Monday, January 31, 2011

One World One Heart 2011

This is the first time I've joined in One World One Heart, but as a completely new blogger two years ago, I found it a great way to begin to learn about and to 'meet' bloggers in this newfound blogland.So this February will begin my third year of blogging. If you are popping over as part of the OWOH event, welcome! Like many blogs, mine has become a patchwork of the different elements of my life:There's France, of course! We are a British family, living in the south of France. There's much to love about where we live, some puzzlement over cultural differences and expectations, a little frustration, and loads of excitement - I guess that my blog shows elements of all of that.
There's a love for vintage - French, British, American and worldwide heritage and memories.
There are memories of my family's past - the peacock Liberty print here belonged to my mum, who sadly died last year, and the fire fighter pyjamas were worn third and fourth-hand by both of our boys!
There are glimmers of silk and gold, in the beauty of nature, spirituality, faith and fine crafts.
And there's the desire to live a thrifty and non-consumerist life, for the good of the environment and our budget!
To show two sides of my blog, I have two elements in my gift for you this week. If one appeals more than the other, feel free to enter anyway, because I bet you'll be able to find someone you know (in person or in blogland) who would happily accept the other gift from you!
The first part of the gift is this copy of a French fashion newspaper, La Mode.
These beautiful ladies date from November 1898. Inside there are patterns, more fashions, and advertising. It's wonderful to look at, even if you don't read French! If you won it, I'd be perfectly happy for you to keep it as it is or to cut it up for crafts - either way, its beauty will be preserved.The second part of my gift to you is a modern French set of birthday candles. This reflects the family side of my blog - I think it would be fun to celebrate a family birthday in French, wherever you are in the world!So, please do enter and introduce yourself by leaving a comment, or, if we already know each other, do feel free to join in this little One World One Heart giveaway, and don't forget to spend some time this week visiting other OWOH bloggers in the same way!

I will announce the winner of these two gifts at the end of the OWOH event - February 17th. Please make sure that I'll be able to contact you by email if you are the winner!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

This weekend... Cooking and Wearing

Yesterday I made the Roasted Pumpkin and Wild Mushroom Tart from February Country Living. Wow, it was good!
Today I wore Emma's silver bird to church and it was much admired. I even managed to explain her silver clay technique in French (I think!).

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Flowers and gingham and... Something Else

Flowers, yes, very Flossie. Gingham, sure...
But do you catch a glimpse of Something Else, too?
I'll tell you about the flowers first. My dad came to the supermarket with me just before he went home after Christmas, and asked me if I'd like some flowers! Well, indeed I would! I chose this lovely pot of three cyclamen plants, even though I've not had an awful lot of success with cyclamen before.Part of the reason I chose it is because I remember how much my mum loved them. Anyway, I had a quick look in my M & S book of houseplants, and noticed that most cyclamen go wrong because they need to be kept at 15°C - yikes! Even in our fairly cool house, we stay warmer than that in the winter. I put them near the French windows with a thermometer, which showed they were hovering between 16° and 17°, and they soon showed their displeasure - yellow leaves, impressive mould on the pink plant, and drooping flowers. I plucked of the offending bits and moved the pot up to the 'bookshelf' in our bedroom, which is near the window in a cooler room, and I think I've got it! One month on and the ill bits are replacing themselves, while the healthy bits live on... BTW, bloggers, can you spot things you've sent me in this photo?
And now for something completely different. For a project I'll tell you about later, I went to La Foir'Fouille today (cheapy shop), to see what they had in their offcuts of oilcloth. The French use so much oilcloth that the choice and value is good in any shop, but La Foir'Fouille is particularly good value and always keeps and sells its offcuts, which is green too (about the only green thing in that shop, I'd say...).
Having said I didn't favour 1950s style only yesterday, what did I find but this incredible, futuristic, mid-century modern, stuff? The blue gingham toile cirée was an offcut, but I decided to ask for a metre of the snazzy stuff too. When cutting it the shop assistant made a bit of a mess of the last few centimetres, and was going to throw it in the offcuts and start again from scratch when I explained that it really didn't matter as I was going to cut the cloth up and use pieces of it anyway. She was so grateful to have her messed-up piece accepted that she gave me the offcut for only 1€! So the metre was at a sale price of 4€50 and I got the two for a total of 5€50! I just had to share my joy, friends...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Modern Vintage? The responses...

I found your comments on my 'Modern Vintage' questions really interesting. Thanks for taking the time to think about what I'd written!To recap, I'd been musing on the phrase 'Modern Vintage', as used on my blog title and various new books, and came up with the following questions:

  1. Is a love for vintage linked to looking at the past through rose-tinted spectacles?
  2. What are the good things from the past that we hope to hold on to?
  3. What are the distinct advantages of living in the here and now?
  4. So what does Modern Vintage Living mean to you?
I'm going to use these photos of my newly tidied and sorted kitchen (or at least the interesting bits of my otherwise rather dull kitchen!) to accompany my response to your thoughts and my own questions.One thing I noticed was that a lot of people see the appreciation of vintage things and living as being linked to simplicity and core values - a rejection of modern advertising and the pressure to conform. I like that. I also personally feel a link to the people who made or previously used a vintage object - my university degree was in archaeology and it was usually the business of daily living in the past that really appealed to me. To be able to see how our ancestors lived, and to even hold or perhaps use the same objects that they used, is really special.
Most of you agreed that there is a bit of 'rose tinted' viewing going on - this leads on to those things we really value about modern life. This really struck me when Laura at 52 Flea was given some vintage recipe cards that had belonged to a relative of her husband. One of them was a recipe for Blackberry Cordial for dysentry.Can any of you imagine having to cope with a family suffering from dysentry, without professional help or modern medicine? I know that people around the world still have to live (or sometimes die) like this, but it's one of the incredible blessings of our lives that we no longer have to. I felt very in tune with some of the things Andi wrote about modern life. She noted equal rights and the friendships possible through the internet as real advantages we would never want to lose. I love the fact that one of our best friends in France is from Ghana, and that in 'vintage' times I might never have met him, and might have severely mistrusted him or even feared him if I had! Lots of advantages in modern life... Miss Freddie described 'modern vintage' as 'all about individuality, comfort and memories'. That's a good combination. A lot of you commented that enjoying the simplicity of vintage living
gives the opportunity to focus on what really matters in life - family, community, creativity, spirituality - rather than materialism. That may be one reason why I prefer pre-1950s vintage - the materialistic 'thing' was going pretty strong by that decade.
For me, the other advantage of this 'vintage' living in modern life, is that the Make Do and Mend/don't get into debt ethos that Angela mentioned is really good in a time of on-going environmental pressure and economic crisis.It's possible to live thrifty, green lives without a 'vintage' twist, but the vintage element introduces fun, colour and individuality into what otherwise might seem a rather Puritan existence of rejecting many things rather than embracing alternatives.But don't leave me with the last word - tell us what you think!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Silver Bird of Happiness

Into a cold and gloomy week,full of minor illnesses,and missed lessons due to doctor's appointments,
Emma has sent:
the Silver Bird of Happiness!
Oh, Happy Floss!
I ordered this handmade bird from Emma (Silverpebble) with some Christmas money.
She has a lovely Etsy shop as well as a brilliant blog about her jewellery and home life.
I'm sure you know her already - maybe through her Splash of Colour event for the winter months. I'll be posting for that next week, and meanwhile, I'll be gloating over this adorable little bird, whose sisters and brothers I've been admiring since I started blogging... Thank you so much, Emma!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Picnic in the snow

In all the excitement of Wind in the Willows picnics last week, I mentioned the picnic in the snow...and this one is yesterday's! Son 1 and his dad only, with the luxury of tables, stools, fried sausages and tomato soup...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Restful day...

I'm at home with Son 2, who is recovering from a feverish cold. We managed a quick walk in the lane today.Ben and Son 1 are skiing, and had their famous Picnic in the Snow! Our internet connection is, unfortunately, on the 'resting' side of the family! If I get this published, it will be quite impressive...

Friday, January 21, 2011

"Poup, poup..."

It's been a lovely week, thinking about The Wind in the Willows with Mags and Co over at Fraise Lachrymose. And it's good to have you here today, on the Big Day!You can find the list of bloggers taking part over at Fraise - each of us is posting something inspired by the Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame. My post today is inspired by my sons... I wrote about the French version of the books, in bande dessinée form, over at Fraise on Wednesday. I ended that post by wondering what the boys would say when they came home from school and found the books. And the answer is:
"Oh, poup, poup!"
(That's the French version.) I think that both of my boys, aged 12 and 13, love Mr Toad - as far as they are concerned, he is the star of the story, and the other characters are merely there to make the story about Toad and his motorcar play itself out. In fact, Mr Toad is a little boy all grown up - he has the normal enthusiasms and excesses of most small boys, but also the money and independence to actually see them through...So, when Son 1 talked me through the story, he began by reminding me about Mr Toad's gypsy caravan. This lends itself very nicely to French interests:
The French still make superb gypsy caravans (roulottes), and you can stay in them as a luxury B & B experience. Click here to see what I mean!
They are often featured in homes magazines, a bit the way the British feature their summer houses or posh garden sheds. This one was in the Christmas 'Journal de la Maison' for 2008.
But of course the British do make gypsy caravans too!From my point of view, the obsession with caravans was perfectly justified... I have always wanted to travel this way since the Famous Five spent time in one! But for Mr Toad, it was a short-lived fad, quite literally overtaken by the motorcar.
Oh, poup poup!
Although it's of the wrong era, I thought that these fantastic photos of a classic French 2CV, in a suitably picnic-based setting, were worth sharing with you. I've been looking for the excuse for ages!
But I'll end with what might genuniely be one of Toad, Mole and Ratty's picnics, from the same magazine: Campagne Décoration, July/August 2009. This is how the French see England!
Have a good weekend!
All credit to: Mags, for setting up this cosy week, and Michel Plessix, whose BDs were publised between 1996 and 2009 by Delcourt.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Modern Vintage"

The strapline on my blog title reads: "An English family in France, leading a modern vintage life... " and sometimes I wonder what on earth I mean by that!

Whatever it means, it seems I am not alone in this attempt at modern vintage living. The fantastic January edition of BBC Homes and Antiques (sent to me in a private swap - wonderful, thank you!) lists "Trends for 2011" which seem to be summed up by this 'modern vintage' idea.
The magazine mentions the forthcoming book "The Vintage/Modern Home" by Katherine Sorrell, and a quick search on Amazon indicates that one of my favourite combinations, Emily Chalmers and Debi Treloar, will be bringing out a book called "Modern Vintage Style".
Both books seem to have the approach that a stylish, individual and environmentally friendly home need not be expensive, but is best achieved with a personalised combination of thrifty vintage finds and whatever you happen to have already. That sounds pretty much like my philosophy, and I think it's one shared by many of you, too.
Last night I was thinking about this and wrote myself a few notes, enjoying the whole business of writing in pencil on recycled paper - quite a pleasant sensation, I noticed! I'm in the business of enjoying the little things, at the moment...
And these are the questions I came up with. What do YOU think?
  1. Is a love for vintage linked to looking at the past through rose-tinted spectacles?
  2. What are the good things from the past that we hope to hold on to?
  3. What are the distinct advantages of living in the here and now?
  4. So what does Modern Vintage Living mean to you?