Friday Funny: Coffee Bowls

My first experience with French culture was on my very first business trip.  I had always heard how mean the French are to Americans so I would try to assimilate as much as possible. In appearances only, since it was clear that when I opened my mouth I was very much out of my element.

The hotel I was staying it had a delicious breakfast.  Each morning the chef would prepare fresh pastries that would be placed on each table along with an assortment of other goodies.  It was a bit overwhelming, not only did I have more spoons than I knew what to do with, but I also had more plates than I knew what to do with.

There was the big round plate surrounded by the various sized spoons, knifes and forks.  Then I had 3 tiny little shot glasses, one was filled with dry cereal, the other with plain yogurt, and the last one with jam.  There was also a small bowl to the right of the plates.

The waiter came by and asked for my drink order.

"Cafe ole" (it wasn't until years later that I actually realized it was au lait,  as in with milk).

While he was off putting some bullfighting flare into my coffee, I began to "assemble" my breakfast.

I took the bowl and poured in my yogurt and cereals and mixed them together.  Clearly, this is why the bowl was on the table.

I took my freshly baked croissant and buttered it while the waiter brought me a little tiny kettle filled with coffee and a side of steamed milk. He promptly walked away.

I looked around the table and realized there weren't any coffee cups.

Hmm, the waiter must have forgotten.

I saw him standing in a corner and began to wave him down, since he was not looking in my direction.

The entire room turned and stared at me; so much for just "fitting in".

I tried to explain to the waiter that I didn't have a cup.  He spoke no English.

So, doing what any resourceful business girl would do, I asked in Spanish.

"Tasa", I mumbled in Spanish while doing the pinky in the air hand gesture.

"Ahh..." he said and then continued to mumble in French and he gestured with both hands.

"Quoi?"

"Bowl" he said.  It finally made sense.
I looked around the dining room and ALL of the people were drinking out of their bowls.  He laughed at me while he brought me a clean bowl and poured my coffee for me.

I was so embarrassed.

The rest of the week, he would pour my bowl of coffee for me without even asking.

It wasn't until years later I found out that the French typically like to dunk things in their coffee.  Croissants; bread, etc. and a bowl is much more convenient for dunking than a cup.  So, when you are out to breakfast in France and you have a bowl, remember it's for your coffee and NOT your cereal!
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Embarrassing Moments

When I think back to all of my years in school, lots {and I do mean} lots of embarrassing moments come to mind.

Some of them are not worth mentioning as they are things, as I imagine, happen to all kids.  I mean how could anyone survive junior high or high school without at least some battle scars of embarrassing moments?

One of the most memorable, however, was when I was in college.

On this faithful day:



You see, back in college I was what you would call...what's the word?  Heavy-set.  At only 5'0 and 145 pounds I was definitely a rolly polly, at least at my school.  This never prevented me, however, from putting on my super cute, too high for me wedges and flaunting what I didn't have. 

As you can see I was all dolled up to go and cheer on our football team.  I have no idea why, since they always lost, but I was ready to brave the 110 degree heat for the sake of school pride!

We went, we cheered, we were losing; so much so that staying through the entire game was pointless.  We were obviously not the only ones who wanted to leave mid game.  At half time the ramps that wound through the back of the stadium were filled with deserting fans.

Then, while making my way down the ramps that lead all the way down to the street level, it happened.  I lost my footing in my shoes and fell!

My knee was stinging from where it hit the concrete and before I knew it I was gaining speed.  I wasn't just falling, I was tumbling down the ramp!

It seemed to happen in slow motion, the people were parting to get out of the way from the round girl rolling down.  It was almost biblical.

Then the ramp started to flatten out, and I lost the momentum.  I had finally stopped rolling.

A few people came by to ask if I was, OK, but I couldn't look them in the eye.  I mumbled a yes, as they helped me up.  My knees were bleeding and my elbows scraped.  My pretty yellow tank top was covered in dirt and asphalt stains.

I was thankful that no one recognized me, at least I hoped not.

I still remember that day and blush, even though my friends and I can laugh about it now.

I still have the scars on my knees to remind me of that faithful trip.

Mama’s Losin’ It


Submitted as part of Mama Kat's writing workshop.
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Entry Way Makeover

Every since Nathan started crawling, we turned our house into a "shoe-less" environment.  We take off our shoes at the door before entering the house to avoid dragging in crap from the street (if you ever been to France you know that this sentence can be taken literally).

While this is great for our floors it created chaos in our entry way.  Looking at all the shoes haphazardly thrown on the floor would drive me crazy; even if we put them away at the end of the day. 

Then Nathan started picking up the shoes and dragging them all over the house, which was completely counterproductive to the "no shoe" policy.  A solution had to be found, because when I wasn't picking up shoes, I was busy costantly mopping and sweeping!

We discussed many options to solve our "shoe problem", but I didn't just want a shoe rack in our entry way.  While practical that wouldn't be at all attractive.

We searched high and low for a way to attractively disguise our shoes, while still making it pratical to put them on/ take them off while at the front door.

Enter my best friend - Ikea!  I love Ikea!  I think in a previous life I might have been 1/2 Swedish.  Ok, maybe not but I seriously love the store.

They have a super cute/ super affordable cabinet for shoes!  My dream come true.  We piled in the car on Saturday and headed towards my mecca!

Nathan, too loves Ikea.  We made our way to the little kid section, he found a book (in Swedish no less) a tiny chair and a TV.  What else could a kid want?  (We ended up buying that little chair because he was just too cute in it)!

After a nutritious lunch of meatballs (what else) we finally made our way to what we needed.

We found my cabinet for the shoes and some other extras to transform our boring/non-functional entry way into a pretty little corner. 

Not only is it great for hiding shoes, but it also makes it a little cozier than just the plain beige wall that was there.  We even added a nice shelf above the mirror for some additional storage! 


The entire cost of this transformation:  Under 150 euros, all that is needed now is a little bit more decorating: pulling some items from around the house to dress up the shelf.  We'll save that for another week-end!
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Easter Weekend

The long weekend is over and we are all recovering from our chocolate induced comas.

Easter went much better than I had anticipated considering that every outing with a toddler is either a hit or miss.

Last Easter we didn't really have a plan, so this year I really wanted to make it special.

As I found out this week, Easter in France is not much like the American holiday at all.  In fact, there is no bunny at all! GASP!  Actually, all of the eggs and candies are dropped off from the church bells that are returning from Rome.  They are spreading the good news of the resurrection.

Since this family is 3/4 American, however we decided to keep the bunny tradition going and he brought Nathan lots of goodies. Lucky for me he ignored the chocolate from Maison Vacher completely!


We got Nathan ready in his cute little Easter outfit and we were off to enjoy the Easter service in English! Nathan thought it was social hour and he was laughing, "talking", singing and dancing.

The Church is a very old stone, very French building with a beautiful garden all around.  This is where they were hosting an egg hunt for the children after the service.


We were told to bring our baskets, but since we couldn't find an "Easter" basket, Nathan had to take a regular basket.  Poor thing, the basket was bigger than he was!


He didn't really understand the concept of the "hunting" part but he did find two chocolate eggs.

It was a beautiful afternoon with the sun shining!  We couldn't have asked for a better Easter.  Even though all of our family was celebrating miles away, at least our little family of three was together and enjoying the holiday!



After the fun we were invited to our friend Sophie's house for a delicious lunch of Saffron Risotto!  Nathan didn't have a nap and he didn't even care.  He was in the greatest mood, and that in itself made for a great Sunday!  I hope everyone else had a great Easter!
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Steppin Out - Easter Style

I love holidays that revolve solely around dressing up.  Especially since we rarely get a chance to dress up around here.

Sunday morning we woke up bright and early to get ourselves ready for the morning festivities.  I was super excited because Nathan was going to wear a tie for the first time EVER!  There is something about itty bitty ties that I swoon over!  And of course it's not Easter without a ruffled dress!


Me:
Dress:  Mango

Nathan:
Tie:  Baby Kenneth Cole
Shirt, Pants & Shoes:  Present from Grandma
Socks:  C&A


After church we did a quick change to enjoy the afternoon festivities:

Shorts:  Zara
Shirt:  Gift


Dress: Zara
Sunglasses:  Fendi
Necklace:  Tiffany's

The mornings around here are still cool and it gets warmer as the day progresses.  This makes getting ready in the mornings a challenge because I put away all of my coats!  I've had to get creative with my wardrobe.  I love to wrap my pashmina around my sweater for a little extra warmth and then take off the layers during the day.

Pashmina:  Florence Street Vendor
Pants:  Ann Taylor
Sweater:  Old Navy
Shirt:  Promod



the pleated poppy blog

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Friday Funny: La Toilette

I have a serious problem:  I hate to use public restrooms.  This includes at gas stations, restaurants and even at work.  My small bladder only exaggerates this problem since I find myself having to use public restrooms more often than I would like.

I just hate thinking about all of germs and people who have been there before me.  It kind of grosses me out.  This is why at times I try to squat over the toilet trying to avoid touching anything in the room; because we as women have been cursed with the inability to pee standing up.

I'll never forget one of my first days at work in France.  I remember having sat through what seemed like the longest meeting in my life and having to pee.  I rushed out to try and find the restroom.  When I walked in there were two stalls and one was occupied at the time.

I walked into the second one and saw this.

actual bathroom in my office

Um...what?

Dancing around trying not to pee my pants I went back out and checked the door.

It had the little figure with the skirt so I was in the right bathroom.

I couldn't even believe it.  What was I supposed to do here?  Where were the instructions?

I couldn't hold it in any longer.  I put my feet around the rigged edges and squatted down.  

I could go into specifics, but I won't.  I'll just say that it was not a pleasant experience.  There is an entire technique that goes into peeing in this type of bathroom, and my aim was not so good.

I was obviously not a good a squatter as I thought I was.

From that day on, I avoided that bathroom like the plague.  Later I found out that the other stall was a normal bathroom with germ filled toilet seat and all.  Even now, when I walk into the bathroom I can't help but giggle and the hole on the floor.


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Bathroom Renovation

You saw me write about how we desperately needed to get our bathroom remodeled. Besides it being ugly, it wasn't at all functional as a space.

We have been talking about remodeling the bathroom from the day we moved into this house 18 months ago.  Well, after watching me pathetically attack the tile trim with a hammer and screwdriver, Cornel took action.  He took off the last Friday and went to work!

This is what our sad little bathroom looked like last week.



In just one afternoon Cornel was able to knock down all of the tile to leave us with pretty sad looking walls.  I admit that when I came home on Friday evening I got a little nervous.




Cornel on the other hand was very optimistic; so much so that I thought I would be showering in a newly tiled tub by Sunday.  Maybe we were both too over confident.

Saturday we (and by we I mean Cornel) began plastering up all of the holes left by the tile.  It was back breaking work and then we had to wait 24 hours for it all to dry before we could put the finishing plaster on the walls.

All day Sunday was spent putting up finishing plaster on the walls to try and make the walls look pretty and even.  This is the problem with living in such an old building that is made up of almost all bricks.  Sadly, this too had to dry before we could sand it down.

With the weekend over, and the bathroom walls not finished I was starting to get a little discouraged by the bathroom renovation.

Cornel on the other hand was fueled by the project and would come home after a long day at work and start sanding down the walls and refilling with plaster when needed to make sure the walls are even.  And just one week later this is what we have so far...


The gray area around the tub will be replaced by pretty new tile that we just picked out yesterday, in addition to our new shower head!




This weekend is the long Easter weekend, and while we should be heading down to Nice to enjoy the beach, sand and sun, we will be instead heading to pick out a new sink.  Fun and exciting, right?

We're also very lucky that we have found a great artisan plumber that will help transform our vision of this bathroom.

Here is the rundown of the numbers:

Total budget: 2000 euros

Costs so far:

Plaster & tools:  100 euros

Bathroom tiles (8 square meters): 180 euros ( we found beautiful tile for only 21 euros sq. meter!)

Things Left to do:

Prime and paint the walls
Tile tub and put up shower rod
Buy and install sink
Install 1/2 wall to cover up ugly water heater
Change pipes for water heater
Move washing machine connection to underneath water heater

I can only hope we make as much progress after this weekend!
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Caught Bread Handed

I've come to find out that an addiction to breads and carbs are hereditary.  What is even worse is that I seem to have passed this "disease" on to my son.

I knew he loved bread and happily eats croissants in the morning, but I didn't realize how deep his addiction went.

Last week while we were unpacking the groceries, we made the mistake of leaving the baguettes unattended.  When I went back towards the front door for the last bag of groceries I encountered this...


That second picture says it all, "help me Mommy, I can't stop!".

I mean, the baguette is bigger than he is!

It was too late, however, he was already spiraling out of control.  

Then this afternoon I walked in on this scene...



Hopefully we will be able to correct this behavior before it gets out of control.  You know, before he starts pawning off his toys to buy wheat flour by the kilo.  

I blame myself.

Are you addicted to any strange foods?

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Warming Up

I don't know what is going on with the Clermont-Ferrand weather lately.  It has been warm and sunny; very unusual here!  This has forced us to take out the Spring clothes and spend as {MUCH} time outdoors as we possibly can.  We've lived here long enough to know that this weather can disappear any day now, so we have to take advantage while we can!

One of the things I {LOVE} about living in France are all of the terraces and love for being outdoors.  And so, when given the choice we always choose to sit outside in nice weather.  I'm so thankful that Nathan finally gets to wear those super cute baby sunglasses. {He's only worn them twice before}!


It was also very convenient that the weather warmed up so that Nathan and I could go out to the park while Cornel worked on the bathroom renovation (post coming soon)!

Nathan loves the park.  He loves to smell the flowers...


He also loves to pick the flowers....


After we made our way to the playground, I witnessed the most amazing thing {well, amazing to me}!  Nathan walked right over to the jungle gym climbed up the stairs all by himself!




While my son climbing stairs is not amazing {even my mom goggles aren't that foggy}, he then went over to the slide and slid down by himself!  What?!


When and where did my son learn to do that?  The problem was that I was very unprepared for this event, and so not only did I not take a picture but I was also not there to catch him as he tumbled on the ground.  Luckily the ground on the playground is padded so he didn't hurt himself; he laughed and went for another round!


Hopefully this weather sticks around for a couple more days because this house turns to chaos when we are all locked in-doors for too long and we can only read the same book so many times!




Also, please ignore my son's dirty socks.  He had escaped on the terrace with no shoes.  My floors are not *that* dirty!


What kind of spring-time activities are you looking forward to? 
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Steppin' Out

After an amazing weekend last weekend, a cold front came over Clermont-Ferrand and I thought I might have to say goodbye to the light cardigans and skirts I had dug out of my closet.

I was so thrilled when we woke up Saturday morning to chirping birds and sunshine!  I would have been more thrilled if the sun could have waited until 8 to rise, but c'est la vie as they say here.

It was still a little chillier than last week, but still perfect to head out and enjoy our breakfast on a terrace.  I can't ask for more!  I tried to take a picture of Nathan but he was not having it!

Saturday: breakfast downtown
Jeans & Caridgan:  Old Navy
Tank top:  Promod
Belt: Forever 21 (old)
Scarf:  Florence Street Vendor
Earrings: Nine West

Sunday we did something we rarely ever do...went to Church.  We wanted to partake in the Palm Sunday activities at the American Church, but as always trying to take a toddler into a church setting is STRESSFUL.

We all survived and actually had fun considering Nathan only had a couple of meltdowns.  We *might* even make a repeat appearance next Sunday.

It's always fun to get dressed up and get out of the house - especially on a sunny Sunday!



Sunday: church
Me
Jeans & Caridgan:  Old Navy
shirt:  local store
Belt: Mango
Hairpin:  made by me
Earrings: Nine West

Nathan  
Shirt  & Shoes:  Zara
Khakis: Gap


Since I feel like I'm always in work clothes, I miss wearing my cute tops and sweaters.  Hopefully now that spring is here we can try to make more of an effort into looking good when we go out.

I'm linking this up at:


the pleated poppy blog
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Friday Funny: La Pharmacie

One of the things that I always took for granted when I was in the US was the easy access to drugs.  Over the counter drugs that is.  In just one trip to Walgreens or CVS you could come home with things to cure a cold, allergies, migraines and the like.  Sometimes you could just add these things to your weekly shopping list and pick them up at Publix.

I had brought some basics with me when I first moved, but it didn't take long before I had to make my first trip to "la pharmacie".

I went in with Cornel and I could see the all the colorful boxes that lined the shelves.  Above the boxes there were signs to help point me in the right direction.

I quickly scanned them all:

Cold...No
Baby...No
Sleeping...No

Where could it be?  I turned and faced the other wall and tried to quickly scan the signs.

Before I could finish reading, I was approached by the pharmacist.

She mumbled something in French and I knew she was asking me what I was looking for.

I mumbled back in one of the few phrases I knew to let her know I was just looking.

"Just ask her..." Cornel grunted.

"I don't know what's it called in French.  It's fine, I'll just look for it"

"Let me just ask."  He was obviously annoyed to be running such an errand with me.

My face turned bright red as he approached the pharmacist.

"Excusez-moi madame nous cherchons Midol" (Excuse me we're looking for Midol)

It was official, I was going to die of embarrassment.  Did I mention that the pharmacy was small and filled with people?

The pharmacist looked bewildered, obviously she had no clue what we were looking for.  I wanted to just walk out - abort the mission.

It only got worse.

When the pharmacist asked exactly what we were looking for, Cornel blurted out in his perfect French:

"She has pains from her period and needs something" as he pointed in my direction.

I gave her a quick smile hoping she'd find us a box and it would all end there.

She let out a big "Ahhh" and walked us over to the pain medication area.

She then rambled on in French as she picked up boxes and put them back.

Cornel quickly translated.  "You have to be careful what you take because some of these might make you bleed to death".  Lovely.

She found us some pain medication which wouldn't kill me.  We paid for the box and left as quickly as we could.

After I finished that tiny box of hyped up Tylenol, I never went back to that pharmacy.  Instead I suffered month after month until my next trip to the States.  I made sure to stock up on as many pink boxes of Midol I could fit in my suitcase while still keeping it legal.

I also think twice before I make a trip to the Pharmacy.

What over the counter medicine could you not live without?
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When I grow up...

Every time I get an email from the day-care my heart stops and I immediately think "now what?".  The email I received last week, however, made me laugh.

The day-care is hosting a seminar on "how to ensure your child has self-confidence".  While I don't think self-confidence in children is a laughing matter it is in my situation.  You see, at 17 months Nathan might already have some issues, but I can assure you that "self-confidence" is not one of them.

This is the child that applauds himself each time he says his name outloud.  The child that will stop applauding, give you the evil eye until you too begin applauding his accomplishment.  It doesn't just stop at knowing his name.

You put the fork into your mouth..."bravo!"
You put on your scarf..."bravo!"
You stacked your blocks "bravo!"

If you enter our home at any given moment you might feel inclined to take a bow due to the constant applause.

He is also quickly developing his sense of humor.

As Cornel and I repeatedly point to ourselves trying to get him to say "mama" or "dada" he applauds while laughing at us.  I can only imagine if he thinks "bravo you two, you know your names".

So, with his theatrical personality and sense of humor I can only imagine what he will be when he grows up.

While I wish that he would be a doctor or a lawyer so that he may one day take us in and take care of us...I think his future will be in something more non-traditional; somewhere where he is highly praised.

Maybe professional soccer player...


Or a famous model {he did afterall get mommy's good looks}


Or perhaps a writer....
But one thing is for sure, as long as he isn't living with us when he's 30...I will be happy with whatever career he chooses.



Mama’s Losin’ It


Submitted as part of Mama Kat's writing workshop.
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3 years

Can you believe that yesterday was my 3 year blogiversary?

I started this tiny little blog back in April 12, 2008.  How time flies!  I've also come to realize that exactly 3 years ago yesterday, I stepped off a plane and began my new life abroad.

What a crazy journey it has been.

If you have been with me since the beginning then you have witnessed:

Our American cross-country adventure leading up to our new adventure in France...

You've been witness to our Romanian wedding adventures...

You've celebrated holidays European Style, including Thanksgivings & Christmases and the popular 14th of July...

You've travelled with us to the UK, Romania, Bulgaria, Spain, Italy and various locations in France...

You've witnessed our adventure into parenthood and the birth of our son...

You've witnessed his transition from baby to toddler...

You've enjoyed my cultural exchanges and explored the depths of culture shock of living abroad...

You've enjoyed my transition from typical girl into a domestic goddess...

You've celebrated birthdays with us...

And have basically witnessed our evolution as a family.  This little blog has gone way beyond what I ever expected for it and hopefully it only gets better.

Whether you just started keeping up with our story or have been with us for the beginning, I hope you will stick around for another year of our adventures!
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Funny Friday: Sausages

I am a self proclaimed food junkie.  When I was still living in the US I would love to just watch the Food Network for hours on end.

After I moved to France I was so excited to finally get to taste all of the delicious food that I had seen on TV for years!

One evening while out to dinner I saw "Andouillette" on the menu and immediately ordered it.

In utter disbelief, Cornel turned to me.  "You know what you just ordered, don't you?".

"Of course," I replied smugly.  "A type of sausage, Emeril makes it ALL the time".

And then my meal came.  Except the sausage I got looked nothing like the sausage I had seen for years on the food network.


And then something started whirling around my nose.  I could see the smell rising from my plate and into  my nostrils.  It wasn't pleasant.

Surely it wasn't my sausage that was smelling like ass.

Cornel started at me as I cut my sausage to take my first bite.

The horrible smell intensified as the knife cut through the plastic like shell.

Saving my pride, I put the fork in my mouth and started chewing.  I was fighting back the gag reflex.  I couldn't believe it, the sausage actually tasted worse than it smelled.

"Well how is it?" Cornel asked with a smirk.

"Delicious", I replied and took another bite.

I tried to finish my sausage and save face the rest of the meal.  I smothered every piece in Dijon mustard trying to coat the flavor to no avail.

I finished what I could and then pretended I was no longer hungry.  Which wasn't really a lie since I could feel the sausage festering in my stomach.

It wasn't until later that I learned that Andouillette is a sausage made out of the intestines of the pig.  Surely this isn't what Emeril is cooking every week.  

I won't make that mistake again.

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17 Months


Well here we are - one month shy of a year and a half.  In my heart 17 months still feels like a baby, but in reality he is so much more grown up than I could have ever imagined at this age.

His vocabulary is expanding exponentially every day.  He is repeating almost everything he hears so now we really have to watch what we say around him.  His newest (and cutest) expression is by far "ay ay ay" which he says with his hands on his cheeks.  He is quite the ham.

He now knows his name and loves to say it over and over again.  He points to himself and constantly says "Tatan".  Sadly though, he only recognizes his name in French (or Spanish) but not in English.  This is forcing us to speak more French around the house which is not what we were expecting.

He is impossible to keep track of lately and loves to run all over the house.  He now grabs his shoes when he wants to go outside.  He can spend hours outside and thankfully he gets to do just that at daycare.  By the time he comes home he immediately walks into the kitchen demanding dinner.  Which is much cuter than it sounds.

He loves to eat and has an amazing appetite (and a belly to prove it)!  I haven't been as good at making his own meals like I used to be, but I'm hoping to start giving him small pieces of what I make for dinner.  We have officially kicked all bottles and all liquids are now being drunk out of a cup!  When did that happen?

He has two new molars and the teething process was somewhat painless for all involved.  He hardly complained and before we knew it two more little white teeth came in.  His grand total is now up to 12 and he has the cutest smile.

He has also become quite the little bookworm and adores all of his books.  He now "reads" out loud to us before bedtime and gets so wrapped up in all of his stories.

And so now I leave you with Nathan reading you all a bedtime story.  His selection for this evening was "Pocoyo" a Spanish book brought back from his daddy.  And as they say here:

"Dit bonne nuit et fermer les yeux" (Say goodnight and close your eyes)


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Stromboli

Whenever I heard the world Stromboli I immediately pictured the puppet master in Pinocchio.  I had no idea that this also referred to food!

I came across a recipe for Salami Stromboli and thought it would be fairly easy to make.

 I mean it kind of looked like a Calzone and I already had the pizza dough in the fridge so all I needed was the stuffing.

The original recipe called for stuffing the dough with salami, mozzarella and tons of basil.  While I wasn't at a loss for the sausage and cheese, I didn't have any fresh basil.  My wonderful husband came to the rescue however with a jar of pesto sauce!

I layered the pesto sauce with sausage, mushrooms and tons of fresh mozzarella cheese and then rolled it into a cute little log.   After a quick egg wash and 15 minutes in the over lunch was ready and it was delicious!

It was such a nice twist to our "traditional pizza" Saturdays.  What I loved the most was how quick and easy it was.  I hope to be making this again soon.
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The Great Outdoors

I think I can officially say that Springtime has arrived in Clermont-ferrand.  It was an absolutely perfect Saturday and we took full advantage!  It was so nice outside that we were even able to wear short sleeves (it has been a long time since I've been able to do that in April)!

After a great breakfast outside we wanted to take full advantage of the great outdoors.  After some much needed shopping (isn't all shopping much needed) we wanted to take Nathan to a park to run around and explore (and hopefully tire himself out).

The problem is that when the sun is shining everyone goes out to the parks and they become so overcrowded.  This isn't the ideal when you have a toddler that wants to explore and climb on everything.  Cornel had mentioned that there was a park he had noticed just up from our house so we decided to go and check it out.

From the outside this park isn't much to see.  It actually looks rather small and run down from the street.  Once you cross the gates, however, it's a while different story.  It had amazing views of the city, a large pond with gold fish {which Nathan loved} and wide open green perfect for running around.


An amazing gem hidden in Clermont-Ferrand.  Hopefully we'll be making a return trip soon.
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Friday Funny: Chicken Dinner

Today I thought I would spare everyone yet another doctor or medical story. Instead I’m going to talk about another one of my favorite past times – food.

One of my very first trips to France was on business, imagine that. I got to stay in a swanky boutique hotel with an amazing star rated restaurant.

Part of the appeal of the hotel was that you got to enjoy a nice “soiree etap” during your stay. This is when you get to enjoy a delicious 5 course meal prepared by the chef for free. The only downside being that you have to eat whatever the chef prepared that evening.

Since I’m always willing to try anything at least once, I wasn’t too concerned. I mean this is a star rated restaurant, what random thing could they possible serve me?

After an hour, when we had finished the dozen or so tiny little appetizers it was finally time for the main course. The waiter came over and explained to us what we would be having for dinner – in French of course. Since all I knew at that time was “bonjour” I had no idea what was going on. When I asked my colleague what we were going to eat, he kindly responded “some sort of chicken”.

When my plate arrived I looked at what I thought was the tiniest whole chicken known to man; tiny little wings on these tiny little bones.

I made a comment about the size our tiny birds and heard my colleague giggle. I should have known something was wrong.

I started eating my tiny “chicken” and noticed the meat was a little tougher than chicken, but all in all delicious. In fact, it was one of the best tasting “chickens” I had ever eaten in my life. All that was left was a tiny little carcass of bones.

During the cheese course, one of my colleagues turned and asked if I had enjoyed the dinner. I was quickly becoming suspicious, but told them the truth.

That’s when they told me. It wasn’t chicken. It was pigeon. I had just eaten a pigeon.

And you see, I’m deathly afraid of pigeons. I have this fear that they are going to stab me to death with their beaks. You know, like the movie “The Birds”. Not to mention they are dirty and carry diseases and they poop everywhere! All I could imagine was the poop!

I then took a big sip of wine and thought back to how delicious the pigeon had actually been. And now, every time I stare out my window and see those pigeons on the other side staring at me, I keep thinking how much I would like to take him home for dinner.

I’ve also learned to always be suspicious when people tell me I’m eating chicken!
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