Thursday, April 30, 2009

Giveaway!


Quick post for all of you out there interested in winning something...

Go and check out Mammalicious Finds for your chance to win a Chichiboulie print. Deadline to enter is 9 May.

Good Luck!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Career Choices

They are difficult, aren't they? With so many options out there, it's a big decision to make and something that requires a lot of thought and reflection.

And that's why it's good to have school breaks from time to time. Not only do they allow for children to rest and play, but they also allow time for reflection on important matters. This afternoon was serious business at lunch. The girls discussed career choices with me. To put things in context, they are 9 and soon to be 7. I'm pretty certain the choices aren't set in stone, but it's comforting to know they are thinking, in more ways than one...

My oldest has wanted to raise horses, race horses, and run a pet shop in the past. But besides her deep love of horses and animals, she is also quite the gourmet/gourmande and today, she came out with something new for her future. She's decided she wants to be a chocolatier and make chocolates for a living. She is already working on some new recipes too. Chocolate with bananas? Chocolate with apples? Some refinement may be in need, but I wouldn't be completely surprised if this choice stuck. And well, having a chocolatier in the family isn't all bad, is it?

As for our second daughter, being the younger of the two, she has a bit more time yet to decide, though she has been thinking about this for quite some time. While walking to school one day when she was all of 5, she gave me a very worried look, sighed and asked ever so sincerely, "Mummy, what happens if you forget what you want to be when you grow up?"

This is obviously a thought that weighs heavily on her young mind.

Although she's still undecided (or maybe just can't remember), in order to clarify some things, she seems to have adopted the process of elimination. As of lunch today, it would seem that we can cross a few more choices off the board.

"Mummy, it must be very difficult to be president," she said.

"This is true," I told her. "It's a very difficult job indeed."

"Yes," she then continued. "And it must be very difficult to be a queen or a king or a prince or a princess too. That's why I don't want to be a princess."

Ah, bless. Well at least we've got that sorted.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dutch Getaway

It would seem that we're always heading to somewhat unexpected locations for our little getaways. Most people here head south, towards the sun. It's where you're expected to go. But I have to admit that I have a rather bit weakness for heading north, or towards the northern countries. Although it's not usually sunny or terribly warm, there is something just so lovely about them and I feel terribly at home.

Ourselves, we live in northern France which, for all intents and purposes, doesn't change much from Belgium, the next country up from us and only about 5 miles from our house. The culture and weather are pretty much the same. Given that we live in the grey and mist all year round, it's true that you could expect us to want to get away to the sun. But no, we head north.

And this past week was no exception. While the older girls were in the south with their grandmother, we packed up the wee man and headed to Maastricht in the Netherlands. To be honest, geographically speaking, it's more east of here than north, but still, officially the Netherlands is north of France so I'm sticking to my story.

Maastricht is a small city nestled between the Belgian and German borders. It's not the tourist attraction that is Bruges, Gent or Amsterdam, but maybe that's what makes it so nice. It's a true living city that offers sites to see and a relaxing time, even with a 2-year-old. Our hotel was located just outside the city and surrounded by a luscious green park the city and rented bikes to make our way around. The little man was in heaven in his Bakfiets and only attempted escape at the very beginning. Once he figured out that he could truly enjoy the ride from his vantage point, he settled in and we were able to do a bit of sightseeing, even if most of it did revolve around strategically placed teeter-totters and duck ponds. And we were lucky with the weather that was in our favour not only for cycling but for sampling some local delights.

It was a very much needed break and a wonderful one at that. Definitely a city that is worth the detour with or without wee ones in tow.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Something Old, Something New...

Nothing Borrowed, Something Blue.

Okay, well it almost worked out to go along with the rhyme, but since this has little to do with a wedding, I guess that's okay.

A quick post to show off the reworking of an old watercolour I've had for ages and yet haven't done anything with. I've always quite liked this one, but just couldn't find a way to use it.

So I had a bit of a play around yesterday and I quite like the way it's turned out. I'll be adding this print to my shop soon, along with a couple of others I've been playing with as well.

Friday, April 17, 2009

New and Improved!

I was told by a friend the other day that by reading my blog, whatever mood I happen to be in that day becomes apparent. I do really wonder if it's true, but deep down I think I know the answer.

But to see if it really holds true, I thought I'd post a new blog today and see what happens. I had been planning on showing off my new print that I listed on Etsy, but well, it's just not what I want to write about today. Instead, I thought I'd write about my future husband. Future I say because, of course, I'm already married and overall quite happily so. But my current husband has a slight propensity towards blowing up small appliances. Today I'm without my sidekick radio and music due another such occurance.

A girl can only take so many blown up appliances in her life without really losing it and I fear I may be quickly approaching that limit. And so if I could take my current model and download an upgrade by requesting a few minor adjustments, I would truly appreciate it.

Here is my list of requirements that the new improved hubby would need, in addition to his standard options of romantic, funny, kind, thoughtful, helpful, intelligent, honest, handsome and hardworking. I think you'll find I'm really very reasonable to say the least.

1 - Must not touch anything electrical in the house. Ever.
2 - Must come with an integrated stop watch so that dinner is never burned. Ever.
3 - Must love to do DIY. Non-electrical of course.
4 - Must have a highly developed organisational gene. Particularly in regards to the garage. And particularly on bin day.
5 - Must come with an integrated gps system allowing him to be easily located in situations requiring his participation. Such as impending birth.

I'm sure there are a few other options that could be added to my very reasonable list, but I'll stop at just 5. Mustn't be too greedy after all.

But if he could come with an on/off switch too....

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Just Because...



Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Life Saving Lessons

This weekend I learned a lesson or two in life saving, fortunately not of the human kind.

No, my life saving lesson concerns my olive trees. Thankfully not as important as any family member, human or animal, but nonetheless, worth saving. Or at least trying to save which is where I'm at for the moment.

You see, I have 2 potted olive trees and have had them for a couple of years. One longer than the other, but still, both have become small members of my family. While one of the trees seems to be quite happy overall, the other has had a bit of a hard life. It seemed to be doing well when I brought it home from the nursery as do the majority of my plants, but then things took a wrong turn.

I think the biggest turning point came though when we moved in mid-winter from the UK to France. We arrived at our new home in subfreezing temperatures and I think this olive tree has never forgiven me for that, despite all my efforts.

I share this photo with you only in the faith that you will not judge me by my tree.

My tree lost quite a few branches in the cold and I had little choice but to trim it back in the hopes that it would flourish again. I thought I had done a decent job given what I had to work with, though I will admit that it rather looks like a bad haircut. Lately, however, it's been looking even worse. Hard to believe, I know.

On top of the rather gloomy looks of the tree, we've also had this terrible sappy substance all over the floor where I kept the trees for the winter (along with the lemon tree and rosemary). I just shrugged it off as the lemon tree giving off sap as citrus fruits can be sticky, can't they?

Then I noticed these tiny black lumps on the stem and branches. To be honest, I noticed them a bit a go, though I won't admit to how long ago that was exactly, but I just shrugged those off as well. You may at this point be beginning to understand why it's best that I chose against having a career in landscape architecture. As much as I do love plants, I don't seem to be the best mother for them.

Yesterday something suddenly clicked. I think I was actually looking up information on my rose bush and just got distracted, though I'm not sure. Whatever the means, I ended up looking into the funny little black lumps on my olive trees and was I in for an eye-opener.

Those little black lumps are not a natural part of the bark nor are the miniature olives in the making. No, those little black lumps are insects! Insects with no legs no less. Okay, maybe not NO legs, but "reduced" legs. They are very deviously disguised if you ask me. Who's ever heard of an insect with no legs! But there's more. It turns out that these little insects known as scale secrete a sticky substance suspiciously like the substance covering my floor and trees. It was all coming together now.

My tree is infested with scale. YUCK. What I find slightly paradoxical is that from what I've read, this type of infestation occurs in groves of trees that are very dense. Now as you can see from the photo of my poor suffering tree, dense is perhaps not a word one would choose to describe it. I'm perplexed. But standing around scratching my head isn't going to get rid of these little parasites.

So I spent yesterday scraping legless insects off my trees and today washing the tree, leaf by leaf by leaf. And I'm far from finished. It's going to get the royal treatment for a while (as well as my other little trees) with a lovely hand-wash, new pot and soil, and apparently a nanny to watch out for any more scale that may erupt.

With a little luck, it may just perk up again. Maybe.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Why Boys Shouldn't Wear Makeup

Because they just don't seem to understand the golden rule of less is more.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

In your Easter bonnet...

with all the frills upon it....

Look what I got in the post yesterday! An adorable bunny all decked out in her finest frocks. Isn't she just the sweetest? She reminds me a bit of the Flying Nun, except better. Bunny came complete with chocolate eggs. I'm not sure the Flying Nun did that!

She was sent to me by my Secret Bunny for the European Street Team's swap, Susan of Atelier Susan Dolls on Etsy. Susan makes the most gorgeous dolls. I can't tell you how meticulously this little bunny is made so I hope you can see it in the photos. She is just perfect. So perfect in fact that she was immediately scooped up by my daughters and I had to go hunting for her this morning for her photo shoot.

Thank you so much, Susan! She's stunning.

Take a peek at some of Susan's other things and see how fabulous they are.

Monday, April 6, 2009

April Freebie


Just a quickie as I'm (once again) slightly late in my timing...

April's freebie is now listed. You can print out Hermione (and her rather floppy and very unhedgehog-like ears) for your own embroidery fun. That is, if you think she should be seen in public like this. I mean really, hedgehogs have no sense of decorum any more... tsk tsk!

Happy April!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Lessons

My oldest has her first official "report" to do for school. The children could choose any subject they wanted. Some of her friends chose to do reports on the family dog or dolphins, others chose tennis or a favourite book. My daughter? She's decided to do her 15 minute report on "America". Nothing specific about it, just America in general. Oh, and apparently it must contain the Statue of Liberty and Washington D.C. in her mind.

One thing can be said for certain, she is ambitious. And I have learned from experience that once she has her heart set on something, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to change her mind. And so America it is to be.

To get her started, I suggested she sit down and write a list of things she thinks she should talk about before beginning her research. I even gave her a few ideas, things like where it is located, what are its borders, what is the capital etc. I sent her off with these things in mind (or so I thought) and soon enough she was back exclaiming she was ready to start researching.

I had decided to let her do the first bit herself as a learning experience. I would look over her first draft to give her guidance on what to add and delete before she continued. And so we looked up a few internet pages together and then I let her get to work.

Yesterday, she presented her first draft to me.

Today I'm going to talk to you about America, it began. And was then proceeded by a paragraph on the Statue of Liberty and then one very long sentence about Washington D.C. Not a bad start and some very good information, but not quite a report on America.

I tried again to explain what such a report may contain and even that she could most definitely talk about the Statue of Liberty and Washington. We discussed different ideas that she could research as I tried to help her to understand that as is, her work was not quite a report on America, but rather on some random facts about the country.

I think I may have mentioned that she's a bit strong-willed, did I not?

She went off only to come back a little while later with her updated version. This one was quite remarkably similar to the first version, but there was one minor change. The first sentence.

Today I'm going to talk to you about random things about America.

I think we have some work to do.