Take one Canadian girl in les Alpes.
Add the ups & downs of living in France.
Cover with melted cheese...
Et voilà !

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Joyeux Noël to you & yours!

look who was out doing his last-minute Christmas shopping in Annecy the other day...
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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Flirty French Santa

My sister-in-law & lovely 5-year-old niece just came & spent two days visiting us in Annecy.

We did all sorts of fun festive stuff.

We baked (maple pecan cookies),
took the Christmas train around the old town,
wandered around the Marché de Noël,
& paid a visit to le Père Noël.

In France, there's no official photgrapher during visits with Santa.
(Guess the jolly old elf prefers to cut out the middleman!)
So I snapped this photo myself.
And here's Juliette telling Santa what she wants for Christmas (a mini-computer)
& explaining her plan to set out five of our home-made cookies for him on Christmas Eve.

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Santa: Oh really? Why five cookies?
Juliette: Because I'm five years old (duh!)
Santa: I see! Well, in that case, I can hardly wait till you're ten!

(And then he looked directly at me & winked. And I think I blushed. Can you blame me??!)
(I mean, it's Santa!!!  Sheesh!)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Presque Noël

Christmas is nearly here.

How do I know?

My shopping & wrapping is all done.

Santa hasn't come yet, but our funny little tree is looking festive all the same.

And, according to the amazing Advent calendar my lovely Erin sent to me,
the big day is right around the corner!

plus this
equals this

& this
Only a couple more windows left for me to open!

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas market = yum

As promised, here are some more photos of Annecy's great Christmas market.

I figured I'd focus on all the yummy food & drinks that are on offer, 
because what is more delicious & Christmas-y than vin chaud & roasted chestnuts? 

Nothing, that's what.

the Christmas tea smelled divine
the mulled wine stand is always popular
this is where my honey bought two jars of miel (ha!)

chestnuts roasting on an open fire...
Meanwhile, over at the Québec stand...

cranberries, beer & maple cookies... love it!
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Monday, December 20, 2010

J'ai passé un très bon week-end

As far as weekends go, this past one was pretty great.

Saturday morning involved baking Christmas goodies.
chocolate crinkle cookies + lemon poppy-seed loaf
Saturday afternoon, we did a little last-minute Christmas-shopping for others,
 & bought new winter hats for ourselves.

Saturday evening, we had dinner with some new friends.
(Double yay!)

Sunday morning was all about sleeping in,
& making brunch at home.

Sunday afternoon meant driving up into the mountains above Annecy to gaze at the scenery (gorgeous!)
& take a walk in the snow (freezing!)
beautiful, non?

On the way home, we stopped in Annecy's old town.
the vielle ville is lovely any time, but the Christmas lights don't hurt
And took a wander around the Christmas Market.

See all those wooden cabins where the fairy lights are?
Imagine all sorts of little booths, selling jewellery, honey, hats, toys...
& of course vin chaud (mulled wine!)

So great.
I'll be sure to tell you more about the Marché de Noël this week in the lead-up to Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree...

So once the hairnet came off, our Christmas tree looked significantly better.
Add a few lights, some ornaments & a star on top...
& presto!

The stars of the show were my vintage goodies from the ornament swap I participated in.
They didn't mind sharing the spotlight with the other new additions, 
the two hand-made felt peacocks I bought for us at a market in Budapest last month.
(Do they look familiar, Krista?)

Speaking of the ornament swap...

Micaela (who organised it all) has posted lots of photos on her blog
to showcase the baubles that were sent & received.

My swap partner Krista blogged about what I sent her over here.

Tanya at Dans le Townhouse read Krista's blog entry & was quite smitten.

So there you have it. 
Fun ornaments, new friends & cute little tree, right?

Oh & I really do mean "little".
I'm five-foot-nothing (or 152 cms if you prefer)...

... but suddenly I'm a GIANT!!
OK, here's one more funny thing to show you.
In France, people don't seem to fuss with tree-trunk stands &/or water.
They just nail the base of tree to a cross made from two flat pieces of wood
or (the slightly more artistic version)
drill a hole in half a log & stick the trunk in there.
No fuss, no mess.
Well, apart from the endless pine needles on the floor, of course.

I guess some things about Christmas really are the same, 
no matter where you are.

(Now, where's that broom...?)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's like a hair net... but for trees

This is how Christmas trees come in France:

There is no tromping around the forest 
(or Christmas tree farm)
choosing the prettiest tree,
chopping it down,
dragging it through the snow.


Instead, you go to a supermarket or garden store, 
try and guess which wrapped-up tree is the nicest,
throw it in the trunk of the car.

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(In all fairness, our sapin de Noel does look pretty cute now that it's decorated 
& no longer wrapped up like a mummy.)
Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ornament Swap

Last month, I participated in my first-ever blog swap.

You didn't even know that such things existed?
Me neither, until recently.

So how did this all come to pass?

Well, my lovely Erin (in Victoria, BC) directed me to Dolce Vita
which is a fabulous blog written by Micaela (a newlywed Texan who now lives in Virginia.) 
Micaela was organizing a Christmas ornament exchange.
She matched me up with Krista in Georgia for the swap.

Still with me?

The idea was simple: have a look at your swap partner's blog to get an idea of her style.
Pick out an ornament or two.  
Write a note.
Mail it off.
Et voila!

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I received a pretty little box from Krista in my boîte aux lettres the other day.
As you can see, she did a fabulous job picking out two ornaments for me 
(at a vintage auction, no less!)
She included a lovely letter too.  
I was also pretty excited about the sparkly bits amongst the shredded paper 
she used to make sure my little elf & glass ball got 
all the way from the Southern U.S. to the French Alps safe & sound.

We are decorating our tree tonight & my new ornaments are going to be front & centre!
More photos tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

La Fête des Lumières à Lyon

Last Saturday we went to La Fête des Lumières in Lyon.
It's an amazing light festival that takes place over a few days every December. 

It was a cold cold cold clear night.
There were zillions of people.

Frozen fingers + crowds + darkness does not = great photos.
But I tried!

"Printemps" department store & bird lights in the trees

I loved the over-sized desk lamps.  And look at all those people!
Teepees on the banks of the Rhône River with the Hôtel Dieu in the background.
Lights from Fourviere Cathedral beaming out over the city.  Not a bad view to look at while sipping some vin chaud!
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A fellow blogger from this area of France
posted some (much better) photos over on Le Franco Phoney.

And here's a video of the festival preparations featured on the French news:

Now just add temperatures well below zero, 
a Starbucks' chai tea latte in the festive red cup 
& about six zillion other people... voila! 
It's almost like you were there with me!
(Minus the frostbite...)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Le Hameau du Père Noël (le Bureau de Poste)

As promised, here are some photos of the wee postal outlet at the Hameau du Père Noël.

Those of you who know me well will not be surprised to hear
that this was my favourite part of our visit to Santa's village.  

I adore post offices, postal museums, postmarks, stamps, letters...  
pretty much anything to do with the postal system.

So it goes without saying that I was in postal heaven.  

mailboxes are very yellow in France
inside the lovely little P.O.
there were mail slots for a bunch of different countries
& slots for all the towns & villages in this region of France

FQ helped Jimi take a closer look at the outgoing mail
packages galore (one is for Alice Cooper in NY!!)
here's where letters to Santa get sorted according to adults/children & their varying degrees of naughtiness or niceness
Aline couldn't decide whether to file Jimi under "good children" or "fairly good children".  She'll get back to us.
Now if that doesn't inspire me to finally attack my stack of holiday cards that need to be sent out, 
I don't know what will!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Le Hameau du Père Noël (inside)

Once our noses were good & cold, we headed inside Santa's digs.

We were greeted by this pretty crèche: 
Then we headed into la cuisine du Père Noël:
There were a lot of dishes waiting to be washed:
And the Christmas turkey was already in the oven:
Santa's "diet" seemed to involve a lot of melted cheese...
The table was set but there was no sign of le Père Noël anywhere...
Next up was the elves' dining room:
The workshop:
And Santa's office (but still no sign of the jolly old elf...):
How great is the red & white bathtub?
Meanwhile, in the infirmary...
... a reindeer had gone on a bit of a binge:
I especially liked the control room with all the maps & globes:

The magnifying glass was focussed on Annecy:
 We were almost at the end of our visit.
And then we finally saw Santa.

Well, sort of.
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Psst! The best part - the North Pole-sque post office - is still to come!

In the meantime, happy weekend to all & to all a good night!
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