Bonne Année !

December 31, 2009

Slowly but surely the hours go by and soon another year will greet us !

It has been almost one year since I started this blog. Very hesitantly at the beginning and not so regular with my posts. As contacts were made, my pleasure in sharing images and thoughts increased. For this, I want to thank each and all of you who have visited, left a comment, encouraged me. Thanks also for giving me inspiration for photography, quilting, and  much more. Sharing our own passions in life is just so rewarding!

On the last stroke of midnight, I will share a glass of champagne with family members and friends. A small group of us in a chalet up in the Alps. We had a lot of rain these past days, snow has melted but there is still plenty for skiing in the New Year !

As we will exchange kisses and wishes for “une Bonne et Heureuse Année” – a Good and Happy New Year – the dark sky will be illuminated with fireworks. Ninio-the-beagle will start his wolf like dance and howl at the noise but a little piece of Panettone (special Italian cake we eat on this occasion) will calm him. And lots of caresses, of course. Then we will go out in the snow to admire the blue and red and green showers of stars falling into the valley below.  A true wonder! There will be plenty of “Oh !” and “Ah !” and “Wow” ! And maybe more snow falling in the first night of the New Year. Hopefully !

Wherever you are, I wish you a real Happy New Year and the best of everything for 2010 !

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The colours of my Winter

December 28, 2009

Walking in the forest in Winter can be surprising and enchanting. Trees are mostly bare but still, colours remain and  show a new brightness in a sometimes dull environment. Like frosty branches in a blue sky

or a few berries forgotten by the birds (or maybe left there in case of hunger emergency !)

A new look for a green blackberry bush after a very cold and frosty night.

Autumn leaves add a touch of gold in the snow.

Heather, surprised by an early snow fall, does not lose its brilliant purple shade, it becomes even more striking.

Brown and dried leaves posing for a still life with a few larchtrees needles.

Some trees keep their leaves longer than others and they prolong the warm autumnal mood in a snowy landscape.  Nature is a  never ending pleasure to enjoy. A forest has so much to offer to your wondering eyes.

Wishes for you

December 24, 2009

May you all receive the Christmas light in your heart.

A time for a pause and for sharing,

A time for celebrating and thinking of others, not able to do so.

A time for giving one’s time to prepare traditional meals that will bring everyone around the Christmas table.

Joyful decorations, Nativity scene, scented candles, cinnamon cookies, spiced tea, Christmas songs in church, a snowman in a garden and so much more. There is this special mood at home that makes you feel like prolonging this happy time of togetherness. And why not ?

Christmas is also the time to look at others and events with the heart. As Antoine de St-Exupéry wrote in his book “The Little Prince” :

“The essential is invisible to the eyes, one only sees well with the heart”.

Those were the words the fox said to the little prince as they were going to part. It was the fox secret that he confided to him. And to many readers across the globe since the book was published. “The Little Prince” is a wonderful tale for all ages, a story to read to children, a story for  all times. And the fox secret is good to remember well beyond Christmas.

Here is a gift for you, my friendship stars’ quilt. I hope they will shine in your Christmas night and long afterwards. Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas!

Persistence

December 20, 2009

A real cool Sunday morning (-7°C), not much snow but frost adding a touch of magic to the landscape. The last roses in the garden, growing against the South wall of the house,  are still strong and shining in the early sun. Persistence that brings bright sparks of colour under the pale blue Winter sky.

“The Rose is gowned in petaled grace and lovely beyond telling;
She always lifts a friendly face, regardless of her dwelling.
Her golden silence can express to us, no matter where, joy shared;
give solace in distress from those who fondly care. The Rose has ways of saying things we much delight to hear;
without a spoken word, she brings and keeps our loved ones near”
~Laura S. Beck

Wishing you all a pleasant Sunday !

My mother’s Christmas stars

December 18, 2009

December 17 would have been my mother’s birthday. This is one of the first quilts I sewed for her. A Christmas gift that she always kept close to her. She loved it. She left this world on December 22nd, six years ago and I like to think of her as the most brilliant star in the sky. Soft, luminous, always present.

This quilt is also  one of my first attempts at patchwork.  It is definitely not perfect but it carries a special meaning for me, especially during the Holiday Season. It is on one of my walls at home now and I see the sparkling smile of my mother.

A few more stars for your Christmas sky…

Christmas decoration

December 14, 2009

Slowly but surely, home looks more and more “Christmassy”. Quilts, stars, crown, pine cones, baubles were all sewed along the years. They add  a colourful touch inside the house whereas  outside trees are bare and bent by a strong and freezing Northern wind.

I just started decorating the Christmas Tree too, one I bought in the village. Every year the funds of this sale will help children go to a ski-camp for one week. This year I fixed decorations  in the upper part of the tree only. And of course, no candles nor small chocolate figurines !

But “why” ? would you ask. “Her Christmas tree looks so minimaliste” ! Just wait till you see the next pictures. They are quite self-explanatory….

Ninio is a great acrobat, there is no obstacle for his stubborness.  And his curiosity for novelty is… boundless !

interweaving

December 11, 2009

A Spanish rose fading beautifully beside an arch built by the Moors in Andalusia. Did you notice the little bird taking refuge in the delicate stucco honeycombed sculptures ?

A quiet fountain in an Andalusian patio. The late afternoon sunrays were illuminating an ancient pavement built long ago by Moorish  craftsmen. Tiny stones of all shades and shapes interweaving in an intricate and exquisite pattern.  As I look at these pictures, it makes me think of multicultural influences all over the world and how they are a richness and a gift for anyone who cares to look at them for their intrinsic beauty. Letting aside all prejudice of any kind.

Irish bread

December 5, 2009

Recently I found on a blog a  recipe for the traditional Irish brown bread. My mouth started watering as I remembered how delicious it tasted. Its  texture was very special, both rough and soft. When I lived in Dublin I mostly bought brown bread. I ate it either at breakfast with home made marmelade or local honey; I liked it at lunch too  with cheese, cold meats, salads or smoked salmon. Always so tasty. And healthy ! As I read the recipe, I was reminded of the many happy moments  on Fridays  after work.  I would meet friends for an hour or two in a particular pub of Ballsbridge in Dublin.

The working week was over, everyone was planning something different for the weekend, we felt like having a break and  enjoying a simple and tasty meal. Usually we would order brown bread sandwiches, ham, cheese or salmon. Some drank tea but most of us chose a glass/pint of Guinness. The famous and great Irish Stout. Was it the perspective of being free for two days or the pleasure of sharing this Friday evening meal with friends that made this simple dinner taste so good ? Probably both.

In any case, when I read  this recipe about  the Irish brown bread I decided to bake one myself. I tried to get all the similar ingredients and started travelling back in time. Below you see the two loaves of brown bread I baked with approximatively 800gr of flour (I had to convert the measures).

Here is the recipe :

12 ozs unbleached flour

1 lb stone ground wholemeal

3 ozs bran

pinch of salt

2 teaspoons of bread soda

1 teaspoon of baking powder

about 4 1/2 dl of water

1 nob of butter

Don’t they look good ? Their smell was delicious, I tell you ! I could hardly wait to cut one of the breads and taste it ! And I when I did, I was happily surprised to find again its somewhat rough texture although my “Irish bread” was definitely  different. Of course. The flour was not the same, neither was the water used to mix the various ingredients, nor the “nob of butter”. Even the kind of heat in my oven must have been different. But the bread still tasted good and I thank the friendly baker near Tralee  and The Sand Papers  – http://sandpapers.wordpress.com/ –  who shared his recipe.

Enjoying the sun on a Sunday morning somewhere in Dublin.

Foggy days

December 3, 2009

The first snow fell a few days ago. It topped the mountains and stayed in the alpine areas. Around here (at 8oom high) we just had a few centimeters of fresh snow that is almost gone now. Generally December   can bring  a dense  fog hiding fields and forests  or a light mist  that seems to create  new landscapes. All eerie and poetic.

Fields and villages get a “new look”,  unreal, soft, silent.   Like this  cool Winter sunset over lone farms near my home.

If you are lucky though, and often we are, fog and mist  change into a blue sky and crisp air. The countryside is the same and yet, it is different.