Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Whipping Father

Not Le Père Fouettard, but Fifty, in his reindeer antlers. He hates me. 
Bonjour, la veille de Noël, we meet again.

How in the name of all that's Christmas is it December 24th again? If it wasn't for the big move and the whole Green Card brouhahah, I swear, it feels like I was just in Toulon for Christmas Eve last year, like a couple of days ago. (That was a good one, remember? Except for the BB gun part of course. Stupid boys.)

So yeah, Christmas Eve snuck up on me, but even though it's here, and the big show is only a day away (and closing in quickly down under, g'day Aussie friends), there was no way I was going to let it pass without my annual re-telling of the tale of Père Noël's (that's French Santa by the way), evil sidekick, Le Père Fouettard.

You know, now that I'm safely ensconced back in the States, I feel like I'm out of Le Père Fouettard's evil grasp. But since there's a Frenchman and a French dog in my house, what if that means he can still get me? Like, he can sense the Frenchness in my Texas home and find his way here. I'm sure if he looks closely, he can follow the baguette crumbs Gregory dropped along his way. Damn you Gregory! Oh well, I guess I have to make sure to stay on the nice list for another year. Yawn.

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 absolutely no use asking Gregory, he is useless at relaying this kind of information.


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

Le Père 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.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Very merry holiday wishes and Christmas kisses to you and yours!
Joyeux Noël et Bonne Fête! 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

one week

Here we are, one week into Gregory's winter visit already and I have to say, it feels like he never left. We morphed back into real, normal, life right quick, but I'm pretty sure that the rotten colds we had helped that out some (key takeaway: mucus is not sexy).

As what could probably go down as some of the worst timing known to man, last Wednesday, as I drove to the airport to collect Gregory, a nasty, chesty thing began to wrap its slimy hooks around me, and when Gregory hugged me hello, he stepped back, scrunched up his face and said, "Skippy, you sick?"

Yes, Skippy was sick, and within 36 hours, Gregory would be too.

Our first few days together were spent drowning ourselves in Robitussin and binge watching Outlander (sadly, Champagne not included), but on Saturday night, we did manage to go out on a date. Although I use the term, 'night', loosely. We earlybirded it, as in 5:30 earlybird, and within four hours, we were snoring off our cold medicine.

And then Sunday came and Monday, and then yesterday, and now here we are, Wednesday and one week gone already. But it's nice, and life and all, and that's what I've been waiting for all these months.

Oh, and if you're wondering how Gregory's reunion with Fifty went, here's the clip. Gregory and I were both surprised by Fifty's initial reaction. I told Gregory that maybe next time, he should go easy on the cologne.  

P.S. You'll have to excuse my horrible, shrieking voice, I was a tad emotional. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

tis the season to be jolly

Bonjour lundi! 

This may be the first Monday, in the history of Mondays that I've ever been happy to see, and the reason for my happiness; Gregory will be here in only two more sleeps! I can hardly believe it! He's going to be here for four whole weeks, and while that isn't forever, it's a start.

Here's the thing though, yesterday, as I trimmed the tree, I started panicking a bit about my blog. I had planned on getting loads of posts written and scheduled before Gregory got here so I could spend as much time with him as possible and dutifully stick to my blog calendar and the Monday, Wednesday, Friday rhythm that I've had going on here since I came back in October. But decking the halls took much longer than expected (I'm not complaining, I love a good decking) and not a single word was written.

And then last night I thought to myself, calendar, schmalender, it's Christmastime for Santa's sake! I haven't seen my husband since July and I want to live in every single second of every minute of every hour, of every day of each of the four weeks he's here, and if that means I don't get a blog post, posted, then so be it, so I guess I'm taking another blogging break of sorts.

But since it's impossible for me to completely disappear from y'all lives (nobody gets off that easily), I'll be checking in on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram fairy regularly I'm sure, to splash bits of our holiday cheer about and I'd love it if you popped by to say hi. (I'm going to attempt to film the Fifty, Gregory reunion and you're not going to want to miss that!)

Before I go, I just have to say, thank you. Thank you, to all of you. The love, support, and friendship that you continue to give me is beyond measure. Really, and truly, you're the best blog buddies on the block and I am grateful for y'all. Oy vey! Listen me go on, I'm gonna get all verklempt.

Holiday wishes and kisses to you and yours from the three of us!

Joyeuses fêtes et bonne année! 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Port Grimaud and Cavalaire-sur-Mer


You know, there has been so much going on here lately what with Thanksgiving, Gregory's green card issues, and just life in general, that I still haven't gotten around to finishing up the tales of my trip back to France last July, so gather around kiddos, because that's what I aim to do today.

Let's drift off someplace else, shall we... take a deep breath, rid your ears of holiday music, your brain of Christmas to-dos, and let your mind wander to summertime in the south of France... can you hear the waves of the Mediterranean lap? Can you taste the rosé? Good, you're ready. 

It was July, and I was already a week into my visit Unfortunately, even though I had been there for a week, I hadn't seen much of Gregory due to his busy work schedule, so as soon as he finally had a day off, we thought we should take advantage of it with a trip somewhere fun (he might have felt a tad guilty after hearing me rave about Sanary-sur-Mer). 

I don't know whose idea it was, but we decided on lunch in Saint-Tropez, that famed port town of glamorous lore that I had never been too ("too crowded", Gregory would say). And since Saint-Tropez is only a hop, skip, and a jump from Cavalaire-sur-Mer, we thought we'd swing by there afterwards, say hi to The Croupier and see how much her baby had grown since we'd been gone. 

We hopped in the car and left Toulon headed towards Saint-Tropez, but oddly, neither of us were paricularily excited... it started to dawn on us... Saint-Tropez in July, ugh... it seemed like a lot, the town would probably be packed to the gills with all that riff raff that likes to descend upon it every year to rub elbows with Jay-Z and Russian cagillionaires. 

"I don't really want to go to Saint-Tropez" I whined.

"Me, either" Gregory replied.

Gregory and I proceeded to look at each other with whingy, scrunched up faces until he finally said, "I know where we can go." And that's how we ended up going to the quaint village of Port Grimaud, and more importantly, where I ended up eating the most delicious, pasta dish of my entire life.

There are no words that would do the pasta justice, every bite was a culinary delight, so much so, that months later, I'm still dreaming about it... fresh pasta and seafood with just the right amount of garlic and parsley. It was perfect in its simplicity. I WANT IT NOW. 

After Limincellos and coffees, we strolled around the port before traveling down the road to meet up with The Croupier in Cavalaire-sur-Mer. The Croupier hadn't changed a bit, and the seaside town was still as lovely as ever, but this little cutie was much bigger than I had remembered.  

It was the most gorgeous of days... the sun was glistening off the sea, my belly was full of delicious goodness, there was Limincello and rosé, and baby cuddles... it was heaven.

Now take another deep breath and come back to reality. 


Wednesday, December 3, 2014


(This post is a follow up to 'Still Frustrated', which continued on from, 'Frustration') 

Well that's that then.

After five weeks of trying everything I could to finally get my Congressman's office to request Gregory's Green Card be processed sooner rather than later (instead of merely checking on the status as they seemed to be content to do), I have failed. 

This is the email I received from them yesterday:

Dear Sara,
Listed below is the email response we received. Unfortunately, the US Embassy in Paris denied the expedite request. We will continue to check on your case accordingly. As soon as we receive any information, it will be forwarded to you.
... ... ...
This is a follow up to your email dated November 24, 2014 concerning the immigrant visa petition filed by Sara Louise XXX on behalf of Gregory XXX with assigned case number XXX Per correspondence from your office, the National Visa Center (NVC) forwarded an expedite request to the  U.S. Embassy in Paris, France.  The response from the U.S. Embassy indicates that they are not willing to accept this case for expeditious processing.

And once again, I had allowed myself to get my hopes up when last week I was finally told that if I wrote a letter, detailing the hardship reason that we needed the visa expedited (and in fairness, I'd hardly call getting it finally processed after thirteen months 'expedited'), the visa center would send it on to the embassy in Paris for review. 

Foolish me, I thought that my Congressman requesting this expedition on behalf of a constituent that's going broke because she and her husband live in two separate households in two separate countries would be reason enough. I guess not. 

So here I am, broken, That's how I feel, broken and empty. There is nothing left for me to do. I am merely a tiny speck on the back of the NVC and they don't care. I have to wait 120 days for one set of documents to be reviewed and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. At least there are only 17 days of the second '60 day wait' left to go (but then again, that's day-days and not business days, so who knows... at this point I feel like the process is never going to end). 

On the bright side, I will see Gregory in a week or so when he comes to stay for Christmas, but on the dark side, he will have to go back afterwards and I don't even want to think about how we are going to feel when that day comes. I better start stocking up on waterproof mascara.  

P.S. Here's a thought... how about before we focus on immigration reform for people who entered this country illegally, why don't we try and address the problems within the process, for those who are trying to do it legally, because receiving two back-to-back '60 day wait' letters, is inefficiency at its finest.  

Monday, December 1, 2014

Behind The Photos XIX

Today's edition of Behind The Photos picks up a couple of weeks where the last one left off... Gregory and I had celebrated our first wedding anniversary in Lyon, and sadly, the day after we returned home, my father passed away. So we went to the States for a couple of weeks, but when we came back, not only had spring arrived in Le Petit Village, but so had La Petite.

Having this bundle of cuteness to to hold and cuddle after saying goodbye to my dad was the best way to help me through the grieving process. Circle of life that is.

When winter would finally leave us, and spring would trinkle in, we would have apéro outside every chance we got. It was always just the handful of us, sitting outside the bar on haphazardly strewn chairs (i.e; practically in the middle of the road) enjoying the warming weather and the solitude before the tourists came. Looking at this photo is surreal for me now, it's only been eight months since I left The LPV, but this photo seems like a lifetime and a whole other world away. It's hard to believe that was my life.

This would be the highlight of our Friday night... a car would pull up and we'd see if whoever was inside had any ideas if there was anything going on or what we could all get up to. They usually didn't. It made me feel like I was seventeen years old again looking for a party.

And once it was warm enough, we couldn't wait to start barbecue season. Here's Brother-in-Law manning the grill with his father-in-law watching over him. And of course there's Gregory doing something ridiculous. I'm not sure what he's got in his hand but it looks suspiciously like a machete. Considering this next barbecue photo, that wouldn't surprise me at all...

This. I have no words for this. I remember taking the photo and I remember being every bit as confused about it then, as I am now.

Whenever I come across this photo in my album, it never fails to make me smile. There's Gregory with Child Bride's little sister, Wolf (that's her actual name, true story). Since she's Gregory's and my sister-in-law's sister, she's kind of like our little sister too, and Gregory teases her as such. Like here for example, when he not only stole her bracelets, but her chocolate cake too. If you ever wanted to know who would steal candy from a baby, well now you do, Gregory would.

Friday, November 28, 2014


// It finally happened! After eleven years, I finally got my real American Thanksgiving, and it was every bit as wonderful as I knew it would be. I can't wait to do with again next year with Gregory stuffing himself with turkey next to me.

// Have you seen Mockingjay yet? I saw it last week and like Thanksgiving, I want a do over. Loved, loved, loved it.

// This is how ridiculous I am sometimes; I was talking to my mother and saying how I needed some good curry powder and red and green curry pastes and she told me that there are few good Asian markets in San Antonio. I said, "Ugh, I don't want to drive all the way into San Antonio. When you're in Dublin, can you pop into the Asian store on Abbey Street and pick me up some?" Because only in my mind, does it make more sense for my mother to pick me up some when she's in Dublin, than for me to drive down the road and get some.

// So my mother is going to Dublin for a week tomorrow, and ever since Fifty saw the suitcases being pulled out, he's been mopey and practically inconsolable. It's horribly sad and I feel terrible for him. He hates seeing suitcases, poor guy.

// As of today, about 98% of my Christmas shopping is done and 75% of the cards have been written. I just felt like sharing that information. Go me.

// When do you put up your holiday decorations? I'm practically chomping at the bit to put mine up because this is the year I've been waiting for, this is the year I have finally been reunited with my Christmas decorations that were sitting in storage while I was an expat. All of my Santas and my Nativity scene can finally be taken out of their boxes, dusted off, and do what they were made to do... spread Christmas cheer! (I would love to say that ALL of my Christmas decorations are now together, but I can't, because the decorations I accumulated when I was in France, are now in Massachusetts at my sister's with the rest of my belongings. Eventually, me and all of my stuff will be in the same location. That's the dream.)

// The other day on Facebook, someone had posted one of the zillions of Bill Cosby memes that have been going around. It was tasteless, and I usually ignore such things, but as I was scrolling down, a comment that someone had posted about it caught my eye. This it what it said: "You can take the monkey out of the jungle, but you can't take the jungle out of the monkey. lmfao." Seriously, someone actually wrote that. And here's the thing, I see things like that weekly on Facebook, not necessarily always that extreme, but hints of it. So for anyone who thinks that race still isn't an issue in this country, well, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn I want to sell you.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

rendant grâce

This is Sam. Sam was my grandmother's grandfather, and like my Nana, he was a Wampanoag. His photo is here because the Wampanoag were the kind and generous folk who brought the food to the first Thanksgiving. I'm sure if Sam was still alive today, he would simply say, "you're welcome" (I had to have gotten it from somewhere, right).

I'm pretty sure that the Sam and Nana part of me is the reason I love Thanksgiving so. It's always been my most favorite of holidays, there is just something so familial, warm and loving about it, which is what made it all the more dismal as an expat. In the rest of the world, Thanksgiving is just another Thursday leading up to big show in December. It's all very blah.

Since moving back to the States, I've been longing for tomorrow to come. I'd finally be a part of it all again, not just an observer to the never ending flow of Facebook's pumpkin pie newsfeed. But here's the thing, never in my wildest imagination did I think that Gregory wouldn't be here for it. Never. During this ridiculously drawn out green card process, I was always like, "Oh well, at least he'll be here by Thanksgiving, that's all that matters." And lo and behold, he's not.

So while I've had moments of joy this week as the holiday has closed in (the crowded grocery store might be stressing out others but the frantic buzz of it has been giving me the giddies), unfortunately, there's been lots of sadness too. Gregory isn't here, my family isn't complete, and he won't be busting through the door in the nick of time, à la Planes, Trains and Automobiles. He is simply not coming.

In order to try and get a hold of the ever growing pit of despair that's burrowing deeper into my stomach as the Thanksgiving clock winds down, I thought it was time to focus on the positive with the timely, Things I'm Thankful For list.

I'm thankful for friends that feel more like family.

I'm thankful for my health and everything that I have that so many less fortunate souls do not.

I'm thankful for my mom's friend Vicki, who always helps me bathe Fifty. (He had his holiday bath yesterday and he's so soft and clean now and his grandma can't say he smells like fish anymore... for the record, he never smelt like fish.)

I'm thankful for Law and Order SVU. As long as USA keeps running those marathons, I will always have something to watch on TV.

I'm thankful that I found a wine here that I love and that's a bargain at $5.49 a bottle. Amen and Hallelujah.

I'm thankful for the new Chromebook I'm typing on; an early Christmas present from my mother. Thanks Eilo.

I'm thankful for the friends that I have made through this blog. You guys are some of the most kind and supportive people going. I love y'all.

I'm thankful for Mr. & Mrs. London who have been taking such good care of Gregory these past few months.

I'm thankful for Fifty, my trusty sidekick, who is wonderfully, cuddly, company.

I'm thankful that my husband's phone plan allows him call me twice a day. But, I'll be even more thankful when he no longer has to.

Happy Thanksgiving friends! Gobble, gobble bisous. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Playing The Help

Back in July, when I was in France visiting Gregory, I happened to be there for The London's wedding anniversary. Figuring they would be going out for the evening to celebrate, and Gregory would probably be working, I looked forward to a date with myself; Chinese takeaway, Sky TV, and a bottle of Rosé, but as most of my plans go, it didn't. 

The night before her anniversary, Mrs. London and I sat outside by the pool having apéro and tossing around ideas of where she could bring Mr. London for dinner (it was her year to plan). 

The problem with restaurants in Toulon is that there aren't that many great ones, and the ones that are, well, we've already been to, so it's hard to find someplace special. And unfortunately, going anywhere out of town was a no-no, as Mr. London had to be in town for work. But as we sipped and brainstormed, and I looked around at the gorgeous surroundings and the new deck that Mr. London and Gregory had built (well done boys), a plan began to percolate... 

What if I cooked dinner for them and served it on the terrace, and we'd make it a surprise, Mr. London would think he was going out somewhere, but really he'd be walked out to his own back garden which we would decorate with candles and flowers, and I would cook and serve. It would be my gift to them. We agreed it was an excellent idea patted ourselves on the back, and planned a menu. 

The next day, we expected Mr. London to go out and about as he usually does, but nope, he decided to stay put on the couch, for the whole day, the couch that is right next to the open plan kitchen. It's kind of difficult to cook a surprise meal when someone can see what you're doing. And that's when I had my second light bulb moment, I told Mr. London that I was cooking a surprise meal for Gregory, he would be home early that evening, and we would have it while he and Mrs. London were out celebrating. He believed it, and I even used this new ploy to let Mr. London pick out his own starter and dessert... silly Mr. London! 

Mrs. London and I were quite chuffed with our cleverness let me tell you, but we still couldn't do anything about decorating the terrace until Mr. London disappeared. Unfortunately, he decided to stay put until fifteen minutes before he and Mrs. London were due to 'go out', when he finally went upstairs to shower and get ready and that's when Mrs. London and I sprung into action. We sprinted up the steps of the tiered garden, placing tea candles here and there and hanging them from the trees. We spread out rose petals, set the table, and setup the speakers so there would be music.

Miraculously, we were back inside by the time Mr. London was back downstairs putting his shoes on and grabbing his keys. I said goodbye, told them to have fun, and watched as Mrs. London walked her husband out the front door, and then into the side gate of their garden and up the steps to their date. I ran and put a dress on (their waitress should look lovely after all) and greeted them outside to ask what they would like to drink. Mr. London's face was priceless! Mrs. London and I managed to pull of the surprise and amazingly, Gregory did not let the secret slip during any one of his and Mr. London's zillion phone calls they had that day. Succès

And after their dinner, Mr. and Mrs. London celebrated their marriage by sending off wish lanterns into the Toulon sky, and when Gregory got home, we all sat outside under the twinkling lights of a beautiful evening. It was more than a little romantic if I do say so myself.

P.S. In case you're curious, the menu consisted of this crudités platter for nibbles that Mr. London picked out, followed by Coq au Riesling, and for dessert; ice cream topped with tropical fruit, Mr. London's other choice (he's very easy breezy, Mr. London is... or he thinks that Gregory is). 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Top 10: Things I Love About Dublin

Before transitioning to C'est Moi, Sara Louise, Sara in Le Petit Village was an expat in France blog for over four years. But before being an expat in France, I was an expat in Dublin, I just didn't blog about it. Since I'm now an ex-expat, and C'est Moi, Sara Louise is an ex-expat blog of sorts, I thought I'd start  blogging about Ireland (well, Dublin specifically) to add a smattering of green to the blue, white and red. So in that vein, here's a list of things I love about Dublin, because, why not. It's Friday, and I'm feeling lovey dovey.

1. Christmastime in Dublin, and by Christmastime, I mean November through January. Dublin is simply magical during the holidays; the lights on Grafton and Henry Streets twinkle so, and the Christmas tree on O'Connell is always perfectly sparkly and splendidly festive standing in front of the GPO. Christmas music pipes out of the shops and everyone is jolly. Dublin is a small city, and during the holidays, it has the most wonderful of small town vibes to it. It's like everyone knows each other, and everyone is full of the Christmas spirit.

2. Dublin is a cosmopolitan city with everything on offer that any other world class city has, but, Dublin city centre is considerably smaller, meaning that you can get from one side of town, to the other, in a relatively short period of time. You could easily walk it if you wanted to. It's practically pocket sized which makes it perfect for exploring.

3. While Dublin is notorious for it's dreary weather, on occasion, the sun does come out to shine, and when it does, the whole city celebrates. Any public green will have people lounging on it, beer gardens will be packed to the hilt, and last minute barbecues with burnt burgers and soggy cole slaw are planned. The whole city buzzes with infectious happiness and it stays that way... until the rain comes again.

4. There's a small village only three miles outside of Dublin City Center called, Chapelizod. It's a charming place full of history and legend. Not only did James Joyce speak of it in Finnegan's Wake, but Michael Collins would meet his Dublin Castle spies in a pub there. Lots of historical and literary lore, but the real legend of Chapelizod lies in its name... it means Isolde's Chapel, and the Isolde is the Isolde of Arthurian legend. Chapelizod is the village where Isolde hailed from, and I was lucky enough to have lived there.

5. The pubs of Dublin are famous, but many people may have the wrong idea about them and their purpose. Sure, they're having a pint or two (or five or six), but they're also for the craic; the sing songs, quizzes, matches and laughter that you'll find filling them any given day of the week. The pub is the social hub of a village and on weekend days, you can find entire families there, children included.

6. After enjoying 'the craic' at a pub, there is only one place to stop on your way home; the chipper. It doesn't get much better than a battered cod and a bag of chips (fries) sprinkled with salt and malt vinegar. My mouth is watering just thinking about it, and after a pint or two (or five or six), there is nothing better. And if you're feeling particularly indulgent, throw in a battered sausage and you're good to go. Hangover be gone.

7. Ireland's restaurant scene has been on the rise for years now, and in Dublin, it's hopping. There are so many amazing and innovative restaurants in Dublin to choose from now, it would be impossible to get through them all. Trust me, if you like food, Dublin should be at the top end of your 'must visit' list.

8. When I lived in Dublin, I hardly ever would go out in Temple Bar, it felt too touristy for my liking, but now that I'm gone, I appreciate it. Sure it's packed to the gills with tourists and drunken hen parties and stag do's, but there is some serious good times to be had inside any of those pubs squeezed together on those cobbled streets. Traditional music and sing-a-longs can usually be found inside one or another.

9. Dublin taxi drivers are generally up for a chat whether you want one or not. They're like driving encyclopedias of local history and news and will usually talk your ear off with their take on things and opinions. And on a number occasions, when the time came for me to exit the taxi, I felt like I was saying goodbye to a friend, rather than a stranger (told you they were chatty), but you still have to pay them.

10. And rounding out my top ten favorite things about the Fair City are the Dublin people themselves. Maybe I'm biased because most of my family is there, but every person I know who has visited the city, comes back raving about the people and how friendly and helpful they are. Of course not every single person in a city can be neighborly, but for the most part, Dubliners are. I miss those neighborly people in that fair city.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


There is a list of places in France that I've always wanted to go to, but never had a chance because, you know, life. Not getting to places like Versailles I can understand, because that's a long journey from Le Petit Village, but there were loads of places not too far that I never made it to, places like; Bandol, Nice and Antibes, and Sanary-sur-Mer.

Sidebar: For four years I harassed Gregory to take me to Nice... please, please, I beg, and always the answer was no (with a Gallic huff and puff naturally). Gregory had this thing about Nice, he didn't like it. And the fact that he had never actually been to Nice didn't seem to matter. Well this summer, Gregory and Mrs. London brought some South Africans that were visiting Toulon down to Nice for the day, and afterwards Gregory phoned me and apologised because he loved Nice and thought it was simply the bee's knees. Well too little too late Gregory! (Needless to say, he's in the dog house for this one.

On the Sunday after I arrived in France for my visit, Mrs. London and I decided to take advantage of the fact that the boys were busy, and go to one of the places on my list. We actually chose Bandol and were heading in that direction, but somehow along the way, we found ourselves taking the exit for Sanary-sur-Mer instead (it was closer and we were hungry).

Let me tell you something, there is nothing so lovely as soaking up the soft sun rays of a perfect summer day while looking out over the Mediterranean Sea (or any sea really) and sipping a chilled glass of Rosé. It truly is a delightful way to spend an afternoon, and in Sanary-sur-Mer, that is exactly what Mrs. London and I did. And without Gregory and Mr. London to get in our way with their Bumder shenanigans, it was all the more delightful.  

Not too shabby, is it? If I had ruby, red slippers, I'd be clicking my heels right this very second. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

making up for messing up

Remember how I told you about Gregory messing up our last day in Paris by booking that awkward hour of 12:49 train? Well, it turned out there was a reason for that. Gregory was surprising me with dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, and that awkward, early afternoon train, was the one that would get us to Toulon in time. As soon as I found out we'd be dining at Le Tournebride (where we celebrated my last birthday), Gregory was quickly forgiven for making me miss the Musée d'Orsay again

It felt surreal piling into Mr. London's car and driving to the restaurant. While I had been gone from France for four months, being back in Toulon with my family made those four months all but disappear. We were all together again, just like I had never left, and when I walked through the doors of the quaint, Provençal restaurant, I truly felt like I was home again; a luxurious, drawn out dinner kicked off with an apéro before slowly making its way through each course, was exactly what I had been missing. It was scrumptious.

Being July, the cozy, winter atmosphere of the restaurant kind of lacked the magic it had had back in February, and instead of the food being cooked over a fire in the diningroom, the fire was flaming outside. But, the food was still every bit as delicious as I had remembered.

Gregory and I ordered the medallions of beef and scallops, which came on a large, wooden plate, with each succulent bite layered over the other. And for dessert, the four of us requested the Café Gourmand which was served on this humongous platter of perfection; chocolate cake, apple tart, crème brûlée, slices of watermelon, and a bowl of freshly whipped cream. It didn't take me long to remember how I had survived for so long without Tex-Mex.

If you would, please forgive the quality of the photos. While the lighting in Le Tournebride is lovely for dining, it's pretty bad for iphone photography. But even though I knew the lighting wouldn't be conducive for decent blog photos, it still didn't stop me from capturing this cuteness...

Clearly, somethings never change. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Behind The Photos XVIII

For this edition of Behind the Photos, I'm going back to my first trip to Lyon; the destination of Gregory's and my first wedding anniversary, celebratory getaway in March 2011. I'm hoping that by looking at these photos and reminiscing, I might remember what it feels like to be married, because truthfully, thanks to this extra-long, drawn out, Green Card bupkis, I feel like I'm forgetting. 

We chose Lyon for our getaway because of its reputation as the 'gastronomic capital of France'. The fact that there is a Starbucks there, is the reason I chose it. True story, and a perfect example of how far expats will go sometimes for a taste of home. That photo there is Gregory in our hotel room only a few minutes after we had checked in, planning our route to my vanilla latte.

Look at me up there smiling and giddy with sugar and caffeine. I've got my grande vanilla latte in one hand, and my new Starbucks city mug, Lyon edition, in the other. It's funny, because in the eight months since I've been back in the States,  I've had Starbucks exactly three times; once as soon I arrived because I had to, once on an early morning drive from Austin to keep me awake, and last week to get my hands on a Gingerbread Latte (when it comes to seasonal Starbucks, I skip the PSL and go Christmas every time).

Here's Gregory smiling which is very rare. Not that he doesn't smile, he does, but he hates smiling in photographs, mainly because he hates photographs. I think he was smiling here because our task of the day was completed, the task being Starbucks of course. Gregory doesn't particularly care about Starbucks, if I twist his arm he might order like a smoothie, or a sandwich, or if he's feeling extra fancy, a hot chocolate. Gregory is very French when it comes to his coffee; he only likes it small in one of those tiny cups and never, ever, to go. Oh, and he was also probably smiling because we were on our way to find someplace to eat lunch. Lunch makes Gregory happy.

Twinkies! We found the best place for lunch! For the life of me I can't remember the name and that kills me (I had planned on looking up the place when we got back to The LPV, but unfortunately, as soon as we got back, this badness happened, and thoughts of the restaurant flitted away), but I remember eating there, soaking up the elegant, yet cozy atmosphere, and thinking that I'd love to live in Lyon, and if I did, I'd eat at that restaurant all the time. What kind of person would move to a city based on one restaurant? Probably the same type that picks a holiday destination on whether there's a Starbucks there or not.

Look, I have wings! Does that ever happen to anyone else when they ponytail their hair, you get wings? Gregory, if you're reading this, thank you for letting me know that I had major fly aways while you were taking my photo, way to have my back buddy. OK, ignore the wings. This was our 'dessert' at Les Halles Paul Bocuse. If you like food, then you have to make a pilgrimage to Les Halles sometime in your life. Trust me, you won't be disappointed. So, this is me with my dessert; a glass of white wine and a dozen oysters. I'm savory, not sweet.

And here's cranky pants Gregory. I wish I could remember what his scrunched up, grouchy face was about, but I can't. I can tell you however, that it was most likely because he was tired of walking, or hungry, or I made him go into a shop or something. Those are pretty much the only things that make for cranky pants Gregory (except for having to wait over a year for a Green Card of course). 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Au Revoir Paris, Bonjour Toulon

This post continues on from where this one left off, so we're going to shake off our November blues, and travel back in time to France in July. 

Gregory and I had one perfect day in Paris, and I had planned on getting at least another half of one in before heading south to Toulon, but Gregory messed up. That's right, I'm throwing my husband under the bus (or train as the case may be), he messed up. Instead of buying TGV tickets for late in the afternoon, giving us time to actually do some more stuff in Paris before having to leave, he booked the 12:49 train. 12:49, that's just awkward.

A 12:49 train means that a trip to Musée d'Orsay was practically impossible (logistically, it just wouldn't work), so once again, hanging out with my favorite Impressionists wasn't happening, and 12:49 also meant that lunch would be a very rushed affair, and as any Francophile knows, lunch, should simply not be rushed.

But being the positive Polly that I try to be, I came up with another plan; we would have time for a stroll around the Eiffel Tower and Les Invalides, followed by sushi at a Japanese restaurant I had spotted around the corner from the hotel. Sushi was quick, and since the sign on the door said that they opened at 11 o'clock, I figured we'd definitely have time to do that before making our way towards Gare de Lyon.

So at 11AM, on the dot, we walked through the open doors of the Sushi place and were shown to a table. And then we waited, and waited, and finally twenty minutes later left, without even having been handed a menu. WHY WOULD YOU SAY THAT YOU ARE OPEN AT 11AM IF YOU AREN'T ACTUALLY READY TO OPEN?! Ah, France, sometimes I really miss you, and sometimes I really don't.

But, I did end up getting my French lunch (I'm all about my French lunch), and even better, in a super-duper efficient brasserie in the train station. It wasn't bad at all for train station food, and in fairness, a glass of Rosé helped (confession: it was more like petit pichet).

And after I grabbed a Frappuccino from the train station Starbucks (I heart you Paris, I really do), we climbed on board the TGV and were dashing along the French countryside.

The train journey was nice, I enjoyed it. After ten days apart, I had Gregory all to myself in a confined space. He did his best to sleep, but I wasn't having it. I missed out on Musée d'Orsay, he was going to miss out on sleep. We chatted and tic-tac-toed until the three and half hours had flown by and we were pulling into the Toulon station where Mr. London was meeting us.

Of course when we stepped off the train, he was nowhere to be found. We looked around the station and couldn't spot him anywhere and as we walked outside, Gregory's phone rang. It was Mr. London saying he could see us. We scanned the crowds and he laughed. He could see us, but we couldn't see him and he thought it was hysterical. And then Gregory had a light bulb moment and led me across the street into the bar on the corner, and sure enough, Mr. London was sitting there chuckling (he finds himself awfully amusing).

One glass of Rosé later, and I was on my way to The London's. And before I knew it, I was poolside with Mrs. London, glass of chilled pink in hand (in the new monogrammed sippy cups I had brought with me), and gossiping like I had never left. 

Monday, November 10, 2014


// I can safely say, without a shadow of a doubt, that if I was still in The LPV, I would have had at least two Raclettes by now this fall. How can I be so sure? Because that's how many Gregory has had; two Raclettes, both last week! I hate him. (j/k)

// Besides stuffing himself with delicious, gooey cheese and potatoes, Gregory's been chowing down on good ol' Le Petit Village pizza van, pizza. Last Friday he headed up that way to spend the evening with Honey Jr and Honey's Honey. He was kind enough to snap a photo for me of the pie they chose; the Norvégienne, my favorite pizza van, pizza. I hate him. (j/k)

// While Gregory was hanging with The Honeys, my oh so exciting Saturday night at home with my mother consisted of a round of cards, followed by the movie, Up, which neither of us have ever seen (but our reactions were pretty much like this), and Sleeping Beauty, the old, animated one from a zillion years ago, which I haven't seen since I was a tot. After seeing that minx, Maleficent, in the cartoon version, I now want to see Angelina Jolie's version. (Confession: I never really wanted to see it, mostly because I've felt like Angelina Jolie was kind of playing herself in the movie, and I was like, meh. Harsh, yes, but my opinion.)

// Speaking of Angelina, have you heard that Brangelina is producing a red now to match their rosé? I wonder if it will be as over hyped and overpriced as their pink one? Probably. Me, I'm sticking to this beautiful bottle that The Honey's gave to Gregory to bring over to me. Man, I miss The Honeys, they're good people. (In my book, you give me wine, you're 'good people'.)

// And because I want to get my hands on that bottle of wine sooner rather than later, Gregory and I have decided that he's coming to Texas for Christmas! Ho Ho Ho! (Ignore those ho ho's. There should be no ho ho's until after Thanksgiving. I apologize, but I'm feeling jolly.) 

Friday, November 7, 2014

two curly-headed tumbleweeds blew into town

Because I don't want you to think that I spend all of my time here pining for Gregory and banging my head against the wall while waiting for Gregory's green card, today I'm going to tell you about a night out on the town I had here with my buddy Lil' John. (Btw, Lil' John is not a blog name, it's what I actually call him. He's not John, he's Lil' John, and he will be forever, even when he's like, eighty.)

Lil' John and I have been friends since we were teenagers, I'm a few years older than him (probably why I call him Lil' John) and his brother was my first boyfriend. After I ditched the brother, I practically adopted Lil' John. He was a fixture at my house for years but when our early twenties came, we drifted. Fast forward to a few days after I arrived back in the U.S., and we were on the phone formulating a plan...

Lil' John would come down from Austin one weekend, and we would hit up our little hometown for a night out. While I was content with dinner and a drink and then crashing back at my mother's, Lil' John wasn't having it. He insisted that we stay at the Inn in town so we could ditch our cars and wreak havoc. (FYI: I'm not Lil' John's 'type' if you catch my drift, so Gregory doesn't have a problem with me shacking up with him in a hotel room.)

From the very second Lil' John arrived at my house to pick me up, until the next morning, we laughed. We laughed until our cheeks hurt, and it felt like our guts would bust. I wish I could go into every tiny detail of laughter, but that's impossible of course, so I'll give the evening highlight reel.

The first stop on our night out was the Inn to check in and have a drink at the bar there. A lady sitting a couple of stools down from us looked at Lil' John's long ringlets and asked (somewhat bitchily I must add), "how long does it take you to curl your hair?"

Lil' John's response; "six hours." Cue laughter.

Our next stop was the local wine bar. This place serves glasses of wine from vending machines! Isn't that the greatest thing ever?! You stick a card in it, press a button, and it pours you a glass of wine. It's basically my new mecca. It's also where I discovered one of my favorite new wines, and get this, it's from Mexico! Who knew?!

Deciding that it was best to fill our bellies with something other than wine we went out for dinner; a lovely two hour affair where we sat on a table overlooking the small river that runs through town and chatted. We were just the same as we had always been, except much, much older of course.

After dinner we strolled across the street headed to a local event called, Hot Rod Night (people bring their flashy retro cars, a band plays, and we all hang out drinking beer... it's 100% pure Americana), but on the way, some loud music distracted so we followed it and discovered a rocking little beer garden tucked away behind a restaurant.

We hung out there for a bit harassing the bartender (who is now a buddy of Gregory's and mine) and shouting requests at the band (PLAY FREE BIRD!) before finally making our way down to the hot rods.

Hot Rod night was in full swing! The road was closed off so people could show off their rides and the band was hopping. But there was one thing missing... nobody was dancing. Well that's where we came in. Lil' John starred as Kevin Bacon, our town was that one from Footloose, and by golly, THE WHOLE TOWN WOULD DANCE! 

Lil' John hit the dance floor (the dance road anyway) right in the middle of everyone, and started shaking his groove thing while the crowd looked on wondering who the crazy spazz was. I couldn't leave him out there flailing about on his own so I had to join him. And then eventually, one by one, the dancing bug spread and loads of people got up to bop around, including the "how long does it take to curl your hair" lady.

It was quite the evening. I could go on and on, but I'll just say that it was definitely one for the books and we made loads of friends and left quite a few impressions, some unbeknown to us because the next morning as we went for coffee, an older lady smiled at us and said "you two are up awfully early for people who were up so late." We smiled back, nodded our heads, said "yes m'am" (because we're Texas like that) and carried on our way. To this day, we have no idea who that lady was.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Still Frustrated

{my life might not be a picnic right now, but my heavens, neither is Mrs. London's}

Today. Oh, today.

I was going to blog about my trip to Toulon (the one I made after meeting Gregory in Paris) or a jubilant evening I had here in my little town with an old friend (keyword: shenanigans), but I woke up full of righteous indignation and thought, "you know what, I need to vent this merde out," and since you guys are the best ventees going, that's what I intend to do. And on the upside, you will get an update on Gregory's Green Card situation.

OK. So you remember my aptly named post a couple of weeks ago, Frustration? Well this post basically continues on from that.

On the Thursday that I received the visa center's devil letter, you know, the one that says "please wait 60 days for us to process this..." I basically blew a gasket. I had already received a 60 day letter before (60 business days before to be exact) and thought that there was no way in the universe that I should have to get another one because that's 120 days of waiting, and that's bupkes.

So I reached out to a good friend of mine who happens to work for a congressman here in Texas. Unfortunately for me, he's not my congressman, he represents the district right next to mine. But good news, his office was very helpful, and after emails flying back and forth on the Friday, they got me in touch with a woman in my congressman's office, and on Monday of last week, that woman acknowledged the email from the other office and told them that she would be in touch with me (I had also emailed my own congressman's office on the Friday, and this lady did confirm that my email was in their system.)

Fast forward two days to the Wednesday and I still hadn't heard anything back from the lady in my congressman's office. At midday I called her and as she seemed clueless to who I was, I filled her in. Her response was basically, "oh yes, you," YES ME! But despite her short term memory problems, she seemed helpful. She told me that she would send me a privacy release letter and I just needed to send that back signed along with a letter detailing the problem and my congressman would contact the visa center and get someone to pull the file and work on it.

This was great news! Sure I was annoyed that she hadn't contacted me on the Monday and asked me to do these things (at this point, every, single, day counts), but hey, we were getting somewhere! Within the hour, I had the papers she had requested emailed back to her, and on Thursday she sent me an email confirming that my congressman had initiated the inquiry with the visa center and we would hear something within two to fourteen days.

I got excited. Things were going to move in two to fourteen days. Someone was going to look at our file, because that's what the lady said would happen. Unfortunately, the lady is not very good at managing expectations.

Yesterday afternoon, there was an email from the lady in my inbox. My heart jumped, and then I read it, and my heart fell, it fell hard. She told me that they had gotten the same "60 day delay" response that I did and she was all like, "sorry we can't do more, I'll check back in 30 days, blah, blah, bupkes."

Uh, H to the E L L, no.

I sent an email back asking what was the point of getting my congressman's office involved for them to only get the same lame response that I did and that I wanted to know why I had to go back to the bottom of the pile because of one teeny, tiny, clarification to my documents. I don't want to skip the line, I just want to be back in my old spot in the line. It's like I had to step out of the line for a second, WHY COULDN'T SOMEONE SAVE MY SPOT?!

She called me. She explained that the visa center gets so much paperwork, that when it's received, it goes to a warehouse and it can take up to THREE WEEKS for papers to get from the warehouse, to the office where it's actually attached to a file. Could she not have said this to me last week?! It's called managing expectations lady, look into it! You work for a congressman for Pete's sake.

Anyway, she said that she would follow up in two weeks and I said, no, next week. She said, "I've been doing this for six years, I know that there is no way your papers will be attached to your file next week," (if she's been doing this job for six years then you'd think that she would have explained this 'three weeks to get papers to the office' malarkey before... once again, managing expectations). I told her that as of next week, it's three weeks, so she needs to follow up next week, not in two, because as soon as my papers get attached to my file, I want them back in the line, not at the end of the line, but back in my spot, where they belong.

So there you have it. FRUSTRATED.

If anyone needs me, I'll be banging my head against the wall. 

Monday, November 3, 2014


// This photo makes me feel all kinds of awesome. For the first time in eleven years, I was able to cast my vote on American soil. No more absentee ballot for me, I was stoked! And like a dork, I wore that sticker All. Day. Long. (That sticker now lives stuck to my bathroom mirror. Re: dork.)

// And you know what else was awesome? That extra hour yesterday was, that's what. I woke up bright as a button at 5:22 (because I had fallen asleep a little after ten the night before... I wasn't even able to stay awake for Saturday Night Live for Pete's sake. I'm ridiculous), and by 8AM I felt like I had already conquered the world ('conquered the ironing' is a more accurate description, but whatever).

// But wasn't so awesome was the pity party I threw myself as I ironed. What happened was this... Gregory called (as he does twice everyday) and told me that he and Mrs. London had just finished watching Mr. London's match, and they were going to go and have a few drinks. Suddenly the biggest wave of jealousy washed over me followed by the opening of a big, sad, pit in my stomach. HOW COME I'M HERE  IRONING AT MY MOTHER'S HOUSE IN TEXAS WHILE THEY'RE PARTYING IT UP IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE?! Yep, a full on green-themed pity party complete with whine was being thrown in my bedroom and let me tell you, it wasn't pretty.

// Plus, get this... Mr. London won a big award a couple of months ago and one of the prizes was a Rolls Royce Phantom for a week. He picked it up a few days ago, so Gregory has been cruising around Toulon with his Bumder in a mother-trucking Rolls while I'm over here all like Naomi No Mates. Whatever. (If anyone has a tiny violin, now would be the time to play it.)

// Moving on to more awesome things... electrical outlets. That's right, electrical outlets. Besides taking closets for granted my fellow Americans, don't ever take the number of outlets you have in your home for granted because in some other countries you don't necessarily have a plethora of them in a room, you might only have like, two, and that blows. (This is what's floating my boat these days... electrical outlets. Man, I live a sad life.)

// Want to know what else floats my boat? Law & Order SVU marathons. I love me some American TV. Love it.

// Oh, and there's a fusion, Tex-Mex/ Cuban taco truck in my town that makes some seriously mouthwatering stuff. I picked up my favorite dish there a couple of weeks back (this mix of rice, beans, marinated roasted shredded pork, cilantro, and onion topped with sweet potato fries), and the guy there asked me what my plans were for the day. I pointed to my container and said, "this." Because sometimes my plans for the day can actually revolve around food.

// Speaking of food... I found Raclette cheese in Texas! Can I get a woo-hoo?! Now I just have to order a grill, and this winter, THERE WILL BE RACLETTE. (I wonder if there is anyway I can order a Honey Jr too?)

// Do you know what this is? Sure it's wine, but more importantly, it's gifted wine, as in FREE! A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine sent me a message that said, "I'd like to send you some wine. Any interest?" Uh, yeah. Is that not the best message one could possibly receive? (Other than: "your husband has been issued his Green Card", of course). So last week, a UPS delivery man who I will now call, Santa, showed up at my house with these four beauties. Am I a lucky duck or what? (It also should be noted that this is not the first time someone has sent me wine. Clearly, I was born under a wine sign.)

// And because I'm loving this whole positive, happy, awesome vibe I've got going on here with the last few paragraphs, I'm going to keep the good times going and close out this post by saying this: From the bottom of my heart, thank you all for the support you gave me on this post. Once again you all have shown that you are the best and most supportive friends out there. Really and truly, you guys rock. Now get out there and rock the vote tomorrow! (Do you see what I did there?

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Photoshoot Fail

Clearly Fifty is not nearly as excited about his bumblebee costume as I was. I thought it was perfect... he's dressed as a bee, and as you know, bees make honey, and since Honey Jr uses bees to help him make honey, Fifty is basically dressed as Honey Jr's little helper, which I thought was pretty nifty. Fifty not so much. I guess I should have let him dress as Super Dog like he had wanted. 

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