samedi, juin 25, 2011

veggie patch

 My garden is finally in the ground! The landscaper delivered the dirt (for free!) about two weeks ago and last Saturday I bought a whole bunch of plants (advantage to getting a late start? 30% off!)
Here you can see my transplanted corn (that I grew from seed, I also planted more seeds in between just in case the transplants don't survive), there are spaghetti squash plants, cherry tomatoes and I planted some seeds for butternut squash in between the corn rows).
 In the middle are a whole slew of tomatoes! I need to buy (or make) some stakes for them, the one stake in place is for a plant that got knocked down in the wild winds we had last week. On the left corner there are 2 zucchini plants.
 And at the end you've got 3 big blueberry bushes (buy 2 get 1 free! at 8 euros each = yea!) and the tiny blueberry plant I got at Lidl... I also stuck in some butternut squash seeds in the middle too.

blueberries!!! I need to put up a bird net cause I have a feeling the birds are going to have a great time as these bad boys ripen!

Fingers crossed my first attempt at a garden goes ok... !

jeudi, juin 23, 2011


This afternoon I had the controle technique for my car. I was a little nervous as my car is getting older (2001 Volkswagen Bora with 232,000km on it!) But it all went ok, a few things to change soon though... boo.

The funny part isn't the test itself but how I sold myself for 7 euros... let me explain...

Last month I called up a few places nearby to find out how far in advance I need to book an appointment and to ask about a discount. At my previous job I saw that several different CT companies offer employees a discount so I thought well, I'm no longer employed there but only since February so I thought I'd tell a little white lie to see if I couldn't get a few euros off.

I called a few places and they said, sorry but no discount. Then I called the last place on my list. The guy who answered didn't know but passed me to the boss. He heard my accent and got all interested and asked if I worked at the local agency, I said, no the one in Caen but name dropped a few "colleagues" in town. Ohhhh! He's been there to the Caen branch, they are so nice blah blah blah. He kept me on the phone for quite some time and then said that when I came in for my CT to ask for Stéphan specifically and he'll give me a discount.

Fastforwards to today. I dropped off Dora and went for a little walk around to kill time. When I came back the employee said that everything was fine and went to print up the bill. I'll paint you a mental image of what happened next; this large smarmy guy with a big beer belly, tight black t-shirt unbuttoned to show some chest hair with a gold chain nestled in there was talking with his buddy. You know the kind right? I think of an Italian used car salesman or something..  I turned to him and asked, Stéphan? He turned and smiled.

Oh yes, I had found the boss man.

So there I was spending the next ten minutes putting up with his small talk, where I was from, how I ended up in Normandy etc... but I walked out only paying 53 euros instead of 60...

How is it that I felt so icky and wrong?? ewww.

mercredi, juin 22, 2011

start of summer


I took a trip into our local town to go to the post office this afternoon. I parked right in front of this fountain and decided to snap a quick picture. I love the town, it is very charming, right on the river where we went kayaking this weekend and with a large medieval castle in the middle. It's really too bad that it is pretty much dead, even in the summer! It has so much potential and I wish that there was a way to revive it...  

I've been substitute teaching for the last week in a local junior high school. It's rough being a new sub the last two weeks of school but the colleagues have been really nice and sympathetic. I was asked to go along on a field trip to Jersey yesterday with 60 6th graders, fortunately it went very smoothly and loved being chez les English.

I've got one week left until the end of the school year and although I'm only teaching the last 2 weeks of the whole year this last week has left me feeling like I've been doing it for months - I'm exhausted!

dimanche, juin 19, 2011

oh la honte

Now I can be ashamed of both of my countries.... egads...

mardi, juin 14, 2011

Homemade cookies!

My new secret project which has been underway for a few weeks now is finally up and running! 
All of those yummy cookies you've been drooling over are now for sale! 
Head on over to my new website to check it out!

The first 10 orders will get 50% off shipping costs :) Spread the word!


Filling out the form to register to vote! Yippee!!! :)

dimanche, juin 12, 2011

morning munchies

bunnies in our front lawn this morning. munch munch.
Posted by Picasa

vendredi, juin 10, 2011

country life

Another quirk living in the country -  the bakery truck! Think the milkman but for bread! In some areas there is a bakery truck that stops by every day or multiple times a week. Ours comes on Tuesday and Friday afternoons around 3 or 4pm. I've never bought bread from the truck, although I have bought it from the bakery it comes from.

I didn't buy any today either because a few weeks ago we bought a bread machine so I've been playing around baking my own bread. I know it's another "kitchen gadet" but we've been buying more and more whole grain, spelt and other "fancy" breads which can cost a good 2 or 3 euros for the small loaves (300grams or so). With the bread machine I can make a 750g spelt bread for 1.15 euros and they've been turning out pretty good! Plus, I mean come on, how good is it to set the timer and wake up to fresh bread?

I make the dough in the bread machine, it takes 1 hour and 30 minutes but does all the kneading and rising for you. Then as the last few minutes are ticking down I turn on the oven to get it nice and hot and pull out the dough. I shape the dough and then let it sit for 5 minutes or so while the oven is finishing preheating then stick the bread in. It takes about 20 minutes or so to cook and voila! Fresh bread! I guess it is time consuming but because you're not having to sit over it or anything you can start the machine and then go do something else.

I'm curious to try Ksam's monkey bread one of these days... oh and there's a "jam" function on it too...

lundi, juin 06, 2011

American cake

For our weekend away near Etretat visiting friends for the long weekend I was in charge of bringing desserts. To celebrate my new Frenchness (received my confirmation letter in the mail today!!!) I brought a bottle of bubbly as well as cookies and a Red Velvet cake :) I was hesitant bringing an American style cake (not worried about the cookies, they've proven themselves time and time again) because they have a tendency of being too sweet with cloying icing. But with all the rage of Red Velvet these days and help from a Jamie Oliver recipe (which I like since it is in grams instead of cups) I busted one out.

The batter was unbelievable, silky smooth and so sexy. I made the cake at home as well as the frosting (cream cheese with real Philadelphia! YUM!) and then put it together once we arrived with some fresh charlotte strawberries from the market on top.

Needless to say it was a huge success, even those who were not the biggest cake fans really enjoyed it and the cake itself was very chocolaty but not too sweet. I had avoided making a layer cake thinking that too much icing would have been overkill but everyone said that next time I should do it :) Happy days.

The weekend was really fun, relaxing and just hanging out. The weather turned into thunderstorms with wild flashes of lightening on Saturday night and then it poured buckets all day on Sunday which was too bad. But with yummy desserts, fantastic coffee and their new "tea machine" we managed to suffer through it :)

Red Velvet - Jamie Oliver (serves 24, I halved it)

200g unsalted butter, room temp
600g sugar
12 eggs
4 tsp vanilla
12 tbsp red food coloring (I didn't add this)
8 heaping tbsp cocoa powder
600g flour
500ml buttermilk
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp white wine vinegar

300g unsalted butter, room temp
600g powdered sugar
450g cream cheese
3 tsp vanilla
lemon zest and juice

Preheat oven to 180C. Line the bases of 2 x 25cm cake tins with greaseproof paper. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, vanilla, food coloring and salt. Fold in cocoa and flour carefully then stir in buttermilk.
Mix the bicarb and vinegar together in a small bowl until it fizzes, then stir into cake batter.
Divide the mix between the two tins and bake for 25-30min until risen and cooked through. Let sit for 15 minutes to cool and then remove from tins and cool completely.

For the frosting, cream the butter and powdered sugar together. Beat in the cream cheese. Fold in vanilla and lemon zest/juice. Chill until needed.

When the cakes are cool top one with a layer of frosting, carefully place the second layer on top and using a spatula spread the rest of the frosting on top.

MilkJam tip: top with fresh strawberries and call it "velours rouge" :)

vendredi, juin 03, 2011


You know you're an expat in France when you see tons of American flags popping up the beginning of June throughout the Norman countryside and you think to yourself "well that's good timing, D-day also coincides with our national holiday..."

BEEP. Back that train up, yup the 4th of June is coming up tomorrow, need to wait one more month for the 4th of July... Opps. Oh well.

Anyway about the flag in the picture. Our neighbor gave it to me when she found out I was American. It was a flag given to her and the other extras in the 1962 monumental film: The Longest Day for them to wave. You can tell it's an old flag, the colors are faded and the white is a soft cream color and there are two missing stars. It is sitting atop Mystery Guest's piano for the time being, I think I'll take the little stick out and frame it flat to hang up somewhere - it is too pretty not to.

It is a funny feeling driving around these little villages only to be greeted with American flags flapping in the breeze. Yesterday my bike ride took me past Camp Patton where there were banners of French and American flags lining the street in anticipation for Saturday's ceremony. I went last year and it brought tears to my eyes seeing all of these elderly men and women with their children and grandchildren along side them proudly celebrating an event from so many years ago. I looked at those banners yesterday and thought, wow that really is me now isn't it?