Sunday, December 29, 2013

1 year ago at Xmas

A year ago we were celebrating Xmas in Montreal. The reminiscence is vague but the taste of our dessert is as vivid as it was yesterday. I must admit I nurture a particular relationship with food, specially dessert. However each bite of sweetness is prefaced with a guilty feeling, the forbidden food has been consumed, folks!
Yes, I am overweight : 18 kilos over the average weight for my age, height, bone structure and other factors. This is due to pregnancy, sleep deprivation, emotional stress as now being unemployed or simply because my tastebuds get all excited when tasting sugary heaven. 
Dieting and moderation were and never will be part of my vocabulary. I indulge myself on a regular basis in sugary pastries, chocolate and candies and living in France doesn't help to stop either. I'm not a fan of sugary cereals, fast-food or dip and sauce though. Moreover, having skinny mother and sister who don't miss any opportunity to remind your fat-laden self to stop eating and to set as a healthy example for the kids (who are fitter than anyone in the family). As of yet I live every day as it was the last. 





Xmas dessert from here in Montreal. Chocolate Xmas ball, ok but nothing spectacular






In Paris, we had an exquisite ice cream bûche de Noel from Hugo&Victor (here) : a complexed combination of chocolate and vanilla ice cream with a crispy nuts. This is from far the best ice cream bûche de Noel I have had in my life. Pricy but worth every cent. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Les galeries Lafayette en fête

To get into the Xmas mood, we went downtown to admire the Galerie Lafayette xmas decorations.  It's fantastic !!! Each window display tells a story and features animated figures in a magical world. 
This is worth a visit! As the old saying, a picture is worth a thousand words. So enjoy the pictures and hope to see you in Paris next holidays.  


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

xMaS Tree

This Xmas, I decide to install a new family tradition : doing our own xmas tree and/or decorations (at least our own interpretation of xmas). I must admit it was a hassle : trying to manage the kids and get the job done, specially when painting was involved in the process. 


I forgot to take pictures of the making but here is the result. 


Monday, December 16, 2013

American cinnamon roll vs Breton Kouignette


Maison Georges Larnicol is a wooden luxury candy shop with a self service concept. Translucid bins are filled with mix of chocolate waiting to be eaten. Some creations are weighed at the counter as the kouignette. Or Kouign amann comes from the Breton (language), translating to butter cake.


I bought a plain and chocolate kouignette, a super sticky, crispy and sugary bomb. It is refrigerated and hard to get off the plastic paper. I did manage to mess up the display. 

The salesman told me to warm it in the oven before eating. Not having a portable oven with me and mostly as a sugar addict, I couldn't wait til home, so as soon as I stepped out the store I gulped it. 
(Pause)… (Another bite following another pause)… Well…

I couldn't appreciate the taste to the fullest: way too sugary to my taste (buttery but ok). 


Even though I didn't enjoy the kouignette, I will definitely come back to try some varieties of chocolate and macarons.

Friday, December 13, 2013

pLaYing w/ PiPe cLeaNeRs

Between session of submitting resume, following up and preparing psycho-technical tests, I played with pipe cleaners and the result is astonishing…




into puffy flowers garland




Or into glasses

Friday, December 6, 2013

Sinterklaas is er!

 In the days leading up to December 6th my kiddos were behaving their best. 
Saint Nicholas (the "Dutch Santa Claus"), his horse and Zwarte Piet (Saint Nicholas' helper) have left Spain on a steamboat and were making their way to our house with bags filled with spiced gingerbread biscuits (speculaas in Dutch), clementine and THE gifts (being part of THE infinite list of wanted toys carefully enumerated by our Highness daughter and sent 2 months earlier to make sure the wanted toys arrive safely). As Saint Nicholas only brings gifts to the kiddies who have behaved well in the past year otherwise they get an onion.

On Saint Nicholas' Eve (December 5) we spent the day singing* while making cookies and decoration/signs to make sure Saint Nicholas finds our house. We are not too much careful says our Highness. Before going to bed, they put a carrot in their boots and prepared cookies+a glass of milk in front of the entrance door. However the tradition requires in front of the chimney but we don't have one. Our Highness is always full of surprise, she put an onion for Zwarte Piet because he's a naughty one she said.
The apotheosis is the morning of December 6, the kiddos were over exhilarated and the day was punctuated with period of calm, some "mmmmmmmMMmmmm…" were heard (mouth full of candies) and with period of sugar pumped kids jumping on the couch thanking Saint Nicholas for the super duper gifts and goodies.




*Sinterklaas kapoentje, 
gooi wat in mijn schoentje, 
gooi wat in mijn laarsje, 

Dank u, Sinterklaasje.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Family secret

As a compulsive organizer, I had to begin with the sorting of the beads. In the midst of my transition to "No more procrastination" and before beads become obsolete, I put aside the sorting and began to do the family's portrait.

 

After a long battle to get pregnant of our Highness, it striked me as an evidence to set aside the career, the social, the woman and … the waistline to commit to being full-time mother. I guess by lack of having a loving mother and father (they tended the basic needs but did not provide the love I look for). I refused to redeem the past, I committed to be the "perfect mother". My mission was to give all my love and attention with consigning myself to the oblivion. Surely I strongly counter-reacted to my lack of loving parents. 

Now I need to swap my full-time mother costume to a working woman/mother with a social life. The consequence of this trade will be less time to give to the kiddies and the husband. Does it make me a less caring mother and loving wife

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Differences

That day I was on a search mode to find a 500ml or + white matte acrylic paint of any brand to paint a wooden birdhouse. After browsing the net, I found an arts&crafts shop in Paris 6th. To my great disappointment, none was found. The alternative was to buy a matte paint with silky effect (which is a contradiction if you ask me) and mix it with a matte gel. As a procrastinator, this solution will only but postpone the end of the whole project.

On my way home I decided to cheer me up with sweets and I bumped into a chocolate shop, here.
I already tried the one in Saint-Germain en Laye, I was very excited to repeat the experience.


I bought a few chocolates. They are a good balanced between cacao, sugar and butter.
The packaging was made of heavy stock paper.
The decor was a mix of dark colours with a touch of mystic green. It's nice, mysterious and elegant.
About the service… well… could be better.


Transcript of the dialog of my encounter with an employee (I will name her Dionne).

Dionne: Goodmorning. What can I do for you?
I: It's just for a little bag of goodies, just for now.
Dionne: How much (gram) are you taking?
I: I don't know…. Hum. 15 pieces or so.
(She takes the plastic bag and she begins her speech about the variety of chocolates)
I: I'm taking anything with milk.
Dionne: How much of those would you be taking?
I: 2 of each variety
(She fills the bag with the milky ones and starts the speech on the dark ones)
I: No thank you. I'd like to try the one I saw on the web, something with ginger, the spherical one.
Dionne: We don't make any ginger flavoured chocolate. The spherical one are not ginger flavoured.
I: I don't know I saw on the site, a chocolate with ginger. I want that one.
Dionne: W-E D-O NOT sell any ginger spherical-shaped chocolate. And they come 12 a box and it costs 4.6€ a piece.
(WTF! Why is this? The price argument !!! I look at her in disappointment, see here = ginger)
Dionne: We also have gianduja chocolate.
I: No thank you. I think it is time then to update the website.
(She keeps on describing the chocolate)
I: Yes I think I saw it on the website.
Dionne: W-E D-O regularly update the website.
I: I don't understand. I'm sure I saw the ginger-flavoured chocolate on the website (see here). I don't remember if it is square or spherical shape.
Dionne: We describe our chocolate on the website.
The manager: Everything is alright? (looking at Dionne)
Dionne: Yes
I: (wondering what was the point)
Dionne: And some of our chocolates can be ordered online.
I: (looking dazzled by the stubbornness of the madam). Then the website should be updated. I want to buy some and they are not available. (I have my share of stubbornness). Do you have truffles? I'd like some.
Dionne: Yes. How much would you like?
I: 2 please.
Dionne: That would be all?
I: Oh! Do you have some marrons glacés? I'd looove to have some. I saw it on the website.
Dionne: No.
I: When will it be available?
The manager: Next week.
I: Would it be available in this very shop or any shop or online?
The manager: any shops.
She: That would be all?
I: Yes
She: It is 14 euros.
(I hand over the credit card)
She: We don't accept credit card for amount less than 15€.
(I go trough all my pockets. After a desperate search of long endless 6 minutes, I found a note of 20).

I walked out of the shop and was deeply disappointed:
1. I guess not accepting credit card for amount under 15€ is due to economic reasons. However, you walk into a MOF institution, you expect some effort to make the experience unforgettable : from entering the shop, to picking the chocolates and finally to paying.
2. Service inconsistent. In Saint-Germain en Laye, the lady took time to identify what chocolate would suit my taste and even offered some to try, and everything not mechanically repeated and above all with a smile. In 6th, they looked more uptight and were not customer-orientated.

This experience made me think. Michelin stars for restaurants are difficult to earn and to keep you have to provide a constant service at all level. If they can't keep up, they lose credits and stars. Apparently, the MOF institution (chocolate, flowers, …) don't obey the same rules. One can earn the title but can NOT lose it, even when providing poor service. 




See any similarities?! The price argument, it is from far the apotheosis. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Express yourself

During the week, Our Highness complained about having no time to adorn her bedroom walls with nifty crafty drawings. We make it up to it by painting with fingers. Of course, some paint slips right to the face and we end up having fingerpainted faces.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Happy dad

Daddy spent his B-day far away from home (on a work duty) for a month. It was surreal to celebrate his B-day with 6 hours time difference and 5000 km away from each other. 
Our Highness is missing daddy a lot. She tried to convince me that is was possible to sleep in a suitcase so that next time she could go with daddy. 



The silly girl spent the entire weekend working on daddy's B-day gift. She's only 4 1/2 years but really mature for her age. She told me the other day : "A gift must come from the hart, [...] not quickly buy at the store, something [...] your heart hears and [...] people know you love them." Still have a lot to learn from her. Upon his arrival back home, daddy was very happy.

Heart made out of maxi size hama beads

Friday, November 15, 2013

Time shifting

My pursuit of a white-collar job in a cruel world of finance is still on the go (I will elaborate in details in a post and apologize for this lack of in-depth analysis in this post). 
So far no interviews sapping my morale and surely sinking my self-esteem. Instead of drifting into depression I choose to cope in my own way: learning some new skills to boost my chance to get noticed, doing some voluntary work to promote scientific research in finance, founding an association promoting Dutch culture, visiting pastries, etc… and sightseeing. 



That day I felt like strolling with no particular exhibition to go to, nor MOF pastry cook to visit. After a few corners I bumped into this street and noticed this rack of scooters. It just made me smile, few years ago one could see a rack of bikes, sometimes motorbikes and now scooters. Strangely I found it funny this time shifting.  



As I was strolling suddenly I saw "la Tour Eiffel" hiding behind trees.


 Here in its glory.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

From my heart to u

Eight years ago, I discovered "swapbot" : it's a worldwide creative community who exchange themed swaps through postal mail (mostly), great fun in perspective! Take a look !

Here are some swap results.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

In the jungle of job searching

I have been short on posting for a month now. My excuse is the last month was entirely devoted to finding a job. The result has been... Z-I-L-C-H.



Time to assess the situation and take further actions
I did research about the company and put a personal touch to each cover letters. I applied in my field in different sectors, even applied for position not in my field but for which my skills can be used. 

In terms of time spent in job searching after a month :

  • 20 hours in writing/updating resume and cover letters including completing online profiles and inputting resumes into employer databases 
  • 30 hours in searching for and applying to specific posted job through online job site and employer site 
  • 60 hours in preparing tests, reading news/reports related to my field
  • 10 hours in networking (asking family, friends, alumni to share contacts working in my field) and follows-up of job application
  • 1 hour in interview ending with no result (a temporary employment agency called me for a specific job post that I answer. She interviewed me. In the meantime, I called the company directly and I found out the post was already taken prior to my interview. I came for a position I applied for, not to fill the job applicants database. Afterwards I never heard from her again despite my many attempts)
  • 0 hour in attending job fair (no job fairs organized)


Please! Spare me the B*S* about economic and financial turmoil ... bla bla bla. If so, there would be a sky-rocketing rate of employment (according to INSEE : 10.5% for 2013T2 compared to 10.4% for 2013T1 and 10.1% for 2012T4, little differences for my age through years). 
So what do I do wrong? Can you feel the frustration?! It is a cry for help, folks! HELP ME!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Celebrating Autumn - Paris version


In Paris, autumn is interesting. The rain falls time to time, we collect the red/golden leaves and contemplating the variety of mushrooms. 



Chestnuts are falling. This means season for châtaignes (to mistake with marrons d'Inde, because the latter is toxic) : marrons glacés (the name is confusing, not a fan though), confiture de marrons (again confusing, the consistency of peanut butter or more liquid depending on the homemade or store-bought version but without the salt, the cream and... peanut  daaaa), pastries/macarons and roasted chestnut (my favourite). 



Halloween decor hit the shops timidly and a few kiddies go trick or treat in my neighbourhood.
Being able to live the same day (here Halloween at 1 year spread) in two different countries, it is truly enriching : not only understanding how one lives but also about learning about myself. I'm at ease stepping out of my comfort zone. Autumn is soon living and I can't wait for Winter and Xmas.

Monday, October 28, 2013

♥♡♥♥Le pont des Amours♥♥♡♡

My little boy and I spent the day crossing over La Seine footbridges in Paris : from le pont des Arts, la Passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor and le Pont de l'Archevêché. He was so fascinated by those blinky padlocks, which symbolize love for ones and pollution for others.

 

 He's trying to crack the combination of a MasterLock. 



♥♥♥♡♥♥