Joyeux Noel and Merry Christmas 2014

This year we stayed in France for Christmas and we didn’t host either of our families.  It is always difficult to be away from home at the holidays, but we were able to host an open house for our church family.  It was so nice to be a place that people could come and eat good food and enjoy good company.  I had so much fun I forgot to take a single picture.  I did take this picture of my bottle carrier after everything was cleaned up.  I found the metal carrier at a local thrift store, but the bottles are from Ikea.  I filled them with water and it was the perfect set up for our party.  The cups fit in perfectly too.


After all of our friends had left and the presents were all out the peace in our was wonderful.


There is a special magic to celebrating Christmas with small children.


This manger set up has been one of my all time favorites.  Celebrating Christmas in a different culture makes you think about what the season really means to you; what is  important and what you can do without.  Celebrating the birth of our Saviour is the only thing that really matters, but I am thankful that we are able to do special things for our friends and family.


Christmas morning we were up and around by 6:30.  Our kids are early risers so this was not a surprise.  The kids were so excited about everything they got.  This moment for me with all of my children around me was the best moment for me.


And then the sun came up.  I love having a house full of early risers.


I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.

Joyeux Noel, Christmas Decorating ’14

We put our tree up very early this year.  Living in France you do not have Thanksgiving off as a holiday, and we were not hosting a big dinner this year.  We have had a very busy early December so I took some time in November and got started.

My mother found this nativity for us several years ago and I love it.  I love putting it on this buffet that I bought in Norway, when you move a lot it is always nice to have a few things that you ‘know’ where they go.  This nativity on this piece is one of those things for me.


Our tree is up and it has gotten a lot of love.  This part of the tree does not have many ornaments, but that is because this is the part of the tree that my 14 month old can reach.  Thankfully we have plastic ornaments that he is allowed to love.  The suitcases are disguising the giant plugs that all the lights here have.  There is no discreetly connecting strings of lights, each one has a giant plug.  There is a full power strip in one of those suitcases.  I love the look and my aforementioned toddler can not get to the plugs either.


God Jul is Norwegian for Merry Christmas.  The tiered stand is one of the first things I bought at a loppemarket (Norwegian garage sale) in Norway too.


Old books, old basket, old bowl and a friendly snowman.


More old books and some mixed metals, some of my favorite things.


Enamelware always brings a smile to my face.


A side shot of our mantel, I found this giant stocking at a thrift store here.  All of the kids are fighting over who gets to have it this year.


I love these chairs, blankets and pillows.  The stacked suitcases are working very nicely for an end table too.


A couple of new ornaments this year, the Noel is from Maisons du Monde, and the gold Eiffel Tower is from Paris Etcetera.  They are a great company here in Paris.  I found them through the Holiday Boutique at my kids’ school.  They can work in both English and French, they are lovely to work with and will personalize items.


Another side shot of the mantel.


One of my favorite new scales from Belgium.


This spot makes me so happy, I have collected all of these items in the last couple of months.


I don’t have much in the kitchen this year, just a few ornaments in my large trophy.  The gingerbread houses and numerous crafts my kids have brought home have been enough decoration for me.


This little nook is on the way upstairs, I know it doesn’t look very Christmasy, but I love how it turned out.  The map fits just perfectly in the spot and makes me want to go for a trip every time I walk by.


These flowers for a thank you for a big project I worked on at my children’s school.  The pitcher they are in was a birthday present from my husband.  This large scale was also brought back from Belgium and is one of my favorite things in the house right now.  It is a good thing I like it, it is huge.


My favorite Christmas decorations are right here!  I hope you have a Joyful Christmas.


Linking up with The Nester

Chateau d’Esclimont



When I booked our stay at Chateau d’Esclimont I was so excited at the prospect of a night away with my husband and no kids that it didn’t really matter where we stayed.  When I saw this hotel though, I knew that Jon would love it.  When we pulled up to the chateau it surpassed our expectations.



We realized later that, as guests, we were supposed to drive across the bridge.  We had parked in the employee parking lot.  Oops!


We were shown to our room, overlooking the gardens.  This chateau was sold to a hotel developer in 1981, but before that it was handed down through several families.  You can definitely feel the traditional chateau fell here, while enjoying the modern bathrooms.





This was the mantel in our room.



I love going on adventures with this guy!



One set of sconces in the room.



The bust of an ancestor in the hallway.



The hallway that our room was on.  This place got a little creepy at night, especially since we were the only guests.



We went for a walk before dinner.



This place was gorgeous, and it was fun to have time to explore.  When you visit a chateau with children it is a crazy experience.



I got to read the entire booklet they have on the history of the home and all of the families that have lived here.  Thankfully they had one in English.



I wish I had brought it home with me so I could tell you a little more about this statue that was significant to one of the families.



This is who we ate breakfast with.



We drank our coffee and watched the sun rise over the gardens.



I have been collecting candle sticks since moving to France, and I thought I had found some neat ones, but this is amazing.



After breakfast we went out for another walk.



This was on the back side of the house, all the way past the pond.



I love a tree lined path so much.



After our massages and check out we still had a bit of time before we had to head back to reality.  So we decided to take the 25 minute drive to Chartres.  This abandoned looking building on the way into town was an intriguing fixer upper.



We drove around for a bit until we found the cathedral.  I mean, we could see it as soon as we got close to town, but finding the proper place to park was  little more complicated.  Eventually we found “Cathedral” parking and it was just a quick walk to the church.



I have seen a lot of stained glass since moving to France, but it is still always so beautiful.



We had a great visit to the church, we did not get to visit the crypt, we just missed the tour so we will be going back.  I would also like to go back after they have finished their restoration project.  This was one completed piece and it was just stunning.  They are working on the rest of the interior and it will be truly remarkable when they are done.  Right now it is neat to see the difference between the restored and the original to the sound track of power tools.



After the cathedral we had time to grab a sandwich, hop in the car and head back to Paris.  It was just about an hour’s drive and we were home in time for Jon to go back into work and for me to get the kids from the bus stop.  I am so thankful that my mom was able to make this night possible.

A Weekend Away starts with a Vide Grenier

When my mom told us she was coming for a visit one of the first things I did was look for an opportunity for my husband and I to get away together.  With 4 children it can be very difficult to find someone that can watch all 4 overnight.  We hadn’t been away just the two of us since before our youngest was born, over a year ago.  I found a great place for us to go that wasn’t too far from home, more on that later.  Our first activity after leaving the house was a vide grenier.


Who is surprised that I managed to find one near where we were going?  A vide grenier is like a garage sale, only it is an attic sale.  This one was held inside a school in the small town of Auneau.  We had to drive around for a bit, but we found the sale and I went to work.


It was not a huge sale, but I found several treasures, here they are back at home all cleaned up.  The baguette basket is old and beautiful.  The soup toureen is Villeroy and Boch, the black scale was out of someone’s attic, an old French children’s book, the little yellow elephant tea pot and the brass candlestick rounded out my finds.


We got a snack and a cup of coffee from their concession stand and then walked around the town for a little bit.  It is amazing to me the history you can find in small towns.



Our car was parked in a parking lot just to the right of this path.


We would have loved to tour this old building, but it was not open to the public.





This marker was just outside this old house, it talks about a battle between Catholic and Protestants in 1587.  I will never get over the history of this country.



The sign on this building said Telegraphs.


The Mairie’s office, the Christmas lights on this were pretty amazing too.



Another old tower.


I love this field.  We live in the city, not in the heart of Paris, but close enough that we do not get to enjoy much open space.


The green here makes me so happy.


This old building was on the other side of the parking lot.  It is used as some kind of municipal building now.


I wish public buildings in the US had this much character.


This was  great start to a refreshing time away for Jon and I.  More pictures to come.

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The Scoop

Ivy and Elephants

Vintage Inspiration Party

Local Christmas Lights

In November the towns in our area bring out the trucks with ladders, block traffic, and hang their Christmas lights.  Seeing the lights during the day gives you just a taste of what they will look like all lit up.  My mother is here for a visit and she really wanted to see the lights at night.  She was here last year, but left before the lighting season.
Last night we all piled into the car and drove around to look at some of the local lights.


I love looking down the street and seeing the lights leading the way.


You can see all of the detail in this close up.


This was one of my favorites.  The globes looked like they were floating.


This display is beautiful during the day too, there are giant pearls hanging from the top.


These were very elegant looking.


These last few were all in the same area and it was just beautiful.


The mairie’s office, or town hall.


This is across the street from the Mairie’s office.


You can see the ice skating rink right here, we are planning on coming back for some fun here!


There were some beautiful lights that I just couldn’t capture because there was no where to stop, but it was a beautiful night to drive around and get into the festive season.