Help us win!

Hi Everyone.

I was wondering if I could ask a favor of all my loyal readers: I entered a photo of Miz Peaches LaRoo and Shmoo Alexander in an online pet photo contest. If you click on this link you can vote for us. You don’t have to give them your email or sign up for anything. There’s actually a prize of CASH for this one, so we would be very grateful to have your votes, since 2010 is shaping up to be a not great financial year. This could buy us a lot of dogfood!

Thanks for your help and time.

Ciao for now,


How Depressing

JM and I are so pitiful that yesterday afternoon we watched the REPEAT of the Golden Globe Awards! How sad is that?

There were several things about it that were even sadder to me than the fact that we actually watched it. One was realizing that we used to actually GO to Hollywood Foreign Press functions, and although we weren’t members of the organization we WERE members of the Hollywood Foreign Press. And yet we never went to the Golden Globes banquet.

Second, watching Drew Barrymore go up to collect her award and realizing that I interviewed her when she was 7 years old! I don’t know which thing was sadder: the fact that I realized how long ago that was or the fact that she didn’t seem much more articulate now than she did then.

Third, no longer being able to look at Robert Downey, Jr. as a joke, because he really cleaned up his life and no longer wanders around Malibu stoned waking up in strange peoples’ homes.

Fourth, and this is probably the most pitiful part; when we went downstairs to feed and walk the dogs, we TiVo’d the rest of the ceremony so we could see the end! How embarrassing to admit that!

Anyway, the other thing that is depressing is sitting here blogging. That’s because after watching the Golden Globes we decided to rent JULIE & JULIA from iTunes. The movie is based on a blog by Julie Powell and a biography of Julia Child. The Julie Powell blog was about her cooking every recipe from Child’s MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING over a year. She did it, he blog became famous, she wound up with a New York Times bestselling book and a movie.

So why, you may ask, is that depressing? I suppose because in all the years of blogging here, and publishing a book based on the first year’s blogging, I haven’t even come CLOSE to the New York Times bestseller list! And I’ve even written my very own cookbook as well!

Ah well, who wants to be rich and famous anyway…

Ciao for now,


Sorry for the silence

But things have been awfully quiet around here for the last week or so. All of our friends who were in town for the holidays have gone and we’ve entered that sucky, January/February time of year where you have the feeling that you’re just kind of waiting.

You’re waiting for spring, or storms or anything really, just to have something going on. JM and I are always waiting for our favorite TV series to restart on British TV (Come on LOST and HOUSE!!!) and trying desperately to find something that doesn’t suck to watch at night.

In the past, I would spend a lot of this time baking, but we are both being very good about watching what we eat. Even with the holidays we’ve both lost weight over the last couple of months (I’ve lost 5 kg and JM has lost 8 or 9), so I’m not going to jeopardize that with making cake!

I am cooking more healthy things though; lots of soups with different combinations of vegetables, slow cooker meals, etc. I made a soup the other day with mixed vegetables, baked sweet potatoes and a touch of ras-el-hanout seasoning; it was terrific (can you say that about your own cooking?) and I was surprised to see that JM not only ate it, but asked to have the leftovers! He normally would never eat sweet potato, so that was a definite healthy hit.

The interesting thing about losing weight, is that it becomes self-rewarding. You would kind of like to have a pastry, then you look at your thinning waistline in the mirror and realize you’d rather have THAT than the pastry.

I have found that eliminating as much sugar as possible from my diet makes it much, much easier for me to watch the rest of what I eat. Somehow sugar itself causes me to crave more food. Once I cut out the extra sugar from coffee, tea, yogurt, etc., I no longer fee hungry for any snacking at all, and the weight just seems to come off without a struggle.

For us, this seems to be the only way to do it. I’m a life-long dieter, and although I’ve been at a mostly stable weight for 10 years now, I do occasionally go up a few pounds, especially in ice cream season. I am absolutely terrified by the idea of gaining more than those few pounds, so finding a strategy to control it before it gets out of hand has been vital.

JM, poor boy, never had to diet before around the age of 45. He could always eat everything he wanted and stay the same. That ended and he’s been struggling with it ever since. Not having that long time dieter’s mentality is probably a bonus for him, because he’s not tempted to try crazy things. And, there is the fact that he doesn’t really eat in between meals, which is a major help in weight control. So, for him, just cutting out sugar and desserts other than a bit of fruit compote, is really all he needs to do.

I guess dieting is better than waiting to gain more weight!

Ciao for now.


And Snow it Goes

We woke up yesterday morning expecting to find the same amount of snow that had been there when we went to bed. Not! It had started re-snowing during the night and didn’t stop for the entire day.

This is what it looked like on Friday (today’s pictures up later)

Cours Colbert Friday

Across the Blau

The gardens

Now, imagine more snow! I don’t think I’ve actually seen this much snow in well over 30 years (credit life in California with that one), so it was surprising to say the least.  Although there were a few hearty souls out in 4 wheel drive vehicles yesterday, there was not a lot of traffic. I can’t imagine when I will have Beanie dug out enough to drive, to be honest.

We weren’t getting any television signal on the satellite, so we tried to go up on the roof to knock off the snow. Unfortunately the trap door had frozen so it took us a couple of hours to get up there. By then, there was way too much snow for us to dislodge it. The dish itself is half buried, so until nature takes its course, I don’t think there’s much we can do ourselves.

The dogs seem to love it still. They bury their faces, including their eyes, in the drifts to get in all the good smells. I think they’re crazy, but I’m not a dog, so what do I know?

Hope you’re all safe and warm wherever you are and I’ll post more pictures once I get them onto the computer.

Ciao for now.


Snow Day

Most of France (and most of Europe!) is under a big blanket of snow today. Those of you reading from the UK don’t need me to tell you about the severe winter weather, of course. But it has finally made it’s way down to the Possum Kingdom and beyond.

We had lunch out yesterday with friends from the States who have spent the holidays at a gite near Castlenaudry. They drove over and we had a delicious meal at the Hotel de France. At lunch, you eat in the bar and they have the TV on in the corner. The weather came on and there was great talk of snow, cold temps and high winds. In fact, while we were there, the school texted the parents to tell them that school was called off for today in prevision of the weather.

Well, we’ve all been there before: dire predictions of terrible weather then nothing happens. Not this time. It started to snow yesterday afternoon and has mostly been snowing since. Granted, it’s nothing like what some places have; we’ve probably received about 10 or 12 centimeters here, but for us that’s a lot.

We took the dogs out at about a quarter to 7 this morning and it felt like we were walking through the set of Narnia. Everything was covered in a thick blanket of snow, and the trees were just heavy with it.

Shmoo has seen snow before, but not this much and Peaches only got to see the light dusting we had right after she was spayed. Both of them went totally crazy with this and just wanted to run and play. In fact, I was taking Peaches out for a quick potty break, when Shmoo realized that HE wasn’t getting to go out. He waited for me to get the door open and then took off in a wild dash around the village.  He circled twice at top speed before coming back home. I wouldn’t really have minded if I wasn’t worried about the few cars that were out being unable to stop in time to avoid him.

After lunch we went out again and more running and playing were enjoyed by the four-footed amongst us. When we got inside, Shmoo took possession of the cushion directly in front of the fire and steam dried. Now, both of them are sacked out on the couch in my office; I think I may join them in a nap.

Ciao for now.


And so the new year begins…

Peaches has been so sweet and has fit in so well that sometimes I forget that she’s still a puppy and has only been here for 5 weeks.

Yesterday was one of those “puppy growing pain” kind of days. I had taken Shmoo for his rabies shot in the morning, leaving her home. She clearly didn’t like that very much. It set off a day of “events.”

First, on our return, she would not leave Shmoo alone. I’m sure he was tired and probably not feeling great from the shots, but he played with her anyway. When I say “played,” what I mean is wrestled and ran around the house almost non-stop the whole day. When they weren’t doing this, Peaches was barking at every noise in the street; there were a lot yesterday because the village workers were taking down the Christmas decorations. At one point, she must have drunk a lot of water then thrown it up in the one carpeted room in the house; JM’s office.

Also, if Shmoo wouldn’t play with her, she found OTHER things to do. This included stealing bits of kindling from next to the fireplace and chewing them up. Just as they were calming down, friends stopped by and got them started up again. I noticed that there was more chewed up wood on her toy cushion, along with my shoes and bits of chewed up candle wax. It was a mess, so I removed all the toys from the cushion and took it outside to shake it out. That was a mistake; when I brought it back and put it down she immediately peed on it! I guess she told me whose cushion that was! Unfortunately, because of the stuffing material, I couldn’t “save” it, so bye-bye cushion.

Everyone finally settled down after dinner. But at 2 am she started pacing and crying. At first I tried to ignore her, thinking she just wanted attention. But at around 3, it was clear she really meant it, so I took her out. BIG diarrhea; hello candle wax! I brought her back inside, but she definitely wanted back out, so I went back out with both dogs, as Shmoo also insisted on going out.

I stayed in bed, wide awake, the rest of the night until at 5:30 she wanted to go out yet again. JM and I decided we might as well get up; so we took them on their morning walk where she had 4 more bouts of diarrhea. The bakery wasn’t even open yet when we got back. Then as I was taking off my coat I heard “gak-gak-gak” noises and managed to rush her outside where she threw up some grass she’d eaten on the walk.

After that, she seemed to feel fine. I fed them their usual breakfast, but gave her pumpkin and some slippery elm that I keep for such occasions.

This morning, no one feels much like playing. They’ve both been pretty much sacked out except for a brief session of wrestling. JM and I are both feeling like zombies though.

We're angels

Ah, puppies!

Happy 2010

I can’t even believe I wrote that! How can it already be 2010?

Here in the Possum Kingdom celebrations were what you might call mild, or perhaps boring, depending on your point of view. Realizing that we don’t do well staying up till midnight, JM and I had a quiet dinner (poularde and roast potatoes) followed by watching the most recent Harry Potter film (a big disappointment) and went to bed at 10:30. Whoopeee!!!

When we got up to walk the dogs at 7, there was still someone partying across the street!!! Ah, youth.

I think the only people who went to bed before us were our bakers, who had lights out at 9:30.

We did go to have New Year’s Day lunch with good friends Peter and Margaret in West Chalabre. It’s much easier to have a lively conversation when you’re actually awake.

I believe that 2010 is coming in with a change in the weather. When we went out at 7 I felt as if I was too warmly dressed; when we walked the dogs before lunch it was freezing. Now we seem to be having a combination of rain and sleet and I expect it will snow before morning, although it may not stick to the wet ground.

The dogs will be happy if it snows though, since Peaches had just been spayed after our last snow and didn’t get to enjoy it.

Ciao for now and all the best to you and yours in this new year!