Friday, December 5, 2014

Marché de Noël!

Last weekend, I took a bus to the Eastern edge of France to visit a town that's home to one of the oldest and most famous Christmas markets in Europe- Strasbourg! Two miles from the French/German border, the Christkindelmärik has been held there annually since 1570.
I visited Colmar as well, but our time there was so short that I hardly took any pictures! Of the two, Strasbourg by night was absolutely gorgeous but felt a little too mass produced. Certainly not all, but many of the chalets had the same, generic items. This definitely didn't take away from our good time (vin chaud being one of those mass produced, available everywhere items...) but, I didn't find nearly as many Christmas gifts as I'd hoped. We ended the night salsa dancing on a boat, so, you know, zero complaints there. Strasbourg is definitely on my list to revisit sometime.

Colmar's chalets had many more unique items and artisanal goodies. Before I was even gone I was already plotting another trip back before I go home to the U.S. for Christmas. So much to see with so little time- but I was able to scoop up a few Christmas gifts...and a Nutella+Banana crêpe of course.

Pictures below!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

October - November

Pictures to accompany my last post! This is kind of all over the place, with random pictures from the last month.

Friday, November 28, 2014


Happy late Thanksgiving!

3 days shy of being here for 8 weeks (again- what?!) And I've done a lousy job of blogging about it!
Let's see, since the end of October I've:
-Spent Halloween weekend at Disneyland Paris - so fun!
-Spent several weekends in Paris- visited some interesting exhibits, danced late into the night, and sought out Canadian sports bars to watch the Saint's games, because obviously.
-Discovered a pub in Senlis with weekly karaoke nights that are
-Finally visited the Senlis cathedral and a fantastic museum here (housed in a former Episcopal palace!) The history of this place is astounding- it was founded by the Romans in the 3rd century. Third. Century. I can barely wrap my mind around that. Later on, it was a royal city for several centuries and there are still pieces of the royal palace standing today.
-Received my carte bancaire! This is essentially just a debit card like back home, but I feel so very official now. After multiple instances of using it incorrectly and being on the receiving end of some very annoyed looks from cashiers- I think I've got the hang of it now.
-During the Festival de Dance a Senlis, I attended a show and saw performances by dancers from a variety of companies, including l'Opera de Paris. As always, the ballet pas de deuxs were my favorite- gorgeous costuming and perfect pointe work from the ballerina.
-Made some friends! From all over the world- in fact, I've yet to meet another American here.
-Visited Parc Asterix, which was amazing and I spent most of the day upside down or high in the sky on rollarcoasters.
-Finally FINALLY moved on from my ancient Iphone 4 to a beautiful golden Iphone 6- it's been a little over a week and I am still completely smitten. Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday to me! France sure didn't make it easy. 3 days of multiple locations and always -always- more documents needed- but so worth it. So excited to be able to capture and share better quality pictures of my adventures here!

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and it was bittersweet. So thankful for the opportunity to be living a dream in France, but man was it hard being away from my family. Knowing they were all together laughing and enjoying each other, while I'm across the globe in a country where it's just "Thursday"- definitely made me homesick, but more importantly- made me that much more excited to be going home in less than 3 weeks for a 3 week long holiday visit!

And just in time to hype up my holiday spirit- tomorrow I'm headed to Strasbourg a.k.a "The Capitol of Christmas"! I've always wanted to visit a real Christmas market, and last year Strasbourg was voted the Best Christmas Market in Europe. Also on the agenda: Saverne and Colmar. Basically those elaborate holiday decor villages your grandma sets up for Christmas, but life size.
So excited, I can't wait to post pictures!


Sunday, October 26, 2014


Life via my vintage Iphone 4 camera...

better late than never?

I've been in France nearly three weeks now, so I guess it's time for a post. First of all- wait, three weeks?! That feels kind of crazy on multiple levels. I have seen and experienced something new every day, and my brain is racing to take it all in, process it, and commit it to memory forever.
So, my last few weeks, hopefully without too many boring details but enough to satisfy my lovely family whom I promised regular updates to ;)
  • After a teary goodbye with my boyfriend, followed by sitting at the gate on the phone with my dad getting play by play updates of the overtime minutes of the New Orleans Saint's game (Thanks Dad!)- I was boarded and ready. Or as ready as I could be. Several hours in when everyone else was sleeping and I was still wide awake on movie #3,  an AirFrance stewardess appeared offering a late night snack- Bluebell Icecream! A sweet little farewell from the South.
  • Arriving at the house around 10am, I was shown my room and given a tour of my new home. I'd seen pictures of the bright, spacious interior and of course Google stalked the outside- but actually seeing it was surreal. And a little much for my weary mind to handle. D suggested I stay up to fight the jet-lag, but I think S sensed I was near cracking and suggested I go and rest for a while. I was grateful for her suggestion and as soon as I shut the door it all hit me, and I let myself cry for a few minutes. The physical and mental exhaustion, emotional turmoil of my final few weeks in the US, happiness to have finally arrived after a few minor setbacks, fear of the separation from my family and friends, the official "real"ness of it all- it was altogether overwhelming. After a nap and lunch with D and S, I felt much better and we walked to the city center together so that I could see some of the town on our way to pick up their two younger girls from school. Just like with the house, I had seen photos of the town but seeing it with my own eyes was incredible. Winding cobblestone streets, and amazing old architecture. Boulangerie's, cafes, and flower shops. D and S waving to friends and neighbors along the way- I'd arrived in the perfect little storybook French town.
  • The very next afternoon, I had my first Adult Intermediate French class. I hadn't been in a classroom in years, and was nervous to go back. It was like the first day of school jitters all over again. Seriously. I should have picked out an outfit the night before. D walked me in and explained my sudden appearance to the professor-classes started a full month before my arrival- as I stood awkwardly at the front of the class, totally the new kid. I found a seat and pulled out my new notebook, ready for whatever. Except for the rapid-fire questions the professor began asking me (en Français, of course) about myself. Shit. With barely 24 hours in the country, my brain was definitely not functioning on that level yet. But I got it together and she moved on and much to my relief, no one was laughing at me. By the end of class I had, as a result of some intense and exhausting concentration, understood much more than I'd expected and felt relieved that all those years of study were maybe still in my brain somewhere after all. Not quite so confident when it was time to do my homework (my homework! ha!)- but's a work in progress.
  • Last Friday I went to Paris to spend a few days with one of my best friends, Nadalee. I was there Friday-Tuesday night and it was, well, PARIS! The same Paris that I fell in love with last summer. Except in the way that 1) It only took me 18 minutes to get there and 2) It was the first of what will be many trips this year- I swear that made everything look a little different somehow. Maybe I was paying more attention this time. So much walking, and I loved every minute of it. We got tickets to the Opera, and afterwards walked around Bastille. One particularly late night was topped off with a 5am stop at a cafe for crêpes, a bottle of wine, and people watching. Because why not? Especially when it's a Nutella&Banana crêpe and a bottle from le Côtes du Rhône. And Paris. By the last few days I was wandering around alone while Nadalee was at work, and it was way less intimidating than I thought it would be. I explored some of the historic covered passageways (les passages couverts) and found all kinds of great, quirky little shops full of sweets, books, old postcards, vintage toys, so much! Tuesday evening I took the train back to the station where I'd left the car, and drove home entirely proud of myself for finding the way home in the dark.

My first few solo outings were spent exploring the town and hoping that no one would speak to me, because I was so self conscious about my French. The first time I went to the morning market alone and braved speaking to a produce vendor was a proud moment. Same with buying a train ticket to Paris. Little things, but so exhilarating. As time goes on, I'm sure I'll do all those things and more without a second thought- but for now it's all thrilling and I wouldn't change a thing.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

la première

Blogs. I follow a few and some of my best friends update their own regularly- but (with the exception of some superbly teen angsty Livejournal posts circa '00s) I've never had any desire to have one of my own. I love pen and paper, creating little tomes detailing both the trivial events in my life as well as the life changing events and everything in between. But always just for me. I've kept journals off and on my entire life (recently discovered: a very messily scrawled entry detailing my plans to run away, due to being scolded at a birthday party that afternoon. My 8 year old self was maybe a little dramatic...). I love to reread them sometimes and revisit, laugh at myself and -hopefully- realize how I've grown and changed over the years. It's always been super personal- and I've liked it that way.

Here's the thing: I'm about to go on a big adventure, and I plan to blog about it as I go- with the hope that at the end of this adventure, I'll have created something I can not only revisit  but also share with others considering similar adventures.

So if by chance you're not a friend or family member-or you are and I've just neglected to tell you..woops...- I should probably provide a little bit of backstory!
I spent most of the summer waiting for inspiration to strike and enlighten me on my next "career" move- and in the meantime had a whole lot of fun. After more than 5 years traveling a career path I always knew wasn't the right path for me- I was finally free of a typical "9-5" schedule and corporate nonsense. I was free to take on freelance styling jobs, collaborate with other local creatives, and get into the film world as a wardrobe/costume assistant. All things I love and all enriching in their own ways- but not always the most steady of gigs! 
One day while playing shopgirl at Hazel & Flo, after seeing a Facebook post from a friend who had recently returned from her own adventures, I began exploring potential opportunities for travel. What began as idly wondering what the possibilities were of me ACTUALLY leaving (as well as if I actually had the guts to go through with it) has turned into me now preparing to move to Senlis, France to Au Pair. And soon.

Senlis is a pretty little town 25 miles North of Paris, and looks a little something like this:

It's incredibly exciting and scary and anxiety inducing and a million other things all at once. After accepting the position, things moved pretty quickly and it's felt as if each day I've faced a new thing that made the whole thing a little more "real". From booking a Visa appointment at the Consulate, to subleasing my beloved NOLA apartment, to little things like realizing each time I'm out somewhere it's possibly the last time I'll be there for a long's all prettt-y real at this point. Another new level of real: meeting the family last weekend. Not only did that make it very real, but maybe a little less scary (only in the "Hooray! Maybe the whole thing's not a ruse luring me into human trafficking!" sense. If I had a dollar for every time I've asked my boyfriend "but what if they AREN'T real people??".....) They seem wonderful, and the girls were super sweet. Famous last words? We'll see.

The next few weeks will be a whirlwind.

I can't wait.