Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Aesthetes: Eccentric in Tangier

I've been wanting to visit Morocco for quite a while. Marrakesh has been on my list, but now I know I also really, really want to go to Tangier. 

These people and their houses are nothing short of eccentrically fabulous! If you like the video as much as I do, be sure to read the article it accompanied

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Annecy, in the French Alps

This was a Spring Break first for us: we made a last-minute travel decision based almost entirely on the weather. Husband said he was not about to spend the last four days of the break (following mid-week removal of The Boy's braces!) anywhere chilly or rainy. And that was that! So we waited until the day before we planned to leave to make a decision on a country and a city. Based on something from my Pinterest Travel Love board, combined with a very promising weather forecast, we chose the town of Annecy, France, about six hours southwest of here.

Since it wasn't High Season there quite yet, we were able through airbnb to book a quirky, fully-stocked apartment in the heart of the Old Town for four nights. We stood on the living room balcony to take this photo.

Above is a view from the window that opens out onto the balcony. We overlooked the most photographed building in Annecy, the Old Prison.

We cooked and ate most of our meals in the apartment, at this long, old farm table.

There was so much good food to be had. The cheeses were, unsurprisingly, a major highlight. The Boy became a big fan of the regional Reblochon and Tomme de Savoie. We shopped for food in the Monoprix just around the corner and also at the outdoor market, which we got to visit twice during our visit.

The lake? Really calm and beautiful--it's one of the purest in Europe. You can go on boat tours or rent a paddle boat to take out yourself. Swimming is allowed in certain areas during warmer months. 

Annecy is known for its canals. It's often called "Little Venice of the Alps."

Those are my three dudes, right there. The one in the middle got hissed at by a swan. It could easily have happened to the one on the right, who as a youngster was bitten by an ostrich, kicked by a pony, terrorized by praying mantises, and nibbled on by rabbits and goats. I'd say it's unlikely he'll work in a zoo or become a rancher or beekeeper. 

But back to Lac d'Annecy. See how clear the water is? The air is crisp here, and everything feels clean. 

Annecy is just a truly lovely place, and I recommend it to anyone planning a visit to the French Alps. I'll be back with more photos.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Modern Pioneering with Georgia Pellegrini

Hello! I'm just about over jet lag following a two-week solo trip to the States to visit my parents. My daughter, who is a college freshman, was able to spend her spring break with us, and we had a delightful time together doing not much of anything. Though I meant to take some pictures and do a blog post about my hometown, I couldn't be bothered. So there--that will have to wait!

Just before I left for Louisiana, I got in a Spring-y mood and ordered the book Modern Pioneering, by Georgia Pellegrini. It was waiting for me upon my arrival back in Germany, and I'm really enjoying flipping through it. Pellegrini, who learned to hunt and wrote about it in Girl Hunter: Revolutionizing the Way We EaOne Hunt at a Time, has turned now to a diverse array of projects, recipes, and introductions to skills that just about anyone (living anywhere) can learn, if they want to live a bit more self-sufficiently.

Pellegrini encourages readers to make small but thoughtful attempts to garden, cook from scratch, forage, put together a pantry, use resources wisely, and maybe pick up a few new skills. Much of the content is food-related, which makes sense as Pellegrini is a professionally-trained chef. To be clear, this isn't a book about homesteading, and there's no info about raising animals. Crafts are not a focus, either. This is more of an introduction or overview--something to whet one's appetite for learning and making, especially with regard to food. It's packed with great photos and easy instructions, and I really do think I'll use it often. I'm happy to add it to my burgeoning collection of books on cooking, gardening, and self-sufficiency. Hopefully you'll enjoy it, too!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Metz Miscellany

My most recent Metz photos weren't all of doors, though it's true that at least half of them were.

We found Le Vélo Rose at 28 Rue Taison, behind the Cathedral. It's a mix of new and vintage items, and I found the prices quite reasonable. Check out the shop's actual "vélo rose"--complete with a set of boules attached to the handlebars!

On the same street, I spied another cute shop with this wonderful jewelry in the window. I'd love to have one of those necklaces made from vintage watches.

On the corner, we found the tiny but very busy pâtisserie-boulangerie Aux Merveilleux de Fred, where Husband fell in love with a couple of warm-from-the-oven pastries with caramelized sugar--so much so that he went back for more! Friend Jodi and I (see our reflection?) took a couple of photos before moving on. Yes, I had one of those pastries, and it was fabulous!

I liked this place's mailbox, as well as their door handles.

And I thought these mini-trucks were pretty adorable.

We flâneurs got hungry (and thirsty) after wandering for a couple of hours. We stopped in this cute café/bar for drinks and tartines.

Now we're seated and looking at the menu boards.

This is Loroyse, a beer from the Lorraine region, where Metz is located.

We enjoyed the food and friendly service at Autour du Zinc. We'll likely return!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Doors of Metz

Last Saturday, we went to Metz again. We had no particular agenda (other than a visit later in the day to the huge Carrefour in nearby Thionville), so we explored some of the streets around the famous Cathedral. I couldn't help noticing some very photogenic doors; here are some of them.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Dealing with Transition in Your Life?

My expat friend Ariana has had a hefty share of disappointments and setbacks in her adult life. She and her husband dared to try a different way of life for their family of three--a new job and a move from Portland, Oregon, to Germany--only to lose that job (and new lifestyle) in a matter of months. They spent time back in the States, sleeping on people's floors and couches and drawing unemployment, before finding a new job and making another big move, this time to England. The family settled into life there nicely, while also dealing with some unexpected disappointments--and even now, there is the potential for another move.

I'm so glad Ariana decided to write a book of encouragement and ideas for those of us going through our own times of transition. Pruned: Blossoming Through Life's Difficult Seasons is about what Ariana and her family have experienced and what they have learned. It's about how they have managed to turn feelings of fear and uncertainty into an outlook of adventure and a sense of hope and positivity. One of my favorite quotations comes from the book's Introduction:
"I hope to encourage others to embrace an 'abundance mentality,' to see possibility in the midst of loss, and to live more intentionally as a result...When we are forced to stop living on autopilot, we get to make real decisions, give up things we have outgrown, and introduce positive new elements into our lives."
This book is a quick and easy read, but it packs a real punch. In ten chapters, Ariana outlines the different issues we deal with during different times and then gives the reader ways to frame these issues in positive ways. Topics include Finding Perspective, Facing Fears, Transforming Worry, and Avoiding Common Thought Traps. Each brief chapter contains a number of thoughts broken down in an easily-readable way and ends with a list of Questions for Reflection.

I like that Ariana reminds us that there is enough good in the world for all of us--we needn't feel bad when things are going well for us, and we shouldn't always expect that things will go poorly or stay bad in our lives during the more trying times. I also like that she makes concrete, workable suggestions, and her tone is soothing and comforting but also somehow invigorating enough to inspire change.

My family has gone through some rather uncomfortable changes, especially during the first couple of years after we moved from Japan to Germany. Ariana helped me realize that it was okay for us to feel what we felt, though perhaps we could have dealt with our emotions and the reality of our circumstances in some more productive ways.

This ebook is a meaningful resource for anyone dealing with transition, whether large or small. I recommend it without reservation, regardless of your religious and/or philosophical beliefs. I believe you'll turn to it repeatedly for reassurance and motivation as you navigate life's changes.
You can buy Pruned here. And if you haven't read my guest post for Ariana on And Here We Are, I hope you will!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Refresh, a Guest Post, and Some Hedgehogs

Announcement! Ahem! A couple of news items for you today: First, if you've visited my blog in the past, you'll note that my header has been refreshed a bit, by the fun and funky gal behind the blog Happy Loves Rosie. I just wanted some subtle changes to the design she did for me four years ago (how has it been that long?). Thanks, Happy--I'm loving it!

Also, today you'll find me guest-posting for my expat friend Ariana from And Here We Are, as she is in Tenerife with her family this week on a much-needed vacation. Ariana let me spout off a bit about some challenges my family has faced during our expat journey, most specifically in our move from Japan to Germany. I hope you'll head over and read my ramblings--and start following Ariana, who writes beautifully about real food, expat life, England, and simple but purposeful family living. 

Ariana has just published a wonderful ebook about how to get through, and thrive during and after, the difficult seasons of life. I'll be reviewing Pruned: Blossoming Through Life's Difficult Seasons next week, but if you want more information or want to buy it now (yes, I get a cut if you buy via my blog), please click the link in my right sidebar. Thank you from both of us!

And I'll leave today you with some lactose-intolerant hedgehogs, just for the sake of cute:

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