Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Island Hood

We purchased a Zephyr island hood and it looks amazing. The model is ROMA. Straight lines and a lot of shine. It has 4 lights that light up the entire house. We hung it 28 inches from the ceiling so I can see my people sitting at the bar on the other side of the island - it will not block my view while cooking. LOVE IT!!!

From www.zephyronline.com: A sharp, angular island design as distinctively bold as the city it’s named for, Roma’s sleek presence is new to the Europa Collection. We worked closely with our design team to deliver exciting contemporary style and new features at a surprisingly affordable cost. The innovative quick-lock hanging system ensures one of the easiest island hood installations on the market. And the optional recirculating kit makes ductless installations a snap. Ideal for the design-savvy renovator, the high-rise developer who strives for quality, or the builder who needs mass but won’t settle for mediocrity, Roma Island offers the best of many worlds.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pendant Lights

These are my favorite. I LOVE these pendant lights and have used them as my inspiration for paint color and backsplash choices. They are made of mother of pearl and they will hang over the bar. When lit, they show natural colors of beige, whites, greys and browns (no pink). I will take the backspash to the lighting store this weekend and compare the two on Saturday just be be sure before ordering. They are not cheap but to me, they are like nice pieces of jewelry - don't you think?.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I am in the middle of an exciting kitchen remodel. While in France, my contractor (Uncle Orien) gutted the kitchen, removing a wall that used to separate the front living room from the kitchen. He's doing an amazing job. Before and after pictures to come!

Below is what we picked for the back splash. It glass and is made by Sonoma Tilemakers. It adds a bit of sparkle and color as my countertops are plain. I think it'll add some pizazz to the place. Imagine it against espresso cabinets and stainless steel. Yummy!!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Blooming in Provence

Today the Mistral blows and it is cold in Provence. A week ago, it was hot and the cactus were blooming in my Belle Mere's garden. One cactus had 10 blooms on it.

I'm back my friends. I missed you all and hope you are happy and healthy. I will begin to post pictures of my recent trip to Provence. It was a magical trip with Jean Louis and I hope I can convey that through my photos.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Bee Buzz

A month ago, these strange blue green plants emerged in the garden. My first impulse was to pull them but upon further examination, I decided to leave them and see what they were. Well, as you can tell, they are Opium Poppies. The bees just love them....I hope they are not becoming addicted! My brother Russell, threw some seeds out in the garden years ago when my Mother was still alive (I'm in the family home) and they finally produced.

The flower's botanical name is papaver somniferum. The Sumerians called it Hul Gil, the 'flower of joy.' This flower is grown mainly by impoverished farmers on small plots in remote regions of the world. It flourishes in dry, warm climates and the vast majority of opium poppies are grown in a narrow, 4,500-mile stretch of mountains extending across southern Asia from Turkey through Pakistan and Laos. Heroin is also increasingly becoming an export from Latin America, notably Colombia.

About three months after the poppy seeds are planted, brightly-colored flowers bloom at the tips of greenish, tubular stems. As the petals fall away, they expose an egg-shaped seed pod. Inside the pod is an opaque, milky sap. This is opium in its crudest form.

It's amazing how how a drug that has ruined so many lives can come from a plant that is so beautiful.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Mother's Day is a little sad for me these past few years. My Mom passed away in 2002 and my daughter lives in a different city. I received a sweet card from her and from our cat, Eiffel Jean Pierre. Today he turns 6.

I am blessed, however to have happy, good memories of my Mom. She raised 5 kids without complaint. She was smart, beautiful and an amazing nurse. I miss her so...

So, instead of being sad, I'm looking at the humorous side of Mother's Day with a few silly quotes.

"Mothers of teenagers know why animals eat their young." ~ Author Unknown

"Mothers are all slightly insane." ~ J.D. Salinger

"I want my children to have all the things I couldn't afford. Then I want to move in with them." ~ Phyllis Diller

"There is only one pretty child in the world, and every mother has it." ~ Chinese Proverb

"It takes a woman twenty years to make a man of her son, and another woman twenty minutes to make a fool of him." ~ Helen Rowland

"The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found." ~ Calvin Trillin

"A suburban mother's role is to deliver children obstetrically once, and by car for ever after." ~ Peter De Vries

"It would seem that something which means poverty, disorder and violence every single day should be avoided entirely, but the desire to beget children is a natural urge." ~ Phyllis Diller

"All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his." ~ Oscar Wilde

"A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie." ~ Tenneva Jordan

"You don't really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around - and why his parents will always wave back." ~William D. Tammeus.

"Working mothers are guinea pigs in a scientific experiment to show that sleep is not necessary to human life." ~ Author Unknown

"Any mother could perform the jobs of several air-traffic controllers with ease." ~ LisaAlther

"My mother had to send me to the movies with my birth certificate, so that I wouldn't have to pay the extra fifty cents that the adults had to pay." ~ KareemAbdul-Jabbar

"My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it." ~ Mark Twain

"My mother's menu consisted of two choices: Take it or leave it." ~ Buddy Hackett

Friday, May 8, 2009

Dirty Baby Bird

We have birds nesting in the cypress trees that separate us from our neighbors. I love birds but not these. These are dirty birds that poop every where and dive bomb you from time to time. They took over our waterfall fountain, have chased all the song birds away and have a horrible squawk. I have not enjoyed sharing my garden with them.

The other morning, my cat, Eiffel was minding his own business, looking out the window from his cat tree and the dirty birds were attacking him, well almost, through the window. There were about 20 birds freaking out! This intimidated Eiffel and he finally hid behind the curtain. Mind you, NOTHING intimidates Eiffel Jean Pierre - Nothing - EVER.

Later that morning, I was out watering the side garden and these dirty black birds started attacking MOI! Little did I now that they were just trying to protect their little one that had a mishap with his first flying lesson. As I was watering, this little newborn ran and hid under the fern tree. Later, he hopped on this dead sweet pea bush(that's another story)and I snapped a few pictures.

All of the sudden my heart changed towards these "dirty" birds. My vocabulary cleaned up as well. "Isn't it sweet how the Mom and Dad, fly down to feed him"? "Isn't he sooo cute?" "Just look at that precious baby; he must be so scared!" Five minutes earlier, I was asking my husband if I could buy a bb gun! Funny how a baby changes things.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Happy Birthday Avalon!

Happy Birthday Darling!

Friday, May 1, 2009

1st of May - French Style!

On May 1st, 1561, King Charles IX of France received a lily of the valley as a lucky charm. He decided to offer a lily of the valley each year to the ladies of the court.

A long-lived pagan custom was to plant an adorned tree on this day to celebrate the return of spring. For the Catholic Church it is the first day of the month of the Virgin.

But by far, all over France, it is the succession of the "Workers’ protest Day" 1889-1947) which officially became Labor Day, la fête du travail, in 1947.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Four Agreements

My dear friend, Pia introduced me to the the Four Agreements this weekend. She lives her life by these four "rules". Four simple and powerful ideas from Mexican author and shamanic healer Don Miguel Ruiz's book The Four Agreements:

1. Be impeccable with your words: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

(This really hit home with me. How often do I speak ill of myself or get caught up in office gossip...too often, I'd say!)

2. Don't take anything personally: Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

(Again, this is a huge one. If someone is having a bad day or not being kind, why do I think they might be mad at me?)

3. Don't make assumptions: Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

(Well...you know what they say about assuming ~ it makes an ass out of u and me!)

4. Always do your best: Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

(Et, voila! Just what Mom always told me - just do your best!)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Raised Bed

We have been digging up a portion of our grass to put in raised beds. It really bothered me to water the grass to keep it green when we could be using our precious water to water something we could eat! We have one other bed that we use as well. It provided all our our salad greens, herbs, etc. for the entire winter.

Jean Louis and I finally built our double 4x8 raised bed this weekend. I can't wait to fill it with veggies. So, along with 2 more 4x4s, we'll be set. We used redwood on this one and was sure to put the reddest part of the boards towards the dirt. If you want directions on how to build one, email me.

We followed the square foot gardening book and made a soil mixture of 1/3 compost, 1/3 vermiculite and 1/3 peat moss. I also added a little manure and organic fertilizer. It was really hard to find vermiculite in San Diego as I needed the premium grade (course). Do not use pearlite or the other grades of vermiculite as they will not retain the water as needed.

This soil combination is supposed to cut back on watering as the vermiculite and peat retain water. San Diego is in drought conditions and this summer there will be a mandated cutback so this should help.

I'm so excited - it's planting time!!!

For San Diego Gardeners:
Per Sunset Magazine, Coastal gardeners (in Sunset climate zones 21-24) can continue to plant quick-maturing, cool-season crops, including chard, leaf lettuces, radishes, and spinach. Inland (zones 18-21), switch to warm-season crops such as beans, corn, cucumber, eggplant, melons, peppers, summer and winter squash, and tomatoes. In the high desert (zone 11), wait a few more weeks; frost is still a possibility.

Plant beans, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, lima beans, melons, peppers, squash, tomatoes, and other warm-season crops. Delay planting two to four weeks in the high desert (Sunset climate zone 11) where frost is still a possibility. Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company is a great seed source for less common varieties.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Poisson d'Avril

"April Fools" in France: When my husband was young, he and his classmates would play tricks on each other by taping paper or aluminum fish (poisson) on the back of each others coats or would hang a paper fish around a friend's neck. If you fell victim, the others would erupt in playful laughter. He also has fond memories of chocolate fish being sold at the local chocolatier. Not a bad tradition if you ask me!

The linkage between April Fools Day and fish goes back to the abundance of fish to be found in French streams and rivers during early April when the young fish had just hatched. These young fish were easy to fool with a hook and lure. Therefore, the French called them 'Poisson d'Avril' or 'April Fish.' Soon it became customary (according to this origin theory) to fool people on April 1, as a way of celebrating the abundance of foolish fish. The French still use the term 'Poisson d'Avril' to describe the unfortunate victims of April Fool's Day pranks.

It felt only appropriate to have a tuna sandwich for lunch today since the diet forbids me from indulging on a chocolate fish! I'm holding out for that box of Chocolates that will be sent from the in-laws in France to us for Pâques (Easter).

Monday, March 30, 2009

Le Jardin de Provence

This is a re-post from last March. We were in Provence this time last year and I thought it'd be fun to see what was blooming in the gardens then. We spoke to my in laws this weekend and they said the garden is "coming alive". Oh how I wish I was there. We are returning to France this fall. We are counting the days...


These are just a few of the photos I took in Provence of my Belle Mere's (Mother in Law's) garden. She is an amazing gardener and it was such fun having her give me a tour of it and listening to her pronounce all of the names in french. My Belle Mere does not speak English and my French is a work-in-progress but somehow we communicate beautifully. Be sure to look at the last picture if you are a bird lover.

My father in law puts these walnuts out for the birds to eat...how sweet is that?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Worms - Verre de Terre

I have horrible soil. It's full of clay so we have to amend and compost like crazy to make plants grow. Our veggie garden is organic so I have to be careful what goes into it.

I was thrilled when I dug into the raised bed to plant my first tomato and voila families of worms everywhere! I contribute this to composting.

I was so excited, I had to run and show Frenchie. Did you know the word for worm in french is "verre de terre"? Verre means worm and de terre means of the earth. Worm of the earth. Hmmm....where else would a worm be from?

When you have this many worms, you get worm castings which are highly rich in nutrients and minerals which is essential to healthy plants. The crumb-like texture of the worm casts helps to improve the soil, making it more free-draining and better aerated. Worm casts can also improve a poor, dry soil making it more able to retain essential moisture. These benefits mean good, healthy root production.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Blooming Onions

Most folks want to grow onion bulbs NOT onion flowers! I have to admit, I let these youngins get way too big and should have picked them when they were little.

They look like leeks! I was in the garden when the Captain came home and he saw these on the ground and asked if we were having leek soup for dinner!

Ok, let's say you did not let them mature like I did. What causes bulb onions to send up flower stalks?
Flowering of onions can be caused by several things but usually the most prevalent is temperature fluctuation. An onion is classed as a biennial which means it normally takes 2 years to go from seed to seed. Temperature is the controlling or triggering factor in this process. If an onion plant is exposed to alternating cold and warm temperatures resulting in the onion plant going dormant, resuming growth, going dormant and then resuming growth again, the onion bulbs prematurely flower or bolt.

The onion is deceived into believing it has completed two growth cycles or years of growth in its biennial life cycle so it finalizes the cycle by blooming. Flowering can be controlled by planting the right variety at the right time. Use only transplants that are pencil-sized or smaller in diameter when planting in early spring or always plant seed, NEVER transplants, in early fall. I wonder if this is true for San Diego's climate. I'm learning so much!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Square Foot Gardening

Our grass has been removed and we are ready to put in our raised bed. I've been trying to determine what size is best. The bed we have now is only 3 ft across which works well with my reach as I don't have long arms and I want to be able to reach the middle of the bed.

Last night we were over at our friends, The Webers (who are very cool people by the way) , for dinner. They are using the square foot garden approach which I've considered. These pictures are from their lovely garden.

The Ten Basics of Square Foot Gardening:

Arrange you garden in squares, not rows. Lay it out in 4' by 4' areas.

Build boxes to hold a new soil mix above ground.

Space boxes 3’ apart to form walking aisles.

4 - SOIL
Fill boxes with Mel’s special soil mix: 1/3 compost. 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 coarse vermiculite.

5 - GRID
Make a square foot grid for the top of each box. A MUST!

6 - CARE
NEVER WALK ON YOUR GROWING SOIL. Tend your garden from the aisles.

Plant a different flower, vegetable, or herb crop in each square foot, using 1, 4, 9, or 16 plants per square foot.

Conserve seeds. Plant only a pinch (2 or 3 seeds) per hole. Place transplants in a slight saucer-shaped depression.

Water by hand from a bucket of sun-warmed water.

When you finish harvesting a square foot, add compost and replant it with a new and different crop.

Pick an area that gets 6-8 hours of sunshine daily.
Stay clear of trees and shrubs where roots and shade may interfere.
Have it close to the house for convenience and protection.
Existing soil is not really important. You won’t be using it.
Area must not puddle after a heavy rain.

For more on square foot gardening visitwww.squarefootgardening.com

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Desert Lily

Jean Louis and our friend BJ went to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park this past weekend to photograph the desert wild flowers. It was a great learning experience and we were really lucky to find the famous desert lily. BJ let me use his fancy camera with his macro lens to get this great shot. Thanks BJ!

The desert lily (Hesperocallis undulata) is one of the most beautiful of the desert wildflowers indigenous to the deserts of California, Arizona and Nevada.

Desert Lily Identification
To positively identify the desert lily, look for characteristic long, thin, narrow leaves that appear wavy or undulating (hence the scientific name undulata). While the leaves usually present as such, it is possible for an individual specimen to display thicker leaves with straight edges. The stem of the desert lily may be one to three feet in height, and as many as 20 buds may be present with only a few open at any one time. The flower itself looks a lot like an Easter lily. Look for six petals—three interior and three exterior.

The desert lily was used as a food source by the indigenous people. It was eaten raw or oven pit baked. The Spanish called it ajo, since the taste is said to be similar to garlic.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


In this month's issue of Organic Gardening, I found a most appropriate article on Arugula. We've enjoyed our bush all winter and I was bummed to see that it had gone to seed. When the plant bolts don't throw it in the compost pile. Cut the white flowers and immature seed pods and use them as a garnish. The leaves will be too spicy to eat raw, so instead try braising mature leaves from bolted plants with a bit of lemon juice, chicken broth and garlic.

In the article, written by Barbara Wilde of Paris, she offers a complete growing guide of arugula.

Arugula (Eruca sative) is native to the Mediterranean basin, where it grows wild in fields. It tolerates both extreme cold and heat, meaning you can grow it year round in Zones 7 and southward, and for all but the coldest months in the rest of the country.

Best varieties:
'Roquette' - 35 days. Extremely frost-tolerant, arrow-shaped leaves.
'Sputnik' - 35 days. A mild-flavored variety with a wide range of leaf shapes.

Plant one today - you wont' be sorry!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Pretty in Pink

Spring has arrived! Maybe this time change will get me out of my funk and back doing what I love - gardening!

We've been busy this weekend digging up a portion of our back yard for raised beds. We are very excited about this project which will allow us to grow all our own vegies. I'm taking pictures and will have before and after photos later.

I hope you are all having a blessed Sunday. Better get back out in the garden!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Fontaine Moussue

This is where Jean Louis grew up - Salon de Provence, France. We love having a coffee at le café while sitting and watching the passersby.

A popular attraction in Salon is the Fontaine Moussue, on the Place Crousillat. This 18th-century fountain is covered by a thick mound of moss. Some say the moss is dying due to global warming. The fountain is surrounded by plane trees planted over the centuries: one was planted in 1799 to mark the end of the Revolution and another was planted in 1919 to mark the end of the Great War.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Until visiting Linda in Sequim, WA this last summer, I had no idea about the booming lavender business in Washington State. I'm going again in July to attend the Fête de la lavande (Lavender Festival). Airline tickets are purchased and I'm counting the days.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Maison d’Etre

I was in the Bay Area visiting my daughter this weekend. When I visit, we frequent Rockridge, a trendy community in North Oakland. Maison d'Etre is a cute store that offers items for the home. Of course the french name intrigues me. Maison=House and Etre= (verb) "To Be."

"Maison d’Etre playfully suggests the store’s reason for being, to celebrate life at home. Owners Patty Brunn and Fred Womack, artists, florists, ardent cooks, parents and pet owners have created a unique nvironment focusing on all things home." Info from www.maisondetre.com

Thursday, February 19, 2009


As you all know, I love the Pacific Northwest and would move there in a heart beat. Here is a shot that I took last summer as I departed Seattle on the Bainbridge Ferry. I was going to visit my dear friend Linda.

I just made reservations to go again in July! I'm not only going to visit my girlfriends but I'll be in Sequim for the Lavender Festival! See the lavender link on the right regarding the festival.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

La Tulipe2

Inside la tulipe.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Lucky In Love

Thank you God for bringing me to him. Thank you for that chance meeting in Paris that sealed our fate. Merci mon amour for crossing the deep blue ocean pour moi. I'm lucky to be in love with my best friend.

Friday, February 13, 2009


I was shocked to see the first bud on the apricot tree. The tree is older than I am and but is still holding up (no, not better than I). It will be a sad day when it comes down. I love this old tree.

I must admit, though, that I have not been the best care taker of it. I did not trim it or treat it this winter and I'm sure it's too late since it is beginning to blossom. First day of spring is 3/20 - just around the corner!

Last June I posted about baking apricot crumble and how it made me miss Mom: http://gardenblessings.blogspot.com/2008/06/apricot-memories.html

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Morning Harvest

I am taking a salad to my buddy Patty in Encinitis during my lunch break . Patty recently had serious back surgery and is laid up for a few weeks.

I can't tell you how wonderful it's been for Jean Louis and I to simply go out and pick our meals!

Here we have romaine, endive, arugula and cilantro - all organic. I hope my summer crops turn out this well.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cactus de Provence

You don't see many cacti in Provence. My Belle Mère (Mother-in-Law) is very proud of the ones in her garden and I took this closeup of one of them. She has to protect them in the winter against the cold, sometimes freezing conditions. I miss her. I miss her garden - even in the winter.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Plant / Krauss win 5 Grammys

I'm out of out of touch in the music world. I had no idea that the legendary Led Zeppelin front man was making music with Blues star, Alison Krauss. The result, quite lovely.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

La Tulipe

I've been blessed with a loving husband that brings me flowers. Merci mon amour pour les tulipes!

Friday, February 6, 2009

What a wonderful world...

My Aunt Sandra sent this to me today. I hope it'll make your day a little more wonderful.

Love you guys!


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sun Burst

Taken in Genette's backyard in Sequim Washington. I don't know what these are. Linda-any help? Linda is my good buddy that lives in Sequim and she knows plants.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Fontaine-de-Vaucluse is a medieval village at the southwestern corner of the mountainous Plateau Vaucluse, 25 km east of Avignon. It is one our favorite places to visit. In the summer months, the streets are lined with tourists to get a glimpse of the mysterious bubbling spring which is the most beautiful color of blue-green that I have ever seen.
I'll never forget my first trip to Provence to to spend the Holidays with Jean Louis and his family. He took me to Fontaine de Vaucluse and I remember it being so cold. This Southern California girl was not used to the cold winters of Provence.

Personally, I like to visit this village because it has my favorite shop to buy Provencal tablecloths (napes). We buy a new one every time we visit. It also has a fabulous santon museum. The picture below was taken in the museum. (more on Santons tomorrow)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Downtown Salon de Provence

Welcome to downtown Salon de Provence, France. This is a town next to my my in-laws village in Provence. Jean Louis took this photo a few months ago while visiting his parents.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I loved this but what to name it??