lundi, mai 30, 2011

I've been reborn

That's right this ain't no April Fool's!! I found out that on the 26th of May 2011 I became French and didn't even know it! :)

I just called the Préfecture because my carte de séjour will expire the end of June and I've been starting to wonder if my dossier had just fallen into the dark hole of paperwork... The nice guy I spoke to back in April confirmed everything was validated 4 days ago! I have yet to receive the official paperwork but am officially Franco-American!

I still can't believe it and probably won't until I get that paperwork in my hot little hands!

Time to pop open the champagne!

vendredi, mai 27, 2011

Tété 2011

Last night Mystery Guest and I went to Caen to see Tété in concert. The original date was back in February but it was postponed (we think he had broken his arm) until May. This is the third time we've seen him in concert - the first was back in 2006 and the second a year later.

The only downside to the concert was the opening act, some guy who opened for him... He got up on stage, said nothing (no introduction, his name or anything) and proceeded to play a few songs. The thing that kills me (besides his incomprehensible English) is that he was so full of himself and not that great. I know a few friends who have been working so hard these last few years trying to get into the music scene and who have a million times more talent than he does and it's this guy who gets a break...

Anyway back to Tété who gave a fantastic performance, as always, once he came on stage. He played for a good hour and a half and had a good set list of older and newer songs.

Sorry for the poor quality but they were taken with my iPhone. The videos aren't too bad though!

For a final encore he gave us a preview of a new song! Love it when they do that!

All in all it was a great concert, he is so animated on stage and it makes for a fantastic evening :)

mercredi, mai 25, 2011

fresh out of the oven

Did I hear someone say cookies?

mardi, mai 24, 2011

wild roses

Walking around the other day I noticed some wild pink roses nestled among the thorny blackberry bushes. They are not going to win any prizes based on looks alone but they smell absolutely amazing!

dimanche, mai 22, 2011


Yesterday we went on a long road trip with Mystery Guest's parents to the Paris region for the day. The first grandchild in the family was born to Mystery Guest's brother and his wife Thursday morning so we had to go meet the little bub!

It was a long drive (we left at 7am and got home at midnight) but we got to spend some great quality time with the new family. He made a few little newborn cries but mostly lots of yawns and was so quiet and hardly stirred when passed from one pair of arms to another but he did open his eyes from time to time so we could check out his baby blues.

The best part was when he was moving around wanting to nurse and finally found his thumb and started sucking away :) Cutest little thing and he made MG tonton for a first time and me an auntie for the first time!

dimanche, mai 15, 2011

blogging twice in one day!

But I can't help it - look at what Mystery Guest put up today!!!! Happy Dance!!!

We found these fans on sale at Brico Depot for 20euros each - I thought well a light fixture is going to be that price anyway and this way we have a multiple light fixture AND a fan!!! It is up in our bedroom and works like a charm! We bought a second one that we might put in the main room downstairs but for once Brico Depot has a great quality product. Very impressed.

Also very impressed by my own Mr. Bricolage :)

Frugal Sunday

Emptying and filling nespresso capsules...

samedi, mai 14, 2011

ABF (anti bunny fence)

We've made lots of progress getting my garden up! :) But first remember the seeds I sowed? Yup they've sprouted!!! The sweet peas I put in our hanging baskets have sprouted and looking great, I swear they're growing 1cm a day!
I worked on attaching the fencing with little wires - like twisting a babbillion twisty-ties while Mystery Guest built me beautiful raised beds.

Isn't he the cutest??

Now what to plant and where... on the top of my list are: squashes (pumpkin, butternut, zucchini etc), tomatoes, corn... ??

mercredi, mai 11, 2011

tale of a fence

These last few days have been crazy... all about a fence.

See the thing is that I wanted to have a little veggie patch this year - grow some things and spend some time outdoors (now that I've got tons of free time on my hands!)

First step - build a fence. Although the countryside is pretty, birds chirping, frogs croaking, bunnies jumping. Yes, bunnies jumping. We have hoards of bunnies living in the bocage which surrounds the property. Very cute as they bounce around in the morning fog and have cut little bunny babies that look like spastic hamsters.

So yes, first thing, build a fence.

We went to Point Vert (fantastic garden store in all little towns and villages in the area!) and the salesman suggested a plastic coated soldered fence. We bought all the posts, the fencing and the jambes de force (the angled thingies you see to hold the posts up). Everything was going pretty peachy as we (er... MG) hammered in the posts into a fairly dry earth as we haven't had much rain recently. Then we tried to put up the jambes de force. No luck. Turned them this way and that, couldn't figure out how to make the holes line up.

Went back to the store. Sales guy was not the greatest and was like "well if you do it like this it is good enough" and "well just drill an extra hole in the post." Dude, it came with holes drilled and it doesn't work. But we tried what he said, no luck.

Yesterday we went back and returned the jambes de force and the fencing (the fencing only because MG saw that it was cheaper in a different store which also had better jambes de force). Managed to get cash back and not store credit (woo!).

Bought new jambes de force and fencing. Although it was no piece of cake to put them up we managed to get them up this afternoon and half of the fencing put up as well! Amazing how quickly you can get things done with the right products... !

Next step, finish the fencing and build the raised beds! Then it is gardening time people! Just in time for my sprouting seeds in the greenhouse....!!!

With a little luck I'll be having grilled corn on the cob this summer baby!

dimanche, mai 08, 2011

living expenses

There have been a lot of recent posts on living expenses in France done by several different people in very different situations. LouLou lives in the south of France and owns her home outright. Jennie lives in the Alps and rents. We live in Normandy and are paying off a mortgage on the house we built.

I don't believe in converting Euros into Dollars simply because it doesn't make sense, we're paid in Euros and spend in Euros so it twists things the wrong way to be converting all the time. Here are some figures to give you an idea - they are all monthly to make more sense.

Mortgage 570
Food 400 (I don't skimp on food!)
Internet 32
House insurance 27
Electricity 75 to 100
Car insurance for 2 cars 32+47
Cell phone for two phones 44+42
Mutuelle (additional health insurance) for each of us 20+20
Gym 40

Because we built a h.ouse we are exempt from taxe fonciere and taxe d'habitation for the next few years. We just did our income taxes for the year 2010 and will not be paying any (actually getting money back) because I could deduct all of the km I drove with my insane commute last year as well as the interest paid to the bank for the house (again temporary reduction for a couple of years). What kind of heating you have also makes a huge difference in your bills, the heating here is a pompe a chaleur with underfloor heating which really doesn't cost very much to heat the house, no gas or oil to pay for.

Gas depends on how much we drive, both cars are diesel. Mine gets about 5.3 l/100km meaning I can go about 1,000km on a tank of gas which these days costs about 60 or 70 euros. MG's car gets better mileage about 4.2 l/100km.

samedi, mai 07, 2011

waiting game

Ever since my conversation with the Préfecture last month I have been obsessively checking the mail...

We live towards the end of a dead-end road and you can hear the cars coming. So then I rush out to see what the mailman has left for me... usually junk mail, sometimes a magazine but never what I'm looking for...

On an anecdotal side note after coming to our house and the neighbor's the mailman stops at another neighbor's house "for coffee" and his car is there for at least an hour... hummm... small town gossip. However that neighbor is elderly and more likely his mother than anything else...

PS made a fantastic new banana bread today - YUM!

dimanche, mai 01, 2011

new recipe

A couple of weeks ago we got a huge bag of spinach in our organic veggie basket. MG not being a big fan of spinach I tried to find a recipe that would use it up and taste yummy.

I thought to Greek food, feta/spinach - YUM. Google was my friend and found this article that has a great recipe for a Greek tarte. I modified it slightly to use some potatoes also in the basket and came up with this:

1kg washed spinach
2tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
200g feta cheese
250g ricotta cheese
3 medium potatoes, diced
4 eggs, lightly beaten
Grated nutmeg
2tbsp finely chopped dill
Sea salt and pepper
1 packet filo pastry, thawed
125g melted butter

Heat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. Roughly chop the spinach.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and cook the spinach and onion until wilted. Drain well and cool. Then lightly squeeze out any excess juices. In a big bowl, mash the feta cheese with the ricotta, then beat in the eggs, nutmeg, potatoes, chopped dill, sea salt and lots of pepper. Add the spinach and mix well.

Brush one sheet of filo pastry with melted butter and place it in a lightly oiled tarte pan, allowing for some overlap.

Continue layering the brushed sheets on top until you have six layers, then fill the dish with the spinach mixture, fold the extra filo over the edges.

Oh my god, YUM!!! It was sooooo tasty!!!! I went to make it again (this week I had forgotten to order the basket but found spinach at the store on special as the expiration date was almost up) but the store was out of ricotta! I tried our little store nearby but of course no ricotta... what to do??? fromage blanc? Nah.

It was David Lebovitz to the rescue!! I made my own ricotta! Call me Martha? Nah, I prefer to be called David!