Hand Poured Candles from France at Sharla’s!

 

 

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I love it when something really special comes to our sweet town of McKinney.  We can always count on Sharla Bush of Sharla’s Boutique to do just that and to be very generous, hint; stay tuned there might be a giveaway!

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Sharla and I share of love of France and the fabulous luxuries that are produced there. At Sharla’s, you can find many treasures from around the world but today I want to tell you about one that was over 2 years in the making.

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Several years ago, Sharla was encouraged to create her own line of candles.  After a series of serendipitous events, she was led to Paris and the oldest manufacturer of scented candles.  Rigaud in Paris produces customized scents for customers all over the world including the very best French designers.

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At this magnificent place, Sharla began the journey to create a line of exquisite candles reflecting her interpretation of how to live beautifully.

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The candles are hand poured using the finest oils into a mirrored glass container.  The containers have an etched front door and window allowing the light to shine through when the candle burns.

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Each candle is outfitted in a darling “house” box.  The boxes and fragrances are numbered 1-5; each number represents a different fragrance.

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  Sharla wanted to give the candles numbers instead of names.  “I want my clients to interpret each fragrance,” she said, “scents evoke memories and I want choosing one to be an individual experience for each guest.”

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This a silver tray full of Sharla’s candles, a gift I recently gave to my party guests.  I attached and antique key from a flea market find in Paris.

Sharla’s scent, is number 1, she describes it as encompassing her life and the olfactory senses from her past.  My favorite of the collection is number 5, what will yours be?  Please tell me!!

GIVEAWAY

I am very excited to tell you that Sharla has graciously given me 2 of her signature candles in scent number 1 for an instagram giveaway.  Head over to @atasteofparis for all of the details and I hope YOU win!

To double your odds, write your friends name in the comment section of this post, share the post and if they subscribe to A Taste of Paris, you will both be entered TWICE!

GOOD LUCK!
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Autumn in Provence~Olives

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For my last look at autumn in Provence I want to share picture of gorgeous colorful olives in the markets.

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Workers scoop large spoonfuls of olives into bags to be enjoyed by their customers.

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I am not an olive eater per say, but the olives in France taste amazing and once I start, stopping is difficult!! The olives are not pitted, making eating them a bit inconvenient but the flavor and meatiness is well worth the effort!

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There is much variety in the brining liquid and herbs used to finish the olives, a flavor for everyone.

Olive tapenade and bread is often served on the tables of  Provencal restaurants when you sit down, think salsa at a mexican restaurants. Below you will find my Green Olive Tapenade recipe, enjoy!

Green Olive Tapenade

1 ½ cups Spanish olives, pitted and rinsed

2 cloves garlic, pressed

1 tablespoon capers

1 teaspoon each lemon zest and freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 tablespoons or more olive oil

½ teaspoon herbs de Provence

Salt to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until mixture is chunky.  Serve with French bread.

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Autumn in Provence~The Land of Lavender

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Beautiful lavender fields abound in Provence.

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By the time we arrived in September, the lavender had already been harvested for the year.  Lavender is a fragrant bushy shrub that reaches the peak of its growing cycle in late summer. This is a small lavender field depicts the recent harvest.

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Lavender is prized for its essential oils that have many medicinal properties.  It is said to have a tranquilizing effect making sleep easier as well as an antiseptic used for insect bites and treating wounds.

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Visiting the distillery was interesting.  Steam is used to extract the prized essential oils from the blooms and stems of the plant.

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Once extracted the oils are kept in plastic vats and shipped all over the world.

Lavender can be used in our food too, like in my recently published Goat Cheese Truffles or the Lavender Vanilla Scones that are sure to please!

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Lavender Vanilla Scones

3 cups flour

½ cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ sticks cold butter, cubed

1 cup chilled buttermilk

Seeds from 1 vanilla pod

1 teaspoon edible lavender plus more for garnish

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix all dry ingredients in food processor. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles small peas.  Mix extracts and vanilla seeds and lavender into the buttermilk.   Pour buttermilk into food processor and pulse until dough is formed.  Gather the dough into a ball and turn it onto a lightly floured work surface.  Knead it gently not more than a dozen times.  Cut the dough in half.   Roll ½ of the dough into a circle ½ inch thick. Slice the circle like a pizza creating triangles.  Repeat with second half of dough.  Place triangles on a baking sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until slightly brown around edges.  Frost scones with glaze and garnish with lavender sprinkle if desired.

Vanilla Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon vanilla

Seeds from 1 vanilla pod

Pinch of salt

Cream

Add all ingredients in a bowl except cream; add cream slowly until desired consistency is formed.  Drizzle tops of baked scones with glaze.

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Autumn in Provence- Through an Open Door

Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls. Joseph Campbell

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I adore this image from my most recent autumnal visit to Provence. It draws you in, wondering what could be on the other side of that passageway.

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It’s Friday and I am contemplating the doors that have both opened and closed in my life while sifting through photos and I am grateful for both.

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I am always curious about what is on the other side of colorful doors like this with grand adornments.

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When a door closes it can be very sad.  It’s like we are being pushed forward even though we might not feel ready; it’s times like these that faith and hope get us through.

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And just like that a window opens and things are better than you could have ever imagined.  I think this little kitty agrees!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend, hug someone you love today!

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Autumn in Provence~A Trip to the Market

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Provencal markets are truly a magical place for food lovers.

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Gorgeous seasonal vegetables were relying only on their vivid color to entice buyers.

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Stunning eggplants begging to come home and become something wonderful on your plate!

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I adore the vegetables artfully displayed in sturdy baskets.

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Freshly picked thyme and bay leaves perched in this precious, red riding hood basket.

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The markets of Provence have much more to offer foodies besides just produce.

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Freshly made sausage is always a good bet to go along with a cheese and wine picnic perhaps?

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Nuts and dried fruits as far as the eye can see.

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And prepared foods like roasted chicken or this enormous copper pan loaded to the brim with Paella, just look at the size of those shrimp!

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Markets are bursting with jams, tapenades and spreads along with clothing, table linens, soaps and lavender. All in all a truly lovely way to spend a few hours and we did!

Travel with me next autumn! Two seats are available for

A Taste of Provence September 7-14th 2019

Reach out today for more information!

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Autumn in Provence~Sunflowers and Van Gogh

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I was at Trader Joes this morning gathering supplies for my classes this week, French Foods of the Normandy Coast and 4 Course French Menu at the Arboretum on Saturday and I noticed the gorgeous sunflowers for sale.

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They reminded me of the lovely sunflowers I enjoyed while touring my A Taste of Provence group in September. Sunflowers are such a happy flower!

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So big and bold, they almost don’t look real.

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The Provencal sunflowers surely inspired Vincent Van Gogh to paint this vase chalked full.  This particular painting was done while he lived in Arles, not far from our base in Saint Remy.

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One of the most interesting places we visited this year was the Van Gogh Clinic.  Van Gogh checked himself in and spent the last year of his life here in Saint Remy.

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He was very prolific and painted some of his most well-known pieces here, including Starry Night and Irises.  This is a look at the beautiful interior garden that inspired Van Gogh and many other residents.

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This is such a beautiful view of the outdoor garden at the clinic, also a source of inspiration to the artists here.

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I thought this was such an interesting arrangement I came across while traveling in the area. The sunflowers standing so tall and proud!

Have a happy day!

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Autumn in Provence- A Visit to the Fig Farm

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September in Provence is glorious.  I recently heard someone say that autumn in Provence is what springtime is to Paris and I wholeheartedly agree.  The crowds are gone but the temperate beauty remains.  I will be sharing some of my favorite moments from travel with my 2018 group in the coming weeks.  I hope you will stay tuned and enjoy!

Welcome to the fig farm.

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Meet Frances who is a passionate fig farmer.

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He welcomed us with open arms to his farm.  Not only does Frances grow many varieties of figs here, his wife creates flavor-packed jams and condiments on sale in their tasting room. Frances is truly happy when visitors have tasted every last one of her concoction!

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Look at this beauty, so ripe it’s falling off the tree. Locals pull up and buy fresh figs by the flat.

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Frances was eager for us to taste his figs. So many figs!

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Frances is definitely a fig expert.  Both of his children live in the United States; he confessed that when he flies over the pond for a visit, figs are always on his mind.  He enjoys visiting fig farms all over the US, learning about new varieties and adding them to his orchard collection.

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There is nothing technical about drying figs, just lay them out on a rack and let the sun do the work.

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The farm was a quaint location to enjoy a picnic of market goodies curated from the Saint Remy morning market.

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Definitely a great way to spend a few hours!

Travel with me in 2019, for all the details, CLICK HERE!

Feel like a fun night out?  Join me Tonight!  Thursday at Toulouse for a Provencal Happy Hour

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Dinner Party~Flavors from a Provençal Market

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I am thrilled to say that you are invited to a fall dinner party featuring flavors from the markets of Provence.  I’ve only been back from the heart of Provence a few days and my soul is bursting with inspiration I will soon share with guests of this magnificent event.

I have partnered with Lauren Palmer from The Art of Living Beautifully who will open her stunning home for the evening and Tracie Miller and Marcie Heneham from Unique Unique Designs who will  be styling  this glorious event.

The evening will begin with cocktails and nibbles and then a short program; I’ll share more about the menu and of course fabulous Provence! Tracie and Marcie will give you plenty of inspiration for tablescaping and centerpieces sure to inspire you for the upcoming entertaining season.

After our short program we will invite our guests to sit for a wonderful meal including wine pairings that have been graciously donated by Andy Doyle of McKinney Wine Merchant. I am particularly excited to share the splendid dessert planned for you.

I look forward to seeing you there!  Don’t delay, only a few tickets remain.

For Tickets CLICK

Dinner Party 4

 

 

Apple Tart

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Making an apple tart is so easy you could have one for dessert tonight!

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Start with Granny Smith apples.

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Core and slice the apples.

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Roll the crust out to eliminate creases.

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Arrange the apples in 3 rows.

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Sprinkle with sugar.

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Dot with butter and Bake!

Enjoy!

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Apple Tart

1 sheet puff pastry

4 Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced thin

½ cup sugar

2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  On lightly floured surface roll puff pastry slightly to eliminate creases and to form a rectangle.  Place the crust onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Spread out apples in three rows.  Sprinkle the apples with sugar and dot with butter. Fold edges of the crust up to create the border.  Bake the tart for 30-35 minutes or until crust is golden brown and apples are tender.  Allow to cool before slicing to serve.

Love Apples?  How About Hard Cider and Calvados?  Then register TODAY for:

The Foods of the Normandy Coast, 2 Day French Workshop-Thursday-Friday October 25th and 26th 10:30-2:00

Join me for a truly unique culinary event as we travel to Normandy for some of the most delectable food on earth.  In Normandy they cook with the 4 C’s; cider, calvados, crème and camembert. We will explore these ingredients as we prepare some of the most iconic, mouthwatering dishes full of love and flavor.

This 2-day workshop is immersion style and we cook side by side. Each day we will prepare breakfast, lunch, dinner and a sweet along with a snack or two!  Wine will be served and a cheese course each day for an authentic French dining experience.  Dinner portions will be packed up to-go.

In addition to this fabulous menu, we will prepare classic, slow fermenting French Bread and European Style Butter to be enjoyed with our meals each day.

For those that want to arrive 30 minutes early on the second day, I will demonstrate the fabulous perfected Saint Eve from Bayeux to be enjoyed by all! And just for fun, we will prepare and taste the Normandy, a cocktail that is all the rage in NYC!

This course promises to improve your overall kitchen skills; French cooking is the gold standard and expertise acquired will last a lifetime.  Be a part of the fun! Limited enrollment, Fee $189.00

Day 1 Our day will begin with time honored baking skills.  Using an old fashioned French recipe, we will prepare French Boule and amaze your taste buds with European Style Butter, both to be eaten during our class.  The perfect start to our days together will be sumptuous Oeufs Cocotte.  For a luxurious snack we will prepare Caramelized Apples and Calvados over Camembert.  For lunch we will have gorgeous Tartine topped with avocado, ham, tomatoes and Balsamic Reduction served French style with a Green Salad. For dinner, Chicken Normandy with Potatoes, Onions and Apple Cider is a classic slow roasted dish with a rich complex sauce as only the French can do!   For dessert each guest will prepare an Apple in Filo and Calvados served with Carmel Sauce, my favorite Normandy bites as pretty as it is tasty!

Day 2 Arrive 30 minutes early for a demonstration on the perfected Saint Eve of Bayeux, a truly unique treat that offers creamy, crunchy, chocolaty goodness in every bite.  We will start our day with moist and dense Apple Cake.   For an irresistible snack we will make Apple Bacon Gruyere Madeleines.  We will prepare a composed lunch of White Fish Meuniere served alongside pretty Vegetable Gratin and creamy Brie Potatoes Dauphinoise.  For a lovely take home dinner we will prepare hearty Spicy Sausage and Lentil Soup and a fabulous Normandy Salad with apples, cherries, walnuts and creamy cheese. For a beautiful finish to our day we will make Apple Soufflé with Calvados Sauce.

 

ATOP Video and the Making!

Did you ever have one of those work days so stellar that you will never forget it as long as you live?

Welcome to one of mine!

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I invited a few of my travelers, most of whom have been with me on multiple trips, to share in the experience of making a film.

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In fact, to share some of their experiences while traveling with A Taste of Paris, to France.

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We sipped some of my favorite French sparkling wines…

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…and nibbled on French goodies like Chocolate Madeleines, Raspberry and Mint Chocolate Macarons.

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In a flash, the party was over and the real work begins.

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Hours spent combing through video from my most recent trip, searching for the very best shots.

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4:00 am calls from my colleague in Paris to insure we were capturing the best of the city in video content she was taking and sending via the amazing internet.

Listening to music for just the right French sound and by the way after a bit it all sound alike!

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And testing the patience of filmmaker, Shane Reitzammer owner of CinemaStory Productions for many weeks to create something really special; a tool for people considering travel with A Taste of Paris and me!

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Thank you to these special ladies and to all my travelers for helping to bring my dream to life!

Click here to watch!

Click here for information on A Taste of Paris travel.