Monday, November 29, 2010

Que la farce soit avec vous! *

This was my second Thanksgiving away from home (last year was a bit rough), and my very first Thanksgiving out of the country.  I can honestly say it was the most interesting one I've had... and definitely one of the best.  Of course I missed being home with my family, but I really enjoyed being here with so many people - many of whom had never celebrated or even heard of Thanksgiving before.  There were about 22 of us, and only 3 of us were American.  Somehow everyone knew what to do though (bring lots of food!  and wine!  and eat!, be merry, etc.) and we all had a great time.

I was all worried that there wouldn't be enough pumpkin pie... or wine... but it all turned out fine.  And like what usually happens at these sorts of things, we ended up having left-over everything!  A lot of my friends here had never tried pumpkin pie and, seeing as it's my favorite part of Thanksgiving (also one of my top 3 all-time favorite pies), I pretty much forced them all to try some.  And they loved it!  One of the other American girls, Cathy, also made a huge pumpkin pie (she has a normal sized oven - jealous!) so I even got to take some of mine home and not feel bad.  Mmmm, pumpkin pie for breakfast...  :)

Making whipped cream!  I was so relieved when my friend told me she had an electric mixer after she was watching me try to whip cream with a fork.  That would have taken hours, I think..

On y va!  Here we go...

Filling plates

Les américaines - Jill (NY), Cathy (TX), me (CA)

The thing I loved most about this Thanksgiving? There were many of the good ole traditional T-giving dishes, like turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole(!), sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie... but also some new ones - sangria, pumpkin risotto (amazing!), cabbage, baguettes (bien sûr), calamari, guacamole, lemon tarts, and crêpes.

Katie carving the turkey (fillets)

This was actually my favorite part
My favorite part actually was when someone decided that we should all go around the table and say what we're thankful for... I know it was not one of the Americans because whoever it was asked us "That's what you do, right?" and all three of us kind of looked at each other and shrugged... "Well, we don't, but okay!" But we decided it would be fun.  Then my (Irish) roomie Katie was like "OK everyone hold hands!! C'mon guys, it's tradition!"  I cracked up.  I just loved how everyone was getting so into it!  Afterwards some people told me that they're definitely celebrating Thanksgiving again next year in whatever country they'll be in...  I mean, why not?  It's basically just a good excuse to get together with people you love and eat a lot of good food.  And drink.  :)

Oh, and for the going-around-and-saying-what-you're-thankful-for part?  Cathy had the genius idea for everyone to say it in their non-native language.  That was interesting!  hahah :)   How do you say thankful in French I don't even know!?  (it's "reconnaissant," which somehow doesn't have the same ring to it, I don't think)
The dessert table!

* This is what my high school French teacher would always tell us the day before Thanksgiving...  it literally means "May the stuffing be with you!", but it's a play on "Que la force soit avec vous", and "stuffing" in French is "la farce",  farce instead of force....... I hope you get the idea.  -shrug-  I always thought it was funny.  :)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Just a bit.

Gasworks Park, June 2010

Tonight I am missing Seattle somethin' fierce, I tell you.


And California, too.  Maybe it's just the warm weather...?

Joshua Tree National Park, August 2010

When you're blowing eighty-five days in the middle of France
Yeah, I know it gets tired only where are your friends tonight?
- LCD Soundsystem

I'll be back though.  May 2011.  And I just keep thinking that this is exactly where I'm meant to be at this point in my life.  I've got great people at home whom I miss every day, but I also have great people here whom I already consider close friends.  :) 

Thanksgiving post coming soon.  I just had to make a little space for the part of me that's just a bit homesick every now and then.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Alright, so I just finished baking and we're about to have dinner in an hour or so.  I'm just so proud of my pumpkin pie mission that I had to show a sneak peek now...

I MADE PUMPKIN PIE!  REAL PUMPKIN PIE(s.. little pies..  tartelettes if you will)!  Against all odds and doubts of being able to do so in France!  I picked up the Libby's in Paris and hoped that my tiny little oven could do the job.  (I also hoped and hoped that "girofle" means "cloves" when I was rushing to buy spices in the store last night 5 minutes before they closed... it does, yay!)  And then there was the whole debacle of figuring out how to convert teaspoons into grams... and then realizing I wouldn't be able to measure out half a gram of ginger on my scale (the smallest ticks are 5 g)... blerg!

I haven't tried it yet, but I did have a couple spoonfuls of the batter before I popped it in the oven and it tasted heavenly and pumpkiny and had the perfect amount of spice.  I actually did a little jig in the kitchen.
It's officially Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Settling in. Loving every moment.

Well, I've now been in France for almost 2 months.  About to break my record for time abroad.  I'm going home for a couple weeks in December, which I'm really excited about, but I couldn't possibly imagine leaving for good yet.  Good thing I'll come back to 4 more months after Christmas!

Work is going a lot smoother.  I'm not getting as nervous before each class, and it's not as big of a deal now to stand up in front of 20 kids (although there is that moment at the beginning of each class where I say "ok.  Hello everyone!  Hello."  and I do an awkward wave.  I should work on a better start to class...)  This next week I'm going to talk about Thanksgiving and have all the kids make hand turkeys.  You know the ones....
I had fun making this today while watching clips of The West Wing on youtube...  Americaaaaa!
Also, tomorrow I'm going to be singing in a choir concert!  I know, random!  One of the girls here studies music at her university and she wants to keep up with it while abroad, so she and I and two other girls joined a community choir (the rest of us are just doing it for fun).  The choir is all middle-aged French men and women, and they're all so fascinated by us, les anglaises ("the English girls"... actually we're British, Irish, American, and Canadian, respectively, but you know).  The songs are kind of difficult -- Latin! German! Russian! aaaack -- but it's really fun.  I used to take singing lessons (fun fact!) and I've actually kind of missed it.  My mother would be proud I think... she was trying to get me to watch this documentary-show on BBC called The Choir and I always rolled my eyes, but I really do like choir.  (Sorry Mom, the teacher is an older French woman and not a "cute" young Brit like on the show.  haha.)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Où sont les fiiiiiiilles

I love these girls.  And my new hair.  And living in France.

Longer update later...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

More Vacation Pictures...

So I just realized I only posted about part of my vacation!  After my parents left, I hopped on a train in Paris with my friend Jill and we set off for Montpellier!  We'd both studied there for several months in 2008-2009 and we were excited to return for the first time since studying there...

We didn't study there together, but it's funny.. when I first found out that she had been there too, I felt we had an instant bond because of that.  It's just that kind of city.  :)

While we were down south we took a little day trip to Avignon, stopping in Nîmes for an hour or so on the way.  It rained a little bit but it was still a perfect trip...

Feathers at the Arena in Nîmes (apparently it's the best preserved arena of the Roman era?  pretty impressive.)
Avignon!  Isn't it pretty?

The central square in Avignon - with a strange elephant statue 

IT WOULD BE A WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE.  I love English translations..

Jill and the Pont d'Avignon (♫ sur le pont... d'Avignon... on y danse, on y danse... )

Carousel in Avignon.  Every city in France has one, I swear...

I had forgotten that Montpellier has palm trees!  And it was sunny and warm and beautiful when we were there... just like home!

3 Graces fountain!
I kept saying while I was there... "I'm so happy.... I want to live here... why can't we live here?  I'm so happy here..."
Norton building?
I even found a building with my name on it.  Obviously I'm meant to live there.

They had Christmas decorations up around the city already...

Un petit pause...

At the big "M" (for Montpellier)
Also! I got to see a really good friend that I met back in 2008 while I was down there....  so good to see him again.  Ah, the magic of modern technology for keeping in touch!

I really want to go back there more often, since it's such a vibrant city with so much to do... somewhat unlike Evreux... but it's so pricey.  A round-trip train ticket runs about 120 euro.  And I only have two-day weekends (first world problems, I know, I know) so I also don't have much time for long train rides. Drat.  I'm sure I'll be able to convince the other girls to take a trip down there soon...  Or maybe after Christmas.  We need to go to le bar australien!

It really was a bittersweet feeling being back there, though.  I kept thinking of all the wonderful people I met that summer, and how much fun I had, and how young I was (hah, all of 2 and a half years ago), and how much it made me want to return to France one day.
And here I am.  I hope I look back on this trip someday with the same fuzzy feelings I have for 2008.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Yay for care packages! :D

I got a nice little surprise when returning from Rouen today... a package!  With goodies!  

These go for over 11 euro in Paris.  NO JOKE.  And that's just the regular kind...
 American goodies!  From my very generous friend Kent!  (Thanks, again, dude)
Elementary school flash baaaack.  I didn't even know they still made Fruit by the Foot!
I got two of everything so I'm gonna school my Irish roommate on the amazingness of American candy.  She already enlightened me to the restorative effects of "rashers" after a night out.  It's like bacon, but even better.  I know, I couldn't believe it either.  Too bad you can't get them here.. she actually brought a package of them on her carry-on on the trip back from Dublin last week.  Love it.

Also I think it's kinda neat that I got an x-ray on the 115th anniversary of the discovery of the x-ray.  I went to Rouen today for a medical visit required for all the assistants outside of the EU... the doctor took a look at the x-ray and said "Bon, pas de lésions..."  Well jeez I hope there's no lesions!  Oh and I got to keep it.  Nice, more wall decorations.

And hint hint... I loooove care packages.  You all have my address, right?  ;)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Normandy + Paris

I haven't been in a writing mood lately but I really want to re-cap my amazing weeklong trip around Normandy with my parents.  So this post will be mostly pictures.

Sunday morning in Paris, walking to Gare du Nord

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Today I got back home to Evreux from about 12 days of non-stop traveling.  I had an amazing vacation.  I can't wait to write all about it here, but it's late and I have to teach tomorrow...  and I have no lessons planned...  anyway.  I had a really good time showing my parents around France, and it was wonderful to see Montpellier again for the first time since I studied there in 2008.  All those feelings from that summer came rushing back, and it's kind of overwhelming.  I'm constantly thinking about the possibility of staying here for another year.

Here's me at Le Mont St. Michel, near the border of Normandy and Brittany.  One of the great monuments in France, if not the world.  I'm so glad I got to see it!

More to come.  Sleep beckons..