Sunday, 21 January 2018

Mosaic Monday # 69 - letting go of hygge? No, I didn't think so.

I first heard about hygge, the Danish lifestyle concept of comfortable coziness,  about two maybe three years ago when the internet was suddenly buzzing with ideas of how we could incorporate hygge into our daily lives.

The Oxford English Dictionary included hygge in it's list of words of 2016.

A quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture.

I heard a rumour last year that a Swedish word "Lagom" which means "just the right amount"  had replaced hygge as a life concept, I wasn't personally ready to abandon cosy but I liked the sound of lagom too.

It fits right in with the Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy philosophy, which has been on my bedside table now for more years that I can remember, a reminder to always show gratitude especially for the small every day things that make life good.
Incorporating hygge into our daily lives this week was easy to do from the cosy warmth of the kitchen, the heart of the home.

I made a wonderful broccoli and cheddar cheese soup from a recipe that I saw on Diane's  Lavender Dreams blog, which she shared @ MM # 67.

I baked a simple rustic Irish loaf, in the oven, to serve along with the soup.
Click here for Diane's recipe, if you make this soup you won't be disappointed.

Seville orange marmalade always seems to be something that people make in January so I thought I'd give that a try. I gathered all the ingredients together to follow the Delia Smith method but was shocked at the amount of sugar in the recipe. 2kg of sugar to 1kg of Seville oranges!
I called the Senior Partner in for a second opinion and his reaction was even stronger than mine, something along the lines of "are you joking, we can't eat that much sugar!"
So, I put everything away again but not before taking a photo to show my good intentions.
Since buying my bread maker I have been wanting to make a British classic tea time sweet treat and a childhood favourite - Chelsea Buns.
It took me 30 minutes to gather the ingredients together, the bread maker took two and a half hours to make the enriched dough. Preparing and adding the filling to the punched down dough whiled away another 20 minutes then I read my book for half an hour in front of the wood burner as the buns, sitting in a baking tin on the hearth below, doubled in size.
Finally it was into the oven with them for 20 minutes, after they had cooled slightly I drizzled them with vanilla icing et voila!

Was it worth it? 
Absolutely - pure hygge.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Mosaic Monday # 68 - Five on Monday.

There used to be a weekly meme, which I always enjoyed being a part of, called Five On Friday hosted by Amy @ Love Made My Home. A while ago Amy took a break from blogging but I'm happy to tell you that she's blogging again so please stop by and say welcome back, Amy!
For my MM post today here are 5+ things that happened here recently.
New Year - new haircut!

You may have seen on the news that Storm Eleanor brought the New Year in with more than a few bangs as thunder, lightening and gale force winds ripped across Normandy. The village which we live in sits on the edge of the Marais (marsh) National Park and some of the fields where cows and sheep graze in summer are completely under water, the French for flood is "inondation" and signs are placed at the roadside when the road between the fields are impassable.
After a couple of days Eleanor went away to continue wreaking weather havoc in the UK .
Whilst she was gone the weather here was so mild that the SP got the mower out and gave the lawn in front of the house its first haircut of 2018!
Eleanor wasn’t finished with us though and our beach walk a few days later had to be cut short as we got sandblasted and buffeted by the wind. Later that evening we enjoyed a cosy dinner for two in front of the fire. The SP's signature dish of coq au vin and root vegetable mash with carrots on the side, afterwards we settled down to watch a new drama series on TV.
January is the month that UK TV companies launch new programmes and there are two in particular that we’ll be watching this month, the BBC’s Hard Sun and ITV’s Kiri. Both feature strong women in the leading roles, Aygness Deyn (Hard Sun) was born in the town of Littleborough, Lancs, which is about 15 miles from Oldham where Sarah Lancashire (Kiri) was born and coincidentally also the town where I was born and raised.
Finally, a book recommendation for all those who loved Downton Abbey - “Belgravia” by Julian Fellowes which I thoroughly enjoyed reading this week.
Julian Fellowes's Belgravia is the story of a secret. A secret that unravels behind the porticoed doors of London's grandest postcode.
Set in the 1840s when the upper echelons of society began to rub shoulders with the emerging industrial nouveau riche, Belgravia is peopled by a rich cast of characters. But the story begins on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. 
(text from Goodreads).

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Mosaic Monday # 67 - Life is Good

In my first post of 2017 I declared that it was going to be a ridiculously amazing year and after looking back through my blog posts of the last 12 months I'm inclined to say "Oh, yes it was!"
If you've been a visitor to my blog for even the shortest time you probably have guessed that taking trips, experiencing new cultures, discovering interesting places, living in Normandy and enjoying good things to eat are the top five topics of this blog.
Last year we visited the Greek island of Crete for the first time, we fell in love with the scenery, the people and the slow pace of life.
Special highlights of that trip were the day spent at Agreco Farm (click on the link here for a tour) and the visit to the historic island of Spinalonga, two experiences I shall remember for a very long time.

We rented a villa in the small seaside village of Panormas as our base.

In July we enjoyed some crazy time with family in Orlando Florida it was good to spend time with them "doing the theme parks" 
I wonder where our itchy feet will take us in 2018?

Until then 
to quote Dorothy 
"there's no place like home"

Here are some links to my posts about interesting places which we explored closer to home such as the sculpture park and Cathedral in Cerisy, fascinating La Maison du Biscuit and historic Château de Colombières,  if you'd like to read or perhaps reread those posts.
la vie quotidienne en Normandie

Monday, 25 December 2017

au bord de la mer - Christmas Day 2017

December 25th in Normandy dawned fresh and clear, a little bit breezy but no rain, so following our Christmas Day tradition we wrapped up warm and headed for the beach.

Fleur quickly palled up with an English family also out for a walk au bord de la mer and soon Merry Christmases were flying between us!

On the way back to the car I came across a beautiful ajonc (broom) shrub in full flower, a beautiful splash of bright yellow to brighten the day.

Time for lunch now.
Smoked salmon with cream cheese on freshly baked home made bread and maybe a glass of fizz, then there's a large bag of root veg waiting to be peeled ready for our traditional roast turkey dinner this evening.

love and best wishes to all our friends and family wherever
you are.
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Mosaic Monday # 66 - 'tis the season

But the Christmas tree is a tree of Fable
A Phoenix in Evergreen
And the world cannot change
Or chill what its Mysteries mean
To your Hearts and Eyes now.

The Christmas Tree, C. Day Lewis.

It was lovely to receive all your friendly get well messages last week, thank you so much.
However despite my best efforts I just couldn't shift that pesky cough so midweek I made an appointment with my General Practitioner to get it checked out.
Her diagnosis was bronchial asthma, the prescription 8 days of antibiotics, a discus inhaler, bronchial medicine, bed rest and a good book!
Little did she know that I've become an expert at doing exactly that recently.
By Saturday morning I was feeling a bit better and thought I'd do a little decorating so the SP brought the tree and just a couple of storage bins of decorations down from the attic, in the afternoon I took my time trimming it and decorating the mantelpiece.
Some favourite tree ornaments.
Olaf from Frozen is new in 2017,
the Redbird was a souvenir of our Hilton Head 2012 vacation,
the French wine waiter also from a HH vacation in 2009.

Merry Christmas was a gift;
 the primitive angel came home from a visit to Colonial Williamsburg;
the silver plated bird was also a gift;
the holly leaf & berry bauble, HH 2009.

library mantelpiece decorated in silver and white with a splash of red

I finished by hanging pair of simple wreaths by the front doors to welcome visitors and I'm thinking that's probably enough for now.

This will be our last Mosaic Monday of 2017 but we will begin again in the New Year on the 8th January 2018 (08/01/2018).

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Mosaic Monday # 65 - best laid plans and all that...........

After telling you all how my Christmas plans were coming along last week things around here went a little bit pear shaped to say the least.
The coughs and colds that are often around at this time of year and which had been bothering the SP and I since we got back from our holiday in Cyprus decided that it was all very well and good decorating and baking, but what we really needed was to spend some time in hibernation not doing very much.
This week we've been taking care of each other with hot drinks, medicine (with the occasional medicinal brandy thrown in) hot water bottles, comfort food (soft poached eggs on buttery toast was my favourite meal), napping and reading in front of a roaring log fire.
Let me share with you some of the seasonal reads that helped me forget, for a few hours, just how rotten I was feeling.

#1 on my Christmas book list has to be "A Redbird Christmas" by Fannie Flagg. I've read this lovely story umpteen times and it never fails to be uplifting, it's quite likely that I was smiling all the way through the book despite a hacking cough!
I saw on Lorrie's blog Fabric Paper Thread recently that Antony Trollope's "Christmas at Thompson Hall" is one of her seasonal favourites so I ordered it online and an Amazon elf delivered it a day later. Good call, Lorrie, I just started reading it at the weekend and am enjoying it very much.
At a recent charity book fair I picked up two classic Christmas books to add to my collection.
"A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens and the little less well known "Winter Holiday " from the Swallows and Amazons series written by Arthur Ransome which I'm looking forward to reading soon.
When I was a young girl I loved the Famous Five books by Enid Blyton and over the years have picked up a few vintage hardback versions from jumble sales and used book shops. Set during the Christmas break from their respective boarding schools "Five Go Adventuring Again " was a favourite read and getting reacquainted with Julian, Dick, Anne, George & Timothy the dog almost 60 years later made me feel quite nostalgic.
Duty called on Friday morning in the shape of M'selle Fleur's annual check up and vaccination appointment with the vet in Bayeux. All went well and she's safe from all sorts of illnesses, including rabies, for another 12 months.
Whilst in town we did a quick shop to stock up on supplies at the newly refurbished  LeClerc supermarche, these fascinating woodland creatures greeted us as we entered the lobby.

The new flower shop was a wonderful sight, just breathtaking, I hope to go back next week to pick up a floral arrangement or two and maybe some white poinsettia plants.

So, how was your week?

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Mosaic Monday # 64 - Advent, a time for reflection, preparation and tradition.

“Let’s approach Christmas with an expectant hush, rather than a last-minute rush.”
Today, December 3rd, is the first Sunday in Advent a day that for me heralds the start of the Christmas season.
Although I'm not a religious person and do not attend Church services, I was baptised in the Methodist Church and as a child attended church services with my parents.
One year I appeared in the Sunday School Nativity play as Mary, every little girl's dream. My doll Nancy took the part of the Baby Jesus. Since then, as an adult, I've developed a more private, personal relationship with Spirit more in keeping with my beliefs.
One of my Advent traditions is to write our Christmas cards on the first Sunday in Advent. As I page through my Christmas address book I can't help reflecting upon the names of those friends and family members who are no longer with us and think fondly of happy times spent together.

A big part of preparing for Christmas is to dust off my favourite Christmas cookery books and look through them for tried and tested recipes as well as something new to delight our taste buds this year. Delia, Nigella and the Hairy Bikers are all old friends who never fail to inspire.

However, I found a new mince pie recipe in the December edition of BBC's Good Food Magazine last week and decided to try it out.

Click here for the recipe.

They turned out to be quite crumbly, the Senior Partner thought that they were too "biscuity".
Filled to the top with Delia's Christmas mincemeat, which has been aging nicely in the pantry for the past 12 months, I thought they were delicious despite being a little more rustic looking than ones I've baked before.

Another of my favourite Advent traditions is creating an Advent wreath as part of my Christmas décor. I first learned about this tradition when we moved from England to live in Bavaria in the early 1980's.

For Christmas this year I plan on dressing our large tree and fireplace mantel in red, white and silver, this silver and white advent wreath will sit on the coffee table in that room. Once the tree and mantel are decorated I may add a few red accents, such as berries or tiny beads, to the wreath or I may leave it as it is, we'll see.
How's your decorating coming along? Care to share some of your family's Christmas traditions with the Mosaic Monday crowd?
There are just two more weeks of "Mosaic Monday 2017" before we take a break for the holidays, fear not though MM will be returning in the New Year.
That's two more opportunities you'll have to tell us your stories, if you wish. I plan on blogging some more about what Christmas looks like here in Normandy so please do join me.
No pressure though, your blog topic as always for Mosaic Monday can be about anything you wish, the only MM "rule" is that the post must include at least one mosaic.