Category Archives: French Daily
The random stuff that goes in in my life while living the dream in the South of France
Most days at the office, I don’t leave for lunch. I get into doing my work and I usually just end up eating my lunch at my desk and just keep working through lunch time. Sometimes I’ve even forgotten to eat lunch! Very American, right?? There have been only a few occasions where I’ve said, “This bites and I’m going to enjoy my lunch time”, but those have been few and far between occasions.
Well, the other day, Dude and I decided to cash in on my lunch savings and we headed for the local boulangerie. Like most boulangeries these days, they have something called a Menu Formule where you can have a sandwich or salad, along with a drink and dessert for around 7€50. That, folks, is a steal.
Dude opted for a salad, ice tea and a tarte framboise while I got the poulet cesear sandwich (which is oh so delicious with the dressing and feta cheese), a bottle of water and a tarte fraise with Chantilly on top. Grand total was 15€. Money well spent, I would say.
Then we headed off towards the beach in La Ciotat which happens to be about 5 whole minutes from my work. Luckily, the tourist season has not quite started yet and we were able to find some free parking close by. We only had to walk a short distance and we found a nice bench under some trees to shade us from the sun. Viola, a two hour “vacation” with a spectacular view.
It’s times like these while I’m quietly enjoying my lunch and looking out onto the Mediterranean that I ask myself why I don’t do this more often. I don’t think I’ve quite transitioned, yet, to the mind frame of taking a proper lunch to rejuvenate myself.
I was never able to do that since in The States you’re lucky if you get a whole hour for lunch (I have friends who only get 30 minutes!) and that doesn’t leave much time to enjoy your lunch when that one hour includes drive time to get to a restaurant! One always feels like their rushing and can’t really enjoy lunch let alone digest it.
I do vow to take more two hour vacations this summer. With this sort of view, how can I not?!
To all my blogging friends out there, I have to say that I am a bit behind.
These last few weeks have been a real struggle at work. I’ve had several projects on my plate to complete and I found out last Friday that I acquired a few more. This, coupled with another issue Dude just found with our house, has made it a whirl wind end of June.
I apologize to those out there whose blogs I read and comment on religiously. I have not forgotten about you or left you by the way side, I promise. I’m just a bit behind and hope to catch up soon, like by the end of the week! I’ve managed to write a few posts of my own, but even that has been a struggle to find time to do. Last weekend I vowed to take it easy and just run around and see the sites. It was a much needed rest from the past weeks for me.
Now that summer is here, Dude and I were hoping to start on the bathroom remodel, but the house has other plans for us. About a week ago, Dude was doing some work in the kitchen and he found a large crack in the floor tiles that extends about half the width of the kitchen. Apparently one of the beams in the garage that is supporting the kitchen floor is giving way and now it needs to be reinforced.
He said there was a couple of ways to do it and one would be to take out the existing beam and replace it. On any other house I would be fine with that but this is one of the original beams of the house that was put in around 1776, so that would be a big NO in my book to replace.
The other idea was to reinforce the wooden beam with a metal I-beam. It would run alongside the wooden beam and then down either side of the garage. I think we will probably go with that idea, but now Dude has to start another search project for what we need, and how it’s going to be done. It also requires welding equipment which we don’t have. It’s still an idea in the works and he isn’t quite sure how it’s all going to come together but it’s something that needs to be resolved quickly. The tile in the kitchen is super nice and it will end up getting ruined since the one side of the floor has moved and actually sinks in a bit. It isn’t too bad, yet, but it will be very soon.
So there you have it. Work and house taking priority! I still have visions of one day waking up, the house is done, and all I need to worry about is what village I’m going to sight-see in that day! It better be coming soon, but soon is probably next year 🙂
Oh, by the way, little creatures have started to visit us for the summer. We have suddenly found scorpions and centipedes in the house! That’s always nice, isn’t it??!!
This little guy wondered in one evening. His funeral was that same night.
About a week and a half ago while Dude and I were shopping at the market, I happen to hear a mother and her son speaking American. Yes-that’s right, I said American. The reason why this was so shocking is that in the middle of the nowhere area of Provence that I live you don’t hear American too often.
I approached the mother and son and asked if they were from American and with wide eyes the mother replied, “Yes! Are you?” Well, of course I said yes and she was surprised as well when I told her that I lived in France. Now, I tell you, I’ve never seen someone more excited to see a fellow American than this lady. The minute I told her that I was a Provencal girl she wanted my number and was inviting Dude, myself and Tinki over (it just so happens that she has a daughter the same age as mine). She said that she had lived in Provence for a long time, but was never around any Americans. Her husband is French and her children go to French schools. She was so happy to speak to an American that I thought she was just going to leap over and hug me! Her son reiterated that fact that his mom was dying to meet another American to chat with.
Well, we hit if of right there in the market and chatted American for about an hour and a half and by the end of the conversation she had invited us over for a day at her place! We nearly closed the place down that night and when there was only 30 minutes to closing we exchanged numbers, promised to give each other a call to hook up and took off like lightening speed to finish our shopping before they kicked our American behinds out.
Fast forward to mid-week.
I gave my new American friend a call around Wednesday and we decided that this past Saturday we would hooked up. So on Saturday morning we headed out to their place and oh my goodness is their place amazing! They have the most wonderful view of the Mediterranean Sea and vineyards just in front of their yard and their house is the most adorable Provencal house ever!
It was an unbelievable how marvelous the weather was. Not a cloud in the sky and just a light breeze.
My new friend made us Cobb Salad for lunch with bread and cheese, of course, and Dude chatted it up with her husband. We ate on the terrace overlooking the water and it was just breathtaking.
After lunch, we picked apricots, mulberries, almonds ( and some other fruit I don’t know the name of ) right off of their garden trees and then we sat around and chatted some more while munching on them.
We got the grand tour of the area and the story of the family.
They also have a cute little dog name Spot and guess what?? My most favorite animal of all, a turtle 🙂
It was one of the most delightful days we had spent out in a while. I tell you, we have the best times with American girlfriends who are married to French men! It’s always nice to chat with a fellow American girl all about peanut butter, Dr. Pepper, Pop Rocks and Hugh Jackman!
I can never say enough how much I love the area in which I live. The minute I leave my house and turn down the first street, I am hit with the most magnificent views of hills and vineyards.
Dude and I have started taking evening strolls since the weather has warmed up and the sun hangs in the sky until nearly 10pm (I love that). We tried to take a stroll during lunch one day, but it’s now proving to be too hot so I guess we will stick to our early evening walks.
The center of town in our village is small compared to some, but there are many houses and streets that surround it. There are also some nice hikes in the area and one of them is easy to get to once I leave my front door. I heard from the town maire that our village consisted of only a little more than 1000 people in 1970 and over the last 40 years has grown to be around 6000. Even though that is still a relatively small number, the growth is impressive. I guess everyone else likes the surrounding scenery, too! As a result of the growth, there are a number of really nice areas in which to walk and take in not only the view, but all the different styles of houses. It makes for a very enjoyable evening.
The last couple of days and evenings we have been venturing out more often. Come and take a quick stroll with me. I love sharing what is literally, in my back yard.
Meg over at Meg Travels has nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! I’m not sure if I inspire her to go and see more places or if I inspire her to get to work on her house! In any case, thank you Meg for sending this award my way. I am very glad that my blog, in either of those cases, inspires you. I hope others are inspired by it, too.
Meg gets to do something I would love to do (I bet you all would too). She gets to travel around the globe and then she gets to write all about it. Who in their right mind wouldn’t want to do that! She just returned from a trip to Italy and is in the process of telling us all about the wonderful things to see and do there. Coincidentally, I found her blog from her writings on France. I am always curious about the places people go to visit, what they did there and why they recommend it. Meg gives her readers just that, plus a few extras. My recommendation is to “travel” on over to her blog and see what she’s been up to recently.
In order to accept this award, I have to follow a few rules and here they are:
First, acknowledge and thank the giver by linking back to their blog and put the award on your page. Check.
Next, list 7 things about yourself. Check.
- Turtles are my most favorite animal in the world (I’ve mentioned this before). I had two box turtles as a teenager and they were named J.R. (I know what you all are thinking and yes, he was named after J.R. Ewing since I had such an addiction to Dallas) and Caruso (I don’t know why, he just looked like a Caruso to me). After my first child was born, they became poor, little, neglected turtles so I gave them to a friend of my aunt’s who had a bunch of turtles in her back yard. I believe that my little guys are still living there happily ever after.
- The first DVD that I ever purchased was “A League of Their Own”. I still love that movie and I’ve watched it a million times! It’s one of those great feel-good movies that never gets old.
- I don’t own any dresses or skirts. I hate wearing them. In my elementary school, girls had to wear a dress everyday and boys had to wear a tie. Thanks to that, my wardrobe of preference is jeans and a t-shirt. What else does a girl need?
- The moon is my favorite celestial being. There’s something very calming about gazing up at the night sky and seeing the moon, especially a harvest moon, now that’s something to behold.
- I had my tonsils taken out when I was 4 years old and I had hernia surgery when I was 7 years old. I get the tonsil thing but a hernia at 7?? I think child labor services should have shown up at my house.
- The two subjects I always tried to get out of in school were math and science. I couldn’t stand either one of them and I took the least amount of classes in those subjects possible to still be able to graduate with all fulfilled requirements. Funny how those are the two things I deal with in my job all day long! Who’d a thunk it? Definitely not me!
- I took my first airplane ride when I was 23 years old. I went to Maui, Hawaii. I didn’t have the opportunity to travel when I was younger aside from a couple of trips to the lake with my family and one 3 week vacation trip I took with my aunt, uncle and cousins in their motor home when I was 16. The travel bug didn’t bite me until I was in my mid-30’s! I think I’m making up for all those lost travel years now 🙂 BTW- France was the very first destination I went to outside of the USA. Hmm, there’s gotta be fate in that somewhere.
Last, pass the award to some bloggers who inspire you. Check.
Fit for my Fork– Sam inspires me to eat it up healthy and to love doing it.
Beyond the Brush– Lynne inspires me to appreciate the arts.
A Historic Virginia Plantation– Michelle and Brett inspire me to continue on with my old French house remodel and to look forward to the day it’s done!
My Botanical Garden– Inspires me to get out in garden and get myself some green thumbs.
Lorna’s Tearoom Delight– Inspires me to relax and have a good cup of tea and to have the courage to write a book about what I love!
To all of you out there in blog land, go forth and be inspired 🙂
Our daughter illustrates the most wonderful pictures you could possibly imagine (NO she is not 5 years old and NO I’m not exaggerating. The proof is in the post!) The fantastic creativity that comes of this kid is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen! She is truly gifted and I wanted to share her story and show you some of her art illustrations because everything she creates is just ridiculously great!
I usually refrain from blogging about my children. Aside from the occasional mention now and then, you don’t hear too much about them. For one, I feel that if I’m going to make them an object of a post then I probably should consult them to see if they really want to be written about by their mother (you know how sensitive offspring are). Secondly, three out of the four kiddies are adults and are in the United States and therefore aren’t apart of the everyday activities Dude, Tinki and I are experiencing.
But……on this occasion I have broken my rule (the one about making a kid the direct object of a post not about the consulting part).
As I was looking through my daughter’s illustration work, I had the sudden urge to share it with you all. She is more talented than anyone I personally know and I’m not just saying that cuz she’s my kid. You’ll see for yourself, it’s true.
The kido I am referring to is our oldest and she graduated from college last year with a Bachelor’s Degree of Fine Arts in Illustration. Now we all know what that means; long, painstaking hours of intense creativity flowing from the body all for the sheer passion and pleasure of doing it. History continuously shows how unkind the world is to artists and in the modern world it’s much the same. Tell someone you’re an artist and what kind of a look do they give you? Yup-that’s right, you all know the look.
It’s tough to be an artist, and that’s putting it very mildly. The passion must be so intense for the work. It must always be for the work because the monetary rewards are so few for the majority out there. It’s not too say that you can’t make a living at being an artist, it’s just that it happens to be one of those professions where it’s a bit tougher to come by.
Most artists revert to doing something else on the side to be able to eat, put a roof over their head and clothes on their back. They all know, especially in the beginning, that no matter how great they really are, their work isn’t going to do that for them. Starving and artist has become synonymous with each other, but what can you do when you love it more than life itself?! (By the way, she doesn’t get the talent from me. I’m lucky if I can color inside the lines in a coloring book!). Her gift was passed to her by the way of Dude’s two older brothers who happen to be wonderful at any and all kinds of artsy stuff.
From the time our oldest was about 2 she displayed a talent for drawing that I hadn’t seen before. We would give her crayons and a coloring book and she wouldn’t want the book. She only wanted plain paper so she could draw whatever she wanted on it. Coloring books didn’t allow her creativity to flow. She saw the lines as roadblocks. As she grew, she had paper and pens or crayons with her at all times.
We made sure in her early years to put her in any and all art classes that we could find, whether it be at school or through extra-curricular classes in town. Art supplies aren’t cheap and neither were the classes so we told the rest of our three children that since their sister was busy making beautiful art they couldn’t have any extras. They would have to just get their pay back from her when she was rich and famous. This is why I don’t post any photos of them when they were younger. Seeing them in rags just isn’t pretty. 🙂 You’re not really buying that one are you?
In her preteen years she would paint using watercolors and oils and draw with pen and pencil. She entered any contest she could and she won some kind of ribbon or award in nearly all of them.
When we lived in Aix-en-Provence, we were lucky enough to find a couple of art classes that she could attend during the day each Wednesday and in the evening each Thursday. Boy did she eat those classes up. I never saw more of a happy camper than when she was heading out the door to art class in France.
Upon our return to the United States, we enrolled her in the Orange County High School of the Arts, otherwise known as OCHSA (pronounced OSHA). This is undoubtedly one of the best places to go for a teenager who lives, eats and breathes anything that has anything to do with art. Those few years at this school she excelled and was introduced to jewelry making, sculpting and fashion design as well feeding her illustration-minded knish.
After high school graduation she was accepted to The School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, New York. She spent the next several years there before graduating last May.
During the last year she has done two book covers, has had her art work appear in gallery shows and has even been lucky enough to sell some of her stuff. That’s not bad right out of college. She of course has a side job and maintains that artist can’t make enough to live on but one day she hopes to.
Her specialty is fantasy illustration and children’s books. The mediums she works the most with are oil and watercolors.
Her goal is to be in one of SPECTRUM’s volumes, and work either at Random House publishing doing the illustrations for children’s books or at Wizards of the Coast illustrating their fantasy playing cards.
I wanted to share this with you all because I am so proud of her. She is an exceptional child (now an adult) in every way possible. She is loyal, trustworthy, conscientious and hardworking. Her work is beyond wonderful and I would like others to know how truly gifted she is and since I have a blog, I might as well use it every once in awhile for plugging something, right? Why not my oldest kido?
If any of you out there reading this knows someone or is someone who is looking for an illustrator, please don’t hesitate to let me know and I will pass on the information to my daughter. She is always looking for free lance work (as well as steady work).
I know you all are just dying to see if I’m telling you the truth, so here you go, the proof:
Here are some examples of her fantasy illustrations using oil paints.
Here are some examples of her illustrations using watercolor.
Here is an example of her work with Prisma Colored Pencils
Thank you Meredith AND Jacqui for my Versatile Blogger Award! Both these wonderful ladies nominated me this week for the award and I want to give them a big shout out and thank you.
Meredith is a fellow American who lives in Provence like me (only she lives closer to chic Aix-en-Provence than I do). She is married to a Frenchman and has two daughters. Her blog, entitled Talking Story in Provence, chronicles the daily happenings over in her neck of the woods.
She always shares the best secrets and photos of open market shopping, tours of Aix-en-Provence (and her favorite shopping places there), her life with her husband and children and her crazy dog, Duffy and all the random stuff that happens to her while venturing out to enjoy this wonderful region.
The little snippets of insight into her daily life almost always put a smile on my face. I nod my head in agreement when she and I have had the same experiences and I ohh and ahhh over her photos of the delicious fruits and veggies she’s found while shopping. There have been many times when I have just laughed out loud at some of the stuff she writes about.
Aside from us both being American and loving Provence, Meredith and I also have something else in common; she used to live many years ago in the village that I now live in! She also happens to be the one who let me in on the secret that my village is cursed. After all the mishaps and downright terrible things that have happened with the renovation of our house, I totally believe her!
So all of you out there who just can’t get enough of Provence, head on over and see what Meredith has been up to. I’m sure you’ll enjoy her stories as much as I do.
Jacqui lives in northern France with her husband and son. Jacqui originates from the UK, but just like me, she got bit by the French bug and now has a little piece of earth here, too. Jacqui shares her stories at The French Village Diaries. She has her own garden where she grows some of the most delicious veggies and she is also the proud owner of some ducks, chickens, a couple of ol’ cats and the cutest mini cooper ever! Jacqui and I became blogging friends thanks to sharing her love of Cantal cheese with me. See, both Jacqui and I are ardent gourmands of that oh so delicious cheddar cheese which happens to be difficult to find in my region. I was grumpy and complaining one day how life just sucks without cheddar and Jacqui chimed in and introduced me to Cantal (I have mentioned this story before, but what the hey, it was life altering for me!). Now she is my Cantal-Cheddar bestie!
Her blog tells of life in her very tiny village, trips she’s taken (she just spent a week road tripping in her mini with her hubby), the delicious things she grows in her garden and her family life ( aka living in France with a preteen boy who happens to have a blog of his own).
Stop on by Jacqui’s blog and say hi. You’re bound to find some delicious food you’d like to try (or grow) and some wonderful places to put on your “to visit” list.
I’ve been told that in accepting this award, I must supply some random information about myself. I guess that shouldn’t be too hard since I consider myself a random kind of person. So, here goes:
- I have four children of my own, 3 girls and 1 boy, but I also had a baby for my brother-in-law and his wife because they couldn’t have children of their own. Yes folks, back in the summer of 1999 I was busy giving birth to my niece. Not many people can say that, now can they?
- I have the biggest crush ever on Anthony Hopkins and I’ve had that crush since I was a little girl when I first saw him in the movie, “Audrey Rose”. Heaven help me, if I could go back in time and write him a letter from my nine year old self and tell him to wait for me, I would so do that. Just as an extra, I also have the hots for Hugh Jackman, in a really big way.
- I absolutely LOVE popcorn and orange juice together. There is no way in heck this girl is eating popcorn without having a glass of OJ sitting right there to accompany it, no way Jose. It’s the best EVER and I think you all should try it.
- I have an extreme phobia of needles and dolls. I’m not kidding, it’s really bad. A doll holding a needle would put me in the grave in .01 seconds, no kidding. I break out in a cold sweat, my heart starts pounding in my chest and I get clammy hands and feet if I even see a picture of either one. This has been a phobia of mine since I was a kid. I gave birth to all my children without any medication whatsoever cuz there was no way the doctors were ever gonna stick a needle in my back for the epidural. The pain of child birth was a piece of cake compared to that. It’s also the reason why I didn’t become a spy. If I was ever caught by the enemy all they would have to do is show me a photo of either a doll or a needle and I would tell them everything they wanted to know and then some.
- It’s a little known fact in my family that my great grandma on my mom’s side (my mom’s mom’s mom-did you get that?) was of Cherokee Indian decent. She was a stout little thing and always wore her hair in a long, black braid down her back. I am also, Italian, Irish, Spanish, Black Dutch, and German. Dude calls me a mutt. Mutts are cute so I will forgive him for that.
- When I was 17 I got the chicken pox and because of my advanced age, I missed two weeks of school, one of which was Spring break (thanks stupid new kid who had the pox and came to my school for only one week just to give them to me and then left and never came back!) and I had the worst case possible. I mean those pox were EVERY WHERE. I hold no grudges, but I tell you, I will kick his old behind if I ever see him again.
- I hate fish. I don’t like the way it looks and I don’t like the way it smells and I will never, ever eat it! Nothing that comes out of the sea will ever touch these lips.
Well, now that you know that I birth nieces, like men with sexy accents, love strange food combinations, have heart stopping phobias, am a mutt, catches disfiguring sicknesses, and would rather have an aquarium of fish that a plate full, I think it’s time to bestow the gift of the Versatile Blogger award to some people whom I really enjoy reading their blogs. Although I read a bazillion blogs (it’s sort of addicting) and love a ton of you guyzes to pieces, some of you just hog up all the awards to I gotta spread the love!!!!!……..
I’m such a dork. Not that you all didn’t already know that, I’m just putting it out there in writing.
How this particular confession came about is that I was reading over passed comments on my blog (I try and do that every now and then cuz a lot of them just give me a giggle) when I realized that Leigh over at bluegrassnotes had nominated me 2 whole months ago for the Sunshine Award!!! Can you believe it, what a DORK I am for not jumping on that one cuz it’s the first (and only) award I have ever received.
Thank you so much Leigh for nominating me. Even though I am a late bloomer on accepting awards, I am super excited to be a winner! Leigh writes all about her spiritual journeys through life and the power of healing your spirit. In her own words she writes, “It’s a journey that covers mind, body and spirit so topics will include health and emotional issues as well as spirit.” She is also a grand lover of something I have yet to experience which is yoga. Thank you again, Leigh, for nominating my blog. I appreciate it very much!
So without further adieu, here are the rules of how to play nice with this award.
- Thank the person who gave this award and write a post about it.
- Answer the questions on your favorites below.
- Pass on the award to 10 fabulous bloggers, link their blogs, and let them know you awarded them.
The thanking was done just up above (remember it was just after the giant word DORK for me).
Here are my favorites in no particular order what so ever:
Favorite Color – Purple/lavender (please peeps, haven’t you seen my new garage doors??)
Favorite Animal – Turtles. They are slow, like me. On the other hand, they are quiet and I’m not so I guess we balance each other out.
Favorite Number – 19 (duh)
Favorite Drink – Coffee and Dr. Pepper. I have two favorites but I don’t drink them together cuz that would be really dumb.
Facebook or Twitter – Hmmm, I don’t really know. Can I just choose WordPress?
Your Passion – Travel and reading books. It’s super awesome when I can do both at the same time, that’s skills I tell ya.
Giving or getting presents – Giving, hands down. I love to watch people’s face light up when they open a present. It just gives me that warm, fuzzy and happy feeling.
Favorite Day – My birthday, of course. Otherwise known in my house as Queen’s Day.
Favorite Flowers – Lilies (never mind they were traditionally for the dead) and carnations.
Here is my list of nominee/winners. Even though I love reading so many wonderful blogs out there, I really tried to select winners who haven’t received the award, yet. I love to spread the warmth around, it’s part of that giving thing I wrote about up above 🙂 I will do my utmost best to let all the winners know right away, but as I stated, I’m kinda slow like my favorite animal.
Please click away and check out some of these blogs. If you’re on the list, please pay it forward….
Mr. Meteo told me last night that it was going to rain today, so I made no plans to go anywhere.
Well, stupid Mr. Meteo was wrong. I woke this morning (or mid-morning by everyone else’s standards) to a sunny, blue sky. It was a bit breezy, but not too bad. Definitely nothing in the way of the Mistrals or anything, so that brightened my day some.
I’m not complaining about sunny skies, no way Jose. It just that I would have made whole day away plans if I would have known. I treasure my weekend get-a-ways, you know.
So, I again checked Mr. Meteo this morning to see what was up. He was still saying that rain would be coming my way sometime this afternoon which meant that if I wanted to do anything in the outdoorsy way, I had better get on it (if he was telling me the truth).
Since we have such a nice area to stroll in, Dude and I decided to take an hour or so walk before lunch.
To our surprise it was quite pleasant outside and turned out to be perfect weather for a late morning walk.
The little poppies are blooming.
The vineyards are starting to show leaves and thanks to all the rain we have been having, the mountains and fields are a nice shade of green.
Once back home, it was time for a quick lunch.
Yes folks, that’s my idea of a quick lunch, Cantal cheese (I will forever love my friend Jacqui over at The French Village Diaries for introducing me to this wonderful cheese), fresh strawberries, a bottle of Cairanne wine(made known to be my my friend Michel our at Sablet House Provence and that Dude already partook of) and some delicious 1848 dark chocolate while enjoying the view.
I do kind of think I’m spoiled, but somehow I just can’t apologize for it 🙂
I love living in the country side. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Not only do I get to live in Provence, but I get to live in the countryside of Provence. Bonus points any day!
Every day I drive out of my driveway and the first street I come to brings me to nothing but hills and vineyards. Every once in a while , during my country drives, I get to see this and it makes my day. Look how cute this farmer is! Scenes like this just put a smile on my face. Doesn’t he look like he enjoys his life here?