Prague

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Ça y est, we’ve moved to Lyon! We’ve been in our new place for a couple of weeks now, and instead of showing you all photos of the jumbled, box-filled life we’re sorting through right now, I thought it was about time that I posted about our trip to Prague.

Somewhere between Toulouse and Lyon, we hopped an orange plane for the city that was once the capital of Bohemia.

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My good friend Caitlin has been living in Prague for a while now and we’ve been meaning to make a trip to visit. When we found out that Edd would have 10 days of freedom between leaving his old job and beginning his new one, we grabbed two tickets and packed a small travel bag as we packed up the rest of our lives in Toulouse.

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Prague in autumn is simply gorgeous. Though the weather was a bit gray, I found that the soft gray skies proved to be the best backdrop for the golden architectural accents and the vibrant  fall foliage. Caitlin and her boyfriend Petr were marvelous hosts and guides. Our arrival in Prague closely following a string of chaotic weeks; I was working again for the Printemps de Septembre festival, Edd was finishing up his old job, and we were both hurriedly packing and scrubbing our apartment. We hadn’t had a single moment to plan our trip beyond buying the plane tickets and a few emails to Caitlin.

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Happily, we were received with open arms! Caitlin and Petr had planned a series of wonderful outings, centered of course mainly around one activity: pivo! We drank heartily on this vacation – at least one liter a day, per person! Edd and I already being beer-lovers, and with Czech beers being at once so tasty and so easy to drink, Caitlin and Petr didn’t have to twist our arms. And I haven’t even gotten started on the food! We stuffed ourselves! So many good dumplings, braised meats, and my new favorite: pickled hermelín.

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In addition to the delicious grub and brew, Caitlin and Petr drove us to the city of Plzeň, birthplace of none other than the original pilsner lager recipe.

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Beer disciples that we are, we of course toured the Pilsner Urquell Brewery facilities, which included a visit to their bottle processing center, both the new and old brew houses, and a walk though the labyrinthine caves where the beer is still fermented.

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The tour was so much fun, especially to photograph (definitely worth the 100CZK for the photo pass.) And to top it all off, it comes with a complimentary pint of the unfiltered pilsner, tapped straight from the massive barrels.

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Our four days in Prague flew right by us and before we knew it, it was time to take our plane back to Lyon. As we left for the airport, rain turned to sleet and sleet to snow. Which is to say that our flight out of Prague turned out to be on Not-So-Easy Jet.

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Eventually though, we made it back to our new home, where it was also snowing! Driving back from Lyon St. Exupery and arriving in our new flat, boxes piled everywhere, was so strange. Not so homey at all really and perhaps even more foreign feeling than it had been in Caitlin and Petr’s cozy place.

But so it all began. Life in Lyon. Feathering up a new nest. Transforming an empty space into home. More soon, promise!

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California dreamin’

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It’s been two weeks since we returned to Toulouse from a month on the most fabled roads of California. It was an amazing vacation. I’m still not sleeping quite right, but I think I’m mostly adjusted to being back in France.

Trips back to the US have a restorative power. Although I love living here, it is essential to be back in one’s own country every now and then. The jet-lag upon returning east is usually compounded with a dash of homesickness, having usually just left behind friends and family.

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But with time and activity, life resumes and keeping busy helps the far-from-home blues fade away.

And life on this side of the Atlantic has been pretty busy since my last update. Thesis writing and finishing my masters program. Working for a small contemporary art festival in Toulouse. Planning the trip to California nearly last-minute and then hopping on a plane to the Golden State.

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We traveled with two friends, rented a car, stayed with friends or camped and mixed urban and nature. We looped down from San Francisco on the Pacific Coast Highway to Los Angeles, drove east to the desert and Joshua Tree, trekked north through the central valley to the grand parks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and then back to San Francisco. A trip full of changing landscapes and temperatures. I think we all could have stayed a few more weeks.

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But alas, reality sets in, and all too soon we were back on a flight via London to our little Pink City, Toulouse. Back to work, back to nannying.

Ed and I learned just before we set off for California that we’ll be moving to Lyon. It’s an exciting new step for us, but we’re also quite sad to leave our home here. Returning to reality meant beginning the search for a new flat and all that comes with changing cities.

Will keep you all posted on the moving developments. Will try to post again soon!

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a visit to the old family factory

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I’ve been in Cincinnati for almost a week now. Today is my dad’s birthday and our big outing was to a building in Norwood that once housed my family’s company: The Palm Brothers Decal Company. Over the past few years, my father’s passion for delving back into these roots has intensified.

Typical of Cincinnati, crossed-paths led us to meet the people currently working in this building, who have renovated about half of the spaces for their offices and plan to expand and continue renovating the rest.

Betsy, a friend of my parents is one of the higher-ups of the new company there, was generous enough to lead us through the building for a tour that was a discovery for some and a trip down memory lane for others.

I had a great time exploring the space with the camera I got for Christmas – a gift that has been underused since I received it as school work has had me swamped the past few months. Nothing more art-student-y than photos of industrial ruins, eh? Well, here are a few of my favorite shots…

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open space

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red door

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a cheesy valentine’s day

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Throughout highschool and on my college breaks, I worked at an upscale florist. We had a huge store front and I worked the sales floor, putting together bouquets and arrangements and placing delivery orders for walk-in customers. It was a great afterschool job and I loved it. But after living through year after year of the Valentine’s Day shitstorm, I left that job thoroughly turned off by the holiday.

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The clientele during this seasonal rush was largely male, and customers broke down more or less into three categories: genuinely sweet and romantic men (who generally came in up to a week early to plan things out and knew all their lady friend’s favorite things), good-hearted but slightly irritated guys mad about the expectations placed on them by their girlfriend, her mom, society or god knows who else to get something showy and romantic and to shell out a ton of cash, and finally, sleaze bags trying to juggle multiple ladies or get into someone’s pants, buying the cheapest crap possible and all while hitting on little old oblivious high school me. By far, the middle group was the largest. And I honestly I sympathized for them, guys caught in the middle of a high-expectations commercial holiday and forced to prove their love with stuff. My 5-year run working their safely vaccinated me from ever demanding the drippy junk associated with this pink and red stained day of my partner.

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Fast forward ten years – (wow, ten years already!?) – change the country (where the commercial intensity of this holiday is at least a bit less) and factor in that I actually have a sweetie now, I’m still pretty detached from the flowers, chocolate, and candlelit dinners at fancy restaurants. I will confess, albeit begrudgingly and against all the staunch beliefs of my 17-year-old self, that yes! I sort of do want to do something a little bit special or different each year.

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So I’ll let you in on our little tradition. It’s no big thing, just a special meal cooked at home, no candles or fancy clothes, no aphrodisiacs either (I am so sick of hearing about that nonsense!) It’s a different meal each time but with one very important common theme: cheese. In the beginning, it was the modest indulgence in an entire Mont d’Or round for the two of us. Edd had talked it up as a Christmas staple at his parents’ house before I went home with him for the holidays and I had been seriously looking forward to the fabled gooey, spoonable cheese the whole trip. Imagine my disappointment when his mother decided to forego the Mont d’Or that year… Weeks later, not letting Edd live it down, we headed to the market and picked up a stout round box of cheese and consumed it lovingly on Valentine’s day.

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There have been other melty cheeses in the years after, including even a cheddary Welsh Rarebit. And there has been one non-cheesy Valentine’s days too, and let me tell you it didn’t hold a candle to our cheese dates. Now, I’ve become quite fond of the tradition; perhaps the one off-year we had cemented that. But also its cold and I’m looking for any excuse to eat hot melty cheese! It didn’t even occur to me what an inadvertent play on words this ritual was until last week when I told Sarah nonchalantly that we always have a “cheesy Valentine’s day, no pun intended.” Ha!

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This year we’re continuing our tradition with a fondue savoyarde that we’ll she with Sarah and her man Anthony. And please, don’t tell me that consuming a mountain of hot, melty cheese isn’t appropriate. First off, tell me that cheese isn’t sexy. Just look at that slowly oozing St. Nectaire up there and tell me that. Although I’m sure that anyone reading who has had a good fondue or raclette has also experienced the cheese equivalent of a hangover. But let’s just concentrate on the magic moment before all that comes. It’s drippy and warm and gooey. You use a fancy long-handled fork or other special utensils. You simply must imbibe wine with your cheese, otherwise you’re just asking for a belly ache. And if you drop your bread in the fondue you have to do a dare. Sounds just right for this cheesy holiday to me!

Happy Valentine’s day to you all, be you a romantic or not.

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mrs. pacsman

PACS

As of about a month ago, Edd and I have been PACS’d for one year. Looking back through my archives, I realized that I didn’t even mark this event with a post here. I suppose that’s good evidence of the fact that it just wasn’t a grand affair for us, and how unlike getting married it was for us. Jeez!

For those of you not in France or just wondering what I’m even talking about, PACS stands for pacte civile de solidarité. The wikipedia page on it lays out things very well, but essentially, the PACS is a civil union. Many bi-national couples faced with the dilemma of staying in the same country get married to get a visa, but in France at least, the PACS is another option, and the option that suited us best. I’ll get to why later on in this post.

I missed our official anniversary to make a post about this, but to begin with, we’re not really big anniversary celebrants. With the great news announced in California this week concerning Prop 8, there has been lots of news and ideas brewing about marriage and all its changes. I think it’s a fascinating time, and the articles coming out of this are really interesting: engaging gender issues, the economy, changing generational attitudes, etc.  I found myself reading three articles the other day that I wanted to share with you all.

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The bouquet I made for Laura's wedding.

First off, I stumbled upon (no pun intended) Nona Willis Aronowitz’s piece at GOOD magazine: I Wish I Wasn’t Married: In Defense of Domestic Partnerships for Straight Couples, and many things she says resonated with me. Then a little bit later, while skimming the headlines on the Atlantic, I saw this article: The Marriage Problem: Why Many Are Choosing Cohabitation Instead.  And then this one: The Death (and Life) of Marriage in America. So, click away and read those for a bit….

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See? I love married people!

…OK! I want to get this out there. I’m not against anyone getting married. I do feel a part of this generation that is a bit more slow to do so. I never was the kind of girl to daydream about my wedding. When Edd and I started figuring out how the heck I was going to stay in France, just getting married for the papers was definitely something we discussed. But, I didn’t like that idea – deep down, I knew that marriage was a romantic thing for me, fraught with many ideas and stereotypes and intimidating ideas of foreverness. I still need time to figure out what that means for me. And luckily, he’s not in a rush to do that either.

So the PACS. It’s just right for us right now and I’m very happy that this option was available to us. I jokingly call it, marriage light. When we went to our rendez-vous, we just had to walk a few blocks up the street as it turns out that we live not far from the courthouse where such business is taken care of. We had an appointment, went into a pretty nondescript office meeting with your average nice civil servant lady, and signed our contract. The whole thing was a bit strange as its so new (only 11 years old in France) and so different from marriage, yet so close? – no one is sure about the ceremony and traditions tied to it. And for many couples, it is what you make it; some couples bring friends and cameras and flowers, others roll out of bed in their jeans and just sign with no fanfare whatsoever.

We were a little bemused ourselves, not really sure what it meant to us. It was pretty much for the administrative benefits, but we really do love one another and it still seemed to be a milestone in our relationship. Do we dress up? Will we want to take pictures? Should we kiss after signing the papers? Pop some champagne?

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Not a lot of pomp here...

I put on a dress and he wore a dress shirt. (Only to feel pretty self-conscious in the waiting room with plenty of other folks there to accomplish other administrative affairs staring at us like “why are you all dressed up???“) We snapped a few photos to send to our parents. We definitely had some champagne – Who would miss an occasion to drink any? – and went to one of our favorite bistros for lunch (though it was in no way romantic as it was the business man 40-minute in-and-out special). Later that night we went out with a few friends for drinks and dinner. And that was that. PACS’d.

I sometimes forget all about it, I love that it’s not a thing, not a big deal. We’re now officially boyfriend and girlfriend. But I also love the idea of solidarity built into the name. We’re in this together! We’re a team!

And maybe one day, sure, we might get hitched. So the title of this post should probably read: Why I’m Not Married Yet – I’m a never say never girl, and one day my mind will probably change. Or maybe we’ll decide to move to the US and where our PACS wouldn’t be recognized. But for now, I like where we are and I really love that the idea of marriage and all the shades of gray in relationships are getting more attention and more legitimacy.

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snow day

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So the weekend has proven to be quite chilly and this morning we woke up to more snowfall, and this time it seems to be sticking around!

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So this is perhaps no more than 2-3 inches, but that is ENORME for Toulouse. We bundled up and were some of the few to make it to the market this morning.

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And of course I took this guy’s picture, along with a bunch of other people who were out photographing this rare snowday!

Planning to stay snuggled up inside and cooking up our semi-frozen merket finds.

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slow, awaiting momentum

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Waking up at 10am most mornings and just trying to soak up every bit of that luxury. And for the past two days or so, the wind is whooshing outside the black-out shutters, making it even sound cold out there. Which, it actually is, by Toulouse standards. When I finally roll out of bed to crank up the volet – definitely not missing the shutters from my flat in Lyon where you have to open the window to open and close the shutters — its pure grey outdoors and there is a tiny carpet of snow accumulated on the tiles of the balcony, with small snowflakes floating around lost on big gusts of wind. And here I think I realize that, yes, I do miss snowy midwestern winters. But as I was explaining it to Edd recently, I truly believe that those who sigh and love snowy days were marked early by fantastic snow-day experiences, no school, playing in the snow and sledding down great hills with a hundred other kids until you can’t feel your thighs anymore and your mittens are soaking wet. Gaspard was singing Christmas carols in his bathtub last night while forming snow-things from the bubbles. He doesn’t even know the half of it!

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But really, the snowfall here is pretty pathetic. By 11am it’s all blown away and even before that any photo you take of the snow requires a macro setting on your camera. Like this photo of St. Aubin, it’s snowing hard and you can’t even see it! Pfff!!

Since I last wrote for you all here, things feel so slow. Slow but comfy and nice though. Slow like a cute sloth video on YouTube that gets you clicking on all the other baby sloth videos after it and then you’ve wasted an hour in no time. I do believe I jinxed myself with that last post though. After turning in my first dossier and getting the extension for my second, I just let go and slid into that new year “blah” feeling. Not depressed, but not inspired. And sort of overjoyed that I brought those sweatpants back from my stash of belongings in the US. Tried to start running again and only clocked about seven miles for 2012. Progress on the extended paper is slow going. Classes are fine, but I feel a bit underwhelmed by their content in general, and find myself wondering about how a museum studies or art education program would have been in the US or simply just listing ways this class could reform itself to be better.

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The best things in life during the annual new year slump are so small but so lovely and edible most of the time. Snuggling on the big couch here with my chéri and cruising pinterest for much too long. Catching up with NPR and all my podcasts. Staying up until all hours reading a good book for the first time in eons. Consuming tons of delicious loose-leaf teas; turned on to the tea-pot usage again by my mom while we were in the US, I have gotten out our Bodum press pot and go through a pot a day. (Dreaming of a pretty new one like this one though not until something tragic happens to the Bodum, of course.) That new PJ Harvey album seems to be the perfect bookend to my anglophile period-piece TV series phase I went through in Lyon. The discovery of Pomponnettes at a bakery here in Toulouse also shook my slow-moving earth. A super airy light brioche that looks like a hamburger bun topped with giant sugar crystals and flew down from heaven on wings. Cooking up some delicious things in the little green pea podded kitchen: aligot, roasted every-vegetable with loads of cumin and lemon, an expensive but organic chicken roasted Zuni-style, and of course many a bowl of warm creamy porridge every morning topped with pecans and maple syrup (that giant bottle from Costco may run out sooner than planned…)

So funny how motivating the atmosphere of new year’s is in the first two weeks or so (resolutions, healthy things all around, two-week cleanses) and then it all just flops into the doldrums of winter and the return of reality. My return to the masters program reveals that it is not so inspiring as real work in my field is but I just need to finish. Beginning with this dossier whose open-ended extension I’m abusing a bit, maybe. It will get done, but just feeling sluggish. And then, I know that once I get into it, the to-do list will get longer and longer. Thesis research and writing will commence and life will slip quickly from February to June in no time. Hoping to squeeze a trip to Prague and Austria in there somewhere and have already gotten a new procrastination project lined-up for when thesis writing is just too much: researching a trip up and down the west-coast…

OK momentum, do your thang…

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getting back into the groove

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Market haul.

Almost two weeks now back in Toulouse. Sleep schedule is back on track, one term paper turned in, and for the second I’ve gotten an extension. Last week Edd was back up in Lyon of all places for work, and I was here bumbling about in the blissful student paced life I’d left behind. Of course, that didn’t mean doing nothing, just falling back into the much less intense rhythm of life here in our little nest.

One thing I was sure not to miss this weekend: the farmer’s market at St. Aubin. My love for this market has only grown as I’ve been away for so long and now can really see how it stands out among the others.

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Radicchio.

I pretty much went to town this week, restocking our bare pantry and fridge and picking up a few other things. Just to give you an idea, here’s what a big week looks like, though its just a tiny bit more than normal weeks… Garlic, shallots, onions, leeks, chick peas and potatoes. An adorably small head of cauliflower, two big stalks of broccoli, spaghetti squash, buttery lettuce and a radicchio as beautiful as any flower. A kilo of dark orange manderine oranges from Portugal that are juicy and sweet-tart. Cheese, eggs, homemade fromage blancs with fruit preserves, and a bottle of cold-pressed organic sunflower seed oil. Pork ribs on the bone and boudin noir from a farmer that butchers their own meats.

So far one of the best parts of being back is cooking in my little kitchen once again. Everything I love and need, in it’s place. But last week I slept through the market and was stuck with passable but much less exciting produce from the supermarket. This week is going to be much more fun. Ever since listening to the broccoli episode of Spilled Milk, I’ve been craving it. And oh goodness, promise me all of you that you will try Melissa Clark’s Roasted Broccoli and Shrimp as they recommend! (You could totally try it with tofu too I bet for a vegetarian version.) It’ll knock your socks off and is quite possibly one suitable rival for my other favorite winter roasted vegetable recipe, Roasted Curried Cauliflower. Make those two dishes this week and you won’t even care that it’s cold and wintery out.

Other recipes on my list to try this week: roasted radicchio (now where did I glimpse that recipe amidst all my food blogs this week..?) and boudin noir with chick peas, carmelized onions and lots of cumin. Mmm… happy to be back in the kitchen!

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Tea basket.

Upon our return from the US, there were a couple New Year’s projects I was dying to attack, but I had been held back by the strict  deadline for my théâtre dossier. I’m not really big on resolutions, but I like the idea of starting new projects.

Once that silly paper was out of the way, and Edd up in Lyon, I got to it: cleaning and reorganizing the kitchen and bedroom closet. After living in very spartan conditions in Lyon and bringing back a ton of stuff from the US, I felt the urge to clean, sort and purge. Our space is pretty limited here, and I’ve brought a lot of things and gadgets into our household. Thursday I worked on the kitchen, cleaning out the pantries, wiping down all the cabinets and rearranging some of the appliances. All that’s left is to find the right place for my big collection of tea…

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New addition.

Perhaps in here? A new addition to the kitchen, a set of hanging baskets. More on my little kitchen soon. Until next time, make those recipes!

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the holidays

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My apologies, dear reader, for my absence in the past near two months. It seems like I got lost just after Thanksgiving, time sped up with the Fête des Lumières in Lyon, the intense final moments at the Biennale, a whirl-wind move back to Toulouse and then the unpack-repack for our trip the the States for Christmas. And since then, I’ve been struggling with jetlag and writing term papers for classes I never went to, ouf. Well, enough explaining. Here is a little photo recap of the time we’ve missed.

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Lights in Lyon. Ever since my days in Dijon I’ve wanted to go to the Fête des Lumières in Lyon but I have never summoned the courage to face the mobs nor to organize a trip that over 3 million other tourists will be simultaneously oprganizing. My stay in the second city of France for the Biennale ended up providing the perfect opportunity to go out and experience the event that makes the city so famous (or to take shelter and hide in my flat!) A couple of friends from work and I banded together and walked about to see several of the light shows (and the general state of preparedness the city takes on to accomodate the surge of humans that descend upon the city) on Thursday evening. My favorite was Place des Terreaux. Scary and incredible!

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Christmas in Ohio. Two short days after we’d crammed all my Lyon accumulations into rucksacks and duffles, we turned arouund and hitched a flight to Cincinnati. Edd can tell you that the morning of said flight I bolted up and proclaimed my excitation like a little girl on Christmas morning. Travels were long but went smoothly, and soon we were cradeled in the epicentre of home for me, my parents’ house. My mom and dad went over the top this year with the decorations (nearly all vintage) and after days and days of being there, Edd and I were still discovering new nooks and cranies filled with Christmas cheer. Our first few days in Ohio were spent surrounded by family and family friends – a restorative time after the chaotic days at the Biennale.

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College friend reunion. A day after Christmas we headed north to Columbus, where I went to school. Destination: Meister household for a little reunion of sorts. Here we found Laura and her man Dylan, proud owners of an adorable new home! Not long after our penny-tour and Christmas story swapping were we joined by Hillary. With these two girls I form a trio. College roommates and best buds with whom many a great times were passed. We had two short days together but covered lots of Columbus ground, checked many favorite places off our list, and laughed with other old friends that I hadn’t seen in much too long: Carolyn, Chris and Doug.

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Chanukah. Back in Cincinnati, it was time for another round of reuniting. This time with my high school gang. It’s incredible what we’ve all become; travelled all over and walking each different but amazing paths. Annika got us all together once again for an old tradition we had back in the day, a Chanukah dinner at her parents house. The beloved tradition dishes were served: brisket, latkes, and a towering chocolate cake. The Chanukah poppers popped and paper crowns worn by all. Edd’s first Chanukah!

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New year’s feast. For new year’s eve, we weren’t quite sure what to do. We we a small group, not too keen on going wild and dancing all night, nor the crowded lonliness of celebrating midnight at a bar. At the very last moment, I had the idea to do an asian hot pot. We sliced up many meats and vegetables, spiked some chicken stock with garlic and ginger, and fired up the pot (in our case, a deep electric skillet). With sauces and salad, this spread was a formidable feast and needless to say, near midnight, with bellies so full, we were not moving very much! We calmly rang in 2012 with Dick Clark on the TV – I have been so disoriented on the 31st here in France without him, Times Square and the big ball crackling in the background of the party!

And sadly our Ohio trip came to an end just three days in to the new year. We headed back to France on a big Delta flight, overnight. Now, a week later, I think I just may be at last getting back into the time-rhythm here. It’s lovely to be back in Toulouse with my sweetie. Life is settling back into place. On to conquer 2012 then!

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five french thanksgivings

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Berges du Rhône, Lyon, 2007.

I realized the other morning as I was riding the tramway towards Perrache in Lyon, heading to work on Thanksgiving day, that I’ve passed the last five Thanksgiving holidays here, far from home. I arrived in France in the autumn of 2007 and that year, I think I spent Thanksgiving in Lyon actually – visiting Gorky who was in the area on a river cruise traveling the Rhône. The first two Thanksgivings I spent here were rather quiet affairs, a meal on the boat with Gorky in 2007 and a small dinner of the classics with Edd and two other friends, in 2008, the first year we were living together and before I’d really befriended many people here.

It’s one of the moments in the year when I do feel homesick a bit and very nostalgic, remembering my family traditions on this holiday. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday – the focus just on food, friends and family without as much commercial craze raining down and killing the mood. I think about waking up late with my mom and watching the Macy’s day parade, eating with my cousins at the kids table and that unmistakable scent of turkey and stuffing that wafts through the air long after we’ve all stuffed ourselves.

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Digging in and breaking ground for new traditions, 2009.

But since I came to France and started my life here, new traditions have slowly been taking root. In 2009, the year I worked as an English teaching assistant (and the year I met my sidekick, Sarah!) Edd and I hosted a big Thanksgiving dinner that brought homesick Americans and curious Europeans to the table.

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The first big crowd, Thanksgiving 2009.

A handful of us assistants cooked up the plan and tracked down a turkey. We delegated dishes for others to bring and hosted a huge pot-luck Thanksgiving dinner.

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Buffet line-up, 2009.

And thus started a new tradition. Certainly, not a sophisticated affair with elaborate table settings or fancy new recipes – that first time we didn’t even have enough forks and knives for everyone, despite the fact that Sarah and I had pooled all our cutlery together!

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Loaded plate, vegetarian style, Thanksgiving 2009.

But it was a raucous, good-time. Frenchies discovering our tradition dishes and comfort food, and the Americans gabbing about family recipes and Thanksgiving rituals. We’d started the evening by spreading out all the extra Thanksgiving-themed coloring pages we’d used in class that week (we were a band of primary school teachers, after all!) and finished digesting our feast over several rounds of Write/Draw/Write/Draw.

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Sarah digging in at Thanksgiving 2010.

Naturally, this version of Thanksgiving was a bit hit and the following year, we were all happy to recreate the event. Some old familiar faces, and plenty of new friends too, reconvened to bouffer altogether.

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Murphy introduces the French to candied sweet potatoes.

Through this new tradition, I’ve gotten to know the family classics of my American friends here in France, and our French friends (and friends of many other nationalities) have gotten to experience their first American Thanksgiving – something so exotic to them, the holiday they’ve all seen many times on TV and in movies.

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Pass the pie!

This was just the case of my Biennale colleagues in Lyon. This year would be no different; even though I was not in Toulouse, and my beloved Edd and Sarah couldn’t make it to Thanksgiving, I was excited to continue my big tradition with all my new friends. They, in turn, were elated to be invited to Thanksgiving, and the pot luck was organized, a turkey special-ordered and much anticipation ensued.

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My first turkey success!

The evening was a smashing success. It was my very first time roasting the turkey myself and it turned out impeccably! (I followed the Judy bird recipe, if you were wondering…) The head count topped off at 20 and we all stuffed into my Lyonnais flat to stuff ourselves with the staples. After everyone had seconds, all the plates and bowls were licked clean! A perfect mélange of French and American, there was plenty of wine flowing all evening, which probably can explain the 30 minute lib-dub practice session during which we were all belting out Queen hits at the top of our lungs.

Though I missed my Toulousains terribly, it was great to bond with my team in Lyon. I’m so lucky to be having this amazing experience there and for that I am thankful!

Hope you all had a wonderful, warm holiday – and here’s to the opening of the Christmas season, right?

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Dessert plate, 2011.

The end!

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