Tag Archives: lille

Fake It Til You Make It

1 Jul

Distance Vision1

I have terrible distance vision. Both literally and figuratively speaking. I always want things to happen now. Today. Not next month or next year. And I have trouble seeing that a little bit each day adds up to a whole lot.

Which is a bit of a problem for someone trying to write a novel.

In the beginning, I would set aside whole Saturdays every once in awhile, work nonstop from dawn to dusk and then get frustrated that the novel didn’t seem any closer to being finished.

We’re often told to fake it til you make it. If you want to be a fit person, then turn up to the gym every day, until you are one. And, if you want to be a writer, then sit down in that chair, and turn up to that blank page every day.

It wasn’t until I started taking my laptop with me on the train to and from work every day that I started to see progress. Real progress.

Distance Vision2

But I couldn’t see that day to day. Thanks to my crappy distance vision. All I could see was how much I hadn’t yet done, how many weeks of editing lay ahead. But I just kept picking up that laptop, opening it up to a new page.

Within the space of two weeks I had advanced 10,000 words. And in the space of three months I had a novel.

And in hindsight (which is always 20/20) that was no time at all.

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Glasses image courtesy of Bart Heird on Flickr.
Vision quote image courtesy of Brett Jordan on Flickr.
Maldives image courtesy of Sarah_Ackerman on Flickr.
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This will be the last post you see from me for awhile, as I am off on our long awaited trip to France for the Wedding 2.0 followed by our honeymoon in Italy and the Maldives. Jealousy-inducing photos to come in August. À bientôt 🙂Maldives
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Things That Make Me Happy

27 May

Inspired by a post on the talented Carla Coulson’s blog, I decided to make a list of things that make me happy. Feel free to post yours in the comments below….

Bubble baths

Bath
Brightly painted toenails

Toenails
Towels fresh from the dryer

Mojito
Royal Mojitos

Mojito made with rum, lime, sugar, mint, club soda, served in a tall glass.
Weekends away

Bulong vines
Peter Alexander pyjamas

PJs
Working on my novel

Laptop
Fresh food markets

Fresh vegetables at a Paris market, Paris, France
Summertime picnics

Picnic basket
Reading in bed on rainy days

Reading in Bed
Drinking fancy tea

Teacup
Snow falling on cobblestones

Snow
Mastering a difficult yoga pose (read, all of them)

Yoga
Macarons

laduree-macarons.jpg
Falling asleep on the couch

Puppy snooze
Going for long walks through new neighbourhoods

Walk
Inspiring talks with people who believe in me

Inspire
Puppies & Monkeys

Puppy Monkey
Cooking, eating and hanging out with my husband

Max and I

What makes you happy?

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Bath img courtesy of
aka Laverne on Flickr.
Toenail img courtesy of
haunted by Leonard Cohen on Flickr.
Fresh towels img courtesy of
cattoo on Flickr.
Mojito img courtesy of
TheCulinaryGeek on Flickr.
Pyjama img courtesy of
sillypucci on Flickr.
Writing img courtesy of
joelgoodman on Flickr.
Market img courtesy of
Kevin Oke Photography on Flickr.
Reading book in bed img courtesy of
Reena Mahtani on Flickr.
Teacup img courtesy of
MyLifeThroughPhotography on Flickr.
Snow img courtesy of
Tavallai on Flickr.
Yoga img courtesy of
AmandaD_TX on Flickr.
Walk img courtesy of
gari.baldi on Flickr.
Inspire img courtesy of
Mark Brannan on Flickr.
Puppy & Monkey img courtesy of
elaine… on Flickr.

Gaufres de Chez Meert

22 Apr

Meert, une institution rue Esquermoise

As the cold weather begins to envelop Melbourne this week, I’ve been thinking about Lille. For me, visiting Max’s hometown means a great many things. It means cold weather, sometimes snow. It means comfort food and hot drinks and long, indulgent meals en famille. It also means eating the gaufres de Chez Meert.

It’s no secret that I have a bit of a sweet tooth. From delicate macarons to thick slices of brioche studded with sugar crystals and spread with nutella, visiting Lille is a little bit like a trip to your grandparents house, where all the things that are off limits in normal life are allowed.

When max first told me about the waffles on offer at Chez Meert, I was unenthusiastic. As a child in Australia, waffles came frozen in boxes, and on rare occasions we were allowed to pop one in the toaster and eat it drenched in maple syrup with a scoop of Peter’s vanilla ice cream. Delicious, yes, but not in comparison to all the other finely crafted sweet treats France has to offer. I had also tasted a waffle in Belgium a few months earlier, and whilst I enjoyed the nutella-smeared, whipped cream-adorned concoction, I wouldn’t have returned in a hurry. Max simply shook his head at my reticence and said ‘Tu verra’.

And see, I did.

Gaufres de Chez Meert2

These ‘waffles’ could not be further from those of my childhood, or the one I’d eaten in Brussels. These were long, delicate, pliable tongue-shaped wafers, sandwiched together by an intoxicating vanilla bean paste. They were as moist as other waffles are dry, and require no accompaniments whatsoever, except perhaps a strong espresso to cut through the sweetness.

In the interest of research, I tasted not only their classic flavour, but their speculoos one too. And though we all know how much I love speculoos, I think the classic just wins out in the flavour race.

Getting to eat a gaufres from Chez Meert has long been a treat exclusively reserved for trips to Lille, and the only way to enjoy them back home in Paris’ 9th arrondissement was to buy up big on our last day in Lille and practise extreme self-control on the car ride home.  But, with the 2012 opening of a Meert café in Paris, this is no longer the case.

So be sure to check them out next time you are in Paris, or Lille. You’ll never think of waffles the same way again.

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Chez Meert image courtesy of fred_v on Flickr.
Waffle image courtexy of
bionicgrrrl on Flickr.

French-Australian Wedding Part One

16 Apr


Wedding Photo1

As many of you know, I recently married my French fiancé Max. Putting together a wedding with two sets of cultural norms to consider was a little bit of a challenge at times, but mostly it was a whole lot of fun.

As we are having a second wedding in France in July, the February event had more of an Australian flavour, but with some nice French touches. We were married at Leaves & Fishes in the Hunter Valley, in their function space ‘Feast’, which we picked for its distinctly European feel.

Wedding Photo2

I walked in to the song ‘Intermission’ by French-Canadian singer Coeur de Pirate, and we signed our registry to the hauntingly beautiful strains of Aboriginal artist Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, who Max and once I saw perform live in Paris. My mum did a reading in English, and Max’s godmother, in French. The entire ceremony was conducted in both languages, and afterwards, we toasted with a French-style Australian-made sparkling wine.

Our wedding cake was a delicious fusion of the two cultures, square chocolate and vanilla cupcakes decorated with an assortment of iconic images from the two countries. The lovely ladies at Kiss Me Cakes in Sydney did an incredible job, and in the days that followed we were glad that we had over catered! We also had lolly jars filled with sweets from our childhoods, Caramello Koalas and Carambars (yum!).

Wedding Photo3

The following day we held a brunch at my aunt and uncle’s property, with sausages on the barbeque and a game of backyard cricket on one side; and delicious croissants and an intense match of pétanque on the other…

Wedding Photo6

Wedding Photo5

The perfect weekend!

Paris Weather Envy

18 Mar

Montmartre Snow

It has been snowing a lot in France this year. Even Paris has received a generous dusting – just last week we were all in awe of the ‘skiing in Montmartre’ video. The only problem was, I was watching it from my Melbourne apartment, where I had the air conditioning on full blast and had employed the usual of a small fan in an attempt to cool us down.

Because I have the Météo Paris app on my smartphone, I can’t help but sneak a look at the forecast from time to time. And, when staring down the barrel of the eighth day in a row of 30 degree plus temperatures – minus 2 seemed almost… refreshing.

It’s absolutely a case of wanting what you don’t have, perhaps sprinkled with a touch of rose-coloured glass wearing. See, I appear to recall only the good about snow in Paris. I remember the first time I saw snow fall in Paris. It was 2am, and something had woken me. I moved silently to my small window and watched as it fell softly, yet determinedly into the still courtyard below.

Hot chocolate

I remember the warmth and conviviality of the cafes we’d duck into, where we’d eat warming bowls of onion soup and drink jugs of chocolat chaud to revive us.

P1030930

I remember the fireplace at Max’s parents house in Lille, and the big fluffy slippers Max gave me for Christmas.

What I choose to forget is the pain of a metro strike on a snow day, where the buses don’t run and the crowds are suffocating. I forget the inconvenience of having to shower at night, instead of in the morning to ensure my hair was bone dry before leaving the house to avoid an instant cold migraine. I have pushed aside the unattractive image of me, bundled up in a billion layers under my bulky winter coat, tramping inelegantly through the slippery cobblestone streets in my gumboots…

P1030928

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Snow in Montmartre image courtesy of Nicolas DS on Flickr.
Hot chocolate image courtesy of johnbailey63 on Flickr.

Galette des Rois

7 Jan

In France, Epiphany, which falls on the sixth day of January, is celebrated in true French style – with food. From mid-December through to the end of January, countless versions of the delicious galette des rois pop up in boulangerie windows and on supermarket shelves all over the country.

Galette

These delectable pastry treats come in two main varieties, apple, or frangipane, the latter holding a firm first place in my book. I can still recall my first Epiphany spent in France. The adorable five-year-old boy that I looked after raced into the kitchen after school sporting a paper crown and proudly presenting his fève – a tiny porcelain figure that is hidden inside one slice of the cake. ‘Je suis le roi! Je suis le roi!’ he explained excitedly to his two year old brother, who to his credit, responded with wide-eyed appreciation.

Later that evening, Max and I attended a party at the home of a friend. I had managed for weeks to ignore the temptation to try a piece of galette, (a task akin to resisting the purchase of hot cross buns in February) instead waiting for the proper sense of occasion to have my first taste. We drank cider and chatted as I waited excitedly for the main event.

I chose frangipane, figuring that anything that shares most of its ingredients with a croissant aux amandes can’t be bad, and I was not disappointed. It was so delicious, so more-ish that I had to force myself to eat slowly, remembering that choking on the fève would not be a good way to make friends.

Feve

Alas, no fève for me. I was doing a brilliant job of masking my disappointment, telling myself that it was for the best really, as the feve must surely taint the taste of the cake (wisdom gleaned from watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), when Max discovered the elusive fève hidden deep within his (second) slice.

I was just entering the early stages of what can only be described as serious poor-sportsmanship when Max ever so kindly proffered his prized crown for me to wear. And, I’m a little ashamed to admit, I grabbed it gleefully and wore it with an obscene amount of pride. But can you blame me? After all, who doesn’t want to be king for a day?
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Galette des Rois image courtesy of u m a m i on Flickr.
Fève image courtesy of yuichi.sakuraba on Flickr.

Christmas Eve

24 Dec

In true Sydney fashion it is Christmas Eve and it is hot. We awoke early to do the early morning seafood run to the local shops. The temperature had barely dropped overnight, meaning that even at 5.30am jeans weren’t the smartest clothing choice, but I can’t complain. It’s Christmas tomorrow, and it’s hot.

Mum spends the day preparing the usual impressive array of desserts for the next day’s feast and Dad peels the five kilos of prawns in the kitchen, air-conditioning on full. Max and I head out for a swim and my sister is spending the day on a friend’s boat. It is shaping up to be a proper Australian Christmas.

xmas beach

This year is Max’s second Christmas in Australia. His first Christmas here was two years ago, and I was thrilled to introduce him to our traditions and Christmas en Australie.  Christmas Eve is the ‘day before’ in Australia, rather than the main event as it is in France.

Last year, we spent Christmas with Max’s family in Lille, and as snow fell softly in the backyard on Christmas Eve we gathered around the fireplace, glass in hand, table groaning underneath the weight of the aperitif, to open our presents.

Lille Christmas

This year, we might be back in Australia for Christmas, but there will be an element of Noël à la Française to our festivities. As a hat tip to Max’s traditions, tonight, we will drink champagne and snack on foie gras, before sitting down to an indulgent dinner of Confit de canard avec pommes sautées aux lardons et salade frisée. Then, we will indulge in one of my family traditions, and watch Carols by Candlelight on TV after dinner, with all the lights off except for the ones on the Christmas tree.  It really is the best of both worlds.

Sandman

What does your Christmas Eve look like?

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I’d also like to take the chance to wish a very Merry Christmas to all of my lovely blog followers, wherever in the world you are!
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Beach x-mas image courtesy of JoePhilipson on Flickr.
Lille at Christmas image courtesy of Mimidith on Flickr.
Sand snowman image courtesy of
mel5545 on Flickr.

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