dimanche, juillet 31, 2011

vendredi, juillet 29, 2011

Blue room!


FYI I am a loyal Auchan customer, love their products and actually prefer their store brand to many national brands. I decided to try their paint.... I do not recommend it simply because it is not monocouche!! I love the color but honestly having to put a second coat made it not worth it...

mardi, juillet 26, 2011

back to the grindstone

I got a call on Friday from the DRH from where I used to work in Caen offering me a 1 month contract locally for the month of August.

I jumped at the chance - not only does it look good for the unemployment office to see that I am "actively seeking work" but it might be my foot in the door working for them in the future.

I start August 2nd.

And am totally nervous.

See the thing is that I've never worked in a 100% French environment, all my jobs here up until now have been to utilize the fact that I speak English and therefore there is a certain leeway when it comes to language stumbles etc. It will still be an asset that I speak English given that there are English customers and tourists around but it will not be the focus of the position. And it is a customer service position so I'm going to be face to face with (French) customers all day long.

I am totally looking forward to the fact that I'll have an 18km commute each way instead of 118km commute each way!

The good thing is that if it all goes well it gets my foot in the door and if it really is not my cup of tea then it is only a month (and with decent pay, no SMIC this time!)

lundi, juillet 25, 2011

decoration help please!

 Ok faithful listeners we are in need of some decoration help! I've been painting all weekend and it's looking great but for some time we're stuck on how to decorate - specifically window treatment. We've got 2 big sliding glass doors facing south that we'd like to add a little something to but not block the view.
(Please ignore the mess, I just took a quick picture!) The thing is that basically all of the windows in the house have volet roulant which are fantastic metal blinds that are outside and you can roll down either by hand on the smaller windows or electrically on the big doors. They block out light really well and help keep the house warm during the winter nights.

The problem is that it was much cheaper to put the coffre inside instead of outside. From the outside it looks much nicer but on the inside it poses a huge problem for curtains/window treatments! These things are big and while they don't bother me to have them visible would it look weird to put curtains etc under them?

We don't need to block out the whole windows, something sheer or just on the side etc. I like having huge windows to look through and we don't have a lot of people driving/walking past our house (we're down at the end of a dead end). If we do want total privacy we can always drop down the blinds anyway. I'm really looking for something just to give it a bit of decoration more than anything else. I really like the Japanese panels but again it's how to go attaching them, around the coffre? under? above?

Does anyone else have this problem? How did you fix it?

samedi, juillet 23, 2011

garden update!

For those of you interested my little garden is coming along! It's just been just under 1 month since I planted (some seedlings and some from seed) and it's looking pretty good! We've had alternating hot sunny weather and really really rainy weather and apparently it makes for happy plants.
I've got sweet corn, spaghetti squash (flowering), zucchini (baby zucchinis!), pumpkin, butternut squash, cherry tomatoes (taking over the garden!), normal tomatoes, basil and blueberries!
Yesterday I planted some wax/butter beans cause the box I saw in the store said they could be planted through August. I thought I had missed my chance with beans but I thought why not, let's give it a try!
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mercredi, juillet 20, 2011

Mexican lunch!

Inspired by the rainy weather (and Masterchef Australia!) I decided to cook some sunny Mexican food.
I marinated the chicken thighs overnight in lime juice, tomatoes and salt. Then I rolled them in a little taco seasoning before pan frying them. Oh my god that chicken was heaven!!!!

I also made Mexican rice by cooking plain rice first and then in a separate pan sautéing onions and garlic before adding tomato paste, salt, pepper and cumin. Then I mixed it all in with the rice - yum yum!

 Finally I made some spelt tortillas inspired by Andi & Homesick Texan. They came out yummy too!

Then it was just a matter of pulling the chicken off the bone and putting together a burrito with fresh tomatoes & avocado! The only thing missing was cilantro & sour cream... Oh and a picture 'cause I ate too fast! :-)

mardi, juillet 19, 2011


I'm still trying to recover from a HUGE weekend! On Wednesday we drove up to the région parisienne to attend one of Mystery Guest's best friend's wedding. Thursday was the bachelor and bachelorette parties (respectively!) I was lucky enough to be invited and had an absolute blast with the girls!! They were all so nice and fun. We drove into Paris and went to a hammam where we melted away and then enjoyed a fantastic lunch on their terrace. Afterwards we took the bride back to her house (blindfolded of course!) where we surprised her with a chef à domicile for a cooking class.

Friday was lots of prep getting things for the wedding organized and helping them out as much as possible and wouldn't you know it, the beautiful weather on Friday turned into huge thunderstorms ALL DAY LONG Saturday. They had booked a stunning manoir just over the border in Haute Normandie (near Vernon) and were disappointed that instead of walking around the grounds we were huddled under umbrellas. But it didn't ruin anything for the guests, we had a great time. The ceremony was simple and sweet and they booked in 3 acapella gospel singers which really got the audience in the sprit of things. The cutest thing was when their little 18 month old son brought up the rings and then stayed to boogie with the singers :)

Dinner was exceptional delish guinea fowl trou normand for the boys and violette granita in champagne for the girls! plus all the desserts... the table we were put at was just the best. Great people, fun to talk to and have a good time and then dancing the night away. Mystery Guest even busted a move and taught me a thing or two! I have to say I'm always in shock when I see 60 French people hear a song and all of a sudden line up and bust out the line dancing... cracks me up! They didn't understand why I was laughing so I said imagine you're in the States and all of a sudden a group of Americans jumps in a circle, joins pinkies and busts out the Breton dancing - I think they understood ;-)

The weather Sunday was iffy but we still had a great post-wedding BBQ before hitting the road. The bride's mother made my day with a huge pack of Ghirardelli chocolate that they had brought back from their recent trip to the US... yummmm!

Good thing there are no major plans this weekend because we've got to get ready for the Danish invasion in 10 days!
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lundi, juillet 11, 2011


Wow Sark... It really was amazing! We totally lucked out with the weather - beautiful sunny skies and a smooth crossing over. We took Manches Iles Express out of a nearby port. There was a quick stop in Jersey and then the boat continued on to Sark. We arrived around 10ish local time (UK time) and the boat left Sark at 7pm local time so a full day to explore! Our round trip ticket on the boat came to around 47 euros per person. The other way you can get there is to fly, I think most of the flights leave out of Saint Malo though.

It is a tiny island and with no cars allowed, only tractors, horse-drawn carriages and of course bikes! I had take a look at some of the different bike options before leaving and found a good deal at A to B Cycle Hire which was 6£ per person (but they had an ad in the map from the ferry terminal which gave us a discount making a total of around 10£50 I think for both of us. After that we basically explored the island! Given that there are no cars there are also no paved roads! Even the "main drag" is a dirt road and felt like a cross between the Wild West and Victorian England! We enjoyed a fantastic cream tea, "toasties" for lunch and then a snack at the gardens in the afternoon. 

I wouldn't say there is much "to do" there other than enjoy the wonderful countryside and views the island has to offer. There is a little micro-climate around the islands so they often have better weather than we do just on the other side. 

It was a fantastic day, a great way to clear your head and to really feel like you've gone really far away (even though you can see France in the distance!) The people were really friendly and welcoming and all in all a great atmosphere on this little remote island. Highly recommend it!! The other thing that would be fun to do is island hopping between Jersey/Guernsey and Sark, one of the other operators from Normandy was offering a type of package and often times has special offers on, Vedettes du Cotentin if you're interested. 

dimanche, juillet 10, 2011

an egg

I know what you're thinking, it's an egg - a boring white egg.
Actually no, it's an egg from our neighbor's chickens, free range happy chickens. What happened was on Wednesday I made a big Red Velvet cake.
Yup right?? You betcha!!! It was a friend's birthday and he would have spent it commuting and not celebrating so we invited him over for dinner and to celebrate his birthday. Birthdays in my book are special, they are celebrations that can last for a good week if need be. So I made a BIG special cake - for three of us... I don't know if you can tell but that is one big mofo cake! The friend took about half of it to work the next day to pawn it off on colleagues and I divided up the rest and went over to the neighbor's. 
That's always the tricky thing when you "stop by" the neighbor's, you are always invited for a coffee and it can take quite some time to actually leave. I wanted to make it quick so Mystery Guest stayed at home ("I need to get back MG is waiting for me to eat") which worked pretty well. But my neighbor said since I couldn't stay would I like a couple of her eggs? 

Yup!! She gave me a dozen eggs!! That's not a couple but as she pointed out, a couple to eat soft boiled, a couple for a cake, a couple for a quiche and pretty soon no more eggs! I always like getting eggs from her, they have the yellowest yolks possible! I made pancakes with them and I swear it looked like I had added corn flour to the batter!

Whew! All that to say that the thing that really struck me yesterday is that the eggs are mostly white. 

White you say? Of course! 

In my America (to use a KylieMac expression) store bought eggs are always white and eggs from the farmer's market are more "rustic" and tend to be brown. In France I have looked high and low for white eggs to decorate for Easter (try decorating brown ones? yeah, the dye doesn't do much...!) and here I find them, fresh from the neighbor's chickens! 

In my mind that's all sorts of backwards. And the end to my long winded story... 

... about an egg.

samedi, juillet 09, 2011

vendredi, juillet 08, 2011

payday shock

I finally got paid today for the substitute teaching I did for the last 2 weeks of June. It was the second time I was a substitute teacher but the first time doing it in the private sector.

Mystery Guest had asked me at the beginning of my contract with them how much I'd be earning... I didn't know, I assumed it was fairly well paid as I remember being pleasently surprised after being paid for my subsitute teaching in the public sector.

Alas I spoke with a friend yesterday who has been doing longterm subbing in the private sector for the last two years. She confirmed my worst fears - you get paid SMIC (minimum wage). Granted there are other "benefits" according to some forums when I was looking things up (you can get unemployment benefits after working in the private sector etc) but come on people - MINIMUM WAGE! They ask you to be at least Bac +3 and have teaching experience and then they pay you the same as a housekeeper or cashier (maybe even worse depending on where you are housekeeping or cashiering...)

Yeah, that's the last time I work for them. Come on, I'm Bac +5 (from a French uni) and have over 6 years teaching experience here in France. I think I'm going to rethink my plan of subbing in the fall and take the job teaching adults that was offered to me this spring. It's not paid well either for what it is and the qualifications that they ask for (20 euros an hour gross) but at least I can try to get as many hours as possible and make some money.

Cause 9 euros an hour isn't going to cut it.

mardi, juillet 05, 2011

Sark Flowers

I'm sorting through a million pictures of beautiful scenery... for now just a little teaser of the beautiful flowers on Sark.

Fog lifting in Normandy

dimanche, juillet 03, 2011

beat the heat

There were mangoes on sale at the store the other day so I went ahead and got two. I haven't eaten a lot of mangoes fresh before but I love them.

I decided to test out making a smoothie with them to beat the heat. It hasn't been too hot here, just right but the house with all its windows heats up fast so we've got the blinds drawn during the day to try and keep the temps down. (so excuse the crappy cell picture in the dark room)

I do have to say the smoothie was AMAZING! It was as rich as a milkshake but all I did was blend 1 mango, 1 yogurt and a splash of milk to loosen it up a bit.

Ahhhh... yum.

vendredi, juillet 01, 2011