Hello, Chicago!

Fall in Premonotory Park

Trans-Atlantic flights, endless packing and unpacking of boxes and suitcases, and all the stress of job and apartment hunting have marked the last five months, but I can finally say we are settling into the new life ahead of us in the windy city, Chicago. I have to admit, adjusting back to the American way has been a struggle (reverse culture shock is always even more shocking…) and starting from scratch again has been trying, but I’m excited to explore this new city and make it our own, live just steps from Lake Michigan and be just a short drive away from my family.

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Being in the midwest for this gorgeous fall has also helped to make the transition smoother, and my new neighborhood, Hyde Park, is brimming with places to enjoy it. This weekend we finally had a chance to stop and relax with old and new friends in one of my favorite new places, Premontory Point. Lots of people stick to the Northside of the city, but if you have the chance to spend a sunny day at this park on the Southside, it is well worth it. Jutting into the bluest blues of Lake Michigan, the park is a paradise of lush green grass, shady trees – that happened to be peaking with their golden color this weekend- and one of the best views of the complete Chicago skyline. We spent the early afternoon with a simple brunch picnic of veggie frittata, roasted squash, cheese and baguettes, and some sweet apple fritters and homemade cannelés. Can you guess what I brought 😉

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Fresh air and warm sunshine, good food and golden leaves, and, best of all, great people. Welcome to Chicago!

Besos, Dianne

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The Journey Continues…

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Time has been moving way to fast, we’ve been counting down to our last days in France, and suddenly there are only days left. We’re finally making the big move back over the pond and I have to admit that my absence from the blog has been on the one hand because there has been so much to do to finalize things here, and on the other hand because I’ve felt like by avoiding the topic it would somehow stall time.

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IMG_20140525_004427But, the days keep moving and we’ve had a last weekend to Paris, a last picnic on Lac Kir, the last wine tasting, the last nuit des musees, the last tea at Comptoir des Colonies, the last jog to the park, the last morning at the market. Every experience has been priceless, gorgeous time filled with incredible people and places; Dijon, Burgundy, and France will always hold a special place in my heart. Fingers crossed I’m back sooner than later. Merci, Dijon!

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And, while I’m sad to think that Paris won’t be just a 3 hour drive away, that a bottle of Burgundy wine won’t be quite in the budget, Eric Fevre baguettes (the best in Dijon) and Pierre Hubert pastries (the best in the city!) will be a plane ride away, I am also so eager to go back to family and friends who’ve been too far away for too long, and back to enjoying all the things that have come to mean so much more to me since I’ve left. Nerves, tears, joy, sadness, excitement, suitcases…this beautiful journey continues.

Bisous, Dianne

Creative Christmas Trees for Expats

When you live abroad having a Christmas tree becomes a little more difficult. Here in France finding a tree is no problem, markets and flower shops have adorable little fresh trees for sale and bouquets of branches and holly are easily available. Since we’re usually off to Spain for the holidays though buying a tree is out of the question. Living as an ex-pat I’ve also started to live more minimally, meaning packing up lights and decorations from suitcase to suitcase isn’t going to happen. But living abroad doesn’t mean you can’t add some Christmas cheer to your place, so I’ve put together a few non-traditional tree ideas that are expat, minimalist  and travel friendly while still bringing lots of Christmas cheer! Which do you like best?

If you can get your hands on some pine branches these old bottles filled with branches and a few colorful ornaments are the perfect solution. I did this the first year we were in France, and not only was it pretty but it filled the house with the delicious smell of pine! (image via Enjoy your home)

These Oragami ornaments from How About Orange are budget friendly and would look adorable on the branches or a mini tree.

If you can’t find a tree why not make a light tree, so simple but the perfect festive glow for a small space. (from Apartment Therapy)

Another space saver from Apartment Therapy, make a washi tape tree on the wall. I’d fill it pics of the people you love who are far away. (from Brit and Co.)

Or why not make a paper tree? This tissue paper tree from Curbly is elegant and fun.

Finally, on a smaller scale a paper Christmas tree forest to fill up a window sill or put on the table would be lovely too.  Add some glitter and tea candles to make it sparkle. (DIY at Julep)

Ex-pats, do you have a tree or do you have another non-traditional solution?

Besos, Dianne

(Title photo from Le Petite Cuisine)