Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Provence Farmhouse

There's something about this home that draws me. Perhaps it's the balcony shaded by those old and stately trees. Then again, since moving to the Cactus Road Farm with a lovely old Spanish courtyard gate, I've become interested in gates.

This home's listing touts it as an attractive old stone farmhouse, situated 2km from the village of St Paul en Foret. The house and pool (10x5m) are set in 2.2 hectares of private land, itself completely surrounded by woodland.

The house and pool are built into a terraced hillside and face south. The terraces around the house used to be farmed and are now a mass of wild flowers in late spring and the owner has planted a few olive trees in the last few years.

Accommodation in the main house consists of three bedroom and two baths (one en-suite) upstairs - all with French windows that open to a balcony which just happens (of course) to look out over the pool. Lovely. Wish we could see those rooms, don't you?

Downstairs is the salon with a large open fireplace (not sure if that's the picture above or not) and there is a spacious kitchen/dining room plus a cloakroom with loo (you all know what a loo is?) and a "cellier/utility room."

This home has oil fired central heat. The small 'cabanon' used to be a tool shed but has been converted to a small double bedroom with (the listing says) has a modern shower room. I'd love to see that too - but no pictures were available. And, all this for . . . only . . $720,000 Euros.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Morning Breakfast at Our House

It's tradition that aebleskivers are the center piece at our Christmas morning breakfast (or brunch table).

Aebleskivers are a danish "pancake" made in a cast iron skillet. We love them so much and because of the size of our family we use two on Christmas mornings.

I'd say one of the joys of Christmas is definitely making Aebleskivers. This is what you'll need: flour, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, butter, one big honkin' jar of apple butter and a pint or so sour cream.

To begin, separate 4 eggs - whites in one medium sized bowl and yolks in another. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff but not dry. Set them aside.
Combine 2 of the egg yolks together - discard 2 yolks or find some other creative use for them. Measure out 2 cups buttermilk and . . .
add your two egg yolks to the buttermilk, stir gently and see what kind of fun swirls you can make from the colors. When you're done playing add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.
Set this aside and melt 1/4 cup of butter - on a low heat. After it cools a bit . . .
Pour it slowly into your buttermilk & egg yolk mixture - and of course stir it around. Now it's time for ...TA DA...the dry ingredients . . .

In a large bowl . . . dump . . .2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour and add 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.
Use a whisk to stir it together.
Add your buttermilk, egg yolk and melted butter mixture to your big bowl filled with your dry ingredients. Whisk this around - mixing it somewhat well - lumps are OK though.

Remember that little bowl of stiff egg whites?
Fold them into your batter mixing it well.

Now that your Aebleskiver batter is mixed and ready, it's time to heat up your iron Aebleskivers pans to a medium heat. Next, and place a bit of butter into each indentation in your Aebleskiver pan. My favorite is the one with the wooden handle. As the butter is starting to bubble, you'll want a plate, and a couple extra spoons a long with a fork. These are your "tools" to turn - or rotate the little pancake balls. Take the lid off your big jar of apple butter and have a teaspoon ready to use. You'll add a "dollop" of apple butter for each little pancake.
When the butter is just starting to bubble, add just less than a 1/4 cup of the batter into each bubbling buttered indentation. You basically want each round to be about 3/4 of the way full. Then add a dollop of apple butter. When the batter starts to get bubbly around th edges, turn each round upside down with a spoon or two forks. This is the tricky part and takes some practice, but oh, it's so worth it. You just want the ball to be turned over once to cook both sides. Continue cooking for about 1 minute. You'll know it's done because the ball will come away from the sides of your pan.

Here's a more sequential recipe for you:


4 eggs, separated
2 cups low-fat buttermilk
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsalted butter melted
Powdered sugar
big Jar of Apple Butter
sour cream for the table


Combine 2 egg yolks (discard the other 2 egg yolks), buttermilk, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom, vanilla extract, and melted butter in a bowl, and mix until smooth. Fold in the beaten egg whites.

Pour about 3/4 teaspoon butter into each round of an Aeblekiver pan and heat over medium-high heat on top of stove. Add a heaping tablespoon of the batter, or enough to fill each round about three-quarters full. Take a good sized tea spoon of the apple butter and put it in the batter.

When bubbly around the edges, turn each round upside down with a spoon or two forks. This is the tricky part - to try to get the ball turned over. It takes practice.

Continue cooking, turning until done, about 2 minutes. You’ll know it’s just about done because the ball will come away from the sides of the pan. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve with sour cream and more apple butter.
I’ll warn you—it’s a bit messy to make, but absolutely worth it. We genernally serve eggs and bacon, fresh orange juice.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sometimes Life . . .

. . . has us holding on for dear life. Hold on - don't let go. He won't let you fall.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

House of Turquoise: Coastal Christmas

Wow, Erin has done it again. Because of her I'm adding what I love and yet was hidden in my heart - touches of turquoise!

House of Turquoise: Coastal Christmas

Saturday, December 12, 2009

It's Saturday Already

There's just something about a cool, crisp Saturday morning with soft Christmas music playing in the back ground, the tree lit and my seven year old grandson nearby capturing my heart's interest as he tells me the story of each year's special ornament with his name on them.

Sometimes life just couldn't be sweeter when moments like these arrest the soul. Times past I'd have run right over them for the sake of accomplishing something, but being a bit older and wiser I know the ache of moments missed and the joy of the clock being rewound with the delight of grandchildren.

Even though the Cactus Rd house is still in process and there is much-much to "do" I've chosen and will chose to NOT miss the moments of the NOW.

May I encourage you to do so as well in a season where little hearts and big hears need the touch of someone who will be still enough to care. Your presence is a present.

Monday, December 7, 2009

I've Been a Little Slow . . .

. . . at getting back into posting the Cactus Rd. house farm happenings. But, if you can picture lots of moving and packing and unpacking, some sighing and that sort of thing - along with an overflowing septic tank and leach field - then you get the picture of what life has been like the past few weeks.

Now, however, I'm pretty close to being settled in and it feels awfully wonderfully. Sure, I'm still finding places to put things, trying to figure out what place works best, but for the most part this house feels like home.

I told one of my friends the other day that this place really feels like home - even more so than that the lovely house and garden I just left and had lived in for the past ten years. I'm not sure why, but it occurred to me that home is really where the heart is. My attitude toward whatever situation I'm presented with matters and it's what will set the tone for how I create sanctuary.

I love the Cactus Rd. house - now my home. I love it's unique charm and character. I love the flow of the home that makes it possible for two families (such as ours) to live comfortably together. I also love the memories that have been created here and will continue to be created here.

This home has two parts. The original part of the home was built in 1946 and then in and around 1987 the owners remodeled the space to its present size. The architect actually had the remodel constructed over the existing walls and space leaving the original entrance way, hallway, bedrooms and living room in tact. As you can imagine parts of those walls are quite thick.

The history of this area is rich which much of this land having been farm land and horse ranches. And, in a sense, we have vision and passion to reclaim the land and restore it to its original use. In time that vision and passion will fully unfold but for now, we're just dreaming about the endless possibilities and ways to use this place to touch lives, create sanctuary for us and others as we set down some new roots.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Only Picture . . .

. . . of my bedroom you'll ever get. I'm pretty private with certain spaces in our home and the master bedroom is one of them.

This is the first time, ever, that I've had a room of this color. It's a sea foam bluish/green color that when Michael and I went to Paris Envy back in August he mentioned that it was his favorite color - thus now in our little sanctuary.

I'm obviously still in process with our bedroom and am fine with the slow steps being taken to create sanctuary - not only in this room - but throughout this whole house. Loving the clean feel of this wall color I decided to paint the floors here - also in the Benjamin Moore Linen White. We used Ben Moore's product that was a two can process - a good decision, indeed.