Sunday, November 29, 2009

Montpellier

St.Pierre Cathedral

When I moved to Le Petit Village I did so full of excitement for all the traveling the Boyfriend and I would be able to do. After all, once you're on French soil, aren't you just a hop, skip, and jump from the rest of Europe? From Le Petit Village, I am only a three hour bullet train ride to Paris (and from Paris... the world), a four hour drive to Milan and Barcelona (opposite directions of course) and a little less than three hours to Monaco. So with all these glamorous destinations beckoning, where did the Boyfriend and I choose to go to for our anniversary weekend... Montpellier. Nothing wrong with Montpellier, but not exactly in the same league now is it?

And now my excuse to write a list; Montpellier fun facts:
  • The capital of Languedoc-Roussillon region
  • A city since the 10th century
  • Six miles from the Mediterranen Sea
  • University of Montpellier is one of the oldest in the world, since 1220. Nostradamus even attended (imagine sitting next to him, always droning on about the end of the world, what a downer)

That's pretty much Montpellier in a nutshell, but off we went on Friday afternoon, excited for a weekend without the company of Le Petit Villagers. As usual, I did some Starbucks reconnaissance hoping I would find one on our route. No such luck.

A two hour drive and we arrived at the 4star that I found on the internet, all looked good, nice bar, big lobby, my kind of place. Up to the room, but wait no bathtub. How can my 4star room not have a bathtub? Not acceptable. After a little cajoling, the Boyfriend went back to reception to ask if another room was available. A few minutes later and we were on our way to the top floor. The Boyfriend informed me that getting the upgraded suite was easy, he blamed the wrong room booking on me and passed me off as an idiot who doesn't speak French. Not a problem. For a large suite, I'll be an idiot.

Saturday morning I drank my coffee happy that the breakfast bar had pancakes and maple syrup and that I could hear American voices chattering at the next table. I eavesdropped while I pretended to read the French newspaper.

Place de la Comédie

Then the Boyfriend took me for my present, a little shopping. No sighing, huffing, and puffing. Just smiling along as I went in and out of each store. Greatest present. I adore Le Petit Village but it felt good to be in a city again. The sun was shining and warm. The only thing missing was the starbucks cup in my hand.

pizza norvegian

After the Boyfriend reached his tolerance threshold we went for lunch. End of November and we sat outside. You gotta love that Mediterranean climate. Of course all that sunshine called for a glass of Rosé. I was on vacation after all. And I had the most delicious pizza putting the Le Petit pizza van to shame. And you know what I got on my pizza? Mozzarella instead of Emmental. And creme frais and smoked salmon buried under fresh spinach and asparagus. Vegetables on pizza always cancels out the calories.

carousel with my pink pony

Walking back to the car I spotted a carousel. What could possibly make the day even better than a ride on a pink plastic pony? I looked at the Boyfriend, weary and weighed down with my packages and decided to spare him, he had done good and deserved a nap.

Nap time over, city clothes and neglected heels on, face painted, and ready for dinner.

Montpellier has one Michelin starred restaurant, Les Jardin des Sens. It's chef and menu is said to be the best in the region offering such tastiness as grilled whole Breton lobster, and sliced noisette of venison but at €74 and €52, we would not be dining there, even after I begged and pleaded. So we booked the next best thing, L'Olivier. We just needed to find it. Unfortunately the GPS decided to stop working. It worked just fine on the way but I guess that annoying satellite lady decided that I wasn't worthy of L'Olivier. After forty five minutes of circling Montpellier and hearing the GPS sound off incorrect directions, with dinner at McDonalds imminent, the Boyfriend finally broke down and called the restaurant for directions.


Parked the car and walked through the Place de la Comédie that was hosting a wine festival. What luck! I stood teetering on my stilettos entranced at the booths representing all the regional vineyards. Decision time... dinner or wine tasting with hundreds of other winos? I stood weighing my options until the Boyfriend grabbed my hand pulling me through the crowd. Decision made.

Serious food at L'Olivier. Fois gras, scallops, turbot, lamb, nougat ice cream... L'Olivier was giving Les Jardin des Sens a run for it's money and at half the price. Five courses, three hours, and a bottle of Pinot Noir later we were finished and waddling back to the car.

Perfect weekend, with the exception of the empty hand where the Starbucks cup should have been, and the pink plastic pony, which should have been ridden. And on the way home, we stopped for a drink with friends. France fun fact, you always have to stop for a drink with friends on your way home. It's the law.


Next mini-break will be for my birthday in February, where do you think I should go?
Pink pony not required, but welcome.


bisou




Thursday, November 26, 2009

I Want Someone To Cook Me A Turkey


On this Thanksgiving morning I'm feeling a little hollow. Not really homesick hollow as much as tradition, family, and friend sick hollow. It's been six years since I've lived in the States, so I've been without traditional Thanksgiving for awhile. But Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday, none of the pressure of Christmas but all the family and friend fun.

I don't remember Thanksgivings when I was a little girl, don't know why especially since my memory tends to be spot on. But I do remember Thanksgivings of my late teens and early twenties. They were at Mother's house and since it was only her, sometimes my brother, and me, we invited stragglers over. Usually, her two BFFs and their children if they were around. And then random other stragglers. There was the 80+ year old former journalist who was great for story telling, having interviewed Cesar Chavez, Margaret Thatcher, and my personal favorite, WB Yeats (the man met Yeats!). He was mischievous and you know I like mischievous old people. Always a twinkle in his eye sipping his dry martini in his baggy jeans and birkenstocks.
And a after her mother passed away, a close friend of mine, her Father, and Grandmother would join us. The Grandmother was also 80+ and I think she thought it was a fix up the first time she met the mischievous old journalist. The two couldn't have been more different, she was a lady from a forgotten time of white gloves and pearls, and she would look on in horror as he told us stories of cooking food on trash can lids on the beach in South America. But they managed to get along famously and would still be sitting around the table drinking while the rest of us passed out in the living room. But thinking back, it could have been that they were just too old and tired to move.

I've only cooked one Thanksgiving dinner myself. It was nine years ago, and the same friend with the lady-like grandmother and I were sharing a house. I had use of Mother's massive dining room table so we decided to play grown up and give it a go. Dinner was for ten people, quite an undertaking for two Thanksgiving novices but we were eager and excited, although way over our heads with the menu we had planned. I really need to stop taking menu planning tips from In Style magazine. But during all that fabulous In Style menu planning I had forgotten about having to clean out and stuff the turkey. That became the friend's job. If she just did that, I would take care of everything else. The memory of her face as she squirmed and slipped her hands inside that turkey is priceless and I curse myself for not having a photo of it.
The whole thing was quite a learning experience, I never knew my feet could swell to that size. But somehow we managed to pull it off. And as we all sat around the table, we would take turns saying something that we were thankful for. But being young and cheeky, I decided to turn it into a drinking game. After someone said something they were thankful for, we would toast and take a swig of wine. After about the sixth thankfulness, the lady-like grandmother piped up in her shaky aristocratic voice, "why are we doing this?" And her son in law replied, "because we are being thankful, drink" and she did.

Thanksgiving doesn't mean much in France, but sure, why would it, not their holiday. When I told the Boyfriend that I was sad to be missing Thanksgiving and asked if he knew the story behind Thanksgiving, he replied "yes, it's because the slaves were freed."

I want a turkey and I don't even like turkey. I want to fall asleep on the couch watching football, American football, not soccer football. I want a cozy house full of lots of family and friends and a meal that lasts for hours. But that is just not happening today. Today, everyone is at work, and tomorrow too. But I couldn't let the day go unmarked so Honey Jr and the Spaniard are coming over for dinner. And I'm going to make them take turns saying what they are thankful for. I won't understand them, but I'm sure it will be fun anyway.



Joyeux Thanksgiving!
P.S. That turkey in the picture was not cooked by me. Like you didn't know that

bisou


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Le Petit Field Trip


As I've written before, Le Petit Village gets an abundance of tourists. They are a fact of life that I'm adjusting to (another one). Just trickles here and their during these autumn months but in the summer, they swarm the little streets, and make you feel like an insect in a jar. They peer, point and photograph, and take up all the tables at our one and only bistro when you just want to sit and have a bowl of pistachio ice cream in peace.


Then the other morning, after I had gotten used to the quiet and only an occasional noise from a tourist trickle, I heard the swarms again. I ran to the window to have a look. Children. Lots and lots of children with just an adult here and there. I found this odd, why would children want to come to Le Petit Village? Since when do they have any interest in medieval architecture? Unless there is some sort of High School Musical monument around here that I'm not aware of. And then it dawned on me, field trip! My god, FIELD TRIP! I used to love field trips; permission slips, juice boxes, long bus rides, chaperones, planetariums, and museums. What's not to love? Nothing more fun than a field trip. Reminiscing about happy childhood memories, I stared at the children for awhile and even contemplated throwing on my coat and joining them, but then decided, that would be weird.


But why a field trip to Le Petit Village? Yes, it's quaint, and beautiful, but does my new home warrant a permission slip and day off from school? I decided a little investigating into the field trip worthiness of Le Petit Village was in order. Especially since I have a lot of time on my hands these days.


And this is also an excuse for me to write a list, because I love lists. LOVE THEM! So what follows, in no particular order, is a list of reasons a class (or tourist) would have to visit Le Petit Village:

1. Roman church which I like to call, Le Petit Notre Dame ( I also know it as the place where the pizza van parks in front of on Tuesday nights)
2. Roman statue of a Gaul warrior that was made somewhere between 31BC and 14AD was found here (The statue isn't even here anymore, they sent it to a museum in Avignon)
3. Preserved medieval village (I really need to look for that High School Musical monument in there)

That's it. That's my crummy list. I did a bunch of google searches and that's all I got. Seriously. I even went up to google page 16 and whoever does that? Funny thing though, I did come across a blog during my search that was written by a woman from California who visited Le Petit Village in September. And on the blog was a picture of the Boyfriend's brother's dog! And she talked about meeting the Boyfriend's brother's girlfriend's little sister! And the reason I know that it was the Boyfriend's brother's girlfriend's little sister is because she has an unusual name. It's a teeny tiny little world we inhabit, and when you live in Le Petit Village, it's even teenier.

P.S. Sorry my list is so crummy, it was a big let down for me as well. You'll just have to make do with some photos. They may explain the swarms.

bisou

Weekend Wake Up Call


We have a new neighbor. Honey Jr has moved in across the street to an apartment on top of his grandmother's house. The Boyfriend is very excited about this. I guess the half a mile journey to the Honey's house was just too great a distance for him and Honey Jr to endure.

A typical weekend morning now goes something like this. The Boyfriend will go around the house opening all the shutters, saving what is now his favorite for last, the bedroom shutters that face Honey Jr's kitchen shutters. As soon as he has them open the shouting begins. The Boyfriend has decided that since Honey Jr is across the street, it is his job to be Honey Jr's weekend wake up call.

The Boyfriend will stick his head out the window and yell and shout until Honey Jr wakes ups, walks to his kitchen and shouts back, "oui". This is not always a quick process.

The two will then proceed in conversation, leaning out the windows, shouting back and forth, about god only knows what. I'm sure it's very important, far to important to have inside, together, like normal people. They are clearly enjoying their new form of communication. Think of all the money that they'll save on phone bills, what with them being so far apart before.

After a few minutes of listening to them, I will stick my head out the kitchen window downstairs, throw a quick smile to Honey Jr, and then turn my head to look up at the Boyfriend,

"You do realize that is is 7:30 and people are sleeping?"

"No. No one is sleeping."

"Well no, not now."


bisou




Monday, November 23, 2009

The Best Laid Plans...


Getting my do done didn't go as planned. But what ever really does? A horrible fact of life for a planner like me. But because I am on a positive kick at the moment (I've even started a gratitude journal thank you very much), it doesn't matter that my hair did not come out as ordered, I can think back on the day fondly because I got to practice my French and shop. At least that's what new positive me is saying.

At 9:10am (the French are never on the dot, I am an on the dot type of person. I'm slowly adjusting), M arrived to collect me for some shopping before our hair appointments. M and the Boyfriend had a quick pow-wow to go over how I wanted my hair; 2.5-5cm (they don't do inches in France) off the bottom, long layers, and a side swept fringe. Pretty straightforward in the world of hair I would think and judging by the way M was nodding and saying, "oui" she would agree.

We got in the car and headed to the city. Old freak out me was nervous about spending the day with someone who doesn't speak English. M offered me a bonbon. I like people who offer me candy for breakfast. New positive me thought, this is going to be a good day.

Before shopping we would meet M's father for a coffee. A fact of life in Provence is that there is always someone to meet for a coffee. You never travel from point A to point B, you go from point A to point D while making stops at points B and C (again, I'm slowly adjusting).

We had espressos with M's father, his girlfriend and their king charles spaniel. I love this about France. Dogs inside, everywhere. Plus, the dog served as a nice distraction. Old freak out me could play with the dog instead of trying to engage in French conversation. And I did. I liked that dog.

Two espressos later and we were shopping. I love being a girl. It doesn't matter that M and I speak different languages, we both speak shopping, and we were able to understand each other perfectly. New positive me was having fun being out with a girl sans Boyfriend and even better because I understood most of what M said to me. Learning by osmosis is obviously working.

Old freak out me, was beginning to wish that the day was just about shopping. First big day out without the Boyfriend, wasn't that a big enough hurdle? Nope. Two stores later, it was time.

We went into the salon armed with the photos, flashcards, and M's Iphone translator.

M and I showed the pictures of the nice, soft, easy to maintain, light brown color to the stylist. She looked, got out the hair swatches and showed me a color almost exactly like the photo. New positive me thought everything was going to be ok.

An hour later, the dye was rinsed and I was in a chair with another stylist. Old freak out me was fidgeting nervously. M who had been eyeing me while she was getting her hair done, ran over, hair dripping wet (that's a friend) and explained what I wanted. I took a look in the mirror. Why was my hair much darker than the photo and the swatch? New positive me told old freak out me that it was just the wetness and would dry lighter. It didn't.

The stylist cut just how we asked. But why did it look terrible? Why did I want to cry? Why could I only give him an evil eye when he asked if I liked it? Why was old freak out me picturing him with the hairdryer cord wrapped around his neck? This was obviously not a language issue but a bad stylist issue. All my prep work and I got a guy who was crappy at cutting hair. And the color. Yes, I'm sure if I asked for dark chocolate brown I would be very happy. But that's not what I (M) asked for.

So crappy hair and brown color so dark that I'm going to have to switch from tinted moisturizer to foundation. Old freak out me hates that.

Of course the Boyfriend says how much he loves it. But that's because he loves me. And sure I did get to go shopping, and more importantly have a day doing girly bonding. That's what I'll write in my gratitude journal. And then I'll freak out.

bisou


Friday, November 20, 2009

Getting My Do Done

Tomorrow I'm doing something very scary... I'm getting my hair done. In France. I'm trying to stay positive but this could end up being a disaster.

The Boyfriend is sending his friend, M, with me. Great, sure, I guess everything will be ok then. Oh, wait, M doesn't really speak English. Sure she's handy with her Iphone translator, but come on, we're talking about my hair, my crowning glory, my Raphael-esque ringlets, in the hands of M and her Iphone translator. It's bad enough I can no longer let my witty charm speak for me in Le Petit Village since I'm practically mute, I don't want to look like a frizzy haired freak as well.

"Oh look, it's that non-French speaking frizzy haired freak going to buy her baguette." But all of that would be in French of course.

Since I don't want to be Le Petite Village's mute frizzy haired freak, I've done what I always do, I've prepared. I've made flashcards of the words that I'm hoping will help me, unless the website I got the words from is just a cruel practical joke (yes, I can be a little paranoid sometimes).

Tomorrow I'm going in with my flashcards, magazine photos, my friend M, and her Iphone translator. What could possibly go wrong? Wish me luck.

bisou

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thierry Henry is a Cheater Weater


For any of my U.S. readers (still love that), the name, Thierry Henry, probably means nothing to you, although there are articles about him on the front page of the NY Times and USA Today websites this morning. But for my Irish readers, Thierry Henry equates to getting a paper cut and pouring a little lemon juice on it. Not nice.

Last night was the second World Cup qualifying match between France and Ireland. Ireland lost to France last Saturday and if they didn't win last night, their World Cup dreams were scrapped for another four years.

I'm really way more of a rugby girl, but when I woke up this morning and saw all the angry Facebook posts from my Irish friends towards my new homeland, I knew something was not right.

Apparently (I wasn't watching, I thought my boxset of The OC would be more entertaining) Ireland was holding there own in the French stadium until in extra-time, France cheated. More specifically, Thierry Henry cheated. But what's the difference really? They cheated! They're cheaters! What are they, a bunch of five year olds? And Thierry even admitted it. After the match of course. After the damage had been done, when there were no take backs. He said,

“I will be honest, it was a handball. But I’m not the ref. I played it, the ref allowed it. That’s a question you should ask him.”


So basically, I'm a big fat cheater weater but I got away with it so there, nana-poopoo!
He should have tee shirts made.

I'm sure little Thierry must have had loads of friends on the playground.

What now? How can France just go on and play in the World Cup? Can they do it with a guilt-free conscience? I know I wouldn't be able to (I'm sure that's not the only reason I couldn't play in the World Cup but you know what I mean). I can't do anything out of bounds without guilt haunting me, keeping me awake at night. Like even throwing gum on the street. That's at least one night of tossing and turning, just not worth it. So cheating your way into a huge international competition, that's gotta equal a life time of tossing and turning and some serious tummy troubles as well.

This is one time that I am happy that I can't speak French. Because honestly, I don't think Le Petit Villagers would like what I have to say about little cheater weater and the rest of the French team. So I will remain mute. Nothing new there.

P.S. The Boyfriend asked me to tell you that he does not support the French football team and was rooting for Ireland. But please, if you happen to bump into any Le Petit Villagers, don't tell them that.

bisou


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mon Panier Rouge


Like all French woman, I am the owner of my very own woven basket. You need a basket to stroll the market stalls, carefully choosing fresh produce and hot baguettes from the boulangerie before cycling home with the basket hanging from the handlebars of your bike. It's a pretty Provencal picture. But it's not my picture.

My basket serves as the holder of all my reusable shopping bags. When it's time to go shopping, at the large American style grocery store (I love you Hyper U), the basket and it's contents go into the car and then into the shopping cart.

My red basket was a gift from the Boyfriend. He picked it out for me at the Monday morning market in Forcalquier (I would have chosen a more natural colored one).


Buying it for me wasn't really a choice. As soon as I saw the stalls selling them, and all the French woman carrying them (and the tourists not) I knew I had to have one. I slipped it on my arm and tried to look like I belonged, because once I opened my mouth, the jig was up.

It was July and I was on holiday visiting Le Petit Village to decide if I would move here or not (honestly the decision was pretty much made before I had arrived but don't tell my parents that). The Boyfriend brought me to see the market, which was a big deal for him. If there is anything the Boyfriend hates more than normal, indoors, air conditioned shopping, it's outdoor, middle of July, hot as hell, crowded with tourists shopping. It was so packed, at one point we were at a standstill, stuck in this huge crowd that just wasn't moving, except to grow larger. People were struggling to move in too many directions and it was causing massive human gridlock. Dehydration and sun stroke were imminent. We needed a traffic cop, and a whole lot of deodorant. It was uncomfortable and hot but I loved the market and my new red basket.

There is another reason I love my basket. For some reason, out of all the french words the Boyfriend tries to teach me, saying mon panier rouge (my red basket) has come easiest to me. And it's amazing how often I can slip the word basket into conversation. French Mommy had her basket in her car, I pointed to it and said,

"oh, votre panier"

She looked at me, waiting for me to say something else, "oui?"

But I didn't. Nothing else I could say.

And the other day I bumped into Mrs.Honey returning from the épicerie with her basket. (Mrs.Honey has a really nice one by the way. It's like something you'd take on a picnic, rectangular and lined with lacy white fabric). Excited I could say something,

"J'aime votre panier"

She just smiled and looked at me like I was special. Because I am.

Maybe the secret to me learning French is by the Boyfriend buying me things. He bought me the basket and I have no problem saying panier. Next, I would like to learn how to say, black suede, over the knee boots.

bisou

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Whole Lot of Sunday


I finally got around to having Papa's wife over for Sunday lunch. Papa had decided that there were wild boars that needed slaying so he wasn't able to join us, so Papa's wife's 88 year old mother came instead. Ok, just the ladies, no pressure. This is how the day went:

6:15 - Awake making coffee and reading the news. While I've always read the news in the past, since moving to Le Petit Village, I read eight news websites each day. I think it has more to do with a connection to the English speaking world than it does to me being a news junkie . The thing is, I do care, and it's important, but more times than not, extremely depressing and infuriating, and I can get quite worked up about some stuff. Don't even get me started on the gang rape at that school in California. I can rant for hours about that one. And then it's the Boyfriend's turn to sit with a confused look on his face. (Big digression, I apologise).

7:00 - 8:00 - Begin food preparation; slicing mushrooms, chopping tomatoes, dicing onions.

8:00 - Wake up the Boyfriend so he can 'help me'.

8:00 - 10:00 - Continue food prep.

10:00 - Shower and pick out clothes. What to wear for a Sunday afternoon hosting lunch at home? Anyone who read my post about my sad lonely shoes, will be happy to know my black suede 4inch shoe/boots got to come out. They looked great but oh so impractical to run around the house in.

10:30 - 11:30 - Quick clean up, more food preparation, and tried to delegate tasks to the Boyfriend. The delegation didn't go quite as planned. Somehow instead of doing what I asked (very nicely asked) he would either always end up A. standing in front of the television or B. trying to 'help' me at my task, like taking the pepper grinder out of my hand while I'm in mid-grind, cause yeah, that's helpful.

11:30 - Started making risotto.

11:30 - 12:15 - Stir risotto (as anyone who has ever made risotto knows, it's very easy, but it's all about; stir, stir, and more stirring).

12:15 - Papa's wife and her Mother arrive for lunch baring a lovely plant (I've already forgotten to water it). Quick aperitif , glass of rosé and some marinated olives to nibble.

12:45 - First course, Panzanella (tuscan bread salad). Never made this before but I wanted to give it a try because it looked colorful. Maybe my lemon-garlic vinaigrette was a bit too lemony but it was still pretty tasty and I'm sure all that lemon can help cure something.

1:00 - Mushroom risotto. I had mastered this dish so why now, when serving it to Papa's wife was it too al dente? Why, why, why? But still, she complimented me on it. When I said it was the Boyfriend's favorite, I was corrected. Her couscous is his favorite. Ok.

1:15 - Steak and wilted spinach salad. Simple, easy, tasty. It gets the job done.

1:30 - Cheese plate. Thank heavens we have a spare 3kg.

1:45 - Dessert. Or more like rum with a little chocolate mousse. Oops, I got a little heavy handed when adding the rum. Wow. I'm drunk. Must stop eating. Gave to the Boyfriend. He ate both.

2:00 - Espresso time for us, a snooze on the couch for the 88 year old. At least she felt comfortable. Or hammered from the dessert.

2:30 - The Boyfriend's friend, the Spaniard arrives. I decided to off load another rum and chocolate mousse. The men seem to really like it.

3:00 - Papa's wife and her wobbly mother leave. Huge sigh of relief. I did it. Done.

3:30 - The Spaniard and the Boyfriend go out for a drink after a little encouragement from me. Some alone time for clean up.

5:00 - Dishes finished and sit down... aaaahhh.

5:30 - The Boyfriend returns.

5:45 - There is shouting outside window. The Cousin and his Lady from Avignon are here. He never can just knock on the door like a normal person.

6:30 - We go to the Honeys. Why, I'm still not too sure. Had our day not been busy enough? I guess not.

7:30 - Mrs. Honey and I win our second game of pool against the Boyfriend and Mr.Honey because girls are better than boys.

8:00 - Return home.

8:15 - There is a knock on the door (at least we knew it wasn't the Cousin). The Brother arrives for a drink which leads me to wonder if the Boyfriend has some sort of lo-jack on him.

9:00 - The Boyfriend and I are alone. I take the opportunity to finally try to have a little relaxing conversation while he shovels left over risotto in his mouth and then...

9:15 - The laptop starts ringing. French Mommy is skyping.

9:30 - I manage to stay awake for half an episode of the West Wing.

10:00 - Snoring.

bisou






Saturday, November 14, 2009

You Like Me... You Really Really Like Me...

Saturday morning and I was already feeling pretty good after watching France trounce South Africa in Rugby (I'm sure I'll feel even better when I watch Ireland trounce France - roll on 13th February!) and feeling a little annoyed because the Boyfriend decided to wake up early and was intent on crashing my alone time. Have I mentioned the Boyfriend is a talker? Then I turned on the laptop and discovered that I had been bestowed with the prestigious Superior Scribbler Award! High on myself I shouted at the Boyfriend;

"I won an award!"

"A what?"

"An award! I won an award!"

"A word?"

"No, an award, I won an award, for my blog"

"You won a word?"

Deciding that our lame Abbot & Costello act could go on forever, I grabbed the little dictionary, looked up 'award' and shoved it under the Boyfriend's nose.

"Oh, for what?"

"Nevermind"

Sometimes there just isn't enough coffee.

Merci beaucoup DreamFarmGirl, www.dreamfarmgirl.blogspot.com, whose writing and photos make me smile and whose comments give me encouragement 5300 miles away (Seriously. I'm like 5300 miles from Austin, I looked it up. That's a long way to a Taco Cabana).

So there are seven rules upon which acceptance is contingent (I basically just copied and pasted that bit, hope that's ok):



1. Thank whomever gave it to you. (See above - DreamFarmGirl who is totally my favorite person today)

2. Copy the award

3. Post it on your blog (Maybe some of this steps should be for winners eyes only? Just a suggestion Mr.Scribbler)

4. Tell your readers seven things they don't know about you (Ha! my 'readers'. I love that). Ok then, here goes:

1) I never sit still. Relaxing can pose a bit of a problem for me

2) Wine is my friend. Or as I like to call it, 'Pain Go Bye Bye Juice'

3) I can be a tad obsessive compulsive and controlling (just a tad)

4) My Mother despises cats so I like to torture her by finding things with pictures of cats on them to give to her (birthday cards, postcards, Xmas wrapping paper...) and sometimes I would leave milk outside her back door for the neighborhood cat

5) I collect antique and vintage tea aprons and wear them while cooking

6) I've written a list everyday since I was 12. The list is always written in black roller ink and when a task is completed, it is crossed off with a pink hilighter. And I'm convinced if anyone ever looked at a diary of these lists, they would have me committed.

7) I continue to be thankful that I quit smoking three years ago. One less thing to worry about

5. Give the award to seven bloggers (you're right DreamFarmGirl, maybe this is a chain letter)

A wonderful website full of tips and info about alternative medicine (you didn't think I'd be into something so nerdy, did you?)

You have to adore a couple in love and their two dogs who chucked 9-5 life away and took off to travel and live on their sailboat

This girl is in college and makes the time to do some non-class required writing. I dig her proactivity and hope she keeps it up. Wish I did.

An American adjusting to life in London in a View from Notting Hill. She's a cute fish out of water and I can totally relate

Loads of tasty french recipes from a French-American girl

A bad ass pic of nachos and threatening to beat you with a bag of oranges if you plagiarize her makes her one of my heroes

For Kelly and Lynn who are both braver than I could ever dream of being

6. Let the seven chosen bloggers know that they are now winners

7. Keep being awesome (I'll try my best)

P.S. Want to see the French Rugby team in all it's glory? Check out www.dieuxdustade2009.blogspot.com (trust me, you want to)





Friday, November 13, 2009

My Neglected Shoes


Living in Le Petit Village has not offered me many fabulous shoe opportunities and I'm a little peeved about that. I have a right to my shoes and just because I've moved from a city to a sleepy village, shouldn't mean that I have to sacrifice that right.

I have worn heels a couple of times since being here, literally, I think twice. Once to dinner in Avignon and once to the Raclette party at Papa's house. In almost seven weeks, that's just not cutting it. And any other time I've busted out a fancy shoe, the Boyfriend will glance at my feet and ask with a quasi-embarrassed look if I am wearing those.
Yes I am. So what? I believe I was wearing 4.5 inchers when we met so what exactly is the problem?

And you know what? I bite my tongue when I look at his footwear, because some of which look like they serve some sort of orthopedic function. Not mine. Mine scream, "Bring on the bunions bitches!"

My shoe collection is one that any girl could be proud of (unless you're Mariah Carey) and I've worked hard for my shoes. But the other day while vacuuming the bedroom I saw that some of my stilettos were dusty. Dusty! Neglected and dusty! That is not ok. The only dust I want on my shoes is from being out on the street (that sounded very prostitute like, I apologise), not idle, sad and lonely dust. They've become pathetic and I will not have pathetic shoes.

I love my shoes. Hell I can run a full sprint in stilettos, but here in Le Petit Village, my stilettos just stare at me wondering when they are going to go out and play. But somehow I don't think my leather leggings and snakeskin hidden platforms would go over well at the épicerie when I'm buying my baguette. But you know what? They already think I'm a bit crazy moving here with the Boyfriend, giving up my career and not speaking French. So maybe I should just bust them out. They're going to think what they think anyway, right? Might as well introduce them to the real me. Because seriously, the sweater, skinny jeans, and ballet pumps I've been sporting almost everyday lately is leaving me a little BLAH. And I've never been BLAH. As a child my footwear was inspired by Punky Brewster and as an adult, the great S.J.P. so no point in changing now.

And here it is, I'm only a three hour train ride from Paris, fashion mecca, home of the red-soled genius that is Christian Louboutin, and 140 miles from glamorous Cannes so sod it. I'm taking out my shoes. Le Petit Villagers will just have to get used to it. And get used to me.

bisou








Thursday, November 12, 2009

French Mommy


So I met French Mommy.

Not nearly as terrifying as I anticipated. Although the language was difficult (nothing new there). Do we speak that fast? Luckily I have become quite adept at smiling and nodding. I'm like one of those little toy dogs with the bouncy heads you see in the back windows of cars. Somebody should make a toy out of me and call it 'Clueless Bouncy Head Sara.'

Anyway, back to French Mommy. I think when we think 'mother-in-law' we are geared towards expecting the worst, so although I'm not 100% sure I knew what to expect, it's definitely not what I got. French Mommy is a Mommy, not a mother-in-law. She gave me kisses as well as my very own pair of brand new pink slippers for the house. Anyone who presents me with footwear the moment I meet them is bound to be my friend.

Inside the house (the cleanliest of cleanest houses ever by the way) we found Grand-mere sitting by the fire. Immediately I could tell I liked her. There was something very mischievous and cheeky about her, a little twinkle in her eye. I like mischievous old people. And I have since found out that she plays video games with the Boyfriend. How cool is that? And because she is so cheeky and cuddly, she is now called, French Nana.

The Boyfriend's childhood bedroom remains untouched and French Mommy had bought him new socks and underwear and left them on the bed. Spoiled much? All his toys are still out waiting for him to play and two stuffed animals sit at the end of the bed, a tiger, and an elephant that he seemed ridiculously happy to see. Suddenly the 6'3" rugby playing boyfriend doesn't seem so tough. But I won't post the picture that I took of all the toy cars or tell you how the stuffed animals got goodnight kisses because then I would be in trouble.

Saturday morning after my brioche, pan au chocolat, and a bowl (yes, bowl, not mug) of cafe au lait and we headed out into the snowy drizzle to French Nana's bar. Oh, did I not mention French Nana owns a bar? How can you not love a gameboy playing, bar owning, mischievous Nana? And where has she been all my life?

The bar, which is also the cleanest bar I have ever seen in my life (and I've been in a lot of them) is housed in the old Metropole Hotel. Which incidentally is where a past Queen of Egypt used to stay when she visited the region taking in the thermal spas. No kidding! I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. So at 11am as I sipped my glass of rosé (as you do) I was sitting where a Queen of Egypt might very well have sat. I think some of that regalness may have rubbed off. Sara does mean 'princess' you know so it was bound to happen.

French Nana closed the bar for us at lunch time and broke out the French cuisine. The Boyfriend clearly needed more spoiling and attention and beef tongue had been lovingly prepared just for him. And a steak for me. The Boyfriend had given advanced warning that the only tongue I want in my mouth is my own (and his). But because I'm trying to experience all the Frenchness that is on offer, I did have a bite. It's tasty. And I'm sure if it was chopped up in a stew and I didn't know it was tongue and that some poor cow was walking around without the ability to talk, I could enjoy it.

After the beef tongue, steak, fois gras, cheese, and apple pie (don't you just love how Nanas the world over make apple pie - they must learn that in Nana school) we headed back home for some more spoiling. The Boyfriend and I curled up on the couch (leg wrestled to fight each other for more room) in front of the fire and watched the snow flurries. French Mommy brought us tea and I tried to read a French Elle magazine (bought just for me!) while the Boyfriend slept. All warm and snuggly and smiling at French Mommy I tried to suss out a way that we could just stay forever. And then I did something that I never do...I napped. I was so comfy I napped! Napping has never come naturally to me, even in kindergarten I stared at the clock while all the other lazy, good for nothing children snoozed around me. So maybe I was super duper chillaxed or maybe French Mommy slipped a ruphie in my tea. Either way, I was liking it and I didn't want to leave.

When I woke up it was aperitif time (love this country - eat, sleep, drink... repeat). Uncle came over and we all had drinks in front of the fire while French Nana got busy in the kitchen.

Dinner started with escargot. I love me some escargot.

Next up, frog legs. Uh oh.

Now, I have had frog legs before and liked them. When I waited tables in Texas a million years ago, the restaurant served frog legs and I would watch the cook fry them up. But these were different. In Texas, they were individual legs, lightly battered and fried. What was now staring up at me from my plate was lots and lots of pairs of legs, still firmly attached to a little froggy pelvic bone which was attached to some back bones, clearly forming the lower half of a frog.
NO NO NO!
Every time I looked at my plate I heard Kermit singing 'Rainbow Connection'. But I knew I had to cowboy up and get on with it. I couldn't be some fussy American girl who doesn't eat the little Kermits lovingly prepared by French Nana. So while everyone else ate the legs chicken wing style, I'd quickly pull off little bits of meat while taking huge gulps of my wine. And when no one was looking, I'd throw a couple of legs onto the Boyfriend's plate.

Kermit was followed by more cheese (sensing a theme here?) and then more apple pie.

So here's the thing about French Mommy's house, it's very clean, like eat of the floor clean, but it's also extremely organized. As a girl who thinks of organizing as my favorite hubby (I've written a to-do list everyday for the last twenty years) French Mommy's house has become my mecca. French Mommy and French Nana can teach Martha Stewart a thing or two about arranging, folding, packing and labeling. And Sunday morning, before we headed back to Provence, French Mommy took us shopping in her house. While Uncle cleaned the Boyfriend's car (even he is clean - so that leaves me to wonder, what went wrong with the Boyfriend?).

First shopping in the kitchen, I got lovely next to new baking dishes and lots of candy, French Nana's cookies and more apple pie.

Next on to French Nana's room, which oh my god I love! It's like the room that all girls want. It's pink and blue and antique French. You can picture Marie Antoinette powdering her wig at the vanity.
French Nana opened her wardrobe to reveal rows and rows or perfectly folded and stacked towels. Why does French Nana have so many towels? Don't know. Don't care. But I took a set of Christian Dior towels home with me. Once again, big props to French Nana.

I'm not going to go into all the details of the rest of our shopping trip but we went home with a clean car (thanks Uncle) packed full of; towels, baking dishes, cookies, candy, apple pie, 3kg of cheese, a scale (that's how I know the cheese weighs 3kg), martini glasses, candles, and a brand new coffee maker.

I like French Mommy, French Nana, and Uncle. I liked them so much that I set them up on Skype so they will be able to see the Boyfriend and coo over him.

And I haven't been able to figure out yet how we can move in so French Mommy can take care of us forever, but we did tell them we'd be back for Christmas.

P.S. by the way, the pic above is of all the little Kermits, pre-frying pan. "Someday I'll find it, the rainbow connection..." Nope Kermit! All you'll find is a hot skillet and my belly!

bisou






Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembrance Day


This is the war memorial that stands in Le Petit Village to honor the local men who fell in battle.
On this Remembrance Day I would like to give thanks to all those who gave their lives for freedom.

bisou

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Trip North

The long journey North to meet the Mother took much longer than five hours.

We left the house at 1:15 and of course had to stop in Avignon to see the Cousin. I'm beginning to understand that 'quick' trips to Avignon to see the Cousin are a fact of life and I just need to accept and move on. I have. But I have now attached an addendum to these trips; we stop at a home store that I love. He gets to see Cousin. I get to shop. Fair deal.

Back on the road at 3:45. We took the scenic route. According to the Boyfriend the motorway would take the same time as the scenic route. I don't believe him but if being a boy racer, hugging corners, speeding along the French country side makes him happy, so be it.

Along the way when I wasn't too dizzy to look at the scenery, I saw the architecture change along with the landscape. And as we climbed mountain after mountain and were surrounded by snow, I knew we definitely weren't in Provence anymore. And I also knew that I wanted the Boyfriend, aka Boy Racer to slow down. Arriving at the Mother's with car sick all over my shirt was not the first impression I wanted to make.

The journey was beginning to feel like forever and I was anticipating an ETA of 7:45 so at 7:30 I asked, "how much longer?"

"An hour"

"What?!" That would make it almost five hours since leaving Avignon and a six hour journey from Le Petit Village. What's all this five hour malarky I've been hearing about all week? Maybe it's because the scenic route takes longer but I've a feeling it has more to do with the Boyfriend still not knowing how to correctly manage my expectations. Mental note. Must address that when we get back home.

At 8:30, "How much longer?"

"Ten minutes".

Ok! now we're talking. The makeup came out, and I did my best to freshen up in the dark, racing up the side of a mountain. I was ready. Well I think I was. It was dark, for all I know I looked like Tammy Faye Baker.

8:45. "It's been fifteen minutes since you said ten minutes."

"Ten minutes."

"What?!" Obviously the Boyfriend lives outside the space and time continuum. How does twenty-five minutes in my world equal ten minutes in his world?

"No, ten minutes now. I just said ten minutes before to relax you."

"That's funny, because I don't feel relaxed." And then I said some other stuff.

Fifteen minutes later and we finally arrived.

The Mother was waiting for us at the garage door. It's funny when the person you're expecting is nothing like the one you meet. And that is why the Mother will henceforth be known as French Mommy.

More about French Mommy tomorrow. I've got stuff to do. And I don't want to rush French Mommy.

bisou

I'm Just Too Much

Monday morning and my post was going to be all about the weekend in Auvergne with the Mother, but that will just have to wait for tomorrow because it's always something and I'm an idiot.

This morning started off energetically and full of promise. One of those mornings when you wake up just knowing that you're going to tear right through your to-do list and in the evening when you're finally relaxing, feet up, candles lit, glass of wine in hand, you know that you earned it, because it was a productive day and you're awesome. That was going to be me today. But, it's not, because it's always something, and I'm an idiot.

Hopped out of bed at 5:30. Turned the heat on, because winter has arrived in Provence. Turned the lights on because it's dark at 5:30am. Started a load of laundry, because after a weekend away, you always have laundry to do. Turned on the laptop and plugged it in because the battery was empty. Turned on the television because I need a little noise. Turned on the kettle because the the water needs to be boiled to make my coffee in the french press. Sat down to check the emails.

And then Darkness. And quiet. And then I shouted some colorful phrases.

Not good.

Grabbed the phone to call the Boyfriend who had just left. Nope. Cordless phones don't work without electricity. Never a rotary when you need one.

Lit candles, tried not to freak out, and found the Irish cell phone and made an expensive call to the Boyfriend:

"Oui?"

"The electricity is out"

"That's because you're too much. You had everything going. I'll call my Father."

This was the edited version. I'll let you use your imagination to fill in the rest.

I'm too much???

So when the Boyfriend left this morning and saw me buzzing around like I had a bee in my a** he knew that this was going to happen. And he didn't feel like throwing out a warning? Maybe a little heads up, like,

"You're just too productive for Le Petit Village. Slow it down a bit before you cause a blackout".

Nope. He just left. He will pay for that this evening.

I sat in the dark.

6:15am, one hour until sunrise.

I went to the fuse box, flicked some switches. Nope. Nothing.

Boiled some water and made some tea (you gotta love gas stoves) and waited.

A little after 7 and the sun began to rise. Opened the shutters and let a little light in. Also let a little more cold in. Put on a scarf, and waited.

I mourned the loss of my productive day because you just know that once you let that fire under your a** go out, it's hard to get it lit again. And I thought to myself how it's always something.

I played with the fuse box switches again. Nope. Nothing.

9am and Papa knocked on the door. A quick bonjour and double cheek kiss. He looked at the fuse box, pushed a large black button. Power on. That was it. He left. But not before giving me one of those looks that makes you feel like even more of an idiot than you did before. If that's even possible.













Thursday, November 5, 2009

Le Tarty


Today the Boyfriend and I are leaving Le Petit Village and heading north to the Auvergne Region to visit... dun dun dun... the Mother.

Our road trip this afternoon should be just under five hours. I was doing a little reconnaissance yesterday, checking out our route and what we may pass on our way, sights we may see. Ok. I was only looking to see if we would pass a Starbucks. And guess what? We don't. 463 kilometers, 288 miles and still not close enough to a Starbucks. It's a cruel world.

You know what else is cruel? Meeting the Boyfriend's Mother for the first time. It makes me a little edgy, hence the reason I have been up since 5am and on my third cup of coffee. I'm feeling a little nervous and I battle nervousness with preparation...

The hair needs to be blow dried, nails need to be manicured, bags packed with appropriate clothing... in other words, I need to look presentable. Nice, conservative, but not like I have a stick up my you know where. It's a thin line. And you only get one first impression. It doesn't matter if she adores me after the umpteenth meeting, if she thinks I look like a tart at the first meeting, I will always be the tarty American girl who stole her son, except the French equivalent, Le Tarty (I don't think that's right but we're just going to go with it). After all, the Mother is meeting the non-French speaking American woman who is living in sin with her one and only baby boy. Not to mention that the non-French speaking American woman is also five years older than baby boy.

No, I'm not nervous at all.

Did I mention I'm meeting Grand-mere as well?

The Boyfriend will be surrounded by all the women that dote on him. I'm sure he'll be in heaven. I just hope I am too.

bisou






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