Quenching the Thirst

Finally, finally, after more than a month of canicule, we have rain. As if the weather gods suddenly stopped messing around and heard the parched earth gagging for water. And sent it. Much water. Good. It was starting to feel like the Sahara around here – and what’s the point of that kind of heat, if you don’t have mint tea and a bunch of gangsta mamas to share it with?

Good thing I have my very own mommy here with me 🙂

Raincoats and wellies!

Raincoats and wellies! And death stares.

Defeating the purpose of the double pushchair.

Defeating the purpose of the double pushchair.

Greeeeeeen. And new calves.

Greeeeeeen. And new calves.

Much sun + much rain = plump blackberries

Much sun + much rain = plump blackberries

Nothing to do with rain , but… We have hens!

Nothing to do with rain , but… We have hens!

And where is the rest of the crew, you wonder? Glasgow, NYC, Cape Cod, London. Sending love from here to there. We miss you. TMAB.

 

A Sunday in the Country – and Easy Peasy Pear Clafoutis (sugar free, dairy free, gluten free)

Today we headed out to the countryside around Castres for Sunday lunch with the Great Aunties Maïté and Claire. Maïté moved into her new house around the time the Marsupial was born, so I’d never been before. It’s a great country house in the perfect location – surrounded by rolling hills and old farms (and the odd Mc Mansion) but only a few minutes from town. And only 45 minutes from us. We DO have family nearby after all 🙂

Family

Family

Sheets drying in the sun, and a cutie pie

Sheets drying in the sun, and a cutie pie

Marsousou going for a walk

Marsousou going for a walk with Mommy

Yay!

Yay!

Sunshine, violets, primavera, birdsong – might spring finally be here? It seems ungrateful to be so eager to see the backside of this winter, considering how relatively short and sweet it was (remember the Indian summer of 2014? it was warm til November here). But my mood has been unusually affected by the short days and cold weather this year (well, that and post partum crap). So, GOODBYE WINTER!! See You Next Time.

Gluten free, dairy free, sugar free - Easy Peasy Pear Clafoutis

Gluten free, dairy free, sugar free – Easy Peasy Pear Clafoutis

Dessert and coffee in the sun

Dessert and coffee in the sun

"More?"

“More?”

Maïté is also on a sugar free, dairy free, gluten free diet, so that was a perfect excuse to try out this recipe I dreamed up in the night. Vaguely (very vaguely) based on the clafoutis recipe Mom and we kids have used for years (3 eggs, 3 Ts flour, 3 Ts icing sugar, 3 Ts crème fraîche combined and poured over sliced fruit), this one is just as delicious. Theoretically you could make it with almost any cookable fruit, but because it is sugar free it’s probably best to use something a bit sweet. Pears worked perfectly.

Easy Peasy Pear Clafoutis

Peel, slice and arrange in an oiled pie dish:

  • 4 pears

Combine and pour over the fruit:

  • 3 eggs (beaten)
  • 4 heaping tablespoons of powdered almonds
  • 4 heaping tablespoons of coconut cream
  • a few drops of vanilla extract

Bake for 25 minutes at 200°C.

Tough going

Just to let you know, this is tough. I am struggling. I’m in a new place with two little children and very little sleep, and it’s HARD. Some days I feel like I’m drowning, others that I’m wading. Sometimes I feel like I’m paddling. I never feel like I’m floating along. Sleep deprived in a country where my closest friend lives 3 hours away, a country from which all grandparents moved away within months of our arriving, I’m not lovin’ it. (Quite ironic when I think that the proximity of grandparents was the one argument that swayed me in favor of moving here). And, yes, thank God and lhamdullah we have our health and our two awesome kiddiwinkles. Very grateful for many things. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes want to rip everything to shreds and stick my head in the sand (or the oven) for the next 24 months or so… (sorry about the double negative).

So, anyway. Here are some photos of the last couple of months in which we all look very happy*. Or scary.

Going to cull a Christmas Tree.

Off to cull a Christmas Tree.

Forest babies.

Forest babies.

Rarrgghh!

Rarrgghh!

Job well done.

Job well done.

This is not just one Christmas tree, but 3 small ones, one each for the 3 houses in our Christmas story.

Petite fille sage.

Petite fille sage.

"Don't put me here!"

“Don’t put me here!”

Just chillin' on my sheep.

Just chillin’ on my sheep.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve: eat and talk, eat and talk.

Christmas morning: and the present marathon begins!

Christmas morning: and the present marathon begins!

Grand'maman ready for London

Grand’maman ready for London

Y

Pure cheese!

More cheese

More cheese

Twas Santa Ralph, came to the Chicken Coop

Twas Santa Ralph, came to the Chicken Coop

Squish-hugs

Squish-hugs

Jolie moumoute!

Jolie moumoute!

Pretty paper

Pretty paper

Ooh, tractor!

Ooh, tractor!

Me eat tractor.

Me eat tractor.

Lovey-dovey

Lovey-dovey

Lobster hands

Lobster hands

Lobster what??

Lobster what??

Lobster WHAT??

Lobster WHAT??

Boxing Day walk.

Boxing Day walk.

Forest scene

Forest scene

We three.

We three.

Popcorn entre cousins.

Popcorn entre cousins.

Sauna y'all.

Sauna y’all.

I said, SAUNA, Y'ALL!

I said, SAUNA, Y’ALL!

Snowscape 1

Snowscape 1

Snowscape 2

Snowscape 2

Snowscape 3

Snowscape 3

Sibling love.

Sibling love.

Family.

Family.

The young King & the Prince

The young King & the Prince

Back home. Daddy dressed me.

Back home. Daddy dressed me.

* Don’t worry, we ARE happy. It’s just hidden behind the bags under our eyes 😉

Allegro!

Drinks before music

Drinks before music

Every year, my mother-in-law Bernadette and her partner Jacques organize a classical music concert in her home in the South of France. Last Saturday we were treated to an amazing performance by David Castro-Balbi (violin) and Lucas Debargue (piano). Eighty guests from our mountains and the valley came to enjoy the music and mingle with friends and relatives. Bernadette’s is one of the old, prominent families of the area, and even though many have moved on to Paris, Marseilles or abroad, almost everybody returns for the sacred month of August. The concert is the first large gathering of the season and allows everyone to exchange news and greetings.

Handsome Hubby

Handsome Hubby

The sun setting

The sun setting

Not too bad for photos taken with 5 olive pits, a champagne glass and a toddler in my arms*.

The music was spectacular. I don’t know much about classical music, but the piano and violin on Saturday had me fluttering through a range of emotions. Just before the musicians’ break, a Tzigane piece by Maurice Ravel had us all merry and smiling at the conversation between the instruments – and just after the break, Allegro Molto from Sonate n°3 en do miner (Edvard Grieg) moved me to tears.

Music!

Music!

Zaz was there until the break and loved her first concert. I just love seeing the effect of music on small children. Magic!

Once the “official” music bit was over, there were nibbles, drinks and mingling, and then the fun began. The musicians, their friends and partners, and anyone who wanted to, played and sang til late. Champagne flowed, notes got sloppy, and yours truly “a filé à l’anglaise”.

Mom, Dad, I should tell you – the musicians (who remembered Dad fondly from last year) took their nightcap at Les Galignés with Calum and I hear a trip to the bottle bank was very necessary the next morning 😉

 

* I was drinking San Pellegrino. Twice during pre-music drinks, I was caught pouring fizzy water from my champagne glass into Zazzie’s mouth. Twice the comments were along the lines of “Oh she likes champagne, how chic!”. I guess they didn’t notice the 9-month preggo belly on me. Or maybe they did. Ah, France.

Home stretch

After weeks of stormy weather and interrupted internet connections, I don’t want to speak too soon but… it seems like we’re back online for now. No WIFI and an incredibly slow ethernet cable connection are making me feel like I’m in the early noughties. Our dongle connection in Dar Bouazza was more reliable and faster than this. Morocco > France.

Only a few more weeks to go til the big ole due date. Health cover doesn’t kick in until the 18th of August, so this baby had better stay put for another 11 days at least! Steering clear of spicy food and castor oil until then. In the meantime we are enjoying some newborn-free holiday time with this little cutie:

Cutie Patootie

Cutie Patootie

Bob, Inco and Zaz

Bob, Inco and Zaz

If you’re wondering why it’s so lush and green, that would be because it’s pretty much been raining 6 days a week since the beginning of “summer”. Seriously, Morocco > France.

Stay tuned for some imminent updates on Where We’re Going To Live.

Bartered Art

I’ve already mentioned my awesome friend Tosha on here – what I haven’t said is that she is an amazing artist as well as being a very cool and inspiring person. I went to visit her and her wee family recently and came back with some of her art – I’m so excited!

Thanks to friends’ and family’s generosity and someone’s (Mom’s?) great idea, we received some money for our wedding which we turned into our very own Art Kitty. This has been dipped into just once, to buy a beautiful rug in the south of Morocco. I didn’t even have to use it this time, because Tosh and I came up with a swap of goods (of which I am the clear winner, as you will judge for yourself). In exchange for the pieces of art pictured below, I let her keep the electric breast pump and sterilizer I had lent her a few months back. Plus 500dh (a pitiful sum). Does this sound like a fair exchange? No. I’m pretty sure I ripped her off. I’d feel bad but I’m too busy feeling excited about these:

These might be shown upside down. Forgot to ask.

These might be shown upside down. Forgot to ask.

Don't know what the real title is, but I call it Earth Cycle

Don’t know what the real title is, but I call it Earth Cycle.

My fave.

My fave. Bird of the World.

My amateur photography does not do these justice, but you get the idea of the level of cool.

Bernadette, my fab mother-in-law and contemporary art connoisseur, has given her seal of approval, but told me off for not checking that they were signed and dated. Tosha! When you guys get up here we have to remember to do this! 🙂

See more of Tosha’s work (and better pictures) at www.toshaalbor.com.

Volubilis

Number one piece of advice: don’t go with a hot baby in a push chair on a hot day. In fact, don’t ever take a push chair here.

Volubilis

Volubilis

Volubilis is a pretty awesome ancient Roman site in the middle of Morocco (whaaat?). The ruins of this old Roman city are set on a backdrop of beautiful and fertile fields. It seems as if someone has picked up a bit of the world and set it down in the wrong space-time continuum. Dating from the 1st century AD and inhabited by Romans for, they say, a couple centuries, then by local tribes for another 700 or so years, it is now a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Solemn Column

Solemn Column

I didn’t get a good picture of them, but the mosaics found in the ruins of the baths are really cool. Tiny detail. They are not protected from the elements, however, so one wonders how much longer they will stick around.

Overheated Zaz tasting ancient Roman stone

Overheated Zaz tasting ancient Roman pebble