Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Thank you

Thank you Lizette and Anonymous for your encouraging comments.  Comments are the fuel that keep the blogger blogging.

That's two out of approximately 20-30 people who visit per day.  There are more of you out there!  Come on, you can do it!

xo Stella

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Comments

I'm taking attendance! Could you comment and let me know you are there? Feels like I've been talking to myself these last few weeks! Merci, Stella

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tada!

Vanity - Costco, Basketry - Pottery Barn

Towels - Land's End

Taps and other hardware - Home Depot

Light fixture - Home Depot, Mirror - Sears
Here are the belated bathroom reno pictures.  I'm still on the lookout for a piece of art to hang above the loo.  Something with color to jazz things up a bit.


xo Stella

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Second Winter

I spoke too fast.  It will be Spring Break without the Spring in it.  We had 10 cm of snowfall yesterday and last night. 

«Put another log on the fire. Fix me up some bacon and some beans.»
Snowflakes are still gracing my window at work with their light-as-air dance while inside, I am envisioning sleeping in, breakfast in bed, sustained periods of reading, a silent walk in the cushioney white stuff.  I may even pull out my knitting needles and make this lovely little thing.

Mohair Bias Loop - Churchmouse Yarns and Teas
Lentil and sausage soup from the Barefoot Contessa?  Soupe à l'oignon? Hearty Hamburger Soup from the Best of Bridge?

How about a game of Scrabble?

Bon weekend!

Stella

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Break

Good thing Spring Break is coming up because I am running out of fuel.  Or is it all an illusion?  Am I running out of fuel because I know that a holiday is coming up?

I was just thinking this this morning when I looked over my schedule for the day.  I have a pretty full schedule this week and, as when I was working closer to schools I remember it always felt like we were trying to cram in as much as possible before a holiday.  It's the same where I work now.

Think of the period before Christmas holidays, at school there are exams, concerts, meetings, special lunches, Christmas parties and it's all a bit crazy because it seems like we have to exhaust ourselves before we get to have some time off.

This is what this last week is like for me; an endless stream of commitments and must dos before I can crash on Friday night and say, I'm on holidays!

March in Canada where I live is brown and dirty.  A lot of the snow has left us and what's left behind is not pretty to look at.  The trees are still sleeping but the sun becomes stronger and we feel that the ground is thawing out after a long winter.

I hope to thaw out during my week off so that when I come back, instead of being stiff with sore muscles and stress, I'll be supple and smiling at my good fortune.

V. is hanging on by his fingernails.  Being a high school principal has it's ups and downs, and in Spring, there can be a few more downs because the sap in the students is starting to thaw out and move too!

I am grateful for Spring Break.  Very grateful.

Amen.

Bonne journée,

Stella

P.S. Do you feel like this before a holiday too?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Baby Goats and Lizards


 Our son T. who has been studying in Anguilla for the past 2 1/2 months has finally realized that he has to balance his life a little.  So on Fridays after school, he will be swimming in the country's crystal clear blue waters and maybe even encounter a turtle (his favorite pet since childhood).

When we spoke with him via Skype this evening, it was obvious that the demands of the program are gruelling but that T. has developed very good studying strategies.  He is systematic and almost obsessive about getting it right.

What made me happiest is that he talked about the great swim he had on the weekend and how he is going to do it regularly.  Not only that, he smiled when he told us that when the studying gets to be too much, he goes outside, catches a lizard, plays with it and then lets it go.

He also admitted to finding the baby goats that roam the island quite charming.  He may try to befriend one with gifts of food and fun.

T. has always been a great animal lover and I am delighted that he can indulge this other passion while he is there.

I am also relieved to hear that he is finally settled enough that he can take advantage of some of the island's offerings.

Check out this video of T. giving our cockatiel a neck massage.


I miss my boy.

Bonsoir, beaux rêves,

Stella

Friday, March 16, 2012

Beautiful Blogs

I have made no secret that Corey Amaro at Tongue in Cheek is one of my favorite blogs.  Corey is generous with her photography her words and inspiration.  Visit her blog if you have a chance and look at her online boutique of small antiques bought at the brocante in Provence where she lives.
Photo source: Décor de Provence

http://www.rarchitectural.com
I have been inspired by Corey to decorate our little home in Provence slowly but surely like this: Out with the new, in with the old!
I remember Corey telling me that the Ikea shelves I bought for our living area would not hold their value as antiques do.  I have not looked back.

On my wish list are:  a provençal table or a farm table and six new old chairs, an armoire for the master bedroom, a piece for storage in the bathroom and another piece to store linens on the upstairs landing.  I also want to find something that would fit a small corner at the entrance to our apartment.

For the kitchen, I would like to find a plate rack or a nice little shelf to store decorative platters and jugs.  Then, I will have to find said platters and jugs to fill the shelf/rack.

It's a hard life.

Bonne journée,

Stella

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Not Without my Posse

Photo source: Charles Marion Russell - The Posse 1895

I have talked to you about my posse before.  My posse is composed of a handful of co-workers who comprise a small but effective network of support.

How precious that support!

Yesterday, I had a little malaise during yoga class and the arms of my posse enfolded me in empathy and caring.

I am blessed. Thanks guys!

Stella

Monday, March 12, 2012

Half the Sky




This book is shocking, heart breaking.  It scandalizes.  Yet, it should be read by every adult in the world.  Be warned, it is not for the faint of heart.

It is also an invitation to be part of a solution.

Stella

Saturday, March 10, 2012

French Movies

French movies are plentiful and very often,  very, very good. If you have not watched a lot of French movies, don't let the subtitles bother you, a lot of their movies are worth watching.  I have underlined my favorites.  There are so many, many more.  I will try to do a Part II of this post someday...

  • Vincent Lindon: Mademoiselle Chambon, The Moustache, Welcome and Friday Night, Could This be Love? Mes amis, mes amours
  • Audrey Tautou: Priceless, Gabrielle Coco Chanel, Beautiful Lies, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, Hunting and Gathering, Amélie
  • The lovely Marion Cotillard: A Good Year, La Môme, Little White Lies...
  • Juliette Binoche:  Chocolat, The Widow of St. Pierre,  Flight of the Red Balloon, Paris, Summer Hours, The English Patient, The Children of the Century...
  • Daniel Auteuil: Jean de Florette, Manon des sources, La reine Margot, A Heart in Winter, La fille sur le pont, The Closet, Je l'aimais
  • Kad Mérad:  Little Nicholas, L'Italien, Don't Worry, I,m Fine, The Chorus, Welcome to the Sticks, Paris 36...
  • Catherine Deneuve:  Indochine, The Last Metro, Mères et filles, 8 Women,
  • Kirsten Scott Thomas: Tell No One, I've Loved you so Long, Sarah's Key, Crime d'amour
  • Gérard Depardieu: My Afternoons with Margueritte, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Last Metro, The Return of Martin Guerre, Cyrano de Bergerac,
  • Jean Dujardin: The Artist, A View of Love
  • Josianne Balasko: The Elegance of the Hedgehog
  • Omar Sharif:  Monsieur Ibrahim
Bonsoir,

Bons films!

Stella

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Yoga Love

Goddess pose... photo source: http://www.fitsugar.com/Strike-Yoga-Pose-Goddess-3143622

Yoga is my friend.  At work, there is a free yoga program for employees over the lunch hour three times a week.  We have to meet in the library because it's the only available space.

So there we are between the stacks and Susan, our teacher is in the main row.  She moves up and down the row to demonstrate positions, quite an energetic little bundle that Susan.  We all love her of course because Susan IS love.

After Christmas, she began kicking our butts with Yang yoga which is much more demanding than Ying yoga.  I grumbled and stumbled and perspired.  I huffed and puffed and complained to my family.

Then, I surrendered because it was really the only option I had because quitting yoga is not an option.

I listen to my body, I do what it can do and a little bit more each time.  I am getting stronger and more energetic.  I am not bouncing off any surfaces but I am calmly more able to hurry to make the walk light, run up the ramp from the underground parking and up and down the stairs to get to meetings.

All my life I have resisted exercising per se.  I have dwelt in the house of: "I hate to perspire" and now here I am, looking forward to a stretch and a hold. Content with my performance, proud of my determination.

Yoga rocks.

Amitiés et bisous,

Stella

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Proud


I've just come back from the kick off of the Rendez-vous de la Francophonie at Alberta's Legislature. What a thrill it was to sing O Canada in French in the rotunda of the Legislature building.  This ceremony kicks off a series of events celebrating French language and culture in Alberta from March 9th to 25th.  March 20th is the international day of the Francophonie:
The international day of the Francophonie is celebrated annually on March 20 all around the world in more than 50 countries. Here in Canada, more than nine million Francophones will get together for the Rendez vous de la Francophonie, a two-week celebration of French culture and history. This year, celebrations of the 14th annual Rendez-vous de la Francophonie will have as their theme "Understanding builds a better future".
Two hundred and twenty five thousand people speak French in Alberta of which 70,000 are native speakers.  I am proud to be one of those.

Back in 1912, my paternal grandfather made his way first to Montreal then out west to establish a homestead in northern Alberta.  He came from a tiny town in the Champagne region of France... to establish a tiny French speaking enclave in Alberta's untamed north. 

Against all odds, French has remained strong in our Province thanks also to friends and Francophiles who have elected to learn the language.  «Understanding builds a better future» as many Canadians understand first hand.  We are all one even though we may not speak the same languages. 

Vive le Canada!

Amitiés,

Stella

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mademoiselle Chambon



I just saw this movie based on the novel by Eric Holder.  Let me come clean: I already am in awe of main character Vincent Lindon's acting prowess,  but in this movie, he breaks my already melted heart.

A really good guy, loving father who kisses his son noisily every day when he picks him up from school.  A tender son who washes his elderly father's feet, scrubbing with a soapy glove between the toes.  As a husband, he is correct but no more.

Then he meets his son's teacher and Jean, the burly maçon shows us what a man in love looks like.  If you can, rent this movie, it is as moving as Mademoiselle Chambon's violin playing.

Barbara's moving Septembre closes the movie perfectly.  Sublime.

I wouldn't kick him out of bed for eating crackers...

Bonsoir, beaux rêves,

Stella

Sunday Choucroute

This is entirely my own invention.  Try it, change it, have fun and bon appetit!

Sundays I often make a lot of food thinking it will last a few days and it never does.  Anyway... today I made a recipe that I call Choucroute (Sauerkraut).  In fact, sauerkraut is only one of the ingredients.  It's a dish that is inspired by my mother in law's choucroute which was inspired by the year or so they spent in Czechoslovakia.

When I knew her I was young and didn't give a thought to getting her recipe written down.  Too bad because it was a five star delight.

Back to my Choucroute.  I make this from fall to spring and it never fails to make my men smile.  All that pork, cabbage, onions, peppers usually make men smile doesn't it?  Here goes...


List of ingredients for a large crock pot (see photo above):

1. Pork chops without the bone - Ideally, for one row of your crock pot.  I have a large and a small one, the large one takes 6 and the small one takes 3.  These are usually 1 1/2 inch thick but it really doesn't matter how thick they are. 
2. One large onion sliced thinly
3. One half of a large green cabbage
4. Three to four cups (I buy it in a jar and strain it)
5.  Two to three peppers of different colors.  I usually use red and green but yellow and orange are what I had in the fridge . I think that green and red are tastier.
6. Salt, pepper, paprika to taste.  I sprinkle some on each layer.
7. 6 tablespoons olive oil
8. 4-6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (this deepens the flavor as does the paprika, you must add these to taste)

Assembly:

Layer the vegetables on the bottom third of the crock pot: cabbage, sauerkraut, onions, peppers and sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika to taste.
Layer pork chops over vegetables and sprinkle again with seasonings.
Repeat vegetable layer.  Spoon the olive oil and apple cider vinegar on top.
Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.  Longer tastes better.

Serve with a smile and potatoes if your people can't live without starch.  I would make it mashed potato... and a Stella Artois Beer on the side.

Good bootie shaking music!
Prepared today to the sounds of the Boat That Rocked OST. 

Although it's a mere 0 degrees today baby there's snow outside so it qualifies for Choucroute!

Bonne journée,

Stella

p.s.  Should you know something about choucroute and all its forms, I would welcome your variations on this theme or any suggestions to improve my recipe!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Something to Look Forward to

I like to have something to look forward to every few months and the next months are going to be fun.

March has Spring Break in it and that is fun enough.  I am going to visit my almost 91 year old Dad who lives alone in his house and is doing marvelously.  When I am there, I will buy a lot of locally made honey which is the best in the country.


image source: Labyrinth Lodge website
April has a retreat with my reading circle in it.  We will be heading to a lovely little place in the country called Labyrinth Lodge for a weekend of conversation, walks, good food and just a lot of FUN.  April is also V. and our son D's birthday (20th).  I want to do something special for this one.

May will see me going back to my friend Mary's for more fun and another reading circle.  We are reading Growing Pains, Emily Carr's autobiography.  Carr is a very well known Canadian artist and writer. We will then visit some of her works at the Vancouver Art Gallery.  If you do not know this artist, take the time to see some of her paintings here. More on this outing later.


image source: Emily Carr website
June is exciting because it is finally warm and the last month of work before summer holidays.  June 30th is our take off date.  What can be more exhilarating than that?
Those are the more important things to look forward to but in between, I am looking forward to delights on a smaller scale:  an evening with my sister and her family, watching movies with my beloved, meeting with my reading circle around Half the Sky (see sidebar)...

And on a micro level, I look forward to my yoga classes, feeling the satisfaction of finishing up a project at work, interacting with my posse, cuddling up with V. on weekend mornings and having more than five things to be grateful for every day.

Have a great weekend!

Bisous,

Stella