Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Alphabe-Thursday....K is for Kitchen Garden.

Is it me or is Thursday coming around quicker every week for you too? I almost forgot to prepare my homework for Mrs Matlock's Alphabet Thursday "K" assignment but luckily I didn't have too far to look for inspiration.
One of my very favourite things to do is to grow organic vegetables in a small patch of ground outside my back door, my very own Kitchen garden or potager as we call it here in France.
It was in a very sorry state when I inherited it from the previous owners and for the first few years that we lived here it was rather neglected by me also since there was so much work to be done on the house first.
Almost two years ago I decided to completely rehaul the design and wrote about it in my very first blog. (Note to self: NL 2nd Blog Anniversary coming soon!).
You can read about it here and over the following months I blogged regularly about my progress.
With the onset of fine weather a few weeks ago (I say that tongue in cheek as today we have had hail & rain interspersed with blue skies & sunshine) the weed suppressing covers came off. S the G (Sean the Gardener) rotivated and composted the raised beds and it was time to plant!

Last weekend I planted 4 sorts of "pick and come again" lettuce, and scallion/salad onions. In this bed I already have some early and maincrop potatoes, with the blueberry bushes at the end.

I also love to cook, a pastime that goes hand in hand with growing my own produce. Two excellent books which have inspired me with both of these interests are The Ornamental Kitchen Garden by Janet Macdonald for planting plans and gorgeous photography and The Gardeners' Community Cookbook which was a gift from a dear friend, Fayne, several years ago.
These words from Victoria Wise, author of the cookbook, say it all:

Good cooking comes from good growing
Good growing comes from loving the earth
Good dishes come from tending your pot
as you do your plot.
Happy Gardening.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Blue (&White) Monday @ Le musée Carnavalet.

The musée Carnavalet is a wonderful museum to visit.

The parisfr. website describes it thus: The paintings, sculptures, furniture and scale models, that the collections in these two erstwhile townhouses in the Marais conceal, tell the story of Paris from prehistoric days to the present. This museum also features a handsome collection of drawings, prints, photographs and posters – and a remarkable coin cabinet.

Tucked away in a corner I discovered a tiny parlour with a display of the most wonderful blue and white ceramics.

So, I thought I'd share some pix with Smiling Sally and all the great bloggers that gather at her place for Blue Monday.

Come back for Outdoor Wednesday and view Paris from a bateau on the River Seine.............

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Day one in Paris: Le Marais, 4th Arr.

For our base in Paris last weekend we chose an apartment just steps away from Place de Vosges, in Le Marais, one of the oldest and best preserved areas of Paris.

It has wonderful narrow streets and historic squares steeped in the past, as well as trendy shops and bars.
I found the apartment on the VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owners)website.
A beautiful Art Nouveau panel on the shop front next to our big black front door which leads into the courtyard.
It was a small one bedroom pied a terre, with tiny kitchen, well equipped bathroom and very comfortable sitting room. The bed was a little hard for us, especially after hours of walking the streets of Paris, but hey, you can't have everything.
Oh, and did I mention the steep narrow stairs??
Nevertheless it soon became our home away from home and we would certainly recommend this type of accomodation if you should ever decide to spend some time in the City Of Lights.

Close by is the Hotel de Sully built in 1624.
I had stayed in Le Marais, a few years back and was keen to show Mr B what a great place it is.

After wandering around Village St Paul and marvelling at the inside of Eglise St-Paul,
we made our way to Chez Marianne, situated in the Rue des Hospitalières-Saint-Gervais, for lunch.
In the afternoon we visited the Musée Carnavalet (click here), the most Parisien Museum in the capital. This statue of Louis XIV stands in the courtyard close to the entrance to the Museum.
I hope you have enjoyed wandering around the Marais with me today, next time we'll be viewing the city from a boat on the Seine as well as visiting L'Orangerie in the Tuilieres Gardens.
à bientôt.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Alphabe-Thursday and J is for.........Joli très Joli

You may remember that last weekend Mr B took me away to Paris for a few days? Well, we had a wonderful time and I have masses of pix to share but haven't yet had the time to sort them out. You'll see them soon, I promise.
I recently took out a subscription for the bimestriel, French lifestyle magazine "Campagne Decoration" and took the latest issue along with me, to read on the train. What bliss!
Every issue opens the doors to magnificent homes from Normandy to Provence, Brittany to Alsace.
So, for Alphabe-Thursday, held every week @ Jenny Matlock's amazing blog, I'm stretching things a little bit and showing you something that I think is very Joli indeed.

J is for "Joli", très Joli, don't you love the pastel setting above, with pink shimmering baubles and glass trinkets hanging from the chandelier?

How about the fresh Spring tablescape below?

Campagne Decoration features beautiful houses full of charm and pages full of decorating ideas to reproduce in our own homes.
I know that many of my blogger friends love cloches, you even throw parties for them.
On the shopping page below are two wonderful cloches.
Top left: Glass cloche "Aramis" 102€ with base, bottom right glass cloche and saucer 60€ from Woods & Willow.

This is what my 500 year old campagne maison wants to look like when it grows up!

Now go have fun at Jenny's!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

First Day of Spring

Happy First Day of Spring, everyone!
Depending on your time zone, when you see this post Mr B & I will be:
a) on the train to Paris
b) antiquing in Village St Paul
c) eating lunch in the Place du Marché Sainte-Catherine in the Marais
d) visiting le musée Carnavalet, the most Parisian museum in the capital
e) relaxing with an aperitif
f) dining @ Chez Denise
Bon weekend mes amis

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Alphabe-Thursday: I is for Ivy

In Blogland, Thursday means it's time to hand in our assignments to Mrs Matlock for Alphabe-Thursday where this week we are learning about the letter I.
I'm having a small tea party here at the Presbytère, after school, won't you stay and have some tea?
The table is already laid with an assortment of green and white dishes, including some with an ivy decor.
That means.......I is for Ivy.
The tea service with ivy decoration is marked Porcelaine de Paris, Limoges. I also used some Applebee Collection plates, designed for the Royal Horticultural Society.

The centrepiece tablecloth is embellished with Belgian lace and the china eggs are souvenirs of a trip to Singapore. Dark green grosgrain ribbon decorates the plain white napkins and holds your cake fork.

I made some simple lemon biscuits and decorated them with lemon Icing and slivers of preserved lemon.
Do you take milk in your tea or do you prefer lemon?
As a special treat we have handmade macarones: chocolate, citron and pistachio and precious little chocolate eggs however, they came from the local pâtisserie!
I brought the pot of mini daffodils in from the garden to add a touch of springtime to the table.

I found the Meissen like figurines at the auction house in Bayeux, I think they are by Samson, Paris but can't be sure. They make learning look like fun!

I've so enjoyed having you to tea today and hope you'll call again soon.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Cuisine Kathleen's 2nd Annual St Patrick's Day Blog Crawl

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For Kathleen's 2nd Annual St Patrick's Day blog crawl an Irish smilebox for you!!
Enjoy the show and then head over to Kathleen's blog for the celebration and see all the great Irish themed blogs participating ahead of St Patrick's Day on Wednesday March 17th.
Don't forget all my blogs this week will have a touch of Blarney about them, come back on Wednesday for a different type of crawl!!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

St Patrick's Day Parade, Savannah, GA. 2006

"May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you
In the palm of his hand."
Traditional Irish Blessing.
Since Wednesday is St. Patricks Day all of my blogs this week will have an Irish theme.
The ever gracious Mary @thelittleredhouse's Mosaic Monday meme starts off the week. Do head over there and visit all the other participants sharing their marvellous mosaics today.
In 2006 whilst visiting Hilton Head Island, SC. we decided, since we had never experienced one before, to head over to Savannah to watch the St Patrick's Day Parade, which apparently is the second largest in the United States.
I never knew there were so many shades of green!

Come back tomorrow when I'll be joining Cuisine Kathleen's 2nd Annual St. Patrick's Day Blog Crawl.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

H is for.........................Hedge Haircut

If only this had happened last week, it would have made a great H post for Mrs Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday meme.

The hedges alongside the little lane that leads to our house received a haircut today, and boy was it severe!
On the other side of the lane are fields where for many months of the year cows graze on lush Normandy grass and so the hedges were being cut back in preparation for their arrival.
(We prefer to think the reason for the tidy up was to welcome our friends Sarah @ Hyacinths For The Soul & her husband who will be visiting us next month).

Every day there are more and more wild primroses appearing in the lane.
Miniature daffodils make their debut in the flower beds.
Hope you're all having a great weekend. This time next week I'll be in Paris!!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Alphabe-Thursday...H is for Hydrangeas

For Mrs Matlock's class this week I'll bet some of you thought "oh! Maggie'll write about Hilton Head, since she loves the place so much and would love to live there one day". DH thought that would be my subject today. Wrong!!
(However, you could click here to see why I really would like to be there right now!!)
Instead some scenes from last summer, featuring a favourite flower of mine: the Hydrangea or Hortensia as is is called here in France.As you probably already know there are two types, mop head and lace cap. It's the mop head variety which can be either white, pink or blue. It all depends whether the soil in your garden is acidic (blue) or alkaline (pink). We have three large pink Hydrangea bushes and one that starts off blue but can turn gradually "purplish" during the summer months, I think it depends on how much rain we have! They are on opposite sides of the garden which may account for the different soil types.
Last year I planted a white Hydrangea, beneath the blue Hibiscus tree, next to the existing pink Hydrangeas. Click here for more pictures of the garden last year.
According to the Royal Horticultural Society's website white and green flowered cultivars do not change colour regardless of the ph of the soil The RHS advises using rainwater to water Hydrangeas, since mains hard water can affect the flower colour, turning blue flowers mauve or pink.
Now Head over to Jenny's and don't be late for class, she is a real stickler for punctuality and she'll give me a C- if she finds out you dawdled here and missed assembly.