Monday, 30 August 2010

It's going to be a difficult day .....

Today my eldest son leaves home....
We have spent the weekend organising, tidying, washing and packing, to say nothing about the last few weeks planning, making lists, and shopping.
The car is packed - literally, for the drive to install him in his new home.

Not sure how I will cope with it when we say goodbye

What more can I say.......

Monday, 23 August 2010

Never throw anything away?

That is MOH's motto - you never know when you might need it, which is fine for a lot of things but not everything!

Anyway this weekend he proved there was truth in his thinking.

About 10 years ago we were given a large amount of bamboo that one of our neighbours was clearing from their garden. The thickest bits were about the width of scaffolding poles right down to skinny canes, but they were all long, on average about 7 or 8 ft high.

Over the years this has been stored and used for various things - when the boys were much younger, MOH made a bamboo bed frame on stilts with a bamboo ladder for our eldest. This lasted for about a year before it was deemed to be too hot that close to the ceiling!! so the bamboo went back into storage.
Anyway, this weekend MOH decided it was time to do something about the clematis plants. Last year I bought two plants that do not shed their leaves and smell divine. They are both in large pots and are now spreading themselves all over the patio. So out came the bamboo. 7 bits, thick and thin and here is the result - without the plant attached

and here it is with the branches attached.

This one took about an hour to make. Now we just have to do the other one.

Friday, 20 August 2010

It's a dog's life

Frugal Queen had a wonderful picture on her blog a couple of days ago - a dog relaxing on a li-lo in a pool. this reminded me so much of our dog - she doesn't go in the pool but she does relax - a lot!
Her name is Miss and we found her in the SPA (French equivilant to RSPCA) about 11 years ago.

She has a wonderful life, lots of freedom, walks, animals to chase etc but she is getting old now and as it's very warm here at the moment she seems to spend her life baking in the sun then dragging herself inside to flop on the tiles panting like a mad dog.

This is her favourite position in the garden when it's hot - no modesty and she looks like she has been dropped out of a window!!

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Busy in the kitchen

It's been a few days since I wrote last.
The days just seem to be floating past and my to do list is not getting much shorter.

Got a few things to do today. I want to make some chutney and jelly. We have lots and lots of tomato plants and chilli plants.

Last year I roasted and froze kilos of tomatoes - problem is I still have kilos in the freezer! so I am going to try something else this year. the skins seem to be very hard this year - maybe lack of water

When I was in the UK last I bought a mixed pack of squashes and they have all grown like mad.
I roasted one of the turks turbans but I don't think it was quite ready, it was very dry. Still it's gone into the freezer for later.
MOH also planed a packet of the small round courgettes. These have now grown to the size of footballs and the pigs have love them. They run around with them hanging out of their mouths. Will try and get a picture next time.

For those of you that have too many courgettes and no pigs, I found a Jamie Olivier video with a nice recipe for courgette crisps

Let me know if you try it

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Car Boot Sale Saturday

Well I did it! Today we did our first car boot sale.

I had prepared things throughout the week and last night we loaded up the car so we could leave early this morning. I took a bookcase for some of my books and a large garden table plus a hanging rail for my clothes.
We got there just after 07.00. Large field with an area roped off for the brocante.
After we had got everything set out - the strange men hanging around the car was a bit off putting but when they saw we didn't have anything they were interested in they soon moved on.
In total there were only 10 stalls. The organisers said they had expected about 30 but a lot of people hadn't turned up.
The flow of people was quite steady - it was a horse show as well so there was a wide variety of different people.
All in all it went very well. I took foster mummy's advice and tried to keep the prices simple, most things sold for 1€ but I did deals if people bought more than 1 thing. Thanks for your help foster mummy.
My best sellers were my books, sold to British and American people living in the area, and childrens books, both French & English. I made more money from selling the books today than I would have done if I had sold them on Amazon.
I did not sell any clothes at all - I wonder what that says about my taste in clothes. No one even asked the price!
The weather started to close in about 14.00 so we packed up and left not long after and came home for a cup of tea...
The car is still not unpacked but that is a job for tomrrow, after we have taken care of at least one pig, but that's another story.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Slow Dance

I found this poem a while ago and copied it to read again.

Slow Dance - This is a poem written by a teenager with cancer.

Have you ever watched kids
On a merry-go-round?
Or listened to
the rain

Slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?
You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Do you run through each day On the fly?
When you ask How are you?
Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done
Do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores
Running through your head?
You'd better slow down
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Ever told your child,
We'll do it tomorrow?
And in your haste,
Not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch,
Let a good friendship die
Cause you never had time
To call and say,'Hi'
You'd better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift....
Thrown away.
Life is not a race.
Do take it slower
Hear the music
Before the song is over.

Perseid meteor shower

Went to bed early to get some sleep, woke up at 11.30, thought I would come down and have a look outside.
Took my torch, blanket and lay out on the sunlounger, looked up, but guess what - no stars - it is too cloudy tonight here so I will not be able to see the meteor shower.
Did anyone else see it?

Colour Coding

If you read my blog yesterday you will know that I am in a 'clearing out' phase, and not before time too.
Yesterday I spent time going through my wardrobe and taking out anything I had not worn for a year or did not fit me anymore. I have put on a lot of weight in the last 3 years and my wardrobe has changed. I kept things in there that I thought I would be able to fit into but never did, so out they came.
Anyway that got me thinking about my clothes over the last 15 years. When I worked in the UK - Training Manager of a bank I had a set of smart business clothes, a set of casual at home clothes and a set of going out clothes (2 of us working, money no problem), then when I moved to France - Director of a bank, I brought all those clothes with me but soon found that my work clothes were much too dressy and too warm, so gradually these started to change. That was 10 years ago. Now I have a much more casual wardrobe and the dressy clothes have long gone.

However I do have a certain way of organising my clothes - they are all colour grouped and I try and flow the colours into each other - grey next to black, pink next to red etc. I do the same thing with MOHs shirts, they are all colour grouped and separate long and short sleeves.

Does anyone else do this?

I do have to say that I am not as organised about anything else in my life - except washing hanging on the line - it has to be all the same things together - t-shirts, then shirts and colours together.

Gosh, as I am writing this it makes me sound very @n?@ retentive, but I can assure you I am not . Well I hope so anyway!

Hope to hear your organising tricks

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Clearing Out

Sorry for not posting for a few days. things have been quiet, either working - invoice time of the month - even though I'm on holiday, or clearing out.
Today it has been raining all day. Excellent opportunity to do some clearing out. I started on our bedroom and MOH started in the garage.
The house has piles of things dotted around the place - either things to take to the car boot sale on Saturday, sell on Amazon or things that I may be able to sell on ebay or le bon coin. This is a site where you can sell anything and everything.
Yesterday I cleared out all the cupboards downstairs, 2 bags of rubbish and things I had not seen for a few years.
I do feel much better after having such a clear out.

Not finished yet though.

Tomorrow we are off to an animal park for son n°2 to take some pictures. We will take a picnic, comfy chairs, a couple of books and some work. He will disappear for hours so we will get some sun and peace - I hope. Will post some photos tomorrow.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Family day out.

Yesterday was our 27th wedding anniversary and 13 years since we moved to Tours.

We had already decided that we wanted to spend the day with both our boys and as my eldest needed to go to Tours to sort out his carte grise, that's where we spent our day. We must have walked miles, sadly we did not use our podometers to check how far we walked.

We went for lunch at our favourite chinese restaurant. Our last visit was a year ago for our last anniversary. We had 3 courses for 12,50€. Too much to eat. We all came away from the table so full we were strugging to walk. All the men had nems - 4 each with lettuce leaves and fresh mint, I had something with prawns. Then 2 of them had sweet & sour roasted duck, 1, chicken with mushrooms and I had spicy prawns. The rice was excellent. Then we all tried to squash in some beignets - banana and apple fritters.
A good part of the afternoon was spent clothes shopping for the boys. It's interesting to watch them choosing clothes now - for so long I was giving advice, now they have a clear view of what they like and what they don't like. MOH even joined in and tried on some shoes!

A lovely day but tiring - aching feet!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Breakfast Memories

This morning we had a very busy hour. As soon as we got up, I decided I was going to walk to the post box, just started going up the drive and who should I see walking towards me but - 4 PIGS!
Not what you expect to see when they are all supposed to be securely fastened in. It took 3 of us an hour to get them back in their house. They wandered all over the garden and led us a merry dance. The sooner they are dispatched the better. MOH has already started planning his new brining and smoking recipes.
Anyway after all that activity we decided it would be nice to have something different for breakfast. So for the first time in months we had pancakes. That made me think back to when we moved to france -13 years ago this week - we bought a pancake maker, you know the electric plate with 6 circles on it. We have had some wonderful breakfasts on it, everything from lemon & sugar for MOH to nutella and banana pancake sandwiches for the boys. This time we had golden syrup. Homemade. Golden syrup is very expensive here and I have a family that adores flapjacks, so when I saw this recipe I had to have a go and I can assure you I will never buy it again. This is excellent, tastes delicious and looks just the same. Try it and let me know how you get on. I made 3 big peanut butter jars for the price of just over a kilo of sugar.

It is not labour intensive even though it requires 45 minutes cooking, as once the caramel is done, the syrup is left alone to boil quietly. I did admit I stuffed up as I extended the time to 1 hour and the next day after cooling, the syrup was admittedly very hard. But no matter, I did another half a recipe, halved the cooking time, poured the 'hard' syrup in and the golden syrup came out as good as !

200g sugar
50g water

1 kg sugar
600g boiling water
2 slice lemon

1. Pour 200g sugar and 50g water into a large saucepan. On medium heat, twirl the pot around and caramelise the sugar until a dark golden colour.

2. Add the boiling water, the kilo sugar and lemon slices.

3. On low heat boil for 45 minutes until thick stir it occasionally if you must or leave it alone to do its own thing).
4. Cool and pour into sterilised jars or bottles. Label and store in a cool place.
1. The syrup when hot will always look watery but will thicken when cooled.

2. If you find after cooling the syrup is not thick enough, don't panic - boil it again for a few more minutes.

3. On the other hand if you find after cooling the syrup is way too thick, make up another half recipe, add the 'hard' syrup in as well and boil it all together for less than the required 45 minutes.

4. Do not throw away the discarded lemon slice. It tastes just like candied lemons.

I will add a picture tomorrow as my camera is out of action at the moment.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Afternoon with my boys

I have had a lovely afternoon. I went shopping with my two boys- 19 & 16.

We needed to get stuff for my eldest to kit out his appartment when he goes to university and my youngest wanted a new bookcase and desk for his room.
I know that wandering around IKEA is not everyone's ideal afternoon, but to have them both together, being nice to each other, helping each other and talking to each other without niggling was lovely.
I wanted to make the most of it because there won't be many more times like this afternoon. He is going to a university which is 5 hours away from here, so I know he won't be home very often - maybe once or twice a year. I know that in a few weeks there will be tears shed.


For the last 3 years I have been hasseling him to find work during the summer. Here it is difficult for teenagers to find work before they are 18. I tried to explain to him that it's not just about getting a job to earn money but also about future employers seeing a CV with different jobs on it and more importantly to give him some experience of working. Since he was 16 he has worked a variety of jobs - castrating the maize, bar work, McDonalds, various temporary jobs - stocktaking, working at the tip.
Today he said to me that his CV is very different to his friends and classmates - they have nothing on theirs and he has lots of different jobs on his. He said he was happy that I had hasseled him to find these jobs. He now knows the sort of jobs he doesn't want to do!

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Frugal Sunday

Had a very frugal day today. MOH's breakfast was home-made bread with homemade marmalade, then lunch was home made pea and ham soup, made from leftover gammon joint from Bob. Bob was our pig that we killed about 3 months ago and we are slowly but surely we are clearing the freezer. MOH has perfected the brine for the gammon and then we follow Delia's recipe - boil then roast in the oven. Then tea was spag bol, with a mince mixture that I made last week and froze. This morning we went to a Vide Grenier and I bought an English PD James book for 1€. The first time I have bought an English book in a Vide Grenier. I also picked up a flyer for a big Vide Grenier on the 14th August which I will definately get a stall. This afternoon I cleared out another room, and put all my old clothes into a bag ready for the 14th.


We managed to move 2 of the baby pigs today, they went reasonably easily, they followed me up the path with small handfuls of food along the way.
The other 2 made the trip to their new home twice, turned around, ran into the field then ran back to their old home. You can imagine how blue the air was when they decided to run away twice!!!

2 of them enjoying the grass

This one is being very brave - out all on his own