Travel France: Annecy

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This past weekend we visited a medieval city, located basically in our backyard. Backyard is really anything within an hour drive, so Annecy definitely counts. I hadn’t realized what a draw this city was, up until now it was just another city on a map. Then someone told Z that it was absolutely beautiful so we decided to check it out.

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Book review: Jane Eyre, the ultimate romance

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Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte

Book description: Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed.
With a heroine full of yearning, the dangerous secrets she encounters, and the choices she finally makes, Charlotte Bronte’s innovative and enduring romantic novel continues to engage and provoke readers.

My review: I can’t tell you how unexcited I was to start Jane Eyre. I like to think of myself as a reader, but the reality is, I’m kind of a fraud. I always go for the easy read. Not to say all easy reads are bad, but when they’re the only thing you read … it’s not much of a challenge. So going with my challenge to make myself a better reader, I decided to tackle Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. This book is so beat up because it’s been sitting on my bookshelf, pretty much since it was written, taunting me. I could never get rid of it, because I hadn’t read it, and what kind of a reader could I be if I hadn’t read it?
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Practical Parenting Wisdom

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11 tips on parenting without losing your mind

X is 18 months old today. It kind of freaks me out how quickly the time has flown by, and at the same time how much has happened between now and then. I mean, sure we’ve moved three times and took up in a new continent, but it’s more than that. It’s watching this tiny inert little baby grow into a real live person, with thoughts and ideas (many of which go directly against my own). I still find it amazing.

Over that period of time, I’ve slowly accumulated some hard-earned wisdom on how to parent this little man. He was what is know as an “intense” baby and hasn’t really calmed down in his toddler days. He is stubborn, highly hyperactive and completely hilarious.

This is what I have figured out so far – what has worked for me (although, obviously, not everything works for everyone and we all have different parenting styles and so on and so forth). I still consult this list when I’m feeling overwhelmed.
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Cherry Clafouti

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Clafouti is another French dessert that is surprisingly easy to make. I’m discovering that when using fresh fruit, not a lot more needs to be done. I do think I’ve slowly going to devolve to just serving up fresh fruit on its own like it’s a major treat … because, in fact, it is, as well as being a little bit kinder to my figure. Over the past month or so, those pounds I was so pleased I had lost have been creeping back on. In large part, I suspect, due to the amount of sweets I’ve been making. Anyone want to come over and take my baking off my hands?

Until that actually happens, though, I’m going to keep on baking up these goods because it’s both fun and delicious. Because I keep on buying cartons full of fruit instead of a manageable amount like a normal person, I had too many cherries, the perfect problem to have. This dessert was really vanilla-y because I used powdered vanilla instead of liquid, but I ended up REALLY liking it. Also, I think it’s rather gorgeous.
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Travel France: Chamonix-Mont Blanc

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One of the things that excited me the most about moving to Geneva was all the travel that we’d be able to do. Europe is so rich in places to visit and experience, but it’s difficult to get here from Western Canada. Usually if you do go, it’s for either a short time where you can either see many places superficially, or spending that time becoming familiar with one place only. But once you’re located in here, countries open up to you.

However, Z has been really busy getting settled in his job, I’ve been really busy getting settled in our house, and X is just plain really busy no matter what he’s doing. I was starting to get a little disappointed, as we’ve explored the surrounding countries less than I expected (although it hasn’t been four months, so clearly my expectations might be slightly aggressive). But we’re working on it, with more plans to visit nearby areas. We are located so that we can make day trips into Switzerland, France or Italy, without really having to stretch our time or budget. It’s quite fantastic.
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Amaretto improves everything and becoming a country girl

I have spent my life pretty much as a city girl. If you’re from Europe, you will apparently find that hard to believe, because whenever I tell someone here that I’m from Canada, the universal response is: you must think it’s so busy and cosmopolitan here in the city! Now, Geneva is a beautiful city, but it’s not particularly big or bustling. When I respond that I came from a city about ten times the size of Geneva, they get all confused. Then, there’s a momentary relief as they ask: Toronto?

No, not Toronto. It seems that to outsiders, Canada is either full of nothing but fields, or Toronto. That’s it. Actually, I’m exaggerating. All the French know about Montreal too. But I do find it funny that I’m basically cast as girl from the country. I’ve spent my life in cities, or the suburbs, which is almost FURTHER from actual country life. So I’m still amazed nowadays when traffic gets tied up down the block because a thresher* is positioning itself on the road.

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*I don’t know if this is the thresher. It’s just that it’s one of the only farm terms I have heard of but do not understand.
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Exploring Geneva: tomato parties and alpenhorns

It’s been three months and I still can’t believe I get to live in a beautiful, European city, a destination for many and a truly international location. I have been noticing we’re getting more comfortable in our adopted city, and are behaving less like tourists and more like locals. We attend local festivals, we go to the cheap supermarkets, we are starting to figure out where the freshest food is located (still around the corner at the local farm – Marche de la ferme, Veyrier).

I thought I’d start sharing with you some of our interesting finds in Geneva, in terms of restaurants, shops and events, as well as some of our travels that are taking us around Europe. For a starters, this past weekend we went to the fete de la tomate, which translates to The Tomato Party.

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