Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas morning chez nous

Ohhhh it's felt good to unwind and disconnect for a few days with my little family. Much of the last few days have been for recovering from what has seemed like an unending busy spell, so we've spent a lot of time in our jammies and making plans for the coming year. And coffee, always lots of coffee. 

I'm only now just getting our Christmas morning pictures off of my camera, and thought I'd share a few with all of you. We didn't have a white Christmas, but that didn't dampen our spirits for a day filled with so much love and thankfulness. To me Christmas is solely about being with the ones you love and appreciating the glorious winter surrounding us. I know I've always said that Fall is my favorite season, but the additional festiveness that has been brought into our winters thanks to Oswin are definitely making winter give fall a run for its money.

Santa put a lot of thought into our stocking's this year. Papa found some delicious treats in his stocking: pate, saucisson and chocolate...

...while Oswin found a sweet little wooden camera in her stocking...

...and Mama found her most favorite tea in the whole wide world in hers!

We keep the gift giving pretty simple on Christmas, and go by the "something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read" philosophy. We're fortunate that we don't actually need or want too many things, so it seems silly to go overboard. Except books, we're always allowed to go overboard on books.

We started two traditions last year: one, we bought Oswin a little live tree that comes inside for a few days to celebrate with us; and two, we decorate that tree with the ornaments that we began collecting for her last year. I had originally wanted to add one ornament to the collection a year, but we've found so many cool ones at the Christmas markets that she now has eight. Whoops. Sometimes I just can't help myself.

A little note on live Christmas trees: The research I've done tells me that live Christmas trees cannot survive indoors for more than 7-10 days. We learned that the hard way when Oswin's original tree from last year didn't make it to see this Christmas. Our strategy for this tree was simple: on the 23rd we brought it into our unheated garage to lessen the shock of bringing it inside. On the 24th we brought it up to the living room and decorated it. On the 26th it went back into the garage for the night, again to lessen the shock of it going back outside. On the 27th it went back outside. So far so good.

{This will be Oswin's first album cover when she becomes a famous accordion player.}

Oswin had so much fun this Christmas, even if she doesn't quite "get it" yet. This can be evidenced by the above face, which is her "I'm so excited I can't even open my eyes!" face.

We practiced opening presents, something that I feel is going to come back to haunt us in the coming days. How do you get a toddler to understand that "this paper" is open to rip, but the paper in their books is not? Poor kid is gonna be  so confused!

And now I get to say what every parent of a toddler has said before me: Next year we're saving a ton of money and just buying her wrapping paper. It is way more fun than actual presents.

And there you have it, Oswin's second Christmas in the books. I'm not ready to say good-bye to the holidays just yet, despite the fact that today is the last hurrah for 2014. I'm already looking forward to and planning next Christmas. Menus, decorating, trips, DIYs, presents, etc. Let the countdown begin!

From our family to yours, we hope you had the greatest holiday season to date. Full of warm and fuzzy feelings, tasty treats, and winter cheer in your heart and in your glass. We hope all your New Year's dreams come true, and that 2015 is everything you want it to be.


Les Duggans

A la prochaine friends...

Friday, December 19, 2014

CERN Christmas Break

Today is a glorious day: the last day that CERN is open for 2014! Yes, CERN, the largest and most influential international laboratory in the world closes for a wonderful two and half weeks, from December 20th - January 4th. They even turn the heat off, though some crazy physicists still brave the cold. Dan luckily will not be doing that, and although he'll be working from home, Oswin and I get to spend all our time until just after the new year with our special and most favorite guy. There will be long lazy mornings with bacon and pancakes, some wintery hikes, day trips, and lots of cooking, baking and merry making. 'Tis the season, after all. 

On the list for today is some forest foraging for a wreath. It'll be the first one either of us have ever made, and I'm excited to make it ourselves. Any time we can spend on the mountain together as a family is the best, and if we can bring a little Jura Mountain winter's magic back with us, well that's even sweeter.

Any wreath making tips you'd like to share?

A la prochaine friends...


Thursday, December 18, 2014

A search for Cinderella at the Freiburg Munstermarkt

If there is something that travel has taught me, it's that the process will leave you always yearning for food and drink from distant (or not so distant) lands. I'll never stop food-lusting over the truffle gnocchi I had at a small restaurant outside the Duomo in Florence, or the dinner we had on a blustery January night in Lyon, or the wine we drank while staying at monastery-turned-spa in Monchiero Alto. Freiburg as well holds a little gem of food lust for Les Duggans. Dan and I have spent the last year dreaming of the brat we had at the Freiburg Munstermarkt, so naturally when we found ourselves there on Friday morning of our trip, it was a no brainer: brats for breakfast.

The only problem was, it was a bit like Prince Charming trying to find out whose dainty little foot fit the glass slipper. We couldn't remember which stand we had bought it from, only what side of the cathedral the stand was on, that it came from a white and modest looking stand, and what the brat looked like.

This was not the brat we were searching for. It was still delicious, but not our Cinderella Brat.

We began to fear that we would never find the stand. Or that it was no longer there. We scoped out all the stands on this side of the cathedral, and non were the stand selling our Cinderella brat. We took solace in that fact that we at least had the chance to have that brat once in our lives, and carried on with our shopping.

What? It can't be! It is! It's our little Cinderella stand! I threw around the idea in my mind that they were simply set up on the opposite side of the cathedral, but quickly shoved that thought. "That's too easy. This is Europe. It's gone forever," I thought. But no, alas here they are! Uhl's served us up the same amazing and herb filled bratwurst that we had remembered in our brat filled dreams, and we happily devoured them. So fast that there are no pictures to prove the tale, you'll simply have to take my word for it. In the end I don't know what was more pleasing: the taste, or solving the mystery.

The Freiburg Munstermarkt takes place every Friday outside of the cathedral, and you can find everything from plants to brats, jams and juices, herbs and spices, children's toys and household cleaning products (seriously, there was a broom stand). It's a lively market, and when we were there the school kids were all out for lunch and running around the square. I couldn't help but think how fun it must be to be a kid in Freiburg and spend your lunches in that square, and grabbing delicious hot food on Fridays with your friends. This market has a really special old world feel, and it made me want to do our weekly shopping. People on bikes carrying parcels, tables dedicated to solely selling walnuts, tiny live Christmas trees for sale...I wanted to just live in this market all day. But alas, we had some more Christmas Market going to tend to, and that's pretty awesome as well. We'll hopefully see you again next year Freiburg Munstermarkt!

Oh, and a little advice from those who have learned the hard way: when you have that meal, that meal that you know will haunt your dreams with dancing truffle gniocci or the like, always remember to take a picture of either the restaurant's sign or menu. That way you'll never have to search on an empty stomach for your Cinderella.

A la prochaine friends...


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Finally, some shopping.

It's amazing to me how fast things can change when traveling with children. We went from a screaming "I-think-we-might-need-to-go-back-to-the-apartment-this-is-getting-bad" overtired toddler freakout, to a "fast-asleep-in-the-sling-looking-like-a-little-angel-child" in a hot minute. And thank goodness, because none of us (I think Oswin included) really wanted to spend our first day in Freiburg holed up in the apartment, as nice of an apartment as it was.

And so our little Smaug took a 20 minute cat nap, all snuggled up with Mama in our sling. Which meant one thing: let's go buy some ornaments!

(And a gluhwein.)

We loaded up on wooden ornaments from one of my favorite stands, and bought a few of my favorite oranment: a wooden walnut. After almost five years of living here in SwitzerFrance walnuts have a new and special meaning to us, as there are many walnut trees growing in the Jura region. They pepper the landscape, influence the taste of the wine, and leave little delicious treats all over the road once the fall comes. I obviously had to pick up some more wooden walnut oranments to add to the collection, and at 2,50 euro a pop, it was a no brainer.

There was also a random crystal and mineral stand at the market. Dan says it was there last year, I just can't remember seeing it. They had some really well priced rose quartz pieces that were too pretty to pass up, but what I was most excited about were their geode slices. I've been coveting geode slices on etsy for awhile now, as I would like to use them as our new coasters, but all the ones I've found online have been pretty expensive. I grabbed a bunch of pink geode slices from this stand for a sixth of the price, and am pretty giddy about it.

We also picked up a beautiful olive wood soup ladle, which is something we've been needing for a long time as well. Time to let the measuring cups go back to being measuring cups! Hooray!

We were hoping to head back to the market Thursday night for an hour or so to grab dinner, but Oswin's afternoon nap had other plans. Dan went solo and brought some market food back to the apartment, and we watched Elf on the laptop. It was cosy and warm and not a bad way to end our first day at the Christmas Market.

Stay tuned for more on Freiburg!

A la prochaine friends...