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Merci Ta Ta Steph!

My sister-in-law Stephanie had always promised my girls that when the day came that they felt ready to get their ears pierced, she would take them to do it as her treat. 

The girls were sorely tempted, so of course Franck (who sported a golden pirate’s hoop when I first met him) regaled Charlotte and Camille with tales of the horror and blood-baths involved in ear piercing. 

Needless to say, I wasn’t too worried that Charlotte and Camille would feel ready any time soon.

This all changed, however, when last week their Ta Ta Steph told them that she was in possession of a magic ointment (Emla) that she uses at her job as an ER nurse in Beaune that she could put on their earlobes so that they WOULDN’T FEEL A THING.

Girded with this knowledge, even Franck’s tales couldn’t disuade them.   Their cousin Tom also decided to get his ear pierced like all the men on the Germain side of the family, so Stephanie hauled the four of them (Lola had her ears pierced when she was about four – before the halycon days of the magic ointment – so she just came along to watch the spectacle) to Beaune this morning. 

I wasn’t too worried that Charlotte would chicken out.  She has proved herself on several occasions  – notably some episodes of truly gnarly dental work – to be far more courageous than her mother.  

Camille, on the other hand, tried to make a break for the parking lot during her last set of shots here in France.  Our lovely country doctor – Docteur Durand – and I both ended up in a serious sweat after chasing her down and then restraining her while she hollered and flailed as though we were going to cut off her right arm without anesthetic rather than administer her MMR booster. 

So I wasn’t at all sure when Steph left with the gang of them that Camille would actually come back with her ears pierced…but just look at the photos below.  It’s nice to know that our children prove us wrong pretty much every day. 

This first photo will now gow down in history as the last one ever taken with unpierced earlobes! 

And now look!  Tom was the first one in the door.

Trop Court

 Last night we bid good-bye to our dear friends Charlotte and Marco for another 11 months.  We have had lots of laughs and great moments over the past three weeks, but somehow it just never seems long enough.   To all you scientists out there – the universe needs a “Beam Me Up” machine as in Star Trek so that we could wake up in Canada and then go to dinner in Burgundy, and then be back in time for the girls to go to school the next day.   

Despite the VERY warm evening (it was around 37 degrees yesterday) we had a lovely dinner.  Unfortunately, however, Clem had passed her stomach flu on to me and I sprang up at 2:00am to adopt a prayer position in front of the toilet and revisted the entire thing – course by course.    

And no, stomach flu is definitely no more glamourous or enjoyable in France, although I did have the opportinity to appreciate the lovely portuguese tiles in our newly renovated bathroom at La Maison des Chaumes.

After The Picnic

The bottle to the right led to a fascinating conversation about what what we were doing in 1988 when the grapes for this wine were grown, including our favorite songs then.  Songs by the French group “Telephone” ranked high for everyone but me (who was in Grade 10 in Victoria, Canada – a continent away – with a certain penchant for the romantic ballads of Air Supply).

Everybody Clafoutis!

This weekend the cherries on my sister-in-law’s two cherry trees – one black and one sour – were ripe for picking. The weekend was also the date of our annual pantagruelesque picnic on Les Chaumes, and one of my jobs was to bring dessert. Put these two events together, and what do you get? A delicious homemade clafoutis.

Steph lent me her favorite recipe, and besides being as easy as falling off a log (if you click on my “favorite recipies” tag, you will note this is a common denominator!) it consists of ingredients you can find just as easily in North America or Britain as in France. 

So…êtes-vous prêts de Clafoutis aussi?

For 6-8 people

Ingredients

– 500 grams of black or sour cherries (freshly picked is best)

– 4 eggs

– 125 grams of white sugar

– a pinch of salt

– 80 grams of white flour 

– 1/4 of a litre of milk

– 60 grams of butter

– 1 small package or one soup spoon of vanilla sugar (optional)

Instructions

–  Melt 30 grams of the butter in microwave or small casserole.  Set aside.  

–   Mix eggs together in medium sized bowl with fork.  Add the salt, sugar and mix well.

–  Pour in flour and mix again until there are no “lumps’ left.

–  Add the 30 grams of melted butter and the milk.  Mix again until smooth. 

– Wash and remove the pits from the cherries (I do this, although Franck’s gradmother was firmly rooted in the “do not remove the pits’ camp – just be careful of your fillings!) and spread evenly on a well-buttered 9 x 13 baking dish (glass or porcelein preferable).

– Pour the liquid mixture over the cherries and then dot with the rest of the butter. 

– Put in a 220 degree Celsius oven for around 35-45 minutes, keeping an eye on it that it doesn’t start to burn. 

– When you remove it from oven, sprinkle with package of vanilla sugar if available.  Serve at room temperature. 

Dégustez!

Part Of Me Belongs Here

Since our arrival in Burgundy we have been blessed with consistently sultry, gorgeous evenings that seem to go on forever.

We have tried to get up to Les Chaumes as often as we can to enjoy one of our favorite family summer treats – savouring an after-dinner ice cream as we watch the setting sun over the vineyards.

The other night was so beautiful that Charlotte and Camille and I decided to stroll back down the hill to La Maison des Chaumes while Franck and Clem drove down in the car (don’t tell this to the local gendarmes, but an essential part of the thrill of these Chaumes expeditions is that we throw all the kids in the trunk and drive them up there with them rolling around in the back, shrieking with laughter).

Anyway, on our way down we listened to the birds singing and the crickets chirping and Charlotte said, “I can’t explain it, but I feel like part of me belongs here.”

There were moments – many, many of them – during our five years here in France when things were really difficult, and I was barely holding it together.  I asked myself again and again if we were making an epic  mistake in uprooting the girls from their lives in Canada.  But every time I tried to remind myself what a gift  Franck and I both felt it was for the girls to be given the opportunity to appropriate their father’s French language and culture for themselves.    

And now I can say that even though it wasn’t always easy, it was definitely worth it. 

Mission Accompli.

Pain…oh la la…le bon pain…

Imagine how distressed we were when we arrived in Burgundy only to learn that our favorite boulanger in the galaxy (the one from Comblanchien) had gone on vacation.

I’m happy to report, however, that he is now back at work where he should be (!) and his pain, brioche, pain aux chocolats, are still completely out of this world. And don’t even get me started on his tarte aux mirabelles.

Manege Joy

I thought maybe Charlotte and Camille were getting a little old for enjoying the venerable Manege on the Place Carnot in Beaune.  Clearly, j’avais tort

Tres Chaud Visit to Dijon

Franck and I got the chance to run up to Dijon for a few hours and despite the thermostat reaching 36 degrees (!) we had a lovely time looking at the window of Dijon’s many antique stores and enjoying a cafe at our favorite Dijon haunt – Le Comptoir des Colonies.