crème de marrons de l’ardèche

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

After dropping the girls off at school this afternoon, I decided to go on a little outing to the Super U. It’s kind of like a small Walmart I suppose. I often do this kind of thing, go to one of the stores such as Carrefour or Super Marche and just browse. At the Super U I looked at the book section and flipped through some recipe books. Then made my way to the Christmas candy section but decided to opt out of buying until Thanksgiving is over, it only seems right. So I wandered and ended up in the spread isle. Full of Nutella and delicious gourmet looking jams. I always like trying new things so when I spotted chestnut spread I decided to give it a try. As far as I know, I had never eating chestnuts before. I’ve always heard the song Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire and have wondered what they are like. Oh never mind, I just remembered one time back in the states during the fall whilst on a walk I cracked open a chestnut to taste it. Obviously it wasn’t very good that way, not a good texture and quite bitter if I remember correctly. But other than that, no I haven’t tried chestnuts the proper way. The last time I was in Paris though I saw some people cooking and selling chestnuts but I was already full because, well, it’s Paris! so many good things to eat. If I ever come across this again though, I’m committed to trying them out,  regardless of how full I am. Without further adieu, I present the representation of my newest experience via photo booth:

Photo on 11-15-13 at 5.22 AM  not sure what to thinkPhoto on 11-15-13 at 5.22 AM #2 in FrenchPhoto on 11-15-13 at 5.22 AM #3 en anglaisPhoto on 11-15-13 at 5.22 AM #4 decided to get crazy and show my ootd

Photo on 11-15-13 at 5.24 AM insidePhoto on 11-15-13 at 5.30 AM spread on a warm french baguette, perfect! I give it a big thumbs up:)

It was sweet, kind of a pasty texture and with as far as I know a chestnut flavor. I have a lot left over so will continue to pair with fresh baguettes this fall/holiday season. If you ever try it, bon appétit!

Et bon week-end!

Advertisements

Little things

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I love small everyday moments. 

Such as singing this song along with my little French girls while driving them to their ice skating lessons. Singing along, knowing all the words and what they mean. 🙂

When learning a new language, there are times when you absolutely hate the language and have no desire to continue learning any longer. When I first got to France I was going through homesickness and culture shock and on top of it having to learn a new language? Wasn’t having it. I questioned many times why I was even learning French and couldn’t come up with any good reasons.

So I was very lax in learning the language, I didn’t really make an effort at all. But even so, I picked up the basic French you need in order to travel France. After realizing how much more French I understood within the first month or two I began to try harder; but still didn’t try very hard;). Everyday you learn at least a little something new. Then these days turn into weeks and the weeks accumulate into months. All the little things you’ve learned have added up and you realize one day that you’re having a conversation with someone in French. Not just a conversation such as, “Bonjour, je voudrais une pizza s’il vous plait” or “Je m’appelle Hannah, je suis americaine et j’ai 19 ans.” But an actual, pleasant, easy conversation with someone the way you do in your native language. That is when you really feel accomplished! Surprised, happy and proud of yourself. This is what you call fulfillment. 

I still don’t really have a good reason why I’m learning French. And I still have a lot to learn. But I’m enjoying learning now. I enjoy reading French fashion magazines. I enjoy singing along to French songs while driving to my lessons. I enjoy creating random situations in my head and having a full conversations in French. Being able to speak, think and pray in two languages; it’s intriguing.

Five months left for me here in France. Excited to see where they will take me. Excited to be able to look back on my whole year here and see how much I’ve learned and how much I’ve changed. And interested to see what things will be like when I’m back in the states where I’m sure I will realize just to what extent I have changed and grown, through the eyes of others. Also when I get back, I will be 20. The last of my teenage years will be spent here in France. I’ll never be a teenager in America again. Strange. Life is strange. But I’m enjoying it more and more. 🙂 

 

Image

Repose

Tags

, , , , ,

Repose

Just hanging out in my little hotel room after a nice morning and afternoon in Paris spent at Starbucks, wandering the streets, eating a falafel sandwich in a park, visiting Shakespeare & Company then finishing it off with a petite tart au pomme and cafe. Now just having a little repose before getting ready to go out to dinner and a ballet. You could say life is treating me quite well at the moment. 🙂

Happy Halloween

Tags

, , , , , , ,

I’ve had a great Halloween here in France. We’re still on Toussaint vacation so I just had to take the little girl to her tennis lesson in the morning. Then I decided to head into the city for lunch and shopping. They have a really great shopping center here in Saint Brieuc. It’s like an outdoor mall I suppose, with all the stores you really need, oh and the charming French buildings. I splurged a little since I finally have a bank account full of money :). It was definitely worth it though, no regrets! Finally bought the somewhat mandatory trench coat. I was surprised to actually see a group of young trick or treaters going into the shops for sweets. In France Halloween isn’t anywhere near as big of a deal as in the US. For example, in the stores you can barely tell that a holiday is coming up. I didn’t even notice until today a tiny section of halloween decorations and a few masks.

After plenty of shopping, I went to Brioche Dorée and got an amazing tartelette choco-praline. It was so delicious! A mini-tart filled with chocolate cream with almost a carmel taste and pralines. I also bought a dress for the night at the Paris opera house event I organized with some other au pairs. We will be going to the beautiful Opéra Garnier to watch a ballet. Cannot wait! I’ve never been to a ballet and what better place to see one than in Paris! 

I have to admit, it was nice this year not being bombarded with candy or having to walk around in the cold for hours. I just counted my tartelette as my Halloween treat. Also, no tricks were played on me, not like they ever are, but still nice that there weren’t any. The parents went to a friends house for dinner so it was just me and the kids for the night. We had a pleasant time, not many tears, and pizza along with watching Le Juste Prix which is the Price is Right: French style.

Enfin!

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I finally visited Mt St Michel after having lived an hour and a half away for almost 6 months. There have been quite a few times actually where I had planned to go but never followed through due to bad weather sickness or just not feeling like it was the “right” time. Well, yesterday was the perfect time. The weather was fine, I was feeling great, and was not short on funds. It was a fun little road trip. Shuffling through the various radio stations with a mix of current english and french hits, classic french songs and a bit of opera thrown in all while trying to admire the French countryside while keeping my eyes on the road. After about an hour and 20 minutes of this, I glanced to my left and far off in the distance I briefly saw the wonder that is Mt St Michel. After parking (12 euros!) I took the free shuttle out tothe grand rock.

Image

view from parking

Image

Minas Tirith?

Being that I was solo traveling, I almost felt like I was one of the monks (or nun rather). Besides all the tourists, you can somewhat convince yourself you have gone back in time. Or stepped into the world of Lord Of The Rings. And according to Wikipedia, Minas Tirith was based off of Mt St MIchel.

Image

ImageImageImageImageImage

where the monks would come to take a break from their duties

Image

 I was so happy to be able to ascend and descend a few spiral staircases throughout my tour

ImageImage

thanks the French for at least attempting English:)

Well not much else to say except that it’s better to experience it in person. It really is spectacular. I can definitely say if I were to be a monk, this is where I would want to do it.

Friday the 13th

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

Well so far, nothing is going awry on this day which is great. I hope my “luck” continues;).

Every Friday there is a market in the town center of Pordic.

Image

They have booths with cheeses and meets, asian food, gallettes, seafood, fruits, and vegetables. Usuallly, I am given a list in the morning of the fruits and vegetables to buy along with a blank check. Then after dropping off the kids I walk over to the marché and politely ask for all the things on my list.

Image

The guys at the fruit and vegetable stand are really nice and helpful. They give me the correct pronunciation of all the names I mess up on and always help me carry all the purchases to the car. Usually French people are very kind, but of course you still come in contact with stereotypical French as well.

Image

The fruits of my labor. Also you can see the little bunny in the background:).

Happy Friday the 13th!

Jeudi

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A day in the life

Woke up, looked up at my ceiling window to find out what the weather would be like. A perfect, gray, rainy day:) just what I wanted. Got dressed and went down to the kitchen for breakfast. They have a really big island table which is always covered with breads jellys butter and juice in the morning. I opted for a cherry yogurt then made my espresso and toasted some brioche before topping with butter. I ate my breakfast while the kids were finishing getting ready and spending time with their maman. Then at 8:10 the three kids(the oldest boy is in middle school now and has a different ride) and I set off in the little white car listening to their favorite station NRJ which plays all the current hits.

 We got to the school and were a bit early so I dropped off the two oldest at their area of campus and waited with Orlane in the hazy weather for the gate to be unlocked. Once it was open, we went to her cubby so she could change her shoes to slippers before dropping her off in class. And like that, I was done taking care of children for the morning. I then walked from the school to the boulangerie to buy a baguette, pain au céreale, and a pastry for me.

Image

gotta keep the goods safe

Walked back through the town center to the car then headed off along the highway for Binic. Binic is one of my spots I like to go to. It is 5 minutes from Pordic and is a beach with a port, small lighthouse, restaurants, crêperies, postcard shops, and the occasional English tourist.

Image

Once there, I sat on a ledge, preceded to enjoy my croissant aux amandes, and dug in to my Bible reading while watching the sea and seagulls.

Image

it was low tied

It’s definitely a nice place to have some God time:) Although sometimes I get restless that I live in a small town, i.e. not Paris, moments like this make me very appreciative and thankful that I get to be here. Like most people, I love the beach! Afterwards, I took the country route home while listening to a French song and then classical music as the mist of rain fell on the windshield. I have to admit, I’ve become quite a beast at driving if I do say so myself. I’ve mastered roundabouts, passing cars on tiny country roads meant only for one car by American standards and managing not to crash as screaming wars took place; plus the car is a stick shift.

Got back to the house around 10 and began cleaning the kitchen which is pretty much the only house work I have to do so definitely can’t complain. Then I began writing this post which involved me checking Facebook, having the song L-O-V-E by Nat King Cole stuck in my head which lead me to Spotify where I listened to the French, Italian, and English version. After which I was in the Christmas mood given that it’s one of the first gloomy and cold days here so I began a Christmas playlist. Then realized I wanted a mocha so I headed down to the kitchen MacBook in hand and mixed milk with nesquik heated in the microwave (sorry mom and dad) and added espresso from the Nespresso machine. Et voila! J’ai bu mon mocha, ecouté le musique Nöel, et ecriré pour vous. Throughout this time, the rain has been falling like snow and the song It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas just finished up. I’m definitely in the Christmas mood. I’m interested to see what Christmas will be like this year. A lot different than I’m used to, of that I’m sure.

Now it is 11:11, I’m wishing for a White Christmas :). Another half an hour to myself before I head back to school to bring the kids back here for lunch.

So, I drove back through the rain to centre ville, where the school is located, and got the kids. We came home and one of the girls set the table while I recooked the chicken and peas we had yesterday for lunch. It was tasty and afterwards we all had yogurt and watched some cartoons. Their lunchtime is from 11h50 to 13h10, quite longer than the half hour us Americans are used to.

Dropped off the kids and now I’m back home to grab my school supplies and have an espresso before heading off to French class. It is the first day of class for the new school year, and I am excited to go back!:)

School was great! I realized just how far I’ve come these past 5 months, with French and just in general living in France. Since it was the first day, not a lot happened mostly just informing new students how things work and being introduced to new materials for learning French with. Homework, grades, nothing like that is obligatory at this school; it’s solely for learning the language and you choose how and how much you would like to learn. So of course I always print out homework to take home :).

After 2 hours at school, it was time for me to head back to Pordic to pick up the kids at 16h20. The rain had stopped and everything went pretty smoothly. Once back at the house it was time for goûter. I love goûter. It is snack time. The french only eat 4 times a day, most of the time anyway. So it goes petit-dejuener, dejeuner, goûter, and dîner. For goûter normally we have brioche or baguettes with butter or nutella if they have it and maybe some fruit.

Once everyone had eaten they had to go clean their rooms. Then the girls came down with paint and a book about japan so they painted a japanese word then free-painted for a while. It ended up being me cleaning up afterwards. TV time is at 18h and the girls constantly ask me if it is “l’heure  de regarder le télé?” While they were watching TV I went around and changed the sheets and duvet covers for all the kids. Which is the only other “light housework” I ever have to do.

Once finished, I went down and watched some of the Alvin and the Chipmunks movie with the kids. Funny to end the day watching a movie involving Christmas after I had begun the day in the same attitude:).

For dinner we had pizza:) now I am just doing some French homework in my little office room before going into my bedroom to catch up on Pretty Little Liars before going to sleep:)

So there you go, a pretty typical day here in Bretagne, France whilst I am 19 and an au pair.

bonne soirée

Gâteau Breton

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,

Well, it’s Monday. The beginning of a new week. The kids are at school and I’m home in the kitchen while people are here cleaning the windows. One of the window cleaners seems around my age and is pretty cute :). I decided it’s time for me to start trying some baking. So I looked through the family’s cookbooks and decided on gâteau breton; a specialty native to the region I am in. Seemed like a perfect way to start off.

I just put in the sugar. Now to add the rest of the ingredients and make sure I understand all the directions in French.

I’ve baked muffins and cookies here before, but that was with the girls. Although it was a fun thing to do together, I’d say I definitely prefer baking by myself. Less stressful and more soothing.

The batter is delicious! What makes this a Breton gâteau, I think, is that calvados is one of the ingredients. Calvados is…eau-de-vie obtenue par distillation du cidre Bretagne et du poiré en Normandie…water of life made by the distillation of cider(apple) and pears in Normandy. So basically it’s an alcoholic apple-pear cider.

I accidentally put in one too many egg yolks because I read the directions wrong. I’m sure it will still taste amazing to me though. I’ve never tried gâteau breton so I have no expectations  plus butter and sugar are some of the main ingredients so I can’t see how it could go wrong :).

I made half the batter because I’m going to eat it all myself, through the course of a few days, which means less cooking time and I will be able to taste it soon!

Well, it’s beautiful!

Image

Now to enjoy with some espresso, it’s amazing by the way and I like the texture.

Bon appétit!

Image

Currently

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

I’m an au pair in France. I live in a little town in the country, close to the ocean. It is such a beautiful and picturesque place here. The thing I find myself doing most often is wandering the countryside by foot or bike and exploring all the different paths along the hills and ocean.

Image

We live in an old farm house that has been remodeled. It’s somewhat large, a little bigger than my home back in the US I think. I love my room here, it’s extremely cosy and I spend way to much in it sometimes. There are four kids. Two boys: Mathieu, 11, and Aymeric, 9. Two girls: Ethel, 7, and Orlane, 4. The parents, Arnaud and Isabelle, are great, very nice and helpful. The kids are also great and a lot of fun. At least most of the time. Of course they’re not perfect so sometimes we have less than pleasant times.

Image

I’m blessed to have a good amount of time off to relax and travel. I’ve traveled to Paris, Nantes, Rennes, Saint Malo, Paimpol, Nancy and Nice during my first 5 months in France. I also was able to travel to Italy in July and went to Milan, Venice, Rome, and Florence.

                                                   DSCN1472

Image

I have become much better at French during this time! I’m constantly thinking in French rather than English which is amusing to me.

It’s interesting how quickly it can seem normal to live in a different country.