La Chatte Gitane (or The Gypsy Cat) was the name we chose for our cottage in France at the time. We chose it while on the road, moving house the first time round, from Ireland to France with 2 dogs and 7 cats in the car.
This blog began its insignificant life as a recipe book for friends and family who would ask me repeatedly for a recipe of this, that and the other.
Since then it has taken many different directions, like we did and like gypsies tend to do. Sometimes making a U-turn and revisiting familiar roads and taking a break when necessary.
You'll find recipes here, but also musings about the places we've called home, the gardens that we've established, not always successfully, the homes we've improved and the environments we've lived in. Currently, after yet another stint in Ireland, we're back in France @ Le Mas d'Ayen

Monday, June 27, 2016

Who Lives in a House Like This ?

Nope ! It's not the volunteer Nil. Lol @ Jules.

Broody Hen Number One has finally squeezed a chick out of an egg !

And we moved them into the Wendy house. They were making themselves vulnerable to foxes, crows, magpies, mink and whatever else, by fleeing the chicken run and wild camping.

The turquoise arrows are for your benefit or you possibly wouldn't spot the chick.

Thank goodness the broodiness is over for another year (or so we hope)

The other chooks are thinking what tasty bits did they get ?  The same as you, but you wolfed everything down in no time. Tssk.

Finally the Chicken Wendy House is in use.

Have a great week.
Patricia xxx...x

Friday, June 24, 2016

Where Did the Time Go ?

It's been ten whole days since my last post and I'm not really sure what I've been doing during that time.
Well, yes. One of the things I did was 'embellish' the freshly painted front door. I went on a shopping spree and bought two bright pink planters, two marguerites and 4 lavenders. I repurposed an old-ish wreath by covering it with burlap/hessian ribbon and two little boats in wood. Bow ! Bam ! Ready !

Our new volunteer arrived on the 13th. Her name is Nil and she is from France. She's a good sport and a fast learner. She has been weeding around the raised beds, tied up the tomato plants in the greenhouse, transplanted seedlings, planted out lettuces, etc. etc. She works good and  meticulously.
And we cleaned the house from top  to bottom (almost).

There is someone living in the Wendy house for chickens, but that will be revealed in the coming days.

So, now I'm off, doing some more of not much. I definitely need a kick up the backside.
Have a lovely weekend.
Patricia xxx...x

Monday, June 13, 2016

Meanwhile on the Farm.

How about this, eh ?  The broilers have a new feeder, fabricated by Bert (after I had shown him this on Pinterest)
Nevertheless, he had taken me by surprise because I din't know he was doing this. They now have two such feeders and it is mucho better than the one on the floor, which is always full of wood shavings.

And this is how you fill the feeder. They get a mixture of chick crumb (which they prefer), mixed grains and an organic complete chicken feed, which comes in pellets.

We bought a spring cabbage and hung it on a piece of string in their enclosure. Oh boy, do they love this.

Now about the piggies. I uploaded 4 short clips of  the little rascals. Be sure to turn up the volume and start with the first one.

Piggies, working away outside. Bert walks by and into the barn.

They have to come around the bank and the corner and then they wait to hear Bert in the barn.

They go in and ..... I leave you to see (and hear) for yourself.

That's better !

They are addicted to milk whey. 
The first time we got some from our friends Sophie and Ruud, they weren't convinced. Now, all has changed. They 'demand' or pester us for it.
Talk about conditioning. The pigs ? Or us ?

Have a pleasant week ahead !
Patricia xxx...x

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Front Door

We've been here in this house just over three years and I have changed the colour of the front door as many times.
I didn't 'plan' to do this, but every springtime I feel like a change.

So, yesterday I got some paints out and started mixing. I used Chalk Paint (Original from Annie Sloan) as a base.

I added some of the facade paint (see picture below), a squirt of magenta (the artist variety acrylic) and the result is shocking !  Himself wasn't too sure at first, because when it went on it looked proper bubblegum pink. It has toned down a bit with drying. It looks actually quite good with the colour of the stone and the painted extension.

Need some more embellishments, like more colour in the plant pots and a funky doormat.

The door colour was blue before and it looked colder than the photo below shows. 
And, it was time for a change. Ha ha !

Before the blue, it was lavender, but it had bleached a lot during the year it was on the door (must have been from all the sun)

When we moved into the house, the front door was a bland (in my opinion) brown and I wasn't having any of that !

I don't think I can just slap another coat of paint on top next time. The door might not close again.

The window boxes have been filled and are looking goo-ood.

And I'll leave you with a last picture, of the Sweet Williams in all their glory. 

Now, that's a colour and a half.

Have a great weekend !
Patricia xxx...x

Thursday, June 09, 2016


Some fabrics have arrived yesterday.
This to fulfill my duty on some particular request

Now, I am filled with trepidation. Because I am not a seamstress and I have never made a ballgown for Cinderella before.

It didn't stop me from trying to find out what the result might be.

I looked on the internet for Cinderella slippers, but it was tough. In the end I arrived at a Belgian website and found these. Okay, they are not made from glass or even transparent plastic, but they look cute and will fit in perfectly with the dress after a few embellishments.
I had them sent to my mum's address and she took these pictures for me.

Funny mummy tried the shoes for size on Micky or Minnie Mouse (can't tell for sure).

I have another month and a half to cobble this together. Also on the list is looking for a suitable Alice band/tiara, gloves, Sarah wanted gloves, and a whole lot of other stuff that I have conveniently forgotten.

Patricia xxx...x

PS To my sister in law, Joelle.  "Do not show this to Sarah !"

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Broiler Chickens

Yes, we eat meat.
No, I don't have to justify myself.
I prefer to know where my meat comes from and reared as freely and natural as possible. If we can raise the animals ourselves, all the better.
So here we are. Fifteen broilers, now just over two weeks old. Friends of ours also raise their own and when they got theirs we asked to bring us some too.
The little chicks were only one day old when our friends bought them. They kept these and their own 35 under a heat lamp for a good week.

The chicks have been here now since Friday or Saturday ( I can't keep up with the days) and they are doing well.  
They run after  flies, midges, buzzing things..., they eat a lot of food and drink copious amounts of water.
They love to stretch one leg and one wing at the same time, which I find funny.
In short, they are healthy and content as far as we can see. We keep a watchful eye to make sure that it stays that way.

I have added a very short video clip just to see if this malarkey works.

Patricia xxx...x

Friday, June 03, 2016

Blooms and Buds

 A few small plants, placed in the flower garden two years ago and they've spread really nicely. The leaves are a burgundy colour and make a good ground cover, minimising weeds (I'm all for that). The flowers are purple spiked delicatessen for bees and other buzzers.
And, I've forgotten the name.

The flag iris, one of our many native wildflowers. We have them in abundance.

Rhododendron Ponticum. An invasive species that needs desperate taming (or killing), but undeniably beautiful when in bloom 

 Foxglove or digitalis purpurea. Another of our natives. These pictures I took during the weekend, now these buds have sprung.

 I love them so much that I'll 'rescue' them from outside my herbaceous border and give them pride of place.

My yellow rose with heavenly scent. 

 Picture taken last week when the leucanthemum was starting to flower in earnest. 
At this very moment it is like a sea of white. My mum always had them in the garden and these have been handed down to me by her.  Just a few plants and they have a prolific spreadability.  Which is, again, fine by me. They are easily pulled up if they start to take over, just like the monbretia (in the foreground)

 Sweet William about to pop.

And the lavender. 

I've been weeding and weeding, wheelbarrows full. The worst offenders are the creeping buttercup and the rushes. 

 These above have now found a place in my window boxes for hopefully a good display this summer.

Most of the trees we've planted last year in March have survived, only to be smothered by grass.  Soon, I hope to free the trees.

The stream, now calm and all picturesque, until the heavens open.

Have a nice weekend with lots of sunshine.
Patricia xxx...x

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

We Still Have Time for the Dogs

The weather has been glorious and we've been spending a lot of our time outside. The garden, lots of weeding, planting, sowing. The chickens who have been giving us the runaround and not forgetting the piglets who need a watchful eye.
The dogs still need attention and love and cuddles. Which we give aplenty whenever we're passing. 
With this heatwave (yes, heatwave) they are happy to just lay somewhere cool with the gentle breeze washing over them.

Blackie and Millie. Millie is the beige one ;)  

I love our dogs.

Over at the chooks, not all is what it should have been.
Broody Number One, who came from the barn back home first, sat herself down on a nest in the main coop - without any eggs.
Broody Number Two went back home and was so over being broody.
Broody Number Three was still on a nest in the barn till we moved her over to the Wendy house.

But not before I laid fresh straw with a sprinkling of, wait for it...
Sprigs of Thyme, rosemary, oregano, cat'flippin'nip, mint, lavender, rose petals... Got the recipe off Pinterest. It is supposed to calm and relax broody hens. Bert thought I was totally losing it. 
He took Number Three and I took the egg (one - 1) she was sitting on.
I placed the one egg in the nest of the Wendy house and Bert place Number Three on top.  Closed the lid.

Fifteen minutes later when I checked on her the egg had rolled into the wood shavings and she was sitting next to it. Thank you, Pinterest.
We decided to leave her to it for a while and provided her with food and water.
The next morning she wanted out ! Out ! Out ! 
We opened the door into the large run and she happily joined the rest of the gang.

About Number One. She's not giving up. She stole 2 eggs the other hens had laid and she's content.
We'll leave her be.

Patricia xxx...x
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