Monday, January 28, 2013

Toulon: a photo essay

WHEW! Guess what I just figured out? In my advancing age, it now takes me two whole nights to recover from one night out. No longer can I shake my bonbon on the dance floor until 5AM, sleep for three hours, and wake-up feeling normal with a spring in my step. Nope, I can't, those days are over. Now, massive amounts of tea/ coffee/ juice are required for me to find my giddy-up, and it's a slow giddy-up, with a hitch in it. That's dumb. And that's why today's post is going to be heavy on photos, light on words, because while I have had two nights to recover from the hot mess that was Friday night in Toulon, my brain is like a fuzzy wuzzy slug, so allow me to present to you; Toulon: a photo essay. 

(DISCLOSURE: these photos were taken over two separate weekends; the first weekend in January, and this past weekend; Friday the 25th and Saturday the 26th.)

(SIDE NOTE: I'm going to show you a photo, and then ramble on about some information pertaining to the photo, or what we were doing before/ during/ after said photo was taken.)

These salt and pepper shakers signify the love between The Husband and Mr. London. SHHH... don't tell Gatz... he's pouty enough already (Pouty enough to phone The Husband at 7AM on Sunday morning demanding to know where he was and what he was doing. The answer was sleeping, emphasis on the word 'was'.

This is the port of the village where Mr. & Mrs. London live. It's pretty, isn't it? It's where Mrs. London and I like to go for lunch. We sit in the sun, and chat. It's lovely. It's our peaceful escape. It's also where we bumped into another rugby player; he asked us what Mr. London was up to, Mrs. London said he was with The Husband, doing work at the new house (RE: The Londons are moving to a new house). "Oh really" the other player replied, "because I saw them about an hour ago, driving around the port, waving a bottle of Cristal out the window". B U S T E D.

This is Mrs. London and me having a Mojito before Friday night's match. I'm including this photo for no other reason than because I like it. My hair looks shiny and bouncy.

These are our babies that we left behind when we went to the match. The little one is in charge.

And this is the match;

There's Mr. London ready to pounce, and next to him is Freddie Michalak. Freddie is not unattractive (don't believe me... click here... you're welcome).

That's where I'm going to end my essay today, but there will be a Part Deux, and here's a preview...

Oh, yeah.

That's Brother-in-Law, in a Hello Kitty mask, sitting on an office chair, about to be pushed down a hill.

Hot Mess.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Extra! Extra!

Find bargains on magazines at Value Mags with free shipping.

We've got big news in The LPV people! 


Now this particular tidbit of news is about the original Le Petit Village and it's beyond exciting.

Are you ready? (I need to make sure that you are ready because this is BIG.)

The Parisian no longer owns Le Petit Bar.


That's right, it's official, someone has finally bought Le Petit Bar and Les Villagers have been saved. Their cocktail chains of oppression have been removed, the shackles cut. No longer shall they walk up to the bar to order a drink and be told that the bar has run out of Coke, or Heineken or Rosé. (Do you remember that time that Le Petit Bar ran out of Rosé... in Provence... in June?! Blasphemy). No more shall tourists arrive at Le Petit Bar and be shocked to find out that food was not actually being served and be turned away hungry (despite Le Petit Bar being listed in the 'Bistro de Pays' guidebook). And no longer shall Les Villagers arrive at 7PM on a Saturday night for l'apéro only to find the lights out and the doors locked because The Parisian was tired ("I'm so exhausted", he would say).

The new owner, this savior if you will, is a very large man from a village fifty kilometers west of Le Petit Village (He's so big I'm thinking of Christening him Big Man. Seriously, he's the biggest man I've seen in France... but in fairness, he'd be on the average size in Texas). He's promising lots of changes, and unlike you know who, I think he's going to stick to them.

Right at this very moment (this very moment being a little after 8AM on a Tuesday morning) Brother-in-Law and his crew (the B-Team as I like to call them) are busy at work making changes to the interior of Le Petit Bar and re-fitting the kitchen. In February, Le Petit Bar will be open to the public and serving food (SERVING FOOD! Can I get a hallelujah?!). Bienvenue Big Man!

And au revoir to The Parisian...
 don't let the door hit ya, 
where the good Lord split ya.
(I jest, because I kind of hope it does.)


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

They Call Me Nonos

Saturday was Fifty's least favorite day of the year... shot day at the vet... RUH-ROH!. Oh he hates it! Look at him up there, with his tail tucked between his legs, all nervous like. (He's also totally unaware that all of that worrying is going to give him frown lines... do they have botox for dogs?)

In fairness, I get why he was so uneasy (besides the shot of course, I'm not a fan either), Fifty hasn't had the greatest Vet experiences in the past. It's not that anything bad happened, it's just that we hadn't found the right Vet for him... until last week, when fate stepped in. 

But before fate stepped in, there was the cat lady Vet. She was the first Vet we took Fifty to and not very nice. She didn't like dogs! (Let me ask you a question... what kind of person becomes a Vet if they don't like dogs?) It was absolutely nutty, because when Fifty went to her he was a wee bitty thing, and Fifty as a wee bitty thing was simply too cute not to like. I mean really, how could you not love this wee, bitty face?

Obviously there was something wrong with her. 

Then there was the second vet. He was perfectly fine (much nicer than the cat lady), but he was just kind of blah, and lacking in someway. It was like he didn't have an aura or something.

So this year when shot time rolled around, and not wanting to take Fifty back to the mean cat lady or the aura-less guy, we were on a search for somebody new. The man who owns the camp that Fifty goes to recommended a place not too far from here. He said the vet there takes care of all of his dogs (he breeds Porcelaines, like Ruby) and he takes walk-ins. Perfect, except we showed up during his extra-long lunch hour. We decided to go back a couple of days later and headed home. And that's when fate happened. 

As we were driving, we passed another Vet's office (in France, Vet's have a white and blue cross hanging over their door) and pulled over to take a look. The office was closed but the Vet's name on the door looked familiar. Very familiar. We looked in Fifty's carnet de santé, and there on Fifty's papers from his first examination at the S.P.A., was that very same Vet's name. Fate. We booked an appointment right away.  

When we arrived, the Vet looked at Fifty and introduced herself. Then she looked at his carnet de santé, looked back at him and gasped, "Oui! Nonos!" (Nonos was Fifty's name before we adopted him). She remembered him! 

She told us how Fifty and his two sisters were brought to the S.P.A. in the cardboard box that they had been found inside the trash dumpster in (that breaks my heart), and (get ready... this is a big and), one of his sisters is a patient of hers! I am bursting with excitement about this! Fifty has a sister, and she's OK, and healthy, and has a loving family. And apparently, she's scared of everything just like Fifty, is a big licker like him, and is just about the same size but, she's more Staffordshire-like so she could probably beat-up her brother.

{Are we done yet?}
So in summary; 1) We finally found the right Vet for Fifty (she's super sweet!). 2) Fifty has a sister not too far from here who could probably take him in a wrestling match, and 3) I have a play date to arrange.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

five hundred

{La Petite and Mr. Chat courtesy of Child Bride}
++ 500. This is my five-hundredth post. I wish I had something more exciting to post than my usual random, round-up ramblings but I don't. This is all I got. Je suis désolé.

++ 4:49AM was the time on the clock this morning when I woke up and couldn't, no matter how hard I tried, fall back asleep. Fifty, sensing I was awake, popped over to see me, tail wagging with his bonjour sniffs and kisses. And then that woke up The Husband, and since he couldn't fall back asleep either,  we all got up, before 5 on a Sunday morning. That's plain dumb. I predict a nap in the near future.

++ The morning my mother was leaving, she was due to wake up at 5:15 for her 7:30 TGV to Paris. Fifty woke her up at 3, and without looking to see what time it was, she decided that it must be time to wake up, since Fifty woke her (he usually wakes up and makes the rounds at 5AM). At 3:45 when she got out of the shower and was all dressed, I got up and explained to her that while her granddog is very smart, he doesn't actually know how to tell time.

++ While January is pretty much always the dullest of the dull (apologies to you Capricorns but you know it's true) at least in France we have L E S  S O L D E S to see us through this horribly, depressing time. That and brand new red pants. BOO-YA.

++ Guess what's right around the corner? (Check your calenders kids... you should see February 4th marked as Sara Louise's birthday... and if it's not marked, ask yourself why it's not and rectify that mistake immediately.) My BiRThDaY. I'm thinking Avignon (because I love it) and Châteauneuf-du-Pape (because I love wine) and friends (because I love them). My 29th is going to be fantabulous! (I can hear you snickering. Quit it.)

++ Mrs. London has had a cracking idea... besides the annual Brazil Day that Brother-in-Law and Honey Jr's comité des fêtes throws, we think they should put on an old school Sports Day. Think wheelbarrow (I'd win that), potato sack (I'd win that too) and three-legged races (might win that, depends on who I was attached to), tug-o-war (Shotgun Mr. London and The Husband), egg and spoon (yeah, I'd probably win that one too), and all those other random events they used to make us do when we were kids (bring it!). I'd own that day. (Competitive??? Who? Me?)

++ We're having a fondue party for Sunday lunch at Papa's today. It's not actually a party per se (unless Papa's Wife is celebrating that the end of hunting season is imminent) but Papa will be there, and La Petite, and The Husband and me, and there will be gooey, melted cheese and that's enough reason to celebrate I guess.

++ Silver Linings Playbook. Let's discuss. Have you see it? Loved it. LOVED IT. Love Bradley (Remember that time he spoke French? Still swooning. And judging by the look on the face of the interviewer, I'm pretty sure she's still swooning too). Love J-Law. Love this movie (I found it endearing). If you've seen it, what did you think? And if you haven't, O.M.De Niro! What are you waiting for?

Aaaand that's 500! 

(Not very exciting, was it)

Please stay tuned for 501.


Friday, January 18, 2013

The St. Stephen's Day Terrorist

Looking at this photo, you would think that the St. Stephen's Day Terrorist was the small, white dog who had eaten something that didn't agree with his little belly. But no, as painfully odorous as that was, the St. Stephen's Day Terrorist was actually my mother, who held us hostage with her particular brand of SingStar strategy. 

Let me backtrack.

For those that don't know, St. Stephen's Day (the day after Christmas) is an Irish holiday and since my Irish mother was visiting, we celebrated it. Plus, the 26th is also Boxing Day for the English, and guess who's English... Mr. & Mrs. London are that's who. So the day after Christmas, we went to Toulon to have a nice, family holiday (both Mrs. London's mother and brother were over from London, and with my mother as well, it was like a mini family reunion... in the South of France... I love that!). Sadly for Mr. London, he had to go back to the UK that night for a funeral and would be missing out on all of the family fun time. 

Family fun time like exchanging presents (OK, technically Mr. London was still there for this, but he was like a zombie apocalypse casualty do to a tad too much 'Christmas Spirit' the night before). A bottle of Jack Daniel's Honey whisky from Dan-Dan (Mrs London's brother) and a bottle of Champagne from Mrs. London. They both gave us alcohol.... hmmm... not sure what they're trying to say, but I like it. (I'm saving that Rosé Champagne for my birthday... only seventeen days left to go!

I gave the gift of reading to Mrs. London... one of my absolute favorites; The Bronze Horseman trilogy. (If you haven't already read it, please add it immediately to your goodreads. Go now, I'll be here when you get back.)  

The Husband gave Mr. London a framed photo... it's Mr. London and an ASM Clermont player colliding. I'm not sure who was tackling who, but it's a humdinger. I'd love to show it to you but then Mr. London would get pouty, and his pout rivals The Husband's, so no thank you, but it is quite spectacular actually (both the pouting and the photo).  

Napoleon got Fifty's Christmas elf hat that Fifty had outgrown...

Dan-Dan and The Husband played with a new remote controlled helicopter, until one of them got it stuck on the roof... luckily Dan-Dan has big shoulders...  

We put our pyjamas on at a ridiculously early hour (because the key word in family fun time is 'family' so that means pyjamas are always allowed), popped some Champagne (for about the third or fourth time that day) and played cards. 

It was the L O N G E S T game of Phase 10 in the history of mankind. It was so long, I half expected Mr. London to have returned from the UK (obviously, I'm exaggerating, but it was over two hours and that's a ridiculous amount of time to be playing one card game... blame it on the Champagne I guess). 

And after the world's longest card game, we moved to the living room for the main event... family fun time SingStar. Do you ever wish that you could go back in time and not do something... yeah this is one of those times. None of us have any right to sing ever (with the exception of Mrs. London's mother... she's got the voice of a wee angel). 

It was not pretty (blaming it on the Champagne again) but that didn't stop us from getting competitive. And my mother's competitive streak led her to this strategy... sing louder than everyone else (which basically means shouting), accent the last word of every line, and you'll win (it felt like we were being held hostage... seriously).

But that didn't really work... it only resulted in a loss to The Husband ("But Gregory doesn't even speak English!!! How could he have beaten me???"), and a rendition of The Commodore's classic, 'Brick House', that will remain burned into our memories forever. 

Naturally a performance such as the one we were subjected to, would lead to some teasing. So at breakfast the next morning, we asked each other questions, questions like:

Where does Obama live? He lives in the White HOUSE.
What's your favorite TV show? I like to watch Dr.HOUSE

And guess what? Mrs. London caught the 'Brick House' performance on video. The whole thing! And oh how I would love to show it to you, I really would, but if I did, I would be in the dog HOUSE.

(I'm pretty sure I'm going to be in trouble anyway)


Wednesday, January 16, 2013


{I failed to take a photo of the inch of snow... sorry}
Bonjour mes amis! (or bonsoir, or bonne nuit... whatever suits)

My house is quiet. My mother left yesterday (On her birthday! But it's kind of OK because we had celebrated on Saturday, and then again on Monday). And with the birthday girl gone, Fifty and I aren't too sure what to do with ourselves. (That's not entirely true... we have to pack away the Christmas decorations... they're down, but still not packed, and Fifty's lack of thumbs mean that it will all probably be left up to me... again... boo.)

It snowed yesterday. But not a thick blanket of snow, only about an inch, which is pretty boring. I had high hopes for the snow because on our drive back from the TGV in Aix (where we said goodbye to my mom) the snow was bucketing down, and I was sure that the winter wonderland I've been waiting for had finally arrived. It hadn't. I guess I'll put away the Butler's Hot Chocolate for another day. Boo.

So that's me... popping in to say a quick and clumsy coucou to all.

It feels weird here now without a tree or the stockings or my mom. I guess I'll have to go ahead and join 2013 with the rest of the world. Boo.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Veille du Jour de l'An

{Papa aka Ed Asner, Brother-in-Law in his special 'Gap' sweater, and The Husband, who I swear is not actually a giant}
Disclosure: This post is about my New Year's Eve, and more specifically, my New Year's Eve dinner. Please forgive my food photography, it's horrible, like really bad. However, I did get a new camera for Christmas, and I've vowed to actually read the manual this time, so fingers crossed you'll start seeing much prettier photos here. In the meantime...

Here's the thing about New Year's Eve... I'm not really a fan. It's just so... "Look at me, I'm New Year's Eve! I'm sparkly and shiny and the best time ever!" And honestly, I'm like, "shut the H- E- double hockey sticks up... you're not, and nobody likes you" and then punching it square in the throat.

There, I said it.

But this year something fantastic happened, my New Year's Eve was spectacular.

Not wanting to go out-out, we decided to stay in Le Petit Village and dine at Chez Agathe, our local restaurant, for their special New Year's Eve night. Papa and his wife were going, along with their BFFs, The Germans, Brother-in-Law, Child Bride and of course, La Petite (because why shouldn't she ring in the New Year instead of being tucked up in bed like a normal 21 month old?).

We were short one person though... my mother opted out. She's not a big NYE person either, and usually volunteers to babysit for the night, so this time, she got to babysit Fifty with a bottle of Montrachet and a West Wing marathon (now wouldn't it have made sense for her to watch La Petite along with Fifty? Yeah, I think so too).

We arrived at Chez Agathe's at nine.... Champagne for everybody! (Starting off New Year's Eve with anything else is basically blasphemy. And so what if we had already shared a bottle with my mother. C'est la vie, no?)

Flutes in hand we settled into our table while La Petite played with her favorite toy...

La Petite is clearly her grandfather's granddaughter. Let's just hope she doesn't try and shoot it.

After the Champagne, we had Kir Royals and amuses bouches to nibble on (truffles on toast and boudin with something on top - I don't know what that something was because I'm not a huge fan of boudin).

See that weird breaded thing in the little red pot in the photo above? I know that it doesn't look like much but oh my Michelin stars it was divine! It's an egg, soft boiled to perfection, breaded and lightly fried, atop a sauce of fois gras. There are no words to describe this egg, no words that can properly do it justice. It was the egg to end all eggs. All I can say is, it was sublime. I loved that egg.

So after the Champagne, Kir Royals, toasts topped with truffles, boudin thingys and the egg to end all eggs, dinner began.

Dinner was six courses (bonjour gout, ça va?). The entrée was a choice between Noix de St Jacques juste saisie et sa réduction au Champagne (scallops in a Champagne reduction) or Trilogie de Foie Gras Maison. I had the scallops and The Husband chose the fois gras. (Actually he wanted the scallops too, but I wanted to try both, so he caved and ordered the fois gras. One of the many reasons why I love him.)

And for the second entrée (that's right... the second entrée... and we haven't even gotten to the main course yet) we had Tempura de Gambas dans sa nage façon Bouillabaisse (Tempura battered shrimp swimming in a Bouillabaisse sauce. Another winner).

After amuses bouches and two entrées, we needed a rest and that rest came with a Pause Provençale...

Have you ever heard of Granita... you know, that slushy, Italian dessert? Well this is red wine granita... the greatest palate cleanser there ever was. (I would have licked the inside of that glass dry if I could have. I'm not proud.) 

After our 'rest', it was time for the main event, le plat principal... 

There was the Cochon de lait confit façon aigre-douce et sa pomme golden caramélisée (suckling pig with golden caramelized apples) which is what I had above. And the Civet de Lièvre en longue cuisson, comme le faisait ma grand-mere (Agathe's grandmother's Hare recipe). The Husband had the Hare and I would have taken a photo of it, but I was too busy eating. Apologies.

Because this is France, after our main course, we eat cheese... a lot of cheese...

And because this is The LPV, and we tend to be a bit on the silly side in The LPV, this happened... 

That's me on the left and Papa on the right. Why did we have this headlamp thingy at the table? I have no idea, I don't even know where it came from or who it belonged to. But you can't have a headlight thingy at the table without putting it on, right? Right. And do you see the back of a man to the right in the background of the photo of Papa? Well that's some guy from England. Mrs. German had gone over and introduced herself when she heard them speaking English, then she called me over because of course I had to meet them. Because all English speakers in any non-English speaking country must meet and become friends. Those are the rules.

After the cheese we had café gourmand for dessert. It was another perfect course, but by that point, 2013 had already arrived and I was too busy playing with my new headlamp thingy and talking to English people to bother taking a photo.

And then to bid a proper adieu to 2012, I made everyone go around the table and say what they had loved the most about it, and of course we had to toast to each and everything that everyone said (because I like to make people participate in drinking games that they didn't sign up for).

Bonne Année tout le monde !

(two weeks late...oops)

N'importe quoi.

(that means whatever)


Friday, January 11, 2013

let them eat cake

King's Cake that is (or La galette des Rois as it's known en français).

La galette des Rois (which I had last year and the year before that, and the year before that, but I don't think I blogged about it, but honestly I don't remember, so if any of you remember me writing a post about King's Cake back in '11, or '10, please do let me know) is quite the tradition around these parts and by these parts, I mean France.

We eat the cake to celebrate the Epiphany, but really, they sell it throughout all of January, and not wanting to waste anytime, Papa's Wife's 90 year old mother, Louisette, bought one for us to eat on New Year's Day (totally understandable because if I was 90, I probably wouldn't want to waste anytime either).

We went to Papa's for lunch (we being my mother, The Husband and me) and were supposed to be joined by Brother-in-Law, Child Bride and The Germans as well, but none of them showed. I'm guessing they were far too pooped from that spectacular cocktail party in the original Le Petit Village on New Years Eve. Oh well, more cake for the rest of us.  (OK, so I know that I've jumped straight from Christmas to January 1st without one iota of gossip from St. Stephen's Day or a New Year's Eve rundown, but I promise, I'll get to them)

Now the way King's Cake goes is, the youngest person there is supposed to get under the table (so they can't see anything) and say who gets what piece of cake, but since La Petite had went down for her nap, that left The Husband as the youngest and he's way too big to crawl under the table, so we skipped that tradition. Which is kind of funny, because look who found la fève in his piece of cake and got to be king for the day...

So yeah, that's La galette des Rois. It's, traditional, tasty and comes with a little bean inside of it that if if it happens to be inside your piece, means you get crowned King for the day (or Queen if the gender fits). And besides la fève (the bean), there might be another treat in the cake like this tiny cow... 

And there you have it, King's Cake.

(I clearly don't have a clue how to end this post, 
please forgive me).

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