Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Belle Isle France

 Last spring I spent some time on Belle Isle, in France.  Belle Isle is an island off the coast in Brittany and it is absolutely delightful.  There are no other words to describe it.  My time here was heavenly.  I stayed here at the Hotel La Grande Large.  It was spectacular.  The photos below were all taken within walking distance of the hotel if not just outside the hotel.  Each evening I would walk along the path to watch the sunset.  The sunrise was also a treat.  There are very few cars on the island.  My hotel had bicycles and I borrowed one to cycle around the island.
 When Monet first came to the island he was only going to stay a short time.  Given the light of the island he extended he stay and it is here that he painted his rock series on the savage coast of Belle Isle.  I can see why he was so inspired.
 In the mornings I would walk to the local corner store.  There was a store and bar together.  I would get a croissant and some yogurt and then sit down at the bar with a cup of tea.  The lady at the store was very kind.  She kept my yogurt in the fridge for me.
I honestly could have stayed here awhile.  While I did not go into the water, I was here in May I would love to return in the summer months.  I can just imagine how idyllic the island must be then.

If you want to read more about Belle Isle visit Emma's Words and Peace  where she reviews The French House set on Belle Isle.

This is my contribution to Paris in July hosted by Thyme for Tea.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Question of Honor by Charles Todd Book Revew

A Question of Honor is the 5th in the Bess Crawford mystery series.  I have not read the other 4 but will be quickly seeking them out.  Bess is a young nurse at the French front during World War 1.  Raised in India, Ms. Crawford believes that she recognizes a soldier in the hospital who is wanted  for five murders.  The recognition of the man opens up old wounds for Bess.

At the time of his disappearance Lt. Wade was under Bess's father's command.  His disappearance left a stain on the Colonel's regiment and Bess is determined to clear her father's name and solve the mystery of what happened to the Lt. and was he the one responsible for the murders.

What I really enjoyed about the book was how it took the reader from India to Britain and the French front.  Intertwined in the mystery was the fate of other British children who were sent home from India to be raised in a foster home in Britain.  The couple who are one of the five victims were less than altruistic in the children they fostered.

Bess enlists the help of Simon Brandon, a former sergeant in her father's regiment and her mother as she travels the British countryside attempting to solve the mystery.  Her time off from the French war front is spent trying to erase this blemish on her father's regiment.

This is a great story that takes readers to the heart of the trenches of WW 1 in France and the fear and stamina both the medical teams and soldiers endured to the British countryside and India.  The reader is left guessing at to the fate of both Lt. Wade and who murdered his parents along with a British couple.

Thank you to Williams Morrow for my copy of A Question of Honor.

This is my contribution to Dreaming of France hosted by Paulita at An Accidental Blog, I love France hosted by Emma at Words and Peace


Friday, July 25, 2014

TrEATs Delicious food gift to make at home, April Carter Review

I must confess I have not felt like myself at all this year.  My mum's death has turned me inside out.  I have never felt so disconnected from the world and life before.   It has been interesting to see how I have lost interest in so many of the joys that I treasured...cycling, baking, cooking and reading to name a few.

That said in the past few weeks I have felt that I am starting to slowly find my bearings.  Last weekend the day was overcast and a little cool.  Cool in the sense of I could give up a beach day.  I spent the day in the kitchen.  Something I truly love to do.  I love kitchen days.  Cooking and baking away.  I must confess it was rather nice.  We had dinner prepared for the week.  The main courses at least.

If I wanted to be truly decadent and not wear a bikini to the beach again this summer I would have baked every recipe from trEATs  Delicious food gifts to make at home.  Most times when I bake I will give away most of what I make to friends.  I love baking and tasting.  That is all I really need.

I could sit down and read trEATs  Delicious food gifts to make at home  every day with a cup of tea.  It is the sort of book that takes me bake to England.  Imagine yourself in a lush rose garden with your favourite cup of tea.  The inside cover for the book and the chapters are all set with a a lovely cream and blue wallpaper print.  I'm in love with the print alone before I even start reading the recipe.  Yes I must confess I love reading recipes.  Almost every recipe has an accompanying photo.  Lovely photos that are rustic and charming.  The recipes are all quite easy to follow and varied.  I would probably make almost all the recipes.

So, what do we have inside this delightful book, cakes, bakes, biscuits and cookies, savoury (the author is British so there is the u -which as a Canadian I quite appreciate) and sweet trEATs.  All measurements and temperatures are both Metric and Imperial.  To solve that problem I have my measuring utensils in both.  Given I always return home with many cookbooks it just made it easier.

As soon as I open the first chapter the first two recipes are beckoning to me, Cherry and Cinnamon bundt cakes and brownies with salted caramel.  The third recipe is an almond and earl grey teacup cakes.  Yes a little cake baked inside a teacup.  A proper British teacup, not a mug.  What a sweet gift would that be, to peruse garage sales for matching tea cups and saucers and bake your gift inside.

I wish the Bake section was longer; there are only four recipes.  That said I am a huge fan of mince meat pie another recipe I cannot wait to try.  The savoury section has what looks like a delicious fig and goat cheese loaf.  Everything really sounds just scrumptious.

This is a book that I can see myself gifting both the book and the recipes.  Thank you to Rizzoli Publishing for such a charming book.

This is my contribution to Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth at Beth Fish Reads.

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

trEATs: Delicious Food Gifts to Make at Home

Written by April Carter
  •  March 4, 2014
  •  Hardcover
  •  Cooking - Entertaining
  •  Hardie Grant Books
  •  7 x 8-5/8
  •  $19.95
  •  $19.95
  •  978-1-74270-634-4

About This Book

Tempting and beautifully presented food gifts for every occasion. Whether it's a birthday, a baby shower, Father's Day, or Christmas, there's no better way to say "I love you" than with a homemade gift straight out of your kitchen. trEATs contains over fifty edible goodies for every occasion, both savory and sweet, and will suit both the novice cook and the more experienced. Included throughout are tips and hints on wrapping and packaging your food, so it looks as good as it tastes. From cookies to preserves, cakes to flavored salts, and even alcoholic gifts, there's something to suit every palate. Whip up some donuts and decorate them with pink icing and sprinkles; bake some salted caramel brownies or some cake pops for a party; infuse some vodka with chili. Making your own gifts doesn't have to take ages or cost you lots of money: trEATs teaches you how to make show stopping gifts for every celebration.

About the Author

April Carter is the face behind Rhubarb and Rose, which started as a baking blog on her adventures of baking and making things in London. This is her second book.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Orange' Your're Glad it is Friday

I have a love affair with doors especially beautifully coloured doors like the ones found in Europe.  I think these doors are just exquisite.  I found this door in Ghent, Belgium last year.    I like how the mail slots are a contrast of red.

Orange Your're Glad it is Friday is hosted by Maria at Life's Sweets and Spices.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me

 Happy Birthday to me.  If I could I think a birthday in France would be delightful.  I have been there in the summer, but I am not sure I would want to be there with the crowds.  Even though I cannot be in Paris I must say my friends made sure that I am going to have a special birthday.

This year has been one of the saddest and most difficult years of my life.  In addition to losing my mum, my cat has been diagnosed with heart failure.  There have been many tears shed.  Saturday eve my friends had a surprise party for me.  There was a nice group of men and women and we had a lovely time.  Thank you to my darling husband for organizing it.

I received some lovely presents and I must confess almost each present had a French touch.  There were tea mugs with lovely bicycles on them.  Lots of tea.  French cook books and tea towels with macarons and French postal markings.  Of course there has to be champagne and cake with strawberries.  Let's not forget the cookware and a scarf of course.  It truly was a fun evening.

One of my male friends that I cycle with is a great cook.  He told everyone that we always discuss food and recipes on the ride and when he returns home he is so frustrated as he wants to make all the recipes that we discussed.  He gave me Alice Waters The Art of Simple Food.  He said it does not have photos but he knows I will appreciate it.  I cannot wait to read it.  Of course there was also the Barefoot Contessa in Paris and My Paris Kitchen.  I can hardly wait to start cooking from them.

I just loved how my friends all came together.  We enjoyed dinner and had a lovely time talking.  This year has taught me to truly appreciate my friends and lean on them.  Last night I saw another group of friends I had not seen in awhile.  Friends whether male of female are great.  It is important to spend time with them and enjoy the moment.




While I would love to be in France, the best present I could receive is friendship.  Thank you to all my friends for being there.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Happy Bastille Day!!!

 For me there are so many reasons to love France and adore Paris.  Who would not want to be one of these two women.  They are sitting together in Place de Vosges enjoying a beautiful sunny spring day.    They are not the only ones enjoying the day.  People all around them are taking advantage of the sun and warmth.
These two men are quite content to be sitting alone reading.  All around Paris you see people sitting in the park reading.  It really is the perfect way to spend an afternoon.  
I would sit in the park every Sunday and read if there was a park with pretty flowers nearby.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Holiday Home by Fern Britton

Each year, the Carew sisters embark on their yearly trip to the family holiday home, Atlantic House, set on a picturesque Cornish cliff.
Prudence, the hard-nosed businesswoman, is married to the meek and mild Francis, but she’s about to get a shock reminder that you should never take anything for granted. Constance, loving wife to philandering husband Greg, has always been outwitted by her manipulative sibling, but this year she’s finally had enough.
When an old face reappears on the scene, years of simmering resentments reach boiling point, but little do the women know that a long-buried secret is about to bite them all on the bottom. Is this one holiday that will push them all over the edge, or can Constance and Pru leave the past where it belongs?

My Review:  Apparently Fern Britton is a television personality in England.  I had never heard of her before reading the book.  This book did not get the best reviews in comparison to her earlier books.  I actually enjoyed the book until the end.  I did not like how the book ended at all.  It almost seemed as if the author wanted a certain ending and rushed through the end to meet her results.  
For me the book was fun in a British humour type of way.  The book was a little unrealistic but I was okay with that.  This is a light hearted read where both husbands seemed to be infatuated with women they should not be and everyone was trying to shag everyone.  
While the story takes place at the Holiday Home in Cornwall I was expecting the house to play a more central role given the detail that is provided to the reader in the beginning of the story.  I did like that details the author used to describe where the home was situated.  I could almost believe that I was in Cornwall.
If you are looking for a fun book to take to the beach or on vacation The Holiday Home is your book.  Would I read another book by Fern Britton, Yes!  
Thank you to Harper Collins for providing me with a copy.
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