Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Around the House

Sister D.'s Marais des bois thriving in the strawberry pot
Planted this apple tree 24 years ago in honor of our first born
Brenda's sour cherries
Goat Weed has a pretty flower
The honeysuckle has taken root
Wood from our and Sister D's properties for winter fires
In between
I think this little one is hot too
It's a sweltering 31 degrees outside and I can only stand being there 20 minutes at a time so I took my camera.

Hot-hot-hot-Stella

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Eton Mess

Here's a new (to me) dessert that is perfect after a light summer meal.  This recipe hails from England.

1. Make a compote of about 6 sticks of rhubarb, 1-2 cups of halved strawberries, 1/2 lemon of juice and its peel.  Sweeten to taste (I used about 1/2 cup of Palm sugar).  Cook 15 minutes on low heat in a heavy pan.  Cool on the counter and put in the fridge.
2. Make or buy meringues.
3. When ready to serve, whip heavy cream (about 1 cup), adding vanilla and icing sugar to taste.  Break up meringues into the whipped cream.
4. In a glass or bowl, spoon rhubarb and strawberry compote and alternate with meringue-enriched whipping cream.  Makes 4-6 servings.
5. ENJOY!  We certainly did.

My friend tells me she does her rhubarb compote with orange juice and peel.  I threw in a few cardamom pods for taste.  Next time, I will extract the seeds for more flavour.

Have a great Sunday!

Stella

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Meet Pierre-Paul RB

Pierre-Paul has been visiting with his cousin Penelope and is headed back to France soon,  where he will rejoin his family.
Pierre-Paul is enjoying the cooler summer, the maple syrup and local honey.  He cuts a dashing figure doesn't he?  We have told him that he might consider wearing shorts but he is very attached to his velvet pants. In the south of France where he comes from, it's 35 degrees right now so our climes are a little chilly for him.

He laughs as easily as he naps and that is often. He has a fondness for rabbits, naturally and is quite the athlete.  Rock climbing, diving, swimming in lakes, rivers and seas are amongst his favorite sports.  Aside from that, he plays a mean game of spoons!

Other than that, he's just a very nice guy and the fact that he is rather handsome only makes him more endearing.

We will miss him.

Stella

Sunday, July 20, 2014

When do You Know You Have Arrived?

Today, on Corey's post, she asks: How do you find your way?  My answer to her blog post spurred this one.

When I arrive at Marignane airport, it's the herb-y, resiny smell of Provence that welcomes. Then, when the Mont Sainte-Victoire appears to my left, I am really on my way. The Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine de Saint-Maximin where Mary Magdalene's remains are said to reside, is another milestone further on.
Then,  after the hairpin curve, then, when the three parasol pines, stand, majestic on my right, I am only kilometers away from home. At the sign that proclaims 1600 years of rosé wine making in my area, although I haven't stepped through the door yet, I know I have arrived.


photo via www.beyond.fr
The drive from the airport is a little over and hour but is always a pleasure, at least until the turn off the Provençale to Brignoles when suddenly, I become impatient to get home. By this time, the 20+ hours of travel are kicking in and I have to remind myself to be in the moment, open a window and breathe.  Then the comments come: "It really is beautiful isn't it? I mean, it's not just us, others have said the same, that this place is magical, enchanting, soul nurturing."

Six years we've been coming here, to the magical place and it doesn't get old. My soul sings here, my body vibrates with the energy here.  I drink the water from the fountain across the street, the sunshine on my balcony and from the deep, deep well of joy that resides in my heart.

Stella-with-stars-in-her-eyes

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Cleaning a Crawl Space/Treasure-Hunting

If you asked me what activities I do not like to engage in, I would answer: solving the Rubic's Cube, reading the Income Tax Act, playing Bridge, running and now, I would add: cleaning a crawl space.

We've been readying for a garage sale for what seems to be forever.  First we had to clean the garage, then set up our new gardening shed, then, we had to clean the crawl space.  This last activity has me panting and sweating hard.  Picture this: you are on your knees or crouching while tugging, pulling and lifting boxes containing anything from canning jars to toys to books (V's got about 25-30 boxes of books and papers that we will not talk about today).

We've been at it every other day or so for what it seems like 2 weeks.  I could honestly tell you that we are not more than 75% through.  V. is doing his own boxes at a later date...

There is nothing more discouraging that a mountain of junk buried beneath the house in cramped, dark quarters.

I did however, discover treasures worth mentioning here:

1. Prismacolor crayon sets - two of them, one for each son.  I have since started coloring and enjoy it very much.

2. This old figurine which V. assures me is very precious.  Unfortunately Marguerite has had her head glued back on and is missing a flower in her basket.

 3. I've rediscovered another family heirloom, this cup and saucer made by Rosenthal in the 1920s.  The pattern is called Jsolde and we have 3 cups and one saucer left from a tea set.


You have to know that the few pieces that we have survived a war, a nighttime escape from Czechoslovakia to Austria in 1948(V. was a wee lad and had to be drugged so he wouldn't speak Romanian when they got to the train), a refugee camp, a move to the south of France, a boat ride to Canada and a move from Montreal to Alberta.  They are a testament to the human spirit...

Love,

Stella-the-treasure-hunter

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Book Review: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

 Finished reading this summer's reading circle selection last night and it left me suspended in thin air.  Good, good read about real-life abolitionist Sarah Grimké and her sister Nina in a historical novel including fictional Hetty-Handful, the slave that Sarah befriends.

The novel's chapters alternate between Sarah and Handful thus giving us a vivid poignant and colorful look into each woman's life and the differences and similarities between the two.

Sarah is white, privileged, cooped-up in her souped-up Charleston mansion and imprisoned by her femininity.  Handful, well, you can imagine her life at the mansion.  Handful is very talented at sewing, a craft she has honed at her mother, Charlotte's side.  Charlotte is a master quilter and in her few minutes of free time each day, stitches together the story of her life in a quilt that will be central to Handful's his-story.

I took my time reading this book, not something that I normally do with a book I like.  This novel, like a fine liqueur is meant to be savored,  but not just that, I found I had to stop after a few chapters because "it was enough".

This is the best of the several Monk Kidd novels I've read: The Mermaid's Chair, The Secret Life of Bees and Traveling with Pomegranates. The author outdoes herself with this one, the language, so evocative of the south, so sensual and rich it is almost like reading poetry and the story, well, the story is believable and well-imagined.  The author did extensive research on the Grimké sisters but had to fill in many gaps.  She did this admirably, creating a story that is at once informative and spell-binding.

I give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Stella-the-critic

Sumertime

And the weather was easy, reaching 29 degrees Celsius yesterday.  I lazed around a bit, recorded the beauty on the deck with my new camera. It was my birthday, and everything was just as near perfect as it could be.  Weather, friends, family, food, bubbly, cake, laughs, stories, Facebook birthday greetings, a call from our boy in Chicago and a thoughtful, appropriate gift from D. our youngest.









Life is good.

Love,

Stella