ruth and I set up. So added to the mix that the construction of the house next door was wrapping up, renters were coming in, that our house was a dust bowl mess from two months of planning, collecting and me operating a gravy train as I cooked for Rene and his brother in law, setting up a brocante just added to the fun of a whirlwind summer.
What are these made of? And where do they come from?
Did you know it is a thing to make rings out of mother of pearl buttons?
This is the last box.
And these guys?
What were they used for?
Sold out in a blink of an eye.
Red letter monograms from the turn of the century.
There is a purpose and looking cute is not it.
Most people look and want to buy their initials. Though I prefer to make up words with the initials:
B.G. = Beautiful Gift
M.S. = Magical Surprise
C.P. = Creative Purpose
Stack of books that I have never un-tied.
To keep it intimate Ruth and I put out our brocante wares all over the house and garden.
Yann got into the fun of it, pouring Mimosas and chatting up the ladies.
Thank you Valerie, and thank you ladies for coming over, we enjoyed every minute.
That night our first guests to the house next door (gotta find a name for it) came over.
Rebecca and her husband John. Rebecca's sister is married to my cousin Brad.
Small world of cousins connects me to nearly the entire world.
John is a cook, so he invited us to dinner. Dinner in our newest guest house.
The photos are dark because it was late and that is how I roll. Such a lovely evening: Thanksgiving in October, without a turkey, that is how it felt.
Rebecca was bite by the brocante bug... yes she was. Plus she said she wanted to hide in the massive bathtub and never leave. I would have been fine with that!
So tell me when are you coming?
Three homes await you.
The Slow Travel Lifestyle with a Brocante Bite to add to the fun.
A longtime blog reader, and "feel like I know you friend" Peggy came to our part of the world for a month long visit with her husband Bob. They settled into our town on the boarder of two great regions, and dove deep into the slow lifestyle travel. Everyday they went to an off the beaten trail to a local market, where English was not heard and because of that the reality that this is France, and not catering to the tourist but to the locals who live here. They gathered their daily meal, plus baguette and wine from the local vendors, then had lunch in the walled garden where they were staying. Each afternoon they would head out on one of the many local trails into the Saint Baume forest. We live at the base of Saint Baume where tourist barely thread:
met boar hunters,
where they walked miles in the forest that Napoleon came to claim for his war machine and ended up declaring it holy and left it intact.
This summer we have at least fifty or so guests, some have stayed with us, some have stayed in the tiny house and recently in the house next door. Each guest/friend has left our little non touristic town declaring it holy and leaving it as it is...
far off the beaten trail.
With pleasure I would like to share Peggy's blog post about our town:
"The British author, Peter Mayle describes me best; I am not a scholar. Rather, a dreamer, one who crowds a collage of perfectionistic photos and places them (complete with fragrance and aroma) percolating and illustrated 'on location' in my fixated fantasy land; recently, Provence.
MP and I dove into the deep end; during September we settled in a small out-of-the-way village, Saint-Zacharie, nestled in the hills of Provence-Alps-Cote d’Azur at the foot of Saint Baume Massif.
Rooted in remote mind-boggling history, the sweet hamlet is located on the edge of the Huveaune River, flowing with life-giving water and mythical fairy lore. (Although, the river was dry this year for the first time in twelve).
Off the beaten track, without a monument, museum, or lavish fête in sight, its proximity to the sea, countryside, and terraced medieval towns makes a seamless dot from which to ‘slow travel’.
Facebook video here:
Without an agenda, we settled into a ‘guardian house’ attached to a massive 300-year-old home situated in a walled garden where notable trees, trailing vines, and hiding bushes--according to Arnaud who spent boyhood holidays in the garden-- speak to each other and applaud the towering Au Grand Cedre, who claps his hands and in a deep voice dominates over them all, I imagine.
We slept well and took time to listen to cooing doves, French schoolchildren on the boulevard below, and the bells of St. Zac chiming on the hour ( if you forget to count, a re-chime occurs a moment later); a pure melodic heartbeat signaling a call to set aside unspoiled mealtime, worship, celebrate and to mourn.
A zillion trails in fragrant forests, some steep strewn with rocks and steps, others with wide open red soil, earth and sheer cliffs leading us to Calanques de Cassis, carried us over 90 miles in 25 days.
Slow days, simple pleasures of the daily baguette and a bright, juicy melon, fresh green markets, touring bigger cities, cathedrals, synagogues, rows of Brocante wonders, even an endless cheese trolley, allowed us to be present in the moment.
Our senses were seduced, our bellies indulged, and we were cared for with only a few words of French in our quiver. Unassuming ambassadors, guests of another culture to respect, we knew if we were polite, kind, unhurried, able to laugh at ourselves, puff appropriately, shrug and hold an open palm of coins when the math eluded us, spontaneous bouts of infectious laughter ensued--buying mosquito repellant in the pharmacy comes to mind.
Doors widened; new friendships tendered vulnerable conversations, and old-fashioned genteel correspondences came about.
Therefore, short of a novel, I posted an abridged summation of our treks, food foibles and triumphs on Facebook during #septinfrance with photos and comments. Many of you tagged along which presented a super highway moving picture postcard of inspiration.
When we left St. Zac for Paris (another thunderous bolt for the oozing senses) at the end of the trip, I wrote this of our 20 days,
Our last day in St. Zac meant pack... we lingered a little longer when our neighbors invited us to share a lunch of purplish green artichokes (with the biggest hearts), sliced beets, cheeses, and sourdough baguette below the grand cedar in the garden. Being o'so polite, I took a few pictures of our new friends. I dragged my bag, feet, and heart to the gate, looked up to lime green pomegranates and yet to flower wisteria vines; equally green. A source close to the garden said, "Stay until we bloom."
More reflections may indeed come forward!
Photo source: Yann Rolland-Benis
Thank you, Corey and Yann for your generous spirits' and mischevious gifts-- ♥
If you have found my blog because you too know Corey Amaro and hers, Tongue in Cheek, message me for the details to glean what I learned to make your dream happen too!"
Going through stacks of this, that and whatever, I came across this photo of Chelsea.
The Lioness Queen
on the beach in Sormiou (between Marseille and Cassis).
(The cub at the base of the sand hill is a potato.)
When I sent her the photo she wrote me back, " I loved that yellow swimsuit."
I love the girl who roars.
Can you translate it?
A pair of workmen's boots, over a hundred years old or I should say, "They have seen a season or two."
Autumn colors in Provence
with an olive tree.
Floating on a leaf the fairy sat,
a butterfly became the sails,
balancing behind her a walnut shell for a bed.
Under the red tile roof the firewood awaits. The chimney smoke will swirl amongst the church bells, like incenses do during mass.
Olive trees heavy laden, liquid sunshine for every meal.
The fountains long for the underground sources to be filled, rain please come.
The silence is haunting, Autumn begs to bring change.
Autumn on the horizon.
A different color palette takes the stage.
Autumn antiques, why not call them that? Antiques about grape harvest and making wine.
Beautiful old pieces.
Received sunshine held for tomorrow.
A splash of color,
An unexpected touch of hello there,
A moment's notice.
A gift of light on stone,
A seedling waiting for someone to notice it, and when noticed blooms.
The "front door" is on the right hand side of the photo. When we first saw the house (next to ours, not is Cassis but in our town.) My first thought was, "What is under the dropped ceiling?" My second thought was, "And how many different patterns of wall paper, flooring and tile patterns did they put up in this 700 square foot house?"
Fortunately, Rene, the master artisan was gamed to taking it back to its original state. I drew out the plan and started sourcing materials.
When we bought the house I asked the owner's if I could keep the never been used stove: It was the best hand shake deal ever.
We kept the stove, sink, and faucet. I wanted to keep the chimney hood too, but in the end we saw that it was and would be very low. As I am five feet and three inches tall it was not a problem for me, but for anyone taller the chimney hood was a certain beetle bopper.
The house is made of stone, just like ours. It is documented 400 years old.
Under the dropped ceiling were the original beams. We did not touch them, instead kept them as we found them.
The carved wooden piece is from the top of an armoire. Early 1800s.
It is dark wood made darker from years of being polished. I stripped it, then sanded it and later gave it a plaster coat and light sanded it again. The wall brackets are made of iron. The smaller one would have had a glass top and most likely was a bar shelf. The brackets had layers of paint, oh how that appealed to me.
The back splash is a semi matte tadelakt (following this link to know more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tadelakt) It is the same in the bathroom.
"Tadelakt: Tadelakt (tadla:kt) is a waterproof plaster surface used to make baths, sinks, water vessels, interior and exterior walls, ceilings, roofs, and even floors. It is made from lime plaster, which is rammed, polished, and treated with soap to make it waterproof and water repellant. Tadelakt is labour-intensive to install, but durable. Since it is applied as a paste, tadelakt has a soft, undulating character, it can form curves, and it is seamless. Pigment can be added to give it any colour, but deep red is traditional. It may have a shiny or matte finish."
The kitchen counter is cement with a tadelakt finish.
The gap will be shelving, made with old worn boards.
The white space is the fridge. I think we are going to paint it. What do you think?
All the pieces I found at various local brocantes from the time we bought the house.
The under the sink curtain is heavy linen.
The tiles, fridge, bed and linens are new, the rest I found at the brocante.
The floor boards are tiles made to look like wood. We made the tiniest groove, and used a dark grout.
More to come.
Photos via Rene
This is how the bathroom looked before the renovations.. It had three elements, blue/white tiles, and dolphin wall paper
We moved the bathroom because it had a window. I thought it was better to have the window in the main room, and to put the bathroom under the stairs.
The bathroom now.
More to come!
The house next door will be completed tomorrow. I can hardly wait to show you it! Rene is a master of creation, at times I believe he has a magic wand in his pocket. If I hadn't seen him do the work day in and day out I would not believe it was possible. We will re start Cassis on Tuesday.
Years of collecting and finally those finds have found a home next door.
And yet there are a few things I want to find... hehehe.
When one writes a personal blog the journey becomes vast. At first I wrote about my adventures antiquing, then I started to write about my reflections of antiques, and the thoughts they gave me, then I started to write about living in France, which was connected to stories with my family, eventually my friends and then our home and now everything in between... and now the kitchen sink.
The house on the other side of us is for sale, and I wish upon a million stars someone would hire Rene and I to renovate it, top to bottom, inside and out, to put everything in place: the linens on the beds, the wine in the cellar and had them the key.
I figure it would take nearly a year to do it, the house would be a jewel box, what I mean is it would be stunningly French.
All those little things that say something that words fail to, or actions deny. All those little things that let us know that the moment is right, that we are on to something good, that it is okay, that we will be alright. That our path is before us and we have shoes on our feet.
All those little things that add up to the big moment of now.
The autumn season is cooling the summer away, the leaves are changing and soon the melons will not adorn the grocer's shelves. The fading summer nights lead to dining inside.
The house next door is nearly done. I have slipped on taking photos of the progress. Hopefully it should be done this weekend, and then we will re start in Cassis.
I hope you will come stay, it is a lovely spot.
Come to France let me show you what I adore, the "slow travel" as my friend Peggy calls it. Taking time to be, to listen, to soak in the simple pleasures. To not care if you see it all, rather to be present to the moment at hand.
Fresh with olive oil, salt, vinegar and a hint of garlic.
Multi color rainbow radishes.
Wash the lemons add them whole to a jug of water and a handful of blueberries, you can refill it with water several times.
A watercolor that hangs in my kitchen
Tapas to share with...
Franki moved half way across the world to follow love. Married with children we had much in common on what it is like to uproot one homeland for another and how to raise children with two cultures. Thank you for meeting me Franki and for the lovely meal shared in Cassis.
A painting I picked up at the brocante and will be listing soon. Provence pure slice of beauty.
Do not come to France on a diet, otherwise you will torture yourself.
A massive wooden butcher block, worn movement in the wood. Though a beautiful object it haunts with the reason it is that way.
The last of the summer delight.
Going to our friends Denise (W.R., Panty Lady...) and Vlad's house, I have come to find out means that I must not eat for twenty four hours before I arrive, so when Denise serves lunch I have plenty of room to indulge in the feast she sets before me. This afternoon Denise treated us with freshly picked homemade confit figs with chocolate balsamic vinegar on goat cheese with fresh thyme and Kir royal.
That was lunch enough, but not for Denise who does lunch like most people do a wedding. I am the luckiest girl to have a friend who LOVES to cook, and does so like any starred chef.
It is a good thing I wear baggy dresses and elastic pants.
A Healing Bowl is what Denise called lunch:
Brown rice, turmeric sweet potatoes, lightly dressed arugula, a poached egg, roasted pistachios, and lemon herb dressing.
I called it a flashback to vegetarianism the 70's in California... There I was long brown hair, braless, unshaven legs, wearing cotton shoes that worn out in a week, no make up, praising Jesus and eating tofu, brown rice and Jerusalem artichokes.
But here I am in France with dyed blonde hair, a bra, no hair on my legs (a long time gift from chemo), wearing make-up, leather shoes, praising love in all religions dining on a healing bowl with a glass of rose.
Life is one helluva good ride.
Two hunks and a bestie.
Please take not that French Husband has a cork screw in his hand ...
Under my breath I am saying, "What are you doing?" as I feel him pinching me or something...
And tickle he did...
They look nice those guys, but one of them is poking my ribs and it tickled in an ouch sort of way.
A glorious twilight sky lead us back home.
Do you see the rays? It was incredible...
The entire day.
Our table last night in our courtyard.
Friends from blogging, I have met at least three hundred blogger friends, most at our home. Peggy and her husband are staying in the Tiny House, and like Gail, Jan, Sara... they love it. What is not to love about off the beaten path, in Provence, where dreams can spread there wings and fly?
Peggy and her husband came for drink last night, they told us how wonderful it was to be submerged in France where you senses are indulged, where even if you do not speak French you are cared for, and where there are a million trails at your fingers tips to walk off the calories that come with amazing cheese and wine.
Peggy, who goes by Coco is a cook and writes a lovely blog where there are recipes galore.
Sitting outside around nine in the evening, cool breeze, the end of summer, perfection.
We shared stories, personal, tender, antidotes of life, and what it is like to be in France living amongst history, another language and culture.
The house next door, the one we bought recently is nearly completed, I imagine by next week it should be ready to go. I will miss the creative adventure, yet very excited to get back to Cassis to wrap up the renovations over there. I wish I could do this for a living, I truly love it! If you or anyone you know is looking for a house in Provence and need someone to come in and do it up... let me know.
Guess what, the house on the other side of us is for sale. It is 2000 + square feet, has a small garden, on three floors, has a vaulted stone basement, needs complete renovations, would be a perfect B & B, has four bedrooms and three baths... and it is under market value.
On another note, Peggy went to a nearby market, and the vendor shared a recipe using melon. As Peggy told me about it I did a mental grocery check of my fridge, I had all the ingredients. I tried it tonight for Philippe and Patrice, who both love to cook, WOWOWOWOW was it delicious!
Melon with Avocado
Take a melon and cube it in big chucks
Crumbled Feta cheese,
(I added a table spoon of finely sliced green onion)
Chopped fresh mint,
You won't regret it.
You won't want to share it either.
Do you have a summer treat to share?
French Husband has two rules for anyone staying with us in our home.
The first rule: You are not allowed to care anything heavy, especially your suitcase, up the stairs.
The second rule: Which I do not agree to but have to uphold for his sake, is that you are not allowed to do the dishes. No washing or drying, or putting away...
And to think when we were first married French Husband did not want me to wash clothes, or do the dishes and I fought him, until he gave in...one of the stupidest mistakes ever on my part. I still slap my forehand with the palm of my hand, "What was I thinking."
Anyway if you come over those two rules are two you must know and heed to.
Though 98% percent of the time I am the one doing the dishes, and I LOVE help. But when you are a couple there are some ding dong rules you gotta follow to keep your other half happy... in other words, "Pick you battles." Dishes and carrying heavy stuff, is a war zone I would rather not enter.
Christine, a friend I met through blogging and who lives next to my hometown in the States came to visit with her husband Preston for a few days. Christine has been to our home before so she knows French Husband's rules, and even chuckled as I repeated them to her husband
Before Christine left she gave Yann some gifts:
Some dish towels that read: Yann's dishtowel
I thought that was very clever. Also she gave him a dishwasher's apron and in the pockets with sponges and scrub brushes, tools of the dishwasher's trade.
The dishwasher's apron has three pockets in front.
In the middle pocket Christine had added sponges
the type that are compacted and enlarge when water is added.
And a scrub brush that Yann pretended to use as a barber's scrub brush.
This is a photo of French Husband asking Christine if the pop up sponge in the middle pocket signified anything. Then he started to imitate the sponge popping up, hum... you know where... in the middle pocket and over exaggerating the pop up of that sponge.
Christine knows French Husband's humor and yet even she was caught off guard.
As French Husband reads the label,
"Just add water and POOF the sponge expands."
He was on a roll with teasing over his gifts.
Thank you Christine for the practical funny gifts and for your enchanting friendship.
Via Chelsea's snap
My phone battery ended so I could not take a photo of the unbelievable collection of boats gathered:
Big boats, little boats, row boats, the incredible The Sea Sheperd, tug boats, fishing boats, sail boats, boats that I wondered how they even got there and how were they ever going to make it back, canoes, water jets, Kayaks, beautiful boats, motor boats...
"Belem was originally a cargo ship, transporting sugar from theWest Indies, cocoa, and coffee from Brazil and French Guiana to Nantes, France. By chance Belem escaped the eruption of the Mount Pelée in Saint-Pierre de la Martiniqueon 8 May 1902. All Saint Pierre roads were full of vessels, no place to anchor the ship. Captain Julien Chauvelon angrily decided to anchor some miles further on in a beach - sheltered from the exploding volcano.
In 1922 Belem became the property of the beer baron Sir Arthur Ernest Guinness, who renamed it the Fantôme II (French spelling) and revised the rig from a square rigger. Hon. A.E. Guinness was Rear Commodore of the Royal St. George Yacht Club, in Kingstown, Ireland from 1921-1939. He was Vice Commodore from 1940–48. Hon. A.E. Guinness took the Fântome II on a great cruise in 1923 with his daughters Aileen, Maureen, and Oonagh. They sailed the seven seas in making a travel round the world via the Panama and Suez Canals including a visit to Spitsbergen. During its approach to Yokohama harbour while sailing the Pacific Ocean the barque managed to escape another catastrophe - an earthquake which destroyed the harbour and parts of Yokohama city. Hon. Arthur E. Guinness died in 1949. The 'Fantome' was moored in the roads of Cowes, Isle of Wight.
In 1951 "Belem" was sold to the Venezian count Vittorio Cini, who named it the Giorgio Cini after his son, who had died in a plane crash near Cannes on 31 August 1949 . It was rigged to a barkentine and used as a sail training ship until 1965, when it was considered too old for further use and was moored at the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice.
In 1972 the Italian carabinieri attempted to restore her to the original barque rig. When this proved too expensive, it became the property of the shipyard. In 1976 the ship was re-rigged to a barque.
Finally, in January 1979, it came back to its original home port as the Belem under tow by a French seagoing tug, flying the French flag after 65 years. Fully restored to its original condition, Belem began a new career as a sail training ship." via wiki
Chelsea and Sacha came home this eve to celebrate French Husband's birthday tomorrow. Though we started celebrating the moment we picked them up from the train.
Golden light reflection along the coastline in L'Estaque (way off the beaten path).
Watching the sun go down creating a landscape of pale blue and white ribbons with cotton candy stripes lining the sky.
Tomorrow birthday candles.
Soon to be the Birthday Boy.
(P.S. I have been adding videos to my Facebook account, I hope you enjoy them.)