Thursday, 28 February 2013

staying tidy...

Bonjour mes belles,

For some reason I seem to find it hard staying tidy and end up with wee piles of things everywhere. 

We have just finished serving breakfast to our guests hence this is the perfect time to take a photo as our kitchen/dining area is looking realatively tidy. 

The problem is that our kitchen serves many purposes, office come atelier plus I use it to take photos of stock so am envious when I see lovely photos in magazines of clean, bare looking spaces......what about you? Do you manage to live in an organised space or do you find that it tends to get on top of you when you least expect it? I am hoping that there are others of you out there like me!

My mission for 2013 is to try and live in a tidier environment, that or put everything in the garage.....

trés bonne journée à tous, Leeann x

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

un balcon sur la mer...

Bonjour from a sunny but chilly SW France,

Last night we watched a French film called "Un balcon sur la mer", which we both really enjoyed and I was particularly taken with the beautiful  locations most of which set in the South of France. My favourite of which, was a fabulous apartment which I really could see myself living in......

 "Un balcon sur la mer" is  both an entertaining and intelligent movie, with brillant acting from one of my favourite French actors;  Jean Dujardin and  Marie-Josée Croze.

Happily married with a daughter, Marc is a successful real estate agent in Aix-en-Provence. One day, he has an appointment with a woman to view a traditional country house. A few hours later, Marc finally puts a name to her face. It's Cathy, the girl he was in love with growing up in Oran, Algeria, in the last days of the French colonial regime. Marc hurries to her hotel. They spend the night together. Then she's gone again. And Marc's mother tells him Cathy never left Algeria. She was killed with her father in a bombing just before independence..

I found it to be both an entertaining and intelligent movie, with brillant acting from one of my favourite French actors;  Jean Dujardin and I thought Marie-Josée Croze was well chosen for her role.

So if you are looking for an interesting French film, I think that you would like this one......I will be watching it again just to admire those stunning locations.

....à tres bientot, Leeann x

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

fabulous idea...

photo from pinterest

I think that this is a great idea for jazzing up a plain doorway. Note it is fashionable in France at present for the young to use the fronton from an armoire and pose above the doorway and the older French often put a curtain over the front door to keep out the cold so this idea marries the two nicely.

We have just received quite a few antique frontons so over the next day or so I will be adding these to the online shop.

Note they are unpainted so you can paint them any colour that you like.

à demain, Leeann x

Monday, 25 February 2013

Sunday treasure with a bit of history....

Bonjour mes belles,

As promised I am back to tell you about the last treasure that we found and why it has an interesting history.

We left the lovely warm hall and stepped outside and  it stated to snow. Hence the poor vendors of the bread and pastries were offering special prices so that they would return to their warm house.

Directly in front of us was the religious wall hanging that you see in the photo above and in the photo below.

I commented to French Boyfriend that there was something familiar about it, despite it having camels which are not local to France but I saw quite a few when I loved in Dubai.

French Boyfriend asks the couple that are selling the wall hanging if they know the history surrounding Charles de Foulcauld and the connection with this area. They are intrigued but say they do not know anything about him.....the story goes something like this.....  

Few people outside the Roman Catholic church will have heard of Charles de Foucauld, who was the inspiration for the religious order of the Little Brothers of Jesus, often referred to as "worker priests" – priests who live in the poorer areas of cities, usually employed in blue collar jobs and sharing the lives of the poor. 

His life was in some ways similar to that of St. Francis of Assisi, in that he came from a prosperous family and then turned to a life of extreme poverty. 

He and his young sister were left orphans when he was aged just 6 years old and his sister 3 years old.

His parents died one after the other and they were then cared for by their grandmother,for only a year as they were all out walking one day when some cows scared her and she had a heart attack and died.

Charles de Foucauld's spiritual route was perhaps more dislocated than that of St. Francis, in that he began as a Trappist monk, then went to Nazareth, where he worked as a servant for the Poor Clares, and finally moved to a hermitage in the Algerian desert, where he spent the last fifteen years of his life among the Tuareg. 

The Dordogne connection: Château de Bridoire
Charles de Foucauld's connection with the Dordogne is, above all, with the Château de Bridoire, which belonged to the de Foucauld family from 1806 to 1938, and which Charles de Foucauld visited on many occasions, even celebrating Mass in the chapel when he became a priest.

Chateau Bridoire is a favourite of ours as French Boyfriend's friend's were the owners after the Foucauld familyso he has fabulous memories of the time he spent there when he was a child. 

The new owners are restoring the chateau back to its former glory after  being closed for over 20 years, in which time the chateau was vandalised and many of the original features stolen.

If you have a chance to visit the Chateau which opens again at the end of April, you will even see something that we sold to the new owners and I will give you a is hanging in the Grand Salon and has a fab French feel to it.

And to think that the story started with seeing an intriguing wall hanging displayed on the side of a car on a snowy Sunday morning a few kilometers from our house....hence you know why I love treasure hunting as there is always a tale behind the object.

.....tres bonne semaine à tous, Leeann x

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Sunday treasures..

Bonjour mes belles,

I hope that you are having a trés bon week-end.   

The weather forecast was for snow flakes this morning hence I was not very motivated when the alarm went off this morning and was tempted to stay in bed.

French Boyfriend delivers cup of much needed coffee and bowl of organic muesli and then says on y va...let's go.

Off we set with no snow in sight. We arrived at the vide-grenier and although there were was a scattering of stands outside, we decided to head for the hall which housed the majority of the sellers. There were quite a few stands but not many customers which is better than a hall full of people making it impossible to regards the items on sale.

For us not only is it great to see what is on offer, it is also a time to catch up with other dealers and chat about business in general and who has found what and where they found it.

It is like show and tell and for me, the part I like the most as there is so much to learn about antiques and the history that accompanies the objects always fascinates me.

We tend to buy a lot from other dealers as it is always the better the devil you know than the devil you don't know.

One of my first finds was this fabulous vintage Florentine Triptych Madonna and Child Travel Icon, which really is a golden tresor.

Next find was this pair of fireplace decorations which date back to the mid 1850's and are in the style Louis XV Rocaille which is my favourite style as I love the rocaille style as I find it very decorative.

They would look fabulous standing in front of the fireplace.

They are made from bronze hence they are not the lightest of objects. You will find details here.

Another find is this napoleon III style hat pin cushion which comes complete with fabulous "M" monogramme.

It would be a great piece to display jewellery on.

It is adorable and it is rare to find objects this old in condition like this considering the fact that it is over 130 years old. You can find more details here.

The last item is, I think the most fabulous item that I have found since I have lived here as the history that goes with it, is very interesting - it is linked to a chateau with an intriguing past. 

But you will have to wait until tomorrow to read all about it....

à demain, Leeann x

Friday, 22 February 2013

French Food Friday....Cinnamon pain perdu with vanilla poached plums


Recipe and photo from here

What could be nicer than eggy French toast and poached can prepare the plums the day before and then store them in the fridge and when ready to use, bring to room temperature before serving. The perfect brunch dish.......

Cinnamon pain perdu with vanilla poached plums

Serves: 4 Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 15 minutes
You will need
200ml pomegranate juice
1 vanilla pod, split
50g unrefined caster sugar
6 ripe plums
50ml double cream
2 brown eggs
8 thick slices day-old brioche
50g unsalted butter
75g unrefined caster sugar, mixed with 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
Greek yoghurt to serve
1. Place the pomegranate juice, vanilla pod and 50g of the sugar in a medium pan and slowly bring to simmering point, allowing the sugar to dissolve. Add the plums and bring back up to a simmer and gently poach for five minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the plums to cool and stand, preferably overnight.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the cream and eggs. Dip the brioche slices into the mixture and soak for 30 seconds on each side. Remove to a cooling rack that has been placed over a baking sheet and allow to sit for one to two minutes.

3. Over a medium heat, melt half of the butter in a large non-stick grying pan, gently fry the dipped brioche in batches for two minutes on each side, until golden, adding the other half of the butter, as needed.

4. Tip the cinnamon sugar on to a plate and toss each cooked pain perdu (French toast) in the cinnamon sugar to coat. Serve immediately with the poached plums and Greek yoghurt, if you wish.

bon appetit à tous, Leeann x

Thursday, 21 February 2013

addicted to....

....bird cages and these beautiful garlands made from vintage-inspired pink paper roses and soft green leaves.  

The garlands  can be twined around bannisters or doorways to provide a romantic feel, or be laid around a fireplace or mantlepeice to just decorate the room.  They are also perfect for weddings.

I have used them in the shop entwined around candelabras and also on my mantle as they have a lovely soft romantic quality to them.

They also come in handy when wrapping gifts as I snip off one of the flowers and then place it by the bow, which gives a pretty effect.

I have just realised that it is time for lunch so I am off to start lunch as French Boyfriend gets a bit grumpy when he arrives and finds nothing prepared....

trés bonne journée à tous, Leeann x

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

une belle journée....

Bonjour mes belles,

I am supposed to be working inside today but could not resist the temptation to take a quick walk in the lovely sunshine, it is like a spring day here most unusual for February...

When I saw this bicycle paking outside the hairdressers, I though perfect it as though it was placed there and waiting for me to take the photo.

As you know I am a lover of this vin rouge colour; my shutters and front door are painted in the same colour so I was happy when the new owners of this hair salon painted their  facade the same colour.

For me it is a colour that always looks bright whether it is sunny or not but it really comes into it's own when the sun shines......don't we all, for that matter.

à demain, Leeann x

Monday, 18 February 2013

weekend tresors...

Bonjour mes belles,

I hope that you all had a fabulous weekend. Ours was a lovely sunny one so perfect for treasure hunting.....

First of the weekend treasures, is this fabulous set of 4 antique plates, made by Fenal Freres in Pexonne.

No. 1 of 4

Not only are they very decorative, they have a humouristic side to them....

No. 2 of 4

No. 3 of 4

No. 4 of 4

I love how detailed the designs on each of the plates are and the contrast of the black against the pretty sky blue colour.

Photo of the 4 plates together.

The Fenal Freres was founded in Pexonne, France Pexonne, in 1857 and remained in business until 1897. 

The plate is back-stamped as shown with an impressed "FF PEXONNE".

They would look fabulous in any setting. 

You will find details in the fabulously french online shop or by clicking here

Other new items include a vintage eiffel tower statue, more vintage french rosaries, a vintage butterfly collection and some individually framed butterflies and insects which have come from a local expert in butterflies.

Back to the photographing I must go.

Trés bonne seamine à tous, Leeann x

Saturday, 16 February 2013

bon week-end à tous....

Bonjour mes belles,

We have woken up to lots of gorgeous sunshine so the plan is to profit while it is here.

This morning's photo is of the flowers that French Boyfriend bought me yesterday......a very unexpected surprise to receive roses the day after St Valentin especially when I had already received roses on St Valentin along with this beautiful statue of the Vierge Marie.

She is huge and as with most statues of the vierge marie, over time she has lost her hands, hence it is hard to find a statue with hands. Note I think that this adds to her charm.....

Wishing you a fabulous week-end/ Je vous souhaite un week-end fabuleux.....Leeann x

Friday, 15 February 2013

French food Friday...Breton Prune Flan

recipe and photo from here

Bonjour mes belles,

I hope that you all had a lovely St Valentin. In case you did not have enough sugar yesterday, here is a nice sweet recipe for you....

Breton Prune Flan

Serves 6

  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 125g golden caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 500ml whole creamy milk
  • 1 tbsp dark rum
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 125g plain flour
  • 125g no-soak prunes
  • icing sugar for dusting
  1. Have ready a 23cm square solid baking tin about 4cm deep, or similar (such as a brownie tin; not a loose-bottom cake tin). Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Line the tin with baking paper then butter it with a little extra butter and dust with a little extra caster sugar.
  2. Melt the 50g butter and whiz in a liquidiser with all the remaining ingredients except the prunes, then scrape down the sides and whiz again. Pour this batter into the tin, and scatter the prunes evenly over the surface (a few may peek out on top).
  3. Bake for 35-40 minutes until puffy and golden. Remove and leave to cool, when it will sink a little and set. Liberally dust with icing sugar and cut into squares to serve.
Local hero This delicious custard flan comes from Brittany and Normandy where it is known as far and is often sold in slabs in traditional patisseries, much as bread pudding once was in local bakeries in the UK and like cheesecake is sold in Australia. 

...bon appetit à tous, Leeann x

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

yes please...

Photo from Ladurée

Valentine's Day with Ladurée......
"The Valentine’s Day Ispahan for two persons presented with a big red bow. A delicious heart to offer as a gift of delicacy.
Rose flavoured soft macaron biscuit, rose petal cream, raspberries and lychees......."

It would be perfect and save me from having to make a dessert......

Leeann x

Sunday, 10 February 2013

busy preparing...

Bonsoir mes belles,

I have just realised that it is St Valentin this Thursday so I am busy planning a menu for a romantic dîner pour nous.....

I have the card organised, the romantic DVD ordered, which I hope arrives in time, so I figure I am half way there.

The boutique is open Thursday and  we are offering complimentary gift wrapping for those of you who have left your shopping to last minute.

On that note I am off to continue with the menu......

...amicalement, Leeann x

Saturday, 9 February 2013

bon week-end à tous...

photo  from one of my favourite blogs

Just stopping by to wish you all a trés bon week-end....

Leeann x

Friday, 8 February 2013

French Food Friday...Alain Ducasse’s Signature Dish - Baba au Rhum

photo and recipe from here


It started like this......I said to French Boyfriend that I needed a recipe for French Food Friday and that it should be something romantic......he said how about boeuf bourguignon? I replied that I did not find that romantic! His reply was that he did and preferred it to anything else.
Last night I, the kiwi girl living with a French man that used to own a restaurant, used an Australian recipe to cook Boeuf Bourguignon. Hence stress levels were at an all time high but I should tell you that it was not the first time that I have made it as I used to serve it to guests staying at Maison de Poitiers and it always went down a treat.
End result a happy and surprised boyfriend who now wants my "secret" recipe and is also planning on eating it again for dinner ce soir.
Back to todays recipe story, I said that for St Valentine I was thinking of making something sweet.....hence when I suggest Baba au rhum, he looked a bit worried........pourquoi you may ask? Let"s just say that FB likes rum and often takes a secret tipple from the bottle that I buy for making my apple tart, when he thinks I am not looking.   

End result, I am sharing the recipe for his favourite dessert with you and he has rushed off to buy another bottle of rum.

Hope that you enjoy this recipe, it comes from one of France's best chefs  and I am sure it would be perfect for a romantic dinner for 2.....

 Alain Ducasse’s Signature Dish - Baba au Rhum



1 sachet dried yeast
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup flour
7 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons flour
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup rum
apricot jam
whipped cream



  1. In a large stainless steel bowl, dissolve 1 sachet of dried yeast in 1/3 cup of milk. Stir over a medium heat until warm.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in 1/4 cup of sifted flour, cover and set in a warm place for 20 minutes.
  3. Beat 7 tablespoons of softened unsalted butter with 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of flour. Add four eggs, one at a time, and beat well. When the yeast dough has risen and become spongy, whisk in this mixture, plus a further 1 1/4 cups of flour, to make a thick, doughlike batter.
  4. Spoon the batter into eight greased dariole moulds. Bake in a 350 F (raewyn to change to C!) oven for 20 minutes.
  5. Stir 1 cup of sugar into 2 cups of water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the zest of 1 orange, in strips. When cool, add 1/2 a cup of rum.
  6. When the babas are risen and golden, remove from the oven and unmold. Dip them into the syrup to saturate and then leave on a wire rack to cool. When cool, brush with warmed, strained apricot jam.
  7. To serve, split the babas lengthwise and spoon over more rum, then top with vanilla whipped cream.
......bon appetit à tous, Leeann x

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

painting results...

Bonjour mes belles,

It has been a busy day......a bit of spring cleaning followed by some shopping in order to commence cooking dîner; boeuf bourguignon and then take photos of the secretaire which is pretty much finished.

I decided to go with a blue/black colour on the exterior...

and a grey/blue on the interior.....

A close up of the two colours together....

It is bound for our new shop, with we are going to be opening  in a couple of month's time, with a friend our ours; Sue who is reknown for being our local Queen of "patine".

The shop in Eymet will continue to operate as normal stocking a range of gift and smaller vintage/antique items whereas the larger shop in Castillonnes, will permit us to stock a lot of larger items along with lots of antique and vintage curiosities.

As many of you know the shop is part of a house that I co-own and is currently on the market.  It was previously run as a Chambres D'hotes hence is perfect if you are looking to have a business in France. The shop used to be a butcher shop but is in the process of being fitted as an antiques shop but would lend itself to a variety of uses - florist, salon du thé, small restaurant are a few ideas that spring to mind.  You can see some photos here.

I had better go and check on dinner......

à demain, Leeann x

Monday, 4 February 2013

i adore these...

I hope that you all had a nice weekend. Most of mine was spent painting or waiting for paint to dry and today I am starting to apply the wax so hope to have some photos of the finished secretaire tomorrow.

When I opened the door to the kitchen this morning I was greeted by the most gorgeous smell, thanks to these gorgeous hyacinths or as they are called in French; jacinthes.

I love watching these boost into bloom and are particularly fond of the white ones.....when I look at them they remind me that Spring is not that far away or is this just wishful thinking on my part?

Bonne semaine à tous, Leeann x

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Movie Night...Bel Ami

Bonjour mes belles,

I hope you are having a fabulous weekend. Last night we watched the film; Bel Ami and we both enjoyed it.

It is based on the novel  Bel Ami  written by  French author Guy de Maupassant's which was published in 1885.
The story chronicles journalist Georges Duroy's corrupt rise to power from a poor ex-NCO to one of the most successful men in Paris, most of which he achieves by manipulating a series of powerful, intelligent, and wealthy mistresses.

The set design was incredible and I could watch it over and over again, just to take it the fabulous rooms full of beautiful furniture and decorative objects...........

The beds are stunning and I feel that this one really made the "love nest".

Loved the attention to detail which I feel, really made the film.

For details and photos from the movie click here.

I am now off to hopefully finish painting, which is taking longer than I thought it would.

à demain, Leeann x

Saturday, 2 February 2013

looking for love....

Bonjour mes belles,

Today's arrivals are looking for love. Each one is unique and each has been handmade with love in France.

I love the bright colours and think that they would make for fabulous gifts.

There are three that have movable joints and three that are the non-movable type.

Teddies with movable joints are 15 euros and those that do not move, are 10 euros.

I must admit each has a different personality as  I realised when  it came time to take their photos......

These hearts, hand made by the same creator, were much easier to photograph and again, come in a lovely melange of patterns and are brightly coloured.

I am now off to update the online shop.

Trés bon week-end à tous, Leeann x

Friday, 1 February 2013

French Food Friday...Valentine's Day Macarons

 recipe and photo from here


Well it is the first of February which means that you have 13 days to perfect this recipe......

After which time you will be an expert, just try not to eat all of them and save some to give as gifts.

Valentine's Day Macarons Recipe:

For the shells:
90 gr egg whites (about 3)
30 gr granulated sugar
200 gr powdered sugar
55 gr almonds
55gr pistachios
pink cherry powdered food coloring (the end color will depend on how much you use)

For the whites: the day before (24hrs), separate your eggs and store the whites at room temperature in a covered container. If you want to use 48hrs (or more) egg whites, you can store them in the fridge. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry. Combine the almonds, pistachios and powdered sugar in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that flows like lava or a thick ribbon. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.
Divide the batter in half and mix some color to one half to the desired effect. 

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with one of the batters and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper lined baking sheets. Use another bag for the second half of the batter.
Preheat the oven to 280F. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 20-22 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture. Don't let them sit there in it too long or they will become soggy. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer. 

To fill: pipe or spoon about 1 big tablespoon in the center of one shell and top with another one.

Spiced Buttercream:
1/2 cup (100gr) sugar
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon star anise
pinch of salt

Put the sugar and egg whites in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like marshmallow cream. 

Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat the meringue on medium speed until it cools and forms a thick shiny meringue, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, beating until smooth. 
Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes. Add the spices and salt and whip for another 10 seconds to incorporate it. 
If not using right away, refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for up to 1 month. 

....bon appetit à tous, Leeann x

Gluten free

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