Author Archives: lovebites

Pause

The last couple of weeks have been an emotional roller-coaster ride, which I guess could be blamed on a combination of goodbyes, jet lag and also brand new beginnings. First thing though – I said au revoir to France. I’m sad to say my travel adventure has finished. During the last 3+ months I have fallen more in love with France. I have fallen more in love with traveling and seeing new places, eating new foods and experiencing new things. Actually I have fallen more in love with my life.

The saying ‘don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened’ is spinning around and around my head and I wonder if it’s possible to cry and smile at the same time? Surely you can be grateful for experiences that occurred and the memories you have created but also be sad that that particular door has closed and that that season is over. That is exactly how I feel. I had the most incredible trip. I was so fortunate to see and do many things, in fact many more things than I imagined. It’s clear to me that for the last few months I was doing exactly the right thing… I was on the right path and my heart, head-space and health has all been rewarded for it.

provence

Pathways of Provence

Path

I was chatting to one of my very wise and adventurous friends a few days ago (when I was sitting at the airport) about how sad I was that my travels were all coming to an end and she said ‘adventures don’t have to end, there is just a little pause before another one begins‘. It’s such a simple but accurate answer.  So with that in mind I’m embracing the ‘pause’ and being thankful for it because with it comes many great things; the chance to spend time with my family, friends and my beautiful Sari girl.  It also gives me the opportunity to take on new challenges and start a new job, create new friendships and spend time focusing on my business.

So if I keep thinking along the lines that this time is a just a ‘pause in my adventure’, does that mean that my life will now be unadventurous and dull? One of my fears is that my life will all seem a bit mundane now. I don’t want to go back to the same thought patterns, the same discussions or same problems I was having 4 months ago, I want to keep living (like really living!) I want to keep looking at things through new, fresh eyes and with a renewed energy and joy.  I want to continually learn and grow, constantly creating a better version of myself.

I choose to believe that my trip ended because other doors are going to open.  If I had doubts before that God is really in control of my life, over the last few months they seemed to melt away like snowflakes on a warm day.  I trusted and he provided.  I’ve actually already seen a few more doors open for me and I’m incredibly thankful for them and excited about them. I’m looking forward to seeing where my new job will take me; what I will learn and how I will grow.  I want to positively impact the people around me.  I’m also looking forward to showing you some of my new Love Bites Lifestyle ranges, which are so pretty and perfect for Christmas. (Want to see them?)

The opening of new doors and new beginnings are always an adventure, so it seems that even the time while my travel adventures are actually on ‘pause’ will become an wonderful adventure of its own!  Are you living a grateful, enjoyable, adventurous life? Let’s do this together… x

doors

Doors of France

 

 

Lovebites lifestyle

London Town

I should probably start this post with a big sorry… it’s been way too long since my last blog post! I’ve been so busy travelling which has left me very tired at the end of each day. By the time I crawl into bed I’m well and truly ready to sleep, so it means I’ve missed out on the thinking/writing/creative time that often happens late at night.  So here is a quick run down (and a very busy photo collage) of my days in London… better late than never, right?

London

Love Bites in London
London
I’m not sure what I expected from London, but it was delicious. And yes, delicious is exactly the right word. This foodie was a happy little camper! The street food alone was delicious… But then there were markets and pub food (it had to be done!) and cafés and restaurants and pretty pink cake shops and cooking classes. See I told you delicious was the right word!!

Of course I did super touristy things as well as eating! I went on a big red double decker bus (many times in fact!), strolled through Hyde Park, checked out Buckingham Palace, cruised along the Thames to Greenwich, took photos with Big Ben (which isn’t actually correct as he is the bell inside the tower, but you all know what I mean), went to the National History Museum, saw London Tower, shopped at Harrods, became overwhelmed by the selection of toys at Hamleys, smiled my way through a musical at West End, explored Notting Hill and I walked and walked around the city discovering many parts of London I would not have normally seen. I actually did a couple of walking tours which I found really interesting. I think there is something special about listening to locals; The history, stories and information they share can really enhance your travel experiences, especially for me as I was wandering around by myself most of the time.

 

London

 

Anyway back to food… Borough Markets are pure heaven for foodies. I wanted to buy everything and go home and cook a massive feast! I could have stayed there all day! I was talking to a chef the other day that said he went there with a budget of £30 to buy something special to cook his girlfriend for dinner and ended up withdrawing another £90 from the ATM and leaving 4 hours after he planned to leave. Of course you don’t have to spend a lot of money, but with the variety of foods and gourmet ingredients it is pretty easy to do. Another highlight for me was visiting Peggy Porschen’s Parlour. I bought one of Peggy’s cake decorating books about 10 years ago and since then I have been hooked on creating pretty, sweet food! I adore her work and visiting her pretty pink cake shop was a dream come true. It was everything I hoped it would be and I immediately felt at home. On my last full day in London I went to one of Jamie Oliver’s cooking schools (Recipease) and learnt how to make delicious bread. At home my normal diet does not include much bread- I actually think over the last 3 months I would have consumed more bread than I have in the last 10 years but fresh bread is delicious and I really enjoyed learning how to make it. I will do another blog post when I am home with a recipe and tips if you like? It’s not as hard as you might think!

 

Eating cake and dreaming about the future

Lonoon

Obviously London is big place and I was struggling with my sense of direction! I think when you go on the tube and pop up in another area without actually knowing what direction you were travelling in it throws you a bit… well that’s my theory anyway! It’s a diverse city where anything goes. There wasn’t a specific look or style that stood out; it seemed like a city that accepts all individuals. I understand why so many Aussies move there – apart from the freezing cold winter I think it would be a city we could all easily adjust to. Although London was lovely it didn’t capture my heart like Paris did the first time I visited. I embraced and enjoyed my time in the UK, but inside my heart the excitement was brewing… after London I was going back to France and I was oh so happy! Ciao for now London town x

 

 

Afternoon adventures in Eguisheim

This little town has been named as one of the favourite villages in France and I can understand why. Surrounded by beautiful vineyards, Eguisheim is a great example of what the Alsace region is all about. 

 

Eguisheim



The village has been designed as a circle which makes walking around very easy. The region has a very strong German influence which is evident in the style of houses (how sweet are they all with geraniums on their windowsills?) and also little shops selling pretzels and Lebkuchen (delicious German Christmas biscuits). 

Sweet little Alsace Houses

 

Of course I had to try some of the local wines and eat a pretzel (FYI: delicious). I also tried a few cheeses.  Prior to coming to France I would never have described myself as a cheese lover although after eating it every single day I now really enjoy it and I when I get home I am really going to miss having such an incredible range of cheeses to choose from! I discovered early on that Munster is not on the list of cheeses I enjoy. It is way too strong for me (insert strange facial expressions- which was quite amusing for everyone the first time I tried it!) 

Apart from wine and pretty buildings, this village is also known for its Stalks. Yes, the birds that deliver babies. I saw lots of birds, but no babies… myth busted? They make the most unusual, loud noise and I can’t say I would want them making a nest on my roof but it was interesting to see.

 

Eguisheim

Cobblestone streets & pretty blooms

Our afternoon ended with a lovely walk through the picture perfect vineyards. The Alsace region produces lots of good quality wines but specialises in white wines and Crémant – which is just their version of Champagne. It’s just as delicious and about a 1/3 of the price! #happydays

 

Alsace Vineyard

 

We had such a relaxing, lovely afternoon and I loved learning more about the beautiful region I’ve been living in for the past 2+ months.  It’s pretty, hey? x

Happy Little Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas

It’s hydrangea season here in France and I’ve seen so many of these beauties blooming!

Shades of blue, pink, purple, white, green… and sometimes all these colours can be found on the same branch! Aren’t they beautiful?

I couldn’t resist picking some (by some I mean lots) and having a mini photo shoot with my girls.  I’m feeling brave so I’m sharing them with you… and yes, you should feel lucky! After a sleepover the night before (sleepover = lots of chatting and not much sleeping) we probably weren’t looking our very best but we were happy.

Enjoy your weekend x

Hydrangea Photos

 

You’re only here for a short visit. 
Don’t hurry, don’t worry.
And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.
Walter Hagen
 

Learning about Grace and Gratitude

Grace and Gratitude

 

Butter & Sugar are two of my favourite ingredients. They are often used at the start of many wonderful, deliciously sweet recipes. Without this magic combination the end result just isn’t as enjoyable. I think grace and gratitude are like butter and sugar (I know it seems like a strange analogy but stay with me). I believe that grace and gratitude are also a perfect combination and I think they hold the secret to a more enjoyable, sweeter life.

Unfortunately these ingredients can’t just be bought from the shops and whipped together easily; grace just has to be accepted but gratitude has to be learnt and then put into practice. Many of us can get stuck in a downwards spiral of negativity. The sad truth is that these thoughts only lead to loss of hope, broken relationships, low self-esteem and fear of the future.  Having a negative mind set is really just ripping ourselves off from pure goodness; hope, love and joy. I want to see these things bloom in my life and yours, which is why on the eve of turning 30 (eeeeeek!!) I’ve decided to start a new challenge and I would REALLY love it if you all jumped on board.

I’ll be spending the next 365 days focusing on learning more about grace and gratitude. I’ve bought myself a journal and each day I’m going to write down anything that I’m thankful for. The things in my journal probably won’t mean much to you and that’s ok, we’re all in different places of our lives which means we will all have different things on our lists. I’ll also be posting photos on Instagram and using the hashtag #learninggraceandgratitute. Please join me so I can follow your journey too and we can encourage and inspire each other.

       h

Learning Grace and Gratitude List

h

I was walking on the beach a few weeks ago, reflecting on the past and thinking about my future.  The last 2 years were by far the hardest of my life, but I have found an incredible amount of joy, love and hope in actively being more thankful. I use the word ‘actively’ because naturally I’m quite pessimistic however I acknowledge that is not a good thing and I want to change.

I look around me and I see too many people suffering from anxiety and depression, I hear too much criticism and self doubt, and I feel too much pain and worry.  Imagine tuning into the good instead of the bad; Noticing the rainbow not the rain, enjoying the fact we have food not being critical that it’s not our favourite, remembering the laughter not the tears, being thankful we have legs to walk not complaining because they are tired. We have SO much more to be thankful for than to complain about.

I’ve realised that when I forget to be thankful I am actually forgetting to connect with God and therefore I miss out on the strength, joy, hope and peace that comes from him and only him. They are qualities that I need each and everyday and I really can’t afford to go without.

Living a grateful life and living under grace is the way God intended it to be so let’s start living!  Grab a notebook and start writing down anything (or everything!) that makes you smile and that you are thankful for… and remember to hashtag #learninggraceandgratitude if you share your photos on Instagram.

I’m so excited to see how learning grace and gratitude will impact our lives, our relationships and our world. x

Brittany Farm Stay

I’m back at Blotzheim (my home in France) after 3 weeks of travelling to and around the west coast of France. The last leg of our trip was super special because we stayed with the extended family of my au pair family. Their home is a 160+ year old farm house which they have spend the last year renovating. Even though it now has a beautiful interior I think I loved the exterior, old farm buildings and fruit trees even more. Nothing compares to age and character. The property is located in a rural area, but it’s still only 5 minutes away from town and less than 10 minutes drive to the Atlantic ocean! The best of both worlds, right?

 

Beach ShackFarm Stay


The family were so warm, welcoming and generous. Even though we couldn’t communicate well with words we were able share some wonderful moments together.  Jean-Francois & Marie-Noelle really enjoy cooking and most days lunch and dinner consisted of 4 courses (which left me feeling like I was going to explode!)  My taste buds were happy and even though I have increased by at least one dress size (oh how I wish I was joking!) the experience was certainly worth it. I enjoyed eating traditional French home cooked meals, being apart of family life and soaking in more fabulous French culture.  On my last day there I insisted I cooked for them to say thank you for welcoming me into their home and showing me around the local area.

 

Brittany Cliffs

 

This whole experience has reminded me that kindness is a language that speaks volumes and anyone can understand it.

Be kind. Be generous. Love people. x

 

 

Brittany Beach Shack

Who would have thought being an Au pair in France involved holidaying in a little beach shack on the coast at Saint-Michel-en-Greve, North Brittany, France?  When I say beach shack, that is exactly what I mean… It was small, old, overlooked the beach and is in desperate need of a renovation. I wish I owned it (and it was located in Australia) so I could apply to be on My House Rules. It was not luxurious but it had everything we need (and more) and I really appreciated that I was close to the sea (it looks more like a bay and when you look on a map it’s actually the English Channel but it’s water and it made me smile).

 

Brittany Beach Shack

 

The view was beautiful and each morning when I opened the shutters on my bedroom window and looked outside I felt incredibly blessed.

 

Saint-Michel-en-Greve

 

Another plus about the beach house was that I could cook there (and it had a picnic table outside to eat at).  Crepes, Cider and Salted Caramel (yes there will be a post solely dedicated to Salted Caramel another time) all originated in Brittany and although I thoroughly enjoyed eating them I was craving some good home cooked meals and freshly prepared salads.

 

Food with a view

 

We slowed down the pace a little bit at this location and although we still saw a lot of the surrounding area (markets, lighthouses, villages and even a day trip to an island) I was grateful for a little bit more free time to read, think, walk, go to bed before 1am and soak in the sun.

 

Saint-Michel-en-GreveMarkets, Beach, Blooms

 

This property had no wifi access (hence the late blog post) and although I missed contacting my family regularly it was very refreshing to spend some time without the distraction of Instagram, emails, Facebook or Skype. It made me realise I use my phone way too much and I’m determined to implement some ‘rules’ for myself when I get home to Australia.  Don’t get me wrong, I am VERY thankful for technology, but time without it, time spent by the sea, just reading, writing, praying, creating, dreaming and reflecting was so very good for my soul. x

 

The beach is good for my soul

 

 

Mont Saint-Michel

Whenever I visit places that are old I can’t help but wonder what stories the buildings hold. With a history dating back to the eighth century, Mont Saint-Michel was no exception to this thought pattern.

 

Mont St Michel

 

There were lots of visitors also visiting this national monument and World Heritage listed site (which I guess shouldn’t be that surprising because more than 3 million people visit it each year). It did make me a little sad seeing the amount of people arriving by the shuttle bus because they missed out on a very easy, lovely 3km walk from the mainland.  The area itself is rather touristy and I think it lacked the charm I was expecting, but it was certainly a wonderful thing to see.

 

Mont St Michel

 

Whist staying in the Mont St Michael area we spent some time exploring cute little seaside towns and medieval villages. These are the days I really love; the ones that are still jam packed full of activities but time is a little more relaxed and they really feel like holidays. It is nice to be able to wander without a strict time frame. I notice and appreciate things I would miss if I was in a hurry or focussed on the end location. I love having the flexibility to stop at roadside markets, local shops or pull over to admire views. I love to travel along cobblestone paths, small little one way streets or country dirt tracts. Even getting lost is an adventure on holidays because it’s an opportunity to find hidden treasures!

 

Mont Saint Michel area

 

This area of France is well known for its Oysters. I’ve never tried oysters before (the look of them has always made me cringe) but since I am challenging myself to try local foods whenever possible, I had to attempt to eat fresh oysters.

 

Trying Oysters

 

I ate 4!  It might sound stupid but for me that was something to be proud of. (Did I mention that oysters really freak me out?)  My verdict: I was expecting them to have a really strong flavour but they didn’t. The texture was unusual (as expected) and I don’t think I will be craving them anytime soon or ordering them off a menu, but I will certainly try them again. I’m no longer an anti-oysters girl. YAY!

The place I tried oysters was also the little town I ran into some people I haven’t seen for over 5 years. I met them through close friends of mine who were also living on the Gold Coast at that time. They moved from the GC to America and now live in South France and they just happened to be on summer holidays on the West Coast, like us. Little surprise meetings like that remind me that it is such a small world, not full of coincidences but full of beautiful, pre-planned moments.

Have a good weekend my loves x

 

Pretending to be a princess in the Loire Valley

It’s time for a Summer holidays road trip!  I spent last week exploring chateaux and their amazing gardens (so in other words I was pretending to be a princess… And I loved it).

 

We drove west for 7 hours to the very pretty Loire Valley, in the middle of France.  The first chateau we visited was only a few minutes drive away from Fresnes (the tiny little village we stayed in) which is in the centre of France. Cheverny Chateau had very pretty gardens and a delicious vegetable garden plus I really liked that it’s exterior was symmetric. Do you think having things even and symmetrical makes things look prettier or is it just me being a perfectionist?

 

Cheverny ChateauCheverny

 

Anyway after Cheverny we headed towards to Amboise to see the markets, have lunch, visit another castle and explore gardens dedicated to Leonardo Da Vinci (who lived part of his life in this area) but we had a minor detour on the way because we spotted some sunflowers fields. YAY!!! We past so many fields full of them while we were driving along the highway, but this time we were traveling on a little country road so we could easily pull over and spend some time taking photos. I was so happy. It was just a sweet little moment in time. I actually think it’s impossible not to smile when you see thousands of those big, pretty, yellow blooms.

 

Sunflowers

 

As if flowers, castles, markets, gardens etc weren’t enough for one day we had a spectacular afternoon adventure planned… A sunset Hot Air Balloon ride!!! Floating above the world is such a lovely experience. It’s certainly something I will remember forever.

Balloon Viewhot air balloonHot Air Balloon

 

During our time in the Loire Valley we also visited the following chateaux…

 

Chambord, which is one of the biggest castles in this area with over 400 rooms and 80 staircases – ridiculous right?!

 

Chambord

 

Chaumont sur Loire. I loved this chateau because it really looked like it was from a fairytale. Plus the gardens of this property were incredible. Each year they run a International Garden Festival where designers create their own interpretation of a specific theme (this year it was the seven deadly sins) and most of them include great sculptures too. I really enjoyed strolling through these works of art.

 

Chaumont sur Loire

 

Chenonceau Chateau. It was actually one I had researched previously (yes I know that sounds rather grandma-ish but I found it’s history amazing!!). It was an overcast day so unfortunately I didn’t get the prettiest photos but it’s built on a river (who thinks of building a castle on a river?) and we visited it by boat again the next day. The castle was used in the First World War as a hospital and due to it’s location on the river in the Second World War it was be used as a passage to a safe zone from the Germans. It’s privately owned by a family who had one the first chocolate producing companies in France. Chenonceau has an incredible interior (certainly not my style but I appreciate the grandness of it all). It’s kitchen was amazing and it had a great vegetable and herb garden and of course a very pretty flower garden too. And just because I’m obsessed with flowers that I am I should add the chateau employes two florists full time just to create the floral arrangements that are displayed throughout the chateau. Sounds pretty perfect to me- clearly this castle was one of my faves!

 

 

Chenonceau interiorChenonceau

 

Villandry.  This Chateau was more about the gardens than the castle itself. I understand gardens and castles aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but I’m pretty sure everyone would think these gardens are pretty spectacular. The upkeep on these must be so very time consuming! I was happy to read that this chateau has started going green and they have great systems in place for irrigation, weeding and fertilising.

 

VillandryVillandry

 

One day we even visited a zoo. I can honestly say it was something I NEVER imagined I would do in France although we all enjoyed it, especially the girls as they love animals. Seeing Koala’s and Kangaroos was by far the strangest moment of my trip so far. (Btw it’s also very strange to be able to take Faya [the girls golden retriever] into a zoo. The leopards were quite confused).

 

And that sums up my experiences in the Loire Valley. It’s somewhere I would have never traveled myself… Honestly I didn’t even really know about it until a few months ago but I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to see it all. Pretending to be a princess has been a lovely part of my French adventure. x

Just a little something I wanted to share with you

This little verse has been on my mind lately so I wanted to share it with you. Proverbs 31:25

 

Proverbs 31:25

 

Believe it. Live it. x

P.S. No-one said strength and dignity couldn’t involve a pretty peplum dress with lace capped sleeves, right?