Le Lyonnais Restaurant

Ethan and I stumbled across a hidden gem of a restaurant while taking the back way home a few weeks ago. We were driving through Acton, Massachusetts when I noticed a cute white Colonial style house with a sign out front that read: Le Lyonnais Restaurant. “That looks like a perfect place!” I exclaimed, and Ethan dutifully turned the car around. I’m so glad we did, as we found a place that had a cozy atmosphere, attentive service, and really great food.IMG_1820Right on the side of 2A in Acton, Le Lyonnais is owned by Chef Gerard Lebrosse, who is indeed from Lyon, France. All of his food is cooked to order, and he uses classical French cooking techniques that he learned in France. The restaurant itself is so quaint, with four separate dining rooms, each in different rooms of the colonial house. We were seated in a bright room with a lovely view of the river in the backyard. Our server was named Gail, and she was so friendly and attentive, we really appreciated her service. There were fresh poppies on each table, and real candles burning which made for a nice atmosphere. I even liked the bathroom decor- framed vintage prints on an even more vintage brocade wallpaper.


img_1838img_1850And as for the food… it was great! Ethan said his French Onion Soup was the best he’s ever had. I tried the house country pate as my appetizer. Served over a green salad with homemade dressing, it was excellent! Our entrees did not disappoint either. Ethan tried the evening’s special: seafood Paella, which was filled with tender fish, shrimp, scallops, and even lobster. I had the Brook Trout Almandine. It was buttery and delicious, served with rice and many vegetable sides! We both had plenty left over to take home all well- the portions were a very good size. I liked that they offered a fixed price menu, so I could get an appetizer, an entree and a dessert for a better deal than if I had to order all of those separately. I had chocolate mousse for dessert and Ethan had a caramel flan- both were scrumptious. When we were leaving, Chef Gerard came out to meet us, which was very sweet. We complimented him highly of course, he is a great chef!

 

img_1844Going out for a nice dinner is definitely a treat for us. Because I am more confident in my own kitchen and beginning to actually enjoy cooking at home, if I pay a lot extra to have my meal cooked for me, it’s got to be good. Really good. No more chain restaurants for me, if I can help it! Going out to eat is also just too expensive. When saving for Chile, it was one of the things we made an effort to cut out, and since we returned, we’ve still kept going out to eat to a minimum. We go maybe once a month, if that. Which is a shame, because I do love it so much (not having to do dishes might be the best part! haha). So anyways, the point I’m trying to make is that if we spend the money to go out to eat, not only does the food have to be great, but I’m looking for atmosphere and nice service too. In all of these facets, Le Lyonnais did not disappoint. If you’re looking for a special place to get a really nice meal, or if you really love French food, give Le Lyonnais a try.img_1856

My Garden Journal

As winter storm Stella rages on outside, my mind is drifting towards warmer thoughts. It’s mid-March already and I am itching to get outside in the garden. Just the other day there was bare ground and I could see all the garden and yard clean up work that needs to be done. I love work like that. Clearing the leaves and preparing the beds with compost; all the while thinking of ideas for new plantings. I am definitely an amateur gardener. It wasn’t until just last spring that I even really got into flower planting (and when I say “got into” I mean “mildly obsessed”). We’ve had veggie gardens every summer since we’ve been married, but now that we’ve built our apartment at my mom’s house, I know we will be sticking around- for a few years at least 😉 This gives me quite a big yard to work with, and a very supportive landlord (my mom! haha) who loves flower gardening as well. With our combined efforts, we were able to plant quite a bit last spring. With a new yard, and being a beginner gardener, I started a garden journal to help me keep track of what I planted where, and how the plant did in it’s first season.
With a lot of things in life, I often assume my memory is better than it is. I put off making my gardening journal for weeks (I don’t think I actually made it until late fall–I can’t remember! ha!) I almost didn’t even do it, thinking I would be able to remember all the things I planted and the lessons that I learned. I’m glad I didn’t listen to my own faulty reasoning. Just flipping through the pages quickly today showed me a variety of things I never would have remembered otherwise. So having a lousy memory alone is a good of a reason as any to make a gardening journal. I also wanted to have the ability to see how things do year after year. That way, I can stop investing money into plants that fail repeatedly. For the journal itself, I used a few empty middle pages of a big sketchbook I’ve had for years. I wish I got a new fresh book as a designated gardening journal, because there are not a whole lot of empty pages left in that sketchbook now. Oh well, next season I will make another one 🙂

I started by making a basic sketch of our yard from above, and added some loose watercolor to differentiate sections of our space. I didn’t spend too much time making that page a work of art, the point of it is to be a key for the journal. I then numbered the areas in my yard where I planted something, and numbered the corresponding descriptions.As you can see, I cut out the pretty seed packet illustrations and plant photos on the markers to add interest and decorate the journal. When I could remember, I would record where the plant came from. When I planted seed mixes, I cut out the list of varieties included in the mix and taped that in the journal. I also came to the conclusion that I will not use seed mixes anymore until I really learn how to differentiate weeds from flowers. I foolishly planted 3 different mixes on a hillside covered with weeds, so now, this spring, I generally won’t be able to tell what is a weed and what is a flower until the plants are big and established. Darn. Lesson learned- and recorded in my garden journal 🙂Along with lessons about the plants themselves, I also noticed trends as far as where the healthiest and weakest plants came from. All across the board, the plants we got from Amazing Flower Farm in New Ipswich, New Hampshire performed the best. We will definitely go there again. After describing all my flowers, I also briefly described my veggies. It was a really tough year for vegetable growing. We had the drought to contend with for one thing. We also had a really late start on our seeds and got the very last available starter plants because of traveling the majority of last spring.
 The last section of my journal describes the bulbs that I planted this fall, which I am eagerly still awaiting to come up! Garlic, Tuips, Daffodils, Crocuses, Narcissus… I hope they all do well! Time will tell. They are all still sleeping under a bed of white snow. I am itching to get out and use my old gardening tools and plant new things! Alas, I am going to have to be patient… as this is the current scene… 

Worcester, You Surprised Me.

Worcester, Massachusetts. Generally not on the top of my list of places I want to go (to be honest). It’s usually the city I am zooming through on my way to get somewhere else. It appears to be just houses on top of houses. I never thought of it as overly interesting or appealing. However, my own preconceived Worcester ideas were recently corrected on two separate trips to the city.
img_5133On one of my trips there, a lovely local friend showed me a few of her favorite spots in Worcester. The first was a interesting plant and curiosity shop called Seed to Stem. It is chock full of little succulents, fossils, gems, ferns, and other tropical looking plants. The shop feels like you are stepping into a giant cabinet of curiosities, it’s really awesome. Walking around there was literally a breath of fresh air; because of the abundance of plants in there, it just felt like the cleanest air you could possibly breathe. fullsizeoutput_1513

fullsizeoutput_14f2fullsizeoutput_151afullsizeoutput_1514Cool shop, right?! The building which houses Seed to Stem is also home to some other really funky and unique shops and cafes (even a barber shop). We poked around the Crompton Collective, a mixed dealer antiques/vintage shop which also displays work from local artists and makers. All of this goodness can be found at 138 Green Street in Worcester. It’s definitely worth checking out! To top off our day, we got lunch at a great little Middle Eastern restaurant called Bahnan’s Bakery, which can be found at 344 Pleasant Street in Worcester. I enjoyed some fresh falafel with yogurt sauce and a yummy cabbage salad. I got some grape leaves stuffed with rice and sausage to go, and they were delicious as well.

A couple of months later, I made a second trip to Worcester to attend the Worcester Art Museums’ Flora in Winter. Local florists are assigned a piece of artwork from the Museum’s collection and create elaborate floral arrangements based on the piece. The floral works of art are scattered throughout the entire museum, paired with the piece of artwork that inspired them. It’s fun to go through a museum as it is, but when there are gorgeous and creative flower arrangements around just about every corner, it makes for an extra special museum day. (Seed to Stem even had an arrangement on display for Flora in Winter, third picture below).img_0086fullsizeoutput_12d7img_0071

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img_0152img_0105I had never gone to the Worcester Museum of Art before, and I enjoyed it. It isn’t huge or sprawling like the Boston Museum of Fine Art, which was nice, because I didn’t feel like I was wandering in continuous circles missing things (as I often feel whenever I’m at the MFA in Boston). It is easy to see why Flora in Winter is WMA’s most popular and biggest fundraising event. The flower arrangements really made the Museum shine. I don’t think I would go back there, unless it was during their Flora in Winter display. It was just so interesting how the different florists interpreted their assigned artwork. There were also just big and colorful arrangements placed throughout the halls between the galleries, making the whole atmosphere of the Museum more inviting. There is no date yet for the Flora in Winter display for 2018, but I hope you and I can make it there for it.img_0120Worcester, you surprised me. It just goes to show me, yet again, the importance of keeping an open mind; and to never be guided by my own assumptions. fullsizeoutput_1515