Tuesday, 31 December 2013

merci à tous....

Bonjour mes belles,

The last day in 2013, tomorrow we start with a blank page, well almost and what a lovely, liberating feeling that is.

For us it has been a busy year and a year in which we have seen a lot of changes, all of which postive and have opened new doors.

Early in 2013, we converted an old butcher's shop into an antique shop as we thought that this would assist in selling the other house that I own in a nearby village.  No sooner was the paint dry and low and behold a potential buyer arrived and a few months later, made an offer on the shop and chambres d'hotes. 

We wish Alex and his family the best of luck and look forward to working together in 2014. Alex has spent considerable time in the luxury hotel business and is also a qualified chef  of fabulous French food and will be offering classes in 2014 which we will be also be offering to guests who stay with us at Maison No.20.

Speaking of Maison No. 20, it was a busy year with a variety of nationalities and plans are underway to offer an increased number of services incluing private, secure parking and a new louis XVI style dining room which I am enjoying sourcing items for.
The new dining room is a result of Fabulously French growing "too big for her shoes" and we are in the process of moving all the stock to our new shop, which is a few minutes walk from Maison No. 20.

It is a lovely light shop and has parking opposite.  As many of you know French Boyfriend is an Antiques dealer and has over 30 years experience and ironically we met in a friend's antique shop. 

We are looking forward to working together and at the same time it will allow us to spend time doing the things that we love, for me that is decorating and relooking old items, whereas Guy loves to restore old furniture and old paintings and is hoping to find some time to paint as he is a talented artist having sold over 
2,000 paintings, not sure how much time he will have but here's hoping that he has the time to do what he loves best.  

I am now off to write some new year's resolutions but wanted to take the time to say merci beaucoup for reading my blog, following me on facebook and pinterest and being clients of  Fabulously French and Maison No. 20.

I hope that you will continue to enjoy reading all about our our new adventures in 2014.

Wishing you all a blessed and wonderful year full of 
love, good health, happiness and prosperity.

amicalement, Leeann x

Sunday, 29 December 2013

New Year's Eve Inspiration....

photo from here

Bonjour mes belles,

Hope that you are having/had a lovely relaxing weekend; the last in 2013.
I just stumbled across this photo on pinterest and thought that you may like it as much as I do. It has been a while since I have decorated with balloons but that maybe about to change....

amicalement, Leeann x

Friday, 27 December 2013

French food Friday...French 75

photo and recipe from here

Bonjour mes belles,

I hope that you all had a very happy Christmas.  Our's was spent with French Boyfriend's family and as you all know the French love their food and believe that it should be sdavoured slowly hence dinner on Christmas eve did not finish to around 1am on Christmas day and as a result I was a little worse for wear.....mixing drinks is never good and next time I plan to stick to champagne only.

Christmas day was a repeat of Christmas eve and I started my day with macarons and finished the day with macarons hence I have had my "macaron fix" for a while.

Yesterday was spent recovering and we are planning on having a quietish week-end if such a thing exists....

This week's recipe is a festive one and is one that I am planning on using New Year's eve.

It dates back to World War I, legend has it that this now-quintessentially French cocktail was created by American officers during the war who were inspired by the power and smoothness of the French 75mm rifles.

French 75 Cocktail

Serves: 4

You Will Need:
60ml Gin
30ml Freshly squeezed lemon juice
30ml Sugar stock
Champagne or Sparkling Wine

1. Mix gin, lemon juice and sugar stock together.
2. Shake in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain equal amounts into the bottom of four flute glasses.
3. Top with chilled bubbles. It’s a delicious drink and a perfect aperit
1. Mix gin, lemon juice and sugar stock together.
2. Shake in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain equal amounts into the bottom of four flute glasses.
3. Top with chilled bubbles. It’s a delicious drink and a perfect aperit
Read more at http://www.marieclaire.co.uk/lifestyle/recipes/533636/french-75-christmas-cocktail.html#MUSCLsI4P5APVSh8.99

à votre santé, Leeann x

Monday, 23 December 2013

Joyeux Noël....

Here's wishing you and yours a Joyeux Noël .

amicalement, Leeann

Friday, 20 December 2013

French Food Friday...Buche de Noel

photo and recipe from here

Bonjour mes belles,

I hope that you are having a fabulous week in the run up to Christmas, not many sleeps to go now.

This week's recipe is a personal favourite of mine, simple and very yummy.

Buche de Noel

Serves: 6-8

Total Time: 1 hr 5 mins
Prep Time: 50 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins

  • melted butter, for greasing
  • 175g caster sugar, plus extra for dredging
  • 75g plain flour, plus extra for dredging
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 1 tablespoon coffee liqueur, such as Kahlúa
  • 125ml double cream
  • 175g plain chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon coffee liqueur
  • 50g melted chocolate, plus extra for drizzling
  • 6-7 holly leaves
  • icing sugar, for dusting
  1. First make the holly leaves to decorate the cake. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of very gently simmering water. Stir a couple of times until smooth. Using a small paintbrush, coat the non-shiny sides of the holly leaves with the mixture. Leave to set, then paint on another two coats. Chill until set.
  2. Heat the oven to 200˚C (180˚C fan oven) gas mark 6. Brush a 33cm x 23cm Swiss roll tin with melted butter. Line with baking parchment and grease the paper. Dredge with caster sugar, then flour. Knock out any excess.
  3. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together three times until they are thoroughly combined. Set aside.
  4. Whisk the eggs in a bowl with the sugar until the mixture leaves a trail for a few seconds. Gently fold in the flour mixture with a large metal spoon – don’t over-mix or you will lose valuable air but make sure there are no pockets of flour. Fold in the coffee liqueur.
  5. Gently pour the mixture into the prepared tin, checking for any pockets of flour as you do so. Lightly level the surface and bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges shrink away from the tin.
  6. Lay a damp tea towel on the work surface followed by a sheet of baking parchment. Dredge the paper with caster sugar. Carefully turn the cake out onto the paper. Leave to cool for a few minutes, then carefully peel away the top baking parchment. Trim the crusty edges. Make a small nick 2cm from the edge of one short end at each side of the Swiss roll. Roll up from the short end with the paper still inside. Transfer to a wire rack, seam-side down, to cool.
  7. To make the ganache, put the cream in a small pan and bring to the boil (this is important). Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Leave to melt, stirring a couple of times, until smooth. Set aside until the chocolate is at room temperature.
  8. Transfer the chocolate mixture to a free-standing mixer (or use electric beaters) and beat with the ‘K’ beater on a medium speed until it is thickened and lighter in colour – do not overbeat as you want it to be soft and fluffy. Beat in the coffee liqueur.
  9. Unroll the Swiss roll and spread the ganache over. Roll up tightly again and place seam-side down on a board – don’t worry if it cracks, as this will add to the log effect.
  10. Using a teaspoon, drizzle melted chocolate from side to side across the log. Peel the holly from the chocolate leaves, arranging them on top of the cake. When the drizzled chocolate has set, dust the log with icing sugar.

....bon appetit à tous, Leeann

Thursday, 19 December 2013

a little inspiration...

photo from here

Bonjour mes belles,

The days appear to be disappearing vite and I still have what seems like a million and one things to do....

Yesterday we went shopping and I thought that French Boyfriend would buy me a lovely wreath from the local florist, to hang on our front door, but no, he bought me the base in which to create a wreath so I need to go a wandering in the forest and find me some lovely branches and ivy.....you may recall that a couple of years I took wreath making classes so I have a feeling I will need to refer to the notes that I made back then.

This year ours is natural Christmas so the image that I have posted today is very inspiring and I love the tray piled high with moss and the bulbs look stunning......

 a hunting and wandering I must go, Leeann x

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

our neighbour's garden...

Bonjour mes belles,

Another busy morning which included a quick dash to the Post Office before they closed the doors for lunch; a French tradition that has taken me a while to get used to, but after 6 years of living in France I now consider this "normal".

Our neighbour's garden is looking fabulous and I thought that I would snap a few photos to share with you....

Love the contrast of the lovely lush green foliage against the old stone wall.....

So lucky to have such a lovely garden so close to us, it is by far the nicest and probably the most photographed garden, in our village.

Back to writing last minute Christmas cards I must go......

à demain, Leeann x

Monday, 16 December 2013

9 days to go...

Bonjour mes belles,

Wow lundi matin, the weekend passed quickly and we have 9 days to Christmas day. Trying not to panic but think that I will be one of the last minute shoppers, which in a way I have come to enjoy, as shopping on Christmas eve always has an ambiance all of it's own.....the marche de noel has started in Bergerac and I am looking forward to visiting the very cute wooden chalets and the weather is mild so bearable for the brave stand holders as they are not heated.
A million and one things to do as per normal so I had better get moving....

Bonne et douce semaine à tous, Leeann x

Saturday, 14 December 2013

coming to Eymet May 2014....

Bonjour mes belles,

I hope that you are having a good weekend. I am popping a few dates in the diary and this is one worth sharing for anyone planning a trip to Eymet next May.

His name is Mathieu Borè and he is a fabulous jazz singer and he is coming to Eymet as part of the Maquiz'Art Winter Jazz Programme, a big merci to French Boyfriend's cousins who put so much work into organizing these fabulous concerts which really do brighten up a chilly Winter's night and fortunately the venue is only a hop, skip and jump from maison no.20.

You can listen to him here.

très bon week-end à tous, Leeann x

Friday, 13 December 2013

french food friday...Coconut and Raspberry Financiers

photo and recipe from here

Bonjour mes belles,

When I saw this recipe, I thought "yum" as I adore rasberries......

Coconut and Raspberry Financiers

Yield: Makes 8 mini loafs (4x2in.)


  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoon Gold Medal Unbleached Flour
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 4 tablespoon desiccated coconut
  • 2 oz. raspberries


1. Place butter in a heavy bottom pan over medium heat and stir until butter is melted and starts to turn brown and takes on a nutty scent. Remove from heat and pour browned butter through a fine mesh sieve.
2.  Place remaining ingredients into a bowl and whisk to combine. Add in cooled butter and mix to combine. Pour batter into mini loaf pans and insert raspberries on top and gently press them into the batter.
3. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 35-40 minutes or until inserted cake tester is clean when removed from center. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. Optional: Dust with confectioner sugar.

....très bon vendredi à tous, Leeann x

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

upside down...

photo from here

Bonjour mes belles,

I hope that you are having a fabulous week, mine is not really going as planned but have decided to go with the flow. Living in France has taught me this, note it has taken a good 6 years, hence today's photo reflects my mood. 

It is an exciting time for us with a lot of changes on the horizon, I cannot wait to share them with you but for now my lips are sealed.....

amicalement, Leeann x


Monday, 9 December 2013

fabulously french...

photo from here

A little inspiration for the festive season, the fabulous and very French Marion Cotillard looking very glamorous and chic. I especially love the way that her hair is styled!

très bonne semaine à tous, Leeann

Saturday, 7 December 2013

très bon week-end à tous...

Bonjour from a cold but sunny SW France,

I am happy to see that my jacinthes are bursting into bloom and I love the parfum that they give out when I walked into the kitchen this morning. 

As you can see from the photo I could not resist adding a bit of moss, I love it and use it whenever I can, much nicer than looking at dirt....

Wishing you all a très bon  week-end, Leeann x

Friday, 6 December 2013

Food Friday...gingerbread biscuits

Bonjour mes belles,

It is not very French I know, but I thought that I would share my gingerbread recipe with you today.....

  Gingerbread biscuits

Makes about 30 biscuits depending on size
340g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1½ tsp grated nutmeg
1½ tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tsp ground ginger
225g unsalted butter, softened
340g soft brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
75g crystallised ginger, finely chopped
225g icing sugar, optional
Hundreds and thousands, optional

1. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and spices together into a mixing bowl.
2. Beat together the butter and sugar, and then add the egg, beating it in gradually, so the mixture doesn't curdle. Stir into the flour to make a dough, and then mix in the crystallised ginger.
3. Put the dough between two sheets of clingfilm, and roll out to the thickness of a £1 coin. Refrigerate for half an hour. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
4. Cut out the biscuits, and put on a greased baking tray. Cook for about 10 minutes, and, when straight out of the oven, poke a hole in each and allow to cool on a rack before threading a ribbon through.
5. Decorate with writing icing, or sift the icing sugar, and then mix to a stiff consistency with boiling water. Brush over the cooled biscuits, and decorate with hundreds and thousands while still wet.

I hope that you enjoy making them as much as we do eating them..

Leeann x

Thursday, 5 December 2013

nothing nicer...

Bonjour mes belles,

For me there is nothing bicer, than spending a chilly day in December, listening to Barbra Streisand singing christmas carols whilst I cut out gingerbread shapes.

Needless to say French Boyfriend was very happy to find dinner on the table, when he arrived last night and a jar full of gingerbread biscuits. Not so sure that he likes Barbara Streisand so let's keep that entre nous.

à plus tard, Leeann x

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

hunting and gathering...

Bonsoir mes belles,

Today has been a "hunting and gathering" type of day......I have been hunting and gathering greenery to decorate Maison No. 20 but have realised that despite telling French Boyfriend  "stop cutting , I have enough " I now realise that I need more. 

Just need to work out how to break this news on FB who is not quite so keen on hunting and gathering.....the idea of trudging around in alsmost freezing temperatures whilst I point out which branches I prefer is not his ideal sport!

I just need to find a way to break it to him gently.....think that a dessert maybe called for so it is off to the kitchen I go...

à demain, Leeann x

Monday, 2 December 2013

week-end tresor and a bit of family history...

Bonjour from a very frosty SW France,

I have just returned from a quick walk to the Post Office, note the word quick  as it is very frosty and there is ice on the cars this morning.

Yesterday it was the same story, very cold start fgollowed by a lovely clear blue sky with lots of lovely sunshine. For some reason or another (slept through the alarm) we did not get off to early start treasure hunting and arrived later than normal.

Reason being that there was a fab jazz concert in the local chateau Saturday night and we were late to bed hence the "not wanting to get up early" state of mind.

Managed to find a few tresors and catch up with a lot of dealers, one of which is a favourite of mine as he always has some stunning and unusual items. 

The first find of the day, brings to mind the expression, never judge a book by it's cover.......

The exterior was a bit tatty and not particularly clean but I was drawn to look inside......

and this is what I saw.......there is something about old books and this one is a delight to the eye. It contains a year's worth of "Mode Illustree Journal de la famille" from the year 1872.

As we sat looking at the fabulously detailed pages last night, I wondered how many women before me had done the same thing......141 years old, 141 years worth of history.....a lot has happened since then. For some reason I thought about my ancestors, they were brave enough to take a voyage from England to New Zealand. they sailed on the BOLTON from Gravesend on 29 Oct 1841, and arrived in Nelson, 25 Mar 1842. 

 England was suffering from a depression, there was acute unemployment from the closure of many cotton mills and the resulting poverty that spread throughout the country fueled thought for adventure and the opportunities that these new and unknown lands presented to the public. The Bolton encountered a gale, about two months after leaving England, that broke the mast in two, the top deck had disappeared and the sails had gone. 

By good fortune the boat happened upon a French ship which supplied the necessary timber and repairs. 

It is ironic really, my ancestors were saved by the French and over a century and a half later, after spending 15 years travelling and working around the world, I am living in France....

Apologies for the deviation, here are some examples of the lovely pages hidden within the dusty and battered cover....

I was lucky enough to purchase 2, the other one is dated 1871 and contains similar illustrations.

They really are fascinating and as I flick through the pages, I get caught up in a different era......
My other find is not nearly as old but I love it as it is something that I have looking for and this one has a lovely patine to it. Ironically it was made in Scotland...

The seller joked with me that the price did not include a bottle of champagne....I had to smile as it was one of those "French" moments that I have come to love about living in France. Friendly banter with the locals, and to think when I first moved to France how I longed to join their conversations and to be greeted as if I belonged. Hence I get as much pleasure for saying "hello" as much as I do from finding a fabulous item.

After all some of the best things in life are free......and on that note I must leave you, as french Boyfriend has arrived with an armload of pears, which means he wanted another pear and almond tart.

très bonne semaine à tous, Leeann x   

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