Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Here's to my honey, who managed to find me a copy of a very-out-of-print knitting pattern book that I'd been lusting over for ages!

Merry Christmas to all!

Isn't he a great photographer?

Monday, December 26, 2011

I really wish this was a joke...

Sometimes, being away and then coming back makes things that were odd/strange/funny before even more ridiculous. Take, for example, the American obsession with loungewear. I think this is a concept that most French people have a lot of trouble understanding. I'm pretty sure this ad (which is a real ad and I saw it on TV just a few days ago) will not help convince French people about the necessity of loungewear for their daily activities.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Things that I noticed about the USA

Having been gone for almost 3 months, here are my first impressions of being back:

- People are BIGGER here. Try riding the train. The majority of people do not take up a single seat.
- American bus drivers are similarly crazy to French bus drivers.
- The sun comes up much earlier here. When I left Paris, sunrise was 8:42am. Here I woke up at 8am and the sun was already up! I like that.
- People in Boston dress much more casually than in Paris. And not just around MIT. Also, my new French miniskirts might be inappropriate for conservative New England.

Monday, December 19, 2011

back in the States

Well, I'm back! (Barely, freaking airports/planes/KLM/Delta). Anyways, I got to come home to the most amazing boyfriend, who surprised me by getting us a tree! We decorated last night, our "Christmas Eve":

Then today we did gifts. A wonderful and perfect Christmas all around! I'm particularly pleased with my surprise for Diego; he loves surprises and I'm really bad at not giving them away. But this year I was successful - he never guessed the camera that was under the tree!

Of course, that meant he needed a model.

"Wait, who, me?"

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Note to self:

Do not fly AirFrance/KLM/Delta ever again. This happens every time.

getting ready...

I leave for the States tomorrow. Well, at least I think I do. The French bureaucracy is still ongoing, and things could blow up today that prevent me from leaving the country, but I really hope that I could cry and say "But its CHRISTMAS!!!". Fingers crossed everyone!

In other news, last night I met up with Thomas again for dinner and sightseeing around Montmarte. Wow, is that place touristy! But its also a cute old part of Paris. It started to rain so we walked around inside the Sacre Coeur Basilica, but there were no photos allowed.

Thomas and I are setting some sort of friend record by seeing each other three times in three different countries in three months. I guess we're both big travelers now. :-)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Good day

Today I went to apply for my French social security card. Despite my horrible French and their complete lack of English, I managed to conduct the entire transaction in French, and at the end the lady even said I was very sweet. I count that as a major success!!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

More Christmas spirit

This nearby cafe is decorated for the season!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ying and Yang

While the French bureaucratic processes tested my patience today, Lucy made friends with Oakley:

I'm gearing up to head Stateside on Sunday, if, fingers crossed, the French processes don't suddenly speed up and I end up with an unchangeable medical appointment in the next two weeks. So everyone please hope that the bureaucracy is bureauCRAZY until January 1, and then it becomes extremely efficient so I can finish all the paperwork before heading to the APS conference in February. Yes, I realize this is probably too much to hope for. So I'm taking charge of the only thing I can and knitting frantically. Good enough.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

In the spirit

I don't know what it was...

Maybe it was the seeing the huge tree at Galleries Lafayette with my MIT lab mate Thomas...

Maybe it was shopping with him at the Christmas Market on the Champs Élysées...

Maybe it was the kind man who threw in a "little something extra" when I bought a few things from him at the Market...

(sorry, no picture on this one, can't ruin the surprise for the 4-year-old who will be unwrapping it soon!)

Or maybe it was thinking about last year's Christmas...

But whatever it was, after weeks of having no desire to get ready for Christmas, today I bought a tree.

Her name is Lucy. From the song "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds". She's 17 cm tall, and I decorated her with a long pearl necklace and some ribbon that I cut out of a shirt. The very nice woman at the store assured me that she can make it through a Paris window outside, but at least until Christmas, she's going to stay inside with me.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Daily Vocab Lesson

This morning during coffee, some of my lab mates were passing around one of those American oreo Snack Sacks (the big blue plastic bags of mini-oreos that you buy at airports). One of our lab mates recently returned from the US and brought some as a present to the lab.

The conversation turned to weird American food, how processed everything is, and how everything lasts forever. The expiration on the bag was more than a year away, and I mentioned how the cookies might already be more than a year old and yet they were still fresh because they had "so many preservatives in them!" My lab mates burst out laughing.


I just stared blankly. I'm getting really good at that. Friendly lab mate managed to stop laughing long enough to say, "Les préservatifs... in French...

it means...


Yes, I just told my entire lab that I think that American cookies stay fresh longer because they are filled with condoms.

Christmas spirit

Christmas trees for sale!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Apparently I'm not the only unpopular one - my British friend told me tonight how her entire lab had bailed on going to get a drink with her after a conference. She was quite hurt. But maybe it has something to do with what my lab mate said yesterday. Or phrased a better way here, in bullet point #2.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Taken down a peg

Just when I was starting to feel like I fit in (or at least did not stand out so badly), the lab mate who is the friendliest to me lectured me today about how the people in lab are colleagues, not friends, and that is why no one discusses anything personal during coffee or lunch. We are all just supposed to be acquaintances.

Previous probability of me asking friendly lab mate to hang out this weekend: 85-90%

Current probability of me ever asking friendly lab mate to hang out outside of work: 0%.


My friend Amanda and I checked out the Rodin museum on Sunday.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


I've been having trouble finding things to write about this week. It does not feel like December here. More like New England at the end of October. There are still leaves on the trees and its pretty warm outside (around 50F), and rainy. Maybe a trip to some Christmas markets will get me in the spirit, but for now, I'm just trying to survive the next few weeks until I'm back in the States.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Amazing city, beautiful hotel (especially the view from the infinity pool on the top), and great orchids too!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Here and away

Today was the first time I ever wished that my lab did the bises (kisses). I'm leaving today for two weeks. And I'm actually sad to go! I'm not sad to leave my tiny apartment, or the shoving and pushing of rush hour, but I am sad that I will miss two weeks of knitting nights, more adventures in the lab cantine, the start of the lab's Christmas baking contest, sarcastic conversations in the chem lab, and hearing french every day. Sometimes it takes leaving a place to figure out why you want to stay...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Packing is occurring

It all fits in my small suitcase! Then again, I am going to a country where it is summer year-round! Two days until my flight to Singapore!!

Monday, November 7, 2011


Using the lovely Melissa's oven, I baked cookies for my lab mates! They didn't come out the same as in the States, but my lab mates still scarfed them down faster than I've ever seen them eat sweets! :-D

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Mystery pics

Some mystery pics of things I've been working on. No more info until the gifts are given and received!

Mystery #1:

Mystery #2:

Mystery #3

Mystery #3 part 2...

Frommage Friday

Today: a lovely Cabasses cheese.

You know its fresh from the farm because there are still bits of hay attached to the back of the cheese.

Its a medium-hard cheese with a pungent smell but subtle taste. I liked it, but didn't love it. But it was a perfect dinner with a demi-baguette and a fresh chocolate mousse (also homemade from the cheese shop!)

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Wait, I have 8 hrs of sunlight to look forward to at the end of Dec???


Not looking good...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cake shop

Beautiful, but too expensive to eat!

Monday, October 31, 2011

After going shopping here

I walked past an alley and looked up to see

which, if you walk around to the other side, looks like


In other news, I bought Christmas presents today! But that means no pics on the blog. But Diego saw and approved, so you know they'll be good!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

the Lights

Apparently Christmas comes early in my neighborhood...

Happy October 30!

Gardens of Invalides

Today I did some grocery shopping in the morning and then thought I'd head out to a museum for the afternoon. I live near the Rodin Museum, so I thought I'd go there. I thought I might be in trouble when I slowly accumulated a bunch of other people walking in the same direction as me. As I got to the museum, I saw that I wasn't the only one with this idea for a Sunday afternoon.

I hate crowded museums, and since I only live about a 10 minute walk away, I figured I'd come back another time. Instead, I went on a walk through the Invalides gardens.

Fall has definitely arrived in Paris!

Crepes for breakfast

In Boston, Diego and I had a tradition of weekend breakfasts. One day he would make crepes and the other day I would make pancakes. We started from recipes but slowly evolved them for our needs (only serving 2) and tastes (less butter/oil). Since arriving in Paris, I haven't done a lot of cooking, but I am trying to take the time on the weekends to at least make crepes one day. (Pancakes need many more ingredients, so I haven't tried them yet).

Here is me cooking in my kitchen. Oooh, look how cozy!

And finally ready to eat!

(4-5 crepes, serves 1 generously, can be multiplied easily)

1/2 c. flour (US: All Purpose, FRANCE: grade 55)
3/4 c. milk (US: skim or 1%, FRANCE: entier)
1 egg, large

There is no butter or oil in the recipe or in the pan, so make sure that you have a very good non-stick pan and a very thin plastic spatula to flip them. Top with fresh fruit, jam, nutella, honey, goat cheese, etc! Enjoy!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Ikea Trip

Success! Well, except for the assembly part...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lamp posts

Beautiful old lamps near the train station on the way to work:

But all I can think every time I walk by them is "The tops look like big alien heads with glowing alien eyes!"

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bad and good

Bad: I bought a cookie, called a Floratin. It was yucky. I dunno, just too chewy but not in a good way. Disappointing. I threw it out, and trust me, it had to be BAD for me to throw out a 4 Euro cookie.

Good: My Auntie found the cutest Halloween card for me! All the way in Oregon! :-D

Thank you Auntie!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Cute things about EHS at work

1) Its a rule that you have to hold the handrail when using the stairs (either going up or coming down).

2) There are little red baskets near the stairs in case you are carrying too much stuff and do not have a free hand to hold the handrail, you can put all the stuff in a basket and then carry the basket up the stairs while holding on to the handrail.

3) You are required to back into your parking spot in the lot. Seriously.

4) Forklifts have the right of way. Watch where you walk.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Shopping Sat

Today was a day full of errands. First, groceries and the post office. Then I met up with my new British friend, Amanda, near the Paris Opera House.

Inspiring, huh?

She needed a few things so we went to try our luck on Bd. Haussmann. We went into the Galeries Lafayette, which was beautiful!

But it was also overwhelming with a million people all trying to shop on Sat afternoon. We poked around a bit and then ended up heading for the greener (and cheaper) pastures of the H&M nearby.

Afterwards, I went to meet David Lebovitz! Although people were asked to respond on Facebook so that the place would know how many people to expect, the line stretched down the road. A French couple even stopped and asked me what I was waiting for. :-P Yea. And even though the cake store said they would have copies of his books, they had run out ten minutes after the beginning of the event! So, sadly, all of you that were hoping for an autographed copy for Christmas, you'll just have to keep on waiting.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Frommage Friday

I am sitting here, stuffing my face as I write. My cheese of the week is a wonderful stinky brie, completely unpasteurized and definitely banned in the States due simply to its awesomeness. And I am smearing that cheese onto the most glorious baguette. It was the one I was searching for - warm, fresh out of the oven, so crispy on the outside that it hurts your hands to break it, but the inside is so soft and shiny that its like a beautiful golden egg! And then I'm taking these brie-laden pieces of soft crunchy heaven and dipping them into squash soup. (Ok, admittedly the soup is from a carton, but OMG do the French know how to put soup in a carton!). This is heaven. I might never go back to the States. But if you need to find me, I'll be in Paris, surrounded by the most glorious food on the planet.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The view

Every day as I walk home from the Metro to my apartment, I look up and see this.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Storm clouds

The sky in Aubervilliers yesterday reminded me of the sky in Auckland before it rains.