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A Monaco Christmas


Merry Christmas to all!!!  I don’t have many pictures of Christmas sorts from France, but we went to a Christmas market in Monaco that was really nice. So I have included videos: Go carts… on ice… haha could’ve been a little more bad-ass, and then “put your children in a ball” according to Sasha is the “best babysitting device ever.”


IN COPENHAGEN, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is ending today. It started two Mondays ago on December 7th. Leaders from 156 countries came together to reach a much much more concrete goal for climate change. Developing countries are required to come up with “actions” instead of just talk. It’s about time. A great many people are excited about this… economists, environmental groups, developing countries, developed countries, countries who have already been on the road to sustainability for years, just waiting for everyone else to come aboard as well, and everyday people like you and me. We need to be excited, and we need to have hope. On the left side of my website you will find two new things: First, I have put up pictures from the Christmas Market in Monaco – I felt that they had the right idea. They had a “Save Our World” tent, and beyond the alluring exterior, there were some very creative ideas and innovations dealing with renewable resources. The theme is “Closing the LOOP.” It’s not exactly saying “save the world by redecorating your living room with colorful oil barrel seats,” or that by “putting a bottlecap dresser in every home,” you are making the world a better place… But what it is doing is igniting a spark in the everyday person’s mind to get them started on thinking creatively, thinking renewable, thinking wisely. I walked away with a smile.

Close the Loop

I want to share something with you – something that has become close to my heart. I wrote an essay (a loose essay – semi-professional: just like me) which consists of my feelings compiled onto a page on the left side under “In Discovery of Ourselves,” called : “On HOPE”

I didn’t write this for a class, and it was not a required project. I wrote this for me, and I wrote this for you. I’m not trying to preach, but I am very passionate about this. Right now, awareness is our greatest ally in combating climate change. So please, take it or leave it but I hope sincerely that you read it.

 Set your playlist to the song “Marchin’ On” by OneRepublic while reading. Yeah, I’ll admit it could be more epic – but this is me, and you’re looking through my eyes here ♥ Or not, it’s as you like.

I can only tell you in so many words how beautiful our Earth is, but sometimes you really need to see it to believe it… to be reminded of what is worth saving: A 4 billion year-old legacy. Please take the time to watch this video before or after:  HOME

Thank you.

References for facts and figures are available upon request. =)

Arctic Fox

So, the “first” being that I’ve never really warmed up to animals, most of you know this… but I was doing research for my paper on drilling in the Arctic and I found this adorable guy… I think I would love one! But you know, trust me to find one of the few species whose habitat is disappearing (the Ice caps are melting…) so I don’t think he would survive too well in the states. Unless I get a giant freezer with some sea ice (Sea ice is warmer than Land ice and they survive better there). But still, I’ll leave him be. But I actually really think he is adorable!  =)  Fun fact for the day ♥


Just Wow.


I first came across this beauty when I was on the train to Monaco, staring out the window as it zipped through the tunnels in the mountains. I knew I was supposed to be going to Monaco, but when I caught sight of this village hovering above those crystal blue waters, I seriously almost shouted something like “Stop the train!” ha. Kind of, I almost got off at the next stop… but I waited until later and I am glad I did. The first part of the day I went with Sasha, Olga, Raquel and Andrea to a village nextdoor called Beaulieu Sur Mer, and it was very nice but I fell in love once I set my eyes on Villefranche Sur Mer. It means “Villefranche on the sea” but I am not entirely sure what villefranche means except that it has something to do with a city/town/village on the sea. 

The rest of the girls went home (poor Raquel was sick – I have a cute picture of her pouring honey on a lemon slice) and I continued on to do some searching for a room with a seaview. =)  And to explore. The way you get around is similar to Monaco – there are no real bee-line ways to get from the top of the mountain down to the beach, you must zigzag throughout the streets! But it’s actually pretty fun, and I went reeeeally close to the top just by hiking. And it was HOT outside that day – but very worth it. The view was breathtaking, literally. The pictures you see looking down on the water are from that spot. I love the one where you can see the other cap of Beaulieu sur mer just a stone’s through away.

So pretty much, Villefranche sur mer is my favorite village in France (that I have seen thus far), and I just felt a connection as soon as I saw it.  It’s peaceful, and clean, and the water is the bluest I have ever seen. I also love the colours of the villas and the way they all climb up on top of each other. I can’t wait to show you the Cinque Terre because that is such a prime example of what I mean, but every place I have seen is just as beautiful in its own way.


Yeah, we went for the 10 scoop bucket of Gelati. This is the story of when Hazel and I went to Nice.  Saying she “loves” ice cream would be a huge understatement. When we first got our place I happened to be the first one to bring home a pint of ice cream, I stuck it in our freezer and went on my merry way until Hazel came home later that day, opened up the freezer to get a pizza. The next thing I hear from her is “WHAT have you DONE?!”  me: O__O eep? “Who put this… this… thing… in here?”  hah… what thing?  “This… temptation! I can’t even look at it but now that I know that it’s in there I won’t be able to pass by the kitchen without having this overwhelming desire to finish the entire thing off in five minutes. And believe me I have done it in less. How could you do this to me?”  so by now I am having a real hard time trying to determine if she is serious or not but I went with it and offered her a bowl. Apparently it is really that she doesn’t take anyone up on offers for some of their ice cream because she will just keep eating it. Lol.  SO. Anyways. This should serve as a successful transition to what happened next in Nice.

We walked through the older part of Nice where there was a Gelati place that offered as their maximum “The Bucket” which fits 10 scoops – 10 flavors. So she said “We should get that!” to which I stupidly replied Can we really finish all that? Hah. So yeah, It was sooooo tasty. There is one picture on the sidebar where behind me there is a giant ice cream cone with all ten scoops piled on. I WISH it was physically possible to do that, it looks AWESOME. So these are the flavors we got: Pistachio, Toblerone, Citrus, Pear, Chestnut, Stracciatore (cinnamon-y), Chili chocolate, White chocolate, Banana, and Violette. YUM. 

We then walked around the city, and worked our way up to the cemetary that looks over all of Nice. We walked through the gravestones… and I noticed that people put stones on graves kind of like how we lay down flowers. Then up to the view of the Acropolis – the city really is huge. I love how the city reaches throughout the mountains that come rolling right against the shore. You have the mountains, the city and the ocean all there for you. And further up there was a waterfall – it is so beautiful with the way the glittering water stream seems transparent when you can see the ivy crawling on rock wall behind it. The rainbow was an added smile feature.

The Russian cathedral… was amazing. I would love to see more of those turnips… go to Russia… =) The architecture is gorgeous. The weather was beautiful that day… with a warm breeze and the ocean was such a beautiful blue… I am going to miss that when I come back. I wish I could share it with you all, but in a way I am. =) You know what I also love? When people hang their clothes to dry on clothesline outside their windows and you can see them from the streets below. Little details like that just make everything all the more beautiful.

Ma Cherie!!! Here are the glowing, floating color-changing naked men I was telling you about!! They exist!!! I really need to find out the story behind them…

So I was thinking that I often talk about all these tasty pastries and plates, but you know salads can be pretty tasty too! I do eat them, promise. Lol, and so I thought I would share one that I made this morning!  I also made a side mini grilled cheese sandwich. The salad is on the sweeter side, but it has a variety of textures and flavors, so I think you will enjoy!

Sweet Salmon Salad with Crispy Grilled Gruyère Sandwich

 Sweet Salmon Citrus Salad

Mise en place:

2 clementines

Some type of lettuce, not too bitter like mesclun… I think you want it more towards a mix of mostly spinach, and the less juicy parts of iceburg lettuce (I have been using a really good soft lettuce here that is kind of like spinach but lighter, but I don’t know the name… I think it’s just in France?)

Some variation of Gruyère cheese if not the real thing (with very similar texture (not a soft cheese!) , taste – maybe parmesan…) but the flavor should be mild, nutty and on the sweeter side. Comté cheese is the ideal =)

A little Honey

A little Apricot jam

1/4 of a sweet apple type (like Golden delicious, or pink lady, etc) something crisp though.

Cucumbers (not too much at all, and thinly sliced into quarters – I have them thinly sliced into halves on the picture but I think you need to taste even less of it with every bite, sorry cucumber :p)

Pecan pralines!! finely chopped. (not the same as pecans, if you reeeally don’t have pecan pralines (kind of like candied pecan bits, kind of…) then you could use… almonds? finely chopped… but they key is to get the candied/sugary and crunchy texture.

I know you see cherry tomatoes up there, but pretend you don’t =)  they actually don’t taste so great with the salad afterall.

Some sort of light oil, like walnut oil – just a little bit.

A small, fresh salmon filet

Some fresh pepper, salt

How we do it!:

So! we’ll start with the salmon, you can either marinate it in clementine juice (just use half a clementine) or you can just do this: Put a frying pan on medium heat (5-6) with a little bit of walnut or some kind of oil that doesn’t have too much flavor) and then clean the salmon filet (if it still has the skin on, don’t worry about taking it off, it should come off easily on its own after cooking it).  So then put the salmon filet in the oil, wet both sides with the oil, and place the skin side down. Lightly salt and pepper the filet. Take half of one clementine and squeeeeeze it all over the entire filet. Brush just a thin layer of apricot jam over the top of the salmon. Cover the pan and let it start to cook through the filet.

Woo onto the salad!  Clean the lettuce, dry it, and rip it into bite-sized pieces, place in a medium shallow bowl, or plate, whatever you personally eat salad out of… lol. Cut up the apples into matchsticks! Segment the other whole clementine, keep the other half of the first one you squeezed to the side. Cut the Comté or Gruyère into thin small chunks. Add the cucumbers, apples, and clementine segments(slices?) and then drizzle some walnut oil over top, then squeeze the rest of that first clementine all over the salad. Add some pepper, and toss that salad all ’round! K, then sprinkle the crushed/finely chopped pecan pralines/pralines over the salad and then the cheese. Toss just once.

So back to the salmon – test to see if they salmon meat is starting to flake off when you poke it with a fork (when it starts to, that means it’s almost ready) Drain the juices out of the pan and remove the skin if it comes off easily. Then put a pretty decent layer of honey over the top of the filet, and turn it upside down into the pan. I love doing this because the honey helps to brown the salmon really nicely and it tastes wooooonderful. So when the filet is cooked all the way through and the honeyed part is nicely golden browned, it’s ready! you can turn it over once to cook the bottom a little if you like, but other wise, lay that sucker on the salad!  As a finishing touch spread a thin layer of apricot jam and honey on top of the salmon if you so desire.

Gruyère and Basil Grilled Cheese Minis

Mise en place:

Some sort of bread with something special to it – what you like! could have bits of oats, hazelnuts, etc! =) Go crazy.

Gruyère cheese

Fresh Fresh Fresh Basil leaves

A lil butter

We Make it like this:

Slice the bread however thick you like! Then slice the cheese however thick you like! Put the pan on the stove, set to medium-high heat (6-7) and add butter (be careful not to burn it though). spread butter around the pan. K, so then place the cheese on one side of the bread, microwave the bread/cheese thingy until the cheese is slightly melted. Place the basil leaves onto the cheese, place other piece of bread on top. Then take it to the pan and put it in – it should sizzle, good sign. So keep checking it so see how brown it gets- depending on how you like it, turn it over and do the same!! So very tasty!! Enjoy! XD Add a sprig of basil for garnish if you wish!  ♥


Hellllllo there. So I have a looooot of catching up to do. A lot to say too! First things first. Pasta alla Carbonara. It’s only filled with butter, cream, eggs and back bacon(aka “lardons” in French), oh and pasta – so it is delicious. No seriously. It’s so worth it. Do whatever you need to do to “balance” it out – go for a jog, go row a boat on the lake, go hiking… you know what? Make it BEFORE you go do all that and take it WITH you. Yes, in the boat – eat it WHILE you are rowing. Yeah it’s possible, don’t question the logic. Seriously, give yourself an early Christmas present and go  look up the recipe, visit your nearest grocer and make it. Actually, I’ll make it one step easier – I’ll GIVE you the recipe. Like so:

Pasta Alla Carbonara

Mise en place:

8 Oz. uncooked Pasta of your choice – Personally, I like penne or farfalle =)

5 Oz. cubed/diced and smoked lardons/pancetta/back bacon(not the same as the crispy bacon you know) etc. Take your pick. ***However, if you can somehow get your hands on some guanciale – that’s the real thing. Wiki defines it as: Pork cheek rubbed with salt, ground black  or red pepper and cured for three weeks. Its flavor is stronger than other pork products, such as pancetta, and its texture is more delicate.

2 Large eggs plus 2 extra yolks (room temperature)

1 Tablespoon Olive oil for cooking the lardons/pancetta/guanciale

1 clove of garlic, minced

4 Tablespoons grated parmesan and pecorino romano cheese and add more after if you wish!

4 Tablespoons double cream (room temperature)

2 Tablespoons butter (room temperature)

1 Teaspoon Fresh black pepper

Salt for pasta

And this is how we make it!:

  1. So remember to leave the eggs, cream and butter out so they become room temperature. If the butter isn’t soft enough, warm it up manually juuuust a little more. Mince the garlic and set aside. Cook the pasta in a pot of salted boiling water according to the instructions on the box, or make al dente – just keep testing it until it’s tender enough for your taste. =)
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a sauté/frying pan over low heat. Add the minced garlic, black pepper and the guanciale/tasty fat of your choice. Slow-roast it, do not crispify it (aka burnt :p) Keep covered so it stays warm.
  3. Whisk together the eggs, yolks, cream, butter, pepper to taste, grated parmesan and pecorino – set aside.
  4. Once the pasta is done, drain the water out and add the pasta to the pan with the guanciale. Add the egg/cream mixture to the pasta in the pot and toss around. Don’t worry you won’t get salmonella poisoning. The key is that the warmth of the pasta cooks the eggs just enough when mixed. =)  Add more cheese if you so desire and serve!!! Enjoy!

♣  If you would like to see a true Italian teach you how to cook it, his recipe is a bit different but you might like it more!! I haven’t tried it yet, but he claims his is the “real” carbonara – and in all honesty it prolly is the closest thing. Give it a try:

And of course, I already devoured the one I made today before I got a picture of it, so I have included one that I found!

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

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