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October 20, 2012

Home Wish List

Must have:
-Three bedrooms
-Two bathrooms
-Medium back yard
-Garage
-Finished basement
-New windows

Would like to have:
-Turrets
-Stained glass windows in every room
-Secret passages
-Treehouse
-Absurd amount of cupboard space in the kitchen (like enough to store several small children in (for hide and seek purposes))
-Window seats
-Treasures from times gone by hidden away in the attic
-Claw-foot bathtub

Must not have:*
-Vagrant men who pee in the backyard
-Ripped-out crown molding
-Haunted basement/attic
-A pervasive odor of cat pee
-Cast iron boiler circa 1903
-A store called "Liquor Barrel" around the corner

*All things present in houses we looked at today

September 13, 2012

Things people will no longer say to me

Das Boot: 8/14/12-9/12/12

  • What'd you do?
  • You should be more careful!
  • Bet you won't be dancing for awhile!
  • Were you dancing too much?
  • You should stop kicking your husband so hard!
  • (Stare)
  • Nice boot!
  • Your shoes don't match!
  • Look at your peg leg! 
  • (Stare)
  • You broke it in Paris? I bet there's a good story behind that!
  • At least it happened on the last day of your trip and not the first day!
  • At least it didn't happen in winter!
  • (Stare)
  • (Laugh)
  • (Stare)
  • Does it hurt?
  • Are you on drugs?
  • Can you drive?
  • (Stare)
  • I broke my foot once. It was way worse.
  • I broke my arm once.
  • You're going to get arthritis!
I'd like to thank the people of Paris, Icelandair Flights 543 and 657, Louisville and, most of all, Saint Paul for the all their concern during the past month. You can stop staring at me now.

August 18, 2012

Ways I wish I'd broken my foot

I broke my foot in Paris.

That line, which I've repeated ad naseum all week in response to the countless queries of "Wha hoppon?", would lead you to believe there's a really good story behind it. There isn't. There's basically no reason for me to have broken my foot. I was stepping off a sidewalk and my foot slipped. C'est tout.

Here's what I wish I could say:
  • I was chasing pigeons
  • I slipped in dog merde. Damn French people who don't clean up after their dogs...
  • I was helping an old blind man cross the street à la Amélie and a speeding moped ran me over
  • I was attacked near Pigalle and stomped on my aggressor's steel-booted instep like I learned in self-defense
  • I was so inspired by the American Women's Gymastics Team's success that I decided to cartwheel down the Champs de Mars
  • I was running to catch a train in the métro and the door closed on my hoof
  • I was taking one of my signature jumping-in-front-of-monument pictures
Le sigh. 

July 8, 2012

You'll come for the Troglodytes but you'll stay for the geese

French websites seldom disappoint. On the English translations of even classy hotel sites, you'll often find delightful turns of phrase like:
For a little break between all those sights seeing, why not relaxing with a wellness stay ?... To that we propose you a stay for two, including a double room in the Manor with breakfasts and a massage package (for 2 hours) at the Jardin de Valentine at the Jardin de Valentine, beauty center in the heart of Amboise (15 min. walk).
Why not relaxing, I demand you? Propose me all you got. I'll takes it.


A wonderful gem I found yesterday was the site for the Troglodyte village outside of Saumur. On the photos and videos page, there were several short videos that one would think would take one on a tour of the cave dwellers' lair. But mostly, there is this. And this. And then there's this one, which started off so promising...





July 6, 2012

I just conquered the Loire


I'm going back to Franceland in but four short weeks, and it wasn't until yesterday that my maniacal planning tendencies kicked in. I tend toward exhaustive, pages-long itineraries that cover every option and ticket price for anything you might find interesting in a specific city, complete with a to-the-minute train timetable. 

The plan for next month is that take the train from Paris to Digoin immediately after I arrive, and the next day I'll enjoy the delights of the Escargot Festival. Amanda gets in two days later, and we will go wine-tasting and gourmet dinner-eating to our hearts' delight. After four days and five nights of glorious Diggy, we will make our way to the Loire Valley region and all its pretty pretty princess chateaux, then Monet's gardens in Giverny, then Paris, then home. 

That's where I got stuck. There was not a good way to see everything sans voiture, and I was at my wits' end on how to squeeze in a trip to see troglodyte awesomeness in Saumur. I spent hours on the SNCF website testing the viability of various routes and home bases. This afternoon I finally settled upon the Most Perfect Itinerary. Feast your eyes, francophiles:

WEDNESDAY: DIGOIN-->AMBOISE-->CHENONCEAUX

Chateau Royal d'Amboise
Chateau de Clos Luce (final home of Leonardo da Vinci)

Chateau de Chenonceau

WEDNESDAY: AMBOISE-->SAUMUR

Chateau de Saumur
Musée du Champignon
Troglodyte home

FRIDAY: AMBOISE-->BLOIS-->CHAMBORD-->CHEVERNY-->VERNON


Chambord
Cheverny
SATURDAY: VERNON-->GIVERNY-->PARIS

Giverny
Giverny


April 22, 2012

Everything delicious in my life comes from Pinterest

There are a few technological advances in this world that I can say have legitimately changed my life. One is digital cameras. Another is Netflix streaming. The latest, and greatest, is Pinterest.

Lots of people I follow use it to plan their weddings or babies' birthdays or what their next home decor project should be. I mostly use it to plan what goes into my mouth.

Exhibits A and B are the two dishes I assembled at a raucous barbecue chez Parsley last night: Fig Gorgonzola Honey Tartines and Grilled Peach Salad with Mozzarella and Arugula. Nom factor: through the roof. Here's some Instagrammed photographic evidence:
 
 

In no particular order, here are some other delicious dishes that have graced my table recently:


Springtime Honey Garlic Roast Chicken Skillet:


With this guy you roast entire heads of garlic and then mush it up with honey for a Flavor Paste of the Gods to schmear on your chicken and veggies. Plus, the ingredients only came to around $20, and we ate it for at least six meals. Score. 


The Loaded Bowl: 


Dude and I are still trying valiantly to battle the Marriage Fifteen, and this dish is a nice low-cal but filling option. Just don't eat it for lunch on a day where you have important meetings, if you know what I mean...



My coworkers are crazy about the quinoia these days, and this dish was my first foray into that trendy grain. The lemony roasted and slightly spicy broccolini are what really make this sing. I'm drooling a little bit right now. So grood.



I made this for a Downton Abbey viewing party and it was just perfection on a plate. The rosemary provides an unusual but pleasant element, and the pinch of salt goes a long way in making this an almost-savory delight. Perfect for tea parties, brunches, and viewings of House-In-A-Teacup-type shows.

Please share with the class, Francey Pantsers: what are your favorite new delicacies, pinned or otherwise?

March 31, 2012

Winner of the Sweater Giveaway Limerick Contest: Danny D!

According to the venerable Pa Perlman, the winning limerick came from Danielle of PDX! Congrats, Danny! Here are her champion verses:

My dearest fetus begs me to tell thee
"Aunt Nina thou art so beautiful and witty"
Oh please give to my fetus
Who has yet to meet us
Thy sweater that shall make her so pretty!

Pa felt it triumphed "for its adherence to form, wit, expectancy and joie de spirit."

To my other contestants: don't have the sads! Remember I am always available should you choose to commission a knitted item, so long as you purchase the yarn and kick in a few extra clams for labor. Everybody wins! 

March 26, 2012

V. Presh Sweater Giveaway


I had an extremely productive weekend, during which I managed to increase the amount of time I have between necessity laundry loads by a week thanks to a VS sale, cut short my macaron retirement with a batch of perfect pistachio, made a number of Hunger Games-related puns after viewing said film, and MADE THE CUTEST LITTLE BABY SWEATER YOU EVER DID SEE.

Seriously. How adorbs is that? I was cooing over it like it was a fluffy baby chipmunk when I made those itty bitty sleeves and that adorable little ribbed collar. 

Due to the fact that I have a dearth of 18-month-old little ladies in my life and there are too many boo-boos in this, my first attempt at the pattern, to try to sell it, I'm GIVING IT AWAY! EVERYBODY DANCE!

I think instead of making you tweet about how much you lurve my blog or demanding that you give me a handmade item in exchange, I shall make this a limerick contest similar to the one I unleashed on my coworkers of yore for the grand prize of Curly Hair Classy.

Your mission, Francey Pantsers, is to create the most glorious limerick on the subject of Youth and leave it in the comments by 5:00 p.m. CST this Wednesday, March 28. I will again enlist the help of my Pa, a publisher of Minnesota's finest poets, to judge the bestest. 

May the odds be ever in your favor!

The fine print: Contest limited to those living close enough to yours truly for personal delivery. Exceptions will be made for those who want to kick in a few bucks for shipping.

March 12, 2012

While visions of snails danced through my head...

My mind is definitely drifting toward Europa these days. It's hard not to be awash in nostalgia when this time last year I was enjoying a perpetual spring that started in Rome in February, hopped to Paris in March, and then stretched to Amsterdam and Berlin in April.

I've been watching a lot of Euro-centric documentaries and films, most recently "The Lives of Others" and "A Woman in Berlin." Being immersed in German reminds me of the phrase I had prepared to say to the pharmacist in hopes of getting relief from seasonal allergies in Berlin last year:

"Ich habe ein Großen gesundheit für das Blume... eins, zwei, drei, veir, fünf gesundheit! Bitte, macht mein Schnoz frei?"

Who's a hyperglot and has watery eyes? This fille.

My transatlantic longing is only going to deepen now that I've purchased my plane tickets to go to France this August. My wonderful Frenchy friend Suzanne alerted me to the fact that my travels coincide with the festival that put Digoin on the map: the annual Fete de l'Escargot. According to Wikipedia, Digoin has held the record for escargots consumption since 2007, when 100,800 escargots awash with 500 kg of butter, 55 kg of parsley and 33 kg of garlic were eaten.



OMD. Can you even believe my luck??


February 28, 2012

Minnesota Opera deal: $50 tickets for Lucia di Lammermoor

Hey 'Pantsers:

The Opera sent me another ticket deal for their upcoming show, Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. I'm not seeing it until Thursday, but since this deal expires tomorrow I wanted to get it out to you ASAP. Follow the instructions below to get $50 tickets* (regularly priced up to $200) on Sunday, March 4 and Tuesday, March 6.


From the Opera's press dude: 
In all of opera, there's only one Lucia. Don't miss this must-see thriller that turns divas into legends. After winning the hearts of Minnesota Opera audiences as Eurydice and Amore in Minnesota Opera's 2010 production of Orpheus and Eurydice, sopranos Susanna Phillips (performs March 6) and Angela Mortellaro (performs March 4) return to star as the fragile heroine of this masterpiece of melodic beauty and psychological depth.

Order your $50 tickets at mnopera.org or call the Minnesota Opera Ticket Office, M-F, 9am - 6pm, at 612-333-6669.

*Limit up to 4 seats regularly priced $65-200 for the March 4 and March 6 performances only. Online: Enter 50deal and click “Add Coupon”. You will see your savings applied. Do not complete order if coupon does not load. Service charges and other restrictions may apply. Offer ends February 29, 2012. For additional information call the Ticket Office at 612-333-6669, M-F, 9am-6pm.

February 27, 2012

In Which My Vows Are Tested

When I consider my life's accomplishments, there is one that stands above all others on a glistening porcelain pedestal: I have vomited but once in the past nine years and two months (to the day).

Longtime Francey Pantsers will recall that fateful night a year and a half ago, mere days before I hopped a plane to Franceland, when I broke my streak and subsequently sunk to the depths of despair in a worthless heap. I have since decided that my accomplishment still holds-- once in nine years is nothing to burp at.

One unfortunate side-effect of my relative inexperience in this regard, however, is that I had no idea how to help my beloved Dude when he bolted from bed at 6 a.m. yesterday morning and started emitting groans and other unfortunate sounds not fit for publication as he clutched the commode for dear life. "Should I pretend to be asleep?" I briefly wondered. Then our ketubah caught my eye. "Oh yeah. I suppose I promised to help him with these kinds of things. There it is-- in writing-- with my signature underneath."

I hefted myself from bed to help, but then had the stunning realization that I had not a clue what to do. Colds are easy: ply 'em with Jewish Penicillin (matzah ball soup) and an embarrassment of citrus, and then force them to drink their weight in fluids. How does one stop violent, constant vomiting, though? Dude requested Pepto Bismal, so I went off in search of it at the neighborhood gas station and then stopped at Whole Foods for a few other Healing Items. Oranges. Bread for toast. Kombucha (they didn't have Gatorade so I figured it was the next best thing).

When I got home Dude had taken up residence on the couch and looked 3000% miserable. I gave him a just-in-case garbage can and then poured him a dose of Pepto. I also surrounded him with water, mouthwash, paper towels and Chlorox disinfecting wipes. Just-in-case garbage can became absolutely-necessary garbage can as the Pepto that had just gone down came right back up. I felt like a terrible wife for cowering in my chair and closing my ears during any one of the dozens of times he heaved and heaved and heaved.

Poor baby, but I can't bring myself to come within three feet of that garbage can.

Nothing seemed to be helping, so I had to bring in the reserves: my mother-in-law. By the time she left, he was sitting up and talking in complete, audible sentences. Cured!

The lessons I learned yesterday, in no particular order:

-Mommies cure everything
-Wait six puke-free hours before trying to make a sickie put anything down his gullet
-Looking totally disgusted during your sickie's most vulnerable time doesn't really help
-If you must watch the Oscars with your sickie in the room, mute the commercials so he doesn't have to hear Arby's reuben advertisement for folks who would "drink Thousand-Island dressing through a straw"


February 25, 2012

The Neenuh Gift Trifecta

As someone who prides herself on giving thoughtful prezzies, I must give credit where it's due: Ana NAILED it.

Ana and I go way back to our toddler years at Temple Israel in Duluth. She's now a BFD in the Jewish Youth Services sector here in the TC, and when she asked me to teach a Jewish cooking class for 8th and 9th graders this winter I couldn't say no. Cooking! Youths! Sign me up.

We made everything from knishes to hamentashen, from falafel to tsimmes. It was a great group of kids, and I was sorry to see the trimester come to an end. 

Last night I came home after a particularly long week of work to a mysterious package on my coffee table:


Cooking. Tribehood. France.

Could you imagine a more perfect gift pour moi than Quiches, Kugels and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France by Joan Nathan? The answer is no. You could not. And would you even believe me if I told you that there is a recipe for kosher-for-Passover macarons? Because there is. There's also a recipe for a delicacy called, "Frozen Soufflé Rothschild," which in its true state is embellished with GOLD LEAF. I DIE.

Ana, you win all the awards.

February 22, 2012

Mon pays ce n'est pas un pays, c'est un collier

As if there could be any doubt as to where I left my heart...


I saw the Minnesota version of this necklace on Pinterest and snapped it right up for Anna's birthday. Then I knew I had to get Frenchy versions for My Main Meuf Missy and me.

Mr. Sir and I have been Euro-nostalgia-ing real bad lately. We're watching documentaries about the Medicis and having romantical dates at fancy French restaurants where we order escargots and rue that they're already de-shelled.

I should probably be using my next paycheck to replace this wheezing laptop, but instead I'm putting it all toward a 10-day Visit in August to Paris, Diggy-town (Digoin), Charolly (Charolles) and a few other places that stole mon coeur.

Je vous verrai bientôt, mes amies.

PS: The title of this post is taken from a song by Quebecer Gilles Vigneault

PPS: Anyone want to go to Iceland with me for a few days on the way back?

February 20, 2012

Triumph of the Sunday List

Oh hello. It's been awhile. I have a fairly good excuse for abandoning you, lil' bloggy: I got boring. This time last year I went to four countries in the span of two weeks (Switzerland, Germany, Italy and France, of course). My life now is lovely, and I really couldn't be happier about it, but it's nothing to write home (or across the interwebs) about. And now, to illustrate just how domesticated and settled my existence has become, I give you The Sunday List.

In a fit of self-improvement last fall, I created a mental list of everything I needed to accomplish by the end of the weekend in order to feel great starting my week. The list is quite long, and inevitably I don't always get around to everything, which can lead to some feelings of despair, unworthiness and angst come Monday morning. I'm now trying to see the list more as suggestions than commands. Without further ado, here they are:

1. Read Both the Saturday and the Sunday Papers. My normal pape-reading time is on the bus on the way to work, so it's hard for me to carve out time for it on the weekends. Plus the Sunday paper is so BIG with so many WORDS. Oy.

2. Go to the Gym. I usually make the 11:00 hot vinyasa with Barry on Saturday, but getting to the 9:15 class on Sunday with the lady who plays the Gandhi rap and the "You're Incredible! You're Amazing!" song is a challenge.

3. Reconnect with an Old Friend. This is one of my favorites. It's so lovely to hear a long-lost voice on the phone and giggle over inside jokes.

4. Cook Something. I try to make at least one elaborate meal per week. Lately the Dude has been taking my place in the kitchen and making all sorts of Man Food like chilli, beef stew with lentils and other protein bombs. We're definitely in need of more Julia.

5. Bake Something. I recently retired from macaron-making (another reason for my bloggal absence) because they were sucking up six hours of my precious weekend. I may come out of retirement if I can get my paws on an additional Silpat and some more baking sheets... (hint, hint)

6. Clean the Apartment. I am a huge slob during the week, but I make up for it by dusting, vacuuming and tidying up in a weekly, hour-long tear.

7. Craft. I've been big into knitting lately, and due to the way-too-conveniently located yarn shop in the skyway my craft basket has been getting nice and robust again. I fully intend to tackle a sweater this year, just as soon as I finish another cowl scarf and a pair or two of fingerless gloves.

8. Do Laundry, Grocery Shop, Pack a Lunch, Choose an Outfit. File under: necessity.

9. Talk to the Mamas. Catching up with Ma P-P and M.I.L. (Mother-In-Law) are crucial for getting a handle on family gossip, recipe-sharing and avoiding the dreaded "Call your mother!" emails.

10. Spend Quality Time with the Dude. Me falling asleep in his lap while he watches weird documentaries on Netflix doesn't count. Scrabble death match does.

Here's how I did this weekend:

1. Check.
2. Check.
3. I joined LinkedIn on Friday and it somehow managed to email everyone I've ever contacted ever (from past colleagues who aren't too fond of me to former landlords to event planners at venues where I considered having my nups) to ask them to reconnect with me. One person who did was old high school friend Bjorn who invited me to his place for a mini East High reunion Saturday night. Check!
4. Manda came over on Saturday and we made Spicy Broccolini Quinoa Salad, a recipe I found on Pinterest. Very yum. Check!
5. Last night I baked this YUMTASTIC Rosemary Olive Oil Cake (also found on Pinterest) for a Downton Abbey viewing party at my friend Katie's. Check!
6. I even washed the parts of my vacuum! Check!
7. Alexa has commissioned a baby blanket for a friend of hers a week ago, and this weekend it went from this:


to this:


More than halfway done! Check!
8. Today's chores.
9. Fail. I'll call you soon! I promise!
10. Check.