Joyeuses Paques !

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01:38 Posted by Marielle Giai | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook |

It has been 20 Years !

March 1996, 20 years ago ...we had just emptied our warehouse in Provence and filled up a 40' container of goods to ship to San Diego...Taking a big lip of faith that changed our life !
Since our first visit in 1992, we had dreamed of opening up our own shop in California , prepared for a couple of years and we were actually doing it ! This year is a special year as we are looking back at what we have achieved .

img604.jpgIt is hard to imagine what a 40' container load looks like  ! We measured everything, made a map of our container "puzzle" ,  planned how to load all the palettes and boxes ; but with the rest of bulk things it was still hard to figure out if it would all fit in ...

img654.jpgPascal closing up our boxes

img656.jpgWith some help we got it ready to go just in time...

img655.jpgIt's the big day... the container is coming this morning . We'll have only 2 hours to load !!!  Pascal with his mum and childhood friend Michel who is going to give us a big hand.


Pascal and his brother looking at the last pieces being loaded . The driver of the truck thought it would never fit ... but it did . We could not have fit an other piece of cardboard !

img605.jpgOnce our container left  and only after we had the receipt that it had actually shipped out we could apply for our visas ...what a stress ! With our suitcase ready to go, we had to wait... A week later with our brand new working visas in our passports we were buying a flight ticket for San Diego leaving the next day ! Here we are in Marseille aiport with Pascal's mum and a big box containing her old bike. We have been displaying it in front of the shop everyday since !

img607.jpg The neighborhood as it was in 1996


img610.jpgMonet's Bouquet flower shop across the street with Marty and Betty .

img608.jpg"A la Francaise " , the French Bakery behind the flower shop...it was a small French corner !



 We have about a month before we get the big delivery so we are not wasting time !






img623.jpgWith Erick our painter and friend since





img626.jpgBy the end of March we were ready

img628.jpgThe second Big Day : April 5th...our container has made it across oceans.... same drill : 2 hours to unload everything ! Our new friends are all here to help us out :)


Erick our painter handling the forkliftimg631.jpg


Our neighbor Bill checking it all out . Is this the most exciting thing that happened in this corner or what !?!


The boys : Pascal , Erick , Karl , Keith and Kecho ! What an experience for all of us...



It sounded like a great idea to promote our shop at the "Spring Home and Garden Show" in Del Mar ...but we had not been to the show before so we had no idea it would be more of a home improvement show than a decorating show . Nevertheless, we rented a truck and headed to Del Mar ! We set up our booth, gave some business cards and made our very first American Dollar here ! img646.jpg


img644.jpgThe "Grand Opening" .... What is a Grand Opening ??? We are opening yes ...this week yes ... so this is just the "soft opening". That was one of the many cultural differences, concepts that were totally foreign to us a the time ...That Tuesday after the Del Mar show we opened our doors !




img648.jpgIt wasn't a Grand Opening and we never actually did one... We got so busy !! First clients , neighbors ...everybody came ! Our shop was buzzing and we were exhausted but so happy :)  We were struggling with our very poor English but it didn't seam to matter to people.  One thing we will never forget is the warm welcome we got from the entire community. All Mission Hills came in , the neighbors brought us some French wine, Champagne, food ...we had never seen that ...that's what we liked so much about the cultural differences !

img649.jpgWe sure are in California ! This is one of my all time favorite photo of  Pascal and neighbor Bill who gave me my very first hydrangea's clippings and taught me how to grow them ...see what happened next ! Now the whole side of the shop is a giant hydrangea bush . I am sure Bill will be happy that I continued his legacy....

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01:38 Posted by Marielle Giai in The shop through the years | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook |

Bonjour !

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Christian Lacroix Designer is originally from Arles in Provence and his Stationary , journals , cards are very much inspired by the imagery from the area  . Simply gorgeous !

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DSC_6099 (Medium).JPGColoring books for adults are a huge trend right now . We've got some this spring and this is our favorite !


01:37 Posted by Marielle Giai | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook |


It is Valentine's day !

 Valentine's Day is our favorite Holiday and  the most beautiful time of the year because we celebrate LOVE ! I have to say that in France sadly only couples celebrate ...I love that here we actually celebrate LOVE with all the ones we LOVE ...this is the most precious thing we have and always nice to say it and show it again and again to all the ones we LOVE !

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IMG_9736 (Large).JPGWe are all stocked up with the cherries in Armagnac dipped in dark chocolate again !

IMG_9734 (Large).JPGSay it with a card or some heart shaped soaps ...

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IMG_9726 (Large).JPGOr a lavender sachet ...

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IMG_9723 (Large).JPGWith the cutest heart shaped sugar "cubes" or some perfume...say "Je t'aime " or " I love you " but say it !

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02:05 Posted by Marielle Giai | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook |


6th of january : The Epiphany ...to celebrate , the french eat a "Galette des Rois" or a king's cake .

With the French ... it's always about food ! To celebrate the Epiphany until the end of January , people host parties or dinners where they serve for desert a special cake  " Galette des Rois " with a "feve" ( charm hidden inside ). It can be  a coin , a bean or a tiny santon figurine .  Who ever gets it , is crown the king  with a gold paper crown  and is hosting the next party :)



The frangipane is a very easy cake to make and here is my recipe :

Mix together with a spatula:

150grs /5.3oz Ground almonds

150grs/5.3oz Sugar

150grs/5.3oz sweet butter  creamed not melted

3 large whole eggs

2 tsp of almond extract

Line a buttered pie mold with a puff pastry ( the frozen ones from pepperridge farm work great) . Make tiny holes with  a fork . Fill with the batter and cover with a second puff pastry sheet . Close it , brush with a mix of egg yolk and milk so the pie will brown....you can decorate it with extra pieces of puff pastry or simply use a knife to make some diamond designs .

Bake at 400F for about 40mns or until golden brown . Eat still a bit warm or re- heat  if are eating it later ! Toast with some apple cider or Champagne !

04:26 Posted by Marielle Giai in Recipes | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook |


Le Souffle au fromage

This must be the best kept secret by every French cook ... and there is a good reason why : Every time you serve this , you totally amaze your guests ! But it is so easy to make ...you don't want them to know how easy it was to whip this up in just about 20 mns ....

Today Pierre will unveil the recipe of THE Cheese Souffle !

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For 4 ramequins :

50 grs of butter  -  50 grs flour -  250 ml of milk - 150 grs of cheese ( italian mix from Trader Joe's is tasty ) - 5 eggs  - nutmeg - Herbes de Provence

First you have to make a thick "Bechamel sauce " . This is a base sauce to a lot of french recipes and hopefully you have already mastered this one . It took me a while to get this right when I first started cooking ....I had just moved out of my parents home and in with Pascal into a tiny studio in Nice . I was 18 and had never cooked before as my mum was always cooking so much . Learning over the phone , without any proportions because my mum could do it in her sleep without measuring  , on an old electric cook top was not easy ...I made it too thick , too thin , with a lot of lumps but I finally got it !

Us for my 18th birthday ...some 30 years ago !

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In a sauce pan melt the butter . When hot ad all the flour at once and mix well to make a "roux" Let it bubble and cook until lightly colored ( a few minutes ) Then ad the warm milk and keep mixing at it will thicken right away . You want a smooth,  heavy , sticky thick texture for the souffle . Take away from the heat and let cool a little.

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While the batter is cooling off . Separate the whites from the yolks . Keep only 4 yolks . Ad them one by one into the batter , mixing well right away so they blend in and not cook in contact . Sprinkle some nutmeg , Herbes de Provence and finally ad the cheese mix .

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Whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until and nice and firm . Fold into the batter until smooth .

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IMG_8957 [1280x768].JPGButter and flour the inside of the 4 ramequins . Pour the mix into the dishes . This is the most important note and THE secret to any successful souffle : you must "clean "the inside of the ramequin  by sliding a knife  blade along the rim to separate the batter from the dish allowing it to rise freely and straight up . If there is some batter touching on an area , this will stick and make the souffle only rise on the other sides ...look crooked and not cook evenly . Cook for 30mns at 350F and serve immediately as the souffle will deflate as soon as you take it out of the oven .

Enjoy and amaze your guests too !

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22:35 Posted by Marielle Giai in Recipes | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook |