Jun 30, 2010

Banking on the rocks

My relationship with France is on the rocks again. We were doing so well, live ex-lovers who call each other from time to time since they just can't give up on the friendship. I'm so excited about my trip but then something like this happens and I am not sure we can make it through...

My bank card expired and I will need it when I am in France to pay for stuff. Always better to use Euros than to mess with exchanging currency... I have been trying to get the HSBC to send me a new card. But they keep sending it to the wrong address. I have sent 5 letters with my new address and finally they said that they can't change my address with the all important EDF bill. So the thing keeping me from my money is an electric bill in France in my name!!! So annoying! Will the send my card the USA?? Where I actually have an electric bill. Um let me think -- no. The sad thing is that without the card I can only withdraw money from the branch in Toulon, since getting money from a branch other than my home branch is forbidden. I seem to ask about this very problem when I signed up with HSBC and they said that I could get my money anywhere, but in the end they are just like LaPoste!

Ugh. Our relationship has taken a nose dive France -- there needs to be plenty of seafood, wine and white roses before we are back to making up...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Jun 29, 2010

Mediterranian Dreams

I am not sure what a perfect summer day used to be, but now it is eating seafood outside with a nice bottle of Rosé...  Well, I tried to recreate that this weekend.  First finding some good shellfish on a Sunday is harder than I would have imagined living so close to the sea, but anyway.  I ended up at Weis, a very unexceptional grocery store, where they had clams for 13 cents each.  I got 3 dozen and a 1lb of mussels.  The recipe I used was great.

Fresh mint, shallots, 1/2 white wine, many garlic cloves, parsley.  I cooked them until they popped.  Instead of having them with fries or just like that I had them over pasta.  It was ok, but fries would have been better.
I couldn't eat outside either.  Too hot, too many mosquitoes.  It was great, really it was.  Although I realized that 1) I like Mussels much more than I like clams, 2) French fries are better than pasta, and 3) Rosé from Provence is much better than the Argentinian white wine that I had in the frigo...  'Suppose to cool off this weekend, maybe I should just stick to crabs, corn and beer?  Anyone have a good hush puppy recipe? 

Jun 26, 2010

Accidental Citizen

So today I got a paper in the mail saying something about how I didn't sign some paper and as a citizen of France living abroad, I need to sign some box so that I can get vote in the next election. What?!?  I haven't even applied for citizenship again yet!  Does this mean that I can get my French passport now?  And my carte d'identity?  I am the only one in the house without French credentials...  All the men in the house have 2 passports, I am so jealous.  Is it possible that there is some sort of paperwork error, when they denied me 6 years ago, the functionaire actually clicked the wrong box?  Well if that's the case, I will be learning the Marseillaise, just in time for the 14 de Julliet. 

Vive la France ;)

Jun 21, 2010

Baking Bread

This weekend I got tricked into making bread.  A had to choose between spending time with Georgette and his oldest son.  Well he sort of chose both.  He took L to the farmer's market and on the way out the door asked me if I could 'start' the bread.  Here were my instructions:
500g of flour
30% of Georgette
45% of water
1 of the 'small' spoon of salt
1 coffee spoon of honey -- I'm thinking 'what the h3ll is a coffee spoon, is that teaspoon?'
Oh and try a mixture of different flours with oatmeal...
So after vacuuming and mopping the whole down stairs I got to work on Georgette.  I am sure A was feeling all warm and fuzzy with Georgette and I making break together.  Ugh.  The first time I messed up.  Turns out 45% of 500g is not 375.  Where was my head?  So I added too much water and then compensated by adding lots of flour and no extra Georgette.  I did use some white whole wheat, bread flour and whole wheat flour...  I am not really the kind of person that makes exact measurements when cooking, but I do know I used the last of the white whole wheat flour.  So I set that batch aside -- still to wet and tried again.  This time I did it better.  I used 102g oatmeal, 248g of bread flour and 150g of wheat.  225ml of water, 150g of Georgette, 1 tsp of salt and 3 sec of pouring honey. That mixture was too dry.  I failed again.  Thankfully Z woke us from his nap and I retreated from the kitchen.  As Z and I descended A and L came back from the market and A mixed by 2 failed attempts into one  ball. 
Four hours and 1 pool trip later as I was about to fall asleep on the couch, A informs me that he is calling his 'maman' and that I need to shape my bread. 
Not sure at what point this was my project, but he says that I can shape little balls at 80-90g and big ones at 500.  So I shape balls between 90-100g and big ones at 250ish...  One I think was 275g.  I am a rebel without a cause.  Et Viola.  more waiting.  Finally at 6pm A said that I have to cook my bread, but I let tell him that I can't possibly take more of his fun away and I let him throw the bread in the oven. 

So in short, I made my first French bread this weekend -- and it was 100 times better than A's first attempt ;)

Jun 18, 2010

Getting to know you;)

Maybe I was tagged by Andromeda  She is the funniest blogger that I read.  I am lacking a little blogging motivation so this is great. 

1. What did you want to be when you were little?
An actress, then a psychiatrist

2. What one place makes you the happiest being there?

There are are so many places that make me happy, in Southern MD, where my great-grandmother had a house on the water, on the Mediterranean coast, in the Le Beausset square for coffee on a Sunday morning and  laying on the beach;)

3. Do you wish your first kiss was with someone else?

4. What's one thing you wish you could tell your 16-year-old self?

I wouldn't even know where to begin.  So many things.  Not to be afraid, be more bold, ignore your parents, don't let people make decisions for you...HS will be over soon and you will ok.

5. What movie do you never get tired of watching?

Gone with the Wind

6. What movie do you wish you had never seen?

So many.  All of the scary ones.

7. How much time do you admit spending on facebook in a week? How much time do you actually spend on facebook?

I probably spend 10 minutes a day -- but I have facebook chat on all day using 'Adium' my chat program for FB, MSN, Yahoo, Gmail, etc...  Does chat count?

8. Who do you miss most at this exact moment?
My grandma.

9. Where are you going tomorrow? Why?
Tomorrow is a crazy day.  We are having a house-warming at our house, so there will be shopping, cleaning, taking the kids to the park/pool and lots and lots of cooking.

10. If you had a gift card for plastic surgery and HAD to use it (witness protection or something), what would you get done?
Lift and Tuck.  Love the kids, hate the consequences.

So if you are reading this and haven't been tagged before -- consider yourself tagged.  Please post a comment so I will sure read your posting to get to know you better.  And if you aren't blogging, just put it in the comments;)

There are your list of questions:

1) Where do you see yourself living in 10 years?
2) Boxers, brief or bikinis -- if you are woman, what do you prefer?
3) What is your favorite book?
4) What is your favorite book about living abroad?
5) What is something about you that would shock your readers?
6) Do you secretly wish that your blog will turn into a book deal or movie?
7) Where do you see yourself doing in 10 years?
8) What is your top travel destination that you must see before you die?
9) What is your favorite foreign film?
10) If your favorite bakery could only make one type of cake/tarte (pie) what would you want it to be?

Jun 9, 2010

Carry-On or Amazon UK?

There are a number of books that I want to read.  I love reading and can usually read a really good book in a day or so.  I will be in PACA sans famille for about a week and can probably read 5 books easily.  Then another 5 books the other 2 - 3 weeks ignoring my inlaw.  Therefore I will need 10 books to read.   Well, that could get expensive.  But the other problem is do I buy them here and then transport them to France or buy then on Amazon in France/UK and just have them shipped. 
There are a couple by Stephen Clarke.  I love this guy, he looks like 1/2 the British men I know and is SUPER funny.  I love Merde Happens, where my favorite character Paul West takes a trip across the US.  Classic, so funny.  Here is a small list of books I want to read so far:

Tail to the Snail
1000 Years of Annoying the French
Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia
The Story of French 
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Time Traveler's Wife
The Lonely Polygamist

I already have 'The White Queen', which I am trying really hard not to read before my trip.

I need 2 more ideas at least.  And if you are in France and already have a few books, then I can bring you more for the trade;)

Jun 6, 2010

Quiche de Frigo

I used to think that there are only a few ways be make Quiche.  With ham and cheese or spinach...  You can add anything to Quiche really.  Here is a basic Quiche recipe:

6 eggs
2 cups (1/2 l) of milk, cream or half and half
pie crust
other stuff....

I have a 11 inch (28 cm) pie pan and usually get the Pillsbury pie crust usually by the eggs and cheese. In France there are a million different type of pie crusts that you can buy.  Just don't get the yummy vanilla one (which is perfect for an tarte aux pommes) and you will be fine.  If your pie pan is too small you will have to adjust the eggs and milk. 

Preheat Oven to 425 F (220 C). Mix your eggs and milk in a bowl.  I usually season with pepper, no salt as many things I add are already salty.  You can also add paprika.  Then pour the mixture into the crust.   Now add stuff.  Sort of push stuff down into egg/cream mixture and bake for 40-45 minutes.

Here are some ideas for stuff:

Ham (1-2 cups) and Cheese (2 cups), traditionally swiss cheese, but I accidently bought some Monterey Jack cheese recently and the family loves it.

Ham (1-2 cups), Broccoli (1 cup) and Tomatoes (1 cup).  Cut the broccoli and tomatoes into small pieces.

Turkey instead of Ham.  Sometimes when I am making Quiche, I don't have an deli meat or ham lying around and so I substitute turkey deli meat.

Tomatoes and Broccoli, you will probably need to add a little salt in this case.

Onions 1/2 c -- can be added to any combo above.

What's your favorite Quiche?

Jun 5, 2010

Baby Got Back?

I have been recently frustrated by some of my son's clothes.  He is wearing a 3T (3A) and his American clothes just don't fit unless there is the adjustable elastic inside.  Although I don't notice the same problem with his French clothes.  So I started wondering do French kids have smaller waists than American kids, really??  But when I see other kids at the playground, swim class, and at the grocery store, the answer is NO.  I have asked other parents about this problem and I think I might have discovered the secret.  Diapers.  Diapers really add to the 'backside' and kids need to have a little extra room to accommodate.  The parents of potty trained kids see this as a much much bigger problem than the parents of those kids still toddling in diapers.  For my little one, his clothes fit almost perfectly.

 So now I wonder do French parents potty train their kids earlier than American?  If you read this Link is says that the average kid is potty trained at 30 months, where the range is between 18 and 60.  While 30 months seems pretty normal, as my son was potty trained at 27 months, I wonder about the upper limits for that.  I know what in France, parents have a real incentive to have their kids potty trained at 36 months.  Without that, they are ineligible to  begin preschool, which is all-day and free for parents.  So if you want to save on child care then your kid will be potty trained by 3.  But in the US, does that mean that the average kid must wear pants with big waists to accommodate the kids not yet potty trained?

But wait, maybe I didn't consider one factor.  Maybe American kids clothes aren't really sized for the average American kid?  Americans in general seem to be taller than the French.  This is very anecdotal, but I rarely see a guy short than me in the US and in France it happened all the time.  My son wearing the same size in France and US, perhaps the average American kid his age are wearing 4T and therefore no longer have the extra backside?  Although the doctor does seem to think that he is 50th percentile for height and weight...  Oh well, in the meantime, I will have to find clothes with elastic in the waist.

Jun 3, 2010

Already a Bad Start

So I have decided that I need to lose one more clothing size before returning to France for August.  That way I can eat all of the croissant, pain au chocolat, tarte de citron and profiteroles that I want.  If I am in Le Beausset, I will visit my old friend Isabelle, who works at the Boulangerie.  Boy do I miss Isa.  So losing weight...  Part of the master plan of losing weight is (1) eating less, (2) cutting the grass, when it needs it, which I have done the last 2 weekends and (3) swimming 2 nights a week and sometimes on the weekend.  I did swim Sunday and Monday for about 1km.  But Sunday and Monday were still part of last weekend, so they obviously don't count.  I had potential nights to go.  Well Tuesday A had to work late.  So not my fault.  Wednesday, I had to work late followed by being stuck in traffic.  Thursday = thunder storm.  However on a small happy note, I did jog in my sandals to the parking garage because of the rain.  Good thing that I was clairvoyant and wore my 'nipples don't show through bra' or else it would have been one interesting wet t-shirt contest in the parking garage.  Well maybe I didn't get that wet, but I was pretty wet.  Well, anyway, the pool certainly closed down the minute the lightening hit the Maryland skies...  So that only leave tomorrow night.  So I could make up by swimming 2 km or 2 miles tomorrow night.  Or I have failed in my first week on my new exercise regiment.  I am not even sure if the grass will need to be cut this weekend in addition A is working too this weekend and so availability for grass cutting the swimming goes way down.  I am so sad that I might only get to see Isa every other day while in Le Beausset...  On a super happy note, I did find new motivation in oing lap swimming and it's music.  For Xmas, I asked for a device that would allow my to use my iPod to listen to music while swimming.  A few months ago, A got it for me (having a deadline for a present, like Xmas, is really had on A, eventually he gets around to it...) this device and I was able to try it out and it works great.  If I didn't feel guilty about leaving A in the baby pool I could have swam another 1km....