Tag Archives: winter

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.

Lazy Sunday Façon Parisienne…

13 May

Paris

Every now and then I like to play a game called ‘If we were in Paris today…’ For example, on drizzly grey days, I imagine taking myself to La Mosquée de Paris for a glass of mint tea and some quiet reflection.

Mint Tea

On sunny Saturdays, I picture Max and I picnicking along the banks of the Seine, and perhaps afterwards, strolling through the Ile-St Louis, Berthillon glace in our hands.

Berthillon

Yesterday, we awoke around 8am, and knowing that a lengthy to do list awaited our attention we reluctantly dragged ourselves out of bed. After breakfast, we returned to bed for a quick fifteen minute snooze. Two and a half hours later, we awoke again, refreshed and relaxed. I began feeling guilty about all the things I should have done that morning. I should have written a chapter of my novel. I should have made a start on our wedding thank you cards. I should have written this blog post. I should have done the washing. Washed the dishes. Gone grocery shopping.

Snooze

But I thought back to all the Sunday’s Max and I had spent together in Paris. Almsot without exception we would sleep in until 11am, springing out of bed only to make a quick dash to the Franprix before it closed at midday, then returning to the couch for a lazy afternoon watching movies. Later, perhaps we’d walk around Montmartre, or welcome friends for an aperitif.

And so, instead of spending the rest of the day running around like maniacs doing all the things on our list, we decided to head out for a leisurely lunch in an Italian restaurant. Over plates of fresh pasta, we worked out that we could combine some of the less-fun tasks with some of the more interesting ones, and decided that several things could wait for another week.

To do list

After all, it’s what we would have done in Paris.

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Paris image courtesy of filipealberto on Flickr.
Mint tea image courtesy of
P Donovan on Flickr.
Berthillon image courtesy of maki on Flickr.

Snooze image courtesy of MacUK on Flickr.
To do list image courtesy of vvvracer on Flickr.

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.

Paris for Tea Lovers

4 Mar

I love tea. And not just a little bit. This is a full blown infatuation.

I love all kinds of tea. Black tea, flavoured tea, herbal tea. Tea with milk, tea without. In a mug, in a cup. In the morning, in the afternoon, before bed.

Tea cup

I love that there is a type of tea for every occasion. Tea for calming you down, tea for waking you up, tea to aid digestion, tea to fight off colds. Tea just because.

I’m not particularly brand loyal, switching from Lipton to Twinings to Bushells without hesitation. Though T2 teas are my favourite for loose leaf varieties, as much due to the tea itself as to the funky black and orange store décor.

I’m used to being out of place – living in Melbourne and NOT drinking coffee puts me firmly in a minority group.

Mariage Freres

And, as a tea-lover living in France, I expected a similar response. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that quali-tea was as ubiquitous in the cafes and bistros as espresso. Boutique Mariage Frères became my paradise of sorts, and every time I return to France or someone visits Australia I request a box of Lipton white tea with rose, available in French supermarkets everywhere, but strangely not in Australia.

Mosquee de Paris

But my all time favourite French tea experience would have to be that offered by La Mosquée de Paris. The blue and white mosaic tiled courtyard is the perfect setting for a pot of teeth-achingly sweet mint tea, Moroccan style. There’s nowhere I’d rather be on a grey, drizzly and humid October afternoon, than it that courtyard, glass of steaming tea in hand, watching the rain drip around me and breathing in the sweet fumes of shisha that abound.

What is your favourite tea experience?

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Tea lover image courtesy of JacciR on Flickr.
Mariage Frères image courtesy of StaneStane on Flickr.
Mosquée de Paris tea image courtesy of P Donovan on Flickr.

Vintage Shoe Shopping in Paris

4 Feb

Yellow Shoes

Vintage shoe shopping is very different to other types of shoe shopping. At least, for me it is. My usual obligatory criteria of fit, form and function are cast aside in the far less practical pursuits of designer brands and rare items.

Living in Paris gave me a distinct advantage in my search. In Australia, I’d never really been one for op shopping (except for the occasional bargain $2 Jackie Collins novel). I think it has to do with the fact that Australians are far less likely to own big brand footwear (Chanel, Gucci, Bally) than Europeans to begin with, meaning that the chances of finding your desired object are slim. And, as glad as I am that places like Vinnies exist, I’m uninterested in wearing anybody’s second hand Hush Puppies.

In Paris, however, the chance of stumbling across a vintage pair of Prada boots, or Repetto flats are fairly good – even more so if you know where to look.

Vintage Store

Now I may disappoint some of you by saying that I don’t have a secret black book* of the best vintage stores in Paris. Rather, I have a simple piece of advice to offer. Do your vintage shopping in the rich, residential neighbourhoods of Paris. The logic? It is simple, though twofold:

  1. The ladies who live in these areas have armoires full to bursting with decade’s worth of European designer clothes. And each season they must, of course, clear out their closet to make room for their newest purchases.
  2. The residential areas have little in the way of tourist attractions, and so none but the most dedicated of vintage shoppers venture there. Therefore, your chances of picking up those elusive two tone Chanel ballet flats have doubled.Bally Store

That said, my best-ever vintage find wasn’t in a Paris store. In fact, it wasn’t in a store at all, it,was online at Etsy.com. My rare and precious find – a pair of black Bally pumps from the 1970s, in good condition, and only half a size too big.

Despite the fact that I’ve only worn them twice (outside of the apartment, that is) in the year that I’ve owned them, I have never loved a pair of shoes more. I routinely get them out of my cupboard just to admire them.

(*Okay, okay, I’ll let you in on one of my favourite stores: http://www.depot-vente-luxe.fr/fr/ note that here, quality is assured, but bargain basement prices are not.)

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Vintage yellow shoes image courtesy of EraPhernalia Vintage . . . (playin’ hook-y ;o) on Flickr.
Vintage store image courtesy of
ChrisGoldNY on Flickr.

Australia Day

28 Jan

Australian Flag

This weekend we celebrated Australia Day. My morning started off very patriotically, with a cup of lipton tea and a piece of vegemite toast (not that Dick Smith would agree).

Then, I set off for a morning run (okay jog… okay it was a walk…) around Albert Park Lake in an attempt to help offset the eating fest that was to ensue later in the day. I heard faint music travelling across the lake but it wasn’t until I drew closer that I realised what it was. A bagpiper. In a kilt. On Australia Day. How very odd! As I continued with my lap I ran into a group of people dressed up as Australian Surf Lifesavers (complete with thick white zinc) waving flags and shouting ‘Happy Australia Day!’ to everyone who passed.

Bagpiper

My culturally confused national day continued as we set off to our Scottish friends’ house for an Australia Day bbq. My French fiancé wore his Australian flag board shorts and Australian havianas. We sipped beer (Mexican), wine (Italian) and vodka (Russian) as we alternately watched the Australian Open women’s tennis final, and hilarious reruns of a British dating show. We finished our meal with some delightful chocolates (German), before rushing outside to catch a glimpse of the fireworks – a very Australian tradition.

Fireworks

It was a fantastic day, and for my money, thoroughly Australian.

Three years ago, I recall being in Paris on Australia Day. Homesick and keen to introduce Max to some of my own culture, I sought out the only Australian (sort of) restaurant in the city, Kiwi Corner* in the 5th arrondissement. The cute restaurant served a mix of New Zealand, Australian and Pacific flavours, with regional wines to match. On a cold January night, miles from home, it was exactly what I needed.

How did you celebrate Australia Day?

*In writing this post I was sad to learn that Kiwi Corner closed its restaurant doors in December 2011.
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Australian flag image courtesy of thelightinlife on Flickr.
Bagpiper image courtesy of koalie on Flickr.
Fireworks image courtesy of gundy 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.

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