February 28, 2011

Comfort Food...almost :)

I had the best intentions today.  I really did.
 I was going to take you thru the process of making one of our family favourite cookies. 
All was going well until my camera came out and then...the unthinkable happened.  
I left out a key ingredient and by the time I realised what happened, it was too late. 
The first batch was in the oven and I forgot to add the flour....ooops.

Let me start over again. We have a fantastic cookie recipe, 
'Phoebe's Fabulous Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies'.  My daughters love the TV show 'Friends'
So much so that one Christmas I bought them the cookbook, 'Cooking with Friends' 
and it has been a favourite recipe ever since.

This is a first for me, trying to multi-task with a camera and a counter full of baking supplies.  
All was going well up to this point.  I added my last drop of Equagold Pure Vanilla...
the Pacific Tahitian Variety from our days in New Zealand and then started thinking
 of my daughter in Christchurch. This could have been where I went off track. 

I was whipping and stirring the batter...thinking of the next step.

The secret ingredients were added.
The recipe calls for raisins but we like dried cranberries.
Another favourite is dried apricots.

I wanted to show you my Exopat Matfer baking sheet.
Everything tastes better when I cook on this....well almost.

I think this is when I lost the plot. I popped the cookie dough on the sheet
with a slight hesitation as something seemed amiss. By the time I realised that I had 
forgotten to add the flour it was to late and I just had to go with the flow.

Things looked a little promising here...

but not here!

Truth be told, they were not bad. If you like a thin cookie,
that is crispy and loaded with sugar and butter than
skip the flour in this recipe!

I managed to save the next few batches...
this is what it should look like!

As I write, each and everyone has been devoured..not by me :)
Yum Yum!!

If you are feeling in the mood for a little comfort baking. 
Try this recipe.
Just don't forget the flour!

A little Phoebe humour for you....

Okay. We haven't known each other for that long a time. 
And there are three things you should know about me. 
One, my friends are the most important thing in my life. 
Two, I never lie. 
And three, I make the best oatmeal-raisin cookies in the world.

Okay, Thanks Phoebs. Why haven't I tasted these before?

Well. I don't make them a lot. 
Because I don't think it is fair to the other cookies.

images for above~me

More from me today....

From My Kitchen Window...here

Fashion Photography 

February 26, 2011

Simple Thoughts

Simple thoughts today...

 rain outside my window

 flowers on the kitchen table

reading the weekend newspaper

letters to friends...phone calls to family

a few stitches in my needlepoint project

reading a 'Week in December' by Sebastian Faulks

a walk in the woods

Simple thoughts on a quiet afternoon

and a bit of English humour..

Hoping yours is going well :)

Jeanne xx


February 25, 2011

Gone Writing....with my Pen Pal

There are many times when I wish I could close the door to my office
and pop this sign on the front of it. I often wonder what it would be like to take more
than a day...matter of fact, I wonder what it would be like to spend more than an
hour to sit and write? A luxury that I will think about another day :)

Your comments to The Text Message...

I want to thank you all for commenting on my last post. I can't tell you how touched I was to receive such an outpouring of concern and support. I kept the tissue box close at hand as they rolled in. In fact, just the thought of them has me reaching for it again. I forwarded them to my daughter who sends her sincerest thanks. The latest is...she has decided to stay in Christchurch. She feels there is much to be done and she wants to help.

Although I am deeply concerned I have to say I would probably do the same. I think she is at the point where I have to let go and let her make her own decisions. I guess at 20 that is to be expected. Perhaps sending her nearly 50 emails in one day with the latest earthquake reports etc....was a bit extreme.  It was my way of saying she should come home.  I reckon a mother's gotta do what a mother's gotta do...right? She has assured me she is fine. I have faith.

Breakfast at The Wolseley...

It is a funny world we live in, this virtual world. We leave comments back and forth and drop each other emails and as time passes you feel like you know someone as well as your closest friends. My kids tease me and call them my imaginary friends, but really, they are not.

I met my first blogging friend last week and I am just so thrilled that I did. Pamela from The House of Edward and I met at The Wolseley in London for breakfast. I arrived early and busied myself with my notebook. I admit I was a bit nervous but not for long. Pamela swept in, a beautiful blonde, wrapped up for a cold winter's day. I looked up and my nerves dashed away. She has a glow about her. We smiled, we hugged (something I am prone to do :)) and we jumped right into conversation. So much to say!

I told my husband it was like getting together with a friend who I haven't seen for years. We just picked up from where we left off... like time had never passed.  A couple of times we finished each others sentences and laughed. Great minds think alike.

If you have not met Pamela, please be sure to stop in and say hello. She is an engaging writer with a way of writing that sweeps you in and takes you to the most wonderful places. You could be staying for tea, baking with her in her kitchen, alongside her and her fabulous dog Edward for her daily stroll or on an adventure to another place and time. She is a lovely person and it was an absolute delight to meet her.

When you stop in, please stay a while and tell her Jeanne sent you :) You will find her here.

The gorgeous Pamela with her
faithful companion, Edward.

Just in...as only Pamela could tell it,
her thoughts on Pen Pals.
Thank you Pamela :)

Read here

On that note, I bid you adieu and best wishes 
for a wonderfully creative weekend!

Jeanne xxx

@ cashmerejeans...


1~unknown, 2, 3

February 23, 2011

The Text Message

February 22 2011
12:18 AM
I want to come home. 
Massive earthquake, 
scariest moment of my life, 
but I am fine.

I received this text message at 12:18AM last night. I was just about to turn off my iphone after reading the news and call it a night. Something made me hang on and I am so glad that I did. The text message was from my daughter and she had just experienced the earthquake that struck in Christchurch, New Zealand. I tried to call from every phone in the house and could not get thru to her.

I went online to find out what was going on. It was true, a massive earthquake of 6.3 magnitude had struck with devastating results. You can imagine, a mother (me) sitting in a dark house, 11,750 miles (18,900km) from her daughter who is shaken to the bone. The frustration of not being able to reach her after the first message was beyond belief. My only consolation is that she said those last four words to me..."but I am fine". I had that much and she knew it would make all the difference to me. 

With that, I woke her father and we began mapping out a plan for her. We are fortunate to have dear friends in New Zealand who I knew would be there for her. It gives me great comfort to think of them. This is the most difficult part of being an expat. Different countries, different homes, friends and family spread out across continents. It is like orchestrating a large chess board. A strategy goes in to place but in the end we have to have faith that whatever the move, it is the right one. We started making phone calls and within a short time she had a place to stay if and when she could get to Auckland. 

For those of you not familiar with New Zealand, Christchurch is located on the South Island and Auckland is on the North Island.  We received word that the airport had been closed until further notice and we still had not heard from her since the first text message. Getting her to Auckland was now out of the question.

Then, the next message came thru....

 I am alive but you may want to call to double check.

That was her signal to us...she was coping. 

She asked us what was going on as they had little communication.  

Rumors of fatalities and we have no idea 
what going on... no power or anything!
Just in the process of making sure everyone is okay...
Don't need to evacuate, will keep you posted..

At that moment this distraught mother went into overdrive. I don't think I have ever texted so many complete sentence as quickly as that in my life. I was a woman possessed. The reception was poor and the land lines were not open. We had to rely on what little text messages we could get thru. 

It was then left to me to update her on what was happening around Christchurch. I had seen the video footage taken by residents and I had heard the cries and fear in their voices. I knew that buildings had collapsed onto two buses. It was lunch hour in a busy city. Everyone was out...parents, children, students. It is a young city...a beautiful city. The possibility of fatalities was heart breaking. I had to choose my words carefully.

What do you say when you know that many are stranded in the rubble of buildings just a few blocks away? What do you say when airports are closed, power is down, water is compromised and people are in panic trying to get away to their loved ones? What do you say when you can not be their to offer a solution out and know that she will have to rely on herself and others to make the next move? How do you say it in a text message?

I looked at dozens of services for information and found the most up to date was Twitter. I locked onto the New Zealand Herald and other local news services and stayed with them thru the night. I was not the only one, everyone wrote in to ask for help. A missing brother, an ailing grandmother...the list went on. People were asking each other for help and they were getting responses. I was not surprised...it is one of the most endearing qualities of New Zealand.  Small islands...big heart.

My daughter and I last spoke this morning, 14 hours ago, via Skype. It was wonderful to hear her voice. She was safe, she was sound and she was planning to leave for stable ground outside the city at least for a few days. At that point, her day was over and mine had just begun. 

It has been 14 hours since we last spoke. Our sun has set and hers is just rising and I sit in wait to hear from her. My thoughts and prayers are with them all. This is the second earthquake in Christchurch in six months. The people of Christchurch have suffered enough. My daughter has experienced something that I can not even begin to imagine. My one conciliation is that in the face of this she is finding strength. I am thankful for that and pray that she carries it with her thru the upcoming weeks.

If you have made it to the end of this letter...a special thanks to you for reading. Mother or father, sister or brother...you may have experienced something like this yourself. You will know that sometimes it is best to talk about it or in my case, write about it. I have faith.

I took this photo last year when visiting my daughter
in her University room. The photo of her and her brother was taken by me
many years ago. I love that she has kept it as a reminder of our times together.

top image source unknown

February 22, 2011

Getting to Know You

A verse from Rogers and Hammerstein 
The King and I
Getting to know you,
Getting to know all about you.
Getting to like you, 
Getting to hope you like me.
Putting it my way,
But nicely,
You are precisely,
My cup of tea
Haven't you noticed
Suddenly I'm bright and breezy?
Because of all the beautiful and new
Things I'm learning about you
Day by day.

This has been so so so much fun. I loved getting to know you all! 
I have been hard at work...filling in the details from my 
surprise giveaway  and here they are:

The best way to introduce them is to tell you a little something about them...

Natasha @ Five Minutes for Me...has blue eyes, loves winter and wears Jo Malone's 
Lime, Basil and Mandarin perfume. Natasha features Sunday Song on her blog...
a great post to link your favourite songs. This week she is featuring Michael Buble 
with "Haven't Met You Yet". Natasha has a wonderful blog with lots of surprises. 
I could spend hours looking thru it all. Be sure to check it out :)

Sandy aka Doris the Great @ Aging Disgracefully has blue eyes and her favourite 
season is Spring. She wears L'Air d'Temps, is reading Fugitive Peace by Anne Michaels,  
recently watched the movie, Barney's Version and enjoys her daughter's music on My Space
My take on Sandy is that she is a woman who enjoys life to the fullest! 
She has a great post today, If I were....  It is a great way to get to know Sandy :)

Meredith @ Count it all Joy has hazel eyes, her favourite season is Spring and also likes 
perfume by Jo Malone's Lime, Basil and Mandarin as well as Lola by Marc Jacobs. 
She is reading Deep France by Celia Brayfield, watched The Green Hornet with her kids 
and is listening to Back it Up by Caro Emerald. Meredy and I go back to the beginning 
of my blogging experience. She is a wonderful woman, with six beautiful children and a 
loving husband. She is super talented and shares it all with us.  Today she is sharing 
her gadget love and now I think I need one!

Ilse @ Insh'allah has blue-green eyes and favours Autumn and Spring. She selects perfume 
depending on her mood and at the moment is enjoying Femme by Hugo Boss. Her latest read 
is In the Company of a Courtesan by Sarah Dunant. Her last movie was The King's Speech 
and she is listening to Life for Rent by Dido. Ilse is a new blogger. She is an African born Kiwi 
from Australia living in the Kingdom of Bahrain. I always have to read and say that slowly as I find 
it so amazing! Ilse and I share a passion for photography. She has a wonderful eye for it. Ilse's 
most recent post, What next?, talks about the turmoil in Bahrain. Her day to day existence is 
precarious at the moment. I am sure she would love to hear from fellow bloggers. 

Itztru loves to follow blogs and I have been lucky to have her following mine. She lives in 
Vermont  (home of the Trapp family) and says that yes, the hills are alive! Itztru has blue/green eyes 
with flecks of brown and loves Autumn. She is reading Plant Dreaming Deep by May Sarton 
and Jud Hale'e Inside New England. She last watched The King's Speech  and is 
listening to Nick Drake and Sam Bush. Thank you for following me Itztru!

Now...it is a surprise, so I can't tell you what they have won just yet.
Follow them along and you may discover just what is in their surprise giveaway :)

Haven't you noticed
Suddenly I'm bright and breezy?
Because of all the beautiful and new
Things I'm learning about you
Day by day.

I am inspired by all that I have read here. We are one busy group of women with fantastic taste! If you have been looking for a new book, trying to decide on your next movie or are keen to add a few tunes to your music playlist...read on. It's all here!

Thru your eyes: I just had to know :) Interestingly the majority of you have blue/green eyes and favour Spring. Summer and Autumn were a close second. This of course leaves me wanting to know more. I can feel another giveaway coming on :)

Perfumes we are wearing now: Jo Malone Lime Basil and Mandarin, Beautiful, J'Adore, Rive Gauche, Chanel No 5, Gucci, Creed/Virgin Island Water, Diyque Philosykos, Sugar Fresh Lemon, Bond No. 9/Scent of Peace, Anais-Anais, Euphoria, Voyage d' Hermes, Ralph Lauren/Romance, Coco/ Chanel, Diorissimo, Samsara/ Guerlain, L'Air d'Temps, Chloe, Pacifica's/French Lilac, Euphoria/ Calvin Klein, Bluebell by Penhaligan, Chanel No. 19, Lola/Marc Jacobs, Lovely/Sarah Jessica Parker, India Hicks/ Island Night, Amber /Prada, Paris, Must de Cartier, Another 13 / Le Labo, Essence /Narciso Rodriguez, Jessica Mcclintock, Femme/Hugo Boss, Miracle by Lancome, Cashmere Mist/Donna Karan, Chance/Chanel, Laura by Laura Biagotti, Joy, Lou Lou, Bois Des Iles/Chanel, Poppy/Coach, Pleasures and Intense by Estee Lauder

Books and or authors we are currently reading:   CHI Walking by Danni Dreyer,  Empire by Catherine Keller,  A Married Man by Catherine Alliott,  The Hand that First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell,  My Time in Heaven by Richard Sigmund,  All Things Wise and Wonderful by James Herriott, Plant Dreaming Deep by May Sarton,  A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena di Blasi,  Novice by Trudi Canavan,  Opposite of Me,  books by John Updike,  Never Let Me Go,  The Doomsday Book,  The Help,  The Sad Truth About Happiness,  A Farm in my Heart,  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The Sea by John Banville,  The Distant Hours by Kate Morton,  Fugitive Peace by Ann Michaels,   Wide Open by Nicola Barker,  Committed by Liz Gilbert, The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver,        Three Cups of Tea,   Life Lessons from the Monastery by Abbot,  Jerome Kodell,  Deep France by Celia Brayfield,   Anthology of Women's Erotica,   Three Seconds,   In the Company of Others by Jan Karon, The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society,   Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, Das Halsband der Taube,   Cutting for Stone,   In the Company of a Courtesan,  365 Thank You's,   The Red Sea Rules,   In Search of Hobart by Peter Timms,   The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization by Ward Perkins, Breaking Dawn,  The Affinity Bridge,   Life by Keith Richards,   Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict,   Blogging for Dummies,   What the Night Knows by Dean Koontz,   The Time Travellers Wife,   Anna Karenina,   Wish You Were Here by Rita Mae Brown, 
Boy with no Shoes by William Horwood,   The Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman

Last movie we went to see: The Kings Speech,  Another Year,  I am David,  The Social Network, Tangled,  Gullivers Travels,  Black Swan,  True Grit,  Bottle Shock,  The Holiday,  Barney's Version, Eat Pray Love,  The Tourist,  The Red Shoes,  The American,  Gifted hands-The Ben Carson Story,  The Green Hornet,  Gainsbourg,  Animals United, The Way Back,  Secretariat,  The Hurt Locker,  Harry Potter,  I am Love,  The Kids are all Right,  Red,  Inception,

Music Artists we like:  Enigma/ Voyageur,   Angus and Julia Stone,  Adele,  Dave Koz,  Nick Drake, Sam Bush,  Enya,  John Mellencamp,  Soundtrack 500 Days of Summer,  Amos Lees,  El Divo,  Jack Johnson,   Michael Buble,   Microwave Jenny,   Bruce Springsteen,   Kate Rusby, Madeline Peyroux,   Florence and the Machine 'Lungs',   Zen Garden,   The Reminder by Feist,   Mary Chapin Carpenter,  Vince Guaraldi,   Back it Up/Caro Emerald,   Jacqueline DuPre-Brahns Sonatas,   Mama Mia,   Susan Boyle,  James Blake,  Sade,  Flight of the Concords,  Melody Gardot,  Dido,   Mindy Gledhill,   Deuter's Hand's of Light,   Sarah Blasko,   Rosetta Stone audio French,   Beatles,  Leonard Cohen,   Take That,   George Winston,   Kings of Leon,   Ingrid Michaelson,  James Taylor

A new discovery for me!
From Meredith @ County it all Joy
Caro Emerald singing Back It Up

Image Vermont

February 19, 2011

Hip Hop Happening Mama and the Winners!!

From 40 to 50....
As I approached the end of my 40's and moved into my current status of the fabulous 50's, 
I vowed, with my friend Z. that we were going to be Hip Hop Happening Mama's. 
Complaining about our age was not allowed. 

Z. and I met 10 years ago at a local church playgroup. I was 43 with a two year old 
and three older primary age children and she was the same age with an 18 month old  
and a three month old baby. To say we stuck out in a group of very young mothers is an 
understatement. It did not take us long to spot each other, exchange business cards 
and from that day on we have been the best of friends. 

You are as young as you feel....
Being one of the oldest mother in the school group brings it's own challenges. 
I was reminded this week when I dropped my youngest for an overnight school trip to France. 
I waved good bye and thought how quickly they grow up and I just wasn't ready for that to happen. 
I mentioned it to the other mothers around me as their toddlers hung off their coat tails. 
No I thought...they are not ready to comprehend, just yet.  They look at me with two 
 in University, one in High School and one in primary and think I am some 
sixth wonder of motherhood. If only they knew :)

Hip Hop Happening Mama guidelines...
What is a Hip Hop Happening Mama? It goes with the adage that you look as young 
as you feel.   Z and I may be the oldest Mom's in the group but we try not to let it get the
better of us. We can't afford too!  I have been told many times that kids keep you young.
This may be true as kids do keep you on your toes and have a habit of not missing a thing.
If you are having an off day and you look as old as you feel, they have a way of letting you know.

To be a Hip Hop Happening Mama requires an extra pep in your step and a 'can do' attitude.
It is a state of mind with a little of that 'I am woman, hear me roar' kind of thinking.
Z. and I reckon that if you feel good, you look good and we aim to keep the spirit going
as long as we can. Is this the case everyday?  No...but we try :)

Care to join us?
It is easy...just remind yourself, no matter what age you are,
that you are one Hip Hop Happening Mama and you rock!  
Don't let age get the better of you! 

You don't even have to be a Mama...
you just have to believe :)

Winners to my Surprise Giveaway
Thank you all for supporting my little giveaway.
It was fun learning all about you. My next post
will be what I learned...in the meantime,
here are the winners...
Natasha @ Five Minutes for Me
Itztru...from Vermont :)
Sandy aka Doris the Great @ Aging Disgracefully
Meredy @ Count it all Joy
Ilse @ Insh'allah
Random Integer Generator: 24 44 1 10 32

February 16, 2011

Shades of Blue

Do you decorate in blue?
If so, is your home wrapped in blue 
or do you just have accents here and there?
Which images do you prefer?
My favourites are #1, #6 and #7.

I always thought my house would be filled with blue.
It seemed a natural to me. I wear it, why not live in it?
A question I have pondered for many years :)

I favour blue in our bedrooms.
 Peace, calm, tranquility...that is what I look for in blue.
How about you?

Photographer: Christopher Simon Sykes 
The Royal Collection 
© 2009 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Are you a true navy blue
an aquamarine, a baby blue..
what's your blue ?

Reminder... if you haven't already,
please join in the Giveaway..here

Images 1-6 House Beautiful
Image 789