Thursday, 28 March 2013

J'adore....To Dye For Easter Eggs

Dana Gallagher 

Using foliage and flowers gathered from the garden. Blogger Sonia Bauer ( of Oceanside, California, placed a flower or a leaf facedown against each egg, then wrapped the egg in a four-inch square of panty hose and secured it with a twist tie.

To achieve deep earthy hues, Bauer whipped up her own dyes using purple cabbage, yellow onions, and cranberries.
I couldn't resist having a go and collected a selection of leaves and a couple of very small flowers on yesterday's afternoon dog walk.  As the weather has been so cold I couldn't find many flowers!
I made the dye with onion skins which resulted in a gorgeous deep reddy brown colour.  Unfortunately the patterns weren't anywhere near as beautiful as Sonia's.  
I cut up a couple of pop socks (which I hate and had bought by mistake!) and wrapped a section right around each egg and tied with a freezer bag tie.  I now have four beautifully coloured eggs with a faint pattern and patches of colour. I think that I probably didn't tie the sections of hose tight enough.  Don't let me put you off....give it a try, the recipe can be found on Sonia's blog ('s amazing to see what colours can be achieved using natural products around cheap to do and it would be a fun activity for kids to try. 

I'd love to know if you have more success than I did with this dyeing technique.  Please let me know how you get on. 

Monday, 18 March 2013

Motivate Monday

"The simple things are also the most extaordinary things and only the wise can see them." Paulo Coelho

Taking time in our lives full of busyness to slow down for a second and appreciate our surroundings isn't easy....but it can be so rewarding and give you the boost you need.  On my daily dog walks I make an effort to be mindful and breathe in the clean air, enjoy the scenery, the wind blowing through the trees and even enjoy the rain!  Last week in between the snow showers, I noticed clusters of snowdrops and the first of the spring baby lambs. 

Ok I am lucky enough to live in the beautiful Morvan parc in Burgundy but even if you are in a big city, don't walk around oblivous to what's going probably wouldn't be a very smart move and you could miss out on something wonderful...something that will make you smile.  A wild flower growing on the kerb...a glimpse of blue sky...a cute baby...who knows?

One of the things I have learnt living a simpler life in France is to savour my food, we don't have takeaways here... so ...there's no chance of scoffing fast food on the move. I have found that I really enjoy making food from scratch, it's much easier than I thought and home made soup is easy to whizz up.  I make a point of taking a proper lunch break and unlike many office workers, I don't eat at my desk.  I move away from my laptop and try and relax and digest my lunch.  Coming back to work refreshed and ready to go.

Simplifying your life should also mean that you are selective about your possesions. Appreciate the possessions that you have.  Decluttering your home very can actually enjoy using your possessions instead of filling up the attic or garage instead.

And in your work world take a moment to split tasks and goals into chunks and tackle one by one.  Simplify messages...KISS...Keep It Simple every time!

Tonight I am going to enjoy a soak in the bubble bath, a chat on skype with my kids and a good book...simple pleasures but they feed my soul and make me happy.

What seemingly simple things do you enjoy?

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Working from Home making time count

I am not very good at "blowing my own trumpet" but I just have to share with you my very first guest post.  Judy Heminsley, the author of the wonderful book, Work from Home Wisdom and website offers information, support and advice for home workers and home business owners.  Judy invited me to write about my life working as a freelance PR and marketing consultant from home here in France. 
I met Judy a couple of years back at a writers conference.  I loved her take on the challenges that writers face and I took onboard alot of her advice.
Fast forward to this year and I decided to ask my friend Ange, who also works from home to be my accountability partner or buddy.  Ange lives in a converted barn next to a chateau - and makes beautiful handbags using vintage French the dream!!  But us creatives can find it difficult to combine our passions with the demands of runnng a business, dealing with cash flow, tax issues and all the general day to day stuff. 
Click on the link to find out how we have both benefited and become more productive.  I also reveal the special qualities needed for the perfect accountability partner. 
Would having an accountability partner would for you?

Monday, 11 March 2013

Motivate Monday

This quote seemed strangely appropriate after I drove through lightening storms, torrential rain, hailstorms and even snow to get home last night.  I gripped the steering wheel and faced what the elements threw at me...OK I did squeal a few times when there was a particularly loud lightening flash but I carried on  across the wild countryside and through the dark forests...survived a bird hitting the car roof (bizarre!!) and saw three deer by the side of the road...I got back in one piece.

I am living closer to the elements than I have ever have in my life... it is awe-inspiring, beautiful, exciting and sometimes scary too!! 
The day before I wasn't so brave when my sat nav let me down and I was totally lost in the French countryside...I completely lost my bearings....and after what felt like hours of drivng, and trying to drive up tracks that were unpassable, it crossed my mind to pull over and have a weep....I did pull over and finally decided to check the voila!  I wasn't so far away from my destination after all. 

The sense of achievement when I finally arrived at my destination was great.

Lessons learnt....don't rely on the sat doesn't know best...learn to trust my own instincts and have faith in my abilities.  Feel the fear and do it anyway!


Wednesday, 6 March 2013

A Passion for Life

I have come late to the 2009 film Julie and Julia ...I had the dvd on standby for a rainy day...and so it was on a snowy Sunday I finally got to watch it.   

Julie and Julia is a delicious film about love and passion.  It tells the story of two women rebuilding their lives... Julia Child following the 2nd World War and  Julia Powell after the Twin Towers tragedy.  The film immersed me in Julia's life in post-war Paris and Julie's life living in a pokey apartment and dealing with the aftermath of the Twin Towers.

Both women were looking for something...something to do ...but most importantly something they could love doing and be passionate about.

For Julia it was translating classic French recipes for the American market and producing a "masterpiece" of a cookery book called Mastering the Art of French Cookery.   This turned out to be a considerable feat and took eight years!  She went on to write many books including her memoirs, My Life in France.

Meryl Streep as Julia Child
Blogger Julia Powell set herself a challenge to make a different recipe from the book every day for a year and she commited to blogging about it every single day. In so doing, she revealed the ups and downs of her life and marriage discovering more about herself along the way.

Director of the film, Norah Epheron, was also a great female writer and novelist, known for her novel and film Heartburn and Silkwood among others...featuring strong female characters.  Meryl Streep portrayed a feisty and rather sexy Julia Child who loved food and her husband with equal measure I think!

So what did I take away from the film?  Challenge yourself...find your enthusiasm and when you do put your soul into it.  Be fearless...have fun and don't stint on the butter!

As American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." 

And as Julia Child owes so much to her beloved is a quote from French philosopher Denis Diderot. "Only passions, great passions, can elevate the soul to great things." 

Are you enthusiastic about cooking?  Or does something else melt your butter?

Friday, 1 March 2013

J'adore ...French attitude to kids food

via Chocolate and Zucchini

This is a typical French nursery menu...a nursery in Paris to be precise....thanks to Clotilde from Chocolate and Zucchini blog for sharing....please note there isn't a chicken nugget in sight and certainly no horsemeat.

The menu is full of fresh fruit and fresh vegetables and is based on the availability of seasonal produce and NOT the freezer counter. And notice the number of courses...French children are trained from the beginning to sit at the table, socialise and savour their food!  I never see an overweight French child.

Macdonalds or MacDo is looked on with scorn by the French older generation and seems to be considered as a treat by those that do very occasionally take their kids there. 

Junk Food or Fast Food is yet to take hold - thank goodness!!