Oh maman! Belly Balm DIY

I’ve started to take on some rather luscious morning rituals these days and among them is putting this lovely rich oil blend on my stomach when I get out of the shower. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in the battle against stretch marks! Some of you might know that before moving to France I…

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Enduring the move

I was still in grade school when I realized I wanted to live abroad. At the time I didn’t know where I just knew I saw myself living somewhere else. Just because I felt that way, didn’t mean I knew how to get there or what it would entail.  I read a lot of books before…

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  • Rob PJanuary 12, 2018 - 17:55

    In some ways, moving to Vancouver Island from Langley has been quite similar.  No paperwork hassles due to immigration issues, no language barriers, but some of the other issues were still there… Finding new doctor and dentist, living in a completely new place that we’d only visited before, securing housing, etc.  Some days all you can do is open a fine micro-brew (the “Wine” of Victoria…) and enjoy a quiet afternoon and forget about the difficult bits for a while.  And know that in the end, it will be worth it!ReplyCancel

    • Christina (Vine and the Olive)January 12, 2018 - 19:04

      Yeah, I think you’re right. Any move is a hard one. Getting set up just takes time and it is a hassle but it does pay off in the end. Being a frequent visitor can be a tricky beast because even though you feel like you know the place (especially because I’d be around for long stretches at a time) it doesn’t actually get you any further ahead. If it makes you feel better we like a good microbrew over here too… or at very least a good Belgian brew, because I gotta hand it to them, they’ve got more going for them than just the fries and the chocolates!ReplyCancel

  • IvanJanuary 13, 2018 - 01:05

    Enjoyed reading this article. Lots of sound observations and interesting to hear another perspective. For us, the hardest thing was getting a place to rent. Medical insurance was easy, and work was legally easy, although hard to find. Different regions in France also cause variation in what’s difficult — it  sounds like the area around Paris is more demanding in terms of courtesy than the southwest. Speaking to other people who have moved to France, it always amazes me how everyone has their own challenges…. But EVERYONE is exhausted and often bewildered by anything administrative here. It’s very, very hard to get your bearings, but it’s also a rite of passage, and if you get someone else to do it for you, you’re just delaying the inevitable. If you want to live, really live in France, dare I say BECOME French, you have to make it your personal project to understand and manage your finances, phone/internet plan, apartment rental, health insurance, work benefits, retirement, and everything in between. You have to be a functioning adult, and in France it means coming to terms with a bazillion acronyms and what they mean to you. Fortunately if you do research online, call and talk to a helpful person (50% chance), or visit a local office that is a real branch with helpful people (80% chance), you can learn a lot. Keep at it. Don’t give up.ReplyCancel

    • Christina (Vine and the Olive)January 13, 2018 - 09:25

      Absolutely! They definitely want you to show that you want to be here by jumping through hoops and I will say that I always hear that lodging is one of the hardest to tackle and I was fortunate not to have to worry about that. In general, I believe it’s better to arrive with a job than without one if you want things to move faster.

      The process of going through it though has really caused me to be more organized than ever. I wasn’t too bad when it came to going back and forth for four years (that’s a whole other story of crazy organization) but when it comes to documents or following up with people I have what I need or seem to get through things much faster now because I’ve got dates of phone calls, AR’s to prove they’ve received my dossiers and I am firm but calm and it seems to get a better response on the other end.

      I can’t help but laugh at your percentages about people on the phone and in person. There is a lot of misinformation or staff who either don’t know or won’t do their job (debatable.) It’s very frustrating but knowing to get a second opinion by talking to another person is a helpful tip!ReplyCancel

Galettes des Rois

Tomorrow, January 6th is Epiphany in France and over the last week, all the pastry shops go from the traditional yule log cakes, known as the bûche de noël, to the Galette des Rois!  You might have heard about the cake with the hidden bean or “fève” that is placed inside this almond cream-filled pastry and…

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  • GrantJanuary 5, 2018 - 22:35

    Looks delicious !!  Enjoy and a late HNY to you as well. ReplyCancel

    • Christina (Vine and the Olive)January 6, 2018 - 14:28

      Yes, they really are! A little lighter than the store bought with a little less sugar and almond cream instead of Frangipane (which many places use because it’s cheaper.)
      Happy New Year to you and the family as well Grant!ReplyCancel

  • Susan baldwinJanuary 28, 2018 - 22:23

    I made this last night – delicious!  Just one big one, maybe I’ll start feeling comfortable working with puff pastry.  Love, mom


    • Christina (Vine and the Olive)January 29, 2018 - 18:00

      Oh I’m glad it worked out! Did you invite company?ReplyCancel

  • SusanJanuary 29, 2018 - 19:23

    Yes, June and Dennis came for dinner.  The pastry was a frozen block until we’d finished eating, but then it was quick to roll and put together.  We all loved it,


    • Christina (Vine and the Olive)January 30, 2018 - 17:58

      Good thing the pastry was ready on time! I’m glad to hear it was a hit, especially since you were making in the moment! Mind you, it is THAT easy…ReplyCancel

Embracing my inner Julia Child

I had a moment this week where I learned to make do with a failed project in the kitchen. It reminds me of Julia Child, apparently, she never apologized when something didn’t quite go as planned but just carried on as though it was all part of the plan. First, a little backstory… Last week we…

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A visit to the Strasbourg Christmas Markets

We joke from time to time that my heritage can’t be Canadian, I’m always cold and today is no exception. The wind is howling and knocking over the patio chairs we haven’t brought in yet, the doors upstairs are clacking in their frames and I’m doing loads of laundry after a busy weekend and bundled…

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  • SueDecember 15, 2017 - 07:21

    We ate at La Corde a Linge on our first visit.  The menu was so interesting though I think I did order a heavier dinner than I’d wished I had.  Love to see the city in this season…..someday!ReplyCancel

    • Christina (Vine and the Olive)December 15, 2017 - 09:43

      I guess I can’t speak to eating Alsatian food in warmer months, to me, it seems like wintery food but then I’m sure there must be dishes more suited to summer I have yet to discover but I’ve only been in the cooler months.ReplyCancel

  • GrantDecember 30, 2017 - 15:51

    Check out the Christmas market in Aachen (Germany). It was magical, the city is magical and yes they have mulled wine everywhere to keep you warm…  Hope you had a great Christmas and all the very best adventures in 2018 !ReplyCancel

    • Christina (Vine and the Olive)December 31, 2017 - 11:10

      I’m up for that! Mulled wine is the winning ticket. A little conviviality over hot spiced wine and a festive atmosphere does the trick every time but I haven’t explored Germany yet aside from just outside of the Munich airport but I’m going to say that doesn’t count. Did you go with Nadia or on your own?ReplyCancel


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