Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Vite Passé

Two glorious weeks in France felt like a month.  One week home feels like four, as I arrive to deal with all I have to contend with on a daily basis.  I took Mom for her written driver’s test for her license renewal, and she failed it, not once, but twice the same day after she insisted she would pass the second time.  She has an extension through February, and we are now reviewing the driver handbook and talking about signs and rules as we drive; she only has one more chance to take the test, and she knows it’s important that she pass.

As year end approached, I couldn’t help but feel like 2012 went by in a blink, faster even than the previous years, which I thought were already a blur.  I chatted a little with Jean-Luc about caring for my parents and how quickly the weeks pass.  His theory is that as we age, our memory banks fill up, and so time seems to accelerate.  He says that his gauge for how quickly the days go by is the sugar bowl.  Each morning, he has a bowl of strong coffee with three sugar cubes.  No one else is in the sugar jar but him, and each day it’s one-two-three lumps.  And suddenly, the rather large jar of sugar cubes is nearing empty.  Have the days gone by as fast as that?


I suppose they have.  Mom had another birthday yesterday, New Year’s eve.  I set the table for a buffet dinner, and agreed with my sister that we would begin our meal between 5 and 6pm, not too late for Mom & Dad~


If you look at the table and the menu, you will see that I am missing France.  A few pretty pink flowers for Mom, but mostly lots of ivy from the garden (so French, Cedric confirms) and pretty little mandarin oranges~


I had two of my nieces come over in the afternoon to help me cook, and with a little instruction, they produced some absolutely perfect sea salt caramel turtles~


These were a big hit; the caramel recipe we used is HERE; I chose it because it uses honey and not corn syrup.  Nicole was proud of her work~


I’m still dreaming of the Coquilles Saint Jacques in Beaune, so we made that too, using about five small bay scallops per shell instead of one large scallop; these were also popular~


Well, let’s say they were popular when the my sister and the rest of her family finally arrived, at 7pm.  Yes, tardy, so they got reheated gratineed shells.  We did tell them “not to rush” and the girls and I were still cooking, but I never understand how those hours get lost.  And as usual, I had lots of food, and ideas of stretching the evening into a four hour meal as the clam chowder, then scallops, then shrimp, mache salad and pommes Dauphinois and moules frites and finally dessert emerged from the kitchen.  But there was the usual frenzy of eating, and an hour later everyone was in the desserts and sampling the turtles, and then we watched the ball drop in New York and everyone was ready to go home or to a party.  What’s wrong with me, will I never learn?  


The girls were my best guests, sitting in the living room between courses and looking at my wedding cake book as we talked about Nicole’s wedding in 2014.  And clowning around with the glasses I got at the 99 Cent Store~


This morning is another day though, and for breakfast we had birthday cake (white cake imbibed with Kahlua and filled with crème Chantilly and cassis jam from Beaune), leftover cremant with scrambled eggs and the last of the potatoes, and then late morning, the chocolate fondue we had intended for the night before: blackberries, pineapple and strawberries dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with coconut; my parents were very happy to have eaten this~


And in the end, of course, that’s what it’s about for me…Dad loved all the food and ate when he wanted; Mom had a fantastic birthday and enjoyed the atmosphere and the company, no matter what time they showed up.  She was especially happy to watch her granddaughters at work in the kitchen.  For lunch today we are having moules frites and then for dinner a roast chicken with stuffing.  I’m puttering around with various plans and projects for 2013, and finishing off a few more blog posts from France.  This will be an exciting year, and I hope it does not zip by too fast!

Wishing everyone Bonne Année 2013~


  1. I love your stories of France, the life style you're relate in Beaune and your great skill in styling a home.

    However, in the last year I've watched you write with great disdain about caring for your parents, and your relationships with other members of your family. I'm surprised that you wonder why no one wants to spend the rest of New Year's Eve with you? It is unimaginable to me that they haven't read your blog from time to time and been shamed by what you write about them. It is telegraphed very loudly to your readers how put upon you feel in your interactions with them.

    I read your blog to be inspired by the beauty you are skilled in creating, not to read that your parents are such a burden to you, that your sister is thoughtless. Maybe she truly is, but I don't want or need to know that. As one who has lost both parents, I would give anything to have them back, to have to drive them to and from their doctors appointments, to do for them any little thing they ask, because they were my parents, and they were so wonderful. I feel the loss of them each and every day. I wouldn't wish that sadness on anyone, but we all go through it, and from the tone of your writing, this could be your fate in the not too distant future.

    Please, I beg of you, enough with the minutia of your day to day life, and the hardships you endure in caring for others. Tell me about the beauty you create, that's what keeps me coming back for more.

    1. Thank you Anon, and I hope you can see that my parents are the #1 priority in my life, full stop, there is absolutely zero disdain. R asked me to stay in Beaune for a few more weeks, but I came home to be with my parents for Christmas Eve, that is all they asked, and so it did not matter when the guests arrived.....My blog is in some ways a chronicle of my life, and there are many who email me that they love those little details of family dinners, un-glossed. My goal is to spend more time in France in 2013, and focus on the beauty I find there; I thank you for your comments...

  2. Andrea...as you say some things never change as everyone strolls in very late. I love that your nieces cool with you....The turtles are perfect!The cake sounds delicious!

    If you are not exhausted call me tonight...I shall be up late! Processing ideas as well for 2013!

    All the best in The New Year ahead!

    Love and hugs,
    Art by Karena

  3. Happy New Year Dear Andrea! May your days be filled with all the magic you are!!

  4. What a wonderful menu and celebration for your mother. Looking forward to your adventures in 2013.

    Sheila in SF

  5. What a lovely table arrangement for the party you gave for your mother, & your sister arrived in true French style, tardy !!
    Looking forward to your next posts from your trip to France.Having visited that area it seems familiar.
    Best wishes for 2013.

  6. My heart breaks for your Mother; I pray she'll pass her next driver's test. Losing one's independence is something not to be contemplated...until forced.

  7. I just drool everytime I visit your blog... the meals, the table settings, the tales... so classic. I feel the warmth in
    your home. Fingers crossed for your Mom. Happy New Year Andrea!