Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Soup of the Gods and French Lessons...

It's been a busy few days here in The Humble Bungalow.
Janet from The Gardener's Cottage inspired me with her recent post.
She lives in the most beautiful cottage and her eye for detail in decor is sheer perfection.

Spring Cleaning has commenced and I have started with some really messy spaces...
kitchen drawers and the pantry cupboard.

The dry goods shelf of the pantry cupboard.
I washed the shelves and wiped the jars before rearranging the supplies.

I was surprised how many packages of half full pasta were lurking in the back of the cupboard.
It's good to have a regular clean out so you can keep on top of what you have on hand.
No need to buy what you already have!

I switched over my "junk" drawer and turned it into my spice drawer.

I got rid of most of the junk and so now it looks more like an office supply spot.
You can see why the spices were crowded as this drawer is tiny compared to the one that house the spices.

I cleaned out my make up tin and wiped all the containers and washed and air dried the brushes.
I am a minimalist when it comes to make up...
rather a maximalist when it comes to skin care but that is another post altogether!

I made the BEST mushroom soup that I have ever tasted!
It is so delicious that I used the word "orgasmic" when describing it to the girlfriend that gave me the book.
Soup Sisters Easy and Delish mushroom soup recipe can be viewed here.

Saute the onions, garlic and mushrooms.

Make the roux.
Simmer the soup a few minutes.


I have started taking French Lessons from Alliance Francaise.
I've 5 years of French under my belt but that was years ago, so I need to bring my skills up to speed in preparation for the trip to Paris next year.

There is a lot of homework in addition to the weekly lessons, so my blog posting will be taking a back seat for awhile until I catch up and feel more confident in class.

I would like to ask readers who have been to Paris for a favour.
I wonder if you might share some of the best things to see and do and also if any of you have apartment rental agencies or accommodation information.
 I would be most grateful.




  1. Your soup looks really delicious! Are you looking for a small apartment in Paris? I know a couple of retired B.C. teachers who have a studio for rent near Montparnasse. My best experience has been with Paris Address where I rented their Val de Grâce apartment for 5 months in 2012. Be careful with agency fees. In some cases, they charge just to locate the apartment. Decide on the area that you want and go from there. I like to walk by the Seine and enjoy the Luxembourg Gardens so I prefer the 5th. Bonne chance!

  2. I have to seems that being retired has given us both the time to clean out drawers leisurely, and make "mushroom" soup (me too, really!!). My homemade mushroom soup has part cream, part milk and wine too...very popular in our house :) However, instead of taking French lessons, I'm helping my husband put up irregular mosaic back splash tiles today!! We are 1/2 done putting them on, and then comes the's all coming together nicely.
    Good luck with your French lessons...and have fun!! :)

  3. Hostess, you have inspired me to clean out my pantry AND my makeup drawer today! I'll be home all day with window cleaners, so it is the perfect day for me to tackle these jobs! Thank you!

  4. Paris! Lucky duck! It's my favourite city. Best part was wandering, neck craned just taking it all in. The Musee D'Orsay is amazing, and they have a Van Gogh exhibit on through early July.

  5. I'll echo Madame's recommendation for Paris Address, recommended to me by Duchesse. We've had good stays in two of their apartments -- both in St. Germain.
    Your spice drawer looks so tidy, sigh . . . .

  6. Cleaning out and organizing must be in the air these days. I'm doing a few drawers and cupboards at a time. Your drawers and cupboards are looking so tidy.
    Bon courage with the French lessons!

  7. Ah, Paris...I agree with Margaret that the best part is just strolling and taking it all in. Of course, you have to see some museums and things too. I used a copy of Rick Steves' guide to Paris. He puts out a new one every year and there's an incredible amount of info and advice about where to go and what to do. It's fun to read through as you plan your trip and will give you an idea of what you want to do.

  8. I was in Paris a couple of months ago for three days and it was a really good trip. I would recommend staying in the St Germain area it is central, safe, smart and interesting as it's an upmarket area. Must see...Saint Chapelle and the Conciergerie...


    HI Hostess,

    I am a frequent reader, but rarely post. You've inspired me to walk more and try to lose weight this spring and I feel I ought to share a little with you too. I love roses, especially David Austen's, and love Paris too. Two summers ago we spent 10 days in the apartment above. They service was easy to use and the apartment was nice (not over the top luxurious, but nice) very convenient. Each morning my daughter and I would walk around the neighborhood along the Seine and to the bakery before heading back to the apartment to meet the later risers (7 am instead of 6!) It is a quiet street with nearby grocery/boulangerie/cafes. The one on the corner by the church down the street was our favorite for afternoon vin. Central location that allowed us to walk about everywhere. Best regards, Leigh Ann

  10. Also the Marais area is so interesting lots of special one off little shops...a great haberdashery shop stopping off in the old Jewish area for a great lunch...just wander but buy a carnet of ten tickets for the metro it's cheap to travel this way and you can use the tickets on the buses too.
    Are you planning a day trip out to Versailles? So much fun!

  11. Oh I have too many things I have prioritized before organizing, so to avoid anxiety I had to skip right to the soup!

  12. When planning our trip last year, friends suggested for rentals.
    It was too late for us to book an apartment, so we stayed at the Hotel LeSix, near the Luxembourg Gardens. The hotel and staff were fantastic. All the Paris museums are fabulous. For the Louvre, I highly recommend this DVD before your trip (check your library for a copy):
    A visit to Versailles is incredible if you can fit it in, especially for the avid gardener. Have fun just walking and absorbing the art and beauty.
    Good luck with your French.. I'm off to clean!

    1. I second the recommendation for LeSix-- it's a lovely hotel! But rather than have breakfast there, why not go to one of the wonderful cafés in the neighborhood? Much more interesting.

      The Musée d'Orsay is wonderful, as is the Musée Marmottan, an old hunting lodge which has been turned into a museum housing the largest collection of Monet paintings in the world.

    2. Joan.. Hurray for LeSix! And good point, don't have breakfast in your hotel, ever. Get out early and walk the streets. You're in Pairs!

  13. We stay in places so humble that I hesitate to link to them! We get most through Abritel. I was inspired by your post to put a link up (on my blog) to the Foreign Service Language Courses.

    Mr FS is fluent in French, which makes everything very easy. But even the pathetic remnants of my French are met with many compliments and big smiles. Someone even said (in French, of course): "I can tell that the French is in there, trying to come out." So nice! Any efforts at speaking French are appreciated by the French.

  14. Hostess,
    How fun to be planning a trip to Paris. We enjoyed attending a chamber music concert at Sainte Chapelle.
    Beautiful music in an incredible space.

  15. As someone who has spent a great deal of time in Paris, and in French classes, (and who lives in a primarily French-speaking city) I wish you "bonne chance". Don't be discouraged! IRL a lot of carefully-learned French goes out the window but goodwill will get you through. There is a vast sea of "intermediateness" and that's fine. Relax and enjoy it!

  16. Oh, how I envy you your trip to Paris. So much to look forward to!! I have a pantry to get organized one of these days . . .

  17. Go see the Monet Water Lilies. Sit on the handy bench in the center of the gallery so you are surrounded by them. After you have gotten over the first flush of ecstasy (it never departs entirely), look toward the door and watch the faces of people as they enter and gasp in delight.

  18. Paris - I liked going go the top of the Arc de Triomphe much better than the Eiffel Tower. You do have to walk up steps though. I also liked the Orangerie Museum and the Cluny Museum (medieval art) and lots of walking around and people watching. I wish I had done a guided food tour of some sort but that makes a good reason to return.

  19. Something my sisters and I really loved was visiting the Musee Nissim de Camondo. It is a lovely "house museum" with a heartbreaking back story. Both the building and the furnishings are incredible, and yet I seldom see this listed in travelers' suggestions. In many ways, it was as interesting as Versailles -- if not more because of the furnishings. Bonus: The day we visited there were hardly any other visitors, but from an upstairs window we did observe an elegantly dressed middle-aged couple leaving. When we got to the room with the guest book, we realized that the couple who had signed it just before us were the Count and Countess de something French! Beautiful neighborhood/park for strolling, too.

  20. Love spring cleaning too. Paris - love!! Last visit, I stayed near Place de Vendome as it's nice and calm there but if I were to return, I think I'd stay in the 6th in Saint Germain as it felt more Parisian somehow (if that makes sense!) My favourite art museum is also L'Orangerie. I did not expect to love Versailles but it was one of the highlights of my last visits. Gorgeous! The Georges restaurant at Centre Pompidou offers a great view. And shopping! Agnes B is amazing for basics. Oooh. I want to go back stat!

  21. Try out the blog:, too, is Adrian Leeds & she always knows exactly what is happening in Paris in any given time...great resource for things to do & see.
    L'Hotel des Grands Balcons in the 6th is having their 125 yr anniversary & rooms are reduced...a very nice, well located hotel in a great location near Jardin de Luxembourg & St Germain/Odeon etc
    If you have the time a trip to Giverny (home of Monet) is wonderful.....
    & as others have said: just walk, walk, walk & sit in cafes....too much fun!
    Bon Voyage!

  22. I forgot to mention how we loved the unexpected parks we found as we walked in Paris. We had gone to the Tourist bureau to purchase our multi pass for the museums(a must buy) and when we came out I realized we were close to the Palais Royal and the Comedie Francaise. We love the movie " Charade" which is set in Paris and stars Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant. The climax of the movie takes place in the arcade o and the theatre. My husband loved seeing the setting for the film. We then found the gardens by the Palais and a small cafe where we had lunch.

  23. Can I ask how long you are going to Paris for? Reason is that it does make an itinerary easier to plan and depends on what your aims are. Perhaps you could post on that and then I could give you tips accordingly. Fashion emphasis, art or buildings or a combo? Bc even though Versailles isn't in Paris I would have to say you should go and on the private tour for instance. Hope you post and then I think you would get more constructive tips based on your aims!

    1. At this point it may be one week or two...we are so early in the planning stage that it could be extended!

  24. Paris: hard to know where to start! I loved the view from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Several people have mentioned Musee D'Orsay and walking along the Seine, Notre Dame and the Opera House shouldn't be missed. I first went to Paris in 1996 when my running club took part in the race from Paris to Versailles. The latter is amazing, even though we didn't go in any of the buildings. Bill and I went back for a week a couple of years later. The Galerie de Lafayette was amazing and of course there is the Louvre. On our most recent trip we focused on the Marais and some of the small streets on the Left Bank. A day out at the Chateau de Fontainebleau is defintely worthwhile. Our best trips have been when we decided what we were most interested in seeing and then did some research about what there was to see relating to those interests. I always aim to see any decorative arts museums and we both love architecture and inter-war history, art nouveau and art deco design... Oh, I forgot, Pere Lechaise Cemetery and the textile shops around Sacre Coeur... There really is too much to cover in one trip! Just sitting and people watching or window shopping is pretty amazing in Paris. If you love history, I would recommend The Seven Ages of Paris by Alistair Horne. Look forward to hearing about your trip!

  25. I love a good mushroom soup. This looks yummy! I look forward to reading of your plans for Paris. Have a wonderful week. Bonnie