Monday, December 30, 2013

La Veille de Noël

Since my childhood Christmases belonged to New York, I grew up with a traditional winter wonderland holiday. Because of that, I never got fully accustomed to the warm Christmases of Texas or the dark, wet ones of Dublin (although it did snow buckets that one year), but I have to say, waking up to this Côte d'Azur Christmas Eve wasn't too shabby.

The boys started their day sipping store bought Starbucks lattes (now available in supermarkets in France... woohoo) and reading celebrity gossip rags brought over from England by Mommy London while us ladies came up with our plan for the day... first up, torturing Gregory by giving him his ugly Christmas sweater...

He loved it. Second on the list, get rid of the boys. That one was easy, that went out to buy seafood for our Christmas Eve dinner and were gone A L L  D A Y.
Since they were gone we were free to do whatever we wanted which meant putting on our new matching Christmas jammies (I'm more than a little bummed that I didn't snap a photo) and kicking off the Christmas Eve revelry with a bottle of white from Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

That's right boys and girls, not only does Châteauneuf-du-Pape make amazing reds but their whites are pretty darn tasty too.... so you can put that in your wine glass and sip it.

What wasn't on our Christmas Eve plan however was Mrs.London's toenail popping off. You read that correctly, her toenail popped off (she had dropped a weight on it a couple of weeks back so it was only a matter of time really).

There we were, sitting on the couch in our Christmas jammies, sipping our wine and being merry, when she suddenly looked up and shouted, "it's gone!"
Mommy London and I shot back, "what's gone?" and then that's when we saw it... in the place of where a black polished toe nail should have been, there was nothing. G R O S S.

And then of course we had to look for it. There were two dogs running about the house, the only thing grosser than losing a toenail, would be to find one of the dogs chewing on it. How's that for festive fun?

Eventually the boys returned and we sat down for our Christmas Eve dinner; shrimp, mussels, oysters, and smoked salmon. We were feeling mighty fishy.

(Do you see that plate of shrimp? Well there was a lot of shrimp, loads of it, and Mommy London and I tore into it and with every bite, we said how delicious it was. So imagine our surprise when the next morning Gregory rather excitedly said, "Oh! We still have all of that shrimp to eat!" Somehow in his oyster and mussel haze he didn't even notice the shrimp on the table. How's that for being observant?)

After dinner we retired to the couch for some Christmas television viewing. And then Mr. London disappeared and never returned... instead we got Sassy Iron Man in his place.

Naturally Gregory took one look at Sassy Iron Man and decided that Alpine Man needed to make an appearance. (There isn't any such thing as Alpine Man but Gregory in his Nordic-like onesie needed a superhero name so Alpine Man it was.)

And then of course Sassy Iron Man and Alpine Man had to battle it out for Christmas Eve domination with the help of Fifty who apparently can shoot laser beams out of his eyeballs.

And that's when Mrs. London and I called it a night.

Bisous!


P.S. Oh my stars there's been a Christmas miracle... I'm on instagram! If you want to see what I've been up to, you can follow me @cestmoisaralouise.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

On the Eve of Christmas Eve...

... We said goodbye to our petit sapin de Noël, filled the car with Christmas goodies and headed off towards Toulon to celebrate the holiday with my cousin, Mrs.London. After spending a merry evening the night before with The Honeys, eating Rice Krispy treats (made by me) and pulling off bits of honey nougat (made by Mrs. Honey), we were full of sugar and raring to go. 
(So besides being honey makers, they're candy makers too... how do you like them candy apples?)


Gregory was so caught up in the Christmas Spirit on the drive down, that he began singing Christmas songs. Well really, just one song in particular, and never with the right words, but it was still pretty much the sweetest holiday moment there ever was (keep reading to sample a snippet...) 

That night we (Gregory, Mr.& Mrs.London and me) met up with some friends to kick off the holidays with a quick bite and too many drinks. 

The boys took over the music and the bar (of course they did) while we did our best to carry on our cheery way and ignore them. (Not always easy when Pink Floyd and Bob Marley are coming at you at full volume... there's never any Bing Crosby around when you need him!) 

Eventually Gregory grew bored of the boy bonding and found a baby to coo over. I have to admit, watching your husband coo over a baby in a candy-cane striped onesie is up there in the ridiculously sweet holiday moments category, but for me, it still doesn't have quite the je ne sais quoi that this does... 




Bisous!


P.S. Oh my stars there's been a Christmas miracle... I'm on instagram! If you want to see what I've been up to, you can follow me @cestmoisaralouise.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Because We Need A Little Christmas


Here we are, Christmas Eve, Eve... finally! The last few months have been tough and I feel like I'm limping into the holidays a bit but let me tell you something, I AM READY for them!  I need some Champagne sparkle and Eggnog fueled laughter in my life. So my friends, even though it is only the 23rd, I am signing off and bidding you adieu.

We're leaving for Toulon today (but not without a cheeky stop in Aix-en-Provence for a quick whip around Zara) and collecting Mommy London at the airport in Nice tonight and that's when Christmas 2013 officially kicks off.

Christmas Eve will be très French; smoked salmon, escargot, oysters, fois gras, and a bûche de Noël along with buckets of Champagne, followed by a traditional English dinner on Christmas, cooked  entirely by Mr. London (Gregory will be standing by taking notes). I hope one of the presents I'm going to be unwrapping this Christmas is a gift card for Fat Camp because I'm gonna need it.

I might pop in and say hi this week, I might not, I might just disappear into bed with Gone With the Wind (I'm FINALLY reading it) for all I know. We'll see, I'm on holiday.

So my wonderful, beautiful friends who I adore so very much, I leave you with this story, my classic Christmas tale that I post every year around this time to scare the bejeezus out of you.
Originally titled: Nothing Says Christmas Like A Flogging and posted, December 15, 2009.  

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

OK, this is weird.

I was doing a little reading about French Christmas traditions. I figure since I'm here, I 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.

Anyhoo...

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 Fouettard
(Sounds a bit scary doesn't it, thought it needed that dun dun dun.)

According to my sources, the ever reliable Wikipedia, Le Père Fouettard 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 Fouettard'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 Fouettard ends up feeling bad and becomes St. Nick's partner and goes around with him on Christmas.

But get this, Le Père Fouettard 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.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Wishing you warm holiday wishes and safe travel kisses to you and yours from me and mine! 


Bisous!

Friday, December 20, 2013

w t f

The 'f' in today's title, could mean lots of things, like, 'Friday', or 'freaky', or 'Freaky Friday'. It could be 'firetruck' (that's the only word that starts with F and ends with K you'll see around these parts), or it could even stand for 'France', as in What the France?!... an expression that I have shouted in exasperation on more than one occasion.
Now I love Hello Kitty, love her. I've loved her since I was a little girl, and now I love that Niece and Little Niece are as devoted to the cult of Hello Kitty as I am. But the one thing I never thought I would see is Hello Kitty being used to sell fish paste. That is a jar of Brandade de Morue; salt cod and olive oil all mashed and pureed together. WTF. But then again, Hello Kitty is a cat after all, she'd probably hoard jars of the stuff and lick them clean.

This weird concoction was Gregory's part of his, Mrs.London's and my hungover breakfast one Saturday morning. It's not always easy to find breakfast in France. Sure you can get pastries but sometimes pastries don't cut it. We needed F O O D, or anything quasi substantial. So as the three of us sat there in front of an épicerie/cafe munching on those weird alien eyeball things (spicy olives wrapped in anchovies), pasta salad, and shrimp, while sipping coffee and slamming copious of amount of Perrier, we got some strange looks I can assure you. I'm not sure if it's the alien eyeballs or us that are more deserving of the WTF.

This is a WTF that's a good WTF, a WTF that makes me happy... I went to the L'Occitane factory (not too far from The LPV... lucky me!) to do some Christmas shopping and when I was paying, the lady gave me all of these samples! Look how many there are... SO MANY SAMPLES, thank you L'Occitane lady!

Sometimes a WTF makes me shake my head and laugh, not because I find it funny, but because if I didn't laugh, I would cry... Gregory has this quirk, it's a cereal quirk. He likes to mix plain cornflakes with a chocolate kind of cereal, in this case, Nestle Crunch. The 'normal' thing to do would be to pour a little bit of cornflakes in his bowl and then a little bit of crunch, but no, that would be too normal, make too much sense.

What Gregory likes to do is to store his mixed cereal in a large tupperware container. Now, if the two cereals were alternated and mixed up as they were added to the container, then fine. But no, Gregory filled the bottom half with cornflakes and then topped it with the crunch. Not only was it not mixed, but it was basically impossible to get to the cornflakes on the bottom.

So then he decided to reach his hand in and try to mix it up that way (it's his cereal, if he wants to get his hand germs all up in it, then that's his business), but he wasn't really getting anywhere and the hand mixing was only resulting in some bits of cereal spilling over the sides. And that's when he decided to pick up the container and shake it around some, except the lid wasn't put on tightly (of course it wasn't). WTF Gregory?!

And because brandy carrying Saint Bernards aren't the only rescue dogs out there... behold, my favorite WTF (I think the 'F' in this one is definitely France or I guess it could be Fifty)... a wine carrying dog. I trained him well.


Bisous!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Behind the Photos X

For today's Behind the Photos (it's been ages since I've done one of these) I thought we'd travel back in time for a special Christmas edition. We're going all the way back to 2008, a time when I had blondish hair and bangs. The setting Dublin, all of twenty-seven days after I met Gregory, when Le Petit Village wasn't even a speck of a notion of a thought in my brain. 

Twenty-seven days is kind of fast to be introducing your boyfriend to your family, and at Christmas it's double-trouble. But I wasn't bringing Gregory for Christmas dinner with the family because I luuurved him, I did it because he didn't have any family in Ireland to spend the holiday with and sitting in a dingy apartment with festivities swirling all about outside that apartment was a no-no in my book. So I invited and he accepted. 

Not only was this the first time Gregory met some of my extended family, but it was the first time he met my mother as well. She was bringing the turkey and in typical Eilo fashion (Eilo is my mom btw), had spilled turkey juice all over herself in the car . As she walked into the house, she tried to wipe it off her sweater and then Gregory got a turkey juice handshake. It wasn't the first impression I had envisioned but at least he knew what he was getting himself into.  

Only a few minutes after my brother and Gregory met, they got down on the carpet and played Craps (WHO DOES THAT?!) and then invited Nephew to join them. (He was like eight at the time. Nice one guys, way to be role models.)

And then Niece walked up and wanted to join in on the fun... 

Hey guys, what are you playing?
Christmas craps. 
Cool! Can I play? 

Lovely. Then all of the kids were playing craps on Christmas. I'm pretty sure if you asked, W.W.J.D. on his birthday, it wouldn't be play craps. But then again, one never knows. 

That's my uncle with Gregory, they were instant buddies. What's funny though is that Gregory had only about a beginner-intermediate level of English at this time and my uncle talked his ear off THE WHOLE night. Not only does my uncle have a bit of a strong Dublin accent, but he talks a mile a minute as well. Gregory told me the next day that he had no idea what he had been saying all night, he had just smiled and nodded along. In fairness, at this point Gregory only understood about every other word I said as well, he was really good at smiling and nodding. 

The kids fell in love with Gregory pretty quickly and immediately turned him into their own personal jungle gym.  
Oh and FYI... Gregory no longer puts this must gel in his hair. I put a stop to that as soon as my girlfriend privileges kicked in. 

Christmas with my family goes like this... presents, drinks and nibbles, dinner, drinks, card game, drinks, dance party, night cap, bed. It's a pretty good recipe for festive holiday fun and I'm hoping to bring a little of it to Mr. & Mrs. London's house this year. Because this year, instead of being with my family in Dublin for Christmas, I'll be with my family in the South of France. Thank heavens I have such a large one that has managed to find its way from Ireland, to France (via England and the US of course)... we're a bit like an octopus with lots of long arms that reach out and stretch all over the world... eventually we'll probably swallow it whole. MUAHAHAHA. 


Bisous!

Monday, December 16, 2013

a good one two

After a Sunday lunch of roast chicken and broccoli and cheese smashed potatoes (which Gregory and I decided were a most excellent way of getting children to eat their broccoli... READ: a most excellent way of getting Gregory to eat his broccoli), we scooted off to watch Honey Jr play le foot aka soccer.

Like any good WAG, Honey's Honey was already there when we arrived. 
The Croupier decided to get some fresh air so she and her fiance came too... she needed a bit of help getting up on the ledge though.   

It wasn't the biggest turn out which was a shame because Honey Jr was showing off his new neon green football boots. They're very fancy. And bright, they're very, very bright. 

During halftime we popped over to the concession stand for hot chocolate but get this... the night before somebody had broken into the place and stole everything! What type of a person steals those big hot drink urns?! We had to settle on Heineken which wasn't the worst thing in the world, but un chocolate chaud would have gone so much better with the crisp air and bright doubled rainbow sky.

I wish I could say that the double rainbow was a good luck charm for Honey Jr but unfortunately his team lost 5-1. I guess it was good luck for the other team.

We decided that despite the loss, Honey Jr deserved a reward for playing his little honey heart out and that treat should be crêpes so we all headed back to The Croupier's house.

The Croupier mixed the batter and I manned the pan (I wish I had taken photos of the crêpe making but manning the pan didn't leave much room for photo snapping). We started with savory crepes.... beef in a Béchamel sauce that made them taste very Stroganoff like which was good since I happen to like beef stroganoff and I like crêpes... verdict... tasty.

From the savory we were ready for the sweet... Nutella... but when The Crouper grabbed her jar she realized that it was practically empty. Not having Nutella is a no-no but it being a Sunday night in not only France but The LPV means that there is no store to buy some more. We were in a full blown Nutella emergency. Not a problem, we sent Honey Jr around to The Croupier's grandmother's house to borrow some (much better than popping round for a cup of sugar if you ask me).

But when twenty minutes had passed and there was no sign of Honey Jr or the Nutella, we sent Gregory out to look for him. Another fifteen minutes passed and The Croupier phoned her grand-mère and demanded to know what happened to the Nutella Search Party. Apparently they were having coffee and pie and were quite content where they were, and Grandmere didn't seem to want to let them go. They must be allowed to return, we demanded, at least with the Nutella. A few minutes later they appeared, full of pie which was fine... more Nutella crêpes for the rest of us.

After an evening of delightful banter including an intense Raclette vs. Fondue debate (Raclette won 5-1 with Honey Jr being the lone Team Fondue holdout... but then he shouted, "Tartiflette" and mayhem ensued), and a root through The Croupier's old photo albums so I could see what a fourteen year old Gregory looked like #awkward, we called it a night and went home.

It was a very good one, and the last one where everything would be just as it was because only a couple of weeks later, The Croupier and her fiance welcomed her baby girl into the world, and Gregory met his goddaughter, and a few minutes later, she threw up all over him #truestory.



Bisous!

P.S. In case you missed it, I have a giveaway going on... Click here to enter!
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