Sunday, January 29, 2012


This morning I'm having a treat of french butter with sea salt on toast with my tea. If you've never tried french salt from Normandy, you haven't tasted butter!
Of course, I'd love to be eating it on real bread - baked in a boulangerie, not whole grain, made in my bread maker at home.
But I'm happy just to be able to have even that. On my last trip to France, I visited the Isigny creamery and later feasted on some cheese with bread and butter.

Friday, January 27, 2012


Winter citrus

Playing around with Picnik before it goes away. I really like the glass-like frames. I picked up these citrus fruits at Whole Foods, today. The larger fruit are a cross of orange and kumquat, and the smaller ones are a cross of mandarin and kumquat. The lovely sweet skin is delicious to nibble, and the very sour flesh is good in tea or on fish - anywhere you'd use lemon or lime, but with a definite orange-y taste. 

Playing with Picnik again.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

National Oatmeal Month

January is National Oatmeal Month. 
For me, every month is Oatmeal Month. I have diabetes. Oats are low in on the Glycemic Index which is because they are the only cereal containing a globulin or legume-like protein, avenalin, as the major (80%) storage protein. This is why it makes sense for me to eat them, in some form or other, for breakfast almost everyday. 

Sometimes in porridge with butter and salt, or milk and Splenda. Beware of "instant" oatmeal. It is loaded with sugar and it is just as fast and easy to scoop a ½ C. of "Old fashioned rolled oats" in a bowl with water and microwave for about 2 minutes. No sugar, no preservatives. Just good nutrition.

Sometimes raw with milk or yoghurt, and fruit. This is known as Müesli in Swiss German. It was introduced around 1900 by the Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner for patients in his hospital. It was inspired by a similar dish that he and his wife had been served on a hike in the Swiss Alps. It is esecially nice in the warmer months

Bircher-Benner himself referred to the dish simply as "kSpys". (Swiss German for "the dish")

Sometimes I bake a kind of cookie made with a ½ C. oats, Splenda to taste, yoghurt to moisten, salt, oil, and fruit (Raisins, chopped apple with a little cinnamon, chopped pears with cardamom). I bake it in my toaster oven for about 15 minutes. Makes a nice change from porridge in the winter.

I occasionally make pancakes with oatmeal, using ½ whole wheat pancake mix and ½ rolled oats, yoghurt, egg, salt and oil. Not bad, for a change. I like to eat them in the English way, sprinkled with a squeeze of fresh lemon and a sprinkle of Splenda.

Oats are a staple in most Northern European countries. With tomorrow being Burns Night, I am adding a  little bow to Scotland with some nice Highland oat cakes. How delicious with a nice cup of milky tea on a rainy afternoon.
Be healthy and enjoy a good breakfast of oats. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Chinese New Year!

Chinese Symbol for Happy Chinese New Year (恭禧發財)

I'm a Rooster –  /  () (Yin, 2nd Trine, Fixed Element Metal): Acute, neat, meticulous, organized, self-assured, decisive, conservative, critical, perfectionist, alert, zealous, practical, scientific, responsible. Can be over zealous and critical, puritanical, egotistical, abrasive, proud, opinionated, given to empty bravado.

How to say Happy Chinese New Year in Chinese?

The most common Chinese ways of saying Happy New Year are Gong Xi Fa Cai(Mandarin) and Gong Hey Fat Choy(Cantonese). Even though the pronunciations are a little different, both are written the same way.

How do you write Happy Chinese New Year in Chinese?

Traditional Chinese: 恭禧發財; Simplified: 恭禧发财.

Gong Xi (恭禧) is congratulations or respectfully wishing one joy.

Fa Cai (發財) is to become rich or to make money.
Thus, Gong Xi Fa Cai means wishing you to be prosperous in the coming year.
A fun way to respond to someone who greets you with Gong Xi Fa Cai is Hong Bao Na Lai, "Red envelope please!"
Chinese also have a literal way to say Happy New Year in Chinese.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Treasures in the mail

Yesterday the Postman brought me a treasure! My friend, Mimi, sent me a New Year card, in which were hiding these three little figurines, called "Fèves". (which is a word for broad beans in French) 
These little figures are baked into the traditional pastry called Galette, served at Epiphany. There are lots of traditions in various parts of France. I've posted about this before, and now I'm happy to have my own Fèves for next year.

Included in the envelope were these pages from the magazine,  Femme Actuelle, and has several recipes for this delicious pastry. I want to try both. I don't think I'll wait for next January to try them. I won't be adding the fève, though. They will go into the box with the Advent/Christmas/Epiphany box.

Avec toute ma gratitude, Mimi
Merci beaucoup!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stop SOPA and PIPA Day

Today many sites including WikipediaGoogleCheezburgerRedditMozilla, and WordPress either are blacked out or have conspicuously changed their appearance to alert the public to a terrifying federal power grab — the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) and Protect-IP Act (PIPA), two proposed laws that would allow Big Government to press a pillow to the face of the Internet on the pretext of stopping online piracy.
If there is one thing that the left and the right can agree on, it is that the Internet is doing fine without micromanagement by petty tyrant bureaucrats. Unless you want your online experience to become as stultified as watching public television, let your representative know how you feel. The existence of this site and thousands of others is at risk.

Update: Looks like they might be getting the message-

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) – who was a co-sponsor of an anti-piracy bill that’s caused an uproar on the Internet – said Wednesday that he’s pulling his support for the Protect IP Act.

In a post on his Facebook page, the freshman senator said he initially signed on to the legislation because he believed it was necessary to combat online piracy and intellectual theft. Though the bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously, Rubio said he’s since then heard “legitimate concerns” whether PIPA would be overly restrictive for Internet companies

Monday, January 09, 2012


This adorable box is from the "How do You Make This" blog. She posted great instructions along with a  printable template.

Dear Richard, from My Old Historic House, had a wonderful suggestion. Wouldn't these make a darling box to send home wedding cake mementos. So cute! Thanks Richard.

This pretty box with it's architectural lines and swirled, star like top is a great way to package jewelry, cookies, or anything other small gift that would benefit from a fancy presentation. The box looks complicated, but once you understand how the folds work they come together quickly. 

It's better to use a good quality paper than a cardstock - cardstock can be too bulky. I used Fox River's Crushed Leaf Sparkles in the color Poppy.  It's a strong, crisp paper that's still lightweight and has just a little shimmer.  It seems to be discontinued (though there are online sellers who still have stock), but I'm sure most of the papers Neenah makes would be great, as well as most scrapbooking paper. The front and back of the paper show on the top of the box, so keep that in mind when you're selecting your materials.

The process is simple enough, but you might want to test on scrap paper.

Print the template onto the back of your paper. Click Here For Template! For best results make sure it prints at 100%.

Cut out the circle.

Using a bone folder or something similarly pointed but not sharp with a ruler, score the fold lines.

Both of the octagons and the lines that run straight through the corners of the octagons are valley folds (meaning they fold forward.) If you've scored the lines well it should be fairly easy to fold the paper.

The few remaining lines are mountain folds (meaning they fold backward.)

Once you have everything folded in the right direction you're ready to start twisting the box closed. Work your way around the box, settling each of the folds into place.  Once you've worked all the way around, they box should be ready to fold closed on it's own. Be patient and gentle with the paper until you get a feel for it - after making your first box it should be easier.

(Click the image above for a larger picture!)

That's it!  Make a bunch, fill them up and have a great holiday!

Click Here For Template!

Friday, January 06, 2012

A little sea breeze

I love looking at decorator's layouts, but I also enjoy seeing what others have done with their real homes and real rooms. I decided to post a look at my very real home. Nothing really terribly stylish, but I like it and I hope you might enjoy taking a look, too.
I love our Oregon seaside. 
I enjoy the atmosphere over there and always bring home some treasure or other. I have placed lots of seaside inspired objects together in my guest bathroom. I find the colors in this room very soothing and almost spa-like.


Around the sink there are lot of sea-glass and shells in sea colored containers. Pretty candles in various glass containers, and a sweet little Deruta candle holder.
There is a nice big tub and shower with a spa shower head for a nice relaxing or invigorating treat. There are plenty of bath salts, scrubs, gels, and lotions for pampering. 
Years ago, I painted this little painting of the Abalone shell on the table in the picture above . It is the base for all the colors in this room. The little shelf was made by my cousin when he was in high school wood shop. I surrounded the little  Holy Family with sea shells shaped like trees. I glued a little starfish for the Star of Bethlehem. 

Thursday, January 05, 2012

The Last Day of Christmas

Today is the last day of Christmas. Tomorrow will be the feast of Epiphany, also called "Twelfth Night", celebrating the manifestation of the divine nature of Jesus to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi. Each gift represents an aspect of the life of Christ. Gold representing his nobility, frankincense, his divineness, and myrrh (an ointment used in burials) foretelling his sacrifice and death. The idea of gifts at this time of year stems from this story in the second chapter of the book of Matthew in the Bible. Bible.   
In France and other countries, gifts are given and the traditional Galette des Rois is eaten. The fun part of that is finding the fève inside. On the blog, Chocolate & Zucchini, there is a delightful post about this treat.

This sweet tea towel was a gift from my dear friend, Mimi in Bry Sur Marne, France. She sent it many years ago. I always bring it out this time of year. It makes me think of her and what fun we always have when we are together, either here in America, or in France.                                                       So, my friends, I wish you all a very lovely Epiphany season!


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