Monday, September 30, 2013

First Fall Friday

This is the story of how we spent the first Friday of fall.

Gregory had the day off work which is always nice but having the day off on a Friday is super nice. We didn't do anything particularly fall like, there was no sipping of pumpkin lattes while going on a hay ride to an apple orchard to pick bushels before stuffing our faces with sugared donuts and apple cider because this is France, and that doesn't happen here (although the most amazing montage of Gregory, Fifty and I frolicking through crisp fall leaves while a golden sunset glowed behind us just played in my head and it was lovely).

We did however go for an extra long walk. It's still warm out, but not so hot that an extra long walk feels torturous. Right now the weather is just right (just right for fall anyway, if it was still summer it would be pure poppycock) and except for the occasional gun shot heard in the distance (hunting season), it was almost perfect.

Although I did find myself giving the stink eye to abandoned old barns and houses along the way because the beginning of fall marks the return of the Nazi Ghost Zombies. They seem to disappear during the summer (I don't think they like tourists very much) but always return when the temperature dips and the days grow shorter. Fifty and I decided to pick up our pace as we walked home while Gregory lollygagged behind us (he still isn't a Nazi Ghost Zombie believer... Fifty and I know better).

Gregory decided to make a chocolate flan. He fancies himself a dessert maker and while the gesture is sweet and always appreciated the mess that is left behind is not. This time it was burnt milk all over the glass top stove. Oh Gregory.

I popped open a bottle of Cabernet, one of my 'fall' wines (and winter too) and busied myself in the kitchen making a Southwest Skillet Ragu because a southwest skillet ragu seemed like the type of thing one should eat on a first fall Friday. Of course they don't sell cheddar in my local épicerie, so I looked for Cantal, a decent French substitute but this being Provence and not Auvergne meant that, that too was a no go so I decided that Parmesan would just have to do and it did.

Busying myself in the kitchen preparing a meal is one of my happy places. I'm always quite content chopping and sauteing and the first fall Friday was no different, no different that is until the grossest of the grossest thing happened... I picked up my garlic, which to be honest didn't look as fresh as it should but since l'épicerie was due to close any second, decided to use it anyway. I sliced into a bulb, cutting off a bit on the side that looked a little blech and a teeny tiny worm crawled out of it. A TEENY TINY WORM! It slithered across my cutting board while I screamed bloody murder until Gregory came and dispatched of it and any sign of that not-so-fresh garlic (NOTE TO SELF: only the freshest of the fresh garlic bulbs in this house from now on). Then I popped over to my lovely neighbor and borrowed a bulb from her (nice neighbors are one of life's greatest gifts I think). 

Since I had been left traumatized by that teeny tiny worm, it was only fair that I got to pick out the movie for first fall Friday movie night (despite Fifty insisting on this one) and that's how we ended up watching You've Got Mail, which let's be honest, is pretty much the epitome of fall movie choices. After a couple of hours of Kathleen Kelly, Joe Fox, and bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils, I was no longer crying over spilled milk or grossed out by teeny tiny worms. The end. 

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

capture the colour

Travel Supermarket hosts a photo blogging competition called, Capture the Colour, and this year Expat Tales has ever so kindly asked me to take part. Now as any Le Petit Village reader knows, photography is not my strong suit, but I thought I'd have a look through the old album and see what I could come up with to represent the required colours; red, blue, green, yellow, and white.

Red: RC Toulon fans cheering on their team at this year's Top 14 rugby championship match held at Stade de France in Paris. Unfortunately all of that cheering didn't help them to win and Toulon lost to Castres. Oh well, Toulon may not be champions of France but they are champions of Europe and that's way cooler in my book anyway.

Blue: The tranquil port de Carqueiranne where Mrs. London and I like to escape to for some quiet time (i.e., lots of sushi and lots of rosé).

Green: L'escargot in my back garden in Le Petit Village, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France. I think he (I've decided that little guy is a he) makes the green leaves around him pop quite nicely, don't you?

Yellow: Look at all of those fragrant spices for sale at the market. They sell spices at most of the Provencal markets I've come across, but this display is the nicest I've seen.

White: White buds bursting out of their blooms outside of my village. I have no idea what type of blooms they are but I walk across this tree everyday when Fifty takes me for my walk. Does anyone know what type they are?
. . . . . . . . . . 

As part of the competition, I get to nominate five bloggers to participate share their photos based on the rules of the Capture the Colour Competition who will then nominate five other bloggers to do the same. Don't forget to tweet #CTC13 to @travelsupermkt with your blog's URL to complete your entry.

In alphabetical order because that's my favorite kind, my nominations are; Adventures of an Artist, Wife, and MomDanielle AbroadLazy BoleynNew Life in Spain, and The Well Traveled Wife

The deadline for entry is 9th October. Bonne chance!

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

expat escapades {round 7}

Since I started blogging six hundred posts ago (I'm clearly still in awe of that figure), I've discovered a world of talent. There are so many creative and talented bloggers out there; talented photographers, graphic designers, and wordsmiths, that it's no wonder some of them may consider publishing their own book in the future. My friend Marissa has with a cookbook, and now Marissa is sharing what she learned about the process in her post, how to write and sell your own e-book. I can think of a few bloggers who should click on that link immediately...

... coucou Ella Coquine! Ella attended Vogue's Fashion Night Out in Paris and lived to tell the tale. It was like a scene straight out of The Devil Wears Prada... champagne, fabulousness, and bitchiness galore. Oh la la!

Because I've started with France, I'm gonna stay there but I'm moving on to something that pretty much has to be the polar opposite of Fashion Week... a Troll Run. Yeah, I'm not really sure what it is either, but Amber did it while wearing a Mexican wrestling costume and it looks like a crazy fun time. So crazy in fact, I'm surprised The LPV doesn't have a Troll Run. 

Moving on to something a bit more high brow, Heather went to the cloister of Saint Trophime Cathedral for an exhibit about Saint Césaire, a saint from Arles. It was a special event for Heather because some of her companion, Remi's photographic works were included in the exhibit. Oh, and the Queen of Arles was there too. No biggie.  

From the Queen of Arles to King Harold II... The Fly Away American took us on a tour of the grounds of the Battle of Hastings and Battle Abbey. If you're an English history nerd like me, than this post is for you. 

If you haven't gotten your fill of history yet, then you should read Sarah's post about her visit to the Anne Frank House and if it's current events you're after, then Jay's post about the stark contrasts between elections she has witnessed since her expatriation is for you.   
That got heavy for a second. 

You know the story of how Gregory and I met right? OK, well in case you are new here and you don't, then read this, this, and this. So anyway, you know that the whole thing was cosmic kismet, the stars had to align in all sorts of crazy ways to get this American girl, and that French boy to that nightclub in Dublin so we could move to Le Petit Village and adopt a puppy that had been thrown in a trash dumpster (it's really all about Fifty). Well when I read Belinda's story about how she was on a business trip to NYC when she met her Welsh husband I couldn't help but nod along. Cosmic kismet, that's what that is. 
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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

six hundred

It wasn't that long ago that I was hitting publish on my five hundredth post (247 days to be exact) and I can hardly believe how quickly that time and a hundred posts have passed by. And I definitely cannot believe that there are six hundred posts here, that's a whole lot of my rambling nonsense!

I started this blog six days after moving to Le Petit Village. The day after tomorrow marks my fourth anniversary of living in France and next week it's Sara in Le Petit Village's fourth as well.

A whole lot of life has happened in these past four years and six hundred posts; we adopted Fifty, got married, moved house, my father passed away, La Petite was born, we moved house again, and so much more. Through it all, you guys have been right here with me, supporting me with your comments and friendship and it has meant more to me than I could possible say. Adjusting to a new life in a small village in France has not always been easy, but you have all made it much less lonely.

I'd love to praise you my dear readers and friends with an eloquent soliloquy of my love, admiration and devotion to you, but I would end up flubbing it and sounding idiotic so please believe me when I say from the bottom of my heart, je vous aime.

There are big plans and changes in store for this space and my life here in The LPV, so please stick around because I'm looking forward to sharing it all with you.

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Top 10: My Favorite French Cities

[This list is made up of my favorite cities in France, it's purely based on my opinion of places I've been to. That means that places I haven't been to like Bordeaux, Brittany, and Toulouse, aren't in the running. 
These cities are the first places that pop in my mind to show off when I have friends visiting so if you ever find yourself coming to see me, there is more than a little chance that you would get to see some of these places as well.]
The first time I laid my eyes on Aix, it was love at first sight. Sure it's beautiful, but lots of other cities are beautiful (especially in Provence), and clean, and has lots of gorgeous shops and charming sidewalk cafes, but there is something else, something that I cannot put my finger on, a certain, je ne sais quoi, if you will. Whatever it is, I love it. It is a city I will return to again and again and whether I'm strolling the elegant Cours Mirabeau, winding through the back streets counting all of the fountains I come across, or sipping Rosé in a shaded spot, there is a 100% chance I'm enjoying myself purely because I'm in Aix. 
There is a certain sultriness to Arles, something about it that feels slightly more Spanish, than French. Maybe it's the heat, or maybe it's the bullfights, either way, Arles makes me feel like grabbing castenets and stomping my feet. I'd stomp my way all across the city along Van Gogh's path until I stomped myself right out. 
The only city in France that I've been to as much as Aix, is Avignon. Whereas Aix holds my heart, Avignon holds my soul, it grabbed me the first time I drove through the gate of the storied wall and sucked me in. The city palpitates with it's history beating with every step I take. Next weekend I'm going to a 3D light show inside Le Palais des Papes that tells the history of the city and I'm practically piddling in anticipation. 
Ahhhh.... Cassis, my future Euromillions home. The sun, the sea, the views, the wine, the seafood... it's pure summer relaxation. In fact, I cannot let a summer (or late spring or early fall) pass without at least one trip to it's alluring shores. And bonus, one of my absolute favorite restaurants is there.
As a wine lover like me, moving to France was like hitting pay dirt, and living only an hour and a half away from Châteauneuf-du-Pape was like flat out striking gold. I get to walk around this gorgeous place, stopping for a 'rest' in a quaint shop and given bits of delicious saucisson sec to nibble on and wine to try for FREE?! If I was ever going to be a hobo, I would be a Châteauneuf-du-Pape hobo. 
While being completely authentic, there is something faux about Les Baux. It's so pristine, so perfect, that it's almost too perfect. It's as if it's; Provence, brought to you by the Walt Disney Corporaton. That said, I still love it. It's impossible not to. With the exception of the brightly colored shop fronts, it is a village frozen in time, and walking along it's rocky, windy paths, it is easy to feel as if you've stepped back nine hundred years or so minus the plagues and the ickiness of course.  
Lyon to me, is all about food. Of course there is massive amounts of history to learn about while visiting as well (this is France of course, you can't escape the history, we're practically drowning in the stuff), but for me, it's purely about the food. When I go there I basically just stuff my face and drink wine so that probably explains why I love it so much. 
Marseille gets a bad rap. Even when my mother met Gregory for the first time she asked him if he was a criminal (he was born in Marseille) and I think she was only half joking. But crime aside, it's a dynamic place. I can't think of that many spots that tops the beauty of the view from Notre-Dame de la Garde, and the Basilica itself is spectacular. It has the Mediterranean, Bouillabaisse, The Count of Monte Cristo, and Julia Child lived here for a spell. Pretty good pedigree I'd say. And oh yeah, the French Connection, it's got that too. 
There is something cool about Saint-Rémy, something posh, but not in an intimidating way, in a subtle serene kind of way. If Saint-Rémy had a soundtrack, it would be jazz and I like jazz.
There are a couple things to note about this one; 1) Monaco isn't a city, it's a country, so I should be saying Monte Carlo but I have a habit of always saying Monaco even if I mean Monte Carlo and old habits are hard to break so Monaco/ Monte Carlo, n'importe quoi, and 2) Monaco isn't in France, since it's it's own Principality but as it's so darn close, and everyone there speaks French, I include. Got it? Good. All I have to say about Monaco is this because it's the one reason I go back time and again; sitting outside the casino in Monte Carlo, people watching over a glass of Rosé is my happy place. And that's that.  

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Behind the Photos VI

I've been married for over three years now (three years, six months and three days to be exact). Sometimes it feels like more, sometimes it feels like less. It's weird. But that's married life for you. Today one of my dearest friends is getting married in Dublin and I was unable to go. It sucks. But that's expat life for you.

So in honor of my dear friend JR, and my three year, six month and three day wedding anniversary, I give you Behind the Photos: The Wedding Edition. (By 'wedding edition' I obviously mean my wedding. And there are also random photos of the trip back to the States that it entailed which happened to be Gregory's first time there).

This is my step-mother's mini-van that she let us borrow while we were visiting. Gregory had never driven a mini-van before (actually I don't think he had even ever been in one) and he fell in love with it. He christened it the 'Disco Van' and zoomed about between western Massachusetts (where my Dad lived) and New York (where my friends are) blaring Motown and embracing his inner soccer mom. To this day he still wants a mini-van.

Here's Gregory zipping about in the Disco Van enjoying his first ever Dunkin' Donuts. He opted for the iced coffee. Solid choice Gregory, solid choice. What I like about this photo though is that while he's posing for a photo, he's keeping his eyes on the road. Safety first. 

These pictures crack me up! It's my sister giving acupuncture to a very freaked out Gregory. His face is priceless. He really liked it in the end though. (If you are interested in Acupuncture and live in the Western Massachusetts area, check out Steady Hands Acupuncture and tell them Sara sent you! #shamelessplug)

The church where we got married. I've never told you this but our wedding was a rushy-rush affair. Moving to France was the commitment for me, marriage wasn't that important, but it was to my Dad. He started asking when Gregory and I were going to get married and it got me thinking... back when I was eighteen, my father was in a coma that he wasn't supposed to wake up from. When he was 'sleeping' I told him that he needed to wake up so he could perform my wedding ceremony one day (he was a Reverend). Since he woke up for me, I thought it was only fair that I followed through on what I said.

So I started thinking about a wedding the following Fall, maybe October. An Autumn wedding in the Berkshires would be beautiful! I called my step-mother and asked her what she thought, and when she said that she didn't know if my dad would still be there in the Fall, Gregory and I got our skates on and planned our little Massachusetts wedding in barely a month.

I didn't care where we got married, as long as my dad did the ceremony that was fine by me. It could have been in his livingroom, under a tree in his back yard, even in a diner, I really didn't care. But then he called me and told me he reserved a place in a church, the very same church my great-grandparents were married in. So it was in that church where my frail father performed my wedding ceremony in the very same spot my great-grandparents had been married in over a hundred years before (please excuse me while I grab some tissues).

Here's me looking sassy in my wedding tunic and my grandmother's old mink cape. It was my 'something old'. (My something new was the dress, the borrowed, a ring, and I'm not going to tell you what the blue was.)

And that there on the right is my maid of honor, and on the left, Gregory's Best Man Girl.

Now since I've shown you that last photo I have to show you this one... Gregory with his Best Man Girl and the present she got for doing the job. She had spotted this plastic flamingo and said she wanted it and so Gregory said OK and got it for her. The flamingo's name is Otis and Otis currently resides in Seattle. 

My red velvet wedding cake that was sinfully delicious. We left the restaurant with the top tier of the cake with plans to eat it on our first wedding anniversary, but once we realized that it would be impossible to get it safely back to France, we scarfed it down like wee little vultures.

There's my father and Gregory after the wedding at a bistro named Firefly where we went for pre-dinner drinks. For some reason I like to see my dad in black and white now. It's like I'm freezing him in time like an old movie reel. A year after this photo was taken we returned to Firefly for dinner following my father's funeral. It was nice to be able to go back to the last spot where we had all been happy together (excuse me while I grab another tissue).

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

l'incident de champignons

It's that time of the year again; the air blows crisp, leaves begin to rustle, and weekend activities change from barbecues and beaches to apple picking and pumpkin latte sipping. Here in Provence, Autumn means hunting boar and foraging for mushrooms.

In the (almost... eek!) four years that I have lived here, I still have yet to go mushroom foraging and I'm pretty sure the following story is the reason why. Heck... pretty sure, I'm damn sure. Wild mushrooms have left me traumatized; so much so that I now re-post this horrifying tale every Autumn as a warning to myself and others.

[Originally titled The Mushroom Incident and posted October 22, 2009] 

Let me start by saying that this should have been a much happier post; a post about delectable wild mushrooms and the beautiful gourmet meal I would cook using them. But I'm not that girl and that's not me.

And I will also say that this incident, that will henceforth be known as 'The Mushroom Incident', occurred over a week ago but I have had to let a little time pass before being able to write about it. Oh, and one last thing, please forgive me for any rambling that may follow, I'm still a little bit traumatized...

It all started on a Sunday evening. We went to Papa's house for a chat and drink (Rosé for me, Pastis for The Boyfriend). Papa had been very busy that day and he was quite chuffed with himself. Not only had he gone hunting and killed a wild boar (not with his bare hands - he's not Super Papa) he had also done some mushroom foraging and had a large bucket of the biggest mushrooms I had ever seen. These things were like Alice In Wonderland mushrooms, you could picture little frogs relaxing underneath with a good book and a little martini.

Seeing my excitement, Papa grabbed a bag and started stuffing mushrooms into it, all the while speaking rapidly in French giving me instructions for proper preparation and cooking with the Boyfriend translating over him. I nodded that I understood, smiled and said, "merci".
We headed home with the plan of having them for dinner the next night. The Boyfriend told me to leave them out, so I found a large bowl and left them on the counter. (Now this was my mistake, I should have covered them, they're mushrooms not fruit.)

The next morning I was excited, trolling the internet and reading my cookbooks looking for the perfect accompaniments for Papa's wild mushrooms. Then the Boyfriend called. He said that he was still thinking about the merguez sausage and couscous I had cooked the night before and if there was any leftover, that's what he would like for dinner. He assured me that the mushrooms would be fine to cook the next night, Tuesday.

Now if you have read my older post, 'Pizza Night', then you will know that Tuesday nights are Pizza Night in Le Petit Village and that very next Tuesday, my mushroom Tuesday turned out to be the night I learned about Pizza Tuesdays, so without expanding anymore, you know that I did not cook the mushrooms for dinner. However, a phone call to The Boyfriend's Grandmere did take place where she advised The Boyfriend to partially cook the mushrooms that evening, refrigerate them, and then finish cooking them on the Wednesday.

Fine, I'd enjoy my pizza and partially cook the mushrooms.

Then my Boyfriend's kindness intervened. "You're tired, don't cook them. Just put them in the refrigerator and cook them early tomorrow, they'll be ok."
Happily and tiredly I agreed. The bowl of mushrooms went into the fridge and up the spiral stairs to bed we went. (I should have listened to Grandmere.)

The next day after my coffee it was time to do some mushroom cooking. And that's when it happened...

Opening the fridge I was greeted by the most disgusting sight someone could see. Not just any someone, but someone who had spent the last two weeks cleaning cleaning cleaning her (previous Boyfriend bachelor pad) home to make it feel comfortable enough for a girl to live in. That comfort that I had only just begun to feel was now stripped off of me like a warm duvet on a cold, rainy Monday morning...

Little maggots! Yes. Little recently hatched maggots were slithering up the back of my refrigerator. Freaking out, I slammed the door and phoned The Boyfriend at work. "Maggots!" I screamed. "What?" he asked. Terrible time for language difficulties. I grabbed my translation dictionary, trying again, "asticot!" The response I got was typical of a man who is not really paying attention and also not there to have to deal with it. "Oh".

Oh, ok, my problem I guess then.

I hung up the phone took some deep breaths and went to work. Grabbing black plastic sacks I emptied every bit of the fridge; two dozen eggs, sandwich meats, fruit, vegetables, chorizo, my cheese box, butter... everything! And of course the mushrooms. The mushrooms that I had once loved but had now turned against me. Damn Judas mushrooms. The black sacs went out to the bins. It was now extermination time. I got a spray bottle of disinfectant and let my inner Terminator possess me. I sprayed until the inside of the fridge was coated with pink chemicals but there was no way I was cleaning up their little carcasses. The Boyfriend could do that when he got home.

Payback for the unsympathetic, "oh".

I closed the door, washed my hands, took a shower, and went to bed with a book until The Boyfriend got home. Oh, and I also did what every other 'woman' my age does. I called my mother and cried.

To finish up my re-telling of 'The Mushroom Incident' this is what occurred when the Boyfriend got home; 1) Upon opening the fridge he asked, "where is all the food?". Seriously??!! 2) He then put a glass of wine in my hand and ordered me to the couch (smart boy). 3) He disposed of the little carcasses and washed the fridge with bleach and boiling water as instructed by the internet. 4) We went to Papa's and ate some of that wild boar. It was delicious.

So that's it. It's been eight days since and honestly, every time I open my fridge I squint at the back wall. All ok so far. And on the bright side, now I have a super duper clean fridge

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Monday, September 16, 2013

expat escapades {round 6}

Another ten days, another round of Expat Escapades. (I seem to be averaging about ten days between these posts; not too shabby I must say. Not too frequent, not too infrequent, it's just right. Oh, and if you'd like to see what went down in previous editions of Expat Escapades, click here.
. . . . . . . . . .

Do you know Betsy of Betsy Transatlantically, Betsy? Just in case you don't, I'll give you a bit of back story... Betsy lives in Washington DC, but before that, she lived across the pond in London for a year, and she also studied in France for eight months (you might remember her from this guest post). Anyway, Betsy wrote a post called, What "Expat" Means To Me, and I wanted to share it with you because it shows that not every expat is a wanderlust seeking travel junkie, like for instance, me. Don't get me wrong, I like traveling, but in small doses. I like mini-breaks in cities, where I can spend two or three days exploring the local culture, sampling the region's food and then paying over my budget for a luxury hotel because that's how I roll. You will never see me backpacking, hiking, staying in a hostel, trekking across a desert or doing anything else that takes me out of my comfort zone. It's not me. That's one of the reasons I love reading other expat blogs, because I get to live vicariously through their explorations from the comfort of my own living room (I'm a bit of a fuddy duddy). 

Like here's something that I think is really cool, but there's only like a 30% chance I'd ever do it; snorkeling in Borneo. But luckily for me, Amanda did it and took some amazing underwater shots so I don't have to. Thank you Amanda. 

And festivals... I've never been into that whole scene. Where other people see a spectacular event of music and fun, I see crowds, and mud (is it just me, or does it seem like it always rains at festivals) and camping (SARA LOUISE DOESN'T CAMP) but I so wish I could be one of those cool girls who goes to festivals, looks bohemian beautiful throughout the whole event, and has the best time ever. But that would never, ever happen because I have never, ever been that cool. But Jess is that cool, and she rocked an entire weekend at Creamfields looking picture perfect #jealous. 

You know who wouldn't let a little mud ruin his fun? Selena's husband. My friend Selena let her husband take over her blog for a day and he blogged about exploring over 100 countries! Can you imagine? This guy has been practically everywhere and he's not finished yet. 

But you know where I would go? Athens, I'd go to Athens and have a wander about like Jenna did. And I'd like to go back to Germany. I've been to Berlin once but I'd love to see other parts of the country like the cute gingerbread-esque buildings of Idstein like Casey. Idsein is so quaint that it seriously looks like Hansel & Gretal would hang out there. 

One thing I always make sure to do on my mini-breaks is to check out at least one museum. So if I found myself in Stockholm (which I'm sure I will one day because Stockholm is on Gregory's bucket list), I'd check out the Vasa Museum. Jay visited the museum that houses a warship that is almost four hundred years old and that had been sunk and resting underwater for three hundred years. It's incredible and Jay took some spectacular snaps of it. Jay's post got the history nerd in me all fired up, just like Amanda's did. 

Amanda visited Mary Arden's Farm in Stratford-upon-Avon. Mary Arden was Shakespeare mother and her working Tudor farm still stands complete with plucking chickens, falconry, and furry pigs. (The furry pigs alone would be enough to get me there... they're furry for heavens sake!

One of the biggest obstacles that expats encounter is getting used to the cultural differences between our old and new homes. Both Ella Coquine and Oui in France wrote thought provoking posts about the different ways in which Americans and the French communicate with strangers. (SPOILER ALERT: the French are a bit more reserved)

. . . . . . . . . .

Since I began this series, the comment I have received most often has been that people have enjoyed being introduced to other bloggers that they didn't know about before, so that said, I have to mention Rachel's post. Rachel (an American living in Spain) and Nicole (an American in South Africa) have created a new link up, Friends Around the World, which kicks off tomorrow for the first time. So if meeting around the world bloggers is your thing, pop on by Brachel Boulevard or Treasure Tromp tomorrow and link up!

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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Sunflowers of Provence

// If you have a child in France, have been a child in France, or know a French child, then you know Sophie the Giraffe. All French kids know Sophie, she's basically an extra cute chew toy for babies (even La Petite had one). Well a couple of weeks ago I had a dream that Sophie was real. It was one of those dreams that you want to go on and on but the downside is, now I really want a pet giraffe.

// Gregory went to the grocery store on his own. Before he left, I had given him a small list and had gone over every item with him so there wouldn't be any confusion (do you remember the celery incident?) and yet he still managed to phone me with questions six times. The last time he phoned he said, "Baby, don't be mad. I bought horse meat." There is currently horse meat in my freezer (that if he wants to eat he will be cooking himself because I'm not serving up My Little Pony). And no, it most definitely was not on the list.

// We're on the cusp of Autumn here in The LPV. It's still warm but there is definitely a crispness to the air that has been blowing through my windows and I can't say that I hate it. Hunting season has commenced, Halloween costumes have been discussed and I've made the switch from Rosé to Red (my true end of summer indicator).

// Remember how I told you a couple of months ago that we were watching every episode of The Sopranos from the beginning in honor of the late great James Gandolfini? We finished this past week. Finishing boxsets always makes me a tad sad, so it was nice to tune into the new season of Sons of Anarchy the next day and see Adriana alive and well in the town of Charming. Of course in Charming she's not Adriana, she's Wendy, but it doesn't matter, she's still dynamite. (Drea de Matteo is pretty much my favorite actress ever) and then the next night, we watched an episode of The Mindy Project and she was on that too! I think she might be stalking me.

// Now I can't mention Sons of Anarchy without mentioning the Fifty Shades of Grey casting and the fact that Jax Teller is going to be playing Christian Gray. My freak out level was so off the chart with this one it was embarrassing. Minutes after reading the news, I posted this on my Facebook page; "OMG OMG OMG... It's like all of my birthdays and Christmases have been rolled up, covered in Valentines Day chocolate, stuck in a firecracker, shot off on the 4th of July and filmed so I can watch it again on Thanksgiving!" Told you I dorked out.

// We're enjoying some quiet time at home this weekend (next weekend we're in Toulon and the one after that Avignon). Last night I made Spaghetti all'Amatriciana and we vegged out and watched Ab Fab and we don't have anything else to do all weekend but relax and meet up with Honey Jr and Honey's Honey for a drink. Oh, and I'm making this for Sunday lunch tomorrow. Nice and lazy, just how I like it. So what about you mes amies... relaxing one at home or are you out and about?

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

where are you from?

This post has been sitting in my drafts for ages waiting to be completed, and in the meantime, Jenni from Story of My Life Blog has asked this question as part of Blogtember; 'describe where you are from, the people, places and factors that make up where you're from', so since loads of these posts  have been floating about, I thought I'd incorporate a bit of Jenni's question into my post.
. . . . . . . . . .

{Nana's grandfather on the left with his friend Potter}
Facebook has been prompting me with a question to fill out my profile more, "where are you from?". I honestly don't know how to answer that. If I'm asked, "where do you live" fine, that one is easy, or, "where were you born", not a problem, but "where are you from?" hmmm...

I was born in NYC and after my parents decided that they wanted their kids to have a back yard to run about in, we moved up to Duchess County (not quite upstate but 'up'... New Yorkers will know what I'm talking about). We moved just outside of a place called Poughkeepsie. (If it sounds familiar it's because Poughkeepsie is often made fun of in pop culture, usually with jokes on Friends, Sex and the City, and the like... remember that time Charlotte 'poughkeepsied' in her pants?). And that's where I lived for most of my childhood, in a greyish-blue raised ranch at the end of Miller Drive.

{Pop-Pop & Nana}
I went to private school; first an Episcopal one and then onto Catholic school (Dad was an Episcopal Reverend and Mom is Irish Catholic, so I guess they took turns) before entering public school in the sixth grade (I hated it). I swam on the swim team, played a little softball and read encyclopedias for fun because I'm a bit of a nerd. It was pretty standard I guess.

But before that, before that, there was my Irish mother, Eileen, who hails from Dublin, and my dearly departed dad, Tom, from Massachusetts. My dad's dad, Pop-Pop, was a light skinned African-American with auburn-hued hair and blue eyes, and my Nana was mostly Massasoit, a Native American tribe with deep roots in the Northeast. So I'm a jimblejamble mishmash of cultures, tri-racial as I like to refer to myself but my Nana always said I was Succotash.

{my parents on their wedding day}
When I was twelve, I left New York and moved to Texas with my mother. And then when I was thirteen I moved back to New York to live with my dad but by fourteen I was back in Texas. This went on for a few years...

Fifteen it was back to New York, seventeen back to Texas, and at eighteen I was back in New York for a spell (do you have whiplash yet... I do), and then when I was nineteen I moved back to Texas until Dublin beckoned in my mid-20s.

{with my Nana and my Mickey Mouse sweater vest sporting brother}
The thing is, if I was in New York and you asked me where I was from I might say Texas (I always get asked in New York because of my habit of peppering my speech with y'all) and if I was in Texas and you asked, I'd definitely say New York, but now I don't have a clue.

When I'd hop in a taxi cab in Dublin and the inquisitive driver would ask me where I was from after hearing my accent, I would answer either New York or Texas depending upon my mood. (Except during the GW Bush years, then it was never, ever Texas due to the long diatribe I'd get in response, and sometimes I'd even say, Canada, and then act like I was busy on my cellphone or something because I really didn't want the headache. Those were rough days for Americans abroad let me tell you).

{looking sassy in blue with my cousin Malinda}
Now, I usually just answer America but Gregory always tells people I'm Irish as in I'm from Ireland and that drives me batty. But then again, since Ireland is the last place I lived before moving to France, I did come from there so he's not entirely wrong.

It's all a little confusing but I think from now on when asked I'll say, "Top o' the mornin' to ya! You talkin' to me? Me, I'm from the land of Succotash."

Y'all come back now, ya hear!

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P.S. So let me ask you... where are you from? Feel free to give me the unabridged version. 
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