Vlog: Black thumb of death

This is my first attempt at Vlogging so be gentle with me. 

I've been wanting to write about my "black thumb of death" for a while now, but haven't had the opportunity.  In fact, every year I try to grow some sort of plants and they always die a very slow painful death.  In fact, every year when I buy new plants to replace the dead ones, my husband scoffs and rolls his eyes because he knows what the end result will be.

It doesn't help that we live in a French apartment and we don't have a lovely yard where I can grow a garden.  So sit back and enjoy this tour of what is growing {or slowly dying} on our terrace.




Please don't forget to vote for me today for Top 25 Expat Blogs! I'm at 27 so help bump me up to the Top 25!!





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Romania Recap

I have finally recovered to the point where I can write the re-cap of our vacation in Romania last week.

The trip over was great and Nathan was a trooper the entire way.  Considering how many frequent flyer miles this kid has racked up over the past 18 months this should have been no surprise. 


We had a very tight connection in Germany but Lufthansa came through.  We had a personal driver meet us at our plane to take us to our next plane.  Kudos, Lufthansa!  If only it hadn't been such a pain to go through customs. 

Having a 1/2 American and 1/2 European baby flying on an American passport in Europe is like trying to solve the theory of relativity.  The customs agents just don't get it, and at one point we were asked for his birth certificate.  Hmm, why do you need his birth certificate when you have his passport?  But we all survived our Customs experience in tact.

As soon as we arrived in Romania, Nathan was immediately showered with love, hugs, kisses and gifts.  This kid is truly spoiled.  And as if that wasn't enough, it was his Uncle Cristi's birthday and he also got a huge piece of cake.  He must have thought this place was the greatest, EVER!

The best part about visiting Romania, of course, is that Nathan gets to be surrounded by so much family including his great grandparents.  He spent an entire afternoon on his great-grandparent's farm chasing around all of the animals and eating their vegetables!  I wish I could have seen his reaction to this kind of nature, but I was too busy laying on the beach.  The pictures though, say it all!


Like most vacations, it was over way too quickly and before we knew it we were back at the airport.  This is where things started going awry. 

The first part of the trip was great.  Nathan had a delicious croissant au jambon at the airport that he devoured!  I have to admit that travelling with him is much easier now that he can eat "normal" food. 

It wasn't until we arrived in Frankfurt that things went downhill.  We had a short connection and spent most of it trying to walk from one end of the airport to the other to make sure we made our flight, all while having yet another fun interval at customs asking why the baby was travelling on an American passport if he was born in France.

Somewhere between flight A and flight B we lost a suitcase.  Of course it would be the suitcase that was filled with all of Nathan's things, and it is never to be found again.  The downfalls of travelling I suppose.  It hurt much more emotionally than physically, but luckily his teeny tiny suit was not in the lost baggage!

Now we have spent the time recovering physically and can't wait to plan our next vacation!

Don't forget to vote for me for Top 25 Expat Mom Blogs!


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Vacation Style

It's been so long since I've written this post and I have tons of pictures to post.  We were stepping out all over the place while on vacation so it's about time I share!

The best part of our vacation was the beautiful wedding we got to attend.  Not only was it incredibly beautiful and moving but also because we all got to dress up!  There aren't many occasions where we all get to dress up, so any chance we get is very welcome!



 

Me:  
Dress:  Michael Kors
Shoes:  Minelli
Necklace:  Tiffany's

Nathan:
Tiny Suit & Shirt:  Kenneth Cole
Shoes:  Baby Zara
Tie:  Unknown

Then we were out and about in Cyprus; enjoying the sights and sun!




Me:
Top:  Promod
Skirt:  Gap (super old)
Sandals: Minelli
Necklace: LA City
Sunglasses:  Fendi

Cornel:
Gap
Shoes: Adidas

Circle dancing at dinner...


Dress:  BCBG
Sweater:  Old Navy

Don't forget to vote for me today for Top 25 Expat Mom Blogs.  I'm 26, so I need a little umph to get me up to 25!


the pleated poppy blog


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Shameless Plug


Circle of Moms is at it again, and this time it is the Top 25 Expat Mom Blogs!  This post will be nothing but a shameless plug for you to vote for my blog!

One of the best things about writing my blog has been the ability to connect with so many other people, especially women who are also living and raising families in foreign countries!

I would love your support!  I promise this will be the only post I will write to request votes! The little pink icon will remain on the left however, so remember to vote every 24 hours!

 We will resume regular programming tomorrow!

And because no post is complete without a good picture...

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Beach Bums

It's hard to believe that one week ago Cornel and I were just finishing up our beach vacation in Cyprus.  This beach vacation was unlike any other, because it was the first time we took a vacation sans baby!

I won't lie, there might have been some tears shed on the way to the airport, at the airport, on the plane and even at the hotel.  For some reason leaving Nathan behind for three nights was so incredibly hard for me.  It wasn't until morning arrived in Larnaca that I finally started to enjoy the vacation.

This was our incredible view of the Mediterranean from our terrace.


It was so amazing to head down to the beach and lay around taking in the sun.  There were the occasional dips in the Sea and lots of quality time.

We couldn't go all the way to Cyprus and spend no time taking in the sights.  I mean, Cyprus after all is the island of Aphrodite.  On a quick cultural note, Cyprus is half Greek and half Turkish, so walking around and taking in the beautiful Orthodox Churches next to a Mosque is quite the sight!

And of course the food was absolutely delicious!  There was Moussaka (oh, the moussaka), tzatziki, tahini, slouvaki...I think I ate my weight in food!

But of course, it wouldn't be a beach vacation without an evening stroll on the beach under the full moon.


It was an amazing beach vacation that ended too soon.



Mama’s Losin’ It


Submitted as part of Mama Kat's writing workshop.

Let's BEE Friends
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Senior Daze

I can't believe how long it's been since I've posted!  We got back from vacation 5 days ago and it seems like everything is going in slow motion.  I have a lot to share and some great pictures, but those will have to wait until later.  I'm still to exhausted to even put into words the past week and a half.

Today I'm going to join Liz and share how I was a Senior Hottie.  Except, I wasn't.  I wasn't one of these people that loved high school, in fact, I was actually so happy to leave it all behind.

I was one of those people whose awkward stage definitely lasted until college.

Thankfully, I grew out of it! {Even if I haven't please lie to me and tell me I have}

And why do I have so many bracelets on my arm?  I was rocking bling before bling was cool!



So what about you?  Were you a senior hottie?



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Raspberry Scones

My fascination with scones probably began during my short stint living in the UK.  I mean I had eaten scones before (how can you escape Starbucks without eating one or two), but I had never truly tasted a scone before living in the UK.

You see, the British have truly perfected this pasty.  There is nothing better at tea time than a nice warm scone with whipped butter or english cream.

2008 - Enjoying English tea in York (see the scones on the second tier with butter and jam?)

Since I knew that I wanted to invite people over on Sunday for coffee, it was a no brainer that I wanted to try and make scones of my own.  I scoured the internet searching for the perfect recipe, except all the ones I found were for blueberry and cranberry scones.  Neither of which I had readily available here, and so I knew I would have to mix and match my own recipe.

And so working with bits and pieces of various recipes I decided to create my own raspberry scone recipe.  I was very nervous since I had many people who have tried real British scones and would definitely tell me if they were a FAIL.

I measured and mixed and cut the cute little triangles.  It was all much simpler than I had imagined, plus they looked delicious!  

It definitely helps if you can serve them on a tiered holder...a la English tea style.

They were a hit and people finished them off entirely!  For such an easy recipe this is definitely something to try again.

Ingredients:

2 cups of flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1/2 tsp of salt
2 tablespoons of sugar
6 tablespoons of butter (cold and cut in chunks)
1 1/4 cup of heavy cream
1/2 cup of fresh raspberries

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 400℉

Sift together all dry ingredients and then cut in the cold butter until the mixture looks like crumbs.

Add the cream and mix together to incorporate ingredients.

Carefully mix in the raspberries. {I wasn't gentle enough with them and some of them were crushed in the process}

Pour the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a rectangle.

Cut the dough in half lengthwise and then begin to cut out triangles. 

Shake off the excess flour and place on a cookie sheet.  Then brush the tops with a little bit of extra cream and bake for 10-12 minutes until the scones are light brown.

For the full English effect, eat them with jam, butter or whipped cream.



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18 Months



Here we are celebrating another half birthday; 18 months goes by so fast.  In just six short months we will be celebrating his second birthday, and that just seems insane to me!

Nathan is now impossible to keep track of and he is running everywhere!  Just trying to take his picture lately is a marathon!  He is so inquisitive and loves to be everywhere.  He recently learned how to "sneak up" on us to try and scare us.  He runs off to a corner and comes in with his hands in the claw position.  Where did he learn that from?

This month the daycare informed us that Nathan started throwing fits at lunch time and was refusing to be fed.  This is very unlike him since he LOVES to eat!  It turns out that he had just had enough of being fed and wanted to feed himself.  He is know 98% independent on eating by himself.  I had no idea how much of our mealtime was spent feeding Nathan.  I finally feel like we can enjoy meal time as a family.  Except now there is a lot more clean-up involved.

He is now speaking more and more French.  He can tell you that his "doudou" {lovie} is la or la-bas {there or over there} and he loves to say Encore {again}.  He still says a lot of words in English and Spanish and I think the poor kid is very turned around when it comes to languages.  I'm hoping that someday soon he'll get it all straightened out.

We didn't have any teething this month and the count is still up to 12.  He has his hands in his mouth constantly so I'm wondering if more are coming out soon.

He loves to socialize and is blossoming at daycare.  It is so adorable to see him "play" with his friends when we drop him off/pick him up.

He is turning into such a little man and doesn't resemble his old "baby-self".  I love watching him learn and grow everyday!

Here is a small clip of Nathan "eating" on his own.  While I'll admit that this might only be interesting to the aunts and grandmothers!


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Mother's Day Weekend

My second Mother's Day is coming to a close and just like last year this year was wonderful!

I was a little fearful for this Mother's Day since I knew Cornel had no time to go out and prepare anything. I wasn't hopeful for much, maybe a card from Nathan and some quality time.  I kept reminding Cornel that Mother's day was coming up, to which he responded with his standard answer:

"buy you aren't my mother."

Luckily {for him} that he was only joking.

We had spent all day Saturday in St. Etienne at Ikea.  I seriously cannot tell you how much I love Ikea.  It was an unplanned trip but completely necessary to pick up some last needed items to finish the bathroom renovation.  Yes, I said finish!

Exhausted from a long shopping trip, my boys let me sleep in today.  I was woken up by my giggling son and husband entering the room with a tray filled with orange juice and croissants for the three of us!  There was nothing better than breakfast in bed with my men, even if Nathan did lick my croissant before giving it to me.

Later in the afternoon, we had our friends over to celebrate Nathan's 1/2 birthday (yes, we celebrate half birthdays) and Mother's Day.  There was coffee, Spanish cider and freshly baked raspberry scones {recipe to come later}!

It was the perfect end to an absolutely perfect day.  I'm so grateful that I was able to spend my Mother's Day surrounded by love, friends and family.  I mean after all, isn't that the point of the holiday?

I hope all of the mothers out there had an amazing day!

Saturday:  Ikea shopping trip
Jeans: Abercrombie & Fitch
Top:  Ann Taylor Loft
Shoes {not pictured}: Puma flats



Sunday:  Mother's Day & 1/2 Birthday Party

Me:  
Top:  Promod
Tanktop: Target
Jeans: Abercrombie & Fitch

Nathan:
Top:  Obaibi
Jeans:  Baby Gap

Tuesday:  Work
Dress: Zara {probably the most comfortable dress I own}
I usually do wear shoes, but not in the house, so this pictur is sans shoes

the pleated poppy blog



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Friday Funny: Parking

Anyone who has ever been to France will tell you that sometimes watching a person park can be a spectator sport. I never understood until I moved here, but on many occasions I have been dumbfounded at how and where people choose to park.

Granted that this is coming from the girl who cannot parallel park to save her life, so I guess I find it amazing and amusing what can be used for a parking spot and the lengths the people will go to make their {albeit tiny} cars fit!

But the ridiculous parallel parking isn’t the end of it; there is also the double and triple parking. Sometimes this double/triple parking happens on a busy road in the middle of rush hour (well, as much rush hour as you can get here in Clermont) blocking off an entire lane of traffic.

It never ceases to amaze me when a car stops in front of us, turning on his hazard lights and leaving his car. As if the hazard lights makes up for the fact that he just left his car in the middle of the road for no other reason than he was too lazy to find a real parking spot!

This week at my office, however, was as the French say “la piece de resistance”. This guy just parked his car in the lane of the parking lot; no hazard lights, just parked.




At first Cornel suggested that the car might have had trouble, but so much so that he couldn’t “push” it into a spot? I mean, we were in a parking lot after-all.

Sometimes it makes me glad that I get to sit back and watch the parking mayhem without actually having to try and park here!
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Sandwiches in her purse

I remember waking up in the hotel the morning of my little sister’s college orientation. She had been brave enough to go to college 1800 miles away from home and my mom and I had flown to Philadelphia to help her get settled.

The official orientation didn’t begin until 11 and not wanting to let one minute go to waste my mom suggested we go sightseeing in the meantime.

We did it all: Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Rocky Stairs, Cheese steaks, the works.

Then my sister called. We had missed the morning orientation. We had missed the lunch. She wondered where we were.

A valid question since we had indeed flown there for her. She asked if we would be there to help her move in to her dorm.

“Of course”, my mom replied.

However, we kept sightseeing; arriving at Villanova only in time to help my sister decorate. Thanks to the kindness of strangers who felt bad for the family-less freshman, my sister had all of her boxes carried into her room.

Lucky for us the orientation wasn’t over and we still had the welcome dinner in the gym. The dinner was picnic style where you had your choice of sandwiches, chips and drinks. My mom promptly made her way through all of the sandwich lines picking up one of each; stuffing the hurriedly into her purse as if she was stockpiling for some sort of natural disaster. In went the tuna, the chicken, the ham, the cheese and the roast beef.

It wasn’t over, in went the bags of chips and sodas. Her purse reminded me of the endless bag in Mary Poppins; where on earth did she have the room?

Mortified, my sister and I refused to make eye contact with her. We pretended not to know the crazy lady with food in her purse.

As we walked my sister back to her dorm, I promptly told my mom how embarrassed I had been. I told her how it was in such bad taste to put free sandwiches in her purse.

After my rant, she turned to me and said.

“Don’t even think of asking me for a sandwich when you get hungry tonight”.

We all laughed.

She was right, not only was I hungry later, I knew better than to ask her for a sandwich.

Even know when I find myself putting random things into my purse I always think back to that day and the valuable lessons my mom taught me!




Mama’s Losin’ It


Submitted as part of Mama Kat's writing workshop.

Let's BEE Friends
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Bathroom renovation part 2

Has it only been 3 weeks since we started our bathroom transformation?  In some ways it seems like it has taken forever.  I thought that in less than a week I would be living happily in my new bathroom.  In other ways, after the realization of all the work that had to be done in our bathroom, it seems like the transformation was rather fast.

Rather fast that is when our house wasn't taken over by plumbing supplies!



We hit a few speed bumps along the road.  Some of our pipes were lead and had to be replaced completely.  Luckily, they were only evacuation pipes so there was no risk to our family.

The first thing that got accomplished was my half wall!  I have been dreaming about this wall since the day we moved in!


Finally, the hideous water heater was covered!

Then, our beautiful tile started going on the wall!  What a difference the tile made!



And then after a long weekend, the tiles were done and it seemed like the bathroom was finished!

But today, finally, the tile was finished and grouted; the shower bar installed, and our beautiful double sink was set in place.  And I'm finally at peace with the bathroom renovation.





Ahh, but if only we were finished.  On the to-do list:

Paint the walls
Install lighting and mirror
Install shower bar/shower curtain

While it doesn't sound like a lot, after getting all of the big things done the details seem to be daunting.  Hopefully soon we can claim victory over the bathroom renovation.
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