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.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Rainy Day

My first rainy day in Paris.

I felt very Parisienne running down the sidewalk in my tall black boots (yay new waterproof boots! thanks for shopping with me Diego!) with a large umbrella covering my head, holding my folder of documents to my chest to keep them dry. Apparently I fit in too well, because some girl asked me for directions on the train and I had to explain that I didn't know. Ha!

And now to get back to anther thing that I love to post about: food! Eating here has been nuts. My lab has a cantine (cafeteria) where EVERYONE eats together. Its a big thing. Each lab group in the whole building goes together and eats together. Its a full meal too, with entreés and plats principles and desserts! And its subsidized too, so I can eat a huge meal of three courses for about 4 Euros. Somehow I never managed to finish more than half my food while all the French people finish everything. Oh, and I'm usually the last one to finish too, which is weird, because I'm definitely not talking much during lunch! But anyways, this brings us to the fact that my dinner posts will probably not be very exciting. :-P For example, today for dinner, I had a Greek yogurt with honey. This is actually quite exciting because this is the first pack of yogurt that I've gotten that I haven't had to throw out! I don't know what the heck they put in "normal" yogurt, but it doesn't taste normal, even if its Dannone (in the same font as Dannon back in the States). So yes, my Carrefour Greek yogurt it is!

And the other exciting thing was the honey! Its not very special honey, just the store brand Carrefour honey, but the cheapo bottle had this weird little plastic thing in it when I opened it.

Its a little plastic valve that keeps the honey from leaking! So it only pours when you are squeezing, and then immediately stops when you stop! NO HONEY DRIPS! I was very excited when I figured that out!!! Had anyone seen this in the States? Is it on high-end honey? I'm so intrigued!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Finally a Navigo!

Today I wasn't feeling well in the morning but by the afternoon I knew I had to venture out because my week-long transit pass expires today and I could apply for an annual pass at one of two offices open on Sunday. That meant a ride on the Metro line 6. Line 6 is either great or awful, depending on your perspective. The first time I rode it, nearly 4 years ago, I was terrified because it is 2-3 stories off the ground, running on a rickey track at high speeds. Its kind of like a wooden roller coaster. Anyways, today was a bit better because I got to admire the views from the high vantage. Although I wasn't quick enough to snap a picture when we got a quick glimpse of the Eiffel tower, here are some pictures of the buildings.

I got the Navigo, and the lines weren't even that long! Yay! And the woman spoke NO English, but I managed to make it through. Although once again, the information listed on the website was not at all applicable to the actual process. I'm getting much better at realizing that they are going to ask you for a million different pieces of paper, so at least I'm used to bringing everything along. Good practice for applying for my resident card on Wed?

When I got home, I lit the candles in the fireplace for the first time. Beautiful!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

La Defense

Today, I went with my friend Melissa to La Defense. Its one of the few parts of Paris with skyscrapers.

It also has La Grande Arche de la Défense.

and, most importantly, a mall:

I bought a drying rack and some toiletries at Auchon. Melissa bought a phone and some accessories at Darty. All in all, a successful day!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

this was my dinner

Are you jealous yet? ;-)

I met my new cheese person! This time I have a Cheese Man. And his little shop is en face (across the street) from my apartment! In my bungled French I managed to explain that I just moved here for a job and live across the street. His new mission is to turn me on to Corsican cheeses (he's Corse). So far, so good!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

La banque!

I have a bank account! It took almost an hour and a half of signing forms but I finally have a French bank account! :-D To celebrate, I went to the chocolatier across the street from the bank and picked up some celebratory goodies from the Pick'n Mix section. Yes, this is what pick and mix looks like in France:

Starting at the top, the eggs. These were beautiful! There was an entire tray of them and they look like they were plucked from a bird's nest. They actually have a soft hazelnut creme on the inside and were definitely my favorite of the bunch! The next one (clockwise) was a dark chocolate ball. The description was "chocolate ball" so I didn't really know what to expect. It was kind of eh. Little light crunchy bits inside. Think of rice krispies. I mean, rice krispies in chocolate are good, but not new. Next down was the nut ball. Delicious! Shredded bits of nuts held together with a thin coating of chocolate. They had these in several chocolate colors but I went for milk. Same with the next one, the mondial. Milk chocolate was YUMMY and I love the several desserts with apricots that I've had so far in Paris. Next were dried strawberries on drops of dark chocolate. Good, but the strawberry flavor wasn't as strong as I was expecting in a dried fruit. But overall, they were all very good! And a very nice gouté!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Grève et football

Well, today was my second day of work. Because of the strike, I took the longer way to work, which dropped me off far enough away that I had to wait for the shuttle to bring me to the lab. The day went really well, I am getting to know everyone and starting to prepare some experiments. But the adventure really began when I got ready to leave for home. As soon as I walked outside of the lab, I could hear the chants and cries of a huge crowd. I looked across the parking lot and could see the street was completely blocked by people wearing blue. Ok, that's not normal (although with only one day of experience, I'm not entirely sure that's not normal). When I arrived at the bus stop to get back to the train, the road was blocked off, there were lots more people in blue, and police everywhere. The crowds were for the soccer game. I guess I should have figured that out from the train station named "Stade de France" where I get off for work. :-) I listened in on some people who were asking the police about the bus. Basically, no one knew if it was coming or not. Then some things were said that I didn't understand, so after the people stopped talking to the police, I asked one of them if the bus was coming. Sensing my lack of French, the woman switched to English. She works for Saint Gobain too, as did the rest of the people! No one knew if the bus was coming, so we all walked to the station together (and I'm glad we did because soccer fans are a bit crazy-looking!). Despite the grève, we only had to wait for 6 minutes for a train to Paris. And along the way, she told me about a group at Saint Gobain for foreigners. Tomorrow the organizers will stop by my office and sign me up on their email list! Yay!

Monday, October 10, 2011

I'm home!

In Paris, that is! My flight landed at 6am (departed Boston at 5:30pm yesterday) and I haven't had a nap or anything! I went right to my apartment after clearing customs (which took 2 hrs, tons of fun), then unpacked and headed to lab! My new bosses seem really cool and everyone was very nice. I got my ID in 10 minutes (amazingly fast by French standards) and then got to meet everyone and get settled in. But I was informed of one challenge for tomorrow: the RER-B is on strike. ("Greve" as they say.) So I'll be trying a new way to the lab in the morning! And that probably means that the train platforms won't be quite this empty tomorrow:

the last day

My last day in Boston was bittersweet but perfect. Diego and I drove to New Hampshire to the Andres Art Institute, one of my favorite places in New England. We walked up and down the mountain, enjoying spending time with each other and looking at the art.

We stopped for lunch at a little place in Hollis, where I had an incredible thanksgiving sandwich (turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce). YUM!

On the way back, we stopped by the Burlington Mall. I managed to find black leather waterproof boots and Diego bought a beautiful new winter coat.

And then we had dinner at Uburger near Kenmore, so that I could have onion rings.

So many places that I love. It took me years to discover them all. But while I was at Uburger, I read some of the news clippings framed on the wall. Uburger first opened in 2006. Its been open less than half of my time in Boston! Sometimes change is good. Here's hoping that Paris is good too!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I have a visa!

Back to Paris on Sunday! :-D

Saturday, October 1, 2011

La Vie de Paris

Today I went to an expat orientation event at the American Church of Paris called Bloom Where You're Planted. No matter your religious (or non-religious) beliefs, its a great introduction to living in Paris! My only complaint was that I had a hard time meeting people there. Well, I met lots of people, but there was definitely a lack of young professional women there. In fact, in the activities open house, many of the groups I inquired about were focused on women as trailing spouses, so their meetings were during business hours. Not so great for me. But luckily I did manage to find some other professional women, so now that we've traded email addresses hopefully I'll have a few new friends in this city!

Afterwards, I went for a crepe dinner with one of my new friends, Adrienne. (I like her name because it reminds me of my Aunt Adria). Then we sat on the Champ de Mars eating our crepes, talking, and admiring the view. Pretty crazy that this is 3 blocks from my apartment!