Thursday, February 28, 2013

La Dame Aux Camelias

Various End-of-February Updates

The garden is an awful mess. The gardener began uprooting an old hedge on a Friday. He left everything in the middle of the garden for the weekend and the cats had fun with his digger. Boys will be boys!

Le jardin est sans dessus dessous. Le jardinier a commencé à enlever les vieilles souches d'une haie un vendredi. Il a laisse sa pelleteuse sur place et les chats ont passé le week-end à jouer à cache-cache dessus.

But when the gardener came back the next Monday and began working and making noise, they were way too afraid to even go near the digger and chose to stay safe and warm.

Mais dès que le jardinier est revenu travailler le lundi, ils se sont vite réfugiés dans l'escalier. Le seul moment où ils ne se battent pas, c'est quand ils sont trop stressés pour penser qu'ils se détestent!

The only moment they don't fight if when they are too scared to remember they are supposed to hate each other.

I'm waiting for a ray of sunshine to show you the work done in the garden... But it's been raining ice (really).

Right before the icy rain ruined the flowers, I snapped a picture of the camellia which had been planted by the previous owners but was hidden under an other bush I removed.

Juste avant que de la neige fondue nous tombe dessus toute la semaine et ruine les fleurs, j'ai pris en photo le camélia.

If you're dying to see more of the garden, put your wellies on and meet me here.

Si vous avez le courage de sortir, vous pouvez découvrir le jardin ici.

If you'd rather not go out with this weather, what about joining me for some winter gardening, aka reading gardening books and magazines?

 I also made some herbal tea...

Et si le grand air ne vous dit rien par ce froid, que diriez-vous d'un peu de jardinage d'hiver, qui consiste à lire des livres de jardinage devant une bonne tisane!

Thanks for stopping by The Little White House. 

See you soon,

I'm linking with:

                How Sweet the Sound                     "OPEN HOUSE" is posted on Thursday 



Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The L Garden

Gardening Projects

Because I live so close to the sea and the Gulf Stream passes nearby, the temperatures are rarely low here.  For some reason though, it's been unusually cold for the last two weeks, around 0°C to 4°C  (32 to 39°F), even when it was sunny.

Il gèle rarement en Bretagne quand on vit aussi près de la mer que moi. Mais, là, cela fait une semaine que l'on surfe avec le zéro degré et cela a mis à mal mon week-end que j'avais prévu de consacrer au jardinage.

That ruined all my plans of a weekend of gardening... I was so impatient to show you the progress in the garden. Because, yes, renovating the house only would be just too easy. I'm also remodeling the garden.

Parce que ne rénover que la maison, ce serait trop facile, je redessine aussi le jardin.

The Little White House is located in an old hamlet of stone houses and as often in those hamlets nothing is simple or square. I'm wondering if the second part of the garden used to belong to the other house and was given to mine later, maybe as a wedding present or something...

Ok, it's actually straighter than what I managed to draw... Does anyone know how to draw a straight line on Picasa?

Le jardin a une forme de L bizarre, ce qui me fait penser qu'une partie a été rajoutée plus tard ou a été acquise suite à un héritage ou une dot de mariage.

As you can see the garden is shaped like a weird L with the house at the "top" of  it. The square right behind the house, known as the back garden or first garden, was rather pretty when I bought the house and even if I have plans for it, right now, I'm only trying to keep it as is. Mistakes are done every now and then as I'm a beginner gardener. But I'm learning.

La partie du jardin juste derrière la maison était vraiment très jolie quand j'ai acheté et je ne fais que l'entretenir de mon mieux avec des couacs parfois, car je débute.

But the long "bottom of the L" or "side garden" or "second garden" part was an other matter. It was used by previous owners for theirs hens, their rabbits and apprently their trash whenever they were too tired to go to the recycling centre!

Mais la deuxième partie du "L" était une autre histoire. Elle contenait les clapiers à lapins, elle servait de poulailler et de dépotoir!

Well, believe it or not, I could see a bench here, I could imagine myself reading a good book there and having tea with friends. It just needed a little TLC and lots of sore muscles.

Moi, j'y voyais un banc, un coin sympa pour lire ou boire le thé avec des amis... Comment ça, vous n'imaginez pas bien le truc?

Among the other projects I have for the garden I'd like to create a vegetable garden in lieu of the very tired hedge that is in that second garden.

Entre autres projets pour ce jardin, je vois aussi un coin potager là où il y a une haie fatiguée.

Oh, and I so can see a garden shed there:

Et je rêve aussi d'un abri de jardin à la place de la cabane de planches actuelle dont le toit menace de s'écrouler et dont le plancher a été percé par une taupe... Oui, oui, je vous assure.

Granted, there is already something that looks like a shed, but it's not. It's so old that the roof could fall off any minute and a mole actually made a hole in the floor! I need to overcome my fear of entering said shed to take a picture of that or you won't believe me. Needless to say I can't store anything in here, so it's basically a waste of space until I make something with it...

Some of these projects are in progress. Stay tuned to see how green (or how dirty) my fingers are!

Only a few more days before spring and true gardening can begin. What's the first thing you'll do in your garden, weather permitting?

Et vous, quel sera votre premier projet jardinage dès que le temps le permettra?

See you soon,

I'm joining the following parties:

Lavender Garden Cottage                             

             No Minimalist Here              

          Or so she says               

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Banana Bread A La Magali

First of all, I would like to thank each and every one of you who either sent me a message or left me a comment with kind words about my health. I felt surrounded by positive thoughts all week long. I had blood tests this morning - I just looked at the very white wall while the needle went in - do you do that as well? Results will be there next week.

In my post about my fabulous Johnson Bros Rose Chintz find, you may or may not have noticed a banana bread on the hutch.

I'm going to share the recipe with you and you won't believe how easy it is. That's why it's called "à la Magali". I'm known in my family for simplifying recipes since a) I cook nearly everything that is eaten at The Little White House - very few things are bought ready made - b) I have a job and can't spend all day long in the kitchen - c) I don't really have a REAL kitchen (that's living in an under-renovation house!).

Je vais vous révéler aujourd'hui le secret de mon gâteau à la banane vite-fait. Le vite-fait, c'est ma spécialité! Je suis connue dans la famille pour simplifier toutes les recettes. D'un autre côté, quand on a une cuisine-camping dans une maison en rénovation depuis trois ans, il faut bien trouver des astuces pour quand même manger!

So here's what you need:
125 g of butter (being a Brittany girl, I use salted butter, but I guess you can use unsalted)
1/2 cup of brown sugar
2 eggs
3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup of cream
2 cups of flour + some baking powder or baking soda (1 tablespoon is fine)

Voici ce dont vous aurez besoin:
125 g de beurre (euh, salé, évidemment, si vous êtes Breton!)
1/2 tasse de sucre brun
2 oeufs
3 bananes mûres
1/2 tasse de crème fraîche
2 tasses de farine + un sachet de levure

1. Melt the butter very slowly until it's soft.
2. Add the sugar.
3. Add the two eggs and mix well.
4. Smash the bananas and add them to your batter.
5. Add the cream and then the flour and the baking soda. Mix, but don't over-mix.

Put in a pan and bake for about 40 minutes in an oven preheated at 180°C / 350°F.

1. Faire fondre doucement le beurre jusqu'à ce qu'il soit mou.
2. Ajouter le sucre.
3. Ajouter les oeufs et bien mélanger.
4. Ecraser les bananes et les ajouter à la pâte.
5. Ajouter la crème, la farine et son sachet de levure. Mélanger rapidement.

Mettre dans un moule beurré et enfourner environ 40 minutes à 180°C.

It's really moist and the best thing is that you can personalize it by adding nuts, chocolate chips or whatever you fancy.

C'est facile, très moelleux et en plus, c'est customisable selon vos goûts: une poignée de noix, des pépites de chocolats, plus ou moins tout ce qui vous passe par la tête (enfin, si ce qui vous passe par la tête, c'est des brocolis, abstenez-vous tout de même!).

If you ever try it, let me know what you added in the batter to make it "yours"!

Si vous essayez, dites-moi ce que vous rajoutez dedans !

I'm sharing this recipe with:

Frenchy's Link Party at Le Château des Fleurs
Sweet Sharing Monday at Say Not Sweet Anne
On The Menu Monday at Stonegable
Transformed Tuesday at PJH Designs
A Return To Loveliness at A Delightsome Life
Made With Love at Sew Chatty
Tweak It Tuesday  at Cozy Little House

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Rose Chintz

Thanks for your sweet comments and well wishes. I'm not feeling any better, yet. But I'm an optimistic. Doctors are going to find what's wrong, they just need a little time, since it's nothing as easy as the flu. I kind of wish I had the flu...

Among my health problems, I must confess an addiction, an addiction to English china.

Parmi tous mes petits problèmes de santé, il y a une dépendance assez prononcée pour la vaisselle, surtout la vaisselle anglaise. Je l'entretiens au lieu de la soigner en cherchant de nouveaux services sur le Bon Coin.

To find cheap but beautiful things, I use a French Internet website of classified ads.


A few weeks ago,  I found someone who wanted to sell a Johnson Bros Rose Chintz teaset, in a little harbour town located ten minutes away from The Little White House. I sent an email and the next weekend I was knocking at the seller's door to see the tea set. 

Il y a quelques semaines un magnifique service à thé, le célèbre Rose Chintz de Johnson Bros, était en vente dans le petit port situé à quelques minutes de chez moi.

She had a very modern flat. The living-room (the only room I saw) had a white leather sofa, black coffee table and a huge poster of a double-decker on a wall. When I saw the teaset on a very modern glass table, it was whispering "take me home, take me home, I don't belong here". 

L'appartement dans lequel je suis allé le voir était très moderne, canapé en cuir blanc, table basse noire laquée et poster géant d'un bus londonien sur tout un pan de mur. Le service des années 40 n'y était pas à sa place et il me suppliait de l'emporter loin  de là.

Trying not to look too interested I asked "Don't you have any dessert plates?" "Oh, I have all kind of plates if you want to see them!" Of course, I wanted to see them. The glass table was too small and on the floor the lady put 19 dinner plates, 5 soup plates, a covered vegetables dish and some serving plates, along with the dessert plates I had asked for. 

D'un air aussi détaché que j'ai pu, j'ai demandé à la vendeuse si elle n'avait pas les assiettes à dessert assorties. Et là, elle me sort des assiettes à dessert, des assiettes plates, des assiettes creuses et des plats!

I knew it was stupid to buy that when the whole house is still in renovation, so I told myself, if she asks for 150 euros, I'll say "no", pretty sure that she would ask for a lot more and that this would seal my fate! 

J'étais déchirée entre l'envie d'avoir ce service et la pensée qu'il fallait économiser pour la rénovation de la maison... Mais finalement, je n'ai pas résisté à la tentation. J'ai même exposé une partie du service sur mon buffet entre deux phases de travaux! C'est la trêve hivernale pour les gros travaux en ce moment!

"How much?" I asked with a too high-pitched voice (it happens whenever I get nervous). "110 euros, is that too much?" I didn't even bargain. Everything was in my car before she could change her mind.

Because it's winter, the renovation is on hiatus for a little while, so I decided to display my new purchase on my dining-room buffet... Please keep in mind the dining-room isn't done at all. The walls aren't even painted since some of them needs to be entirely redone!

The picture was taken before tea became forbidden to me... And I really hope this won't be a life-long thing!

Les photos ont donc été prises avant que je ne sois interdite de thé! J'espère juste que cette interdiction, due à un problème de santé, ne sera pas pour toute la vie!

If you want to make fun of me, you can try to see in the above pictures: the weirdly placed phone plug, the untrimmed and unpainted door, the weird and to be changed molding on the buffet... This is a house in renovation!

Do you have an addiction to anything decoration-related?

See you soon for the recipe of this banana cake à-la-Magali you can see in the pictures.

I'm partying with:
Cottage Style Party at Lavender Cottage Garden
Tuesday Teacup at Martha's Favourites
Be Inspired at Elizabeth & Co
Winter Blues Wednesday at DIY by Design
Home at Rose Chintz Cottage
Friends Sharing Tea at Bernideen's Tea Time
Home and Garden at A Delightsome Life
Welcome Home Wednesday at Vintage On A Dime
Open House Party at No Minimalist Here
Time Travel Thurssday at  The Brambleberry Cottage
Home Sweet Home at The Charm Of Home
Thrifty Things Friday at The Thrifty Groove
Pink Saturday  at How Sweet The Sound
Table Top Tuesday at A Stroll Thru Life
Everything but the Kitchen Sink at Funky Junk Interiors

happythumb                     How Sweet the Sound

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Beauty's in the Details

Houses in Brittany - part 5 - Details

Thank you so much for all your nice comments on this series about houses in Brittany. I love sharing with you houses from where I live.

Due to health problems that hopefully won't be too serious, I'm really tired. Basically I get up, make my way down the stairs and I'm already exhausted... But that's not the worse thing! Tea is forbidden for now! Be warned, I could kill for a nice cuppa!

I'm pretty sure a few pictures of houses will take my mind of all that.

Merci pour vos gentils commentaires sur cette série sur les maisons bretonnes. Je pensais que l'on pouvait clore la série par une revue de détails.

For that last part, I thought I would show a few typical details about houses in Brittany that you might know of or (and I would love that!) that you're going to learn about!

Many houses have a little niche on their façade: people would display a statue of a saint in it.

Sometimes only the niche is left and there's nothing anymore in it. Can you see that one?

Beaucoup de maisons avaient en façade une niche dans laquelle se trouvait la statue d'un saint ou d'une sainte. De nos jours, il ne reste parfois que la niche vide!

Sometimes people were very religious and thought one wasn't enough! How many can you count on that one?

This last one is in my parents' town.

 I would have LOVED my house to have that kind of details. It doesn't. I did visit one house while looking for mine that had a niche with a statue, though. But for all kind of reasons, I didn't even make an offer on it. I still have a picture of it on my computer!

L'une des maisons que j'avais visitée lorsque je cherchais la mienne comportait une niche avec la statue! Cela aurait dû suffire à me séduire, mais pour tout un tas d'autres raisons, je n'ai pas fait d'offre sur celle-là. Il me reste cependant une photo!

Can you see it between the two bedroom windows on the second floor? 

Now, you might also notice something's written on the granite under it. It's a date: 1898. Many houses around here have the date they were built written on a lintel.

Il y avait aussi sur cette maison la date de construction gravée sur un linteau... C'est typique de la région. Décidément, elle avait tout pour plaire cette maison, pourquoi je ne l'ai pas choisi, au fait?

For example, this one is on a house in my neighbourhood.

 The houses in my street that have dates on them are all around 1910, so I guess my house is about a century old, but I haven't found a date anywhere yet.

Les maisons de mon quartier ont toutes une date juste avant la Première Guerre Mondiale et je soupçonne ma maison de dater donc de cette époque, même si je n'en ai trouvé (encore) aucune trace sur la maison.

Sometimes lintels above the door or the windows are very ornate.

Parfois, les linteaux sont très ornés, comme celui-là. Lorsqu'on les trouve sur des maisons modestes, c'est généralement qu'ils ont été volés dans un château voisin, souvent à l'époque de la Révolution.

If this happens to be on a modest house, there's no way farmers could pay an artist for that kind of job and it usually means that it was stolen from an old castle, usually right after the French Revolution. 

Sometimes, when you visit a castle around here, the tour guide will tell you that if you want to see the wonderful lintels that used to be there, you have to walk through the nearest village and keep an eye on their doors and windows!

I hope you enjoyed that series on Cottages in Brittany. I had much fun sharing those posts with you.
You can read part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4 if you haven't already!

J'espère que vous avez apprécié cette série sur les maisons bretonnes. J'ai adoré partager ces articles avec vous. Vous pouvez lire l'épisode 1, l'épisode 2, l'épisode 3 et l'épisode 4 si ce n'est déjà fait!

See you soon for a sneak peek on the treasure I found while thrifting!

I'm linking with:
Le Château des Fleurs