Yellowstone!

Wow, it’s been forever! I’m still here and still cooking, just not necessarily blogging about it. And did I mention that I just got back to France after four weeks of vacation in America? During those four weeks the only thing I cooked was grilled cheese, bacon for a blt and some scrambled eggs. But you know what I did do? Spend one week in the magnificent Yellowstone National Park. Here are some highlights!

IMG_6329

IMG_6334

IMG_6382

IMG_6403

IMG_6424

IMG_6463

I promise that I’ll try to post a few recipes in the coming days (weeks?). I’ve been making a lot of delicious summer salads since I got back and I can’t wait to start grilling now that summer is in full swing!

Varengeville: the perfect spot for a picnic and a promenade

20120520-201554.jpg

A couple of weeks ago we had a rare, sunny, not-too-cold day in May and knew that we had to take advantage after weeks of hibernation and faux-spring blues. We knew without discussing it that our mini trip would involve the coast. There’s nothing better than blue water and salty air and picnics on the beach when you’re lacking in spring. What we didn’t want to do, however, was end up at the same place that every other French person was at that day. We wanted a calm lunch by the sea, a quiet stroll afterwards to help our digestion and to stretch our legs, and a picturesque setting that would make us forget the last few days (weeks?) of cold and grey depression.

If any of this sounds appealing to you, or if you feel the same way about crowds, then you should take the time to visit Varengeville-sur-Mer. France’s national pride Claude Monet did, and actually painted several fairly well known pieces of this very church, and this very hillside. The village itself is sexy in a way that only little French villages that work really hard at it can be. It’s managed to keep some sort of charm from centuries ago and seems to be stuck in time. Everything is cute. Even the banks and bakeries and supermarkets have to follow a strict color scheme and aren’t allowed to pollute the scenery. Antique shops and little cafés and tea parlors line the streets, and all the way at the end is the church, and that first glimpse of the sea, and that magnificent view of the rolling green hills and beach off in the distance. And the cliffs. Did I mention the cliffs? You should really go here. Continue reading

A week in Guadeloupe

I had been looking forward to this trip for, well, years now, ever since one of my colleagues left the hustle and bustle of Paris for the, cool, pani pwoblem* vibes of the Caribbean. He kept insisting that I visit, making it almost impossible for me to refuse when a private sale found me on the receiving end of incredibly cheap airline vouchers with direct flights to Point-à-Pitre.

20120205-182531.jpg

20120205-182543.jpg

Let me just say, that this may honestly be the best vacation I’ve had to date. The scenery resembled that of the Dominican Republic, but with more variety than what we experienced in our hotel complex or on our numerous but impersonal excursions. It was mountainous on the western side and beachy and flat on the eastern side. One relatively small island boasted a volcano, some of the most beautiful sandy beaches I’ve ever seen, cliffs, forests, ample, thick vegetation, mangroves… We had it all, plus a rental car that allowed us to explore each and every corner of the island at a whim, something that was missing from previous tropical vacations. Continue reading

Christmas in the South of France

Despite my general hatred of winter, Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. There is truly something magical about it, laughing with your family over a great meal, giving and receiving gifts, sending special messages to friends and celebrating. I’ve been living overseas for more than six years now, and have only managed to make it home for Christmas once (unpredictable Iowa winters definitely have played their part in that!). Up until this year, I’d never even really experienced a typical French Christmas. Either I was a nanny with a less-than festive family, or spending the holiday alone with my boyfriend who was far from accustomed to preparing a traditional Christmas dinner, or had just moved into my new house… This year, I decided, would be different.

I convinced Jé, who wanted to spend the holidays comfortably in our own home, that he should not overlook the family that he was lucky enough to have within a few hours from us. We had several options: a quick trip to England? A Parisian Christmas? Or a jaunt down to the South of France. As it turned out, his parents were getting ready to move and agreed that the extra mouths to feed would be a willing exchange for the helping hands. Jé took the car down on the Monday before Christmas, and I joined Wednesday night after work after less than three hours in my TVG, destination Avignon.

Continue reading

2011 was a good year…

Oh, travel. This blog is a great place for me to document my trips, what I experienced, where I’ve been and where I’m going. As I wasn’t into posting at the beginning of the year, you’ve missed a lot. I carried over the 2010 travel summary post from another blog, and have decided to make it a tradition. So, without further ado, a little glimpse into my year, both inside and outside of France.

We started the year out right by buying our first house together, here in Gaillon, Normandy. We were worried that this purchase meant the end of our jet-setting around the world, but I’m glad to say that it did not get the best of us.

End of 2010: We had two lovely mini-vacations in November, 2010. This first was to Belgium, a short weekend in a five-star castle on a lake where were were pampered with massages and long walks in the cold, crisp autumn air.

The second was another spa weekend where we started in Mulhouse, France, then ventured into Germany and ended up in the charming town of Constanz, also a lake town. We meant to go from there to Switzerland (we could see the Swiss alps!) but forgot to bring our passports. As they aren’t part of the EU, we couldn’t risk it. Until one day we were walking around the lake and started to notice a lot of Swiss license plates… And then saw a border sign and realized we’d unwillingly entered into another country! Continue reading