My son and I are leaving our small town in southeastern United States to live for a year in a small town in southeastern France. It couldn't possibly be THAT different, right?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Terra potier

After a pretty lazy morning , Jed and I walked into town to visit the pottery market again this afternoon.
We had seen some pretty vases that we wanted to buy for his teachers as end-of-the-year gifts and since they were still there, we went ahead and got them.  We then bought an ice cream cone, and I basked in the sun while Jed rode around on a rented kart.

Jed's flower vases on our balcony

I had to stop him at five gifts.  He wanted to buy something for everyone, and he has a very definite opinion about which teacher will receive which vase.  He sees Françoise with the green one, for example, and his classroom teacher seems more like an orange-vase person.  OK then!

It rained all night leaving huge puddles all over the park.  That made karting all the more fun today.  

Maybe 15 minutes after we got home, Nate called to say that he, Carrie, and Mary were in Montélimar so we put our shoes back on and headed back to the pottery market for the third time this weekend.

Jed and I ran into Carrie and Mary by chance at one of the farms yesterday.  It was fun to see them out in the middle of nowhere.  Carrie and I have a similar idea of what makes for a fun afternoon. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

De ferme en ferme

This weekend is the 20th annual "De ferme en ferme" (From farm to farm) weekend when many of the local orchards, vineyards, and farms are open to the public free of charge.

Jed and I began our day of discovery by going to an almond orchard with Dom and her family.  We learned about the harvesting of almonds and the production of candy and were rewarded for our attentiveness with delicious samples throughout the tour.

Almond trees

When it's harvest time, this contraption fans out around the base of the tree and then shakes it until all of the almonds fall into this sort of "upside down umbrella." 

Posing with a sack of cocoa beans in the gift shop.  

Montélimar is a busy place!  When we left the orchard, Jed and I stopped by the pottery market at the park.

We arrived just in time for the apéro celebrating the opening of the market---Youpi!  I had a rosé, and Jed had a lovely 2012 OJ.  

We watched a couple of demonstrations.

And Jed got to make a clay turtle!  Unfortunately, his creation fell apart on the way home for lunch so now we just have a big hunk of clay, but he had fun making it.

After lunch, Jed, Néo, Dom, and I headed out in the direction of Dieulefit to visit two more farms.  At the Ferme du Clos de L'Orme, we saw a sheep herding exercise and tasted goat meat and bought pâté.  Dom said that living out in the country like this would be torture for a city girl like herself so I just had to get her picture with the sheep!  

What Jed and Néo enjoyed the most was jumping off of the bales of hay in one of the barns.

The highlight of the Ferme de Pracoutel for the boys was riding horses.  For me and Dom, it was the Picodon (goat cheese) tasting.

This was Jed's first time ever on a horse.  He's always been too scared of the height, but since he's ridden a camel, this was no big deal.

Néo looked very comfortable from the beginning.

The end of a fun day!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Political ad: Sarkozy en un mot

This is in no way an endorsement.  I just thought that French students would find this interesting.  Listen for all of those adjectives!

Here's part deux!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Le sens de la vie

                                         And here's one that helps me get the housework done!

Chéri Coco

This is Jed's favorite song at the moment.  There is a video with dancing, but I couldn't find it on youtube.  The group, Magic System, is from the Ivory Coast.


Well, as if I have not already gained enough weight while living in the land of bread and cheese, my waistline has a new enemy:  Speculoos!  Because it looks like peanut butter, I figured that it was a poor substitute so I never considered buying it until my friend Amy's sons raved about it over spring break.
According to the Speculoos website, the delicious cinnamon cookies are a specialty of Northern France and Belgium.  They taste great with coffee or tea and make a decent cheesecake crust. 
Someone apparently thought that the same flavor would also make a good spread----hence the further demise of my hips!  If there is any way for me to bring a case of this home, I will!  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Phone booths

When was the last time you saw a phone booth in the US?  Cell phones seem to have replaced those as well as watches, but both are still fairly common over here.  

Election Day

This link explains in simple terms how today's vote works.

One of the polling sites, the theatre

The Palais de Justice, where voting irregularities can be addressed
Maybe one day it will be warm enough for Jed to stop wearing this darn skeleton jacket!  

Nicolas Sarkozy, the current president

François Hollande, one of the top contenders, if you can believe the media

Never heard of her, but I like her glasses!

Her dad is Jean-Marie Le Pen.  Look him up; he's a real charmer.  I wish that I had taken these photos before they were defaced, but I think that that happened pretty soon after they were posted.  These are just five of the candidates up for election in this "premier tour" or first round.  The two who get the most votes will be on the ballot in May.  

This is not a political candidate, but I thought that it was amusing that this poster was just next to all of their mug shots.  That's not why I took the photo, though.  This woman is one of Jed's aftercare teachers at school.  

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Jed and I are trying to do one fun thing each day of our "staycation" week in Montélimar.

On Sunday, we went to see the version française of Mirror Mirror and both enjoyed it.  Jed wanted a film  with more blood and gore, but he was satisfied by the sword fighting in this one.

On Monday, it was rainy and cold so our fun activity was eating at McDonalds and playing in the play land.  A very nice teenager (I assume, but as I age, it is harder and harder to tell!) took our order on a phone as we waited in the long line.  When we got to the cash register, we gave our order number to the cashier and paid, and our order was instantly ready.  

This is not our McDonalds, but we also have ordering stations like these where we can place our order on the screen, pay by bank card and go to a special pick up line.  Jed loves using these.

On Tuesday, Jed spent the entire day inside recovering from throwing up in the middle of the night.  Since he felt better by late afternoon, we went ahead with our plan of going to a puppet show at the theater Le Calepin.   We saw Le rouge et le vert by the company Jabron Rouge (

The show was wonderful, but I found the technical talk afterwards even more interesting.  One woman writes the scripts, makes the puppets, performs alone (giving voice to six characters in this play), runs the lights, and plays the harmonica.  Her husband designs and makes the sets. 

On Wednesday, we went to Dom's house for lunch.  Since she loves cheesecake, we attempted to make one Tuesday night.  Jed did a beautiful job making the cookie (Speckoolos) crust, but I miscalculated the proportion of heavy cream to cream cheese and ended up with a lovely pudding-like mixture that tasted like cheesecake.  I took it anyway, and we served it with strawberries on top.  It was a pretty yummy mistake.
Dom's friends, Olivier, Manime, and their daughter, Noémie joined us for lunch.  They have just moved to Finland for Olivier's work so it was fun hearing stories of their adjustment to a new culture.  There were many similarities between their experiences and ours.  

On Thursday, it was rainy and cool in the afternoon so we went to see Battleship.  I didn't expect to like it, but it actually had a nice message.  In order to save the Earth from aliens, everyone is needed, not just the big, hunky men.  There were heroines as well as senior citizen and handicapped heros.  Jed liked that they blew lots of stuff up, but he said, "Yeah, cool" when I pointed out how everyone worked together.

After the movie, I lured Jed into Monoprix to look around.  We didn't buy anything, but we did try out their photo booth.  This vacation at home idea is pretty fun after all. 

We then went to one of the cafés on the main street in downtown and had a beer and a coke.  Yes, I document every move that this poor child makes!  He's pretty good-humored about it, though.

On Friday, I somehow succeeded in convincing Jed that shopping was our fun activity for the day.  He endured the shoe store because there was a great reward: a Free Gun cap.  He already has lots of their underwear, but he wants a full wardrobe before he leaves.  He considers himself very tough in this photo.  

On Saturday, we went in search of a good price on watches.  Mine is a knock-off of the popular Ice Watches which come in bright colors and cost around 89 euros.  Since that's a little out of my price range, I went to my favorite accessory shop for this version.  Jed fell in love with his American watch at a gift shop that specializes in kitchen gadgets.  Go figure!  

Well, the party's over!  Today is the last day of Spring Break.  It is also election day so to satisfy my curiosity, Jed and I walked downtown to a few voting sites to see how it's done in France.  No excitement to report on that front----the French show an ID and then go into a booth and vote just like we do.  The poll workers didn't really seem to want to chat with me about the whole process, for some reason so Jed and I went to the park where he drove a cart like a mad man for ten minutes.  We then strolled around town, had ice cream, and discovered a mural near the library that we had never seen.  Goodbye lazy days!  We'll miss you!



New cut and color

My French hairdressers all work at Tchip (pronounced "cheap") Coiffure.  They don't take appointments, and the prices are the best in town.  I got a cut, color, and moisturizing treatment (a delightful process that involves a steaming hot towel wrapped around your head) for 45 euros.  I've been  highlighting my hair for years so it feels strange to be a total brunette, but I like it.  

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Jeanne and Alex arrived in Lille around 9:30 Thursday night, making Amy's little apartment really burst at the seams with its eight occupants.  It was so much fun, though!  We talked until the wee hours of the morning while the four boys watched movies.
The next day we took the train to the Belgian town of Tournai just twenty minutes away and had lunch before the Brotschuls drove to Amsterdam for the weekend.

Outside the Lille train station---I love these boys!

On the Grande Place in Tournai---I hate to say it, but all of these "Grandes Places" were starting to run together after a week in the north.  This one had one slight difference:  notice the yellow t-shirt in the background?  It's actually a Tour de France jersey hanging above a countdown clock to the big event which apparently passes through Tournai this year.  

A variation on the Croque Monsieur.  I can't remember what it's called, but it was smothered in Bolognaise sauce and had an egg on top.  Yummy!

A sarcastic smile from a sweet boy who has seen all of the cathedrals that he cares to see in one lifetime