December 23, 2014

DAILY ROUTINE: MY FAVOURITE CHRISTMAS MOVIES

A few more hours and the official countdown for Christmas Eve and the day itself can begin. I have to work on Christmas but only in the afternoon so I still feel festive about it and tomorrow evening will be filled with French food and movies! On that note I thought I'd share my favourites with you. I saw Marianne's post last week on her blog Californienne and I'm hoping she won't mind me shamelessly stealing her idea! I hadn't seen most of the movies she listed, so be sure to check out her post but it got me thinking about my list. I have to admit though, some of the movies below aren't really about Christmas, but what the hell - it's about the feeling right? 

HOME ALONE (1990)



Let's begin with a classic and dare I say THE Christmas movie of the last 20 years? I can't really believe it was released in 1990 - I mean, I was born that year! Anyway, I just never seem to be able to get enough of this movie. I've seen it so many times and it's still hilarious. I should probably watch it again...

THE HOLIDAY (2006)


 

I saw this movie with my sister in the theater on Christmas day - because the cinema's about the only thing open on a bank holiday - many many years ago. It's a funny story, since we actually saw the end of this movie first. We'd arrived a bit late and - assuming that the movie had already started - just went in without thinking. We sat down and then realized we'd walked in on the previous showing. Two minutes later the lights went on and we had no choice but to exit with everyone else. And then we went back in with the next people. The happy ending was kind of ruined but it's not like we didn't see that one coming, right? 

LOVE ACTUALLY (2003)


 

Another recent classic. This one is a masterpiece with an instant feel good effect. I normally don't like movies with multiple story lines - I can't help but pick my favourite characters and then want to only know more about them instead of the others -  but this one surprised me. For anyone who hasn't seen this one and needs (even more) convincing... two words: Hugh.Grant. 

HUIT FEMMES (2002)



One of my all time favourites. My mother (she's a French teacher) introduced us to this one and it was amazing! It is such a typical, absurd French movie like only they can make them. I mean it's a crime story and a musical (and I don't even like musicals that much), set around Christmas. Plus, I've been told the cast is pretty impressive. Need I say more? The story begins when a family gets together for Christmas and the father is found dead, stabbed in the back. The eight women in the house each have their motives and while they try to figure out who the killer is, a lot(!) of secrets come to the surface. Oh and the clothing and decor are stunning! Watch the trailer here

LITLLE WOMEN (1994)


So I guess this is the odd one out. It's not really a Christmas movie, but it has snow in it! And I used to watch it almost every Christmas break so I associate it with winter and a decorated tree in the background. I did read the book, but I just love the actors in this film, especially Winona Ryder. Watching it again brings back so many memories!


Happy Christmas!



PS: What's your favourite Christmas movie?

December 12, 2014

EXPAT LIFE: HOW DO YOU CELEBRATTE CHRISTMAS?


My second Christmas away from home is coming up and the weather is (sometimes) looking like what I'm used to for this time of the year. It's been raining all morning in San Diego because of the storm and it's pretty chilly outside. Perfect weather for wrapping presents, drinking hot chocolate and putting up some festive decorations! Oh and cleaning, but that's not something fun.

Christmas to me was always about wishing for snow (and presents of course when I was younger). We officially had a white Christmas in 2009 (for the first time in thirty! years) and in 2010 when I was studying in London. I still remember that time since I had to take the Eurostar home and the whole country had shut down. But IF it snows in Belgium, it usually does so right before Christmas or right after. The weather gods don't like us very much. And unless we're going to the mountains this year (we aren't) this 'snowless' tradition is not going to change. 

Everything else has pretty much changed however in tiny ways, although the overall theme is the same. Every family has different Christmas traditions just like every country does. We celebrate it on the 24th usually opening presents after dinner and our little family tradition was to watch a Disney movie around midnight. I think this started with Nemo when my cousin came up with the idea and has gone on since then.

Last year I got to experience 'the American way' and the 24th went by preparing food for the 25th when the whole family came over for a Christmas brunch/lunch. San Diego was its old sunny self and the Christmas tree looked pretty exotic with the palm trees from the backyard in the background. And this year... I hope  to have a mixture of both! 

How do you spend Christmas and do you have strange family traditions?

December 9, 2014

CITIES & TRIPS: ONE PLACE YOU JUST HAVE TO VISIT IN HAWAII


Aloha and happy Tuesday (evening) everyone! Back to our trip to Hawaii because I'm taking you on a snorkeling adventure. Of course we had brought our gear to this little piece of paradise and it was definitely worth it. The ocean is already pretty amazing just bodyboarding or swimming in it, but with crystal clear water and the colourful fish to spot... you can't miss out on snorkeling in Hawaii! The great thing about the area we stayed in (and maybe this is just typical for the Islands in general) is that you can basically go snorkeling at any random beach and see amazing things. Which we did. But to be honest, one spot was definitely on another level... 


Captain Cook Monument

The man who 'discovered', basically the first European to set foot there, the Hawaiian Islands was Captain James Cook. It didn't end well for him there but nevertheless you can find a monument in his honour in Kealakekua Bay on the side of the Island we stayed at. And Nick - the little researcher he is - found out that it's also a pretty magical place for snorkeling. At first we thought the cove could only be reached by boat or kayak, but eventually we found out that there is a hiking trail leading down the hill to that very same spot. 

Doesn't this look like paradise to you?
 I've heard this is actually British soil... So I guess we can say we visited the UK as well on our trip
On our way back up the hill...

I'm sure the boating or kayaking trip is fun - especially after seeing an awesome party boat with slides and a BBQ there, but we wanted to save some money and that meant physical exercise! The hike was only around 4 miles round trip but involved some serious change in elevation. The way there was downhill and went pretty smoothly, but hiking to a cove means that the way back will of course be mainly uphill... So be sure to bring plenty of water and a hat for the sun, since there is NO shade. You don't have to take my word for it but I did almost died there! PS: if you want to see turtles or even dolphins you do have to get there before the boats do!

This fish really wanted its picture to be taken and was swimming around while obviously posing for the camera

In the end however, it is definitely worth it. Yes, it was a long way uphill and you're carrying all your stuff, but it doesn't outweigh the memory of getting there and literally feel like you just landed in paradise. It's as if you've discovered this little corner of the world yourself, even though there are a hundred people snorkeling around. But they all came by boat, so that doesn't count. 

To be honest I had never snorkeled before we went to Hawaii - and I definitely lost a lot of hair trying to get that mask off - but now I can't wait to go snorkeling around San Diego. And even though I have nothing to compare it to this spot is pretty special. And based on the reactions of some more experienced snorkelers with me, it can safely say this is a 'you have to see this with your own eyes to believe it'-experience.

Have you gone snorkeling? What is you most amazing experience?


Linking up with Bonnie, Cynthia, Yalanda & Courtney for Travel Tuesday

December 3, 2014

CITIES & TRIPS: THANKSGIVING IN HAWAII

Hello there! I'm back. I hope all of the American readers had a great Thanksgiving! I don't know why I took a blogger break for a few weeks when my vacation only lasted one week, but it happened. Again. To make it up to you however, the island vibe is taking over the blog today and I will share some Hawaiian sun and pictures of beautiful beaches to battle the short days and cold nights. Does that sound like a plan? 


It was my first time travelling to Hawaii and it's probably even safe to say that I don't think anyone of my family and friends back home have had the chance to go there (correct me if I'm wrong, guys) since it's so far. But still... flying to Honolulu from Los Angeles takes longer than you'd think (almost 6 hours!), a second shorter flight took us to Kona et voila! Let the adventure begin. 

The Big Island of Hawaii is actually the less populated one. I didn't know this, but I can confirm that there were very few people living in the area up north where we stayed. With just volcanic rocks, beaches and resorts surrounding you, what else can you do but relax?  


We basically spent almost every day at the beach - hurrah for beach days in November - and drank too much (is there such a thing?) alcohol. It was bliss. The only downside is that we had to miss the family reunion for Thanksgiving. No turkey for us this year... We had a very unconventional dinner as in a delicious piece of tuna and tried to make pumpkin pie without all the necessary spices. No need to be jealous!

It is crazy how warm it still is there. The weather literally does not change and I am now ready to admit that San Diego does have seasons. The climate does depend on which side of the island you are on (we were on the dry side) and the elevation. One day for example we drove up the mountain to the nearest town - which was about 15 min away - and the temperature dropped 20 degrees (Fahrenheit) and it was pouring outside. But still, where we were it was hot, humid and the water was warm. In short, a perfect place to get some vitamin D during the winter and float around in the ocean. 


So stay tuned for some snorkeling stories, how I refused to use bug spray and got covered in mosquito bites and tips on how not to use a disposable underwater camera. Mahalo!

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