Tuesday 28 September 2010

Meandering through the churchyard.

The mornings here in Normandy are chilly now, with low lying mist hovering over the tree tops making the view from our bedroom windows seem mysterious and more interesting somehow.
After a while the sun comes out and the mist tends to fade away.

One morning recently I wandered down to the churchyard to try and capture some shadow shots in the same way that I was able to in January.
Click here to see those.

However, on this occasion there were no crisp shadow lines to be had, just soft and mellow ones draped across the grassy banks and footpath leading to the church itself.

Instead I turned my attention to the fascinating crumbling, lichen covered, headstones, tumbled down upon one another in places, and the now rusty, elaborate wrought iron work, posts and chains surrounding them.
Later, walking back up the drive to the house, I suddenly had the feeling I was being watched..........
by these guys
well you should know by now that here in Normandy there are cows wherever you go!
Linking to Outdoor Wednesday, graciously hosted as always by Susan @ A Southern Daydreamer.
Do stop by her great blog and see who else is going walkabout this week and be sure to check out her Fall Reading Challenge, I'm certainly signing up for that!

Thursday 23 September 2010

Alphabe-Thursday is Back!! A is for Asparagus & Artichoke.

Sarreguemines Asparagus & Artichoke Plate
Sarreguemines Aspargus & Artichoke Plate
I just discovered that one of my favourite meme's is back this week, Alphabe-Thursday @ Jenny Matlock's blog Off On My Tangent.

Sarreguemines Asparagus & Artichoke Plate

It seems that the last class of students may have worn down poor old Mrs Matlock because this term our teacher is Mrs M's much nicer, and better looking younger sister.

Sarreguemines Asparagus plate
Today, I'm sharing with you picures of French faience asparagus and artichoke plates, which I used to collect before falling head over heels for Quimper pottery.

Sarreguemines Asparagus Plate with 2 shell shaped segments to hold butter or sauce
There's only so much faience a girl can have, something had to go!

Limoges Asparagus plate
All I have now is a set of 10 gold rimmed, 19th century Limoges plates, finely decorated with delicate flowers and leaves, which I just can't part with.

Guess the nephews (or their wives) will have to fight over these when I'm gone.

Sarreguemines Asparagus & Artichoke Plate

Linking also to Claudia's Friday Finding Beauty and Laurie's A Few Of My Favourite Things Saturday.
Be sure to click on the links to see who else in participating this week.

Thursday 16 September 2010

A Fall Cloche Party.

Marty at A Stroll Thru Life  the Queen of Cloches is throwing A Fall Cloche Party for everyone to enjoy.
I'm also joining
 Claudia for Finding Beauty Friday,
I have to confess that I do not own a single cloche, which is ridiculous especially since cloche is a French word after all.
Still, Marty wants to include everyone, even if we're cloche challenged, and has some fabulous fall decorating ideas to inspire on her blog.
Click here to be inspired by Marty.
This comment had me considering my options:
Don't have a cloche, not to worry, just grab a hurricane or apothecary jar and fill it full of fall fun. They work perfectly too.
So, that's just what I did.
Gathered some bits and bobs together that I picked up last year at TJ Maxx, Michaels and other great stores in the Hilton Head SC. area, (click here to read about Halloween in HH) and a plain glass hurricane, then got busy.

I have to say I'm quite pleased with the results and ready to join in the fun at my very first Cloche Party.
A big thank you to Marty, Claudia and Laurie for being such gracious hosts and don't forget to click on the links above to see who else is partcipating this time.

Monday 13 September 2010

Lori's Retro Glamor Shots Party!

A few weeks back Lori over @ Family Trees May Contain Nuts (no kidding!) had the bright idea of throwing a Retro Glamor Shots partay!
She said...............
You remember those photos you had done 20 years ago where they did your hair and makeup? We would have them at our houses and the crew of photographer, hairdresser and make up artist would come and we would have a party. Food, wine, friends and some amazing transformations. An assembly line of women in various stages of super modeldom. Don't be shy, share these great photos with all of us. Some will be funny and some will be awesome but hey they are all us and we are always a work in progress.

I never went to one of those parties ~ but once upon a time, back in the early nineties it must have been ~ whilst on holiday in the States ~  in a mall somewhere ~ I  was lured into a photographer's studio and persuaded by Mr B to have a Glamour Shots Makeover!
My hair was artfully teased into a bouffant style, not easy to do when you wear it as short as I have always done.
The make up artist did a super job of revealing hidden cheek bones and accentuating my eyes.

"Backstage " at the photographer's I was encouraged to play in the "dressing up box" and find accessories to accentuate the look.
By the way what about those eye glasses? Aren't they huge?
I actually owned those and several others very similar in style.
I remember a red pair that I was quite taken with, very Sally Jessy Raphael!
I still think these earrings are amazing!

The pearls made me look like Mrs Thatcher, but the cleavage was all mine.
Although we did create some other "looks" during the session, including a really sassy rock chic clad in denim, and a diva complete with bright pink feather boa, I have only been able to find these three shots to share today.
Thanks to Lori for the nostalgia trip and for hosting this fun Retro Glamour Shots Party.
Click on the link to see who else is revealing all today.

Saturday 11 September 2010

Zuppa di Pane e Pomodoro.

Shadows cross hatch an autumnal table setting.
I'm combining two themes today and linking to Shadow Shot Sunday @ Hey Harriet's blog in Oz and Sesonal Sunday hosted by The Tablescaper.
There is a slight chill in the mornings in Normandy now as we head into autumn, it's time to start thinking about putting the potager to sleep, I suppose.
I have been spending time this week clearing out the raised beds, but the haricot beans are still coming through and there's plenty of lettuces to enjoy.

After having nothing but green tomatoes for weeks and weeks there were suddenly masses of over ripe red tomatoes on the vines, so for lunch yesterday I made Zuppa di Pane e Pomodoro, (tomato and bread soup).

Katie & Giancarlo Caldesi
I found the recipe in Katie & Giancarlo Caldesi's cookbook "The Italian Mama's Kitchen", which is full of wonderful authentic home-style recipes.
Click on the link to visit La Cucina Caldesi Cookery School.

I'm ashamed to say that this cookbook has languished on the shelf for over three years and although I've dipped in and out, to read the recipes and salivate over the stunning photography, this was the first recipe from it that I have attempted.

Zuppa di Pane e Pomodoro, with parmesan shavings, served in a simple white ceramic bowl on a "Gien" artichoke under plate.
I'm not sure if there was a typo in the ingredients list but I found that 200ml of vegetable stock was nowhere near enough liquid for the quantity of bread suggested, so I added a 200ml bottle of tomato juice and all of the liquid obtained from deseeding the tomatoes during prep.
Was it good??
I thought so, it's certainly my sort of comfort food but although he finished his bowlful Mr B said that he wouldn't order it in a restaurant.

Email me if you'd like the recipe, nevertheless.

Thursday 9 September 2010

Barnyard Bash.

I'm in a bucolic mood today and it's all because there's a Barnyard Bash going on over @ 'Happier Than A Pig in Mud'. Why not pop over and see who's gathering in the farmyard today?
When you were a child did you own a piggy bank?
The only way to empty the delightful little piggies above is by smashing them open, luckily so far they have escaped that fate.
What about this quacking duck vase?He's quite fierce!
I did think about posting some photographs of real live cows but decided if you wanted to see some of those you could just click here, or here, or here!
Instead I decided to share some of my favourite faience animals.
The large Quimper platter below is a wonderful example of the intricate Breton Broderie decor.
The central scene painted in muted sepia tones depicts a group of Breton farmers and their families with their animals.
As well as the large dray horse pulling the cart there are two cows, a calf, a pig and a lamb, all wending their way to market.

Here a fun pair of polka dotted horse candle sticks go head to head. 
and finally....................... no barnyard would be complete without roosters!!
Many thanks also to Claudia @ Dipity Road for hosting Friday Finding Beauty and Laurie for hosting A Few Of My Favourite Things Saturday, click on the links to see who is else participating this week.

Monday 6 September 2010

Who doesn't love a good magazine?

I love reading magazines, and over the years have subscribed to plenty of them!
To give me inspiration around the home I always enjoy Good Housekeeping and Woman & Home.
For great recipes for special occasions and every day, including a monthly Master Class from top British chefs, BBC Good Food cannot be beat.

In 2008 I discovered scrapbooking and when I have a spare moment or two (blogging does get in the way of a lot of things, don't you find?) very much enjoy browsing through the current edition of Espirit Scrapbooking, a French magazine just bursting with creativity and projects.

BBC Homes and Antiques has been a favourite for over 20 years, in fact I still have most of the back issues, having lugged them to France when we moved here from Bavaria in 1996.
I keep them in "posh" faux leather binders on a bookshelf in the library, it's the kind of magazine that you can read and reread, there's always something new to learn about antiques!

Earlier this year I discovered Campagne Decoration and immediately took out a bi monthly abonnement.
You may remember when I shared some of the beautiful pages with you in previous posts. The homes featured in Campagne Decoration are all stunning and crammed with the sort of objects that I would love to have scattered around this old campagne maison. Click here to see wonderful out door summer ideas.
So why, you might wonder, am I blogging about magazines today?
Or perhaps you've already seen the large button on my sidebar announcing the October edition of Floss's "No Frills Magazine Swap" and have guessed that I've signed up to take part.
I love the idea of receiving a "new to me" magazine, that I may well never even have heard of before, from a fellow blogger, and sending one of mine off across the globe to gladden the heart of a new friend.
If you like the sound of the No Frills Swap then click on over to Floss's blog "Troc Broc and Recup" to find out how.
Closing date is Friday 10th September, and who knows you might just be receiving a magazine from me very soon.

Saturday 4 September 2010

Seasonal Sunday with the Tablescaper

I'm joining in with a new (to me) meme The Tablescaper's: Seasonal Sunday as we leave summer behind and welcome cooler autumn days and nights.
I imagine that there will be plenty of posts this week about the Labor day weekend but here in Normandy, Saturday was just a normal day of la vie quotidienne (daily life).
Yesterday was warm and sunny with bright blue skies, so we decided to head towards the coast for an impromptu picnic.

We loaded up the car with folding chairs, a small table and a basket packed with pate de forestiere, cheese and tomato sandwiches, a flask of tea & the remains of the Pear Crumble cake that I made last weekend. (Yes, we did make it last all week!) A truly eclectic mix of French and English gourmet treats!
Not forgetting a big bottle of water for Mr Ben and a bag of biscuit bones.
A magazine or two and a couple of books to read and off we went.
La Rentrée (when French children return to school) was 1st September and so the roads were very peaceful as we motored down the country lanes.
Sand yachting (Le char à voile) is a very popular pastime in the region and I managed to snap these two as they sped along. We spent a very pleasant afternoon sitting, reading and watching the world go by before heading back inland for a spot of gardening.
How did you spend your weekend?

Friday 3 September 2010

Summer's last Hurrah!

For Claudia's Friday Finding Beauty meme @ Dipity Road and Laurie's A Few of My Favourite Things Saturday meme, some of the last blooms from my garden, cut this morning, simply arranged in my favourite Desvres faience jardiniere.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Wednesday 1 September 2010

Around and about le Presbytère

For Outdoor Wednesday this week graciously hosted as always by Susan @ A Southern Daydreamer, some snaps taken around and about during the last few days.
One of our wild/tame moorhens finishing off Ben's breakfast this morning.

A perfect looking mushroom growing at the side of the lane, didn't pick it though as I'm unsure which ones are safe to eat. Possibly this one was o.k. but didn't want to risk food poisoning, or worse.
We saw these white cows relaxing in a field, safe behind barbed wire fencing, whilst on our Sunday walk last weekend.
Imagine our surprise as we rounded the bend to find this escapee, who definately knew that the grass was greener on the other side. After snapping him quickly, I beat a hasty retreat.
After many weeks of waiting, finally, red tomatoes! These robust heirloom tomatoes are rich, juicy and full of flavour. Ben, as usual, is never far away.

Now, head over to A Southern Daydreamer to follow Hurricane Earl's progress along the Eastern US coast.