When my children were little, we had a magical, organic vegetable garden. We had tomatoes until December, green beans that made Jack-in-the-bean-stalk, look like any Tom-Dick-or-Harry-kind-of-ordinary-guy, and spinach that made Popeye, green with envy. ...


Lessons Children Learn while in the Garden and more...

Lessons Children Learn while in the Garden

                         Snail in the garden


When my children were little, we had a magical, organic vegetable garden. We had tomatoes until December, green beans that made Jack-in-the-bean-stalk, look like any Tom-Dick-or-Harry-kind-of-ordinary-guy, and spinach that made Popeye, green with envy. Our garden was the talk of the neighborhood.

Neighbor to the right asked Neighbor to the left, "How does that American produce such a beautiful vegetable garden?"

Neighbor to the left said, "I heard she doesn't use pesticides."

Neighbor across the street threw in, "I heard she uses fresh cow pies?"

Mr. Porte my elderly neighbor, was my potager (vegetable garden) mentor, and he swelled with pride at his student. I loved that our organic garden gave him an extra sparkle in his eye!

Mr. Porte told me to put a piece of copper wire in the base of my tomato plants, to water only three times a week, and to pick the snails off. Bugs give me the creeps.

Luckily, I had little helpers...I told Chelsea (who at the time was 6) and Sacha (4) to pick off the snails and put them in a bucket.




They did.

Soon it dawned on Sacha that this was not a happy little game, that these snails were doomed. That his Mother had failed him. With tears in his lollipop eyes he asked me, "Mommy, what are you gonna do with these escargots (snails.)"

There comes a point in every child's life that they realize that their Mothers are not perfect....unfortunately for me, it happened when Sacha was four.

I didn't know what to say. I wanted to tell a tale, to make up a story, I wanted to say something to reassure him. In my long silence, with a look of extreme doubt and all the while biting my lip, he started to cry. "YOU are gonna KILL 'em!"







I thought to myself, "Great, I have psychologically damaged my child. He is going to have nightmares... he is going to hate me forever, what can I say, what can I do? Why didn't I use bug spray?" I was in a drama in my head.

Just then, to the rescue, Chelsea stood up. She wiped her brow, looked at me like I was the child, shook her head and said, "Sacha, either they eat or we eat?!"

Sacha looked at her, bent don't, and continued picking the snails off the tomato plants.

Children can handle truth better than we think.


The Pig Costume

Brother Sister fun


Sacha's selfie in his pig costume, teasing Chelsea.



Brother Sister fun



Sacha and Chelsea have been Chez Nous for the last week, a holiday at home. I have enjoyed every minute and am thinking of kidnapping them back to childhood. Why do children grow-up and leave home? Well, maybe according to these photos I can only say, "Leave home?"




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Sacha retrieved his pig costume that he bought when he spent a gap year in California.  He has been pranking us with it ever since.



pig style


Our detox is more about watching Sacha cheat than anything else. Sacha, Yann and Chelsea have lost two or three unnecessary pounds, I have not lost a thing, not a single thing. Of course detox means you need a detox from something. I asked Sacha what we were detoxing from, he shrugged his shoulders, "It is a trendy word that doesn't apply to us, but let's have fun with it."

Some fun. Maybe we should do the opposite and pig out on junk food.

I am sure my weight would have a field day!



PIg fun


Chelsea and I made granola from my cousin Shelley's recipe. Mostly nuts. But while we were at the market to buy the ingredients, Sacha made a pan of pasta and ate it with cream and cheese! He is such a cheater. He even made ice-cream, blueberry, and ate it too, and lost weight. Life is unfair.



brother and sister


After the empty nest, which is a massive adjustment, it dawned on me that the empty nest is three fold:

One, they leave home, leaving use alone back to where we were before children, having to renew and re-find balance in a empty house without the same structures.

Two, the realization that our children most likely are never ever going to live under the same roof with us again.

and three when they do come home it is a mixture of joy, and a hint of sadness cause we know it is temporary. Plus the structure we have redefined for ourselves doesn't apply to them:

Hence, real meals become a trendy detox, with a pig costume.




The other thing that happens when they come home:

Food and toilet paper disappears at an astonishing rate, in all honesty I think this applies only cause of Sacha.

and the washing machine never stops turning, at least they wash their own clothes. 

But, I still want to kidnap them. 



Not Detox Pasta, but Delicious



When life throws you a lemon catch it.

In a saute pan swirl chopped garlic and walnuts. Which will give them a chance to share perfumed notes with one another.

When the two are golden brown let a river of cream flow over them. Though before the cream should start to boil add the juice of the lemon that you caught, nice and steady as not to curdle the cream and spoil the fun.

As the cream thickens toss in spoonfuls of freshly grated Parmesan and a half of a spoon of grated lemon rind.

Serve it over hot al dente pasta and have a loaf of crusty bread to soak up every ounce of the lemon walnut sauce.

Exact measurements are not my style, thought I figure if the ingredients are fresh it seldom matters.




Last Weekend in Ardeche

Lavender with Arnelle in Ardeche



There is something tangibly romantic about driving around lavender fields in a classic French vintage car. Arnelle and I drove around the back-back-back roads of Ardeche where she lives part of the year. We gleaned the orchards for apricots too. I felt like I was in a French movie.


Lavender in Arderche



potato apero



Arnelle use to have a catering service before she became an interior designer in San Francisco. While we were there she fixed-up fingerling potatoes with creme fraiche, trout eggs and chives.

A simple, delicious, elegant aperitif. 







Tangible romance from the moment we entered into Arnelle and Rodger's world... A peek overlooking part of their garden.

French Husband and I slept in what use to be the mangnanerie (Magnaneries were rooms where silkworms were raised) 


Yes, they have a wisteria covered terrace where they served lunch and dinner. I adore simple elegance. Time standing still. Carefully crafted charm of authentic homes, where loving details matter. Generosity of friendship that tends to the soul of everything around.



olive trees in France



We hope to return in Autumn to pick their olives.

I can imagine the picnic under the trees,

and the drives in Arnelle's car admiring the changing season.


More about Arnelle here.




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