Friday, April 29, 2011

A Petite Curtsy to the Royal Couple

Felicitations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for a lifetime of strength, courage, laughter and love.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

And the winner of the first Fork It Over Give Away is...

...drum roll, please!


Felicitations, Jane!  Please fire off an email with your mailing address so I can get this out to you toute de suite!  It's packaged and ready to go.  I'll send one of the ducks out to the post as soon as your address comes through.

Merci à tous for navigating the hiccups in the first Fork It Over Give Away.  I think I've got the kinks worked for next time...because, dear readers, there will be a next time!  And soon!

Wishing you all a lovely day!


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wednesday Window on Provence

Bonjour à tous!  Et merci...merci.

Taken in Nice...back in the day when their charming chairs lined the edge of the sea in free-form and weren't chained down.

Be assured, the ducks are wandering back.  They seem to be taking their sweet time but at least I can see some loose form of familiar organization.  

I can hear the whispers from here: "Does she actually have the ducks line up?!" 

Well, yes.  Yes I do.  I can be a little quirky that way and occasionally in need of actual visuals...if not a bit of comic relief.

Tomorrow is the first Fork It Over Give-Away!  Go here to see how to enter.  Bonne chance!


Saturday, April 23, 2011

A temporary diversion from the regular rhythm of the blog

I haven't known quite what to do about this.  "The ducks" were offered as some hint at background information until I figured it out.

You see, on the day I clicked the give-away post, I learned that my father had been moved to hospice care.  We anticipated this when he went into the hospital on Monday.

My sister agreed to be there for both of us as he navigates this passage into death.

I wasn't going to say anything because I don't really share the deeper spaces of my life here on La Fourchette.  But this time, I couldn't seem to keep up a playful front with such a heavy distraction going on...and I just couldn't keep blaming the ducks.  So rather than going underground and emerging later in the week,  I decided to tell the truth and let you in.  La vie est compliquée.

Images for today and tomorrow will be dedicated to my father, a man of tremendous character.  In his life, he was devoted to his wife, loved his daughters and held an unshakable commitment to always do his best.  As a man of deep faith, he didn't necessarily understand her, but he prayed for his Buddhist daughter.

Now his Buddhist daughter sends prayers on the wind to him...prayers of light and love and courage to accompany him through the profound bardo between life and death.

Fork It Over Give-Away, Part Deux (The Rules of the Game)

The post for the Fork It Over Give-Away was written some time ago, when my ducks were still obediently lined up and eager to march along to any and all orders I might have presented to them.  (They are very sweet ducks and aim to please.  We’re a good team.)

With the quick click of a button, I published the post as planned and kind of thought the process would take care of itself for a week or so.  That click happened to coincide with the very moment the ducks, ahem, fell out of line and started wandering all over the place, taking my concentration with them.

Here's one of them now.  He does look a bit disoriented, doesn't he?   
Let’s keep the Fork It Over Give-Away simple:

All participants can have up to two chances in the hat.

One chance per person for leaving a lovely comment on the original post (and yes, I’ll include any comments that end up here as a result of anyone else’s ducks playing hard-to-get at the moment.)

A second chance for anyone visiting another blog in the blogosphere and introducing yourself as a visitor from La Fourchette (either from one of My Favorite Peeps followers in the right hand column or any other blog that strikes your fancy.)  Then come back here and leave a message about where you visited.  (Thanks, Deborah, for such a great idea for sharing the love!)

Of course, for those of you who have already left a comment in Zazzle or Widget-lands, consider yourself already entered twice – no need to do more.

All comments must be posted by midnight, Wednesday, 27 April. 

Names will be drawn out of this hat and announced on Thursday, 28 April here at the blog. 

Bonne chance à tous…and thanks for your patience through the confusion.  I'll get this figured out for next time.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

"Fork It Over" Give-Away

Gather 'round, dear readers.  
Introducing La Fourchette's first Fork It Over Give-Away!, baguette and flowers not included.  But think of the fun you'll have filling this bag yourself!
After many requests to bring back some of the items that were available for sale back in the US (thank you! and yes, the note cards are in production), I'm offering a little give-away.

First up is a cotton twill market bag with one of the many popular images from The French Collection, started when I was shooting for Façonnable for their US marketing campaign. 

On that particular day, wandering through the outdoor market in Nice, I passed one artful display of produce after another.  At one stand, beefy tomatoes sat atop one another, piled high under a red and white striped awning, pungent local olives flecked with fresh herbs glistened as they swam in a bath of olive oil and brine, and then this charming display:  A crate of apples topped with a handful of wild flowers.  Of course, in the mix was our typical Provençal lavender and a splash of daisies.  Only the French can make this arrangement look so effortless. And *this*, dear readers, is one of the many reasons I am livin' my vida loca here.

This favorite French market image is showcased on the front of a 12-ounce cotton twill sac de marché Its wide bottom opens up flat, making it great for groceries or larger items.  The cotton-web handles have stress-point reinforced stitching. (Dimensions: 13"w x 15.5"h x 7"deep.)

See!  Folds up nice and flat for tucking under a car seat to have at the ready...or in the trunk...or in your bicycle basket to head to the Farmer's Market in your 'hood.
Share the love - for the planet and for La Fourchette.  Enter today to win this sturdy market bag and have it in time to load up with spring's bounty...or fill it with towels and books and head to the beach.

Two ways to enter the Fork It Over Give-Away:

1)  See that fancy, new widget over there in the right-hand column?  Yup, that's the one - Under all of those wonderful portraits of La Fourchette followers. (Wave hello as you pass.)  If you have a widget account (I say this because in order to leave a comment these characters at the widget site require that you join the club and I'm not asking you to do that), click on the teeny-tiny pencil to access La Fourchette's widget page and leave a lovely comment.  Then head back here and leave a lovely comment on this post on the blog as well. Voilà! Your name will be entered into the Fork It Over Give-Away.

2)  If you do not have a widget account, go to La Fourchette's snazzy new Zazzle shop and leave a lovely comment there.  Once you've done that, come on back to the blog and leave a lovely comment here as well.  And once again, voilà!  Your name will be added to the...yes, you guessed it:  Fork It Over Give-Away.

One comment per person on the blog, but do let it be known if you visited and left comments at both of the other options.  Seems doing both deserves your name going in twice.

You have until midnight next Wednesday, 27 April.  The names of all the participants will be tossed in a hat (a provençal straw hat, of course) and a winner drawn and announced on Thursday, 28 April. (I thought it would be perfect timing to announce the first-ever Fork It Over gift on my birthday!)

There you have it!  Let's have a little fun as La Fourchette gets her creative mojo cooking!  While you're busy leaving comments hither and yon, I'll be busy tweaking designs and planning next month's Fork It Over give-away!  There's more to come, believe me!  It's not all happening in the kitchen around here!

Bon chance à tous!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wednesday Window on Provence

Just around the corner from me is this family-owned Provençal restaurant...

...embodying all of the essentials to nurture the romantic ideas of life in Provence.  I walk by this place every day on my walk with Bodhi.  In recent weeks, we've gone from 'winter straggle' to 'spring splendor'.

I'll take it all.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mardi Meteo

Gorgeous!  That's the forecast.  I'm talkin' 20ºC (68ºF) gorgeous.  My little soul has found wings (and apparently an operatic voice) these days.

Allow me to share the lovely with you.  How would you choose to spend your day?

Find a shaded café for a game of chess?

Or sit with friends in a patch of afternoon sunshine?

Listen to music in dappled light near the mairie?

Or is it laundry day for you?

However you spend your day, enjoy it to the fullest!  La Fourchette is thinking of fact, she's wondering what the weather is like in your 'hood.


Monday, April 18, 2011

À propos de... season.  Are yours filed? 

Yay me!  I've completed this quarter's calculations for paying my French taxes.  My process is really very simple and straight-forward, but back in the day, it was quite another story.  And I mean way back in the day.

Boys and girls, put your thinking caps on and everyone find your seat.  Today's lesson is about French taxes.  Eyes in front people.  I like the way donna and Kris are paying attention!  And look at that:  Deborah is already taking notes.  Char, Virginia...cameras aside for right now, girls.  Note to self:  do not let Mandy and my sister sit together in the back next time...settle down, you two! What's that I smell?  Garlic?  Is Keith here?!  What a nice surprise.  Okay...let's get started...

Our story begins in the UK in 1696.  It seems King William III decided to create a tax dependent upon people's fortunes.  An income tax as such met with tremendous opposition from the people as they (get this) were against government intrusion into their private matters and saw it as a threat to their liberty.  Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.  But I digress...

Our good King William, clever boy that he was, introduced the window tax based on his conclusion that the larger, grander mansions had more windows.  People that were able to build such grand homes were clearly wealthier and so it was decided that taxes would be levied dependent upon the number of windows in one's home.  The tax calculations went something like this:  Each house paid a flat-rate tax of 2 shillings per house (£11.12 as of 2011), and a variable tax for the number of windows above ten windows.

France adopted a similar tax in 1798 that lasted until 1926 called, aptly enough, the Doors And Windows Tax.  Note: never wanting to be outdone by the British, in France doors were added to the mix.

Since opposition always seems to lead to a search for loopholes, an entirely new type of architecture developed:  that of creating false windows.  Using the art form of trompe l'oeil (to trick the eye), actual windows were bricked up and or plastered over and a false window painted on the outside wall.  The result:  the look of more windows and thus higher social status but, voilà! lower taxes.

Of course, one can imagine that stifled air and dim light might have accompanied the positive gains, but there's a give and take in everything, non?  Unfortunately, the consequences for the poor were quite dramatic.  In poorer neighborhoods, more and more building owners began to seal up the windows of their tenants, depriving them of daylight and air.  In many cases, the health consequences were fatal.  But someone was saving money somewhere.

Victor Hugo addresses the problem in Les Miserables:
« Mes très chers frères, mes bons amis, il y a en France treize cent vingt mille maisons de paysans qui n'ont que trois ouvertures, dix-huit cent dix-sept mille qui ont deux ouvertures, la porte et une fenêtre, et enfin trois cent quarante-six mille cabanes qui n'ont qu'une ouverture, la porte. Et cela, à cause d'une chose qu'on appelle l'impôt des portes et fenêtres. Mettez-moi de pauvres familles, des vieilles femmes, des petits enfants, dans ces logis-là, et voyez les fièvres et les maladies. Hélas ! Dieu donne l'air aux hommes, la loi le leur vend. »

"My dear brothers, good friends, there are in France 130,020 houses of peasants who have only three openings, 180,017 with two openings, door and window, and finally 346,000 huts with the only opening being the door. And this because of something called the tax on doors and windows. Just put poor families, old women, little children, in those buildings, and behold the fevers and diseases. Alas! God gives air to the men, the law sells it to them. "  (Please note: this is an old-style way of expressing numbers and I'm baffled to know the exact translation.  If you discover that I'm way off base here, please let us know the correct numbers.)

If you keep a look out for them, you'll see remnants of the trompe l'oeil practice even today.  Here are a few from my little 'hood:

Art imitating life...or is it?...

Wanna see that one up close and personal?

Nice job, boys and girls.  You made it all the way through.  Now chop chop!  Get those tax forms in the mail!  

Well, at least for those of you in the US.  For the rest of you...

...class dismissed.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Race to the Finish!

The final brocante we race through to finish the series.  I got distracted yesterday with a wander through the market, a trip to the butcher, a stop at a little kitchen this and that store to get a new market basket (on wheels!),  a stop at the wine cave to pick up some celebratory champagne for a friend's birthday and finally, the epicerie to get some pita bread.  Whew!  That's the way the errands roll around here. 

I remember reading some ex-pat forum or other before I moved here in which one of the participants was complaining (bitterly) about how in France, she was having to go to six different places to pick up things on her 'to do' list.  She was really missing the convenience of the one-stop shopping in the US - not to mention everything being open on Sunday.  That little detail is one of the reasons yesterday was spent engaged in errands:  I've grown quite accustomed to everything being closed on Sunday...but for the marché and the wine cave (go figure!).   Frankly, it's one of the many things I love about this place!  I really enjoy having to wander around to collect the things on my list.  I really enjoy having a chat with my butcher - who knows me!  I really like that the people at the epicerie know who I am and recognized yesterday that I actually was ahead of the pushy (but very well-dressed) woman who was ignoring me and trying to get served ahead of me (as her husband was in line behind me).  I like that.  All of it.

Here's our final wander through the brocante fair.  Enjoy!

...and it won't be long before I'll be needing to tuck one of these lovelies in my bag to have handy at all times!

Bon dimanche à tous!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Little World Views - La Broncante

A quick bonjour to wish you a lovely day - and to share the next-to-the-last of the brocantes.

à demain!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

More Brocantes

My goodness! I'm really off my game.  Yesterday was a 'Window on Provence' day and apparently my tête was dans la lune! (To have one's head in the moon is to say 'I spaced' in the vernacular of southern California.)

At any rate, today we continue our wander through Sunday's brocante fair, going from the sublime...

...where, if you look to the left of this image, you'll see how I feel about my little French life...errr...most of the time! (Le meilleur des mondes: The best of worlds.)  If you're a reader, do these books not just make you drool?  Perhaps one day I'll have to take you through the monthly antique book fair that happens in the Place de la Mairie. 

But I digress...shall we continue?  To the ridiculous...

...and you know what they have to kiss a lot of frogs...

Have a lovely day!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Little World Views - La Broncante

From Sunday's wander through the brocante fair along cours Mirabeau...a little something for everyone!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mardi Meteo

Get this!   21ºC  (70ºF)   Ever so lovely in plain, old English.

Can it get any better than that?  Well, yes.  Yes, it can!

I thought you might enjoy seeing the wisteria around my little ville (and a little ville just out of Aix) so I went shooting this morning just for you!

The scent is absolutely heavenly!

And you?  What's the day like in your 'hood?


Monday, April 11, 2011

Emerging from... preparation.  Whew!  Done.  As I sorted through stacks and files and wore my favorite pencil down to a nub doing calculations, I did think of you all!  Those calculations are all now in the lap of my accountant and I can tackle the French taxes...does it never end?! 

Let's start here:

Remember a handful of weeks ago when I posted a shot and said, "Watch those trees..."?  And then just a week or so later, there was this shot:

Well, take a look at it now!

Our spirits, frozen by a long winter, get a lift when the leaves pop out on the plane trees along Cours Mirabeau.  Better than any anti-depressant on the market (okay...that may be an overstatement.  But you get the idea...),  the energy being emitted as those leaves push their way into the world is palpable...if not least for me.  The energy of a world being reborn. 

In coming days, this elegant canopy will be in full splendor and ready to shade us during the heat of summer.  I wanted you to enjoy it along with me so I brought you along on my walk last evening.  Above, we're at the top of cours Mirabeau, taking the long view down toward the fountain at La Rotonde. 

Then we wandered through the brocante fair.  Lined up on the left-hand side of this grand passage, a few dozen antique vendors spread their wares on a regular basis.  I find their goods a bit overpriced but their vignettes charming.  I also find them all to be quite good-natured about allowing me to shoot photos. 

There is something about forks that always draws me.  Wonder what that's about?  (*wink, wink.*)

I'll share more of that brocante fair through the week so stop in during the days ahead to see what else you enjoyed!


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Mardi Meteo

Place Richelme, Aix en Provence

Bain du soleil*!  That's what we are currently experiencing. 

Layers of clothing are being peeled off as spirits rise.  I can absolutely *feel* the difference in the streets...or maybe that's just me peeling layers of clothing off as my spirits rise.

We are looking at temps around 70ºF today (21ºC) and the leaves on Cours Mirabeau's plane trees are popping out eager to prepare themselves to protect us from the warmer temps to come.  I, for one, welcome it all!

And you?  Pray tell what's happening in your 'hood?


* Bath of sun (literally)

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