Monday, April 28, 2008

weekend adventures

This weekend, BFFs Antipo and Ms Mac were reunited and I crashed the party. Well, in my own defense, I was invited...

Friday, I hopped a bus to Troyes where the ladies picked me up and we hit the road further east to bring a trunk-full of food and loud laughter to Doc's house. It was already shaping up to be a gorgeous weekend and after taking Ms Mac on the champagne tour and stuffing our faces, we had a lovely stroll around the village. Doc and I picked up the girls and I had a good snuggle with my goddaughter before we piled back into the car and drove back to the luxury villa known as Chez Antipo.

Saturday was Girls Gone Wild (Paris edition) and started with Antipo, Ms Mac and I jumping on a train to Paris and heading directly to L'Oisive Thé, our dear friend Flare's dream come true / teahouse. For two hours we dined on amazing, creative salads and had some delicious carrot cakes for dessert. Then we went shopping, where I may or may not have bought a couple of things (depending on whether or not Stéph is reading) and then we retired to our evening destination for fish & chips, fruity drinks and singing Summer Lovin' at the top of our lungs. She was there, as were they (as well as this week's special guest!), our favorite teahouse owner joined us and I even got to meet her. Unfortunately, Antipo, Ms Mac and I had to leave relatively early before our train turned into a pumpkin, but a night out like that only comes once in a blue moon and it may be a long, long time before we see anything like it again.

Sunday we managed to crawl out of bed at a decent hour and get our things packed up and out the door in order to go have breakfast at Breakfast in America, where I could satiate my craving for (real) bacon and pancakes. We got there at the perfect time and only had to wait a few minutes for a table. By the time we were ready to leave, the hipsters were lined up down the block waiting for a table and we received not a few dirty looks through the window as we took our sweet time (I'm getting ornery in my old age!). From there we hotfooted it to the train station, where I made my train with ten minutes to spare, after giving Ms Mac and Antipo great big kisses and thanking them for such an amazing weekend.

I discovered that Tiny Town was having a festival as Stéph was driving me home as the main street was blocked off and we had to dodge some barriers in order to get back to our street. This turned out to be very lucky as I was just too tired from my weekend adventures to even contemplate making anything for dinner and there was a kebab truck parked right at the end of our lane. The truck was still there at dinner time as the vendors were packing up and moving on to their next festival. Just as I had taken the food, it started to rain and it hasn't stopped since. That is the perfect metaphor for this weekend - a few days of sunshine in an otherwise dull and gray world. As we all get back into our normal routines, I'm sure we'll be reminiscing about this weekend for a long time to come.

Friday, April 25, 2008

something to sing along with

Here's a little something to keep you in good music while I'm gone. This is Adele, who is among the new wave of blue-eyed soul artists coming in from England. Don't know if this has hit stateside yet, but I hope it does, it's a lovely song. Here are some lyrics so you can sing along.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

good for another nine and a half years

Isn't it funny that when you're gearing for a fight, it never comes? I was so ready to fight tooth and nail for my ten year residence card that when it went so smoothly, it was kind of a let-down.

Tuesday morning I got out the door as early as I could manage and made my way to the Préfecture in Troyes. Parking was a breeze and there were only four people ahead of me. After waiting about fifteen minutes, it was confirmed that my card was ready and I was sent to the cashier's line. Another five minute wait and I had the "stamps" totaling 70€ in my hot little hands and headed back to the other counter to get my card. I waited for the person that had meanwhile taken my place at the counter to finish his business, and then I stepped back up and turned in the stamps. After lots of sticking and stamping, I signed a paper and I got my card. In and out in forty minutes.

But just in case you thought I was going to get away scott-free, I saw the date of expiration. Turns out it took effect from the date I started the request for the card - six months ago. Yep, that means my ten year card is good for nine and a half years. *sigh* Silly bureaucrats...

Of course, next year I'll be eligible to start the process of asking for French nationality, and that's a whole other kettle of fish!

As a side note, I'm going on some adventures tomorrow and I'll be back Sunday. Have a great weekend and I'll tell you all about it when I get back!

Monday, April 21, 2008

and then everything happened at once

Um.... hi. Remember me? Yeeeeeeah.

I know, it's only been a week, but if feels like forever. To be fair, the last week was so uneventful that there really wasn't anything to write about. Stéph's second week of Spring Break was filled with sleeping in, goofing around on the computers, Stéph having bridgework done (and now we're poor again!), reading in bed, occasional walks, and one typical French lunch lasting the requisite six hours. See, I summed it up in a sentence - posts weren't necessary, were they?


And then two very exciting things happened. First, Stéph came home for lunch, like he usually does. We ate, he caught up on one of his computer games, and just as he was relaxing on the couch before going back to work he nonchalantly says, "So, how would you like to go to a beautiful seaside town in Spain next month?" Turns out Stéph has been chosen to represent the French contingent in the international teaching group he's been working with - the same one that sent him to Romania in October. Last time, his colleague brought her boyfriend to Romania and this time I get to go. Of course, I won't be lounging on the beach, as I'll have to sit in on the meetings as well, but there are still touristy things to do and SPAIN!!! I am SO EXCITED!!

So I was making a photocopy of my passport so Stéph's boss could order my plane ticket under my maiden name (by the way - I never did change my last name on my passport, though I changed it legally in the States before I moved here, anyone know if there is a problem with this or if I need to change it before it expires in 2012?) and it suddenly occurred to me that my récépissé for my carte de sejour is going to expire next week! Last time we went to the Préfecture to get my card it wasn't ready yet, so in order to avoid that fiasco again I called and actually got a real live person who told me that my card is actually ready to be picked up! This means my ten year residence card is very nearly in my grasp!

I also asked if Stéph had to be there with me to pick it up, and she said that as long as he signed a declaration that we live together that he shouldn't have to be there. That paper is what held up my card in the first place and should be in my file so hopefully we won't have a problem as Stéph won't be able to come with me this week! I won't go down without a fight, however!

While I'm thinking about it, has anyone received their ten year card recently and can tell me how much they had to pay for the "stamps" when they picked up their cards?


Monday, April 14, 2008


As promised, here's the second meme that evil Mrs B is forcing me to do under penalty of death:

Two names you go by:
1. Vivi, which is not my real name, but I like way better than my real first name's natural nickname, which I always secretly hated, but never had the courage to tell people that. Whew!
2. My real name. Yeah, right, not tellin'. (No, it's not Vivien.)

Two things you are wearing right now:
1. my blue and red flannel house jacket. Very cozy.
2. Track pants. Yes, I changed when I got home!

Two of your favorite things to do:
1. knit
2. run around Paris like I own the place

Two things you want very badly at the moment:
1. For the next two weeks to pass smoothly and quickly (but still taking some time to have fun as well!)
2. For the dollar to climb back out of the toilet

Two favorite pets you have had or have now?
1. Calliope, my cat. She was a good one and I miss her very much.
2. Nosferatu, my blood red fighter beta fish from college. He didn't last very long, but fish are awesomely easy to care for. Oooh, maybe we should get a fish...

Two people who will fill this out:
1. Oh, no you don't.
2. Apparently, memes come here to die.

Two things you ate last night:
1. tuna fish sandwich
2. a salad with homemade mustard vinaigrette

Two things you ate today:
1. Lentils and pork chops at the in-laws'
2. vanilla yogurt and biscuits for a snack

Two people you last talked to:
1. Stéph
2. My MIL

Two things you're doing tomorrow:
1. trying a new recipe
2. cleaning something, surely

Two favorite holidays:
1. Christmas - I'm glad we don't have the same problems with it in France than in the States (saying "Happy Holidays" means you're a godless heathen!! WTF?!)
2. Halloween - Though I do miss all the fun of Halloween in the States

Two favorite vacations:
1. Chamonix, Christmas 2003 - my first vacation with Stéph (awww!)
2. NYC, Summer 1997 - Les Miz, MoMA, Chelsea, amazing food, good times

Two Favorite Drinks:
1. alcoholic - whiskey sour
2. non-alcoholic - a well made smoothie (which can now be found in Paris! hooray!)

May 23 - it's coming! Hooray! Party time, people!

So, as I said before, memes come here to die. If you'd like to swoop this one up, please let me know you've done it and I'll link you here!

Update: Gillian's gone and done it!
Another sucker reader has done it! Thanks, laanba!

a conversation

Late Sunday morning, at home

Me: Well, you've got one week of vacation left. If there are things you wanted to get done during vacation, we better think about scheduling them in now.

Stéph: Tomorrow we could go see my mother and then go shopping after.

Me: *faints*

...and scene.

Yes, my husband volunteered to go shopping with me. I guess he is capable of getting cabin fever! So, no official menu this week. I've made a preliminary menu but whenever Stéph comes shopping with me, he always finds something he'd like to make instead so I'm sure our menu will be very different by the time we get back.

Also, the evil Mrs B has tagged me for another meme, so I'll attack that when we get back.

Hey, I woke up on the right side of the bed this morning! I hope you were greeted with a nice Monday as well.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

yet another seven things

Stéph is on Spring Break and we're not going anywhere, so unfortunately there isn't much to write about, unless you want to hear about our spring cleaning adventures (today we cleaned dirt behind an appliance). It's a good thing my buddy Mrs B tagged me for the Seven Weird Things meme. Of course, I've done it before, but what makes you think that I'm only limited to seven weird things? Here's another seven:

1) I cannot stand the sensation of being breathed on. I have to adjust my arms just so, so I don't breathe on them when I'm trying to go to sleep. This can make cuddling kind of challenging sometimes, too.

2) My mom used to give us milk and diet coke (in the same glass) when we were kids. Can't speak for my sister but I loved it. That doesn't mean I'd try it now...

3) Warning: Grossness Factor High I have a problem with excessive ear wax. I used to have to have my ears irrigated by a doctor when I was a kid, and then once a semester in college. I do it myself at home with a kit now. Stéph says we could start a candle factory.

4) I HATE hot weather with the heat of a thousand suns (pun intended). Yes, I grew up in Florida. Yes, Carolina summers are not much better. I simply was not built for summer.

5) I mentioned this one in my 100 Things About Me, but who reads those anymore? I very seriously wanted to be Rockette when I was a kid (this is not totally random since I'd started dancing at six and was a pretty decent tap dancer). It wasn't until I realized I would never be tall enough that I let go of that dream.

6) I like my freckles. I never understood why some people want to get rid of theirs.

7) Last week I downloaded EverQuest and that's what's been sucking my life through the computer ever since. Yep - gamer nerd girl lives!

As usual, tagging people leaves me with hate mail, but if you want to do it, let me know and I'll link you here!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

dun cut it all off

After two months of using my fancy "We Can't Believe You Still Have Hair" shampoo and conditioner, I finally came to the realization that the only thing that would bring it back to life was to cut if all off. This morning I went back to Tchip in Troyes and did just that.

This time, my visit was much faster than last time. There were only three or four other clients there and I saw my stylist almost immediately (as opposed to the hour I had to wait last time). Again, the upselling was pretty harsh - when I told her what I'd been using, which I bought there, she actually said, "Oh no, she told you to use the wrong thing, you really need to be using this [presents products which total 50€]." Yeeeeah. I'm not even half way through the products I bought last time, so I'll just continue using that. After all, I have seen a little bit of improvement, however small. I did opt for the fancy shampoo treatment which brought my grand total for a shampoo/cut to 25€, still a bargain in France no matter how you look at it.

As for the cut, I couldn't be happier. It's probably the best cut I've had in this country since I moved here. She knew without me telling her that if she cut it too short it was draw up - a first!! - and it ended up being the exact length I wanted. Plus it will look good if I let it air-dry curly or blow it out. Very, very pleased, I am! A good coiffure experience for so cheap? I must have won the hair lottery!

Monday, April 07, 2008

menu plan monday - week seven


Last week's new recipe, Penne Arrabiata, was excellent, but if you make it as written, it is super spicy! Too spicy for Stéph and really at the limit for me. I'll make it again, but next time I'll cut the amount of red pepper flakes in half!

Otherwise, this week is full of oldies but goodies. Stéph's Spring Break has started and he'll be stepping up to the stove Tuesday night.

I was planning on running errands in Troyes this morning, but a) we woke up to snow and b) I think most of the stores I want to go to are closed on Mondays! I think Stéph and I are going to grab something out for lunch today.
Dinner ravioli and veg (whatever looks good at the grocery!)

Mom's Meatloaf, veg
Dinner crêpes maison (homemade crepes, filled with ham & cheese for dinner and Nutella for dessert!)

Meatloaf (leftovers), veg
Dinner chicken & mushroom spinach salad

chicken curry (recipe at the bottom of this post)
Dinner steak hachée, veg

meat cannelloni (not made fresh, to be honest! I saw some fresh meat cannelloni in the grocery last week which just needs sauce and throwing in the oven for half an hour. We'll see how it is!)
Dinner Free night (leftovers, pull from the freezer or eat out)

chicken noodle casserole (based on this recipe)
Dinner surimi salad

chicken noodle casserole (leftovers)
Dinner tuna sandwiches

For more recipe ideas, be sure to check out I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Friday, April 04, 2008

romance on a country road

On my way to Troyes this morning I saw the following on a sign in big, bold letters:


which means "Sandrine, will you marry me?"

I hope that

a) she will say yes, and
b) she didn't drive off the road when she saw it!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

a poorly chosen april fool's joke

Stéph ended up staying home sick on Tuesday. Today, just before Stéph went back to work from his lunch break, he told me that his replacement on Tuesday played a very nasty April Fool's (or Poisson d'avril) joke on Stéph's students. Apparently his replacement was a very young guy and thought his prank would be innocent enough. Basically he told the kids that Stéph wasn't coming back for the rest of the year.

Now, Stéph's class is made up of eleven CM1 kids (fourth year, around eight and nine years old) and twelve CE2 kids (third year, around seven and eight years old). The older kids eventually figured out it was an April Fool's joke, and one or two heard Stéph's name mentioned in the hallways in reference to something that would be taken care of today.

But the smaller kids, well, they took it as fact. Some of them became so upset that they went home crying! A couple of parents even called to school to see if Stéph was ok because their children told them that their teacher was dying! In the end, the director of the school had to visit the children this morning before class started to let them know that Stéph was ok as they were still upset!

Though I have to admit that I'm proud of the fact that Stéph is the kind of teacher that his students would be driven to tears if anything happened to him, I felt awful for those children, and would like to smack around that replacement for his poor taste.

In other news, Stéph and I ended up making the apple pie together last night. I always enjoy working with him the kitchen, plus it makes the work go much faster!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

in which everything that could go wrong did

Stéph's birthday yesterday was kind of a bust. I've had a couple of nights where I haven't slept well and it all came to a head yesterday as I felt like I'd been walking through jello all day. I could not clear the fog in my head no matter what I did.

My plan was to actually have a "Fun with Fruit Part Three," as I was going to make another dessert in honor of Stéph's birthday with some more fresh fruit. Unfortunately, I didn't keep a close enough eye on the fresh raspberries I bought and didn't discover that they had all turned until I took them out of the fridge to start baking. This was at 4:00, an hour before Stéph got off work.

I panicked. I wanted to have something for him when he got home, so I decided to make my old standby - apple pie. Stéph loves my apple pie. So I ran to the store, grabbed some Granny Smith apples and some ready-made pie crusts, and rushed home.

Only to discover that my only pie dish was at my in-laws' house because I brought an apple pie for Easter supper.

At that point, I gave up. I kind of fell apart when Stéph got home, but I did have a present wrapped up for him and he was super gracious about the whole thing. I still owe him an apple pie, which I'll make as soon as I get my pie dish back.