mercredi, décembre 31, 2008

happy new year!

Bonne Année et Bonne Santé!!

Happy New Year's Eve everyone! I can't believe that we'll be ringing in 2009 in six hours! What a year it's been... This time last year I was having a quiet New Years with the family, sitting outside digging in to a huge lobster on Kangaroo Island... yum! Unlike Christmas, if I don't have major plans for New Year's it doesn't bother me, especially since I think I might be coming down with something :-(

This year things will be different, 1 extra second, no 35C weather, more like -35C lol, no no but it is cold out there! Between the busy fall and then all the weather problems especially in the US I'm so happy to not have gone anywhere far away during this vacation! Just staying at home is perfectly fine with me! Plus our home is so cozy it makes it hard to leave!

At the last minute (as in last night) Mystery Guest and I thought about going out to one of the two awesome creperies near town, but they're both closed tonight. So when we did some grocery shopping at lunch I asked if he wanted anything special for dinner.

His request?


So we're having pancakes & bacon.

Don't worry, I've got some poiré chilling in the fridge for a true americo-norman dinner :-)

ps. what do you guys think of the new layout??

mardi, décembre 30, 2008

new kitchen fun!

My belle-mere gave me a yogurt maker (much like this one) for Christmas this year. It's something I've been wanting to try for a while now and last night I made my first batch!

To start off simple I just made plain yogurt, I took 1 pot of plain yogurt (the brassé that we always buy) and mixed it with 1 liter of UHT milk. I ladled that into the 7 little glass jars and set the timer to "cook" overnight. This morning they were all warm and I put the little lids on and stuck them in the fridge where they are supposed to set for at least an hour before eating.

Curious about my little science experiment, Mystery Guest and I each tried one for our dessert after lunch - the verdict? Not bad! Not bad at all! I always have a little yogurt after lunch and dinner, usually mixed in with a little sugar but this wasn't sour or tart at all. The consistency was a little bit different but not enough be too noticeable, I heard you can thicken it with powdered milk but I'm fine with the way it turned out.

With the 4 empty jars after today I'm trying a little vanilla experiment, the same recipe but with some sucre vanillé (fait maison but of couuurse!) so we'll see how those turn out after lunch tomorrow.

The best thing is that its so easy to do, saves on packaging (won't have 50 million little pots to throw away anymore..!) and I'll have to do the math but I bet it will save some money too.

Can't wait to try more flavors!!

dimanche, décembre 28, 2008

Noel 2008

Christmas this year was so fun! Plus we were lucky to have beautiful (if not cold!) weather the whole time. On the 24th Mystery Guest managed to get off work early and we scooted out to his parent's house for a Christmas Eve dinner with his parents and brother/girlfriend who came in from Lyon.

His mom made a delirrrisious buche de noel with chocolate mousse and pear filling!

The next day we got up and Santa left lots of goodies next to our shoes under the tree!
We opened presents and took some Christmas day pictures before the middle brother and his wife came in. We had a yummy Christmas day dinner and, well, no Christmas is complete without an American apple pie!
It was my first attempt at an apple pie and I was really afraid that it would be overcooked and basically baked applesauce but as you might have seen in my telegram post it was a big hit! I wouldn't wanted to have shamed my country! ;-)

Since Christmas things have been calm, a lot of hanging around the house and relaxing. The other night we went out bowling in Cherbourg which was such a laugh! I haven't been bowling in at least 6 years I think! (Except for the Wii, but I don't think that counts...)

Anyway it was a fantastic Christmas! This little MilkJam was spoiled with all the presents! Thanks everyone!!!

jeudi, décembre 25, 2008

Mission accomplished!

American Apple Pie officially a hit with French in-laws.Stop.Merry Christmas.Stop.

Sent from my iPod

mercredi, décembre 24, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008!

Merry Christmas everyone! I'm finishing the final gift-wrapping, apple pie baking and Christmas fun today. We're off tonight to the belle-famille to celebrate (usually Christmas is celebrated more on Christmas Eve than Day in France). I'll try to post some pictures from there :-)

Here is my 2008 xmas card with some snapshots from the places I was fortunate enough to travel to this year, from upper right:

Venice, Switzerland, la Manche, Venice
Australia, Carcassonne, Montpellier, Australia
Switzerland, Paris, Australia and Venice.

mardi, décembre 23, 2008

birthday fun!


Mystery Guest had to work today on his birthday so we decided to have a lunchtime celebration at home, the requested meal was yummy and on top of the dessert (coconut ice cream and sweet potato pie) I had leftover melted chocolate from a secret Christmas present in the works and dipped in some Clementine and pear slices - oh YUM!

Mom sent me a few snowy pictures from home, they've been getting dumped on for a week now but the pictures are stunning! Below freezing temps there for the longest period on record and weather around 11/12C here (in the mid 50's F) - can anyone say global warming? Nuts!

lundi, décembre 22, 2008


Is it wrong that after watching their infomercial on the website I want this?? Is it??

christmas cookin'

Well now it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas - baking! I've got several things to do today, tomorrow and the 24th. Tomorrow is Mystery Guest's birthday (yea!!) and he has requested salmon, des haricots beurres and his favorite birthday dessert - sweet potato pie and when we were grocery shopping yesterday he decided it would be yummy with some coconut ice cream. I have made this one before (sans saffron, never have any at home...) and all of David's ice creams are fantastic! Especially the vanilla one... delish!

He also wants to take some stuff into work to celebrate his birthday, some champagne and some apple cake so I'm going to do that today.

We're celebrating Christmas with his family this year, I'm really excited about that. I haven't spent Christmas with them since the first year we were dating (when I had the pity-lonely-American invite :-) ) Now I know all the family and his brothers are coming in from Lyon and South Africa with their wife/girlfriend so it will be a full house chez la belle-famille!

I asked his mother if I could bring something, a dessert or something and we decided on an American apple pie (not to be confused with a French apple pie). Too bad I've never made an American apple pie... but this cookbook to the rescue! My step-mom gave it to me a few years ago for Christmas and I *heart* this recipe book! It is amazing! Basically they take 1,000 of the most common recipies and tinker with them until they come up with the "best" version. They explain what adding this or that extra will do, or turning the heat higher or lower, all to get the "best" brownie, roasted chicken, mashed potatoes etc will do.

In this age of internet cookbooks have become a bit outdated, you can find any recipe you want but this one is something that sould be on hand! (for when the internet cuts out...) Besides the classic Joy of Cooking, this one is fantastic.

So anyway I'm off to go get some Birthday and Christmas baking done!! Toodles!

vendredi, décembre 19, 2008

don't ask me why...

I have NO idea, but for some reason I have been craving a Butterfinger's since this afternoon. I don't think I've eaten one in at least ten years so go figure... but yum. yum. yum.

bad blogger!

Shame shame! I've been a lazy blogger! But a busy one ;-) Last weekend on Saturday the Katester and I made a little journey out to Cherbourg, complete with rain and al! One of our colleagues from the lycee sings in a choir and they were giving a free concert in a beautiful (but frozen as the heat was en panne..) church. We got into town late afternoon and took a look at the Christmas market. I think that one is one of my favorites! There were so many local stands and not just made in China stickers like in Caen.
As it got darker we wandered around, did some shopping and then ran into a bubble machine! There was a random little machine like some sort of soapy pied pipper blowing bubbles all through the streets!
The concert was fun, but since the heat wasn't working I was so eager to go home and thaw out my feet! We got a ride back to V-town and the next day the weather cleared up and with Mystery Guest we took a drive out to Portbail to do a little geochaching. Sadly we didn't find the cache but we had a great time :-)
Since then things have gotten a little hectic, tram strikes in Caen etc.. But I've also had fun preparing Christmas and Mystery Guest's birthday on the 23rd. :-) I've got a little mystery Christmas presents up my sleeve tee hee.

I've also taken care of a lot of administrative things today, finally got around to calling the Prefecture about my driver's license. It is true that I can pass the written exam (le code) without going through an auto-ecole but it was difficult to get the right info. I went into our town hall in the afternoon and the poor woman there was even more confused, I don't think they get a lot of Americans in asking about taking the French license... ha! I went into an auto-ecole after the town hall directed me there, I was worried about them trying to rope me into signing up there and paying them money but the woman was really nice. She helped me fill out the paperwork and told me that after I passed my code I could come in and take a few hours of driving lessons without having to pay the frais de dossier! Cool beans. I might get through my license without spending more than 200e (if a French person starts from scratch it can cost well over 1,000e!)

I also made sure to call the unemployment service this week since there had been a miscommunication concerning my last paystub. I had good news though! Because I took a job this year that was a big pay cut from last year I get a certain amount of compensation from the unemployment insurance per month! Cha-ching! I thought I was only going to get money for the month of September when I was unemployed but actually it keeps coming! Great! I guess it makes sense, the thing is that I would be getting more money by being on unemployment than taking a low paying job (like this one) so it encourages people to work I guess. Works for me anyway!

vendredi, décembre 12, 2008

for KC

The manif from Thursday at my lycee in C-town.

mardi, décembre 09, 2008


This photo was taken this morning in V-town waiting for the train only to arrive at work to find out that the students had blocked the high school protesting the new reforms. According to the teachers it is the first time the students have ever blocked the school in its 20 year history, not even during the CPE a few years ago.

I wonder how long the strike will play out, I could see it gathering momentum and lasting until Christmas... who knows...

dimanche, décembre 07, 2008

K&K Episode 200

A picture (or several...) says 1,000 words; but in short 1 fabulous weekend in Paris! I got to see old friends, meet new ones, try rhum-rhums, eat m&m's and have a blast :-) Thanks everyone!

jeudi, décembre 04, 2008

3 years...

Happy 3 Year Anniversary Mr. Mystery Guest!!!

...des bisous partout!



mercredi, décembre 03, 2008

thanksgiving 2008

My pecan pie from the Thanksgiving Feast 2008! The dinner was fabulous as was the company of old friends! I've been busy and meaning to update but it just hasn't happened. I'll try to get to it and the beautiful Christmas lights up in Caen but right now I've got to get ready for my trip to PARIS for the K&K EXTRAVAGANZA!!!!

vendredi, novembre 28, 2008

freudian slip?

While wandering V-town with the lovely Miss Kate we burst into song - the 12 days of Christmas to be exact.

Alternating back and forth it got to my turn:

3 French Men! I cheerfully belted.

Kate: Er... don't you mean hen?

... Freudian Slip?

belated thanksgiving

Happy Belated to all the Americans out there! Our expat celebration isn't going down until Saturday night when Mystery Guest and I head down to Caen, so dinner last night was rice, turkey and veggies stir fried in soy sauce - very traditional eh?

My jobs this year are: stuffing, stuffing and MORE stuffing! and a pecan pie :-)


samedi, novembre 22, 2008

holiday season

The holiday season is fast approaching! This fall with my thesis work and everything has just flown by, I can't even believe its almost Thanksgiving! It's starting to feel like it though, we're in for a cold snap this weekend... brrr...

I've been keeping myself busy, buying pumpkins at the market and steaming them in preparation for soups and pies and other goodies. I've also been busy studying the written exam for my French driver's license.. big poo, that's way annoying! Lots of little things that I've left to the wayside while working on my Masters but now that's done so whoo-hoo!!

I'm also starting to think about xmas presents and my annual xmas card. When I was in high school we used to help my mom silkscreen her annual Christmas cards, now being the digital and internet nerd that I am I've been making picture cards with a collage of pictures from the past year. It's a fun way to show my travels and what I've been up to. Mystery Guest used to help me put them together and make it look all classy but I found that the new version of Picasa does the same thing with a lot less work! So I've been sorting through my pictures from 2008 and trying to choose the best ones for my card.. not easy! There are probably a couple thousand pictures!

We're also gearing up here in Normandy for our annual Thanksgiving dinner 2007, 2006, 2005. I've put some recipes on my blog but will be adding more soon. Yum! I can't wait!

lundi, novembre 17, 2008

wild boar?

Last night Mystery Guest and I were driving back from dinner at his parent's house when we spotted a big dog off to the right of the road. He slowed down and as we got closer we realized it was a wild boar! Luckily it scurried across the road and didn't stop in the middle as we might have had a near miss in that case!! That would have caused some major damage to the car (which apparently is not covered under insurance... go figure, boars don't pay the franchise...)

mercredi, novembre 12, 2008

bac +5

3 long years of juggling work and school

2 summers writing mémoires

800 euros tuition

1 Master's degree = priceless

I just defended my final memoire this afternoon. It was a lot harder than I would have thought given all of the positive feedback I had had throughout the year but in the end it went well, I passed with 14/20 (yea!!!!!) on the thesis itself (am waiting on my grade for the year). I officially have my masters in ze pocket as they say and let me tell you it is both mind numbing and totally liberating at the same time.

Time to go crash on the couch!

samedi, novembre 08, 2008


I'm at friends house for the weekend and wanted to test out blogging from my ipod touch... So readers how does it look??
This new toy is just too fun!

Have a great weekend :-)

Sent from my iPod


After reading several bloggers respond to Fned's post on multi-lingual couples I decided to share my story...

I met Mystery Guest in November 2005 at the English Tables in Caen. They were run every Monday night at the Irish pub by the TAs at the university to give the students a more open and comfortable environment to converse in English. So Mystery Guest and I started talking and within the first 2 or 3 sentences I could have sworn he was American so I asked where he was from (good thing I didn't ask "where in the States are you from"!!) When he replied Normandy I was surprised to say the least and decided that he must have spent extensive time in the States. He said 2 weeks but I heard 2 years because with his level 2 weeks was just not possible!

Anyway by that point I was starting my 3rd year in Caen and felt very comfortable speaking in French to collegues, friends, the bakerlady - you name it. On our first date we were speaking English and mentioned that we could speak French and English, knowing full well that I didn't start speaking French with him early on it would be difficult later.

We didn't start speaking French right away, for some reason a few months later I became petrified of speaking French to him, or having him hear me speak French. I'm still not exactly sure why, maybe because his English was just too natural or because I didn't want him hearing my accent or mistakes.. In any case we spoke 100% English for the first 8 months or so.

It wasn't until the first summer that I spent a lot of time out at his parent's house, with his family and his friends that I started to loosen up. There was just no way out - they didn't speak English and I was realizing how stupid it was to be afraid or embarrassed. I started to get more used to having him hear me speak French - yet wouldn't speak directly to him.

Now things have changed. We probably speak a majority of English at home but because our comprehension of eachother's languages is at the same level (and probably our expression I would think) when we're tired or lazy we can have a bilingual conversation and it doesn't seem odd or unnatural. I still have an accent but apparently its getting fainter and there are very few situations where I feel uncomfortable expressing myself in French (probably the same that I would in English - anything to do with vocabulary I'm not familiar with.)

I'd hesitated to put a percentage up but depending on the day it is 60% English / 40% French between us, or 70%/30% - not really sure. But the good thing is that both of us are very comfortable with the language that the other speaks. This is such a relief, not only between us but also between our families. I can be with his family and not feel hindered or uncomfortable (his mom said once, I don't see you as American anymore, yeah you still have a bit of an accent but you're just Karina. I thought that was really cute.) And when Mystery Guest came to the States for Christmas he was able to hold his own no problem ;-) Even playing Taboo!

I think the cutest thing is that my mom has started taking some beginner French classes :-) When I told this to his mom she got all wide-eyed and said that she'd better start with some English again! ;-)

mercredi, novembre 05, 2008


What an amazing, historic day! I went to Caen yesterday afternoon to participate in the expat festivities and I'm sure glad I did!
I left around 3:00am since I was dozing off in my chair but was woken up at 7 to the good news!

Bravo America! For the first time since I moved to France I can say I'm proud to be an American! Look what we can do when we work together!!

mardi, novembre 04, 2008

Election Day!

Alright America get out there and Vote! My vote is probably making it's way over the Atlantic as we speak (or already there hopefully!)

I'm glad this election is almost over (fingers crossed for my guy) but I am glad that there has been so much movement and political concern, getting people involved in the democratic process, that is never a bad thing.

I'm going to Caen this afternoon to be with some other Americans and watch the election most of the night (we'll see how long I last... !) before teaching tomorrow morning. As Natalie said: "We'll either be crying for joy or just crying..."

But the good news is that no matter what happens EIGHT years of the Bush Administration are coming to a close - now that is something to get excited about!

jeudi, octobre 30, 2008

playing catch-up

Wow it has been busy busy around here! So much to say! First of all I FINISHED MY MEMOIRE... sorry did I not say that loud enough and with enough pizzzaz and enthusiasm?!?!


So there you go people, it is printed and turned in as of yesterday. Ahhhh doesn't that feel good?? So hopefully in 2 weeks (Nov 12 if you're interested) I'll be definding it in front of a small jury and then I will officially have a Masters (Bac +5 baby!) I'm SOOOOOO freaking excited! Here's a picture of my baby for your viewing pleasure:

Just thought I'd commemorate this moment like I did last year for my M1. If you notice, the days are just slightly apart, October 26th last year and October 29th this year, nothing like turning things in at the last minute... :-)

After I turned it in I enjoyed an afternoon in Caen, seeing lots of friends and drinking copious amounts of tea and lemon meriange tarte. My train ride home was quiet and very dark since we fell back 1 hour but I relaxed as I watched the MSNBC Nightly News video podcast on my new ipod touch and listened to the fab K&K duo. Ah... life is good.

The only bummer was when I arrived at the train station. I went to go get my bike and when I got there I saw the seat was wet, I usually brush off the rainwater with my hand but in the dark it looked like bird poo or something so I grabbed a kleenex out of my pocket. Shining my bikelight on the seat I realized that what was coming off was black and the seat was loose. Yup, some looser country kids on vacation decided to get bored and take it out on my poor bike :-( The loosened the seat (probably tried to steal it but couldn't since I lock the seat to the frame!), put their cigarettes out on it and finally spat on it.. lovely. I checked the tires and noticed the front one was a little low. Since I had realized by then that this was vandalism and not an accident I decided not to risk riding home on it so I hoofed it back.

This morning there were two surprises, the first being it SNOWED this morning! Uh, hello Mr. Weatherman? It's October 30th! I've never seen snow this early in Normandy before! Here's a picture from the appt. granted you can't see much but you get the idea...

Second, I think the front bike tire was just low. I'll pump it up and give it another go but I think they didn't do too much damage. Gah, come on kids, I know you're bored, I also grew up in a town of 8,000 but hey go cow tippin' instead of messing with my bike!

mercredi, octobre 29, 2008

bday festivities

I had a wonderful birthday on Monday! First of all thanks to all the wonderful friends and family who sent text messages, facebook messages, blog comments, emails and phone calls! I loved them all!!

The day started out with a bang, Mystery Guest surprised me by bringing breakfast in bed! He even ran out to the bakery and brought me a croissant, pain au chocolat and baguette! Yum! I even ignored my own pride and included the bed-head photo of me eating breakfast for your viewing pleasure...

Then our landlord stopped by to fix some stuff around here but didn't stay too long so we were able to go down to the Forge, a restaurant about 5 minutes outside of V-town that is an old blacksmith's workshop. They still have the huge fireplace and billows! We ordered a steak for 2 and the chef brought it out for us to see (raw) before throwing it on the open flame in the restaurant! Too cool! In the middle picture on the top you can see the fireplace behind me, that's where they cooked out steak! Then they brought it out all sliced up and delish!

We splurged on some fantastic chocolate cake, it was like cake with chocolate mousse and then chocolate ganache on top with creme anglaise, YUM YUM! I even got a sparkler in mine :-)

The afternoon we just relaxed and enjoyed some time off, Mystery Guest looked over my conclusion one last time but otherwise my memoire was DONE and just waiting to be printed... more on that in another post...

I had a fantastic birthday, so relaxing and filled with warmth, great presents but even greater friends and family wishing wonderful thoughts from around the world. Thanks everyone!!!

samedi, octobre 25, 2008

one of my favorite songs.


Two days 2 ago we finally turned on the heat. We were trying to last as long as possible but you know its cold inside when you can see your breath in the living room...

We have gas heating here, its the first time I've rented an apt where there are radiators in every room and not electric heaters. In France they're a big fan of these cast iron radiators and let me tell you turning them on was awesome, we're trying to keep it on low to save money and energy but it just takes that chill off :-)

My masters is coming down to the home stretch, I'm finishing my conclusion today (fingers crossed!) and I've done most of the formatting and mise en page, just a few little footnote tweeks here and there. My birthday is coming up and I really want to kick back and enjoy myself instead of stressing over there! So that's why I've got to get this done asap! It should be fine and when I go to Caen for work on Wednesday I'll go to the photocopier's in the afternoon and print out the final draft to drop off late afternoon. I can't wait!

As of yesterday I'm on vacation from the high school for 10 days and this will be the best vacation yet! Nothing hanging over my head and I have this huge list of projects that I've been putting off for the last 2 or 3 years. I think I'm gonna be giddy :-)

Ok, I just wanted to say that I'm not MIA but will be back very very soon! It's back to the grindstone!

dimanche, octobre 19, 2008


Last Monday Mystery Guest and I drove down to Caen for some appointments and were able to squeeze in a lunch and dinner at Kristina and Charlie's. We got one second to last chance to play Catan with them (since hopefully they'll be coming up to V-town in Nov before moving back to the States...).

It was awesome and I'm so sad they'll be moving back... :-(

In other news I definitely feel OLD... I've been checking train prices to hopefully go up to Paris in December for the K&K 200th episode extravaganza and it will be the first time I have to get normal tickets... I think that not having my carte 12-25 ranks up there with the first grey hair... snif, oh and having to pay taxes for the first time ever. Yes, my civic duty to France but hey it hurts having to chuck out 1 month's salary.

I don't wanna grow up!

jeudi, octobre 16, 2008


Whoo!!! got my ballot from WA state today! yippee!! gonna fill that bad boy out and send it off! :-)

dimanche, octobre 12, 2008

pic of the day

V-town picture of the day.
Beautiful weather all day - sunny and around 23C!

vendredi, octobre 10, 2008

anecdote of the day

Yesterday I received a package from my dear friend Miss Claire T including not only a great birthday present but some Obama fun stuff :-) I put the pin on my messenger bag (it looks a little like this one but I'm too lazy to take a picture of mine) and headed off to work.

At the end of the day I jumped on a train to go 1 station home (loving my commute by the way!). Just as the train was slowing down to come into V-town the conductor (who happened to be black) came by.

He saw me and asked me in French for my ticket, then he paused and asked me in English, ticket please. I half smiled and gave him my commuter pass. He continued in English, thank you have a nice trip with a big smile.

As I was getting off the train he opened the door for me and wished me a nice day.

I wondered who put happy juice in this guy's coffee until I realized that he must have seen my pin :-) Most people don't peg me for American these days, especially not going between two tiny towns in the-middle-of-nowhere-Normandy!

I still haven't got my absentee ballot, come on WA put the pedal to the metal! Me wants to vote!!

mercredi, octobre 08, 2008


Yesterday I was introduced to several of the students that I'll be working with this year in the lycee. It all went fine until the last class, the students had a little Q&A session with me and someone asked how old I was.

Right before I was able to answer the teacher jumped in and said, well why don't you guys?


Honestly kids, you don't know what you're talking about!

Well I guess that got me in a little bit of a complex with my birthday coming up at the end of the month (yea birthday month!) so today when I was in Caen to teach I went to the hairdressers in the afternoon to get a haircut and re-do my highlights I totally freaked out.

All was good, she was doing my highlights and I was zoning out after waking up early to catch my train. Then she said, oh you've got a white hair! I snapped out of my zone thinking she had said "blond" instead of "blanc" and was about to say "duh, they're mostly blond!" when I realized what she said!

My first grey hair!!!!!

She asked if I wanted her to pull it out, I said yes please! But the darn thing wouldn't budge so she snipped it with a pair of scissors... I fingered it for a while before tossing it on the floor with the rest of my hair.

With your color no one will ever notice, she tried to reassure me...

Humm... not sure how well that worked! Oh well... I guess I'll celebrate my birthday silly and try to forget that I'll be closer to 30 than to 25... sniff...

mardi, octobre 07, 2008

rainy weekend

This weekend Mystery Guest and I traipsed off to Haute Normandie to visit some friends that live near Etretat. They have a beautiful home and lots of things to do especially for rainy weather (the boys were mostly downstairs playing on the computers...) because I swear everytime we go there its just the worst weather! It really is the "pot de chambre de normandie" up there. On Sunday there were huge gusts of wind and the rain was practically horizontal! Thankfully we got to take advantage of their sauna, yup they've gone and built a sauna in the basement! (Was thinking of you Sam...)

But besides the weather we had a lot of fun. Their little girl is adorable, even if she's going through her terrible twos at the moment... You can just see her trying to push and see how far she can get away with stuff, her parents told her no cartoons since she's been naughty so she comes up to me, Karina, do you know how to turn on the cartoons? Er... nice try kid! ;-)

We got back yesterday and last night I worked on my lesson plans for Wednesday when I start my "vacataire" hours at the University of Caen. As a lectrice I had 3 hours a week in the Med departement at the hospital and when my contract finished this year my collegue decided she was going to get me back for those 3 hours so she bypassed the English department (who is supposed to deal out the hours) and got me hired directly for my 3 hours :-) Hopefully she'll be able to pull the same strings next year! I really like working there, the students are really nice and they work hard even if they like to goof around sometimes. Plus my lessons from the past 2 years are already planned so last night I just had to get the new syllabus ready and find a text from last year and I'm ready to go!

So today is my first day at the lycee where I'm seeing the students. I'm just going to be presenting myself this week and observing some classes before taking over with the half groups next week. I was supposed to go in this morning to meet 1 group but when I arrived at the train station my train wasn't on the list... went up to the ticket counter and asked about it - ops! greve sncf.... train strike! Ah, isn't that the way to start off the year? haha. Apparently it was yesterday and today so hopefully it will be all up and running tomorrow morning when I go to Caen to teach. I called the teacher and explained the situation, I love his reaction "ah, mince alors!" (oh, gosh darn it!) Looks like there's another train at 9h56 so I'll go back and jump on that one.

mardi, septembre 30, 2008

it's that time of year...

September 30th and I just broke out the trusty bouillotte...

watch out Mystery Guest there's going to be cuddling competition :-)

lundi, septembre 29, 2008

allll good!

Busy day but a good one!

I had a short meeting at the lycee where I'll be teaching. They were so friendly and nice and the school seems relaxed and there seemed to be a good atmosphere between administrative staff and even among the students (love country schools, the kids - even if they pretend to be - are not punks :-) er.. hopefully I'm not eating my words next week! lol)

I met a lot of the other teachers and it's always funny these days to be introduced as the new "assistante anglaise" because 1. even though I know they're referring to "anglaise" as my language and my status I am not English 2. the "assistant" is usually a freshfaced just out of college student. This just confuses the hell out of everyone because I'm neither "anglaise" nor "freshfaced" so they start speaking very slowly to me "WEL-COME to the SCHOOL"... er, gotcha :-)

It's not that I mind that they're speaking slowly, I would have appreciated it 5 years ago but it does crack me up. Then when I start talking they look all taken aback which makes me giggle inside. I was talking to one of the English teachers and she told me, wow you've been here a while, your French is so good no one is going to want to speak to you in English. Which is always nice to hear but I don't want to think that I'm putting off some sort of vibe that makes people think I'm going to make fun of them! Oh well.

Anyway seems like a nice school, they haven't figured out my schedule yet so I'm going to go on Thursday to a meeting to try to sort that out.

After lunch Mystery Guest dropped me off in Cherbourg for my meeting with the unemployement people. It went really well, they were nice and told me what to do. Looks like I can get benefits for the month of September and since I'll be in the system when my contract runs out in 7 months I'll automatically start getting benefits again unless I tell them I've got another job. There's just some paperwork I have to ask the university for since they'll pay my unemployment and not the government directly. Should be fine though.

After the meeting I had time to kill before my train so I went into town, Cherbourg is a really nice town, especially when the sun's out! It was such a nice stroll along the port and in the old center (not bombed out during WWII like the rest of Normandy was..) I stopped a few bookstores to browse and treated myself to a "double pain au chocolat" which I've never seen anywhere else - its a pain au chocolat with 2 bars of chocolate inside and then doused with chocolate on the top.. yum. :-)

So the good news is that besides my meeting Thurs it looks like I'll have the rest of the week fairly free to stay home and FINISH this memoire!!!

Need. To. Work.

dimanche, septembre 28, 2008

camera fun!

I bought myself a little treat this summer, a new Digital SLR - the Canon 30D. My dad brought it over a few weeks ago but I didn't buy a lens with it nor had any time to play with my toy! A friend of Mystery Guest's has a Canon as well and bought a super-duper lens to use with it so he's lending me the basic one that came with his.

Today we went on a late afternoon drive to catch the last few rays of sunshine... and try a little geocaching. Sadly we didn't find our caches but we found some amazing areas of the region lost in the middle of nowhere!

I've never had an SLR before so I know diddly squat about ISO etc (need to read the manual) but the great thing about digital is that you don't pay to develop film, so these pictures are just to play around with :-)

(since I don't know diddly squat some turned out a bit flat as far as color and shadows go so I did a liiiiitle bit of touch ups with Picasa ... I admit it.)

This is an 12th century fortification that has remains that date back to William the Conqueror.

Acorns in the forest, I was practicing my close up...

Inside the church, my old point and shoot would never be able to do a dark indoor shot like this without a flash (or being blurry..)