Autumn · Uncategorized

Autumnal, Message Vine Wreath


I started making this wreath out of vines from the garden last year and decorated it differently at that time. However recent Pinterest searches had me inspired by the Autumn or Fall decor that our cousins the Yanks are so good at. I don’t know whether it’s their Thanksgiving tradition, but they’re decorating at this time of year is awesome, I love it. So I thought I’d give it a go.

Making a vine wreath is simple. Just cut some fresh vines, I actually used some kiwi fruit vines, and start to make a circle with them, starting to weave additional pieces in and out.  I eventually tied up my wreath with florist wire as you can see here…



So far so (pretty much) free. I’ve got to say that I would have liked to have made the wreath thicker, but I couldn’t hack away at the vines too much as we were in a gîte of our friends at the time. This really affected how I decorated it.

Due to the thinness I wanted to add some density, and I also wanted the wreath to be used each year, so I bought some silk flowers;

  • 5 cotton branches
  • 5 red berry branches
  • 2 x 5 bunches of sunflowers
  • burlap ‘ribbon’
  • a set of wooden, alphabet flags with a string (you may not be able to find one like this, but could make something similar I’m sure).

Of course you may just want to add sunflowers if you want to attempt this and this will save you money. Or, if you have the thickness from the vines, you may want to buy just berries, or add pine cones for earthy tones.

I then started to weave out the ‘cotton’ branches just like I’d done the real vines, and I did the same with the berry branches, leaving a space at the top for a burlap tie and bow. I used some more florist wire at this stage to tie it in place.

Next, as the sunflowers were in attached bunches, I separated them with secateurs. These were inserted into spaces around the wreath as well and, where needed, I added extra florist wire.

I’d made the decision not to glue the decorations with hot glue at this time as we are planning our final move (yes, we’re looking to buy in France, woohoo!) and I don’t know what our final house will look like. One house we’ve looked at has a double front door as well as a nearby single one. That would suggest two small wreaths and a large one; so I don’t know if this will be deconstructed and the parts used elsewhere to make a three wreath display, a two wreath display etc. However I do think that gluing the flowers, for example, could ensure I could position them how I’d like (some of the flower heads face the wrong way, for example).

As les petites filles birthdays are so close together I decided to make the wreath an alternate birthday wreath with the little flags. So I have ‘happy birthday’ and then I change one daughter’s name for the other when the time is appropriate.


I don’t know if I’ll keep it as a birthday wreath, perhaps next year I’ll use it as an All Saints/Souls wreath next year? Or if we do end up with a three door house perhaps I’ll have one for each feast day and a third as a birthday wreath? Either way I love the wreath, particularly as we approach the drive and are met with beautiful Autumn colours like these that reflect the wreath….



All Souls Day · Catholic · Catholic Prayers · craft · Uncategorized

All Souls Day Flower Display


I love Autumn. If you go to my Instagram account you’ll see some pictures of a lovely autumnal walk I took at the start of the season. There’s something about walking in a landscape brushed with gold, bronze and red, bright apples peeking through foilage, the air crisp and cool. It’s such an exciting time.

However I’m not such a fan of Halloween. I don’t know whether its because having been in the police when I was younger I’ve seen enough gore, but the innocence of halloween that I experienced as a child seems to be being replaced by vivid depictions of horror and overly sexualised costumes for women. Bleugh!

Having moved to France, a country steeped in Catholicism, even though it’s state is sadly secular, I’ve been reintroduced to All Souls with new eyes. Perhaps the protestant nature of England has resulted in an inherent skepticism of this feast, and the following All Saints day, due to the rejection of the doctrine of purgatory. But here the end of October brings swathes of chrysanthemums to be placed on family graves even as the stores fill with the tacky halloween decor. All Souls sees family members visiting the graves of loved ones, praying for their dead and showing their love to those who have gone before.

This really is the point of these feasts; we’re recognising that through Christ we are saved and that we will be in heaven with all those we love again one day. How awesome is that?

So I wanted to have some decor which I could build on each year to celebrate this under-rated feast and I started with this table centrepiece. It’s on a tray, so moveable which is oh so important when you have little ones about. It’s also has lost of autumnal things so can be brought out before the feast itself – pumpkins, pine cones, silk chrysanthemums and varying silk heathers.

The pumpkins are just ceramic ones I bought for a Euro each, I spray painted two of them as I didn’t like the colours. The pine cones I gathered with the children and my daughter later painted them with clear, glitter paint. This was a wonderful opportunity to start talking with her about what this feast was about.

The silk flowers were arranged and the stalks blended to fit the box, the glass tea light holder was placed in the middle with the pine cones around it, and the pumpkins were placed there too. The central candle is a deliciously scented pumpkin spice.

Around the outside of the tray I wrote the ‘Eternal Rest‘ prayer that every Catholic knows. There have been times when I have suffered real grief and the prayer just seemed to resound in me, giving me such consolation. It felt like I was connected to all the Catholics who had ever said it in time and space, on Earth and in heaven.

If you don’t know how to transfer lettering to wood like this I thought I’d write down how I did it.

  1. Write out the prayer on whatever word document you have. Chose the font that

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    you think most suits your project. As my tray had handles I knew I’d either have to make the script really small, to make sure it all fit beneath the holes of the handles, or vary the size of the script according to where these holes where. As I wanted the words to stand out I chose the latter, choosing the parts of the prayer I find most significant to make bigger.

  2. Whatever way you chose to approach the handles problem you need to ensure that the text size is appropriate for the space you have and I did this by simply printing it off and placing it on the tray edge. Due to my text variations I had to selectaively place mine so I also cut the text, sperating the words, so I could place and replace them. When I was satisfied with the text position and size I photographed where everything was and continued on to the next step.
  3. On the back of each piece of paper I outlined the script which shows through when you print in black. You have to make sure you have a thick line.
  4. Replace the paper where it needs to be and then with the pencil press hard, rubbing over the outline. This causes the graphite on the other side to imprint on the wood.
  5. Once you have finished use this outline to guide you to draw the letters, I used a pen like this one as it has a ‘paint’ effect that works well with wood. I also used a silver ‘sharpie’ style pen to highlight important lettering.
  6. There was one problem; no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t make the text size fit the underneath of the handle. So I chose two different illustrations that fitted it and followed the same method. I just put “black and white, drawing of angel”, for example, and chose a suitable one. I embellished them, but the use of the template was invaluable.

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I love the fact that it’s something I can bring out every year, that I can add to and that my daughters have contributed. What do you think?





Catholic · Christmas · Holidays · Moving To France · Uncategorized

Our First Christmas Chez Nous


My parents moved here over a decade ago, so this wasn’t our first Christmas in France. It was, of course, the first Christmas we’ve spent in our own home in France. What a blessing we got to move in before Christmas; even if the move itself was taxing.

The night before Christmas Eve La Belle Fille and I were in the nearby town of Coutances with its imposing cathedral. La Jolie Fille was at home with Le Marie as she’d been poorly with a tummy bug, but we didn’t want to miss the opportunity for my eldest to get out of the house and meet with her relatives who’d come to see my folks.


As we drove into town and saw all the Christmas lights I couldn’t help but be struck by last year’s visit on a similar day. The town’s beauty had impacted upon me then too and I had been filled with excitement at the prospect of finally moving to France this year. Now living here that visit seemed eons ago, and our life in France the norm. It’s funny how quickly I’ve become accustomed to the idea of this being our home.

This, however, was the quiet before the storm. When La Belle and I arrived home the whole family has supper together. I remarked to Le Marie that my stomach had started to feel a bit funny. Then by the early hours of Christmas Eve it was obvious I had come down with the bug too. I had to spend nearly the whole day in bed and drank water all day, opting for a crust of bread in the early evening like a Dickensian period drama extra.


The worst thing was our plans were going to be affected. You see, some weeks earlier I had taken to Le Bon Coin to find a puppy to purchase for the little ones as their main Christmas gift. I had found a Tebetin Spaniel, coincidently the same breed of dog my family had had when we were children. I’d arranged for the owners to keep it until Christmas Eve, when I’d take it to my parents to look after until Christmas morning.I had been due to travel to the vendors home to collect it, but Le Marie had to go in my place.

On Christmas Day the children slept in late, as did I. They were still asleep at 9 when my husband came in, worried they weren’t awake yet. Perhaps we hadn’t made Christmas exciting enough for them? I think you can figure out my response.


Inevitably I didn’t go to mass, which I still feel guilty for, as we did go to my folks. I took tablets to keep the virus at bay, but felt worn out throughout the day. But you can’t exactly cancel Christmas plans with two little ones can you?

We got to my parents with plans of how we were going to introduce the kids to their new puppy. Code words were exchanged between the folks and us about hiding it just prior to our arrival. We got in the house and, as the kids settled in, I snuck off to get it. We presented the puppy and waited for the reaction….. We got, what can only be described as really, a “Meh”.


So Christmas Day was spent with little indulgence in the land of the gourmet, my ignoring the infant Jesus at the mass and a completely luck lustre response to what is meant to be the gold standard Christmas present.  Ah well. It just goes to show; you can move country, but your life won’t suddenly be perfect. Your problems come with you. Or, as Ecclesiastes says….

The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.
All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.
All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?

Well, part from the God-child lying in the major of course. You know, the one I’ve ignored. Catholic guilt anyone?

Bastille Day · French Culture · Holidays · Uncategorized

20 Bastille Day Facts

imageI think it’s really important, if we’re going to integrate well, to learn something of our new home. So today’s festivities had me swotting up on a little French history. Hope you find something interesting amongst my 20 facts.

  1. Bastille Day has been celebrated since 1790 and became a French National Holiday in 1880. This may seem odd, considering the bloody history that Bastille Day itself sparked, but what is being celebrated is the birth of the Republic (formed in 1792) and the associated concepts of Libert, Equality and Fraternity.
  2. The Bastille itself was built in the 14th Century as a fortress to defen Eastern Paris from an English attack during the 100 years war. However , it was captured by the forces of Henry ‘Band of Brothers’ V, and used as a prison. Following this period it was of course returned to the French.
  3. The Bastille was forced on 14th July , 1789. It contained only seven elderly prisoners; these included four forgers, two ‘lunatics’ and one ‘deviant’ aristocrat.
  4. The aristocrat was not, as one might suppose, the Marquis de Sade. He had been transferred to an insane asylum just prior to he Bastille’s storming. There was high tension due to food shortages in all of France and the military governor of the Bastille, Bernard-René Jordan de Launay, feared that it would be a target for the and had requested reinforcements. The Marquis de Sade had attempted to incite a crowd outside his window in response to this political tension by yelling: “They are massacring the prisoners; you must come and free them.” Hence he had to go!
  5. The prison also did not contain Voltaire, who had previously been an inmate.
  6. Ninety-eight attackers and one defender died in the fighting – the Bastille’s governor, Bernard-René de Launay, was killed and his head displayed around Paris on a spike.
  7. By the summer of 1789 France, ruled by King Louis XVI with his queen Marie Antionette, suffered severe food shortages. In June, the Third Estate, which represented commoners and the lower clergy, declared itself the National Assembly and called for the drafting of a constitution. Louis legalized the National Assembly, but then surrounded Paris with troops and dismissed Jacques Necker, a popular minister of state who had supported reforms.
  8. Mobs began rioting in Paris at the instigation of revolutionary leaders.
  9. De Launay had received a company of Swiss mercenary soldiers on July 7 in response to his request and on July 12 250 barrels of gunpowder were transferred to the Bastille from the Paris Arsenal, which was more vulnerable to attack. De Launay raised its two drawbridges with his men inside the Bastille.
  10. On July 13, mobs stormed the Paris Arsenal and another armory and acquired thousands of muskets.
  11. At dawn on July 14, a great crowd armed with muskets, swords, and various makeshift weapons began to gather around the Bastille.De Launay, having received one delegation of revolutionary leaders, refused to surrender the fortress and its munitions to a second. He promised them he would not open fire on the crowd and showed them that his cannons were not loaded. Instead of calming them a group of men, confident of no retaliation, climbed over the outer wall of the courtyard and lowered drawbridge.
  12. Three hundred revolutionaries rushed in. When the mob outside began trying to lower the second drawbridge, Launay ordered his men to open fire. One hundred rioters were killed or wounded.
  13. However, more and more Parisians were converging on the Bastille. Around 3 p.m., even a company of deserters from the French joined them. The soldiers dragged five cannons into the courtyard and aimed them at the Bastille. Launay surrendered; he and and his men were taken into custody. The gunpowder and cannons were seized, the seven prisoners of the Bastille were freed and De Launey met his fate.
  14. On hearing of the incident the King asked “Is it a revolt?” He was told “No sire, it’s a revolution.”
  15.  Joined by four-fifths of the French army and with the weaponry they needed the revolutionaries seized control of Paris and then the French countryside, forcing King Louis XVI to accept a constitutional government.
  16. In 1792, the monarchy was abolished and ‘The Reign of Terror’ ensued in which many aristocrats were executed. Louis and his wife Marie-Antoinette were sent to the guillotine for treason in 1793.
  17. Bastille Day is celebrated in Paris with a military parade on the Champs Elysees imagecalled the Bastille Day Military Parade. It ends at the Arc de Triomphe, as this is the monument that honors those who died while fighting for France during the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars.
  18. Most municipalities in France celebrate Bastille Day beginning with a Mayoral speech. This is often followed by a war memorial wreath-laying as well as fireworks, dances, music and food.
  19. In 2004 British servicemen celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Entente Cordiale by taking part in the National Bastille Day Parade in Paris for the first time and some embers have been sent to represent Britain each year.
  20. The French national anthem, La Marseillaise, was penned by army engineer Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle during the French revolutionary wars in 1792. It reflects the period in history and, like everything, sounds so much prettier in French. To give you a taste of it the first verse and chorus can be translated as;

Let’s go children of the fatherland,
The day of glory has arrived!
Against us tyranny’s
Bloody flag is raised! (repeat)
In the countryside, do you hear
The roaring of these fierce soldiers?
They come right to our arms
To slit the throats of our sons, our friends!


Grab your weapons, citizens!
Form your batallions!
Let us march! Let us march!
May impure blood
Water our fields!




Father's Day · Holidays · Teaching French To Children

Les Fêtes des Pères; French Father’s Day Card And Songs

As its Father’s Day this Sunday I’m busy teaching this to my little girl to sing to her daddy today and we’ve used the lyrics in her Father’s Day card. I thought I’d include some links and lyrics in case, if you have young children, you’d like to do the same.

imagePetit Papa

Petit Papa, c’est aujourd’hui ta fête,
Maman m’a dit que tu n’étais pas là.
J’avais des fleurs pour couronner ta tête
Et un bouquet pour mettre sur ton cœur.
Petit Papa, petit Papa!

Little Daddy, today is your day
Mommy told me you weren’t here.
I had flowers to crown your head
And a bunch to put on your heart.
Little Daddy, little Daddy!

Obviously in this traditional French Fathers’ Day song daddy is out working!

Alternatively there’s this one from Monde des Petits.

C’est Toi Mon Papa

C’est toi mon papa adoré ! image
C’est toi qui me fais rêver !
C’est toi qui fais mon bonheur,
Je t’aime de tout mon cœur.

Qui m’a appris les additions ?
Papa plus moi equals Plein de bisous !
Qui m’a appris les multiplications ?
Papa fois moi equals Plus de bisous !

Bon… maintenant tu connais mon secret !
Tu sais, si je sais faire du vélo,
ou si je sais nager sur le dos,
C’est grâce à quelqu’un d’important pour moi !


Qui m’a donc appris le français ? image
Papa, je t’aime, papa, bisous, bisous !
Et qui m’a donc appris l’anglais ?
I love you daddy, I love you ! Kiss ! Kiss !

You are my loved daddy!
It’s you who makes me dream !
It’s you who makes me happy ,
I love you with all my heart.

Who taught me the additions ?
Papa plus Me equals Lots of kisses!
Who taught me the multiplications ?
Papa times me equals more kisses!

Well … now you know my secret! image
You know, if I know cycling,
or if I swim on my back,
It is thanks to someone important to me!


Who taught me French?
Daddy, I love you , daddy, kiss, kiss!
And I therefore learned English ?
I love you daddy , I love you ! Kiss ! Kiss !



Catholic Prayers In French · Holidays · Learning French · valentines day

Valentine’s Day

St Valentine is a mysterious figure due to the fact that he, if he was just one man, lived in the time of the Church fathers during periods of persecution so records of who he actually was are not in abundance. However the man that Valentine’s Day itself is based on was a Roman priest, or bishop, who lived during the time of the emperor Caludias who was persecuting the Church and who also put out an edict which stopped young men from marrying.

This was to put paid to the inhibition of young men’s ability to fight by their natural concern of dying and leaving behind a wife and family. Valentine defied this law and married young couples in secret, for which he was jailed and later martyred.

Valentine was declared a Saint by Pope Gelase I for his sacrifice in the defence of love.

So instead of chocolates and cards this Valentines Sunday you may want to pray for this wonderful saints intercession. Below I’ve included a prayer to Saint valentines to protect love, and for those without a spouse, to find love.

Have a blessed Valentine’s Day!

Saint-Valentin, image
Protecteur de ceux qui s’aiment,
Toi qui a vécu et annoncé,
au risque de ta vie,
le message de Paix de l’Evangile,
Toi qui, par le combat d’Amour du martyre,
as triomphé de toutes tes forces
de l’indifférence, de la haine et de la mort,
Ecoute notre prière :
Face aux déchirures et aux divisions du monde,
donne-nous de toujours nous aimer
sans aucun égoïsme
pour être, au milieu de tous,
de fidèles témoins de l’Amour de Dieu. image
Accorde-nous de demeurer animés
d’un amour et d’une confiance capables
de nous faire surmonter
les obstacles de l’existence.
Nous t’en prions,
intercède pour nous auprès de Dieu
qui est la source même
de tout Amour et de toute Beauté
et qui vit et règne
pour les siècles des siècles.
Saint-Valentin, prie pour nous !

Trouver l’âme soeur

imageConfiant en votre bienveillance, me voici à vos pieds
pour implorer votre charité et votre compassion.
Intercédez en ma faveur pour que la solitude s’éloigne
et qu’il me soit permis de rencontrer l’âme soeur.
Saint-Valentin, Patron des amoureux, ne me laissez pas
dans la tristesse, la peine et le silence.
Faites que ma vie s’illumine dans le partage de l’amour.
Intercédez pour moi, pauvre pécheur, auprès du Tout-Puissant
que je vénère en respectant Sa Sainte Loi.
Saint-Valentin, vous qui avez donné tant d’amour et de charité,
vous qui séjournez parmi les Bienheureux, avec ferveur,
je vous adresse cette prière. Accordez-moi votre assistance
pour que les ténèbres de mon coeur puissent entrevoir
la lumière de l’amour et du bonheur. Ainsi soit-il.

Catholic · Catholic Prayers In French · Easter · Holidays · Learning French · Lent

Lenten Devotion; Divine Mercy In French

High-Resolution-Divine-MercyWhat are you doing for lent? This year I’m giving up alcohol and committing myself to prayer. With two children under five I need to think what I can do, rather than promising something I’m not going to manage. So I thought I’d keep the Holy Hour and say the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

It won’t take too long and I thought it would be helpful in the future as I’ve decided to recite the prayers in French. This means that each day throughout lent I have to say the Our Father, Haily Mary and The Apostles Creed; all prayers I’d be saying in mass in French when I (please God) move.

If you’re interested in joining me I’ve done this little print out ( La Prières á la Miséricorde Divine ) (former teacher, I just can’t help myself) with the prayers and how to recite them.

Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday) will be here soon; gosh the year’s going quick!