Tuesday, November 30, 2010

it's beginning to look a little like christmas

first snow winter 2010

This is what we woke up to Monday morning. Simply gorgeous. Of course, I'd ordered a full week's worth of groceries from the drive through in Troyes for Monday morning, having absolutely NO IDEA this was coming, so Fry and I had to wander out in it. We managed to pick up a couple of Christmas presents (including one of his own, I reckon that's the last time I'll be able to get away with that!), grab the groceries and return home without too much slipping and sliding.

Today there's still quite a bit of snow lying around (mostly in trees and on the grass) and Fry had a great time stomping through it on the way to the boulangerie this morning. Stéphane told me that we're expecting to get dumped on again tonight and then we're supposed to have a hard freeze Wednesday night, so going to work in Troyes on Friday for work should be a good time.

I haven't quite got the Christmas decorations out yet, but I'm itching too. Maybe I can convince Stéphane that we should buy a tree this weekend instead of waiting until his Christmas break starts, like we usually do. Fry is old enough to appreciate it now so I definitely want to take advantage of it! One thing is for sure: I've put my foot down and informed Mr Scrooge that we will be visiting the Christmas market in Reims this year and Fry will meet Papa Noël for the first time. Happily, Stéphane loves the idea, now the trouble will just be to get him out the door!

Monday, November 22, 2010

fry frustration

Fry hasn't had an easy week. Wednesday he had his 2 year old visit and for the first time, he completely flipped out. He's always handled shots extremely well, with a little cry and it's over after 30 seconds, so just the fact that he had a negative reaction to the doctor was a surprise to me. I'm guessing he made the link because he just had a booster shot a few weeks ago so it's still relatively fresh in his mind.

Anyway, he's fine, healthy as a horse and still topping out the height charts. At home, his major occupations are getting us to play some videos, either on the computer or on the tv, and getting us to color with him.

I'm freaked out at how much Fry is obsessed by moving pictures. He could happily sit in front of the tv all day like a zombie if I let him, and believe me, I won't. A couple of weeks ago we discovered Yo Gabba Gabba together online and now he's totally in love (and I have to admit, I'm totally into it, too). But it breaks my heart that he's not interested in books anymore, even though we keep buying them and trying to sit down and read together. We're going to keep fighting for that.

I think Fry is talking a lot more than we think he is, but I suspect he's using a lot more French vocabulary and I'm not catching it. I swear the other day I heard him say "where are you" in French, and just this morning I thought he said "chien" as we walked by the fence where a dog lives. I would say that about 75% of the words he says are French, though he understands me perfectly when I speak English (which is most of the time). The truth is, he still baby-babbles so much that he could slip a few real words in there and we may not catch them because we're not paying attention! I guess I'd be pretty frustrated, too.

Monday, November 15, 2010

soul music for monday

I haven't put any music on here in forever, so it's time to rectify that. I am completely in love with this song and I hope you guys love it, too. Long live Motown revival!!

Je ne suis qu'un soul man
Écoute ça baby
Je suis pas un superman
Loin de là
Juste moi, mes délires
Je n'ai rien d'autre à offrir
Mais je sais qu'en vrai c'est déjà ça

Update: Apparently this isn't working in the states? Here's a direct link and if that still doesn't work, here's a link to a live version.

Friday, November 12, 2010

challenge accepted

Thanks for the encouraging comments! I think this could be a fun project to put together and I want it to be something really special so I'm going to take my time and really do it right. I'll let you know how's it's going along the way!

This week has been pretty mellow. Stéphane had yesterday off for Armistace Day and since the school is closed on Wednesdays he had a little weekend in the middle of the week. We were supposed to go to Tiny Town's little memorial parade yesterday but the weather was so awful I couldn't even contemplate taking Fry out in it. We had some really serious winds coming through until after midnight which actually kept me up. Thankfully they have calmed down a bit since Fridays are pretty busy around here.

This weekend we've been invited to my MIL's for couscous (COUSCOUS!!!), which I adore, obviously! Hey, maybe I need to get over there early and jot down the recipe!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Fully operational

First of all, look at this:

perfect cupcakes

I made 18 perfect cupcakes on Sunday. They were perfectly even, not even a hint of browning anywhere. My easy bake oven days are officially OVER!

Now check this out:

Sink installed!

I can cook things and wash them as well!! Though I can say that, while washing dishes in the kitchen is a vast improvement over doing them in the bathroom sink, I will be very, very happy to have a dishwasher again tomorrow, as I am sick to death of washing every single dish already. Am I not the laziest person you ever met? Maybe not if I tell you that I'm treating the new wooden countertops every day to make sure they don't warp? I only bought one can of IKEA's magical oil treatment and it's half gone already!

So the cupcakes were obviously for Fry's second birthday, which we celebrated Sunday with Stéphane's brother and his wife. Despite the fact that they live in Troyes, we don't see them as often as I'd like, as they're busy social bees or off visiting their kids who are all at university and spread about France and beyond like the four winds. Fry managed to blow out the candle on his cupcake, much to everyone's surprise, including his.

Apropos of nothing, I'd like to get some feedback from y'all on something. After posting yet another photo of something I'd baked on one of those social networking sites, a friend of mine and I were joking around about making a cookbook about some of the things I've learned to cook since I've lived in France, and I actually got some positive reactions to that, but you know, they're my friends, they're supposed to say stuff like that. So I'm asking you, if I ever got focused enough to put something together and offered it up for a few bucks online, would anyone be interested in that? You know I've probably said "I'm working on a new idea" on this blog a hundred times, but this time I'm being open and up front about it. What do you think?

Friday, November 05, 2010

Back to the kitchen

Right, so where were we? Ah yes, demolition is over so now it's time to build the kitchen back up!

Last Thursday was IKEA day, and it was insanely exhausting, not to mention that we all got sick from all the dust flying around from breaking down all the concrete! Here's our day in a nutshell: We dropped off Fry at Mémère's house, picked up the rental truck, drove to Reims, ordered the kitchen, picked up what we could (two carts full!), loaded up the truck, picked up the rest from the merchandise counter (another cart full!) and loaded that up, ate some meatballs, did one last mad dash to pick up some birthday presents, drove back to Tiny Town, unloaded the truck in our first floor apartment (uuuuuuugh), brought the truck back, picked up Fry, home in time for dinner, and then I died.

Thank god Friday I got to go to work to rest! Here's the rest of the Toussaint vacation in pictures:

Saturday I helped get the corner piece installed:


And at the end of the day it looked like this:

slowly but surely

By the end of the day Sunday he had one side completely done, and Monday it looked like this:

First dinner!

But least you think everything is done:

Hm... something's missing

Stéphane went back to work on Wednesday, so everything is at a standstill until the weekend. We are so close!!

Also, we have completely run out of luck as far as appliances are concerned. A few weeks ago we decided to replace our washing machine. Last week the dryer died, so we ordered a new one (it's on backorder and will be here in another week and a half). This week the dishwasher flooded the kitchen, after Stéphane has already tried to repair it twice, so that's another appliance purchased which will arrive next week. It's a damned good thing I got this job, because my first three (THREE!!!) paychecks have gone to new appliances!!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Vivi goes to the drive-thru grocery

I know I promised an update on the kitchen today, but this morning I tried a new service that's becoming quite popular in France and I want to share it with you.

In most large cities, grocery delivery has already existed for years (and when I say large, I know of at least one store in Troyes (pop. 60k) that offers this service, so we're talking from small to major cities). In most cases, you can either do your groceries like normal, but at the check out your groceries are boxed up and delivered to your home at the hour of your convenience, or you can order online and your order arrives at a predetermined time. This is especially helpful if you live in an apartment and dread the idea of dragging bag after bag of groceries up the stairs.

Of course this doesn't exist in Tiny Town, and I'm hardly going to complain about bringing the groceries up to the first floor when I can park directly in front of our apartment building. But, the latest craze here is a combination order online and drive through service. There are several independent companies popping up around France and now the major grande surface supermarkets are throwing their hats into the ring. When I saw that they were building an E.LECLERC Drive (link in French) in Troyes I thought I might check it out.

Last night I made my order online. Since the kitchen isn't really done I can't cook at 100% so I didn't come to the order with a menu set in my mind like I normally would, and that's a good thing because they don't have every thing available through this service. I had to change a couple of ideas on the fly and that would kind of annoy me on a regular basis. Still, it was easy to search for what I wanted and the overall experience was alright. At the end, I paid with my card and printed out my order and set my time for the order to be ready at 10:00 this morning.

The universe was with me this morning and we managed to pull up at exactly 10:02. The pick up area reminds me of a drive-in, with angled parking spots and a kiosk at each space. I scanned in the bar code from my order and was told that my order was ready and soon it told me who was in charge of my order. Meanwhile, I opened up the trunk and made space for the groceries and chatted with Fry. Soon, a door opened and a lady with a shopping cart came out to the car. She loaded my groceries, already packed in plastic bags, into my car, handed me the eggs so they wouldn't be crushed, and we were on our way at exactly 10:06.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the quality of items such as fruits and meat to be just what I would have picked. The bananas aren't too ripe and the clementines look fine. I got everything on my order and there were no surprises, since the website offers 3-D close ups of all things you buy, so I knew which brands and how much of everything I was getting.

This isn't a service I would use every week right now, but when I start working full time again next April this will be super handy since it's on my way home from work. Definitely a good experience so if you're in the French countryside and don't have the luxury of time or just don't like grocery shopping, I definitely recommend it!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


I can't even believe it: my baby boy isn't a baby anymore! My big boy Fry reaches for my hand and leads me around the house (and the neighborhood!), gives me kisses (this is a very new development, hopefully he'll soon get over his shyness and do the same for Papa!), and is my favorite dance partner. I am so head over heels in love with this kid!! Happy birthday my sweet boy!

The kitchen is still not done, everything's going slower than we hoped (I'll put up a post about our progress tomorrow), so we'll celebrate with a proper American birthday cake next weekend. Right now I'm super excited for him to wake up from his nap so we can open up his birthday present: a play indoor tent for his room. I can't wait to see what he thinks!