PEACE AND TRANQUILITY

P6770708I wanted to make a feast. I had an insane urge to cook and create and make everything homely and perfect. Why?  Probably because I’ve been away more than I’ve been home this past month, and apart from the Auvergne there haven’t been breaks or holidays, long or short. It’s just been a long litany of hectic days away, tennis, business, children, and anything else you can think of. I just haven’t been home. So often have I left the house at 6.00am or 7.00am and returned around 9.00pm. Roddy has held the fort quite perfectly, obviously, usually accompanied by at least one or more of our children. But I’ve been on the road with the others; I have driven more kilometres than I dare to count and let’s just say I am a dab hand at filling up with diesel, again and again and again!

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Yesterday, I had a day at home; actually, to be precise, I had two-thirds of a day at home as late in the afternoon I had to take Millie to a tennis tournament and then Gigi to her lesson straight after. But until then, I had an entire morning and part of the afternoon to do something else and it felt like an enormous amount of wonderful time. So, struck by this incredible urge to be homely and to make everything the children could possibly want, I started with thoughts of a wonderful lunch and a need to fill the kitchen with the smell of summer cooking.

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I woke early and spent a good couple of hours in the vegetable garden, reacquainting myself with the smell of the earth, plucking weeds and stringing up errant tomato vines. And whilst I worked, in the early morning sun, I helped myself to the freshest of breakfast treats, warm tomatoes that I am quite sure taste purely of the sun. I pulled up some baby carrots, rubbed the earth off against my shorts and bit into them with a satisfying crunch. That’s the beauty of gardening without pesticides; I don’t have to worry about washing and cleaning, as everything is as pure as pure can be.

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After a while I was joined by Gigi, who quite unaware of what she was doing found herself drawn to the produce and picking and eating too. Situation normal there, then!

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Then we moved on to the first of the grapes, still very slightly tart, but this is actually just the way I love them, when half of the bunches are green, but the purple ones are prime eating material. We’re lucky enough to be able to pick and choose as we pass down the row of vines.

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Once we had eaten our fill we collected a trug-load of courgettes, aubergines, carrots, cucumber, lettuce, yet more tomatoes and green beans and headed back up to the house with our summer bounty. Hetty had already been down and collected the eggs and was making her favourite breakfast of scrambled eggs. It felt good to be at home for once.P6770633

 

With my kitchen now overflowing with produce we all set about creating lunch. Once the smell of cooking started wafting through the house everyone slowly appeared and joined in. One wanted ratatouille

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and another roasted vegetables. So simple – I literally chop whatever I have, add some onions and garlic, sprinkle with salt and fresh herbs, douse in olive oil and put in the over to roast. Sometimes (as on this occasion) I added a can of chickpeas which go crispy – they are quite irresistible!

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Roddy got in on the act and made quiche, two varieties to satisfy everyone! Cheese and bacon, and one with yellow courgette and tomato.

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We still have lots of saucisson from our trip to the Auvergne and thinly sliced with some cheese it makes the most delicious appetiser at lunch, along with some freshly cut local charentais melon.P6770722

 

I wracked my brains, I needed a simple dessert and as I look around my eyes caught sight of the lavender in the garden and I knew what I was going to make – lavender shortbread. It’s one of my summer favourites, courtesy of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. It couldn’t be easier,

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Crumble together in your fingers 160g softened butter, 80g sugar, 240g plain flour and 2 teaspoons of fresh lavender flowers (just make sure you only use flowers that have not had any sprays or pesticides on them).

Press the mixture into a medium sized rectangular tin lined with baking parchment and bake at 170C for 20 to 25 minutes until it turns a very light golden colour. Take out of the oven, allow to cool a little and then sprinkle with a little sugar and cut into fingers.

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And be sure to stay in the kitchen whilst it is cooking, the smell of the lavender is quite intoxicating and will scent the entire room!

My mouth is watering, just thinking about all of this again now, a feast for the family, in fact I am sure it is time for lunch once more!

Sometimes I think we need to be cosy and at home with those we love the most.  It’s a mother’s instinct to want to provide for her children and to feed them, and the simple task of growing vegetables and then harvesting them with the family is one of life’s great pleasures for me.

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We made enough to feed a small army, and why not –  we have an abundance of everything and what we don’t eat one day is perfect for lunch the next. Ratatouille never goes to waste; any leftovers are quickly put in tubs in the freezer, perfect for enjoying throughout the winter months.

Feeling utterly relaxed and replete after lunch, we all found things to do. Gigi decided Bentley needed a haircut

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and I turned my attention to the floral side of the garden and wandered around with my secateurs cutting a few stems and sprigs of plants here and there.

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I am certainly no florist,  there is nothing elaborate about my arrangements, they are always the simplest of affairs, arranged very casually, but I cannot be without a vase on the kitchen table and another in the sitting room.P6770653

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I took some lagerstroemia, (crape myrtle), white buddleia, cosmos, roses, fennel flowers and Russian sage and just played around to fill a couple of vases.

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Late in the evening, once we were back home, we took the dogs for a walk, heading in our favourite direction behind the house and out into the country, surrounded by fields of sunflowers and small vineyards. The blackberries are ripening fast and I think it will be another bumper year.

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It had been a typical English summer’s day with white clouds scudding across the sky. (I can say that having spent my entire childhood growing up in England!) The sun had been warm enough but without the searing heat we so often experience here. This week our temperatures have been kept well below average for the time of year, the landscape chilled by distinctly cold winds.

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All of this has set me thinking about the need to slow down, de-stress and repose and each individual has different ways of achieving this. Do you need to be away at a spa, by the sea, in a hotel or on holiday to totally unwind? Or are you happy to be at home, taking long walks, cooking, gardening, reading? If you have a moment to spare, I’d love to know how you find peace and tranquility.

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120 thoughts on “PEACE AND TRANQUILITY

    • Lavender shortbread is simply divine, even in all too prosaic (by comparison with these photographs) Princeton, New Jersey. These are some of the most vivid pictures I have ever seen, Your blog makes this (nature blogger on New Jersey, who lived in Cannes in 87 and 88) realize all over again, that France is the ONLY country! And, yes, because of the peace and tranquillity I knew on my balcony over the Mediterranean then, which I seek for my own readers, in wild nature in NJ, PA and sometimes Delaware and Massachusetts. But no, nothing EVER compares with FRANCE! Thank you. Carolyn Foote Edelmann

      • Thanks so much, there is peace and tranquility the world over, as you so rightly say, and yet there is something quite unique about life here, it is hard to pinpoint. Of course there are all the usual everyday boring bits, life is the same like that in any country, but there is just something here, which you obviously know only too well! Lucky you having spent two years in Cannes. Hope you have a lovely weekend xx

  • Good morning from Wyoming’s Big Horn Mountains, Susan. Just checking my email very briefly and saw this, so I popped over for a moment. Sounds like a hectic summer. 🙂 I find peace in walking in the park in the mornings, taking a bit of vacation when I can (and I’ve been blessed with a fair bit this summer), taking time to sit down and read for at least a short while during a busy day, and trying not to over-schedule, although sometimes, especially when the girls were younger and still at home, that was impossible. Right now, I take a horseback ride in the morning, then hike, read, sit on the cabin porch, or a combination of those things, in the afternoon. 🙂 All too soon, it will be back to the real world, but for now, I’m loving this.

    janet

    • Sounds absolutely perfect Janet, if I had a horse still, then riding would be top of my list for relaxing too, but just for the moment there is no time for a horse, perhaps, as you say, when the children are older I shall be able to ride every day again. Hope you have a wonderful holiday, in a beautiful part of the world, can’t wait to read all about it xx

      • I forgot to add, taking time for a cup (or pot) of tea sometime in the morning 🙂 I can only ride in the summer, as the horses are in Wyoming where the cabin is (somewhat of a story), but it would be too expensive to keep a horse in the Chicago area anyway, even if there were anywhere nice to ride.

      • This way you have something wonderful to look forward to in the summer months. Of course your comment has sparked some conversation amongst the children and I today and they are adamant that once they have all flown the nest and I have a little more time I must ride again. It’s a long way off yet, but I have to admit it would be fabulous! xx

      • It’s a good thought/goal to have. 🙂 When our girls were young, my husband thought they wouldn’t want to come here when they got older, but of course, they loved it every summer and would still come if they could get away and get here. 🙂

      • I think that is wonderful, that you all love to return somewhere every summer, a place where you can make so many happy memories year after year. Enjoy every second of it xx

  • Oh, bliss! Such beautiful flowers, I’m with you, as Monet said, ‘I must have flowers, always & always’. I badly need some peace here, started building work on a damp bedroom wall in January, & it’s still not finished! Delay after delay, mix ups over dates, one decorator just didn’t turn up, next can’t come until mid September. In the meantime, everything from the bedroom, except the bed, is in my living room. I’m hoping to be straight by Xmas, all being well! I wish I was in your garden Susan. xx.

    • I agree with Monet, I must have flowers! I so feel for you with your bedroom problems, relying on other people can be so disheartening especially when they don’t show up. Fingers crossed it all sorts itself out in the autumn and you can then have a perfect Christmas! xx

  • What wonderful photos & my stomach is rumbling at the thought of roasted veg with chick peas! Whether in France or the UK, sitting in the garden with a cup of tea and a good book, always relaxes me & makes me happy.

    • Thanks June, I love adding the chickpeas to any oven roasted dish! I can see why gardening is so popular, whether we actually work in the garden or just sit and enjoy it, it does seem to provide so much relaxation for so many, proof that plants are soothing and calming. Hope you are having a good summer xx

  • I always think Ratatouille is even better the next day. Your relaxed ramble and side-note abut mummies needing to nurture hit just the right note with me. And as for being no florist … really? I’d take your arrangements over those formal things any day. PS: Please tell Millie that I have two heads and dragon breath and to be very scared about my threat to visit (NOT!). Actually I can’t wait to meet her. But please ask her not to challenge me to tennis … I have no eye for the ball any more and can feel my father cringing in heaven when I try! Xx

    • Totally agree about the ratatouille, it was for lunch today, second day in a row and just gets better and better! You’re too sweet about the flowers, I am afraid I just cut and stick them in water and so long as they sort of flop in the right direction then I’m happy. I cannot be fussed with oasis and perfect precision!! We are all so looking forward to your visit, although you will always be called Osyth rather than by your christian name!! Perhaps we can have a game of doubles, don’t worry, both our tennis playing girls beat me far too easily now!! xx

      • Keep doing what you do florally – it is gorgeous! Haha … you can call me whatever you will maybe you will persuade me to play doubles (I’ll stand on the baseline and you can run around 😀 ) xx

      • ha ha, I wouldn’t stand too still, G is something of a demon with the ball and they travel at vast speed, it is very dangerous to be in the line of fire of one of her balls!!! Sun has finally come out here, what a strange summer we are having! xx

      • We had the MOST enormous storm on Monday night which woke me with (literally) a bang. It then cheered up for about an hour and rained relentlessly thereafter all day so I honestly thought I was going to be flooded. Yesterday was hot again, today cooler and absolutely English-lovely (you understand that) and tomorrow is forecast grim and wet before the heat starts to ratchet up again. Quite bizarre. G, I rather think has a rare talent. But then I think all your children have rare parents and therefore the opportunity to explore their gifts and find out who they each are. That is the greatest treasure they can be given. And I am sure they know it 🙂 xx

      • Hopefully they know it, I think the best we can do for our children is encourage them, encourage and encourage and then some more. We escaped the storms and the rain, instead we have just had these low temperatures, I’m even back in jeans today, unheard of during a Charente Maritime summer! But I do think it is meant to be warming up again as of tomorrow here. It is just like an English summer, the children don’t understand it at all, they just want heat and warmth and the locals, well they are dressed for winter and I am sure you understand that!!! xx

      • My philosophy exactly … you can’t give too much encouragement. Chapeau to you both 🙂 Snap – jeans here today too. Feels quite strange! But then again, I am English and every so often France (or wherever) reminds me of that fact!! xx

      • Never, I agree, from the youngest to the eldest in all forms, whatever they are doing. It’s interesting as Izzi is negotiating the job market in London for the first time in her life and I find myself giving advice on a completely different level suddenly, but loving it all the same! Jeans yes, jackets too brrrrr! xx

      • No jackets here which is a relief. But tomorrow bodes worse. My youngest is in the same boat as Izzi … fortunately for me she has three older sisters giving their tuppence worth along with me (the Agéd P) xx

      • Heatwave due for the weekend though, yippee, can’t wait, don’t like cool summers!! It takes me back to my London days with Izzi there, I cannot wait until she is fully settled and I can go and visit xx

      • She’s a graphic designer and is actually in a fantastic position right now. She has three top class internships lined up, one after the other, and rumour has it that two may well lead to a job offer. She’s staying with friends of the family in London and is really enjoying herself. Several of her friends are doing internships in London too and so they are still able to meet up. She’s very motivated and very dedicated, I couldn’t be more proud of all she has achieved. Thanks so much though and I am sure we will discuss all of this, our children, etc etc when we meet xx

  • What a visual treat to wake up to this morning. Gigi is utterly gorgeous! The next generation’s supermodel I’m sure! I love how the dogs are always involved in everything! Have a great day. Xoxo

    • Ha ha, thanks Shari, I’ll pass your comments on to G, I am sure she will laugh and be grateful, she’s really rather more sporty than girly!! The dogs always seem to get in on the act, they are very much a part of the family! xx

  • Well it’s wet, cold and miserable in the UK, now that’s a typical English summer!! I relax in the garden like you, but I do just need a little bit of sun, I’m not too demanding but a day of warmth would be nice!

    • Ahh yes I remember those summer days only too well too, but I also remember the lovely ones with the big puffy clouds, the days when the beach is perfect so long as one has a windbreak and some shelter and the sand that always used to blow into our sandwiches!! xx

  • After seeing your trug full of home grown vegetables I wish I had the desire to have a potager, but as there are just the two of us, it hardly seems worth all the bother, & we do have many markets to buy from, anyway that’s my excuse. Lovely to see the children all doing their bit.

    • Hi Barbara, I always grow far more than we need, but it is fun to let everyone who stays with us help themselves each day as well and then we freeze the leftovers for winter. Hope you are loving your new home and being in your own space once more. Big hugs to you both xx

  • What a lovely day! There is nothing quite like a veggie harvest and fresh food on the table. Your feast looks like it would last for days. I like to unwind at home too, on the veranda enjoying a fresh meal and sitting in the rockers watching the sun change the colors across the valley and mountain ridge.

  • I Find peace and tranquility just reading your blog. I have reached the age oh 81, old in the body but still think I am young in the head…..so most days are peaceful. Your garden is a delight and both veggies and flowers make enjoyable pictures. Your children are beautiful, and the dog is so cuteI live in a condo so do not have those pleasures. Well I must go now,off to the store I have a great desire to make ratatouille. Keep well and happy.Betty from Ontario,Canada

    • Thanks so much Betty, I think at 81 you sound as if you have a great state of mind, being young at heart is always the way to go, I still think I am 21!!! Hope you enjoy your ratatouille and that you are having a good summer in Canada. xx

    • It’s just not like our usual summer here! We’ve been lucky the rain has been at night or early morning, we’ve had fine days all week hovering around 23C and we’ve still had lunch outside every day, but not supper, too chilly in the evenings. I believe it is meant to get very much warmer again soon! xx

  • So glad you got a chance to spend some quality time at home. Between you and Roddy, everything ticks along. Summer really is the best. The addition of chickpeas to roasted veggitables is brilliant. It sounds like a new favourite here.
    We still have had no rain, and the skies are still hazy with smoke from the fires in the interior of British Columbia. The odour is always in the air. I know that as soon as it starts to rain we all will be wishing for hot and sunny again.
    I will send an email…lots of interesting news.
    Looking forward to October.

    Ali Xxx

    • Do add chickpeas to roasted vegetables, a great source of protein to a simple dish and when they go slightly crispy on the edges, they are delicious! The fires sound awful, how horrible for everyone affected. Cant wait to hear your news and to seeing you both again xx

  • My “peace and tranquility” comes from reading tge next good book, a goos cup of coffee or tea, and reading wonderful blogs like yours. I have follow we d you for quite some time. I discovered you in the sidebar of an i ther blogger, ‘Velvet and Linen”.
    I too must have fresh flowers on my table, at all times.
    Also lov w lavender, in the bath, in food, in fragrance
    Thank you si much for the jiy and beauty you bring to us through your transoarent and French lifestyle.
    Au revoir, and merci!

    • Thanks so much Linda, so happy to have your following along. A good book is always relaxing, I so agree. There is just something wonderful about fresh flowers, isn’t there, they always add such a wonderful cheerful tone to any room. They can be terribly simple, often for me they are just a bunch of daisies but I still love them. Hope you have a wonderful end to the week xx

  • A lovely post. Thank you. I think a day such as you had, ‘pottering’: cooking because you wanted to, not because you had to, gardening because you wanted to not because the weeds were threatening a take-over bid sounds wonderful, and would be my choice too. Not getting in the car – that’s a big de-stresser for me. No obligations, no timetable. Perfect, and the more so because it’s so rare. Enjoy it while you can! xx

    • I so agree, cooking because I want to and not just because I have to cook, that truly is the difference. I was lucky I got to spend another couple of hours in the vegetable garden today, stringing up more errant tomatoes! No set timetable and no one saying “we are going to be late” that is my idea of heaven!! xx

    • Thanks so much Nancy, I cannot tell you how much pleasure I get from growing vegetables and then being able to harvest them and feed everyone. Back to basics, but I so enjoy it. xx

  • Mrs C and I need to fit in a visit for lunch, by the looks of things. Cheese & bacon quiche, saucisson, salady things and roast chick pea stuff – the mind drools. If we can get a ferry would tomorrow be too soon? Is the gite full, can we stay a week? Actually, can you find us a house nearby so we can just pop round when Mrs C sees you pottering up the garden with a trug full of goodies? Oh….. what bliss. Stunning photographs to accompany a intellectual feast. Bravo!

    • Thanks so much, anytime you are in the area lunch is just fine! The gite is full, yes, but we always have a spare bedroom in our house! There is nothing so fabulous as growing and producing and then feeding everyone, the taste is just sublime. xx

  • So busy with a renovation project these last few months I just don’t have time to take off during the day; my relaxing happens in the evening when I sit by the fire with some tapestry work. But this afternoon I took the minutes needed to read this lovely post and yes, it was my moment of relaxation. Loved it, Susan! There is still daylight outside, albeit overcast and gloomy, so I’m off to do a last bit of work for the day. A bientôt! ❤

    • You sound as if you have been incredibly busy. I think I certainly relax more in the winter, there is something about cosy evenings and, as you say, a fire for warmth, that makes us sit down and relax. Summer is all about being outside and eating and chatting and I never really sit indoors at all. Hope you enjoy your relaxing moments xxx

    • Thanks so much, there is nothing quite like growing things and then eating them, and I so enjoy sharing all of this with the children, they eat things they might otherwise not eat and they learn so much. It’s just such a perfect time of year! xx

  • There is something for everyone here, food, flowers, the potager and those lovely pups. My favourite type of read. Thank you

  • Hope your going to be around next month when we arrive for our extended stay, Susie, and save us some of those figs please. Can’t wait x

    • Oh yes I will be because the children will be back at school, so no one will be needing to go here, there and everywhere! Looking forward to seeing you both. It’s been so chilly this week, the figs are still a couple of weeks at least from ripening if not more. xx

  • Hi Susan,
    I’d describe myself as an introverted extrovert, so after hectic days I like to relax by pottering around my home cooking, tidying, and being with my family and animals. It’s my way of invigorating my soul.
    I love your description of the tomatoes – they really do taste of sunshine at the moment!
    Suzi x

    • Yes they really do taste of sunshine don’t they, or at least, how I imagine sunshine should taste if we could taste it! Your idea of relaxing sounds much the same as mine, aren’t we lucky, they are such lovely ways to relax. xx

  • oh my! I love everything about this post. The relaxing and de stressing. Being home and present with family. The garden. OMG YOUR GARDEN. I wish I could cook with you from your garden! The colors. The sun and outdoors. Just wonderful. Thank you!

    • Thanks so much, I so wish I could bring everyone here to cook with me from the garden, it is one of the best things ever, being able to grow our own produce and then collect them and then eat them altogether with the family, somehow it all just tastes so much better! xx

  • Family company from Hawaii, so the peace and tranquility comes from being with them as well as reading your post. The photos are always so fabulous-and thanks for sharing the shortbread recipe! I can practically smell the scent of the wafting lavender from the oven. Cheers!

    • What fun to have family staying, hope you are having a wonderful time with them, and do find some lavender and cook the shortbread, you can all share it together, it’s a mild flavour and quite unusual and is something of a favourite here. xx

  • I’m a happy home maker cooking, cleaning, reading and going into my 34th year of long daily walks. Gardening is another thing I love to do. Always giving my neighbors the freshest of veggies. I love to can my foods, make preserves, and freeze some. Nothing makes be happier than going to the basement and bringing up quart jars of canned tomatoes to make soups or to bring up bags of the corn I cut off the cob to make my Thanksgiving corn pudding that is so rich, decadent even. Each weekend I treat myself with toast made from my strawberry preserves, add a nice large cup of hot coffee and you have a breakfast fit for a Queen. Yum

    • That sounds absolutely brilliant and I so agree with you, there is little so perfect as eating our own produce that we have preserved and giving away the excess. I love being able to tell fiends to help themselves to anything they want from the vegetable garden, it is why I always grow far more than we will ever be able to eat ourselves. Your breakfast certainly sounds fit for a queen, I too, love a good cup of hot coffee, in fact it is a must at breakfast! Enjoy your wonderful walks and your garden. xx

  • How is the weather with you Susan? I assumed it was just Normandy with dull, cool and rainy weather. I’d heard that the south was scorching.
    I’ve had a week without the younger two and have been left to my own devices as the older ones have been cooking. I’ve b en cushion making and the joy of creating has been so inspirational that it feels like a holiday even if I havent actually left home. I feel like I’m somewhere new every time I enter the sitting room, thanks to its new facelift!!

    • I think ‘holidays’ at home can be rather fun, especially when we have done something new with our homes, I’m always happy when everywhere is clean and tidy, a state that never lasts for long, but I enjoy it whilst I can!! The weather has been up and down. We have been lucky, it had been really hot until a couple of days ago when it got cold, the days have been sunny, but definitely way cooler than average, around 23 each day, which is cold for summer here.Still I am told it was warming up for the weekend, and we haven’t had any rain, apart from a few showers at night, so ideal! xx

    • Thanks so much Helen, the lavender shortbread is delicious, if you are using dried lavender, use only one teaspoon as it tends to be a little stronger. Hope you enjoy it, we find it hard to stop at just one piece! xx

    • The perfect garden assistant, assisted by a couple of dogs usually too! I love going away but I always love coming home too, there is nothing quite like one’s own bed and one’s own things and of course I just love being able to wander around the garden and the house and just, as you say, being at home! xx

  • A visual feast for your readers today Susan, I’m not sure which photo I loved the most, I have looked at each several times, the food makes me long to cook and the flowers are stunning, and your garden, I am at a loss for words, it’s stunning.

    • Thanks so much Peggy. Every time I am in the vegetable garden it just makes me want to cook and be creative, there is something about being surrounded by so much home grown produce that is incredibly fulfilling. xx

  • Your day sounds heavenly! That is how I would decompress as well–garden, cooking, lovely meal. I also take walks, read, play music and go out in a kayak. Whatever works for the day! And I’m so glad I read this as I get ready to figure out dinner this evening!

    • Your idea of relaxing sounds quite perfect, and it reminds me, we haven’t been kayaking yet this summer and we so love to, something we must rectify next week! I love taking walks and cooking when, as Margaret said in a comment earlier, ‘we can cook because we want to and not because we have to’, there is a huge difference. Hope you have a lovely dinner this evening. It’s now well past midnight here so I must get to bed, I need that beauty sleep! xx

  • Susan – in spite of your own time limits, thank you so much for writing the ideal ‘relaxation’ post! Have had a week I would not wish on anyone . . . and, suddenly, looking at nature and food from one’s own garden and healthy comfort menus and seeing and hearing about your beautiful fold: hmmm! Hope Bentley was happy with his fashion-cut! Above all, thank you for the flowers am sending on to a dear friend who also has not had the ‘best of’ . . . ‘ . . . much love . . .

    • Thanks so much, you know I think we all have weeks like this. I have had such a crazy, hectic July, even washing the kitchen floor seems like a luxury, just to be at home and doing something homely, normal and not stressful (and this is from me, the person who never, or usually never gets stressed!!) And having had a day at home, just pottering, I cannot tell you how calm and relaxed I felt, it completely rejuvenated me, the simplest of things, but it did the power of good. Now I am raring to go once more. Hope the coming week is much better for both you and your friend. Big hugs from France xxx

  • Hi, I was totally enchanted by your garden. It’s just so beautiful and yields fresh produce for your family to enjoy. We also have a vegetable garden at home with eggplants, beans, okra, bitter gourd and herbs such thyme, basil and mint, and fruit trees as well. On weekends when I don’t have work, I would sit outside and just be in awe of how God provides. It makes me realize that people should buy less and plant more. Thank you for sharing this!

    • Hi, I totally agree with you, it is so easy to grow things, even on a balcony or terrace things grow well in pots. There is something terribly simple and down to earth about growing fresh produce and yet it is the most satisfying feeling to collect it and then put it on the table for the entire family. Your vegetable garden at home sounds lovely, enjoy it this weekend xx

      • I am so glad, I love it when something inspires us to do more. I must admit since writing the post I have had a little more free time, and my own post has indeed inspired me to be in the garden even more! We have a beautiful weekend ahead I believe and so I too will do as much as I can outdoors. Hope you have a lovely weekend xx

  • We are recovering from the devastating fires which almost destroyed our beautiful town, and whilst lucky to still have our home, some external damage was done which is slowly being repaired. Walking on our estate has always brought me a feeling of peace and contentment, although at the moment it is tinged with sadness when I see the blackened remains of our beautiful indigenous plants, trees, and the houses which were destroyed. There is some greenery sprouting here and there, and by some some miracle the snowdrops ( not indigenous but planted by previous owners) have managed to push their way through the soot and ashes and are flowering, much to my delight!
    I can relate to the satisfaction of growing your own produce, and then the pure pleasure of cooking it. My other way of de-stressing is by cooking and baking- my mind stills and I am totally absorbed in the moment. I will try your lavender shortbread!
    Enjoy your time off!

    • The fires must have been absolutely devastating, wherever they are in the world, with you, in Australia, France, to name just three places, they are always awful and my heart breaks for those affected. I can imagine your sadness walking around and seeing the remains and your smile at the brave little snowdrops, so delicate and yet such tough little characters! I love growing and then picking and either cooking or putting things directly on the table, it gives me so much pleasure and I agree cooking for fun, rather than because we have to, is so relaxing. Hope you have a lovely weekend xx

    • Thanks so much, the shortbread truly is delicious, even our youngest who is 10 loves it. It is just a very delicate lavender flavour, not overpowering at all, but just has that unmistakable taste of summer. Hope you enjoy it xx

  • I love how you just go out and pick everything…we have just had our first RED tomatoes this week and that is from the greenhouse,although we have had about 25 cucumbers.

    • If only you were a little closer, as in a LOT closer!! You could come and have some of our tomatoes, we are overrun with them! Our cucumbers are coming to an end, but we have a lot of watermelons this year which is rather fun and the first ones are just about ripe. Xx

  • Always so fun to read of your adventures and times with your family. Thank you for sharing these moments.
    I have several things I like to do to relax and unwind. I love to knit; a fairly new hobby for me as it’s only been about 2-1/2 years, chopping vegetables is something I get pleasure from and then creating something yummy to eat and being in our home, doing home stuff has become quite satisfying for me after having a career outside the home for years.
    Thanks again for sharing your life in France!

    • Thanks Audrey, I think when we have been away or if we work outside of our home whenever we come home it is relaxing just to be at home. It’s always a pleasure to cook, especially if we can cook for fun rather than because we have to. I admire you for your knitting, I learnt as a child and really cannot remember anything at all any longer! Hope you are making some wonderful things. xx

  • Just got back from a week in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. The views were constantly breathtaking. Went on 4 mountain hikes (one to a waterfall), saw 4 moose, herds of elk, bull elk, and up close and personal with mama and baby elk, and a female moose. Wildflowers were everything and the entire experience was soothing to the soul! I love the mountains!

    • Wow, that sounds like it would be my idea of heaven too, so much wildlife and I have to admit I do love the mountains. So glad you had such a great time, lucky you. I have never been to Colorado, another of the many places on my list of ‘must visit’! xx

  • I hope not to repeat what everybody said before (shall read the 110 comments on another occasion) but your bunches of flowers are all we ever need to see. I had to buy a potted rose for an altar decoration tomorrow because, with all the rain we had this week (that was right after I watered everything after returning dog-tired on Monday night), I was afraid that the floral riches I hoped to use MIGHT have been suffering too much by today, and I had to ‘dress up’ my little plant because nothing at all compares to a ‘home grown’ or ‘just plucked in a meadow’ bouquet of wild stuff….
    On peace and tranquility: In my second mariage I’m eternally thankful for the fact that I now have plenty of peace and quiet which I craved with an intensity I couldn’t believe I needed and wanted to badly. Isn’t it so that we women just take every day in its stride, we function and work, we comfort and smile, but hardly do we have time for ourselves, truly, just for us-time. I now do, I’m no longer working for a living, have no longer family to tend to (except Hero Husband and the many friends joining us; what could be better than visiting someone with a house in the Paris vicinity…. – and they have good wine too!), I can therefore garden, read, write, photograph, and do my house chores when and if I want, I can cook what I want and what is in season, I am a free person, at last. HH isn’t complaining (except now he is in heavy complain-mood as I am trying to sort out my ca 150 books I brought back from UK, and at the same time, I’m ENFIN compiling a list of the DVDs and books I have read and viewed and am ready to sell on or give away). So, peace is with me and I’m more balanced than ever before. When the days go shorter, it will be plenty of lamps and lights everywhere to make a cosy space of warmth and comfort, there will be candles everywhere (simple candles, none of that perfumed artificial junk), there will always and every week be flowers, there is always good wine and good food to be head, and as much love and understanding as can be managed at any moment.
    Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

    • It sounds absolutely perfect, and just the sort of things that make me extremely content too. Running around with scarcely time to think in July, the second half of August is somewhat quieter and on Friday I had the most wonderful day doing nothing other than things around the house, (it was slightly cloudy with the odd shower so a good day to be indoors). I did all the things I have neglected all summer, the house got an overhaul and I felt so content, the children did much the same with their rooms too and we all agreed it was a fabulous day!!! Hope you have had a fabulous weekend too. Very hot here today again and meant to get even hotter! Xx

  • Oh my goodness this post was wonderful. The pictures Fabulous. Lavender Shortbread Yum! 💜
    I would say my Family brings to me peace and tranquility. Ok…Everything is not always perfect…but I believe (like I think you believe) Family is everything. With a husband, four children and one grandchild someone within the household needs some attention daily. I enjoy loving them and giving them help; whatever it is. Even though they have been long ago launched most of them are on speed dial each and everyday…❤️💛💜💙
    I have to agree with KiKi; anything that has to do with flowers brings peace and tranquility also to my day. There is this wonderful sense of beauty whether it be the garden of a floral arrangement! BTW your floral arrangement was lovely!
    My passion is decorating…I seem to be able to have a sense of tranquility when I am redoing or redesigning a new collection for one of my children’s homes or a room in my own home. It is one of life’s blessings that make me happy.
    I also enjoy meeting people like you, Susan. Your Blog/Instagram becomes a way for all of us to see the world through different eyes. It is a way of acknowledging and recognizing the “good” and “beautiful” in this world; the people who inspire with “Grace and “Humor.” Is there ever too much “Thankfulness” to the people who touch our life Day in and day out?
    This is what brings me peace and tranquility. Hugs…do…too!
    Happy Tuesday! ❤️🤗❤️

    • What brings you peace and tranquility is exactly the same for me, always family, even though it may be incredibly noisy and even annoying at times, somehow it also never fails to make one happy and feel incredibly content. I do agree with decorating too, it is very calming, I love interiors that have a peaceful atmosphere. And yes, there is so much hatred in this world, just appreciating the simple things is a great tonic for me. xxx

  • My mouth is watering with this late reading of your post!! The weather has changed here and it seems like we are not going to get a lovely mellow September, possibly due to knock-on effects of Irma? But I will not complain as we are so very lucky compared to those poor people who live in her path. I love being at home, now our cottage is finished and the garden too (as much as a garden ever is!). This year, we have had lots of delicious pears and I’ve been out picking blackberries down the lane – made a delicious crumble with some of the neighbours’ apples and the blackberries – how satisfying it is to pick and eat naturally grown produce! I can completely understand your yearning to make a family feast after having to be away for a time. Perhaps we need to re-root ourselves after being away from home…. I also like to be beside the sea and having not been to the coast for a year, I’m feeling a pull to visit. Clive and I are planning a winter long weekend, perhaps to South Devon, just to blow the cobwebs away – a stroll on an empty wintry beach is wonderful!

    • I love the beach in winter, there is just something about it, the stinging wind, freezing water, not a soul in sight, so long as one is bundled up super warm against the cold it is one of the best places for a walk. I am so happy you have been able to enjoy so much from your garden, but you didn’t say, are the girls still laying and being good girls rather than being broody all the time?? xx

      • Oh! The girls! well, finally they are all laying again although not all 3 every day. They are all chatting and busy, the only worrying thing is that Buffy the big Orp has some feathers missing on her chest. I had thought she had removed them during a very hot spell earlier in summer but now I’m not sure if Florence isn’t doing it. I’ve sprayed with wound spray and that was the only time I’ve seen Florence give it a little peck, but otherwise I’ve not seen any bad behaviour. Bufffy is eating, drinking, preening and laying and doesn’t seem in the least bothered but she is bottom of the pecking order. There’s no bleeding just a bald bit, so I’m keeping an eye on it and hoping it will all grow back and we haven’t got a problem. Any reassurance will be much appreciated!!! x

      • Hi Marian, I am sure the feathers will grow back, are you sure she is not just malting? Or was she one of the ones that was broody, often when they are broody they pluck at their chest feathers to line the nests, that is quite common. They all sound like very happy hens to me, so glad you are enjoying them and getting a few eggs too. xx

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