Saturday, January 29, 2011

Back to being a French housewife...delightful!

I am back to house-wifey duties but just had to share a bit from my trip back to England last week, which, as it turns out, was life-altering! Who knew?

On my way back to England last week, I had a four-hour layover in Paris so I decided to do a little sight-seeing. As I said before, I just about missed my train because I decided to take a boat cruise of the Seine. Mostly, I had to do something where I wasn't carrying around my heavy bags and I could get out of the wind! The boat cruise was pretty cool and the girl who worked on the boat spoke FIVE LANGUAGES: French, English, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. It was amazing! Every time she would make an announcement, she would do them in the order I just listed. And, they were announcements explaining the history of the area we were passing on the boat, not just telling people to sit she had really speak them!!

Notre Dame. (Not pronounced like the one in South Bend!)
Think I saw a hunchback hanging out of one of towers, but it could have just been my eyes as I hadn't really been sleeping much in the lead up to the job fair!

Yep. Had to take a self-portrait. I love that the Eiffel Tower was originally considered a giant eyesore but is now the symbol of Paris, if not France in general!

So now I am back in Dol and I am glad to be back. I love the family I am living with! They are so nice and we laugh a lot. My French is improving, I think! And, for the first time this week, I was able to actually appropriately use the past-conditional tense (I would have done...) which is really hard for me because my brain doesn't want to think that hard! I am calling that progress because before, I was saying stuff like "Yesterday, I go to the store." which sounds really dumb but I had forgotten how to conjugate verbs in my 12 years of not studying French.

Last week there was a full moon and I took this picture from my bedroom window of the Dol Cathedral with the moon rising next to it. Super cool!

One of my favorite parts about living here is seeing how much teenagers are the same the world-over (in my vast knowledge of only three Western countries, of course!)! Last week I went clothes shopping with Steff and Steven, who is about to turn 12. We went to a Quiksilver store in Saint Malo and what made me laugh so much is how exactly the same teenagers are between France, England, and the US. Steven only wanted certain hoodies (of course they were the most expensive!) and choosing the exact right pair of skate shoes was really important. He could be transplanted straight into Con Ball and fit in perfectly with the little skater kids there! And, most importantly, he has the Justin Beiber hair swirl! It drives his mom nuts but he refuses to let her cut it. This is the exact same haircut that all of my CBMS kids had (Devin, anyone??) as well as many of my English kids! I just really enjoy that snotty little teenagers are snotty little teenagers wherever I've been and that makes me feel like I will definitely be able to relate to the kids at my international school!

I wasn't really worried about relating to them but it is good to know that they will probably all wear skate shoes, hoodies in crazy colors, and have the Beiber-swirl! Although, they will be crazy rich as it costs about $18,000 per year to attend the school, so that will certainly be a different clientele than what I am used to! But, one of the things that they did say was that there is always a section of the school that is relatively transient due to the nature of the parents' jobs. I have dealt with this before (granted, often on the opposite spectrum of the socio-economic scale) and so I think that new kids will feel like new kids, regardless of how much money they have. It is always scary and unnerving to be at a new school- I did it when I was a kid, and so I can relate to them on that account.

January is a big time for sales in France. In fact, stores are literally only allowed to use the word "sale" (Soldes! in French) at certain times of the year that are approved by the government. They can have price reductions but can't actually use the word "sale." How's that for state control? The Republicans would go ape-shit over that one! :) So, because of all of the sales, Steff has been doing a lot of shopping for clothes for the boys. I tag along and saw the item below. I had to take a picture because they were so hideous!

WHO WANTS SHORTS LIKE THIS? How would one walk?
These are women's shorts...not gangsta thanks!

This week I returned to France and my housewife duties increased! It has been a really fun week of household tasks which are extra fun because I'm in a French Manoir! I really love the family I am living with right now and in fact, will probably leave all of my stuff with them this summer up in the attic which used to be the maid quarters back in the day! It is freezing up there so I can't imagine how much it would have totally sucked for the maids.

I learned to make a soufflé this week which was pretty much like a giant ball of cholesterol and fat! It had 8 eggs in it (which we have from the chickens in the backyard!), and was good but, a lot of work and maybe not worth the work because really, it was like a fluffy omelette.
Eggs from the backyard chickens. They are hilarious and I could easily pass time just watching them run around the backyard because they "crack" me up. (Ba dum bum!)

The amount of yogurt consumed in France is amazing!
This is the yogurt for ONE WEEK for my family!
At the grocery store they have a huge wall o' yogurt that has like 50 different brand and flavors.

I am also being the dinner chef for the next week so I planned 7 dinners that the picky picky eaters in this house would eat and shopped for all of the ingredients for a week. We only shop on Thursdays (double points on the card...see...things aren't really that different from place to place!) and so I had to get everything I needed for the week! I like unemployment when it means I can leisurely cook meals that someone else is paying for! :)

Our homemade apple jelly

Steff and I took the apples from the "cave" in the basement that were from the neighbor's farm this fall and made apple jelly. I'd never made jelly before and we had to use this special contraption that extracts the juice and then we mixed with with copious amounts of sugar. It is delish but was a lot of work for not much jelly- we only got 1.5 jars! I am learning lots of cooking related French vocabulary!


Since many of their friends have huge gardens or farms, someone gave my family 5 huge cauliflowers (chou-fleurs). They don't like cauliflower so I'll be eating it for the next week in as many different ways as I can think of. Tonight's option: Curried Cauliflower Soup.

Cider Bottle

Alcoholic apple cider is a specialty of the Bretagne region- they have tons of apples. The region just to the east is known for Calvados, an apple brandy that my dad always adds to stuffing at Thanksgiving. So, my housewife project of yesterday, which took me about 3 hours, was to wash 30 cider bottles inside and out. They were from a flea market and SUPER dirty. Then, we will get them filled for only 1 euro each and have a ton of cider. We were laughing that if this was truly a "manoir" there would be a staff to do this job instead of us!

Every meal's cheese tray!

Since we have cheese at the end of every meal (just a little piece, not like a giant slab although I could probably eat a giant slab if I let myself!), I had to show our cheese tray! Every week, Steff tries to buy different ones so that I can try a giant variety! They are ALL really good but occasionally I get a whiff of cheese that smells like this cheese shop my dad and I went into on our trip to Denmark where I had to wait outside because I just couldn't do it.

I will be here for the whole month of February and a bit of March so I can't wait to find out what other fun domestic skills I can acquire during my stay! I have yet to see a French recipe that didn't include copious amounts of butter and cheese so still unsure of how the French remain thin. I doubt the butter and cheese will cause me to become thin like the French...oh if only! At least they have put an elliptical machine in the cottage for me so I can workout everyday while I'm here. Good thing!!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Although I had already heard most of the story, I like this version better. Mom