mardi, décembre 17, 2013

A knight tunic

The chinese teacher wrote us an email saying that A1 wanted to dress up as a giraffe and A2 as a horse for the performance this sunday. I asked the boys and A2 told me he wanted to be a knight and not a horse.
After searching internet for a knight and giraffe costumes, I decided it would be easier for me to do the dress up myself. A1 and I will do a giraffe mask togather. I think that would be fun. I do need to go buy yellow craft paper. As for A2, I found a few sites on making a knight's costume. These are the two sites which I used to come up with the costume.
Instead of using felt, I used left overs fabric and before one can say 'Knight in a shining armour', I sewed up a blue knight tunic.
A2 was delighted to have his costume. It fitted him well. I am rather please with myself.
 Next post would be about the giraffe mask. I am thankful for generous and creative people who share their ideas on internet.

dimanche, décembre 15, 2013

Tart bag

Since having a Thermomix, when invited to friend's place for a meal, I would bring a home made tart. However, it was not easy to transport a tart so I decided to make a tart bag. I searched on internet and found an easy to do tart bag. Video in French is here:
I followed the instructions and in an evening, I made this tart bag. I am please with the result and have already used it once.
It would make a lovely gift for friends who do tarts.

dimanche, décembre 08, 2013

Home made brioche

I have been trying out recipes from the Thermomix cookbook. Thermomix has a wide range of cookbooks and I was given two with my Thermomix order.
I made brioche for the second time. The first time, I made one brioche and it was not pretty as my baking tin was too small though it tasted good. This morning, I made two brioche from the dough and they turned out prettier.
Taste wise, it was just as good. The time to make the dough using the Thermomix was less than 5mins. Resting dough time was 40mins in total. I used organic flour and eggs. So it is 99% organic except for 40g of sugar , a pinch of salt and 15g of yeast. Is yeast organic or not?
Without my Thermomix, I would never thought of making brioche. I am not a fan of bread and pastry. Now, if I make them, I will have to eat them.  

jeudi, décembre 05, 2013

Wood replenished

We run out of wood since a week.
Today, Seb's father came with six steres of wood. He came twice with a lorry loaded with 30cm timber. The right length for our fireplace. He dumped the wood in our garden and Seb had to carry the wood to the garden shed.
This was the beginning of his work.
Handsome lent support to his master by staying faithfully beside him while his master slogged away. 
After working a total of four hours with a few coffee breaks, the garden shelter was full with timber. Poor Seb was exhausted and had turned in early at 9pm tonight.
Last year, we used up three steres. So hopefully, these six steres can last us two winters. 

Chinese DVD

We ordered a second batch of chinese DVDs from Amazon china and they had arrived.
Many months back, I ordered a few Mickey Playhouse and Winnie the Pooh DVDs in chinese from Amazon china. The boys love the cartoons. So this time, I ordered Dora and Sesme Street in chinese as well. I was skeptical about chinese Sesame Street but after watching it, I was impressed that Elmo's voice in chinese is exactly the same in English. The dubbing is good.
The DVDs are cheap. However, the shipping cost is almost twice the price of the DVDs. Overall, it is still at a reasonable price compared to the French DVDs. Due to the different DVD zone, I had to find a software that can crack the DVD player to read mutiple zones. 
If you are looking for chinese cartoons, I recommend

lundi, décembre 02, 2013


Living in the countryside, sometimes I feel like a Stepford wife; being invited to Tupperware parties and Thermomix cooking gathering and having afternoon tea with neighbours while the children play togather. Very docile and tranquille. OK, I exaggerate on the docile side.
 Anyway, back to the topic. I have a new helper in the kitchen. Her name is Thermomix and I got to know about her from one of the afternoon teas organised by my neighbours. She can do wonders in terms of french (ang moh) cuisine. I don't do french cusine well. 
Now with Thermomix, I can dish up mashed potatoes akin to the one made by a french granny. I make ang moh soup like those poured out from a carton. I make tarts from A to Z; from dough to the fillings and toppings. I make bread too. All done easily and quickly. Just amazing. Thermomix has a steaming function and the family love the steamed corns I do every sunday afternoon.
Before living in this village, I have never heard of Thermomix. It is sold only through reunions, much like the concept of Tupperware. When I first saw the presentation, I thought it would be great for Seb. He likes to do his own dough for tarts. On the second presentation with Seb witnessing the functions, we decided to get it. My neighbour was surprised that I succumbed to it as she thought I was skeptical about it. With me working, it is a time saver. I program it to cook and leave to do other chores. I do lots of soup these days as the weather is turning chilly. When hotter days are here, I will be doing fresh fruits sorbet with the Thermomix.

I made a lemon tart meringue (the meringue) was cooking in the Thermomix in the photo above. It was well received by my invites. I am not a lemon person. Still, I am pretty proud of my new skill, mastering the Thermomix. ;)

jeudi, novembre 21, 2013

Routine is good

I have been on the quiet side. Well, Seb and I went to Rome and it was my first time in Italy. We enjoyed ourselves. Rome's history is amazing and the Romans two thousand years ago were amazing people. We had guides for the Vatican Museum and at the Colosseum to explain the history and facts. I do recommend having a guide at these sites.

I started work since September and things are going very well. The kids enjoyed their school and I found work life balance. I enjoy going to office which is 65km away every monday. I leave the house at 6.15am and reach office by 7.45am. I knock off at 4pm and usually takes an hour to reach home. I enjoy seeing my colleagues. Yet, I felt I am more productive during the days I am working from home. It is quiet and I can concentrate better.

On tuesday, the boys go for gym lesson at 5.15pm. Their coach comes to pick up the children from school and the hall is just beside the school. I then go pick up the boys at 6.15pm after their gym.

There is no school on Wed so A1 has tennis lessons in the morning. A2 would love to join his brother in the indoor tennis court but he has to wait until he is 4. A1 likes his tennis lesson.

Thurs and Fridays are normal school days. The boys enjoy their after school activities that sometimes when I reach at 5.30pm to bring them home, they would want to finish their coloring, drawing, construction, playing etc. Nowadays, I often arrive at 6pm.

And the boys' activities do not end there. On sunday, we all head to Paris 13th district (Chinatown) for chinese lesson. The boys enjoy their lesson. Since they are young, the lesson is basically an exposure to the language. The teacher plays and sings songs with the children in chinese. I did not want to have a chinese teacher coming to our house to give chinese lesson to the boys. I wanted them to be in a class with other children so that they could be motivated to learn. So we sacrifice our sunday afternoon for the boys. The good thing is during that hour of lesson, I can go do my chinese grocery. That's hitting two birds with a stone. Poor Seb just holes up in the MacDonald nearby drinking bad coffee as it has free WIFI.

So a week passes just like that. Life is such a routine and I really thank God for that. Best, we found a babysitter. She had been taking care of the boys while Seb and I went to catch a movie. The boys warmed up to her easily.

During the two weeks school holiday on end Oct, the boys were very happy to do overnight stay at their grandparents' without us. As the boys get older, they are less sticky to us. I am relieved yet I felt they are growing up too fast. They are definitely no longer babies.

samedi, octobre 26, 2013

The fruits of autum

Autum is the season of mushrooms. Living in the countryside surrounded by forest, we went mushrooms picking with a friend and her girls. I knew nothing about mushroom hunting so I was glad that my friend taught me a thing or two. Thumb of rule, in case of doubt, don't pick it. Actually, we used a knife to cut off the stem so that the mushroom could grow again. If we picked it, the root would be damaged and there won't be a new mushroom growing from that root.
Anyway, most wild mushrooms are not edible. We were looking mainly for cepes (porcino) as they were easy to identity. With our little children, it was difficult to spot the mushrooms further away from the forest trail. Or those that were edible already had worms in them.  
Our pick of the day was a coulemelle. My friend told me it was good. Just soak it in water and slice it up and fry with butter and garlic. It was big and easy to identify. It has a little hat just underneath. Seb and I tried it and we liked it. No tummy ache so all was well. 

We tried mushroom picking over the weekend with Seb taking his usual walk with Handsome in the forest. We did not have much luck this time. Most of the time, the kids and I were saying 'No good.' when we spotted the mushrooms.
Autum is also the season of chestnut. And being a city girl, I was not able to tell which chestnut fruits were edible. As school holidays started this week, the boys spent their days at the recreation center while I worked. On a lovely day, they went to the forest and picked up chestnuts. The staff at the center prepared a bag of chestnuts for each parent. I boiled them and A1 and I enjoyed them. Seb and A2 were not fans.   
Despite the wet autum season, there are interesting things to do in the forest. To make our kids walk in the forest, we give them a basket and tell them we are going chestnut and mushrooms hunting.

vendredi, octobre 04, 2013

The boys' rooms

We have moved into this house for more than a year now. Time flies. I had previously posted an entry on the boys' room in our previous appartment.
Now, I present to you their rooms in this house. A1 asked for a red room and he requested a blue room for his brother. As A2 did not have an opinion last year, we did as what A1 wanted. His grandfather helped to paint the bedrooms. It was not easy to paint a bold color wall as mistakes could be easily spotted. The grandfather did an excellent job though he was not a painter.
A1 has circus theme wall stickers from his uncle and auntie in Singapore. It goes well with the red wall. I found the airplane light from, a site like eBay. Usually there are toys scattered all over the floor. Once I told him, 'Your room is so messy. You will knock on your toys and fall over at night.'  He replied 'No, just a little messy. Look, there is a road in the middle.' and pointed to the narrow clearing from his bed to the door. We then laughed togather at his cheekyness.
 On this day, A1 was tidying his room so I decided to take a photo. A2 was hiding in A1's wardrobe then. 
The two photos below are A2's photo. He still has a diaper changing table. I do have a set of wall stickers of sea creatures but I prefer to wait until he is older. He would tear them off the wall as he did to his brother's.
Their rooms are basic and functional. Toys get to travel from one room to another easily. And the boys play in any room any time. Except when there are fights and doors get slammed. Then I will know that each of them are in their own room.

jeudi, octobre 03, 2013

A2's bag

I did it. Here is A2's bag. As I expected, it was too small to be useful. And not practical to carry. I had a hard time sewing it and the end product was not satisfactory.
Still A2 was very happy with his new bag. He slept with it and now it was lying on the floor beside the bed.
Speaking of which, A2 is a horder. When he likes something, he would go everywhere with the thing, sleeps with it and just have it in his hand all the time. The latest 'precious' are his house slippers. He insisted in wearing them to sleep. We took them off when he fell asleep. Yet in the middle of the night, he woke up, turned the lights on, wore his slippers and went back to bed. Seb found him sleeping with the lights on one morning. A few mornings, he had his slippers on without the lights on in his room. Or he would walk into our room in the middle of the night and asked 'Papa, où sont mes chaussons?'

vendredi, septembre 27, 2013

A1 can cycle like a big guy

At 4 years and 5 months old, he made a milestone in his life. He can cycle on two wheels.
On Saturday, we took off the training wheels. Just before dinner, Seb guided A1 on his bicycle. He practised for about 10minutes before he got upset and came for dinner. He was frustrated at not being able to balance himself and having his dad to remind him to step hard on the pedal to start.
The next day, Seb brought the boys to the park and removed the training wheels there. 20mins later, he called to say that A1 did it. He can cycle on his own, going straight and making a U-turn. I quickly took the camera and went to join them.
I was thrilled to see my boy pedalling away. He can balance himself so well. Seb told me once A1 found his confidence, he was off at lightning speed.

Then came A2 asking to do the same as his brother. We told him he was too young. He just turned 3. I was only expecting A1 to cycle on two wheels next year. I am delighted that he did it earlier. I think the balance bicycle prepared him for this big milestone.

mardi, septembre 24, 2013

A new bag

I got creative though the idea was not at all original. I made a mixed fabric bag for my sister in law. I will give it to her on saturday when we meet for the Sept birthdays celebration.
I made the handle shorter so it would be sorta of a grocery bag. The polka dots fabric was bought in Bangkok by my brother and his wife.
I like this bag so much I thought of keeping it. But well,... so far, I only kept a tote bag I made. I prefer to give my bags to family and friends.

vendredi, septembre 20, 2013

Flowers, artichoke and Mickey DVD

On the first day of school, Seb came home from work and presented us with these. A bouquet of flowers for me and a Mickey Mouse DVD for the children. It was his way of marking this school day. A kind of encouragement to the family.
In the bouquet of flowers were two artichokes. Apparently, they would flower. I did not like those long grass sticking out of the bouquet and cut them off.
Each day, I patiently waited for the artichoke to bloom. Seb saw the flowered artichoke at the florist and told me it was beautiful. So the wait continued long after the other flowers had wilted.
 Almost a week and a half later, here is one of the blooming artichoke. It is pretty indeed. Seb was thinking of buying another bouquet of flowers so that these artichokes would not be too lonely. In the first place, the florist should put in ripe artichokes. These artichokes were small. If not, I would not have waited and instead would cook and eat them.

dimanche, septembre 15, 2013

Another bag for A1

For my birthday, Seb gave me a book on sewing bags for children and adults. It was mainly bag patterns for school children and teenagers.
I was determined to do a bag from this book before I start work tomorrow. Out of the 25 bags pattern, I decided to make a sling bag for A1.
Here is the end product. The author suggested using leather for the whale but in the fabric shop I went to, it sold leather or fake leather at a minimum cut of 50cm by 100cm. That was way too much. In Singapore, I bought some felt materials from Daiso (a $2 shop). So I used felt instead.

This is the back view of the bag with a pocket. 
 The inside of the zipped bag is red. It matches the handles.
I showed A1 and he was happy. He will bring it to school tomorrow. He told me not to do him any more bags as he had enough. He is reasonable. He has a backpack and this hand made bag and he felt he had enough. Few months back, I made him a messager bag but we left it in Singapore.

When A2 saw the bag and the book, he pointed to the bag on the cover and said 'This one is for A1. Me, I want this one.' He was referring to the other bag on the cover. I tried to convince him to pick another design. But he insisted on that. I guess I shall have to make that rocket bag though I do not think it is practical for A2. I have to go back to the fabric shop to get a little yellow fabric. With me starting work, A2's bag will not be done any time soon.

I will post it when it is completed.

mardi, septembre 10, 2013

Seat cushion

I bought two chairs from Ikea for the boys. When A1 saw it, he told me he wanted it to be colourful. So I went to buy two square cushion foams and cut up one to fit the chair. I then sewed up a cushion cover. It was colorful. Fabrics bought from Bangkok by my brother and his wife.
I proudly showed A1 the next morning. He took a look and said 'I want the chair to be colourful. Not this.' pointing to the cushion. He turned and walked off. So this cushion is right now sitting on A2's chair.
Argh.... this 4 years old boy. The other cushion foam is on my work table. I don't think I will do another cover since my effort is not appreciated.
But hey, it does make the chair more colourful right?

jeudi, septembre 05, 2013

The end of SAHM

It is September 2013. This marks the end of my status as a Stay At Home Mother. I have been a SAHM for 18 months. Now that A2 has started school, I no longer receive an allowance from the gouvernment. It would be boring for me to stay at home without the children. Furthermore, my company is waiting for my return.

As I live too far from my workplace, I requested to work from home. I was expecting the worst as it was not my company's policy. However, I am grateful that my bosses accept it. There are conditions and I do have to go to office every monday. I will continue to work part time 80%. This means I would be working 7hours a day, 4 days a week.

This works out well for me. On Monday, Seb would put the kids to school and I will fetch them from the after school care latest by 6.30pm. On Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, either Seb or I will drop the kids at school. School starts at 9am but the school gates are open 10mins before. I can drop them at 8.50am and then start work at 9am as the school is only a few minutes walk from home. When I finish work at 5pm, I will go fetch the kids. They end at 4.30pm and would only stay back for half an hour at the after school care. Furthermore, they would have their afternoon snack time there.

I start work in a week's time and am feeling excited. My brain is rusty and I hope I can pick up fast where I left off.

The past 18 months had been a great time. There were difficult moments and sweet moments taking care of A2 full time; our puppy who is turning 1 soon; being bed ridden because of a back fracture; having my mother here for nearly 2 months and the boys and I going to Singapore for that long too. I joined gym STEP in the village. I got to know a lot of mothers and neighbours and a few even became friends.

I like this chapter of my life. It has come to an end but it is a good ending. I still have my job. :)

mardi, septembre 03, 2013

New school term

Today school opens for 2013/2014. A1 is going to the Moyenne section (middle class) and A2 will join his brother in school for the first time. He will be in the Petite section (small class).
As the village school is small, the boys will be in the same class with the same teacher.
I prepared their bags yesterday and A2 was so excited to have a school bag that he carried it the whole day. Even when we went to the park. Once he woke up in the morning, he asked for his school bag.
Here the boys were showing me their school bags.
And here's a photo of the boys walking to school. A2 cried when we were leaving. But I am sure with his brother around, he would settle down very fast. A1 was happy to see his friends.
They are such big boys now. Makes me smile just looking at the photo above.

lundi, septembre 02, 2013

More bags

I rushed and made bags and zipped pouches before heading Singapore two months ago. Then we spent almost two months in Singapore. That explained my silence in this blog.
I love the size of the tote bag and this bag is really simple to make. I had made a few for family and friends in Singapore. I kept the last one for my own usage because I love the colors.
For the blue bag, I made two. One like the size of the beach bag which I made for my mother in law and the other one smaller. The flower print bags, I made two too.
For my birthday in June, Seb gave me a book about sewing school bags. I will try to get one done before I start working in mid Sept. By then, I will surely have less time for my sewing hobby.

Tell me if you like my bag.

jeudi, juin 20, 2013

Father's day gift

After mother's day comes father's day. A1 made this pens holder at school. Seb loves it and it is now sitting on the computer desk. Right beside me while I type away.
The gifts for both mother's and father's days' are made from recycled materials. This pens holder is a yogurt pot sitting on a cut out calendar board and decorated with used coffee capsules.

Come September, A2 will go to school. He will be in the same class as A1 as the class is made of small section and middle section. A1 will be promoted to the middle section. I wonder will I receive the same presents from the boys since they will have the same teacher. We shall see that in a year's time.

mercredi, juin 19, 2013

Zipped pouches

I took up the courage and worked on zips. My first zipped pouch was for my mother in law to go with her beach bag. It was not difficult to work with zip as I feared. I do have to improve on sewing the ends to make them neater.
After the first pouch, I made another one. I just love the polka dots fabric. It was left over from my days of making five stones. This pouch is meant as a gift for a friend's birthday.
I am crazy over sewing. I made a tote bag for my mum. The size is just nice to use for marketing. I am sticking to making tote bags for the moment. I do have to rush a few before my trip to Singapore. People are requesting for them.

mercredi, juin 05, 2013

Beach bag

Finally, I made a beach bag for my mother-in-law. She requested for one when I received my sewing machine. I made this just in time before she heads for the summer house in Brittany for the summer. I hope she will like the color.
This is a simple tote bag with two pockets inside. I had a few hiccups while sewing the bag. Good thing my mum was around and gave me good advise on how to cover up my mistakes or redo without costing much time.  

This bag measures about 45cm by 55cm. It should be big enough for 2 beach towels.

mardi, juin 04, 2013

Neuschwanstein Castle

Since we drove to Munich from France, we took the opportunity to visit Neuschwanstein Castle. This castle was 123km from Munich. Nicole joined us and helped to reserve the tickets.
The castle only allows guided visit. Good thing Nicole bought the tickets online as the queue at the ticketing office was very long. We arrived an hour in advance for our guided tour. We grabbed a quick lunch. The kids' grandmother bought them each an ice ceam.
The weather was fine that day. That was essential.

We took a bus up to the castle grounds. It took 5 mins instead of a 45mins hike up. From the Marienbrücke (Marie's bridge), we had a good bird eye's view of the castle.

The guided tour lasted 35mins. It was rather rush as there were tours every 5 minutes due to the crowd. So one could not stay long to admire the beauty of the rooms. The view from the castle windows were enchanting. We looked out to steep cliffs and mountains. Very romantic and breathe taking.

After the visit, we took the horse carriage back down. We then drove back to Munich. But not before buying the kids each a knight on a horse from the souvenir shop. A1 is into knights and dragons at the moment.
This castle is worth a visit if you happen to be in the Bavarian area.