Sunday, March 27, 2011

Tuna Casserole

This week has been a mishmosh of craziness.  Like a good casserole, filled with all kinds of things that all come together in one lovely satisfying meal. Ok, this weeks events may not have been satisfying or lovely, but all the events of this week were very educational regarding our move to a foreign country. Let me fill you in....

1.  We had an international moving company come to give us a quote on sending our belongings to France.  We love our couch and ottoman, it's big and comfy and the ottoman is a multitasker.  (See pic) Yes, we know they make these kinds of things in France, but we're partial to ours so we considered bringing the beast along with us. Along with Taylor's bed, a few shelving units and some boxes of kitchen stuff, books, and linens.  WELL, what a wake up call that was, a $13,600 wake up call.  If we re-bought all the stuff in France plus everything else we'd need to furnish a home we'd only spend about $10,000.  So, plan "B".  UPS will send small boxes at 20-30 pounds for about $100-$150.  So, we decided to be RUTHLESS (did you notice that ruthless is now in capitals!) and only take 10, yes 10 boxes. (we'll add one or two if in dire need)

MORAL: Either make sure you're being sent by your company so the move is paid for or say goodbye to your "things" and relish the idea of big shopping sprees on the other side.

2.  Taylor decided to try and leap over a small jungle gym at school and broke out his three front teeth.  When I entered the school to pick him up, unaware of the true damage, I was met with a line of school personnel.  Tip off that this was not just a little boo boo.  As we made our way to the Nurse's office, the Vice Principal said that the accident involved many teeth and I would probably need to consult a Dental Surgeon.  My heart sank and my mind raced, I didn't know a dental surgeon and if he needed one right away, what was I to do?  We had recently been to a new dentist near our house so I called them immediatley and they took us right in.  In the end he didn't need surgery, what looked like bone fragment hanging out of his gums was actually one of the teeth.  The whole sight was pretty gruesome but cleaned up well and in the end wasn't so severe.  But, it did make me realize that if we were in France I wouldn't know what to do or where to go or who to call.  (Note to readers...T is doing just fine!!)

MORAL:  As soon as you get to your new country, maybe even before, find the local doctors who speak English (cause if it's me on my own without James to translate then I'm in trouble with a French only Doc.) and meet them and get their numbers into your phone. is a good place to start the search. AND know what number(s) to call for emergencies at any hour of the day.  When we were there this winter I didn't even know the number for the Police or the Fire Department. Pretty silly of me now that I look back on it. 

3.  Went to the French Consulate here in NYC to try and get a work permit.  I attempted a "Competencies and Talents" visa but was turned away.  Not for that visa in particular, but because supposedly as a wife of an EU citizen I don't need a work permit.  WHAT?????  Now I told Sami, my consultant at the French Consulate, all about my meeting with the lovely lady at Cadam in Nice, France.  He looked at me stunned and said he'd never heard of such a thing and that she didn't know her laws.  OK, now I'm confused.  Does anyone know the truth here???  So, another lady, the one he kept excusing himself to go and consult with regarding the info I was giving him, came out of hiding and backed him up.  She said to look up the EU agreement and see what it says.  Well, I found it.  It states very clearly that I do not need a special permit to work.  That I have all the same rights as my EU spouse.  I was hoping it would even say that I was NOT the junk in his trunk to show the nice lady at Cadam, but that particular phrase was no where to be found.  Darn.  Now, you'll just have to stay tuned to see if indeed this works on the workers at Cadam. (Note to readers...if you feel lost, read the post "I'm the Junk in His Trunk" to catch up on my visit to Cadam in search of a work permit)

MORAL:  When it comes to French policy and politics, nothing is as it seems.  Be ready for what you believe to be the truth to not actually be the truth. And so it seems that if you're feeling confused, you're doing everything right. Can someone say "run around?!" Next window please...

We invite you on our journey, the door is always open!!

** b
ecome a follower by clicking "Devenir Membre" and you'll never miss a moment of the adventure:


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Classic American Roadtrip

This week I had the pleasure of going on a good ole American Roadtrip for a photo shoot.  Now unlike in Europe, if we drive 4 hours we've only crossed a state, not a country (or two).  Most people complain, but I really don't mind long roadtrips.  As a child of the Midwest, anytime we got in the car for a drive it was at least 4 hours.

Since we're moving ourselves overseas this will probably be my last (American) one for quite awhile so it seems fitting that everything about my trip was quintessential America.

  • I had to drive to Massachusetts.  
  • On the way I dropped into my favorite type of restaurant, the classic Diner.  
  • I ate a burger (a surprisingly delicious turkey one) with onion rings. 
  • Stayed in a Red Roof Inn.
  • And worked for Yankee Candle.  

I don't think it could be any more "Apple Pie"!  Here's a photo tour for your viewing pleasure...

Thank you Raymond for being the best waiter EVER!

Yankee candle has the yummiest smelling candles so my job was SUPER EASY!  They're doing a campaign for the new stores opening this year.  So if you're lucky enough to have a store opening near you you'll see my shots.  Give me a shout out if you do!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

My first French commercial airs....

While in the USA, a French friend of the husband's in France let us know he saw me on the telly.  So, here it is for all to see.... 

My first French job. (thank goodness I didn't have to speak!)

I had a youtube link to it, but the ad agency removed the video from youtube.  Sorry, you'll have to wait til I get my own copy. :)

We're actually in the market for a car.  Do you think if I show this to the salesman he'll give me a discount??

The Cours Saleya Food a minute

Since we've gotten back in the USA we've been buying our food from Fresh Direct.  They've got a pretty decent Organic foods section and since we saw "Food Inc" we've re-directed much of our eating habits. I do LOVE that America caters to those of us with little time or patience to do their "chores" through internet buying and home delivery (I'm a big sucker for browsing the Ann Taylor and Gap sites), but I do admit we REALLY miss going to the fresh food market. honor of the French and their version of the Farmer's Market, here is the next " a minute" video for your enjoyment. Yes, finally got something else edited. :)

Tuesday through Sunday until 1pm there is a food market in the Old Town of Nice in an area called the Cours Saleya.  It's a great experience and when you live here and go often you find you make friends with certain sellers and return to their stands each time.  It sure beats trying to get through the French version of the Super grocery store, Carrefour.  What a nightmare that can be.  And why do it if you can go to the market?

After the Market ends they turn the whole area into seating for the restaurants that line the streets there.  It's crazy how fast they turn it around!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Do they have Fruit Loops in France?

As I continue to pack and go about my normal American days I come across things I will miss or that I want to make sure and buy to take back to France.  

The other day we went to the Hyatt Hotel here in Jersey City Downtown for breakfast, a treat we give ourselves sometimes.  I mean, who can resist a hotel buffet breakfast, and the kids eat FREE! The restaurant looks over the Hudson River to Manhattan so it's also quite lovely sitting there.  

Anyhoo, we were munching on some Fruit Loops and I started to wonder if they had Fruit Loops in France.  Not that we eat them much, but it got me thinking.

Things I will miss.....

The playroom.
Such a great thing to have with two kids who need to get out and play with other kids -for free!  It's in my building so totally convenient and no need to pack up the kids for a trip to the park. We can literally take a trip down the hallway in our socks.  And it creates such a community with the families.
The dog parks.
Although the French love their dogs, they don't let them play together.  Strange if you ask me. So far I haven't found a dog park where the dogs get to run free and mingle.  Maybe I'll try to organize something for little Charlie.
24 hour shopping.
I love that the French are focused on family so the shops close in the evening and Sundays, but I'm used to going to the deli at 10pm when an ice cream craving kicks in. Better learn to stock up.
Ziplock bags.
I know, silly, but they're certainly VERY handy.
Understanding the product labels in the grocery/pharmacy stores.
You don't know what I've gone through just trying to find the right creamer for my coffee!! And forget about when I needed Baking Soda and Baking Powder for making carrot bread.  I'm afraid to make the bread cause I'm STILL not sure I have the right things!

Going on casting and auditions.

I love going out on my appointments.  I get to see all my friends and have a little catch up while we wait.  Sometime we even plan a coffee or diner visit in between appointments if we're not going on the same ones.  It's nice and I'll miss the built in social aspect of my "job".
Ok, again, I know!  French coffee is super delicious and the culture is all about relaxing at the cafe drinking your coffee.  Which is wonderful. But I LOVE getting my big cup of coffee (with a sippy lid-child that I am) and walking to where ever it is I need to go, maybe that's just to sit in a park, while enjoying my coffee.  It's comforting to me to hold my cup and to leisurely drink it on the go.  I call it my adult bottle.  In France if I get a "cafe a emporter", it's a dixie cup of coffee, yummy as it is, with no lid.  Certainly not very portable and with one sip it's gone.  Just not the same.
ALTHOUGH...Starbucks is infiltrating the country, as much as they hate it, just not in Nice or the smaller towns.  I'd have to go all the way to Marseille to get it.  I like my Starbucks, but lets not go crazy.  Maybe that's a venture for me?  Is franchise owner in my future?  Hmmmm.  Free coffee is certainly an incentive!
**consider becoming a follower so you never miss a moment of the adventure. :)
just click "Devenir Membre" 

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Plans....the glorious plans

Since returning back to the USA, James and I have gotten a chance to reflect on our 3 month "trial" of living in France. Do we dive in or do we alter our plans a bit?

Well, the lease renewal was slid under our door yesterday. We looked at each other, now confronted with HAVING to actually make the decision, and opted NOT to renew. OK, diving in, sink or swim. I'm not really nervous about it all cause I've come to the comforting idea that the USA will always be here for me if I/we want to return to it. Barring any horrible natural disaster that may sink it to the bottom of the ocean.

So, now married to our adventure, we sat down and hammered out our ideas of what our plans for living it would actually be....

1. Live in South of France, but maybe not Nice. I seem to be feeling I want something a bit smaller, more laid back. Antibes? Biot? Juan les Pins? Villefranche? So many options within kilometers of Nice.
Villefranche sur Mer
I think the small town Midwestern girl in me is starting to state her case. Since I was little I felt I was a city girl and have always felt at home in a big city. When I landed in NYC in 1992 I felt I was home. Even with an 8 year Chicago detour I couldn't wait to get back. LOVE the ease and accessibility a city offers.  It gives one independence to do what they want when they want. But... lately I've been craving a little more laid back environment and a big backyard for the kids to run around in while I sit at my table in the sun drinking coffee and reading the paper. Ok, most likely a gossip mag. :)
Villefranche sur Mer
2. For the winter months of December and January we run away from the cold to Miami or the Keys in Florida.  Nice is STILL a wee bit cooler than we want.  Sun-chasers we are.
Reasons: escape the cold-NONE of us likes the cold, get a dose of America so mommy is happy and the kids always have a good understanding of the comparison of USA to Europe, and friends and family can come visit easily and less expensively.
3. For one summer month, say the hottest month (sun-chasers we are but let's not go crazy), we take off and live in a different country each year.

We want to see the world and give our kids the fullest picture we can. And we're lucky because our jobs are very portable, OK James' more than mine, but if we save during the year we can feasibly do this.

We are excited by this plan. We are getting a bit giddy over it. Because of this we know we are making the right decision. Now, let's see if we can make it happen....

We invite you on our journey, the door is always open!!

** become a follower by clicking "Devenir Membre" and you'll never miss a moment of the adventure:


Friday, March 4, 2011

Stuck in the closet....

Now back in NYC, okay, Jersey City to be exact, but I look out to the Statue of Liberty and Wall Street so I feel like I live in NYC.  I've jumped into my To-Do list of cleaning out all the stuff we don't want and box up the keepers worth the cost of shipping it to France.

WOW, we, (correction, I) have a lot of stuff!!  You wouldn't know it by looking, I hide it well in the closets and drawers, but when you get into it, there's a lot of STUFF. James likes to quote some guy who says something about a person should only own 100 things. Hmmm, really? Is that even a possibility? And then he says that includes underwear. OK, now you've lost me. 

I did the first tackle of the kid's clothes and my clothes and have made a big pile to take to Salvation Army and the York Street Project in Jersey City that houses women with children in crisis.  (Just throwing decent things in the trash is something I hate doing.) And I say the "first" tackle, cause with me it takes a few clean outs to finally get to the stuff I really should keep.  

We hold on to things so tightly that we really don't need and it all just take up space.  It's like our things make us feel comfortable and the more we have the more comfortable we think we should feel.  But when we accumulate too much stuff, at least for me, it feels suffocating.  I sometimes want to just throw it ALL out and start over.  That thought in my mind feels so refreshing.  But it's soooo hard to do.  There always seems to be some reason why I should keep that page I tore out of a magazine.  Like one day I'll actually make that craft project with the kids or cook that delicious meal.  Hahahahahha... sorry, break for laughter.

I think my need for "things" comes from my mother.  She's a bit of a hoarder but a VERY neat one.  By watching her I was trained to have things just in case I might need them, and that if I like that green sweater so much I should get one in every color they offer.  Once we were going to have a B-day party for Taylor and she burst out of her storage locker with three tubs full of party supplies.  I mean EVERYTHING you might need for a full blown party.  Including warming trays!  I admit it all came in very handy and the party was a success.  But the cost to store it equals out to probably more than if I went to the store to buy all the "stuff" each time I needed it.  I mean, how many parties does she have in a year?  I'll tell you, none.  Just seems not worth the cost or space to keep it all.

So, as a result I'm always fighting my desire to be minimalistic and my need to feel prepared for a sudden need to caulk the bathroom.  It's quite a fight.  Sometimes I think I'm winning, but then a trip to Target blows all the progress I made. :)

The funny thing is that my husband has next to nothing.  He is the total opposite of me in that way.  And so while he tries to get me to downsize I try to get him to go shopping.  But in reality, he does need some new clothes.  The man has 15 items in his closet!  That of course does not include socks and underwear, cause that'd be just crazy! 

I just have to keep in mind that if we want to be travelers of the world, I have to keep only the necessities.  Can't keep lugging this stuff from country to country!  Ruthless Shellee, be ruthless.

So, enough writing, I gotta get back to the clean out.....

The view of Manhattan from our corner of the world.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

For the love of toys...

When we were in France I asked Taylor if he wanted to just stay there or go back to NY.  Here's our short conversation:

Me: "So Taylor, what would you say if we just stayed in France and didn't go back to NY."

Taylor:  "But I need to go back to NY."

Me:  "Why?"

Taylor:  "My toys will miss me."

Me:  "Daddy can send your toys here to see you."

Taylor:  "But, they'll be scared on the plane all by themselves."

Well, Taylor and Emmerson have reunited with their toys and all seems right with the their world....


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Jet-Set Life

Schedule for Monday February 28th.....

Breakfast in Nice, France

Lunch in Munich, Germany

Dinner in New York City.

Ahhh, such a life.  But considering it was in airports and on 14 hours of travel with no sleep, maybe not the life we all dream of. :)  Thank goodness the kids and the dog were in good spirits.  They kept themselves busy and even slept for a few hours.  Daddy got to work and mommy got to watch 4 whole movies only mildly interrupted.  So it all it turned out alright.  Luftansa is GREAT!

What 2 euros will buy, smiles for the kiddies

Entertainment in Nice airport

Plane change, waiting for the stroller in Munich

Unpacking in NYC
and off to bed.......

It's always such a good feeling to return to your home after a long vacation.  Even if we are building a home in a new place and this one will soon not be our home, it felt real good pulling up to the building and walking into our apartment.  We've been living the vacationer's life in other people's homes in Nice so it hasn't felt like OURS yet.  I look forward to having this feeling in France when we finally find our own apartment, furnish it our way, and make our permanent home there.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...