Tuesday, 30 December 2014

2014 finishes

As I’m going through this year’s pictures, I realised that I haven’t been very good at taking pictures of finished objects.  I need to find a better solution for next year!  Any suggestions?

As a result of my lack of pictures taking, it looks like that I haven't finished much.

Assigment 21
This year’s new hobby – beading 0o0o0o0

2014 Quilts
Very small progress on my UFO’s list

 

2014 KNITS
Knitting in blue – nothing new here

2014 Tayloring
Sewing for my girls – just LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT

It does not look like a lot of finished projects.  On the other hand, I should not be surprised, the main category on my blog now is ‘Non Craft Related’.

Anyway, my best ever crafty projects ever are still these three

Everglade

and nothing will be possible without this guy <3 <3 <3

scrapbooking paper23

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry (unusual) Xmas

M e r r y    X m a s

v v v v v

J o y e u x    N o e l

 

Unusual Xmas for us this year.  As my husband mentioned, it’s the first time in 45 years (a bit more for me) that we spend Xmas abroad, meaning not in France.  It is also the first time in the last 20 years, that we are not at my parents’ for the celebrations.  And it’s the first time ever  that we are not with the kids.

Because I can’t travel yet, it’s Xmas across more than one continent…. Thanks to FaceTime and other technology, we still got a bit of time together. Sadly, no pictures of our Australian branch.

Xmas2The coolest thing, my kids smiling at each other and my grand-mother saying ‘they don’t seem to be that far away”

Anyway, that’s no reason not to treat ourselves.

XmasHoney roast duck, apple and red cabbage, sautéed potatoes

Xmas1Homemade mince pies, Christmas pudding and Brandy butter – oh so British!

Xmas3And a few random pictures from my phone

Thursday, 18 December 2014

London week

OK, I did plan this post for last week… but my gallbladder decided otherwise.  I’ll spear you the gory details… So rewind a few weeks back and let’s get to London.

On thing I really miss since we moved to Orlando, it’s walking, walking for the sake of it, but also walking to the market, walking to see friends, walking to school… So when in London, I just want to walk and walk…

Thanksgiving in London1

From Hyde Park to Regent Street

Thanksgiving in London2
Leggy legs and her dad around London Bridge


Thanksgiving in London3
Borough Market – so many goodies

Thanksgiving in London
Street art in Brick Lane

Spending time with Alice was really cool too.  I hadn’t seen her dorm since she moved in - her room is so so tiny, it's like a corridor with a bed and a desk. She does not mind, she’s right in the centre of London and can walk almost everywhere she wants.

PL
A few visits to friends, a lecture in Politics at Alice’s uni, a meeting with Victor’s advisor, a few more walks…  And then, just like that the week was over... but I cannot finish this post with pictures of my kids making silly faces…

Thanksgiving in London4I told them I want smiles and if I can’t get smiles them I’ll post silly faces…

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Our take on an American tradition

Fast fast before it's Christmas - let's report our Thanksgiving week. Juliette and I spent it in England, Philippe joined us on Thursday, Thanksgiving day and we had our first family get together in 3 months.  All 5 of us in the same country, in the same time zone - a performance on its own.
This is what it our Thanksgiving dinner looked like:
IMG_0452A somewhat French family, celebrating an American holiday, in a Thai restaurant, in the British countryside
A few comments:
  • Yes, my kids and their dad have the same smile.
  • No, my son and my husband are not brothers even if they look alike (more troubling, they both look like my father in his youth).
  • I need a new shirt (this one is soon to be vintage), I need new glasses and a new haircut and no, I'm not a high maintenance gal...
  • There's something strange happening behind Philippe’s head and mine.
  • Have you seen Victor's arms - he is so 'buffed' up.
  • And what to say about my girls? They are so pretty, and it makes me melt to see how they are kind to each other (ok not 100% of the time, but most of the time).
  • And finally, no turkey has been armed during this very special event (only chicken).
Edit: as my smart husband said -  no turkey has been HARMED... and we are glad that they were nor armed either...

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Cooking lessons for my son

I know that when it comes to my kids I’m bias, but surely it shouldn’t stop me from ‘bragging’ about them, and for a good reason: my kids are super cool!
So when Victor asked me to teach him a few recipes that he could prepare in the common kitchen at school, I though ‘This boy is really cool!’ (and awesome and handsome too… but again I’m bias… but if you have met him you know I’m right).
So we started with a good, filling, comforting, fast, all-in-one-meal recipe:
Chickpeas, chorizo, tomatoes and spinach all in one meal
  • 1 can of chickpeas (or any other beans)
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes (make it ‘gourmet’ with fresh tomatoes)
  • 1 chorizo sausage cut in small-ish cubes or slices (no substitution here)
  • a few handful of fresh spinach (kale should work well too, and it’s the ingredient that make it less ‘boy food’, more ‘girl-friendly’ – always good to have a trick in your sleeve to impress the girls..)
  • salt, pepper, might also want to add some garlic (dried or freshly crushed), chili flakes are a nice addition too
Through the chorizo in a large hot pan, add garlic (careful with garlic, it does not make your breath engaging).  When the chorizo starts to ooze its fat, add the chickpeas and the tomatoes.  Stir until it’s hot.  Test and season (meaning salt, pepper, flakes).  Does it taste good? Is it hot enough? Yes, then time to through a large handful of greenness, let it cook for another couple of minutes.
You’re done, bring up the plates.
Remark: if you use fresh tomatoes, cook them first in the pan with the chorizo so they can release their water.  You can remove a bit of water, if there’s to much.
Victor's lessons
Next, we upped our game with a meaty meal:
Chicken Fajitas
  • chicken breast (1 per person)
  • 1 red pepper (or more)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 lime (or lemon, or pasteurised lemon juice -  we don’t have to be fancy here)
  • paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, olive oil (or any other available oil)
  1. Halve, de-seed and cut the pepper into strips.  Peel, halve and slice the onion as finely as you can.  Slice your chicken too (nice long strips, try to follow the muscle grain)
  2. In a ball, put pepper, onion, chicken, 1 tea spoon of paprika, a pinch of cumin, the juice from the lime, a tablespoon of oil, salt, pepper.  Mix well and let marinated for 5 minutes.
  3. In a hot pan, with a splash of oil, cook the chicken for 6-8 minutes (ATTENTION, make sure the meat is thoroughly cooked, you don’t want anybody to get food poisoning).  The chicken has a nice honey colour, the pepper strips are soft and the onion are light brown… Done, another success in less that 30 minutes.
Victor's lessons1
The Chicken Fajitas was served with a French Purée à l’huile d’olive (mashed potatoes with olive oil -  sound much more sophisticated in French, but again if you want to cook to impress…).
Purée à l’huile d’olive
  • small potatoes (2-3 per person) (I like red potatoes, it makes the mash looks more interesting)
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper, parsley (remember, the green effect)
Boiled the potatoes in a large pan of water.  When they become soft (not crumbly) and the fork go through easily, transfer them in a large ball.  Mash them roughly with a fork, adding some oil.  Add salt, pepper to taste and some chopped parsley.
Remark 1: Add the salt at the end, in the cooked potatoes, NOT in the water.  This way, you will need less salt (which is good for you and your health).
Remark 2: Call me crazy, but I like my meal to have a mix of colours, so it looks more harmonious and pleasing.
Victor also prepared an omelet with ham and cheese, accompanied with a green salad seasoned with a homemade vinaigrette.  No pictures for this, no recipe either – he already knew how to do it.
Now, I’ve been hesitating for the title of this post.  It could have been
Jamie (Oliver), watch your back!
or
A good catch!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Remembrance day

I’ve just seen some amazing pictures of this display from Tom Piper and Paul Cummins:

the Tower of London poppy memorial.

Procession

I wish I was there for the remembrance ceremonies.  I wish I had been to London for this exhibition.

More info can be found all around the web, or here Historic Royal Palaces.

Monday, 3 November 2014

My homecoming princess is a mad cookie

This sounds like the perfect title for my youngest girl.

One year on in the States, and we are still experiencing some FIRST.  Last week, it was Juliette’s first homecoming ball.  I’m glad we had last year’s Year Book, had a pick at the pictures and got an idea of what to expect. And the big question was ‘THE DRESS?’ (OK, that’s not really a question).

You’ve got to understand that my ‘little’ Juliette has and always had a strong sense of style.  I remember her jumping in my bed early morning, checking my outfit for the day, making me change if she disapproved of it… and she was probably only 5.  Today, there’s no influencing her choices.  So when she agreed to let me sew her homecoming dress, I felt thrilled and stressed at the same time.

She knew exactly what she wanted (left picture).  She chose the fabric, the top layer is so flimsy, fraying so much…  After looking through pages and pages of patterns, we picked McCall M6893. It looked closed enough to what we want to achieve.

Homecoming dress

The pattern offers lots of options, from long to short skirt, fitted skirt, non-fitted skirt, alter neck, strap top, long sleeves, no sleeve…  But maybe too many options, the instructions felt a bit confusing and not detailed enough.

The top layer has been worked with French seams (isn’t it interesting that in French it is called ‘couture anglaise’ – English seam).  I’ve made the waist band narrower, did not add any boning in the bodice (Juliette does not need support).  No other modifications were needed…

Homecoming dress3
Doesn’t she look lovely?  She chose some ‘vintage-ish’ shoes and made herself a choker – looking so pretty for the party.

Homecoming dress4Au naturel, she is quite something… Crazy-mad cat lady, Project Magic enthusiast, Jujitsu kick ass, cool sister,  Wednesday Adams’ look alike…

Friday, 10 October 2014

Pretty buns

I mentioned this before, but I do bake to relieve tension…Especially when I don’t know why I’m stressed out… or tired… or unable to sleep a full night without flipping in my bed… Philippe has been away for almost two weeks and it does not help the ‘not-sleeping-properly-thingy’… I’m not good at going-to-bed-at-a-reasonable-time on my own, I’m not good at waking-up-early at all…

Well, whatever, Philippe will be back by the end of the week, I will sleep better and in the meantime we will have enjoyed some Chocolate Brioches.

I found the recipe on Pinterest, here.  Then follow the link, which took me here.  Another click and I was on these Macha Brioches which might be my next bake.  Still clicking and I ended up here, which is the recipe I used for my brioche, substituting the Macha powder by cocoa powder.  It was tempting to carry on with the clicking and the exploration of the World Wide Web but I would have had nothing to show for my afternoon.

So here are the pretties.

Chocolate brioches

You have probably noticed that my feuilleté is not too impressive… actually, I skipped the feuilletage step… I know I’m not quite ready for the Great British Bake Off (which I won’t mention again for the next 11 months as the final was on Tuesday).

Chocolate brioches1

And this is a message for my husband from our (my) cat…

Desktop3

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Project Big Love – a dress for Alice

Anything I stitch/knit for my kids and my close family is heavily bonded with LOVE (I can see my daughter rolling her eyes thinking that this sentence does not make sense…)  but I’m sure you understand me or at least the LOVE part.

So when Alice asked for a jersey wrap dress like the one she had years and years ago, which had been worn so much that the seams gave up, the jersey fabric got so thin…  I had no other option but to sew a new one.  And I’m so pleased she wants to wear something I made for her… plus the fact that she is promoting my blog heavily –all her friends have to follow me or she get offended…

The fabric is from Joann: heavy knit with a very nice drape, not to light, not to heavy, just perfect (and believe me it is not often that I find the ‘perfect’ dressmaking fabric at Joann).

The pattern is Butterick 5949. I find that patterns’ sizes are sometimes a bit off, so I had to make sure it will fit Alice once finished.  For the first time ever, I did a muslin of the bodice and tried on Alice before she left.  The pattern calls for lining, but I though the jersey was heavy enough to skip this step.

Blue faux wrapped dress2
Some close up details

I took my time, worked methodically on technical difficulties… and I’m quite pleased with the final product.

Blue faux wrapped dress1Juliette modeling the dress… did I mention that this one is a mad cookie?
I can’t wait to see Alice wearing it.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Wining finishes

Thanks to the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild’s UFOs challenge, I’ve been working on some of my long suffering projects.  And when I say long suffering, I’m not speaking months, but years even decade…  Actually, I even had completely forgotten about one of these projects.

First, here is Lady of the Lake.  There’s a lot of half square triangles, 1 inch wide, all sewed by hand.  That was my easy-to-carry project for our first US road trip back in 2007 which also coincided with the start of my blogging adventure (my writing buddies –Alice and my husband- dished me since then, so now this space is ALL mine).

UFOs

The quilting is straight forward: diagonal lines and ‘bubbles’ – the project is called Lady of the Lake after all.  After spending so much time sewing tiny stitches, I should have hand quilted it, but it might have had to wait for another 7 years…

UFOs1

This one is even older than the Lady of the Lake… It’s been made before the quilting industry started producing the clever little ruler to obtain the twists from the squares.  I did my own template out of a cereal box… old time…  I’m glad I dug it out of the UFOs pile as it gave me another chance to practice my free machine quilting.

And finally, these Xmas cushions and mat.  Easy to date the start of these projects: November 2010.  It was initially a candle mat swap organised by Michele Foster from the Quilting Gallery (were you one of the participants?).  I did one mat for my partner and decided to make some more for Xmas presents… as somebody said to our Guild meeting, Xmas and B’day come back every year… so I’m on time.

UFOs2

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Quiet week-end

Yes, quiet week-end around for Juliette and I.  Philippe left on Friday for a 2-week long trip.

We did not do much

Blue faux wrapped dress

some homework – Math (lots of it), English, Chinese, Biology… you name it…

some “Young Naturalist’ experiment – observation of water absorbed by flowers, hence the blue dye

some dress-making – faux wrapped dress (Butterick 5949)

some comfort food – macaroni and ham gratin

some eating out – we were craving for ramen and moon cake

some going to the movie – Guardians of the Galaxy… what to say… preferably nothing

some TV watching – the Great British Bake off and An Extra Slice… I can’t believe it is almost finished

some cat time – LaoShi loves to bring lizard home… then she needs some rest…

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Bok Tower Gardens

Just an ordinary Sunday, not running around, not planning anything…

Just a visit to Bok Tower Gardens… and a walk in the garden.

Bok Tower1

 

Bok Tower

Sunday, 14 September 2014

The Great British Bake Off

It is back… The Great British Bake Off on BBC1… and of course I’m following it…

Gone is the time when I thought I could be a competitor in the Bake Off.  The baking standards are so high nowadays, I am sure they prepare all year long.

So I console myself and bake for a very limited audience (Juliette and Philippe, and sometimes friends who happen to come by).

Peanuts butter cookies dipped in dark chocolate

Peanuts cookies 

First of all, I think my cookies were a bit too thick, a bit too dry and a bit overcooked, some of them got a nice crisscross with neat little squares in the centre, but others were uneven.  The chocolate coating had a nice shine but a tendency to melt fast (OK I baked this during a very hot week here in Florida – up to 100F).  I will probably bake these again.

 

Zesty Blueberry pie

Pie week

The recipe is from a Beautiful Mess blog. Really nice. Everybody liked the zesty taste.  The presentation could have been better, the blueberry juice overflew, I shouldn’t probably have used frozen fruits.  This one is a keeper, it will make it to my Black and Red book (I’ll have to speak about this book sometime).  Still I will have to work on it in order to avoid getting a case of soggy bottom.

 

Cardamom infused custard tart

Pie week1

This is a mixed of multiple inspiration sources: the figs tart from one of the GBBO contestant, the smell of cardamom seeds and two more recipes from BBC Good Food (Custard tart with nutmeg pastry and Custard tart).

Presentation wise, it could be better: I’ve forgotten that the pastry will retract in the heat, so my edge is messy and too short in some places.  Consequently, I could not pour as much custard as I wanted.  The figs are a bit small and moved during baking giving me a not-too-pretty finish. Also, the custard curdled, I think I overheated the milk.  Not a success.

Overall, I think I might have been eliminated from the Bake Off long ago… and would have made it to the sister programme An extra slice with Jo Brand, which is so funny.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Brooklyn Tweed…

I did plan a totally different post for today… but Brooklyn Tweed happens…

I think I need extra arms, extra set of needles, extra everything to cope with this… So many lovely projects

BTF14_blog_image_01

It’s a real pleasure to go through the booklet and the blog, the pictures are so beautiful.

BLOG_btf14_launch_triptych_03

BTF14_blog_image_02

BTF14_blog_image_03

 

My favorite so far:

Backbay_01_small2 Rowe_03_small2

Blackbay                      or                           Rowe?

 Crosby_05_small2   Wake_05_small2

Crosby                        or                        Wake?

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Bleu

Until recently, I did not realise I was a ‘blue’ person… but looking at my wardrobe, my knitting, even my kitchen ware, I am definitively a blue person.

So no surprise with my last knitting projects:

Sampler shawlSampler shawl1

Pattern: Moss & Leaves Stole by Kerri Shank.  Haven seen other projects, I think I should have blocked it a bit more aggressively.

Yarn: Heritage Silk Paint from Cascade Yarn , bought from  Sip and Knit. I actually used 2 and a half skeins.

Sampler shawl with beads knitted on.  I don’t know why it took me forever to finish this project.  I blocked the day before going to England in July.  It’s a gift for Alice’s guardian.  Now I’ve got some red yarn and I’m planning on knitting another one for myself.

 

Storm card

Pattern:  Dark and Stormy  from Thea Colman

Yarn: Madelintosh DK (recycled from Effortless)

I recycled this yarn from a previous project, Efforless.  I loved knitting Effortless, however the shape and the yarn did not work well together.  The cardi became longer and longer and looked more like a shapeless mope.  Furthermore, our cat had bit into the sleeves creating unwelcome holes.  So I frogged it and worked on a cable cardi.  This has been so much fun.  The cable panel is very easy to learn but not boring at all.  It’s a top-down, I love projects that don’t require assembling.  I wonder whether I should knit one for myself.

 

I have more blues to show, but it will have to wait for another post.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Things that made me happy recently

… realising that my kids really enjoy each other company…

Road6

… getting my grand-mother’s towels from the 30’s and noticing my name tag from when I was a kid still on one of them…

0000 Temp6

… finding this picture on my camera…

0000 Temp7