Monthly Slice: February

A little slice of February…

I can sum up the month of February in two words: school and Whole 30 (not technically a single word, but roll with me). As I predicted, second semester has been a whirlwind so far. I’m taking fewer classes but I started an awesome new job (I get to learn lots of digital tools and play with WordPress) so I am just about as busy as I was before. (So if you sent me a message and I took forever to respond… I’m sorry!)

One of the perks about being in the localization industry so close to Silicon Valley is that we get to attend events at major tech companies – this month we went to Apple and I tried not to geek out too much. I didn’t dare pull out my ancient iPhone.

(This might just be American materialism, but I am dying to get the newest iPhone so that I can take better photos. Does anyone have it?! Is the camera all it’s cracked up to be?)

Another cool thing: my marketing class visited a local chocolate factory last week – most delicious “field trip” ever. If you’re ever somewhere where you can get your hands on Lula’s chocolates, I highly recommend them. (I believe they’re only available in the U.S. at the moment. Get the salted caramel.)

Highlights: Sunday strolls with Hugo! (Zzzz. Sorry, that’s the most exciting thing I’ve got.) We live in such a beautiful area, and it’s so refreshing to blow off studying for a little bit to walk on the beach or wander around Carmel. (The beach in February? Yes – it’s 12 degrees Celsius on a cold day here. Winter is not so much a thing. Although we did get a crazy amount of rain and storms in January.)

 

In the kitchen: You might remember from one of my recent posts that I did a Whole 30 last month! If you followed my Whole 30 Instagram diary @wherearemycarbs you know how that turned out… I’ll write more about it in another post. Basically, I’m glad I did it, I’m glad it’s over, and I finally figured out what’s been terrorizing my skin (after I poisoned myself with it for months.)

If you’re interested in “clean eating” (what does that even mean? Who decided beef is “clean” and white rice is not?) I made a Pinterest board just for Whole30/Paleo recipes (of course I did).

 

Blogging: As usual, I have a lot of posts in my draft folder that I don’t have time to finish. I have some Paris, some Lyon, a lesson plan post that I secretly hate… I also want to share a post from Hugo’s perspective on being a French guy in California. Let me know if you have any questions for him!

I like to balance what I write between useful posts, travel posts, and my own musings, but lately it’s been a lot about ME… my blog, my whims, right? No, actually it’s because I’m enjoying writing these monthly updates, but I don’t have a lot of time to blog 😦 so the number of posts between monthly updates is minimal. One day I will find blogging balance! (And maybe figure out why I’m doing this in the first place. Why do I blog, again?)

Can I be honest about something? I wrote this mini-post this month because I wanted to share a little anecdote without making it into a big post, and I immediately regretted it — it seemed so orphaned and sad and boring all alone, and I wished I had combined lots of little stories into one post instead. Now I feel like I either have to delete it or write more mini-posts so that it’s a little series. (Luckily I have a lot of anecdotes about French.) #OverthinkingIt

A really nice person shared this design blog with me and I can’t stop watching her videos. She has some WordPress resources too!

I’ve also spent a fair amount of time playing with WordPress at work and now I’m addicted to WP Theme Detector to find out which themes and plugins people with beautiful functional blogs are using.

What I’m listening to: Hugo and I watched the movie Begin Again while we were dog-sitting for friends (we loved being dog parents for a day!) and I can’t get the songs out of my head. I’m not sure how I feel about the movie (full disclosure, I fell asleep. But to be fair, I usually fall asleep during movies) but the music was catchy. It’s all about a songwriter in New York City. I always think how much pressure it must be for the people who actually write the songs that are supposed to sound like they could be major hits.

Favorite Trader Joe’s snack: I couldn’t eat a lot of Trader Joe’s goodies this month because of my Whole 30 (grocery shopping made me so sad and hangry. I know that’s not how you’re supposed to feel on Whole 30 but I did) but I LOVE their kale salad. I used to hate kale but I’ve come over to the dark green side.

(For those of you who live in France, can you buy kale where you live? I know you can in Paris, and when I left Lyon, they were selling it at Monoprix. For anyone who doesn’t know, this all started with The Kale Project. Now I’ve talked so much about kale that you’re going to think I’m some kind of kale fiend, but I’m really, really not. WAIT one more thing. I love this funny kale story from one of my favorite blogs of all time.)

Let’s see, kale, Carmel, blogging struggles… yes, that pretty much sums it up! What was the highlight of your February?

 

Guide to International Food in Lyon (by arrondissement)

When I moved to Lyon from Paris, I complained that there wasn’t enough international food. Since then, two things have happened. 1) I realized I was wrong and 2) a ton of new cool restaurants have opened up! About half of the places on this list opened after I moved to Lyon (which was in 2013).

By the way, I’m using “international food” fairly loosely here – in most cases, I don’t mean “100% authentic food the way it is served in its country of origin” (because how the hell do I know what “real” Ethiopian food is like) I mean “not French.”

Because I love baguettes and quiche and all, but I don’t want to each French food all the time.

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My Favorite Wine Bars in Lyon (by arrondissement)

Hi! I’ve been writing more and more about Lyon this year, and some of you have told me that you found these posts useful (which is awesome, because otherwise why am I doing this?) I’m so glad to hear it – thank you for the feedback.

Here is the most important one yet. (Unless you don’t drink wine, in which case this will be almost totally useless to you. Maybe you like tea or coffee? No? Croissants?)

It goes without saying that I really liked all these places, or I wouldn’t have put them on the list! But there are a few that I love – my favorite favorites – so I’ve marked them with a ❤.

There are loads of fantastic wine bars in Lyon – feel free to comment if you have a favorite I haven’t included! These are simply places I have been to (many times, in some cases) that I think are great.


1st arrondissement

❤ La Cave d’à Coté: Cozy, great planche of charcuterie & cheese (Closed Sunday)

Le Vin des Vivants: Pretty terrace, low prices (Closed Sunday and Monday)

❤ Autour d’un Verre: Classy but casual, tasty tapas (closed Sunday. Owner speaks very good English.)

Bones & Bottles: Oh-so-hip, a little pricey, great food – small plates (closed Sunday and Monday. English spoken)

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La Campagne à Paris

If I were a big-time blogger with a global influence, I don’t think I would tell you about La Campagne à Paris. If it became more popular, it would be spoiled.

But I’m rather lucky because only a select group of exclusively nice people (right?) read my blog.

So I think it’s safe.

I think I read about La Campagne à Paris on Paris Zigzag, a fantastic site for discovering little-known places in Paris (in French). It’s a tiny neighborhood in the 20th, just minutes from the Porte de Bagnolet metro stop (line 3, take exit 2).

It’s a tiny little haven of cobblestone streets and storybook houses with pretty gates and flowers in front. It was nearly deserted – I encountered a few residents, a couple wanderers like me, and a cat.

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The Prettiest Places for Tea in Lyon

There is something really nice about sitting down for a snack or a cup of tea in a beautiful setting. I’m not one to prefer the fancy schmancy over something simple, but I can’t deny that I like drinking out of a pretty cup. Here are a few places in Lyon where you can enjoy the asthetic as much as your goûter.

Jeannine & Suzanne

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Jeannine & Suzanne is a new café in the 2nd arrondissement. Everything is beautiful. The tables, the chairs, the walls, the floors, the ceiling, even the ashtrays outside (pretty metal tea boxes). Oh, and the food is beautiful too. Their little tarts are works of art, and they have a long list of tea and other beverages. The kitchen is visible through a glass wall. The vibe here is modern-beautiful-quirky. Aka, totally Instagrammable.

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Nice, in photos

We heard the news after we got back from the fireworks. We probably would have gone to bed and slept in ignorance until the morning, but Hugo gets news alerts on his phone.

On Friday, there was an outpouring of shock and grief over the attack in Nice on social media. But at least in Lyon, there doesn’t seem to be a public space of tribute and mourning, like there was after the Paris attacks, where people leave flowers and messages. The public reaction is different this time. Maybe it’s because the possibility of more attacks has been hovering in the background, especially during the Eurocup. But that doesn’t diminish the magnitude of this tragedy.

I dug up my old photos of Nice. I haven’t been there since 2012. I thought it was only two years ago, but then I did the math. I meant to go back this summer, but time is short. (By “short” I mean “hurtling along at rogue rocket speed.”)

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Coucou! It’s summer!

Coucou! What’s up? I’m back in Lyon, chillin’. I loved Italy but it was nice to come home. I wish I had eaten more pasta.

I’ve had to go into work a few times (“work” at this point consists of watching students take exams. Exciting stuff!) but other than that, this is basically summer vacation. I’m not ready for it. The constant scramble of the school year has been replaced with an abyss of time, and I think that most people will tell you that an abyss of time is not all it’s cracked up to be.

It sounds nice, and you make a lot of lists, but it’s hard to get much done, and that pushes you into an American-style guilt trip on productivity, even though there’s not really anything you’re supposed to be doing. So it’s more of a general guilt trip since you haven’t failed on any specific counts, except maybe vacuuming.

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2016, so far

2016 is a big year of change. I’m feeling excited and anxious about the big move to California, and sad to leave Lyon and see most of my expat friends scatter all over the world as we all move on to the next chapters of our lives.

Recently, Hugo and I got a little taste of California life – one of my oldest, dearest friends got married this May and we flew to California for the occasion. She had a beautiful outdoor country wedding that belongs on Pinterest – vintage family dress, DIY centerpieces and bouquets, maid-of-honor hairdresser (that was me! So much pressure!) Her husband is an awesome dude. He cooked all the food. For 150 people. I repeat, he cooked all the food for his own wedding. And made the cake. (He is a good cook!)

So we spent a lot of time out in the countryside – way out in the countryside. I kept an eye out for rattlesnakes, like the paranoid city girl I am. (Did you know they coil up like that to spring at you?! And that they can spring really far?!) We also hung out with my parents, did some shopping, and toured some nearby town like Pacific Grove and San Juan Bautista. We made a trip up to San Francisco, where we wandered around gaping at the gorgeous Victorian houses. It was a speedy trip but I tried to throw in some fun new places that Hugo hadn’t been before (you know, like Target).

Other fun vacation stuff: my mother taught him the words “curmudgeon” and “kerfuffle.” (You can see where I get my love for funny words.)

And now we’re back in France and I’m planning my travel for this summer! (Trip to Rome, Florence, and Bologna in the works, and Lisbon a bit later. And I’d like to squeeze in some shorter trips if I can swing it. Major European travel FOMO here. Suggestions welcome!)

Classes are out, exams are graded, and there’s still a bit more work to be done but it’s quasi-vacation in that I don’t have to go to work every day or plan lessons or grade exams. Which is weird, because this semester (the whole school year, really) was so busy and intense. I kept trying to enjoy my last days of teaching, but I was constantly stressed from being in the hamster wheel. But I had some lovely students this year, and I certainly learned a lot. (I hope that having been a teacher will make me a better student. When I was in undergrad I was very passive and afraid to participate or ask questions, and I would have learned so much more if I had been more active in class. And from my perspective as a teacher, class is so much more interesting when students ask questions.)

Before the wedding, I squeezed in a trip to Paris to see another close friend, aka my partner in crime. We strolled the Marais and Place des Vosges, walked the Coulée Verte, and climbed the fence of the Petite Ceinture, an abandoned railroad that circles the city (but that’s another story). I also got to see a dress rehearsal of Der Rosenkavalier at the Opera Bastille, which was so cool! I loved getting to see behind the scenes, and I remembered how much I love Strauss.

(Speaking of music, I must take the time to tell you about Arts Alliance soon – they’re an awesome organization that makes London opera, dance, music, theater, and art available all around the world. They are killing it on their YouTube channel.)

I don’t write about Paris much since everyone else already has, but I may round up some of my Paris favorites at some point since I do love exploring the city. Anything you want to know? I’ll be back in Paris before the summer’s out, so if there’s anything cool you think I should check out (or eat) while I’m there, let me know!

Going to Paris really kicked off a new season for me – I was mostly chained to work for the first four months of the year and I didn’t travel at all. There is always more work to be done, whether it’s prepping lessons or writing exams or grading them, so taking a weekend trip would be more stressful than anything. Thank goodness for the supportive group of lectrices at work!

I didn’t even leave Lyon during the week-long vacation in February – Hugo’s sister was expecting her second baby and I wanted to be here when he (as it turned out) arrived. It was so worth it to be here for that important day. Hugo and I got to tell her two-year-old that he was a big brother, since the baby came during the night. I’m really going to miss getting to see those little guys and their cousins grow up while we’re in California. It’s one of the hardest things about leaving, because unlike everything else, they will change so fast, and we’ll never get that time back. Will they even remember us? (I’m an only child, so no nieces and nephews on my side.)

I don’t believe that fear of change is a reason to avoid it. I’m not afraid of something new and unknown, but I’m a little heartbroken that I have to let go of so much in order to move forward in my life. I wish I could have it both ways, but as they say in French, you can’t have the butter and the money for the butter (which makes more sense than “you can’t have your cake and eat it too” because you don’t exactly part with the cake when you eat it, whereas you must part with your money to buy butter. Unless you are a butter thief, I suppose. Butter thief, teach me your ways!)

I’m terribly sad to be uprooted from the life I’ve built in Lyon, but I am looking forward to building new roots in a new chapter of life. I’ll let you know how it goes.

All I know is that 2016 has been hurtling along at an alarming pace, and I don’t anticipate that it will slow down any time soon. All aboard the TGV of life!

 

 

 

 

Best Boulangeries in Lyon

It is no secret that I like French bread (and croissants and pains aux raisins and éclairs and… well, you get the idea). When people ask what brought me to France, I tell them it was the boulangeries. Whenever I am mad at France because the Sécu refused my carte vitale application for reasons they made up, I go get myself the best pain aux raisins I can find. (Something I didn’t know before I moved to Paris: All the flaky pastries like croissants and pain aux raisins are called viennoiseries in French.)

As I slowly get ready to leave Lyon, I find myself wanting to write about it more and more. (So if you have any questions about Lyon, let me know.) I can’t believe I’ve been here three years! I’ve lived up in the Croix-Rousse neighborhood and down on Presqu’île, so those are the areas I know the best, but I try to make it a point to eat croissants all over the city.

Here’s a list of some of my favorites:

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Lille: First Impressions

I have spent next to no time in Lille. Maybe two or three hours, total. The first time was when I was 22, changing trains on the way to Brussels. This is all I remember:

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Here I am, seven years younger and really tan after a summer in France, pretending to be Thumbelina.

So for years, Lille was to me “the city with the big flowers by the train station.”

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