5 signs you are becoming an adult – Christmas time

ohohoh

Whether we like it or not … time passes and the cute baby we used to be, slowly transformed into a nice moody teenager and in the blink of an eye became this interesting creature known as ” An adult”.

I used to say ” I am so looking forward to grow up and be adult so I do not have to do homework and go to school”, but now that I think twice about it, I don’t concur with this no more.

If you are still in doubt as to whether you are an adult  or not – here is a list that may give you indications you are on the right path (YAY). In case this does not apply to you yet… don’t “panic” – it will come faster than what you think. This one is of course a Special Christmas (Let’s be “seasonal”)

  1. You bought an advent calendar but unlike you used to do when you were 7 years old … you really eat one chocolate per day, instead of eating all of them at once. 

That is a huge sign ! You are on the way of being reasonable and playing the game of the advent calendar. It is a BIG achievement.

Note : It is not written at the back of the advent calendar, but I made my own rules… Up to you if you want to follow them. When you are around the 22nd of December, we tend to go back to family, take a bit of holidays before it is actually Christmas day. So in that case, you may not be there to eat the chocolates # 22, # 23, #24. In that case, ONLY IN THAT CASE, it is commonly accepted that you can eat all of them at once. Up to you to decide if you want to eat them alone in the open space of your office, enjoying this guilty pleasure, OR if you are up for a good deed and share them with your colleagues and friends. 

2. You are able to provide an answer to the traditional question : What would you like for Christmas ? 

…Because over the past months you kept a list of things that could be a good idea for a Christmas present – “just in case someone asks you”

3. Spoiler alert – You do not believe in Santa Clause or “Father Christmas” anymore …  but you are the one making sure nobody in your family spoils this lovely legend in front of your youngest cousins, nephews, nieces. (That was such a lovely thought when being kid; and it is still cute to see the youngest one so into this legend)

4.  You may be the lucky one who has been picked by your mum, your Grand-Ma, your boss – to wear the Santa Claus costume and distribute presents  at home or during the company Christmas party this year. Ho Ho Ho

5. You have very good Gift wrapping skills – which makes you be the Official Gift Wrapper for the year … You therefore know all the presents people will be receiving (but as you may be also a great actor, you can totally play it the Actor Studio way : “Oh really you got the Frozen Costume ? What a surprise !!”)

Note :

ALWAYS double check when putting the name tag on the present. True story : During a Christmas I ended up having a boy swim suit and my brother a bikini. Kids are not good at poker face in general. Although I am always thankful for what I get, for this one – I did not know how I shall react, not wanting to hurt anyone or sound like a spoiled kid. 🙂 

I know this great little place in … Bath, UK

N5 Bistro

For those of you who know my blog, I made a post a few months ago about a very cute city in Scotland : Saint Andrews.

As we moved to England, we found so many gorgeous little places to visit. One of them is the city of Bath. We did a short stop in Bath recently and went for lunch to a very lovely place called No. 5 Bistro. The address is: 5 Argyle Street, BA2 4BA Bath, England
The restaurant serves French food, and they do it very well. Simple but fresh and tasty ingredients.

My boyfriend got a Chicken dish (Poulet Breton on the menu) and it was a great choice: a cooked chicken breast served with apples and a crème fraiche and cider sauce. Very tender. So good!
For my starter I got an original Prawn and Chorizo cassolette served with a creamy bisque (special of the day). Never tried before, but it was a nice combination of flavours. My main was a risotto: rice was cooked as should be, making it nicely creamy, but to be honest, when I saw my boyfriend’s main, I immediately wished I had taken that too 

The food presentation was nicely done: colours, food originally arranged in the plates. The mushroom soup was served in a cute little marmite, on a wood tray with pieces of fresh bread.

The menu comprised of traditional dishes; and given how great the food was, I asked if the chef was French. Guess what, he is actually from Romania!

The ambiance and the service were very nice too. Food came timely. The young waitress was kind and friendly. The background music was some old style French music. For a moment I could have thought I was in a Bistro in Paris!

We had a very nice time and foodie experience. We will come back!
I hope this post gave you good reasons to go to Bath if you are in the surroundings. If you want to spend a nice moment, No. 5 Bistro is made for you. Let me know what you think!

Picture is not mine. I got it on the restaurant website : http://www.no5bistro.co.uk/

 

 

An alternative way of exploring Paris

There are many ways of exploring a place: walking by the streets and getting lost (the best way to explore for me); biking; bus tours (never done but this way does not appeal me too much); or even by simply browsing books or on the internet.

In this post, I’d like to share a video so you can discover a bit of Paris in a “not so usual” way. It is an excerpt from a short movie (“It was a date”) directed by Claude Lelouch, a famous French director.

What a like about it, is that you can see the streets of Paris, empty and calm; and here and there some of the landmark touristic places.

This reminds me when I was living in Paris, in one of the biggest avenue straight on to Place de l’Etoile and the Arch of Triumph. When I was leaving home early enough in the morning, movie makers or photogrpahs were shooting in the streets, when the city was still quiet and clean. It was a nice way to start the day… before jumping in the crowded Metro and spend 8 hours in the office.

I hope you will enjoy it!

“Home is where the heart is”

Home is where the heart is

Over the past years of intense travels, the most frequent questions I’ve been asked is “Where’s home? ”. Believe me or not, some days, I was not sure anymore about the answer.

Is home France? Where I was born, where my family lives….

Is home UK where my boyfriend has been living and waiting for me?

As tough I can be about France, it is HOME. I was born in France. My family lives in France. The love for food and life I have definitely come from France. My native language is French and France is home for many other reasons I listed here.

Last year, as I put an end to my crazy glob trotting life, I finally “settle down” in Scotland. Meaning : lived at the same place for more than 6 months in a row. Even if the transition to a calmer pace was a bit of an adjusment for the first months… I liked it! Seven months later and dozens of cardbox and suitcases packed and un-packed –  we ended up in Bristol, UK. I guess the Skies did not want me to settle down too fast ! 🙂 And surprisingly enough, after less than 2 months in Bristol, I told myself “this could be home too.”

Is this something I should feel bad about? In times I miss France, I would probably say – yes. But for all the other days, I embrace the duality and ambiguity of where “home” is for me and when the “where is home” question comes, I proudly say “I am French but live in UK”. As if I could not dissociate both “homes”.

I was recently browsing books and came across a quote from Pliny the Elder, which is the nicest and most poetic way of putting words on the way I feel today: “Home is where the heart is”.

There could be as many “home” as places one feels linked to…Isn’t life lovely ?

My friends from all over the world… Clothilde, Painter in Argentina

Animal Farm

For those of you who have been following me since I started this blog, you will have noticed that my posts are mainly focused on cooking and travels. I am lucky enough to have friends a bit all over the planet who decided to make a bold change in their life, and live for and/or thanks to their passion: travel, professional project, love… I decided I would introduce you to them and their passion as I have always been impressed by their decisions. To remain focused on my blog topics, the interview will include questions related to travels and cooking as well.

The first friend I am going to talk about is Clothilde. She is French, we went to middle school together, and then our path just split as I had to leave the region I used to live in. Several years later, I came across Clothilde on Facebook, and I was extremely but positively impressed by her new life.

After getting her A level with honors, Clothilde started to study to become a doctor. She realized it was not made for that…and stopped. At the same time she met Juan, a charming Argentinian man on the internet. She left France to live in Argentine 2 months after meeting him. The first challenges started: learning Spanish, getting used to local life in Argentine, and finding a job. As she was about to apply for a Maths master at university, Clothilde found her vocation: Painting. She then decided she would make a living of it.

Today, Clothilde is a full time painter. You can find her pieces of art on the following website: http://www.etsy.com/shop/ThildArt

Clothilde paints mainly on small format: 6 X 9 cm. With such small size paint, you are not allowed to make any mistakes or to lack precision, else it will be immediately visible. Clothilde’ s paints are mostly inspired by the French pastries : chocolates, macaroons… She also likes painting animals. (She told me she always starts painting the eyes, so the animal can “stare” at her and then she works on painting the rest of the body. ) Clothilde starts diversifying also and you can find on her site some larger size paintings 40 X 30 cm , mostly farm animals.

Clothilde was very kind to give a bit of her time to answer the questions I have always wondered about painters. 

Me : Which painting is your favorite?”.

Clothilde : “My favorite is always the last paint I finished, because I spent so much time with it, arranging it, changing details to make sure it got as close to perfection as it could be. I  paint at night and I must confess that when I finished a painting, it happened I put it close to the bed so I can see it when going to bed 🙂 “

Me : “Who is your favorite artist?”

Clothilde : “I like a lot the surrealist style of MAGRITTE, and wish one day I will be able to master this type of paint. But if I had to spend time with an artist, I would love to meet Jacques BREL, as I feel in this artist a sensibility that is very close to mine.”

As a wrap up I also asked Clothilde some questions related to travels and cooking.

Me: If I tell you “travel”, what does this word mean to you?

Clothide: “When I think about “travels”, I associate it to quite a negative sense. Not that I do not like travels, but some people tend to neglect the places they go when they travel, and the only purpose of their trip is to tick a monument on their long “travel to-do list”. To me travelling should be a long lasting process, where people should take the time to discover and understand locals, and their way of living. That is what I like about travels. It should be an experience that make people leave a country “richer” and full of new experiences, rather than a quick trip where you rush to get yourself picture in front of each every famous monuments.”

Me : What was the trip or the country that stunned you the most ?

Clothilde : “As funny as it may sound, one of the landmark trips for me was when I came back to France, 2 years after I left the country. During this trip, I was able to show Juan (my husband) all the places and habits I ‘ve been growing up with when I was a child. I also had the opportunity to make him try all the French specialties, and visit Paris as a true “tourist”. We walked miles and miles… and made breaks in many lovely bakeries. After 10 days spent in France, I came back home with tougher than ever calves, and 5 more kilos !!!”

Me : What was your last trip?

Clothidle : “My last trip was during summer 2011 when I came back to France. I was pregnant with Jeanne. The lovely surprise was that Edmond (Clothilde’ s son) learnt to walk in Paris. This trip will forever be one of the most amazing one as my son was able to meet is Gran Gran ma! ”

Me : What is your favorite dish in France and in Argentina?

Clothilde : “My favorite dish in France? That is a very challenging question! I am a big fan of the Raclette ( a French specialty were you melt slices of Raclette cheese and eat it with cured meat and potatoes), and I also like very much meat stew such as the “Carbonade Flamande: ( a beef stew where the meat is cooked and simmered in a beer sauce) .

As for as Argentina, I am not a big fan of dessert as they are almost all made of Dulce de leche, which make them too sweet and too heavy. But the ice-creams are delicious ! As for as main dish, I really like empanadas. There is a very nice restaurant in Belgrano where they cook amazing ones with corn flour (that is the way we cook them in the North of Argentina) ”

Me : What is your specialty ?

Clothilde : ” I missed so much pastries when I arrived in Argentina that I decided to learn and bake my own desserts. I can do puffs with a delicious vanilla custard, Italian meringue, brioche, macaroons, home-made chocolates…”

That’s all folks ! I hope this post will make you check Clothilde’ s marvelous paint and travel a bit via her experiences and adventures.

The list of my desires…

 

IMG_0040

Summer is here and hopefully for all of you, a little break is round the corner. I do not know if that is the case for you, but when I am on holidays, I usually dedicate my spare time to activities I am not used to do the other days of the year. One of them is reading.

I just finished a novel that was quite nice and easy to read, and thought you may be interested in reading it. The list of my desire is a novel by Gregoire Delacourt (a French novelist) has had an international success. The book rights have been purchased in 27 countries and a French director is making a movie based on the book’s story.

Enough speaking, let’s get to the “pitch”.

Jocelyne, the main character of the novel lives in a small city in France and is the owner of a dressmaking shop. She has a quiet and pleasant life, surrounded by her family and her real and virtual friends. Yes – she has a blog where she shares sewing advices and also speaks about her life adventures. One day Jocelyne is given the opportunity to get anything she has ever wanted in life. But as we all know, everything as a “price” and the moments of doubts have come. As she examines the possibilities and makes a list of her desires, she contemplates the true meaning of worth. Will she be happier if she manages to get all she has ever dreamt about?

Let’s make it clear, this novel will not get a Nobel Prize for literature but it was exquisitely written.  I liked the fact that the characters of the novel could be people you’ve known: neighbors, your friends’ parents… but above all, I was pleased by the plot which reminds us that life can be beautiful thanks to simple and little pleasures, when some people seemed to have forgotten that concept. This maybe a “typically French” fable, exploring the true meaning of life and happiness but after all, is it a bad thing?  🙂

The book is very easy to read:  a simple style, nothing fluffy or pretentious. I think it is the perfect book to have when lying on the beach or at the park. For those who are fan of French literature, this book reminded me the style and the themes of “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” by Muriel Barbery. Enjoy the reading, and have wonderful holidays.

Details :

The list of my desires by Gregroire Delacourt
Orion Publishing Co

La liste de mes envies…

 

IMG_0040L’été est arrivé. Les températures sont là pour nous le rappeler. Pour ceux qui partent en vacances, c’est l’occasion idéale pour s’adonner à des activités « paresseuses » ou qu’on ne prend pas la peine de faire en temps normal.

Je viens de finir un roman sympa et je pense que certaines d’entre vous se plairont à le lire. Oui je dis “certaines” car je pense que ce roman est d’avantage destiné aux femmes, mais rien ne vous empêche de le lire messieurs (C’est d’ailleurs un homme qui a écrit ce roman)

Rentrons dans le vif du sujet : “La liste de mes envies” (Auteur : Grégoire Delacourt)  est un roman d’une centaine de pages, qui a connu un succès international (27 pays ont acheté les droits d’auteur, et un film inspiré de ce livre est en cours de préparation)

L’histoire? Jocelyne – l’héroïne principale du roman – est mercière à Arras. Elle mène une existence paisible entourée de son mari et de ses amis proches et virtuels. Oui, Jocelyne tiens un blog « dixdoigtsdor » où elle partage ses talents de couturière et ses états d’âme. La vie de Jocelyne s’en trouvera bouleversée le jour où elle se retrouve en mesure de s’offrir tout ce dont elle a toujours voulu. Le jeu en vaut-il la chandelle ? N’a-t-elle pas plus à y perdre ?

J’ai aimé ce livre car il se lit très facilement : pas de fioritures ou de pseudo exercice de style. Qu’on se le dise, ce n’est pas un livre qui va gagner le Goncourt ou un prix Nobel de littérature. Les héros sont de simples gens que vous pourriez avoir fréquentés : un voisin, les parents d’amis ou une connaissance éloignée… 

Ce roman a probablement connu un tel succès car il revient sur la (dure) réalité d’aujourd’hui et prône les plaisirs simples. Le parfait compagnon pour un après-midi à la plage. Pour ceux qui connaissent, “La liste de mes envies” se rapproche de “L’élégance du hérisson” de Muriel Barbery tant pour le style que le thème.

Details
Titre : La liste de mes envies,
Auteur : Grégoire Delacourt,
Editions : Le livre de poche

Happy Bastille day France

 

Lampion

The national day in France is on July 14th : Bastille Day. The celebration of Bastille day consists in having a Firework and the Firemen dance ball, and every town in the country would have its own. Some are nice, some are as kitsch as possible, but in the end, it is a nice opportunity to get outside and have fun.

As I grew up, I used to go the Bastille days’ celebration almost every year. Even though I enjoyed it, I never really paid extra attention to the event as it was kind of a tradition, almost a routine. As I started working 4 years ago, I did not have the opportunity to go to the celebration. The first 2 years without going were ok… I could live without it. The 2 other years were more painful, as I actually realized it was part of my “French DNA” to go and see the firework with my parents and enjoy that day in my country.

This year I was lucky enough to be free on July. I decided to book my ticket to attend the celebration in my hometown – and it was worth it as you’ll see later in the story. In June I called my parents over excited to let them know that this year we will celebrate together. In my hometown the celebration actually happen on the 13th at night, and consists in : a walk in the streets with , the parade of the firemen, the marching band of the village play on the main square of the village, and FINALLY the firework and the ball.

As the D day arrived, we got ready to attend the firework.

10:30 pm, the show started.  It was a really nice firework: lovely colors, music perfectly in sync with the show. The explosions always make me shiver. I love fireworks.

11:00 pm, the ball started.

I arrived in my hometown12 years ago, and every year since then the same band called “Square root” plays and makes people dance until the end of night. To be fairly honest, the singer sometimes struggles with the tunes or with the lyrics when is come to English songs (but it is so brave of them, and I do admired them when they started singing “In the Navy”….The beginning is not the easiest one for a non-English speaker J ) . I love the ball because there you see people from 2 years old up to 80 + on the dancing. All with very different styles (some with better than others. Though everything goes smoother after several beers.  

Midnight came through. Unlike Cinderella my car did not get transformed into a pumpkin…
Instead, a security guys started to be a bit sweaty as some people entered at the rear of the scene where the musician were, to “visit” the area and get closer to the handbags that were stored in the cloakroom.

00:05 am :  A van with 5 people drove toward the city hall, and stopped. As nobody was allowed to drive in there, the guys started to wonder what would happen then. It was a “false alert”. A 40 + woman got outside of the van, to pick her daughters up.  False alert.

00:15 am :  A new guest joined the party, as a car of policemen arrived to drive around the city and ensure everything was alright.

Meanwhile, the musicians were on fire , playing “Satisfaction”, “Waterloo” and many other hits.That was quite rock ’n’ roll Bastille Day celebration.

After all that I thought it would be over for the day. I THOUGHT.

00:30 am, my parents and I took the car to head back home. A girl in front of us was not walking very still, but despite it, she got into her car. After driving over 200 meters, she ended up driving on the left side of the road (we drive on the right in France). At that point, we knew that she probably did not drink Coke all night long. This was confirmed when we saw the car leaving the main road to drive on the sand path through corn fields, probably to avoid being caught by the policemen. Bold initiative but not sure if this was be a successful one. We shall see.

What to say after such an animated night. The 2013 Bastille Day celebrations were extremely fun this year. As critical and tough I can be toward my country and the people, it felt good to be able to celebrate the national day in France. Special thanks to my parents for coming with me and making me have such a great time. Looking forward to the next one !

The picture come from the site: http://www.tourisme-en-sarthe.com 
It is a picture of the “lights” we walk with in the streets during the celebration of Bastille Day.

Un billet pour mes amis français… Les Franglaises, un spectacle à ne pas manquer !

Ça fait un petit moment que je n’ai pas fait de billet en français… Alors je me rattrape aujourd’hui !

Il y a 6 mois de ça, alors que je vivais encore à Paris, je suis allée au théâtre avec mon petit frère pour voir un spectacle remarquablement étonnant : Les Franglaises.

Les Franglaises

Mon frère m’avait brièvement parlé du show et un de ses amis lui avait recommandé. Le concept : un groupe d’artistes (Les Tistics) reprend les plus grands titres anglais/américains et les interprète en français – mots pour mots. Un vendredi soir sur Paris et n’ayant rien de prévu pour la soirée, nous avons acheté les billets à la dernière minute. Pour être honnête, je ne savais pas trop à quoi m’attendre et la description dudit concept m’avait laissée un peu sceptique. HONTE A MOI ! Le spectacle est simplement super : des artistes talentueux, une mise en scène exceptionnelle avec un minimum d’accessoires. De quoi passer un bon moment et découvrir la face cachée de ces chansons !

La troupe déborde d’énergie et fait participer le public durant le spectacle. Je m’explique : avant chaque chanson, le “maître de cérémonie” lit les paroles de la chanson traduite en français, et l’audience doit trouver de quelle chanson il s’agit. Pas de règles, le premier qui a le titre le crie. Une fois la réponse trouvée, la troupe des Franglaises s’exécute et interprète la chanson. Le maître de cérémonie tient bien son rôle et la salle joue le jeu. C’est une véritable interaction entre le public et la scène qui se crée tout au long du spectacle. Le show dure 1h30 : juste ce qu’il faut pour ne pas être lassé. Au répertoire ce soir-là, il y avait Michael Jackson, Abba, Black Eyed Peas, Franck Sinatra, The Eagles…

J’ai aimé Les Franglaises car les artistes sont vraiment doués! Ce ne sont pas seulement des « chanteurs » : il ya également de très bons musiciens et le groupe interprète les héros des chansons avec beaucoup d’humour. Les Tistics (le nom du groupe) sont d’une incroyable réactivité et rebondissent dès qu’une blague impromptue surgit du public ou lorsqu’ un spectateur les interpelle. Je ne serais pas étonnée d’apprendre que la plupart d’entre eux appartiennent à une troupe d’improvisation…

Bref, je vous recommande vivement ce spectacle si vous avez la chance d’avoir une représentation près de chez vous. Je n’ai pas arrêté de rire et en revoyant un extrait j’avais des frissons : c’est un spectacle « loufoque » dans les bon sens du terme mené par une troupe bourrée de talent. Le site suivant contient la liste des spectacles pour les mois à venir : http://www.lestistics.com/les-franglaises

J’ai aussi inclus les liens Youtube 3 vidéos des Franglaises. Le show est bien mieux que les vidéos. C’est un spectacle à voir en live !!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4L2YITXxD_M (Présentation du show)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQJQn2dT8So (Billie Jean)

Vous pouvez aussi suivre les Tistics sur leur page Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/lestistics#!/lestistics?fref=ts

C’est d’ailleurs après avoir vu ce spectacle détonnant que nous sommes allés chez Blend, un restaurant qui fait les meilleurs burgers de Paris. Allez faire un tour sur le post que j’ai fait sur Blend… Si vous n’avez jamais mangé la bas, courrez-y ! https://abarenecessities.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/the-best-burger-in-paris-big-time/