Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Nous vivons une époque moderne - 2

… we are living a modern era, and to prove that I am not a Grinch, here is a Christmas gift:

Monday, 23 December 2013

Xmas spirit

If you know me, you know how I feel about Xmas…

Still, I’m trying my best to participate.  We have our Xmas tree (and it is losing its needles which makes the decorations fall of the branches…).  We also put 2 wreathes at the door. got my poinsettia, hanged my redwork from a few years ago…

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but honestly we are way out of our league. Our neighbours are doing so much more…

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Next year, we will have to up our game.  I think I might start invest in lights, inflatable Santa as soon as we are back.

Wishing you all a Merry Xmas and all the best for the New Year.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

PJ party

From this:

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to this

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4 pairs of pj for sale.

You will excuse the following silliness of the pictures: I don’t have money to pay professional models, and I have uncooperative kids!

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The pattern is from this book IMG_2144 in size 13 (whatever is means in Japanese sizes) which is a 8-10 UK size.  All 100% cotton and sewed with love.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Thanksgiving – another first

This was supposed to be posted some time ago, but I had a technical glitch!

After our first football game, first Halloween (which I have not blogged about; which is a shame because I have some pretty pictures), first Veteran day celebration (another miss for the blog, but some pictures are on Flick), we had our first Thanksgiving in the States.

Thanks to our friends who invited us (or we invited ourselves!). We had a great day; a really great day.  No snow, but a somewhat cool day. We prepared the meal all together by sharing their kitchen, our recipes, as if we had done this hundreds of times.

Do you have friends that you see infrequently, but you feel that you're taking the conversation from where you last left it?  It was like that, meeting their kids for the first time, and enjoying their company like they were some very close family.

And of course, the food!  The traditional and unavoidable turkey with the stuffing and the sides. A bit of French tradition with the cheese.  And a pumpkin pie (the second I baked with salted pecan brittle and whipped cream).

Thanksgiving in Miami

So, yes, I'm thankful for great friends, for an easy going day.  I think I'm going to like this American holiday and it may reconcile me with Xmas time and the end of the year fuss.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Pinterest finds

… where I found that not everything on Pinterest is worth trying.

Juliette was on ‘snacks duty’ a few weeks ago.  The school’s guideline are simple: healthy snacks, no doughnuts.

Last time, she was on snacks duty, we bake some oat meal and chocolate chips cookies – after discussion with her class mates, they were approved as healthy.

So we made these: Inside out caramel apple.

Well, it looks good on the screen, but the result was somehow disappointing.  I don’t know whether that was the caramel that went wrong, the sprinkles Juliette wanted to add or just me no following the recipe properly… but the result was not good… almost bad :-(

Snack Day

According to Juliette, most of the apples went to the bin.

So this week, I played safe and baked one of our trusted cupcake recipe: Banana and chocolate chips cupcakes.  Juliette argued that they might no be healthy, so I made the calculation and one bit size cupcake is worth 70 calories, far less than the plain bagels (390 calories) that the class had earlier this week.

Snacks

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Yarn snob or connoisseur

I think I’m turning into a yarn snob :-)

When I started knitting, I was very happy, taken with ‘branded’ yarns.  Sublime, Debbie Bliss, Rowan, Bergère de France… I knew what to expect.  I made quite a few successful baby knits with Sublime and Debbie Bliss.

But with time, I started experimenting with new treasures:

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  • Metalico by Blue Sky Alpacas: 50% baby alpaca, 50% silk, it is soooo soft, soooo light.  Give me winter so I can wear my scarf.
  • Scrumptious (4 ply and Aran) by Fyberspates: I’ll show you soon what I have done with the Aran. The 4ply went into a shawl/scarf with autumn (fall!) colour.
  • Madelinetosh: Effortless was my first project with Madelintosh yarn, a dream to knit, but the fabric loosen up a bit to much after blocking.
  • Soyeuse by La Droguerie: it is probably as soft as the Metalico, I’m in love with the colour somewhere between teal and blue Tiffany. Another nice little shawl.
  • Nordique by St Denis: I knitted Juneberry.  The yarn is a bit dry and therefore the pattern shows very clearly and it blocked well.  I just wish I had made it larger.
  • Luxury DK from Shilasdair: I bought 2 skeins of this warm variegated red and use only one for this test knit: Leaves on the line. The pattern initially called for fingering, but I think that the shawl has a nice hanging in DK, and the nuances are very subtle.
  • Heritage Silk Paints from Cascade Yarns: that’s my latest acquisition.  Another variegated yarn from night blue to peacock blue, 85% Merino, 15% Silk.  I’m planning on making a stole with beads, maybe this Magic Carpet Ride.
  • and then, I have some more Madelintosh and Oxford Kitchen Yarns. So far, with not other purpose than being stroked and enjoyed for their colour.

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Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Re-stashing

… I know this title is misleading, it assumes that I had de-stashed before I re-stash…

but it’s only a question of vocabulary…

A few months ago, I made some PJs for the girls.  Alice must have been wearing them extensively, and now she has some orders from her friends.  So before my parents and the kids arrive, I need to sew a couple of them.

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What do you think? I quite like the different combinations.  Time to sew, sew, sew…

( ^ _ – )

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Nous vivons une époque moderne

… we’re living a modern era or did I land in a parallel world.

Here’s what I mean – and, I would recommend NOT to read or watch this if you are of a sensitive nature, you’ve been warned.

Thanks to a friend who share this on her FB page.

I looked up the product on line and incredible, but this is a real product!  What to think? The ad is funny, that’s for sure… but I’m thinking that’s another thing to make us consume, more waste, pollution… hum, I guess I don’t know how to phrase my point of view…

And now to this one

Honestly, more stuff to consume, to through away, to pollute…

There must be other way.  Isn’t it interesting that the ‘hygiene’ angle is used to make us buy these?  Honestly, I’ve lived all my life with none of these products, and I don’t think I’m gross or smelly or disgusting… I remember avoiding baby wipes for my kids': think about the chemicals, think about the extra waste, think about the artificial perfume… No thank you!

Voilà that’s me ranting and discovering my new world (^ _ -)

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Super chewy chocolate chips cookies

Second day in my kitchen…

I was feeling a bit low today.  In such a case, my go-to remedy, with immediate effect, is baking… and Juliette had asked for chocolate chips cookies this morning on the way to school.

I found the recipe to one of my preferred cooking blog: The View from the Great Island.  The recipe calls for almond butter which I did not have, so I substitute it with chocolate hazelnut butter, hence the chocolaty colour.  I buy peanut/almonds butter from Whole Foods or the Fresh Market, but I’m sure you can found some in any health/organic shops around the world.

Flourless hazelnuts butter cookies

They are super simple to bake (5 ingredients only), and they are super chewy; just let them cool down enough and transfer them very delicately as they have the tendency to crumble.

The recipe is here, but you can also find some variation here and there.

What else to do I need to fight the crankiness? Hugs from my kids! 17 more days before Alice and Victor arrive.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Dans ma cuisine

In my kitchen!

A couple of days ago, as I was chatting with my Mum on Skype, she asked me what we were eating since we arrived in the States. I heard a hint of worry in her voice; I could almost see what was in her mind: States = Fast food + processed food + soda + lots of temptations.  Although I understand her question, I might mentioned that I’m still the one cooking ;-)

So here a few things that have been cooking recently in my kitchen:

From this book, The Meat Free Monday (and if you are interested and don’t want to buy the book just yet, there’s a website: MeatFreeMonday)

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Pepper Pockets (for Juliette and her dad’s lunch boxes) and Lentil Stew with Pan-fried Halloumi

From my own inspiration:

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Autumn (Fall) Soup with chunky veg's and sausages – Summer Salad (previously seen here)

The next one might have my Mum worried:

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Pumpkin Muffins with Maple Syrup Glazing (excuse #1: there’s pumpkin puree everywhere, I had to try), Grand-Mother style banana and raspberry cake (excuse #2: I had over ripped bananas) and Chocolate Brownies stuffed Reeves (excuse #3: it was for Juliette’s Maths homework, and to be fair we shared it with her class and my Pilates instructor).

Tonight it is only leftover of mashed potatoes and stuffed tomatoes.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Football not soccer

First thing first, YES, we have our furniture. And YES, it feels very good.  We still have a few boxes of book (30 or so of them), but this should be addressed this week-end.

So now, I have some blog-catching up to do.

Last Friday, we went to our first American Football game at Juliette’s school.

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I did not quite get the rules.  Our side was in black, that I got.  And those players are ‘massive’, or is it the armour they wearing!

However, I did not expect so much actions around the game: the band, the Cheer Leaders…

American football game

I don’t know who won, we left earlier.  Juliette was not too impressed by the game and the fact that we sat on the ‘students’ side of the tribune.

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Monday, 9 September 2013

Furniture is over rated

I normally like to share positive events, but at the moment I have to try extra hard.  We are still living in a very empty house, our container is somewhere in an American port, but no delivery date has been given yet.

I was hoping to give you a tour of our newly furnished home… Here what it looks like at the moment!

Our family room - crafting room – lounge - homework station

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Our bedroom -  a bed, a chair, what more do we need!

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Our formal dining room, and our future office – where we push minimalism to its extreme.

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On the positive side, housekeeping is fast and easy.

Crafting wise. it is very closed to zero: done a bit of knitting, a bit of red work… but please, bring me my machines, I have such a nice craft room.

On the cooking side, it’s a bit better: Nectarine roulades for breakfast, Rhubarb and banana pie, Summer salad with mango, nectarine, raspberry dressing and prawns.

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This post has been brought to you from my own personal home-office (^_-)

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Thursday, 29 August 2013

Summer reading

… the good and the bad, luckily I haven’t read anything ugly.

I normally associate summer reading with easy entertaining books.  I don’t want anything to heavy, to sad, to ‘prise de tête’ (a French expression to say not too intellectual).

But I’m a bit disappointed with some of my choice this year.

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NW – Zadie Smith
This one I loved.  I did not take it seriously at first, but I think I’ll read it again, just to make sure I got all the little details.  Zadie Smith is so good at capturing NW London.

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Defending Jacob – William Landay
I’ve seen a recommendation for this book in a blog.  I love the blog, so I was quite confident that the recommendation was a good one.  Unfortunately, this one falls on the BAD category.  The starting point is quite interesting: is there such a thing as a killer gene and if yes, can you ‘fight’ it.  However, the writing style let this book down as well as the fact that the subject is not treated in depth.  My opinion might be a bit harsh, but I do have problem with teen books that treat our kids like simple minds who can’t understand sophisticated language.  Mind you, I recently read a book review from a girl who thinks that words like "exacerbated" and "exorbitant" are clunky  (BTW, I had to check clunky in the dictionary…)

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Purple Hibiscus – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This is another teen book, but what a difference, well written, funny, and confronts you to a totally different world, a different literature.  For more, go to Good Reads.

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The Racketeer – John Grisham
I have a soft spot for John Grisham; some 20 years ago, when I started leaning English (school years don’t count), the first book I read was The Firm.  I loved it: the chapters were short enough, the vocabulary was simple enough and the story was entertaining enough.  I would not qualify Grisham as one of my favourite author, but he is always at the top of my list when I want some distraction.  Well, well, well, I should have avoid this one, it has been a waste of time.  This review sums it all: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/544640833.  I’m not even sure I understood the plot.

On a side note, no crafting for me, our container is still on its way (almost 10 weeks!), I can’t wait…

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Looking for some rhythm

We’ve been here for 3 weeks now.  Juliette has been back to school for one and a half week.  It is tough on her: new girl, no friends, different and she is so shy… To make things a bit more challenging, school starts at 7:40 so we have to leave home at 7:10… we aren’t morning people.

Anyway, here my week on Instagram

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Our home – my pantry :-); our only piece of furniture so far; pool and chaise longue in the garden; recycling made easy

 

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A few snap shops from our school runs – a mobile dog spa!; rainy day; the Mormon church; NOT our car

 

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Food and drinks – summer salad with blueberries, strawberries, prawns and mango dressing; French wine; the unavoidable cold coffee; my first drive-in

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My shopping list dictated to Siri on my new iPhone – do you think Siri has a problem with my French accent? BTW, I tried the French version of Siri and the results are not better

And one more thing we did with Victor: we took our membership at YMCA, and we can’t stop singing this (enjoy the song worm!)

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

One week on

So we arrived in Orlando on Sunday night.  In a week, this is what I achieved:

  • first encounter with the medical system – visit at the hospital on arrival with throat infection.  Now I do have my medicines in orange bottles like the one in the movies.
  • changed hubby’s account into a joint account – ready to spend money
  • a visit to Jo-Ann – did not last more than 15 min, the kids were hungry, but it’s a beginning
  • a visit to Barnes & Noble – got the loyalty card
  • first school evening meeting other parents – we are quite exotic with all the stamps on our passport
  • managed to buy some stamps (@ Publix) and find a Post Office
  • got lost a couple of times, exploded my US and UK mobile plans trying to find my way – in the end, Hubby got me a GPS
  • had TV and internet connected
  • got mobile phones for Juliette and I and opened AT&T account
  • shopped at Walmart, Whole Foods, Publix, Fresh Market

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Sunday, 11 August 2013

On new journeys

This post was planned for last week as we were leaving Italy, and it got stuck in my computer...  I did not find or take the time to publish it, but it is still relevant today.

Here are the last snap shots of our Italian holiday.


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Capri

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Still in Capri – Grotta Azzurra (and it is really that blue)

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Dinner by the sea in Sorrento

We had a really good time, the perfect balance between free times and visiting the area.

It is now finished and it is time for us all to start new journeys: Alice to Spain for work and the rest of us to Orlando.

But it is not only about the ‘physical’ journey, it is about new turns in our lives.  For the first time ever, we will live in different countries: Alice and Victor in the UK, Juliette and us in the States.

I knew the time will come to let my teenagers start flapping their wings. It is time to trust we have done a good enough job and even though they will still need us, they will be able to make reasonable decisions, they will be able to choose friends that will listen to them, inspire them... I also hope that they have knitted tight relationships amongst them and that it will make them strong.

Here is one of my preferred picture of them.

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My Dear kids, remember that you are smart, you are beautiful and you are loved...  (loosely quoting The Help),

and you have each other.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Still in-between

We are still ‘in-between’.

OK, this is a very nice ‘in-between’.

First we are all together – 0h yeah!

Secondly, we are in Italy – lots of sun, lots of fantastic food, a bit of touristic visits, a bit of enjoying ourselves by the pool, lots of reading…

We started in Rome and Tivoli– it was so busy, packed with tourists everywhere.

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Now Sorrento, a walk on the Vesuvius and in Pompeii.

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Pompeii

For more pictures, go on Flickr, I think I have exhausted the Hotel’s bandwidth…

Just two more day to enjoy the quietness…

and just one more picture :-)

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Abbey lane – Pompeii, the Beetles on Tour

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Filling up the ‘in-between’

A FB friend of mine share this article on Expat Wife life:’Not just gin and tonic…’ by Erica Knecht.  It is so close to what I have been experiencing over the last 20 years.  Something she does not mentioned is the ‘in-between’, the weeks of ‘homeless-ness’ while your container crosses oceans with the ‘stuff’ which will make the next place a home for the family.

After 11 moves, amongst them 8 across a border or another, I think I’m quite prepared for the up and down of shaping a new life (although this one might be tougher, Alice and Victor are staying in the UK).  Still I always feel unsettled by the period when everything is on hold.  The house in the UK has been emptied, we are carrying 8-week worth of clothing in our suitcases (there’s going to be a lot of wearing the same thing again and again).  I am almost done tying up loose ends here and yet I can’t start a new knit in the US…

Well, well, well, the best way to fill up this ‘in-between’ is to keep busy.  And we’ve done just that last week while at my parents’.

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Victor – first to go

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Alice – confidently crossing waves

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Juliette – starting from the water for the first time

We were lucky to fill one afternoon with water skiing with friends of my parents.  We all had a good refreshing time… I wish I had the pictures of the kids’ first experience on ski.

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Friday, 19 July 2013

My Summer playlist

I’ve been watching Scandal Season 1.  I really enjoyed it and, like almost everyone out there, I’ve been scrutinising Olivia Pope’s wardrobe. I don’t like everything, I found her a bit too classic, she wears her trousers a bit too loose.  Still, I’ve noticed a few things I’d love to sew or knit for myself, in particular this jumper. I really like the collar, the split on the sides.  I’m sure it will be pretty easy to replicate.

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I have seen a couple of episodes from Season 2, and I can’t wait to go to the States to catch up with the rest.

Now something quite unusual for me, I’m hooked on a French programme. Yes, you’ve heard properly.  The returned or Les Revenants in French, has been broadcasted on Channel 4 in England.  It is about a group of people who are coming back from the dead, nothing too frightening (so far).  The returned are not aggressive (apart from one character, but he was like that when alive).  I’m more intrigued than scared, nothing like The Walking Dead (I could not watch more than a couple of minutes).

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And off course, Luther…  What can I say?  This is a rough programme, quite dark and violent.  But I really like the fact that Luther is not 100% good or bad, I love the complexity of the character… and even with grunge-ish clothes, he looks so…  What do you think: Idris Elba as the next James Bond?

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I’m reading too: N-W, Zadie Smith.  I ‘met’ Zadie Smith some years ago with White Teeth.  I don’t know how she does it, but reading her words it is quite like watching people in the street, she seems to notice all the small details, it feels like she speaks about her neighbourhood, people she knows well.  I don’t know how to describe this, it just feels so real.

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And off course, my IPod is playing The Music of Nashville again and again (I think the kids are ready to buy me some Country boots).

Ho Hey…
I belong to you
You belong to me
You’re my sweet heart

Enjoying summer : –)