Sunday, May 31, 2009

Kelly, at Vintage Lifestyle, has given me an award! Thanks so much, Kelly - I really appreciate that. Your blog is so smart, and so professional, as well as making my heart smile...The rules of the award are as follows:

1)The winner may put the logo on their blog.

2)Put a link to the person who sent you the award.

3)Nominate 10 blogs.

4)Put a link to their blogs.

5)Leave a message for your nominees

Now this is getting tricky. A lot of you already have this award. I like the phrase 'makes my heart smile', because many (or even all) of your blogs do that for me. If I'm tired and stressed, you guys (gals?) can get me calm and re-motivated. Therefore, in my opinion, every single one of my readers who has not yet got this award should take it from me. I would like to award it to every person on my blog list, but for now let's just give it to those readers who haven't already got it. PLEASE, PLEASE help yourselves and take it NOW!

Leave a comment here and let me know if you've taken it. I do mean YOU.
Having done that, do read my lizard post below, because I don't usually do two posts in one day, and I don't want you to miss the main one...

Sunbathing on the Sempervivums

I love lizards, so you can imagine I was delighted to find this one sunbathing on my favourite little plants this afternoon, and even more amazed that she let me run upstairs, grab the camera, and snap several photos of her before dashing off! The love of lizards became something of a theme this Christmas. Son 1 chose me this mug by one of our favourite local craftspeople - we always buy something from the stall at the Christmas Market.
There's even a brave lizard inside, who investigates your beverage of choice. I was also given this lovely magnet by the same artist. Son 2 was feeling lizard-inspired too, and bought me this Chinese hair pin.It matches my hair!We are enjoying the sun as much as the lizard - the boys are in and out of the pool all day, and my washing is drying wonderfully! Don't forget to visit Juanita's giveaway if you haven't already done so!Ben and I are making serious plans now for my real Garden Party. Please remember that you are all invited to the blog version - click on the invitation to your left to find out more!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The boy done good

At the Vide Greniers at the moated village, Son 2 was bored and asked to play the 2 Euro Challenge, as daily readers already know.
He picked up this gothic-type vase. Several lovely readers thought he'd made a good choice, even though I don't particularly go for that gothic style myself:
Juanita said: "By the way, I am totally agreeing with Son 2's pick of that pressed glass vase. And I'm sure you know why..." You only need to visit her blog to sense a certain affection for the colour purple... But Son 2 wants to know more. There's a prize for a good 2 euro challenge, and I told him that the prize (some extra time on a computer game) will vary according to the value of his find. So it's off to Google to find out more.
Lululiz put me on the right track when she said: As to your son's two Euro challenge, I love it! It is such a pretty colour, and I think " the boy done good ", lol. It looks a bit like milk glass."
Ah-ha! Milk glass! A clue!
I Googled various combinations, such as 'pressed milk glass', 'pressed glass vase', 'purple marbled pressed glass' etc - you know how often you have to try things if you're not sure of your vocabulary. After a while I had found one or two fantastic sites about the history of specific glassworks. This one really stands out, if you think you have English glass. I think we may, despite having found it in France!
The less than charming name for this marbled glass is 'slag glass'. The super antiques people at have this to say about it: "Slag glass resembles a marble cake. It can be streaked with different colors. There were many types made from about 1880. Caramel slag is the incorrect name for Chocolate glass. Pink slag was an American product made by Harry Bastow and Thomas E.A. Dugan at Indiana, Pennsylvania, about 1900.""Purple and blue slag were made in American and English factories in the 1880s. Red slag is a very late Victorian and twentieth-century glass. Other colors are known but are of less importance to the collector. New versions of chocolate glass and colored slag glass are being made." The most similar item of all was this one, found on an American site:
Ooh, $54! Really, we have no idea if it's worth much yet, but now we've checked up this much, I think we can agree with Lululiz:
The boy done good.
The lovely Juanitatortilla is having an adorable giveaway - you have to go and look! Or maybe you shouldn't, because I want to win it so maybe I should just delete this and not let any of you know about it.
OK, my better nature has won - please go and look at Juanita's teal and blue giveaway. There - that's my good deed for the day!

Finally, my wonderful Sweet Tweet Swap parcel has arrived from Ele - I am overwhelmed! The day for posting about this is next Friday, 5th June. Please come and have a look at what she made for me and what I sent her - birds and flying creatures galore!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Shopping on a bike

I often nip to the local supermarket on my bike. I have investigated numerous ways of carrying my shopping home. I still have NO IDEA how classical French people on bikes manage to carry baguettes under their arms! However, I found this good-value and very entertaining 'picnic panier' in a shop called Casa today:Now, this is how to carry two baguettes home safely! And bread, milk, yoghurts,
Tomatoes, chocolate, pasta,Spaghetti, cheese, smoked trout...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sticky fingers at the piano lesson!

France has far more space than the UK, so abandoned farm buildings and yards are quite common - I think in England they would be built on/over/refurbished, but here there's much less pressure on the land so they just stay there, along with their old pieces of machinery and trees.And the trees are a thing of joy! From our first, rented house, we could walk as a family to a wonderfully complete abandoned farm which still had furniture inside, and had fig, plum, pear and walnut trees waiting to be harvested all around. Many people went and helped themselves - in fact my French teacher had a huge bunch of lilac this year from the same farmyard!
The boys' wonderful piano teacher and his fiancee moved to another part of the same village last year. As one boy had a piano lesson, the other would come for a short walk with me to discover the area.We found a shed at the bottom of their lotissement (estate), with an extremely fruitful cherry tree!Today it was Son 2's turn to go first (scales, solfege, and We all Live in a Yellow Submarine), so Son 1 and I headed back to the cherry tree for the first time in a year, baskets in hand.We were richly rewarded for our good memories!The cherries are much smaller than the ones from our friends' garden - probably an older variety, but they are sweet and extremely juicy. On the other side of the trackway from the shed and the tree is a field of wheat.
Behind the tree are these wonderful, rolling hills, typical of le Gers. Where we live now is more flat, sadly. We sometimes call the plateau-lands near us the 'Sto Plains', if anyone recognises the reference! But David and Marlene get to see this every daySo, Son 1, fortuitously wearing red, started picking. He soon got tired and sat on the trackway, scratching calculations into the baked soil to try to work out the surface area of the earth. BTW, I cut his hair on Sunday - not bad, I think!
He then headed off for his lesson (scales, solfege, Yesterday and the Imperial March from Star Wars), and Son 2 came racing down clutching his book of music. Having picked a few cherries, he got fed up too, and settled down in the trackway to work out and sing all the lyrics of Yellow Submarine in a high, clear voice.Thus, surrounded by this surreal combination of maths and music, I picked most of the cherries!
The first result was: The second result was much more pleasing:Here are a few other photos Son 2 and I snapped in the area, while I tell you a few other good things that happened today.My tiny pupil started writing of her own accord today! Teachers and possibly mothers will appreciate the excitement of seeing a child who has learnt her letters and her phonics and started reading, spontaneously starting to write down her own ideas. She wrote her name (beautifully), my name (astonishingly well) and then added 'rucs', which she told me said 'works'. There we were, working together, and she had written down what we were doing. I was very proud of her. Next year I have twins to teach from the start! That's gonna be fun!
My other pupils were fine too, and I have been given some plants by our next door neighbour which will be a lovely addition to the garden and the house. More on those later. I watered all Ben's plants (he's in Switzerland today, and spent time in an antiques market, although when he phoned me to check prices we agreed they were too high). The boys did homework and spent time in the pool.And of course, we had cherries and ice cream for tea!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Blowing in the wind

It's been rather windy here, lately, sometimes with good weather, sometimes bad.
The winds are very significant down here... We live outside of Toulouse (bottom middle as far as the map of France goes). We are equidistant from the Med and the Atlantic, and from the Pyrenees mountains - very nice. The Massif Central mountains are a bit to our north. Unfortunately this places us in one of France's wind tunnels. The prevailing wind is my black arrow, and it's fine - nice, soft, slightly damp Atlantic wind. It blows nearly all the time, to a greater or lesser extent, and brings most of our weather, which is why we often get similar weather to the UK (we even got the tail end of that London hurricane a few years ago!)
Geogography lesson boring you yet? It wouldn't bore you if you had to live with the red arrow. This is when the wind turns round, and is said to drive people maaaaadd! Yes, there are lots of stories like this, but it's a dry, disturbing wind from the Mediterranean and it messes everything up. We've had a lot of it in the last few days: it's known as the Vent d'Autan, which apparantly means 'Wind of the High Sea'. Great Uncle Joshua got blown off his perch twice before I moved him - all the windows in the house are geared up to cope with winds blowing the opposite way.
It got so dramatic that my French teacher and I had a long chat about French winds today, with a good look in the dictionary to acertain the origins of the words. The pink arrow shows the one you know about - the Mistral, which comes from the old Provencal for 'Master Wind'. It drives people mad too! The blue one is the 'Tramontagne', or something - memory going hazy here...
Well, now you know more about wind in France than you need to know - unless you move here, because if you do, it will become very significant to you! I always know which way the wind is blowing now I live here, and we look out nervously for the Vent d'Autan.
Whichever way your wind is blowing, do put your name on the guest list for my garden party! The invitation's to your left.

Monday, May 25, 2009

11 euros well spent...

11 euros of our hard-earned cash went to people in need across France and the world, today. In other words, I popped into a charity shop...

Amusingly this plate, which the man in the shop carefully wrapped in newspapers, is plastic! So instead of hanging it lovingly on the wall, I can use it for meals in the garden. One of those coming up soon...
With the garden party in mind, I decided to seek out some cheap, flowery-themed plates and serving bowls, so that our good Denbyware doesn't end up broken, but that we have something more appropriate than mis-matched and scratched plastic picnic plates. This is a pretty little design and I know I'll find loads more to match/mismatch it. 2 euros for two plates and four bowls - useful for crudites, olives etc.For years we've been using proper (hygenic) cloths in the kitchen, rather than kitchen roll, and we've had cloth napkins for a year now, all in the name of not wasting paper. Inspired by Sarah of The Blueberry Patch, I decided it was time to go for a few cloth handkerchiefs too... And there were other fabrics in my favourite colour too!This charity shop is up near the aerospatial industries, meaning that a lot of English speakers live around there. One of them donated their Agatha Christie collection! It was meant to be 50 cents for each book, but I'm sure I got charged less for a bulk buy... And last but not least, a little granny apron! Not as lovely as the one currently winging its way to Olga, but not bad for the price...
11 euros well spent, I am sure.
Do click on the invitation at the left of my blog - everyone welcome!