My dear friend, Alice's mother Cheryl is staying with us for three weeks. I met Cheryl when we were in the monastery together in New Mexico. We were in our early twenties. Cheryl was from Australia, we became steadfast friends.
In the last few months I have met so many of you I could fill my blog full of stories, cherished moments and good laughs. Though most the time, I forget to take a photo because I am caught in the moment of excitment, and only afterwards kick myself,
Three women out of the blue have come up to me and said,
All three times I have asked, "Do I know you?" in which they have replied, "No, I know you from reading your blog." Each time that has happened I have thought,
"Thank goodness I thought I was losing it."
Gael is from Australia, I met her in Paris. After she said hello we had a hot chocolate together I invited her to come and stay with us in Provence. I introduced her to Thierry. Long story short I might be a match maker again.
Bells ringing, hearts singing, and a gentleness towards Thierry as he follows his heart.
Natulka I met in Avignon at an antique fair. Natalka is from Canada. While at the fair we spotted Keira Knightley, Keira's husband and mother. Natulka is an international antique dealer, and has a vacation home that she rents out in Uzes (if your interested let me know and I will send you her email.) We shared lunch, stories and hopefully will meet up soon again.
Catherine is French but lives in Seattle. When she came up to me she was with her beautiful mother. We talked in English and French. We had similar stories and shared much in the little time we had together.
As Chelsea has said in meeting many of you (who have stayed in our apartment in Paris and in Provence) "Mom, your blogger friends are the most genuine kindhearted people in the world."
It is true.
Thank you for your generous friendship throughout these years...
I had the enormous pleasure of meeting Rebecca! Those of you who read my blog and comment section know that Rebecca writes often and says things with a twist of humor. I put her in the category with: Diogenes, Franca Bolla and my brother Mat. After meeting her I was certain she would fit in the same happy boat if need be with Diogenes, Franca Bolla and my brother Mat. When Rebecca and her husband came over to our house one of the first thing she said was: "Oh this is like a storybook come alive... there's the fountain, there's the wallpaper, there's the bathroom..." I sill laugh thinking of that.
By the way Rebecca is really tall, compared to me.
We saw Julia and her partner again! I can not have enough of them. Julia makes me laugh out loud!
We met Rachel and her husband in Aix. They invited us to dine with them. Rachel is a card maker extraordinaire!!! If ever she starts to sell them I will let you know. Rachel has lovingly sent Annie her hand made cards through out the year. Annie loves them so much.
Last year I offered a giveaway on my blog to five readers on my blog to come and stay with us for a week. We meet Teresa and Dave, and guess what they are coming back for two weeks this September!
Eileen was another winner that day. Eileen came with her two friends, Renate and Susan. We had a lovely time together, the three of them were childhood friends. I enjoyed their company so much so that they promised to come back and stay with us next year.
Carrie I met through blogging when she came to Marseille. Within the same hour she invited me to come stay with her in Ireland. I took her up on that offered and stayed with her for two weeks. This year she came and stayed with us.
We also met Merisi and later Lieselotte in Austria.
I best stop because there are so many of you I have met this year that if I keep going it is going to take hours to read.
I wish I had taken photos of each and everyone of you that I have met through blogging and throughout the years! Please if and when I meet you REMIND me to take a photo of us together.
A rough calculation I have met nearly 300 people who read my blog.
This year alone probably fifty or so already.
Have I met you? How did you find my blog?
Chelsea lives near Saint Martin Canal so my friend Cheryl and I met her there. The goal was to ride bicycles from Chelsea's apartment to the Eiffel Tower and then back to our apartment. I knew my legs would be noodles by the time we reached home. Noodles. Over cooked noodles.
Cheryl looked very French in her black and white pencil skirt!
Me... oh well.
Over the Pont Alexandre Bridge.
Admiration at sunset.
Chelsea led the way.
Cheryl was in the middle, and I stayed at the end.
We sandwich-ed Cheryl in so we wouldn't loose her.
I have always love this view of the Eiffel Tower.
We made it without breaking a sweat.
We snapped (Snapchatted) our families.
Sticking out my tongue,
Gosh I don't know why.
I was happy.
Not a flattering photo of any of us. Bugged eyed me barely in the photo,
Chelsea sticking out out her tongue, as if licking my face,
and Cheryl squinting with laughter!
We were so silly, so happy and thrilled!
I didn't care about how we looked, we just wanted to mark the memory!
Vanity out, friendship in, Paris yeah!
Then we rode home, uphill!
And had the best dinner.
our friendship and
alot of it!
From the local producer down the road, zucchini blossoms with tiny zucchinis... maybe a few hours old, cause those of you who have ever grown a garden know that zucchini grow at rocket speed.
The producer Michel, grows eerything organically. He has fields for gardens, plus olive trees and orchards. If you buy one or two pounds of anything it is one price, but if you buy five pounds or more it is basically a giveaway.
Carrying it back home is the challenge.
I roasted cherry tomatoes with garlic and marjolaine (oregano in English) that I picked in the hillside nearby our home. The aroma was summer defined.
I mixed the roasted tomates with pasta.
The colors of Provence can be described by that which grows under the blue sky during summer:
and of course the sea.
I cannot get enough of this 1700s boutis in my friend's shop.
My dare to wear color.
Threw in my black.
I cut the sleeves and hem, and took in the sides.
I have learned from Annie that anything can be transformed.
comes in pale blue, pink and salmon.
I figured if I was going to wear color... go bold. I must admit I felt self conscious all day long.
Grilled Zucchini Blossoms
Coat a hot skillet with olive oil
Gently place the zucchini blossoms in the pan
lightly heat on each side (a minute or two)
add nutmeg and a splash of cognac.
Heat another minute.
Salt as needed.
Served on the side of the pasta dish.
What is your favorite summer dish? And summer color?
Last night while having a drink with Chelsea, Mr. Espresso and my dear friend from Australia, Cheryl, I asked Chelsea and Mr. Espresso if I could take a photo of them. When Mr. Espresso said yes I knew that he was finally, after seven years, giving me permission to show his face on my blog. Even more shocking Chelsea did not make a face.
A Provencal lunch under a chestnut tree, on a Sunday afternoon with friends. The morning had us worried as it rained, down-poured actually, but by nine the sky returned to its glorious blue: Provence! Shutters opened wide, the cigales sang, the river hummed and the aperitif began... pastis, tapenade on small toast. Two friends brought tapenade, a comparison began... both used the same ingredients. Though one used more garlic which brought out the taste of the anchovies. So if you like the taste of anchovies, as French Husband does, then add more garlic. If not follow this recipe... hum... er... as it was given to me:
start with two or three soup spoon worth of olive oil
2 heads of fresh crushed garlic
3 or 4 small anchovies
two or three soup spoons full of small round capers
two hearty pinch full of thyme
The majestic old chestnut tree shaded the garden, the canopy filtered flickers of sunlight as if knowing just what leaves to turn or bend, sparkling golden-ness a perfect crown over our heads.
Admiring its beauty Joyce Kilmer's poem echoed in my thoughts:
And so we sat as the French do, that lovely Sunday afternoon, enjoying each other's company, having lunch. Four hours leisurely passed at the table:
Glazed salmon with soy and ginger
twelve different types of cheese
white, rose and red wine to match the courses
Fresh peach charlotte
Needless to say I rolled from the table dreading the thought of dinner .
Fresh Peach Charlotte
Recipe from my friend Monique, well as far as recipes go amongst those who cook, or bake, or like dabbling in stories of food preparations during a four hour lunch. The exacts aren't important if you know the basics, or are a cook. Talking about food, and listening to the way one prepares such, often leads without meaning to the revelation or a secret ingredient, most often to a certain unknown flair: "how to".
Lady fingers lightly soaked in orange juice and rum, then layer the bottom of a souffle dish, and along the sides.
Add two cups of finely cut peaches
One cup of plain sheep yogurt (any yogurt will do, but my friend used sheep yogurt the taste difference was notable.) with a spoonful of sugar and fresh ground vanilla into the sheep yogurt.
Add the sheep yogurt on top of the peaches.
Add another layer of lady fingers and repeat the above.
Add another layer of lady fingers, then cover the top with plastic, and put a small plate to the opening.
Put the fresh peach Charlotte in the refrigerator for six to eight hours or overnight.
Our friend and hostess of this lovely afternoon meal, our generous friend Anne-Marie who has been our friend for over twenty years.
I met Anne-Marie when she walked by our home overhearing me speaking English to Chelsea and Sacha, she proclaimed, "Your speaking English!" and as she said that to me I uttered, "OH you speak English!" We became friends for life.
Merci Merci Merci
We are vegetarians.
I gave up meat during lent when I was seventeen years old. It wasn't hard, except when I smelled bacon. But over time I didn't notice or crave it. My parents thought it was a teenage craze, or a phase of mine. But as days turned into months they were concerned though after awhile, like my craving for bacon their concerns faded away.
When I met French Husband he was a vegetarian too. I didn't know then how odd that was for a French person. Though his not eating meat scored big "like" points in my heart book.
Later when we married and I moved to France to be with him, I realized that being a vegetarian in France wasn't as easy as being so in California. Grocery stores, restaurants, menus, dinner parties, French meals... circled far from the tofu section that I was use to at the whole food co-op. Pasta was the adopted fast food... and "Californian Salads" became my trademark with our French friends who usually ate only "green salad" after each meal.
When our children were born I breastfed them. What seemed natural to me was offensive to most French people. A million stares, heads shaking no and comments such as, "...only women from poor countries breastfeed their babies!" didn't derail me from what I believed in.
When our children went to school they were consider "different"... Their mom was an American, they didn't have a TV, their house was full of old stuff and they were vegetarians.
French Husband and I started to have fish when we would go out, or if we were invited over to friend's home for a meal. The comment, "...I don't know what to cook when we invite you over!" Became too difficult to ignore. Living in a culture were food, talking about food, sharing a meal with others was crucial to being connected to family and community. We made the choice to include fish in our diet.
When Chelsea and Sacha were in school they heard from their science/health teachers that being a vegetarian meant you could not be physically or mentally strong. The other children looked at them knowing that wasn't true, because Chelsea and Sacha did not fit that description. Neither of our children cared to correct the false statement. Instead they sat back and trusted who they were.
In the exact same class the students had to record what they ate and calculated their protein intake. Chelsea and Sacha were told they had too much protein in their diets. Considering they ate dairy products and eggs, plus from everything I had ever read about being a vegetarian, such as we were meatless but not vegan, I never doubted their protein intake.
Over the years my habits and reasons for being a vegetarian have changed and deepen. I am not on a bandwagon about why I don't eat meat... My children and French Husband share my thoughts... we are this way period. Will any of us ever eat meat? I don't think so, but life is full of surprises, and eating or not eating meat is not one of them.
Chelsea has been asked, "Don't you miss not eating meat?" In which she has said, "How can I miss something I have never had?"
Sacha has tried meat two or three times, much to my brother's triumph, but he does not eat meat, and considers himself a vegetarian.
This morning while Sacha was doing his daily pull ups he said, "No steroids, no vitamins, no protein drinks, mostly greens, rarely junk food... thanks mom for showing me a healthy way."
I looked at that muscled arm and was pleased to know that I had given him something to honor.