Monday, December 17, 2012

"Oncle Hansi"

Isn't this adorable?
I was drawn to these delightful signs in Colmar, France. 
The village is proud of their artist known simply as "Hansi" or "Oncle Hansi" 

These cute designs represent Alsatian folklore
with a sense of humor and delight!

Post cards everywhere...

Here's an old one I found with a drawing of the hotel we stayed in,
Hotel Maison des Tetes,
with Saint Nicolas in front.

And here is my own personal version of a traditional maiden of Alsace....

Passez une bonne journee'.....
Have a good day!  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Baby, it's cold out-side!

Spectacular but COLD,
Chateau du Haut Koenigsbourg after a night of snowfall...
completely restored by Emperor Wilhelm II in 1900.
Imagine tromping around this castle in a suit of shining armor!

Oh, baby it's cold outside!

Yes, it is a real dragon! 
 Probably the one that ate naughty children in the surrounding Alsatian villages.

We did not see any dragons on our adventure, but we did have a few sightings of real storks.  This nest was precariously perched atop a rooftop.  
Storks of all sizes could be found in the Christmas markets too!  

Monday, December 10, 2012

Alsatian gastronomy

La Choucroute....Warm sauerkraut topped with sausages, pork shoulder, and poached knuckle of ham, surrounded with steamed potatoes + a chilled glass of Riesling.....
Maybe it was my German heritage but I thought it was just heavenly!

Quiche Lorraine served with a winter salad....
Mary said it was delicious!

Mussels and frites....they may be regarded as the "poor man's shellfish"
but I can't think of anything better!  


As for wines, Alsace is gifted with rich soil, perfect for cultivating vineyards responsible for the production of some famous white wines such as GewurztraminerRiesling, and Pinot Blanc . A glass of Gewurztraminer is the perfect complement to Munster Cheese.  
We learned a lot on our wine tasting adventure, specifically which "wed wine goes well wit 
goose foie gras...twy a nice shiwah".  You had to be there!   

Sweets..... what the French are famous for!
Kuqelhopf is a raisin and almond yeast cake, kind of like our Mother's bunt cake!
I must admit, walking by these bakery windows and the smell of fresh baked gingerbread made me want to re-think this gluten free life I'm living! 

Oh, how I envied my friend Roxanne who managed to eat a warm fresh pretzel (with a Coke Lite) every single day!  
I made up for it by tasting the Gl├╝hwein in every market!  

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas Enchantment in Alsace

Do you believe in Christmas Magic?
~You will by the time you walk with me through these enchanting villages in Alsace, France!
The Christmas markets or Christkindelsmariks of Alsace have attracted locals and visitors since the 16th century, namely Strasbourg and the storybook village we stayed in, Colmar.
Be prepared to be dazzled by the twinkling lights and delightfully decorated shops and restaurants all decked out for the season.  I only hope my pictures can give you a feel for the magic.

Imagine decorating every window.......

Many decorations gave a glimpse of what was inside, like this toy store and linen shop.
And just look at this lane decorated by Baccarat Crystal chandeliers, each protected from the snow that was beginning to fall.

Next blog....the delicious delights of the Alsace region .... I only wish I had a smell-a-photo lens!  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Desert???

It is a fact .... without this
And this....

the Coachella Valley would just be desert! But Palm Springs, CA is one of our favourite places to visit this time of year. We stayed at the Indian Wells Renaissance Esmeralda surrounded by beautiful pools, palm trees, and golf courses.
Everyday I woke up excited to put on my mini-iPod, downloaded with my favourite walking songs and head for the mountains. The streets are wide with manicured sidewalks and the sun was usually warm on my face, sometimes I had to dodge the continuous water sprinklers.

This year we had a special invitation to attend a cocktail party at the former estate of Mr. Frank Sinatra. Twin Palms, named appropriately, was so Hollywood 50's Glam!
The home stretched out to surround the famous piano shaped pool (which wasn't actually built to resemble a piano at all, but when the light fell through the pergola walkway, the shadows cast across the water looked just like piano keys, a little trivia I couldn't resist sharing!)  

We were entertained with a selection of Sinatra songs on a grand piano next to the original recording system Frank had installed to cut records while he vacationed.

And, in case you are interested, the estate is available to rent for an event or a private vacation of your own! Did I mention that while we sipped our Coppola wine, Francis Ford Coppola, film director, producer, screen writer, and wine maker, was there to entertain us with stories about The Godfather. It was a fantastic evening in the desert!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Spirit of Christmas Fair

Can you smell the dried orange and apple, cloves and cinnamon sticks?
 Of course YOU CAN'T  .... we have not even celebrated Thanksgiving or the always anticipated Auburn VS Alabama football game (we know they are going to kill us this year!) I attended the Spirit of Christmas Fair in Olympia, London this week and maybe, just maybe, some of these goodies will get you in the SPIRIT early!

How about a pair of these gloves by Alexski....
Exquisite English leather and Possum fur! The very same ones that Kate wears!
I bought a leather belt at 'From The Hip' - cute name for a belt company.  We also looked at scarves and discussed the whole color dilemma - "what do I already have in my closet?"  
Do you know anyone who plays chess? How about a pair of these clever wooden salt and pepper mills? Or if you are a supporter of the "other team" you might be tempted by one of these houndstooth puppies.
I thought this was very cute and something my artsy-crafty friends might want to see/copy ... it is an Advent calendar. Small burlap mittens are numbered 1-25 and hung on a clothes line with tiny wooden clothes pins. Each mitten could hold a special treat for the little ones as Christmas day approaches.
I have to admit I found a special something for myself - from the Cashmere & Cotton stall.  I just loved the whole look with the white blouse and boots with leggings.  I bought the taupe but this orange is calling my name!  
So much for Christmas shopping!!! Just one more thing......
Have you bought your poppy today?