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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Crafty Trees, Snowy Markets, & Christmas in California

I've been quite a busy beaver - well, not too sure if there's a single person on the planet still using that term, but it somehow seems to fit with the holidays and the crafty Christmas tree I put together this week. Actually, it's more like a Christmas "branch", but it's still one of the craftiest things I've done, well, ever...basically our own painted "table tree" decorated with ornaments we picked up in Assisi (Italy) last year. Très special.

It got the idea from the French women's magazine, Modes & Travaux (fashion & works), one of the funnest and funkiest mags I've found on the stands. These French are sure a crafty lot - loads of great ideas to try. 

And although there are many things I miss about living in Italy, one of the pleasant surprises of life in France is the attention given to the holidays. While I found Christmas in Italy to be a very spiritual affair for me personally, the holiday decor tends to be more subtle, subdued, & often very understated.

And believe me, I witnessed (and was sometimes a part of...shhh) over-the-top Christmas deco in the States that left me questioning the need for yet another velvety, blinking tabletop Santa. But let me tell you one thing dear reader, being abroad sure makes you miss the strangest things. Think I'll be digging our own puffy St. Nick out of storage as soon as I get home.

So, understandably, I've been very pleased to discover that France falls somewhere in between Italian subtlety & American exuberance. Maybe it's the kid in me, but I like to see a little shine, sparkle, and yes, maybe even a touch of snow at Christmas time. 

These are a few scenes from our town Christmas market, where beside a handful of jewelry & ceramic stands, the stars of the market just happen to be regional foodstuffs (no complaints here) - homemade confitures & fruits confits, marrons glacés, & salami from Corsica. 

We're headed back to the market this morning (Sunday) for another look at the life size crèche & maybe a nibble or two of the hot sausages I spotted on my last trip. We could use a bit of spice to warm us up - it's really very cold in our petit corner of the world.

And what about California? Well, I'm leaving for what I hope will be a slightly warmer Christmas in the States on Wednesday. But with friends, family, and our own version of spice (scrumptious Mexican food *sigh*), it's sure to be an unforgettable holiday.

I'll be posting from "the road" (with a little cushion for jetlag  :)...a très bientot mes amis!


  1. May your California holiday be merry and bright. Europe, I have to say, brings back a little of that spirit I seem to have lost over the years (I was in the states only for about 5 of the last 10 holidays, actually). I'm hoping to "get it up" this next 2 weeks before flying back and then to Florida to spend the holidays with my dad - could use a little warmth myself! Safe, stress-free travels!

  2. I hope you have a Merry Christmas. Safe travels! We are leaving California behind to go to Sablet in the Vaucluse for Christmas and New Years, the first time we will ahve been there at our home at this time of year.

  3. I have to agree, I find the French decor just about perfect. Not to garish, but enough to let you know that it's holiday time!
    Safe travels home x

  4. Bon voyage, and have a wonderful noel, though I'm sure to catch up with you before :)

  5. Mmm, I could do with a little warmth this Christmas too; I'm jealous. We fly to Toronto -- where it's certainly not warmer than Nice -- on the 26th. But still, travels home are always good, non?

    Be safe and enjoy the holidays Tuula!

  6. Thanks everyone for the lovely holiday wishes! I'm running around a bit tying up loose ends (meaning buying *French* Xmas gifts!) but really so excited to go home I could burst :)
    Plus your comments make me feel very warm & fuzzy, a very wonderful time of the year :) Happy holidays!

  7. How did I miss that you were from CA? Anyway, I'm sure your family and friends are going to love the *French* Christmas gifts. Have a great trip and Merry Christmas, even though I'll be checking out your posts from CA. Funny, I miss Mexican Food when I'm in Europe, too. Last trip, on the flight home, I couldn't wait to get some guacamole :-)

  8. My first visit to Italy many years ago was just before Christmas and I was surprised that they really hadn't done much in the way of decorating, but what there was of it seemed so odd to me then. I have since seen a variety of European holiday decorations, so, not so odd anymore. But on that trip I still recall the trees that looked more like Happy Birthday/Fiesta trees than Christmas trees and how odd the color combinations were compared to our good-old standard red & green.

  9. Have a WONDERFUL trip, darling!! How lovely to have you on the same side of the country as me for a little bit. :-) I still say busy beaver. :-) Love the giant matrushka dolls! So pretty. :-)

  10. I had to pass through Toulon on my way to marseille last week and I thought of you :) I stopped in the Gallerie Lafayette for a scarf or a hat to protect me against the cold and it just so happened that everyone else in line was buying something then and there to bundle up with. The cashier was ready with scissors to cut off unwanted tags.

    I'm still hoping to take you up on your offer to get together! Perhaps after the holidays, we can finally enjoy a coffee or something!

    Keep in touch and happy holidays :)

  11. PS agree that the French could spice up the season even more so. And I am very envious of your opportunity to head home and be with friends and family... Enjoy all the delicious mexican food you can get!