29 October 2013

Chrysanthemums for remembrance

 Outside of the supermarkets big and small are pots & pots of  Chrysanthemums for sale
 in all of the lovely colours, which are bought  and then placed on the graves
 of their loved ones,.in remembrance for 'All  Saints day'

All over France this time of the year you can see masses of Chrysanthemums in pots,
 as beautiful floral decorations in the towns and cities and on the roundabouts.


In France
Chrysanthemums are never given as a gift to anyone,
 and you rarely see them planted in the gardens.
In the first village I lived in I soon learnt it wasn't the done thing
 to use them as a floral decoration outside my front door.

These lovely arrangements are in our local church.
This one amongst many others was in the entrance area.

 in front of the alter.

This was my favourite.

After our visit inside the beautifully decorated church we had a wander around the market stalls.

and I couldn't resist snapping this little fellow
 who seemed  to be on guard 
at a market stall.

I hope you liked seeing how the French people use
Chrysanthemums for remembrance.

à bientôt
Barbara Lilian

22 October 2013

Mr. France is making Bread .

Although it's me who does all  the day to day cooking and baking
When Mr France decides to cook, he always chooses  much more adventurous recipes than I do.
 Especially now he's showing his talents in baking.
He'd said he wanted to learn to cook/bake, so our daughter bought him a recipe book

'Cook with Jamie'
Jamie Oliver.
which he always uses.

and  he never chooses what I call simple things to bake. like a sponge cake.
The 1st. cake he ever made was an American cheesecake, it was delicious,

This last week he made a heavenly Rich Chocolate Rum & Almond Cake.
recipe by Rachel Allen
thankfully it's a cake that keeps well, so we could limit our selves to small slices
and save the rest for afternoon tea and cake when visitors popped in.

We've seen several cooking programmes on TV where they used Kitchen Aid mixers,
with a hook attachment to make bread. Mr France liked the idea and said
 'I could make bread, if we had a mixer like that '
 Thinking this could just be a fad and knowing how expensive the machine was,
 I asked did he realise how much this mixer cost..?

Our friends were going back to England for a few months and asked if we'd like to borrow their bread machine to see if Mr France would actually enjoy making bread.
  He gave the machine a try during the winter months but was never satisfied with the finished result.

A few weeks later we had a publicity catalogue delivered in our post box
advertising a special offer on Kitchen Aid Mixers.This was too good an offer to let slip by.
We read the description and decided we would choose the red model, which had an even better reduction .
Evidently red mustn't have been a very popular colour in France.

So we got ourselves a real bargain.

and now he's making bread.

This is the flour he uses, all the measurements and instructions are on the packet.
This mornings bread had a slightly different texture & I commented on it
He said 'he'd just tweaked the recipe a little to make it easier to handle'
I'm loving this New 'Mr France'.

So our nice red mixer has pride of place on the work top in our kitchen area..
and Mr France is using it regularly to make our bread.
We do pop to 'La Boulangerie' now & again for a crusty baguette.

I'm setting myself a challenge to do  more watercolour painting and sketches.
This is my impression

of  Mr France's freshly baked  Pain Multi Céréales.

à bientôt

Barbara Lilian

13 October 2013

My ornamental Orange plant

I have to thank my Mr France for getting this house plant to look as good as this.

Most of my house plants are nothing special.
I have lots of Chlorophytum / the common Spider plant, 
and several Bridgessi / Christmas cactus, along with a few Begonia - erthrophylla. 
Plants that almost look after themselves, helped  with the occasional watering. 
I'm more of an outdoor gardener.

Botanic name
Calamondin  Orange

Two years ago we were given this ornamental Citrus plant, 
which came with an abundance of flowers and fruit.  
I did my usual occasional watering, watched the new flowers come and go, 
but never turn into fruit. 
As I've said before if plants die on me, I never feel it's a disaster.

However Mr France was not happy with how it was looking so he took charge and bought a special feed for Citrus type plants and hey ho what a difference.  He's been counting all the flowers which gradually turned into little green fruit, and have grown now bigger & bigger. I know he's feeling quite proud of himself, as he took these photos,  and giving me a telling off, for neglecting this plant.

After all the tender loving care Mr France has given this plant,
Unfortunately these juicy looking fruits can't be eaten.  they are only ornamental.
but he's done a very job, don't you think ?

Now I'm back into my painting mode, I was looking through all the things I'd done 
and found this little watercolour painting of a lavender field, 
it was my very first  effort.

I think I've made a big improvement since then.

From now on, I think I'll stick to the outdoor garden & keep trying to improve my painting.
  and leave the indoor plants to Mr France.

à bientôt
Barbara Lilian

06 October 2013

Working at my potting bench.

I don't usually do another post so soon. but just had to share what I saw 
while I was working at my potting bench this morning .
take a close look at these pictures 
What can you see in each one ?

I apologise for the poor focus.
I had my camera out taking a few shots of a corner we are planning on making some changes to,
grabbed the camera to catch the lizard as he was just climbing out of the trough,
thinking he would slither away as soon as I clicked the shutter. As you can see he hung around popping in and out of the wreaths on the warm stone wall, stopping to do a spot of sunbathing. 

He must have spotted  something ! 

he disappeared for a moment
then I saw him on the paving slabs
 he shot out his tongue and grabbed it !

A nice juicy insect for lunch.

I was supposed to be potting up cuttings at my bench
but couldn't resist a few moments distraction.

Just in case you're wondering , I did finish potting them  later.

Enjoy your weekend what ever you're doing.

à bientôt
Barbara Lilian

05 October 2013

Autumn colours in my garden

I hate having to put plants on the compost heap when they are still flowering
but they are all past their best, 
so I've been busy in my garden emptying the baskets and troughs.

October is here and we are now in the season of Autumn,
 but this year our weather doesn't feel like Autumn yet, as we are still enjoying warm sunshine
although the days are getting shorter
The  grapes on the vine over the pergola in front of La Petite Maison 
have not been so good this year. So we have left them for the birds to eat.
I did trim off some of the vine and twisted some into a rough garland and hung it on the door.
I've made some others which I'll  keep to decorate for Christmas.

I love the colours of this Virginia creeper.
( Parthenocissus Quinquefolia)
 it's made up of five oval leaflets


Now that all our summer visitors have left, I have more time to myself.
I've been reading my art books, and following my favourite painting blogs.
One in particular is  Ronelle Van Wyk she inspired me to take up watercolour painting.
At the moment she is showing some fantastic paintings using oil paint.
It was 2. yrs. ago after I had been on a visit to the Provence that I found her blog
and especially like the style she has using watercolour paints.

It's been raining most of the day today, so it was a good opportunity
 to get out my paints and  practise some technics which I'm trying so hard to master.
  . Also I'd seen some splatter painting, which I've never done before, so gave that I try.

I'm quite pleased with my first effort for the autumn colours.
but maybe I should have tried the splatter technic  on a  piece of scrap paper first !
Oh well as the saying goes, 'we learn by our mistakes !'

à bientôt

Barbara Lilian