Thursday, December 24, 2015

US trip Dec 17 - January 2

This will go down as the warmest December visit to Washington DC ever.  Some years we were delayed by snow in Paris and arrived to two feet of snow and freezing cold.  Not this year!  "D.C. area forecast: Record-crushing warmth and humid; Wacky weather lasts through weekend".

Dec 17-18
Leaving Paris Thursday on Boeing 777.  Air France lounge for some food first.  8 1/2 hours and 4 movies each later, arriving Dulles.  No delays and we were the only plane in customs.  Rental car, quick visit to the Cahoon's, onward to Grannie's.

Weekend with Toots and Poppie
Trip to Delaware to visit Toots and Poppie.  Aunt Shana came too.  First we stopped at Fado to watch the Manchester United game.  Presents, making gingersnap cookies with Aunt Shana, toys and coloring in the basement, and a nice dinner.

Longwood Gardens
We only made it through the Conservatory the place is so big, but the decorations and flowers and plantings were beautiful and amazing.  Lunch at Harvest Seasonal, a drive by JD's old house and high school.  Pho for dinner.

pictures JD camera Toots & Poppie visit

Leaving Wilmington to Philadelphia
Charcoal Pit for lunch before quick visit to Philadelphia staying at the Warwick.  Dinner at Osteria with David and April.  Italian hoagies on the way out.  Back to Grannie's.

up to Christmas Eve
We went back to Grannie's house and enjoyed waffles for breakfast and lots of HGTV (Fixer Upper) and Food TV in the basement.  There was a fabulous, much needed haircut for me at Salon Cielo with Jamie who has been cutting my hair for 15 years.  Then, of course, we could not pass up mussels (moules) at Bistrot du Coin.  Alex ate 2 portions, Vincent 1.  It was still so warm out, 72 degrees.  The demolition picture is of White Flint Mall.  Only thing left standing is the elevator shaft and Lord and Taylor.  Tricycles in the basement, wrapping gifts, sink time for Vincent, gifts from Z and GG,

A warm, rainy and windy day.  Rib roast and gifts at Grannie's,  Help from Alex (he is wearing the apron I made in 7th grade).  Gifts.  For some reason I don't have any pictures from part 2 at Greg and Vicky's - fun with the Kurtz's and Cahoon's, Kathleen and Marek stopped by, and we had a cheese tasting instructed by JD.

up to December 30
Basement art, more waffles, pho, (no pictures of Cica's dental surgery), more cheese, a visit to Lynn and John's (no pictures), Chuck E Cheese, fun with 40+ year old tricycles, Black Market Bistro, Jaleo, a visit to Mabel's, tacos with Shana in DC.

New Year's Eve, New Year's, and return to France
We joined the Cahoon's for their tradition of going into Washington, DC, on New Year's Eve.  The weather was so nice, we ate lunch at Cap City, then walked to see the Willard and the National Christmas tree.  A stop by Krispy Kreme in Dupont Circle, then on to the Cahoon's.  A quick trip to Costco, snacks and finishing off the liquor cabinet (not quite), champagne, pancakes by David and Alex the next day, Spencer's new truck, open house at Rose and Beth's, Moby Dick for sushi, packing, Vincent taking care of Grannie, snacks in the Air France lounge at Dulles, back to Paris.

Spencer's new (vintage) truck - pretty cool, eh?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Hanukkah - I found some frozen potato pancakes at the store, they were eh (the Jewish store near us was all sold out!), presents, meal at Cornelius (check out that bone marrow), removal of Vincent's stitches, park, marche Noel in our town where Alex did the trampoline jump, Vincent and Alex did the big slide and electric cars and duck grab.

bone marrow appetizer at Cornelius -

goose for sale at the market

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

marché Noël (Christmas Market)

A walk into Paris to purchase new shoes for Vincent.  There was a cool bike exhibit for the Climate Conference where you could generate electricity by peddling.  The we enjoyed the marché Noël on the Champs-Elysees - crepes, churros, vin chaud (mulled wine), champagne, hamburger with foie gras, choucroute Alsacienne, roasted mushroom.  Yum!  We also puchased some really good cheese from a vendor from Provence.

Berlin pictures
JD went to Berlin to see the Manchester United-Wolfsburg match with Duncan, Ian, etc.

Alex's track and field class including the high jump, lighting the Hanukkah candles and eating doughnuts, playdoh, art at school, park before piano.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

and the French word for stitches is...

...points de suture!

Vincent fell at school during recess Tues Dec 1 and cut his left eyebrow.  A quick visit to the emergency room in our town (81 euros total before insurance pays) and 2 stitches later, he's fine.  He was very brave and even received a "Courage Award" from the doctor.

stitches = points de suture
eyebrow = sourcil
scar = cicatrice


Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Thanksgiving meal in France

We cooked our meal to celebrate US Thanksgiving on Saturday -
  • haute cuisse de dinde (turkey thigh)
  • stuffing (French bread, leeks, fennel, turkey sausage, fresh herbs)
  • brussel sprouts with balsamic glaze
  • roasted carrots and parsnips with honey and fresh thyme
  • apple tart, macarons, chocolate mousse (from the pâtisserie)


We did not purchase the 60 euro whole turkey with head and tail (nor the hanging piglet):

Friday, November 27, 2015

Alex's class picture

October 2015
école élémentaire Jules Ferry
CM1 (fourth grade)
9 1/2 years old
Levallois-Perret, France

Friday, November 20, 2015

Armistice Day

Lincoln, Vincent, some good meals, a Chipotle opening in our town, park, some funny France pictures (a very tiny car parked, British granola, sauce L'Americaine), Vincent stacking pancakes.

Warhol exhibit at Museum of Modern Art in Paris, lunch at La Billebaude in the 7e, Vincent helping to make French toast and helping in the kitchen.

Armistice Day
Commemorations of November 11 in our town, then a nice lunch.

"Armistice Day (Armistice de la Première Guerre mondiale) in France remembers those who died or were injured in World War I and other wars."  Alex had a lesson in school on "Les Poilus",

= Poilu is an informal term for a French World War I infantryman, meaning, literally, hairy one. It is still widely used as a term of endearment for the French infantry of World War I. The word carries the sense of the infantryman's typically rustic, agricultural background. Beards and bushy moustaches were often worn. The poilu was particularly known for his love of pinard, his ration of cheap wine.

more Armistice Day pictures

Monday, November 16, 2015

3 days of mourning for les attentats du 13 novembre

Outside Alex's school on Monday, November 16 -

Flag tied with black ribbon for 3 days of mourning, Ville de Levallois-Perret, France -

November 13
Friday, a normal day before the evening...JD and I went into Paris to run some errands, buy Alex's new piano books near the Gare St. Lazare, then some errands by the Grands Magasins which were starting to decorate their windows for Christmas.  We decided to try one of the new BBQ restaurants in Paris, Floyd's Bar and Grill in the 10th arrondissement.  The BBQ was good, but of course not as good or as large of a portion as in the US!  We walked most of the way back home.

Other happenings of the day - Alex lost a tooth and Vincent fell and smashed his face into a tree at recess.

On Saturday, Alex attended a birthday party for his friend Thomas at a Lasergame venue in Courbevoie.

November 22
Eating, Vincent, meal at Cornelius (duck and polenta), and JD's chorus concert.

November 30
Park, school, rain boots, displaying the French flag for the memorial service.

Saturday, November 07, 2015



When we first moved to France 6 years ago, there was little to no Halloween celebration, decorations, or costumes.  The big costume holiday here was Mardi Gras.  Now there's slowly more and more Halloween decorations and celebrations.  The UK based department store Marks and Spencer has several stores in Paris, and English folks celebrate Halloween. No full trick-or-treating in Paris yet, but some people give out candy.  We went to the L'Anjou our corner cafe/bistro/bar to celebrate and Vincent had his face painted.
  • "Halloween, from All Hallows Eve (ie. the day before All Saints Day) – a festival which is seen in France as an ‘Anglo-Saxon’ import but which has been gaining in popularity. It is often said to have been grafted onto a Celtic autumn festival called Samhain. 
  • Toussaint (All Saints Day) is the Catholic Festival honouring all of the saints. It is often associated with Le Jour des Morts (All Souls Day), which is actually the following day (November 2) and commemorates the dead.  It is traditional at this time of year to visit family graves and put flowers on them, especially chrysanthemums.
a few more pictures

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Basel and Alsace wine route

JD, Gabby, Alex, Vincent, Kathleen and Carrie's big adventure
Basel, Switzerland and Alsace Lorraine region of France
October 27 - October 31, 2015
Colmar, France / Barr, France / Mount Saint Odile, France
Strasbourg, France

Vacation to the Alsace Lorraine region of France, which straddles the border of Germany along the Rhine river and Vosges mountains.  Because the region has changed hands 4 times between Germany and France, and runs right next to the border of Germany, it feels and sounds like Germany with a bit of France.

A day in Basel, Switzerland to meet up with Kathleen who was in Basel for work and Carrie who flew over to join us for the adventure.

Lots of foie gras, duck, cured meat, pretzel bread, munster cheese, spätzle (egg noodles), and flammenkuchen (flat bread pizza with creme fraiche, onion, and lardons.  Yum.  Oh, and don't forget the Choucroute Alsatian which is sauerkraut served with sausage and cured meat all piled on top. Carrie dubbed this the "meat tent".

Paris to Basel, Switzerland
TGV Lyria Paris Gare de Lyon to Basel, Switzerland in 3 hours (200 mph).  A picnic on the train.  Carrie met us in Basel and we took the tram to our hotel.  We walked around town a bit while Kathleen finished work.  There was an Octoberfest carnival with lots of rides and food stalls in the Munsterplatz.  Drinks outside on a patio at Kathleen's hotel on the Rhine.  Then we walked to a traditional fondue restaurant for dinner and some kirsch.  Vincent loved the trams in Basel and both Alex and Vincent loved the sparkly apple drink of the region "Apfelsaft".

Basel to Colmar, France and Barr, France
Renting the Mercedes "Vito" van and driving to Colmar, France (birthplace of Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi who designed the Statue of Liberty) for lunch before heading to Barr, France and the Hotel Château Landsberg.  Dinner at the hotel, best dinner of the trip!  Main course was potato pancakes topped with munster cheese and ham.

Mount Saint-Odile and Ribeauville, France
5 minute drive to Mont Sainte-Odile, a 760 m peak of the Vosges Mountains.  Saint Odile is the patron saint of the Alsace region. It has a monastery convent at its top called the Hohenburg Abbey for prayer, reflection, and a spiritual retreat.  It helps that you are "above the clouds".  Very old - there is a Celtic wall, and evidence from Roman times.  It was so beautiful with the trees changing color for autum we could not stop taking pictures.

Part 2 - drive down the Alsace wine route.  Stop in quaint little town Itterswiller for lunch.  Onward to Ribeauville, one of the 3 "Grand Cru" villages for some wine tasting.  Dinner, then back to Barr for our last night.  Snacks and wine in the hotel room.

Barr and Strasbourg, France
Last morning at the hotel in Barr, France.  A quick swim before heading north to Strasbourg for the cathedral, astronomical clock, canal boat tour, and mulled wine. Drive back through Germany to Basel to be near airport for Kathleen and Carrie's early flights back to the US the next day.  The Elvis hotel with gold laminate curtains, colored lights, and a casino next door.

Basel to Paris
Carrie and Kathleen headed to the Basel airport to fly back to the US, we returned the rental car and walked into Basel for a few hours before our train to Paris.  A nice walk around town and some pretzel bread and crepes.  Picnic on the train.

Potato chips in foil on the train, fondue restaurant, Colmar, chateau hotel in Barr, breakfast buffet, Mount Saint Odile trees, Strasbourg Cathedral.


choucroute Alsatian (a.k.a. meat tent over sauerkraut):

fondue and kirsch in Basel:

Favorite sayings:
Franks & beans
Dark & stormy
meat tent
Awesome sauce
Your anger is tiresome.
Super bon.
Gout - is that what I have?
3 surprises!
This room is so small I gotta step outside to change my mind.
You can't swing a cat without hitting a church in this country.

sing along:
Springtime for Hitler in Germany.
I can't feel my face when I'm with you.
How deep is your love?

And don't forget to ask Kathleen and the power strip incident in Basel.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Vincent's classroom

A visit to Vincent's classroom (moyenne section 10) before vacation.  They've been working on their letters.  A walk into Paris, pizza for lunch, a fire in our town (a grease fire at a restaurant), reading.

Some more meals, a visit to the park, and a late night visit into Paris.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

October birthday

Enjoying October.  The children are into the school routine, just in time for the 2 week Toussaint vacation starting Oct 17.

Double yolk eggs, track and field, birthday lunch with our friend Marie, food fair, bounce slide, and a very large swordfish at the local fish market.

Champagne and birthday tarts, birthday lunch, Fall foliage.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

end of September

From the end of September - lunch at Au Coin de la Rue (we had not been in awhile), touring inside the Levallois-Perret town hall and Mayor's office for Heritage Days (when private spaces are open to the public), walking through the park and across town to the Ile de la Jatte and back, Indian for lunch, reading.

Walking to school,  Yom Kippur, park, Vincent's skelton costume, Alex's athletics class, scuba bath time.

Alex's "appareil dentaire" the orthodontist removed after 6 months, more pink wig fun, lunch, taking Lincoln to the vet in the stroller, perfumed blue toilet paper (only in France), play-doh, double yolk eggs, Parc Monceau and the merry-go-round.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Alex got a Bravo! on his math homework

Trying on the Halloween costume already - 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Rosh Hashanah

Some sun before it turned cool and gray and rainy with the storms leftover from Hurricane Henri. Rosh Hashanah, school, and activities.

Endive salad, a sunny day at Canal St. Martin, Vincent and his cahier (notebook), Alex's desk and classroom, funny faces and dinner at the Anjou, Rosh Hashanah dinner with white wine braised leeks and sweet and sour fish.  Apples and honey and challah of course.  The French put sugar crystals on top of the round challah, and chocolate chips in another.

Rain, snacks in the park before Alex's first piano lesson, dinner second night (lamb, parsley potatoes and brussel sprouts), Alex's athletisme class, fresh fruit at the market, a vaccination for Vincent.

pictures Alex took:

Friday, September 11, 2015


On the way to school.

Dinner with Shana's friends Alan and Amanda who live very close to us we just found out!  Haircut for Alex.  School, snacks, a heart-shaped pizza at La Trattoria, Saturday in Paris, Tuileries, lunch at La Palette in the 6th, park, Alex building a pool-table with his physics workshop set.

Vincent's classroom including "Crocodou" the class mascot, walking to school, Vincent walking up the stairs to his classroom all by himself, Alex's first Athletisme class (each Wednesday at the track).

Sunday, September 06, 2015


One more trip to Chantilly on the last hot weekend of August.  We had a delicious meal at Auberge du Jeu de Paume ($$$) and then rented a golf cart to tour all the gardens of Chantilly.  On previous visits we had just walked through the gardens on foot.  Then a nice long walk back to the train station.

Celebrating at the Anjou with champagne and fois gras for JD's last day of work before his new job starts.

Alex's impressive train and airport construction, sleeping, more trains, park.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

La rentrée - Back to school

Tuesday Sept 1, 2015.
Back to school!  Alex (CM1 - 4th grade) and Vincent (moyenne section 4 yrs old).  Walking to school.  Gathering in the courtyard of Alex's school.

more pictures
Vincent sleeping, then back to school for Alex and Vincent.  Vincent found a friend Margot from his class last year in the courtyard of Alex's school, and they started running around and climbing the sports net.  Then it was off to Vincent's school.  His class is on the 2nd floor with a nice window facing the pedestrian alley in front of the school.  Vincent was excited to see some friends from last year's class - Joseph, Xavier, Houleye, Come, Basile. and more.  He was happy and very glad to be back at school.  He told us when we picked him up that "He was very good all day".

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

USA summer trip & Z's 70th Birthday - August 2015

A whirlwind 17 days in the US, centered around celebrating Z's 70th birthday.  We hit the beach twice, putt-putt twice, and even ate King Crab legs three times!  It will take us another two weeks to recover.

Packing and leaving Paris on an Air France A380 Thursday July 30th.  Hitting the Air France lounge for some food before the flight.  David picked us up at Dulles and we had a chance to visit briefly with David and Carrie.  Around the Beltway to Grannie's.

First day at Grannie's.  We spent Friday getting over jet lag and running errands.  Vincent had Grannie around the block 3 times before lunch.  Testing out the Park Hyatt in DC before Z's party the following weekend.

Lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant Mi Rancho in Silver Spring where Alex ate 4 adult size chicken soft tacos.  Dinner at Carrie's.  Sunday - visit to Rose and Beth in Baltimore and lunch at The Harp.

A day at Rehoboth Beach with Toots and Poppie.  Cold beer and steamed shrimp at Obie's by the Sea, dinner at Summertime.

Putt-putt at Wilmington Riverfront and lunch at Joe's Crab Shack, with paint-a-crab dessert.

Visiting Z and GG a the RV Park on Cherry Hill Road in College Park.  Wine, cheese, pool, Lennox the cat, and more putt-putt.

Testing out Brasserie Beck in DC for the party.  The moules (mussels) were very good.

Ocean City, MD for a quick visit to see Kathleen for her family beach week.  Lunch at Annie's over the Bay Bridge for local oysters.  There was a big storm the first night, but the next day was a great beach day.  Alex and Vincent loved playing in the ocean. On the way home we stopped at Capriotti's in Easton for an Italian hoagie.
        => a few black & white pictures

Exercise with Grannie, hugs for her friend Mabel, French bookstore in Kensington, waterguns and sumo pillow wrestling at Grannie's.

RV park again for the water park.

Visiting Mace, Suzanne and Eddy, and Angie was in town from Santa Fe.  Some kayaking, swimming, and lunch.

Last day, packing, playing with Grannie, to Dulles, Boeing 777 to Paris.  Vincent liked the eye mask for sleeping.
Z's (Stephen Howard Deitch) 70th Birthday party
August 8-9, 2015
Washington, DC

Pre-party pictures
Meeting and greeting in the bar of the Park Hyatt.

No edits, just all the fun, blurry pictures.  We were too busy having fun, eating, drinking, and chatting to take good pictures.  Delicious meal at Brasserie Beck in DC.  Champagne imported in our suitcases from France for the toast.

a few more party pictures

The day after
Brunch at the hotel, saying goodbye, then all day at the Cherry Hill RV park with Z, GG, Shana, Mark and Gosia, including more pool, dinner from the grill, and roasted marshmallows!

Sunday, August 02, 2015

July - Alex camp, a very hot summer

A very hot summer - 102 degrees on July 1st!  80's and 90's most of the month instead of 60's and 70's.  After camp, Alex went to the Centre de Loisir for a week and half before we left for our US vacation.

Alex goes to camp
Alex was at camp for the first two weeks of July outside of Dijon.  We have some pictures.  He had a great time, he came back in one piece, tan, and singing camp songs.

Park, eating cherries, JD's birthday, Alex returns from camp,

Food, trains, bowling, pizza, champagne.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Champagne region

view of Hautvillers, France

Three day vacation in the Champagne region of France, a two hour drive from Paris.  We visited Epernay in 2009 and loved it, more than the larger city of Reims in 2011, so we decided to stay in a small town outside of Epernay called Hautvillers.  Dom Perignon (the monk who discovered how to make champagne) is buried in the church in the town.  We found an amazing bed and breakfast we highly recommend, Le Clos Des Armoiries.  We drove through many small towns, a ton of vineyards, military cemeteries, the forest and mountains of Reims, and of course ate and drank as much as we could.  We literally started tasting champagne at Mercier at 10:30 a.m. on Friday and kept going all day! No headaches the next day either.  That's some good stuff.

Leaving Paris, lunch at Auberge de l'Omois in Baulne-en-Brie where we were the only patrons, and the chef told us which neighbor supplied which ingredient for the meal.  It was probably the best meal we had.  Checking into the bed and breakfast chateau in Hautvillers.  Drinks in town, then dinner at a fancy restaurant which was not as good as we had hoped.  But the wine and cheese were fantastic thank goodness.
Breakfast in the courtyard, touring the Mercier champagne cellars in Epernay, driving through the vineyards, lunch in Ludes, back to Hautvillers to visit the church and tomb of Dom Perignon ( and the bones of a Saint from 650!), another champagne tasting across the street, a walk through town for more tasting and snacks, back to the hotel, more snacks and champagne, then dinner in town at a pop-up bistro.
Breakfast, drive through Champagne route to a botanical garden (Jardin de Presle) where we spent an hour walking through the various gardens, forest, and flowers.  Those orange and red berries are poisonous!  Then more vineyard touring, stopping at the British war cemetery, lunch at a restaurant in Sarcy which happened to be a motorcycle bar with an American, Harley Davidson, and Jack Daniels theme.  Then back to Paris.  We were sad to leave the region, but know we will be back soon.

JD's camera