vendredi, septembre 28, 2007

the OC...

I just arrived in California. I'm here visiting my grandparents in Orange County until Tuesday when I fly back to France. It's great to be here and see them but Southern California is a different world! I met my dad and step-mom at the airport(John Wayne Airport if you please) and while I was in baggage claim waiting for them the first thing I was greeted by wasa Sheriff on a segway! I also spotted a business woman dressed to the nines - wearing Crocs! And apparently here inSouthern California the men have adopted the skinny jeans look! Where did I land?

It's great to be here though and reconnect with my family. My grandparents moved into a new and smaller house 2 years ago just after the last time I visited. It's funny, their new house smells exactly the same as their old one, and withall their things I feel like they never moved! Here I am sitting on the little twin bed they've always had ready for guests, a quilted blanket that my great-grandmother made (as my grandmother proudly declared) typing this blog entry offline. As tech-saavy as my grandparents are they have not set up a wifi system ;-) So I'll post this tomorrow when I get online.

I'm so excited that I was able to have the time to come down here a couple days. A part of me wishes I lived closer to homeso I could come visit more often, but at the same time I know that even living in the States I wouldn't be able to come all that often. I love my family but I couldn't see myself ever living in this area, and so they are the only thing which draws me here. And since I'm the far-away grandchild (although now in Australia my sister is rivaling me on this one!) a special effort made for everyone to get together. My dad and step-mom came down from the Bay Area and my aunt, uncle and little cousin took the train up from San Diego :-)

Southern California is too much for me though, the endless freeways jammed with monsterous SUVs, and the countless strip malls that linethe streets, it truely is a concrete jungle in every way possible. It's a big change from the stories my parentstold me about growing up here, long lanes of orange orchards, instead of snowball fights there were rotten orange fightstoday you'd never know that it was named "orange county" for a reason! I've never seen the "O.C." but Orange County is hardly the glamorous place the previews make it out to be, but it is a huge part of my family's history.

Anyway it's time for bed.

jeudi, septembre 27, 2007

birthday bash

Last night we celebrated a friend's birthday in a beautiful house outside of town. They have this stunning view of the bay and we got to watch the sunset before stuffing our faces with a fab dinner and (yes, I'm so modest!) an amazing cheesecake that mom and I made. It was taken from the Joy of Baking website but we modified just a few things. We made the crust from chocolate graham crackers and then I made a kind of blueberry coulis from local blueberries to drizzle over the top - heaven!

Doesn't it look yummy?

mercredi, septembre 26, 2007


I wanted to write this post last night but got distracted by the beginning of season 4 of House, it was excellent!

I had a great time down in Salem where I got to see old collegues and friends and enjoy a little suburbian Americana. Here are a few pictures, the first is my alma malter, the library and little stream that runs through. It is just beautiful and everyone was outside taking advantatge of the last few sunny days of September. I love the campus but all of that comes with a price tag eh?

I took a little walk downtown with some friends, even though there are a lot of parts of town (the big shopping street, er, strip mall) which are not so nice there are some really cute neighborhoods that they've been working on and the architecture is just so different! Here's a little church tower with was just so pretty and white against the blue sky and fall leaves...

I went to go visit my old boss and meet her baby boy! He was a little ham and we had the best time playing peek-a-boo didn't we? :-)
My trip would not have been complete without a visit to Target, Old Navy, Borders.. I just love this Halloween display at Target, that was always one of my favorite holidays as a kid. Dressing up to go trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins and all that fun - maybe also cause it reminds me that my birthday is coming up!

The last treat was a trip to Baja Fresh - Mexican fast food but not fast food. I love it! All the fresh salsa and guac... YUM!
On Monday I got to have lunch with my French advisor which was really fun :-) Plus she gave me one of the best compliments ever - that I didn't really have an accent anymore! :-) Afterwards I hit the road to avoid the rush hour traffic in Portland. On the drive home I finally took some pictures. The sun was starting to get low in the sky so I wanted to take advantage of the last bit of sunlight... It is beautiful isn't it?

lundi, septembre 24, 2007

road trip

I'm on a little mini road trip right now. I left yesterday morning to drive down to Salem Oregon. The weather has finally changed a little and is beautifully sunny down here. The drive itself was amazing! I took mom's advice and drove down the Hood Canal. The non-evergreens (what's the real word?) were starting to change color and there was the Olympic National Forest with the pine trees hidden in the fog on my right and the sun reflecting on the water on my left.

It was breathtaking.

I wanted to stop and take pictures but there really was very little room on the side of the road. I saw more turn out spots on the left so hopefully the weather will stay nice tomorrow and I'll be able to get some pictures on my way home.

It's a long drive down here (I made it in 5 hours non stop) but with some CDs playing in the car it wasn't too boring. Now I'm hanging out, visiting the old 'haunts' and spending quality time with great friends. Tonight I'm supposed to go see my old boss and her baby boy and tomorrow my French advisor for lunch. I'll probably hit the road pretty soon after lunch just because I don't want to be too tired while driving those 5 hours in the other direction...

samedi, septembre 22, 2007


Well Fall has... fallen? Yesterday it was a relief to just hang out at home and relax. I vegged on the couch, watched TV and roasted my toesies by the fire. And well, to be honest today I did just about the same thing. I guess that's what vacation is all about!

So not too much exciting news over here but I'll post more pictures soon cause I'm driving down to Oregon to visit my Alma Mater :-) It's been 2 years and I can't wait to catch up with old friends down there (and perhaps take advantage of the no sales tax! tee hee). It will be a quick trip but really my only chance to see some friends since most people moved from my hometown soon after high school.

jeudi, septembre 20, 2007


Yesterday Mom and I went off to Seattle to do some shopping and hang out. We thought about spending the night at a friend's house (its a 2 hour drive to Seattle) but in the end we finished everything we wanted to do so we just took the ferry back home.

I did lots of shopping *S* I finally found a pair of jeans that I like and aren't "stretch" cause those always stretch out too much. I got a great deal on a jean jacket at Levi's - on sale from $245 down to $50 with an additional 40% off!! Levi's can still be expensive in the States but at least the stuff on the sales rack is always a great deal! Got some long sleeved shirts for a huge mark down as well.

Then we went to Pike Place market to walk around and maybe souvenir shop, it was starting to close up but we got some flowers to take home and a few things were still open. Did you see the size of those "eclaires"??? Insane - and no I didn't try one!

Pike Place is famous for its fish. I love this sign they had up "Travel packs accepted world wide (even ... France!)" Just had to capture that!

After all of our shopping we went out to dinner at a funky Italian restaurant Buco di Beppo, this sign that is visible from the waiting area captures the atmosphere! They have HUGE portions - like 1/2 pound meatballs! So we just got 2 appetizers and split them. It was more than enough!

We were really lucky and only had to wait about 10 minutes for a ferry, the sun was setting behind the Olympic mountains. It was just beautiful. I managed to get a couple shots in focus (hard to do balancing on a guard rail!)

It was a long day but just so much fun and it was great to spend the day in Seattle without being in a hurry all the time!

mercredi, septembre 19, 2007


I have had one lucky day! This morning I woke up early again (5am, but hey better than 3:30!) and then decided to go downtown when the shops opened at 10am. It's a small town and always fun to go back to stores where you know people who work there or just to walk down memory lane... I walked down 1 side of the "main street" and when I got to the end I wandered into a store I had been in at Christmas. This store sells El Naturalista shoes which I adore. I had bought some back in January in Caen that I wear allllll the time. This summer I saw they had a new fall line of some beautiful brown boots - but alas I was not going to spend 200E on shoes, no matter how beautiful they are!

But when I peeked into this store I saw they had those beautiful boots sitting right there! I walked over to take a look and noticed they were in the 40% off section! I asked the lady if I could try them on and she said there was only 1 pair left - crossing my fingers I asked what size - it was MINE! I wear a 41 European (10 or 10.5 US) and that was it!! So holding my breath I tried them on, they fit like a glove.

It was love at first sight and meant to be :-)

I bought them and between the 40% off and the exchange rate I bet I saved about 100E!! Yeah baby!

I rushed home to share the find with my mom and when I got home my NEW computer was sitting there waiting for me!! This was a saga that I never wrote about on my blog, but I ordered this amazing new computer to have it arrive when I got home only to have some ordering problems. The order was changed and lots of time was spent with Dell customer service but in the end they said that it would arrive Sep 27th. I'm flying down to CA the 28th... tight much?? Yup! So I was overjoyed to see that it had arrived so early! I'm now on it and playing around with things - it is just too great!!

So I had one very very good day :-)

mardi, septembre 18, 2007

home - day 1

Organic blue tortilla chips with homemade salsa - heavy on the lime juice and cilantro! Yum!!

Well after a jetlagged morning of waking up at 3:30am I ran a few errands today... nothing exciting the bank, the grocery store etc.. I come home about once a year and every time it still shocks me the sheer size of food at home. I'm not talking about Costco (we went there today too - yum free samples!) but just Safeway! I wanted some juice but they were all sold in 1 gallon bottles instead of 1 liter. I'm the only one drinking juice here - would I drink a whole gallon by myself? The flour was sold in huge bags of 4.5kg instead of the 1kg back in France. It just amazes me! Not in a bad or good way, its all just different... Funny to think that each time I come home I know what the culture shock will be but it always remains a "shock."

The weather here isn't that great, cold rainy and grey with a few sunny (but brief) moments this afternoon. But hey, its the Pacific Northwest and its a good excuse to take a break at lunchtime and veg in front of the tv to get over jetlag ;-) Funny though I find myself not enjoying the gazillion channels, especially the news! So I stick to catching up on sitcoms that I like and talk shows (yes, I admit it I watched "Ellen" as well as "Oprah" and "Martha Stewart" hahaha).

No big plans around here which I love. It is a real vacation and even though my body clock is way off (its 8:15pm and I'm going to crash soon... only to wake up at 4am again) it is nice to just relax, I can breathe here.

lundi, septembre 17, 2007


Well I finally arrived, it was actually a lot easier this time because I got a direct flight from Paris to Seattle!! So 10 hours over the pole and I was home! Everything was so smooth, I got to the airport early and it was smooth sailing from there. I finally got back home around 6pm (with customs, baggage and a 2 hour drive home - yes I live in the country!) I managed to stay awake until 8 and then crashed. Its now almost 5am and I've been up for an hour, but hey this way I'll see the sunrise...

Its so nice to just relax, to leave so much crazyness behind in France and just not be in a hurry to do anything. :-) This is vacation baby!

samedi, septembre 15, 2007

i'm off!

Well after the last few crazy busy days I'm off to Paris today and flying out tomorrow to Seattle!

Can't wait for a real vacation!!

mercredi, septembre 12, 2007

shopping spree?

I'm getting ready to go home on Sunday for a few weeks and while watching the news at lunchtime I hear that the dollar is the lowest it has ever been against the euro!!!! 1E = $1.38 its the perfect time to go home and go shopping!

Good timing!

lundi, septembre 10, 2007

for fun

I just can't stop cracking up. How great is this video??

vendredi, septembre 07, 2007


This post is dedicated to: Apples!

A friend of mine, Matthieu, is from Brittany and his family makes homemade apple cider every year. This last weekend he brought back 4 bottles of the good stuff!

We had a crepe night with lots of cider and crepes full of chocolate, bananas, whipped cream, sugar, nutella! Yum!!

The cider was really good, apparently it depends what time of year you drink it as usually the cider is made in October. When you first open up a bottle in December its "apple juice" according to Mattieu. These bottles have been in storage for almost a year and had lost a lot of sweetness making them more "brut." Still very good though!

Mystery Guest went to work yesterday and he came back at the end of the day with a huge bag full of apples! He went to go install a guy's computer who lives in the middle of nowhere, Normandy and he left with a tip + apples from the tree! They're really tart and good for crumbles (I made one today!) and full of grass and worm holes but that's the good stuff eh? :-)

mercredi, septembre 05, 2007


The lovely Ace tagged me for my first meme ever!! Since I'm trying to procrastinate (and doing a great job at it I might add!) Here we go...

Quelle est votre date d'anniversaire?
October 27th. I'm a Scorpio :-) As a kid I used to love having Halloween parties as birthday parties, they're so much fun! Everyone dresses up just for you ;-) haha

Vivez vous en ville ou à la campagne?
I have lived all over in small towns and in big cities. Right now I'm living in downtown Caen which works out great right now because I don't have a car so I'm in the middle of things with easy access to public transport. I'd love to live in a small town or in the countryside later though.

Quels métiers exercez vous ou avez vous exercés?
I have had all different jobs ranging from working in a B&B in high school, to showing preppy US teens around Paris in the summer... Right now I'm an English TA at the university. All that status really means is that I do all the work of a prof but with a lower pay haha! No, its great, I love my job but its not a permanent position so I'll be looking for something new next year.

Avez vous des allergies?
I never did growing up but after a few years of living in the Willamette Valley in Oregon when I went to college I developed horrible allergies. Apparently it is one of the worst places in the States for allergies... yuck. I still get them in France but have gotten a bit more used to it (and a perscription! haha)

Quelle est votre odeur préférée?
I love the smells of freshly ground coffee, the basil plant sitting on the windowsill of the kitchen, flowers and candles.

Aimez vous les sucreries?
Ha! Of course, I have the biggest sweet tooth! I love chocolate and fresh fruit in the summer ... or both together!

Si oui, quelles sont vos préférées?
I love French pasteries, especially a warm pain au chocolat right out of the oven!

Quels sont vos goûts culinaires?
I like French food (think cheeeeese!) but I love Mexican, Thai and above all Japanese... ! YUM!

Quel genre de musique aimez vous?
I like just about everything. I connect to music more as part of a memory than the actual song itself. So that's why you'll find everything from Country to old French songs to Rap to the Beach Boys. But when I'm listening to my ipod on the bus I love Jack Johnson, Alanis Morisette to name a few.

Quelle est votre couleur préférée?
I love blues and purples but have started branching out for dark reds and oranges. It all depends.

Quelle est votre saison préférée?
The summer!!! As long as it's not above 35C and humid - YUCK if that's the case give me a chalet any day! Otherwise I love the summer and all the outdoor stuff you can do, kayaking, biking, swimming... too bad I missed summer here! gah...

Collectionnez vous un objet quelconque?
Not really. When I was in high school I used to have a charm bracelet from countries I visited. I try to keep a few coins when I go places where they use other money (ie not the Euro-zone, I don't collect Euro coins). I also try to pick up cool seashells from different beaches :-)

Quel magazine lisez vous?
I don't subscribe to any, but love National Geographic and the occasional girlie (Cosmo etc) magazine. I got a subscription to a cooking magazine which is great too.

Quel est votre style vestimentaire?
That really really depends. I like to be comfortable in what I'm wearing but not baggy. Lots of layers in the winter. I love shoes but hate when my feet hurt so I have bought a few pairs that I haven't broken in yet but want to!

Pratiquez vous une activité manuelle?
I grew up doing crafty things. I used to make jewelry and sell it in a local shop when I was in high school. At university took jewelry making/metalsmithing and I flirted with a Studio Art major but went for French instead. I love photography, knitting, sewing (alas no machine here..) and have taken up glass engraving.

Quel est votre animal préféré?
Dogs. I love dogs but am waiting to get one until I have a yard, its just too hard to see a dog stuck in an apartment.

Quels sont vos loisirs?
I like to swim, watch movies and do all the outdoor stuff I talked about in the earlier question.

Comment décorez vous votre intérieur?
Well there's no Ikea in Caen so its all Conforama baby! I like the space I live in to be very comfortable and relaxing. Can't wait to be able to decorate a real house :-) haha

Avez vous une liste de cadeaux en ligne?
Not really, I used to keep up an Amazon one, and will start to add to it again I think (in time for my Oct birthday wink wink).

Ok enough procrastinating! I'm going to tag: Benedicte, Sam, Natalie and Mystery Guest (just so he'll update his blog for the first time in a year... haha!)

dimanche, septembre 02, 2007

yeah baby!

YES! I'm done with Chapter 3!!! I still need to write the conclusion for the whole thesis but I think it will be easier to do once I meet with my advisor tomorrow afternoon.
I just need to proofread for typos (why does my printer hate me right now and just not want to print??) and print out a nice copy at my office tomorrow before 2pm. Very doable.
I'm still stressing that I'll go see her and she won't like it... Keep your fingers crossed for me tomorrow :-)

samedi, septembre 01, 2007


Choo-choo!! Well I'm down to the final stretch! I've got about 2 more pages left to go for Chapter 3. If I keep working at this pace I will be done tonight! Then I can go proof-read it and print out a pretty copy Monday morning before the meeting with my advisor at 2pm.

I am literally exhausted though. My fingers have typed too much and I'm making so many typos - thank god for spellcheck!

Its good to have a deadline like this because its squeezing out my last little bit of motivation.

I can't wait for vacation!! I am going to get away from the computer and be outside like a normal person :-) haha