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Forks, Portland, Lyon - France, Paris - France, Portland and ending up in Bellingham.... the adventures of my life!

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Stretched Out Jeans

I miss having a clothing dryer, I, like most expatriates, have had to adapt to the lifestyle in France.  Part of this lifestyle is washing your clothes at weird celsius temperatures, spending hours trying to get socks to hang on the drying thingy and yes, that horrible stretched out jean syndrome.

There is nothing like slipping into a warm pair of jeans, fresh from the dryer and feeling the snugness of the jeans around your bum.  It's been about one year since I've had that sensation and it's equally been one year that I've even touched a clothing dryer.

Most days I don't think about the things that I miss, such as Taco Bell (which I totally dreamt last night that Taco Bell came to France and I was ecstatic!) or even the simpler things like microwave buttered popcorn or cheap gas.

Truly, though, I miss those jeans.  No matter what I do my jeans in France tend to sag on my bottom and have a hugh gap where it lays on my tummy.  It feels great in a way because there is no wild struggle around the room to slip into my skinny jeans, but sometimes I just miss that feeling.

I started thinking about other things I miss... and I believe that the next post shall be a compiled home sick list.

France is right in a way, dryers are bad for the environment- just like taking showers and leaving the water on... oh I didn't tell you?  In France people take showers like this:  Turn water on, rinse, turn water off, soap up, turn water on, rinse.  Logical right?  Somehow I don't think anyone in the states does this, because I sure was shocked.  So no dryers, no skin tight warm jeans and no 20 minute cascading showers.



Thursday, July 28, 2011

Time in Lyon

There exists a strange phenomenon in the Lyon side of France in regards to time.  A meeting that is supposed to start at 2pm starts around 2:30pm and that meeting that should be one hour goes for about two hours.

The strange occurence spreads into the restaurants or meal times between the family.  That meal that usually lasts about one hour in the states grows, easily, into a 3 hour drinking and eating frenzy in which, at the end, you forget your name, you feel like you are about to explode or you do something stupid and drink that digestif that carries out for a whole nother hour.

The idea of being en retard is just simply a way of life, usually when I plan to meet someone and I say a time, I imagine myself adding 15 minutes to my *always on time* self in order to arrive at the same time.  Living with a true Lyonnais I am more than aware that it is more than an anomaly, it's simply a way of being.

The most annoying to my American ideals is when it comes time to choose a restaurant to eat at.  We wander around the street, talking, saying "Maybe here?  Here?".  By the time we do eat I am starving, my stomach hurts, my legs hurt and I chug down my aperitif to try and get some sustenance in my system.

So, in Lyon, always prepare for the time.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Recipe: Roasted Ratatouille

I don't often put recipes up, because hey, everyone is entitled to eat how they wish and my blog is by far one of those super-foodie blogs rampant with food photos.

But this ratatouille rocked.  It also rocked because it used cheap in season vegetables from the marché.  It rocked because it took like no time... and then we had an awesome meal.

As always, it's for two people..

What you need:
-1 aubergine, medium sized, cut into 1" or so pieces
-2 courgettes, chopped
-2 tomatoes, cut into quarters
-2 cloves of garlic
-1/2 green pepper chunky cut
-1 onion cut into large chunky slices
-Drizzle of olive oil
-Drizzle of red wine vinegar
-herbes de Provence seasoning

I just tossed all the above into a metal bowl and stuck it into the fridge until I needed to put it in the oven.

Take a nap.

Vaccuum the house.

Do some dishes.

But remember to stick it into a baking dish and bake for 1 hour or so on 200°C.  Gets all gooey and melty, fabulous.

Serve with some protein, my our case I did a black bean purée, sliced pork roast and the ratatouille.

bon appetit!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Les Nuits des Fourvière

I don't think there exists such an experience as enjoying a live show in an ancient Roman gladiator site.  Bri surprised me a month or so ago with tickets to see The Do, King Charles and Two Door Cinema Club during Les Nuits des Fourvière in July.  It had been over 3 years since my last real concert and I was absolutely excited for the experience!

What is Les Nuits des Fourvière
Le Basilisque de Fourvière is that fabulous looking church that over looks the city.  It was built in the late 1800's to celebrate the Virgin Mary and thank the Gods that they didn't die during a horrific plague in the 19th century.  Structured in the typical Catholic fashion the church is like a piece of religion over looking the entire city.  Beautifully kept by the city, the city decides to put on a concert every year in the surrounding area.  Not just a single concert but a summer long event in which several very famous bands come to Lyon to play their songs.

The Nuits usually starts beginning of the summer and continues through August, tickets go fast so it's important to buy in advance for a band that is very popular.  The largest bands play in the ancient Roman amphitheatre a few hundred feet from the Basilisque.

The Experience
Being in an Ancient Roman site where gladiators and theatre shows were put on is a true rarity.  There are few words to describe the experience, all these hundreds of people squished together, overlooking the city of Lyon with this insane sound quality reverbing around.  Here's our video of the show we went to:

Just to say: Incredible experience.

Definitely recommended if you plan to move to Lyon, but remember tickets go quickly!


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sending Thoughts to Oslo

I went to a concert in Fourvière last night while hundreds of young teenagers tried to sleep through a day from hell.  I had no idea what had happened until I returned home from work yesterday, around 4:30, and spattered on the news was an image of an actually quite attractice Norweigan man with the words, Massacre en Oslo.

How can I even begin to express sentiment for something so shocking?  Norweigans are so kind, thoughful and gentle people... the fact that it was one of their own destroying hundreds of their own is almost as if it couldn't be true.

I leave the images and the crises coverage to the large networks, but in this small post I am simply sending out the warmest feelings to Norway and extending my thoughts to those who suffered at the hands of this extremist.

Tomorrow I'll post about the Fourvière experience, but today consider it a day of silence in order to remember the people who died.

I can only think of my young brother, if this had happened? The people crying on their phones, the parents receiving text messages from their children, and they couldn't do anything to help them. Incredible.

My heart is sad, just utterly full of emotion.

Norway, dearest survivors, we are all sending our condolences and our hope that he will be brought before justice and pay for his crime.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

For the Ladies: The Gyneco

I finally did it, that most uncomfortable and dreadful thing that only a slew of message boards frightened me into turning around and never looking back.

About 4 months ago I decided, after pressure from my French mother, to book an appointment with a Gyneco in France.  A quick search online on exasperated the fear I had.  Some of my favorite lines that I read from reviews and message boards,
Elle a même pas lavé ses mains ou changé le drap sur le lit.  Ce n'était pas propre... quel horreur! = She didn't even wash her hands or changed the sheet on the table.  It was not clearn... what a horror!
J'avais saignement pendant trois jours de ma visite. = I was bleeding for 3 days after my visit.
And the scariest most horrific one was from a fellow blogger:
You undress in front of your doctor, you walk around the room naked while you’re doctor is there, you climb up on the table naked and there are no gowns or towels to cover anything, and you get dressed again with your doctor watching. - American in France
Naked?  Just walking around feeling the breeze on my bits?  I didn't think I could handle it so I put the task at my French mother to find me a good one.  After about a week she txted me:
J'ai demandé aux mes collègues, elles m'ont donné le nom "Lavagna"
Like lasagna, I could handle that.

I called in the beginning of May, and unfortunately, Mme Lavagna was booked until July.  I had a date set, July 21, which was yesterday.

Now I totally forgot about the visit, placed it a million miles away in the back of my mind so I wouldn't have to recall the millions of posts about bleeding for days, nakedness and awkward dirty clinics.  Except one can only forget for so long until it's the day off and you're on the bus hypervenilating and using google translate to figure out key phrases so you don't look like an idiot.

Sexuellement active
Maladies transmettre sexuellement
Les pilules

What was I doing?  Turn this bus around!

Of course, I didn't jump out the window, instead I actually went.  Hidden on the street was 168, I buzzed myself in and wandered upstairs.  A beep of the button and the receptionist was there, cheery and taking my information.  How tall am I? Is this my first time? Etc.

10 minutes of me fidgeting around in my seat later an older woman in jeans and a nice long sleeve shirt popped out and shook my hand.  Mme Lavagna, herself.  I was put off by her fashion, high heels and the fact she has a manicure.. but hey gynecos can look good too.

Yes, I had to get stark naked.  No it was not in front of her, she had a nice covered area where I could undress, but I was still de-clothed and strewn on with a light in my nether regions.  It was still unnerving that I was in what felt like someone's apartment, but she did have the equipment and a private room that felt like a doctor's office at home.

Is it ever a joy ride going to the gyneco? No.  But for 50 bucks in France I expected royal treatment, it wasn't the worse of stories, it was ok.  I felt like she was sort of rushing me out of the clinic and kind of procedurally doing things.  Screw small talk, get undressed, get on the table, 10 minutes and some pain later, get dressed, pay.

She did; however, ensure my prescription for birth control was covered by insurance and that the visit was also covered.

15 minutes later I was on the street.

So now I have to find a dentist.


Thursday, July 21, 2011


I've made some much needed updates to my blog.

First off, I am now a Local Expert for EasyJet Holidays in Lyon- they wanted someone to promote the more unknown French city.

Second, I received a sort of award in the form of a Recommended Blog from Expat Focus.

Third, I've broke the 26,000 people coming on the site since I started regularly blogging in 2010. Pr-e-tt-y cool!

Now the updates:
  1. Design.  I decided the whole picture/color stuff was giving me a head ache so I opted for simplicity and cleanliness.  Black font.  White page.  Clean structure.
  2. Pages.  I have updated my Who Am I page and also added the Why Lyon page.
That's all for now, I'll be continuing to try and clear up the page to make it simplier and easier to read.  If any questions or recommendations for what you'd like to know about French life, just send me an email!


What-What: Le Diner Presque Parfait

When first moving to France the language was incredibly difficult, I studied like crazy trying to get the nuances behind French jokes, trying to hold a telephone conversation over the phone and even trying to just order some meat at the Boucherie.

When my French finally did reach that I'm no longer translating my English to French stage I was ecstatic and I tried to wrap myself in French television to see how much I actually did understand.  Suddenly I became accro to a television series that exists in France based on a very Frenchy concept- Hosting people for dinner.

Cue in Diner Presque Parfait.  Every day on M6 from 5:35 to 6:35 in the evening.

The story changes every week, on Mondays we are introduced to 5 individuals looking to win 1,000 euros by being the best host.  Each night one of the 5 participants must host the other 4 by creating a meal based around a theme.

Themes range from basic (flowers, gardens, sailing) to the ultimate passionate (rugby).  The hosts must create a menu of original ideas, starting with an aperitif, a little game between the guests, appetizer, main dish and dessert.

Sometimes the food is simply vile and we see this by the look on the contestants face, other times the food is fabulous and the scores reflect the quality.  All recipes are available on the website following the émission so if one really wants to remake the dish, they can!

At the end of the 5 days, after each host has participated the average scores are calculated and the winner is the one with the highest average.

The best part is the typical French style of the show, every few minutes the music changes, the people are scattered and yet clear when they talk, it's typical conversational French.

The show itself is known by most French citizens so it also offers a fun thing to discuss over a picnic with friends.

There was one that I watched that totally freaked me out, it was a *mime themed* night.  I detest mimes.  They are scary and that make up they wear only makes it worst.  I'm still waiting for the American theme...


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Recipe: Beef and Shrooms

I don't normally like to write out my recipes, since I normally change our dinner every night and I can never remember what it was I made... however last night was an especially delicious, inexpensive and filling dinner and so I thought I'd share.  The total cost was about 5 euros total for a giant pot.  De-li-ci-e-use.  This recipe is for 2.


First off you'll need just a few basic ingredients:

  • 450g of beef stew meat (called boeuf bourguinon), cut into tiny morsels and deveined
    • Marinate in 2 tablespoons vinaigre de vin rouge and 5 tablespoons l'huile d'olive vièrge and 1/2 cup de l'eau for 3 hours before cooking.
    • Rinse and dry well before cooking.
    • Shake with 1/2 cup seasoned flour
  • 250g mushrooms (champignons de paris) 
  • 4 tbs beef stew seasoning mix (my mom sends it, here's a recipe if your not-so-lucky):
    • "2 cups Flour
      4 teaspoons Oregano (origan)
      2 tablespoons basil (basilisque)
      4 1/4 tablespoons salt (sel)
      4 1/4 tablespoons black pepper (poivre noire)
      4 1/4 tablespoons Garlic Powder (l'ail sec moulu)
      4 1/4 tablespoons Paprika (piment doux)
      1 teaspoon cayenne powder (poivre de cayenne) you can buy this at Cap épices in the 2ème 2 T Celery Seed
      4 1/4 tablespoons Onion Powder (not available in France, but just use fresh)
      2 tsp. rosemary (romarin)
      Measure all ingredients into a large ziploc bag, shake well." - from trecipes forum
  • Salt/Pepper/Bay Leaf (lauriel)
  • 1/2 onion, 2 garlic cloves, both minced.
Small list- right? Now onto how to make it:
  1. Take the floured meat and sauté in a pot with a couple tablespoons of olive oil.
  2. *Déglace* the pan by adding 1/2 cup of water, stirring around to get the sticky bits up.
  3. Add 2 cups of water.
  4. Add the mushrooms.
  5. Add the seasoning.
  6. Boil on a low heat for 3 hours, stirring every 30 minutes or so until it thickens and bubbles.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve over some patates écrasés:

Easy. Cheap. Delicious.

That's how I roll.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Things to Do: Picnic in the Park

As promised from my 'bread' post I want to share the secrets to a perfect picnic in Lyon.  Nothing is as uncomplicated but yet so enjoyable as a fabulous picnic between friends.  Here's what you'll need:

  • Friends:  You can picnic alone, of course, but a group of 3+ tends to be more convivial
  • Food: Ah, here's where the joy comes in.. either go for fancy be creating some dishes such as:
      • Quiche
      • Taboulé Salad
      • Tomato/Basil/Red Onion Salad
      • BLT (Bacon Lettuce Tomato) Sandwiches
      • Fruit salad
      • Baguette
    • OR simplify:
      • Cherry Tomatoes
      • Packs of Salami/saucisson
      • Chips
      • Brie/gooey fromage
      • Baguette
    • OR spend some cash:
      • Go to Brind'Soupe on 70 rue masséna
      • For 9 bucks get entrée/plat/dessert packed up and ready to go
      • OR go to Pizza Hut on Rue Massena and get their 5 buck pizza deal
  • Booze: Not obligatory, but tends to be much more fun and interesting with a chilled bottle of rosé wine in tow.
  • Necessaries:
    • Bottled water
    • Napkins
    • Trash bag
    • Forks
    • One knife
    • Bottle opener
Now the spot.  There are three spots I like to visit in rotating occasions:

1/ The Parc de la Tête d'Or:  Everyone knows this place and it's usually a great place with a group of people. As a warning, avoid large crowded areas in the park or you could get hit in the head with a soccer ball.  We usually cycle up to the main entrance, take a right into the large park and find an area with a tree nearby.

2/ Place Antonin Poncet:  Suprisingly unknown to many, the little area that has a below level parking garage, located to la Rue des Marronniers, also has a fairly clean grassy area with a lovely fountain next door.  Need an address?  Just head for le Sud and then picnic in the grass.

3/ Sur le Quai:  Of course, typical evening spot on the waterfront.. side of the Rhone.  Fabulous area, and can always wander to a boat bar after for a digestive.

Here's some of my favorite picnics:

Quick - like the French version of McDonalds
Park among French friends (parc de la tête d'or) 2011
Best Picnic Ever (or close), rosé wine, cheese, chicken salad, baguette, chips.
What's your favorite picnic?


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The French Paradox

There's this thought that goes around called the "French Paradox"... it's this concept that although the French eat higher amounts of cheese, wine, bread and whole fat milk products- they are much healthier than those in the States.  Now, I've been living in Lyon for over a year now.. and can I honestly admit this paradox?  Yes.  Yes I can.

When I first moved to Lyon I was about 64 kgs, or 141 lbs. This was a steady weight gain from first meeting Bri, to visiting Lyon in the winter time.. to not really focusing on getting in shape.  The tipping point was a trip to Spain.. I ended up gaining another kilo (2 lbs) and I was frustrated.. but I didn't change much of how I ate (just no croissants every morning of course).  I was a size 8-10, and I felt unhappy... so I decided to live French and hope for the best!

Bri + Me in Spain, August 2010
The biggest changes happened in regards to movement.  In the States I would constantly drive everywhere, to the gym, to the store... I would never walk.  In September 2010 I moved into my new apartment, on the 4ème étage 'sans ascensor'.  Meaning every day I climb down, I have to climb back up 102 stairs.  Often I go out maybe 2-3x a day, that's like 306 stairs!

Going grocery shopping meant walking 1/2 mile to the store, buying what's needed, hauling it back 1/2 mile and then up the stairs.

The French Paradox relies on several factors:
  1. We walk everywhere, and elevators are rarely used.
  2. We have a Velo'V system that allows us to bike all over the city,  for example I use this to go to work and back every day.. 1.5 miles each way.. so I bike 3 miles a day
  3. The food we eat enables us to purchase more fruits/vegetables, which we eat, regularly
  4. Our bread is usually whole grain and made fresh with no preservatives
  5. Most our food is non-preservative laden
  6. We eat only whole fat, non sugar added dairy products
  7. Products rarely have corn syrup
  8. We don't eat with salad dressing, only vinaigrette so we get our whole fats in our food as well as a daily dosage of vinegar
  9. Often we drink one glass of wine a day
  10. Our meals are often a few courses of smaller plates that aides in digestion
Now sometimes I splurge, I'll do patisserie items, or enjoy a lovely Sunday fat rich meal- but I rarely eat Fast Food, restaurants don't do take out and we eat several small meals a day.

Now.  Proof of the paradox?

Me testing my Spain bikini (July 2011)

I see the difference, definitely.  I'm now 56 kg, or about 124 lbs and a size 4-6.  I lost more than 15 lbs in a year, but with no starving myself and no intensive workouts- just simply a change of eating in the French Paradox way.  The largest change I saw was in my waist- I went from 29 inches to 25.5 inches.  I never lost to that point in the states- crazy!

My official goal is 54 kg, or 120lbs.  I find for my height, that weight is appropriate- but I know now it will come off as it wants to.

So.  Now Americans should try out the paradox...


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Advice: Things to Know When Coming to France

I have been compiling a list mentally since I've moved to France regarding the differences and the things I must ABSOLUTELY avoid or DO while living in France.  It's sad, because many Americans who come overseas disregard it, and assume that Lyon is an extension of the States (it is most definitely NOT).  I can't count the countless times my French friends look disgustingly at Americans behaving rude or 'oddly' because they simply don't know how to behave differently.

-Understand the difference between TU and VOUS
-Get used to putting your bread on the table, not on your plate
-Get some basic French phrases in your pocket
-Get ready to gain 10 lbs
-Compliment the host/hostess when invited to dinner
-Bring a GIFT when invited to dinner
-Learn how to use your knife and fork, 90 percent of French people use BOTH during dinner
-Finish your entire plate at dinner, there are no doggy bags
-Ask market vendors for what you would like
-Sauce your plate- mean sop up every piece with your bread.  A finished plate is a compliment.  Unfinished means you didn't like it that much.

-Ask French women if they shave
-Be ignorant when someone proposes you try something new (i.e. forest mushrooms, Roquefort cheese)
-Assume everyone speaks english, because they don't
-Leave a tip, it makes you stick out as THE TOURIST
-Curse in French around people you don't know
-Ask for butter for your bread
-Ask for a 'Doggy Bag' at a restaurant
-Touch the produce at a market, unless the vendor says you can (they give you a basket and tell you to go at it)
-Make a face when someone mentions 'escargots', 'tripes', or 'pieds de cochons'.  They think the same thing about Pumpkin Pie and Sweet Potato Casserole with marshmallows.
-Serve yourself wine, the host/hostess serves this.

And yes, I made lots of mistakes.. it's only human.


Friday, July 8, 2011

Advice: Le Pain (bread)

Summer time in Lyon, it's almost like a beautiful... magical.. swealtering hot time in which we can abandon all worries and take a weekend off to have a summer picnic.

Everyone has their own preference as to what makes a *perfect picnic*, but I have my own special picnic that I find.. well frankly amazing.  A few months back I talked about my favorite food shops, so you'll need to know the addresses for these in order to make up a Sasha Picnic.  The Sunday post I do will be on my own special picnic- but first thing's first; the bread.

It starts with a baguette.

Baguettes are the staple food in France, every French person has a baguette on their table during a meal, pieces torn off and put directly on the table (not on a plate).

Little know the history of bread in France, and I'm not about to give a detailed account... just a basic summary.

Every few steps in Lyon, one can find a Boulangerie- not every boulangerie holds a high quality baguette, but every boulangerie definitely has a baguette.  Sold unwrapped and set about the shop, the baguette is an experience in it's own.  Nothing compares to a French baguette in the states; from the crisp of the crust, to the dense bubbly interior- ready as a staple to sauce your plate, or simply to cut open and smother with a thick camembert cheese.

Bread has been a staple in the French meal since the middle ages, but has taken changes over time.  Upon introduction of white flour in the 16th century by the Italian nobility the Medicis, and the idea of using bread as a leavening agent, bread began to take on the whiter hue we see in modern day Baguettes.  Crisis in the 19th century turned Bonaparte to create laws to protect the prices of bread, and as always, bread has remained an essential.  The one stereotype that rings true, most French people to have a baguette in their hand when returning home.

Made an average of three times a day, a majority of boulangeries in France make it fresh from the start- from this flour is considered a state commodity and the government actually provides subsidies so flour retains a moderately low price in market.  One can buy 1 kilo of farine for only 2€, that's about 1€ a pound!

But- there are more than baguettes.  Allow me to explain (source: observatoire du pain):

Le Pain Tradition Français

A bread created from bread flour, water, salt and a rising ingredient.  Due to simplicity it is a very 'bubbly' bread, meaning there are many holes in the dough.  Great for picnics as it retains wells, and works great with creamy cheeses.

Under this category:

  • La Banette (more triangular shaped than a baguette, tends to be fluffier, specialty recipe)
  • La Baguette (typical slim round baguette)
  • Pain au Levain (Sour Dough bread)

Le Pain Complet

Complet, meaning whole wheat.  This bread tends to be a much toothier bread , whole grain.  I usually eat sliced with melted butter/honey for breakfast.  Tends to over ride the flavor of dishes and doesn't mesh well with cheeses.  Better as a breakfast item.

Other 'complet'
  • Pain au Siegle (rye bread)
  • Pain aux 5 céréales
  • Pain aux Noix (nut bread, very delicious)

Le Pain de Compagne

Campagne, the countryside, this bread is even more toothy than the pain complet. It's fabulous a little on the dry side served in the winter with a nice potage de boeuf or a soup.

Pain de Mie

Pain de Mie, is the sliced bread we are used to in the states.  I have rarely eaten this in France; but it is used for French Toast (which is a dessert; not breakfast in France).  Even sadnwiches are not made with it; usually we use baguettes sliced open.  The French love their crusts.

Le Pain Brioché

Pain Brioché, or just simply Brioche, is a dense, fluffy and rich sweet bread that is often served toasted for breakfast.  Tends to be full of butter, so be aware!  Definitely not for a dinner bread, but fabulous for breakfast with some butter and jam.

So.  In the states we think *bread*, we think sliced white packaged from last week.  In France, bread is an art and a sustenance for the daily meal.

Now, you gotta try all the types of bread and find your favorite- personally I'm a Banette type of gal.

P.S.  My favorite boulangerie:  Les Garçons Boulangers.  Miam.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Story Time: Trip to the Salon

It took me one year and two months to build up the courage to go to a hair salon in France.  I had envisioned total destruction to my hair, as I had read a multitude of angry bloggers discussing their Bad Hair Experiences.  I was almost ready in May when I took a stroll with a good friend of mine from Sweden.  Her hair was tied up, and she mentioned she had recently got it cut.  When she took it down it was horrific.  The layers were mismatched, areas in the back were chunky and short... I put off the cutting until I saw a recent photo of myself and my blah hair:

I had went to a barbeque of a good friend, and after the photos came out I was a bit shocked.  My hair had become shaggy, worse the ends were torn up and abimés. It was officially time to get a hair cut.

The next logical step was to find a salon.  I knew I couldn't rely on them speaking English so I reviewed a blog post I had written a few months prior.  It discussed the typical words we use in the salon.  Alongside this I printed up some color photos to show what I wanted and prepared over a week for the cut.

I ended up calling a salon in the 6ème called, Lounge Cut.  Recommended by the Petit Paumé I was fully aware of the positive reviews of this place.  I called to take a reservation, and got in less than a week.

I was even more excited when I got there, and saw it was a nice little salon, with only 3 chairs for cutting, no giant hair factory.

I showed my photos and hashed through my French.  When I mentioned it had been over a year from my last cut; the coiffeuse was shocked.  She took about 3 inches of hair and said, "On doit les couper, si tu voudrais, car ils sont tellement abimés" I understood that one.  We should cut this much because I failed to respect my hair and I had split ends up the HIZZY.

I agreed.

The best part of Lounge Cut, is they cut it dry, like in many salons in the states.  She washed after, massaged my head, and then spent another 40 minutes styling.  I think next time I'll skip the 'brushing', but it did make my hair feel super soft.  She used scissors, not razors, unlike many French stylists.

Lei Wei, my stylist, also told me that there are a lot of English clients, and that Mark, another stylist can speak English.  So. Any one looking to get their hair cut by an English speaker, check out Lounge Cut and see Mark.  Lei Wei can also speak English, but she is better at understanding.

I felt great.  I promised to come back every 3 months, or 6 months maxi as she told me.

And the results, of my first cut in France?

I am happy.  It's definitely much more comfy for summer, I was smothering in my hair.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Not So Appropriate French Words

For me it is easy to pick up languages, I listen on the television, watch some French series.  I watch the news every morning on BFM television to see what actualities are up.  I often spend 2 weekends during the month at Brian's parent's house where I absorb and practice.

I've officially hit the level of French where no one teases me for huge errors nor accent mistakes- but little ways I pronounce my words they find cute.  I find it absolutely ridicule that they like my American accent.  I try my best to focus and really pronounce my words sans accent because I think the American accent sounds TERRIBLE.

I didn't, however, realize that the words we use around friends is probably not so appropriate around family or family friends.  I learned this Saturday night while enjoying an invitation to an old family friend.  I was surrounded by J and R, Bri's parents, and we wdere deep in discussion.  I spilled a bit of wine on myself and exclaimed, "PUTAIN!" The conversation stopped short, and about 6 pairs of beady French eyes stared at me.

J softly touched my arms and said, "Tu sais, ce n'est pas un mot très gentille...".  I felt aghast, wanted to run and hide in a closet.  In the States I rarely cursed around people, and it was never like I was a Sailor mouth or anything.  I looked down at my hands and looked back up to meet the beady eyes, "Qu'est-ce que c'est un meilleur moyen de le dire?" Then I got my next French lesson.  Appropriate curse words.

I guess I was always under the assumption the French were more liberal with curse words, I'd heard 10 year olds cursing in the street, parents cursing alongside them.  I would find out these people were in fact not being appropriate. Sex is freely portrayed around here, and the curse words that do pop on the screen are unblipped.  Also, when speaking a second language, these words have less meaning and so if it becomes a habit, it's one that is difficult to break.

Now my struggle and my retraining:

Putain will now be MINCE!
Salop will now be salaud.
Je vais pisser will now be je vais pipi ou je vais aller au toilette
Merde will now be mince.
La bite will not be said any more.

It's not easy.  I remember the day after I was talking about something and I almost slipped out a putain I covered it by saying instead; Pu----voirs... oui.. pouvoirs. The problem being putain is so much easier to say than mince, mince has a weird back of the throat I noise that I haven't quite mastered.

I guess lesson learned: just because you here the words every where does not mean they are appropriate everywhere.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Advice: Family Care Packages

After moving overseas, there will most likely be a time when your family will want to send you a care package.  It's not a complicated process, but there are some very important things to pay attention to.

First off:

U.S. Postal service offers one size only boxes where you can send as much as you can stuff into a box for only about $50. It has a maximum of about 50 lbs, and the best part is that it can be tracked.  Here's where it gets particular:

1. The package contents must be worth less than $1,000
2. The contents must be of personal use, if not your family will want to note on the customs form *CADEAUX*

When the family wants to send a package:

-Stuff the box as much as possible

The return to Bureau is the MOST important piece to remember.  Many times I have heard friends that have waited for their loving packages only to find it was sent back to the States because the post office wasn't able to deliver.

Ensure also to remember the simple address pieces, such as, is the *batiment sur cour* or *4ème étage*.  We don't need to do this in the states, but due to the old buildings and structures in France, it's never completely clear WHERE the apartment is located.

Now the fun part, what to send?
-American Trash Mags
-McCormick Seasoning packs (beef stew, chili, taco, spice mixes)
-Peanut Butter (incredibly expensive here)
-Reeses Pieces
-Root Beer Mix
-Cream of Tartar
-Cornbread Mix (Jiffy)
-Dried Black Beans
-Jello Mix
-Kraft Macaroni and Cheese
-English Cook Books or Reading books not available in France
-Reeses Peanut Butter Cups
-Steel Cut Oats
-Chocolate Chips (White/Milk Chocolate)
-Smuckers Grape Jelly (I know, evil of me)
-Canned Pumpkin
-Microwave Popcorn
-Wild Rice
-College Ruled Notebooks

Then you can be as happy as Bri and I...

As you can see, my mom is the pro at package sending.

Happy sending, if any doubts or if hunting/ packaging isn't your thing:


Apparently they will send packages for you. Neat idea!

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