Monday, October 29, 2012

2013 Art Of Craft Event

It's that time of year again...time for our annual Art of Craft Event at French General.  
This January, we will have three days of wonderful workshops and old friends coming together to create, inspire and celebrate craft.  If you have never been to a workshop at French General before, this is the perfect time to visit and see what we do.  Here is a little peek at the classes offered by each of our talented teachers...

Souvenir Journal

Marie Antoinette Embroidered Portrait

Hand-Sewn Sewing Book

Under the Bell Jar

Stitched Jewelry

Arlene Baker
Paper Flowers

Sign ups for the Art of Craft are limited to 30 students each workshop.  
Come for the craft - stay for the day!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lettuce en Francaise

I must have France on my brain....I just keep thinking about the variety of lettuce I saw at the traditional farmer's market in Caussade....we visit the market each Monday while in France to see our favorite vendors.
Here's my favorite salad dressing:

French Vinaigrette
Makes about 1/4 cup 
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon sherry or red wine vinegar
1/2 small shallot, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 - 4 tablespoons of good olive oil
fresh herbs, if desired
1. At the bottom of a salad bowl, whisk together salt, vinegar, and shallot. Let stand for about ten minutes.
2. Mix in the Dijon mustard, then add 3 - 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir well, then taste. If too sharp, add the additional olive oil and more salt, if necessary.
If you wish to add fresh herbs, it’s best to chop and mix them in shortly before serving so they retain their flavor.
This dressing will keep for about eight hours at room temperature. If you want to make it farther in advance, it’s best to add the shallots closer to serving so they don’t lose their verve.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Neighbors in France

This past summer after our three weeks at the chateau, Kick, Sofia, Molly, Mogull and I all moved into this beautiful home for a few days of rest and relaxation.  Out in the middle of nowhere, we were happy to just sit by the pool, cook for ourselves and enjoy a glass of wine - or two!  

The bedrooms were decorated like an old French chateau - Sofia and I shared this room together.

The home is owned by a British couple who are both landscape designers.  The outdoor patio and surrounding grounds were immaculate - everything was planned out and had a sense of easy, laid-back rural life.

Our only problem, besides the onslaught of flies due to the local sheep that passed in front of the house twice a day, was that we didn't have the requisite "cle a bocal" to open our canned jar of fois gras!

Now,  I have spent many a night in France with this small tool and believe me when I tell you, you cannot open a jar of fois gras without it!  One year, post chateau in a hotel in Montauban, I even went so far as to call the farmer who had sold me a jar without the tool.  I ended up cutting myself using a French pocket knife to open the damn jar - not a good night! 

So, I convinced Sofia that we should pay a visit to our neighbors down the road and see if one - they would help us open our jar of fois gras, and two - if we could get a sneak peek into their home - I was smitten with their home!

Sofia, begrudgingly followed me over to the neighbors and we rang the bell.  Out came the 65 year old son and the 90 year old mother.  Neither spoke a word of English - so in my very bad French I tried to explain that we needed help opening a jar of fois gras.  They looked at us like we were crazy (and at that point I think we were!) but the son went off and found the special cle and came back and opened our jar.  Meanwhile, I somehow got a short history of the house - we learned her father had built the house and she had lived there all her life.  

I went out round back and saw their stables and barns - none were being used but I could imagine a full working farm with loads of animals living in each of the outbuildings.

Sofia was totally embarrassed and practically ran down the driveway...but stopped for a quick minute to enjoy the super-sized dandelions!

That night on our walk, I told the girls what we had done and none of them could believe I had to walk them by the house to get a quick peek.

I think that's what I love most about France - all of the old buildings and homes that look abandoned but still have life inside.....and the special tools that have just one function....but that one function is so important, you cannot live without the tool!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

The Magic of Spellbound

Next month I will be heading over to Pasadena, just a stone's throw away, to teach at a creative retreat for three days, called Spellbound!  Not only will there be lots of wonderful workshops to choose from,  but my friend, Corey Amaro from Tongue in Cheek, will be speaking at the luncheon on Saturday.  Corey, if you don't know her, writes daily about her life as an American woman, married to a Frenchman and living in France for the past twenty years.  Her blog feels like a quick trip to France every time I read it.
Along with a handful of talented teachers, including Pam Garrison, Michele Muska, Denise Sharp, Debrina Pratt, Joanna Pierotti and Kristen Robinson, I will be teaching four workshops at the beautiful Langham Huntington Hotel.  I always love getting away and teaching - it's as much a (re)treat for me as I hope it is for the students.  Here's a little look at some of the fun projects being taught at the event....
If you feel like you need a creative break before all the holiday activities begin, join us November 8-11th in Pasadena!  Also, if you sign up for the weekend, be sure to come to the private soiree at French General on Wednesday evening, November 7th, where we will kick off the event in grand style with giveaways, crafts and glasses of Lillet!  And for the icing on the cake....there is a field trip planned to the Rose Bowl Flea Market on Sunday morning - so we can all shop together!  Hope you can make it!

Monday, October 01, 2012

Those Who Seek Beauty, Will Find it!

In the past few days I have seen a couple of amazing films....if you find yourself in need of a good fix...

Bill Cunningham's New York
One of my favorite films I have seen in a long time!  This simple documentary chronicles the life of the modest Bill Cunningham, a veteran New York City fashion photographer.  The passion this man brings to his chosen occupation is almost palpable - I loved his enthusiasm and love of my favorite city.  His line, "Those who seek beauty will find it!" was said after accepting the chevalier dans l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the Ministry of Culture in France.

L'Amour Feu
A documentary on the relationship between Yves Saint-Laurent and his lover, Pierre Berge.  This quiet film taught me about the lasting love this couple shared as well as gave me insight into how people collect and build a life together through their love of art.  A visually beautiful film shot in Paris, Morocco and New York.

The Cats of Mirikatani
For years JZ, Sofia and I lived in downtown New York and across the street on the side of the local bodega, lived a Japanese man that painted all day - every day.  On sunny days he would display his artwork along the benches and when the winter approached, he would build himself a covered tarp and live underneath trying to avoid the harsh elements.  Within days after September 11th, I noticed he was gone.  I worried that something had happened to him - and I never knew exactly what...until I saw this movie.

Enjoy!  If you have seen any good movies lately, please pass them along....I am hooked on Netflix!