11 September 2012

In her 'fiftyish' year...she thinks...



Vietnamese persimmons

If my daughters were here, they would raise an eyebrow and head for the hills. They would say..."Here she goes again". Perhaps it is the change of seasons (or in my case, lack of) or perhaps it is because today is my birthday (shhh) or perhaps it was the generous gift of a luscious bag of persimmons, fresh from the hills of Dalat, Vietnam.

I am having one of those deep introspective moments which I am sure many can relate too.

Here is what I am thinking.....

More and more, as the days pass in Vietnam, I look through my camera lens and see extraordinary things. Some photos are not necessarily what one person would call beautiful but then again...we all have our own thoughts and perceptions of beauty.

As I review the photos I have taken recently, I admit I hesitate. I am looking at the world with an entirely different perspective. I started blogging nearly three years ago to talk about our life and experience in England. It was not difficult to find wonderful shots in England. I had National Trust properties around me, London a short distance away...it was as rich in material as you could possibly imagine. But life is different, I am seeing life like I have never seen it before and I am finding it fascinating...but will you?

I know exactly which readers are throwing up their arms in exasperation...my intrepid travellers...I know what you are thinking. But still I wonder, should I leave my Vietnam explorations for another blog and focus on other things or just carry on...at the end of the day does it really matter? Some will say yes, some will say no...I think it is probably crazy that I am thinking this way but the fact of the matter is that I am.

This is where blogging gets tricky. After a time many of us reach a stage where we look back and think... now what? Whatever a blogger's passion is, writing, photography, fashion, home decorating, travelling, cooking, reading...the list goes on....I think there comes a time when we stop, look back and think whether we want to stay on the same track or switch gears. For some, that means putting their blog to rest for a while. For others it will be a tweak here and there and perhaps a focus on a new interest. Blogger or not, I imagine many of us feel the same.

This is what I ponder these days...I am restless. It is not for lack of ideas...just lack of direction. There I said it...I need to pull it all in and focus. I will ponder that thought...for it needs time to settle.

Where are all these thoughts coming from? This may give you a clue....

Life at Chateau Mango...

Chateau Mango at noon.

As you can see, life at Chateau Mango is much the same. I thought with time and the weather, the colour might fade. If anything it seems to get brighter and I for some strange reason grow fonder. Go figure.

As we approached our driveway Sunday morning, I screeched...'Stop the Car!'. Someone would have thought we were about to run over our dog, Tika. Um...no. I happened to see this little creature making headway into our mailbox and wanted to take a pic.




My little Gecko friend is making our mail box his humble home..we have to knock loudly before entering to give him time to hide. 


Off to guard our mail.


Speaking of home, we have made a few recent acquisitions...some may recall the Buddha wood carving below. I spotted it in a shop a few weeks back and have been tossing and turning on this one ever since. Toss no more. The store was having a hefty sale and yours truly was first in line. At 8'/ 2.5 meters tall and weighing a small ton, I was very happy to see these three men arrive to hang it up for me.  I am still having a bit of a play with it all. There is a small matter of a very large fuse box just to the right of it. A friend has come up with a very clever idea which involves bamboo fishing rods. When it is complete...I will show you more.

Thinking calm thoughts in the entryway.

What happens when you move from a house with room after room of built in cupboards and storage space to one with none? Panic. This is not the first time we have been faced with this...the last was about 20 years ago. Let's just say I have collected a few books since then. 

Panic over, I picked up three Asian style book cases and put them together. They are in the upstairs landing, tucked away from view but have since become my secret little haven. I have categorised all the books, as a good Virgo mind would have it and regularly wander by just to reminisce on life. It is still a work in progress...at least that is what I keep telling myself. :)

My humble hodge podge of books.

Life is sweet...often when we least expect it. The other day, Mr. Thuan (gardener) and Mr. Khai (driver) beckoned me over to a corner of the garden. As I approached they pointed and smiled at a small bonsai tree....knowing my appreciation for these lovely specimens, they had been training a plant...quietly and with great patience. Chateau Mango has it's first bonsai plant, at it's doorstep, a daily reminder that life is precious and we should enjoy each and every moment.




I mentioned the gift of persimmons which was kindly given to me by a recent Vietnamese acquaintance. She wrote this lovely note...

Dear Jeanne

We are very very happy if you and your family like persimmon.   In Vietnam, there are lots of good fruits but each province is famous for some of the fruits, not all of them.  Such as mango, it is called "Queen of the fruit" , it will be delicious if it is grown in Hoa Loc commume,  Ben Tre and Dong Thap provinces. The other famous fruit is mangosteen.   The name and the shape of this fruit do not look attractive to those who first see it. A mangosteen is as big as a tennis ball and has the dark violet and rough skin. Yet, when peeling off the upper part of the fruit with a small sharp knife and lifting the upper part off, you can see the transparent white pulp inside arranged in equal segments. Just lifting segment by segment of such transparent white pulp to the mouth, you can imagine of having a light and pure refreshment with an easily acceptable little sour taste lingering in your mouth. My mother will be happy if you like it.  My mother is a doctor, she joins the organisation charity and usually go around Vietnam to treat the poor patients.  She usually buy a lots of fruits in each province wherever she goes. I myself is happy if you like Vietnam fruits.  Fantastic! 


I will treasure this note. It is another example of the kindness and generosity of the people of Vietnam.
I love the sweet, soft delicacy of this fruit. I have gently worked through the many persimmons, saving the pulp for a recipe for Persimmon Bread. Are you a fan of persimmons? If you are, how do you eat them...would love to know.

One for the memory book, I will most certainly, never forget this bouquet of flowers...it's a keeper!



Before I go...I promised a recipe. This is one of my all time favourite recipes...I have become a huge fan of this Vietnamese soup, Pho Bo (Hanoi Beef Noodle Soup)...it is delicious and healthy. If the ingredients appeal, enjoy. I should warn you, it has a bit of a kick...just the way I like it!

Photo by Edmond Ho and Stryke

Pho Bo
(Hanoi Beef Noodle Soup)
Serves 6 to 8
About 30 mins to prepare
1 1/2 hours to cook

10 oz. (300g) dried rice stick noodles or rice vermicelli
3 tbsp. fish sauce
1 lb. (500g) beef sirloin or flank steak, sliced into very thin pieces
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
4 cups ( 7 oz/200g) bean sprouts, seed coats and tails removed, blanched until cooked
2 to 3 finger-length chilies, deseeded and sliced
Ground white pepper
Sprigs of coriander leaves (cilantro), to garnish
Sprigs of basil or mint, to garnish
2 lemons or limes, cut into sections, to serve

For the broth..
2 medium onions, peeled and bruised
2 in (5cm) fresh ginger root, peeled and bruised
3 shallots
10 cups (2 1/2 liters) beef stock or 4 to 5 stock cubes, dissolved in
10 cups (2 1/2 liters) hot water
1 lb (500g) beef shank or brisket
2 star anise pods
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon crushed peppercorns
1 tbsp salt

Prepare the broth by browning the onions, shallots and ginger under a broiler for 5 to 10 minutes, turning several times or dry-frying them in a skillet over low heat until slightly burnt on all sides. Remove and transfer to stockpot. Add all the other broth ingredients and bring to a boil over medium heat, skimming off the foam and fat that floats to the surface. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for one hour, until the beef is tender.

Bring a pot of water to a boil over medium heat. Add the dried noodles and blanch until soft, about 5 minutes for rice stick noodles or 2 minutes for rice vermicelli. Remove and rinse with cold water, then drain.

Remove the beef form the broth and set aside to cool. Strain the broth to remove all the solids and return the clear broth to the pot. Season with the fish sauce (see below) and keep the broth hot over very low heat. Slice the beef into thins slices and set aside.

To serve, place rice noodles in individual serving bowls and top with the cooked and raw beef slices, onion slices, bean sprouts and chilies. Ladle the hot broth into each bowl (the raw beef will partially cook in the boiling soup), sprinkle with pepper and garnish with coriander (cilantro) and basil or mint leaves. Serve hot with lemon or lime sections, and dipping bowls of the Fish Sauce Dip on the side.

Fish Sauce Dip
2 to 3 finger-length chilies, deseeded and sliced
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup (50g) sugar
3 tbsp fleshly squeezed lime juice
1 tbsp vinegar
3 tbsp fish sauce
12 cup (125ml) water
1/2 tsp salt

Grind the chilies and garlic to a coarse paste in a mortar or blender, then combine with all the other ingredients and mix until the sugar is dissolved. Yields 1 cup (250ml). Prep 10 minutes

Recipe from a great little cookbook that I found in my travels around Ho Chi Minh City, 'Vietnamese Cooking Made Easy' by Nongkran Daks, Alexandra Greeley and Wendy Hutton a 

Thinking pink...at Chateau Mango.
With that I sign off from Chateau Mango...thank you for staying with me through this longish post.
My daughters would be most impressed that you did....they also might say that we probably think alike...you and I. My guess is that they are probably right! 

Best wishes for a glorious day...evening

Jeanne xx

All photos by me with exception of Pho Bo soup (noted above)







91 comments:

  1. Happy Birthday to you Jeanne!! I, for one, would feel such a heavy loss if you decided to relinquish your blogging routine. It amazes me that people enjoy reading my blog and I am not hopping all over the world like you...just in my kitchen! So you can imagine how much interest your moving from England to Vietnam has for so many curious minds. I cannot to see what daily life is like there...even it is how you do the grocery shopping! You have a wonderful relaxed and honest writing style. I thoroughly enjoy each and every post and all of your funny amusing quips in between! Have a fantastic birthday!

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    1. Thank you Sarah...and I for one love the world in your kitchen...especially via video. So glad someone else gets my sense of humor...could it possibly be...because you are married to a Virgo? We can be a strange breed! Thanks so much for your lovely comments.. :)

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  2. Hey big sis - wait? Am I first commenter? I am on the ball today. I can tell you that the weather here is fairly nice, late summer, getting slightly chillier when the sun is behind a cloud. Pretty much life in the home counties - same as ever!

    But you - well you are living life somewhere new and thought-provoking. I think, for what it's worth, that you shouldn't worry about categorising what you blog. We read for your thoughts, whether they are on travel or food or the weather or the merits of linen in a tropical climate!

    I worry about it too - when I started the apothecary I worried that I talked on my blog ONLY about oils and beauty. And to be fair I am sure some followers opted out. But - many stayed with me and now I have reverted to my normal style and I blog about what is on my mind. Remember: it's a web log - a diary - so that can contain anything. I say share the pictures, I for one am dying to see what it's like there.

    And happy happy birthday!!

    Lou x

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    1. Thanks Little Sis...I loved reading about your business and how it evolved...I think it offered inspiration to many. I know it did for me, especially since I use the products! I had faith and I was not let down. :)

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  3. First of all: Happy, happy, happy birthday, Jeanne, and all the very best!!!! Hope you have a great day!

    And what I want to add is: I really love to read the stories about your new life in Vietnam, although I am a "silent" reader most of the time. But I also like it when you write about other things (e.g. when you were still in England). Maybe you shouldn't question yourself so much about the direction of your blog, because in the end, it is not so much about Vietnam, England, Expat etc. but about you. You add the spice to your blog, as every blogger does to hers or his. For example, I came here and stayed not because I were looking for info about Vietnam but because I liked the whole "package" - the way you write, what you tell and your pictures. It's hard to describe, but I hope you know what I mean... :)

    I really like your blog!


    PS: Oh, such a long comment... ;)

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    1. Thank you lpc...I appreciate your thoughts...not a long comment at all, a sincere one, the best kind. :)

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  4. Jeanne I love this post and please can we have some more? Please continue to share your life and your photos and let us live vicariously in Chateau Mango in Vietnam through you. Thank you. Hope you have a happy day. F xx

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  5. I don't have time to finish reading, I am off to school will return later this afternoon. But I did want to send you a Happy Birthday wish. I hope you are having a wonderful day.

    I now have something to look forward to reading when I return home this afternoon.

    Happy Happy Birthday! Bonnie

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    1. Thank you Bonnie...it is so nice to think that you will be stopping back after a long day at school. Hoping that you had an inspiring day...I am sure the children did! :)

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  6. Dear Jeanne,
    first of all....have a very, very HAPPY Birthday, today and enjoy all the good things around you which you might explore or find out!!!
    I give a toast (with my morning coffee...) and wish you all the best!
    What a house, Jeanne.....beautiful, exotic with all its fantastic plants around and their inhabitants with four little feet sneaking around the (mail)-corner....

    And I just feel the same way like you, thinking about the lack of directions we get in touched with every once in a while. What is really needed to be said or shown?....but as you said at the end of the day...does it really matter?

    I think in your case, it does. Because I like your view on things...and wanna see what`s on your focus in your new life in vietnam.

    Start something new, if you feel so, Jeanne. If not, this will be also fine with me.
    All depends how we feel about things. Feel comfortably (...and no pressure)....and it`s just okay.
    I think this is the most important *message* in life....telling you in my fifty-one year.... ;))

    We fifty-and-so-on-ladies are getting relaxter with things and this is a really good circumstance!

    Big birthday hug from very far away....Beate XXX

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    1. Beate...so nice to think that you are sipping on a morning coffee while reading along. I can see that we think along the same lines...and I appreciate your point of view, as always. :)

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  7. Happy Birthday, Jeanne!! We share a birthday month - no surprise to me, as you are such a kindred spirit. You are truly a renaissance woman, with many passions and interests, so I'm not surprised that it is difficult for you to confine them to a single thread on a blog. There are times when I wonder how some people can be so singular in their interests - artists who keep to the same style and medium over and over, writers who pen the same story again and again, changing only the setting and characters. I love following your explorations and introspections.

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    1. Thank you Teri...once again, I was thinking of the art projects you mentioned on your blog. It all came to me as I was riding my bike this morning, wishing I could find the same sort of class and apply a Vietnamese design...it would be so interesting. Be sure to tell me if you ever come across one and maybe one day...I will get into one of those NYC classes with you. :)

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  8. I love reading about your life in Vietnam Nam - whatever direction you decide to go with your blog, I hope you will still give us some of that. Your pictures are wonderful! Happy Birthday!!

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    1. I thank you kindly Trish..I will most definitely keep that in mind. :)

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  9. As usual Jeanne I read your posts and enjoy every line! I love to see your photos and news of your adventures and families and whatever direction you take blogwise - I will follow! Hope you have a very very Happy Birthday!

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    1. Thank you Gillie...you are one of the reasons why I keep on going. Blogging friends are very special indeed! :)

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  10. Of course we stayed with you! We'll gladly follow you anywhere! And the same goes for your blogging journey. Go, and we will follow. Whatever you may decide. And in the words of Confucius, Wherever you go, go with all your heart. For after all, I think this blog has always been a labor of love for you.
    I already left you a little love on FB, but a very very Happy Birthday to you, my friend. And best wishes for many happy and healthy and ADVENTUROUS years to come. xoxo

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    1. Thank you Stephanie...I am so happy to count you as one of my very first followers. We have come a long way! :)

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  11. Jeanne,

    Happy Birthday! Today is a special day because it is the celebration of you, your life and how special and unique you are to so many! Most of who(myself included) who have never met you, but feel as we follow along on your adventures that you are a treasured and life long friend!

    I have mentioned this more than once but I will say it again, your blog gave me the "push" after procrastinating for so long to start my own blog. I love your blog because it is a Collage of your life and interests! That is what makes it beautiful and special.

    I will continue to follow along in what ever direction you go, I am here for the long haul. Follow in the direction of your dreams...

    Have a fabulous day!!! Hugs to you, Elizabeth

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    1. So glad you made the transition into blogging Elizabeth. It is always fun to see how what a difference writing can make in someone's life. I can tell you are loving it as you grow through it...and I am especially enjoying all your delicious recipes and interesting tales. You discover the coolest things! :)

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  12. Jeanne - For what it is worth, here is my opinion. I am a relative newcomer to your blog (it was recommended to me by Elizabeth who I met in New York a couple of years ago). Don't change a single thing about your blog. I love its glimpses of life in Vietnam, I love your photographs, your humour, your recipes. I never know what I a going to read when I visit you and I am always pleasantly surprised. Keep it like this for me, please.

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  13. Happy Birthday Jeanne... thinking of you and hope it was a fabulous day for you... AS for your blog... you know what I think... I love it juts the way it is! Tell us more about Vietnam... the more the better... xv

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    1. Thank you Vicki...I could hear your voice as I was writing and thought of you in my intrepid traveller group...more of Vietnam to come, promise! Although I did write and post just one more over on my other blog this morning...old habits die hard. :)

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  14. Jeanne - I just discovered your blog and on your birthday, no less! Have a Happy Day! I am looking forward to being a regular reader and catching up on past posts!!

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    1. So glad you joined in! Thank you for the birthday wishes...much appreicated! :)

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  15. Hi Jeanne! Although I don't always, I must comment on this one. I do read your posts, and although life in England certainly was beautiful, your thoughts about such a tremendous move to Vietnam are equally as interesting. Blogs don't need to be categorized - at least the ones I typically like usually aren't! Your blog should be whatever you want it to be. It seems like many people do go through phases where they take a break or switch it up a bit - I myself haven't posted much in the past month - but then we find another wave and decide to take it for a ride. I am still reading and looking and am interested to see what you decide to share with us.

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    1. Mary...loved your words here... "we find another wave and decide to take it for a ride"...how true is that! Thank you! :)

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  16. Great post Jeanne,
    I sent you birthday greetings earlier on FB.. but here goes again.. wishing you peace in your new home.
    Home is where the heart is. Not the house.. its cement. Its what we make of our house and how we live our life and enjoy each day as a new day. I wish you happiness and peace on this your special day.
    A lovely letter from your new friend.
    We grow persimmons here.. I do not like them.. when i first tried them about 40 years ago.. Oh my gosh.. my mouth went as dry as anything, and a very strange taste. Mr. M. loves them.
    Hope you stay with us.
    we all go through times of not knowing weather to blog or not. I get blocks all the time.
    but its a great way to tell our little stories and meet new friends.
    xx val

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    1. Thank you for the birthday wishes Val and you are so right...it is a great way to tell our little stories and meet new friends. I think we can count ourselves very lucky for the people we have met through blogging...what a difference it makes in our world. :)

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  17. Jeanne, Yes, I returned and have enjoyed your post ever bit as much as I had anticipated. I knew you would grow to love the color of your newest home. I find it very energizing.

    Persimmons? They are actually quite common in southern Louisiana. As a child I would peel and eat. You always wanted the ripest. I haven't eaten one in years. I often see them at Whole Foods. I may find it necessary to make some bread with them.

    The soup recipe looks delicious. I love Bo Bun Hue soup. I believe it is Thai.

    Once again, I hope you had a perfect day. Bless just keep writing and posting pictures.

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    1. Thank you Bonnie! So glad you ventured back to this post...southern Louisiana...now that sounds intriguing! :)

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  18. Happy, Happy Birthday, Jeanne!
    My only comment about your blog is: Don't change a thing! I love everything you write, wherever you're coming from. It is so invigorating to be learning about a part of the world that many, maybe most, of us don't know too much about. One thought that comes to mind when I think of Viet Nam is Agent Orange; how much more pleasant to see the beautiful pictures of Chateau Mango and the Mekong Delta. A very lucky woman you are to have such varied life experiences. Will be looking forward to your every post.
    JudyMac--an Aquarian with Virgo rising
    P.S. Love the bookshelves!

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    1. To my Aquarian with Virgo rising friend...thank you! Yes..it is all so interesting but you mentioned something very important, there is another side to it all, a tragic side which I am still discovering, what the Vietnamese call 'The American War'. I won't get into all my thoughts on that one except to say that it there, always with you as you travel around the country, speak to people and follow the media. It is still there...it is just a case of how wide you open your eyes and mind. Best wishes Judy... :)

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  19. Jeanne, do whatever you want, however you want to do it! I've loved every moment of following your blog, no matter what the subject has been. xo :)

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  20. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on blogging and future direction....a birthday does manage to evoke introspection and that's a good thing! All I can say Jeanne, as a long time reader and happy recipient of your gracious postcards from time to time, is do whatever feels "right" for you now that you're living in an entirely new world, but know that you would be sorely missed!! I read a LOT of blogs and I can now safely say, yours stands apart for your honesty and sincerity as you reflect on your everyday life,and that ultimately enriches my everyday life!!!
    Enjoy the year ahead for whatever it brings......

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    1. You are very kind Susan...sometimes I wonder if I take the honesty and sincerity too far...glad to know like minded readers are out there. Thank you! :)

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  21. Happy Birthday Jeanne! Oh my, those little lizards you featured reminded me of my childhood in Manila, Philippines. My brothers tired to catch them when we were kids. I hope you had a fun and memorable birthday! Hope you will continue to share stories about Vietnam.

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    1. I will Pamela, thank you! One day, when we travel to the Philppines, I would love to gather your thoughts on living there and moving on. I will stay in touch on that idea... :)

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    2. Oh sure! I lived there till I was 17 yrs old. I am still in touch with both my Grade school and High school friends there. I have some family over there too.. I understand how you feel... Keep in touch. Pamela

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  22. You write from your heart!

    I am very curious! My mother (who came from Alabama....(at 6) and then California at 12 (she was born in 1907!)
    lived in Hawaii from 19222-1924; Manila; (1924-1927); and then landed in Shanghai in 1927 to 1930?

    She was an adventuress! Like YOU!

    Penelope

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    1. Penelope, your mother sounds fascinating! What a life to live in those times. Thank you for your kind words... :)

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  23. Many Happy Returns of your Birthday. Love the stories and especially the recipes - keep them coming. Wishing you a year full of fun and laugther.......B:)

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  24. Happy Birthday wishes, dear Jeanne :) I know for me, I write for my family & friends with plans of binding my blog one day. Such a wonderful way to document our time on earth. You have the unique opportunity to make cultural comparisons and contrasts that few have. Keep doing what you are doing if it fuels your soul and feels worthy. Look at all your loyal readers!

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    1. Thank you Laura...I would love to know how you plan to bind your blog...I think that idea derserves a blog post! :)

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  25. A very happy belated birthday to you, Jeanne! Since we discovered you just as you were moving to Vietnam, we know only your most recent posts and love living vicariously through them. We think blogging is always evolving for us and we try to be ready for an opening - serendipity - all the time. As long as you write from the heart, you're on the right track!
    xxoo
    C + C

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  26. So you were a September 11 baby, now an easy date to remember given the events of 9/ll/2001.
    We love your adventures into other worlds and wish we could come along. Your blog allows us to take the journey with you, at least in virtual ways.
    Happy Belated Birthday!
    Becky

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    1. Thank you Becky..it would be great if you could take the journey with me in person! :)

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  27. Jeanne
    Don't for a minute think that you are "boring" us. As you know I for one was quite disappointed when you put cashmere jeans to rest. You served as fashion guru to those of us over 50. We read your blog because you enable us to experience England, or Vietnam or wherever through your eyes via your wonderful writing style. Your readers feel they are treasured friends travelling with you on your journey. I for one find Vietnam far more fascinating than England. Put the second thoughts aside. We look forward to your words and thoughts every day. And...by the way can't wait to see that big guy hanging...he looks great with the rugs! Can't wait to try the Pho Bo! Happy Birthday my friend!

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    1. Thank you Cindy..I often think I should bring back cashmere jeans...I do miss it and often see things and think they would be perfect for the blog. I might just sneek back one day. I thought of you today as I hunted through hundreds and hundreds (really) of large garden pots. If you had been with me...I know you would have picked the perfect ones! :)

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  28. Happy Birthday! I rarely comment on anyone's blog, but I wanted to let you know I have enjoyed your writing and pictures for a very long time. I will follow you online where ever your adventures take you. I admire that you share your thought process, your humor, and your uncertainty. Feeling directionless can be just part of the adventure or a call to take a deep breathe and ask your self what do you want at this moment.
    By the way, I started reading up on Vietnam because of you :) You have definitely broaden my horizons. Thank you.
    Again, Happy Birthday!
    Sincerely,
    Miranda
    San Francisco Bay Area
    p.s.I blame hormones for EVERYTHING!

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    1. Miranda...thank you so much and I am so glad I am not the only one who blames hormones for everything! I am delighted that you are thinking more on Vietnam...if you ever visit one day..you know where to find me, Chateau Mango...you can't miss it! :)

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  29. Just be you Jeanne and blog about the things you love. I am sure that we will love whatever you have to say. In a way, I live vicariously through you and that will keep me coming to read your posts for sure.

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    1. Sending many thanks Loree...from one sunny climate to another. :)

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  30. Happy happy birthday Jeanne!!! I am so enjoying reading about Viet Nam... you should know that your blog is very much enjoyed by lots of people as you happily receive many many comments! As a new blogger ( 4-5 months), comments are yet to arrive and it is sometimes quite difficult to keep going when one receives little or no input! I am sure that this will improve with time but also want to say that you should do exactly what inspires you... your Collage of life title allows anything and everything in your life ! I wish you a really happy, healthy year ahead. xoxoxoxo

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    1. Thank you Jenny and please stay with your blog...I do enjoy it! It takes time and a lot of communication which sadly I have not had as much time to do as I would like. Get around, say hello a couple of times and people will follow. Promise! :)

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  31. A belated happy birthday, Jeanne...I think the generosity and simplicity of the way the Vietnamese people live their lives is possibly making you re-value and interpret life...new teachings...what a fascinating journey you are on and as for your blog..keep doing what you're doing...you do it exceptional well.
    Catherine
    xx

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    1. Thank you Catherine..you are so right, the generociy and simplicity of the Vietnamese people and their way of life has a way of slowing you down and making you appreciate life in a different way. Best wishes.. :)

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  32. Jeanne
    I enjoy every aspect of your journey through life; your mothering of a family dispersed around the globe as well as in Vietnam, your family home move(s) and your process of exploring and learning about the place in which you dwell. Your contact with people in your community is fascinating and the decisions for decorating your homes and planning your gardens always catches my attention. Being a regular reader I do not always post; I always read and re-read bits that are of great interest to me. If you take times of rest and rejuvenation away from the blog I would certainly miss you but look forward then to your return, full of grand new posts.
    It will be my intent to post with more regularity to let you know just how much I appreciate your writing, weather a short note or a long post filled with photos or anything in between.
    Hoping that your birthday celebration was filled with memory making moments and that you are basking in the fact that ahead are so many lovely years of exploring life and writing and sharing that life with a community that spans the planet.
    Peace and blessings,
    Kristin

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    1. Kristin...you are so kind...I always hang on your every word. I tried to find one of your posts on your blog...just want you to know that I think of you often and am so glad you follow along. Thank you! :)

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  33. Dear Jeanne, Happy Birthday! I would think one of the best things about moving to an entirely new country is, you get somewhat of a do-over. No one knows you there, what your past has been. It IS time to re-focus and re-evaluate. You can make changes the rest of us would get raised eyebrows for. You get to take time to contemplate and think about who you are and what you want to say to THE WORLD next. It's a unique position you're in! Enjoy!

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  34. I almost wished you a Happy Birthday on Facebook and then I realized you don't even know who I am! I know who you are because of your incredible blog! Your writing skills are incredible and I admire them greatly! I have two blogs as well and got tickled when you referred to "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree" in your other blog because my personal blog is basically titled that. Then I have my shops blog. No matter…yours are incredible and I truly do hope you've had a wonderful birthday! I look forward to both of your blogs all of the time…they don't even begin to compare with the countless others that I read. Your posts are real, and touching and informative and you tell us about your life experiences…straight from the heart. Thanks for doing that!

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  35. Thank you Mary for your very kind message. You are so right...it is one of the things I enjoy about moving around. I can slip in quietly, check things out, take my time about it all and then decide which direction to take next. I just have to remember where I am sometimes...it gets so confusing...especially with those blasted hormones! :)

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  36. Jeanne, I can't believe I missed your birthday. I'm sending you lots of warm, sunshiny wishes despite my tardiness. I remain your faithful reader whatever you decide. Blogging is a lot like real life. Where ever we go with our blog, there we are. When we dare to share our real thoughts and real life happenings it becomes impossible to categorize our blogs into neat little niches. At least that's my humble opinion.
    Leslie (aka Gwen Moss)
    p.s. damn those hormones, I so relate!!!

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    1. Always appreciate your humble opinion Leslie...thank you! :)

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  37. Don't leave us! And Happy Birthday for yesterday!

    I know how it is when you have lots of different kinds of interests. Everyone says a blog needs a direction, a clear focus. About a year ago I decided to divide my blogging interests in three; I have a theatre review site, Strindberg's Daughter, a book review site, Nordic Review, and my main blog, Helena's London Life. But since I published my book The Englishman, I'm thinking I need to cut down on my blogging and bring them all together, so that I have more time to write…but I love writing blogs too and try as I might I cannot stop going to the theatre here in London and then sharing my experiences with everyone, nor do I wish to stop reviewing Nordic books, or write about everything and anything to do with London life.... What to do???

    I am envious of the fantastic food you are enjoying over there and that carved piece of art. Fabulous!

    Helena xx

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    1. I completely understand your way of thinking Helena...all we can do is write and hope for the best! Best wishes for a wonderful autumn in London...I miss it... ;)

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  38. A belated happy birthday, jeanne. No access this week until today.

    We all have times when the blog just seems out of sorts, and our "voice" isn't just right. It will either pass, or you will refocus ... and we will follow along with you. Love.

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  39. Dear Jeanne

    A belated Happy Birthday. I look forward to reading your posts and don't mind in the slightest if they are long. It's wonderful seeing another country through your eyes (just as I loved hearing about England and your other travels). I also don't mind where you post them - it's all good.

    Jeannette

    PS am terribly envious of your wood carving...

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    1. Thank you Jeannette...yes, wood carving was a great find! :)

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  40. I found your blog this summer, and I truly enjoy it. I will admit, I love one blog by one writer who puts a little bit of everything into each post. I don't think I can follow one writer who has too many blogs. I like real-time info, and you're good at that, especially about your new life. In my kitchen, on a very warm mid-September evening in Southern California, I can get a glimpse of your life in Vietnam. I really, really enjoy that. Your photos are vibrant and very focused on the details that matter. Keep it up. Take a break if you need to get fresh air. But come back.

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    1. Carolyn...so happy that you found your way to me in Vietnam from sunny California. Your warm mid-September evening in Southern California soulds lovely... Thank you for your very kind words... :)

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  41. Jeannie, Happy Birthday. I have to say that I couldn't stop reading your post. This is a first because if I see a long post, I'll browse through it and move on. But yours completely caught my attention. I found myself not only intrigued by your new life in Vietnam, but also by your candid explanation of your feelings about blogging. I can relate so much to them. Going through the same right now. I think your blog is interesting and you bring to us a different perspective of life in another part of the world, that I personally wouldn't know about otherwise.
    Whatever you decide to do, and for what is worth, I hope you decide to continue this blog just as it is: real, honest, interesting, meaningful.
    Cheers.

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    1. Thanks so much Silvia for your comments and staying with the post. I do the same thing...if it get's to long, I think I will come back to read but often forget...I appreciate your interest! :)

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  42. How did I miss your birthday??? What a horrible blog friend I am! Happy Birthday - hope you had a wonderful day.

    I think there are two types of blogs for me. The ones I go to because a certain topic or post cathes my eye - I don't necessarily stay there forever - it depends on what is posted.
    And then there are the ones who I read because of the person who writes it - and your blog is one of those. We follow you not because you write about family, Vietnam, England, bicycles, photography etc., but because you write about 'you'. All these things become interesting to us because they have you in common.

    I have a very small blog compared to yours, and am constantly surprised when I see people commenting on it and following it:-D Because I must admit I myself fail to see the red thread in my blog. Because it is a reflection of me and my life, and God knows I haven't figured out the entire plot in that yet. I have certain interests which will of course be clear from my blog, but as anyone else I sometimes develop a keen interest in something which I forget about two months later.

    What I am trying to say is that you should write write about whatever interest you at any given time. 'Those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind'

    xo
    Carina

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  43. My enthusiasm when writing that comment apparently made me unaware of spelling and grammar! Sorry:-)

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  44. Happy Birthday! I enjoyed this post in so many ways. The little gecko immediately took me back to my amazing holiday in Bali a few years ago when we used to spot the cute little creatures. The letter which accompanied the fruit - how thoughtful.
    http://missbbobochic.blogspot.co.uk/

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  45. Dear Jeanne, Do you still have the same email address? I sent you an email but then realised that perhaps since moving to Vietnam this might have changed? Jennyxoxo

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  46. HEUREUX ANNIVERSAIRE dear Jeanne, I'm sure it was made memorable being in Vietnam!!!!!!!!!

    I'm really enjoying your Vietnam sojourn.
    You've inspired me to collect books from the library on Vietnamese food and cooking. Simple fresh healthy food - what more could we want - now I'm addicted - thanks to you!!

    Jeanne you are a natural storyteller - maybe that's your Irish father’s influence!
    Whatever you blog about is beautifully written and worth reading - it's entirely up to you how you do it.
    For me one blog to visit is easier, I don't have a lot of time to blog hop and I don't want to miss a great post!

    If you feel like a bit of Takapuna cafe culture, pop over and see my latest post!

    hugs and love
    Shane in New Zealand xox

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  47. Oh Jeanne, you gorgeous girl. My belated best birthday wishes to you - I'm not sure if you saw them on FB on the big day. You know how much I treasure your blog. And although I would follow you to the ends of the earth, having it all in one place does make it easier for me. Please send me your new address when you have a moment. J x

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  48. Hi there! I wonder; do your daughters know you had 88 comments? Just wondering.....
    What an exquisite post.

    We are all human beings......we all want the same things......I adore your blog

    It is about life!

    Thank you. What a wonderful voice you are. A normal balanced person in a "foreign country"!

    It ceased to be "foreign" after an hour? or not even?

    You should be talking at the United Nations!

    I wish you were!!

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  49. Oh! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!

    My birthday is so important to me.......you have no idea! I go around and tell everyone a week before!

    And then I tell EVERYONE all day long.....because; guess why? They say "Happy birthday!"

    No "surprise party" yet!

    However; here I am in Montecito.....I can hear the frogs....the crickets, the ducks come in and out to visit! Our pond is the thing that attracts so much wildlife!

    Pretty much heaven! I wake up so happy every day!

    I will be an activist to protect the natural habitat we have installed (is that the right word?)

    I love your blog......and I love your values.....and I adore reading it so very much!

    Thank you for taking the time!

    ps I need a new assistant........and that is why my blog is tardy!

    Haven't even interviewed one yet!

    Lots of great resumes; thanks, I think, to my website!

    Who knows? ; we'll see!


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  50. Hi Jeanne, I am sure you have long ago resolved this, as this is an old post, but here are my two pennies- blog for you and share your life. Write what you want, write what inspires you, show what you love, what makes you laugh, whatever interests you- otherwise, I have found, the blog will not grow with you, and will instead become a very heavy pack to carry as you try to write what others want, instead of what you want. Kindest Regards, N.G.

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Can I just say....that I so enjoy what YOU have to say. Just a few words or a few paragraphs, no matter. If you would like to write to me directly, I would love to hear from you... jeannecollageoflife@gmail.com

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