Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Keeping Busy

 Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the crisp air, the changing leaves and the squalls of random rain, although combined with this region's propensity towards tropical storm force winds and dumping rain, at times it can be a bit depressing. Compounding the problem is the fact that this is our last season in Metz. We are now down to 12 weeks, or 2.5 months, or 1/7 of our time in Metz remaining and I am starting to freak out a bit. My brain is flipping between being sad to leave and happy to go home. I miss my family and friends in the US more than I dare to think about but at the same time, Metz is our home. We have friend, even "family" here; we have our favorite stores, our favorite picnic places and it is going to be terribly difficult to leave. My one consolation is that we are just a part of a mass Metz exodus. I feel badly for those we are leaving behind but roughly half of our friends are making their way back home (wherever that may be) within a few months of one another so although we will be scattered, we are all experiencing the same Metz inspired separation anxiety. I can only hope that my feelings on the subject will even out as things back home become more concrete with jobs, etc. As of right now all we have is a plane ticket (which we don't even physically have...stupid internet age) for the 18th of December to fly into Corning/Elmira Regional Airport. In either case, I (we) will survive and make the most of the transition, I know I will. But in the meantime we are making sure to make the most of the remaining time we have with visits from both friends and my parents (who come in one month!), with a possible trip to England, a mini trip to Saarbrüken, la Nuit Blanche, and food, lots and lots of food.

preparation for a back-home, farm house favorite

fried green tomatoes!

we made Manas something he had been desperately missing, paneer curry

poulet à la provençale ...this one's coming back with us!

150 crêpes made for a GTL game night; this one kept me busy

our lovely train station, snapped from the bus

the winds and the rains have descended which means that fall is upon us which translates into chili...yum! the recipe can be found at a my friend Lili's blog; it is by far the best vegetarian chili I've had.

I got bored of my mostly one length hair today and cut some heavy, side bangs. I'm becoming more and more French in my style and bangs only add to that, they're all the rage here. I'll be sure to take a better picture once I get Michael to trim up my ends.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Field Trip #2: Bliesbruck and Reinheim

For our Metz culture class with the ever comical Madame Serafin last week we visited the European Archaeological Park in between the French town of Bliesbruck and the German town of Reinheim. The Gallo-Roman town (constructed between the first and fourth century AD) is located on the French side while the Roman Villa (thought to belong to a Celtic Princess whose tomb is located near the villa remains) is located on the German side of the border. As you can imagine, this leads to some interesting contrasts in how the digging is gone about.

Regardless though, it was a very interesting day. We took a guided tour of the Gallo-Roman town with a very excited archeologist. She pointed out stoves, potters' wheels, trash receptacles (the Romans knew how to live!), streets and public squares and at the end of the tour we got to visit one of the most impressive examples of roman ingenuity, the public bath house. After the French-side visit we walked the quick jaunt across the border to see the built-up remains of the villa, the tomb, and to walk a bit through the cute German village of Reinheim. Admittedly though, we were more intrigued by a flock of sheep.

Since blogger is being a pain in the a** and not allowing me to upload photos at the moment, a facebook album will have to suffice. You can click HERE to view the photos; you'll just have to click through the Robert Schuman pictures first.

We are off for the weekend to Germany! Somehow we managed to get a bed in large sleeping tents during Oktoberfest in Germany so we will hopefully be spending our weekend with large mugs of beer and pig knuckles.

À Bientôt!

Monday, September 20, 2010


I've mentioned it in passing before but this past spring I joined a small community choir called Méli-Mélodie in the nearby neighbohood of Montigny-lès-Metz. Once per week I drive to a 2 hour rehersal where I sing and pretend to speak/understand French; it's great fun!

Not long after joining the choir took part in a multi choir collaboration called "du Vent dans les Voix" ("Voices in the Wind"). All totaled there were 9 choirs with close to 200 singers and one orchestra. We performed a Latin mass called Missa Katharina by Jacob de Haan and a Ander Lloyd Webber medley which included all the favorites (Phantom, Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar, Dreamcoat).

Of course, this seems like a long ago event to be mentioning but today I was sent this youtube video of what I've gathered to be a news anchor doing interviews (sorry it's all in French) then showing snippits of the concert. I haven't even watched it all myself (tylenol pm is kicking in) but you can pick me out just  to the right of middle (to the right of the men) about half way up the risers. I'm the only young blond. Oh, and for those musicians in the audience, there is a great clarinet bit around 4:00.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

How to not feel like a complete loaf:


knit baby bibs for assorted babies

knit a baby blanket for a little girl named Emma

knit a toddler shrug for Kimber

and a toddler sweater for Lucy

and a toddler sweater for Zoey

Friday, September 17, 2010

I love...

...mushroom season in France.

golden chanterelles, cauliflower mushroom, and black trumpets

We snagged these beauties yesterday at Grand Frais (our favorite produce-centric grocery store here) for something like 2€, sauteed them up and served them alongside lamb steaks and duck fat roasted potatoes. Mmmmm

the lamb steak had rosemary but that's all that was needed for this insanely flavorful plate-o-food

Oh, and I also love place St. Louis at night. Boy am I gonna miss this town!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Field Trip # 1: the Father of Europe

Michael and I are kind of, sort of, somehow taking a class at GTL entitled "Metz: Gateway to Understanding Europe"; essentially, we sit in on the class, we don't do any of the required work, and we get to go on field trips, many, many field trips for free. This is the first year that GTL is offering this class and they want to make sure it works, they want feedback, reviews, so even though we are not undergraduate students (or a student at all in my case), we get to tag along. We have had one lecture so far (there are only 3 or 4 actual lectures all year) and have gone on one field trip to visit the Robert Schuman house.

Robert Schuman, as you must expect, led a very interesting life. I'll give you a brief overview but if you would like to know more you can click on his name to read the wikipedia entry.

He was born in Luxembourg into very strange origins: his mother was Luxembourgish and his father was French (from Metz) but at the time of his birth, Metz had been occupied by Germany, giving both he and his father German citizenship.

He was educated as a lawyer and spent his life practicing law, then moving into politics where he proved himself to be an "independent political thinker and activist". His political career was spent as a reformist Minister of Finance, a Foreign Minister, and twice, Prime Minister. However, it was during his later days as Foreign Minister that he dreamed up what has now become the European Union.

Our hope is that Germany will commit itself on a road that will allow it to find again its place in the community of free nations, commencing with that European Community of which the Council of Europe is a herald.
Robert Schuman, speaking at the United Nations, 23 September 1949

In 1951, when his dream became reality the original "union" was made up of 6 countries (France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and  the Netherlands) and was primarily a trade union called the European Coal and Steel Community. Today the European Union includes 27 countries with 2 more that will most likely soon join the ranks, it's own communal economy, and even currency.

But the really amazing thing about Robert Schuman is that despite the high ranking position, the large salary, and the prestige, he still managed to live an extremely modest lifestyle in a little house in the beautiful hillside town of Scy-Chazelles just outside of Metz for nearly 30 years.

I didn't manage to get my own picture of the outside, this is another from Wikipedia

Most of the tour consisted of me saying "I want that"...what can I say, I have a thing of old stuff and small houses.

the dining room where Schuman hosted any number of foreign dignitaries

the kitchen table

The office where he dreamed up the European Union while playing the piano...Ok, I may have made that combo up

Amongst other things, he was a collector of autographs including Harry Truman's

The Father of Europe slept in a twin bed

Well, until he got old and sick and moved down to a double bed in the room next to the cold cellar; it smelled like apples

A replica of his car

Tomato plants in the food garden made me long for a piece of land back home and lots of help from my dad

Just across the street from the house was this fortified church where he and his housekeeper spent hours daily in worship (not my picture, Wikipedia's)

Inside the tiny church

Lies the Father of Europe's final resting place

To view a more complete photo album, please click here.

And in other news:
We went on another field trip to a Roman Archeological Dig today and visit some castles(?) tomorrow, so stay tuned to more exploration compliments of GTL.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

An update of sorts

Lots of things (and foods) have happened since my last update and I thought I'd share, specifically in our Asian food conquests.

Behold: a horrible picture of General Tso's scallops. This recipe was a total win, if only scallops weren't so darn expensive. This recipe is awesome with shrimp too though.

We've tried dumplings in the past (and you can read about it here, in the middle of a very long and random update) and while they turned out well, they were nothing to get too excited about. But with the help of our friend Chen (and by that I mean, after much prying, I finally got the general recipe out of our friend Chen), we dove in and tried again, this time making our own dough rather than using wonton wrappers.

They were good, they were very good. And they will be made again and again. We didn't measure but next time we will surely measure and share the recipe.

Who here likes phở? *raises hand*
Who here knows what phở is?
For those that don't, you can read about it here
And now that you know all about it, you should know that it is an amazing comfort food, a comfort food that I was craving, big time. After some internet research, we found this recipe. We made it, and we loved it. 

This is a rather bad picture of our condiments to be added to the phở including bean sprouts, lime, mint, cilantro, basil, and hot peppers. Hot peppers that were way too hot, they made my first bowl a mess of heat and fire that hurt to eat. But it was a good hurt because despite the intense, stream-of-sweat inducing spice, the soup still tasted amazingly delicious.

We also experimented with a salt-baked fish. No recipe here, it's pretty much a whole fish, stuffed with herbs and lemon slices, covered in salt, then baked. It was wonderful. I highly recommend this cooking method if you are worried about drying out your fish, and if you're careful, very little salt makes it past the skin to the actual fish.

On Friday, we experimented with a deep-dish pizza recipe for pizza night. While I don't normally have any interested in replicating anything that Emril does, he hit the nail on the head when it came to this monstrosity of a pizza.

It was wonderful, it gave us nearly a full day's serving of veggies

And it made enough for 3 full meals for the two of us.

This baby will receive it's own blog post in the coming days. This is a little something that Michael dreamed up and we made up: red wine beef stew with lentils.

Aside from food, we've been keeping busy

We visited the beautiful Plan d'Eau park in town.

Most of my time has been taken up working on 2 sweet little projects...this is just a sneak peak.

We managed to make our way into the Fête de la Mirabelle despite the horrible weather of 60° and windy with random rain(here is a post explaining the festival and detailing last year's fairer weather version). We hit up the Marché du Terroir (local product market) for some amazing 3-milk tomme cheese and a local wine that were both enjoyed on my Birthday,

this yummy pizza-ish thing and a mini mirabelle tart. On a another note, I love our train station (in the picture above).

On our way home that day we walked by the Centre Pompidou. We must go again, perhaps when my parents visit next month (really, next month already!!).

It seems that just seeing the Centre Pompidou reminded Michael of his budding career as a modern artists, so one day after poppy seed bagels he made me this paper towel and poppy seed piece of art.

In other news: Michael has taken up meditation as a result of my spending all-day Sunday writing 6 blog posts.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Remembering WWII part III


Longues-sur-Mer Battery 

The Longues-sur-Mer battery was a World War II artillery battery constructed by the Wehrmacht near the French village of Longues-sur-Mer in Normandy. It formed a part of Germany's Atlantic Wall coastal fortifications.

The battery was completed by April 1944.[1]. Although constructed and manned initially by the Kriegsmarine, the battery was later transferred to the German army.[2] The site consisted of four 150-mm navy guns, each protected by a large concrete casemate, a command post, shelters for personnel and ammunition, and several defensive machine-gun emplacements. source

Just one of the massive German guns

The observation shelter that overlooked the beach, it looked remarkably like those in Saving Private Ryan.

The German's view of the ocean on a rainy, misty day

All four guns in the distance

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

Located on the bluff above Omaha Beach, the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial holds the graves of 9,386 American soldiers who lost their lives fighting in WWII and one soldier from WWI (don't know where he was hiding out).

Omaha Beach from the cemetery

Spirit of American Youth

Military Operations on the Beaches of Normandy

Looking towards the chapel

Omaha Beach

 Les Braves


Walking on the same sand
Touching the same water

Experiencing off of this cannot help but remind me to be grateful each and every day that both my Grandfather and Michael's Grandfather made it back safely. Far too many weren't so lucky.