Sunday, December 7, 2014
But. One thing I have become rather infatuated with is ... the terracotta yogurt cups. I've already mentioned what an art form yogurt is here, but oh these little glazed tubs have me. Thick, rich, seriously good yogurt made by La Fermière in little tubs that couldn't be any more delightful.
Any suggestions on how we should use these to decorate this season?
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Thanksgiving Day this year, we had a gloriously sunny day. While still brisk, it was lovely to be outside. So with a bowl of oranges, toothpicks and cloves (whole, not ground!), we set to work.
We approached the patterning pretty nonchalantly, but a quick Google search will give you tons of impressive ideas.
*Have you ever tried this with ribbon? I think they could make good friend/neighbor gifts if made so you could hang them by a ribbon!
*I've also heard that you can let these pomanders dry naturally and they will stay scented for a year!
Saturday, November 29, 2014
I had been told that whole turkeys are not available until mid-December here, but the boucherie could order one for me ... plucked, but with the head, feet, and innards intact. Uh non, merci. The butcher at my everyday market had a large cuisse de dinde, which is something like a turkey leg with the thigh. Sounds good to me.
Incidentally, the butcher also gave me detailed instructions on how to cook it. Which honestly, I appreciate! I love how their job here is really their craft. They take it very seriously and want to send their goods off to a home that will cook it properly! He recommended rubbing it with butter not olive oil, seasoning with herbs and salt/pepper, and cooking for 1h15 on setting 6. (Not only is everything celsius here, but the ovens have single digit settings. Honestly, I just guessed on "setting 6" and it all seemed fine.)
At one point, I also thought the butcher was telling me I needed to cut the piece between the leg and the thigh at the joint. So, I just nodded my head and said, "oui." (Like I always do.) Apparently, he was asking me if I wanted him to do it for me, so after my "oui" he nods his head in approval, turns around, slaps the piece of meat on the cutting board and wields a cleaver the size of my face .. wham, wham! Done. Wow.
Most of the holidays here overlap some with American, but quite obviously, Thanksgiving isn't a on the French calendar. Such a shame really, because it is a truly lovely holiday, isn't it? Family, food, and thankfulness? Love it. It was rather strange to be here on this day, knowing we'd have to carve out our own version of the holiday instead of falling back on tradition. But truly, we have much to be thankful for.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Friday, November 14, 2014
But now we have many happy memories. Including the trip to Paris that Jane and I took to pick Grammy up. We decided to incorporate it into a slightly-belated birthday trip for Jane (less "things" more experiences, are our goals whilst here!). We left La Cressonnière a day early and took the train into the city for a grand adventure. (In the interest of honesty, I was so nervous to take the train in for the first time and navigate around Paris! After I do things once, I feel much more confident ... but boy, I did have the jitters this first time around!)
We stayed in a very reasonable hotel directly across the street from the Sorbonne in the Latin Quarter. A short metro or cab ride from Gare Montparnasse with an incredible amount of tourist delights within easy access. Recommended without hesitation.
Jane is a marvelous traveler. She is easy-going, willing to find interest and joy in everything, and cute as a bug (if I do say so myself). We spent the day in search of the best pastry shop (Gerard Mulot - amazing), walking through the grounds of the Louvre and the adjoining Jardin des Tuileries, and seeing two different movies being shot. Fascinating!
Deyrolle, a taxidermy shop of epic proportions. It's free entrance and a marvel!
Even though my heart, once again, is missing the presence of my mama ... I am so grateful for the time we had the chance to "travel" together! This whole experience is a rather grand one, and to be doing it alongside my dear ones is such a treat.
Until you return, Mama!
Thursday, November 6, 2014
Yesterday was my birthday. I am thirty-eight. I have my husband, my children, we are living in France and my mother is here for a visit. It has been a magnificently wacky year and I am grateful beyond measure. Nothing else needed!
But that said, whether I like to admit it or not ... it does feel awfully nice to have loved ones sending notes and saying kind things. For breakfast to be prepared and admonishments administered (no, you may not help clear the table!). And even for a gift or two to be received.
Last night, after a day of exploring Bayeux, I settled into a surprise birthday evening that made me marvel. Shooed away from the kitchen with instructions to "dress fancy," I sat down to a meal planned and prepared by my daughter, Lucette, and her fine sibling sous chefs. Jane added some ambience with end-of-season cuttings from the garden, Peter assembled a perfectly crackling fire, and we ate and shared and loved.
What's more ... they were all so pleased to do this for me.
I don't need fancy. I really don't. Some grocery store flowers and birthday sandwiches on paper plates suit me just fine. But I was humbled, this birthday. To be loved and celebrated so intentionally ... for the effort to be made on my account ... I stopped feeling discomfited and just felt loved.
**As a side note, during dessert I was also re-gifted a favored card that hosts a battery-operated mustache and sings Happy Birthday. Peter and Pops decided I couldn't really want to keep it and decided it would be much more fun to artfully place it in the smoldering embers of the fire while activated. It then proceeded to explode, rocketing coals and sparks and sending all of the women in to shrieks of terror and the boys into giggle fits of glee. Every fancy dinner needs some entertainment.
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
This past weekend we journeyed to the north to see Mont St-Michel. What a stunning sight.
I can't express how privileged I feel to be having these experiences with my family and, in this case, to be sharing them with my mama. Our days here are not always easy nor comfortable, yet they are so worth it.
There are times I feel stretched beyond my limit, but goodness. Look where were we are.
And my mama? She is here just loving us, feeding into us, cheering us on, affirming us, and experiencing life with us. I love every moment of her presence.
So, so grateful.
Monday, November 3, 2014
Friday, October 24, 2014
In uncheckt shadows of green brown, and grey
Unbounded freedom ruled the wandering scene
-The Mores, John Clare
Thursday, October 16, 2014
This last weekend we went to meet the family of one of the girls. Such a dear, friendly family and ... the parents speak fantastic English! I couldn't believe how utterly easy the communication was and how comfortable I felt.
Yesterday, the mom swung by La Cressonnière with a quick delivery (nobody swings by, it's a total effort to drive out here and always thoughtful when someone does!). She brought a pumpkin, a head of lettuce and some eggs, all freshly gathered from her farm and garden. I was all fluttery with joy.
Gorgeous and privileged as it is, sometimes the days and trials of life here are very wearying. But then I stop and realize we are becoming established and continuing to make connections. It really feels like extravagant provision.
You gave showers, O God; you refreshed your weary inheritance.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
We are told it gets might chilly here in the winters and running the oil radiators all of the time is just too spendy. No bother. We have two fireplaces we can use, Monsieur Durand who delivers by tractor, and a boy who likes to take ownership over the whole process.
He thought it was funny that I wanted to take photos of a wood pile.
Yes, the time-piece has been consulted and it is time for lunch.
We'll finish the rest later. Woodpiles can wait and mealtimes are not to be missed.
Friday, October 10, 2014
The spiders and mice are a continual surprise to me. And a few weeks back, I was chatting on the phone outside and a bat swooped down over my head nearly sent me into apoplectic shock. However, in spite of my ninny-outburts, I quite enjoy passing the days here. Perhaps it is the countryside, perhaps it is France, but I find the pace slower here. I like that very much.
To be clear, it's not to say there isn't as much to do. Au contraire! There is plenty to be mindful of and that requires attention. But somehow, life here is both busy and slow. There is work to be done, but less rushing about. I like smiling at the cows on our way to school in the morning (Did you know French cows respond to Bonjour and not Hello? It's true!). I'm rather fond of putting on my rubber boots to go retrieve the laundry from the line because the ground is getting a bit sloppy. And it's such a nice problem to wonder what do do with all the walnuts that fell from the treehouse.
In my old house (which I did love dearly!) we didn't have mice, laundry was dried in the machine at any time of day and there were too many things to do on a Saturday to just sit around cracking walnuts. It's not that I think one way is better than another, I really don't! But it is enlightening to me to experience a different pace, a different way.
*What have you learned from the different places you've lived? Have you taken habits and lessons from one environment and applied it to another? Was it successful?
Monday, October 6, 2014
Did you know that church people and food go hand in hand? They do. What's more, church people are often very good gardeners ... and if they have been reading their Bible, they are generous too! (Wink, wink!)
We have found a lovely little church to attend full of British expats. It's about a 45 minute drive from La Cressonnière, but it's no bother. Meeting every other Sunday in a little church rebuilt after the war, a small cluster of us meet together for worship, fellowship and to share in a message together. Very simple, casual, low-pressure, welcoming. And they have gardens.
We were last gifted with a bounty of cherry tomatoes (picked that morning!) that were the sweetest, brightest flavored tomatoes I've ever tasted. We ate some plain but we also whipped up a quiche for an afternoon brunch.
And when I say whipped up, I do mean it. The groceries here sell pre-made crusts here that are all buttery and flaky goodness. There are about 20 different options that I am still discerning the difference between, but so far ... all a 2 euros well spent!
Place the crust in the pan, beat some eggs, crème crue (oh, how will I ever live without you again??), salt, pepper, and whatever else you might have. In our case, some fresh spinach, a bit of goat cheese, and church tomatoes! Place in crust, bake, eat.
It was so good, I can't even say. If you come for a visit, I'll make some for you. But, I better read my Bible first, because lately ... I haven't been big on sharing.
Thursday, October 2, 2014
And today we checked off another huge task from our have-to-do list. Immigration appointments! I have been dreading this. It seemed enough that we had already run the gauntlet of visa applications, as we do have the official seal in our passports. But apparently, the French government wants to have another appointment with any grown-ups once you get here and gift you with another seal for your passport. Naturally, this involves more paperwork and documentation and complicated requests in French that you only think you might understand.
After filing our "we have arrived" paperwork just weeks after we entered the country, we received a packet of confusing letters from OFII telling us of our pre-assigned appointments. So today was the day. Drive up to Caen, appointments, get back before the children let out from school. Bleesh.
First up, a medical check. France seems very concerned about tuberculosis. (Is this still a thing in westernized countries??) After bumbling about in reception for a bit we managed our way down to radiology where we had chest x-rays taken. Turns out we don't have tuberculosis. Hurrah! Next, we went to a waiting room full of nervous foreigners and sweated together in a small stuffy room for an hour.
Nevertheless, apparently France thinks we are healthy enough to continue to live here and we were given our approved paperwork. As we were driving over to our final appointment, we were a bundle of nerves, for we were going to be over an hour late and lunchtime was imminent. We all know that French lunches are serious business and everything shuts down for 2 hours. We made it with minutes to spare and they graciously let us in, cranked us through the final paperwork and put some more fancy stamps in our passports. Hallelujah! One more task accomplished.
If you were praying for us, thank you. We did it, we are done, and we are once again fully clothed. And these are all very good things. Vive la France!
*Do you have any bizarre stories that come to mind? Please do share and make me feel better about myself.