Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Last Sunday

Sorry for the delay readers -- I do not intend to give up on blogging now that we are no longer "Metzing Around" but if you are a Facebook friend, you are well aware of our travel troubles when returning to the US (3 flights in 3 days but more on that later) and I just now am feeling settled and calm enough to sit down and look through all these pictures.

Our last Sunday was spent again in Nancy with our blogging/real-life friends Megan and Joe. Not only were we anxious to see them one last time before moving back but we also had a home-goods delivery to make.

Pre-departure, we made a giant list of all the things we had accumulated after 1.5 years in this tiny apartment and put them up for grabs. And since Megan and Joe are car-less and live 45 minutes away, we offered to drive them to Nancy in return for a fun evening at their place. 

When we arrived, Megan was ready for the delivery with crust and batter for the scrumptious French burnt cheesecake, Tourteau Fromagé (which we mentioned here awhile back) to throw in their newly acquired oven.

We had a wonderfully light and very french meal complete with chewy bread, smoked salmon dip, ratatouille, the tourteau fromagé (isn't that a great cross section shot? we were seriously impressed that our little toaster oven managed to burn the top!) and a batch of Alton Brown's amazing brownies. And wine. Of course, there was wine.

And after another enjoyably long evening of chatting and reveling in how many strange things we have in common, we took our parting photos...

...and reluctantly headed home one last time (which turned out to not be the last time since I somehow ended up with their apartment keys in my pocket and had to run back the next day to return them).

And to make the night even sweeter, a few days later they were kind enough to send on a pdf file filled with all their favorite things and suggestions on Saint Louis where we will be residing in the near future. Here's hoping the we end up somewhere close to these wonderful new friends.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


 Last Friday we met up with Amanda and Katrina for some fun in the cold. We went downtown to the packed-on-weekends ice skating rink for some skate time and found it empty with the exception of two other people who came and went while we were there (one is a local secretary taking figure skating lessons while the other is an 18yo boy convinced that he will be France's next big Hockey star).

We had a fun time trying out new moves and wiping out when they didn't go as planned.

Katrina worked on her backwards skating -- it was her first time trying and she did great!

 After tiring ourselves out we took one group shot then split up for separate shopping endeavors; Katrina and Amanda Christmas shopped while Michael and I grocery shopped for that night's adventures.

At the marché couvert (covered market) we finally took the plunge and bought a poulet de Bresse (chicken from Bresse).

These chickens are so fresh, they come with the feet, head and innards still intact! The woman at the counter asked me if I wanted them removed then gave me a strange look when told her to "non", leave it how it is. I won't share the gory pictures of Michael chopping off the head and feet; and thankfully, we only needed the meat off the carcass so we were able to leave the guts where they were. It's needless to say that we are coming closer to our food here in France.

Katrina and Amanda showed up not too long after the butchering. We started off with some escargot, Katrina's first escargot, in fact!

And before we knew it, our 11:45 deadline was upon us and we hadn't even had dessert yet! What 11:45 deadline, you ask? 11:45 was Michael's deadline for accepting his first real, live job in the adult world!

So, if all goes smoothly, after spending the holidays with our wonderful families, we will be packing up (or *gasp* movers will be packing up) and we will hit the road for our new home in Saint Louis. We're excited to put it lightly.

After the excitement we settled down to dessert and enjoyed the rest of the evening and part of the morning (think: 4:00am) with friends.

Solar Racing in the land of no sun

 Metz is no Alaska but since I can only remember 2 sunny days in the last month or so doesn't a solar car race seem funny? Well, for our purposes, even a sunny day wouldn't have been reliable enough so when GTL hosted its OSA sponsored solar car race last week we stayed inside with a 500w light that was masterfully attached to a wheeled desk chair and a race course laid out in tape.

In all there was something like 10 participants and while not everyone's car cooperated with the conditions, it was obvious that they had all put a lot of work into the design. This is our friend Seth racing his speedy little car. He did well as you'll see later.

 While the participants raced, the rest of us stood around the outside eating snacks and acting like paparazzi. 

And here's Siri re-directing her car back into bounds. While many of the cars were very speedy, most tended to veer one way or another forcing the racer to re-direct the car which added 5 seconds on to the final race time. 

Katrina's car was uncooperative at the beginning but after some tinkering and pep talk from Amanda, they go it working like a charm.

And finally, after lots of patient waiting, it was Michael's turn to race.

And he did great! Notice the open mouthed surprise of the timers.

The winners: (L to Rt) 3rd place -- Seth, 1st place -- Michael,  and 2nd place -- Eli and his partner (don't know his name, help undergrads!)

The happy and unexpected winner

Seth and Michael showing off their prize money, which we subsequently blew on expensive wine and chicken that we've been too frugal to buy so far.

I've saved the best for last. You see, the reason Michael's car did so well is because it was so stable, and the reason it was so stable is...

Yup, he made it out of a sardine can. If he hadn't needed to tape on that stupid solar panel it certainly would have won the prize for most fashionable. A big thanks goes to Sarah who passed on these yummy sardines when she moved back to the states.

Monday, December 6, 2010

It's Beginning to Look...

 You guessed it: A lot like Christmas!

Since the French don't have that pesky Thanksgiving holding back Christmas decorations, we got an early start (this coincided with the Thanksgiving decorating) on bringing that festive spirit to the GTL lounge. Michael, Katrina and Peter make sure the tree was sparkling and blinking (much to my chagrin, lights are never static over here, always blinking).

These XL handmade snowflakes that Amanda is holding eventually hung from the ceiling mostly thanks to Francis, the GTL maintenance man and his XL ladder.

 As is customary this time of year, we have been hitting up the local Christmas markets in town, soaking in all the festive smells and sights but mostly, the food and vin chaud (hot, mulled wine).

 The indoor decoration stand was jam-packed with festive folks looking to spruce up their homes.

And much to our surprise, Place de la République, which was largely under construction last year has been miraculously transformed with a veritable winter wonderland complete with a rotating tree ride (which was present last year but placed in the middle of a street during the construction) a giant ferris wheel and an ice skating rink.

Warm and sugary churros and hot wine. Can life be any better?

The next week it snowed like mad, quite literally shutting down all operations in Metz. I have sadly come to realize now that I have a car here in this weather that not only are sidewalks never shoveled, but only main roads are ever plowed, leading to a slippery trip to teach English on Tuesday.

 What else to do but go to the markets again?

 Oops...forgot to rotate this picture! Here I am though, cracking open one of the most expensive confections we've found here: 8 candied chestnuts (marrons glacés) for a whopping 10.99€ (~ $15)! Mostly though, I liked the tin and totally plan to bring it back. I'll take a picture of it sometime soon.

Mmmm, glorious, scrumptious, candied goodness

I'm gonna miss Christmas in France.