Notes from RABBIT HILL November
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Notes from Rabbit Hill ... Joyeux Noël {Décembre}

From the moment I put up our advent calendar in the kitchen, the days have flown by.  At 10 days before Christmas our home was finally decorated.  I am not a fan at all of decorating early and I am always surprised at how long it takes to get done.  This year we opted for three small trees instead of one large one and this has made fun little themed areas -- a 'kid tree' in the family room and one with just lights in the library and another set up in a window on the second floor.  The main theme around the house again this year is simple, rustic and natural... pine cones and apples, chestnuts and walnuts in bowls with cinnamon sticks ... and lots of candles.

To be honest, I have been working on this letter for two weeks now-- in between shopping, wrapping, creating in the kitchen... and now it's the count down to Christmas! I hope this holiday time is a blessing for you as well!  Read on for a recipe for my favorite "Christmas Marmalade" and other news from Rabbit Hill....

Confiture de clémentines ...

This time of year we often see large flats of clementines in France as I am sure you do in other parts of the world.  In the US I remember the 'Satsuma' variety.  French clementines grown in the southern parts of the country and also in Morocco are a cross between Mandarin and sweet oranges.  These little oranges are highly aromatic and have very thin skins which makes them perfect for 'confiture' or marmalade.

For this recipe I used about 1 kilo or a dozen or so oranges and 2 cups of sugar and one whole lemon squeezed.
  • Wash and cut up the clementines in thin slices or chopped if you prefer a finer marmalade. 
  • Place the oranges in a large heavy pot and just cover with water.
  • Cook the orange slices until the rinds are tender, normally this should take between and hour and an hour and a half on full simmer.
  • Once the oranges are tender and have reduced you can add the sugar and continue to cook until the confiture begins to 'gel' at just over 100C if you use a thermometer or you can do a gel-test on a cold spoon or saucer.
  • Remove from heat and ladle into sterilized jars and seal tightly.
The marmalade can be stored in a cool location for up to one year but check your seals--or otherwise store the jars in the fridge.  Ours never lasts very long.  I adore it on plain yogurt and even better on a thick slice of cheesecake! 
You may have noticed my slight 'obsession' with snow this season so of course I am adding snowy touches to our decor.  A low cost and non-toxic option for faux-snow is salt.  In vintage containers, you can add course sea salt which has the texture and even the sparkle of icy snow!  It also makes a safe alternative to synthetic or chemical fake snow which makes it fine for candles (and in our house--little hands!)

Around the house I don't mind replacing the greens a few times from what I can find on the farm... I also keep well stocked with all types and sizes of candles all in white.

I am often asked about the difference in Christmas decor in France.  I have always noted a big emphasis on 'la creche' which is the Nativity scene often with all types of seasonal additions.  (Pere Noel often makes it into the creche as does small village figures and snowy elements).  One lack I notice, at least where I am-- is wreaths!  This year again we are without--and last year I made them.  I know they are available in some places (I have seen them in Paris!) but just not as common as in the US where you can find them even at the grocery store.

What I love is the decor in each town and village.  I hope to get out this week to take a few photos of it all... and maybe share with you next time!
Always inspired by the beautifully decorated villages in Normandie!
Coming up on the site:
At the start of the new year I will be announcing the dates for our third and final French Vintage Shopping Tour on our schedule for 2015 ... a 7-day tour of Normandie and Paris that will be happening in July!  Can't wait to share the details with you!
Joyeux Noël!  A big change for us this Christmas came from a decision to do a few things differently this holiday season.  This is our fifth Christmas in Normandie... I can hardly believe it.  Honestly the first one we were in a bit of culture shock and anxiously awaiting the birth of our 'petite fille' who was due in January.  That year four Christmases ago and the ones that followed were spent integrating into the activities and traditions of the French family.  Doing that was wonderful and necessary but it occurred to me that we were letting go of many traditions we had in the US in my family and I realized how much I missed that. 

So in a way I suppose--this year we are taking back a few of those traditions and doing things they way I remember growing up--and doing things that I want my children to know and have as memories.  Part of this requires declining a few family invitations--and this doesn't win me very many popularity votes-- but I have to tell you how excited I am to have our personal time with our little family of 5 --honoring the things this season that I know and love.

Christmas Eve will be just us five instead of the big family dinner that extends into the early hours of the morning... it will be fun food, a classic movie, treats and the opening of one gift.  The kids will be tucked into bed -- not too late and we will wrap up last minute gifts.... and maybe there will be champagne... and mistletoe.

Christmas day will be about waking up early, reading the Christmas story and letting 'les enfants' enjoy the morning with gifts and a big brunch... and if all goes as planned I will be blissfully spending the entire day in the kitchen.

Simple things... enjoying every moment of this glorious time of year.

Let it snow ....

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you have probably seen my personal campaign for snow in Normandie.  The last dusting of snow want in 2012 and before that we had significant snow fall in 2011.... and not at all since.  Last winter was strangely mild.  In fact, it never went cold enough even for a frost.  This year we are slightly colder but still not tipping down to freezing long enough for all of this rain to turn to something prettier... and rain, rain, rain it has!

Just a bit of snow would be so wonderful.  If you have some extra where you are--do you mind sending a little bit here?

Shop News:

So very excited about the first shop opening of 2015!  The shop will open on the FIRST day of the new year, January 1 at 9AM PST / 12 noon EST...

If you are new to the shop .... The shop is open for the first two days of every month featuring French vintage items, linens, decor accents and French Lifestyle Essentials; tableware, housewares and items found in the French home.

You can drop by the site by clicking on the website button at the bottom of the newletter, and keep an eye on Instagram for pre-views of items for the January sale!  .... coming soon!
Wishing you lovely happy moments to decorate the season, time with loved ones to bring warmth to your home... laughter and joy to begin the new year ahead ....

MERCI! Thanks for taking time to read 'Notes from Rabbit Hill' ...


I am always interested in what you are up to, if you have a recipe you would like to see here, or have questions or comments about life at Rabbit Hill.  I have set up a 'Guest Book' on the site -- so pop over and say 'bonjour!'  Find the Guest Book here!
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