Monday, September 15, 2014

Flirting with French by William Alexander Book Review

Yesterday I was at the beach.  Yes it is still beach weather in Southern California.  Lovely beach weather-100 degrees beach weather.  I was in the water most of the day.  With waves being big, my husband said I was having an x-rated day at the beach.  Every few seconds he was adjusting my suit.

If I say so myself my bathing suit was rather cute-cute from Columbia cute-so they do not believe in a lot of fabric and with me swimming in the waves there was no cooperation from the suit or the waves.  So what does this have to do with the book-nothing and everything.  I read the book at the beach in two sittings.

So at one point I was pulled down the shoreline and when I got out I see a woman reading a book-called The Girl you Left Behind.  The cover looked good.  I make a mental note and forget about it by the time I returned to my blanket.  Later in the day I walk past again and the cover is folded over.  I really want to know the title so I ask her.

We start talking and she tells me it is set in France.  That leads to us talking for about an hour.  She tells me she is married to a French man and has just returned from France.  I want to be married to a French man.  Sorry dear husband but a family in France just has a certain appeal to me.  She tells me what her husband and her do for work and I tell her I know you.  We were neighbors about 15 years ago.  Life is funny.

So back to Flirting with French.  I adored it.  Just devoured it.  Wait maybe I savoured it.  A French person savours.  Author Alexander is 58 and determined to learn French.  The book tells the story of his attempt to learn French and the struggles he encounters.

What makes the book really interesting is his consulting with linguistic experts.  This part of the book I found fascinating.  Why is it that children can learn a second language so much easier than an adult?  The reasons are numerous.  For us we are not screwed but our chances are not as good.   French is my second language so I found this part of the book quite interesting.  In his speaking with a French person some of the advice he was given is you must think like a French person.  This is true with regards to conversation-you still need to know how to say what you are going to say.  But there is truth to acting like a French person if you want to speak French.

How did his adventure go-fun and painful.  Alexander has a great sense of humour as he explains some of the different idioms.  For good fortune the French say an ass full of noodles.  (if you were to translate literally).  Alexander takes all the typical steps...Rosetta stone, French immersion in France, meet up groups.  I never knew you could find a partner to Skype with in a different language.

He tells a great story that is humorous and informative all at once.

This is my contribution to Dreaming in France hosted by Paulita at An Accidental Blog who also has a post about learning French.

Bon Chance!!!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Cowboy Cookies by Martha Stewart

Okay I know that the photo is not very clear but trust me when I say these cookies are delicious.  Delicious with chocolate chips, nuts and coconut delicious.  The first time I had these cookies was at my neighbor's wedding reception.  I cannot tell you how many of these when I went home with.  My dad was supposed to go to a picnic today and he asked me to make him cookies.

I baked and baked only to have the picnic cancelled due to a fire.  So now we have cookies, cookies cookies in the house.  I have already started giving some of them away.

I just love the chewiness to these cookies along with the taste.  I am not sure why they are called cowboy cookies but I do not need to know that.  As an aside there is nothing here that says fall, which is why I used my nautical napkin as a backdrop.  I am still in the ocean and I think it must be 89 degrees already.

I made the batter yesterday and then baked them today.  It gives the ingredients a chance to just melt into each other.  Enjoy.  This is my contribution to Weekend Baking hosted by Beth at Beth Fish Reads.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch chunks (1 cup)
3 ounces (3/4 cup) pecan halves
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat baking sheets with cooking spray, line with parchment, and spray parchment. Sift flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder into a medium bowl.
2. Beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium-high until pale and creamy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
3. Reduce speed to low, and slowly add flour mixture, beating until just incorporated. Beat in oats, chocolate, pecans, and coconut until combined. (Dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.) 4. Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop or a small spoon, drop dough onto baking sheets, spacing 3 inches apart.
5. Bake until edges of cookies begin to brown, 11 to 13 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to wire rack, and let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks. Let cool. (Cookies can be stored up to 3 days.)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

St. Cirq Lapopie

St. Cirq Lapopie can be found in the Lot Department in France overlooking the Lot River.  It is absolutely picturesque.  The village sits about 100 m up from the river.  For me it has many found memories as it is here that I first had clafoutis (a French dessert).  I can still remember the cafe.  My dessert was just delicious.

As we had approached the town it was shrouded in the clouds.  I made my husband drive up and down the road leading to the village about 5 times so I could get that just perfect photo.

This is my contribution to Dreaming of France hosted by Paulita at An Accidental Blog.

Monday, September 1, 2014

GI Brides by Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi Review

This past summer I have read some great books and GI Brides is without a doubt one of them.  I adored the story about a group of women who left England to marry American soldiers.  The story was not all love and romance.  Imagine being a young bride that has left London for a foreign land.  I am sure it was a very intimidating experience for many.

The book provides the story of four women along with a history of the war brides.  Yanks as they were known in England provided the young women, chocolate, stockings and excitement in a time when London was under the bombs of the German.  For some coming to the US was a new adventure and a chance to escape England.

Two of the women had good marriages while two of the women found themselves in a poor situation.  I found myself rooting for all the young women.  They all had their own reason for marrying and American and I wanted all of them to have happiness even it was not to be.  Author Calvi is the granddaughter of one of the women.

I enjoyed the format to the book which gave every women their own chapter as we rotated through the lives of these women from them being single to being courted and eventually coming to the U.S.  The book had some humorous movements as the women adapted to the cultural differences between England and the U.S.  Telling someone you want to be "knocked up" has a different meaning in both countries.

The authors of the book travelled throughout the U.S. to interview 60 women for the book.  They did justice in telling the story of the British brides and the story of these 4 young women.

Thank you to Harper Collins for providing me with a copy of this amazing book.  The authors are touring in the U.S. starting tomorrow.  If you could listen to them speak I am sure you would enjoy the evening.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Red Rover Tea Tree Oil

A few months ago a friend of mine got me interested in making home made facial treatments.  I must confess, I love beauty products.  I am a huge believe of cleansing and moisturizing, exfoliating and hydrating.  I have often wondered what is in the products and what I could make at home.  You can make almost any facial mask at home...with good results.

Recently I was given the opportunity to review Red Rover Tree Tree Oil.  With every purchase of the tea tree oil you receive a recipe book detailing all the uses for tea tree oil.

Before reading through the recipe book I never realized there were so many uses for the oil.

The substances found in tea tree oil are useful in the fight against bacteria, fungus and viruses, which is why it is helpful in fighting illness and cleaning germs around the home and office. Some consider tea tree oil a miracle ingredient because it has proven effective for the following modern uses:
  •   Skin care
  •   First Aid
  •   Household cleaning
  •   Hair care
  •   Aromatherapy
  •   Feminine care
  •   Chronic illnesses
  •   Dental care 

    Who knew that tea tree oil could be used for cleaning your oven.  This I am going to try.  For now I have stuck with the more traditional uses.  I made a hand scrub which I loved.  The beauty of the tree tree oil, is that you only need a few drops.  The bottle is going to last me a lifetime as I try the different apothecary recipes.   The other factor I love about the oil is the scent.  It has a strong scent almost like eucalyptus.  I like the fresh scent that it has.  

    Here is a recipe for the scrub.

    What You Need:
    Fortifying Citrus Foot Scrub
    •   1⁄2 cup medium-coarse sea salt
    •   1⁄4 cup Coconut or jojoba oil
    •   5-10 drops Apothecary Extracts Tea
      Tree Oil
    •   1⁄2 tsp. lime zest
    •   1⁄2 tsp. grapefruit zest
    •   Large clean jar with lid
      Mix It: Combine all ingredients together until perfectly blended. 

    • For anyone looking for a healthy fun alternative to beauty treatments or cleaning around the house, Rover Tea tree oil is your product.  

    • I received my product from Tomoson in exchange for my review.  

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Port Navalo, France

 On my last visit to Brittany, I returned to Vannes.  The year before I had tried to stay in a bed and breakfast however the one I chose was fully booked.  This time I  was in luck, Maison de la Garenne had space.  The Madame was a lovely lady, very friendly and full of information.  She suggested to me that I take a day trip out to Port Navalo on the Gulf of Morbihan.  I spent my day around the Gulf in little towns.  Unfortunately I did not have the time to take a ferry around the Gulf as I was returning to Paris that evening.
 I must say that I truly enjoyed my day on the Gulf.  One of the reasons was because of a purse I purchased.  The purse is truly gorgeous and really only cost me a little bit of money.  It is one of those finds that everyone comments on and I tell them that I purchased it in a little store somewhere in France.  I love being on the water and my entire day was spent along the Gulf.  In Port Navalo, I strolled through the town and was utterly delighted to find these homes.

 There is something to be said for blue shutters and doors and lace curtains.  I must confess that I spent my time peeking into the various backyards.  There were all sorts of finds behind the gates.
At some point I bought myself a baguette and pastry and sat along the water enjoying my lunch.  Should I ever return to Brittany I would definitely make sure that I had time to take a ferry around the gulf.

This is my contribution to Dreaming of France hosted by Paulita at An Accidental Blog.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Markets of India

 This past weekend I went and saw The Hundred Foot Journey.  I loved the movie.  For me the movie brought together three of my great loves, France, India and food.  The reason I even knew about the book is due to my love of India and France.  As I had mentioned in an earlier post, I had the pleasure of meeting author Richard Morais many years ago and when he discovered my three loves he told me about his book.

Ten years ago, I found myself in India.  I adored the country.  I was there on a photography workshop and while the leader of that tour left a lot to be desired, the photography was amazing.  I have never been to a country that was so colourful and diverse.  The people lived life on the street.  When I was in India all of my time was spent in Rajashtan.
The photos in this essay where all shot in Varanasai, home the holiest of the seven sacred cities for Hindus.  Located on the banks of the Ganges River it was very spiritual.  
 The markets of India were beyond fascinating.  They truly offered up a feast for both the eyes and the stomach.  While the markets of France are very orderly, India's markets are chaotic and energizing.  The market just spills onto the street.  Vendors will set up on the road.

 In another life I would love to live in India for a period of my life.   Can you imagine the dishes you could create with these vegetables?
 In addition to the produce I found the people to be absolutely enticing.  While many cultures do not want you taking their photos, Indians loved to have their photos taken.  In almost every photo look at the smiles and the pride in the faces of the people.
 I also liked how they still used the old scales with weights.
 Can you imagine passing the days eating, cooking and practicing yoga.  I cannot think of a more peaceful existence.
This is my contribution to Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads and Saturday Snapshots.
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