Sunday, May 31, 2009

Merci!

Thanks to everyone who entered The Sweet Life in Paris Giveaway. The winner will be announced tomorrow, so check back!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

La Perruche

After work I did my usual bread and market run to pick up ingredients for this evening's meal. I also needed a few staples, including sugar cubes. Walking down the aisle at Whole Foods I was surprised to see they now carry La Perruche brand sugar cubes.

I bring a few boxes of these raw sugar cubes home from France each summer, and they seem to last until I can buy them again the following year. But a few months ago, I gave a box to a friend, so my supply was dangerously low. Made in France from imported cane sugar, La Perruche cubes are perfect for a cup of coffee or tea. They're tidy and sit nicely on a saucer; they melt quickly and have a richer taste than the processed white sugar cubes.

Anyway, j'adore the bright orange box and almost laughed when I saw them on the shelf at Whole Foods. And at $3.39 they were a great deal! I love little surprises like this, especially ones that remind me of Annecy.

Do you have a favorite French product that you can buy in your grocery store?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Giveaway Reminder!

It's turning out to be a very busy day so I won't have time for a regular post. But I wanted to remind everyone of the The Sweet Life in Paris Giveaway that's going on.

To enter, simply leave a comment on Monday's post, and you could win a copy of David Lebovitz's latest book, The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World's Most Glorious - and Perplexing - City .

The winner will be announced Monday, June 1, so enter now and spread the word!

Bonsoir!

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Sweet Life in Paris Giveaway

I am a big fan of Alice Waters and visit the Chez Panisse website a few times each week. The restaurant and café menus are posted daily, and I look to them as a source of inspiration in the kitchen.

I am also a fan David Lebovitz, award winning chef, author, and former Chez Panisse pastry chef who now resides in Paris. If you aren’t familiar with David, you can read about him on his blog. I love his blog, not only for the recipes and interesting posts on food, but, also because he writes about living in Paris.

There are posts on everything from comté to how to look Parisian to "Paris Transit Options." The writing is excellent, the posts are often timely, always humorous, and every post includes a gorgeous photo. If you plan on visiting Paris, you really should check out his blog.

One of my favorite David Lebovitz recipes is for a simple jam tart. Aptly titled Easy Jam Tart, the recipe appeared as a post on Lebovtiz’s blog sometime last year. His recipe calls for quince jam, but I've made it with raspberry and apricot jam. I first made this last summer when I returned from France, as a way of recreating fruit tarts we ate in Annecy.

This was a long way to go to get to the topic of this post, David Lebovitz’s most recent book, The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World's Most Glorious - and Perplexing - City . Released earlier this month, the book is part cookbook, part memoir, and part commentary on living the expat life in Paris. I love it! And just to prove how big a Lebovtiz fan I am, I’m giving away a copy of Lebovitz’s book, The Sweet Life in Paris. In selecting the winner for this giveaway I’m going to try something new--Random Generator (which I think is the online equivalent to putting names in a hat).

To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment and talk about your favorite simple French recipe, and I will put your name into the virtual hat. The drawing will be held Monday, June 1. You can enter as often as you like—each comment you post will count as an entry—and the more you enter, the better your chances.

Bonne chance!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

La question

So, was the question answered? Is it possible for Americans to adopt a more frugal Euro-French lifestyle? I think we can agree, that oui, c’est possible! And, it appears that adopting a frugal Euro-French lifestyle has little to do with sacrificing and taking away, and more to do with adding to our life.

Every post submitted by readers suggests something that adds value to life: riding a bicycle, walking more, preparing fresh food, enjoying free time, drinking champagne! But it's not about adding things, but adding experiences to our life; perhaps that is the key. This point was illustrated by Isabel’s post when she wrote about sitting in a Paris café; she still carries that experience with her.

I wonder if Americans confuse frugal with cheap. “Frugal,” derived from the Latin adjective frugi, meaning “economical, useful, proper” is further derived from the dative of frux, meaning “fruit, profit, value.” Frugal does not imply that we must deprive ourselves; in fact, it seems to imply the opposite. On the other hand, cheap implies an absence of quality, as in “cheaply priced” or “cheaply made.”

I’ve enjoyed reading this week’s posts and want to thank everyone who contributed. I also enjoyed connecting with readers via email and want to thank all of you for your kind words about my My French Corner. I’m taking a few days off from writing to celebrate the long weekend, but look forward to returning next week.

Bon weekend!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Guest posts: Petite gemmes

Some of the best suggestions submitted by readers were brief, but to the point. I’m posting them collectively under the title petite gemmes, because each one is a jewel.

Anonymous writes:
“It surprises me that Americans save champagne for special occasions—weddings, New Year's Eve, toasts. The French break out the champagne for a gathering of friends, elevating a simple gathering to a special occasion.”

Charlotte writes:
“If you have the space, plant several pots of lavender and you can enjoy them year round: in the summer when it blooms, then cut sprigs for wreaths and sachets.”

Christiane writes:
“Why do American women need to wear a different outfit every day of the week when they go to the office? A scarf, a piece of jewelry, a belt—this is all one needs to create a new look, n’est pas?

cocofan writes:
“When buying produce, buy fresh, buy local. There’s really no excuse anymore.”

bijoux1965 writes:
“Plant an herb garden.”

allure21 writes:
“I know this will sound crazy but what I’ve learned from French women is if you want to save money on clothes you should spend more money on clothes. It’s a contradiction, but makes sense if you think about it: buy one quality skirt—the color, the fit, the fabric are perfect for you. You love it. You might pay$200, but you wear that skirt almost everyday because it looks fabulous and makes you feel chic every time you wear it. If you wear that skirt forty times in a season, the cost is $5 each time you wear it. If that’s not frugal chic, I don’t know what is!”

Tomorrow's post: So, what is frugal chic?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Guest post: Promenade partout

I met Ana through a mutual friend, and over the years she’s become one of my role models. She is so elegant and has the quiet confidence of someone who is comfortable in any situation. She is American, but possesses that elusive je ne sais quoi. I asked Ana if she would do a guest post for my blog, and here is what she writes:

“One thing Americans could do to adopt a more frugal Euro-French lifestyle is to walk more. I live in a walking neighborhood and walk to the grocery store, to the pharmacy, to the bank. I walk to the bakery, to the florist, to the dry cleaner. I chose my neighborhood because I wanted everything I need to be within walking distance. What influenced my choice? Living in Europe.

Before my husband retired from the Department of State we had several European assignments—Belgium, Prague, and yes, Paris. Somewhere in between, we decided to buy a house in Alexandria, Virginia. There were things I wanted in a house, but most important was that it be located in a neighborhood where I could continue to live within walking distance of everything I needed, and Old Town is perfect.

In Europe, people walk everywhere. While they certainly reap the health benefit, they don’t necessarily think of walking as exercise; walking is a way to get around, to enjoy the fresh air, to enhance the quality of life.


Mireille Guiliano says that “walking is an essential part of the French way of life, and the average French woman walks three times as much as the average American.” Sadly, I have to agree. Of course, I appreciate being able to walk to the post office or coffee shop, but one doesn’t need to have a destination to walk. I think if Americans recognized the freedom that walking provides—freedom of movement—we might do more of it.”

Tomorrow's post: Petite gemmes









Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Guest post: Paris memories

Reader cher Isabel sent this evocative post about time she spent in Paris. She admits the post has less to do with adopting a French lifestyle, and more about living her life. I couldn't agree more.

cher Isabel writes:
“After college, I spent two years in Europe teaching English and one of those years was in Paris. On a my salary I wasn’t able to shop at boutique or even department stores, but I did shop at the Paris flea markets where I bought some of my favorite vintage jewelry. I still enjoy shopping flea markets for vintage pieces, and it always reminds me of my time in Paris.

Another thing I loved to do in Paris was spend time at my neighborhood café. For some reason the waiters never seemed to mind that I would sit for hours, drinking espresso and reading a book. Here at home I have a favorite neighborhood café where I still enjoy spending an afternoon reading and sipping coffee. And some days when I’m sitting outside and the weather is just right, I’ll catch a whiff of someone’s cigarette and in that moment I’m sitting in my Paris café.

And the baguettes! I haven’t found any bread that comes close to what I ate in France, but with European butter and jam, even a grocery store baguette reminds me of my Paris breakfasts.

Finally there are the flowers. I didn’t have a lot of francs back then to spend, but flowers were one luxury I could afford. A single bloom could brighten my room, and to this day—almost twelve years later— I always have fresh flowers in my house.

What did I take away from my time in Europe? More than I can say. I learned when you can’t buy a lot, you really appreciate the small, beautiful things that are available to enjoy everyday—fresh flowers, good bread, fresh air, free time.”


Tomorrow's post: Promenade partout






Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Guest post: Marsi cooks with crème fraîche

Yesterday, Marsi from the FC group posted her recipe for homemade crème fraîche, along with some suggestions on how to use it in cooking. I want to thank Marsi for taking the time to write the post, for sharing her recipe (which I will make over the weekend), and also for the following recipes that call for crème fraîche as an ingredient. Merci Marsi!

Marsi writes:
"Now that you have your batch of crème fraîche, why not put it to good use in a couple of my favorite recipes? As Julia Child would say, “Bon appétit!”

Spinach and cheese quiche

1 prepared, unbaked tart or pie crust

1 5-oz. bag of baby spinach leaves
1 small onion, chopped
1-2 tbsp. butter (plus extra for the top, if you’d like)
1 c. crème fraîche
4 eggs
1-1/2 c. grated Swiss or Gruyère cheese
1 tsp. salt
A whisper of nutmeg

Line a pie dish with tart or pie crust dough and set aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat and gently sauté onions till soft and translucent. Do not allow them to brown or burn. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and quickly blanch the spinach leaves, boiling for no more than one or two minutes — just long enough to wilt the greens. Drain well in a colander and allow to cool. Squeeze excess water from the leaves by hand, then separate the spinach into small clumps and place onto a clean kitchen towel or several layers of paper toweling. Roll up the towel and gently squeeze out the remaining water.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and crème fraîche, and add the salt and nutmeg. Fold in the cooled onions, the spinach, and 1-1/4 c. shredded cheese, reserving a small handful of cheese for the top of the quiche. Pour the custard into the prepared pie dish, and top with the reserved quarter-cup of cheese. If you’d like, dot the top of the custard with tiny dabs of softened butter. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of the custard comes out clean and the top is golden brown.

Broccoli and orzo soup

1 small onion, chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 c. chicken or vegetable stock
2 heads of broccoli, broken into bite-sized florettes
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
A handful of dried orzo pasta (or other small pasta shape)
Crème fraîche, to taste

Warm the olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat and gently sauté onions till soft and translucent. Do not allow them to brown or burn. Add the minced garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the stock, salt, and pepper, and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 10 minutes, then add the broccoli. Cover the pot and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes. Stir and add the pasta. Check the tenderness of both the broccoli and pasta after another 8-10 minutes. Serve hot, topped with a spoonful of crème fraîche to taste.

Tomorrow's post: Paris memories

Monday, May 18, 2009

Guest post: Crème fraîche

This post from Marsi is truly in the spirit of my blog: simple, affordable, authentic, and French. Crème fraîche is a staple of the French kitchen, but not a staple in many American grocery stores. Here, Marsi shares her recipe for crème fraîche, and tomorrow I'll post several of her recipes that include crème fraîche.

Marsi writes:
"Julia Child said, 'If you’re afraid of butter, just use cream.'

And while you’re at it, why not make it crème fraîche?

Crème fraîche is a simple and inexpensive dairy product you can make yourself to add an authentic French touch to your home cooking. Similar in taste to its American counterpart, sour cream, crème fraîche is cultured heavy cream, high in butterfat, with a mellow tang that brings a creamy richness to the food it accompanies.

I use crème fraîche in place of whipped or heavy cream in nearly every recipe that calls for it. I also like to add a dollop to vegetable soups (especially puréed soups) right before serving to bring body and a hint of richness to the soup, or to mix it into scrambled eggs as I cook them slowly over low heat. Additionally, a spoonful of crème fraîche mixes perfectly with softened chèvre or ricotta cheese, to which you may add fresh herbs and a little salt and pepper, and then spoon it atop toasted baguette or ciabatta slices as a savory appetizer.


It is delicious and refreshing when served aside fresh fruit and a dusting of brown sugar, cinnamon, or cardamom. Crème fraîche is the perfect base for quiche, and brings an interesting tang to homemade ice cream when substituted for whipped cream in the custard base. Most recently, I discovered the trick of lightly coating a salmon filet with crème fraîche to season the fish and keep its tenderness intact as it broils in the oven. The uses of this wonderful ingredient are only as limited as your creativity in the kitchen.

Though crème fraîche is often expensive when purchased in the small quantities available in stateside grocers, you can save money by purchasing its base — whipping cream — by the pint, quart, or half-gallon and making your own. A half-gallon (32 ounces) of Country Classic Whipping Cream costs $3.79 at Costco, as compared to roughly $8.00 for an eight-ounce container of crème fraîche at a natural-foods grocer. If you like to save money and enjoy home-cooked French cuisine, you can’t afford not to make your own crème fraîche. Here’s how:

Crème fraîche
1 c. whipping cream
1 tbsp. buttermilk

Combine whipping cream and buttermilk in a small saucepan and warm gently over very low heat to about 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from heat and pour into a sturdy jar, such as a wide-mouth Mason jar. Loosely cover the opening with a clean kitchen towel (so that it picks up wild cultures from the air) and leave the jar out on the counter, undisturbed, for one or two days to develop a culture. After a couple of days, cover the jar with its lid and store it in the refrigerator, where it will further thicken.

Crème fraîche keeps well for several weeks if refrigerated properly. Reserve a couple of tablespoons to use as the starter for your next batch of crème fraîche. Recipe may be doubled, tripled, quadrupled, quintupled . . . "

Tomorrow's post: Marsi's recipes for using crème fraîche




Sunday, May 17, 2009

Guest post: La bicyclette

In my call for guest posts, readers responded with great suggestions on how we can adopt a more frugal Euro-French lifestyle. This post was submitted by laja, who maintains her own blog, Paris on the Cuyahoga. You have to check out the link to Copehagen Cycle Chic!

Laja writes:
"One thing I think Americans can do to adopt a more frugal Euro-French lifestyle is to ride a bicycle more often.

Copenhagen Cycle Chic is a website that incorporates everyday cycling with fashion and photography in an incredible way: no fancy riding clothes, no lycra or special shoes. Just really great looking people, cycling everywhere, every day. This is your inspiration.

The ways that this simple, ancient mode of transport promotes thrift? If more folks do take to the streets we accomplish so much together in an ecological sense: lower gasoline bills and car repairs. Yeah! Our health improves. Fewer doctor visits. The world’s view of you shrinks. You remain constant in weight so you always have wonderful things, that fit, to wear. No excess wardrobe spending! Your personal view expands and you see everyday places differently. Your senses are heightened as when the scent of a tree on a day in spring startles, then delights you. Priceless!

Now is an easy time of year to pull out the bicycle and begin to make it a habit. Remember when the seasons change, there is no bad weather, only bad clothing for it."

Friday, May 15, 2009

Paris links

For those planning a trip to Paris, I thought you might enjoy the Paris links on Dorie Greenspan's blog, In the Kitchen and on the Road with Dorie. Though Dorie writes for Bon Appétit, her Paris posts are not just for foodies. Even those of us not lucky enough to be going to Paris in the near future might enjoy the links . . .

Amusez-vous bien!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Guest posts

Last week I posed the question "How can we, as Americans, adopt a more frugal Euro-French lifestyle?" Many readers are successfully doing this, so I solicited guest posts on the topic.

I've received several posts from readers I never knew I had--merci beaucoup! Their writing covers a range of ideas, and beginning Sunday, May 17 I'll begin posting their suggestions.

Do you have a practical, affordable way to employ the Euro-French ideal of quality? Would you like to share your ideas on this topic? If yes, please email me at annecychic@gmail.com with your post. Please let me know if you would like your post edited, and, if you prefer to remain anonymous.

I look forward to reading your post!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Alliance Française

The other day, Stephanie, from Bonjour Madame, asked if there was an Alliance Française in my area; this prompted an idea for a post, and another way you can become more of the French community where you live.

Many of you know about Alliance Française. a language and cultural center whose mission is to promote French language and francophone culture. The Alliance Française does this through language programs and public programs at local chapters throughout the United States. In my area there is the Alliance Française de Washington where I have attended lectures, films, and live performances.

Want to know if there is an Alliance Francaise chapter in you area? Visit the Alliance Francaise chapter locator to find out. But even if there isn't a chapter in your area, you might consider subscribing to the free newsletter. It's another simple, affordable way to bring a little more of France into your life.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mon petit potager

I love to cook, and enjoy preparing food and using fresh ingredients. It makes sense that I would want a potager, mais non, I don't have the time to tend a garden. But, I do have my own version of a kitchen garden, a pot of herbs, mon petit potager.

I started my first pot a few summers ago and was surprised how quickly the herbs took off. The first summer I planted all the herbs in a single pot. However, those of you who tend herbs know how quickly herbs flourish, and over the years, one pot has become several.

An herb garden is one of the simplest, most affordable French touches you can bring into your home, and this is the time of year to plant. Here's how: if you want to plant all your herbs in a single pot, you'll need one large pot about 14-16" in diameter and about 9 inches deep. I prefer terra cotta pots; they come in a variety of shapes and some have lovely relief designs. Fill the pot slightly more than halfway with potting soil, remove the herbs from their pots, set the plants, and fill around the plants with soil. Add water, pick a sunny spot for your pot and voila--you have your own petit potager!

Which herbs to plant? It all depends on what you like to use in your cooking. In one pot I have thyme, tricolor sage, in another is a single rosemary plant, and another holds flat leaf parsley. Then there are a few pots of lavender (you have to grow some lavender!) And every summer there is at least one pot with basil.

There are many vendors who sell herbs; I’ve seen them at Whole Foods, the farmers market, and I saw them at the nursery when I was there to buy geraniums. For less than $5.00 for a pot of herbs, you can begin your own petit potager. Plant your herbs this week and by the first day of summer you'll be ready to harvest.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

La fête des mères

In France, la fête des mères won’t be celebrated for a few weeks, but here in the states, Mother's Day is celebrated tomorrow, May 10. I want to wish a Happy Mother's Day to ma soeur.

Darcy is younger than me, and I usually refer to her as my “younger sister.” She is, but this doesn’t begin to describe this woman. Smart, accomplished, well-traveled. Chic, intuitive, social, kind. Beautiful, generous, fun, honest.

But more than any of these qualities, my sister is a wonderful mother. She waited a long time to be a mom, but now she has two beautiful boys—Maxime et Jules. Jules is the spitting image of his father, and Max is his mother’s twin. I love both boys, but when I am with Maxime I am reminded of my sister as a child. The same nose, the same fine blonde hair, the same smile. When I’m with Max, I’m with my little sister, all over again. How lucky am I?

So today I want to say Happy Mother’s Day to my sister Darcy, the most wonderful mother I know.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Open House at the French Embassy

On Saturday, the embassies of the 27 EU member states here in Washington DC will open their doors to the public. Included, of course, is the Embassy of France. The last two years I attended the event with several of my students; on Saturday, I will attend again, this time with friends.

The Embassy has a rich and interesting program planned: opportunities to meet with members of each department—diplomatic, cultural, scientific, military, etc.—as well as champagne sipping, mini-French lessons, children’s workshops, and a cheese tasting.

A highlight of the day will be the sit down luncheon; the menu was announced today.

Salade
Taboulé
Mesclun salad
Farfalle pasta salad

Main Course (choice of one)
Filet of cod Marseillaise (with Saffron sauce and fresh tomatoes)
Duck confit
Braised lamb with vegetables

Sides (choice of two)
Scalloped potatoes
Haricots verts - amandine style
Rice pilaf
Pureé of carrots

Dessert
Assorted cheeses & breads
Assorted pastries


Needless to say, the day will be fantastique and I am excited for the entire event.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Seeking guest writers

A few weeks ago, a reader suggested I do a series on the European way of living chicly, but frugally. I agreed it’s a timely idea, but told her I wasn’t sure I had enough to write a series. It was then that I got the idea to invite guest posts.

I know some of my readers have their own blogs that I visit regularly. However, many readers who comment do not maintain a blog, but they have great ideas to share. So, I’d like to extend an invitation to all interested readers do a guest post on My French Corner.

Here’s the topic: How can we, as Americans, adopt a more frugal Euro-French lifestyle?

We all have this fascination with the French way of life, but know that it isn’t all Hermés and Chanel, oui? In fact, the French are careful with their money and appreciate quality whether it’s food or fashion. The choice is simply quality over quantity. The result seems to be a simpler yet richer lifestyle.

Many of us are trying it out; are you? If so, would you be willing to share your chic frugal ideas? (Cynthia, Kristi, Marsi, I know you're out there . . . )

The only rule is that the suggestion must employ the Euro-French ideal of quality, while still being practical and affordable.

You can send me your post at annecychic@gmail.com. I’m hoping to run the series beginning the week of May 17, so that will give you time to get your thoughts down on virtual paper.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you and reading YOUR post!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Quel Objet

I discovered Quel Objet on a return trip from France, and have purchased several items from them over the years. I haven't browsed this commercial website in a while, and when I visited today I was thrilled to see they carry French market baskets!

True to my goal of bringing simple, affordable, and authentic French touches into the home, I thought some of you might appreciate the link. The cost of $36.00 is within the realm of affordable, especially for something you might use everyday.

Bon lundi!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Hypermarchés

I recently wrote a series of posts about shopping for and preparing meals "the French way." The series received wonderful comments and feedback, but also some emails from curious readers wanting to know where I buy things like cleaning products and paper goods.

I must confess: Target.

Well, actually, the hypermarché, SuperTarget.

Hypermarts are a touchy topic, both in America and in France. The arguments of wages and unions are well known, and the cost benefit is the subject of endless discussion. But, I am asking you, please don't judge me because I shop at Target.

Actually, it was in France, not the US, where I first discovered the hypermarché. About twelve years ago I stumbled upon Monoprix in St. Germain-des-Prés; for someone who seeks quality at affordable prices, Monoprix is a goldmine. Part grocery store, part clothing store, part hardware store, Monoprix has it all. It was there I bought my first piece of Emile Henry, and where I discovered the complete line of Le Petit Marsellais soaps.

A few years later during my first visit to Annecy my sister took me to Carrefour, a hypermarché located just outside of town. Her son, Jules, was still a baby, and Carrefour is where she bought baby products. When I visited I couldn't believe it; a huge store that carried everything for baby Jules, including Petit Bateau at amazing prices. Like Monoprix, Carrefour has a bit of everything.

Back home in the states, I had never heard the term "big box stores," was unaware of the politics surrounding Wal-mart, and Costco had not yet made its way to my area. But before too long, a friend was telling me about this new store, Target, that had everything. She jokingly referred to Target using a pseudo-French pronunciation which made it sound like and upscale boutique. Now, years later, I am a Target shopper.

For those who have never visited a SuperTarget, it's an experience. In addition to the general merchandise you would find in any Target store, there is a full service grocery store, just like the French hypermarchés. I shop SuperTarget every 6-7 weeks. Personally, I like the convenience of shopping there: the store is clean, the aisles are wide, the shelves are well stocked, the service is quick, and the range of products is good.

The francophile in me can also find my favorite products: Laughing Cow Cheese, Le Petit Ecolier biscuits, Maille moutards et cornichons. Also Alessi, Colavita, and SanMarzano brands are less expensive at SuperTarget, which means I can keep my pantry stocked with high quality staples without spending a fortune. And of course, there I can also buy cleaning products, paper products, batteries, and all the other non-food essentials.

So politics aside, does anyone else shop the hypermarchés?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Muguet des bois

Today, on nearly every street-corner throughout France , countless vendors were selling plants, sprigs, and bouquets of the delightful, muguet des bois, Lily of the Valley. On this day, the French trade gifts of sweet-smelling muguet to friends and loved ones for good luck.

As the flower became a gift to recognize virtues and good conscience, it is said that when the world was created, Lily of the Valley were on both sides of the door of paradise and that its little bells were ringing every time a brave person would go through the door. In the Middle Ages, May was the month for couples to get engaged and the tradition was to hook blades of Lily of the Valley above the door of your loved one. The Lily of the Valley has long been the symbol of renewal and spring and fitting that it became a symbol of happiness and good luck.

From my garden to you, Happy May Day!

And the winners are . . .

. . . Marsi, Carolyn, and Glove Slap! Send your mailing info to me at annecychic@gmail.com and I'll send your gift along.

Thanks for your comments, and for participating in the fun!