Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Paris Perspectives

My friends Virginia and Genie of the two very popular Paris photo blogs Paris Through My Lens and Paris and Beyond have both very kindly featured Growing Berries on their blogs this week and I've been thrilled to receive lots of new Francophile visitors. To welcome all my new guests, I thought I'd better put away the laundry and get out some pictures of Paris.

Latin 1
Luckily I've joined a Paris walking tour this year and every other Friday while Florence is at Halte Garderie, I get to spend the day in Paris with my friends discovering the sites from a new perspective, courtesy of our incredibly knowledgable French guide, Jacques. Last Friday we enjoyed a walk in the last of the summer sunshine through Paris' Latin Quarter. We started at the famous Sorbonne, but quickly started ducking down alleys and side streets to discover a world you would never know existed behind the busy Boulevards Saint-Germain and Saint-Michel.

Latin 2
Apparently Jacques is not afraid to have his tour groups step past the occasional privé sign. This building is now part of the University of Paris Descartes campus.

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Some of my friends on the tour take copious notes. I take photos and don't always listen properly so I can't quite remember what makes this building special. I do know it is much older than the rest of the nineteenth century campus, possibly once a nunnery and definitely used as a meeting place by the early leaders of the French Revolution.

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Cross the Rue des Écoles and you arrive here.

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One of the last remaining medieval buildings in Paris (if you don't count the churches) and now the Musée de Cluny.

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Cross some more streets, turn a few corners and you end up here. Rue Saint André des Arts. If you look left you're just a few steps from the hustle and bustle of Boulevard Saint-Michel but turn right and you head down a quiet street full of must try restaurants.

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Le Christine on Rue Christine. Need to find out if the food here tastes as good as the restaurant looks!

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Also found on Rue Christine. Nope. Can't remember the significance. So much for the History degree!

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Figs in Paris? You can find them in the Passage Dauphine.

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And can you believe these steps are in Paris too? They would look more at home on a Provence post.

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They're part of the Cour de Rohan a private residential courtyard which also happens to be a public passageway off the Cours du Commerce Saint-André.

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Parisians, and I suppose visitors, have the right to walk through the passage and it's a photographer and historian's paradise. I definitely need to go back and spend some more time there.

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You can find this in the Cour de Rohan too. Bonus Berry points if you know what it's for.

I hope you enjoyed this walk through Paris as much as I did. I'm linking up with Design Mom's Love the Place you Live. It's not always easy living here but when you get the chance to see all this in a morning you can't really complain!

Oh, and after all that walking we certainly deserved a Paris Lunch. We ate at Le Petit Pontoise and it was one of the best meals I've had since we've lived here. How can I not love the place I live?

Friday, September 21, 2012

French Laundry 101

Laundry 4
Turn this...

Laundry 2
into this...

Laundry 1
with this!

Laundry 3
I'm not sure it will be much help with this though. Florence did not vanish she was busy decorating our sheets with a permanent marker. Sigh. Luckily it's an easily replaceable white sheet and not India's much loved handmade quilt which was also on the bed and avoided being turned into toddler artwork by millimeters. There would have been tears. I think it's time for what's left of this sheet to be put away for upcycling. In fact I might just have had an idea for a Halloween costume...

If you want to see Florence in more angelic times she's making a guest appearance over at Paris and Beyond this week.

Bon Weekend!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Two birthdays + forty eight cakes


Georgia & Savannah celebrated their ninth birthday this week. They're growing up but still not too old to ask for toys for their birthday or to take in treats to their classmates. Last year our sea shipment containing all our belongings from California had just arrived and I could barely see the kitchen for packing boxes, never mind attempt to create any kind of homemade treat. This year I was determined to make up for it and so, as requested, whipped up forty eight fairy cakes with 'soft' icing on the morning of their birthday for them to take into school.

I haven't done half as much baking as I used to since moving to France. My Kitchen Aid mixer, the secret of my baking success, did not come in that shipment and in any case it's hard to get motivated about baking when there's a patisserie on every corner! My first choice of recipe was quickly dismissed when I realised I had forgotten to buy any sugar and what was left in the house wasn't going to stretch to the two and a half cups required. Instead I used this muffin recipe an old favourite of ours, but left out the chocolate chips and used a bit less sugar as that was all I had. Miraculously the batter for twelve regular sized muffins stretched to make forty eight mini muffins so I didn't have to make a double batch!

The icing was made using our family's favourite method of adding liquid to powdered sugar (sucre glace à pâtisser in France). You can use water or milk, but I usually like to use freshly squeezed lemon juice to add a bit of flavour. This time I happened to have a box of limes that had caught my eye at the market but hadn't got around to using. The lime juice added a lovely zingy taste that made up for the lack of sugar in the cake! I always find it difficult to know just how much liquid to add to this kind of icing, so this time I paid attention so that I could share it here and create a reminder for myself. Six tablespoons of powdered sugar mixed with two tablespoons of lime juice and a drop of food colouring made just the right consistency. It really is a quick and easy way to ice a cake and when you have forty eight to ice quick and easy is what you want!

Friday, September 7, 2012

La Rentrée

Spain 1
Well, hello again! Did you miss me? It's nice to be back from a very refreshing break in real life and on the blog. We came back from our two weeks in Spain and dived straight into the first week of school. Two weeks on we are getting used to the new routine, new classes, new teachers, new friends, but with with the comforting feeling of it all being familiar and so much easier than this time last year when we had just arrived in France. A year ago today I was taking delivery of our sea shipment and our house was thrown into a chaos from which it still hasn't fully recovered. Witness three P.E. kits going A.W.O.L. for the first week of school!

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Our time in Spain seems like a distant memory already, but a treasured one. We stayed not far from Sitjes in another house on top of a mountain.

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It had a pool with a view that Georgia and Savannah spent every waking moment playing in. Florence was happier chilling out in her boat (pronounced "gook" rhymes with "book" an all purpose word for anything that starts with a B!).

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A rare moment in front of the camera and in the pool for me!

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Being an island girl, I prefer swimming in the sea and there was plenty of beach time too.

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Spain 7
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And, of course, those ice creams for breakfast!

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We did make it into Barcelona a few times too for a bit of culture and I have a few more travel posts lined up for you after this self indulgent sharing of the holiday snaps! It's good to be back.
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