Monday, 8 April 2013

Sunday concert in the sun

Yesterday we went along to Le Chat Noir in Roujan to listen to our friends and neighbours, Julie and Olivier (plus Stéphane) in concert with the Jersey Julie Band.  We last saw them play in the summer, when Uncle Ben very kindly bought us their CD.  Since then it has become a firm favourite with the minibeasts so it was a real buzz for them to hear the music they know so well live.  They had a whale of a time jumping about in front of the stage and Owen made sheep's eyes at Julie.  Recent visitors, Katie and Nao, can vouch for the fact that O is a bit of a ladies' man.

We considered inviting some friends along to join us but decided not to in the end and I'm so glad we didn't. Obviosusly I love getting out and about with other people, and the minibeasts enjoy it when there are other minibeasts in tow.  But we don't make the most of each other as a family in the same way.  I felt like we were really together today.

Nonetheless, when we skyped Uncle Ben tonight and he asked Owen what he'd done today, the detail he chose to relate, the highpoint of his day, his fondest memory, was that he had chips.

O is a little bit in love with Julie

Proud after getting their kiss onstage from Julie

And here they are hoofing it up to the infectious rhythms of the Jersey Julie Band:

Sunday, 7 April 2013

GBBE Origins

Do you remember when the GBBE started out as the Early Bird Baking Enterprise because a certain little minibeast thought it was appropriate to get up with the summer sun?  It was nearly three years ago now...

At the moment I can't sleep, or rather I wake up really early and can't get back to sleep so this morning I decided to go back to my roots.  I got up and made Nigel Slater's Chocolate Muscovado Banana Cake for breakfast.  But with my own twist.  I added some Reese's Pieces.  Quite honestly, it was amazing :)

I love the smell of baking in the morning.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Mousse au chocolat

I have been promising Fanf for weeks, months, that I will make him mousse au chocolat.  But mousse au chocolat scares me.  It's the egg whites.  Anything to do with egg whites scares me.  I have been hiding my fear in research.  An old trick from my PhD days.  So I read the Guardian's guide on How to make perfect chocolate mousse, I followed up on such names as Elizabeth David, Raymond Blanc and Julia Child.  I asked around about the merits of adding butter and sugar.  I spoke to my belles soeurs.  I have researched the hell out of chocolate mousse.  In the end I did what I generally do, ran confused to the comforting arms of Nigel Slater.  Including his helpful advice on Mousse traps.  This mousse was not going to trap me.

The result:

Now the mousse was good and moussy.  Two thumbs way way up for egg white work I think.  However, sorry Nigel, it was just a bit too intense for us.  I like to be able to make a pig of myself with chocolate mousse.  Such was the strength of this mousse I had to go for an uncharacteristically decorous single serving.  And yet, thank you Nigel, now I've mastered the consistency it only remains for me to try out different recipes.  A housewife's work is never done.  She's too busy researching how to make the perfect chocolate mousse...

In other news, this afternoon, as it poured down outside, we all snuggled up for a family film session to introduce the minibeasts to Singin' in the Rain, and indeed Fanf (what??!!! I have been with this man 7 years and turns out he'd never seen it - the shame).  Afterwards I asked the kids if they'd enjoyed it, Owen said "Yes, it not scare me", though he was on the verge of tears when Cathy ran out on Don after the cake fiasco.  What a sensitive little sausage he is.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

My little princesse

As I've said before, I am trying to bring up the minibeasts in as gender neutral a way as possible. I know there are undeniable differences between the sexes but I think those real differences manifest themselves later. So when Owen asks if he can put on his sister's new princess earrings, I say yes. And the tiara and the necklace. When he wants to put on her princess dress, I do him up at the back. When he asks Matilda to paint his nails, I let them get on with it. When he insists that I call him Belle or once, Riding Hood, I comply. When he asks me to put his hair in a pigtail, I do it, "Now I'm girl like you mummy". Being a girl is all about hair accessories for Owen.

Owen's absolute hero is Matilda. He wants to be like Matilda and Matilda wants to be a princess. Matilda's teacher, Cati, very kindly donated some princess dresses to us (one of the advantages of the new school I didn't expect).  So yesterday, after school, oh joy of joys just look at their happy little faces, they got to dress up at the same time.  My two little princesses together.

Recently Owen has gone public with his gender-bendyness. At the Maison de la Parentalité (our local playgroup) he invariably heads for the dressing-up box to fish out the lurid pink dress.  A number of the other parents have dubiously admired my "courage", explaining that transvestism is rather frowned upon in France (I had noticed).  I witheringly reply that I don't think it should be considered transvestism at two.  When Fanf and I went away for the weekend recently (another backlogged post) we left the minibeasts with the Stephs, who delighted in sending us these photos.  Luckily the belle famille is proving itself to be less conservative than your average Frog.


Papi James and Papi Mike worry. I do not. Owen loves dancing and singing and baking. But he also loves cars & trains & boats, and dinosaurs, and climbing on things, and throwing himself about, and jumping off things, and water, and books, and jigsaws, and collecting random bits of nature and all kinds of other wonderful things that the world has to offer a curious and uninhibited two-year-old. And when my warm, open and expressive little princess throws his arms around my kneck and tells me "I love you so so so so so so much mummy" I want him to stay like that forever.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Carnaval Cagarols

What a difference a year makes.  We enjoyed the Carnaval Occitan this year as fully-paid up members of the Occitan community.  The theme was totemic animals.  Matilda's class were dressed as snails and because I helped make the costumes Owen and I got one too.

Extremely fetching maternity wear.  Actually, I thought this rather resembled the surgical gowns they make you put on in France when you arrive to evict your little squatter.  I was thinking I might keep my bumble bee snail creation and bring it along once my Last But Not Least decides it's time to join us on the outside.  I think such attire might lighten the mood.  I would of course also bring the hat.

This year we also helped build the Carnaval king, the Caramentrant.  Weeks of hard work, up in smoke in three minutes.  But if he takes all the bad with him, I really don't mind.

The nicest thing about this year's carnaval was just how many friends we bumped into.  Both from the school and elsewhere.  I know I've said it before but it feels like we've begun to plant roots in the last twelve months and I think it's the first time in my life that I've really felt like part of a community.  I like it.