Monday, April 30, 2007

Not that I'm judging or anything...

I've done some stupid things in my life.

Bangs, tanning, married men, credit cards, wrong men.

But I think in the land of stupidity there are those of us who just visit and then there are the professionals. People who take it to a whole other level.

For example.

Recently in Belgium, a young, but not young enough for youth to be an excuse, man staged his death in an effort to win back his ex-girlfriend. And this wasn't a little stage. This was a big Broadway stage. She was informed of his death and his wishes for her to take care of the funeral arrangements. Which she did. The casket, the flowers, the music.

At the end of the ceremony, he got up out of the closed coffin and spread his arms open wide for a thank-God-you're-alive hug.

He got a slap and jail time instead.

Nicely done.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Hurting in advance

a.k.a. borrowing trouble

I've given up coffee and chocolate. I'm done. I've had it.

I've abused both to such an extent that my heart and liver are protesting in really obvious and irritating ways.

Fine. Whatever.

But thinking about the headache I'm going to have tomorrow is worse than the headache I'll actually have tomorrow.

I know this. And yet, here I am, borrowing trouble.

So here's my question: What kind of trouble have you been borrowing lately?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Stating the obvious

Things not to do if you work in a lingerie shop.

1. Take a hangered item out of a customer's hand while saying with a sneer, "That's definitely not your size."

2. Gasp and make a face of horror when a client lifts her shirt slightly to show salesclerk person how high up a bathing suit bottom must go to cover up some traces of childbearing.

Of course, none of this happened to me or anything.

I'm just saying.

Friday, April 20, 2007

What would you have thought if you had heard this?

Sometimes I am so glad people around here don't speak English that well.

Like yesterday at the grocery store.

Boy2 was having a hard time. He was unhappy about the rules of conduct (no running around, no fussing, no arguing with his brother and no asking me to buy stuff).

After being reminded of them, he crossed his arms in front of his chest and pouted.

I said, "You need to come with me to the next aisle. I'm not going to wait for you here to get your act together."

His reply, "No Mama. What I need is to live my own life."

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Ridiculous, Tome 2

A couple of things, actually.

Myself being at the top of the list.

Yesterday afternoon I got into a verbal altercation in our street with some guy. Who thought I shouldn't have touched his bumper while parking. Touch is the right word, I swear. Isn't that what bumpers are for? Bumping just a smidge?

Anyway, he went off. Started his first sentence with a mean word and finishing it in a similar manner. And yesterday was just not the day to mess with me. Unfortunatley for all those involved, which at one point was a lot of people since all the cars in the street couldn't get through because mean dude and I were verbally duking it out in the middle of the street. No winner could be declared and I definitely feel like a loser today.

I was, of course, thoroughly ashamed of myself afterwards. But man, I was hopping mad.

Next on the ridiculous list is something I heard on the radio in reference to what happened in Virginia. "Monday's tragedy killed more people than any other school massacre in US history."

I know I'm not the only one to think that there should be no reference point for school massacres. There should not be a scale of muderousness in schools. There should not be a separate category for school murders. Because they shouldn't exist in the first place. And after Columbine, someone somewhere should've figured that out. And done something about it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Ridiculous, Tome 1

Laval is getting loungesque. Two bar/lounge places have opened up in the past six months. And a third will be opening just a few blocks from our house.

None of that is particularly ridiculous. Their names, however, tend to be.

One is the Duplex. That's ok.

Another one is the, get ready for this, Living Café.

Now, I get the whole oh-it's-from-a-foreign-language-so-it's-cool thing. Just like eating at Café Campagne in Seattle or Pastis in New York. But come on, the living café. What does that mean?

It gets worse.

The one on the way to the excellent bakery is called Ze World. Cringe.

Now, I also get how hard it is for francophones to pronounce [th]. (I can't post phonetic symbols, deal.) They are sounds (interdentals) which don't exist in French and putting the tongue between the teeth to produce the sound makes them feel like they're lisping. If it's a voiced (throat vibrates) th, as in breathe, they'll use a different voiced option, like [d] or [v]or [z]. Same goes for the voiceless version, as in breath, where they'll use [t] or [f] or [s]. All of which is fine. We do the best we can.

But, if I had a choice, I'd much rather hear the [f, v] or [t, d] alternatives. SO much softer on the ears.

But I guess De World or Ve World doesn't sell martinis.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Bad

Le Bistro de Paris, Laval, France.

It pains me to write this post. Really.

The Bistro de Paris is the only restaurant in Laval to be rated in the famous French food guides, Michelin and Gault & Millau. It's been given the equivalent of one star by each, which is a lot considering that most restaurants never make it into a gastronomy guide in the first place.

The chef is a maître saucier, a master sauce maker. Uh-huh.

I've had, in the past, excellent meals at the Bistro. But not lately. Not even in a long time.

And the last one was particularly disappointing.

The service was too fast. Seriously, the server took the champagne flute out of V's hand. And took the crostini and anchovy butter away long before I was finished with it.

The first course was good. But nothing amazing. Shrimp with garlic and julienned vegetables.

The second course was fair. Duck breast with orange and avocado slices. Should've been reliable but wasn't. The sauce, of all things, was the worst part. Tasted a bit like that turkey gravy at the Dixie Truck Stop somewhere in Illinois between Joliet and Astoria, which was appropriate, good even, on the open-faced turkey sandwich. Not so much on duck and orange and avocado.

The dessert, a sablé covered with chocolate sauce (yum) and vanilla ice cream, was good. But I've made the same at home.

The little dessert bites they brought out with coffee were beyond disappointing. A funky cherry thing that was just too strange to be good, texture-wise. And I won't even go into the macaroons or the meringues.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programme

to bring you this very important message.

I'm coming home.

Passports have been obtained, tickets have been bought, credit cards have been maxed.

Husband, Boys and I will be in the Chicago-land area from July 4th until July 25th.

Come see us if you can or call if you can't.

It's been 4 years since our last visit and Boy2 didn't see much on that trip, other than the inside of my womb.

So, expectations are high all the way around.

Monday, April 09, 2007

La Maison Renaise - The Good

Today's is the first in a series of three posts, The Good, The Bad, and The Ridiculous.

So. The Good.

La Maison Renaise is my new favorite place. It's a house. Really. That now houses a perfect café. The owner, Laurent, is charming. The coffee, 5 or 6 roasts, is excellent. The pastries (flan, brownies, chocolate tart, lemon tart, crème brûlée...) are home-made. There are 25-or 30 kinds of tea. There are swanky coffee table books all over the place.

There are tables and chairs (handy) for sitting and couches and cushy chairs for lounging.

It's exactly 8 minutes from my house on foot.

When you're in the neighborhood - La Maison Renaise, 23 rue Renaise, Laval.

If I'm not at home, I'm probably there.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

No sneering allowed.

Black Forest Cookies With Raisins Instead of Cherries

(adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe from Everyday Food)

Makes 36

1 cup flour
2T unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
8 oz chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
8 T (1 stick) butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
12 oz semisweet chocolate cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups raisins

Preheat oven to 350°C. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt together.

2. Place chopped chocolate and butter in a large bowl and heat over simmering water (or in the microwave but be careful - not too long) until melted. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat, whisk in sugars, then eggs. Whisk unitl smooth.

3. Whisk in dry ingredients unitl just combined. Fold in chocolate chunks and raisins. I SAID NO SNEERING. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

4. Drop mounds of 2T dough per cookie onto baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake unitl edges are firm, 11-13 minutes. Cool and consume to be happy.

And since we're on the subject of great recipes, check this one out at Chitlins & Camembert. Certain to please even the sneerers. That means you, Lorraine and Spouse.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Of the baking variety.

It started with chocolate shortbread with white chocolate icing on monday. My first experience with a pastry bag. What a joke. We ended up using a spoon and made pretty zig-zags over the cookies. They were gone within 2 days.

During which time I made pain d'épice because I was out.

So wednesday we made Black Forest Cookies. Which were supposed to be double chocolate chunk cookies with dried cherries. But I didn't have any on hand that day so I used raisins. Which everyone loved, except Husband. Who doesn't like fruit in general and certainly not in his chocolate cookies. I believe his exact words were, "Why would you ruin a perfectly good chocolate cookie with a raisin?" He actually sneered when he said raisin.

Thursday afternoon I made vanilla cupcakes with milk chocolate frosting for the bake sale at school that afternoon.

And then. At some point, either drunk or delirious, I promised the boys we would make Easter sugar cookies to bring to school on the last day before Easter break. Which was friday.

So thursday evening we made 65 bells, fish, chicks, and rabbits. And then we iced them. Because I apparently promised that too.

Husband pouted because there were only 10 leftover for home.

My favorites? The Black Forest Cookies with raisins not cherries. They were amazing. And every mouthful tasted like Raisinets. Which are, along with ginger chews, my favorite candy. I think they deserve their own special food group. Happy food.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Esprit d'entrepreneur

I've just returned from Nantes, where I left the boys in the care of their French grandparents. It's school vacation, AGAIN, and I, of course, still have to work.

When I left, Boy1 had a very loose tooth. The first to fall. When I talked to him this evening, I could hear him jumping up and down. My tooth fell out, my tooth fell out!

While he was eating, he said, and with no blood or pain (he was worried about that part).

He paused and said, quite seriously, Mama, I'm going to be sooooo rich!

Oh yeah, why is that?

Well, in France, the Little Mouse brings money when we lose a tooth. And in the United States, it's the Tooth Fairy. And since I'm French and American, they're both going to come and give me money for every tooth! Can you imagine that? All these teeth and I get paid for them twice!

That is rich.

I wanted to tell him to save the money for possible orthodontics, but I didn't have the heart.