Wednesday, May 27, 2009

in which Vivi forgets she has a blog

Oh hello there! Sorry, it's been a busy few days (for a change!!). What's been going on...

Saturday I hit the road early for the fabric store just outside Troyes. Besides the fact that the internet lied and told me they opened a half hour earlier than they do, I found loads of choices of what I wanted and even picked up some left-handed fabric scissors (bliss!!). I was overconfident though, and only got a meter of one kind of fabric, and now that I've worked with it, it's still too thick so I'm going to have to go back. This time I'll wise up and get a half meter or two or three different fabrics so I don't have to drive all over the Earth every time I want to sew something.

Anyway, in the evening we headed over to Middle Brother's home for a barbecue in honor of MIL's sister and BIL, visiting from Germany. Fry never seems to be able to calm down when we hang out with family (maybe because everyone wants to hold him?) but besides not wanting to sleep he was great. The family surprised me with a birthday cake and I blew out candles for the first time in who knows how many years, so that was nice. It was a pretty great birthday, I have to say.

Monday I picked up our VIP guests Mrs. B and her daughter Rowan from the train station. Every time Mrs B comes to my house (which is twice in three years but hey, she lives in the States now, it's a rough commute) we have an insane heatwave which makes visiting a bit challenging but we managed. It was so great to catch up again and what a treat it was to watch Fry play with Rowan! There were wine, tears and laughter - all the ingredients for a great visit.

Meanwhile, Fry figured out how to crawl yesterday. Since you can't see his face, I got permission from the Security Detail (Stéphane) to show you:

Big booty provided by Bum Genius 3.0

Next up: baby proofing and full time surveillance. Good times!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

on en a mare (sic)

Seen on our walk yesterday morning. This is one of the gates of the park of Tiny Town's manor (it's technically a "chateau" but it's only a couple hundred years old, it feels funny to call it a castle), which are now the Town Hall and a public park. Anyway, it says "POLICE et GENDARME on en a MARE" which basically translates to "Police and Gendarmes (State Police), we've had it up to HERE." It's hard to take them seriously when they can't spell (should be "marre") but it just goes to show that we're not exempt from graffiti out here in the boonies.

Speaking of boonies, I stumbled on a website that featured postcards from around 1900 of Tiny Town, and you'd think it would be even smaller but in fact it had everything back then! A hospital, a courthouse, and since we're on a river, a mill or two and a couple of factories. All gone now. I'd love to know at what point everything changed. May have to do a little homework...

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Ah, Spring. It's so lovely to go to the Friday marché and see tables laden with gorgeous fruits and veggies. I don't go every week, but rather when I need to go. My routine is to get a rotisserie chicken for Friday lunch, then make chicken stock with the rest. The stock goes in the freezer and the rest of the meat becomes chicken salad. When I run out of chicken stock, I start over.

Last Friday I was out of chicken stock and very happy to throw Fry (who currently has three teeth coming in at the same time so we're having some real party times around here) in the stroller and head on down to the market. I love going to market and getting inspired by all the produce that's in season. The problem is that what's in season this week might not be in season next time I go, so if I see something that peaks my interest I have to grab it. This time it was great big giant gumball sized cherries.

So I snacked on a couple over the weekend, cut up one really small for Fry to try (that didn't go over too great), and the rest went into a clafoutis, a traditional custard and fruit dessert. It came out pretty good, if not a little burny thanks to our EZ Bake Oven (no temperature control settings). Here's the recipe I used, taken from a French cooking forum:

Clafoutis aux cerises

clafoutis aux cerises

400-500 g (about half a pound) cherries
3 eggs
100 g (just under a cup) flour
80 g (3/8 cup) sugar
2 sachets of sucre vanillé or 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
30 cl (1 1/4 cups) milk or 25 cl (1 cup) milk and a tablespoon of kirsch
powdered sugar
butter for greasing the pan

1) Wash, cut in half and pit cherries. Cover with half the sugar and let macerate for half an hour.

2) Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).

3) In a bowl, mix together the flour, salt, the rest of the sugar and the sucré vanillé. (If you're using vanilla extract, wait for the next step.)

4) In another bowl, beat the eggs, add [the vanilla extract if you're using it and] the flour mixture. Mix well. Add the milk and stir until smooth.

5) Place the cherries in the greased baking dish and slowly pour the batter over the cherries. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

6) Let the clafoutis cool and then sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Bon appétit !

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Oooh lookey another list

Things I remembered to put in the diaper bag for an afternoon in Troyes:

  • milk
  • applesauce
  • a spoon
  • diapers
  • toys
  • change of clothes
Things I forgot:
  • a bottle to put the milk in
  • the pacifier for nap time
  • his nana (bedtime toy)
  • that putting a blue ice thingie in the bag to keep the milk fresh would probably not go well since there isn't a seperate compartment for the diapers
So that's how I ended up squirting applesauce onto a spoon from a screw top container in a waiting room at the radiologist's while we waited for Fry's sonogram results. Fry did pretty well, considering he hadn't eaten in five hours. Thankfully the doctor was really quick in writing up his results and I only got one spoonful in before we were out the door and on the way to Mémère's house. Geez.

At least we have some good news. Yes, Fry's spleen is a little larger than normal, but it's uniformly larger than normal and was very possibly caused by the really bad gastro he had. Nothing to worry about for now.

Meanwhile, I left Stéphane and Fry to run a couple of errands downtown. Since we got Fry's passport I had to stop by the travel agent's so she could enter our passport numbers into the system. Then it was off to Ellen, my favorite notions shop in Troyes, where I was very sorry to discover that it is going to close soon. Not only are they a great resource for all things sewing, but they had (and actually, still have as of this writing) the largest collection of buttons I've ever seen in a shop. They're currently in liquidation and I literally got the last scraps of linen they had in the place. This will do to start a project I'm working on, but I'm gonna need more eventually! There's another fabric shop in a suburb of Troyes that I'm going to check out sometime, and if all else fails there's always the famous fabric stores in Montmartre, Paris. Boo hoo, right?

On the way back to the car, I got to do something I've wanted to do ever since I moved here - I stepped into the church where Henry V and Catherine were married in 1420. To celebrate finishing the restoration of this 13th century church that has been closed so long Stéphane hasn't even been in it, L'église Saint-Jean-au-Marché (link in French) is celebrating with an exposition (link in English, ha HA!) of sculptures done in Champagne. The fee for the expo is 8€ and since Stéph was waiting for me with Fry and it was getting late, I was happy to finally just get in the door! But mark my words, I'll be back.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

six months

Ok, this is for real the last time I'm going to say this: Wow, I can't believe how fast the time flies by! Six months old, half a year, and literally changing before our eyes.

Unfortunately, this past month will be mostly marked for me by illness. As I said before, I know this is just the first time of many that we'll be taking care of a sick little one, but if I ever said he was sick before this month, it was nothing, nothing compared to what we just went through. I'm happy to say he's completely recovered and, as of today, back on his regular schedule, but there is nothing good about seeing your baby lying listless in his bed, without the wherewithal to even cry out. Poor kiddo.

(Oh, and just to catch up - last Wednesday Fry was still having fevers and gastro issues, so we went back to the Dr. He was afraid that Fry might have a kidney infection, so we had to do a urine sample and we started an antibiotic because it would be Monday before we'd have the results back. By the weekend Fry was doing much better and the results came back fine, it was just a very bad stomach bug.)

We are right on the cusp of having a mobile baby. He can get around his crib quite easily now and flips onto his tummy immediately upon being placed on his back. He can flip back on his back too, if he has something to push off of. Nowadays we'll find him in the complete opposite position that we've placed him in. He also likes sleeping up on his knees a lot (I seem to remember my sister doing this a lot when she was little?). He loves to play on the floor in his little play area in the salon and can push himself backwards and turn himself 360 degrees. In the last couple of days he's started pushing himself up on his knees, so I think it's going to be any minute now that he starts moving forward!

Another funny thing we've discovered is that he doesn't care for fruits that have been prepared in a jar but he loves fresh fruit. So far he likes banana, melon and a little applesauce, but that's about all we've been able to try before he got sick. He can't stand having lunch in his Bumbo seat anymore, and until we get his high chair next week he's been having lunch in his bouncy seat, so I've decided to hold off on giving him fruit in the food strainer because it is super messy (and surfaces that can be wiped down are preferred!).

I think that's all the interesting things to report. It looks like the days of putting Fry down in one place and expecting him to still be there if I turn away are nearly over - I think this job is about to get much more interesting!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Things we were supposed to do on spring break but couldn't

  • A weekend in the Loire Valley (a holdover from Winter Break, which is when my father in law died)
  • The first BBQ of the year with our online gamer buddies
  • Celebrate Stéph's friend's 50th birthday
  • Take Fry to the public swimming pool for the first time
  • Take down the doors in the shower stall and scrub them down (don't worry Mrs B, that will still get done before you come!)
Things that did get done:

  • Fry's first visit to Paris (which is probably where he picked up the stomach bug)
  • Lowered Fry's crib to the next position as he was starting to hook his foot on a bar and grab the bed barrier, pulling his head up over the side of the crib which gave me a heart attack
Fry turned six months old this weekend and I'm going to do a post about it, but I've caught his stomach bug, so um... I've gotta go.