Friday, July 27, 2012

Lions and tigers...

and turkeys...

and deer...

and llamas...

and bears. Oh my!

We're back in France after a quick trip to New York to see the American Girl Store, The Statue of Liberty and Wicked!

The weather is beautiful, the baguettes are delicious and we are all happy to be back in our own home!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Farm Fresh to You

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We have just a couple of days left in California before we return to France. When we first arrived, with four weeks stretching ahead of us it seemed like we had so much time and I expected we would fill much of it doing some of the touristy things we never got around to whilst living here, like visiting Alcatraz or walking across the Golden Gate Bridge in its 75th anniversary year. The four weeks have flown by though and those activities will have to stay on our bucket list as we chose to spend our time staying local, near friends and our favourite swimming pool, a ballet camp for India and a quilting camp for Georgia and more sleepovers for the big girls than we can count!

Last weekend though, we did fulfill a long held desire to attend the Capay Tomato Festival, hosted by the farm, Capay Organic, that used to deliver us our weekly box of organic vegetables. We started getting the box about four years ago and it completely changed the way we ate. I already loved cooking at home, but starting our menu planning with the vegetables we had available rather than the meat seemed to be a much healthier approach and never quite knowing which seasonal vegetables were going to turn up in our box really got the whole family trying new foods on a weekly basis.

We had attended lots of open days at the farm in every season whilst we lived here, but the heirloom tomato festival in the summer never seemed to fall at a good time for us. This year though we finally made it with our good friends who share our love for the contents of those boxes.

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The farm is about an hour and a half's drive north of San Francisco and in such a pretty location. Tractor rides took visitors around the fields, filled at this time of year with summer squash and asparagus.

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There were plenty of activities for the little ones. Arts and crafts, hula hoops, herb salt making and Florence's favourite...

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The main event though was the Heirloom Tomato Tasting.

Not only did the family who run Capay Organic pioneer organic farming in the region, farmer's markets and fresh produce delivery, they also reintroduced heirloom tomatoes to the market. Here's how...

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What a great story!

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Now, although those organic boxes have got my kids eating carrots, pistachios, spinach and even kale, India, Georgia and Savannah still maintain that they hate tomatoes and cannot usually be persuaded to eat them. I think they may have been converted though after this weekend. All three girls tried and liked the huge variety of tomatoes on offer.

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Georgia sporting some Bastille Day fireworks!

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Someone who doesn't need any persuading to eat a tomato though is Florence. She adores them and she was in tomato tasting heaven here.

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The party continued with live music.

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Just a few more tomatoes.

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And dancing.

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A wonderful day out in the fresh air with good food, great company and more tomatoes than you can eat.

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Miam! Miam!

Friday, July 13, 2012

This Moment. Bubbles

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Joining in with Amanda and friends at SouleMama


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Sunshine State*

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At the beginning of this week American Mom in Bordeaux, a URL friend who is fast becoming an IRL friend was kind enough to pass on a sunshine award to me. We certainly have plenty of sunshine here in California this week with the temperatures in the 100s every day (will those of you reading in Paris or the UK please look away while I complain that it's too hot!) and while receiving the sunshine award brightened my day no end, I'm never any good at wittily answering the questions that go with these awards.

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Instead I thought I'd spread the sunshine love a little differently by showing you some of the photographs I've been taking for my class of the California Poppies growing all over the land around the house we're renting. I might even sneak in some of the answers to the questions as I go!

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I've always loved the California state flower not least because orange is my favourite colour. They bloom all through the spring and summer and like their bolder French cousins, grow all along the roadsides making you want to stop your car in inappropriate and dangerous places to take their picture.

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This house is right out in the country though at the top of a private road so not many people have seen this particular crop of poppies. I was just fiddling around with getting a better picture of this scene when I saw a snake crawling towards me through the dry grass - didn't stop to ask what kind before I scrambled back up the hill out of harm's way - so this is as good as you get!

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Don't mind taking pictures of the bees enjoying the flowers though.

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The California Poppy officially became the state flower in 1903 and until I started to do a bit of research today, I was under the common misconception that it is illegal to pick them. There is no state law specifically prohibiting you from picking the poppy, but it's a misdemeanor to remove any plant from land that you don't own so leave them where they are for everyone to enjoy and you won't get in trouble!

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Recipients of the sunshine award are supposed to pass it on to ten more bloggers, but as I don't know that many bloggers who haven't already received it, I've decided to give a much needed update to my blogroll and have added ten blogs I love that I've found in the last year. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

I've got a few more changes for the blog planned when I get a minute. I might even start a Growing Berries Facebook page. What do you think?!

*Florida is actually the Sunshine State, California is known as the Golden State but I'm not going to let the facts get in the way of a good post title!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Red, White and Blue...

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...and popsicles too!

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An all American day especially enjoyed by the US Citizens in the family!

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If you were celebrating, I hope you had a good day too!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Out of the mouths of babes...

I think its fair to say that anyone lucky enough to have spent time in France will miss having daily access to a real baguette more than anything once they have to leave. Of course you can get baguettes in other countries but they'll never be quite the same. I picked up this one while we were in Whole Foods to have with our dinner on Sunday night. Florence was with me and as is her habit insisted on being given le quignon (the tip) to munch on while we went through the checkout line.

Sadly it was a huge disappointment for her. She had to use all her might to bite off a mouthful of the crust and after a few chews turned up her nose and spat it out on the floor in disgust! Her face was a picture but unfortunately I wasn't quick enough with the camera to capture it for you so you'll have to take my word for it.

I started an online photography course today and for the first time my camera dial is firmly set to manual. I suspect there will be quite a few more misses as I faff about with exposure whilst my subject runs away, but I'm hoping that taking control of the camera will ultimately make for more satisfying photos. We shall see..
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