Internet cleanse


I haven’t done the bloggy thing in quite some time … over three months. Partly because my real job demanded tons of attention and focus and my students deserved that, but mostly because over the past several months, I’ve developed an aversion to blogs and the Internet in general. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been looking at facebook with my eyes glazed over and absentmindedly pinning my umpteenth favorite bedroom or recipe. But recently I’ve been asking myself WHY? What did we DO before all these outlets existed? I’m thinking more of those dream bedrooms and recipes came to life since we weren’t so busy surfing the internet searching for them. 

I apologize if I’m sounding too cynical, but I can’t help looking at so many blogs (mine included!) and thinking that they. are. all. the. same. Blogs rarely discuss bad days, flop recipes or work problems. Yes, some occasionally talk about a bad day, but usually those posts are accompanied by some perfect picture reminding me to stick with it and believe in myself. I know it’s intended as encouragement, but when I’m in a funk, I don’t want to look at some perfectly photographed tropical beach. It just reminds me I’m not there.

The corners of the Internet I frequent are all whimsy, creative food, charming design and perfect pictures. If you happen to be reading this, you might be thinking “What’s wrong with that?”

Well, part of me agrees with you, but much of me disagrees. If we “design” every moment of our lives, then where does the authenticity come in? I love pretty and details.  But it’s not life. Let me amend that. It’s not the most important part of life. I don’t have time during the week or most weekends even to make an elaborate recipe or spend hours perfectly wrapping a shower gift. And if I prioritized that, well then, I’d be missing out on quality time with family and friends.

The point of this isn’t to say I’m forever done with blogging,  or with “liking” friends’ pictures. The point is that for me and my personal quest for artsdevivre, right now is about less observing, and more doing. 

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Sweet paris video


This short, “Betty  in Paris” combines my love of all things Paris and French, AND is SO reminiscent of Amélie (the best French movie of all time, of course). If you’ve seen Amélie, you’ll know exactly what I mean. If you haven’t, and enjoy the color pops, music and quirky camera angles of this video, then go watch it ASAP.


Design Mom created it, but I discovered it on Prêt a Voyager, a fabulous Francophile blog by an American, Paris-based graphic designer. The best thing about having a passion is stumbling upon such a diverse body of work online, united by a common Francophilia. Love it!

A simple crêpe recipe


One of my *favorite* Christmas gifts this year was a crêpe pan. Have you seen one before? They’re very similar to a regular frying pan, but the edges don’t come up nearly as high, facilitating the flipping of that thin little pancake. 

Crepe pan

The one and only thing I accomplished on this year’s New Year’s Day was a mini crêpe extravaganza, something I plan to turn into a bit of a tradition. We were prepared with all the necessary batter ingredients and our choice of fillings. (No, vitamins are not a crêpe filling, they just happened to figure in the background.)

Crepe prep

I love classic ham and cheese (preferably grated gruyère) with a healthy dose of freshly ground pepper. I chose to double the batter recipe I’ll share in a few, which has allowed me to snack on my ultimate favorite treat, a crêpe nutella-banane, all week long. Délicieux.

Crepe nutella banane

 

Once you get the hang of having the pan at the right temperature (pretty close to high) and using the right amount of batter (about a 1/4 cup for a medium-sized crêpe), the rest is a piece of cake crêpe. You might mess up the first couple (one of mine landed in the burner flames, woopsie), but that’s part of the fun as you perfect your technique. 

Crêpes really are as simple as whisking together the ingredients listed below ~

-1 cup all-purpose flour

-2 eggs

-1/2 cup milk

-1/2 cup water

-1/4 tbsp salt

-2 tbsp melted butter

~ whose measurements I located here. Once they are all whisked, add 1/4 cup batter to a hot, lightly oiled pan. It’ll only take about a minute, maybe a bit more, for the super skinny pancake to cook through. Flip it when it’s safe to do so (it’ll start forming some bubbles in the middle) and then add in your chosen fillings. I added mine down the middle so that I could fold the sides in on another like so. 

Crepe jambon fromage

 

The last step (eating) is the best of course. Bon appétit !

Paris in the falltime


October brings me vividly back to Paris, and my mother’s first “big” trip to see me there. (She had previously spent a quick week with me at New Year’s when I studied abroad.) This trip, however, would be two weeks, and I wouldn’t be able to spend as much time with her as the previous trip-let. I had carved out my own little life, going from class to volunteering with the English speaking kids at the school down the street, to let’s face it, a daily apéritif at my favorite café-bar.

Compared with the demands of true “adult” life, it all sounds quite quaint and remarkably stress-free, but I was eager for my mother to see me as the adult I perceived myself to be at 22. I was so proud I had found a way to achieve just the life I wanted post-college and wanted her to be, too. I couldn’t wait to show her around my new neighborhood, have her partake in an apéritif amongst friends both old and new, and of course get in some requisite cultural outings and site seeing.

When I think back to those two weeks, what stands out to me is the many afternoons and early evenings we spent at different cafés, both famous and hole-in-the wall. We enjoyed Croque-Madames and French onion soup at Le Départ, a cafe adjacent to the Place St Michel …

… and Notre Dame …

… and known more traditionally for late night revelers than late afternoon mother-daughter outings.

We sipped delicious and rich hot chocolate on an unseasonably cold day in Chartres …

We sipped on cheap red wine in our not-so-tiny (by Parisian student standards that is) apartment. That’s actually my home-sweet-home of two years right there. We’re in those apartments hidden behind the little dormer windows on the top floor.

We tried died-in-the-wool French classics like Brasserie Balzar on the rue des Ecoles.

My mother and I (as I’m sure many of you are) are extremely close. The high schools years, by both of our standards, were not the calmest in our relationship. And we’re still not perfect. I should revise that. I’m still not. I can be bossy with the people I’m closest to, and my mother graciously puts up with that. But when I think back to when we grew as close as we are now, when we shed the drama of my growing pains, I think it must have been when we started to travel together, in my late college years. By finding solutions to (and sometimes squabbling about) problems as simple as which métro stop to take to more complicated ones like deciphering how-to guides in another language, we learned to communicate more clearly. Emphasis still on me learning to be more patient since my mother is about as patient as can be with her children. She doesn’t utter an unkind word, makes us feel accepted no matter what we are currently interested in and in fact makes a great travel companion. I’ll miss her on my French exchange next summer but I’m sure she’ll be ready to hear all about it and actually want to look at every picture I take. What are your best memories with your mom?

Images via ~

Place St Michel

Notre Dame

Chartres

Denfert Rochereau

Brasserie Balzar

Le week-end


TGIF, les amis ! I shouldn’t complain about my first five day week in two weeks, but I will a bit ~
Je suis fatigu
ée.  I love this graphic via My Little Paris, which sums up my sentiments exactly.

What are your plans this evening?

Snickerdoodle dip


This may not look all that delicious …

but let me tell you this *snickerdoodle* (yep, you read that right) dip is the healthiest sweet treat you’ll ever taste. I wish you could taste before predicting the main ingredient, but given our platform, that would be a bit difficult, now wouldn’t it.

I’ll give you the recipe in just a moment before giving many thanks for this amazing recipe to prolific desserts blogger Chocolate Covered Katie. Katie comes up with the most amazing recipes that are so delicious that they not only tempt but practically beg you to have seconds and even thirds! The best part is, they’re healthy!

I was looking for a special treat to kick off D’s birthday last weekend, and figured this would fit the bill since we wouldn’t have to feel guilty indulging in it prior to our flourless chocolate cake. The sweetness of the dip combined with the salty Stacy’s pita chips we chose to dip it in was the perfect combination, and it transitioned well into last week. I enjoyed it warmed on toast with a sliced banana on top for breakfast. To enjoy this delicious treat, follow Kate’s simple instructions (which I borrowed from here):

Snickerdoodle Dip
(high-protein and gluten-free!)

Ingredients
– 1 1/2 cups chickpeas or white beans (1 can) (250g after draining)
– 3 tbsp nut butter of choice (or other fat source)
– 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
– 1/8 tsp baking soda
– heaping 1/8 tsp salt
– 3/4 c of brown sugar
– 1 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
– 1/4 cup ground flax or quick oats (20g) (you can omit)
– 2 and 1/4 tsp cinnamon
– optional ingredients: a pinch cream of tartar, raisins

Drain and rinse your beans very well. Blend all ingredients in a food processor (not a blender) until the mixture is as smooth as you can get it. Dip with salty crackers, fruit or toast!

CAN YOU BELIEVE THE BASE IS CHICKPEAS?! SO delicious 🙂

Some fave french chanteuses


Thanks to a comment from one of my favorite bloggers last week, I decided to repeat my Chanteurs post for a Chanteuses version this week. Herewith, some of my favorite female French (or Francophone) singers. Who are your’s?

Edith Piaf, tops my list, bien sûr !

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You can’t listen to la môme without really feeling like you are sitting in a cafe in 1930s or 40s Paris sipping a cafe and watching passersby. If you haven’t yet seen her biopic La vie en rose starring Marion Cotillard, hurry up and do so! It is a spectacular film.

Carla Bruni, the former first lady, I love. She’s Italian, lives in France, and sings in Italian, French and English.

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Dalida, Italian and born in Cairo, who similarly to Bruni, sang in many different languages, like Egyptian Arabic, French, German, Italian and English.

 

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Finally, how can you deny Brigitte Bardot, the ultimate symbol of French beauty and allure? Just look at her!

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Check out some of my favorite songs below. Who do you prefer?