Monday, October 25, 2010

French Fry Hat

The other day while driving home from daycare my son said the funniest thing to me: “Mommy I am wearing my French Fry hat!” (Well not exactly in all those words, but in his language this is what he communicated.) I was dumb founded for a few seconds because I was trying to analyze the relation to French Fries (a favorite food) and his winter hat. Then –ding- the light went on, his hat has a bunch of tassels on top, which an imagination could think of as skinny French Fries I guess. After a laugh out loud I wondered where or who had told him this. I asked around me, the usual suspects who have the tendency to influence my son, but no one seemed to know what I was talking about, even though a couple of them wish they had come up with it. So this one is 100% a clever 2 ½ year old comment! I was so proud to see that my son’s imagination is working great and obviously developing well. Till now I have only observed him laying his stuffed animals out, covering them with a blanket and instructing them to do “dodo” (go to sleep) in a tone which seemed to be mimicking me when he tries to fight the sandman’s arrival. Since that day, he has asked to wear his “French Fry hat” everyday. Yet it hasn’t been necessary till this morning since the wind gusts outside on this sunny but freezing day are making the temperature probably not much more than 35°F. Thank goodness we are fully equipped for this colder than normal Fall time with a French Fry hat. 

Voila the famous French Fry Hat!!!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Why is buying food so complicated?

Today I am recovering from a whirl wind Thursday. Yesterday was an exhausting day if I ever had one. It’s not so much that I had non stop errands to run or crazy people all around me, no just my son and I. From the moment when the fog cleared, after my first café au lait, to the time I finally sat down with my dinner plate on the couch, seemed like no matter what I did, things just kept being dumped upside down. I hate mornings when from the time you are standing up, you feel like you are running late. After a rather long preparation to get ready for the day, which included a few laps running around the living room and a toothbrush incident we were off to do the one regularly required activity I hate most in France. Grocery shopping!!! I wonder if there is any other American in France who hates grocery shopping as much as I do? I find everything about it incredibly inconvenient. I miss it in the US, it’s so easy. You pull in the parking lot, and drivers are considerate, if you were waiting for a spot, they don’t go take it just because they are faster than you. Plus the parking spaces are large enough for you to open your car door to get your child out of their car seat, without touching the neighboring car. You don’t need a token or a 1€ piece to even be able to get a cart. I understand the reasoning for this, to avoid more carts from being stolen, but really who steals grocery carts besides stupid teenagers and the homeless? Probably more than I think, but that is beside the point. I hate when you either forget your token in the car, which is not that close to the cart parking area due to the millions of people at the store, or when you don’t have a 1€ piece. Then you have to go into the store, ask at the “accueil” or the customer service desk, ha that is a joke, but then you have to wait at least a minute or two for anyone to ask you if you need to help, and all that for a token.  Once you have obtained your new token, you must then walk back out to the parking lot, because who would have ever thought of parking carts inside the store, oh ya the Americans. Once you get your cart, you must be sure to not forget your bags in the car, which I am totally ok with. For those of us with kids, we must be careful which grocery store we shop at if our child isn’t able to walk next to the cart, some places have carts with no child seats in them. Made that mistake once, and now am a loyal shopper at the place where every cart has a seat in it. Grocery shopping with toddlers, is the same anywhere, their patience only last so long, so you must be quick or buy what they want. Eventually when the cart is full a check out line must be selected. This being a rather difficult task, many variables go in to play here. Is the checker quick, is the person going to bag fast, are they going to pay buy check are just a few questions that should be posed. These are valid questions to pose in the US too, but they don’t have the same strategic power as in France. Once your items are on the belt they are scanned through either as quickly as possible, so that a grocery mound forms before you can barely get your bag open to start bagging yourself, because never would a checker help you put something in a bag, or they are almost completely forgotten about while the checker kisses her newly arrived colleague or chats it up with the checker at the next line about their plans for the weekend. From start to finish, you better “pen in” at least an hour or more. So after a morning of grocery shopping chaos, getting home, putting everything away, making lunch, pipi breaks since we are officially trying to potty train I then could even start to think about the incredible mess around me! So my day went…but who cares, today is new and now that I am done writing this I am off to do something fun, like nothing!

Monday, October 18, 2010


A picture is worth a thousand words goes the common saying…

My Guinea Fowl was a success!!! For all the amateur chef anxiety I had about trying to cook this strange bird it was a relative easy feat to accomplish. I found it almost easier than a chicken, since the meat is less dense. I followed the recipe, step by step, till the grand finale of the “flambé.” The meat pieces nice and hot in the pan, the 80 proof Calvados lit up quicker than expected, enough to make my camera girl jump back but in time for no missing eyebrows.  The flames, seen above in the picture, shot up a good three feet. The best part of this was the smell, the aroma of, let’s say, burned alcohol caramelized on meat, makes your mouth water. Besides the new cooking technique mastered the first Fall meal seem to make everyone happy and not just us adults. My son and our friend’s daughter have known each other since birth. They are finally reaching the age of becoming one of each others first good friends. The excitement on my son’s face when I told him they were coming for lunch was pure joy. He waited patiently all morning long until I heard a car drive up and confirmed it was them. He ran to the front door and started yelling his little friend’s name.  It is so funny to watch them play, somewhat, together or at least next to each other while they are not screaming because the other took the toy they were playing with or they just have to have that toy the other is playing with. Like for all first time parents, time flies and you don’t realize it until you have a moment when you really notice your kid is getting to the next step, this for me being hello little boy goodbye toddler. My son has a friend, someone I think he cares about, because his gestures (as much as 2 ½ year old can) shows it. Once she fell while running around the corner to go down the hallway. Obviously crying pursued, my son being very concerned for her, he went to go find her “doudou.” This is what the French call kid’s cuddly toy, like a teddy bear or a blanket. She saw him running to her with her found doudou and instantly stopped crying and wanted down from her Dad’s arms. Real friendships are precious, at any age!

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Daily Discovery

This morning I am sitting here on the couch with my laptop and a nice hot cup of coffee wondering what I am going to write about this morning. As a rookie blogger still, yet to have the consistent writing rhythm down my mind keeps wondering off to the other activities I have planned for the day. For one, I need to go grocery shopping for this weekend; we are having friends for lunch on Sunday and planning my first official Fall themed meal.  When brainstorming ideas for this I was exploring my fridge, freezer and cupboards to see what I already had. In the back depths of my freezer I pulled out a clear plastic bag containing a butcher paper wrapped bundle. If I remember correctly this was offered to me by my mother-in-law a while back. She said it was like a chicken, so not thinking much of it, I stuck it in the freezer to make some chicken soup when it got cold. Although on the frosty label it said “Pintade.”  Not being sure what that was I quickly found the translation. In English it is known as a Guinea Fowl. What the heck it that?  Who has ever heard of that?  Has anyone ever ate that outside of France?  Well at least not me! No negative connotation applied, I promptly called my mother-in-law to question her about this guinea fowl she had given me. After a laugh she explained that I had already ate it, at her house of all places, which she has a reputation to make things and happen to forget to mention an ingredient. Usually it’s nothing bad, just there is some lamb mixed in with the beef sort of thing. The internet informed me that it is I who is ill-informed on the existence of this blue and grey feathered bird. So to sum it up, I have discovered the guinea fowl. Now let’s see if I am going to be successful at cooking it. The recipe I planning on is called “Pintade au Cidre” or Guinea Fowl cooked in Cider (and not the normal hot spiced or sometimes spiked cider, but the classic Breton version.)  This recipe requires me to flambé the guinea fowl with Calvados (cider fermented longer), a technique I have never undertook as the amateur chef I am. Besides the guinea fowl the rest of the meal will be of ingredients that are commonly known, except maybe the creamy squash soup which I am unable to find the correct translation for. Well I better be off to the grocery store. Will write of my culinary experiences on Monday!!!! Bon Weekend!

Photo by Scotch Macaskill via

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sweet and Sour

It is Monday and the start of a new week, which I am hoping is going to be more efficient and productive than the last one. The later ended on a sour note, maybe even worse than sour. It was a day of fried patience and serious questioning of karma. It all started on Friday, the daycare called me because my son had a 103°F temperature. So off I went to get him and then to the doctor to confirm my suspicions of an ear infection. Antibiotics for 10 days, business as usual since they always seem to occur on Friday or Saturday, great fun for the weekend. But this time he was prescribed cortisone, for all those parents out there who have ever given their kids cortisone you know what I am talking about, this is the anti-sleep drug of all time. So by Sunday he was lacking 3 days of naps, which is probably more important than eating if I was required to make a list. Between all of our fatigue Mommy had no patience and neither did the little man. What else then can you expect than a winey, can’t remember what listening is, don’t know what they want to do, master of the time outs. Plus the joys of antibiotics not only kill the infection but clean the bowels as well. I will say diarrhea and diapers not a good combo, got to be one of the most disgusting things without exception. Enough said!

We were able to take a break from our amounting chaos a few hours on Saturday to go to a local Pumpkin Festival, plus it was the most beautiful Fall day ever nothing but short sleeves needed, a little shout out to a friend of mine, she’ll know what I mean. We were able to do the time old American tradition of picking out our jack-o-lantern to be. My son was so enthralled with all the funny shaped gourds and squashes. He is becoming an expert on saying pumpkin, only repeats it 100 times a day now. If only Halloween would get here, our house is ready. A French woman came up to me and asked about the large pumpkin which was sitting in my son’s stroller (it was a toss up on the weight of the pumpkin or my son who was gonna ride). She wanted to know if you could eat it. That was the first time someone asked me about eating a jack-o-lantern type pumpkin. I can’t imagine eating it, well besides the seeds of course. Can you imagine eating the typical carved pumpkin with the soot stains from the candle and the mold that seems to appear quicker than on bread. You just don’t eat it! I simply told her I didn’t know, didn’t want to get into a long explanation on why you shouldn’t eat them, even if they are edible since the French will eat anything that is. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Lost Time?

I am finally starting to get this blog thing down; well at least I am feeling slightly more knowledgeable about it than a couple of weeks ago. This week I have had a lot more time on my hands than usual, I only spent one full day with my son and that not even at home. It being my first taste of what a working Mom feels like (rushed kisses in the morning, dinner, baths and a very short playtime together). This week was an exceptional one, but none the less a long one for me. I have many projects around the house (yard work, painting all the bedroom doors, etc), but doesn’t seem like I got anything done. With all this time, I don’t know what to do, I am lost. I am so used to being in the rhythm of daily stuff with my to do list with at least 8 things on it that when I don’t have a 3 feet tall little guy under my feet or following me around, I seem to linger for hours doing really nothing at all. I am convinced this is my subconscious giving me some well-deserved personal down time or just pure laziness. Doesn’t matter though, today I am going to get stuff done, or at least head to party store to get the accessories for my son’s Halloween costume, try to find a craft store (if only Micheal’s could come to France) that has a 6 inch styrofoam ball.  So today will not be a complete loss of time I hope. I received my Halloween care package this week from my family in the US, nothing better (except if it would have had candy in it).  Lots of Halloweeny things inside, this weekend my son and I will make up for lost time with the pumpkin and haunted house craft kits. Pictures to come!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fall is in the air...

Well last Friday I wasn’t in a physical condition to post to my blog. I was gone all day long, in the woods. And for those of you who know me, me in the woods???  I was out gathering, rather searching, for mushrooms. I had my first experience, and a very French one at that, “aux champignons” as they say.  In the US, or at least in my family, friends, and region never have I heard of someone talk about going out to gather mushrooms. So for me this is something new and different and the way the French speak about it a definite thing “bien Français”. Although, I will say it is quite fun actually but exhausting because you walk slowly with your head down, and then you bend down every 30 seconds or so for hours on end without getting lost on top of it all. I walked around the woods, in search of a few types that were indicated to me as the ones that won’t make you see colorful lights or spend hours in the bathroom. Looking around moss covered fallen trees, under ferns up to my waist, and damp dark areas of the woods it was a fairly successful day. This activity gave me a similar feeling as does a hay ride or a cup of hot apple cider, Fall is in the air. Now that it is October, it is time to get ready for Halloween. Although in France, Halloween is an imported commercial holiday, similar to Valentine’s Day. So there are the few and far between French who have adopted it and the others who are completely uninterested in this American holiday. I don’t care if they don’t like it, I love Halloween and I will try to convert as many French to the holiday as possible. My window decals are on, so my neighbors can wonder what we are up to. Decorations to come and lots of mini pumpkins already sit on my table in a bowl that another neighbor gave me from her garden. This time of year is hard to be in France, even though I have not been in the US for Halloween or Thanksgiving for that matter for 9 years. The Fall spirit we Americans have is great, keeps the seasonal depression away.