jeudi, décembre 29, 2011

Christmas lights

When I was in Caen the beginning of December I got to test out my new remote that Mystery Guest gave me for my birthday. It was freezing cold that night so we didn't hang around to play with all the options/lighting modes but this picture came out pretty good. They did a nice job of "painting" the front of the Mairie with a light display.

lundi, décembre 26, 2011

Christmas recap

Well things went really well for our first time hosting Christmas. Everyone arrived at the end of the afternoon for an apéritif (my MIL brought lots of bottles of bubbly for the occasion!) I served Deviled eggs which went over well, along with some bought puff pastry nibblies.
For dinner I made a Chapon which MG and I thought was a castrated turkey - turns out it was a castrated chicken but given the size of it (3,5kg!) I kept calling it a turkey anyway... So that turned out yummy and we had it with mashed potatoes & gravy, polenta, green beans & bacon, stuffing and carrots!
Afterwards sticking with local tradition we had a trou normand to help us digest before attacking the cheese and then dessert. I made a hazelnut/blackberry cake that my FIL adores and a pumpkin pie which everyone loved. I snuck upstairs for a 6 way google hangout with my dad, sister, uncles and grandparents which was SO fun!
By then we were stuffed and exhausted so we opened our stockings (it was my little surprise this year - I made personalized stockings for the family! I think it's a tradition that should take hold here!!) and I think they all liked them along with the goodies inside! Then we watched a movie.
But we voted 3 to 2 to open the rest of the presents the following day (Christmas morning).
After a relaxed breakfast of challah and lots of coffee we finally got into it ;-) and there were fantastic gifts all around!
We kept it simple the rest of the day, leftovers for lunch and Carcassonne all afternoon.
I called my mom after they had left and did another FaceTime chat with my sister in Oz. I love technology!!

So all in all a great Christmas weekend. We're seeing some friends tomorrow & invited for NYE so between now and then it's time to relax a bit because I got offered a 3 month contract starting January 3rd :-)

Merry Christmas!!

vendredi, décembre 23, 2011

Happy Holidays!!!

We're getting ready for Christmas! For the first time Mystery Guest & I are hosting Christmas! Luckily it's a small Christmas this year, just his parents & brother. I'm putting my American spin on things this year but we're still doing Christmas on the 24th instead of on the 25th - some things you can't change! Especially when it comes to asking them to wait to open presents! So the house is clean, desserts done yesterday, all that's really left is a little decoration and popping the castrated chicken in the oven... :-) Have a wonderful weekend & celebration!!!

lundi, décembre 19, 2011


On Sunday afternoon an American friend invited me to go caroling in a nearby church put on by the local franco-british association.
I got there before she did (a branch was stuck on her car with all the storms we've been having!) and was immediately reminded why haven't been to one of these events in a long time. Last time was probably 5 or 6 years ago when I was living in Caen. I dragged MG & Béné to the local Anglican church for carols.
The problem each time has been the same: old churchy carols played too slowly in the organ. I have nothing against the old fashioned carols but they were SO slow!!! Plus the lyrics weren't the same as what we learned. And to top it off the French ones that they sang were REALLY churchy!!
I was so glad when my friend turned up and we snickered like naughty schoolgirls in the back pew.
Then afterwards we were invited to a 'pot' and the mulled wine hit the spot!

I got a chance to meet my friend's lovely daughters but didn't enjoy the conversation interrupted by old English ladies wondering where I was from. And then the horrified look when I said that I didn't live in Paris but live here full time. Yeah, that's right we haven't met before because unlike you I don't hangout with other Anglos all the time...

Sigh. I say next year my friend and I organize our own carols!! Jingle Bells biatches!! :-)

vendredi, décembre 16, 2011


On Wednesday night I was invited to a ceremony which wrapped up my journey of becoming a Franco-American. I officially became naturalized in May but because there ain't many of us furrenginers out here in the countryside who go about asking to be naturalized they only have a ceremony once every six months. Mystery Guest and I were invited to go and I really had no idea what to expect especially since some other naturalized  Americans didn't go to their ceremonies. I guess to be honest I assumed it would just be in the main prefecture waiting area! But I did have my fingers crossed for champagne and champagne I got!

We were asked to show up 15 minutes early for  a 6pm ceremony. There were about 30 people there plus their families/friends. But then we were lead out of the main prefecture and to the official residence of the "prefect" (who is basically the head of the "departement" or "state" that I live in).

Classssy! Beautiful tapestries, fairly modern yet tasteful decoration.

The prefect came out dressed to the nines in his military uniform and after a short informative video about being French (the only thing I found odd is that they tell you what it means to be French after you've been naturalized! what if you change your mind???) Then he gave a short speech and the European anthem was played. Afterwards we were invited to join him in singing la Marseillaise. When Mystery Guest asked if I knew all the words (we were given a photocopy of the lyrics just in case!) I said of course not, I know the few key lines but that's it - not that that's a bad thing don't ask me to sing the whole Star Spangled Banner off the top of my head either! (I'll always have a soft spot for the American national anthem, it's just so poetic and not so bloody...)

Then they handed out our new paperwork individually and took back our carte de sejours. I'm pretty sure they read us out in terms of the size of the cities we were from because I was dead last! Some of the mayors came to the ceremony - one even gave a lady a bouquet of flowers!

Then there was a pot, drinks and lots of yummy things to nibble on. Glad to see my tax euros being put to good use - that champagne was tasty!

I'm really glad I went (even though the capital city of our departement is about an hours drive) and that Mystery Guest could join me. Sometimes a ceremony is really nice, it really finalizes something, takes shape and becomes more meaningful than a letter saying congratulations. Plus it didn't drag on for ages, short, sweet and to the point which was perfect. :-)

I was interviewed by the local radio and on the drive home everything just came together. Still feels a little odd to say that I'm French - but in the same way that it feels odd to say that I'm 30 - it hasn't totally sunk in yet.

But I'm sure it will - I can't wait to vote in two presidential elections next year!

lundi, décembre 12, 2011

The Grinch

Just kidding, Mystery Guest isn't stealing Christmas! But I do have a question for you faithful readers..

As a kid growing up in the US of A we always had real Christmas trees that we picked out each year and brought home. Dad would fish out the Christmas stand from wherever it was being stored and we'd have to screw it into place before putting the tree skirt around it and decorating it. Now a key part in my memory was to make sure there was always water in the stand so the tree wouldn't dry out. I finally found such a stand in France and this year when we were picking out our live tree (at a nursery, not the grocery store) I asked how long ago it had been cut to make sure we weren't getting an old dry one. She said well it doesn't matter, once it's cut it's no longer a living plant but wood. So I explained that we'd always put water for our trees. She said it was a myth and that there was absolutely no point in watering a cut tree.


I'm torn, she seemed very knowledgable and qualified but I just remembering the tree "drinking" a lot more water than could have naturally evaporated...

What I do love is that they put it in the net after you pick it out - SO much easier to transport!!

samedi, décembre 10, 2011

Winter beach

Went for an afternoon walk in between November-like showers (what's up with the weather? It was snowing this time last year!!).

I adore the deserted beaches in the winter!

mercredi, décembre 07, 2011

6 years!

Happy 6 year anniversary my Mr Mystery Guest!

dimanche, décembre 04, 2011

Cookies & Turkey

Yesterday I went to Caen to sell my 300+ cookies that I made for the Greedy Guts Christmas market. Everything went really well! I had plate of cookie samples that I'd get people to try and almost everyone that tried some ended up buying cookies! I sold all but 12 (1 box of a dozen) in about 4 hours so I thought that was pretty good! Plus I had sooo much fun doing it :-)
When we got home last night I threw a pumpkin pie in the oven (thanks mom for the canned pumpkin! A real life saver!!!) and then this morning I got up early to put together a December thanksgiving lunch. We had wanted to invite some friends for thanksgiving but they were busy last week. Turns out that moving thanksgiving back a week is perfect timing! As it is impossible to buy a turkey in November in France somehow waiting until the first week of December they magically appear! Got a great deal at 4.50€ /kg too! It ended up being cooked perfectly and I realized as Mystery Guest was carving it that this is the first time I've ever cooked a turkey! After all these years celebrating in France either someone else has been in charge of the bird or I've made a chicken. So I was very proud of myself :-) we also had homemade cranberry sauce, mom's fantastic stuffing, carrots and mashed taters (mystery guest did the gravy, yum!) now we're sitting on the couch vegging while it continues to pour down rain outside. So lucky that the rain miraculously stopped for the few hours that the Christmas market was on yesterday - thank god!

vendredi, décembre 02, 2011


My new creation - Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies (Cx4? does that work as a nickname?) Anyway my mom sent me a little care package and only a few of the candy canes made it intact. Rather than eat all the little pieces myself I decided to re-create my alltime favorite combo: chocolate and mint.

My favorite ice cream.
My favorite candy (junior mints & after eights).
My favorite tea (peppermint with a square of chocolate on the side.

Yup, been my favorite since I was a kid.

Since I'll be selling my cookies at the market in Caen tomorrow I thought it was the perfect opportunity for a new Christmas cookie!

(anyone notice it's been photographed on my new cookie stand??)