Category Archives: Blog

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.

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Learning Grace and Gratitude List

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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?

 

Paris in the Summertime

Last week I was in Paris (insert a huge smiley face because it’s one of my happy places. I actually think it owns part of my heart) and I consider myself VERY lucky that I had the chance to spend a few days in Montmartre, staying at the most incredible apartment. By incredible apartment I mean top floor apartment on the highest hill in Paris.  Seriously I was walking around trying to speak but the only word coming out of my mouth was ‘WOW’ (on repeat). Unfortunately my photos don’t really do it justice, but hopefully it gives you an idea. I had a view of Sacre Coeur from the dining room, a view of the Eiffel Tower from my bedroom window, and a private rooftop terrace with a 360degree view over all of Paris.

 

LoveBites - Sacre Coeur

 

Each time I discover a new area of Paris I fall in love with it a little bit more. Monmarte is the 18th arrondissement of Paris. It’s a busy area with lots of great restaurants and local artists; it’s also the home of Sacre Coeur & Moulin Rouge. I only had to walk down stairs, open the front door and take one step to be right in the middle of it all; People enjoying dinner, eating ice cream, listening to musicians, admiring paintings or posing while artists sketch them (which btw is just incredible to watch!  It’s such an exciting, inspiring place and definitely got the creative juices flowing).

 

LoveBites in Paris - Monmartelovebites paris night view

 

I spent most of my time wandering the streets of Paris, soaking up its beauty… But I also squeezed in a picnic under the Eiffel Tower, fireworks at Versallies, some bike riding around Paris, climbing the Arc de Triomphe, lunch along Champs Élysées, countless minutes staring at the Eiffel Tower sparkle, a visit to the antique markets, afternoon tea at Ladurée, a show at the theatre, a walking tour and of course multiple visits to boulangerie patisseries, cafés, crepe makers and chocolate shops.

 

LoveBites - Paris Antique MarketsLovebites - Paris Arc de TriompheLoveBites VersaillesLoveBites Versailles FireworksLovebites in Paris

 

Oh and yes, I am aware that the majority of the experiences listed above include food BUT each day also included a lot a walking – I actually walked 25km one day.  The reality is 1. I’m a foodie and 2. I’m in France! I love food. I love cooking it, creating with it, learning about it, eating it, sharing it and taking photos of it. I believe food can bring people together; it has the ability to enhance moments and create an even more memorable experience.

People who love to eat are always the best people ~ Julia Child

 

Lovebites in ParisLoveBites in Paris - Eiffel TowerLovebites in Paris - Champs Elysees

 

I could post many more photos of this super pretty place I don’t want to overload you (hopefully I haven’t already?)

I can not wait to spend more time in Paris. I’m already counting down the days until I get to walk it’s cobblestone paths, see it’s sparkling lights and eat some macaron delights all over again. x

 

 

Finding beauty in the midst of clouds – Switzerland

Even when I was 2168m above sea level, surrounded by clouds and could only see a few meters in front of me, I found the sweetest little wild flowers. It was not the view I was expecting but it was still beautiful.

LoveBites - Wild flowers in Switzerland
A few of my friends are going through a tough time at the moment so the first couple of paragraphs are especially for them. My highlights of the Swiss Alps are in this blog post too so please stay with me… You won’t be disappointed.

Finding beauty in everything does not always come naturally. Stuff goes wrong, plans fail, people disappointment you (or you disappoint yourself which I actually think is more heartbreaking than when others do it).  I’m well aware that sometimes life is not fun and does not seem beautiful.
 

When everything is failing around you and you feel clouded with confusion please try to remember that eventually the sun will start to shine again (sounds like a cliché but it’s actually true) so until then please try to look for the pretty wild flowers of life, smile and be thankful…  They are probably hiding right under your feet. x

 

Ok, back to our weekend getaway in Switzerland (which btw happened a couple of weeks ago – I am just terribly behind in updating you all!) Unfortunately the weather wasn’t great; it was raining and cold which limited the activities we could do.  We checked into our chalet (super cute and oh so fun to say!) and jumped on the train to explore the area.  We had planned to spend the day heading to the very top of the mountains (they call it ‘the top of Europe’ although I believe it’s not actually the highest point, which is a little confusing) but the weather was against us so we chose a different town where we thought there would be a higher possibility of having a clear view. The clouds were just too low to see the tops of the mountains, however I did find peonies growing in someone’s front yard, wild strawberries growing on the side-walk and more cute chalets to admire. Plus the scenery during the train trip was spectacular.

LoveBites - Swiss AlpsLoveBites - Switzerland

The next morning Nathalie and I went for a walk through the local village. Yes it was overcast and cool and my bed was cosy and warm but I needed to explore this area while I had the chance.

Lovebites - Swiss ChaletLovebites - Swiss Chalets

We drove to Grindelwald and caught a cable-car to a little place 2000+ metres above sea level (which was also a refreshing 8 degrees) with the hope of seeing postcard like landscapes – blue skies, glassy lakes, mountains covered by lush green grass, scattered trees with white snow sprinkled like icing on top. This did not happen… I was well and truly surrounded by clouds BUT this is where I found those sweet little wild flowers and that moment was special enough for me. #findingbeautyineverything

We stopped half way down the mountain to eat lunch (warm soup was needed) and once our bellies were full and we were feeling adventurous we decided that we should walk the rest of the trip down and I’m so pleased we did.  After about 40 minutes it stopped raining and the clouds cleared a bit. The view was beautiful!

LoveBites in SwitzerlandLovebites - Swiss AlpsSwiss Alps - Girls and me

Seriously, all of this did not happen because of a big bang! This earth was lovingly created for us. Soak in its beauty. x