Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summer Hiking in the Alps


We chose the first hike of the season wisely - the traverse Plan Praz (2000m) - La Flégère (1877m).  Not too many ups and not to many downs, and along with the kids and puppy we brought along m.i.l - who maintains that a traverse is meant to be flat - nothing here is flat!!!


No complains though from the wee chaps or Ringo...



It was a fairly overcast day, great for hiking as it meant we didn't get to hot.  However for those of us wearing fur coats it still got pretty warm at times...

... ah! that's better


At 12 noon everything stops for lunch - hiking is the only time when Richard concedes that a sandwich can pass as meal!!!  M.i.l  does sandwiches the 'french' way - bringing along great hunks of bread, paté and cheese, which is great provided you don't forget to bring a knife!



To top of a great day, Tino made us dinner - fish and eye shaped fish cakes -umm delicious!


Vivre les Montagnes!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Yarn Along - Latte Baby Coat

After realizing rather late in the day that Rémi's speech therapist was starting her maternity leave a few weeks earlier than I had calculated, I finished this Latte Baby Coat in the nick of time, blocking it thursday evening to be gifted at his 8.30 am appointment on friday morning.

Had a few tense moments with the basket weave stitch, which pulled like mad, scrunching up the front sides horribly, but thankfully once wetted and blocked they settled into place.


Rémi gave her a beautiful little gift too - a small trinket box that he had decorated with a Rosace.


I liked this yarn so much that I went back and bought some more, I think it will make great wrist warmers.

Keeping me up into the wee small hours at the moment is Life and Limb - A True Story of Tragedy and Survival Against the Odds (Jamie Andrew). In 1999 two British climber spent 5 nights on the exposed ridge of Les Droites in Chamonix after being caught out in a freak storm.  Only one of them returned and he suffered the loss of both hands and his both legs below the knees.  I was already living here when this tragedy took place but don't remember it happening, ironically I only learnt of the accident years later after buying the book from a charity stand at a farmers market in Wales!

Having a few blogger problems at the moment - that is when I can actually get an internet connection.  Up until now I was receiving up dates of all the blogs I follow, now however all I'm getting is one update from which ever blog posted most recently!
Confused as ever by technology!!!

Linking-up with Ginny for Yarn Along this week.



Thursday, June 19, 2014

Clafoutis

I wish I could tell you that this was a family recipe, handed down through generations of hard working women, but it's not!


I just cut it off the back of packet of almond essence.  I've tried many Clafoutis recipes before but they all just came out tasting like scrambled egg with cherries.  This one, however, tastes divine.

750g  cherries
150g sugar (I used 100 only)
2 eggs
50g plain flour
50g powdered almonds
1 teaspoon of almond essence
20 cl milk (I used cows milk but I'm sure any sort would work)

1 Wash and pit the cherries, add 50g of sugar.
2 Heat the oven to 150°C
3 Mix the eggs, rest of the sugar, flour, almonds, essence, milk and any juice from the cherries
4 Butter a pie pan and sprinkle with two tbsp of sugar, pour in the cherries rolling them in the sugar
5 Pour the egg mixture over the fruit and cook until golden
6 Sprinkle with vanilla sugar (optional)

I have fond memories of picking cherries with  for Gaby, Richard's grand-father.  He would rig up some homemade scaffolding consisting of old chairs, stools, rotten planks and ladders made from old hockey sticks and order me up the tree, in a near suicide misson, to pick his fruit - each of which came with it's own maggot! Sadly Gaby is not longer with us so I have long since abandoned this dangerous past-time in favor of store bought cherries.  I've also invested in a 'dénoyauteur de ceries' which my trusty sous-chef is more than happy to use.


My m.i.l came back from holiday this morning with kilo's of delicious cherries, that she got for a snip of the price I paid for mine here, and gifted me a big bowl full.  I think I will turn them into pie filling and jam - not forgetting to keep a few back for our breakfast smoothies!

kale,spinach and strawberries from the garden - happy dance!
What do you do with your cherries?






Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Slow Living Essentials Monthly 9 - May 2014


Same monthly link up, new name!
Linking-up with Christine for Slow Living Essentials Monthly 9
My mothers-day gift - tray - and card from Tino
{NOURISH}
Finally got around to making Kefir! - much like making yoghurt really - that no-body apart from myself wants to drink!  Richard and the boys all got horribly sick this month, with the three of them needing antibiotics. However, the nasty bugs and germs left me well alone - perhaps it was the Kefir?

tastes better with a drop of elderberry syrup mixed in
{PREPARE}
Another first for me - Kimchi - using Evi's recipe.  It smelt fantastic when I first stared 'bashing' up all the ingredients, but after a while the odor started to turn on me.  Not sure I bashed for long enough as I didn't have much liquid.  Turns out in the end I didn't like it - just tasted like salt to me.


{CREATE}
I want to showcase a few of Rémi's little woodwork gems this month.  I'm so impressed with the way he transforms his ideas into real objects and by his competence in using electric tools!!!


{GROW}
The garden is well underway, there are still a few seedlings in the cold frame but everything else is in the ground.  Despite waiting until after the passing of the Ice Saints (11, 12 & 13 May), after which the garden is meant to be safe from frost, we lost all of our corn on the particularly chilly night of the 15th!!!!


{GREEN}
Now I'm sure slugs have their place in the grand garden scheme of things, but I just wish they'd find their place in some other garden!  For things that move so slow they certainly eat fast!  So far I've tried wood ashes, wood chips, ground coffee, crushed egg shells and saucers of beer (which they drown in),  thing is, apparently they like a little tipple AFTER eating!  In all honesty if I didn't have kids, chickens and a dog running around the place I think I'd bring out the poison!  A neighbor told me that ducks are very good at keeping the slug population down so I'm working on Richard - he's saying NO NO but the other morning I found him 'googling' ponds!!!  Another friend suggested copper tape but as we don't have raised beds I'm not sure how I would put it in place.

{REDUCE}
The local council had a promo day in each village where they were selling compost bins for 15€.  We've always had a compost heap but now we have a bin, which looks a lot neater.  In the winter I think I will continue to use the heap as we have a lot of deer that come to eat during the long cold snowy months.

{DISCOVER}
Quite by accident, whilst out walking with Ringo, I happened upon the remains of the old ice shoot, which was used at the beginning of the century to convey huge blocks of ice down from the Glacier des Bossons to the village below.  The blocks were then loaded on to horse and cart, by amongst others, Richard's great-grandfather Léon, and transported to hotels as far away as Paris, where they were used to keep food fresh.  Amazingly the blocks lost only 20% of their initial size during the journey to the capital.

{ENHANCE}
The Chamonix valley is criss-crossed with many mountain biking trails but has no bike lane down at valley level.  I'm always weary of biking into town with the kids as some folks in cars don't seem to see us in their rush to get wherever they happen to be going at top speed!   The same group that organized the anti-pollution protest walk back in february, put together 'Velorutionn'air', this month for all those who wanted to show their support for the construction of a bike lane.  Rémi completed the ride into town with his cousin, but Tino and I had to turn back as his legs were tired and he need to rest them by climbing trees at the lake!!



{ENJOY}
Where did May go?  Don't know about you, but for me it just flew by!  We started the month with a lovely - short but very very sweet - visit from my oldest friend, Amy and her husband Andrew.  A while ago Andrew gifted me this fantastic drawing of a Chamois that he done especially for me. 


Mid-month we had friends over for Paella.  Tino prepared some delicious cocktails for the other kids, I'm sure he won't mind me sharing his recipe:


frost and chill 4 glasses
crush a chopped lime with 2 tbsp of brown sugar
divide between  glasses
half fill with pineapple juice
fill to top with sparkling mineral water
decorate with a strawberry on a stick
mint leaves
and
 two straws each!



And we ended the month with la fête des voisins.  All over France, neighbors (voisins) are encouraged to get together for a celebration of each other.  Our village society organized a pot luck dinner, a local orchestra provided the music and a great time was had by all!
fetedesvoisins2014
How was your month of May?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Yarn Along - Nordic Trail Vest

Clever little name this vest has...
...for those of you that don't Nordic Ski, let me briefly explain the two different styles of this skiing discipline:

1.  Classic, or as it also know, Alternative - the skier has both ski's parallel, often in pre-existing tracks, and moves forward by alternating arms and legs - left arm right leg, right arm left leg.  Picture yourself running in a straight line but with skis on your feet and poles in your hands.  The trail you leave in the snow would look something like this...

2.  Skating, as the name suggests is a movement very similar to ice-skating or roller blading and leaves a trail much like this...

Put the two together and you've got the Nordic Trail Vest.
view of the back section
It's a seamless piece, knit on a long circular needle, with the shoulders finished off by a three needle bind off.
the 'classic' track pattern also runs up the front sides.
Hope a good blocking will show the pattern off a little better.
It's all gone great guns to here but now I've run into a little problem.  I'm meant to pick up 60 sts for the sleeves but no matter how many times I try it, I'm only coming out with 44?  I've knit up a sleeve anyway to see how it looks, it fits OK but feels a tiny bit too snug.  Any ideas how to pick up more sts that actually exist?  should I just make a few?
So the sleeves are on hold for the moment while I tackle the front bands and collar.  The pattern doesn't give a precise no. of stitches to pick up but suggest three out of every four, for 14 rows of 2 x 2 rib.  Fingers crossed I've got enough yarn, it will be a close call.  I'm using the Noro that was once my Shalom.


I've developed a Farley Mowat addiction. All other reading is on hold until I've finished these three (then I'll order myself some more!!).  I even skipped my book club meeting this month as I want no distractions.
To highlight just one - Never Cry Wolf is an amazing read...
'More than a half-century ago the naturalist Farley Mowat accepted an assignment to investigate why wolves were killing Arctic caribou.  Mowat's account of the summer he lived in the frozen tundra alone-studying the wolf population and developing a deep affection for these wild creatures (who were of no threat to caribou or man)-is today celebrated as a classic of nature writing, at once a tale of remarkable adventure and an indelible record of the myths and magic of wolves'.

Linking up with Ginny for Yarn Along if my computer will permit it.  Having IT problems again.  Think the (not so old) gal is on her last legs - there are already two wee vultures with screwdrivers, waiting in the wings to see just what she's made of.
So what's on your needles this week?



Thursday, May 15, 2014

Reversible Shoulder Bag


Just completed my first real sewing project.
A reversible shoulder bag from Sac et Pochettes - mes carnet de couture.
I'm sure a more capable seamstress could whip this up in a weekend - lets just say it took me 'slightly' longer, but I got there in the end, mistakes and all.
I added the crochet flowers to cover my less than straight sewing!
The yellow side (the side from which I was sewing) came out ok but I just couldn't get the purple side to line up.  So cover up was the name of the game - you didn't see anything OK!


oops!


and my pleats at the bottom didn't quite line up either but that's not so visible...

I think I prefer the yellow side.  Maybe it's because whilst making it yellow was my 'main' color and the 'purple' was always just the inside? 
The bag was a gift for my friend Amy, who very kindly said she likes both sides!!

I'd love to try making a garment for myself next, any suggestions for a beginner-limited ability 'couturière' would be greatly welcomed (especially if there's a really detailed photo tutorial to go with it).

Monday, May 5, 2014

Slow Living Essentials Monthly 9 Link Up

Time to link up with Christine for this months Slow Living Essentials Monthly 9
{NOURISH}
Now that the Birch Sap has run dry we are foraging a little closer to the ground - nettles in our soups and delicious dandelion fritters.



And over on Sarah's  blog I found a new way of serving chick peas - roasted!!  They are a staple here too - can't believe I hadn't though of doing them like this before!!


{PREPARE}
Saw this great 'salad in a jar' on a Slow Living Essentials post last month (can't remember who's), and I'm liking it a lot.  I prepare a big salad for monday lunch and three or four jars for the rest of the week.  I eat at home every lunch time but I'm really appreciating not having to prepare (and clean up) salad veggies every day.
always the same order - sauce, raw veggies, meat/cheese/egg and finally lettuce.
{CREATE}
Lots of crafting going on as usual - just loving this table that Richard made from some old wood that my f.i.l has be 'saving' for the last 40 years!!! Couldn't believe it was the same wood when he presented me the freshly sanded planks.


{GROW}
Stared some 'kitchen scrap' gardening with a celery root which is almost ready to go into the ground.  Outside the peas and corn are doing very well, despite last weeks snow, but the potatoes are yet to show any signs of life!

{GREEN & REDUCE}
I've grouped these two together this month as I honestly can't think of anything new I've done in either of these categories!


{ENHANCE}
I was very happy to participate in a meeting given by a group local youths - Bouch à Bouch - who have created an organization to promote, encourage and assist other youngsters with getting their projects off the ground.  Their current 'cause', Le Potager de Mon Pote Agé, aims to connect local young people, who can't afford to buy land, with older folks who own plots and are willing to 'lend' them out as vegetable allotments.  There is to be no money rent paid but the two parties can come to whatever 'barter' style agreement suits them.  The group has also be given some land by the Mayor, who full supports the idea, to use as experimental gardens for developing permaculture technics in the alps.  All produce grown in these test gardens will be donated to a local charity that plans to distribute it to families in need.
These youngsters really uplifted me with their zest for life and their great sense of community solidarity.

{DISCOVER}
I also went to a very interesting conference hosted here in Chamonix on Dyslexia and Dyspraxia, where lots of helpful advice was given for assisting 'Dys' children at home and in school.  However, the evening took a turn for the worse when the local school nurse took the microphone and informed parents not to count on schools voluntarily putting into place any of the measures suggested!  It would seem that it is up to the parents to be fully aware of any help their children are entitled too and to be very vigilant in seeing that they are actually getting this help during he school day.

{ENJOY}
A family holiday - us four, the dog, s.i.l and nephew, to the Grand Canyon du Verdon.



The 6 hour drive home turned into a 9 hour one, as Rémi woke up in the morning with a horrendous stomach bug - need I say more!  And also we kept getting stuck behind camping cars....  I know for people in certain parts of the globe 9 hours travel is nothing but for us europeans it's quite an epic!!



Hope you had a great April and are enjoying a warm May.