Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fondue is French for Amazing

I officially love fondue. Last Saturday evening, my dear friend Jerome had a fondue dinner at his home and I was lucky enough to be invited to this gathering. 

7:30- I arrived on time...however I forgot that the French tend to run about 15 minutes behind schedule, so in fact, I was early. I met Jerome's lovely wife, Laure, and beautiful 3-year-old daughter. I was given a kir, one of my favorite drinks over here, and we chatted while we waited for the other guests to arrive and while Jerome and Laure finished getting things ready. Next came Basile and Fabien, and then Anne arrived a few minutes later. 
Jerome had a delicious plate of cheeses that he started cutting up and putting in the pot for fondue. Then bread was cut... And then we started eating. It was wonderful/amazing/delicious/delectable/scrumptious/warm/yummy/and just plain cheesy (but the good French cheese...not velveeta or kraft singles type cheese). While eating, we, of course, had to continue drinking wine. I was told that I had to keep drinking the wine or...well...the cheese would have an impact on my digestive tract...I think you all know what I mean. So I did. We ate it all rather quickly and then had some salad. Another friend of Jerome arrived and we all agreed that a second helping of fondue was a great idea. So basically, everything I just said happened again. YUM. I knew I liked cheese. Now I know I LOVE cheese. Welcome to France!

After the food and a fruit/coconut balls dessert, we were sitting around talking and decided to play a game. The always-fun/brilliant Anne came up with a few. She must have been thinking about her old middle school years. Truth or Dare, the classic favorite among younger teens, was quickly agreed upon. This could get interesting... In french, it is even more fun to say. 

Action ou vérité

It was fun (no details allowed) and we all learned a little more about each other. The night ended in laughs and I went home completely thrilled. This was one experience that I will always remember. Good times with great people. 

Oh, there is one thing I forgot to mention about the evening. Somehow Thanksgiving came up in the conversation. I started talking about pumpkin pie I think, and then it was decided that we are going to have our own Thanksgiving over here. I will get the recipes since I'm the American, and we will spend all day preparing and then eating Thanksgiving Dinner. It will be held the Saturday after Thanksgiving since we will all be working on the Thursday. There is an American store where we will buy supplies, which just so happens to be called Thanksgiving. This will definitely be a Thanksgiving to remember...maybe I'll even throw in that sweet story about the Pilgrims and Native Americans. Haha. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I still have a Paris buzz

This Paris buzz has absolutely nothing to do with alcohol, however I fell the word "buzz" fits well in describing the way I feel about my current home.

Paris-lovers know what I am referring to when I talk about being captivated/obsessed/enchanted by Paris. For me, this intoxication with Paris has made itself known every time I have visited. Of course, over time, this high diminishes a bit, but it has yet to be least for me. It never left when I lived here last summer (obviously...I'm back), and I still experience it daily....even when I have the kids ALL DAY tomorrow (another Black Wednesday). It is not about seeing the Eiffel Tower or the Opera or any other great is in the every-day-life stuff that I experience this magic. It is in speaking French, understanding French, smelling a boulangerie (bread shop), eating a warm, fresh, crispy baguette, feeling the cool, fresh air as I leave the apartment, and then experiencing the welcoming warmth of the Metro heaters, looking up and seeing the remarkable architecture on a random building (who am I kidding...on every building), a greeting and goodbye in every store, the extremely thankful people who truly appreciate even the smallest of deeds...the list could go on for days. I have yet to tire of this place. I wonder if I ever will. 

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I have FABULOUS new friends

It is true. I have new friends and they are fabulous! It is funny how quickly one's phone can fill with new numbers. 

Last night I went to Rosa Bonheur, one of my favorite bars in Paris, like I do most Friday nights. Sylvain and his friends introduced me to this place and it is always fun. It was my first time going to Rosa without Sylvain, which I was a little nervous about since I have always been Sylvain's friend. Last night ended up being very fun. There was just a small group of us, but the group consisted of most of the people that I know the best: Anne, Jerome, Fabien, and Basile. They are great. I felt like one of the group. We had so much fun. I love talking in French and feeling like I actually know what I'm doing. They say I am speaking French beautifully, but I know that they are just being nice since I am currently still slaughtering the language when I speak. 

We drank plenty of delicious wine and ate an array of French stuff...I don't know what I ate, but there was a layout of French pate-type stuff...I think the one I ate the most of was a type of vegetable. After that we danced and met new people. The night was, to say the least, a fun night. Here is a picture of me, Basile, and Fabien...

...And another of Anne and Jerome. 

Anne may even meet up with me and some au pair friends tonight. 

Tonight I am getting together with some girls from my class and Crystal. They are also au pairs and seem very nice. I have already hung out a few times with Catarina, a girl from Sweden, and shared a Metro ride with Eva, a girl from Germany. I am so excited to be making friends with people from all over Europe! Well, gotta go meet Crystal at Hotel de Ville! 

Thursday, October 15, 2009

It WAS a Good Day :)

Today I spent most of my day cleaning, figuring out student loan crap, taking care of kids, and skyping.  Yeah, sounds fantastic.... Well it was.  After a short trip to the grocery store, I started trying to figure out my mess of student loans...they are coming due very soon.  Luckily, so far, things are going well.  This is good because I don't want to deal with too much mess over here without a printer, fax machine, etc. 

Then I called my dad.  Today is his 50th birthday.  Happy Birthday, Dad!!!  I can't believe he's fifty.  Now I feel really grown an adult.  Woah, I guess I am, however I still qualify as a "youth" on Europe's trains.  I don't feel like I am already 25.  I feel like 23 maybe.  Anyway, I talked to my dad, mom, and brother for several minutes.  They are driving out to Colorado right now.  I talked to them again tonight and was able to skype and see them all.  That is the first time I have seen my parents faces in about a month and a half.  Technology is AMAZING. 

While I was doing all kinds of student loan business, Emmanuel walked into my room to give me my first piece of mail since I arrived!!!  And as soon as I saw who it was from I started crying.  Lina, Sanna, and Lucas, the kids I have been babysitting for the last 8 years, sent me a package with all kinds of things they made for me...some pictures they colored, a necklace, a keychain, a ring, and even something Lina wrote last summer about summers on Lake Cadillac.  It is difficult to be away from those kids.  I love them so much.  I got to skype with them tonight as well.  Basically, those little sweethearts made my week.

The mind is a funny thing.  When I wrote that I was going to have a good day, I had no idea I would receive a package of love from those kids...I could just feel that I was going to have a good day.  Foresight is a funny thing. 

Today's Gonna be a Good Day

I can feel it.  Today's gonna be a good day.  It's Thursday morning and it's not yet 9 am.  You may ask, "Betsy, don't you adore sleeping in?"  Yes, I truly love a good sleep-in day, however, as part of my job, I have to get up and help the kiddos get ready at 7 am.  While I do like sleeping in on the weekends, I like the fact that I am already up because it means that I have several hours to do whatever I want (after I clean the house, of course...). 

Now, why is it going to be a great day?  Well, I am just banking on it.  My mood is good, I had my coffee and toast with Nutella, and the best news of all...the weekend is in sight!  Thursday always means that my Black Wednesday is over and tomorrow is Friday.  I barely feel like I work on Friday because the grandmother comes and I just pick up the kids from school with her, walk home, and help out here and there. Plus, she always tells me I can leave whenever I want.  

I want to take a minute to comment on this grandmother character.  Her name is Babou, and I don't even know how to spell it.  Well, so I think it's probably some nickname for "grandmother," but I'm not sure. If anyone knows, please fill me in.  Anyway, this lady is something else, but I really like her.  She always brings good food, for example, she brought Nutella last week, and every Friday, she brings champagne.  She's laid back and supports me with the kids.  And of course, she always lets me know I can leave whenever I want because "I should be out with my friends on Friday nights." :)

I don't know what I will do today.  I'm sure I will meet up with Crystal at some point.  It is getting colder and I am actually looking forward to bundling up in my wool cozy.  Maybe I'll go for a long walk.  

Oh before I forget, I want to share a French food experience.  Last Friday I ate fois gras.  I didn't go out with friends until later on Friday night, so I had dinner with Babou and the parents.  We had champagne, bien sur.  Emmanuel got out the fois gras...the real stuff...not the pate.  It was even homemade by his aunt (I think).  By the way, foie gras is duck liver.  Anyone that knows my eating habits well knows that this is HUGE for me.  I was not too far from a vegetarian before I came here.  I actually liked it.  I had to cut it and put it on bread, but it was good.  Sophie said normally you eat a chunk of fois gras and then bread, but she ate it on bread, and so did I...after all, it was my first time and eating it alone was a little much for me. 

Here's what it looked like...

I never thought I would be the type to eat it, but here I am, drinking champagne and eating foie gras.  Ah, j'adore la France!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fall is Here! An Evening Walk in Paris

Things have been going very well here.  It is going better with the kids...most days, and I am feeling much more comfortable in my living situation.  I even get a 5-day-weekend coming up.  The kids will be on a school holiday and their grandmother is taking them for the first three days of the week.  I would like to go somewhere for a visit, but I have to figure it all out. 

Crystal and I went for a walk last night...big surprise.  It was the perfect way to spend our Saturday night.  We had nothing to do and we didn't want to stay in all night.

Last night it was finally starting to feel like fall over here.  It has been unusually warm (so I hear), but it was definitely cool last night.  I wore leggings, a dress, and a long sweater and was warm enough, but I almost needed something more to keep me warm.  We took the metro to the Louvre and began our walk there.  We love walking at night from the Louvre to Champs Elysees because it is absolutely beautiful. Everything is lit up.  I think I like seeing monuments better at night.  Somehow they just look grander.  Anyway, we got off the metro and walked through the Louvre where we came out at the pyramids and fountains.  I should have taken a picture, but I'll throw in an older one just to give you an idea.

We then headed toward the Seine.  Walking along the Seine at night is phenomenal.  There are so many monuments lit up with their reflections shimmering on the surface of the water. 

As Crystal and I discussed our future travel plans, we passed several things.  I love Place de la Concorde at night, with the Obelisk, fountains, and view of Arc de Triomphe down the busy Champs Elysees. 

By the way, the Eiffel Tower is currently white and red.  This is in honor of Turkey.  They are trying to enter the European Union.  Crystal and I wanted to check it out the other night.  There must have been a big celebration going on when we walked there because there were tons of people under the Eiffel Tower shouting and running around with Turkish Flags.  We honestly think it looks a little ridiculous right now, being that it is simply half red and half white.

Anyway, back to last night's walk.  We went to Pont Alexander III (a beautiful bridge), for some pictures and then headed in the direction of Champs Elysees. 

Champs Elysees is actually getting a little tiring.  There are so many tourists all over the place, and of course we cannot afford anything other than McDo ice cream cones, which happen to only be 1 euro.  We parted ways after we walked to the George V metro and headed home.  We both needed sleep.  

Today we are going to a little performance thing.  We are going with Crystal's family (not her real family...the family she is an au pair for).  The security guards of Karen, the mother, are doing something near Invalides and we are going to watch.  We saw a poster for it last night, but I really have no idea what it is all about. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I'm Running in the Rain, Just Running in the Rain

I have finally started to actually work out over here.  I tend to always put this type of thing off.  Procrastinating is what I do well.  I kept telling myself that all of the walking I do over was good enough, but I also tend to treat myself to many sweets and baguettes.  Anyway, I started running last weekend and found it wonderful.  I guess I just need to have the right frame-of-mind when I decide to workout.  I have always disliked running for the most part, but I guess running around Paris is a little more interesting than what I am used to.

Yesterday I was all pumped up to go for a little run and when I looked outside it was raining... a lot.  Well, I decided that I was going to get all sweaty anyway, so I might as well face the rain.  It was great.  I ran toward the river and then took a right toward the Eiffel Tower.  I figured I would just turn around when I started to get tired.  To my surprise I made it to the tower and was still doing great.  This is just one thing that I LOVE about living in Paris.  I can go for a run... to the Eiffel Tower!!!  By the time I made it back I was completely drenched.  Luckily it was not very cold outside.  A hot shower finished it all off perfectly.  Ah, I love it here!