Saturday, December 31, 2011

This Moment. Christmas Cake Part 2

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Joining in with Amanda and friends at SouleMama

Cake 2

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas traditions old and new


Santa found us in France and our Christmas here was a happy one filled with familiar traditions and some newly adopted. We attended a Christmas Eve service at the American Cathedral in Paris, then returned home for our first ever Bûche de Noël. Florence did get to hang a stocking this year (after a few late night embroidery sessions!) and the girls added the French tradition of leaving out their shoes in the hopes of receiving a treat in them. We had a traditional English turkey dinner finished off with an (impossible to photograph) flaming Christmas pudding and of course there were crackers and paper hats! We were entertained by newly learned Christmas songs on the piano and enjoyed good old BBC Christmas TV for the first time in ten years. There were no friends in town to invite to what had become our traditional Boxing Day party, but a walk in the woods on a cold, sunny day was a good way to spend that day in yet another country that doesn't officially mark it.

We are spending the rest of our week off trying to explore some of the sites of Paris and preparing for the arrival of guests with whom we will celebrate New Year. I hear it is traditional in France to cook up an eight course meal on New Year's Eve. I'm not sure I'm up for that, but Santa brought us a raclette machine that would be perfect for a party. I sense a new tradition in the making...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Joyeux Nöel!

As Christmas Cards from us will be late this year, here is a sneak peak...

...and my favourite outtake!

A very Merry Christmas to old friends and new. Thanks for stopping by!

Side note: After mailing this year's 'challenging' card I discovered this article which gives the professional seal of approval to 'not looking'!

This Moment. Christmas Cake

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Joining in with Amanda and friends at SouleMama


Thursday, December 22, 2011


I finally finished decorating the house for Christmas!

No, our house isn't quite that grand, but I was inspired by an outing we had this weekend to see the incredible Christmas decorations at the Château de Vaux le Vicomte.

Our mantel
Here's my simplified interpretation of that mantelpiece dressing in the first photo.

I used branches from an evergreen in our garden, some of the pinecones came with us from California, and the rest Florence and I picked up on a walk the other day. The bead garland is one we always used on our fireplace back home. I really like the way it looks although I'm not sure how long I've got before it's just a mess of pine needles on the floor!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Florence's Fawn
Preparations for our first Christmas in France are progressing somewhat haphazardly. I have spent the last ten years of living in the United States, working extra hard to recreate all the traditions of the British Christmas of our upbringing that were hard to come by in a different country, baking hundreds of mice pies in the process. Somewhere along the way though, our family Christmas has become a mix of British and American traditions. Now we're in France we need to add another culture to the mix. Some aspects of the Christmases we are used to are readily available in France, others will take some seeking out.

Finding time to get four children, including a wiggly toddler, in front of the camera to take a picture for our traditional homemade Christmas Card (one of the American traditions) has proven to be the biggest challenge so far, not to mention the fact that printable stationery is hard to come by here - or maybe it's not, I just don't know where to look! The good news though is that when I went into La Poste to buy stamps and post some parcels yesterday I was the only one there - no forty five minute line out the door. Either this means that French people don't mail anything at Christmas or they sent off all their parcels at the beginning of November and my parcels have NO chance of reaching their destination on time.

French stamp
Back to the cards, I addressed the envelopes at least and went to stick on the stamps, horrified to find that these French stamps are not self-adhesive but old school lick and stick - I'll need a glass of mulled wine to get me through that!

We have managed to get a tree. I love big Christmas trees and our new house has really high ceilings to accomodate one, but the trees on sale outside every florist here looked a bit small and so expensive.

Luckily for me Les Fermes de Gally have been transformed into a Winter Wonderland

Tall Tree
and we are now the proud owners of un sapin to rival the Eiffel Tower!

Some things never change, the delight at opening the Christmas storage boxes and re-acquainting ourselves with the familiar but somehow forgotten ornaments is always special.

I even re-packed these ornaments in July to make sure they made the trip to France safely but it was still a surprise to lift the lid and see all my most favourite ornaments - the ones the girls brought home from pre-school for six years straight - nestled there together.

Right, off to put another batch of mice pies in the oven and hope it doesn't burn them. If you know of any French Christmas traditions we should add to our celebrations, let me know!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bonne Fête à moi


I discovered quite by chance today that December 6th is my fête or name day. It would have passed unnoticed except for the fact that I happened to call a prospective French teacher who shares my name and she was delighted to meet another Nicole on our special day.

In fact my name is Nicola, very popular for baby girls in 1970s Britain, but in France that spelling is assumed to be the male form of the name and it causes no end of confusion for me here. The letter in the photo was written by a French exchange friend I had when I was ten. (I found it in a pile of letters in my old bedroom at home this summer. It was written in December 1983!). She at least knew I was a girl, the year before I had been paired with a boy when the French school mistakenly assumed the Nicola on their list must be male - I was not happy!

Apparently it is still the custom in France for people to receive small gifts on their fête. None have been forthcoming, but it would make what's left of my day if you'll leave a comment and let me know you came to visit!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...