Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Day 18: Makes you merry [Christmas window display]

One of the more odd and funny Christmas window displays I've come across. It brought a smaile to my face as I discovered it, walking past. It's in the window of my favourite garden store, Truffaut, on the Quai de la Gare along the Seine in the 13th arrondissement.

And as always, thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim for creating the Photo-a-day concept.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Day 15: Outdoors {the urban jungle of Paris}

The only outdoors I'm getting at the moment in the urban jungle of Paris. Most trees on the street are surrounded by these iron gratings - it's both artful and a reminder you're not in nature anymore, Toto.

And as always, thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim for creating the Photo-a-day concept.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Day 14: Something green {Green man at traffic lights}

Green man at the traffic lights. Ten points to the crazy-woman taking a photo of a traffic light!

And as always, thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim for creating the Photo-a-day concept.

Day 13: Lights {Christmas on Rue Mouffetard}

The festive christmas lights strung across Rue Mouffetard on my way through to pick up the Frenchman from work.  

And as always, thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim for creating the Photo-a-day concept.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Day 12: Hat [Cloche]

On my recent trip to London, I bought a new hat. I tried on every beanie, beret, knit-hat you can imagine and it wasn't until I tried on this Cloche that I found "the one". Paired with my new plum lipstick, it's perfectly contemporary-vintage. That's my kinda thing.

And as always, thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim for creating the Photo-a-day concept.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Day 11: Sweet {Escargot Pistache}

An Escargot Pistache from 'Le Boulanger de Monge' on Avenue de Gobelin / Rue Monge (75005) in Paris.

And as always, thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim for creating the Photo-a-day concept.

Pondering and wondering

I am conflicted with living in France. Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful to have the chance of living here when so many who wish for it more aren't able to, but it's still not the easiest place to live.

As many expats and bloggers have said before me, France is not always the magical and romantic place that many people think that it is. The people can be rude. Administration is time-consuming and you're constantly running around in circles. No is the answer to everything.

But there are many good things too. And I'm very much aware of them.

But I can't help but feel that Paris is not the place for us. The Frenchman agrees. But where do we go? We can't keep moving around forever. As I've briefly mentioned before, Strasbourg (where we once lived about two years ago) is in our minds as our ideal place to settle down. But work commitments for The Frenchman mean that that's not going to happen for a while. But what until then? I'm bored. I'm frustrated. I'm going stir-crazy and I need to go back to work before my brain turns to mush. That's not going to happen any time soon with my lack of fluency in French and current day-care situation for the Little Sausage. The Frenchman is unhappy because I'm unhappy. Unintentionally, I've given up a career/family/language/friends/lifestyle to be here in France with him and although I would gladly do it because he's my love, it's still not conducive to a happy life outside of the home.

Ideas and possible solutions are being tossed about, and we are doing some serious hypothetical thinking. Another move in our near future may be on the cards.



It will involve serious paper work, fees, new passports and visas so the process will be long and expensive, yet temporary. We plan to go abroad, earn more money faster. We plan to return to France refreshed, with savings, to try to continue our lives here. Hopefully with me being able to start the business I so very much want to start. Living there permanently doesn't appeal to me, but being able to function independently (even for just a short time) does.

The where, when, and how will come later. For now, our brains are working overtime trying to come to a solution to our quandaries. Will this work? We think so, but then one can never be sure in life. We've always tried. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But have they been mistakes? I don't look at it like that. From every move, from every city, we've come away with something. Lessons learned, places seen, experiences had. This (potential) move will be no different. As to whether it's the right decision, who knows?

For now, we will try to do what we can here in Paris and try to get on with things.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Day 10: Under [Footbridge - Simone-de-Beauvoir, Paris]

Known as the Passerelle Simone-de-Beauvoir, this footbridge crossing the Seine at the Bibliothèque François-Mitterrand links the 13th and 12th arrondissements. It's our preferred bridge to cross when we go this way, as it's completely vehicle-free and fun to walk across. Not to mention the awesome view, all the way to Notre Dame in the centre of Paris.

And as always, thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim for creating the Photo-a-day concept.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Frankfurt Christmas Market

At the end of December, just after the official opening, we took the four hour ICE train to Frankfurt for two days of Christmas Market happiness. I love going to Christmas markets. There's something magical about all the twinkling lights, the wood smoke from the bratwurst stands, and the delicious smells wafting at you from every direction.

There are so many yummy things to eat, that I wished I had more stomach space to be able to fit it all in. Candied nuts, potato latkes with apple sauce (or garlic sour cream, your choice), bratwurst, lebkuchen (spiced gingerbread), mulled wine and so many more delicious things that taste better in the atmosphere of the season.

Many booths sold traditional lebkuchen hearts, piped in royal icing with various designs. Some even let you personalise them if you desire and have time to wait. I even saw one woman requesting the writing in Chinese characters for someone back home. One of my favourite stands is the handmade pottery shop where you can buy personalised mugs with names or expressions glazed on them. The Frenchman's name was there, so was mine and the Little Sausage's. I'm not sure if they do them to order if you have an unusual name, but they had plenty of generic expressions like: Grandma, Mum, Rock Star, etc., in case you can't find your own name.

It wasn't too cold and luckily the rain held off even though the weather forecast said it would be wet both days. There were already so many tourists, especially from the Asian countries, and they looked just as excited as we were. The locals clung to the Punch and mulled wine booths and everyone crowded around the pretty handcrafted decorations on display.

Back home, the French christmas markets have nothing on the German ones. Sadly, the lack of good food and traditional handcrafts is the main reason, I think. Somehow African animal statues or beaded necklaces they sell there don't scream "Christmas" to me.

If you can make it to Germany in December you must go to a Christmas market. All cities and most smaller towns have them, located right in the centre - they'd be hard to miss. It's our aim to go every year if we can. Next time, we've planned to go to the one in Munich - a different one each year!

26 November – 23 December 2012


Römerberg, Paulsplatz und Mainkai (Main quay)

Opening times
Monday-Saturday 10:00-21:00 hours
Sunday 11:00-21:00 hours

Official Opening Ceremony 
Monday, Nov. 26, 2012

Day 9: Out & About [In the park]

Our little family, out and about in the park on a cold Paris day.

And as always, thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim for creating the Photo-a-day concept.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Day 8: Someone you love [my family]

No explanation needed. And yes, I used the hearts filter.  Don't judge.

And as always, thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim for creating the Photo-a-day concept.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Day 7: Stars [star shapes Christmas tree installation]

The starry Christmas tree installation in front of the Mairie du 13éme (Town hall of the 13th arrondissement). At certain angles, the triangles interlocking look like stars. Very modernly festive!

And as always, thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim for creating the Photo-a-day concept.

Breakfast at Recipease Notting Hill

Photo credit: Nadja Eggers
This week I zoomed off to London for a couple of days to visit my lovely sister. Although we don't catch up (in person) all that often, when we do we make a beeline for Recipease - whether that be in Brighton (when we lived there), Clapham Junction (which is closer to her) or now the new Notting Hill store. This time was no different, and after meeting me at St. Pancras station, we made it there for our ritual breakfast. I had my usual The Works breakfast (£9.95), described as: 
Bath Pig chorizo sausage, outdoor-reared pork & leek sausage, outdoor-reared streaky bacon, free-range poached egg, wood fired oven roast tomato, Recipease baked beans, potato tortilla, spinach & toast.
I'm not the biggest fan of chorizo, so I asked (as I always do) for a second pork sausage which was again accommodated with no problem at all. The spinach under the poached egg was soggy and insipid. Adding salt made no difference. Not a big fan of that new addition. The Works in Brighton never had spinach on the plate and had scrambled eggs instead of poached, which doesn't make a difference to me - they're both good. The thick-cut bacon and the pork and leek sausage were fantastic as ever. I'm quite a fan of their coffee and the Mocha I had was good and strong.

The new store is huge (on two levels), spacious and choc-a-block full of their signature products. The restaurant and seating area upstairs is funky and comfortable to spend time in. I still prefer the coziness of the Brighton store the best, probably for sentimental reasons, but I definitely like the friendliness of the staff in the Notting Hill store even more. Each staff member was bubbly and genuinely helpful. Brighton's staff, not always so much. The café was full of people but there was plenty of space so it didn't feel crowded. 

The bathrooms, always an interest of mine when it comes to restaurant design and hygiene, were clean and really nicely furbished. Didn't like the noisy hand dryers though! But since when does someone recommend/reject an establishment based on the volume of its bathroom appliances? 

The store downstairs was full of their usual goods but a bigger variety than at the other smaller locations. What I had come for, other than the breakfast, was to stock up on Jamie's ketchup, BBQ sauce, and a jar of toffee sauce. Although the BBQ sauce was in stock, none of the others were on display. Sad. There were plenty of things to put on my Christmas List (you hear that, family of mine?) but alas, no purchases this time for me.

All in all: good food, good coffee, friendly staff, a great atmosphere, and plenty of handmade kitchen things to drool over. I'll be going back next time I'm in London (and hopefully the sauces I love will be in stock when I do).

92-94 Notting Hill Gate
London W11 3QB

Opening hours
Mon - Fri 7.30am - 9.00pm
Saturday 7.30am - 9.00pm 
Sunday 8.00am - 7.00pm

*As always, this is a totally unsponsored review and entirely paid for out of my own pocket. This branch of Recipease had no idea I was coming, let alone any idea of who I even am. The opinion is completely my own.*

Day 6: From where you live/your country [street signs in Paris]

These street signs are probably on of Paris' most known icons. Stylish, classy, and simple.

And as always, thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim for creating the Photo-a-day concept.

Day 5: Looking up [Mairie du 13éme]

This fabulous building is the Mairie du 13éme (Town Hall of the 13th arrondissement) on Place d'Italie in Paris. It's such a beautiful building and I get to see it every day as I take the Little Sausage to her afternoon childcare. Each arrondissement has its own Mairie, but not all are in historical buildings as nice as this one.

And as always, thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim for creating the Photo-a-day concept.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Day 4: Black + White [bird's nest in bare trees]

Spotted during our stroll through Parc de Bercy earlier this week was a small bird's nest up in the sparse trees. It looked cool, silhouetted against the frigid winter sky.

And as always, thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim for creating the Photo-a-day concept.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Day 2: Peace [Statues in Parc de Bercy]

Rather than trying to find a dove to photograph (aren't they supposed to be a symbol for peace?), I want to introduce you to the statues 'Children of the World' in the Parc de Bercy. According to this site, they are by the French Algerian sculptor Rachid Khimoune and are supposed to symbolise the 21st century and the surroundings in which our children are growing up.

And as always, thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim for creating the Photo-a-day concept.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

December Photo-a-Day list

Thanks once again to Fat Mum Slim, here is the complete photo-a-day list for December. Hopefully you'll see them all here in the month to come.

Created by and thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim

Advent wreath reinvention

Every year, it's a German (well, Northern European) tradition to light a candle each Sunday, for four Sundays before Christmas to celebrate Advent. 

While shopping in Kehl back at the beginning of November, we found a store selling all kinds of crafty/deco things, with an emphasis on creating advent wreaths. On display was an advent wreath with a twist: not a wreath at all, but a candle holder where each pillar is in a row instead of a circle. Strictly not traditional, this one is by far the most practical in our little apartment with the Little Sausage. We plan to put it on the mantle piece out of the way of her I-wanna-touch-everything-and-take-it-apart hands, where we can see it in all its glory.

The advent candle display at Depot in Kehl.

You can make an advent wreath our of anything you like - make it as traditional or as innovative as you want to - the only constant are the four candles - but what you decorate them with is totally up to you. It took less than 30 minutes to make and looks so festive!

This is how I did it...

What you'll need:
A store-bought candle base (or make your own out of wire, oasis (florist's) foam, styrofoam, wood, metal, etc. etc.)
Dried moss and/or lichen
Flat wooden decorations, one large, one small (any shape that takes your festive-fancy)
Small coloured baubles
Small pinecones
A string of battery-operated lights or un-lit wired string/tinsel
Artificial snow for sprinkling
Ribbon, length depends on candles used

Gently tear apart and spread your dried lichen and moss around the base of the candle holder. Next, place your large wooden decoration at the back of the candle base and nestle amongst the moss. Place the small on at the front of the candle base, on the opposite end, nestling it also amongst the moss.

Now, add your decorative elements. Strategically place the miniature pine cones, small red baubles, and the battery-operated string of lights to add attention.

Add the candles and finishing touches like artificial snow or glitter. I had a bag of sparkly artificial snow and sprinkled it liberally over the whole thing, avoiding the candles. I tied ribbon around the first and fourth candles to finish the whole piece off.

Now stand back and admire!

This year, the first advent falls on December 2nd. Light the first candle, have some coffee and cake and take some time to be with those closest to you. Then the following Sunday, the 9th, light the first AND second candle. The week after, on the 16th, light the first, second, and third candle. Then on the 23rd, all candles can be lit. 

And that's Advent in a nut shell. 

Frohe Weihnachten !