For the month of October, I created a little calendar to share with you! … my search for one with the months written in English and French came up empty (even with all the fabulous downloadable calendars available online). So I put something together and added one of my favorite French words: le Bonheur - Happiness ;) And blue being my favorite color, I couldn't decide whether to use it as the background color or on the type, so there are two slightly varied designs on one sheet of paper so you can choose! Simply print on your favorite stock (I like to use card stock but regular paper is fine) and cut on the edge of the dashed line... feel free to share le bonheur :)
9.24.2012 • French Francais
Over the past year, a little mouse has come by several times to take away my son's fallen dents de lait or baby teeth and each time has kindly left a little gift underneath his pillow. As the French version of the Tooth Fairy, he's officially called La Petite Souris or The Little Mouse. He's been very busy in our home, so far he's made six visits!
In the Philippines, the tradition is to throw a fallen tooth over the roof so a little mouse can retrieve it, and that way it's believed the child's permanent tooth will grow in like a mouse's tooth - strong and sharp. There are varying traditions like this all over the world, all interesting and charming in their own way... I'd love to know what yours is.
With each morning's spoonful of Bonne Maman's Rhubarb jam edging closer to the bottom of the jar, I feel the inevitable sadness of knowing I can't go and pick up another one anytime soon. This jar comes straight from France via my luggage, a ritual I've held since first introduced to rhubarb's delightful flavor more than 10 years ago inside my husband's grandmother's tiny kitchen in Saint-Germain-les-Belles. I'd never even heard of rhubarb before then, but one taste of its golden-brown goodness locked in my current obsession. Rhubarb jam is a perfect mix of subtly tart and mildly sweet. It reminds me of tamarind, a tropical fruit pod widely used in Asian cuisine for its sweet-sour flavor.
Over the years, I've religiously scanned the rows of Bonne Maman jams in supermarkets waiting for Confiture de Rhubarbe to make its debut in the United States. No luck yet, though it's finally available online (yay!) at Frenchy Bee and Simply Gourmand.
Thought I'd try one more thing: on the off chance that I could get some inside information from - and really just chat with - esteemed author and pastry chef David Lebovitz, I asked (via tweeter because Mr. Lebovitz also happens to be a super tweeter) why Bonne Maman's Rhubarb isn't stateside... he kindly responded with an enthusiastic, "Make your own!" and generously offered a link to his recipe for Rhubarb-Strawberry jam, which I may just try one day. Now I did inquire whether the recipe could be made without strawberries, and David said he hasn't tried it without them because he "likes em in there." Too bad for me really as the pairing is deliciously popular and easy to find. It's just a bit too sweet for me...
Are you a fan of Bonne Maman jams, jellies and preserves? What's your favorite flavor?
9.09.2012 • Flora
One day perhaps I'll have a garden of my own, a backyard bouquet of sorts... though if you ask my husband, he's quick to point out I lack a green thumb! But that hasn't stopped me from dreamily browsing through Jardin magazines and earnestly trying to keep the few potted plants I have alive.
So for a week every summer in France, I co-opt my mother-in-law's intimate little green space. Her petit jardin is simply a small rock terrace that flows into a square of sloping grassland dotted with flowers, potted plants and patches of hidden herbs. A grand but fading pine tree offers an eclipsing shade for the heat weary and a respite for tired, hungry birds - the local mésanges and moineaux (tit birds and sparrows) - that come singing every morning and evening. Empty and forgotten pots bely the gardener's natural green thumb and affection for her backyard sanctuary, where she is dutiful and responsive.
How about you, do you have un petit jardin?
9.02.2012 • Travels Beyond Paris
A quick stop in the historic town of Arles allowed me the wondrous pleasure of visiting the café that inspired Vincent Van Gogh's painting Café Terrace at Night. It gave me pause to realize I was standing in the very space Van Gogh once occupied nearly 125 years ago, September of 1888; breathing the same air; taking in the velvety night sky and surrounding colors he brilliantly rendered and so often wrote about in letters to his brother Theo...
"... And in a picture I want to say something comforting, as music is comforting... So I am always between two currents of thought, first the material difficulties, turning round and round to make a living; and second, the study of colour. I am always in hope of making a discovery there,... to express hope by some star, the eagerness of a soul by a sunset radiance. Certainly there is no delusive realism in that, but isn't it something that actually exists?..."
* The café was remodeled in 1990/91 to appear similar to Van Gogh's painting; and appropriately enough, it is now called Café Van Gogh.
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