Saturday, December 28, 2013

Alpine Fresh Christmas

Yippy - that nasty cloud/haze thing has gone and been replaced by a winter wonderland.
We try to avoid going into Chamonix during the holidays, there's nowhere to park and tourists don't seem to have mastered the art of driving on snow or that of having any patience in queues!  But that's just fine, we've got all we need right here at home:
Big Air
fields of clean fresh snow
Tino received the biggest coloring set from Santa...

...while Rémi got a tool box and his first knife (whatever was the big man in red thinking!).  With Ringo set on breaking everything wooden around the place Rémi's tools will definitely not be short of work!!

recharging the batteries!
They also received, from their aunt and uncle, a chicken.  I think she likes it here, she stared laying on Boxing Day.
Goldie Hen
Yesterday we celebrated Richards 38th Birthday with a delicious brioche made by Rémi, and today would have been my mothers 69th.

Enjoying the last few days of 2013, and planning our new years eve 'mega' party - just us 4 and the pup - I'm not one for crowds!!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Yarn Along & other crafts

With my christmas knitting all finished I'm now relaxing into some new projects:

socks for Tino
I'm using a basic sock pattern but have decided to use rib all down the length of the leg and front of the foot to make them more elastic.  Using the magic loop technique which seems to be a bit faster that dpn's but I can't say as I prefer one method over the other.
Inspired by Lori's & Jarka's Favorite Things Scarf I havecast on one for myself.  I'm in no hurry to finish it, just working on it when ever the mood or the motif takes me.

These papillote chocolates are my favorite thing right now!
But knitting is taking a back seat at the moment around here as christmas crafting is in full swing, no sooner than we have made a gift the puppy has eaten it, but we shall not be deterred - we just keep calm and carry on crafting!

gingerbread men
my new christmas cake stand
salt dough candle holders for teaches gifts
Paper plate angels

I've received the lastest Taproot and am pacing myself to not finish it too quickly!  It's so full of great looking crafts.  And Tino has his Toboggon magazine that big bro is kindly helping him read, it too is packed with fun festive ideas.

Linking up with Ginny and wishing you all a very Joyeux Noël.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Beauty & The Beast

It's not unusual to see Deer in the garden, enjoying our compost, but to see ten altogether - well that's quite a treat.  Not the best of pictures I'm sorry but as I moved closer to them they moved away.  Something must have spooked them for all the herd to come running out of the woods like that, so it's understandable that they didn't appreciate my camera and I trying to get a little closer.
So 'Beauty' is self explanatory but 'The Beast'?
See the yellow haze just behind them? POLLUTION!!
It's been un-seasonally cold here for weeks which means people are heating their homes more than usual (open wood fires seem to be the main culprit), add to this the traffic and - 'cough, wheeze, cough...' is what you get. It stinks - literally!
Instead of dispersing into the atmosphere the 'crap' is getting stuck down into a disgusting cloud by the cold pressure above it.  And with the valley being so narrow it has no place to go, so it just hangs around!
Alerts have been issued advising people to limit vigorous activity to higher altitudes - say 2000m!  Thing is schools are at village level and kids, well, they're vigorous activity personified!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Yarn Along

Why are christmas trees no good at knitting?
Because they are always dropping their needles!!

Found the pattern for these cute little trees via Joy's blog a few weeks ago, and have been knitting them up whenever I have a few spare moments.

What little Christmas gift knitting I decided to do this year is finished:
Mugs & cozy's filled with tea's and coffees (thank you Mereknits for this idea)  I had planned on filling them with peppermint bark but I'm sure my in-law's waist lines will thank me for the liquid option.

his & her's for b & s.i.l
Reading How To Train Your Border Collie on my kindle.  Ringo seems to picking up most commands fairly quickly but is having difficulty with the 'no nipping'!!  Apparently this needs to be 'nipped' (pardon the pun) in bud during puppy's first four months!
Discovered that reading and knitting at the same time is possible with a Kindle - no need to hold it and turning the pages is so simple!

Hope all your Christmas knitting is going according to plan!!
Linking up with Ginny for Yarn Along.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Slow Living Essentials - November

Not sure if Christine is doing her Slow Living Essentials this month, but here is mine all the same:
9 years!
Started the Whole30 - 30 days without grains, dairy, pulses, sugar or alcohol - Or as much seafood, fish, meat, eggs, fruit, veggies and nuts as you want.   Did I cheat at all?  Yes!  One morning I found that I had no bananas, avocado, eggs or ham in the house so I had some oats and almond milk.  Rémi celebrated his 9th birthday so I had a little slice of cake and a glass of Petit Arvine.

Quite frankly it's a fantastic way of eating, but that is not to say I don't think it has it's drawbacks.  For me the main issue was buying enough vegetables (I only shop once a week) and then 'preping' them.  I cook almost everything my family eats from scratch so to add on too this, extra servings of vegetables meant quite a bit more work.  Simply skipping grain part of the meal left me feeling that something was missing.  
It's difficult here to get avocados, of the last 10 I bought 5 were rotten, 4 went from rock hard to rotten over night and only the one in the photo actually made it into my digestive system, and they are very expensive to boot!  A big hearty salad is definitely a great way to start a meal but as I try and eat 'seasonal' I had issues buying things that are for me 'summer food'.  But did I look and feel healthier for it? Yes I did.  I lost some weight that I had gained since stopping running and the dark circles that I always have under my eyes (not from lack of sleep) are visibly reduced.  Well were visibly reduced until he came along...

... I'd forgotten what it's like getting up every two hours at night when you have an new baby in the house!!
On the 20th we welcomed the lovely Ringo into our family.

Made my christmas cake, now have to make one for neighbor before putting them to rest for a few weeks.  I usually 'water' them once with a little brandy then decorate them just before the big day.
Prepared the Advent bags for the kids.  Same bags, same kind of chocolate and same jokes will be greeted with the same enthusiasm as years gone by!

Patched up a second hand pair of jeans that a friend gave me and covered an unsightly ink stain on a fairly new dress, also with a patch.  It looks a bit 'cinderellaish' but it beats the ugly blue blob the ink left.

A friend of Richard's gave us two sofas, in excellent condition.  They open out into double beds so we're all equipped for guests should anyone be crazy enough to brave the freezing cold, noisy kids and hyper puppy!

Just needs some granny square pillows to jazz it up a little.

Well not much really considering the ground has been frozen solid for weeks.

Finally finished my lace fern scarf - 140cm with 2.75mm needles is quite a feat of endurance.
Also made Rémi's birthday cake in the image of his pet fish Bill and Hugo

Here they are in the flesh.  Not sure whether they approve or not of their likeness due to the subtlety of fish expressions.

The public library has an english section!! Eight shelves to be exact.  For years they had in total about eight books.  It is situated right next to the ice-rink, so when Rémi has practice I can pop over for an hour or so.

It's been a good-will month here both giving and receiving.  My s.i.l dropped off three huge cartons of clothes for Rémi in almost perfect condition, much more than he needs, so I let him choose a few things that he wanted and took the rest to the catholic mission drop off point.  Was saddened to see a notice outside waring people that security cameras were in operation to catch people pilfering the boxes.

The highlight of the month, for Tino, was a private guided visit of the chamonix fire station.  Last week two fire men came to the door, as they do each year, selling calendars for charity.  With wide-eyed excitement Tino got out all his fire man paraphernalia and ended up being invited to visit them at work the following wednesday...

So we say goodbye to November, good bye to the sun for the next six weeks and settle down next to a roaring warm fire to dream of the white christmas that awaits us.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ringo - Our Border Collie Puppy!!

Hehe - he's brown and white really

or Chocolate and white as is says on his Official papers!

his first night home the kids set up camp down stairs with him. Needless to say during the night he left the solitude of his cushion and snuggled down in between the boys.

self service in the garage!

the boys are loving him

he's having a blast in the snow!

but wait there's more...

some friends of ours, in the next village over, have Juno, Ringo's sister!

friday they had their first play-date.

it's all very exhausting indeed!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Yarn Along

Another two hats finished, just in time as the cold weather is upon us.
I've been having a flurry of hat making of late so with all the oddments of left over yarn I made some thing for myself 

Still plugging along on my fern scarf.  Just finished the first 50g ball and it is measuring in at 110cm (unblocked).  

The pattern suggests using approximately 60g so I'm way closer to the finish than to the start!
Which is more than I can say for my Whole30.  
30 days of eating only meat, fish, seafood, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds
grains - gluten, sugar (honey or maple syrup!), legumes, dairy or alcohol!
and reading the accompanying book It Starts With Food.   Probably should have read the book first but never the less things are going fairly smoothly,  says she on day 9!!!
I'm determined to stick it out for the 30 days but after which I will definitely be re-introducing certain grains - (trying to stay clear of gluten)- and legumes back into my diet.  Not particularly missing dairy.
The book is very well written and explains quite scientific concepts in lay-mans terms, with it's arguments in favor of a Paleo based diet being very convincing.  Food for though indeed but too strict for me - christmas is coming and I want my mince pies and sherry.
 Also throughly enjoying another great read from Barbara Kingsolver:

THE POISONWOOD BIBLE is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it - from garden seeds to Scripture -- is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.

Linking up with Ginny for this weeks Yarn Along

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Slow Living Essentials - October

Linking up with Christine for Slow Living Essentils - October 2013

"The north wind blows and you shall have snow", but thankfully the south wind came, and melted it all again!
The chicken ladies were none to amused but the little people got stuck right in.

Despite the snow we are still enjoying the fruits of our labors.  The potatoes and squash are up and the carrots, leeks, kale and beets are as ever unfazed by the cold white stuff.  The cabbages are safe and warm inside a wee deer!  We couldn't believe the hide of him, one day he just swaggered up to the garden, in plain daylight, looked us over and tucked in!!
Didn't get the last of the corn though, that was for Titi

I'm so enjoying having a freezer at last.  Apart from jams and chutneys I've never been one for canning.  I don't have a pressure canner and my last attempt at processing dilly beans in the pressure cooker involved me dropping two big jars.
I have been making lots of fruit sauces and freezing batches of them.  Also made a mammoth pan of Bortch and have frozen half of it.  I love this dish but it takes so long to make.

Also I've been slow roasting tomatoes with garlic and herbs and freezing them as well.  I've already defrosted one bag to see how they taste reheated - they were thick, sticky and sweet, Yum!
The chaps are still chopping and stacking wood, something which Rémi enjoys immensely.

With a lot of help from Rémi we turned this old bit of furniture (the manufactures stamp in the draw says 1951) into my new sewing table.  Richard picked it up years ago when a local hotel had a clear out and it's been sitting amongst 'junk' at his parents house ever since.  I figure I will get more sewing done if I can leave my machine out.  Up until now I have been using the kitchen table and then packing my machine away in it's box after use.

Pretty much done on the garden front. We are planning on decorating some terracotta pots and planting Jacinthe bulbs in them to give as christmas presents.
Going to plant some crocus and tulips in window boxes to brighten up the spring (what little of it we get)

Lots going on here.  We celebrated Tino's 5th birthday with a Sponge Bob cake and home made candles...

We've also been doing lots of autumn activities - making leaf prints in autumn colored play dough, leaf  door/window art and leaf dipping in beeswax.

As ever I am still bordering on computer illiterate.  For some reason my yahoo mail account bugged and shut down our computer every time I tried to open it.  My paypal account and my telephone then decided they didn't like their respective passwords and thus slammed their 'virtual' doors in my face.   After three weeks of being AWOL my yahoo account is back, no explanations to it's absence, and is up and running quicker than ever.  I called paypal in a panic thinking someone had pirated my life and was holidaying in the Bahamas at my expense but everything was in order!   I really don't like being dependent on things that I don't understand.

This month I joined my s.i.l and 100 or so other volunteers in helping out at the Trail des Aiguilles Rouge  For our part we were up at 4am and providing pre-race hot drinks and snacks to the runners.


We started the month with snow but finished it in the sun of San Lorenzo al Mare on the Italian riviera.  The boys enjoyed being at the beach again and we spent a fantastic - worth every penny of the entrance fee - day at the Oceanographic Museum  in Monte Carlo, Monaco (but that's the subject of a whole other post)!
This was also second time the boys celebrated Halloween.  It's not really done here in France but last year we were in the UK so they went trick or treating.
The little village of San Lorenzo had decorated it's narrow arched-covered-cobble stone streets with all manner of ghostly things and all the cast of Scooby Doo!!
The kids were then treated to a Halloween buffet of fruit, pizza, spinach pie, cookies and blood (which I suspect was red Fanta!).

So how was your October?  Are you slipping on layers of fleece or slathering on the sun cream?