September 28, 2011

A Swedish infatuation

Their colours are blue and yellow. they offer great brekfast and lunch deals.

The personel does not speak Swedish but the goods they sell are labelled in Swedish and although you have no clue what it means you still buy it. The most amazing part of it all, is that they manage to replicate this feat across the globe.

Their focus lately is on the kitchen but you won't be invited for dinner. somehow, however, you always end up visiting them, and you NEVER walk out empty handed!

2 funky downloads from IKEA for your computer:
a) Turn your desktop wallpaper into an IKEA showroom: click here
b) Times are changing clock screensaver: click here

September 26, 2011

La French soup

After "la baguette" what is the quintessential French dish? Soupe à l'onion! That is, of course, if you don't count the sweet delicacies such as macaroons, tarte tartin, millefeuilles and the list goes on!

But I am disgressing! I must admit the most scruptious Onion Soup I have made is ..... Julia Child's. So until I come across another yummier recipe (which I just might living in Paris) here goes:

Onion Soup recipe
1 1/2 lbs or about 5 cups of thinly sliced yellow onions
3 tbs butter
1 tbs oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
3 tbs flour
2 quarts brown/beef stock (boiling)
1/2 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth
3 tbs Cognac
Rounds of hard-toasted french bread
1-2 cups grated swiss or parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the onions slowly with the butter and the oil in a covered saucepan for 15 minutes.

Uncover, raise the heat to moderate, and stir in the salt and sugar. Cook for 30 - 40 minutes stirring frequently, until the onions have turned an even, deep, golden brown.

Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 3 minutes.

Off heat, blend in the boiling liquid. Add the wine, and season to taste. Simmer partially covered for 20 to 40 minutes or more, skimming occasionally. Correct the seasoning.

Just before serving, stir in the Cognac. Pour into soup tureen or soup cups over the rounds of bread. Pass the cheese separately.

The Italian touch: cover with smoked provolone and place the bowls under the grill for a few minutes to brown.

September 24, 2011

Je suis bien dans mes basket...

"A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it."
John Steinbeck

Today I gathered my thoughts for a minute and summed up my personal experiences and impression to date of our new home. I must admit Paris has been pretty cool runnings so far.

I expected a rather dreary start to our new life in France with:
- bad weather
- terrible traffic
- unfriendly people
- endless paperwork
- eternal delays in communication technology and
- a stressed me

Instead I found that:
- the weather has been phenomenal (it seems summer is one to two months late in Paris this year, just my luck)
- taking the metro lets me avoid the traffic completely (which lowers the stress level considerably)
- the French have been not only friendly but helpful and smily (I wonder if it's the weather???) I can't remember the Parisian being so forthcoming, ever. They hold the door open for the next person when exiting the metro, they stand up in the bus to give their seat to an elderly person, the help you out when you get lost in the parking garage, they lend you their trolley for you to move your furniture without breaking your back and the list goes on.
- no paperwork is to be done, it's all online nowadays: TV, Gas, Electricity.
- we were connected to Internet, TV and a telephone line within 48 hours of our application! Can you believe it. Now, I call this luxury.
- therefore I am totally ZEN and "totalement bien dans mes basket"!

September 22, 2011

How do you spell "European Heritage Days" in French?

The French are passionate about culture and literature. This weekend we discovered the "Journées Européenes du patrimoine"

Every year in September, the 50 signatory States to the European Cultural Convention take part in the European Heritage Days – a joint action of the Council of Europe and the European Commission, putting new cultural assets on view and opening up historical buildings normally closed to the public. The cultural events highlight local skills and traditions, architecture and works of art, but the broader aim is to bring citizens together in harmony even though there are differences in cultures and languages.

In short it peaks your curiosity to explore places that usually are unaccessible.  My plan was to visit the British Embassadors' residence and take a Sunday stroll through an English garden in Paris. Unfortuantely, the doors to the Embassy were only opened on Saturday.

Quick change of plan and we were heading to the Iena Palace built between 1937 and 1946 by the architect Auguste Perret. The Iena Palace houses the Economic and Social Council of France, this is a consultative assembly. It does not play a role in the adoption of statutes and regulations, but advises the National Assembly and the Senate on questions of social and economic policies.

I wonder if these chairs come in pink???

The "Journées Européennes de partimoine" gave us the opportunity to view the fantastic interiors. This monumental staircase was built without supports for the intermediate levels.

Impressive chandelier designed by Serge Macel.

The auditorium originally designed in the form of an amphitheater for conferences contains 233 councillor seats and 100 public seats in the tribune.

The kids received an improvised history lesson when we came across the portraits of all French presidents - present and past! Expat boy actually recognized Nicholas Sarkosy's picture!!! François Mitterand will forever be my favourite though.

All in all, it was an efficient and fun way to raise my children's awareness of France's politics and put an image to things they have heard of these past days.

September 20, 2011

Exciting beginnings...

It has been nearly three weeks since I've arrived by car from Madrid with the kids. It seems like 3 months already!

We have gone from excited anticipation during our drive from Bordeaux where we stopped for the night on our way here

.... to curious discovery, walking into our new flat filled with our familiar furniture and immediately checking out our new neighbourhood

... having breakfast at LaDurée on the Champs Elysée (how cool is that?)

... coming across an unfortunate visit to the dentist when Expat boy fell off his trottinette and chipped his tooth (a big Thank you to my Parisian blogger friend who provided me with trustworthy dentist recommendation immediately)

.... being welcomed by an incredibly organized (at least it seems so for the time being) and truely International school (over 60 nationalities)

... getting an overwhelming reception by an enthousiastic and open parent association who actually provided new parents with a "goodie bag" filled with useful information on living in Paris. (Makes me want to go back to school ;))

... feeling totally underdressed and overcoloured at Paris Vogue's Fashion night out

... discovering the efficient and rapid Parisian metro system

... exploring material shops at Montmartre while providing my kids with a bit of a culture shock (they had never seen so many tourists in one place)

... enjoying the street musician and their extraordinary talent (sometimes)

... bumping into old friends in the metro. Only in Paris!!!

... relishing in some delicious French food in a small romantic bistro in the Marais on a Saturday evening with my hubby

... taking endless photos of the Tour Eiffel because I cannot believe that I actually live here now!!!!!!!

September 18, 2011

Becoming Parisienne

Way back in May I had stumbled over a website called La Parisienne. It is the famous women race which has been organized by the City of Paris for 15 years. Not only does it host over 20'000 participants (all women!!!) but the starting line is at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. How cool is that? What better way to start my Parisien adventure? Just jump in and run!

So last Sunday (my first in Paris) I walked over to the Eiffel tower and stood admist 22'000 other women and despite the rain everybody was in good spirits and smiling. Including me.... and I HATE rain. Just shows you how high my motivation was.

Standing in line to receive number and t-shirt the day before the race

How to dress 22'000 women?

A little warm up session infront of L'école militaire

A little pink chip to keep track of your time

After 1 1/2 hours of waiting for my turn to depart I was off with a batch of 5000 other women all ages, races and origins. Groups of women had travelled from all corners of France to participate in this event making it a girly weekend at the same time. I decided on the spot to invite my girlfriends from across Europe for next year. Get ready girls!

The race itself was 6km which took me about 40 minutes to run without difficulty. The emotions that I felt, however, were harder to control. Running under the Eiffel Tower, over the Seine, passing the Trocadero, the Ecole militaire, the UNESCO just to name a few. I kept on repeating to myself: Yes, this is you! You are NOT dreaming. You are NOW living in Paris!

I must admit Lugano at that point had never felt farther away. The Ticinese had ran the StraLugano the day before, by the way.

The course was facilitated by the applause of an audience full of grinning daddies and happy kids cheering on Mummies, Sisters, Aunties, Daughters and Grannies. Samba bands were playing along the road, even the Scotts were there with their bagpipes. In total more than 600 musicians cheered us on.

So there I was - little me - grinning away from ear to ear feeling very Parisienne. My Parisian adventure has started with a bang, just the way I wanted, and IT FEELS GOOOOOOOD!!!!

September 15, 2011

From Monte Bré to Montmartre

Where to start? 

So many places to discover.
So many logistics to organize.
So much administration to get sorted.
So much technology to set up.
So many emotions to control.
So many surprises to enjoy.
So many people to watch.
So many delicacies to try.
So much sunshine to take advantage of.
So much French to practice.
So many sounds to listen to.

Exploring the city of lights one step at a time!

September 14, 2011

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