Camembert pasta chez Baptiste

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Our friend, Baptiste invited us for a pasta dinner that he'd promised to make me while he was visiting Texas as soon as I came to France. It was definitely worth the wait - gooey Camembert, crushed pecans and just the right touch of parsley on maccheroncelli with a goose foie gras appetizer was the perfect pasta meal. We enjoyed the meal while watching soccer (what else?) and a bit of Rugby before heading out to catch a late movie. All-in-all, an enjoyable evening.

Pre-Christmas update

The Christmas festivities for Guillaume's family begin tomorrow evening, so with my fully-charged camera, I'm sure to take tons of pics over the next few days to share with you when it's all said and done. Before that, I thought I'd share a short picture review of what we've been doing the past few days while we prepare for the holidays.

Countdown to clean air

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Paris restaurants will be smoking out the smokers beginning January 1 next year, and I'm quite happy about it. More than 5000 people die every year in France from secondhand smoke, and as many as 70,000 people die each year in France from smoking-related illnesses. Ridiculous and unnecessary? Yes! I have no problem with smokers or smoking, but I agree that it's necessary to consider others when one's actions affect not only oneself. I'm glad Paris has finally come around and decided to join other big cities for the sake of health, and in a effort to create a smoke-free world.

Margot & moi

On Thursday, I had the pleasure of babysitting Guillaume's second-cousin, Margot, while her parents worked and Guillaume went off for a job interview. She's such a sweet girl, and I realized there is definitely a difference between little girls and boys. I don't have any little girls in my family, so it was a new, but very fun, experience watching Margot for a day. We started off with a chilly (and short) walk outside after breakfast, and spent the rest of the day playing, dancing and reading with a short nap in-between. Guillaume came back after her nap, but after a few minutes of playing, he caught-up on some sleep himself. We had a fun day, but she sure was pooped by the time her papa came home.

Rude reality

Monday, December 17, 2007

I've never considered myself a patient person - in fact, I'll often declare myself the opposite. But, what's up with the I-refuse-to-wait-for-any-reason attitude of older French folks? I know it's not news, and yes, it's a stereotype, but people here simply refuse to wait their turn! Last weekend, Guillaume and I were waiting to be seated at a small restaurant with nearly no seats available when an elderly (like senior citizen) couple dashed ahead of us with "pardon, pardon" only to jump into a rare available booth, whilst rudely disturbing the neighboring table. Today, while we were waiting our turn in line to see the exhibition, a group of old folks, once again, jutted ahead of the line to get in first. What's up with that? I find myself even more patient than ever here, as I refrain from scolding the elderly, but I'm also becoming ruder myself, I think. After failed attempts to be polite by saying hello, apologizing for a bump, or giving a smile, I've reverted to the French glare and snob-approach. And I don't agree with those people who say, "Well, it's because Americans are all so fake-nice and French are just real," because if that's the case, then I never want to live in a place that makes people's reality equate to rudeness and scowling. Sure, you'll find the fake friendliness in the States, but I'd rather someone's fake smile provoke me to smile than someone's real scowl provoke me to scowl.

Une bonne journée

Today we spent some time at the Musee d'Orsay's exhibition of Gustave Courbet. It was my first trip to a museum during this visit to Paris, and I was glad to finally check something out. The artwork of Courbet was decidedly nothing overly-impressive, but there were a few notable pieces, one of which I can't get my hands on in the form of a print or postcard anywhere, which is driving me crazy. I'm not a fan of landscape or animal art, but the portraits and nudes that Courbet created are worth taking a look at, especially his most scandalous piece (click with caution). I like someone who isn't afraid to paint what he likes, to create art that shocks and makes people squirm. After all, what's art if it doesn't provoke an unusual emotion?
So, after the exhibition, we headed back home, but not before making a quick, unscripted stop to LeNôtre, which happened to be on the way. This patisserie is not like the others - it's wonderfully posh and every little grain of sugar is perfectly placed on each delectable treat. Guillaume came away with a meringue with chantilly which was superb! And, Gui's mom and I had a nougatine cup full of rich chocolate, topped with a chocolate truffle and crispy square. It was divine!

A perfect little, gloomy, freezing day spent in Paris.

My first Raclette!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sorry, Charlies

Saturday, December 15, 2007

I wanted to post some pictures today, but I left my camera at a friend's place last night where I was enjoying a raclette! Needless to say, yummy photos are forthcoming.

Nearly freezing

Thursday, December 13, 2007

So, it's cold in Paris. Luckily, it's not raining, but it's still freakin' cold. Guillaume and I attempted to finish Christmas shopping today, but besides the fact that I have some sort of stomach bug, we could barely stand to walk around for 15 minutes in the nearly freezing temps. I think I'm going to try to finish the rest of my shopping at home, online. I expected this weather, but it still doesn't make it any easier. At least it's still mostly sunny.

Insomnia

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

For the past few nights now, I haven't been able to find the right sleeping position or just the right spot on my pillow to keep myself sleeping through the night. Tonight, I think I slept for a couple of hours, but I found myself tossing and turning again right around 3 a.m. and I finally decided to hop out of bed and make some use of my sleepless night. I was thinking that I've been getting so much sleep lately - getting to bed by 1 or 2 a.m. and sleeping right through 11 or even noon most days - that my body doesn't know what to do with all the extra sleep I'm forcing myself to get. I guess I could also just be suffering from a long bout of jet-lag. Or maybe my usually-OK habit of having a coffee or tea or Hershey bar just before bed (and still be able to sleep like log) doesn't apply here to my after-dinner espressos..? Hmmmm.

Perhaps this a good opportunity for me start waking up early and being productive - doing things like working out, emailing friends, reading a book or studying for the grad-school exam I've been putting off. Yes, I think I'll turn this annoying occurrence into a productive habit! Now, I just need to convince Guillaume that I'll be interrupting his 10 hours of shut-eye for a worthy cause.

Un bon apetit

We've been pretty busy the past few days - mostly with Christmas planning and shopping, meeting up with friends and family and spending time with each other. On Sunday, Guillaume and I met up with his aunt for a drink in a really famous area in Paris. We had spent some time in Bastille the night before with a friend of Guillaume's, having a bottle of wine and some tapas before heading out to a crowded Parisian bar where we met a few cool peeps and sipped our drinks. I made the mistake of letting Guillaume order my drink and I ended up taking 20 minutes to finish 2 ounces of alcohol!! I still had a good time, trying to speak some French without being made fun of and watching the bartenders crush ice from a small bucket with a wooden mallet.
Sunday evening was equally fun, and we ended up walking around
Victor Hugo's old 'hood before tackling a pitcher of agave margaritas at a Mexican cantina. It was such a treat! I want to go back to this cantina to try out their tapas because the nostalgic smells of spices and herbs were totally teasing my full stomach. We had a really good time with Guillaume's aunt - she so super cool and I can't wait to hang out with her again, which will probably be around Christmas when we all get together.
Last night we treated Guillaume's mom to a choucroute dinner (with a fresh oysters appetizer) on the Champs Elysees, which was très magnifique!! Gui and I had been to this restaurant before and enjoyed the same meal equally as much the second time as the first, so his mère was very happy!
We'll be staying in Boulogne-Billancourt for the next 2 days, which is a pretty nice and trendy area in barely-suburban Paris. It'll be nice to be a little closer to the city, within walking distance of a metro station, too! We have a lot planned for the next couple of weeks - Guillaume's sister comes in from London tomorrow, there's a trip to the museum set up and a dinner party to attend next week, and there's still some Christmas shopping to be done! We haven't done anything extravagant (mostly eating, drinking and being merry), but I feel like we're go-go-go all the time! I guess that's the way it works around here, and I'm happy to conform - for now, at least. :)

A few recent pics

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Invasion sirens in 2007?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

While I was putting on a pair of earrings this afternoon, I heard one of the strangest sounds I've ever heard. Is there a tornado? Should we go hide somewhere? Why am I the only one stirring at this very odd sound? I stepped out of our room and asked Guillaume "What is that??" So, apparently, sirens are tested every first Wednesday at noon in case there is ever an invasion - or other disaster. I'm not sure how much this will help, I bet everyone is well aware what they need to do, but I still find it so strange that this practice still continues today.

Planes, trains and small cars

Monday, December 3, 2007

So, I made it! The flight from Memphis to Amsterdam wasn't awful, but I only managed a short nap for the entire 8-hour flight. Usually, I try to get some sleep on the plane ride over so I can adjust more easily to the time change, but this time my insomnia was in full-force.
I spent only a few hours in Amsterdam, but it was so early and the weather seemed so bad that I didn't mind that I spent those hours trying to catch some sleep. Finally, I got to Paris, and I was so stoked that I didn't have to go through customs! I guess since I'd entered a Schengen country already, it wasn't necessary for them to check us again. Guillaume arrived at the terminal a bit late - he got a little turned around at the airport - imagine that! But, nearly 3 hours later, I finally arrived in Chatillon - the traffic in Paris around 5pm was absurd!

We've pretty much been non-stop since I arrived last week. I feel like I've been here a month already, but there's still so much I want to do! Mostly, we've been meeting up with Guillaume's friends and family in Paris. On Sunday, I got to meet all of Guillaume's cousins from his father's side of the family, and also his grandmother, which was a little intimidating. Luckily, she was incredibly nice and patient with me. For the most part, everyone's been able to communicate with me on some level, but lately Guillaume's finding himself with a new profession as a translator. We met up with his family at his dad's apartment in Boulogne-Billancourt for delicious desserts including apple tart, pear cake, belgian chocolates, coffee, clementines and other sugary delights. It was very comfortable and everyone was so sweet - trying to speak English or teach me a bit a French, and I was able to understand quite a bit of their conversations in French. One of Guillaume's cousins and her husband have a gorgeous little girl named Margot, and we offered to babysit for them at any time. She's so sweet and I'll probably benefit more from babysitting her than anything else since most of her books are on the same level of comprehension that I'm on!!
On Sunday night, we met up with a friend to see the movie "We Own the Night" which was showing in English with French subtitles. It was actually a really cool movie, and I think watching it with subtitles was really good for me.
So, I guess that's kind of the update on what we've been doing. If there's one thing that I wish I could change about Paris, it's the smoking. I know things will change on February 1, but not one day passes when I don't inhale someone's secondhand smoke. And, unfortunately, all of the places we go to meet friends and have a drink are pretty much smoke-factories, so there's just no escaping it. I guess it's the price I'll pay (for now) for the perks that come with being here - like the food! I've eaten so well since I've arrived - maybe not as much as I'd like to, but definitely enough. :) I've had cheese galore, steak, ratatouille, saucisson, creamy soup, fresh fruit and veggies, good coffee and the most amazing panini baguette I've ever tasted! Oh, and one more thing I'd like to change about Paris is the selection of beer - man, I never realized how spoiled we are in the states with the beer selection! My goodness, it costs nearly $7 to get a decent-tasting beer anywhere around here!! I guess I'll have to wait until we make that trip to Belgium in February!!

A la prochaine...

Ma nouvelle apparence

Monday, November 19, 2007

translation: my new look
Although it's likely to last for only a fleeting moment, I decided to spice up my blog with some festive colors. I'm not usually the festive type, but since this will be the first year I spend Christmas away from my family, the holiday somehow feels more important than usual. But, I'm really excited about how Christmas works in France, and I can't wait to see Paris in the dead of winter. The year I spent Thanksgiving in London was interesting, and although it's only an American holiday, it was cool to see people still celebrating with turkey and stuffing served at restaurants. But, I do remember missing the food and fun that usually warms my tummy and my heart during Turkey Day, so I'll likely have similar feelings while I'm celebrating Christmas with Guillaume and his family in Paris.
Besides the new look of my blog, I've starting thinking about how my own personal look might change while I'm away. I know I can be a chameleon of sorts, and usually change myself in some way to fit into a new crowd or a new place. So, I'm hesitant to buy the latest trendy sweater here before making my way to Europe where la mode is, likely, not on the same trend as Austin. Yesterday, after a six-hour brunch, I spent a total of $5.00 (parking!) for the entire day, mostly because I was indecisive about buying a pair of shoes here that I might not wear in France. That's definitely a new record for me!

What I'm going to miss: Version 2.0

Friday, November 9, 2007

So, before I left to California I posted this entry about the things I'd miss while I was away from Texas. This newer version is definitely expanded, since so many little things I take for granted will surely be difficult or impossible to find when I'm abroad. These are just the material things...of course my family and friends are implicitly what I'll miss most while I'm gone!

1) Mom's home-cookin' - be that roast, enchiladas, rice, chalupas, or chicken salad, there's nothing that tastes quite as good as when mom makes it!

2) Driving - even though I won't miss traffic or driving to work during rush hour, I think I'll miss the control that I feel when I'm driving my car; it's almost like that freedom to escape...just get in your car when you feel like it and drive wherever you want to go.

3) Breakfast tacos

4) Wearing flip flops any time of the year - I know you can't do that everywhere here, but you surely can in LA and Austin!

5) American reality TV - especially the really geeky stuff like The Bachelor or SYTYCD

6) Knowing where to find what I need - out of shave gel? gotta go to Target! need some pasta? taking a trip to HEB or Trader Joe's!

7) Fast food - I know I'm going to be living in, arguably, the best city for food in the world, but sometimes all a girl needs is a nice taco combo from Taco Cabana, a biggie-sized chili from Wendy's or a strawberry limeade from Sonic!

8) Friendly people - France (especially Paris) doesn't exactly have a medal for being home to the most approachable people.

...... I'll post more as I think of them!

Lame update

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I'm not in Dallas anymore.

I'm temporarily working at my old job in Austin.

I'm spending quality time with most of the people I love.

I've become quite the gypsy.

I can't wait for Thanksgiving to see my nephews, sis and Georgia peaches.

I'm not going to London after all (for now).

I'm moving to Paris at the end of November.

How's that for an update? :)

More soon...

Movin', movin'

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

So, I'm in Dallas now. Well, not really Dallas, just north of it in Carrollton, but it's about a 20 minute drive to downtown Dallas, which I passed along the way. I got to do some thinking on the 3-hour drive, and before I got here I was thinking to myself that I was maybe making a mistake...maybe I should stay in Austin for a little longer...maybe forever. But, as I made it closer to Dallas, and after passing downtown, I felt a little jolt of excitement. I'm not sure where it came from or what it was for, but if I had to guess, it was the crazy, independent, thrill-seeking side of me anticipating all of the energy that's housed in a big city. It's like taking a trip to New York, and finally arriving at that little corner in Times Square where all the energy seems to be emerging from. Even though it only lasted a couple of seconds, I feel content that I've made it here and I'm going to give it all I've got to find some sort of success here. If not, at least I'll have tried.

Finally, an update

Friday, September 14, 2007

So much has happened since my last post, so I'll try to sum it all up and then do one giant post of pics to give a better idea of what's been going on with this Misplaced Texan.

After a grueling 2 days of driving through 5 states, and a nice stop to the (under-rated) Grand Canyon, Guillaume and I finally arrived at my sister's place on the 4th. We had such a great time visiting with her, David and my adorable nephews, that it was hard to leave; we even extended our stay for one day to get a little more time in with the kiddos. We were there just long enough to celebrate my nephew's 4th birthday, too, which was actually really fun for us! It was definitely the highlight of our trip. Last Tuesday evening we arrived at our friends' place back in Austin where we had planned to stay for the week. We had a really great time catching up with all our friends (and family), and we were so happy to be back in Austin with familiar places and faces. I even ran into 3 of my cousins at a sport's bar watching the Texas game!

But, alas, Guillaume had to set off back to France today, and we were both very sad about our separation. We're really hoping to see eachother in 8 weeks or less, but no matter how many times we go through this same routine, it never gets any easier. It will be nice once we're finally able to be together without any time restrictions. For now, we'll have to make do with what we've got, which is what we've managed to do so far.

heat + moving + no food + no electricity = ready for the day to be over

Friday, August 31, 2007

My computer might die since my battery hasn't been charged all day and our electricity's already been cancelled, so hopefully I can finish this blog in, let's see...21 mins (that should be enough time).
So it's gone. All of it. I don't have anything left in this hot, little apartment by the beach except a couch that Salli (the Salvation Army) couldn't take because of a hole in the cushion. I'm waiting for my neighbor to drag it out of here so I can finish sweeping and mopping the living room floor. I finished the bathroom, our bedroom and the kitchen, but I've got one more room left to do before we can officially be outta here. This morning, we shoved everything into our cars that we could fit, so they could take the furniture out of the apartment.
Guillaume had to work today, so I was kind of left here to sort it all out after he headed out. What a disaster it was! I had no luck selling my things on Craigslist (& let me just say that people are SUCH flakes...a gazillion people wanted some of my furniture, but they never showed up or called back!), so I scheduled an appointment online for the Salvation Army to pick it up as a donation. I guess it'll be a little nice around tax season, but it was really hard to depart with some of my things that I've had for so long. It was the first time I actually teared up thinking about my journey ahead and the places, people and memories I'm leaving behind.
I have one more day of work tomorrow, and as soon as Guillaume can sell his car, we're heading out on the road! I'm a little nervous, but mostly excited about the trip. I just can't wait to see my little nephews, my friends and all my family! Oops, there goes the low battery message....perfect timing.

Keeping me going

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

This week has been, and I'm sure will continue to be a struggle to get through. But, thinking about seeing these little faces at the end of it all is what's keeping me truckin' on.







Moving Madness

Sunday, August 26, 2007

I hate moving. I don't understand how I can be such a nomad but hate the act of moving from place to place. When we were little, we moved around Austin quite a bit, and even as I grew up, I never really lived in a house long enough to say there was one place I actually grew up in. I'm happy about being able to move around freely from place to place, as I've obviously been able to leave my comfort zones and allow myself to explore other places without too much uneasiness. But, I think this time is a little different; I've been purging my life away. I have 3 bag-fulls of clothes that I'm letting go of (undoubtedly, no easy task in my book), and I'm selling off or donating the rest of my furniture and other belongings that just won't fit in my car. I already feel like my life was so consolidated for the move to California, so having to consolidate my consolidated lifestyle is nearly unbearable. I shipped off 5 boxes of books, clothes and bags back to Texas yesterday, and I'm making some progress towards that consolidation, but it's still tough. I might have to buy and install a roof rack to my car or break down and hire a company to ship my things back for me if I can't manage to fit all I want in my little VW.
I know it'll all come together by Friday....it's just that Friday seems like an eternity from now.

Road Trip!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

California is a great state. Since I arrived here, I've found myself becoming more and more like a true Californian; I've reestablished my love for the beach and the sun, begun speaking the west-coast lingo, for sure, and found myself in flip flops and board shorts more times than I can remember (in fact, my heels have been getting a little dusty!). But, now it's time to say goodbye to the rainless state (it hasn't rained since I arrived, unless you count the 1-hour sprinkle that I confronted one morning).

The last few weeks have been tough, as I've been trying to decide what my next step will be. I've really fallen in love with my job and the company I work for, but it's become obvious that I can't financially support myself here once Guillaume sets off back to France. I've decided that the best move for me right now is one that's closer to home. We're still sorting out the details for the next couple of months, but for the most part, we've set out a plan that we're hoping will work for us.

Guillaume finishes up his internship on the 31st, so we decided to make the most of his last 2 weeks in the States by taking a road trip back to Austin, stopping at the Grand Canyon, Denver, Kansas to see my sis and celebrate my nephew's birthday, and Dallas to see my mom and step-dad before finally arriving in Austin. It should be a fun trip, provided that my car stays alive throughout! Click here to see the route we're going to take.


I really can't wait to be back home and see everyone! I have so much to figure out still, but I think it'll be much easier with friends and family around for support and advice. Besides friends and fam, there are a few things that I'm really looking forward to when I get home: Taco Cabana (tex-mex food, in general), less traffic(!), unlimited mimosas, Trudy's (I've been CRAVING a stuffed avocado and queso especial sooo badly), Fireman's #4, the happiest hour, and S. Congress. We'll be in Austin around the 10th, woo-hoo!!

House Guests

Friday, August 10, 2007

I've been pretty lazy about blogging lately, but it's not all because I'm a notorious procrastinator. Recently, Guillaume and I have had some very nice company come through our little auberge in Long Beach, which has been (happily) occupying my time off.
Guillaume's friend from school, JB, came 2 weekends ago by way of the Pacific Coast Hwy from Berkeley, where he's also doing an internship. He brought his sister along who was visiting from France, and they pretty much lived like beach-bums during their stay here. I got to see Santa Monica and its beaches for the first time, which I had mixed feelings about. The beach is pretty crappy, with people's litter all over with a bunch of snot-nosed, dirty-diapered kids running wild, but Santa Monica, especially the Promenade, is seriously nice. It's definitely a place I could find myself wandering to occasionally. We discovered Cafe Crepe, a hidden treasure of an eatery there, too...it's the best little Frenchy cafe we've found in the LA area so far, and it's cheap, too!! We've taken 4 French people there (not including Gui), and they've all raved about how great it is! So, besides Santa Monica, we took them to our fave beach, Huntington Beach and got to see the place during a surf competition. I also got super-duper sun-burned while there (pics below), and I'm still peeling from that burn.

Last weekend, we had another pair of visitors, our friend Ber's little sis Steph (and by little, I mean super tall and gorgeous) and her beau, Yves. I'd met Steph in France last summer during my first visit with the kids, but we otherwise didn't know eachother. Their stay turned out to be so much fun...we really enjoyed having them around and it was even cooler that they brought video and pictures from their earlier trip to Texas. It was good (albeit a little sad) to see everyone back home hanging out (and little Oak is soo big!!!), and we got to hear some stories about their visit and what they'd been up to while they were there. We all got (re-)acquainted over a few pints of Foster's, Shiner, Fat Tire and Strongbow at one of our little Irish pubs in Belmont Shore. I finally got to visit the Getty Museum, which was absolutely awesome; the Manet was cool, but I was much more impressed with the Zoopsia exhibit and the museum itself. I'll definitely recommend it to everyone who visits the LA area! Unfortunately, while we were having lunch there Steph came across a nasty bay leaf in her turkey chilli, which nearly killed her (no joke). Luckily, Yves swooped in with the heimlich maneuver and saved the day. But, seriously, she gave us a scare and afterwards, I thought of how Bertrand would never talk to me again if something had actually happened to her! We made sure she chewed her food thoroughly thereafter, and spent the rest of our time on the beaches of Malibu and walking around my favorite place in Venice Beach - the canals. We really enjoyed having them here, and they treated us to a nice dinner at one of our favorite places in Long Beach.
So, a jam-packed last few weeks and now Gui and I are ready to chill this weekend. We've got a lot of laundry to do, too.

Here are some pics of recent adventures with friends - new and old. Good times.


JB left his hat behind...look who's taking care of it now.


Walking....trying to be a photographer.


Our typical liquor store stop (for beer) on the way to HB.


Mom & Joe would be happy ... lots of fishing in SoCal.


A tourist in Santa Monica...there were tons of French peeps!


JB happy in the sun.


Time for a swim.


Santa Monica from the beach.


Santa Monica bridge to the pier.



Pier in Huntington Beach...that's a Ruby's Diner at the end...mmm...shakes.


A sponsor for the surfing competition at HB...so, free energy drinks for all!



HB from the beach....I love this beach.


Cute.



JB & his sis, Matilde.




A nice sunglass tan.


We're brown, man.


And, a little red.


Our dessert from Claim Jumper (we went here instead of the OC Fair which was charging an arm an a leg). I think we made a good choice. :)


Good thing we shared it (and brought it home to eat with Steph & Yves).


Yves & Steph arrived with gifts...flowers & champagne. I love French folks.


Straight to the beach. (Long Beach)


After a pitcher of Foster's and a Strongbow, we finally had dinner.


Mmmm...sweet crepe with lots of CREME ;) (Steph hates cream.)


Guillaume snapped this mid-blink, so I look trashed.


Too bad it wasn't true (I was driving). Hehe.


Yves & Guillaume - La Creperie, Long Beach.



Santa Monica...on the other side of the pier.


Santa Monica.


Santa Monica from PCH coming from Malibu. So nice.


Ah, our new spot when in Santa Monica.


THE best coffee in the world.


Striking a pose.

Looking at the wrong camera.


Looking at the wrong camera :)


We were all so tired at this point...I'm surprised Guillaume's so smiley.


Back to the car....




Guillaume under the pier in Malibu.


Malibu pier



Steph & Yves


Trying to get to the other side of the beach....


A little help, please? :)


Pfff...rocks, schmocks.


Malibu


Yay, we love having visitors!

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