December 2015: Tiny Victories
Happy January my friends!
I hope the first few days of the new year have been treating you well.
As I mentioned previously, each month I’ll be doing a little roundup of all the little wins we’ve had in this new Parisian chapter of life. Again, I’m a few days late...
December was a fun and festive month. It was really eye-opening to not just read about, but see how the holidays are done in a country that's not ours. We brought a few of our own traditions to Paris, but also tried some local customs on for size (foie gras, oysters, chesnuts... basically all food). It was also our first married Christmas and the first away from our families. But instead of wallowing alone, we got together with new friends throughout the month for drinks and merrymaking.
Onto the victories!
Making a dinner reservation… en Francais!
Usually, I try to book online so I don’t have to talk to a person, but it's not a surefire way to secure a reservation. And it's a bit silly for me to avoid a real conversation. For this particular dinner, we were down to the wire with one hour to go. I tried to pawn the task off on Steve, but he wasn’t having it. Nervously, I dialed the number, waiting for someone to pick up, anticipating the worst. A woman on the other side picked up and I proceeded to “ummmm” my way through a little French Q&A. As we were finishing up, she asked for my name. But Whitney isn’t a common name in France, so she didn’t quite catch it. On the second try, I said “Whitney. Comme Whitney Houston.” Her response: “ahhh, ça marche!” And there you go, we had a reservation for four at 8:30pm.
After a few months here, we finally visited some of the biggest attractions in Paris - Musee d’Orsay and the Musee de Louvre.
The Louvre is enormous and we only made it to a few different exhibits (highlights: ancient Egypt! Mona Lisa for the people watching! Sculptures of Greek mythology!). We were able to visit for free by visiting on the first Sunday of the month. And with such a short visit, we need to return to visit the other wings. I'm particularly curious about Napoleon III's apartments.
We found ourselves at Musee d’Orsay for an afternoon visit and it very doable for that amount of time. We were with visitors so we breezed through the floors with the most famous works of art. The paintings were lively and bright; it's also kind of neat to see all the paintings you learned about in textbooks up close.
Holiday baking + my very own brown sugar.
I did a lot of baking over the last month because, duh, cookies make it feel like the holidays. But here in France, it takes a bit more work to whip up a batch. Many of the ingredients are a little… different, to say the least. You can't get things like unsweetened vanilla extract and brown sugar at the grocery store. These items require a visit to a specialty store selling imported items with very high prices.
My first attempt at cookies were good, but not exactly right. So after a little research, I decided to make my own brown sugar. I found some molasses at a natural food store, Bio c’ Bon, for around 3 euros. Two viscous tablespoons later, Steve was mixing our very first batch of brown sugar. And the next baking project - cinnamon rolls - was a success.
On another note, I can’t believe that a new year has already begun! 2015 was a great one with lots of adventure: new jobs, marriage, moves, a long cross-country road trip and two one-way tickets to Paris. In 2016, we’ll be a bit more settled (phew), but hopefully with a good amount of adventure sprinkled in.
Bonne année 2016!
Vocab for today:
- decembre - December
- la réservation - reservation
- ça marche - that works
- le musée - museum
- la mélasse - molasses