Hola Madrid!

Just one and a half hours flying past the Alps and over the Pyranees, escape to one of my favorite cities…
Hola Madrid! A Beautiful Journey
where breakfast is toast, tomatos, olive oil, café con leche, and orange juice
and windows filled with colorful gominolas in every shape and size imaginable…
Hola Madrid! A Beautiful Journey
where regal columns and lions guard the national congress, where Spain’s democracy was restored,
 and the sun washes the elegant streets and stautes of Cibeles…
Where noise, color, cañas and tapas are waiting to welcome.
Salut Madrid, so nice to see you again!
Besos, Dianne

Carnaval en Galicia, Spain

Entroido-cigarronSalut again! I’m so happy to finally be back from a last winter lull that included an up close and personal experience with the French health system, but more on that later. Today it is time to celebrate Carnaval! It’s Fat Tuesday all over the world, and maybe one of my all time favorite Spanish holidays. Spanish holiday, you ask?  A five day celebration that brings the old and the young to the streets in costumes, marking the start of the Lent season, in Spain the biggest Carnaval celebrations are in Cadiz and Las Palmas, and Verín in Galicia. When we lived in Galicia, carnaval, or Entroido en Galician, was a moment in the year we were planning and waiting for for months.

We always celebrated Ourense, where quiet towns are suddenly filled with music, laughter, partying, and general locura for one weekend. The first year, I had no idea what I was in for, so Diego and the crew went all out to give me the best welcome to the world of carnaval in Verín.

entroido-cigarronsA weekend of non-stop costumes, laughter, parades, live music, dancing in the streets until dawn ensued. We narrowly escaped the most famous entroido tradition in Verín, the cigarrón, local men dressed in elaborate and eye-catching costumes of pom-pom shorts, huge wooden masks, and cow bells, chasing people through the streets with whips, causing a ruckus and getting the spirit of carnaval going day and night. And finally, we recuperated with the classic Galician pork stew, caldo, and the traditional cake, bica. After a weekend in Verín, Halloween was easily ousted from its place as the best costume holiday in my book.


Carnaval is time off from work and school spent with family and friends, a time to find a ridiculous costume and a group of friends, and a time to simply enjoy life and have fun in the midst of the cold and grey winter. We made sure to celebrate every year – and since then Fat Tuesday has a new meaning. So, wherever you are, and however you choose, take some time to brighten up your winter day with a delicious calorie packed sweet treat, a witty drink with friends, or maybe a costume party. Happy Carnaval!

Besos, Dianne

Links for le weekend


Twelve days until Christmas! Dijon has been enveloped in a frosty Narnia-esque fog all week making for dreamy white landscapes, we’ve enjoyed our first hot wine of the season, the company Christmas party was last night, and I’ve got a million and one great ideas for presents for the people I love…it really is starting to feel a lot like Christmas! As the last weekend in France before we hit the road for navidad in Spain I’m looking forward to heading back to Marche de Noel with some friends, finishing up some last minute shopping, and baking some cookies for a cookie swap with students next week. What will you be up to this weekend?

Here are a few great ideas and links I’ve enjoyed lately…

I brought some mint extract all the way from the states to finally make these Homemade Thin Mints from SpoonForkBacon for Christmas this year, can’t wait!

Simple ideas from Rachel Khoo to make holiday entertaining easier.

LOVE that West Michigan is Lonely Planet’s NUMBER 1 travel destination for 2014!

Dear Santa, please bring me a summer castle in France like la Socelière. Thanks.

Things Parisians do, ha!

A few easy DIY pressies from Love and Cupcakes: Lavender Sea Salt and S’mores Hot Cocoa.

And in case you’ve missed any of my holiday posts, here are a few of the most popular…

Gingerbread Traditions and recipes from France and the USA.

Warm and Bright: Christmas in Oviedo, Spain

Under the Christmas Tree: Books for the Francophone

Thanks for reading! Bon weekend!

Besos, Dianne