Friday, August 30, 2013

Joy


Our neighbor Robert says our balcony shouldn't be without flowers... Yesterday morning he was standing at our door with these.
Robert has cancer and is presently undergoing chemotherapy.  He is joy on two legs, a renaissance man with a heart as big as he is tall.

Stella

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Renovations

Renovations planned and unplanned are taking place at our little apartment.  Planned is the taking down of the closet in the master bedroom because it is badly placed.  Bought and delivered on Friday is the armoire that will take the place of the aforementioned closet.

Not the armoire of my dreams because it is a mere 35 or 40 years old.  The really beautiful and ornate armoires are TOO tall for modern buildings.  Nobody tells you that, oh no...   So you go out to the brocante with your heart full of scrolled peaked armoires and realize you would need a step stool to hang your clothes!

Here is a picture of the chosen armoire.  Chosen for it's height and width and color and bits of scroll work here and there  but without the peaky top.  It is a three door armoire and we have to refit each section with a bar on which to hang our clothes.  I'm thinking 2 parts for me and one for V.


Granted, this armoire is cute and will fit perfectly in our space.  I'm grateful and happy with our purchase.  Here is a picture of the armoire of my dreams...

Lovely, but we would have to have sawn off the feet or the peak...  NOT!

Now, we just have to get our armoire up the stairs.  No problem!  It comes apart by lifting off the top! Isn't that clever?

Stella-the-designer

Monday, August 26, 2013

Fresh Figs for Breakfast

I am making fig confit today.  It will be served atop a sliver of foie gras on top of small toasts.

Stella-la-gastronome

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mornings in Provence

Town center

This was a dress shop last year.  This year it's for rent.
 V. and I took a little walk through town this morning.  A few things have changed since last year.  Businesses closed, others opened.  I made an appointment with the Institut de Beauté for a pedicure, stopped by the Poissonnerie for some Coquille St-Jacques and looked at the prices of real estate.

There are still a lot of tourists in town.  I notice a lot of babies and toddlers and I wonder if it's because of my recent experience as a great aunt... The market was packed solid yesterday.  Traffic jams abounded in the main alley.  I saw Stéphane the saucisson man and the cheese lady and the olive man.  They are a fixture in our little town's Tuesday market.  We sat and enjoyed a beer on the square at an old but newly named bar and people-watched.

As we made our short way home down the narrow, steeped street that is ours, I felt the possibilities of nine weeks stretched out in front of me and I liked it.

Stella-en-Provence

Monday, August 19, 2013

Settling Down

Having a beer at Le Modern Bar after the brocante

It always takes about 4 or 5 days to settle down.  Deal with the jet lag, get the digestive system back in order (air plane food and travel stress), and land, really land in France, as in: get used to the car and the roads and the food and the singing tones of the native speakers and kissing on two cheeks instead of reaching out a hand for a shake.

Today we went to the new supermarket just outside of town.  It is small, clean and has about 80% of what we need.  Normally, we have to drive to the next town or to Brignoles, the closest city, to shop at Leclerc which is a really big supermarket like Superstore that we have back home.

V. has to go to Brignoles this afternoon to pay for our condo fees and see SFR (our ADSL provider) about some difficulties we are experiencing with our receiver.  We've never had difficulties with this before but I suspect that the arrival of digital TV, our box is almost obsolete.  Nobody forewarned us about this, it's our job to discover, diagnose and relate this to the person at the store who will then try to guess what the problem is, write a little report and order a new box.  

While in Brignoles, V. also has to pick up  items at Leclerc.  My poor lamb has been dealing with what we believe may be an abscess since our departure from Canada. It hasn't been easy for him but he is rallying.  He visited his dentist the day before he left and luckily was given a prescription for antibiotics as the dentist could not really tell what his problem was.  We have found a dentist in town and V. will be visiting soon.

Tomorrow is market day and our friends and their friends are coming for lunch.  I'll be making orzo and roasted veg. salad and smoked salmon with creme fraiche and dill on blinis.  The rest: cheese, cantaloupe, olives, we will get at the market.

Have a good day!

Stella

Saturday, August 17, 2013

We are Home

After 23 hours from door to door, we are finally home. We did have a small but really fun detour.  As we had tenants staying at our apartment, we stayed with a friend overnight.  It's so good to see really good friends... even after a year, we took up where we left off and never looked back.

So, I'm writing you from our living room at Stella.  Feet propped on the coffee table, having a glass of spring water from the fountain on our street, a fan pointed directly at me, I'm in a very good place to tell you how things are.

After lunch, I climbed over the the railing and with my feet in the stream that flows in front of our balcony, I did a little cleaning out of dead branches and weeds.  Pruned the bay tree too. It's a little cleaner but not clean enough.  I have to sweep the leaves that fell last winter and jump onto my neighbor's property and cut those horrible brambles that grow below the stone wall.  They are the worse I tell you!  Where I come from, there aren't many brambles around.  The very first time I stayed here in 1999, I thought they were blackberries!!

Anyhow, after one 14 hour sleep and another 12 hour sleep, I am feeling myself again.  After spending a few hours putting the apartment to rights, I am just about ready to step out and become a part of the goings-on outside our apartment. Although I must tell you that the gardens look very sorry indeed.  We will have to spend a couple of days setting it to rights.

More from la Provence verte later.

Stella


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Distant Hours

I finished reading this book in about four days.  It is longish, 560 pages on Kindle, about 80 pages too long because of some rambling on. BUT, in true Kate Morton style, she keeps you reading and reading to find out more about the three Blythe sisters living in a castle in Kent.
If you like mystery, then you are in for a treat.  Narrator and central character Edith Burchill's mother was evacuated from London as a child and ended up spending over a year with the Blythe sisters.  Her mother is tight-lipped about her stay there and there have been two suspicious deaths and one disappearance linked to the Blythe family.  Will Edith get the answers she is seeking in order to understand the Blythe story and consequently, her mother? 
 There's some good writing in this literary suspense that keeps you trucking despite its long-windedness. If you happen to see it on a bookshelf, grab it, a long cool drink and sit on your patio/deck for a summer mystery treat.

To find out more about Kate Morton, visit her website here.

Stella-the-sleuth

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Three Sleeps

Last night we launched our new deck with a supper for four of our friends.  After a flurry of house-cleaning and cooking, we settled to a warm evening outdoors with the sounds of Diana Krall in the back ground.  Diana Krall provides a good background to entertaining in general.

Anyhow, here was the menu:

Homemade cheese straws (Barefoot Contessa recipe)
Great Mistake olives (stuffed with almonds and sitting in sun-dried tomatoes)
Rosée wine from the Château d'Astos (45 minutes from where we live in France)

Filet Mignon with blue cheese butter recipe here
Roasted potatoes (from the Best of Bridge)
Tian of Provencal vegetables (Laura Calder Recipe)

Green salad with dill, walnuts and walnut oil dressing from Laura Calder's French Cooking at Home
Cheese platter (Etorki, Morbier, Bleu de Bresse) with grapes and almonds


Coconut cream pie from the Duchess Bake Shop (completely and utterly fantastically delicious!)

Before we leave for France, I will post pictures of our new deck.

Bon dimanche,

Stella



Thursday, August 8, 2013

Done

1. Deck - done
2. Visit to Dad - done
3. Reading Circle potluck - done
4. I'm done.

Love,

Stella

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Keep Your Child Alive

I embrace this thought wholeheartedly and invite you to do so as well!

Bon dimanche,

Stella

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Outdoor Renovations - Year one

Since we bought our home in France five years ago we have neglected our yard and our deck.  There just wasn't any energy or time to deal with them.  Now that we are retired, we have begun a three year plan of our outdoor renovations.

So far, the gutters have been replaced, the back fence facing the road has been replaced, and work on the new deck is well on its way.

In fact, the new deck has been an ongoing project for a month now.  The demolition of the old deck, the disposal of the wood (still not all gone) and the new construction have me on pins and needles.  I can't wait for it to be over and I cannot believe it has taken this long.

Old deck demolition, railing already ripped out.
My two men hard at it.
Our boy D. is a conscientious worker. 
Making holes for the deck supports

A lot of clay in the foreground from the hole digging.  See the
huge pile of wood from the deck and the back fence?
Back yard faces south



Having said that, our carpenter Andres is an real artisan, a man who works slowly but steadily and especially, meticulously.  What a gift it is to hire someone who works really well!   Will give you another update next weekend and then we'll be off to France for 10 weeks!

More on the new deck to come!

Bonne journée,

Stella