Thursday, September 27, 2007

Here is a simple lavender cupcake. I am soooo disappointed. I really like the idea of these and was dying to make them. But after a ton of work, mountains of dishes and trips to the shop for special ingredients, I think that they taste kind of meh. So one might ask, why has it taken me 24 hours and repeated attempts at each of the constituent parts to get here (to Meh, capital of OK-sylvania)? Ok, in all fairness the cake is just the regular chiffon cake that I have been doing and it turned out fine the first time. However, I had to make the lavender cream for the filling three times and the frosting was done twice before I finally settled on the lavender meringue butter cream (which is also very meh but atleast it doesn't call for powdered sugar which I am now out of.) I think I am going to try and off load them on the moms in the park, if Ella wakes up from her nap on time. Next recipe- chocolate with chocolate. Plain and simple.

But then I think of the possibilities suggested by this website.

I went back to see my plastic surgeon today and he said every thing looked excellent. I am a bit sore still but overall feeling great. I am a little disappointed because the end result is not exactly what I asked for, although I do understand that people are not made of playdoh and there are limits to what any doctor can do. I have to say,although he did a great job and I think his skills as a surgeon are fine, I am a bit disappointed in his sort of offhand manner about any of my questions (both on leaving the hospital and today) on what to watch out for. I realized after I was feeling sick the other day, that I had no way of contacting my doctor in an emergency, and he didn't tell me what would constitute an emergency . I just had his office number, which I assume he does not answer on weekends or the middle of the night. I wanted to know something like "X, Y, and Z are not normal. If that happens call me or come and see me. A, B, and C are weird things that happen and they are normal and there is no need to worry about that." Thank god for Google and all my online doctors. And I don't want to sound like one of the crazy people that go on Extreme Makeover or The Swan- people who look fine but have a bad haircut and a super screwed up self-image. I guess, ideally, I wouldn't spend time critiquing my physical appearance at all and so this whole experience puts me in a bad mood.

I suppose I am all for plastic surgery if it can get you to a point, mentally, where you just accept the body you are have and realize that it has zero to do with the person you are. B and I were talking the other night and I mentioned how Ella is very concerned about my boo-boo and I am hoping that this isn't one of those childhood memories that sticks with her for the rest of her life. And even though I don't think there is anything to hide from her, once she is aware that I modified my body because I felt that it wasn't "right", how will I handle the situation when (if) she is a teenager and asks for the same surgery? or surgery for a different part of her body that she is dislikes? We both felt that we would never feel comfortable paying for a surgery for her (ie the period that we are financially responsible for her, lets say til she is 21) because I think that you have to reach a certain age and have constructed your identity fully to be able to make a good decision about something like this. Everyone is self-conscious about their body when they are teenagers, that goes with the territory. Dealing with those feelings is a really critical part of growing up and I think that by agreeing to a surgery, a parent would be doing more harm than good. I mean, isn't a parents first job to say "I think you are perfect exactly the way you are. I love you just like that."? Its funny that I am spending much more time thinking about this now that it is all over than I did before- I suspect its supposed to be the other way around...

And seriously, look at that puss? What on earth could any doctor do to improve that?
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Monday, September 24, 2007

Return of the worms

I swear to god, if I ever get my hands on the kid that is giving Ella worms I will murder him, cute fat toddler cheeks and all. I took Ella back to the pediatrician today because she still had diaper rash two weeks after I started her medicine and was crying about her "Boo-boos partout (everywhere)!" every time that she woke up from a nap. I was prepared to hear that it had turned into a bladder infection or something like that but I honestly didn't think that she would catch worms again after only 2 weeks in daycare. Shit.

So another round of worm medicine for the whole family. Plus loads and loads of laundry. B said that I should just chill out about it since the doctor said it wasn't necessary to do anything more than the pills for Ella but I'm sorry, I cannot sleep at night with the mental images of worms crawling around in my bed. (although that is still less gross than the eggs I ate yesterday).

Bit miserable this afternoon. Spent the first part looking through job sites for things to apply to and then, exhausted by this effort, I laid down for a nap for an hour or two. Of course, felt a bit guilty having done nothing concrete so I made a massive dinner. I had picked up a sort of squash-type thing at the vegetable stand the other day and needed to cook it. After roasting it the over for an hour, I decided that it was too squishy to eat plain so I made a soup out of it, which turned out beautifully. Our Monoprix has a fantastic organic meat section and I had a package of sausage that I need to cook as well. They were so fantastic that I was bummed to only have bought 2. Luckily, Ella only wanted eggs tonight because neither B nor I was willing to share!

And we finished off the bottle of wine after dinner over a heated discussion about where to go on vacation in November. I say Brazil. He says Costa Rica, but for no particular reason. Then I said, Namibia. Then he said Maldives. Then I said, Argentina? And he said Iceland. Then I said, yeah; maybe Iceland. Then he countered once again with Maldives. I said no. So he said why not St Barts. I made a yucky face (already been there, didn't like it enough to go back so soon). So we got down my travel guide on the Caribbean and started looking. I suggested St Lucia, but without much enthusiasm. He said yes, but without much enthusiasm. Then I got a beep that a new email had come in, and I read message that an Australian friend of mine is going to Phuket diving at the end of November, did we want to join him? I asked B, and he is non-commital but the more I think of it, the more I like the idea. Why not? Maybe our friends from HK could join us.

Honestly, if there is nothing that epîtomizes the emptiness of my life, it is these discussions where I worry about where to go on holiday. Honestly. I should just be happy to leave my house and here I am moaning because my husband wants to spend two weeks in the Maldives. The word 'vacuous' comes to mind.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Lazy Sundays in Paris

We had big plans for today but it all sort of got left by the wayside by our typical Sunday laziness. We were going to go to church, but then... we weren't dressed in time so we missed that. I've been looking across the river for the last 4 days thinking that we have got to go to see the Breton Festival organized in the park but then, after B turned on the television to watch the Celtic parade, I wasn't so anxious to dash over. I seriously had no idea that there were that many bag-pipers in the world. Or that many different songs to play on the bagpipe. Do you think its like pep band, where the director just picks his fav songs and adapts them. Do you think that there is a bag pipe band out there playing 'We Got the Beat'? (If there is, I am so joining that band.) Then Dora came on tv so we let Ella watch that and by the time we had our shit all together to go out for brunch it was already 12:30 and I was ready to gnaw off a paw I was so hungry. So instead of strolling along the quais, which was complicated by the schizo weather, we decided to take the metro over towards the Louvre. And in a very misguided attempt at diversifying our brunch-ing habits, I decided to try out the Cojean on rue Admiral Coligny rather that popping into our regular haunt, Le Fumoir.

BIG big mistake. Last time at the Fumoir, we managed to snag one of the prime tables back in the library, which you all know means we had put in our time and now were considered regulars. I don't know what Cojean is normally like on a Sunday, but today it was staffed by a bunch of Muppets. First of all, they changed cashier three times while I was putting in my order, so I had to start over each time. Then they didn't have anything out, they had to keep running to the kitchen until the guy just said that he would bring it all out to the table when it was ready. The Thai salade was fantastic but the fruit cup was half full of pieces of watermelon that were white- they actually cut up the rind and threw it in. It was disgusting. But that wasn't even the worst part. Just thinking about it is kind of grossing me out, so don't say I didn't warn you, but the scrambled eggs were actually liquid. Well, not entirely. Entirely liquid would just be uncooked eggs. This had chunks of egg at the bottom of a cup and then about 3 cm of weird yellow liquid swishing around on top, more milky than eggy but bright yellow. When they brought it to the table I thought it was some sort of soup they brought us by mistake. B was braver than me and actually ate his egg chunks, then fed my egg chunks to Ella, just leaving the egg "juice" in the cup. Ella stopped after a few bites, putting two hands in front of her mouth and declaring "Utty, maman. Utty!" (yucky, for those not fluent in toddler-ese) I am seriously thinking of writing a letter to the management of the resto telling them that it was easily the most disgusting thing I have ever seen served in a restaurant, ever. I am kind of over-sensitive maybe, because I don't particularly like eggs on a good day. I seriously don't think I'll be able to look at an egg for a good 6 months now (she says, as horrified shivers run up her spine from the flashbacks).

But, being a big brave girl, I didn't let the eggs ruin my day. I know, I know- the purple heart is winging its way to me in the post, I'm sure. Anyways, we popped into the Carousel de Louvre to do a bit of shopping. Found some fab presents for Christmas at the Nature et Decouvert. But the best part was that I ended up getting new Ipod and an Amy Winehouse CD. I had put off buying the CD because my old Ipod was full and we don't have a stereo anymore for listening to discs. And I despite hours spent on the question, I couldn't figure out how to take the stupid songs off my ipod and put new, good stuff on it. See, clearly I am reaching that tipping point where I am no longer one of the kids but have turned into an old fogey. A kid knows how to work gadgets. An old fogey turns it around in his hands, randomly pushing buttons while muttering curses, and then throws it on the table, shouting "This damn piece of plastic crap is broken!" I figured that there was only one good solution- just buy a new one and let Ella have the old one to keep on the dock in her room. After 2 hours of messing about on my computer trying to re-install Itunes and then get the new music on the new ipod, and I am thinking that this is not really a lazy Sunday activity as it required masses of brain power. Its my own fault. I have so much crap on my computer that I had to erase loads of files and reorganize my programs to get everything to work correctly. I think that I can declare success- Ipod is functioning correctly, computer seems to be whizzing along with no probs. Don't want to speak too soon, but I think I can declare success.

I would never have had all these problems with the computer if I had just gone through my photos and erased all the stupid ones, as I have been saying I would do for, oh, years now. Its so easy to just plug in the camera and download 200 photos every time and then just leave them sit there. Of course, even if I erase the bad photos, I've still got hundreds and hundreds (we're first time parents, I guess the photo-mania comes with the territory). I should probably just go and get one of those Smartcards, or keys, or whatever they are called that I can download all the old photos. I've actually got almost all of my fav photos printed out and arranged in photo albums so even that is probably not necessary. I could just erase them, I suppose. God- that sounds like sacrilege, I don't know if I could make myself do it. Every once in awhile, I'll sit down and start scrolling through my digital albums and when I next glance at the clock, 2 hours have gone by. I really love looking through my photos. Still, it would be worth it to make this old machine work a bit faster.

In totally unrelated news, I made some more cupcakes yesterday- Geranium Cream Cheese Frosting with Apricot compote filling on Chiffon cake. I think that they are really nice but I made a big mistake and put the geranium syrup into the frosting before adding the powdered sugar, so I added far too much. B took one bite of one cake and scraped all the frosting in the trash. So, not a huge success this time around. But, voila, I've learned a very good lesson for next time, which this is all about, experimenting and improving. Next up- lavender cupcakes. If only I could make them and be satisfied with just a bite or two. Sadly (for my attempts at dieting) its a few tastes while baking, followed by a bite or two, followed by just finishing off the cake rather than leave it lying around, followed by just one for dessert, etc. Us artists must truly suffer for our craft.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Becoming Mommy

I am just read this post over at Dooce and it really struck a chord with me. Our situations are on the surface quite different, not least because Ella is and has been, in fact, an extraordinarily easy kid (once we exclude those first horrible months when no one in our house, or any of the adjacent apartments, was sleeping). That probably doesn't change the basic issue though. If only the birth were the hardest part of becoming a mother.

In a way, I was lucky to have had such a miserable pregnancy because I think those first months would have been impossible if you had heaped depression on top of the sleep exhaustion. That fact that my hormones were crazy beforehand and straightened out after the birth was really a godsend. I felt a million times better, both mentally and physically, than I had in months so I felt ready for anything the baby could throw at me. But the transition to thinking of myself as "Mother" required some serious mental gymnastics. Like Dooce said, you do get to the point where you can reconcile the person and mother you are with the idea you have in your head of what motherhood is, but it isn't easy. That idea is always an ideal. Its impossible to be the mother that you thought you would be, if only that all your ideas have to be adapted to the actual child that you got and all his/her personality quirks. Its hard and I think that you have to have or develope a huge amount of self-confidence to just trust yourself.

And I think that I have accepted the idea that I am not one of these really hands on mom's, getting down on my knees and playing blocks for hours, because I very quickly decided that being a mom was a job just like any other. That means that some people are suited to the job and others are not. I think I've talked about this before on my blog- I can cook, but I'm not a chef. I can drive, but I am not a Formula 1 driver. I don't feel bad about any of that, so why feel bad about the fact that some of my mommy friends are better at the mommy gig? Everyone is good at something, and rare is the person that can do it all perfectly.

Which is why B and I are so bummed that we cannot find a babysitter for Ella for October when we were planning to go on vacation. Like Dooce, we have realized that Ella does not enjoy travelling with us and staying in hotels and being dragged from taxi to plane to train and then into a restaurant to sit still for an hour (or two), etc. So while we briefly tossed around the idea of foregoing a long-haul flight and instead maybe going somewhere like Sardinia for two weeks with Ella, we decided that rather than subjecting all three of us to the torture of that, we'll put off holiday til November. Ella will go to the country to stay with B's parents while we enjoy some alone time. Its not selfish, its actually far more generous to allow Ella a nice structured holiday in the country where she can have her same schedule, naps, and meals while being spoiled by her grandparents while we do our thing on our own.

So now its time to decide where we want to go- a more difficult task than you might think. Originally we were going to Hong Kong to visit friends and then on to somewhere like the beach in the Phillipines. But I couldn't find well-priced tickets. So then I decided that maybe we should go to Rio since I found a great deal on tickets. Except B can't imagine what we would do in Brazil for two weeks. He saw a cheap flight to San Jose, Costa Rica and read about a gorgeous eco-hotel on the edge of the jungle on the beach. He has got that idea stuck in his head, while I am not thrilled about another beach holiday, since we already did that in the spring. The problem is that he loves just laying on the beach and doing a few "nature activities", ie hiking and boating. I like to spend atleast a few days doing museums or strolling through cities or just more touristy things- I like to go and see something. But it makes sense, he wants to relax on holiday to decompress from work. I am always sitting around so I want to run around and do things. Generally, we can sort it out but the planning stages are difficult.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Blowing the budget

Oh no- I am going to be in so much trouble. I just got home from what was supposed to be a round of errands and ended up spending 350 euro on a pair of shoes, these ones to be exact (except in gray) at the American Retro shop on Francs Bourgeois. I love them, they are PERFECT. I had on skinny jeans today and so I tried on a few different pair and didn't like any of them. The other day, with wide jeans, I also couldn't find anything good. So when the shop girl said that they only had size 36 left, I had to try it on immediately. It didn't fit but the salesgirl said she could call the other shop in St Germain and they had a 37. Decision had to be made right then, to be murdered by B or just suck it up and have some great shoes to show for it. Being a bit of a daredevil, I waved my AmEx in the air and shouted 'Charge it!' I can go and pick them up on Sunday probably. Very excited but it does mean that the rest of any fall shopping will have to be postponed until I come up with some funds.

I am seriously thinking that I might have to combine my closet clear out with a bit of an Ebay garage sale. Kill two birds with one stone, right? I also went through Ella's winter stuff from last year and despite her 12 cm growth spurt over summer, lots of things from the sales look like they still fit. Which means that her cupboard is bursting at the seams once again, despite the fact that I just took out two sacks full of summer clothes. I am very very tempted to just start auctioning it all off. It always comes back to the same dilemma- do you take the thrifty route and keep the clothes and hope that you have another baby, same sex, same season, or do you take the more reasonable route and just get rid of it all (and make some money to pay for those 200 euro J Brand jeans)?

One of my more reasonable purchases today was a bottle of geranium syrup from that food shop, Izreal, on rue Francois Miron. I was looking for Lavendar syrup to make some lavendar cream cupcakes but they were out. While the shoplady was looking through all the bottles, I spotted the geranium flavor. She told me that she personally loves it in a glass of perrier over ice. I just had some and it is really fantastic, the most refreshing flavor and so original. But I have always had a bit of a weakness for scented geraniums, which I think is generally something reserved for the AARP set. I think that I might try making half of the cakes with geranium cream and a bit of apricot compote inside. For the other half, I just picked up a bag of lavendar flowers and will follow the recipe, which called for dried flowers anyways.

I am not totally sold on this cupcake shop idea but I think that even if I don't follow through with it in any serious way, its fun to do research like this, the only harm is to our waistlines. B has no willpower at all so the poor guy has been eating 4 or 5 cakes a day which totally sabotages all the dieting he did this summer. I've promised him that all future baking experiments will get taken straight to the park. I know plenty of pregnant women who would devour the entire box without a second thought.

Speaking of my friends from the park, we had such a lovely dinner last night. Someone mentioned a run-in that they had with the directrice of the garderie that we all use and it was pointed out that maybe this woman is rude to all of us because we are foreigners (although, for the record, I've never had any problem with this woman. I think its because she has a faiblesse for B and so I always try and send him in to deal with the problems.) Around the table there was a Swiss, a Dutch, another Swiss, a Tunisian/Senegalese, an Irish, and an American woman. The Spanish and Italian moms couldn't make it. I suspect that there are French moms at this garderie but off hand, I can't think of anyone who is actually French. I once read the blog of another foreigner in France who said that she wouldn't move from the 13th to the 4th because she wanted to expose her child to diversity. Its maybe not the kind of diversity she was thinking of, but its not a roomful of boring indenti-kids either.

The only downside to dinner last night was that I came home completely smashed. I swear, I SWEAR, I only had 4 small glasses of wine over the course of 3 hours, while drinking atleast that many glasses of water and eating a huge entree and plat. I think that I must have still had too many drugs in my system though (I took my last antibiotics and pain pills that morning) and that there was some kind of reaction. I sort of feel like it got worse after I got home because I was feeling fine if a bit buzzed then I got up from bed to go and get a bottle of water and I couldn't even walk in a straight line. I am horrified that maybe I was actually totally drunk at dinner but didn't realize it and made an ass of myself. Have not even had the courage to texto my main girlfriend to ask. Sometimes its better just to not know, you know? Anyways, its totally bizarre because I've usually got a pretty high tolerance for wine. I suddenly have newfound sympathy for this woman I used to work with. It was a small office and we were all invited to my boss's house for his 40th birthday party. The secretary in the office, who was kind of a weird little lady anyways, ended up becoming ridiculously, over-the-top, collapsing-in-a-heap-on-the-floor-giggling drunk. We propered her up on the sofa and gave her some water but she just seemed to get more and more silly and drunk. Finally, the boss had to literally carry her out to his car and drive her home because no taxi would take her. Everybody said it must have been a mix of some medicine she was on that did it, but secretly I've always thought how irresponsible and unprofessional of her. Now I know that you can be taken by surprise by these things. I should shoot good ole Marie-Chantal an email and apologize for being such a secret bitch, even if it was just in my head.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Successful mother-daughter shopping

I am totally exhausted but satisfied because after 2 days and 6 boutiques, Ella has finally found shoes that she is happy with. They cost a fortune, natch, but as they say, Don't look a gift horse in the mouth. Anyways, photos to come. And the cherry on top of it all? She very willing wore that adorable blue pin-striped jacket from Jacadi all day long, the one she HATED only days ago; she was so cute, with her little baggy jeans and pony tails, that every time she had a bit of a tantrum and I was trying to show some tough love, little old ladies would stop and start clucking over her.

So I am off to a dinner with the girls, over at Vin des Pyrenees on rue Beautrellis. Should be fun- although I would have preferred to go to la Tete Ailleurs on the same street. I should just be glad that someone managed to organize us all. It always seems like we talk about doing stuff like this but it never happens. Speaking of which, before I leave the house, I'll have to ask B to organize a babysitter for this weekend.

I am actually wearing the wide belt from Gerard Darel right now so I guess I'll keep it. B said it looked good and hopefully I'll find more things to wear it with. I also managed a quick dash through the women's section at LBM while Ella polished off a container of apple slices. Really loved the stuff at Sandro and Claudie Pierlot in particular. I found tons of little dresses I love but it seems so silly for winter- unless I stock up on thick stockings. Hmmm.

Which reminds me, just ready an article this weekend claiming that knee socks are the must have item for every woman for this winter. Really? I just have a hard time imagining myself (or most of my friends) being able to pull that off without looking like a hooker. Although, if I could manage that look, it might be the solution of what to wear with all these dresses.

By the way, have I mentioned how much I love the mineral powder that I bought in my MAC shopping spreewhen I was back in the States. Now that the retinol and AHA's have my skinny looking so glowy and perfect, it is just the thing. And if I put it well in the morning, I don't have to touch my face all day. Amazing. Must pop back into a MAC store one of these days to replace the lipstick that I picked out that day. When I was in the airport on way back to France, I stopped in the bathroom to touch up my makeup and change Ella only to be totally distracted when I realized that Ella was having a violent allergic reaction to the juice she had just finished off (it was the Red Machine from Naked Juice. I can only think that it must have been the pomegranate?). I ended up leaving my bag of make-up in the sink. God, like I always say, kids aren't expensive for the obvious reasons. Its things like this that make them pricey hobbies.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Back to school shopping

So I know I promised all kinds of info about how I made my gorgeous, yummy, I-gained-2-pounds cupcakes. However, today, I am feeling kind of over the whole cupcake thing. Go and look at the website where I found my inspiration The Cupcake Blog. The photos are beautiful and that alone is a lot more than I can say for the shots that I took last night before B inhaled the last of the filled cupcakes. I swear, I could have done better but my camera was nearly out of batteries and there was no time for posing. It was so bad that I had to keep turning it off and shaking the camera just to get one more shot out. Considering the circumstances, I did pretty good. The most satisfying thing about this baking experience was that for the first time ever in France, I managed to make a cake from scratch that wasn't dense and disgusting but light and fluffy and almost as good as a Betty Crocker from the box type cake. Also, the frosting on the two cupcakes is the same, its just that for the second set of cakes, I decided to do it old school and frost with a knife instead of my pastry bag. Meh. I think it looks more tasty when its piped on. All input on this subject is welcome. If I am going to be the Cupcake Queen I need serious marking research on people's frosting preferences. Although I think it would hurt my heart to sell a cupcake that looked like the lefthand one.

So, now on to the subject that is taking up all my brain space right now. What do I need in my closet for fall? What I would really love to do is par down my closet so that my every day wardrobe consisted of like 10 pieces. But 10 really perfect pieces that were easy to wear, easy to clean, looked totally chic and now, and could go from the park to the shops to a dinner out with only minor changes in the accesories. I did a quick spin through the shops this afternoon and I am baffled. Why so much choice? Can we not just all agree on one aesthetic and go with it? Why/How am I supposed to choose between super large jeans or super skinny jeans- frankly I look stupid in both but having to choose between two unflattering looks just seems unfair. And do I want to wear pencil skirts or MORE babydoll dresses. Seriously, when are we going to be over this whole maternity wear fad? You know what's going to happen, the minute it ends, I will get pregnant again. And then I will be so over tent dresses and I'll have to suffer through yet another year of it. And jackets- am I supposed to buy a elastic bottom, zip up thing or a short boxy mod type thing? I need some time to mull this all over.

The problem is buying stuff that is flattering and classic and can actually be worn for a few seasons but looking like its modern and now. I ended up buying a wide grey metallic belt today at Gerard Darel because I'd been looking for ages for a wide belt and this one seemed like it was just about exactly what I wanted- and then came home and decided that it worked with nothing that I actually own. Sigh. Guess I'll try and return it tomorrow. Unless its just that I don't know how to wear it. I need a Trinny and Susannah in my life to go through my closet and tell my what to do with all my stuff. (But even if I have to return the belt, I don't care. I'll put the money towards one of those killer python handbags. OMG I would trade Ella for the one in blue in a heartbeat.)

So I think that I might be buying a pair of grey suede bottine from Mellow Yellow to wear with my narrow grey jeans and dresses. And I also saw a cream colored sweater at BA&SH with a tie at the neck which might be really great. Maybe it also came in grey. But what kind of jacket? And what kind of everyday shoes? I saw a pair of wide leg jeans on net-a-porter from J Brand that I really like but they are 200 euro so I am hesitating on that. I want a great pair of shoes for day, but I can't figure out what kind. I saw the most amazingly cool shirt at Barbara Bui in a yellow/camel silk with beaded black buttons which was totally me but didn't buy it for two reasons; 1. It cost over 400 euro. 2. Its yellow. I don't know about that. Also, it was gathered around the neck and sort of swung loose on the bottom and see above on my rant about maternity clothes. For 400 euro, that shirt has got to be my Go To shirt. You know, one of those pieces of clothing that you just can throw on and look great every time. I need a second opinion to make sure about this one. And I want to find a really great sweater as well, I think a sort of chucky grey with a big collar, maybe one that ties shut. I saw some nice ones at Zadig Voltaire but for some reason that shop always bugs me. I feel like it is the ultimate French girl store and I don't belong in there. Weird, because the salesgirls are almost always nice.

Only one way to solve this crisis- I'll have to spend some time pouring over my Elle magazine and digging through my closet to find hidden treasures.
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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

the cupcake factory

So last night B did NOT remember our anniversary- until he saw the dinner table and then he was like, "Oh? Oh! Happy Anniversary, ma cherie!" When I accused him of having forgotten, he said that he hadn't forgotten; he remembered when he saw the table. OK, I don't know what planet he comes from where that would count as remembering but I was too tired to care. I had started baking cupcakes with my little "helper" getting in the middle of everything and was dead on my feet. Actually, that's not fair. All she really wanted to do was steal spoonfuls of butter. Trying to stay between 500 grams of butter and a whiley toddler was harder than you might imagine. Oddly enough, after probably a half cup of straight butter, she didn't have much of an appetite for dinner (Veal and Chestnut Ragout from, one of favorite fall recipes) so atleast we got to eat en tete à tete.

So there we were, glass of wine in hand, the candlelight flickering, and I decided to offer B a 'Get out of jail free' card. I told him to give us a toast, warning him that it better be good. This is what he came up with "To 12- no 10- uh, no! 8? no, 12 happy years of marriage. And to you- you look so much better than before."

Oh la la la la la la, as the French say.

First of all, we have only been married for 8 years. And secondly, after 8 years of marriage you think that he would know better than to try and compliment his wife by telling her how awful she used to look. Good lord, he makes it sound like the best think I ever did for him was picking up the phone and calling a plastic surgeon.

Lucky for him, I was too tired to fight. But apparently, he had had a long day as well (his immediate excuse for his poor performance) and bailed out of Ella's bedtime routine as well. And than the guy had the nerve to try and get romantic once I went to bed. Talk about a blind optimist.

The only thing he got 100% right was raving about my cupcakes. I made plain vanilla cake, with fresh rasperry compote filling and chocolate ganache frosting. He loved them. I took a few to playgroup today and the mommies loved them too. And then, since I had half of the frosting left, I whipped up another batch for tonight, minus the filling. Personally, I have come to the decision that an un-filled cupcake is a bit of a disappointment so I will not repeat the mistake of leaving them plain. Photos and recipe details to come, but too tired to download them tonight. Anyways, I expect that this will be the first of many cupcake postings. Its turning into my new hobby and if things work out, possibly a new career trajectory. I think that if I can't find a job in the corporate world, than being the Cupcake Queen of Paris wouldn't be a bad second choice.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Not quite recovered yet

I woke up bright and early this morning at 8 am (practically the crack of dawn as far as I am concerned) and felt great. Decided that my recovery was nearly over so I took a nice long bath, then did some light yoga to stretch out my poor back, a complete mess of knotted muscles after spending how many days laying on the sofa, and then dashed off to the grocery store to do a big shop.

First warning sign that I should have abandoned this ambitious plan- B didn't give me enough cash. I ignored it and carried on. Second indication that it would have been better put off til tomorrow- I realized that I left the house too late and would need to pick up Ella from garderie first and bring her along. Third flashing red light from the universe that this plan should be torpedo-ed - Ella was hungry and had snot dripping down her face, having clearly picked up her first cold of the season from that petri dish called daycare. And so I finally have conclusive evidence that my medicine induces hallucinations because I carried on as if nothing was wrong and descended into the bowels of Monoprix for a two cart shopping spree.

I am so bone-tired right now that I can't even get into the particulars about how and where and when it all went wrong but I finally got Ella into bed for her nap, but only after she slipped backwards off the living room armchair to land flat on her back on the floor. There is no sound comparable to the hollow thud of a child's head hitting a hard surface. Or the window shattering shrieks that follow. I just took some pain killers and I am praying that the deliveryman will arrive with my groceries soon so that I can collapse into bed for a few well-earned hours of sleep.

Hopefully Ella and I will both be energized by our naps and manage to bake the cupcakes I had planned for dinner tonight. Its our 8th wedding anniversary and since its a Monday and we actually already celebrated with a gorgeous dinner out at the restaurant 1728 back in July, I figured we could do something low key. I should actually pop out for some flowers and remember to put some champagne in the fridge just to make things a bit more romantic tonight. Who am I kidding- as if B will notice anything else once he spies the plate full of cupcakes.

This year I am a bit bummed because we have a tradition of buying a piece of artwork to celebrate our anniversary. Not only have we not been looking but I think I may have spent the art budget on a new set of silver. Its a long story, and totally destroys any rock n' roll illusions I may have tried to build up around myself, but here it is. Basically for our wedding list, I only managed to convince B to buy a service of silverware for 6 (we lived in an apartment that was about 35 m² at the time and it was physically impossible to have more than 6 people sitting down at any one time so it didn't seem like that unreasonable of a compromise.) However, ever since we moved to our current apartment, its sort of bugged me that I never have enough nice silverware for special occasions like Thanksgiving dinner, or just a regular dinner with our friends, since we are almost never less than 8. On the otherhand, its not enough of an annoyance that I could be convinced to spend full price buying the silver from the store where we bought the original set. I've been scouring Ebay for pieces to complete my set for, oh, about 5 years now. AND I HAVE BEEN OUTBID EVERY !*&$!* TIME. Finally, about two weeks ago, I found a great set up for auction, service for 15 plus tons of serving pieces PLUS things like butter knives and soup spoons and cocktail forks. My little bourgeois heart seized up with longing, "Must have it! Must have it!" was thumping through my veins, day and night. I put in some low bids just to get the lay of the land and realized that I was up against a few sharks. I had to break down and bring B in on the action in order to figure out what my limit was on this. I think that the years of listening to me twitter on about silverware, of all things, has just worn this poor man down and he let me put in an unbeatable bit. Drum roll please.... tadadadadada... I finally won my longed for Reed and Barton Spanish Baroque silverware service. (Yes, I do sometimes take a step back and marvel at how extraordinarily ridiculous I have become.) I am now in frantic email contact trying to sort out exactly how to ship a metric tonne of silver over to France but I am a happy happy hausfrau. It just doesn't seem fairplay to start pestering my lovely indulgent husband about art tonight, especially once he is in a chocolate coma, splayed on the sofa with little crumbs caught in his stubble, totally defenseless. (Think Discovey Channel documentary about sea lions on the beach digesting a fresh meal of herring, and you've got a pretty good picture.) But, he's my walrus and wouldn't trade him for any other- even after 8 years.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

taking it easy

Yesterday I think that instead of writing long rambling posts, I should have been napping. By the time Ella woke up from her nap, I had gotten the chills and my skin was starting to hurt. By the time B got home, my eyes were burning and I couldn't move without it hurting everywhere. Weirdly, I didn't have much of a fever even though I had all the symptoms. Of course, in my delirium, I concluded that the thermometer was broken and tried to send B out to find a pharmacy open so that he could buy me a new one. He very diplomatically overruled that suggestion. I ended up laying on the sofa and moaning, while B got Ella to bed, then sipping a bowl of soup so that I could take my medicine and collapsing in bed. Amazingly, this morning I woke up feeling great. Thank god- I did a bit too much googling yesterday while trying to self-diagnose and was convinced that I was having some sort of weird immune system meltdown.

Today, despite feeling pretty great, I am laying on the sofa AGAIN. Ella and B went to the Jardin d'Acclimatation but Ella said "Mama no doh, mama boo-boo! Mama (blah blah blah cute baby talk)!" I think she told me to take a nap, which is exactly what I plan on doing, right after this.

Ella is being absolutely adorable and gives me lots of kisses for my boo-boos, although it didn't stop her from throwing herself to the floor screaming when I tried to dress her this morning. Dear Miss E has a highly developed personal fashion sense and it has become a nightmare trying to figure out what she will agree to each morning. I bought the most adorable little jacket at Jacadi which reduces her to a flailing sobbing mess every time I try to get her to put it on. Today I had the misfortune of thinking that she might like to wear a pair of new brown leggings. She told me (to paraphrase 5 minutes of screaming) that she hates the flower pattern. She also hates the matching flowered shirt. We did a time-out to think about how mommy only buys nice, pretty clothes and there is no reason to throw a fit and cry about having to wear anything in her closet. She came back all smiles and kisses and "Pardon mama" - and then refused to put on a t-shirt underneath her hoodie. ARGH. In priniciple, I couldn't care less what she wears. If she really wants to wear unmatching clothes just because they are her favorite things, I think that it is a really great expression of her own personality. However, two year-olds have only a vague notion of the concept of dressing for the weather, hence my need to intervene slightly. I fear that this is only going to get worse as the year goes on. Can you imagine, if it gets any worse, I won't be able to buy her any clothes unless she picks them out herself. Otherwise, I will just end up spending hundreds of euros on clothes that just sit in her cupboard, ie my current situation.

I need to do a very serious clean out of my closet I realized after unpacking from summer holiday. I don't know how it happens that every 6 months I feel overwhelmed by the quantity of stuff I have squeezed in my cupboard, and still nothing cool to wear. And I wonder where Ella gets it from?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Back in Paris and full of good resolutions

I took a little break from posting, as you may have noticed. I suppose part of it was that I was on vacation and didn't have as much access to a computer or as much time to waste inside. But I think the bigger reason was that I just felt too bored with everything. I was awfully upset about not getting accepted to that course that I had applied to- it wasn't so much the rejection as the fact that I hadn't a very good idea what I would do with my time since that option was taken off the table. It is such a god awful nightmare to find a job here in France that I can hardly consider that a possibility, although clearly that is my new goal. Basically, I just was bored to tears by the idea of doing the same old toddler-centric activities day-in-day-out for the next few months. And then it just snowballed. I hated the boring places that we always went out. I hated the boring people talking about the same boring things. I hated Paris. I hated our apartment. And so why on Earth keep posting blog entries about all this boring boring stuff? It wasn't interesting to me and could not possibly be interesting to anyone.

A few months of holiday have done me some good. I don't HATE Paris with a capital H anymore but I can still think of quite a few places that I would rather be. Naturally, vacation was far too short and rushed. We had a lovely week in Ireland in the sweetest little cottage on Lough Derg. As we were driving away, B and I both said we would love to come back. It was the perfect antidote to Paris- an old-fashioned stone cottage with a view over miles of quiet countryside and the lake. A little country lane ran through the fields to a village called GarryKennedy, where we found the most perfect Irish pub, complete with friendly locals and drunken singalongs to Danny Boy. We ate such gorgeous food that I could hardly believe we were in Ireland (on our last holiday in Ireland, the food was so grim that it made us long for the sight of the Golden Arches just to get some proper food in our stomachs). Our best meals, however, were big family dinners around the dining room table, slow-roasted in our very own Aga. The weather while we were there was predictably grey and rainy but thanks to that lovely Aga, we were snug and warm every night. And the rain was also welcome since it gave us the excuse to try out a peat fire, so tempting since there were great big fireplaces in every room. All in all, a 5 star vacation. My mom went a bit crazy with the camera though and now that I am trying to arrange the photos into an album I could kill her. Seriously, I must have already spent about 10 hours on Kodakgallery trying to create an album to print out and send to her and I'm still not done, although I have managed to whittle the number of photos from over 300 down to 144. Honestly, I have sort of volunteered for the position of family photo archivist, putting all my parents holiday photos into albums and creating annual calendars, etc but if I don't get suitably reimbursed in the will, I will be steaming.

We spent a bit of time in the country here in France with my in-laws but then it was back to the US for a much needed dose of Americana. What can I say? After wasting weeks of precious summer holiday lolling around the apartment it was heaven to be back in Wisconsin, with big blue skies, hot days playing at the lake, drinking cold beer while sitting around the firepit, looking at great big starry skies, wasting hours watching reruns of ANTM, etc.

I almost forgot to mention that finally this summer I managed to organize a trip to NYC to see one of my best friends in the whole world. She had organized the best girlie holiday that I could have asked for- lots of long boozy dinners, gossiping over drinks with girlfriends in trendy bars in the Village, shopping in the coolest boutiques, a bit of culture with a swing through MoMA (wish wish wish I had bought the book about the photo exhibition that we saw). NYC kicked my ass a little bit though- the humidity was UNBELIEVABLE. I turned into a frizzy haired puddle and just sloshed around the city bouncing between taxis and bars. Actually, maybe all the bars were the reason why I was sloshing... Anyways, I spent tons of money but only came home with a cute little dress from H &M, which is sort of retarded since I probably could have bought that here. But hey. I'll be back, if only to spend a bundle at this great shop called End of the World on Hudson Street that specializes in 50's, 60's, and 70's glass (mainly from Scandinavia). I honestly wanted to take home every single thing in the shop. I don't know if I've talked much here about my glass fetish but I go crazy for the stuff. This shop sells original museum quality pieces and its arranged in the most inspiring way. Of course, afterwards, B was like "Well, why didn't you just charge a few things if it was exactly what you've been looking for?" after having explicitly warned me against using my cards (he knows that it would be like opening Pandora's box if he let me loose in NYC with my no-limit AmEx). Sigh. That man plays such mind games with me.

So back in Paris, trying to keep things un-boring. I think I found a good way to do that- I went and had plastic surgery on Thursday. Can you believe it? I'm still thinking that it might have been a bit of a silly idea, but going with the mantra "Sometimes you just do things to have something to talk about later" I barrelled ahead with the plan I hatched back in June before my parents visit. Clearly I couldn't have done it before they came to visit unless I wanted to spend 2 weeks listening to them silently disapprove. This way they probably won't even notice, since they'll have 3 months to sort of forget what I look like. Right? Anyways, I did mention it to my mom but I am almost 100% certain that she will totally forget since the Crazy has taken up what looks to be permenant residence at her house. Crazy moved in with its bastard child, Short-Term Memory Loss, which made our 5 weeks visit feel rather long at times... But back to the real subject at hand, my recent surgery. B was a doll and took off a few days to take care of Ella but I am on my own with her today and she's running me ragged. I thought that this would be no big deal since I am normally pretty resilient, but I am really dragging and thanking my sweet doc for his liberal pain medication prescription.

I need to get myself back into some sort of schedule because free time is the quickest way to get depressed again. I'm going to try to get back to daily posting, if only to create more of a routine. Hopefully, I'll have something good to write about, although I think its safe to say that the body modification is at an end. Because seriously? Ow.