Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Fondue... Gooey Christmas Goodness

Before we left Le Petit Village to celebrate Christmas with French Mommy and French Nana, we had to have a little party with our Le Petit Village posse. And Honey Jr kindly offered to throw one.

A fondue party!

I love fondue!

What's not to love about pots of melted cheese that you dip bread into? Nothing! It's gooey goodness.

Pre-dinner drinks were held at M's house where I stared enviously at her Christmas tree and swore that I would never go another year without one. Doesn't matter how much tinsel you throw around, no tree, no fun.

Everybody was there; V, Honey Jr, Bubble, the Boyfriend's Brother, The Boyfriend, and me. We drank muscat wine before popping open the first of many (too many) bottles of champagne.

And after awhile of being merry, when we started to feel hungry, we remembered that we had someplace else to be, and, someplace with food. We stepped out into the rain and walked over to Honey Jr's. Monsieur Snowman had abandoned us leaving us with buckets of winter rain. Not very festive.

I popped into chez moi for some Christmas cds despite protests from the boys. The girls agreed that a little Rat Pack Christmas music was in order. For some reason, the boys wanted to listen to house. Who listens to house music at a fondue party two days before Christmas? Stupid boys do, that's who.

Well I don't listen to stupid boys.

Walked up three slippery flights of stairs to Honey Jr's pad and cursed my stilettos. V and M were sporting comfy wintery boots, perfect for Le Petit Village they informed me. Yeah well, that's not how I roll.

I'll tell you how I do roll though.. in a waddle after too much of this deliciousness...

Two pots full of hot, gooey cheese. One with mushrooms, and both spiked with white wine.

We ate and ate and ate. Oh, and drank some too.

After a few hours of merriment, stuffed to the gills with gooey cheese, champagne, and brandy (something had to burn through all that cheese) I headed to bed to dream of Christmas at French Mommy's house.

And on that Eve of Christmas Eve, warm and tucked in bed, I felt very thankful for one thing; Honey Jr living right across the street.

Not too far to waddle at all.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Spreading Holiday Cheer

Tis the season to spread holiday cheer and for my part, spreading holiday cheer means candy.

But not just any candy, Baileys Truffles candy.

Nothing can spread holiday cheer faster than Baileys and my heavy hand.

Candy for all my favorite Le Petit Villagers; the Honey's, Papa and his Wife, Boyfriend's Brother, and the postman. Maybe after the Baileys he'll cough up the rest of my Christmas cards.

Not too shabby.

After about the fifteenth one, they started to look ok. But without little gift bags or boxes I've had to resort to cling film with bows.

One of the problems of living in a foreign country is trying to figure out where to go for what. In Texas I'd know right where to go for packaging, not a clue here and the Boyfriend didn't share the same sense of urgency.

So I'm left with cling film.

And I'm not one of those crafty girls whose been playing with puff paint and bedazzlers since they were teens, I can't get all MacGuyver with some cling film and make it look pretty. It still looks like cling film.

And being dropped into a clingfilm satchel, has made my candies look like special presents from Fifty.

C'est la vie! As long as no one tries to light them on fire.


My Winter Nemesis

There is one day of the year that is my nemesis; the 21st of December. And in true nemesis style my feelings are mixed, I loathe it and yet try to see the good in it. Me being the nice superhero to my evil winter nemesis. I know that it can't be all bad. It probably just had a horrible childhood and was misunderstood. It is the shortest day of the year after all. That can't be good for one's self esteem.

But this year my nemesis really tested me. Falling on a Monday is hitting below the belt. And the pretty morning flurries that fell turned into rain by afternoon. Big fat heavy rain drops that soaked me each time I took out Fifty. Four times in just under four hours last night, I'm not kidding. The puppy really likes to pee.

Oh how I hated my nemesis yesterday. In true winter fashion, it was dark all day. The shutters stayed closed and the lights left on. I went about my business counting off each hour until they passed and the day would be over. And waited for my winter nemesis to be gone for another year.

When meeting my nemesis, I try to focus on the positive; the uphill battle to winter is over. It's all downhill to spring. Sure we have to go through the cold misery of January and February but at least the days slowly begin to get longer. Each one stretching a bit more than the next. And before you know it, we'll slide into flip flops and tank tops. No more slushy entryway and muddy puppy prints. There will be brighter evenings to take the creepy edge off the medieval village. The lavender will spurt all over Provence again and I'll be enjoying a bowl of ice cream outside shooing away tourists.

sunnier times

I miss those tourists.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Two Cards and An Ornament

Chez moi is the lamest Christmas house on the block. Seriously, the decorations (or lack thereof) are pathetic.

This year we got Fifty instead of a tree. And I'm very thankful for my little buddy but we can't decorate Fifty. He's just not down with the gold garland necklace.

Where the tree would have stood, we now have a Christmas wall. It was a brilliant idea. The plan was to take all of our Christmas cards and put them in the shape of a tree and top it off with our beautiful new ornament. Our very first one.

(Big kiss to C, MUAH!)

No reason to go all out since we will be spending the holidays in Auvergne with French Mommy anyway.

But the brilliant card tree was foiled because we've only received two Christmas cards (the horror!). It looks far to pathetic to photograph. Trust me.

I'm convinced that the postman is holding out on me and one day very soon I will be flooded with cards from far and wide (I will not abandon hope).

But for the moment, we pretty much have bubkis.

Two cards and an ornament.

The Christmas spirit has left me.

Quick fill me with holiday cheer (please)...


Friday, December 18, 2009

All I Want For Christmas Is For It To Stop Snowing

Monsieur Snowman is vacationing in Le Petit Village.

Last Sunday the weathermonsieur advised that we were in for a cold week. An icy wind was blowing in from Eastern Europe and with it snow. Thank you my former communist comrades.

And oh how he was right. It's freaking freezing. Like Russia cold.

It's beautiful and picturesque and I'm trying damn hard to appreciate it's quaint Christmas charm but it's hard to ignore the muddy slushy aftermath and the numb stumps that have replaced my fingers.

My gloves seem to have met their kryptonite in this Eastern European wind and it's time like these that I'm regretting Fifty and that damn schedule. Especially since Fifty has taken us off schedule to fuel his new snow habit.

He loves it, can't get enough. He's addicted and he's willing to lie for it. And I'm suffering.

Fifty knows that if he wants to go outside he can sit by the door and the crazy schedule lady will take him, so now he figures that if he wants to play in the snow he just has to sit by the door and crazy schedule lady will take him out instead of risking an unscheduled accident.

And that's what he's doing. He's sitting by the door every hour on the hour.

I'm not enjoying the snow as much as Fifty.

All I want for Christmas is to feel my fingers again. And for it to stop snowing.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Nothing Says Christmas Like A Flogging

OK, this is weird.

I was doing a little reading about French Christmas traditions. Figure since I'm here, might as well find out the happenings of my favorite holiday, French style. And there is no use asking the Boyfriend, he is useless at relaying this kind of information.


In France, Santa Clause is Père Noël, nothing strange there, but Père Noël has a partner, and it's not Rudolph. It's an evil man named...dun dun dun....

Le Père Fouettar
(sounds a bit scary doesn't it, thought it needed that dun dun dun).

image: Google

According to my sources, the ever reliable Wikipedia (yeah right) Le Père Fouettar was a guy who kidnapped three little boys, robbed them, killed them, and then chopped them up and put them in a stew.

Holy Reindeer Droppings! How the Fudge does this guy end up having anything to do with Sugar Plums and Mistletoe?

Apparently, Jolly Ol' St. Nick some how discovered the crime (maybe when Le Père Fouettar's name was flashing in red lights all over the naughty list) and magically resurrected the children (nice tie in to J.C. there - it is his birthday after all). Le Père Fouettar ends up feeling bad and becomes St. Nick's partner and goes around with him on Christmas.

But get this, Le Père Fouettar doesn't become all full of holiday cheer like Ebeneezer Scrooge, he's still sinister, so instead of handing out pressies, he punishes all the naughty children instead. Usually with a good old fashioned flogging.

Nothing says Christmas like a flogging.

Safe to say, I'm usually a well behaved girl, but after reading about you know who (don't want to type his name again in case it has some sort of Beetlejuice effect) I'm going to be on my best behavior this holiday season.

Don't want you know who coming to town.


Monday, December 14, 2009

It's A Wonderful Sunday

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

The Skippie Team (The Boyfriend, Fifty, and me) woke up to a snowy Sunday morning in Le Petit Village.

Monsieur Snowman blessed us with a full five centimeters. Not a huge amount, but after living in Dublin for six years (plenty of rain, no snow) and Texas before that, that five centimeters made me feel very Christmassy inside, like I had eggnog flowing in my veins.

And since I was feeling full of holiday cheer and Fifty's petit paws had never touched snow before, we braved the cold and headed out for a little fun.

Fifty loved the snow. He frolicked in it. He ate it. He turned bits of it yellow. He would have been quite happy to stay out there all day but we were cold and hungry and had a lunch date to keep. Papa's Wife had invited us over.

Love being invited for Sunday lunch. Food and wine for hours and somebody else does all the work.

The Skippie team put on our Sunday best (except Fifty, he wears his best fur everyday) and hopped in the car. The Boyfriend managed to suppress his inner boy racer as the Renault slowly made it's way down the snowy mountain. Fifty and I were quite relieved to arrive safe and sound at Chez Papa.

Don't you love the holiday season when you walk into some houses and they ooze holiday cheer? They just feel cozy and smell like Christmas. Well that's how it felt walking into Papa's house and any plans of an eat and run went out the window. No reason to rush back up that mountain.

Papa's Wife showed off her Neapolitan creche and told me all about the little characters. But in French so I didn't understand much.

Then we sat down for an aperitif of champagne, fois gras, olives, and mushrooms.

It was just the three of us. In true Provencal man fashion, Papa was doing what he does every Sunday...hunting. I guess even the snow doesn't stop that tradition.

Aperitifs were followed by some pasta and little parcels of what I thought was beef. Looked like beef, tasted like beef. Nope. Bird. Some birds that Papa had killed on one of his Sunday excursions. Luckily the Boyfriend didn't tell me what I was eating until we got home. Birds freak me out, and I don't like the idea of one in my belly - and yes I eat chicken. Chicken is different. Don't fly, not a bird.

But back to our lunch...

As we were finishing cheese and pastries, there was a knock on the door. Guess who... The Spaniard. Yes. The Boyfriend's friend, The Spaniard, had found us at Papa's house. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, The Boyfriend has some sort of low jack on him.

The Spaniard arrived just in time for the digestif.

I love French life... aperitif before you eat, wine during, and digestif after.

I was poured an innocent looking glass of this stuff...

Take a look at the label... do you see that 47% written on it? Well I didn't until after I downed my drink. Let's just say that the bird was digested, quickly, along with any other food that was in my body. All incinerated by this innocent looking stuff called Marc.

If I'm ever in need of getting ridiculously sloshed, like Las Vegas sloshed, I now know who to call, my friend Marc.

It was a wonderful Sunday... Fifty met Monsieur Snowman. I visited a Neapolitan village (sort of). We sipped some champagne. The Spaniard tracked us down. Clermont beat Leicester in rugby. And I have a new friend, named Marc.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Some Random Turret, C'est Normal

We went to the vet yesterday, Fifty needed a vaccination. But since Le Petit Village is too tiny to have it's own vet, a trip to Forcalquier was in order.

You may remember that Forcalquier is the lovely market village where I bought mon panier rouge, so I am very fond of this village and have now been thinking about how I can combine vet trips, with shopping at the market trips. One should never pass up an opportunity to multitask. This has me all excited. I'm thinking that Fifty may need monthly checkups.

And on the way to the vet, we happened to pass this turret...

When I asked the Boyfriend what the significance of this turret was, he replied with his usual,

"I don't know, it's normal"

Because passing turrets on the way to the vet is normal when you live in Le Petit Village.

And did I happen to mention who drove us there?

Told you he was smart!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sunrise, Right On Schedule

So me and Fifty are on a schedule. And that schedule is working 98% of the time (a little guestimate on my part).

The 2% of the time when it doesn't work, is when the Boyfriend messes with it.

I'm not going to go into details, he knows what he did (the Boyfriend, not Fifty), so no need to rehash. But I will say, when Fifty pees in the middle of the night, I know who to blame it on.

Fifty and I woke up this morning, 7:00, right on schedule.

7:15, got my sneakers and Texas hoodie on, grabbed his leash, and headed towards the door. Time for a quick scheduled pee break.

And then, a mere six feet from the door, Fifty decided to have an unscheduled, inside the house pee break, right there on the kitchen floor.

He just looked at me like, "what are you looking at?"

I looked back, "You know what. And we're still going outside."

He stared at me some more and sat down as if to say, "No reason to go out now. I'm staying put, where it's warm."

Nope. Schedule says we go out at 7:15, (might change that to 7:13 to avoid future six feet from the door pee parties) we go out at 7:15.

And we did.

And because Fifty is a good boy and aims to please, he went pee again. I'm sure just to try to make me feel better about having to clean up kitchen floor pee pee, before a single sip of coffee. He really is a kind soul.

Five minutes later and we were back inside. Breakfast for two and coffee for one right on schedule. A little break before our 8am jog designed to tucker Fifty out. It's my new favorite part of the day.

Just in time to catch the sunrise over Le Petit Village and the Luberon.

Fifty and me share the morning sunshine while the rest of Le Petit Village slowly wakes up.

And we have a view of Le Petit Village, still sleepy.

We jog outside the village, past the old mill towers and rest for a bit.

It's so beautiful, even Fifty stops to take it all in.

He really does. He just pops himself down and stares off into the mountains. Thinking very deep and meaningful puppy thoughts I'm sure. Or he could be thinking about how to escape the crazy schedule lady.

And then we turn around and head back, ready to start the day.

Right on schedule.

Until the Boyfriend messes with it.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's All About Fifty

My life in Le Petit Village has stalled.

The only thing that is happening right now is Fifty.

It's all about Fifty.

Because I'm bound determined to turn that puppy into a good dog, I've become obsessed with puppy training.

Puppy training requires a schedule. And that schedule has been written out and taped to the fridge.

The Boyfriend thinks I've gone a bit batty. And maybe I have. But call me crazy, that schedule is working.

Sure I may be exhausted and frost bitten from our eight a day walks, and in desperate need of a more than thirty second shower, but it's worth it.

Not to brag, but only one No.2 inside since we got him.

Told you I'm a little obsessed.

If he wouldn't eat them, I'd be decorating him with little gold stars. But I am thinking about putting up chart on the fridge, next to his schedule for that.

The trick is to tire him out. Throw a little jogging in the mix with the walk and his three month old self gets tuckered out real quick. And as soon as we get home, he's asleep in his basket.

That's the only reason I can write this now. He's sleeping. I wish I was sleeping.

Sleeping. Walking. Sleeping. Walking. That's his day, usually.

Not today. Today Fifty has a play date with the Boyfriend's Brother's jack russell, Leah.

And judging by Fifty's completely inappropriate actions the first time they met, I think Leah might be his girlfriend. And that's fantastic because I have 90 minutes of alone time today. A whole 90 minutes to myself!

What ever will I do?

Clean the kitchen, shave the legs, and make that gold star chart.

Isn't life exciting?


Monday, December 7, 2009

Le Woof Woof

Something happened on our way to pick out the Christmas Tree...

...we picked up this little guy instead.

His name is Fifty, he's three months old, and he snores. Loudly.

And if you don't take him for a walk IMMEDIATELY after drinking water, he piddles.

And he likes to chew fingers.

But he's adorable and gives sweet sweet kisses so all that piddling and finger chewing is quickly forgiven.

And he's very smart.

He already understands 'NO' in two languages.


Friday, December 4, 2009

The Cherry On Top Of My Lazy Sundae

Yesterday Le Petit Village woke up to a gloomy and wet morning. Rain and gloominess is such a rarity here that I decided to celebrate it with a little holiday.

An 'I'm going to sit on the couch and do nothing' kind of holiday.

Couldn't go anywhere anyway, I left all my umbrellas in Dublin (in Dublin you do have more than one). I don't carry an umbrella around in my purse anymore. Don't usually have to.

The sky was grey and there wasn't any hint of sun coming through the windows. Lights should have been on but they were left off so I could pretend that it was night time to help encourage the laziness. When it's dark and grey like that, you lose that get up and go, spring cleaning kind of vibe. Yesterday was void of all get up and go-ness.

My French lesson went incomplete. The last unpainted wall in the living room remained unpainted. And the laundry stayed dirty. My daily to do list was untouched by the pink highlighter. Shocking, I know.

The couch became my own personal island and I didn't leave it much. It was cold and I didn't like how my feet felt in that moment between leaving the warm blanket and getting inside the supershoes (my slippers). Everything I needed was within reach... phones, laptop, magazines, drink.

I drank endless cups of tea and spent some time wishing I had a tea pot and proper Irish tea, Barry's tea, not Lipton yellow tea. Can't find Barry's tea here. But surprisingly at my last trip to the grocery store I did find Pepperidge Farm cookies and Skippy peanut butter. Already finished the whole jar. This worried the Boyfriend quite a bit. Whole jar gone. Just me and a spoon. But in fairness, it was a small jar.

Thought about how I wish I had some hot chocolate. Briefly considered making the 20 second walk to the épicerie but decided I didn't want it enough. But made sure to put hot chocolate on the shopping list.

Watched Pretty In Pink and thought how lucky Duckie was to have grown up to be that guy on Two and a Half Men. I also marvelled at the horrideousness of the prom dress that I used to love when I was a little girl. And yes, the word is horrideous, a horrible hideous hybrid reserved for truly special occasions.

Sidebar on the origin of 'horrideous' - it was made up while looking at a cover of the Irish Sunday Times magazine with my cousin Bibbie. The prominent solicitor in his shiny pin striped suit, sunglasses, and cigar hanging from his mouth, was so repulsive that he caused a reaction within me so profound that I made up a new word because it was the only word that could properly describe it - horrideous. I should probably get that copyrighted.

Spent some time listening to the rain hit the roof. It sounds like a bubbling kettle before it whistles. Strange. Shouldn't it just sound like rain hitting a roof?

Went through the last of my English Magazines. A Cosmo, Elle, and Marie Claire. Going to have to get some more of those. A trip to Aix or Avignon required. That burst my bubble a bit.

Went through all the grocery store flyers that had been stuck in the postbox (Thursdays are grocery store flyer day in Le Petit Village). They were wet with the rain so I had to let them dry first before going through them circling specials I liked with my trusty black Sharpie. It's amazing how much cheaper things are here than in Dublin. No kidding, a twelve pack of Heineken is half the price. Seriously, half the price. Guess that means I can drink twice as much. Oh, and beef heart is on special for €2.50 a kg, if you are so inclined. I'm not.

I watched some of the third series of Friends and developed hair envy. Ladies, you know what I'm talking about.

I searched the internet for an idea on what to cook for dinner. Decided on curried shrimp with coconut rice. Never ended up cooking it. Too lazy. At least now I know what I'm cooking tonight so that was productive.

And just when I began to feel the a tiny hint of boredom and guilt about my laziness creeping in, something truly magical happened. The postman blessed my couch bound holiday by delivering a package of People magazines (thank you to my dear friend, the Nobgoblin). So I thumbed through those for awhile and got my daily dose of Vitamins U S and A.

Pretty much the cherry on top of my lazy sundae.

That was my day yesterday. And it was awesome.

So do you ever have an 'I'm going to sit on the couch and do nothing' kind of holiday?

21 days until Xmas...

And while this was all about my awesome day, Buddy the Elf's awesome day would be...

"We'll make snow angels for two hours, then we'll go ice skating, then we'll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse Cookiedough as fast as we can, and then we'll snuggle."


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Le Petit Man Flu

Problem in Le Petit Village, the cold has arrived. Both outside and inside the Boyfriend.

He came home from work clutching his throat and making little moany sounds.

But I shrugged it off. I've seen this before from him. The dramatics. The sad baby voice. The slow shuffle around the house. The man-flu.

But this time it might be real. He just doesn't look right. The Boyfriend looks wrong and it's not a good look.

And germy. You know when someone just looks germy?

And not to make it all about me me me, but I don't want to get sick. I'm on top of a mountain. Who the hell is going to take care of me here? I'm not even sure where the nearest doctor's office is, but I'm sure, it's somewhere down the mountain.

And how can I stay in bed sick all day without Dr.Phil and Oprah? Here daytime television is Les Jours de les Vies and Sept dans la Maison (Days of Our Lives and Seventh Heaven). But that's not really the same is it? I didn't even watch those in English. Sickness requires proper daytime television.

But back to the Boyfriend. I tucked him up under a blanket on the couch and made him a hot whiskey. He accused me of trying to get him drunk. Because yeah, like I need to get him drunk.

There he laid while I busied myself in the kitchen. Occassionaly he would shout something at me.

"I'm dying"

"Then you shouldn't be speaking"

The dramatics continued into the night, every second a little more pathetic until he finally moved to bed.

But then he woke up this morning. Coughing and sputtering. But not dramatically. Really coughing and sputtering.

The Boyfriend is sick. And now that he is sick. Not man-flu sick, but actually sick, stay in bed sick. What does he do? He gets out of bed and goes to work. In the rain.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Little Post About Pasta

It was a normal morning. Coffee was made. News websites were being read. And then it happened. I stumbled upon something miraculous. About pasta.

Yes, pasta.

I cook a lot of pasta. It's easy, and cheap, and versatile. Delicious with tomato sauce, cream sauce, pesto, with meat, without meat, hot, cold, and almost any veggie you want to throw at it. The variations are endless and it always hits the spot. And you can eat it in a big bowl.

I like bowl food more than plate food.

Always have. Always will.

But I, like I'm guessing most people, have always just thrown the pasta in a pot of boiling water and walked away for 8-10 minutes.

Well we've all been fools.


This genius of a man at the NY Times makes pasta, risotto style.

Yes, pasta cooked risotto style! It's madness!

Check it out:

It looks pretty easy, doesn't it?

And it was easy. And delicious. Creamy without adding cream. That's quite an accomplishment.

The Boyfriend loved it. He ate three helpings, but nothing really new there.

You must give it a try.

Or have you already?

How do you like your pasta?


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas Tree Countdown

Today is the 1st of December. The countdown to Christmas is well and truly here!

Or to Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, or Christmukkah!

It's here!

I'm no stranger to countdowns. Being someone governed by lists and calendars, most of my life is spent in some sort of a countdown, marking off intervals of time until an event occurs. Some being tortuous affairs. When the Boyfriend moved back to Le Petit Village in May, my life was one big horrible countdown; the countdown until July when I would visit him, 56 days. The countdown until I handed in my notice at work, 8 days. The countdown until the Boyfriend visited me, 38 days. The countdown until I moved to Le Petit Village, 27 days.
This was a slow, miserable period, going to sleep each night mentally crossing off days and calculating time. Not a fun countdown.

But a Christmas countdown! This is a countdown full of gingerbread and sugarplums, fairy lights and carols. It's true, it's the most wonderful time of the year, and it's my favorite!

My list of things to do before the holidays has been made, the Christmas cards have been addressed, and Christmas candy recipe chosen. And this weekend, the pièce de résistance... the Christmas tree. How I love a Christmas tree! Funny thing, especially since I come from a Mother to whom a tree is not obligatory. It's clear the Christmas gene may skip a generation.

But this year, the Christmas tree has me stumped. Since we are spending Christmas in Auvergne with French Mommy and French Nana, a real tree is out. Even though the Boyfriend has kindly offered to chop one down in the forest. Although I have a feeling that has more to do with him demonstrating his manliness than Christmas cheer. So an artificial tree will be purchased. And that's ok. There has been a lot of progress in the world of artificial trees. But since we don't have room for a big tree, a small one is required. But a small green fake tree isn't invoking the Christmas spirit within me.

And I'm beginning to think wacky thoughts.

Thoughts of pink and white trees.

Lots of white lights and silver bells to offset our crazy spiral staircase.

But will a white or pink Christmas tree be enough to fill the house with Christmasness?

My first Christmas in Le Petit Village, should I buck tradition and let my wacky thoughts take over or should it be a traditional green Christmas tree for me?

What do you think?

5 days to make a decision.

And don't forget what Buddy the Elf says... The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is by singing loud for all to here!

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