What I’m Into – May 2016 Edition

what i'm into May 2016

What an intense month May has been! I feel like it’s just disappeared and tried to take a few bites off me as it went. Busyness and loud children will gnaw at you that way and fray you at the edges sometimes. I’m joining in with Leigh Kramer as usual for a round up of all the things I’ve done this month.

What I’m Reading

Books about Business Strategy, French cookery books and free Regency romances for Amazon Kindle. Nothing is massively standing out as worthy of note to be honest but my brain is fried.

What I’m watching

iZombie and Outlander are my two main things on TV at the moment, I love both of these shows so much! They couldn’t be further apart in terms of topic and style but they are both so entertaining. Outlander in particular has been engrossing and emotionally captivating this season.

I tried season 2 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and couldn’t get into it; it’s totally on me, I keep expecting her PTSD to come out a bit more than it does. I enjoyed season 1 but it’s a bit too fluffy for my liking because of the subject matter. I keep wishing they would address the fallout of recovering from spiritual abuse (a serious, too often ignored reality imo) more fully rather than the unrealistic way that Kimmy seems to cope positively with just about anything (basically not enough fear and breaking down, which I admit, would make for a different show :-p), plus Jane Krakowski’s native american antics make me really uncomfortable. This said, Titus Andromedon is life itself.

I did watch ‘Un Long Dimanche de Fiançailles‘ (A Very Long Engagement) with Audrey Tautou. I was a bit put off at the start because there was such a strong whiff of ‘Amélie does World War I’ about it that seemed jarring but thankfully it’s a very compelling story, with multiple character stories fully fleshed out, although I do wish we had more than the ending we were given, maybe a look into the future. The most astonishing turn was Jodie Foster who spoke perfect French, and I mean perfect, she spoke without accent and I could have listened to her forever pronouncing her perfect r’s.

I also watched ‘Populaire‘, which takes place in France in the late Fifties and is about a young secretary who is terrible at her job apart from being a very fast typist. She gets entered into the local typing competition by her boss, they fall in love, blah blah blah. Visually, it’s a wonderful spectacle; the fashion and locations are spot on. It’s a sweet story, but to be honest, I hated the rampant sexism. I guess it should be expected because of the time period in which it is set, but you are supposed to root for the two main characters and here you have the ‘useless young naive woman rescued by patronising older man’ trope; he calls her -his employee- ‘mon chou’, which is a pet name meaning my sweet bun/sweety, and basically bullies her into doing what he wants her to do ‘for her own good’. Why she would ever fall for him is beyond me and there is little in the film to give me a compelling reason (maybe also because I don’t find the actor particularly good leading-man material). But hey, it’s sweet and has a happy ending in a predictable way, and as I said it looks fabulous.

I also watched ‘Interstellar‘ with Badgerman and absolutely loved it.

What I’m listening to

I’ve been listening to a Spotify playlist ‘the most beautiful songs in the world’, which occasionally gets a bit too folksy for me, but has some nice piano and cello as well. Perfect.

Favourite photo

chocolate strawberry cake

What I’ve been doing

At Home
  • Mostly just life but I did make this enormous slab of chocolate cake topped with whipped cream and strawberries for a group of guys I was meeting with, and despite giving lots of it away it still took us days to eat it all.
  • I learnt a lot about email lists and Pinterest optimization from following the Profitable Blogging Summit. I have absolutely no recollection of how I heard about this free training but it was fab.
  • I sourced some amazing feminine business stock photos via Pinterest (it is so good, right?) seriously this is such a great list; my personal favourite is CityGirlSearching. Now to create some stunning post headers and more!
At School

I took a break from studying and I’m regretting it already. I’ve got a month to get an assignment out about Business Strategy, for which one of the task is to record myself do a presentation and post it on YouTube. I am not looking forward to this at all. And I still don’t know how I did on the finance assignment, which is bugging me big time!

At Home on the Blog

  • The blog moved! I once was a free wordpress.com blogger, and now I’m a self-hosted technically-challenged blogger. It’s been a massive and time-consuming project but I’m finally here, ready to start thinking more seriously about what I want the blog to become, and my first post was a bit basic as you’d expect from a welcome post.
  • My next big project for the blog is to create a nice little freebie for my readers. Suggestions welcome!
  • I’ve had a difficult time speaking French to the girls in my attempts to raise them bilingual. This is a bit of a personal post. Obviously, I’m not a complete failure but in this area, yeah, not so great.
  • I also shared my big love for clay face masks, which are a very traditional French beauty product and have been used for centuries (French clay is wonderful stuff apparently)
  • I also put into words my thoughts on the soon-to-be UK referendum on whether Britain should stay or leave the EU, from my viewpoint as a French immigrant and a practicing Christian. It’s been a popular post.

And that’s it for this month! Be sure to click on the box to see the rest of the link-up for more recommendations and updates from the What I’m Into community.

What I'm Into

How to cook like the French {day five}

French food doesn’t have to be complicated, and that’s a promise. If I managed to learn how to cook from scratch having never boiled an egg before my 21st birthday, anyone can do it.


My aim today is two-fold: one, to reassure you that you can learn how to cook French food and two, to send you into bookshops and across the internet feeling informed and armed with personal recommendations.


{day five} How to cook like the French


Cooking French food might feel like a daunting task. You may have dined in a French restaurant and eaten very ‘cheffy’ dishes you couldn’t imagine making at home. Let me just reassure you that French people don’t cook or eat like this every day. Sure, we have all grown up eating many traditional recipes, but it is not the sort of food you would usually be served in a restaurant outside of France. Below are a few links to help you get started.

French Recipes on this Blog

I am by no means a fantastic cook, for one thing, I just don’t have time to spend my life in the kitchen. I do get a bit obsessed about food though, and I occasionally share recipes I have tried at home. I get homesick for French food on a regular basis and so I like to collect French recipe books of all sorts to try to get back to the scents and tastes that remind me of my childhood. Have a look around in the Recipes category, or just go straight to the following:

French Recipes on the Internet

There are many French food websites and blogs you can follow, but it can be difficult to see the wood for the trees in this abundance of plenty. I am not going to overwhelm you with many links, because you don’t need hundreds, you need a couple at best.
  • My go-to food blog has been Franglaise Cooking, they have a lot of brilliant family recipes that are delicious and easy to make. The hazelnut macarons alone make it worth a visit. But I can also recommend le Coin de Mel (I am planning on making her classic Petit Salé aux lentilles very soon) and Croque-Maman.

French Cookery Books

1. I shared my top 5 favourite cook books a couple of years’ back, and it included a couple you will see listed below for the very good reason that they are fabulous. This chicken stew recipe that is on the blog comes directly from the enormous ‘2000 recettes de la cuisine française‘ recipe book, but it’s not much use if you can’t speak the language.


2. Rachel Khoo‘s The Little Paris Kitchen has been translated into French, which is as positive an endorsement as you can wish for! I don’t own this book but I watched the accompanying BBC TV series religiously and I recommend it on the basis that it was inspiring and made me very hungry. Rachel had a TINY kitchen in Paris, and yet she managed to produce some outstanding recipes.


3. If you’re looking for a solid modern book on French cooking, then Michel Roux (both Senior and Junior) are French chefs based in the UK. Their books are in English and are accessible to the common cook but they are classically trained chefs with all the solid knowledge that entails so you are in good hands.

4. There is also a French chef called Stéphane Reynaud who has created the most beautiful cookery books I have ever seen. They are all translated into American English, so you get references to capsicum instead of peppers, which took a bit of getting used to but otherwise, the books are GORGEOUS. Not only do you get delicious recipes, but also beautiful and funny illustrations, songs, history lessons, lists (lists!) of different wines, cheeses, what goes with what etc. I have the following two:

  • Ripailles, which offers 299 French traditional recipes
  • Rôtis, which is all about roast meat

Bonus: watch a film about cooking!

To get yourself in the mood, everyone should watch Julie and Julia [DVD] [2010]
featuring Amy Adams and Meryl Streep, a fab film about food and Julia Child, the author of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. If you’re not hungry by the end of it, you’re not human.


In other news, I’ve decided that as part of the 31 days challenge, I will post one classic French recipe every Friday that I have personally made at home. It will be easy and affordable and hopefully inspire you to check out French cooking without fearing having to go full Julia Child and start boiling pigs trotters to make your own gelatine.
31 days button - Frenchify your life # font x400

What I’m Into – July 2014 Edition

what I'm into July 14 header

July has been great! It has felt like a proper summer so far, with sun and heat galore, except when we held birthday parties and then it rained a bit. It has also been super busy, filled with parties and lots of cooking. And it’s not the end. Another birthday party on Saturday and then we’re off on holiday. I cannot wait!

What I’m Watching

I finished season 2 of Orphan Back, and I Did Not See That Ending Coming! What an awesome show.

I also finished season 2 of Parks & Rec with great excitement because Rob Lowe! and Adam Scott! But I’m now gutted that the BBC has unfathomably decided not to carry on with the next season, which leaves me confused, angry and, just whyyyy? Why would you do this to me? I’ve been fairly spoiled for the show thanks to Buzzfeed and other internet sites and I’m just really cross I won’t be able to get any more for the foreseeable future. Where can I go to watch the rest now?

I’ve also started to watch The 100, which looks fairly promising but I will hold off a bit before making a final judgement, as I can’t see how it’s going to keep going past one or two seasons.

Films: I watched One Day, which I enjoyed but according to RottenTomatoes.com, loads of people disliked it. Whatever, it’s made me really want to read the book. Pass me the tissues though, what a horrible ending.

I’m continuing my watch-all-of-Friends project, which has now taken me to Season 6. Season 5 is  my favourite by far, because of all the Monica & Chandler awesomeness.

Things to look forward to in August: the Great British Bake-Off. I always miss the first couple of weeks due to holidays, but there is no sweeter pleasure than to watch a handful of amateurs try their hand at making beautiful cakes, biscuits and breads in a really interesting and varied competition that leaves you wanting to eat everything. With extra sass by Mel and Sue.

What I’m Reading

Not a lot of reading done this month again, due to an awful lot of social things going on. I plan on catching up whilst on holiday in August.

I did win some books though! I entered three separate competitions on Mumsnet and won all three. I’m so excited! The first one to arrive was Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things, which sounds very good indeed… I am now awaiting the other two with baited breath, which are Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris and Ellie’s Magical Bakery: Best Cake for a Best Friend (Ellies Magical Bakery) by Ellie Simmonds (who won 2 gold medals at the Paralympic Games in London a couple of years ago).

What I’m Listening To

There’s been an awful lot of dancing to Pharrell’s Happy with the girls. It’s definitely been our song of the summer so far. But right now, for better or for worse, I’m totally addicted to Sia’s Chandelier, and I’m giving it a good go singing along as well. I might have to sing it next time I go to karaoke. On the other hand, I’m not quite sure what to make of the video; it is both beautiful and chaotic and the girl dancing is amazing but exhausting at the same time.

Favourite Pictures

the two birthday girls June-July 2014


My girls are so cute!

What I’ve Been Doing

– I made some party decorations (hence the butterfly in this post’s header) and cooked an inordinate amount of food for Little Girl’s 3rd birthday. Badgerman’s 40th birthday is on 31st July but his barbecue isn’t until August 2nd. Still, So Much Food.

– To my shame, we did nothing whatsoever on 14th July, the French National Day, or ‘Bastille Day’ as non-French people call it. I was still recovering from all the work from Luciole’s birthday and prepping for Little Girl’s, and felt all cooked-out.

Badgerman made the cake on Little Girl’s birthday and it was gorgeous. Not bad for a man who had never baked before!

chocolate cake with strawberry whipped cream


– We attended other lovely little people’s birthday parties.

Sorting out Luciole’s passport was stressful and I haven’t blogged about it yet! Let’s just say that it is against all odds that we are in possession of a British passport for her considering the fact that just this week, the Passport Office went on a 2-day strike due to staff shortages. Two months ago, they also made the national news headlines because of the severe delays in producing passports. We were expecting at the very minimum for it to take 6 weeks, which would have brought its completion date to tomorrow (and we’re going on holiday Monday so STRESS). Well, it turned up a whole week ago. It is nothing short of a miracle, and I do mean ‘an actual miracle that we prayed for’. You may call it coincidence if you wish and I’ll accept that. Except it really was an impossible situation and there is no logical explanation for the early arrival apart from our application somehow appeared at the top of the pile.

As a consequence we now couldn’t be any more bi-national if we tried. Badgerman and Luciole both have British passports, whereas Little Girl and I have a French one. The only reason Luciole hasn’t got a French passport is, you guessed it, French Bureaucracy. More to come about that saga soon, once my nerves have recovered.

The potty training with Little Girl has been another source of stress and yet we seem to have turned a corner.

– We’ve had a series of thunderstorms which culminated a couple of days ago when the storm stopped above our house, let out an almighty crack and broke our internet. I mean this literally, there was a crack and the smell of burning and a dead router. I am only online thanks to the wonders held within the mythical man-cupboard, where old routers go to die (or just to rest, as was the case this time, phew). The new router is due to arrive during our holidays in France, very handy.

My favourite new social media tools

Unsplash: I was introduced to Unsplash last month through one of the What I’m Into contributions, and I’ve already made some good use of it. It hosts copyright-free photos which you can use, change and whatever else provided you properly link to the author. The photos are stunning and of superb quality and the website itself shows a lot of respect for the art of photography. The site is updated once a week with 10 new photos so I selected to subscribe to the email so I get the latest straight into my inbox. Simple and effective, and just what I was looking for.

IFTTT: it’s the best thing ever, thank you Lynn from Salt & Caramel! It’s not just for bloggers but for anyone with a social media presence. IFTTT literally stands for If This Then That and allows you to set up recipes for your social media platforms to talk to each other. It works just like the Outlook email rules. For example, I have set it up so that If I create an Instagram picture Then it gets automatically posted to Twitter with a visible picture (rather than just the Instagram link). This is better than the share option within Instagram itself, and makes the photo more likely to get retweeted, which as us bloggers know is Really Really Important and What Social Media Really Is All About.

I also set it up so that my WordPress blog posts get posted automatically onto my personal Facebook page. I may live to regret this but as my blog is not self-hosted, I have some limitations and one of these is that I can only select one place where WordPress will publish directly onto Facebook when a new post comes out. I have chosen to post to the A Frog At Large Facebook Page (because, duh) but when I started to put the occasional post on my personal account I got a lot of interest from my friends (thanks, friends, I love you!!), and I want to continue in that vein (although, please leave comments on the blog itself, not just on Facebook!).

At Home On The Blog

  • It’s been a good month, which I kicked off by reminiscing about the sitcom Friends as part of my watch-all-of-Friends project, because, would you believe it, it will be 20 years in September since it first appeared on TV. I don’t know about you, but it made me feel old.
  • I was also invited to take part in #mywritingprocess Twitter party and I shared some tips on my writing process, which is something I didn’t know I had until I started to write the post.
  • I made the controversial argument that French music isn’t all bad; you’re welcome to challenge me on that one…
  • I mentioned above that we’re pretty much done on the potty training front. It hasn’t been without tears, loss of hair and other unmentionable things however.
  • Then we’ve got all the birthday posts! I bemoaned the loss of my toddler as Little Girl has moved on to, well, little girl territory, and I shared the recipe for her delicious cherry birthday cake.
  • And finally, I got new glasses for free, which is well worth celebrating if you ask me.

And this is all that happened in July! Check out Leigh Kramer’s blog for more links.


What I’m Into – June 2014 Edition

Late afternoon by the old Brighton pier
Late afternoon by the old Brighton pier

Good grief. It’s that time again and I feel like the month has only just begun. Where has June gone? What have I done with it? I haven’t got a clue and it’s an unsettling thought.

What I’m Watching

Regular shows: Orphan Black, Parks & Rec, Emma Approved (web-based).

I decided to start watching The Good Wife again despite the fact that I missed half a season, right before the devastating bit that everyone was spoiled for after it was leaked online. I love this show, and I am not sorry. But I will have to watch the missing episodes if there is a rerun in the future.

The most exciting thing I did this month was to start a complete re-watch of all 10 seasons of Friends. I’ve never done a sitcom marathon of this size before and I got a bit giddy at the thought, especially when I realised that there is a load of episodes I have never seen before in the latter seasons. I’ve already watched the first three seasons (in a week, eek!) and I have questions, which I’m sure were answered by everyone 10 years ago but there’s nothing like a re-watch to make you notice things you’d never seen before. Like, Ross, I hate you, you hideous Nice Guy.

What I’m Reading

I haven’t got a clue what I read this month. I’ve tried to continue the books I’d already started and just couldn’t get into it, again! Let’s call it The ‘Friends‘ Effect. I did read one book from start to finish, The Ocean At The End of The Lane, and I highly recommend it. You can always check out my Goodreads account to see all the books I didn’t finish this month.

What I’m Listening To

I’ve had the Spotify UK top list on a loop this month but I always start with the same song, West Coast by Lana Del Rey, because it’s gorgeous (although I haven’t got a clue what she is talking about, probably nothing good!).

 Favourite Picture

Luciole birthday week


What I’ve Been Doing

  • Mostly, I’ve been looking after the girls and it has felt just about enough to cope with.
  • I did organise Luciole’s first birthday party, which was eventful in itself but turned out wonderfully. One down, two to go!

On The Blogosphere

  • The scary ham is very scary indeed.
  • You’d have thought there would be nothing left to say about The Lord of the Rings movie, especially after so many years, and then comes this thoughtful post about how in the book the Shire was actually very much touched by the war and why the fact that this aspect was missed in the movie is a real shame and makes it a poorer film even though the movie was really long enough already.
  • Dads Aren’t Dumb – or useless or second-rate parents worthy only of ‘babysitting duties’.

At Home on the Blog

I kicked off with Naughty Children and Using Words Wisely, which is a challenging topic I need to remind myself of every day, because words mean things and it matters what we say to our children, and by extension how we speak to anyone.

Then I hit a dry run so I posted poetry because I was feeling bad about the blog being neglected – and also because I found a poem I’d attempted to write out in calligraphy and thought, what the heck, it’s not completely terrible so let’s post it (here’s my writing process for you, impressive, isn’t it?).

Finally, my baby girl turned one and we braved the elements to celebrate her life French-style, with a massive buffet.


Ad that’s it for June! As usual, I’m joining with Leigh Kramer for the What I’m Into link-up.



What I’m Into – May 2014 Edition

May flowers
May flowers

After a good and busy start of the month, May turned cold and dreary, not least because the house was beset with colds and coughs. I was the last one to fall but by then I’d already lost quite a bit of sleep and in my weakened state, the cough has got hold of me and threatened not to leave me again. I have had a record number of tired and cranky days but I’m finally over it, yay!

What I’m Watching

My regular tv shows:  we finished Castle season 3 (what a cliffhanger, but of course she can’t die so let’s move on to season 4 already. Except not, because it’s Channel 5 and who knows whether we’ll get to see Castle again); Person of Interest, Parks & Rec (season 2) and Orphan Black (getting weirder by the minute – Allison is my favourite character and the most terrifying soccer mum ever).


The Artist: I loved it, even more so because I was already a fan of Jean Dujardin through his French comedy work on a sitcom called Un gars une fille in the early noughties (A Bloke A Girl – only available in French, which follows the daily tribulations of a couple); he was already a well-known figure in France prior to winning his Oscar.

I watched the 2007 BBC version of Jane Eyre. Pff, let me fan my face before I type this up! It’s taken me until now and this series to really ‘get’ Jane Eyre. The movie with Michael Fassbender failed to move me, as had the 1996 one with Charlotte Gainsbourgh. In film or book, I couldn’t warm to Jane, who seemed to have lots of thoughts and opinions and chose to keep them to herself, and Mr Rochester, who was just really rude and secretive. Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson at last enlightened me as to why Jane and Mr Rochester’s relationship is one of the best there is. Ruth’s Jane was pouty but passionate in nature and once she dared, unrestrained in expressing it. Toby Stephens’ Rochester really got under my skin, portraying a heart-broken man putting up as best a front as he can in the face of a bleak and lonely future. What puzzles me most is that Rochester is supposed to be this unattractive man whose rough appearance fits in with his frightsome demeanor but Stephens is anything but ugly (imho). Or maybe these days people think that unless a man has a pretty face then he cannot be attractive, which is a shame. Sure Stephens, and Fassbender for that matter, aren’t the ‘pretty’ men most favoured by the casting agents of today but they have strong and interesting features and well, also REALLY good acting that takes interesting to plain attractive. I am also in favour of more red-headed leading men. Just sayin’.

At last, I also watched Frozen; it was wonderful and I had stuff to say about it.

What I’m Reading

I finished Bread & Wine on May 1st and I loved it. Shauna Niequist is possibly my opposite personality-wise, which is probably why I loved her so much. I have a few friends who are extroverted feelers like her and they are so wonderful to be around; paradoxically I find their company relaxing and freeing and I can’t even begin to try and explain why.

For some reason it’s been a really slow reading month. I started a few books and I haven’t managed to focus on any of them. I blame my ill-health. So I am currently in the process of reading Organised Simplicity and Introverts In The Church. I did finish The Elegance of the Hedgehog, but I had to push through to the end with sheer determination, because good grief it was hard work. It contained all the tedious things I dislike about France, pompous intellectualism, apathetic superiority complexes, lack of plot. Just, gah. You can read my stellar review on Goodreads.

What I’m Listening To

I started this month with Sara Bareilles, who is mellow and deep and just makes me want to sing out loud, which I did a lot, in the early May days when I could still sing without choking. This song pretty much sums up where I’m at right now:

I’ve also been living with another, spiritual song

Favourite Picture

14052014 sleeping princess

What I’ve Been Doing

  • It’s been the busiest month of the year so far, not least because I’m back on musical duties at church after a long maternity leave and I’m getting stuck in behind the keyboard and the microphone again. I love it, especially singing, but it’s a major logistical adjustment nonetheless, especially as we hosted a conference mid-May and I left Luciole properly for a whole day for the first time.
  • The rest of the month was spent surviving a bad cold with two children under three when all I wanted to do was crawl into a ball and sleep.

Notable Feasts

  • For the first time in a few years, I missed the Eurovision Song Contest, which is a glorious display of bad taste and outrageous acts with a bit of singing thrown in (don’t let the ‘song contest’ part of the title distract you). I usually spend the night tweeting about things I find amusing with the song subtitles turned on, and I discover European countries I never knew existed (like Moldova, which is somewhere in Eastern Europe, but I couldn’t point it out on a map). Alas, I missed the ascension of the bearded lady who won the contest this year. Instead I attended our new neighbours’ house warming party and it was awesome. We had ribs; lots and lots of ribs. And also curried goat and rhubarb and ginger crumble. I found myself at half midnight dancing to TLC’s ‘No Scrubs’ and some Michael Jackson in the neighbours’ lounge whilst holding a gin and tonic and a glow stick with complete strangers.
a feast of ribs
  • I made sticky chicken drumsticks and spicy wedges because I fancied barbecue and then I forgot to take a picture of that glorious dinner. Grrr. I did learn to make mayonnaise from scratch, which totally blew my mind when it actually worked. Then, inspired by a blog post from my favourite food blog FranglaiseCooking, I made a French potée (a piggy casserole, as they say), which was timely as the weather decided to turn cold again in synch with my menu planning.

May food

On the Blogosphere

I nearly wet myself watching this sketch about Christian dating online.

‘Pinterest moms: I don’t get it but I support it. I totally know where the Bloggess is coming from.

At Home on the Blog

I was so ready to apologize for doing nothing on the blog this month, and then I was possessed by a writing frenzy and went all out on a variety of subjects. I managed to share some very special parenting fails and I watched Frozen.

I also finally did what I said I would do in March when I read Daring Greatly and I wrote what is possibly my most personal blog post to date about emotional capacity and good mental health. And finally, I also talked about personality types, MBTI and being labelled ‘argumentative’ in my early twenties and how that didn’t work very well for me.


What I'm Into

I am linking with Leigh Kramer again, so go check out what other people are into this month!