Thursday, August 7, 2014

La Fin?


Look at that... over a month since my last blog post and it wasn't even written by me! Without meaning to, I've taken quite the blogging break this summer and to be honest, I'm not ready to break the break.

When I moved back to the States five months ago, I had every intention of continuing blogging, hence the switch from Sara in Le Petit Village to C'est Moi, Sara Louise. But truth be told, repatriation has kicked my butt way more than I expected it to (not in a bad way per se, just in a very tiring way), and aye yai yai, Gregory's green card process... don't even get me started on that whole thing (it's happening, it's just happening at the slowest snail pace possible). 

So yeah, I've been busy trying to build a new life here in America without my husband (temporarily of course) and for the moment, blogging is way down on the priority list. While I miss all of you, I'm not really missing blogging. But after careful consideration, I have decided to keep this space alive in case the blogging bug bites again. After all, I still have loads of stories to share with you. In the meantime, my Facebook Page, Twitter and Instagram feeds are still hopping so if you'd like to check in, you know where to find me. (Please check in, I miss y'all... oh and Fifty asked me to tell you that if you happen to miss him too, you can say hi here or here). 

And that's that. I'm gone, but not gone, gone.

Thank you all for four amazing and wonderful years of your friendship, love and support. You mean more to me than I could every fully express in a meaningful enough way, but please know that I never could have survived life in the middle of nowhere in a tiny village in Provence without you.

Much love to all of you.

À bientôt mes amis.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Because Who Doesn't Love Pugs? {guestpost}


Hello readers of C'est Moi, Sara Louise! My name is Jackie and I blog at Jade and Oak.  I'm excited to be blogging for Sara while she's on vacation. Though I'm obviously jealous that she is on vacation and I'm not. But I'll let it pass. This time. So on my blog, I talk a little bit about everything. I live in Pennsylvania with my fiance and have been planning my wedding, trying to fix up our old house (I'm an HGTV addict) and reminiscing about my younger years of traveling Europe. (I was a short-lived ex-pat in London a looooong time ag0.) But, one of my fave things on the blog is to talk about and share photos of my puggies.

me

Just like Sara has her baby Fifty, I have my two pug babies, Bowie and Rosie. I never had dogs growing up but now I'm a crazy dog lady. So if you're thinking of joining the crazy dog lady club, let me share my experience of how great being a crazy dog lady is.

My pugs are the weirdest dogs I know. Pugs can be known as "velcro dogs" because they are always attached to your side like velcro. If you're watching tv, out in the yard, sleeping, blogging (ahem) or cooking, you can guarantee they will be right by your side. Especially if food is involved. Puggies love their humans and they're pretty cute, so I don't mind being shadowed by a dog constantly. And you're never alone!

IMG_0828 IMG_1572

Pugs also make a lot of noise. Bowie mainly just snores sometime when he's sleeping but Rosie snores SO loudly when she's sleeping. She also makes a near constant snorting sorta noise whenever she breathes. So if she isn't velcroed to your side, you know where she is because you can probably hear her! Adorable! (Usually. Not so much when I'm trying to sleep.) Their noises are hilarious so, even though I usually have to turn the tv volume up to hear over her snoring, their noises are precious. They never fail to make me laugh.

Pugs sleep a lot. Every morning they are maniacs because they want to eat. After breakfast and their potty break, there are ready to go back to sleep. Pretty much all day. Then more craziness for dinner and then more sleeping. Considering they do nothing all day, it is amazing that they can always be so tired. What a life. But the good thing is - whenever I'm feeling lazy I always have 1 or 2 companions who will relax with me on the couch for a quick (or long) snooze.

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So basically this post was an overload of photos of my dogs. Hope I didn't bore you all too much! But seriously pugs (and dogs in general) are the best. If you had told me 5 years ago, I'd be a crazy dog lady, I wouldn't have believed you and here I am. But I swear I have other interests. If you want to hear about my wedding planning or see my attempts to decorate our 70+ year old house, come on over to my blog. I also share random funny stories (well at least I think they're funny...), some easy recipes and some blogging tips. I hope you'll come over and say hello. Oh and Bowie and Rosie say to bring them treats when you stop by!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Defining My Happy {guestpost}


Hi guys! I'm Jen from Defining My Happy. Sara and I have been blogging friends for a few years now and in that time, I've come to love reading all about her adventures. Now that she's back in the states, I think a road trip is in order. :) But for now, I'm taking over for her while she does other very important things. Let's do this!

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A list titled, "29 books to get you through your quarter-life crisis" found its way to me a few weeks ago. I was immediately intrigued. My first thought- am I having a quarter-life crisis? I'm closer to 30 than to 20. I'm not always certain that I'm living life to the best of my abilities. There are moments of self-doubt and insecurity and a distinct, yet indescribable fear of not knowing where it's all going to lead in the future. I wish I had more answers than questions, but don't we all? This is life baby; let's roll with the punches. 
Grab a drink and saddle up. Here we go!
I'm getting better at that, you know. I replied to an email yesterday from a friend living in Ireland and I told her quite clearly that I am drifting right now. And at first, that was sort of scary and then it gradually became less so. You see, I'm a stay at home mom and have been for a few years. During naps and after bedtime, I carve out time to write long sentences under a folder titled "manuscript" and create lists for groceries and "to do's" in my red leather notebook that I carry just about everywhere. But during waking hours, I am a chef, a dinosaur, transportation to and from the fun spots, the discipliner, the photographer, the librarian, the maid and much much more. I like to think I am good at these positions, that I fulfill what would otherwise be blank voids, but there are no set metrics, no quarterly performance reviews to tell me so. and THAT, that is what can be scary about drifting. I imagine that this is true of anyone pursuing a creative passion or building a new business or taking a leap of faith. 

My day "job". Aren't they cute?
But fear not, fellow drifters. we don't need an outside source repeating a generic praise. We have ourselves and that should most certainly be good enough. I am learning to tune out that worker bee need and instead tune in to the quiet voice inside whispering, "You are fine, dear girl." It is not easy, but it is a lesson worth learning. You. Are. Fine. Repeat that until it is less tentative and more brave.

Life is an adventure. One that ceases to be so when it's filled to the brim with impossible expectations. Today feels like a good day to relinquish myself from them.

Dear Universe,

I am grateful for this. I am happy to be right where I am at this exact moment in my life. (the only thing that would make it better would be for my 20 month old to sleep through the night, but I'll stop while I'm ahead) I'm sure you get tired of hearing people complain about all that they don't have or aren't doing. There will always be the crowd that you just can't satisfy. And maybe they'll figure it out for themselves one day. But I want you to know, it's enough for me.

Thanks for this opportunity.


* ps- Click here for the book list I mentioned. I highly recommend 1 & 2, 5 for the pony story, 19 and 26. I've also heard good things about 13, though I can't vouch yet.

 *pps-Thanks for having me Sara!

Monday, June 30, 2014

A German in America {guestpost}


Hello Sara's readers!

My name is Katrin and I blog over at Land of Candy Canes about my life as a German married to an American. I also like to talk a lot about animals (I love all animals and I have 4 pets: 2 cats and 2 bunnies), food (I am a vegan and love to discover new recipes), books, traveling and many more things.  I am honored that Sara lets me guest post on her fantastic blog. She's a wonderful friend and it means a lot to me.

Today I want to talk to you about some of the experiences I have had as a German in America. I did not really know what to expect when I first moved there. Of course, you know America from movies and books but living there as an expat is a completely different experience. America became my second home...but of course there are some things that are just weird for me.

The restaurant experience.

First of all, in Germany you don't wait to be seated. You just walk into the restaurant, decide where you want to sit, and then a waiter comes over to take your order. That is what I was used to. I don't really like waiting for food. I can get a bit crabby when I am hungry. When I first went to an American restaurant the waitress told us that we would have to wait 45 minutes for a table. For me, that was a reason to leave and go to another place. But I found out: it's normal. People do that all the time. So I knew that's a thing I have to get used to. I do love that you get free refills in America. I mean, how awesome is this?! In Germany I am used to paying more for my drinks than I pay for my food. I am always thirsty so this comes in handy. It would be perfect if the waitress would not come over every 5 minutes to fill up my glass which isn't even half empty, but I don't want to be pedantic. In Germany the waiter usually only comes over when I ask him to. My biggest problem in a lot of American restaurants is that they just don't have anything on the menu for me. I know that there are lots of fantastic vegan places out there but just not around my city. So I always end up annoying the poor waitress by asking her thousands of questions about the food (and ordering my drinks without ice, it's just weird) and end up ordering some sides.

What I do not like about eating in American restaurants is that I often feel rushed. In Germany I always spend hours at a restaurant and people just leave you alone. But it happened a couple of times to me that the waiter brought the check while I was still eating. I think that is just not necessary. I know that a lot of places are crowded and that they need the tables for other customers but I really prefer to eat in peace and have a coffee afterwards. Without being disturbed. But hey, as I said, I don't want to be pedantic....I mean, I had the best veggie burger of my life in an American restaurant. That makes up for a lot of inconveniences.

Shiny happy people. 

I love the fact that people are so friendly in America. One example: when I go to the post office in Germany, I am prepared to see a lot of people impatiently waiting with a crappy mood because the line is too long, the employees are to slow, the sky is too blue, or the floor too ugly. In America people actually start talking to you while you wait in line. In a friendly way! Makes me smile every time I experience it. I have to say that I only had one unfriendly experience while grocery shopping: the sales person got mad at me because I asked her too many questions about a curry paste I was looking for. But I am sure she just had a bad day. So, hey, way to go America!

It's freezing.

One thing I will never get used to: air conditioning. I might be a helpless case because I am always cold but why does it always have to be freezing cold in stores, restaurants, offices, houses and (the worst) movie theaters! It's always like a slap in the face when it's nice and sunny outside and you wear your summer clothes and then you enter a building and you immediately start freezing. I just don't get it. I always have to bring a cardigan and sometimes even a scarf and socks to the movie theater because I just can't stand sitting there for two hours in an ice cold breeze. I guess I am just not used to it. Most people do not seem to have a problem with it. But I guess I will just go on carrying my winter clothes with me. Even in mid-summer.


There are in fact lots of other things which are weird for a German living in America...things like: the love for the American flag (in Germany you rarely see the flag, only when the World Cup is going on), chips for lunch (chips are a snack which you eat while watching a Fussball match), guns everywhere, the lack of good bread, cars without a stick (still feel useless when I drive one because I basically only need one hand and one foot), the fact that there are 5 Burger Kings, 7 Mc Donald's, 6 Wendy's and 36 other fast food restaurants even in the smallest town, people use way too many plastic bags, sales tax is not included in the prices, the fact that you don't have at least 5 different trash bins to recycle (plastic, bio, paper, glass, general), the fact that the traffic lights are on the other side of the intersection, the mail usually takes a lot longer than in Germany, nobody uses house slippers....and so on.

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed my ramblings about my German-American life. Sara, thank you again for giving me the opportunity to write on your blog. You are a wonderful friend!

Friday, June 27, 2014

saying goodbye again


The suckiest thing about being in a long distance relationship has to be saying goodbye. I've had to say goodbye to Gregory loads of times, too many times. And truth be told, once we got married, I never dreamed I'd be in the 'sucky saying goodbye' position again. I thought those days were over, but here we are.

Tomorrow Gregory has to go back to France. His three month tourist visa expires and we are still a few months out from the Green Card (but have no fear, things are really moving on that front... finally!). We could have opted to do this whole crazy thing called an Adjustment of Status that would have enabled Gregory to stay put with me here while we waited for the Green Card to be processed but after careful consideration, we decided not to confuse things (and by 'things', I mean the State Department) with the six, extra long, extra pain in the petunia forms that that would require (not to mention saving the $1100 it would cost).

So yeah, it's goodbye time again, and that blows. For the past three months, without meaning to, we've been silently counting down the days, knowing that the goodbye was out there, looming. But this sucky, sad, goodbye time, I've decided to handle a little differently... I'm prolonging it!

Instead of saying goodbye tomorrow at San Antonio airport, we'll be saying goodbye in twelve days time in Paris because I'm going back to France! How you like them pommes? À bientôt mes amis!

P.S. Of course I'm not just going to leave you high and dry with an 'à bientôt' like that! I'll be checking in on instagram, twitter, and facebook while I'm gone so if you want to see copious shots of me and a Rosé glass, be sure to follow along. Also, some lovely ladies have kindly agreed to keep this space company while I'm gone so be sure to stay tuned... 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My Friend: Reintroduced Paris to Kale

I'm an Aquarius. 

I read once that Aquarians like to collect people the way others might collect eclectic art and if I take a look at my friends, it's kind of true. It's not like I do it on purpose or anything, like, I don't go around intentionally rounding up interesting people that make perfect dinner party guests, it just sort of happens, And because I have some really intriguing friends, and because I blog, naturally I thought that I should combine the two in a new blog series called, My Friend. 

Each edition of My Friend, will focus on one of these dynamic dynamos as I introduce them to you with an interview, so you can get to know them too. They're doing some pretty fascinating and inspiring things, like for instance, this, this, and this.

Today, I'm interviewing a blog friend turned in real life friend (or IRL as us bloggers like to call it), Kristen, an American in Paris. Kristen is the founder of The Kale Project, "a movement to bring the healthiest green vegetable to Paris."   


Let's start off with an easy one, how are you? 

I'm good! I just got back from a few days in Cannes. It's always nice to wake up and know there will be consistent sunshine!

First things first, do you prefer the Queen of Kale, Lady Kale, or my favorite (which I think should be your superhero name), The Green Empress?

There have been a lot of names out there and I've actually never heard Lady Kale or The Green Empress yet! I like Lady Kale though.  I will admit that when I see an article about someone doing kale chips or opening a juice bar and they are called the "Queen of Kale" I get a little jealous. Perhaps that's how Gwyneth Paltrow felt when she read that I was the "Kale Crusader" in the New York Times?

I'm sure she was green with envy (green... get it?!). Anyway, Lady Kale, what was the light bulb moment when you knew that you were going to try and bring kale to Paris?

Philip (my husband) and I were drinking martinis at this weird expat event (where we spoke to no one) about 2 months after moving to France and since I could not find a job or kale, I thought that perhaps I would make finding kale my job. Coming from an advertising background, I've approached the entire thing as a marketing campaign. But on a side note, I never thought that I would actually talk about kale all the time.

How would you attempt to describe kale to people at the markets in France and when you did, would they just point to the chou frisé? 

I would show a photo on my phone and yes, people would point to chou frisé or just say they had never seen it or would just shrug. I probably could have been a little bit more eloquent about the entire thing but this was so early on and I was so shy trying to speak French. But I also have more of a city perspective. I'm sure if I was asking around in more rural areas where people tend to garden on their own, the response might have been different.

How have the French responded to kale? Any funny horror stories you can share?

Overall the response has been good. There are always a few people that don't care but that's alright because hamburgers and cupcakes are a huge trend right now in Paris and while I respect anyone that has their own business or project around them, I don't care about them. And of course there are the people that have sent me horrible hate-mail because they think I'm trying to teach the French how to eat, which clearly isn't true.

What has been your biggest obstacle with the Kale Project? And what was your biggest surprise?

The biggest obstacle has been keeping it going and organized. The entire initiative grew much faster than I anticipated so at times I'm not able to keep up with it all. And the French language part was difficult but it forced me to speak which in the long run has been great! The biggest surprise was again how quickly it grew. I never expected Auchan or Le Grand Frais to be carrying kale during the second season.

If not kale, what other vegetable or food would you try to bring to France?

I never really know how to answer this question because the kale thing just happened and made sense. It was like I had this instinct that I had to do it (I know it sounds crazy!) While I would love to have more frequent access to more varieties of kale and other dark, leafy greens (collards, dandelion greens), I can't say that France is really missing anything. Overall, living here has taught me so much about seasonality of produce to the point where I really try to practice shopping and eating with the seasons much more than I did in NYC. So not having access to certain things has made me more thoughtful about what I buy.

What type of climate does kale grow best in? Do you think it would flourish in Le Petit Village? (I could picture Honey Jr being quite the little kale farmer)

As kale is a cabbage - it is traditionally a winter vegetable - it grows best in mild temps. But it would definitely grow in Le Petit Village too! It's so easy to grow! In France the season is turning out to be September - March.

Tell me about this cocktail you made at Silencio (an uber trendy bar in Paris)... did they let you loose behind the bar to mix it up?

I was lucky enough to work with their professional bartender who made a mean Kale Bloody Mary. I plan to share the recipe on the site sometime soon.

I thought the Huffington Post piece on you was cool and I was chuffed for you when I saw it, but when I saw the article in the NY Times, I was really blown away, were you surprised by the success and attention?

Of course! I mean I still just sit back and laugh at the entire experience. I am lucky that I was able to devote my time to something this fun and interesting. I'm even luckier that it's done so well.

Do you have a go-to kale recipe that you'd share with us?

For my favorite dish, I'm all about kale salads. But the great thing about kale is that you can add it to literally almost anything. Soup? Add some kale. Pasta dish? Add some sauteéd kale. Smoothie? Juice? Add some kale. It's so versatile which makes it so easy to get some green goodness on a daily basis.

If you could travel back in time knowing what you know now, what piece of advice would you give yourself before launching the Kale Project?

Hah. I'm not sure I would have started it. I think there was this naivety in my life at that time that blinded me to what I really, truly was doing and if I'd waited any longer I probably would have chickened out and been too aware of what the French could have or would have said. But that said, I probably would tell myself to be better at updates on the website. There is so much that happened that I never actually wrote about. Oh well - it's something I can always add in retrospect!

And finally... what's next?

I'm trying to figure this out too! I'm still working with various local, French farmers in other parts of the country and will be ramping up for the 2014 season in September with a few collaborations with Big Apple Yoga, Green Hopping App to name a few. One thing the project taught me is that you really never do know what's going to happen next. Keeping an open-mind has been really important!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Gregory Gerard Mathieu

That's Gregory's name, can you believe it? Gregory Gerard Mathieu... it's a mouthful. In France you get not one middle name, but two, so you have three whole names (not counting your last one of course). It's a whole lot, but I like it.

Today is Gregory Gerard Mathieu's birthday (the Gerard part is for his uncle, I'm not sure where Mathieu came from but I think it's nice) and for the first time ever, he's celebrating it outside of France. We're keeping it low key, mostly because he likes it that way, he doesn't like a fuss (unlike me, who very much likes fuss). 

And get this, not only does he not want a fuss, but he decided that this year, he didn't even want any presents (POPPYCOCK I SAY! YOU CAN'T HAVE A BIRTHDAY WITHOUT ANY PRESENTS, THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT!), he was going to give presents instead, specifically, himself. Right at this very second, Gregory Gerard Mathieu is down at the local YMCA, giving blood. He said he wanted to do something nice that would help other people on his birthday, and that's all he wanted. Well color me humbled.

So that's that. It's my husband's birthday and I just wanted to fuss over him a bit. Ciao ciao for now.

Update: Poor Gregory Gerard Mathieu just returned from the Y crestfallen, they wouldn't let him give blood because he's from France and the whole Mad Cow disease thing. He's so disappointed but I've told him that it's the thought that counts. Poor guy.  

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