Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Lemons, Eiffel Tower & Bloggers, Oh My!

I have been remiss. That is, I haven't shared the details of what was the most fun Saturday I've had in quite some time. What with the Littlest and then P-Daddy and now the Middlest, and dare I confess it, yours truly, feeling a bit viral, well, I haven't had the chance.

Saturday the 13th, a fantastic and varied group of bloggers came together for lunch in Montpellier. There were 12 bloggers, two significant others and two ados (pre-ados, but still). We added some multi-cultural charm to Chez Boris on the Esplanade.

{this is KIRSTY'S photo of Chez Boris}

We were parleying the anglais like nobody's business.

The city was buzzing with pre-marathon activity and crawling with gendarmerie who were going on lunch break, bien sur, as Kirsty, Ma Fille and I walked from the tram station to the resto. They were sitting in their armored vans eating very sophisticated packed lunches on fold down trays, airplane style. Some of them were quite hunky. If you like that sort of thing.

Even Gary Dourdan, apparently of CSI aka, Les Experts here in France, was in town. Turns out he plays the guitar. The sweet waitress at the outdoor cafe Kirsty, Nicola and I went to for one last glass of the pink stuff tipped us off. Good thing too because we never would have known.
He was sitting at an outdoor cafe across from Virgin Megastore setting up for a sing along. It was heady stuff, I'm telling you.

Nicola from Growing Berries was there, having done a quick switch with her traveling husband for child duty and left her four little Berries behind in Paris to have lunch with us. She made me a pretty pillow (these people are talented) that is happily fluffed, cuddled and pined after by my three and Clementine. She really wants to sink her teeth into that floral Eiffel Tower. Thank you, Nicky!

{Pretty Eiffel Tower}

Jennifer from Gustia came with her husband and brought me these lemons all the way from Monaco, well really from her house in Menton. She didn't know this but lemon tart, lemon bars, lemon meringue, lemon drops, you get the idea, are a few of my favorite things. Plus, there's a really cool lemon festival in Menton in February that has always intrigued me. Now that I know Jennifer, I'll have to get over there for it. She also gave me some maple syrup, she's Canadian, and a handy foldable shopping bag with its own sleeve for socking it away at the bottom of your purse for any unexpected lemony purchases. Thank you, Jennifer!

{Menton lemons, chez moi}

Almost everyone has written a bit about it on their blogs and unlike me, they actually took some photos so have a look around if you'd like photographic evidence.Kirsty took some great ones of the restaurant and Karen got a cool one of the frighteningly professional cameras and talented sharpshooters in action.

These are some amazing women, people. Women that are doing fun things, following their hearts, raising their children, learning new languages and challenging themselves daily to find the silver lining in this life abroad.

All I can say is thank you everyone for coming and for making our third Blogapalooza or if you prefer, BlogFeast, a huge success.

Karen from Little Sweet Spots
Abby and Logan J’Adore Ma Vie
Jennifer American Mom in Bordeaux
Kirsty You Had Me at Bonjour
Heather Lost in Arles
Nicola at Growing Berries
Julie at The Provence Post
Colleen at Life 2.1
Jennifer Gustia
Sarah at St Bloggie de Riviere
Meredith Talking Story in Provence

P.S. I seem to have been nominated as a Top Expat Blog for France on Expats Blog. Maybe you'd like to head over and leave a comment and maybe even log a vote for me. The happy surprises I find in my inbox! You can tweet it if you'd like too.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Les Cornichons

The Littlest loves pickles, les cornichons to be exact. The small, curved baby pickles dotted with rough alligator skin bobbing along happily in a glass jar, usually with onions. Here in France every jar comes with a handy filter/serving tray inside to push down all the brine and spices leaving only translucent onions and gnarled pickles at the top. Some even feature a jagged edge along the handle for you to rest on the side of the jar when you've reached perfect pickle removal level. This comes in handy as the jar is emptied. Which ours usually are in a flash.

Being that cornichons are a favorite Littlest snack and must be sliced and added to any and every sandwich made in this house, I was thrilled to see a handy little trick on Real Simple the other day. They are always full of such good ideas. They suggested chopping the cornichons up finely and then mixing them into soft, salted butter to spread on baguette. It works on any sandwich bread as I have come to learn, with delicious results.
{Levi Brown, Real Simple}

Theirs was a crusty slab of baguette open-faced with salami folded over and layered on top. I started chopping, mixing and spreading straight away and had my own salami, buttery pickle spread baguette by lunch time.
The Littlest, of course, loved it. This is the only way to make sandwiches for him these days. He will eat the buttery pickles off of the bread, licking them really, and leaving hollowed and soggy baguette behind.

Today he is home sick. A sad and coughing Littlest, with purple smudges under his big, blue eyes, insulted by the added injury prescribed by the doctor in the form of suppositories. I'm sorry darling, it's just the French way. We have to take the good with the bad and boy do you love those pickles!

I made him tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich, cornichons sliced thin and tucked inside, stuck and melted into the square of yellow cheese. This was my mother's go-to home sick lunch and it makes me feel good to watch him eat it.

I sat there nursing my tea, looking on as he swam the triangle of sandwich like a 'shawk' in his sea of tomato soup, chomping down the bites. I didn't mind wiping the orangey red soup from his fat hands as he devoured three of the four shark tails. When a couple of les cornichons fell out into the bowl, he fished them out with his spoon. 'I got it!' Hooray!

Full and warmed up, he's sleeping now, already on the mend, I can tell.

Ma Fille sang a popular French song for her school spectacle last year, Les Cornichons. I thought you might like to see this version. Try the pickles and butter. And don't mind if your fingers get a bit messy if you have to dip them into some tomato soup every once in awhile.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

English Lessons

Yesterday, Ma Fille came home from school and played a tricky monkey on me. 'Oh, Mommy! I have so much homework tonight. I'm really worried that I won't be able to finish it!'
'Oh, no! Really?' I assumed it was another French history lesson or an epic poesie to put to memory.
'Yes! I have to learn the numbers to 100! In English!' She thinks this is hilarious. And like her father, has a tendency to continue with a joke way past its expiration date on funny. It's genetic, I guess.

Then the Middlest and I walked over to the pharmacy to buy lice deterrent spray and pink eye drops for the Littlest. (I've never had to deal with les poux and I don't want to start now.) We do our best talking on these little walks. Plus I get some hand holding which I greedily sneak whenever I can.

He had had his first English lesson of this school year and when his teacher asked the class,  in accented English, to take out their English notebooks he was the only one who did it automatically. Which made everyone turn and look at him, the usual in these English lesson situations. 'Oh, watch Rowan. He knows what to do!', they chorused.
He told me that they picked out English names for themselves and he chose Sam. His best friend in Ireland's name is Sam and he said that this way he can feel close to him. He suggested other names to his friends too; Matthew for Matheo, Josh for someone else, and for another one, Harry.

The thing I thought was the sweetest though, was that two of the children chose the Middlest's name, Rowan, for theirs. To them, he's a living, breathing, running, screaming, jumping example of an English speaker. Even if he rarely utters a word in his langue maternelle while he's at school.
I think it made him feel good. He smiled up at me with those oversized front teeth when he told me, our hands swinging. It made my night, that's for sure.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

You're Farty-Far! or Happy Birthday P-Daddy

When we lived in Ireland we learned a few things about the English language. It is malleable, unreliable and dangerous.Words that could get you in some soap-in-the-mouth-trouble at home were spoken in classrooms all over Ireland. Imagine the time Ma Fille asked my Belle-Mere for a 'rubber'.

And vice versa. Just say anything about your 'bangs' or ask for a 'ride' in Ireland and you'll find out what I mean toute de suite.

Accents, as we know, are pretty funny things too. A simple 'ya'll' or 'you guys' can mark you out. Busted.

We laugh a lot at these little differences and continue to find great pleasure in making what we consider to be very funny jokes amongst ourselves, Chez Larson.

As you know, this hasn't changed in France.

Back to Ireland....come with me.

One day after school we were warming our tushes (emphatically not fannies) against the radiator, trying to take the perma-chill out of our bones by sipping hot chocolate (uh, Guinness). Ma Fille had a story from her school day to share. Something had cracked her up and she knew it would send her word nerd mother into fits of laughter too.

She'd had a substitute teacher and the gentle woman had a rather strong Irish accent. When she called out the answers to their 'matts test', read as 'math test' to you and me, one of them would have made my Belle-Mere's palm itch for the bar of soap.

'Farty-Far!', she sang. 'Twenty-two plus twenty-two is FARTY-FAR, so it is!'

And so it has always been in our silly, easily amused little family.

The day has finally come when I can announce to the world and to my lovable P-Daddy:

'Happy Birthday! You're FARTY-FAR!' 

If you think I've been saving that one up for awhile, you'd be right.

If you'd like you can read one of my favorite P-Daddy posts in honor of his farty-farth birthday.