With the arrival of spring many of us emerge from our winter hibernation and enjoy entertaining friends and family again. The time of year when we long for spring flowers, pastel colours. I love the way the season delivers a license for creativity, permission to decorate tables with style, to add flowers to dishes ... to have FUN!
Here are some ideas to inspire you for your Easter and spring entertaining - enjoy !
This week I have received some really amazing comments - thank you, your generosity is overwhelming. Without you this blog would be nothing.
I realise that I am light years behind most people, but I have to tell you that I have just got to know Annie Sloane , or rather her paints. I'm certainly not an expert yet, but I have had fun painting and distressing; waxing and buffing.
I know that when you discover new prodcuts, you are meant to be sensible and try them out on small items: experiment, test and get to know. I'm just not very good at being sensble; when I have a project in mind, I simply want to throw myself at it, body, heart and soul.
So in a token gesture to Madame Annie Sloan, I practised for a couple of minutes on an old egg cup and then threw caution to the winds, the egg cup to the bin and turned my attention to a dresser which was quickly transformed with a coat of Graphite.
The rather wonderful thing is that I don't have to drive half way across France to find these beautiful chalk paints. I've made the aquaintance of a charming Claire. Also British, living in Brittany and stockist for Annie Sloane paints. Claire has a flower and paint shop and if you ask nicely she'll pop the paints and wax into a sturdy box to be delivered to your door ASAP!
She even holds workshops! One day soon I shall be packing a sandwich, and a map, and driving to deepest Brittany to meet her, and learn first hand the tricks of the chalk paint trade.
So if you are lucky enough to be in Brittany this summer, then stop off at les Couronnes Sauvages, have a chat with Claire and book yourself into a day course so you can go home and single handedly repaint your house in those wonderful Annie Sloane colours.
The spring has got me back onto a horse after a too long winter pause. I am very lucky to have found some new riding companions, although, alarmingly, they are all much younger than me. Hmmm...
It has got me thinking. There were days when I would gallop around the valley with the best of them, up and down steep hills, take part in trek competitions, show jump ... there were days ....
Today I still love to ride, as someone famous once said "it is amazing how much good the outside of a horse can do to the inside of a man" or in this case woman. I love their smell, I love that you can't lie to a horse, that he will pick up on your slightest mood change. If the rider is relaxed, happy and confident then so is the horse, and magical things take place.
So while I was riding with two young women last week, we went past a long alley, and I looked down to the far end wistfully. "Wow, the gallops I've had here, the rides I've been on in this forest, especially with my girls, .... ". I turned to look at my companions, expecting I think to see looks of indulgence and maybe even pity on their faces. But no, their smiles were happy, they were sharing in my pleasure. Dare I say there was a hint of admiration. Then one said, "When I was a teenager, I would have loved to have ridden with my mum".
How sweet was that!
And then I got it. Maturing gracefully is not about regrets for things we no longer feel up to. It's about adapting, finding new pleasures and simply being grateful for ever having had the chance to do the other stuff, the more daring stuff, more dangerous even.
To celebrate this new found wisdom, I ended the ride with a lovely long canter, punctuated with a couple of jumps over fallen trees, yes!
To each age its pleasure, and when some pleasures can be shared between generations then that is just a big fat bonus.
This week I introduced a girlfriend to the world of blogging. Just like me a couple of years ago, she had never visited a blog ... she didn't understand what they were about.... or why she would read one ......
It didn't take long for her to be hooked!
I set up some links on her computer, explained to her the basics, introduced her to my favourites and then left her to it. The real fun, after all, is finding your own way around.
I bumped into her again at the end of the week and could hardly get a word in; she had so much to say "do you know this one? did you see what that girl did in Australia? I love that German lady's pictures...."
I smiled and nodded wisely, enjoying her pleasure, and then she threw it at me ... "these people are so talented, but what were they doing before blogging?!!"
"Um,, euh ... duh ...." ..... I couldn't answer!
We take it for granted today that we can run our own little blogs. Our place to share, to shout our joys, to whisper our pleasures, and sometimes our fears.
Some are good with a camera, others work magic with words, some show us their homes, others their take on fashion. It feels like each blogger is running their own magazine where they are the editor, photographer, journalist, marketing manager and chief coffee maker.
The readers who stop by make it all worth while. Those that leave comments are taking an active role, and those who just read silently also contribute their share of statistics and 'hits'; so gratifying to every blogger.
So what did we do before the dawn of blogs? We worked of course, we cared for our families, we enjoyed and embellished our homes, but how did we share all that? Or didn't we need to?
What has blogging replaced? Where did this need to show and tell come from? How much of the enjoyment is pure voyeurism? To someone like myself, who lives quietly in a small village, blogging has totally changed my horizon. From this computer in the middle of nowhere, I have the privilege of reaching thousands of people.
When I take pictures of the valley, I procure real pleasure because I love the countryside here, and everyday beauty thrills me. That pleasure is heightened through sharing. It isn't showing off, simply increasing enjoyment by letting others enjoy the same stuff.
A new thing is happening too with e-magazines. Many bloggers feel confident enough to create monthly or two-monthly magazines, filled with fantastic pictures and great information. Would they have ever done that without the trampoline of a blog?
Not long from now, and probably already, sociologists will be teaching classes on 'the dawn of blogging and how it changed (the role of women in) society' .......
I don't really have the answers here, but I'd love to know what you think. Whether you have your own blog, or whether you read other blogs, or both, you are probably spending some time in front of a screen. Where have you taken this time from? How has the growth of the blogging community changed your everyday life?
A lot of questions for a Sunday - forgive me!
Here the sun is bright, the day is shorter since we went on to summer time
during the night, so I must get busy! :)
Thank you for reading me, and thank you for your wonderful comments
which inspire me to continue blogging
PS. Thank you to Bob (one of my very favourite commenters!) , in the comment below, and to whom I cannot reply because his email address doesn't show. A big thank you to my men readers, I am lucky to have you stop by! Sorry if I sound like I am talking to women only. I'm not, but it is true today that most of the blogs I read are written by women. Here however is a shout out for my favourite 'masculine' blogs and sites
The first thing to push its way through the ground in our potager is the rhubarb. Deep red stalks full of promise and abundance.
I love rhubarb compote but also tarts, and best of all when associated with strawberries, conveniently in season at the same time.
Here is a yummy and ridiculously easy recipe for a wonderful strawberry and rhubarb tart.
To make the tart or tarts you will need
about 8 oz of fresh rhubarb,
sugar to taste,
1 lemon ,
12 oz of strawberries and
enough pastry for a tart mould or for 8 small moulds,
Buy or make your favourite sweet pastry and line the tart tin, either a long rectangular or round mould or several individual moulds. Pre-bake the pastry, blind to begin with (covered with parchment paper and weighted down) then finished off for a few minutes to golden brown.
Make a rhubarb compote by cutting the rhubarb into small pieces and cooking with sugar until soft. Check the sweetness once cooled. Rhubarb tends to need a lot of sugar but I can't give a precise quantity. It's up to you to taste your rhubarb and find the sweetness you like best.
Wash and hull the srawberries then cut into long slices or into half. Reseve a handful of strawberries and whizz them in your mixer with a little sugar and lemon juice.
When the pastry is cooked and cooled, lift it from it's baking tray onto the serving platter. Gently spoon the rhubarb compote into the pastry case, but don't put in so much that it overflows.
Carefully position the strawberries all over the rhubarb in neat lines or circles and serve the tart with the pink red strawberry coulis in a small side bowl to accompany. If you wish to add a little vanilla ice cream, it's good too.
This is a lovely fresh dessert, making use of fruit that is freshly picked and in season, so at its best.
Gibson is beyond excited today to show you his amazing new trick and ALSO to show you the first in his range of couture pooch pads!
Young Gibson has finally found his true calling - he is a horse handler!! Every time we go to get the horses from the field he now insists on grabbing the lead rein and bringing one of them back to the house.
He is so proud of himself it's shameful !!
Iris is an exceptionally understanding and patient pony (most of the time) so that helps, but they are still pretty cute don't you think?!
So back to the cushions, if you are interested you can find them listed individually in the store, but basically they have been made to fit around standard rectangular bed pillows. The small size takes one pillow the big-boy size takes two.
I'll be taking orders for pillows with your choice of name incorporated into the logo if desired.
Each of the cushions is made from old burlap grain sack and backed with vintage ticking. I hope you like them!
Love these pictures and their relaxed shabby chic feel. Careful colour palette, mix of old and new furnishings, the sort of unpretentious, family-friendly look that I feel totally comfortable with.
The flat is actually in Brooklyn, decorated and lived in by an English family, who put the look together themselves on a shoe string. The mum is obviously a design whizz, if her site, White Rabbit England, is anything to go by
This is about each person having their space in the colours they want; about the family getting together over lunch and checking their geography lessons :) and about enjoying a light, high ceiling flat with space to entertain.
Just tell me ... who ever said that a beautiful home had to cost a fortune?!
Hope you are enjoying your week, I am out and about today but I'll be back tomorrow with more goodies to show you ... and your dogs.
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Welcome to my French country home.
We love our old French house. It's a joy to entertain here, to fill the house with family and friends. Good food, beautiful countryside, bits and pieces found in local brocantes, children, dogs, horses, all this in a deep green valley in the heart of Normandy.
All material on this blog is mine unless stated otherwise. If you'd like to use or publish anything you find here, please contact me, credit My French Country Home and kindly link back to this blog. Thank you!