Monday, April 29, 2013

weekend


Did you know that the French word for weekend is week-end? Yep... week-end. I guess throwing that dash in there makes it a bit more French like. Who knows. Either way, I had a très bon week-end. It started off the way all weekends should start... deliciously.

(Whenever I think about the word weekend, I think of the Dowager Countess asking, "Wha- what is a weekend?" It cracks me up every time! Downton Abbey fans, you know what I'm talking about.) 

Friday night, my friend Martine (if you like Irish ladies, horses and food, then you'll love Martine and her blog) invited The Husband and I to the grand opening of an artisan ice cream shop a couple of villages over. And since saying no to free ice cream goes against the basic principles of humanity, we went.


It was packed... but I mean, c'mon... free ice cream, of course it was. Plus they had a band playing outside. I'm not sure if the music was Irish, Scottish, or Bretagne, or what it had to do with ice cream, but it was festive.

On Saturday The Husband and I hunkered down for the day and prepared ourselves for the second chapter in our Road To Dublin... the ASM Clermont vs. Munster match. It was stressful. The Husband watched while sitting in a ball on the floor (very similar to the fetal position) while I paced like a mad woman. Clermont won, we breathed a huge sigh of relief and went to sleep an hour later. Sure it was only 9PM on a Saturday night, but that shiz was exhausting.

One down and only one to go, on Sunday we went to Gatz's house for lunch and to watch Toulon play the Saracens.

{best seats in the house}

Honey's Honey came too sans Honey Jr... it's the beginning of bee season and Honey Jr is as busy as a... wait for it... BEE! (I'm cracking myself up over here). Fifty came too. And while the roast beef Gatz cooked held his attention, the match definitely did not.

He couldn't have been any less interested. After he got bored from being a nosy neighbor, he went to sleep and nothing could wake him, not even our cheering after Toulon won. That's right, they won. So it's ASM Clermont vs. RCT Toulon for the champions of Europe crown in Dublin in three weeks time. Brace yourselves Dublin... it's gonna be one crazy, French weekend. Or should I say, week-end.

Bisou!


Friday, April 26, 2013

The Road To Dublin


The road to Dublin began with this pair of Nikes. Or rather, Mr. London's road to Dublin began with these Nikes, The Husband's and mine began with an Aer Lingus sale.

Let me back up... in three weeks time, The Husband, Mrs. London, Gatz (of course) and I are descending upon Dublin. We're there to catch up with family (I love how Gatz has wiggled his way in on this one) and to watch rugby. But we won't just be watching any rugby... we'll be watching the cream of the crop, the pièce de résistance... the Heineken Cup Final.

Two weeks ago, the quarter-finals took place... The Husband's favorite boys, ASM Clermont took on Montpellier (Clermont won) and the next day, Mr. London (in those Nikes) and the rest of RCT Toulon battled against Leicester. We watched it all from Toulon but first we had some family fun time...

Mommy London was in town. (That's Mrs. London's mother. She was married to my first cousin... so Mrs. London is my first cousin once removed... got it? Good.) So yeah, Mommy London was visiting and when we arrived at Chez London the BBQ was in full swing (full swing means two bottles of Rosé down).


It was the perfect family weekend (perfect in my book anyway), barbecue featuring Mr. London's finger-lickin-chicken, lots of chill time, shopping (we left the boys home for this one), picking out macarons at the pâtisserie, discovering the most delicious Chinese restaurant right around the corner, watching television (SkyTV I love you in all of your English glory), and finally hitting up the port for a pre-match lunch...


The port was PACKED. Leicester supporters sure do like to travel. But then again traveling to Toulon isn't the worst destination for a match... look at that bright blue sky! (I heart the South of France)



It was a nail biter... seriously, a down to the wire, heart thumping, nerve racking nail biter, but thanks in part to Jonny's golden foot... Toulon eeked out Leicester 21-15.


{celebrate}
Here's hoping that after this weekend's face-off against the Saracens, Mr. London will be one step closer to meeting us in Dublin.

(and ASM Clermont too!)

Bisou!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

he's all grown up now


It's funny how quickly things can change. Last year when Gatz turned thirty, not only was I was left in charge of organizing his birthday night out, but I ended up having to throw together a last minute birthday dinner party for him as well. But this year, my oh my how times have changed... Gatz is all grown up and doesn't need me anymore.

Gatz was hosting his birthday celebration on his own and invited us (us being The Husband, Honey Jr, Honey's Honey, a couple others, and me) to his place for drinks and nibbles. Honestly, I was skeptical and was picturing frozen pizzas cut up into small slices and bowls of potato chips. But instead of that bachelor pad nightmare, we arrived to a set and very grown-up table (proving that last year's Raclette soirée was not a fluke).

Not only was the table set, but it was topped with grown-up vegetable and charcuterie plates...



 Which he served with grown-up bottles of wine...


And he had even baked a tarte aux épinards et chèvre (spinach and goat's cheese tart) which I failed to take a photo of because 1. I was too busy with that grown-up wine and 2. I was too busy being shocked. But I was shocked in the most delightful and proud way.

Joyeux anniversaire Gatz!

Bisou!



P.S. In the interest of full disclosure, I'm going to throw this out there... it has crossed my mind that Gatz could be improving his culinary and hosting skills in an effort to woo The Husband away from Mr. London (I wouldn't put it past him)... or worse yet... maybe even from me! I'll keep you posted. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Tisket, A Tasket


++ Last Saturday afternoon was spent having lunch in Aix-en-Provence on the first truly glorious spring day of the year. (First truly glorious spring days of the year should be celebrated, and it looked like everyone got that memo... Aix was packed! So packed, I couldn't even bring myself to go into Zara... that's how packed it was.) Not only was I happy with the cracking weather (24 ºC / 75ºF), but my Godfather and his wife were on holiday from Las Vegas, and since they happened to be in Aix and we happened to be in Aix, lunch seemed like the civilized thing to do. I hadn't seen my Godfather since I was about eight or maybe nine (that was a long, long, long time ago), but as soon as I was sat down next to him, it was like all those years hadn't happened. And there we were.

++ Busy as a bee is how I've been lately... the Wednesday before Good Friday it was dinner in Aix, on Good Friday we left for Easter in Auvergne, we returned on the Tuesday and then on the Friday it was down to Toulon, back up to The LPV late Sunday night, then next Saturday we were in Aix again (for that lunch above), we returned home with Mrs. London in tow who stayed for the weekend, and now here it is a week later and I'm blogging live from The London's kitchen in Toulon. (shhh... everyone is sleeping!)

++ And speaking of blogging... the last months of Google Reader are upon us and honestly, I'm a little worried. I'm scared that Google Reader is the way that you keep up with me and without it, I'll lose you. So just in case it is, please soothe my mind by taking note of these other ways to keep track of Le Petit Village happenings... I tweet my blog posts, so if you're on twitter you can find me there, and of course there is the Facebook page which gets updated, and I'm on Bloglovin too. That seems like the way most bloggers are going. I know I've been adding blogs I read on there left, right and center, so yeah, Bloglovin, check it out. (Oh, and Fifty wanted me to remind you that he has his very own Facebook page and he loves making new friends.)

++ Yesterday (before our last minute dash down to the Côte d'Azur), The Husband and I watched the Clermont vs. Toulouse rugby match. It was the 59th game in a row, that Clermont has won at home. 59! That's a big number and fantastic and all, but I think what is more important to note is that, that winning streak began in September 2009, which just happens to be when I moved to France. Coincidence? I doubt it (I'm a wee lucky charm).

++ I have some wonderful news to report... two new additions to The LPV family are on their way... Baby Cousin's girlfriend is expecting as well as The Husband's BFF and childhood sweetheart, The Croupier! Two new Le Petit Villagers due in November! Oh me oh my, time to bust out my knitting.

++ Speaking of Mother's... let's talk about Mother's day. I am so confused. Did you know that it is celebrated on a different day in the U.S., Ireland and France? (If you are new here you might not know why this matters, but if you read this post, you'll understand). In the U.S. it's on May 12th, Ireland, the 10th of March (oops... missed that one) and in France, the 26th of May. My confusion has led me to miss it for several years now and my poor mother has been Mother Day-less, so this past week I went ahead and shipped her present. It's late for Ireland, early for the U.S., and really early for France, but I'm making a decree... I declare that today, Sunday the 21st of April, is My Mother's Day. So that said...

Happy Mother's Day Eilo!

Bisou!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

plan schman

{fondue}
Sometimes we like to meet The Londons in Aix-en-Provence on a Wednesday night for a mid-week treat of the dinner variety. They travel an hour northwest, and us an hour south. It's the perfect meet in the middle.

Since we don't like to dilly-dally on these nights, we usually go straight to Bistro Romain where The Husband indulges in the all you can eat carpaccio he loves so much (while I sit back and watch the carnage). But this last time, he asked me if I'd find a new place for dinner (I guess he's trying to widen his horizons beyond raw beef). Planning happens to be my thing so I set to task, and found three places. Three because I figured I'd give them options (I'm a planner not a dictator... contrary to what you may have heard), and we'd hedge our bets on closings and full tables. I even wrote directions from the first restaurant to the second and then from the second choice to the third because if I had a motto, it'd be 'always be prepared'. So we had our plan.

Do you think The Husband stuck to the plan? (FORESHADOWING)

On the way to Aix, The Husband turned to me and said (very excitedly I might add), that he knew of THE BEST PIZZA place on Cours Mirabeau (Cours Mirabeau is like Aix's Champs-Élysées). I thought it was a bit curious that in all of my trips to Aix-en-Provence with The Husband, this was the first time I was hearing about this awesome pizza, but I was willing to forgo the planned restaurant choices and handwritten directions because if there is one thing that living in Le Petit Village has taught me, it's to be flexible (if you aren't flexible, France will make you flexible!). And as long as this pizzeria was nice enough inside and Mrs. London and I could sit back with a decent bottle of red, who was I to complain. "Of course it's nice" he assured me, "It's on Cours Mirabeau." Well alrighty then.

We met The Londons and popped into a bar for a quick apéro... "What will it be," I asked, "pizza or tapas or pasta?" (Tapas and pasta were the first two choices on the pre-planned restaurant list). The Londons gave a shoulder shrug while The Husband shouted, "I want sushi!"

WHAT?!?!

Where the hell-o-operator did sushi come from?!

Sometimes all one can do is take a deep breath and take control. "You wanted pizza," I reminded him, "show us where the restaurant is and we'll follow you."

We walked a bit further down Cours Mirabeau and then The Husband stopped, looked up, and turned around in a circle. And then I saw him bring his hand up to his mouth and breath in "oh", which is never a good sign. "What?" I asked. He looked at me, "I forgot it's for takeaway pizza." Of course it is.

Now, do you think we went to one of the pre-designated restaurants on the list, or do you think we let The Husband follow his nose while we followed him? (If you are new here, you might not know the answer to this, but if this isn't your first visit to Le Petit Village than you definitely know the answer... we followed the nose.)

And that's how after ten minutes of wondering around in the rain, the nose led us to a fondue restaurant. It wasn't part of the plan, but I'm flexible like that.

Bisou!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Husband Speaks

It's happened guys. I actually got The Husband to sit down and answer all of your questions, and there wasn't a single huff and puff in the process. Color me shocked.

I'm telling you right now before you watch the video, I'm not in it. You'll hear me, but you won't see me. I had been spring cleaning all day, I was dirty, and my hair was piled into a messy top knot on top of my head (and not one of those perfectly styled messy top knots that bloggers love, it was more like a greasy ball of frizz stuck to the top of my head. It's not a good look). So yeah, I was steering clear of any cameras. And as for Fifty, well personally I thought he would have been keen to make his vlog debut, but during filming, he was sleeping, tuckered out from his weekend with his cousin, Napoleon.

Now to the main event... Ladies and Gentlemen... without further ado, I give you, The Husband...




bisou

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Bachelor: Special Edition Starring Fifty


Look at these two gorgeous girls! That there in the front is Nina (she was born in the good ol' U.S.A. so I've got a bit of a sweet spot for her) and behind her, is her little sister Lily. A few weekends ago, they came to Le Petit Village for a date with Fifty (it was like one of those two on one dates on The Bachelor minus the bitchiness... actually, it was double the bitchiness if you know what I mean). But because neither of them have a drivers license, and walking from Salon-de-Provence to The LPV would take forever, they brought their parents with them, which was great because their mom just happens to be one of my favorite French people, La Professeur (you might remember her from this time or maybe that time).

And as if I wasn't already chuffed enough what with an afternoon with my friend La Professeur and all, she came baring gifts... Starbucks ready to brew packs. My dream finally came true... I was drinking Starbucks in The LPV. It's a pretty big deal.

I made Tex-Mex (La Professeur spent a stint in Austin so I thought she'd appreciate some guacamole and pico de gallo) and we watched a rugby match (of course we did). But mostly, we chaperoned the date, and tried to guess who Fifty would give the final rose to...

{a rare moment of calm}
{yes, Lily is wearing panties}
{first kiss} 
{take 1,837,447} 

It was a close one to call... when I saw Fifty and Lily kiss I thought she was a shoo-in for the final rose, but as the day went on, an initially shy Nina began to follow him around more and more staking her claim. 

But then in a surprising move, that nobody somebody coming, 
I got the final rose, because I'm his mommy,
 and mommies give the best cuddles.

bisou


P.S. Interested in learning French in beautiful Provence with La Professeur? Click here to find out more. 

P.P.S. Last and final chance to ask The Husband! Click here to leave a question to find out anything you'd like to know about the man behind the girl behind the blog.   

P.P.P. S. If you'd like to be friends with Fifty on Facebook and follow along on more of his adventures, click here

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

the anniversary present

{babysitting at Papa's house}
Here's the thing about The Husband; he's wonderful. He's sweet and cuddly, caring, kind, huge-hearted and gorgeous. Children love him, dogs love him, and men and women love him, pretty much everybody loves him. But of course he's not perfect (not by a long shot) and today I'm going to tell you  about a time he was really, really not perfect.

You know how my birthday was in February and I went to Dublin? Well that trip was kind of a birthday present, but kind of not. I actually needed to go there to take care of some stuff and it just happened to coincide with my birthday. But because a last minute plane ticket to Dublin is not cheap, I told The Husband that I was considering that my present, and not to even think about getting me anything else (The Husband can worry himself into quite a tizzy over presents... shopping for presents is his kryptonite).

When I returned from Dublin, The Husband started telling me all about some present that he had really wanted to get me, but he hadn't been able to find it anywhere. (How can you not find something, especially when there is this amazing contraption called 'the internet'? RE: KRYPTONITE) I told him not to worry about it, Dublin was more than enough, but out of curiosity, I asked what this elusive present was. He said, "you know, the thing for the foot that you put your foot in and it feels good with the water." HUH?!

And then I realized, he was talking about a foot spa. The present that The Husband had been searching all over for and was just dying to get me, was a plastic tub that I could fill with water and plug in. I smiled at him, as I do, and told him that that was a sweet thought, but not to worry about it, because I really didn't want a foot spa. "No?" he asked. "No" I replied. And so there wasn't any confusion, I told him that I was relieved he hadn't been able to find one, and I gave about a zillion reasons why I did not in fact want one and then named about a zillion things that I would prefer. (I find that in a language barrier relationship like ours, it's best to spell things out and make them as crystal clear as possible.)

Fast forward a month to our wedding anniversary.

Papa called, a package addressed to The Husband had been delivered to his house by accident. The Husband jumped up, shouted, "your present!" and then ran out the door (somebody found the internet). A few minutes later he returned with a large box. I eyed it suspiciously. There was something about the package that gave me an odd feeling, I couldn't put my finger on it, but I was sensing that there was something I most definitely did not like about it.

I looked at The Husband, as he stood there grinning ear to ear holding onto the box, and said, "there better not be a foot spa in that box". His smile fell. Disbelief whipped through me, "is there a foot spa in that box?!" And then he let out one of his little Gallic huff and puffs. HE GOT ME THE MOTHER TRUCKING FOOT SPA!

At least that's his mother's birthday present sorted.

bisou


P.S. If you would like to ask The Husband what was going through his sweet head when he bought the foot spa, or anything else for that matter,it's not too late. Click here, leave your question, and he'll answer it in his very own blog post (or vlog if I can figure it out). 

Monday, April 8, 2013

en attendant le printemps.


It's a cold and rainy day here in The LPV. April 8th already, yet it feels like November 8th. There is nothing spring-like about today at all. The birds are chirping, but I have a feeling it's more of complaining chirping than happy, chirpy chirping. So while the birds and I sit back and wait for spring, I'll leave you with this post about that very same thing. {originally posted April 3, 2011
....................

The dichotomy of my life in Le Petit Village goes like this… you see I love it and hate it, but the things I love, and the things I hate are pretty much one in the same. (Let me preface this by saying that ‘love’ and ‘hate’ are very strong words but they sound better than ‘like’ and ‘dislike’ so I’m going with ‘love’ and ‘hate’). And because I’m thinking in opposite terms of love and hate, I’ll write in opposite terms of summer and winter, but I’m going to start with winter.

During the winter months, Le Petit Village and it’s 250 habitants practically hibernates. Many of the houses here are holiday homes that sit empty, shutters closed to the cold winds and snow, waiting for their Parisian and Belgian owners to come back and fill them. It can lend a bit of a ghost town vibe for the rest of us year-round inhabitants, and in those winter months, we tend to huddle close, so as to make us feel like we are not so alone in this wintry, mountain village.


There is one bar/ cafe/ restaurant here, and on those cold Friday nights, when the roads are too icy to navigate down the mountain, the same group of us descend upon it. It is always; my brother-in-law, his young wife, her parents, my next door neighbor/ husband’s best friend, my husband, father-in-law, a couple of local farmers, and me. We huddle around a kerosene heater set up in the middle of the room, chatting, and laughing, sharing plates of saucisson, homemade pâté, and bowls of olives. It feels much more like someone’s cozy living room than a bar.

Now for a city girl me, at times I’m screaming inside, yearning to put on my heels instead of winter muddy snow covered boots, and have a vodka martini in my hand instead of the hearty Leffe, while sitting back in a plush banquette in some decadent bar and not in this old bar, with chipped paint, mismatched furniture, and the same old handful of people every Friday night. But as much as I may want to be in that city bar, I’ve never felt as at home and comforted by the super luxe ‘it’ bar as I do on those dark winter nights surrounded by French villagers and wrapped in the warmth of the kerosene heater.


Then as the months pass, and the sun begins to rise earlier and earlier and shine warmer and brighter, Le Petit Village slowly awakens. And with the sun comes the tourists.

During those beautiful warmer months, when the lavender blooms, our winter population of 250, increases to 1000. Where normally I would go for long walks with my dog and not see a single soul, our tiny streets are buzzing with chatter and traffic and there are people everywhere. That same cozy winter bar becomes packed and any chance of finding a table or a bar stool is practically non-existent.


I complain about the tourists; how they take all the parking spaces in front of our homes, they peer in our windows, and buy up all the baguettes, but secretly I love them. I love that when they are here Le Petit Village is at it’s best and most welcoming. We have small festivals with bumper cars and fireworks, a circus, and parties, all to say, “Bienvenue! Aren’t we quaint and charming? Please come back soon, we love the company”, and everyday feels like a holiday, a snap shot into a Peter Mayle dream.

But just when I think I’m tired of the incessant early Sunday morning chatter of stranger’s voices outside my windows and fighting for my parking spot and my baguette, they are gone, and the cold and solitude comes back. Along with those wintry, kerosene cozy Friday nights. And we settle in and wait for spring.

bisou

Friday, April 5, 2013

Pâques en Auvergne


This is Clermont-Ferrand. I took the photo from one of those rest stops designed for taking in the scenery. It's a very special spot for The Husband... years ago, The Husband's grandfather would drive him back to boarding school on Monday mornings, and they would always stop there and have pains au chocolat for breakfast. It's a sweet memory and he tells me the story every time we drive past it so I finally made him stop.  

Clermont-Ferrand is smack dab in the middle of France in the Auvergne region, six hours north of Le Petit Village. It's where The Husband grew up and where his mother and grandmother live. 


It's also where ASM Clermont Auvergne play so it's basically The Husband's spiritual home. The stadium happens to be next to the hospital where French Nana is recovering from surgery at the moment (she's OK, no need to worry). So it was awfully convenient... go see French Nana, pop over to le stade


Behind the stadium is this Michelin tire museum (it actually says: Michelin Adventure, discover a world of novelties... now if that doesn't sound like a hoot hollering good time, I don't know what does!) You see, Clermont-Ferrand is the home of Michelin. Yep, the Michelin Man is from the same place as The Husband. They might have even gone to the same school. I'll have to check that out.  

Besides visiting The Husband's spiritual home in the form of rugby stadium and tire museums, Auvergne is also the place where The Husband reverts back to his childhood and plays NBA Jam on his old Super Nintendo. 


How ridiculous is that photo? But that's what he does every morning at his mom's house until she yells for him to come down for breakfast. It's like I'm Marty McFly and I've walked into 1995. I blame his mother, she's the one that has decided to leave his room exactly as it was when he left for boarding school when he was eleven (toy cars and stuffed animals included). 


But her nostalgia does mean that I get to discover gems like this tray painted by The Husband when he was a little boy (I'm hoping he painted it when he was a little boy anyway... I'm actually not too sure, there's no date on it)

Auvergne is also a place where it snows on Easter. Now I know Easter was early this year but come on! The poor Easter Bunny must have been freezing. And who wants to go on a hunt for les oeufs de Pâques in the snow? I certainly don't. But what I certainly will do is dress Fifty up as the Easter Bunny.


Besides the Easter Bunny bringing chocolate in France, bells do as well. The story goes that on Good Friday, the church bells aren't only remaining silent in acknowledgement of the death of Jesus, but also because they aren't there. They've flown to Rome to see the Pope. And since you can never go on holiday without picking up a few pressies for those back home, the bells return on Easter morning with chocolates for the children.  And that's why besides chocolate bunnies, you'll find a lot of chocolate bells too. Like this chocolate bell decorating our Easter cake. 


There was also a baby chick wearing a bandanna and sunglasses decorating the cake. None of us could figure out what that was all about (the baby chick yes, the bandanna and sunglasses, no). 
And that's my long weekend in Auvergne in an Easter eggshell. On Tuesday we left the cold behind as we drove farther and farther south, back to Provence and back into Spring. Except when we got here it was raining.

*insert frowny face*

bisou

P.S. Don't forget your homework from the other day 1. As of right this second, there is still 16 hours left to enter the giveaway and 2. If you've got a question for The Husband, now is the time to ask! Pop on over to this post and ask away!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

you think you know ... but you have no idea

{my Prince of Monaco}
Happy Wednesday after Easter y'all!

I know 'Wednesday after Easter' isn't a thing or anything, but it is today, and today is the Wednesday after Easter, so there you go.

We arrived home from Auvergne last night, after another too long drive. Today will be spent unpacking (we always come back with more stuff than we went go up there with because The Husband's mother has a bit of a shopping problem... as in she buys two of everything, and that second item has to go somewhere, so down to The LPV it goes, which is great, except then I get to try and find homes for all the stuff in a house that doesn't have a single closet), doing a massive amount of laundry, and ironing, in an attempt to put the house back together. And then on Friday, I get to pack all over again for a weekend in Toulon (Mr. London has a very important match to play, plus Mrs. London's mother is in town and I owe that lady a hug).

In the meantime, I have an idea for you guys (I got it from Betsy over at Betsy Transatlantically). Sometimes I get asked a bunch of questions about The Husband (especially after our backstories), so how would you like to know more about him, but from him? Like tidbits and answers from his own mouth, and not just me answering on his behalf? (Please say you would, because if you wouldn't, then this post is a big ol' flop and I should hang up my blogging hat and call it a day.)

You leave any question for The Husband you'd like, down there below in the comments, and he'll answer it in a blog post. And if I can convince him (and if I can figure out how to do it), he'll answer the questions in a vlog.

Oh, and while you're thinking up your questions, don't forget to enter my giveaway.

So that's your homework assignment for the day;
1. Leave a question for The Husband
2. Enter my giveaway 

bisou
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