Saturday, October 31, 2009

return from the north

Stéphane has been very interested lately in his family's roots. After his father died, he remembered his father showing him some old family documents and with the help of his mother, dug them back out. They include his grandfather's wedding contract, identity card, and some military records. Unfortunately, we don't have a lot more to go on, except for vague memories from his mother, aunts and uncles. So, we decided to spend a couple of days of his Toussaint vacation in the land of his forefathers, Pas de Calais.


Pas de Calais is already my favorite region of all the places I've visited in France, and I could easily see us living there (who knows, maybe we'll retire there?), so I jumped at the chance to see it in Fall for the first time. We were quite lucky with the weather, thanks to a bit of Indian Summer this week, and the region is just after peak with autumn leaves.

Grottes de Naours

Unfortunately, we hit a few dead ends in our research, and since we wanted to do so much in so little time, I'm afraid Fry suffered a bit with few naps and not a lot of freedom. Stéphane continues to do his research online for the moment, but we're planning on going back next summer for a longer period and renting a gite (a summer rental home, the region is crawling with them!). That way we won't feel so rushed to visit family, do a little sightseeing, take Fry to the beach for the first time, and do a bit of research. I'm already looking forward to it!

auxi le château

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

house #1

So, Saturday afternoon we visited a house for sale in Tiny Town, only a ten minute walk from here. We were surprised by how much work the house needs, since it wasn't mentioned at all in the ad, but we are still pretty interested in it. The house is a maison de ville, or townhouse, meaning it shares walls with homes on both sides. It's just over a hundred years old and is solid as a rock, so no worries there (which is one of the reasons we're interested in older homes anyway).

The major problem is that the entire electricity needs to be replaced, which thankfully still falls within our budget. The former owners fancied themselves as home improvement types, but just a couple of the "improvements" include a cooktop built in wood (wtf???) and a trendy bowl sink supported with 2 x 4s. Every room needs cosmetic improvement but that is something we can tackle in good time.

On the good side, the rooms are comfortably large, the kitchen includes an American sized fridge (woohoo!), the garden is the perfect size for barbecues, a small garden and space for Fry to play, and tons of storage space.

Seeing as this is our first house, we're trying to temper our interest, especially since this house has only been on the market for a couple of months. We are slowly going forward; we'll pass by the agency again this weekend with a couple of questions and if we like the answers we'll make another appointment to visit the house again with a couple of family members. The real estate agent told us that he may have another house soon with what we're looking for as well, so we don't feel pressured at all about this house, but to tell you the truth, I really like this one. As the agent said, if someone else swoops in and buys this house, it wasn't meant to be ours in the first place. I really like that guy.

We're taking off in the morning for a few days, so have a great end of the week (and enjoy this gorgeous weather if you're in France!) and hopefully I'll be back on Saturday with a few pictures for you!

Monday, October 19, 2009

oh what a week

Man, there is so much going on I don't know where to start! Ok, let's start here...

The Etsy shop seems to have started off on a good foot; I had two sales this weekend, and while I was trying not to get my hopes up, I'm so pleased that I've had my first sales within two weeks of opening up. That being said, actually sending away things I've spent so much time making is a bit harder than I thought it would be - I've actually become attached to the little buggers! I'm so glad that my first sale is going to a friend, it sort of softens the blow a little bit. Meanwhile, I'm trying to juggle working, giving Fry as much attention as possible and keeping the house from falling down around our ears. That last one is proving really hard so today it's got the priority.

Last Wednesday, we all sat down at the bank to talk about a little thing called Loans. We now have an idea of what our budget is for house hunting. It's a little lower than we hoped, but I think for first time buyers we'll be ok and we agree that this won't be the house we live in forever. We've already got an appointment to look at a house on Saturday and next week we'll try to get in to see a couple of notaries (in France, they also have the right to do realty, it's whole different ball game than notaries in the States).

Yesterday was Tiny Town's fall festival. Stéph was down for the count with a nasty migraine but Fry and I had a great time! There were easily twice as many vendors than I've ever seen before (though many of them were selling the same crap so take that with a grain of salt). Fry loved people watching, plus we saw two fanfares (little marching bands! I Will Survive, the marching band version was really fun), samba drums and dancers, and we didn't even get to the side with the amusement rides and more vendors! Plus, the weather was perfect, sunny skies, nice and crisp like Fall is supposed to be. Gorgeous! The only thing missing were roasted chestnuts.

Oh, a little update about my leg. It's much better but not nearly 100%. It's a good thing I saw the doctor and he said to wait four to six weeks, because I almost certainly would have gone back to the aerobics class this week and made it worse. It's still a little stiff in the mornings but I'm walking on it alright, with the occasional twinge now and again.

And that's what's happening around these parts, it feels great to be busy again!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

our forest

The weekend before I messed up my leg, we went hunting for mushrooms. It's been years since we've done it, though Stéph grew up mushroom hunting and knows exactly what to look for (and has two excellent annotated guides in case he's not sure). So after around at work for the best forest, we headed off to the Forêt d'Orient National Park, a little east of Troyes. I've been to the lake a few times before, but this is the first time I've been exploring in the forest.

I think we found a little piece of heaven:

walk in the forest

It was far too dry for mushrooms, but my leg was feeling well enough to try again this past weekend. Though we had some rain last week, the floor of the forest was only damp so we didn't find much, and what we did find had been nibbled on by the local residents. Since the temperature has dropped these last couple of days, we may not have any luck at all for mushrooms this year, but we may go gallivanting in the forest some more anyway!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


Well first the non-crap - thank you so much for your lovely comments yesterday! They were a much needed boost of confidence all through the day!

The day ended on a very sour note, unfortunately. As you know, I started going to an aerobics class here in Tiny Town. Yesterday was my third class and it was a step class. The first time we did step, I noticed that my legs were started to cramp up so I stopped using the step and continued on the floor. Well, last night they were starting to cramp up and I had just processed the thought, "oh, I should stop using the step" when I came down a little funny and I felt a huge RIIIIIIIIIP in my right leg.

I managed to hobble into the next room to try and regain my composure but the longer I sat the worse it got. I ended up having to leave the class in the middle, hobble out to the car and drive home. Getting up the stairs last night to go to bed was a real adventure.

Now, we've just come back from the doctor (and I say we because Stéph took the morning off to give me a hand) and it's worse than both of us thought: I've torn a muscle/tendon on the interior of my calf. That means I have to limit going up and down the stairs in the house, try not to walk for at least a week, no driving for a week and no sport for four to six weeks. I have to wear an uber sexy band on my leg (which is on order and Stéph will pick it up tomorrow) and put gel on my leg three times a day.

I think by next week I should be able to walk again but the rest of this week is going to be a fun adventure and a lot of frustration for Fry, I'm afraid. I know it could have been much worse (the people around me thought I turned my ankle at first, and I'm happy it wasn't a knee!), but this is super discouraging!!

So it seems my attempt at getting in shape is over nearly before it started! I will be back at it hopefully in November, with some extra warming up at home before I go and paying better attention to my body while I'm there. This getting old crap sucks!

Monday, October 05, 2009

And Lo, Suis le fil, the Boutique is born

Here is a post I've been wanting to write for a long, long time.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Suis le fil, an Etsy shop.

I've been blathering on about wanting to start some sort of business practically since I got off the plane five years ago. It took nearly that long to figure out what I wanted to do. Not quite five years ago, Stéph took me to Provins for the yearly medieval festival and I thought, "This, I want to do this!" Ok, but doing what? Three years ago, I learned how to knit. And finally, six months ago, I decided to try to combine my love of history and knitting (two great tastes that taste great together!) and take a huge leap of faith.

drawstring bags

I started creating drawstring pouches lined with linen, using motifs from extant bags combined with original designs. Then I started putting those motifs on other things as well.

diamant headband jardin bookmark

I'm not quite ready for the medieval festival, but I've created something I'm truly proud of and am happy to share it.

I'll keep most of my blogging about the shop at my other blog, Suis le fil, but this is too big for me not to share. I hope you enjoy it!

Friday, October 02, 2009

eleven months

Fry is growing like a weed and learning so quickly now that I'm sure I'm going to miss a few things! He's turned into quite the chatterbox, though still no words we recognize. His favorite activity right now is turning the pages of his baby books (and dang near tearing them apart, much to my chagrin, but I think they'll hold up in the end) and doing laps in the living room. He will either crawl at lightning speed or grab my hands and take off walking! This also means that we're having to find special hiding places for all our stuff in order to make the living room "baby proof," which is neigh near impossible because of the apartment itself but we're doing what we can.

I've been a big supporter of soft soled shoes but once Fry really started walking we all noticed that he'd drag one of his feet. As much as I hated to do it, he's been walking in traditional baby boots for the last couple of weeks and the dragging has all but disappeared. Once he's more comfortable with walking, we'll go back to soft soled shoes (especially in the house!) and keep the boots for the very worst weather.

Other than that, he's doing super great! He's doing three hours a week at the halte garderie, loves visiting his mémère, and is still super friendly and smiley wherever we go. And now Mommy just has about four weeks to come to terms with the idea that her baby isn't really that much of a baby anymore...

Edited to add: I knew I forgot something. We've also seen signs of a little boy that doesn't like it when he doesn't get his way. The worst is when he's crawling around or getting into something he shouldn't and Papa or I pick him up - that's when we get a little attitude. But what made me remember is that when I picked him up from the halte garderie just now, one of the women told me, "this one's going to have character!" and I thought "oh no, what's he done??" He's got a stubborn streak, which I hope serves him well further on down the road. Now we've just got to figure out how to harness it!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

a sneak peek

coming soon

I've got a big announcement coming... but you'll have to wait until next week to see it. Tune in Monday, friends!