Musical Christmas Cheer (or not)

MusicalChristmasCheer(or not) header 151212

We like to be a bit different a la casa del Frog when it comes to Christmas music. We listen to all the popular songs but we like to add other more obscure tracks to our playlist. Personally I like it that not all Christmas songs are full of cheer but that some are a bit more dark. Here are my favourites:

1. For the Gloomy Christmas lovers – Low ‘Long way around the sea’

2. My personal favourite – Joni Mitchell ‘River’

3. Another perfect Low tune ‘If you were born today’ – who knew Mormons could be such bringers of cheer?

4. Sarah MacLachlan ‘Wintersong’

5. Michael Bublé ‘All I want for Christmas’ – I love what he’s done with the Mariah Carey classic

6. Johnny Mathis ‘When a child is born’ – So bad it is good, this one is a bit of a joke with my extended family, featuring the cheesiest spoken bit in the middle with the immortal lines: ‘And all this happens because the world is waiting; waiting for one child. Black, white, yellow, no one knows.’ Indeed.

7. And finally, because Christmas hasn’t truly started until you’ve heard this one: The Pogues ‘Fairytale of New York’

Merry Christmas everyone!


Top 5 songs I grew up with – or how I horrify the world in one post

Kate at Kate Takes 5 has set us quite a task with her new Listography entry; a particularly difficult one for me because my early days memory is shockingly bad (as in, I remember almost nothing, something about which psychiatrists would probably have a field day) and also because the music I grew up with was mostly French and will therefore mean nothing to any of you, except to horrify and amuse. My parents mostly listened to old French stuff and Christian praise music and did not keep in touch with the ‘modern stuff’ at all. I don’t think we listened to the radio much (but as I said above, I can’t remember anyway) and my dad’s collection of old French classics wasn’t to my taste even in those days. I’ve had to think quite hard to come up with a list, and you will see it really is all late eighties/early nineties stuff that I became aware of through school and becoming a teenager. I AM NOT CLAIMING TO HAVE ANY TASTE. In fact, you will probably be utterly convinced of it long before you reach number five… 1. Patrick Bruel – Casser La Voix (Break My Voice)

This is the one of the first cassette tapes I bought with my pocket money. It was a huge hit in France and all the fans (mostly girls) were known to go a bit mental and scream ‘Patriiiiiick’ at his concerts and presumably break their own voices in the process. Patrick Bruel is still well known in France, is still singing and is a decent actor, as well as apparently being a world class poker player. 2. Indra – Misery
I’m appalled I ever liked this, but I had her CD so it must have meant something to me at the time. In my defense, this was around the time the world gave us Two Unlimited (No no, no no no no, no no no no, no no no no limits!) so it was all the rage. 3. Enigma – Sadeness Part I
I went through a New Agey stage around the time I was 14 when I would light candles in my bedroom and lie on the floor with my eyes closed listening to this stuff. I loved Enigma and Deep Forest and other trance-y stuff. My early to mid-teens were stressful and somehow this music helped to help me escape the tenseness of my family situation. Listening to it again now, I still quite like this tune but it also gives me the creeps, so even if I ever wanted to, there will be no reliving the old days for me! 4. Pascal Obispo – Lucie
I was an instant fan when Pascal Obispo’s album ‘Plus Que Tout Au Monde‘ (more than anything in the world) hit the charts. He is still huge in France, though now he writes musicals (his latest is called Adam & Eve – the Second Chance’, which is hilarious to me – and possibly the worst idea in the world?) and has no hair. 5. Michael Jackson – Black or White
The nineties were full of great Michael Jackson songs and I think Black or White is one of his greatest. At the time I didn’t know any English so I didn’t understand a word of what he was saying but it didn’t matter and that’s the beauty of good music.

Listography – Top 5 things about the summer holidays

palm tree
Summer in Pompei – our honeymoon 3 years ago

Yay, Listography is back, courtesy of Kate Takes 5! And I have to tell you about one of my favourite things, so this is a double treat.

This year is a strange one in terms of summer holidays because Badgerman and I are both off at the same time for the whole six weeks (not counting last year because of having a newborn and, well, having a newborn).

Did I tell you Badgerman was a teacher? As an aside, if you think he’s going to be twiddling his thumbs for the next month and a bit, think again. He has been working every day since he left school a week ago and tells me that the only real time off he will take is when we go away for two weeks in a bit. When we get back he’ll be off to school for exam results and various other bits. Still, it’s a treat to have him around every day, which leads us nicely into my five favourite things about this time of year.

1. Sunny weather: yep, despite all evidence to the contrary, August is still the time of year when we are most likely to get good weather, and I am going to stick to my hopeful naiveté on this one. Especially if we go south on our travels, which we do.

2. France: August is now going to mark our annual holiday in France. Considering it’s been two years since our last trip, I cannot wait to see all my family, enjoy lazy days in my parents’ garden and eat lots of gorgeous food. We used to go at Christmas time, but have now decided it is too manic a time to really enjoy the trip so instead we are going to have a lovely road trip

3. Lazy mornings: even with a kid who wakes up anytime between 5 am and 7.30 am, and who likes to keep us guessing which one it will be every day, we are still managing slow pyjama mornings. I am even getting a cup of tea in bed sometimes. I am ever so grateful that Badgerman needs so much less sleep than me and can have fun with Little Girl whilst I enjoy an extra hour in bed.

4. Eating outside: of course it can be done any time of year, but there’s something I particularly enjoy about sitting outside in the summer, when there is no rush to go anywhere and lunch naturally bleeds into a drink and a book, and before you know it, it’s time for dinner. I like not having to ‘do’ anything and I am quite capable of wasting an afternoon this way.

5. Time to think and plan: or not, as the case may be. But because Badgerman is around more, we do end up having more ‘me’ time, which is great for looking back to the year that’s gone, thinking about what we’d like to achieve in the year ahead, and maybe even start doing something about it. This year, I have to set up my business venture in personal French tuition, and maybe do something at long last about this meal planning project I’ve been sitting on for the last six months.

Listography – 5 Reasons I Know I’m…

Today’s Listography is so full of possibilities, I want it to be a recurring one. Kate Takes 5 went with 5 Reasons I Know I’m… a Mother in celebration of Mother’s Day, but you can add anything you want. So today, I give you 5 Reasons I Know I’m French living in the UK.

French tricolour flag, the "Tricolore"
Image via Wikipedia
  1. I don’t stop wearing long sleeves and jumpers until it’s over 20 degrees Celsius MINIMUM. Just because the sun is out doesn’t mean it’s warm. Why Brits suddenly behave like it’s August in the South of France and wear short sleeves and shorts in the middle of February is beyond me.
  2. Whilst we are in the subject of the weather, summer starts in June, not April. Next time I hear someone say summer has started and is basing it on the fact that we’ve had a couple of sunny days and there’s a little warmth in the air, I’m going to get a bit stabby. Global warming might be messing things up a bit but there is such a thing as seasons. If you are confused as to what a season is, here’s the definition.
  3. I rant in my head every time I hit the vegetable aisle of the supermarket because of the individually wrapped avocados, potatoes in plastic bags, pre-cut onions (why, WHY?) and anaemic orange-coloured tomatoes that don’t smell of anything. It’s unnatural, is all.
  4. I spend an inordinate amount of my time thinking about cheese.
  5. After nearly 14 years in the UK, I still forget which side of the road to look at before crossing so now I look everywhere. After 14 years, I have to do the same in France. Yes I am that confused.

Listography – Top 5 Cookbooks

I’ve avoided memes and the like on the blog so far because I find them so terribly boring, especially the ones where you post a photo and nothing else. Whilst I don’t dislike photos per se, they mean nothing to me unless there’s a good story to go alongside them or they are particularly striking.

Then I discovered Kate Takes 5‘s Listography series. I love a good list and I love the topics she comes up with so I hope that you will not find it too boring if I occasionally indulge in a little photo list. It will likely ladle you with an insane amount of useless information about me, none of it particularly insightful or deep but hopefully it will be entertaining. And so I start.

I love cookery books. I have a lot of them, especially since my birthday a couple of weeks ago when I was given no less than four new books. Whilst I dip into all the books from time to time I continuously return to the same ones over and over again.

1. 2000 Recettes de la Cuisine Française.

I use this one a lot. I doubt I will ever cook all 2000 French recipes contained within but I do like to try a new one from time to time. When I came to England and discovered I quite liked cooking, I realised that I knew previous few French recipes and decided that I should really learn how to make the classics. What I love about this book is that it gives you a list of alternative ingredients so if you don’t happen to have a particular herb and like me you don’t have a clue what herb/spice goes with what, you can just slightly alter the recipe by using something else from the list.

French recipe book

2. The Every Day Chicken Cookbook.

We love chicken and now that I can’t just dish out a tin of sauce from the cupboard because of the salt content for Little Girl, I have realised that it’s just as easy to do a stew with a bit of stock, an onion and a few mushrooms (and wine, don’t forget the wine). Thank you Chicken Cookbook.

Chicken Cookbook

3. Delia’s How to Cook.

I love Delia. This is the first cookery book I bought when I arrived in England, and I can proudly say that she taught me how to boil an egg. Now that I’m a bit more ‘advanced’ I can make her goat’s cheese tart and her basic bread recipe is a winner.

Delia Cookbook

4. Michel Roux Pastry.

Michel Roux is a genius. He is the only one who has made me want to try to make puff pastry from scratch, and it even worked. I regularly make his Pithiviers recipe (with extra cherries) and his apple tart.

Michel Roux Cookbook

5. Muffins.

Another French book, it is part of a series of small books called Petits Plats Marabouts. These all run on a theme, with lots of recipes both savoury and sweet. Others I own in the collection are Risotto, Tarts, Trifle, Flans & Clafoutis and Small Dishes (for individual pots).

Muffins Cookbook


For more Cookbooks fun, visit Kate Takes 5‘s post.