Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Beautiful Bracelet

Sandra received an early birthday gift this week from her mom and Stephanie. We got to watch Ink Vader in action!

The finished tattoo is very elegant and feminine! Hmmm . . . maybe I need a souvenir of France around my ankle!?

Love to all!!

Sigean African Reserve

Lions, and Tigers, and Bears - Oh My!

Okay, so there weren't any tigers, but check out what we saw this week! We played hookie Thursday afternoon and drove to Sigean. They have an enormous African Reserve park. Part of the park is a drive-thru where the animals are literally right outside of your car, and another part of the park is a walk-thru with huge habitats.

I will let the pictures do the talking.

Driving . . . With no barrier whatsoever between us and the animals!

And walking . . . There were some barriers involved here, but not many.

For the flamingos, notice all the different colors! We have these in l'etang in Bouzigues, and it was a joy to see them up close. Watch as they unfurl their wings! It's magical.

There was only a small chain separating the path from the flamingos, so . . . (shh - don't tell anyone!), we let the kids cross over the chain and scavenge for flamingo feathers.

When we made it to the goats, the kids took a while to get brave enough to pet the goats.

A wonderful way to spend an afternoon! There was almost nobody there besides us and the animals; it was warm and sunny; we have gorgeous flamingo feathers for souvenirs; and we all had a great time.

Love to all!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

BBQ Chez Sabrina & Franck

Yummmmeee! That’s how I describe Sabrina and Sandra’s cuisine. Of course, I should say, “Délicieux!” However, I simply cannot pronounce that word. Believe me, I try very, very hard (just ask Sandra).

This weekend, Sabrina and Franck served up a wonderful bbq: pork chops, beef shish kabob, and ribs along with homemade couscous, a Moroccan salad, and strawberry margaritas.

Have I mentioned before how delicious the pork is here in France? I don’t know why, but it is much, much better than the pork in America. Thus, yesterday’s pork chops encouraged over-eating.

Sandra made a delicious lemon tart – from scratch! However, I was so full by the time dessert was served, I couldn’t eat another bite.

It was another blissful day, too: sunny, peaceful, relaxing, and filled with good company. It was all outside, with the kids playing in the garden. Perfect!

Merci beaucoup, Sabrina & Franck, for a wonderful afternoon & meal! We are grateful to have you as friends.

Love to all!!

Girls' Night Out

I had my first Girls' Night Out in France this weekend, and I survived! Sandra and Sabrina take such good care of me. They have become great friends. I can joke around with them and everything (that’s really saying a lot, since I can still barely speak French!). Thanks, Sandra & Sabrina!

It was really, really fun – and exhausting all at the same time.

As most of you know, I don’t often go out at night. You can blame that on Mike! So, a Girl’s Night Out was really something to look forward to. However, knowing that everything would be in French, I was also nervous. We were going to Sete to meet Sabrina’s sister-in-law, Martine, and her friend, Vincent, for dinner and drinks at a piano bar.

Dinner was excellent! Fue de Bois was the name of the restaurant, which roughly translates to Wood Fire. It was similar to a steak house, and it could have been in America if not for the language. It was decorated with steer skulls, saddles, etc. The owner told me, in English, that he’s a cowboy!

I had steak hache (French for a hamburger), which was mouth-wateringly delicious. They are served without buns here, so it was straight-up beef. I haven’t eaten beef in weeks, so it was wonderful.

Everyone else ordered the special – Souris de Agneau. That translates literally to Mouse of Lamb, which is the best cut of the meat in France. It was so beautifully presented.

I managed to follow most of the conversations through dinner. Well, I think I followed most of the conversations. Ha! I didn’t contribute too much. By the time I thought of something to say, and constructed it in my head in French, it was well past time to make such a comment. Our friend Debb told me about this, as she experiences the same thing in French conversations. Now I know what she means. Next time, I’ll just spit it out – even if I don’t make sense. I figure that I don’t make sense most of the time anyway, so what difference does it really make?

By the end of dinner (which lasted almost 3 hours), I was physically exhausted from straining so hard to hear, understand, and contribute to the conversation. Since it was late (almost 11:30pm), the sleepy-factor was strong!

However, there was more fun to come! Our next stop was a piano bar. I have never been to a piano bar or a karaoke bar, so this was a new experience for me. I had been hoping for lots of people to dance with (Mike has never gone dancing with me!), but alas, we were 5 of the 12 people in the bar.

The piano player & singer was very entertaining. When Sandra told him that I was an American, he whipped out a song from Grease, a Beatles medley, and some Elvis. He kept asking us to sing with him – especially me once Sandra told him my name! – but we weren’t interested. Sandra sang to us at our seats instead. She knows the words to every song he played.

While we were there, they were playing the weirdest things on a big wall screen beside the piano. They were movie snippets of models posing for topless calendars & lingerie ads – or that’s my guess. It was bizarrely entertaining when coupled with the dramatic piano player. That guy was really, really into playing the piano & singing.

We drank some delicious Pina Coladas (mine was virgin, as I was the designated driver), too. Yum!

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to dance, and we didn’t find a new man for Martine. But it was a great night. I had a ton of fun!

And I almost forgot to tell you! I was pretty dressed up (makeup and everything!), and the kids were so sweet! As I was kissing them goodnight, Max said, “Mommy, you are beeeaautiful!” A few minutes later (she hadn’t heard Max), Josey said, “Mommy, you look so pretty!” Yeah for me! When I arrived at Sabrina’s to pick up the girls, Logan told me I was tres jolie (very pretty). Thanks kids!

And . . . We even went shopping – just us 3 girls – the day before. Woohoo! I have girlfriends to shop with, too!

Love to all!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Knitting Like a Fiend

Many of you already know that I love to knit. Since moving to France, my needles & hooks have been flyin'. I just have to share.

Here's my only action shot with a French background - Carcassonne!

Toys . . . All 3 kids (even Alex the teenager) love them!

Boleros, etc. . .

Sweaters . . .

And gifts . . .

Love to all!!