Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas...EVE!

(our tree was at least 6ft!)

Gina and I got a Christmas tree a couple weeks ago from one of the Christmas fairs nearby and actually drug the massive net-tied beast by foot in the freezing cold back to our flat about a mile away (think I could tell my children this story when I'm old??). Though it lights up our room with joyous brilliance, it's never given out a scent! Still confused about this...
Regardless, I hope you enjoy the CIA tree topper, I know we do ;-)

Rennes has Santa Clauses climbing up walls throughout the town like you see in the picture below. How funny is that? Doesn't it seem a little cumbersome to hang life-sized Santa Clauses everywhere? Truthfully though, I can't help but enjoy it.

Hope your Christmas is absolutely splendid!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Stocking Stuffer

(Jeremy, pretending to peel my head. normal)

These multi-colored, very inexpensive, plastic peelers are the best stocking stuffers ever!

While I was home awhile back I bought a bundle to give to the staff at La Fontaine Aux Perles since they're obsessed with how amazing they are (from using ours). We gave them the gift recently as an early Christmas gift and they were thrilled with them, to say the least.

You can buy one for yourself here at their website...
or if you want to physically go buy one I know for sure Sur La Table sells them in their stores.

Speaking of stocking stuffers, no cook should be without a microplane...find one here and never be distressed about grating cheese or zest the rest of your life! Seriously, it's one of my favorite tools.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Spirit

Christmas spirit has come upon me... has it hit you yet?

Today, excited to be done with the long work week Gina and I hit the town shopping, visiting cafes and experiencing Christmas-time in Rennes. What a long (and the 30's), fun-filled day!
It put me in the most splendid holiday mood ever and I am absolutely relishing in it.

It helps that my friend Gabe gave me a link to download free Christmas music so Gina and I could fill our flat with lovely Christmas tunes. It's only good before December 17th so get it while you can! It's at

Here are a few pictures of Rennes with its best face on.

a man selling roasted chestnuts...oh France

Monday, December 7, 2009

Vin Chaud

I have been excited to share this with someone, anyone, who will find it as wonderful as Gina and I have.
We've found a place for your "2 Buck Chuck," your disappointing leftover bottles from that case of wine you bought on your wine tour and the "not so great" wine someone bought you as a gift. It belongs in a pot with a list of delicious ingredients that will turn into what the French call Vin Chaud (mulled wine).

This sign of ingredients is from the booth Gina and I bought our first delicious cup and it translates into:

-Red Wine
-Whiskey (or if you can't find it, Cognac)
-Maple Syrup
-Orange Juice
-Apple Juice
-Pinch of Cinnamon
-Whole Clove (we added a few even though it wasn't on the sign)

I don't know ratios but I can say the amount of honey and maple syrup depends on how bitter your apple and orange juices (about 1 cup apple juice and juice of one orange with rind) are and the amount of cinnamon sticks depends on how strong they are (we put 2-3 per bottle). We also put in about 1/2-3/4 cup Cognac per bottle. YUM.

We reduced the apple juice a little in a pot and then added everything to it and let it simmer about 10 minutes before tinkering with the sweetness. We also put whole pieces of both apple and orange to imitate a Sangria.
It's best if you let the flavors get warm together for at least 30 minutes.

After buying graham cookies on a whim we discovered they were a nice pairing for such a warm, deliciously spiced wine! Perfect for a holiday party. Oh my, and you could even make fresh, chewy, molasses cookies to enjoy with it...yes, I think I'll do that soon.

We hope you love it as much as we do! Tis the season for Vin Chaud!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

France Fact III


Pronounce it just the way you see it and you'll fit right in over here.

They LOVE to use this expression that means anything from, "oh my goodness" to "I can't believe you just did that" to "you're being annoying." I think it can be substituted for eye rolling pretty easily as well.

I hear it being used by pretty much every person imaginable. This coworker of mine in particular absolutely loves this expression and after discovering I couldn't stand the way it sounded he decided to use it every chance he could in my presence. Thank you Jeremy.