jeudi, février 24, 2011

dimanche, février 20, 2011

vendredi, février 18, 2011


Hello from California! I'm here for a quick 10 day trip to see family (dad, grandparents and a couple cousins.)
I got in to the San Francisco area Wednesday night and am up again at 5:30am today thanks to jet lag...
Yesterday we did a bunch of shopping, the weather was terrible with torrential rain allllllll day (apparently I brought it, it had been beautiful and warm up until now... Or so they say!)
I got to go to Target to get some jeans for MG and some adorable onesies for some new baby presents. Then with a quick trip to the Gap (trousers on sale for me!) and REI most of my shopping is done :-) lucky me I'm catching the winter sales all over!
Hopefully the weather is supposed to get a bit better over the next few days, which is good because it would be nice to take some walks around here. But some fantastic Tom Kha Kai soup & green curry chicken at the Thai place last night sure was a great way to warm me up!

Sent from my iPhone

mercredi, février 16, 2011

At the airport...

Getting ready for my little trip to California!

lundi, février 14, 2011

I knew it was a bad idea...

My gut told me never never to go with Orange - but over Christmas they had the best iPhone 4 deal and I decided maybe things have changed...

Nope. Gah they are still a PAIN to deal with!!! Brief background: it all started when I switched to Orange just before Christmas to get the new iPhone. Because I moved my old number to the new SIM card there was about a 10 day delay when I had 2 phones, my old one and the temporary number with Orange in the new phone. Up until that point everything was working fine - both numbers worked and I just had to wait for my number to be transferred to the new SIM.

With my Orange plan I have 3 free numbers that I can add to have unlimited calls, otherwise I only have 1 hour talk time per month (which is fine, I never talk on the phone). But one of my good friends had some serious problems and I wanted to call her. So I added her number through the automated service in the afternoon while I was at work and then called her (hands free of course!) on my way home that evening.

The next morning my phone wouldn't connect, I couldn't get online, no SMS or phone access. I called Orange - they said that because I was still on a temporary number I couldn't add my free phone numbers but they would fix things, unblock my line that afternoon.

That never happened, nor did it happen the next day or the following day. Because of New Years Day I was without a phone for 5 days because while this was going on my number was transferred to my new SIM so I had nothing. No phone to respond to the Happy New Years SMS that I got, nothing.

The next week it all got sorted out, one simple phone call with someone who KNEW what they were talking about for a change. The confirmed that my "hors forfait" that I had racked up from this call that I had thought was free would be reduced from my monthly bill + 10 euros as a commercial guesture.

January's bill came, no reduction! Plus my 3 free numbers were still cocked up, I kept getting an SMS confirmation "your numbers have been added, thank you" followed by another SMS "we have received your confirmation to cancel your free numbers, thank you."

So I called AGAIN and got someone who said it was all sorted and that I would get a new SMS confirmation with all 3 numbers. I asked about my reduction I was supposed to get. He said that it had been too late to go on the January bill but it would be sorted for February. So.... in February I will see 22 euros deduction my bill? Yes. Loud and clear.

Today I get my February bill.


I could scream, I knew I never should have gone with them!!!! Why oh why did I???? Guess who will spend the morning with them on customer service reminding them that their conversations are taped and I want my money?!? ME. Gah.

lundi, février 07, 2011

a few tips on French banking...

In the last couple of days I have read a few experiences on other people's blogs in regards to French banking and specifically direct debits.
My most recent job gave me a lot of insight into the way things work. I won't go into too much detail simply because the only words to describe things would bring my blog straight up in a Google search with those keywords and I would prefer to avoid that at the moment..
Anyway just a quick word of advice re French direct debits and bill paying.
For those of you who do not know there are several ways to pay a French bill:
1. cheque - FYI it is illegal in France to post date a cheque and if there is a discrepancy between the letters and numbers the spelled out amount always takes precedent.
2. TIP (the tear off bit at the bottom your bill can be sent in along with a cheque so the company has your reference number. Alternativly it can be signed, dated and returned to the company with a copy of your RIB details allowing the company to take a 1-off direct debit for the amount on the TIP.)
3. Direct debit - prélevement automatique. This is the most common means of payment and the most traditional way to set one up is to provide the company with a copy of your RIB details requesting a direct debit be set up on your account by the company. By doing so you authorize the company to call for the funds each month and the bank releases the funds accordingly. This can also be set up on your debit card but for the following reasons this is to be avoided at all costs!
The direct debit system works great - until you have a problem! You authorize the payment to leave and each month it does so. You do need to make sure there are sufficiant funds in the account to cover direct debits as your authorization permits them to take any amount which can put your account overdrawn and rack up fees. The reason being is that you have authorized the company to collect the funds and they do so as they see fit. Again, most of the time this works out fine, the company calls for the given amount each month and you do not need to do anything, no bills or cheques to deal with.
The problem occurs when you have a problem with the company. The bank does not pay out unless the company calls for the funds. When set up with RIB details the bank is able to put a block on the direct debit if need be - faire opposition de prélevement - which simply blocks the company from accessing your account. This does not cancel services or contracts you hold with the company and it is the only thing the bank can do to stop any outgoing direct debits. There used to be a charge for doing so but I think a law was passed to prevent banks from charging you. If you have problems with a company not respecting a contract you have with them and direct debiting your account for the wrong amounts or after a contract has been cancelled the first step is to send a registered letter and the second step is to ask your bank to put a block on the direct debit. In the meantime nothing prevents you from paying the company by cheque/cash etc until things are sorted. If a disagreement is settled and you want the direct debit to continue you need to ask your bank to lift the stop - demander une main levée de prélevement.
It is important to know that while you can have several contracts with a single company (2 different cell phones, internet vs. landline, different taxes set up for the tax office, 2 homes both through EDF etc...) if you put a stop on the direct debit the bank cannot differentiate the contracts you may have with a company and will stop all direct debits to that company (this includes TIP payments as they fall under the direct debit catagory even if they are not ongoing).
**However if the direct debit is set up on your card there is nothing the bank can do. Even if you stop your card, block it, lose it, declare it stolen and it is officially cancelled by the bank the company can still have an ongoing direct debit on the card that will continue to debit your account.
If a direct debit has already gone through your account there is a small window (usually 2-3 business days) that your bank has to pull back the direct debit. This will be done automatically due to insufficiant funds in your account but can also be done at your request (written or in person) but you will likely incur bank charges for the privilage. If your account is overdrawn the direct debit will eventually be rejected and recredited to your account. In this case the company will obviously notice that they have not been paid and will try to represent in a few weeks time, again incurring you with more bank charges. This will not make you interdit bancaire.
Interdit bancaire is only if you bounce a cheque. The reason being is that that cheque is a debt you owe the person you wrote it to (think an IOU). Until that debt is paid and officially confirmed to the bank you will be blacklisted for all of your French accounts at your bank or any other accounts you hold at other French banks (via the Banque de France) for up to five years. Again, this is only due to a bounced cheque, going overdrawn by other means (debit card payments, direct debits etc) have no effect other than racking up charges (FYI if you go to the main page of your bank's website I can pretty much guarantee that all of their charges will be listed in a pdf document under "tarifs principals" or "frais bancaires / nos tarifs" etc).
I hope this little "tutorial" wasn't too confusing or long but I thought it might help some newbies out there or even some of us that have been around for a while! :-)
ps. I hope there are not too many spelling mistakes, always a shortcoming of mine and spellcheck via blogger is on the blink...

dimanche, février 06, 2011

culinary adventure

A couple of weeks ago I attempted this to make a salt-crusted chicken after reading the recipe on Chocolate & Zucchini. It turned out fabulous! So easy to make and the chicken was to die for, the breast was really juicy (I won't use the "m" word here but it was!) and it really was tender with lots of flavor.

So today I took it a step further, I defrosted a pheasant that our neighbor shot a few months ago and gave to us. I decided that after reading online game birds can dry out quite easily so I thought this is probably the easiest way to do things.

Here is the bird just after coming out of the oven still in it's salty crust (which you discard once cooked).

And here is the bird all cooked, there was tons of juice inside and it smells really good but to be honest there is something about eating a game bird... I mean it looks kind of human and well, you can see the bullet hole when you turn it over. In all logic this bird lived a much better life than caged birds raised for meat but this is the first time I've ever cooked something caught in the wild (aside from fish) and I will eat it when I get the courage but just look at it!

I'll let you know how it tastes and if its good maybe one day I'll atempt the hunk of wild boar we also have in the freezer (gifted by one of Mystery Guest's customers)... recipe ideas??

vendredi, février 04, 2011

evening conversation

MilkJam: "hey, Starbucks introduced a new size, as big as a Big Gulp, the 'Trenta'."

Mystery Guest: "humm".

MilkJam: "Do you know how big that is??? You can fit a bottle of wine in it!"

Mystery Guest: *rolls eyes*

MilkJam: "Who would make something so big??".

Mystery Guest: "Someone who can't advertise with sex..."

MilkJam: "true...."

jeudi, février 03, 2011

foggy morning

But the birds are chirping :) If I really had the motivation I'd get out of my pjs and go down the road where the sun is rising and my shot isn't blocked by the telephone poles... but I'll save that for another day!

mercredi, février 02, 2011


It hasn't been quite a week since I finished work last Thursday and I'm loving it!! Slowly getting caught up on my sleep, admin stuff and joining a gym. It's not a New Year's resolution but an unemployment resolution. After 18 months of sitting in the car, sitting at a desk and sitting on the couch in the evening it's time to get a move on! More than anything it helps me have a purpose to my day. It is such a hard thing, changing schedules from go-go-go non-stop to ... um, well I could do that today or tomorrow, or the day after...

It's all about balance and trying to find that balance.

I had been contacted last Fall about a teaching job that I couldn't accept as I was under contract and so I called him back and have a job interview on Friday. I have no idea if they even have any hours for me but I want to get as many interviews as possible, always good experience! Need to update my CV and if this doesn't work out I'll contact the school district to get back into subbing.

Anyway it sure is nice to just rest and do all the things I had been wishing I had the time for before! Oh and reminder for my future self, when you decide to play with the hair straightener just for fun to see if you can get some Farrah Fawcett wings going remember that those parts are hot and scorching off your fingerprints is not a good idea... besides those wings look a little ridiculous on me!