Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Old Doorways

I spent the day in St. Antonin recently & took so many photographs that I will be able to keep the blog going all summer, just from that one afternoon.
There really isn't any reason for comment, I will create little groups of like photos, & post periodically. These are just a few of the many old doorways one can see while strolling around the village.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

For Jacinta

This photograph is for Jacinta, to see if she really is following my blog. Jacinta & her husband are my neighbors. They have a house just behind mine here in France. We actually share a wall in common & can sometimes hear the gurgling of each others plumbing. The photo is of their bread oven. Last summer we made wonderful pizzas in it, with all marvelous local ingredients. So good & such fun. This year, on the day I arrived, they made me a lovely impromptu lunch. Arriving tired & hungry, their offerings were greatly appreciated. The potato & leek soup was delicious. Merci !


Friday, June 25, 2010

About the Paintings

Those of you, who know my work, know that I am much less of a figurative painter & more of an abstract painter. However, when in France I truly enjoy painting the simple still- life.

Inspired perhaps by the beauty of the abundance of summer that is all around me.

Or is it that I just enjoy relaxing & painting simple images on a smaller scale for the sheer pleasure of it.

It's hard to say why I return to a more figurative motif. Painting in France is for me a time to relax & renew. Perhaps, returning to the fundamentals is a way of doing just that.

What ever the reason, it gives me pleasure & I guess that is after all the point.

Show at the Cafe

The sun has returned & summer is back in full force. I have thrown open the windows & done multiple loads of laundry to hang in the sunshine. I have also hung an exhibit of my paintings at Cafe de la Halle in St. Antonin.

The cafe is in the square, just opposite the old hotel-de-ville, which is one of the first civic buildings in France.

The paintings on exhibit are figurative, focusing on still-life & landscape.

They are a reflection of the lovely things of summer

The exhibition will be on display from July through August

& may be viewed everyday except Wednesday during cafe hours.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Studio

With all of these rainy days, the studio has been the coziest place to be. My studio is in the attic, with the rough stone walls & old timber beams. We put down a clean new floor & painted it green. And using what we had, we put bright cushions on our son's out grown bunk beds for a comfy place to sit.

It is a long narrow sort of room with my work space at the other end. There are two skylights which give it wonderful light on sunnier days but, as you can see, it is a bit dark when it is dreary out.

Still I have lighting enough & music. What more could one want to pass a rainy afternoon?

It's fun to make a mess.

And hope that maybe something creative will come out of it.



It was beautiful & sunny when I arrived but, for the last week or so we have had a lot of rain. The rose petals are falling down like little red hearts in front of the house. Every morning I sweep them away. I am so glad that I was here in time to see them in their glory.

With all the rain there has been little else to do but hang out in the studio. Here is a rainy day photo of the view from the studio window.

Here's hoping for sunny days ahead ....... & soon!


Friday, June 18, 2010

Sunday Market

I know I have posted photos of the Sunday market in St. Antonin before. That was, of course, when I was still in the states & dreaming of being in France. Those were older photos, some even came from the internet, I believe. These, on the other hand, were taken just last Sunday. What can I say, I love everything about going to the market every Sunday.

I love the market for it's shear beauty, for the colors, the shapes, & of course, for the produce.

I love the the variety of olives. Only a few, of the many varieties, are pictured here.

I am so happy to be in this part of France, early enough for the cherries, this year. They are so beautiful & so good!

I couldn't resist these colorful baskets. Although, I have two useful canvas shopping bags, I may have to invest in one of these. But which one? I love how everyone really uses their special baskets & bags to do their shopping. So old fashion, & yet, so "au courant" at the same time.

How could you not love the artistry of these wonderful cheeses.

Most of all, I just love the earthy simplicity of the Sunday market in
St. Antonin.

Taking a Walk

No words needed here. Just some photos to share after a walk around the village.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Little Spool Shelf

I have recently seen some posts in praise of the simple spool & I thought that I should show off my little spool shelf. This little shelf made with old wooden spools for thread, was found in a trash pile in Paris. I saw it abandoned there & fell in love at first sight. That was some 15 years ago & as you can see, it is still loved.

When we lived in Paris we had an unfurnished apartment with little furniture to speak of. But when ever I went out, I kept my eyes open for treasures in the trash. In fact I found many such treasures that not only severed to furnish our home away from home, but added a needed sense of character.

Now all these trash finds reside happily in our little French country house.
The two chairs (above) are two other examples. As you can plainly see I left them in their distressed states. All that was needed, as far as i was concerned, was a good cleaning & maybe the addition of a bight cushion.

The little spool shelf is a favorite find though, as I love the idea that someone had taken the time to create this unique piece by hand. And I feel glad to know that it is still used & loved, rather than lost for ever in some landfill.

What are some of your favorite trash to treasures?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Elderflower( Sureau) Beignet

My French friend & neighbor gave me a jar of jelly that she had made with the flowers from the Acadia tree, which blooms in the month of May. She told me that you can also make a drink with these flowers, but that her favorite way to prepare them is as beignets. She also had a bag of Elderflowers, now in season, that she planned to use in the same way. The Elderflowers grow wild & in profusion along the river bank. My British friend,who lives just behind me, gave me this recipe for Elderflower Fritters in English. I think I will have to try them.

16 large Elderflowers

For batter:
Plain flour 100g
Sunflower oil 2 tbsp
Sparkling water 175 ml
Caster sugar
Oil for deep frying
Plate thickly dusted with caster sugar


Sift the flour into a large bowl then add the oil & water, beating slowly to a thick paste. Then stir in sugar. Set aside for 30 minuets. Don't be tempted to skip this step. The resting time is essential for a light batter & a light batter is essential to produce the lacy effect of the flower. Just before you are ready to fry, beat egg white & fold gently into the batter.
Soak the flowers in cold water to clean then shake dry. Then snip the flower heads into small stems.
Heat oil & when hot enough to turn a cube of bread golden brown in seconds dip the flowers into the batter. Lower them into the hot oil. Keep them under the oil. The batter will bubble up around the flowers like little pearls. Fry until golden. Then lift out of the oil & on to the plate of sugar. Eat the fritters while they are still hot & crisp.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Country Gardens

For me there is nothing so lovely as the country kitchen garden. Here are just a few that I have seen on my walks around the village.

Newly planted now, they represent a beginning. In a month they will be

a riot of color & an abundance of produce. I do not have any land with my little house, but I enjoy watching my neighbor 's gardens grow.

Things pop up in the most unexpected places.

Already there are flowers mixed with herbs & edibles.

I so love the artistry of the country gardener, the soil is their canvas.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Chez Moi

The cleaning is coming along & the house is feeling cozy & aired out. There is always so much that could be done, should be done, for a house that has been closed up for so many months. But I am anxious to move on to my studio. I have a large canvas waiting for me & I can't wait to start painting.

My house is a simple little place, nothing fancy. There is still so much more renovation work to be done. Will it ever be finished? Does it really matter.

No, not to me. I feel so at home here, just as it is.

It is an easy place to embrace solitude.



The first days, after I arrived, I took short peaceful walks down quiet country roads. Soaking up the tranquility & letting the hectic life I had left behind fall away, I took each day slowly. It takes time to slow down; to adjust to another rhythm. In winter months it is this slowed pace that I long for, remembering life in France as a beautiful dream.

But not everything here in the village is peace & quiet. There is road work being done under the bridge. For a few days it was almost impossible for my neighbor to even enter her house, but the work seems to be coming to an end now. Then of course, there are the normal sounds of the farmer driving his tractor across the bridge or the distant sounds of plowing in near by fields. And soon there will be the sounds of van loads of kayaks & kayakers coming to start their day on the river. The children will be out of school then & there will also be the happy sounds of children at play. But for now, other than the workers & the occasional tractor, it is pretty quiet here in my little part of paradise.


Friday, June 4, 2010

I Have Arrived

I have arrived to beautiful weather, glorious sunshine & warmth. I have thrown open all of the windows to let in the fresh air, clearing out the musty smell of winter. I have been sweeping away spiders & their many cobwebs. But the real cleaning will have to begin tomorrow. Today has been a bit of a lost day. Tired from my travels I have spent most of my time greeting old friends & neighbors. Happy just to be here & to see my rose in bloom.