Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Flea market flatware find

Speaking of flea markets, I've been wanting to share my latest find. I discovered this set of five faux bone handled knives at one of my favorite marches aux puces. They reminded me of the flatware found in bistros across France.

The photo doesn't do these pieces justice, with their beautiful aged handles, a creamy patina. But my favorite part are the blades, sturdy and wide, perfect for coaxing tasty bites onto the fork. The blades are also ideal for spreading butter and jam on my breakfast tartine.

Beautiful to look at, lovely to hold, it's a joy when simple things bring us pleasure, n'est ce pas?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Giveaway: The Flea Markets of France

Spring is here and the flea markets are in full bloom!

Where I live, there are flea markets all year round: the historic Eastern Market on DC's Capitol Hill, Georgetown Flea on Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown, are two of my favorites. But the spring brings even more vendors and more lovely things to look at.

At the flea markets, marche aux puces in French, you can find everything from vintage linens and hotel silver to architectural elements, and all things practical and whimsical.

To celebrate spring and the return of the marche aux puces I'm hosting a giveaway! This lovely little book, The Flea Markets of France, might be one to add to your collection. J'adore the cover, and you can preview the book here.

To enter the giveaway all you have to do is share you favorite flea market story or write about your best flea market find. The winner will be announced on Friday. But even if you don't want to enter because you don't need another book on your shelf, please share your favorite flea market find!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Week-end Simple: Use butter

We're all familiar with Julia Child's love affair with butter. "If you're afraid of butter, use cream!" We're equally familiar with the health risks associated with eating animal fat. Then there is the alleged "French paradox": the French consume more saturated fat than Americans, yet experience fewer health problems because they drink red wine. Who knows?

But this weekend, put the chatter aside and indulge in one of life's simplest pleasures: butter.

I'm not suggesting you slather your baguette with butter; that would be excessive, n'est ce pas? What I am suggesting is that this weekend, enjoy a little butter on your asparagus. Or your spring peas. Or your baguette. At least for me, there is nothing that compares to sweet cream butter to complement the flavor of fresh food.

Yes, Julia did have a love affair with butter. But, she also said, "We should enjoy food and have fun. It is one of the simplest and nicest pleasures in life." I happen to agree. So this weekend give yourself permission to enjoy a taste of butter, one of the simplest and nicest pleasures in life.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Kitchen Gardens

I know I've posted about kitchen gardens before, but when I saw this pic of the UK food writer Gizzi Erskine looking oh-so French, I had to share it!

For the story on kitchen gardens, visit today's post on The Kitchn. And for more info on Gizzi and what's happening with the UK's National Trust "Food Glorious Food" project, check out this post.

I'm sure it's just spring fever, but I can't wait to start eating from the garden!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My favorite thing that isn't French

Transferware.

Spode. Royal Staffordshire. Johnson Brothers. Wedgewood. Copeland. Rogers & Son.

I love English transferware.
With its pastoral scenes and traditional colors, English transferware is akin to French toile. In fact, the two are often shown together in decorating magazines.

Although I have a few pieces that belonged to my mother, I am not a collector. But, I think I could be. When I saw this brown and white collection for sale on Etsy, I immediately saved it to "My Favorites." Maybe I'll want something like this on a wall in my new house, though I'm not sure it's a decorating touch that says 'Paris apartment.'

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Week-end Simple: Eat an apple

One of the great things about fruit is that it's portable. It's so easy to grab an apple, eat it on the go, and in a few bites you're finished. A quick snack. But this weekend, eat an apple and make it an small celebration.

Carefully select your apple (or pear or orange); choose it for its color or shape or fragrance. If you're lucky you may find one with the stem and leaf sill attached!

When you're ready to eat the fruit, set some time aside, maybe ten minutes. Wash and polish it like a jewel. Select a small plate, maybe one that you save for special occasions, or, one that you use everyday but will be made special today. You'll want a small fruit or paring knife as well, and maybe a crisp cloth napkin.

Find a place to sit, maybe at your table, or by a window, but you must sit. Then carefully slice a piece of your fruit and eat it. When you finish one piece, slice another. Enjoy the simple act of sitting, slicing the fruit, and savoring the flavor.

I learned this from the French, from watching French friends eat a humble piece of fruit as if it were the most elegant dessert, which perhaps it is.

The painting pictured here, "Apple with Knife," was painted by one of my favorite artists, Liza Hirst. Liza lives in Dordogne, France, but you can see her work here, at her site, or at dailypainters.com

Saturday, March 20, 2010

New series: Week-end Simple

It's been a hectic week, and I am so thankful for the weekend that will allow me to get caught up and return to my daily routines.

Part of my busy-ness has been reflecting on my blog, thinking of ways to return to my original idea. Several readers commented and many emailed me; I appreciated hearing what you like to find when you visit My French Corner. In reading your comments and emails, I discovered a recurring thread: simple, simplifying, simplicity.

We like it simple, n'est-ce pas? If we can do one simple thing every day to make life a little lovelier and slightly slower, we love it. Sometimes we need ideas or a little direction, sometimes all we need is a reminder; we forget how much we joy we receive from the simple things in life.

So, inspired by readers, by my time in France, and by the Weekend Meditation that is posted every Sunday on The Kitchn, I'm launching a new series: "Week-end Simple." Every weekend I'll post an idea to try at home to help us slow down, focus on the the small and simple, and to make life a little lovelier.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Vintage French collection

I discovered this on Etsy today and knew I had to pass it along to you. Three lovely pieces for just $14! The seller describes it as a "beautiful instant collection of French inspired items . . ."

I don't collect blue and white, but if you do, wouldn't these be perfect? Simple, authentic, affordable, and beautiful.

Bonne lundi!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Bon anniversaire

It's hard to believe that one year ago today I launched My French Corner.

People blog for different reasons, and there are probably as many reasons as there are blogs. For me it began as a way of sharing what I enjoy--experiences, lessons, discoveries related to my interest in France and all things French.

During this past year I've discovered fabulous blogs and have connected with interesting, wonderful people--some who blog, and some who are readers. I've discovered that some bloggers stay true to their original intent while others change direction, and sadly, some abruptly abandon their blogs, without explanation.

This anniversary, or blogiversary, is the perfect time to say thank you to anyone who has read my blog or commented, offered support or encouragement. I've enjoyed writing and responding and connecting; it has been the perfect antidote during a challenging year in my life.

An anniversary is also a good time to evaluate what I've written over the past year, and ask myself whether I still have anything to say. There are days I struggle with finding topics and wonder if I've exhausted my original idea. And, it does bother me that I may not have stayed true to my original intent and message:

"What you will find here are ways to introduce small but authentic French touches into your life. These additions are simple, inexpensive, and most important, compatible with the way we live in our own country. Since there seems to be interest, I thought might share my France experience with others. "

Hmmm, I wonder . . .

I wonder what readers want to find when they visit My French Corner?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday: 2 + 4 + 8 + 11

My week will end casual, just as it began. Friday begins the weekend for me, and it can mean going out with friends after school, a drive to the lake, or cooking for friends and family at home.

Friday

Although they've not been my best or most popular posts, I've enjoyed doing this series, and as always it's been great swapping ideas with Kristi of La Bella Figura. And the timing was perfect, as it's almost time to put away the boots and sweaters and scarves and begin thinking about what to wear for spring!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thursday: 1 + 5 + 7

If there is a day of the week to dress-up for work, it would be Thursday. At school, Thursdays are meeting days--committee meetings, student study meetings, staff meetings. Jeans are not always appropriate, so I would replace jeans with a pair of wide, cuffed grey wool trousers.

Thursday

Paired with the navy blue silk charmeuse blouse and the mohair cardigan that I selected on Tuesday, black boots and pearl earrings, this outfit projects a relaxed but professional look which is perfect for school. For a dressier look, I might swap out the boots for my four inch polished black leather heels and a navy blue clutch, perfect for a Saturday date night.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wednesday: 3 + 6 + 11

Another mix and match from the items I selected for this week's Tale of Two Closets.

Wednesday

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tuesday: 1 + 4 + 7

Okay, I admit it: I am a tomboy. Whenever possible, I'll opt for jeans and boots over a dress and heels. Don't get me wrong, even though I never wear dresses, I love them, and last year I even bought a pair of Stuart Weitzman four inch heels (which my friends say I should wear with my jeans!)

Tuesday


So to prove I have a feminine side, I'm pairing this navy blue silk charmeuse blouse with my favorite Gap jeans and Frye boots. I really like the contrast of soft and rugged, and would feel comfortable wearing this outfit to work, to the theater, or out to dinner. Adding the navy mohair sweater adds textural interest, and it can be worn open, or gently closed with the pin. Et voila! the pearl earrings complete the feminine look.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday: 3 + 4 + 12

Monday mornings are when I most appreciate the go-to items in my closet: my black merino turtleneck sweater and my favorite Gap jeans. I bought the sweater several years ago on sale at Eileen Fisher, and what I love about it is the roomy, boxy shape and kimono sleeves. And the shape of the sweater goes perfectly over my favorite bootcut Gap jeans and Frye boots.

Monday

Because the sweater is a such an unusual cut, it really doesn't need accesories--it's a statement all by itself (although these days I am LOVING my son's black Timex). Add a swipe of lipstick and a spritz of Annick Goutal's Eau de Hadrien and I'm done!

A Tale of Two Closets: What to Wear?

So, I've pulled a few items from my closet--a grey sweater, a black sweater, and a navy blue cardigan sweater coat, as well as my favorite jeans, a pair of black knit jeans that work like leggings, and, a pair of grey wide leg flannel trousers. This week, Kristi selected three scarves; I opted for one scarf, a sleeveless black tee, and, a navy blue charmeuse sleeveless blouse (I hope that's okay, K!) I also selected two pair of boots--one high, one low--to work with the outfits.

Untitled


Once again I'm using Polyvore; not as authentic as Kristi's photos, but you'll get the idea.

(For those not familiar with Polyvore, it's a web application that allows the user to create virtual sets , or collages, of items found on the web. To create my outfits, I browse items until I find the exact item I have in my closet--like my Frye boots--or an item that is a good match--like these black boots.)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Tale of Two Closets

This week I'm teaming up again with Kristi from La Bella Figura and we're posting about clothes, and, well, closets.

Kristi and I seem to have similar taste in clothes and similar small wardrobes, and we thought it might be fun to select a few items from our closet and post about how we mix and match those pieces to create variety. Like Kristi, I'll be selecting three tops, three bottoms, two pairs of boots, and several scarves to create a week's worth of outfits. This will be fun.

The sea of black, navy, and grey clothes in the photo are the clothes hanging in my closet. If you click on the pic you can get a better idea of the textures, an important consideration when you have a small wardrobe. Not sure which of these I'll be selecting for the week, but check back tomorrow!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Goal: Be As Kind As Possible

I rarely go into my son's room anymore, mostly because it's nearly impossible to open the door with all the clothes and books and pizza boxes all over the floor. It's the bedroom of a typical 18 year old boy.

But last weekend I needed to make my way up to the attic, which is accessed from the closet in my son's room. I fought my way in, carefully picked my way across the room, and got what I needed from the attic. On my way out, I was greeted by this Post-It my son had stuck on the back of his door.

I have no idea how long this has been on his door, or why he put it there. Is this the daily mantra he needs to deal with his mother? Or, is it simply a reminder to be as kind as possible, every day?

My son is a wonderful, talented, gentle person and he does so many things that make me proud. But this scrap of paper scrawled with a simple message is the best gift I have every received.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Salted butter tart

Just a quick post to say happy March, bon lundi, and to send you the link to Jennifer McLagan's salted butter tart posted today on The Kitchn and Leite's Culinaria. If you're not familiar with McLagan's books and blog, you should visit; readers of My French Corner will appreciate her Paris posts.

If you're a fan of fleur de sel caramels, this is the dessert for you! This tart requires more work than some, but your efforts will be rewarded. I mean, doesn't this tart look incredible?