13 December 2009

days in the sun

It's kinda hard to update without pictures. My old computer was eaten by viruses and will hopefully be resurrected over the Christmas holidays. I hope. So, to make it entertaining here until that happens, I stole a bunch of pictures of my roomie's Flickr.

Britta took this photo at the Loire Valley wedding we went to. It was 2am, maybe 3, when the waiters gave up on refilling our wine glasses individually and just left the bottles to our mercy. Of course, it was also about that time that the beer and champagne started flowing.

In Gennes
Fact: the French can moonwalk much better than the average American

After our side trip to Monaco, our new friend Thor took us to the popular yachtee bar The Hop Store in Antibes. The beers were large, the company was great, and I will never forget that awesome, spontaneous, beautiful night in a tiny town on the Riviera.

In AntibesYeah, we know we're cuter with beer

Can't have a trip to France without crêpes. We stuffed our faces with deliciousness on Montmartre.

In Paris
The sheer brilliance of the crêpe is underestimated

Anyway, my comment box is lonely. Please help it stop feeling self-conscious? You know you want to .

04 December 2009

it's the most wonderful time of the year

Nothing brings the world together like the World Cup.

OMG so shiny!

The World Cup draw was held today in Capetown, South Africa. Results:

Group A: South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France
Group B: Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, Greece
Group C: England, USA, Algeria, Slovenia
Group D: Germany, Australia, Serbia, Ghana
Group E: Holland, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon
Group F: Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia
Group G: Brazil, Korea DPR, Ivory Coast, Portugal
Group H: Spain, Switzerland, Honduras, Chile

I'm so excited. We're not in the Group of Death (G). I think Group A will be the most interesting to watch. While South Africa (who qualified by hosting) is possibly the weakest team in the tournament, historically the host team has never failed to advance to the second round. France is very controversial now, partly due to Henry's qualifying handball, and partly to their abysmal performance this past year. If they want it enough, they could easily go through. Mexico... I just hope they don't advance. The archnemesis of American soccer. Slovenia I don't know much about. In summary: never underestimate the host team, no matter how much you write them off outside of the Cup. Mexico, France and Slovenia depend on who wants it the most and who can use handballs and dirty hack behavior (*cough*Thierry Henry*cough*Rafa Marquez*cough*)to advance.

I just want to see the US pull a 1950 World Cup manuever on England. :)

ETA: Soccernet's draw analysis.

16 November 2009

'Tis an ill cook that cannot lick his own fingers.

(Romeo and Juliet, Act IV scene ii)

Q: What do you get when you cross a foodie with a nerd?
A: My brother.

He's the one that write Acute Politics, which is updated less frequently these days, but now he's started a new blog wherein he divulges his delicious recipes for neo-gourmet food and beer. Go forth and fatten yourselves. Acute Cuisine.

07 November 2009

cold weather food

November is here, and so gone are the days of Indian summer, replaced by cold, hard rain, wood fires and early dark.

It's time for comfort food. One of my favorites is stamppot, or Dutch mash pot. It's usually potatoes mixed with some other winter vegetable either cooked (carrots, onions, pumpkin, winter squash) or uncooked (endive, kale), and occasionally bacon or sausage.

The lovely Lark and I tried stamppot in Amsterdam in the middle of August last year. We bypassed all the restaurants lining the streets advertising fancy foreign cuisine in favor of a little Dutch restaurant. We had stamppot with endive, and a television was showing the Olympics above Lark's head. I was watching it and commenting on the action, so she twisted round to look, and was promptly told by the proprietor that she should be focusing on our conversation and not on the television. Haha.

It's easy to make and delicious. I don't cook with recipes very often, and I think the best part is just throwing whatever you happen to have on hand in the pot and mashing it all up together.

Tonight's version looks like this:

8 medium potatoes, cubed
1 very small pumpkin, cubed
2 large carrots, thickly sliced
1 onion, chopped
Butter, salt, pepper

Peel and cut up vegetables. Put in pot, cover with water. Boil for 20-25 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender. Drain. Mash. Add butter, salt and pepper to taste. If you're using endive or other winter greens, add it after you've mashed the potatoes and stir.

Optionally, you can broil, grill or boil sausage, slice it up and serve it on the side. It's what the cool kids do.

See? It's pretty simple. Googling 'stamppot' will find you all sorts of recipes, some more complicated than others, but some like this one have some fun Dutch food trivia. So crank up the Dutch music, open up a Heineken*, and indulge yourself. :)

At a pub in Groningen, Nederlands August 2008

Hup Holland hup!

*Yes, I know Heineken is the Dutch equivalent of Bud Lite, but what can ya do? Sometimes you just don't have fancy imports on hand. And it still beats Bud by a mile.

16 October 2009

the taste of summer

While Britta and I were in France this summer, many things were offered to us flavored with sirop.



Panaché (beer mixed with lemonade).

Pretty much anything liquid. Doesn't matter.

Lots of flavors, too. I liked blood orange the best. Strawberry was also good.

I came home and started wondering why we don't do that. After all, the water tastes much better after you drag it around for a few hours in the heat than it might without the sirop.

So, now I make ginger syrup. It's not the same, but it tastes fabulous in milk and is a great cocktail mixer. I got the recipe from an Asian food cookbook and it's super easy and keeps forever. It's just simple syrup with a kick, really.

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup roughly chopped, unpeeled fresh ginger

Put it all in a pot, stir, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 15-20 minutes or until slightly thickened.

I keep mine in a glass bottle in the fridge. It's delicious. I think I'm going to go have some right now.

Obviously France is full of deliciousness.

Please note that the escargot are wearing tiny hats.

23 September 2009

Travelers aren't always sweaty

Just for giggles, here's a picture of my typical day in France.

Bonus points if you can name the city.

Thanks for the pic, B!

07 September 2009

City of Light

Sometimes I get lonely for places I've been. Tonight, I miss Paris.

I miss eating crêpes on Montmartre and watching dusk fall over the city.


I miss the casual warm evenings spent people-watching on the Seine.

I miss how the city and the water light up at night.

I miss gargoyles.

I love gargoyles.

Two months ago, I was in Paris. Two months seems like forever.

06 September 2009

La Futbolista

It's that time again.

You should recognize the signs. I get really intense. Maybe a little crazy. Very competitive. Passionate.


Today my USMNT Yanks beat El Salvador to stay on top of CONCACAF. This makes me very happy indeed. Better yet, my boy Clint Dempsey scored the first goal. :)

In honor of my good mood, our win, and the world's game, here's a pic from when I played soccer with French boys.

The bride's brother bringing a new meaning to "step-over"

They told me I was very good... "for a girl." Haha. In France, soccer is a boy's game, so that means a lot.

31 August 2009

Things that make you question your own sanity

You know how some people are very particular about the over/under placement of the free end of the toilet roll? Take Mel, for example. I'm not very territorial about the powder room, myself, but my vote is with the over group. Not that it matters.

Now in France, they dispense with all debate and provide a very specific picture tutorial on the toilet roll holder. If the picture isn't clear enough, all you silly Americans who spool it backwards at home, it says "yes" under the proper way and "no" under the wrong way.

TP tutorial in the can in Cannes

To be fair, I found this in Cannes, where they obviously experience high volumes of Hollywood traffic every year and some of those people clearly aren't to be trusted with simple verbal instructions.

In Paris, we saw this crustacean street tile art. What, pray tell, is the meaning of "I crab Paris"?

Oh yeah? Well, I <3 crab cakes!

The world may never know.

21 August 2009

Les Chats de France

Cats live the good life in France... or at least, they do in Angers. In America, cats are mostly indoor pets, but their very nature makes them so much more entertaining in public than dogs.

This cat was scoping out the street foot traffic from perch on a second-floor balcony. I imagine he waited for an unassuming prospect aimlessly wandering down the sidewalk, then pounced like a furry ninja from on high. Fight to the death and all. Either that or he dropped his lunch.

High dive kitty contemplates the plunge

We also saw more than one person walking around town with their kitty on a leash, or perched on their shoulder like a pirate with an alibi for their secret catnip habit.

Fur epaulet

If taking your cat out on walks and letting them people-watch isn't enough, by all means, buy them some kitty-drugs. My cat's personal highly annoying habit is eating vegetation... potted plants, bouquets in vases, dried flowers and grass. When she sees this picture she'll probably kill me in my sleep for not hooking her up with a pot.

I think the hostile cartoon kitty on the pot inserts adds a special touch.

I think our strangest animal encounter goes to the camels in the château moat, however.

14 July 2009

Oregon is beautiful

Britta and I stayed with her parents the night before we left, since they live conveniently closer to the airport than we do. This is vital when you take as long to get ready to go anywhere as Britta does.

We woke up bright and early for our flight. Dragged Britta out of the house, tried to check in at American Airlines even though we were flying United. Finally got on the plane, looked out the window, and saw our beloved Pacific Northwest whitecaps.

(L-R) Mount St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood

On the way back, we flew through 14 hours of daylight, and when we reached the Portland area in the early evening, we passed so close to Mt. Hood it felt like we could touch it. Britta took this picture with her blackberry as it fell behind.

I want to climb this mountain.

I love the Ring of Fire.

09 July 2009

Because my friends know people...

I'm back.

Very strongly considered not getting on the flight home. Then I almost missed the flight home, which actually turned out to not be my fault, but United's... but calling in to work from Paris wouldn't have been so bad. ;)

I'm editing my plethora of pictures. It'll take awhile.

I went to a wedding in the Loire Valley. The groom is an ex-footballer, and he has a friend who played Ligue 1 football (highest professional soccer division in France) for Caen. He transferred to AS Monaco during the summer, but when a heart murmur was discovered during a physical at his new club this week, he was forced into early retirement. Very sad.

But he has a nice car.


01 July 2009

God bless Spain and their almost-English keyboards!

Hola! I'm in Barcelona!

I'm lisping my S's and ignoring all marriage proposals.

I also swam in the Mediterranean today. You know you're jealous.

I don't think I'm coming home. If I don't blog again and say I'm in Nice or Paris, you know where to find me. In a tapas bar. Or bullfighting.

30 June 2009

Salut from France!

We left Bordeaux this morning, and now we're on a southbound train, destination Barcelona. We enjoyed a fantastic week in the beautiful Loire Valley with some old friends of Britta's. The wedding was like none other that I have seen... a 48-hour party and so much fun. I'll say more about it when I'm not updating via Crackberry.

So. Barcelona for three days and then the south of France. Catch you on the flip side!

21 June 2009

Going to Paris. Be back soon.

All right y'all, Britta and I are hopping on a plane bright and freakin' early in the morning and heading to Paris.

From Paris we spend a week in the Loire Valley, then maybe Bordeaux, then three days in Barcelona, then the Riviera, and finally back to Paris. And then home... unless of course we find a more alluring prospect (Parisian male models or footy stars- hello Yoann Gourcuff!).

Maybe we'll blog from abroad. Maybe not. Oh the wonders of international service on my roomie's Crackberry, I cannot wait to experience you!

Au revoir!

17 June 2009

Paris in August! Can you imagine?

One of my favorite sculptures in the Louvre: 'Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss' by Antonio Canova

We arrived at the catacombs just half an hour after it opened, but the line was already wrapped around the block. We entertained ourselves by prepping for our upcoming Amsterdam excursion and watching three men lay cobblestones in the street. Our fellow queuers (No, it's not a word, I made it up. It means "one who queues") entertained themselves by pulling their lunches out of their bags and backpacks, ripping the food into pieces, and sprinkling it on the concrete for the pigeons. The pigeons billed and cooed and showed their appreciation by pooping on people's shoes.

Disgusting creatures.

Queue at the catacombs

It took a really long time, but finally we got to enter the Halls of the Dead.

A long time ago (late 18th century), the cemeteries of Paris were overflowing and contaminating the fair city through mass graves and improper burial. The medieval cemeteries were condemned and the millions of inhabitants were moved to underground caves and tunnels by night.

Entrée de l'ossuaire: "Stop! This is the Empire of the Dead."

As an anatomy student, I found it interesting that the skulls, femurs, tibias, and humeri (head, thigh, shin, arm) were stacked in patterns. Behind this virtual walls of bones were piled the collections of less-decorative skeletal parts, like phalanges and scapulae (fingers, toes, shoulder blades).

At the exit, a bored-looking security guard searched your bag to make sure you hadn't stashed anything you were not supposed to stash.

Graverobbers denied

Actually, it made me really mad that people tried to take bones away with them as souvenirs at all. Have some respect for the dead.

After we found ourselves back in the sunshine at the unassuming back door to the catacombs, Lark headed back home to run errands and sent me to the Louvre on my own.

Bet the Egyptians wish they'd thought of this!

Meet the cover of my Western Literature book: the Winged Victory. She's pretty cool.

Fought the waves of crazy tourists, saw La Giaconda, then spent the next two hours getting lost in the twists and turns and false stairwells of the Louvre (which was clearly never intended for museum purposes), but I did find the Code of Hammurabi, the bulls from Sargon's palace, and nifty things that weren't marked on the map of highlights. I like Dutch art the best. And I found it. But then I got lost in a courtyard full of statues and art students. I climbed up the wall and went to visit this pretty lady. She's my favorite.

Venus de Milo

Look at this ridiculous opulence. No wonder the peasants decided to revolt.

While I appreciated the immense amount of beauty and history in the Louvre, the big mistake was going alone. I got more frustrated by large groups of shoving, grabby tourists than I would have if I'd had company. Thus, I was never more excited to find this sign and its three languages of promise and hope.

So I went to the children's gift shop and played with toys by myself before leaving. Don't judge.

Lark and I went to dinner with her Parisian friend, Victor, who tried to make me order my own dinner at the restaurant. Suddenly overcome by shyness, I made him do it. He got us Kir apéritifs. I had lapin (rabbit), he had gizzards (which he made me try...not bad at all), and Lark had French onion soup. Victor ordered us a bottle of Muscadet to share ...at a ridiculous markup. I saw it in a grocery store for three Euros, but I guess that's Paris cuisine for you.

And then we broke the crust on the crème brûlée with our spoons.

On our walk home, we stopped at a little bar and Lark intorduced me to the most divine cocktail in the history of the world: the caipirinha. It's Brazilian, made with limes and cachaça (the Brazilian national liquor, made from sugar cane juice).

This concluded my last day in Paris. We headed to Belgium in the morning.

29 May 2009

She said

I'm a lazy blogger, I admit it. But:

The plans for France are moving slowly forward.

I say slowly because, for the first time, I have to "co-plan" a trip and the roommate works and does ...other things. Like school. She, however, gave me a list of about three things she wants to see in France, and the rest of the two weeks will be mine to drag her wherever I please. This may or may not include a vineyard for "ambience."

(Imagine that if I were reading this aloud, I would pause before each word enclosed in quotation marks and waggle my eyebrows or something. It makes reading more fun, I promise. The same also applies to children's stories.)

Less than three weeks before I embark upon my Second French Adventure, and I haven't yet finished blogging about the last one. Hmmm. Maybe I'll just post all the cool pictures and caption them, for my own benefit.

Because all posts are better with pictures, here's a pretty Frenchman laying cobblestones outside the catacombs.


15 May 2009

I need your help!

This is for all friends/followers/lurkers/blog-stumble-upon-ers who see this:

Please help. Aidez-moi.

In six short weeks, the roommate and I will




Part of the trip is planned. Part of the trip is not. This is where you come in. We have 16 delicious days to explore as much of the country as we can.

We need ideas!

If you have ever been to, or dream of going to France, let me know! We'll be starting and ending in Paris, and while there is a Loire Valley wedding to attend, we also intend to pay a visit to Provence and Côte d'Azur. France is a big country and while two Eurail passes may get us around it, we definitely want to experience the best it has to offer.

Outdo Elle. You know you want to.

P.S. We will be in PARIS for FASHION WEEK 2009 (haute couture fall/winter 2009/10)

Oui. We shall be vogue. Commentaire, s'il vous plaît.


12 May 2009

Destination: Boston, part deux

In March, I flew across the country for spring break. The highlights:

Well, this, obviously.

Ok, ok. Arrived in Boston on St. Patty's Day. I drank some Guinness. It seemed like the thing to do.

St. Patty's Day carnage

Met up with my good friend Mel for some good old-fashioned fun for a week. In Boston, we rely on the trusty MBTA to get us around, affectionately known as the T. When I first moved to Boston, my dad got a huge kick of singing the old Kingston Trio song "Charlie on the M.T.A." to me. Something about being "lost under the streets of Boston" and how I'd "never return." Not to be outdone, the Dropkick Murphys remixed/updated the song and came up with "Skinhead on the MBTA." Don't think my dad knows that version.

The next red line train is now arriving. Please stand clear of the doors...

Mel and her man took me to Davis Square (red line stop of the same name), which is really the convergence of six streets in downtown Somerville, so the term "square" is misleading and the area can be confusing. We hit up J.P. Licks for some delicious seasonal ice cream (apparently March is the month for flavoring everything like alcohol (stout, Irish coffee, Bailey's)... who knew?), then it was on to Magpie, an awesome quirky little store chock-full of offbeat stuff.

Davis Square, Somerville, MA

Only a little further down the street was possibly the coolest store in the existence of the world, Kickass Cupcakes (Mom, I didn't name the store, I'm just telling it like it is). Novelty cupcakes in flavors like Mojito and Cinnamon Chai Pecan Sticky are the kinds of food that we'll probably find in heaven. Nom.

As if the cupcakes weren't enough, they have awesome signs as well.

Kickass Cupcakes kick ass. Really.

We returned to downtown Boston and wandered through the Common and the Public Gardens, paying a visit to the duck statues. Robert McCloskey's children's books were family favorites as kids (and secretly still some of my mom's favorites), ergo a must-see. Plus the kiddies with accents and corduroy pants playing on them were pretty cute.

Make way for the duckling

The direction we didn't walk in

Mel and I spent an afternoon shopping on Beacon Hill, browsing all the antique stores, quirky little shops and delightful boutiques like the fabulous Koo de Kir to our hearts' content. We wrapped up our day's adventure by tossing bits of our Chinatown purple taro pastry to the ducks in the Charles River and eating Thai food at the King & I restaurant on Charles St.

With Mel on the Charles

Among other highlights from a weekend spent with Melanie were taro boba tea in Chinatown, the Trojan Cow in South Station (really), and a visit to some friends in Marshfield. I don't have pictures from that day, but it was a beautiful drive through hardwood forests with old stone boundary walls, cranberry bogs and harbor towns for a night of Cary Grant, old friends, and J's good cookin'.

Another day was spent with two other friends indulging in sushi and high-end shopping on Newbury Street. I also taught Jia (below) what a consignment store was. Haha.

On Newbury Street

I ♥ Boston.

Part 1

03 May 2009

Destination: Boston

Last month, I went to Boston for spring break. Therefore, we're taking a tiny break from visiting Paris to see Boston. This is a post in two parts: Then and Now.

Background: I went to college on Boston's south shore for a little over a year, before transferring back to my native Northwest. I played DIII soccer for the school (during which I experienced most of greater New England by chartered coach), became acquainted with Nor'easters, and made a trip to Hawaii and New Zealand with the biology department.

I love this city.


When my mom went to Boston with me for the very first time, in January 2006, we spent our free hours drinking in the city. We walked the Freedom Trail (that handy brick path that wends its way to all the important historical sites, like the Old North Church and really old burial grounds), chowed down on seafood, and shopped at Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market.

After getting familiar with the MBTA (this did not happen to me, obviously haha), it was all about the museums, the sports venues, and the Italian food in the North End.

  • I love the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Back Bay. It's a huge house with an enclosed courtyard turned solarium, full of original art and correspondence from celebrities of centuries past.
  • The MFA rocks my world. Free admission for students always does! Besides the immense collection of perennial art, the changing exhibitions are awesome. I went to the Fashion Show: Paris Collections 2006. I love clothes. I love style. I love seeing Valentino and Christian Dior and Viktor & Rolf creations up close.
  • Would have loved to spend more time in the Museum of Science. As it was, L (same one I visited in Paris) and I went to see Body Worlds 2. Amazing. Anatomy student heaven.
  • Visited the Harvard Museum of Natural History for a biology class assignment. While strolling through said museum, I noticed a photograph that looked oddly familiar. As it turned out, the subject was a gravel shed from my hometown, 3000+ miles away in Oregon. Small world. There were also a plethora of blown glass botanics and lots of taxidermy. Sweet.
Home at Harvard!

Big bones in the HMNH

  • Bypassing Fenway and TD Banknorth Garden (everyone knows those names) in favor of...
  • New England Revolution soccer! L and I met and bonded over this team. She had extra tickets, and I a quiet desperation to see them play. She drove all the way to my school to pick me up, and we rocked out to the Dropkick Murphys (locals gotta represent!) all the way out to Gillette Stadium and back. Our first game was in cold, pouring rain, but we sang our lungs out with the Midnight Riders and I bought my first MLS gear. Later on, we made banners urging the club to "Free Clint" and now I support his London club, Fulham FC. While I am a self-described equal opportunity footy enthusiast, it's so great having a local team.
Drenched, hypothermic, and exhilarated

Other highlights of my time in Boston include-
  • The Christmas tree lighting in Boston Commons. December 2006 was unseasonably warm... we went downtown in t-shirts and ate ice cream after the fireworks and the crowds dissipated. We met the nutcracker, Clara, and the Mouse King from the Boston Ballet.

I missed the chance to hit him with my shoe.

  • A soccer friend, Brittany, and I made an excursion to the New England Aquarium. The NEAQ is all right, but the one in Oregon is much better. While Boston's is a hot date spot, I can think of much more creative places to go. ;) The NEAQ does have a huge central tank with turtles and sharks and occasional SCUBA divers in it, which is awesome, as well as oversize penguins stalking the entrance.
Brittany and I getting some Pengzilla lovin'

That was three years ago. While I still love all these things about Boston, I've changed so much in my time back home. For example, I'm a big girl now! Tune in next time to see me write about my return trip and all the cool stuff I did this time. :)

Apologies for the lack of pictures. Many of my old Beantown photos were swallowed during the Great Computer Crash of 2007.

Part 2