Tuesday, December 27, 2011

a long december

I sure have been neglecting this blog thing lately... This holiday season has been good to me. Thanksgiving was great, Christmas was a good one, and there was a much-needed trip to Seattle (and Vancouver!) in between that went by way too quickly. Gosh I love it up there.

Now I have about 10 days off work and my good friend Annie is coming to visit on Thursday for a whole week! LA! New Year's! Disneyland? Beach! Sunshine! Adventures abound!

Here are some pictures from the last month or so. Most are taken on my new-ish iPhone which I am still OBSESSED with. Yep, I drank the kool-aid.

My cute little gingerbread house back when I finished it on Thanksgiving. Now it's all melty...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

la sortie

Sub City Paris from Redglass Pictures on Vimeo.

"Three years ago in Paris I got out of a "metro" train at La Concorde, and saw suddenly a beautiful face... I could not find any words that seemed to me worthy, or as lovely as that sudden emotion."

This video is so lovely. I feel Paris tugging me back when I see videos like this, or read articles in my mom's travel magazines about the best pâtisseries in the city, or think of what I was doing a year ago on this day.

T'inquiète pas, je reviendrai un jour. Attends-moi.

The part showing Saint-Paul... ♥ That stop and Concorde will always be a bit more special for me.

I wonder if every lover of Paris has their own favorite metro stop...


It's officially autumn! I couldn't be happier. I'm currently wrapped up in my throw blanket and comfy slippers, watching college football with my mom, drinking coffee, and looking at grad school program websites. 

It rained quite a bit on Wednesday, which made our new roof look absolutely stunning. The new cedar shingles look really nice all the time, but the water made them turn almost bright red. I love my little cottage house!

On Wednesday I also decided to do some baking. I found this recipe for pumpkin nutella muffins on Pinterest about a week ago and I hadn't been able to stop thinking about it. I think the self-frosting aspect was what intrigued me... You just spread some nutella on the batter before you bake them and then they poof up and come out of the oven perfectly frosted with warm gooey nutella! Brilliant!

Gotta give credit where credit is due - the amazing original recipe is here.

Would you just look that orange pumpkin-y goodness? It must be fall.

Nutella jars are plastic in the US, apparently. Pshh.

Mini muffins, too!

Really tasty with coffee. I got that mug at Target, of course.

I hadn't actually eaten any nutella since I was in France, so having that first bite was a bit nostalgic. I didn't know how the combination of chocolate/hazelnut/pumpkin would turn out, but it really worked. I had a work meeting the next morning so I brought a bunch and they were a hit!

It's really nice to be home and have a fully functioning kitchen. Maybe I'll start doing recipe posts? :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

settling back at home

Hello blog. Long time no post. Lately I've been trying to study for the GRE and one of my giant review books had a tip that one should write as much as possible prior to the exam, just to get into the swing of writing. So! Time for a little update on my life back home.

It's been two and a half months since I got home from France. A lot has happened in that time... including the unfortunate loss of my passport. It's been missing for almost 2 months now. Funny thing is, I have this sneaking suspicion that someone may have stolen it... I won't go into why I think that but the details of its disappearance are kind of weird. Oh well. I finally called and reported it lost last week, and it's time to go get a new one. I'm mostly just upset that I've lost such a good souvenir of all my travels in the last 6 years. Oh well, maybe it will turn up someday...

Also, I got a job! It's only part-time, but it's pretty much perfect for me. I'm working in the Special Collections and Archives department at a university nearby and I absolutely love it. I mostly handle thesis and dissertation submissions and work on the reference desk. I'm not doing much actual work with the archival material, but I'm learning a lot about the collections and I can go back into the stacks and look at any book or photograph or pamphlet I want. Most of the material they have has to do with Orange County history, which is particularly interesting to me. I want to learn all about where I grew up, and where my father grew up...

When I first got home from France, I panicked. I had no idea what to do next with my life. I had just gone on this grand adventure, and had decided not to prolong that adventure another year, but then I was just left sitting here thinking "ok, now what?". However! This job, as new and as small as it is right now, has really given me some direction. I've decided I'm going to apply for graduate school next fall, for admission in fall 2013, for a Masters in Library/Information Science program with a specialization in Archives and Records Management. I'm not applying for another year so I have some time to really think about it and decide where I want to apply. Some of the best-ranked schools are University of Michigan, University of Pittsburgh, UT Austin, and UNC Chapel Hill. I'd really like to go to one of those schools if I get in, so it looks like I'll be having another big adventure in a couple of years! I can't wait to go away to school again!

So right now I'm studying for the GRE, which i'm taking in 22 days (oh dear). I bought 3 giant review books and I've gotten through one of them so far. It actually feels kind of nice to be studying again... dare I say I missed it? Just a little bit?

Honestly, I couldn't ask for a more smooth-sailing time in my life right now. I'm loving being at home, my parents are glad I'm back, everyone's happy. The only thing that is difficult at times is trying to settle in to a place where I haven't really lived in 6 years. What does a 24-year-old do for fun in Orange County? Luckily I've been reconnecting with old friends and trying to meet as many new people as I can. It's amazing to see old friends whom I haven't seen in ages. Just last night I ran into a friend I haven't seen since 8th grade (that's 10 years ago!) and we immediately recognized each other and spent the entire night catching up over beers. There's been a surprise or two as well... Good surprises, of course.

I don't see myself living in Orange County long term, but I mean, after 6 years of being under the clouds and rain, the sunshine every day is oh so very nice. I'm actually looking forward to a really mild fall and winter... color-changing leaves and snow be damned! At least for this year.

And to end this post, I'd just like to show a picture I took on a walk around my neighborhood last night. I think it sums it all up.

Monday, June 27, 2011


Pétanque is one of those quintessentially French things to me... like croissants or formules or apéro or unnecessary paperwork. I've never really had it explained to me... but near the end of my stay in France I saw a few games here and there, once the weather started to get nice.

I came across this game on my last day in Paris, in the Jardin du Luxembourg. The men (always men) each had their own metal engraved boules, which they take turns throwing. The goal is to get your metal ball closest to the little yellow jack.

Another one going one over there...

I must have sat there for a good 20 minutes, watching them walk back and forth, round after round. Sometimes snapping a picture or two. There was something really satisfying about sitting close to the game; you could feel the ground rumble a little bit when the ball hit the ground with a loud thump. And I loved the clicking sound when the ball hit another one, nudging another player's boule out of his spot.

The stance is very important. Two feet solid on the ground. Inside the little circle. Concentrate. Throw underhanded, with your hand over the ball.

After the round is over, they collect their boules with these neat little magnets on the end of strings.

This guy was my favorite. You could tell he knew everyone sitting around watching. And I loved the guy with the book. After a particularly good throw, he would loudly exclaim ohhh, law law law lawwww. (I think that is my favorite French phrase. People actually use it for everything. And it's not "ooou la la!" like a flirty American girl trying to be French, it's a serious and often exasperated "oh law lawww." Love it.)

Ok actually you know what, it was hard to pick favorites at this match. I loved the lady doing her knitting, too. Watching her men and their little jeu. Oh, la la.

Et voilà, a little piece of my last day in France. More to come.

Friday, June 10, 2011

dans le sud

This is my last day in the south of France. Nice and Marseille have been lovely... last night I met some fellow travelers from Orange County (small world!) and a Norwegian girl I met in Nice and we went to go see a free concert at the Vieux Port in Marseille. It was one of those perfect summer nights that I will remember forever.

I have a feeling the theme of this week will continue to be tearful goodbyes. I need to remember that it's not adieu, just au revoir. To all the people I've met here and to France in general.

After all, I do have a return trip booked in September... I made it just to save money (a round trip was a better deal and I still hadn't [haven't?] decided if I'm coming back for another year) and I'll probably just let it go.. or try to save it for later... but maybe a little trip wouldn't be the worst idea ever. Anyone up to join me? :)

It will be nice to be home. It will it will it will.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sur la route

Bonjour from Tours!  (Actually bonsoir. It's quite late. I should really be sleeping, I'm catching a train to Lyon early in the morning...)

I've seen 4 castles in the past two days, and I'll have to write more about them later... and of course post pictures. Always pictures.

Speaking of pictures, I've added a little badge over there on the right side of my blog ------> that goes to my flickr page. There you'll find all the pictures I've taken that I think are worthy of sharing. Then again, like this blog, I haven't been updating it very much... but I promise to make more of an effort! I'm uploading a batch right now from a month ago, so, progress!

I'll be home in about 10 days. So bizarre.

A sneak peek of the châteaux...

Friday, May 27, 2011

oh, hi there blog!

I'm on a (Swiss) boat!

I'm alive!!! I swear!

I've had a whirlwind of a few weeks... I'll have to post more about it later because once again I'm off on another little mini-trip. Off to Brittany (hey that's my middle name!) for the weekend! Then after that I'll be back in my apartment in Evreux for a day and a half, to finish packing everything and scrubbing the place like mad... and then I'm moving out on the 31st.

I've been having a rough couple of days lately, just dealing with normal French bureaucracy crap... but today I ran a few errands and everything went better than expected, which made me think France isn't so bad after all. Yesterday I was cursing and whining and wanting to go home... but today I think France and I have kissed and made up. All better. I'm sorry baby, I never meant to say those things. Je t'aime.

That being said, I'm really looking forward to getting home.

More later! Promise!


Sunday, May 1, 2011


Photo by Sofie Gogic

Thursday, April 21, 2011


After a few whirlwind weeks of visitors and traveling all over and sad goodbyes from the students and other assistants, I've found myself in an empty apartment. Just me. A bit of cleaning and planning and relaxing before my next trip to Belgium and Belgrade next week.

I keep feeling that I need to take away something profound from this trip... learn a significant life lesson, or realize my passion and find my path in life, or meet people that will be influential in my life for years to come... in short, "find myself." I never really understood what that dumb little phrase meant, but whatever it means, I want to do it.

I just have no idea what I want to do with my life. That seems to be, no, it is, a common theme for almost everyone I meet my age. Oh screw it, I'll just go to Europe for x number of weeks/months. I have big expectations about what this trip will mean to me, and how it will affect me when I return home. It scares me that it will probably not live up to those expectations, and that that may lessen the trip for me in some way. I won't let that happen!

One thing I do know, this is the trip of my life. I've been fortunate enough to travel a lot, and this is the big defining trip that I will remember forever. No matter what happens or what doesn't happen, and even if I still don't know what I want to do when I return home, I know this experience will stay with me and affect my decisions for years to come.

In keeping with the whole "wanting to take something away from this trip" thing, I really wish I could make something tangible that I could have to remember my time here. I'm abroad for 9 months, and what do I have to show for it? A bunch of pictures I haven't even gone through yet on my computer... a journal with daily ramblings of no real importance, this blog... if only I were a great writer I could write a book about my travel experiences like a lot of other people seem to do. Or build a photography portfolio of all my provocative, amazing shots (hah, yeah right). I seem to be mediocre at both things, writing and photography, but I enjoy them both when I decide to put in some effort. I suppose it doesn't matter what others think if it makes me happy as a hobby.

I can't believe my 7 months of teaching are over... it feels like I didn't even teach them that much. With one session with each class each week, and only 12 hours a week, with 8 weeks of total vacation in there... I really didn't have time to teach that much. Good thing, cause I had no idea what I was doing most of the time! As well as, or even more so than, me getting something out of this trip I really hope the kids got something out of it. Even if they don't remember any English that I taught them, I hope they look back later on this year as a good time in their lives. I had my doubts some days about how much they actually cared that I was there... but the last days in the classes were filled with goodbye parties and gifts and tons of hand-made cards from the kids. Tons, as in, I may need another suitcase just for them. I was on the verge of tears a couple times there... and also cracking up at some of their drawings and nice little notes. I'll have to take pictures of some of them to post later. Classic stuff. I will cherish them always.

This trip has changed me, in ways that I probably won't fully understand until much later. I've met amazing new people, and reconnected with people from my past in new ways that have strengthened our friendships. I've dealt with awkward situations when I've gotten stuck with the whole language barrier. I've tried new things. I've laughed and danced and sung and eaten yummy things and had snowball fights. I will have visited 10 different countries when I'm done with this trip. I've fallen in love... with so many things.

I've grown. I may not know exactly what I want out of life, but I'm a lot closer to finding it than I was a year ago.

And they may not be provocative, but I've got a lot of good pictures. :) I gotta do something with those!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Life lately

Well, this whole teaching assistantship thing is winding down. We're all in our last week, and I have two more days until I'm done. It hasn't really hit me yet, probably since I'll be staying around Europe for another couple of months, and I have a lot planned... It's definitely going to be different though, having a 2-bedroom apartment to myself and not being able to see everyone in Evreux all the time.  :(

The last few weeks have been wonderful! My dear friend Beth came to visit for a couple of weeks and we went pretty much everywhere in France. Well, it feels that way, anyway.  Here are some pictures!

Chartres Cathedral - my favorite.

A cat we saw in Bordeaux, with a perfect mustache and goatee! Kind of reminded me of our dear Sinclair, only more... French.

 Tasty treats in Bordeaux.  Wine tasting, and les canelés (my new obsession).

Opening the Ladurée macarons on the Champs Elysées... heavenly.

Spring has definitely sprung in my backyard.

And at Giverny (Monet's house and gardens).

Chez Monet.

Beth and I on the famous bridge!

Having some amazing pizza in my little town of Evreux!

I finally saw the Orangerie museum in Paris, where Monet's Waterlilies series is. Breathtaking.

Taking a break at the Tour Eiffel.

Gosh I love France.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Best Vacation, Final Part: Back to the South

La Maison Carrée
For the last part of the vacation, everyone kind of went off on their own separate ways for a few days. I decided to head back down south to explore a bit more. My friend lives in Nîmes, and I thought that would be a good place to start.

Nîmes has a few really neat monuments, like la Maison Carrée (Square House), which I had seen twice before, but it was being restored both times.  The second time was almost a year and a half after the first time, so I thought I'd never get to see it in all its glory since the French are notorious for taking their time on les travaux... but this time all the scaffolding was gone and it looked gorgeous!

Les Arènes
I saw the arena again, just like back in November... remember this picture from my post way back when? There's Feathers!  Les Arènes is just something I can never help taking pictures of. It's so impressive.

This could have been a much better photo if I had just taken my time... I still like it though.

The best place for a little chat in Nîmes? I think so.

I had a good couple of days relaxing in Nîmes, catching up, meeting new people... one day it was gorgeous out so we all went for a picnic in the park.

Opinel - "très français", Antoine told me

Whatever this was, I wasn't very good at it...

 Next I went to Marseille!

My first view from outside the train station.

Marseille is gorgeous. It was a bit cloudy when I was there but there was still so much more sunlight and color than I get at home in Normandy.

I got a coffee at this place called "Cup of Tea" that I've remembered since 2008, when I was last in Marseille... my friend Mimi had told me about it back then and I meant to go inside but I spent too much time in the soap shop next door... by the time I wanted to get a coffee there it was closed for the day.  So I vowed to come back and I did! I got a nice little seat by the window and read On the Road for a bit with my cappuccino.  Sooo indie.

I hadn't seen this cathedral before - La Cathédrale de la Major. It was very striking and I loved all the colors inside.

Next I took a little daytrip to Cassis from Marseille! Well, it was meant to be a daytrip, but I didn't get there until the sun was going down. It looked like a small little town so I didn't think I'd need that much time to explore.  I just wanted to see the town that was the namesake of Crème de Cassis... and it's also very close to the Calanques, which are these beautiful inlets on the coast which I keep hearing about. I didn't make it down there this time, but maybe I'll go back when it's warmer.

I got to the little train station and, it turns out, the center of town was 3 km away, and the next bus wasn't coming for another 35 minutes. Looks like I was in for a stroll! It was a very nice walk, though... I strolled through these trees, past a bunch of vineyards, with the sunshine in my face... it could have been worse.

Then I got to the town, right on the water, and these big orange cliffs just came out of nowhere.  With the gorgeous sunset light hitting them.  Amazing.

I got some regional cookies at the pastry shop and just walked around, marveling at the light hitting all the trees and buildings... I had a hard time believing the whole town wasn't part of some elaborate creation at Disneyland. The lighting was just too perfect.

I didn't spend enough time in Cassis to really get a feel of the place... but it was very pretty. I'd like to go back someday and take a trip to the Calanques while I'm there.

 Next on the Provence docket: Aix-en-Provence!

One of my favorite things about going to a new city: finding the tourist office, grabbing a map, finding a café and sitting down for a few minutes with a coffee (or hot chocolate in this case) to orient myself and plan out my day a little. And some journaling thrown in there too.

Once again: SUNSHIIIIINE!  Love it.

Everything always looks so pretty at French outdoor markets...

There's those dang rotisserie chickens again! I WILL get one someday!

Sometimes the goodies in a pâtisserie window will actually make me stop dead in my tracks and need to take a picture. In this case I actually went inside and purchased....

...des calissons d'Aix! A little regional specialty which I was keen on trying. They're little cookies (I can't think of a better word to describe them, but this is a grave understatement) made of melon and almonds, with icing on top. It sounds very bizarre, but they were delicious. Mine tasted more like lemon than melon though.

Seeing daffodils always makes me grin like an idiot... They may be my favorite flower. And seeing them always means that spring is right around the corner.

Another cathedral, another beautiful organ. I'd never seen a green one before. I think my Granny would have loved it.

My friend Sophie and I found this great little teashop called L'Orienthé. It looked so cozy! Inside we were asked to take off our shoes and to find a place to sit on the floor. They had a huge menu of exotic teas and yummy desserts. I wanted to steal my teapot, it was so cute...  My tea was called "Indian Summer" and it was heavenly. Just the thing to end my day in Aix, and my perfect vacation.  Summer is getting so close, I can feel it....