Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Church bells in Vernazza...

Got back late last night from a week long girls trip to Florence, Pisa, and Cinque Terre, and thought I'd give you this little gem to start off your Wednesday (and don't mind my goofy faces at the end, I think it's pretty obvious that I love Vernazza) until I can provide a proper picture filled update on our Italian Adventure.

video

A la prochain friends...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Jetlag shmetlag...


Yesterday one of my very best friends flew in from New Jersey for her first trip to France, and she certainly picked a good day to arrive on. Why you ask?


[In front of our neighbors personal front yard vineyard...]

Well first off, there was the weekly Sunday market to attend, which is a must for any new traveler to France...


And second, and really most importantly, it was a big-time party day for our little part of the village - fete! fete! fete!


There was much paella to be had, made by Chef Loulou...



...and lots of locally made Cerdon to be shared among good friends.


And let's not forget the bounce-y castle! It absolutely took every ounce of my will power to not jump on in, especially after a few glasses of Cerdon...


Like all good village fetes there was a raffle of sorts as well. One euro buys you a date on the calendar, and if the person with the closed eyes puts their finger on your date, you win a prize. I tried to pick Clifton Pfifer Lee Day, but alas there must be other Philadelphia Phillies phans in Thoiry, so I had to settle for Clifton Pfifer Lee Day Eve.


Alas, I did not win a damn thing. This guy in the back however won a big hunkin' chunk of cured meat...


And Canadian Dan won some honey...


[Cheater!!!]

And soon we all got in the act and were able to pick a winner for the various prizes...



Ang was a total champion and despite the jet lag made it through the paella lunch, festivities, drinking, and even a few hands of "Dobble..."


...and stayed awake until about 11:00 PM. Way to go world traveler!


A la prochain friends...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Before and After...


[Before.]

Hey! Remember those cherries that our landlord's maman dropped off to us last week?


[After.]

Ta-dahhh!!!


It was the perfect thing to go with our Sunday brunch after the market...


[I don't drink beer often, but when I do, I wear my Quarks Softball uni...]



Hope everyone's been having a great week!

A la prochain friends...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Random acts of kindness...


Just as I was finishing up my last post, an amazing thing happened: the doorbell rang and I opened it. Which is crazy, because being a city girl I *never* open the door when I'm home alone. Never. For the record (mom), I only opened the door because I'm expecting a package, and thought it was the post lady. However, it was not the post lady, but instead it was our landlord's mother, with a TRUNK full of cherries (on their branches still) for us. I was so touched than I then tried to hug her, and since the french don't really *hug*, we ended up with a somewhat awkward kiss-kiss-kiss moment. (I'm sure she'll get over it). Either way, I heart our village.

We've had a few random acts of kindness moments extended towards us within the last few days, from a Botanic cashier randomly using his employee 20% discount for us, to a free bottle of cidre at the vegetable stand at the Thoiry market on Sunday, and now a heap of cherries from our landlord's mother. Maybe this is a good time for me to hand out my first of five Pay It Forward gifts of 2011...Warm and fuzzy feelings abound!!!

A la prochain friends...

Gratuitous garden post


Tis the season, am I right? This morning I woke up to find 4 framboise ripe for the picking, with a few more getting close to it. We were lucky in that Pee-wee (that's his name...obviously) produced fruit in his first year last year, and this year it looks like he's doubled his production. Good work Pee-Wee.


It's important to note that Pee-Wee's arch-nemesis, Clarence (our blueberry bush), did not produce any myrtilles last year, so I'm hoping he gets his act together for 2011. [Cue brandishing of fist towards Clarence.]


The orchard is doing well too. I'll give an update on my figue trees soon, but for now here's proof that we will have apples this year (barring any lapses in human judgement or PMS-ing by maman-nature).


Our menthe is growing like crazy (chocolate-menthe shown)...


Our strawberry patch is doing well (strawberries not shown because we ate them)...



And we've got rosiers...

All in all, things are coming together up in the Duggan Orchard and Terrace Garden. This weather is definitely throwing me for a loop though - is it really June 7th? I wore a hoodie on my morning bike ride. If last year was any indication though the mosquitos are looming just around the corner...duh duh DUHHH!!!

A la prochain friends...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A little french market math for your Sunday...


A free bottle of locally made cidre courtesy of our veg stand people +


The first figs of the season

=


A bonne dimanche for 2 expats

(And yes, the dust on the free cidre bottle makes it taste that much better!)

Hope you're all having a very bonne dimanche wherever you find yourselvves today!

A la prochain friends...

Italian Road Trip: First Day in Pisa


I'm in the process of planning another trip to Italy for about 3 weeks from now (yeah for my friend from the US finally coming to visit us after having to cancel her trip last year!), so I thought I'd take this opportunity to post some pictures from our first day in Pisa back in April (I know, I'm behind I'm behind I'm behind, work with me here people!).


[View from the hotel's roofdeck.]

We stayed at a hotel in a prime spot in the city, down a quiet little street right around the corner from the Leaning Tower. We were about a 15 minute walk to the train station, and on the side of the river with a lot of restaurants, outdoor markets, shopping and historic sites. We were very close to the student section as well, and you know what that means - cheap eats and cheap drinks! Woohoo!




I had thought that the Leaning Tower would be the #1 go-to touristy item in Pisa, but I was unaware at the time that Pinocchio was created in Pisa...that or Pisa played a major part in the story. Either way, there is Pinocchio paraphenalia everywhere...


...but don't worry, there were also plenty of Leaning Tower trinkets...


I couldn't help but post this one. Yeah, the Leaning Tower is cool and all, but I had so much more fun looking at the people doing silly poses with it...







Need the perfect gift for that hard-to-shop-for-Mussolini-adoring-friend in your life? Well look no further than Pisa!



Since we were so close to the Tower, I was able to get there early enough to beat the crowds. However within about an hour the square filled with tours and such very quickly...I saw this as a great time to find a spot to settle in with some espresso and postcards. I think I had the best spot in the cafe, as my outside seat looked directly at the Tower while still being able to stay clear of the tour madness...






After spending way too much time around the tower, I wanted to see what else Pisa had to offer. The city is really very accessible on foot, and I found that most of the crowds stayed very close to the tower, which made exploring the rest of the city a lot nicer for me.







[Hi.]


[Neat.]






This just might be one of my favorite pictures of Dan ever...


And eat we did. We started the night with drinks and free tapas on the river at Bazeel, and then stumbled upon a small little mom and pop shop for dinner. A little gelato rounded out our first evening in Pisa, and then back to the hotel before starting all over again the next morning.

More Italie to come...

A la prochain friends...