Thursday, December 31, 2009

A fabulous New Year to you !

My lovelies, dear readers, I'm so looking forward to sharing a new year of Andalusia with you. Again, I want to say how much I love being part of the blogging world. It brought me so much joy and precious friendships and honestly I just think you're the best ! I know this year has been a bit chaotic for some of us but I don't know why 2010 sounds like a really good number....A good round number...So my secret wish is that we all enter it fabulously and happily, with peace and lightness in our heart.
I wish you all the very best and send you pearls of joy and peace for 2010

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A little Christmas tale....

As a child, I lived in Aix-en-Provence and I loved reading the Contes of Alphonse Daudet on Christmas day. But one of my favorite Christmas tale is the beautiful and touching memory French writer, Jean Guéhenno narrates about Christmas Eve in his childhood. Born in a modest family in 1890, the writer recalls these faraway times when one received a beautiful orange as a Christmas gift.

Here are some excerpts of the text in the original language, followed by a very free translation I did yesterday, for my English speaking friends. I beg the purists (in linguistic) to forgive me for my approximate translation as English is not my native language.


"Le soir de Noël, quand j’avais huit ans, je courais quelques sous en main donnés par ma mère, à la rencontre d'une épicerie.

Mon trésor ne devait payer que la plus belle orange. Je bondissais chez Fichepoil, courais chez Ealet, revenais encore chez Fichepoil. Qui dira ce que peut être dans un enfant l'intensité du désir et sa certitude de toucher bientôt au bonheur ? C'est ce désir et cette certitude qui ne doivent pas être trompés, et un Dieu naissait cette nuit-là précisément pour les combler.

Je revenais un peu avant minuit portant dans une main une admirable orange enveloppée d'un papier de soie, dans l'autre un sac de chocolats à faveur rose.


Je regardais ma belle orange, ajoute-t -il. Et voici ce qui, rituellement, arrivait: ma mère la tirait de son papier de soie; tous deux nous en admirions la grosseur, la rondeur, l'éclat; (...)

Pendant des mois, elle nous assurait par ses belles couleurs que le bonheur et la beauté étaient de ce monde. Quelquefois je la palpais, je la tâtais. Il m'arrivait d'insinuer qu'elle serait bientôt mûre.

- Attendons encore! répondait ma mère. Quand nous l'aurons mangée, qu'est~ce qui nous restera ?

Nous attendions.

En avril ou mai, il fallait la jeter, parce qu'elle était gâtée. Je n'ai pas de souvenir d'avoir jamais mangé l'orange de Noël.

Triste fin pour cet objet de désir et de convoitise !

.. toujours, dans ma pensée, la nuit de Noël devra sa grandeur à ces souvenirs que j'ai rapportés, et il m'arrive encore de songer au bonheur comme à une belle orange de Noël qu'il faudrait partager entre tous les hommes pour que réellement ils la mangent."

extrait de Changer la vie, mon enfance et ma jeunesse

"On Christmas Eve, when i was 8, I ran to the grocer’s with a few coins my mother gave me.

With my fortune, I was only allowed to buy the most beautiful orange. I dashed to Fichepoil, then Ealet then came back to Fichepoil again. How can one describe the intensity of desire in a child mixed with the certitude of reaching happiness? This desire and certitude cannot be deceived indeed and some God that night existed to fulfill these wishes.

I would come back a little shorter before midnight, carrying in one hand a beautiful orange wrapped in silk paper and a bag of chocolates tied with a pink ribbon in the other hand.


I looked at my beautiful orange. And this is what usually happened : my mother would unwrap it from the silk paper; we both admired its generous size, its roundness and brightness (…)

For months, its vivid color and luminosity reassured us that happiness and beauty were part of this world. At times, I would feel it, touch it with my fingers. I would hint that it would be ripe soon.

- Let's wait a bit more ! my mother would say. For what would be left of it once we eat it ?

In april or may, we had to throw it away because it was spoilt. I never recalled having eaten the Christmas orange.

What a sad end for such a coveted object of desire !

….always in my thoughts, Christmas Eve owes its magnificence to these memories and I sometimes visualize happiness as a beautiful Christmas orange which men would have to share it together in order to really have a taste of it."

from Changer la vie, mon enfance et ma jeunesse (Changing the life, my childhood and my youth)

My lovelies, I wish you all a very merry Christmas !!!

Peace and love to you

xoxo Lala

pics : I was a bit in a rush this year to prepare the traditional 13 Provençal desserts so I just laid out some tangerines and dattes. Got to go baking now !

Monday, December 21, 2009

I fell in love....

Christmas is nearly knocking at our door and yet my mind focuses on weddings, ivory silk, flowers and ribbons, rose petals and lace. I pursue my search for beautiful venues for my weddings and this is how I fell in love last saturday. I fell in love with a house from the XIXth century. Or rather should I say, I first fell in love with its gardens. Since then I've been dreaming of a perfectly romantic wedding right here.
Oh no...not mine but may be yours !
The visit continues here

ps : I know, you all want to see the inside but some of the rooms are for private use and Iñaki, one of the brothers asked me, Lala por favor, no fotos dentro...
so the only thing I can tell you is that the decor inside is just stunning, delightfully baroque, very high ceilings, lovely fabrics...Well, I can't wait to go there for dinner ! Did I tell you they host private dinner parties ?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday gift wrapping

On sunday morning our friend the sun decided to wake up late and instead of going for a walk, I wrapped a few gifts, books and chocolate mainly. My favorite thing as always is to place a few chocolate coins wrapped in silver or gold paper for good luck and prosperity. God knows it's much needed in this time of crisis !
Here the tradition is to exchange gifts on Kings'day, on january 6th which is immediately followed by the sales. Well, actually some shops in Granada already started to offer big discounts as things are not too good. It's so sad to see little shops folding one after the other for lack of business. I do wish 2010 will be if not recession-less a bit better than 2009 !

Wishing a very happy sunday ! Are you gift wrapping too ?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Le Bon Marché mon amour....

Le Bon Marché, the Parisian chic store of the 7th arrondissement has been my first big client for the handmade cards and notebooks. Our histoire d'amour began a good ten years ago when I was living in Paris. At that time, I was living in rue Vieille-du-Temple in the Marais district and I was just starting to sell my work to a few shops in my neighborhood, not much really. One day, I picked up the phone and asked for an appointment with the stationary department buyer of Le Bon Marché. I showed her a collection of handmade little notebooks which she liked and this is how it started. For about a decade, I've been really happy to sell my work there. Unfortunately, last time I had the buyer on the phone, she told me that sadly the cards department will close by the end of the year. I was so sad and shocked too. This post is a recap of former cards collections, my favorite actually. And it is also a big thank you to the très sympathique buyer A. T. (well, surely she doesn't read my blog !) for supporting my handmade work year after year, after all this time.

So here are my best-of if I may say so.
In 2003, I used these exquisite wintry Vogue covers for the Christmas cards
For a few years, I liked to use the same Venitian angels portraits, changing the card design one year to another but with the same portraits

In 2002, I was already living in Andalusia but was still sending my samples to the buyer. She would then fax me the order. That year, I designed a Christmas collection cards mainly in ivory color and gold. Well, at first it looked a bit bland and too simple, but why not. I sent my little package, hoping the buyer will like it. Now I always remember that afternoon with a smile : it was a sunny september day and the phone rang. It was A.T. from Le Bon Marché, which was so surprising because she actually never called. But that time, she wanted to say that she had just received the samples and that she found the whole collection, adorable, so yes 2002 was a great year for me !
The following year, I got more exuberant with red and gold. I bought lots of golden metallic sponges and used the external fabric for the cut out boots and handbags.
I used silver sponges for the cut out Christmas trees
One of my favorites is this trio of cards which I named Las Vegas Holiday cards. I also liked the idea that people would buy a black card for the holiday.
This season, the buyer chose the rosette and dollar models in red and white

This afternoon, as I was revisiting these former cards collection, I unpacked former Valentine cards from 2003. It made me feel nostalgic and reminded me that I need to speed up on Valentine cards.....Making love cards is definitely one of my favorite activities !
ps : I'm sure you all have noticed by now that I've been really bad with my etsy shop. It's too late now to put any holiday cards but I promise to put up the Valentine cards !

Monday, December 14, 2009

Snowing in Granada.....

I knew it was a mistake to leave some clothes hanging in the patio. The rain came unexpectedly last night and this morning as I slowly emerged from our warm little nest, I couldn't believe my eyes....Snow ! Esta nevando ! I shouted with big childish excitement.
But here unfortunately, it doesn't stay too long. No, we will not yet have the pleasure to see the village roofs covered with a thick layer of snow.
And yet, can you see how big the flakes were this morning ?
And to think yesterday was still sunny with clear blue Andalusian sky. I had been vanquished by a nasty cold though and couldn't actually go anywhere last week end except a quick visit to Gym's last fleamarket of the season. As soon as I feel better, I want to make wreaths like the ones below with laurel or rosemary and sage and eucalyptus leaves.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Exquisite is the word.....

Tomorrow morning we're heading to the coast to meet Angela, a fabulous eccentric woman, just my type really, ex-opera singer, formerly London-based who opened an exquisite B&B in the romantic white village of Frigiliana. I posted pictures of her house earlier on the blog and you can see more on her site too. Ah...wouldn't you like just to stay there ?

Have a great week end, my lovelies !

all pics are from Angela's

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Verde que te quiero verde...

I passed by this house twice yesterday in my village and although I'm not a partisan of the Andalusian tradition of hanging a curtain on the front door, I was quite seduced by the mix of green fabric and traditional ceramic tiles on the wall. I also love how Andalusian people fill a tiny balcony with plenty of plants and flowers. Seems so romantic to me....

and note how the electrical cables almost mixes elegantly with the !

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bloggers summit at Sandpit Club, south of Granada

My darling Gym hosted a jazz night again at the Sandpit Club, last saturday. As always, the ambiance was great, James prepared some of his delicious chicken curry with coconut sauce and I loved mingling with the people especially that it was a wonderful opportunity to meet other blogger friends, Tim who's my neighbor and whom you already know and the very sweet and talented ceramist Kitty. It was the first time I met a blogger friend in the flesh and it was great !! Oh I wish I could meet all my blogger friends someday !!

psst : if you're in the area, Gym will host her last "rastrillo" (fleamarket) of the season on sunday december 13th. Email me for directions and come along !

pic : Gym

Friday, December 4, 2009

Happy pomander....

C for cloves and cinnamon
C for color
C for cool bauble

My little castle in Spain enters a joyous Christmas mood with pomanders, oranges from our beautiful Lecrin valley, a few chocolate coins wrapped in golden paper. Next week, Monchéri will start some baking. And I'm more than willing to spend my spare time making more pomanders.

Have a very happy week end !

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My handmade Japanese wallpaper

Do you remember that pic ? Well here I am again, making my Japanese wallpaper. Last week end, Monchéri and I wanted to hang my handmade strips of wallpaper in the office space and discovered that they are actually too short. So I'm doing it again. I need to make 40 of those. I don't mind, painting kanjis and little objects is very relaxing ! The kanjis represent poetic names of Japanese cakes called wagashi, my favorite one being hana no en, "the banquet under the flowers" or hana chiru sato, "the place where the flowers are being scattered by the wind". Cool names for cakes, non ?

By the way, one of my latest blogs crush is the beautiful poetic blog of Ruma, Calligraphy in the landscape. Check it out for a daily dosis of oriental poetry !

ps : yes, turquoise is one of my fave colours !
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