Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Improvising

Time seems to run faster during holidays. The kiddos were very happy to spend holidays time at my parents. However, when they saw the store-bought plastic tree, they made a very very long face and long hours of "can we go to buy a reeaal xmas tree", "can we go", ... and whining and rolling, I had to improvise a Xmas tree (I am too weak!). I bought at the very last minute decorations which Little Mowgli hung proudly on the tree. Our Highness made a garland with rainbow looms. All's well that ends well. 


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Happy B-day to me

I stop counting after my 30s. I wanted to try the famous Paris-Brest (here). The pastry was created in 1910 by Louis Durand to commemorate the bicycle Paris-Brest-Paris tour. The round shape is representative of the bicycle wheel. 
The Paris-Brest is a round shaped pâtisserie made of pâte à choux filled with praline cream, sprinkled with sugar (you can also find in some pâtisserie Paris-Brest with flaked almonds). It's heavy but smelt on your tongue. 




For the kiddies, chocolate macaron with chocolate cream and raspberry touch.


Happy B-day to me!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Eating out

 We went for "une petite douceur", a little treat in Paris (here). Marvellous! 
As entrée, we had a rocher coco, a mix of coconut, sugar and egg white. As main dish, we had a Mont-Blanc and a Censier : a crusty praliné with a creamy dark chocolate.As dessert, a Lilly Valley, a sort of Saint-Honoré with a twist of violet : 3 pâtes à choux with whipped cream with violet taste lying on a pâte sablée. Finally, with the coffee came the Marie-Antoinette : a raspberry macarons with a rose flavoured cream. If you're in the 5e arrondissement, give it a try!! 


Friday, November 14, 2014

More astonishment!!

I ate a lot of mille-feuilles in my life from the supermarket, the local pâtisserie to the more sophisticated one. Nothing is comparable to this mille-feuille (here), the fluffiness of the whipped cream, the soft crème pâtissière and the crusty puff pastry. As I couldn't believe my eyes, I took other sweets, just to make sure, I wasn't dreaming. The three patisseries were delicious but my preference goes to the mille-feuille.
I also took a jambon/comté sandwich, I was impressed by the crusty baguette.

I have no adjectives which can describe exactly my contentement. So I strongly recommend. Cyril Lignac, thank you for all the goodies you make!

From left to right : mille-feuille, tarte au citron, fruits rouges and baba au rhum

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Nothing more cheerful than ...

Moving to a new country has its drawbacks and benefits. Lately, I'm riding the down wave. Nothing is the same, people are impatient and rude (getting yelled at because I wasn't driving fast enough) and I have much more little meaningless examples which become mountains when you don't feel at home or you don't feel a part of. A friend of mine came for a couple of days and brought me this. Heavy, warmth coming out of the plastic bag, smells like butter, ... 

No peaky 
Tightly closed 
  



A yogurt cake with coconut flakes.   OvO 

Nothing more cheerful than a friend... and a cake. Thanks to YOU, K!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Quality time on my own

The 3 kiddies are going to swim for at least 2 hours leaving me enough time to chill and to do just nothing. What a delight! 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The miserable life of an expat wife

This post is the hindsight from 1 1/2 years living and finding a white collar job in Paris.


Administration was never my cup of tea. Moving abroad involves a lot of hurdle concerning paperwork, you need to arm yourself with patience. As far as I'm concerned, my situation is not yet regularized. Here are the main difficulties (in no particular order) I've been dealing with:

-finding an employee from the French administration who can speak and explain you in understandable English is rare. Fortunately, French is my mother tongue but I serve as translator for my husband and friends whose mother tongue is not French. Even though sometimes I found myself lost in their explanation
-able to sustain tremendous amount of back/forth and long waiting hours to explain your situation on the phone or at their office
-always bring along all your important paper (past and present + at least 3 copies) with you because there's always a paper that missing, even so prior to your future back/forth travel you called to check which paper is required 


With the rising unemployment rate and a stagnant French economy, I won't advise anyone to come in Paris to work unless you possess skills/knowledge and work experience to do the job that a French person can't do. I suggest find a job before moving to Paris.

Changing careers is extremely difficult. It is expected to graduate (preferably from top 3 French Business Schools), to do internship in top French or international companies and making your way up in this circle. 
Networking is crucial. You won't get far if you don't know someone who knows someone who can get you talk to another someone ….
The more frustrating of all, showing potential or diversity or "think outside the box" aren't part from French vocabulary. Applying for a job and getting the job means you fit the French mould: one way of thinking, one way of communicating, one to fit all. 
Yes, there are many international companies and many foreigners working in Paris and France. Nevertheless, the recruitment process is done by French people for French people. Of course, unless you possess any skills/work experiences that a French person doesn't have. 

Around me, I hear friends talking about those people who get promoted but are not qualified for it or business running inefficiently. I get more frustrated, I'm surely not the best but I'm capable to get things moving and done (being my own boss and founding many associations). 

Pole-emploi (French unemployment office) is useless!!! 
I've been appointed a supervisor, she is more interested in filling her report about your job search rather than effectively helping you. For example: she read 2 job ads (which are related to finance, 1 required 10+ years experience in a particular field and the other is on the Board which I don't have the experience and I'm not qualified or even studied anything related to management on the BoD level). She put in the report, she suggests 2 jobs which I refused.
She suggests a couple of other ideas, that I already used : I consider to get less demanding job or to get back to school but would it eventually guarantee me a job ? NO!!
I asked her to have some kind of advice/facts/habits&customs about the French job market, at which she responded I expected too much. What the F*** is that answer!


Social relationship and friendship are challenging. Making friends and/or get accepted take time, even longer if you do not speak french. 
As living abroad, there are cultural and linguistic barriers. Many friends of mine (who are living in France for 10 years+) don't have French friends. One of my friend whose poor French makes her an outcast. She said to me they look at me from head to toe and throw me a condescending look each time
Many or all French people keep childhood friends from back home or from school years, they already have their circle of friends. Friendship is not a question of quantity but quality! Moreover, making friends tends to go deeper and more sincere, not the easy and shallow friendship concept. Nevertheless, once you got in, it is for life. You live a strong friendship and you are considered as part of the family.
I read Sarah Turnbull's book where she describes her relationship with the French. I don't really recognize myself in the book but she surely points relevant facts about relationship with French people: warm and sincere wrapped up into cold and snooty shell.
For my part, I don't have any difficulties talking and making friends (expats, French or a mixed) through my children's school and throughout my social/sport activities. 


I don't say everyone is like that, it is my general feeling after 1 1/2 years living in France. Of course, it takes time to settle in, life is a sum of ups and downs. But I'm having a hard time to get out of the down part : I put aside my career … myself to allow my children and husband to grow. Now I want to get back to work and I get it full blow in the face : I'm OUT (of the game)!  Despite my attempts to get in, I get constantly rejected. Any advice?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

☆☆☆ (⌒o⌒) Kawaii (◕‿◕✿) ☆

I'm suffering from a kawaii syndrome, also called epitome of cuteness. It's more than a trend to me, a pop culture freed from commitments and responsibilities, an appealing childlike relationship with everything cute, a kind of rebellion against adulthood. 
Kawaii items are characterized with round and happy faces with small stature and colourful. Kawaii is mushrooming in every items and in every rooms. Let you get touched by this syndrome. 

Drink

Biscuits


Bathroom accessories


Stationery 

or the temple of kawaii

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Chillin' in Paris

The family of 4 monkeys spent the day on the Champs de Mars and enjoyed Pierre Hermé's patisseries. Delicious ! The only thing is bothering me, it's the house logo made out of paper. I would expect a chocolate pastille with the house name on it. This is my perfectionist side talking. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Pause

Today I put on my tourist costume and went to Paris. I just wandered the street around Opera station.
As any city, it is noisy and crowded. Strangely, I grew up downtown. Noise of traffic, people, barking dogs, the sound of the doorbell every time someone pushes the door at the bakery, etc. it seems the past few years my sensitiveness to noise increases dramatically. This is why I live in the calm and green suburbs of Paris. Nevertheless, Paris is beautiful!! I'm always amazed by the contrast of the grey building with the shiny gold of the statue and inscription. It is as a fight between good/evil, beautiful/ugly, etc. Or as the new trend to get photographed with a white wedding dress in an abandoned building or in a dirty swamp lake.




I stopped at the "café de la paix" for a coffee break. The decor is classic French and the service was ok, nothing special to say except that it is extremely pricy : +/- 10€ for a regular coffee. There are so much coffee places, bistrots and restaurants around the neighbourhood where you can get a coffee for 3€.


I'm so excited to discover Paris and its architecture, bakery,… If you have some address worth the visit, I'm all ears!!!!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Home is wherever I'm with you


Living abroad for a long term is an invigorating experience. You see the world through a candid eye of a child surrounded with an uncomfortable lingering feeling of anxiety dancing with an exhilarating excitement.  

However after a few years the glam just fades away, you land from planet glittery dreams on planet earth of concrete and hard reality.
Big news Folks! The relocation comes with a price. Your landmarks such as family, (friends) and comforting day-to-day routine are erased. Insidiously you enter a no man's land, stuck in-between, nor here neither there, somewhere you call home (at least for a few years) but deep down inside you know it isn't home and above all you won't be staying long. So why bother to invest time and effort to rebuild everything over and over again. That's why I never bothered to involve in anything but in our family of 4. 


In general friends are scarce and adding distance to friends equals a vague souvenir. When I see homies, they have a steady job, a family, a circle of friends, a house, I feel so jealous. I'm in my mid-thirties and I have a family, struggling to get a job, friends and a house... I don't want to think about it (decent housing in Paris is expensive). It isn't for the comfy financial part of the deal, I so envy the boring day to day routine, the place I can call home. The grass is always greener on the other side, right?!

I always wonder if life would be easier if … if I stayed and did what the average is doing: graduate, get a job, found a family, buy a big house. … or if I packed and headed back home right away. I don't think I would be happy with that life though. I would feel trapped as a bird in a cage, I would feel uncomfortable as I am today when I talk to relatives or remaining friends back home. I feel we are at zillion years from each other, we grew cruelly apart from each other. The feeling is not new it dated from my childhood and got stronger as I travelled around the world for 5 years in search of myself before conforming to the path of what was expected from me : get a degree at a business school. I graduated with honours with a double degree in International trade and in finance.


I'm ranting now because my life has been stagnant : got stuck in mother mode despite many attempts to get back on the job market. And B-E-L-I-E-V-E me!! Being a housewife is not valued at all on the job market, specially in financial sector. Furthermore we, women, loose our market value as a workforce when we get pregnant and the slope of devaluation is even steeper if we stay home and educate your offspring. Even better leisure such as golf, crafting, helping elderlies or disabled people, etc. are considered a waste of time, you are expected to go on a golf course with a business partner to strike a deal, you follow a craft course because the CEO's wife is going and you want her to put a good word for you, philantrophy is on the paper only = hard truth. Every move should be work related.
I'm not saying that being employed would be the key to all my miseries but it is a step forward in the process of get all the pieces of me together. As I believe that one can be defined as a sum of multiple layers of behavioural and mental characteristics. I don't try to fit in the mould of conformism, I'm trying to explore the self through work. 



Life hasn't been easy lately but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I surely won't be the same person as I am today. Of course they are ups and downs but that's the beauty. I think life is here, now at this very moment. I notice I live too much in the past, I'm filled with negative thoughts and energies which I repeat over and over again without being able to cut the vicious circle. Surely frustration and lack of self esteem play a crucial role. I feel resentful and angry about being in limbo and stalled. I feel with time I lost myself somewhere…In a way I'm thankful to be at this stage I have this opportunity to reflect on myself and to try to figure out the why before the how.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Earlier this year

The daddy will be "touring"  for work for a couple of weeks. As a result, we won't be able to celebrate his B-day together.
Our Highness chose the cake mold and I made a banana-chocolate cake. Happy B-day, daddy!!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Easter tradition

As a child, the Easter tradition is to enjoy a good meal with the entire family : 7 uncles and aunts, 12 cousins and 4 grandchildren. But the piece de résistance was at the end of the day: chocolate egg hunting. My sister and I had a strategy all worked out: work side by side until everything was plundered.
Last weekend, we kept the tradition alive with a little twist and my children were the hunters. So much sweet memories... and stomach pain. 

Here in France, the golden bells bring the chocolate. However, in Germany, the Osterhase or the Easter rabbit brings the chocolate. 



 Come... Come closer

 ?


Eggs filled with Hello Kitty charms


And chocolate

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Looooong weekend

A crafty girly girl dreaming about becoming a princess + a boyish boy fighting pirates on his way to the treasure island + looking for activities = a challenge for me. To put the cherry on the cake, the rainy weather makes sure you get stuck inside with two energetic kiddies. Sound familiar? 

I browsed my old friend : the web and found the Playmobil FunPark. I went, I saw, I'm not convinced. The park is a huge showroom separated by theme : princess, firefighter, dinosaurs, etc. and a small corner for little ones with Playmobil 1, 2, 3. Many examples of every Playmobil to avoid any fighting but you can not escape the screaming and the noise of exciting kids. My kids were running from one theme to another, they misplace everything. Imagine what 20 kids can do after 2 hours. The restaurant serves food from the top of the food pyramid and profusely (fast food and sugary treats). There is no cloakroom and few places to seat. Of course, you have to go through the Playmobil shop to get out but at reasonable price + parking is free. I went home exhausted and the kiddies overtired. The next day, we stayed home playing quietly with our new Playmobil (fairy and Playmobil 1, 2, 3, the farm).


Friday, March 21, 2014

A vos balais !

It's officially spring! It's my favorite season: a warm enough weather, just to wear t-shirt and a light sweater in the morning, flowers are blooming, the food is getting more colourful and exotic and finally, the best for me is the spring cleaning. Although cleaning is a burden, I like the end results : the shiny windows, the stuffy basement getting a new land fresh look, the sorting/throwing/donating and selling of the unused (not enough of those but working on it), the bees dancing around on our balcony. It feels like a reborn, just in the 4 seasons in Vivaldi. The coming year I promise myself to trim down on "stuff". Challenges stand ahead. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Nicely wrapped

When my morale is low, I indulge myself with sweet delicacies. In Paris, your choice is immense : from top pastry chef to local ones, from traditional to avant gardiste, … well  you can let yourself go, to let your eyes bulge out, your mouth water and your teeth sink into the sweetly-doodlely do sweet heaven.

I heard so much about him (Meilleur ouvrier de France 2004 in pastry-sweet maker). So I had to pay a respectful visit.
As I pushed the door open with trembling and sweaty hands, my expectations were high. I discovered a nice clean modern-looking shop, a patient lady who gave me explanations on the sweets.

Finally, I choose macarons (vanilla, chocolate and strawberry) and a fruity cake. My heart broke into pieces…  I was so disappointed!!!
At the 1st bite into the macaron, the texture was not what expected : the shell was too soft, the texture was more like a brownie with a ganache.
The fruity cake was fresh, bitter/sweet, a great balance between the softness of the mousse and the crispiness of the bottom&the nuts. However, the cake was still frozen in the middle, hence the watery taste. And as golden rule, a pastry should be a treat for all your senses and above all eatable entirely. The name of the artist was written on a vulgar not eatable cardboard. I would expected the sign in "pâte à sucre" or in chocolate at least. I was not pleased at all !!!



Sunday, February 23, 2014

Cultivons la différence et non l'indifférence!



Réflexion de mecs : les filles et le shopping, une grande histoire d'amour! Je dis non, non et non! 
Je suis une fille (ou un garçon manqué?!) et pourtant je déteste le shopping. 
Ma garde-robe, c'est 3 fois le même pantalon noir, 4 chemises blanches, 3 vestes de costumes noires, quelques t-shirts blancs et 2 leggings gris (pas beaucoup de fantaisies, même dans les sous-vêtements). 

Toutefois, côté sentiments, je suis bien une fille... Les "Tu m'écoutes?,  Chérie, tu penses que...?, J'en ai marre de ramasser derrière toi,... ", il en pleut tous les jours (malheureusement! Je suis née avec le syndrome de la grande râleuse). 
Le livre "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" m'a fait beaucoup rire (ou plutôt glousser comme une petite fille et parfois rougir de honte). Je me reconnaissais en général. 
Ce livre est facile, abordable pour tous mais trop de mots 

Voici ma vie :


  • Je suis souvent prise dans les montagnes russes des sentiments: le matin, la plus aimante des femmes et le soir, la femme des cavernes prête à bondir pour tuer sa proie. Mon attitude ressort de l'incompréhension totale de ma moitié et sa réaction : t'as tes règles ou quoi?! 
  • Avez-vous déjà expérimenté ? Je lui raconte un truc qui m'est arrivé sans véritable importance mais que me reste sur le coeur. Lui: où veux-tu en venir?
  • Je viens à lui avec un véritable problème. Lui, il dédramatise et minimise la situation. Je me sens jugée, humiliée, abusée et incomprise (c'est mon côté drama queen qui remonte).


La liste est encore longue! Et chez vous, c'est comment?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

0-°

A while ago the standing lamp in the living room just went dead. My first thought was to replace the light bulb but nothing happened. After some procrastination episode and a lotta consumed candlesticks, I decided to open the switch (I must admit I was feeling crafty that day). I put on my "Mac Gyver" uniform and tried to find out what happened. To my great astonishment I was able to repair it (only a loose wire). When I told my husband he went on a monologue saying it was very dangerous, I could have been electrocuted and I should have called him. He's not completely wrong : my handy Manny is a synonym of Bridget Jones. And you? Are you in the same category as me?

Monday, January 6, 2014

No comments

I let you savour.


The cupcakes (#2, #3, #5) are from Petits gateaux in Mont-Royal, Montreal. They are as delicious as they look. The combination of fluffy cake and a light topping make them worth a special trip. The boutique is painted in girly vintage pastel colours and I've always been welcomed with a smile.
We once made a special order for my daughter's birthday and they were very professional.

The cupcakes (#1 and #4) are from Les glaceurs in Vieux-Montreal. As a whole, the cupcakes are ok. Decor and service are nice. Go for a try only if you're in the neighbourhood.


In France, the cupcake trend is hitting the shops. As a dedicated reporter, I have to investigate and find out where to buy the best cupcake in Paris. Any suggestions?