Wednesday 23 May 2012

Ripe For The Picking

Dearest readers,
Do you find that sometimes putting words to pictures can be superfluous?
I could tell you that during one of those legendary l-o-n-g May public holidays here in France we turned our noses up at the unrelenting rain and went strawberry picking here.
I could also write that, contrary to the advice of Christene Ferber - France's lovingly nicknamed 'Fée des Confitures' ('Jam Fairy') - in this inspiring jam-making book, gathering strawberries on a late rainy afternoon did not noticeably taint their glorious taste, texture, or scent.
I would also be tempted to add that during our ensuing Jam Making Session Angélique 'helped' whereas eight-year old Tristan truly HELPED. (The zeal and care with which my son stirred those strawberries, sugar, and  lemon juice for almost half an hour contributed to our jam success, I am sure.)
I do believe, however, these pictures speak for themselves.
Of course with this strawberry jam came some happy inspiration.  You do know what's coming now, don't you? ;-)
Mademoiselle Fraises
showing a bit of leg...
and surprisingly not afraid of heights for a strawberry ground-hugging plant, I might add.
And her more timid and sweet-natured friend Mademoiselle Fruits Rouges...
whose ankles and ears are adorned with redcurrants, cherries, and strawberries, of course.
They have both been created for that delectable shop "La Maison d'Annie" mentioned in my previous post.  Both are ripe for the picking on this sunny day in May perched in our Elder Tree looking across at the nearby cherry tree urging its green cherries to ripen and enjoying the enthusiastic and repetitive song of our local cuckoo. Both will also be ripe for the picking if you are interested when I open my Etsy shop in the next few days. You have no idea how touched I was by your generous and enthusiastic comments on my last post.  Your presence here makes a world of difference.  I am so very, very grateful to you all.  Thank you.

 First, I am taking some time out from this rich and hectic period of theatre, dance, guitar rehearsals and music exams by taking a weekend trip to England. I am overjoyed at the thought of seeing my wonderful parents in Tunbridge Wells. I will be at Loop Knitting in London to meet - and I am very excited about this - Cécile Franconie who will be running an embroidered button workshop. I hugely admire her creative talent and am in awe of her eye for colour. Will anyone else be there? 
I will leave you with a parting glance from our two latest residents.
Actually forget the rabbits.   Gaspard is infinitely more charming!  And so, my friends, I will leave him with the last word for today.

'Take me for a walk through the vineyards.  Now.'

A bientôt,


ps If you have noticed any clumsy Frenchisms in my written English I would be grateful if you could let me know.  I need to cross the Channel more often to keep my English alive!

Monday 7 May 2012

Bells Are The Best Birthday Gift

Hello wonderful readers on this post election day in France,
As our eldest daughter, Héloïse, turned sixteen on the last day of April, we celebrated the occasion with an Easter revival in between spectacular downpours of the most stubborn kind. 
Gracefully teetering between childhood and becoming an amazing young adult Héloïse seemed happy to participate in our second Easter egg hunt this season.  There is something to be said about celebrating such rituals when you feel like doing so, don't you think? 

And how about a birthday present hunt? 
First, the essential gift for my dancing daughter.

The next present will, I believe, GRAB your attention.  Are you ready?
The lilac is pretty enough but look at those silver bells.  They are exquisite, don't you think?  They are, of course, the beautiful work of the very talented Emma of Silverpebble.  A few weeks ago, when the weather was sunny for days on end, Héloïse and I were chatting about symbolism and I asked her which object she would choose to symbolise her birthday.  Perhaps eggs and daffodils, she thought, and then her answer rang clearly: bells!
Of course I knew Emma would transform this symbol into the perfect birthday necklace for a sweet sixteen year old.  It was such a pleasure to work with her.  She was quick, offered suggestions - church bells or sleigh bells? -  and kept me updated on her progress with mini videos of the bells tinkling.  Oh how those two adorable bells chime delightfully!  I need never worry about losing my daughter ever again ;-) 
Thank you so much Emma!  I cannot wait to commission another silver beauty from you!
Of course Héloïse's birthday inspired me to make something too. Something festive in theme and inspired by these colours:
This picture is taken from an amazing French book, compiled by three talented artists - Christine Ferber, Philippe Model and Bernhard Winkelmann - in which recipes have been concocted for Alice in Wonderland.  Its title is Merveilles, délicieuses recettes au pays d'Alice and you can find it here or here.  I will come back to this book in the near future.

Here is Mademoiselle Confetti, a sweet natured, party loving spring creature with a passion for cakes:
"Another rabbit?'', you kindly remark.  Yes, ANOTHER rabbit to mark a rather exciting moment.  Annie Joliveau, the owner of La Maison d'Annie, a beautiful shop, situated in an old house on the banks of the river Cisse in Vouvray, has commissioned me to create ten items for her boutique.  I am so excited!  Decisions have been made over the past couple of weeks during which I have suffered NO migraines.  I was so touched by your kindness and valuable advice following my last post and I taken heed of every single word you wrote.  My role as a mother is precious to me and needs to take precedence.  Angélique will be going to a lovely childminder one day a week.  This will not be a big transformation in her life but it will grant me a few hours to work on such commissions.  Madame De Saint Venant has also asked me to participate in a garden and crafts fair at Valmer Château in October.  You may recall I wrote an article about her sixteenth-century kitchen gardens last year?   She is a extraordinary lady and we have stayed in contact.
I am also thinking about opening an Etsy shop.  Very timidly I ask you; do you think there would be any takers for custommade rabbits?  I ought to reassure you that there won't be just rabbits.  Phew, you sigh! Your input on this matter will be very much appreciated!
So Happy Birthday, Héloïse.  May the next year bring you the dreams you deserve.
If any of you have a minute to spare and you fancy brushing up on your French skills, please take a quick look at her blog.  This little artist of mine has just drawn some thank you cards and I think they deserve a peek.  There's even a picture of Gaspard our puppy!

Thank you so much for being wonderful and kind and a warm welcome to my new followers.

A bientôt,

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