French condiments are a little different than in the States.  For example, Aaron, Sophie and I sat down at a little outdoor cafe, in Vars, to get some hot chocolate and a snack. The waiter brought us some tartine.  Tartine is an open face sandwich, and at this little cafe it was slices of delicious french baguette and condiments on the side to spread on the baguette.  The condiments consisted of little jars of Bonne Maman confiture, small packets of delicious french butter and little packets of Nutella!  That’s right, Nutella!  I love this!  America needs to get with it and start serving more Nutella!  (I have Nutella in my food storage back in the States!)  You can always find Nutella everywhere here!  Ice cream parlors serve Nutella ice cream, most dessert menus have something with Nutella, the grocery stores carry large jars on multiple shelves and locations, every holiday has some type of chocolate with Nutella/hazelnut… the list goes on and on.

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Another fun condiment that one can find here is dijon mustard.  I have been known to sneak miniature jars of dijon mustard out of a restaurant just because they are so cute and irresistible!  I love dijon mustard.  Instead of the typical little plastic packages of yellow mustard, I can enjoy little glass jars of dijon to put on a sandwich!  Love it!

French Alps

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This was our view as we left Vars, France a few weeks ago.  I forgot I had taken these pictures and I found them on my desktop.  They are breathtaking.  The road to get to Vars was so small and scary.  Most of the road did not have a guard rail and the drop was far and steep.  I had to close my eyes because of my vertigo when we went up the mountain, but coming down didn’t seem so bad.  The views were incredible!!!!

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Easter in Toulouse

Friday after all the kids were home from school we loaded up the van and went to Toulouse to visit our friends, the Serrano-Milone’s.  We met them, Elias, Aurore, Maëlle, Gabrielle and Josh, back in October when Elias was visiting our Nîmes Ward.  We have gotten together with them as much as we can being 3 hours away from one another.  All the kids get along so well!  It helps that their two girls are the cutest and sweetest young women in all of France! :)

While we were there, everyone talked, laughed, danced, played hide and seek, watched movies, shopped, went bowling, played football, rope swinging, catching frogs, went to the skate park (for a minute because it started raining), ate yummy homemade food (Aurore made some delicious couscous), watched a little General Conference, made a fort, had an easter egg hunt, and laughed some more!! We had a blast!  This was a nice break from our stressful week with Sophie’s finger!  We were all so occupied with “fun” that I didn’t get too many photos.

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I could not find any plastic easter eggs that are so common in America.  Here in France, most of the chocolate that is for Easter are chocolate eggs.  The best are the Kinder Surprise chocolate.  They are egg shaped hollow chocolate with a cool toy inside.  So, there were no plastic eggs filled with American chocolate or easter candies.  But, it was fun finding the chocolate eggs filled with new surprises!

Schloss Hellbrunn, Salzburg, Austria

The Sound of Music gazebo can be found on the grounds of the Hellbrunn Palace.  It was originally kept on the grounds of Leopoldskron Palace, where the outside facade scenes were filmed.  But, because people would trespass on the privately owned Palace grounds to see the pavilion, it was moved to the gardens at Hellbrunn Palace.  There wasn’t a single tourist the afternoon we found the gazebo, only locals frequenting the park.DSC_0413 DSC_0415 DSC_0414

After finding the gazebo and getting pictures we noticed it was on the outskirts of a public park, Schloss Hellbrunn.  It was a lovely park with cross country skiers dotting the snow covered fields.  The children found a playground in the distance and a small zip line.  We had a few minutes to spare as we waited for the next bus to come, so we all burned off a few breakfast calories at the park.  It was fun!  Everyone tried the zip line and Sophie loved it.  She would laugh so hard and loud the whole time!  If no one thought we were Americans upon arrival to the playground, they did after watching, seeing and hearing all of us!  We, Americans, can be so loud!  But, we had a great time and it was a fun pastime amongst all the sightseeing.

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The Sound of Music

“The hills are alive, with the sound of music!”  I was like a kid in a candy store the morning we woke up in Salzburg, knowing we were going to be seeing the Sound of Music film sites.  As a little girl, I would anxiously await the once a year broadcast on TV of the movie, The Sound of Music.  Since a little girl, Austria has been on my list of places to visit. Salzburg was lovely.  Those of you who have seen the movie, as you look through these pictures see how many scenes and locations you can remember from the movie!  So fun!!!

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This was the “I have confidence” song location as Maria walks by the fountain and splashes water.  Almost all the fountains were covered in Salzburg.  This made me a little sad!:(  (Residenz Square and Residenz Fountain)

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“Do- Re- Mi- Fa-…”  I was disappointed that the stairs from the end of this song were closed off.  We could only see from a distance.  When the older kids saw the stairs they said, “look Mom, it’s where they filmed the song!”  (Mirabell Gardens and Palace)

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This residence was the back drop for all the outside Van Trapp home scenes.  For example, when Maria and the children capsize the canoes and fall into the water.  If you look close, you can see the stone balusters that are filmed numerous times in the movie. (Leopoldskron Palace)

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“I am sixteen, going on seventeen!”  (Hellbrunn Palace Gardens)

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Abbey Scenes!

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Both from children singing, skipping along the river and hanging from the trees!

Vars #3

This is more of a photo post today!  I am going to be creating a book of all my blog posts when we get back to the States in August, so I want to make sure I have all the memories in pictures and words.

I was able to find a spot in the trees, located next to one of the many snow parks that the kids frequently skied, to get some “action” pictures.  The rest of the photos are random from our three day vacation in Vars, France!

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Vars #2

We arrived at Vars on a Sunday evening and it began to snow, thankfully, after we made it up to the top of the mountain!  The Moreau’s had sleds and as soon as we got our belongings out of the van and into the hotel room the kids went straight outside for some sledding!

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The children were so excited to be in the snow!  After a few sledding runs down the hill, we walked down through the village to look for some dinner!  While the kids were sledding Jack and I quickly remembered that he did not have snow pants.  We did not have a pair for him from the States because they were too small and the next size up was an 8/10. So, Monday morning I had to run to the village to find something in his size.  Because it is close to the end of the season, a lot of the stores did not have his size.  But, I got lucky and found a little boutique nestled at the end of the shopping village that had one pair of size 6 snow pants!  Hooray!!!

We found a few good restaurants while we were in Vars.  The kids like to take pictures of their food! :)

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Because our hotel room only was equipped to sleep 5/6, Tristan stayed with the Moreau’s.  What is it about a hotel room that gets kids and adults so excited and happy?! My kids love to experience new sleeping accommodations and this was no exception!:)

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Sophie made a new friend while we were in Vars!  We didn’t find out her name but we will call her the “lift” friend!  For three days the same sweet lady worked the bunny slope lift.  I watched her for hours as she helped and instructed beginner skiers.  She knew Sophie’s name within a few hours and Sophie had interaction with her every single time she went on the lift.  The day I skied, this lady was helping and encouraging me too.  By the time our trip was over, I realized she knew so much about our family and I didn’t even know her name!  How selfish of me to not get to know her as she was so quick to become acquainted with us!


Vars, France


We decided to take a quick ski trip to the French Alps.  Tristan’s friend, Arnaud, and family were going and invited Tristan for the week, but we decided to go as a family for 3 days. It was awesome!!!!  Vars is a beautiful ski village.  We were able to get the last hotel room available in the same residence as the Moreau family.


This was our view from our hotel room!


We were one of the last housing accommodations up the mountain.  Our poor mini van almost didn’t make it.  We could walk to everything and the best part was the slopes were right out the doors of the hotel.  We went to the ski room in the basement of the hotel, found our coordinated ski locker/hotel room number, stored our shoes for the day, or ski’s and boots for the night, climbed a few stairs and hit the slopes.  It was so convenient with all the kids!  We loved it!

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This was Sophie’s first skiing experience!  The first day she was a little timid and didn’t enjoy herself very much.  The second and third day she was so comfortable going up and down the slope by herself!  It was so fun to watch her!

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We had to rent a lot of the gear.  The Moreau’s had a few pair of ski’s and a few helmets for the kids to use.  That helped out a lot.  It was definitely a process getting everyone suited up and out on the slopes!  After that first day it was easier because we knew where everything was and everyone felt a little more comfortable in our surroundings!

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Sonja, Arnaud’s mom, kept expressing how exhausting it must be to have 7 children.  Her and Christoph helped Aaron and I out a lot with the whole process of getting gear on and ready for the day.  It was funny to hear and see their french expressions in regards to our large family.  They enjoyed it and didn’t make us feel uncomfortable in anyway! :)  In fact, they were always looking for ways to help out.  Whether it was on the slopes, at meal times or just having a few more hands in the morning “getting everyone out the door”!

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We had a wonderful time in the French Alps!  I tried skiing the last day.  I was Sophie’s companion on the bunny slope!  I tried skiing as a teenager in upstate New York and never liked it.  (I had some good laughs back then!)  I don’t feel like I have control of my surroundings when I ski and I get freaked out by the height and speed that happens when you get up higher than a bunny slope! LOL!  But I tried it and I skied the last day we were there.  It was fun and I am so glad I did it.  Aaron took me up the mountain once and I was so scared.  I made it down, of course, but never went back up.  Too much in one day! Baby steps for me when it comes to skiing.  They other kids are awesome!  In fact, Jack is fearless.  He went up to the top with all the “big” kids and adults and Aaron said he had no fear and never freaked out.  Sometimes he was in the lead down the slope.  He was going on the snow parks with the rails and jumps.  My little Jack was getting some air!

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We had an awesome time and we are all so grateful for this opportunity we had to ski in the French Alps!  I will do another post in the next few days with more pictures!  I haven’t had a chance to download photos from my camera.  These were all our iPhone photos! :)

Bäckerei, Hummel, Cuckoo Clocks and meandering Streets of Salzburg

The morning we woke up in Salzburg, we set out for the day on foot.  We left our hotel, Hotel Via Roma, and started for historical city center.  We were wandering around the quaint neighborhoods and came upon this bakery.  We were all hungry for breakfast and this is just what we love to do in a new place:  find a local bakery or delicacy specific to that area!

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Any time our family enters a small European establishment, we have heads turn and we never can go unnoticed!  This is exactly what happened as we walked into this bakery.  It was typical of European bakeries:  small, quaint and familiar.  There were about four other customers inside so we all felt a little cramped, but, nonetheless we proceeded to decide what might be good to try.  Everything and everyone speaks german in Salzburg so we did not understand what everything was.  A nice man in front of us overheard us speaking english and trying to make out what each item was.  He kindly turned and asked, in english, if we needed some assistance!  We happily accepted.  He then told us we were lucky because this particular bakery was the most famous and well known to all the locals. It is “the” bakery to frequent.  Jackpot!  I love when this happens during a new experience! This man then explained what each item was and we were able to make some choices. The ladies behind the counter were so friendly!  They even let me take a photo of them “on the job”.


We all enjoyed some of their local delicacies.  They are also known for their pretzel rolls. They were good, but a little heavy for the morning!  It is always fun trying new things!  A lot of their pastries were filled with fruit or a custard.  They were heavier than most of the pastries here in France.  We enjoyed our “breakfast” so much we returned the next morning!  The outside of the bakery was so picturesque, yet simple, with the darling gold pretzel hanging from the wire hook.


We proceeded to meander up and down the beautiful side streets of Salzburg and we came upon the largest retailer of Hummel figurines and collectables.  It was amazing!  My Mom has a small collection of Hummel figurines so it was a little walk down memory lane as I explained to my children about their Grandma’s collection and other memories associated with Hummel.  I wish I could have taken a picture on the inside!  It was incredible!  My Mom would have been in heaven!  I wish I could have afforded to get one for nostalgic reasons, but the price tags were a little too overwhelming!


Right after we left the Hummel boutique we turned a corner and came upon an awesome little retailer of Swiss Army knives and Cuckoo Clocks.  The first was, of course, for the male members of the family.  They had a cool collection to choose from and the three older boys were able to enjoy a new knife for scouts/emergencies.  While the boys were looking at the knives, I could not keep my eyes off the cuckoo clocks.  Again, another childhood memory.  This time of my Grandma Wittwer.  She had a cuckoo clock that she got from Europe many years ago and I remember it so well.  I had no idea how many emotions would be felt on this day in Salzburg.  I hadn’t even seen one Sound of Music site yet, but my childhood memories were coming to the surface!  It was exciting and special for me personally!

Below are a few pictures I took of our walk from the hotel to the city center in Salzburg. We saw beautiful rooftops, Abbeys, Cathedrals and quaint little roads!  We all loved it, especially me!  I am grateful we did not stay in the city center.  We were only a 10-15 minute walk to city center and it was worth every step!  (Plus, it didn’t break the bank being a little further from city center!) :)

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Traveling to Austria

From Munich we went on to Salzburg, Austria.  This was another place on my list of “places to visit” while living here in France.  From the very first time I watched The Sound of Music, as a little girl, I have been smitten with Austria.  I had never been except until last month!  Another dream became reality!  We left Munich in the afternoon and approached Salzburg just at sundown (It was only 1.5 hour drive).  Some of the views from the road where incredible.

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We couldn’t see Salzburg from the auto route because it is nestled in the foothills/hills of the mountains.  But, I knew we had arrived when the Salzburg Fortress came into view!


We located our hotel room, ate at a little italian restaurant next to our hotel, settled in for the night and tried to sleep, despite my excitement for the next day!!!!