Saturday 26 February 2011

Sunday Favourites with Chari.

For Chari's Sunday Favourites this week here's another glimpse into la vie quotidienne here in Normandy in a post from May 2009.
Every country in Europe has it's own rules & regulations regarding recycling, it seems.
When we first moved to France, almost 13 years ago, our household garbage was collected every 2 weeks (!) after a couple of years this changed to weekly.
There were also twice yearly collections of old/unwanted metal items. These had to be placed in the street for collection and reminded us of the "sperrmuhl" collections we enjoyed when we lived in Bavaria.
Things remained that way for a long time and then we received a letter telling of a special card/permis that we could obtain from "la mairie" which would entitle us to use the local "dechetterie" or as we like to refer to it "the dump".
This certainly opened up a new world of special containers in which we could dispose of all those tricky items we had stashed in the outbuildings. Hazardous products such as old paint cans & aerosols, polysterene chips (the bane of my life), unwanted clothing, broken electrical items and much much more, the list was endless.
The "dechetterie" is very strictly operated by the "Gardien" who demands to see your "permis" when you arrive and then watches like a hawk to make sure that, heaven forfend, you place something in the wrong container.
So.....we loaded up the car at the weekend and went to the dump and as is the case with almost everything we do these days I captured the moment with my trusty Nikon Coolpix for a scrapbook page. I think it turned out quite well, n'est pas.

I'll tell you about the bottle bank another day..............................

Friday 25 February 2011

A Few of My Favourite Things Saturday

The warm spring days we’ve experienced lately have not only brought out vibrant daffodils and wonderful bright yellow forsythia they’ve tempted me away from my cosy fireplace too.
Spring for me always means a return to my attic hideaway, where I can happily sit and blog and also create scrapbook pages without worrying about the mess, surrounded by some of my favourite things.
My Amish 9 star wall hanging which I bought at the end of a wonderful evening in Churchtown. PA. My dear friend Diane & I with other liked minded “tourists” had the pleasure of dining with a delightful Amish family. It was a wonderful experience and one which I shall always treasure.
Diane & I have seen many interesting places together, over the years, since we met in 2000 at the Quimper CIub annual meeting held that year in Washington D.C.

In 2008 we toured the Tutankhamun exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art, then wandered through the galleries, where I fell in love with John Singer Sargent’s “Portrait of Dorothy, 1900”

A few years earlier, with her sister Susan on the way from Texas to the QCI meeting in Chicago in 2005, we took a slight detour and visited the King at Graceland, Memphis, TN.
That was a fun trip!

My Texan Eiffel Tour (a souvenir from the Dallas 2009 meeting).

Last but by no means least my Keep Calm and Carry On notice, a gift from the QCI members attending the 2010 meeting in Savannah which I co-hosted.
I was also presented with a signed copy of Paula Deens book "Savannah Style" which the above mentioned Susan (currently serving at President of the QCI) obtained after standing in line to meet PD when at a book signing in Dallas last year.
Click here to go to the QCI blog and read Susan's hilarious account of that day.
The hub.
Hilton Head is never far from my thoughts.
Miz Geraldine, the rabbit that started it all.
There must be music.
Splendour in the Grass and Sympathique by, a favourite band, Pink Martini.
I have so enjoyed revisiting A Few of my Favourite Things with y'all today (there's that Texan/Southern influence coming through!)
Of course I'm joining Laurie for A Few of My Favourite Things Saturday with this post, hope you'll pop over and visit Laurie and all the other bloggers participating there this weekend.
I never realised before writing this post how many of them are linked to the QCI and the friends I've made through the Club.

Tuesday 22 February 2011

La Vie Quotidienne.

Beautiful, bold, yellow forsythia bringing spring back to my garden at last.
Nothing much going on around here this week just everyday life -  la vie quotidienne.
Tuesday dawned grey and misty but by midmorning developed into the kind of day that's good for mooching around the garden clearing away winter debris, that sort of thing.

One of my hydrangeas looking forlorn and unloved.
Once I get a pair of secateurs in my hand I do find it hard to stop, and so after cutting back the hydrangeas and allowing the fresh green shoots to show their faces to the sun, I tackled the wisteria which is already showing signs of rebirth.

Bright green shoots at last.
Sharing the garden with all the participants of Susans
Outdoor Wednesday @ A Southern Daydreamer.

After lunch I decided to make a sweet treat for our afternoon teatime and baked a batch of Lorraine Pascales cookies and cream fudge brownies.

Here's the recipe:
Equipment and preparation: You will need a 20cm/8in square baking tin.
165g/5½oz butter, plus extra for greasing
200g/7oz dark chocolate, grated or finely chopped
3 free-range eggs
2 free-range egg yolks
1 vanilla pod, seeds only (or alternatively 2 tsp vanilla extract)
165g/5½ oz soft light brown sugar
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
pinch salt
154g/5½oz pack chocolate biscuits, such as Oreos, broken into quarters
icing sugar, for dusting
Preparation method.
1.Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease a 20cm/8in square baking tin with butter, then line with baking paper with the paper overlapping the sides a little.
2.Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. When the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat and add the grated (or chopped) chocolate. Leave to stand for a few minutes, or until the chocolate melts, and then stir together. Alternatively, you can put the chocolate and butter in a bowl and melt in the microwave in 25-second blasts, stirring well each time.
3.Whisk the eggs, egg yolks and vanilla together in a large bowl until the eggs begin to get light and fluffy. Add the sugar in two additions, whisking between each. Pour it around the side of the egg mix so as not to knock out the air that has been whisked in. Keep whisking until the mixture becomes stiffer. Once the egg mixture is ready, pour the chocolate into it - again around the sides so as not to knock the air out.
4.Add the flour, cocoa powder, salt and a third of the biscuits and stir until fully combined, then pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Scatter the remaining biscuits over the top, pressing them in slightly. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 25–30 minutes. The middle should be very so slightly gooey. Leave the brownies to cool in the tin - the top will sink and crack a little.
5.Pull the brownies out using the overlapping paper and cut into squares.
Dust with icing sugar.

These are those most luscious brownies I've ever made, dense and fudgy and so full of  "chocolateyness" .
Word of warning!
When you cut them they will crumble a little around the edges and, if you're like me, you will find it hard to resist popping these little morsels into your mouth each time you pass by the plate.

I think the safest thing would be for me to take these straight over to
Miz Helen's for Full Plate Thursday
 and share the love!

Saturday 19 February 2011

Sunday Favourites with Chari.

For Chari's Sunday Favourites @ Happy To Design  today, a rerun of a  post from July 2009 which you might enjoy.

Sometimes the last thing my husband wants to do is trail around a flea market with me, but sometimes he humours me and comes along.
And so it was that yesterday, Bastille Day, we took a drive to Bricquebec on the Contenin Peninsula to a vide grenier (flea market) which I had seen advertised.

Well, guess what?

There wasn't one, I was wrong! and he was not a happy man -  until we spotted L'Epicerie Parisienne.

Those of you who know my other half know that he is a very good cook, quite a gourmand & wine connoisseur, so we spent a very pleasant 20 minutes or so wandering around this wonderful food store admiring the food and the eclectic decor.

Madame, la patronne, was a delight and when I enquired, of Monsieur, if it was o.k. for me to photograph his displays, he answered:
"S'il vous plaît, Madame, comme si vous étiez à chez vous".

Today, we enjoyed some of our purchases from L'Epicerie Parisienne for lunch.

I hope that you have enjoyed a second visit to l'epicerie today, bon dimanche a tout.

Thursday 17 February 2011

Baking Bread with Lorraine Pascale.

Since the beginning of the year Monday evenings have found me sitting comfortably on the sofa in front of the TV, glass of wine to hand, whilst the BBC's new chef glamourous, former model Lorraine Pascale demonstrates how easy baking really is.
 "Baking is fun, it's easy, it's therapeutic, it's relaxing, it's a joy really," she said.
Her ideal meal would start with roasted camembert and garlic followed by a beef fillet baked in the oven with pepper and cognac. It would be finished off with some fondant fancies or a passion and lemon meringue pie. (BBC website)

I enjoy baking very much but normally my repertoire consists of cakes, pies and sweet treats and until Lorraine showed me how easy it was, I had never considered baking my own bread.
Too much kneading, proving, more kneading, and waiting around for the dough to rise.

First of all I downloaded the recipe for the
 "Doris Grant Loaf  
a no - need - to - knead bread adapted from a 1940's recipe by healthy eating evangelist Doris Grant, who believed white flour - and its lack of nutrients - was the enemy".
Click here to get the recipe for yourself.
LP was right, it was very easy to make - indeed.

Delicious served with Mr B's homemade winter vegetable soup.

Click here for details of all six episodes of Baking Made Easy by Lorraine Pascale.

Flushed with success, after baking the Doris Grant loaf, I ordered the BME book of 100 recipes, released to coincide with the TV series, at Amazon. Click here to buy the book now at half price!
Yesterday, I baked soda bread.
Click here for the recipe.

Perfect for a simple ploughmans lunch served with a small salad, cornichons, English cheddar cheese and of course, Branston pickle.
A nostalgic taste of England in rural Normandy.
(Apologies for lack of ploughmans pix, DH was hungry!)

Linking this post to Full Plate Thursday @ Miz Helen's Country Cottage.

Full Plate Thursday Background Story
When we were young and just starting out in life sometimes we did not have a lot of money.
 Most of our friends were having to stretch the dollars at the end of the month just like us. My girlfriends and I decided that we would pool our food for some of the evening meals right before payday... the last week of the month. I have some of the fondest memories from those days. We would all bring our food together and we had some great food and great fellowship. We would get the food on the table and everything ready, someone would bless the food and then the hostess would say "come fill your plate".
Why not head over there and see how Miz Helen filled her plate last week and what's on the menu today.

Also joining in with Show & Tell Friday with Cindy @ My Romantic Home
and with
 Sherry and Home Sweet Home Friday @ The Charm of Home.
Thanks for hosting, ladies.

Tuesday 15 February 2011

An English Print Room

I spent this morning photographing some beautiful antique original lithographs of Sevres Porcelaines by E. Juliennes (1808-1875).

Many years ago at an Antiques Fair in Brest, Brittany I discovered an old porfolio containing these lithographs and quickly snapped them up.

You see, I had a fancy to decorate the staircase here at the Presbytère in the style of an 18th century English Print Room.

Image from
The walls were already painted yellow, all I had to do was persuade Mr B that this was a look that he could live with.

Unfortunately, despite my entreaties, he was unconvinced.

He thought the whole look was too fussy and not in keeping with our French home. C'est la vie!

Image from
One day I will get around to framing some of these beautiful lithographs but in the meantime, if you should fancy trying out the English Print Room look for yourself, click on this link to for the inspiration, and take a peek in my Etsy where you will find some of the Sevres lithographs for sale.


Sunday 13 February 2011

I ♥ My Favorite Kitchen Gadget Party!

When Lynn @ Happier Than A Pig in Mud announced her I ♥ My Favorite Kitchen Gadget Party!  recently, I knew that there was truly only one piece of my kitchen kit which qualified for this award.

Where would I be without my KitchenAid mixer?
Click here to see what other blogging chefs can't live without.
Happy Valentines Day everyone!
Please join me also in visiting Mary's Mosaic Monday

Thursday 10 February 2011

Tea Time with my Valentine.

 So glad you came to tea today, sweetheart.

I've been looking forward to seeing you all week long.

I've taken Grandma B's wedding china out of the cabinet, and polished the silver.

I baked Red Velvet Cupcakes with Buttercream frosting.

One for you and one for me,
 and one to share?

A decadent roulade.
Light as a feather sponge cake
 wrapped around fresh cream and strawberries soaked in Marsala wine
 dusted with the finest of sugars.

Won't you be my Valentine?
(Image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Click on the links below to join the celebration

Miz Helen's Country Cottage Full Plate Thursday,
Valentines Party @ Bargain Hunting with Laurie
Courtney for Feathered Nest Friday @ French Country Cottage
Show and Tell Friday with Cindy @ My Romantic Home
Sherry @ The Charm of Home for her brand new Home Sweet Home Party
The Tablescaper for Seasonal Sunday

Tuesday 8 February 2011

A Breath of Spring.

For a few hours today we had blue skies and sunshine, a breath of spring gently wafting over the garden.
I mooched around tidying here and there, stopping to take photographs of emerging primroses,crocuses and daffodils and getting dirt under my fingernails.


I'm joining Susan @ A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday
and Kim @ Savvy Southern Style for the very first
Wow Us Wednesdays Party
click on the links, or on the sidebar buttons,
 to see who else is sharing this week.

Saturday 5 February 2011

Hot off the press..............Quagga

I hadn't intended joining Mrs Matlock for Alphabe-Thursday but when I received a copy of my nephew Alex's latest school report today and read this comment from his science teacher :

"Alex works particularly well when completing "open ended" tasks and recently produced a fantastic presentation on the extinct "Quagga"

This very proud but ignorant {What the heck is a Quagga?} auntie had to brag about him.

This is a Quagga......................

"The Quagga was a southern subspecies of the plain zebra with withers of 1.30 meter. It differed from other zebras mainly in having been striped on the head, neck, and front portion of its body only, and having been brownish, rather than white, in its upper parts.
The name Quagga has been adopted from the Hottentot speaking indigenous people of the South African interior.
'Quagga' is an imitation of the animal's call, which it shared with the other plain zebras."

You can find out more interesting facts about Quaggas here.

Very well done Alex, Auntie Em is very proud of you!