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a weekend in paris

After having just settled down to life in a new country, getting used to a new culture, new food, new customs and a new sort of “language,” what do you do? Travel to a different country, of course.

Dave surprised me with a trip to Paris for our 6th wedding anniversary. How lovely is that? I had never been to Paris. Or London. And the truth is, it wasn’t so much of a surprise as a, “Hey, I have this in the wings. Are you settled enough to take off and leave the kids for a weekend?”

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My answer? Oh hell yes. Because after traveling across the world with 2 small children, switching our body clocks 8 hours ahead, handling the tantrums and the “this [insert British food here] is yucky!” and the endless walking (sometimes carrying), I was ready for a break.

As I mentioned in the last post, our lovely friend and nanny Beki came with us out of sheer luck and happenstance. She moved into our apartment for the weekend and off we went. The girls were fine. Happy, in fact. A whole weekend with Beki? Hooray!

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Notre Dame from across the River Seine

One bag, one tube, one train and we were there. I’m still amazed at how easy travel is in this little (big) place we call Europe.

What did we do in Paris? Tried the local cuisine. Tried the local cuisine again. And again. And again. There is a reason Paris is famous for its food. We had the best meal of our lives (for serious) at a small spot called Rossi & Co. We stumbled upon it on a Saturday night, having no reservation to speak of, and perusing Open Table or whatever the French equivalent is. I have no photos because the whole meal was spent with my eyes shut, savoring each bite, trying to remember it forever.

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I drank coffee. Lots and lots of delicious coffee, because I have yet to find a spot in London that will make me an Americano. They either stare at me blankly or say, “No, but we can make you a latte or an espresso.” Because apparently they don’t have water behind the counter. Sometimes I stare right back at them until they notice what idiots they are, and sometimes I just ask for an iced espresso and then ask for some water to pour into it. Then I ask for a little milk. Then I ask for a little sugar. Then they kick me out of the coffee shop.

I forgot more and more about London coffee shop quarrels with each café a lait in Paris. Because that’s what you drink in Paris. I still dream about it.

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“Lovelocks” bridge which spans the River Seine. No, we didn’t put our own lock on and toss the key in the river. But it was entertaining to watch others!

We crossed the “lovelocks” bridge and wandered around Notre Dame. When it got hot we’d take a break at a cafe or hop back to our apartment for a siesta.

Now I’m just totally culture-crossed. Maybe I need to re-visit Spain to have a nice long siesta.

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Paris is just as beautiful as everyone says. The streets, though dirty, unkempt, and littered with cigarette butts, are lined with the most quaint buildings and lovely shops. The French, we found, are hilarious. They look like they are fighting every time they speak with their hand gestures and rapid river of words gushing out of their mouths. It’s entertainment in itself to watch them and figure out whether they’re talking about the weather or arguing over who gets Grandpa’s estate.

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A fromage vendor at Bastille Market.

We found the beautiful Bastille Market and perused its tents full of cheeses, meats, fruits, fabrics, and everything in between. We sampled the fromage and the melon, laughed at the random vendors selling €1 tube socks, and sat by a fountain to catch any mist that we could. It mixed with the sweat on our faces and we sat there, happy and hot, delighted just to be sitting in a market in the middle of Paris.

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When we had seen all there was to see at the market, we followed a stream of locals, not really knowing where we were going but knowing it was in the general direction of our train. Turns out they were going here: Boulangerie 28. They were coming to pick up baguettes to complete their shopping. We scooped up some sandwiches for the train home (delicious) and an eclair caramel that I will never forget.

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At the base of the Eiffel Tower we asked a stranger to take a photo of us. He got down low to the ground and quickly snapped one shot, indicating to us in his native language (Czech?) that it was good. I doubted him, naturally, since I usually take multiple shots and choose the very best one. But it turns out it was perfect. It’s now my favorite picture of us.

Now we’re back to day-to-day life in London. Entering week three I’m starting to know my way around. The girls know exactly how to “mind the gap,” however large or small it may be. We signed a lease on a house and can move in later on in the month. I’ll share more about London later, but for now, I’ll leave you with thoughts of Paris: the most perfect pain au chocolat, sipping a cafe au lait, and sitting outside a little boulangerie on a hot summer morning.

Ta for now,

Jenny

silent sunday

  

 

home again, home again

Jiggity jig.

I’m back. I’m sunburned. I’m still hungover from one too many tequila shots at Cabo Wabo. And because I have been habitating at a swim-up bar instead of my cozy kitchen, I have no recipes to share with you. There’s nothing occupying my mind but a sunny beach, a tepid infinity pool, sand in places where sand should never be, and a list of things I loved and loathed about a little town south of the border.

I loved, and will forever be indebted to:

  • Road sodas.
  • Golf cart sodas.
  • Taxi cab sodas.
  • Pool sodas.
  • Ocean sodas.
  • How all my Spanish vocabulary came back to me after imbibing all of these “sodas.”
  • Food smothered in melted cheese.
  • Pepto Bismol.
  • Fresh, fresher-than-fresh, freshity-fresh seafood.
  • Chicklet kids.
  • 80 degrees in the shade.
  • Swim-up bars.
  • Miami Vices.
  • Celebrity sitings (especially of the D-list variety).
  • Celebrity look-alike sitings (especially of the D-list variety).
  • My tan. And the way it makes me look 5 pounds thinner, if you don’t look at the parts that look more like a tomato than a human.

I loathed, and have purchased voodoo dolls to torture:

  • Cab drivers drinking road sodas.
  • No functioning seat belts in any vehicle, especially vehicles being driven by cab drivers drinking road sodas.
  • Frat boys. And their hangers-on.
  • Old fisherman who think they are frat boys. And their hangers-on (body odor, logo hats, pickup lines from 1976).
  • Food covered in melted Velveeta.
  • Very un-fresh seafood.
  • Chicklets kids who tried to steal my wallet.
  • 95 degrees in the shade.
  • Bargaining for the price of water. Bargaining for the price of sunscreen. Bargaining for the price of beer. Bargaining for the price I can pay you to get you out of my face with your cases full of crap.
  • My painful sunburn.
  • That last tequila shot. It was a doosey.

I’m off to sort through pictures, spend about a year kissing little bear and Husband, and get cooking in the kitchen. I’ll be back at you soon with some brand new posts that will make you very, very hungry for Mexican food.

Hasta mañana, mis amigos fabulosos.

-RDG

putting off the inevitable, with photos

Husband’s birthday is this weekend. We’re having a shindig at our place, full of family and friends and wine and cake. People. Are. Coming. To. My. Messy. Messy. House.

So, in order to distract myself from the looming errands, prep cooking, vacuuming and generally making this place not entirely frightening for company, I’ve been going through the photos from our trip—the ones that don’t involve cookies, cupcakes and carrot cake, that is. So while I’m at it, I thought I’d share a few with you.

This gorgeous little stretch of Highway 24 was on the way home from the skiing part of our vacation, on our way from Breckenridge back to Colorado Springs. It was serene. It was beautiful. It was nothing like…

…the drive there. This photo was taken during a 60 second period during which my fingernails retracted from Husband’s knee. When I saw the “Icy Road” sign, I believe I said something like, “no s#$%, Sherlock,” snapped a photo, and then burrowed  my nails back into his skin.

RDG is not built for this type o climate. My heart can’t handle the car rides.

I seriously hope I never have to be in a vehicle that actually needs to use one of these things.

Something tells me that if I “lost” my brakes, the last thing that would come instinctually would be to stay on the freaking highway.

We finally, finally, arrived at our destination. At this point, I was carsick, freaked as all get-out about the ice gliding under our tires, and soooo in need of a margarita.

I was consoled by the fact that Breckenridge is a cute dang town. Snowy, festive, and…

…did I mention cute? This house makes me want to curl up by a roaring fire with a cup of tea. Spiked with bourbon.

Who am I kidding? I would probably spend all day dancing around my house singing songs about how cute my dang house is.

Speaking of cute, have you ever seen a cuter Starbucks? I don’t normally do the ‘Bucks (no offense to my pals who work at corporate), but this cute-as-a-button little yellow location almost made me want a mocha.

Our hotel (well, Ma and Dad-in-law’s timeshare) was right up this road. See that light at the top of the peak in the background? That’s a Cat, my friends. Could you imagine driving one of those things over a deserted snowy mountain in the dark? Freaky. And not in a silly way.

The next day, I was so dang excited to hit the slopes. I hadn’t skied in two seasons, since last year I was eight months pregnant at the time and would have collapsed the chairlift had I tried to ride it. Plus I was busy, you know, sleeping and eating every cake in sight.

It was cold (-12 windchill), and I wasn’t feeling great, so we skied a half day and went back after lunch. Nothing could stop me, I told myself, from tearing up the slopes the next day, all day long, when I would be more acclimatized and my legs would be stronger.

Nothing, that is, except strep throat, which landed me in the hospital two days later. On my vacation. In the ER at a skiing destination where they don’t know how do do anything except cast broken legs. Luckily, the doc hooked me up with a hefty dose of antibiotics and I spent the next few days watching movies in the hotel room.

By friday, I was good to go. It was the last day on the slopes, and I wanted, nay–needed–to ski that entire mountain.

And oh, was it everything I thought it would be. The sun was shining, the snow was perfect with a dusting of fresh powder, it was a temperate 22 degrees with no wind, and nothing could stop me from skiing until my legs gave out.

It was one of the most perfect days of skiing that I can remember. Really, one of the most perfect days I have ever spent outdoors.

We skied until our legs were rubber, packed it in, and headed back to the hotel to prepare for departing the next day.

The drive back was gorgeous, sunny, and luckily none of us landed in…

…jail. Although if we did, something tells me that it would be pretty easy to break out of.

Well I’m off to tackle my mounting list of to-do’s. Stay tuned this week for some lovely baked goods, some scrumptious dinners, and to hear all about the feast I’m cooking up for Husband’s birthday.

Happy hump day!

-RDG

auto reply: out of office

I’m going on vacay with the fam. Vacay, as in vay-cay-tion. I love when people spell it “vaca,” by the by. If you ever took 6th grade Spanish you know that those people just said “I’m going on cow.” Which is equally as awesome, but doesn’t make as much sense.

Anyhoo, I’ll be out out of my office until the first day of the great month of February. And by my “office,” I mean my couch. And by “out,” I mean no laptop, no internet, lots of  e-books and (gasp!) magazines. You know—those old archaic forms of entertainment often composed of real, honest-to-god paper.

We’re off to visit Husband’s folks in Colorado, and although I want to bring my laptop, my carry-on is already stuffed full of my camera, video camera, diapers, four hours worth of baby snacks, toys, ibuprofen and five mini bottles of tequila to make the flight more…bearable.

There were days before Miss Lucy when we traveled lightly. We carried on a single bag between us. My purse was a small little number not stuffed with Cheerios and Pampers. We didn’t book hotel rooms in advance and took public transportation. “We flew off to Rome on a moment’s notice…”

Those days are behind us. And if you can identify that last movie quote you win a wagon wheel coffee table.

While I’m gone, I thought I would give y’all a little taste of what’s to come in the great month of February here at RDG. I’ve been saving some recipes for a, well, rainy day. And by rainy day, I mean a day when I don’t have anything else to post and haven’t cooked in a month. Which is what the situation will be when I return from vacation.

Dessert first. Let’s start with the sweet stuff:

Bakery-style chocolate chip cookies. You know, the huge kind that are gooey in the middle and crispy around the edges?

I’m a little obsessed with this type of cookie. I’ve tried dozens of recipes, this one being the winner. I’ll clue you in on what makes them huge and gooey and totally delicious. And how to make them yourself.

Sticky bun cinnamon rolls. Because sticky buns by themselves are just…boring. These take the best of both worlds and marry them together in a union of wedded sugary bliss.

Alright. On to the savory junk:

Creamy portabella pot roast. Tender roast, red wine and rich portabella mushrooms come together in this creamy one pot meal. It’ll be a wintry February treat.

Wild mushroom linguine. Can you tell that I’m a little obsessed with mushrooms at the moment? They’re an easy ingredient that adds tons of flavor. This dish uses dried porcinis and some simple stuff that you probably already have in your pantry.

It’ll knock your socks off. Or your rain boots.

Have a fantastic week, eat lots of chocolate, and stay tuned. When I return, so will the recipes. And they will be worth the wait.

-RDG