Updates from Montaigu

This is my Living in Montaigu blog series! Please see my very first blog post in the series to learn more. Check out another one of my favorite blog posts, Tour of the House, for some amazing photos.  Enjoy!

I haven’t posted in a while and thought I should share some updates (and pictures, of course). Lucie, Louise, Twick and I went for a nice long walk this past Sunday. Unlike my friends and family back home in DC,  we haven’t had any snow here in France. Luckily, it has been relatively warm here.

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Let’s see… so what else do I do besides going on walks in Montaigu. Well, I asked for a bunch of yoga pants for Christmas so that I could go running here. I mainly run in the afternoons when the girls are at school and on the weekends (have to burn off those delicious macarons somehow!) I love exploring new parts of town, but of course I still enjoy my favorite places… the castle, the small cobble stone streets, and the goats in the park… they never get old.  For being a beginner runner, I think I’ve made a lot of progress. While I’m no Quest Brannock aka marathon runner, I aim for about 10-20 miles a week (with some walking obviously).

Speaking of Quest Brannock, he and Jacquelyn had their baby last week! Baby Lucas arrived on February 18th. Mom, Dad and baby are happy and healthy. I even met the little guy via skype! Here’s a picture of Lucas at 5 days old  (photo – courtesy of Mama Jacquelyn).  

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Kyle made this for his nephew. Isn’t it amazing?

I’m getting a little side tracked here, but here’s what Kyle made for his parents for Christmas. It’s a picture of their house in Haymarket.

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Okay, back to France…

I spend a lot of time playing with Louise, the younger one, and teaching her English. It’s very rewarding when she remembers the words and phrases that I teach her.  We love playing cards together. One of the first card games we played was “Go Fish” or “Aller Pecher.” We also play air hockey on my tablet!

Lucie, the older one, started middle school this year and takes the train to Nantes every day. She is a very busy girl! She spends a lot of time doing homework and practicing her cello.  I really enjoy helping her with her English homework and helping her study for her English exams. I also have the pleasure of going to school with Lucie every Thursday and helping out with two different English classes.

Every Saturday morning, we walk to the market down the street (basically a farmer’s market) for our fruit, vegetables and cheese… and if I’m lucky, fresh seafood and olives. We usually stop by the local butcher for a quick and easy rotisserie chicken to bring home for lunch or one of the bakeries to pick up some goodies.

As many of you know, I love to cook. I love cooking here especially in their huge open kitchen. I cook for the family about three times a week. They are obsessed with Asian food, so that is what they always request. Fine by me… I’ve been getting good practice!

Here is the Pad Thai that I made. I think I’ll be making this a lot back at home!

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And another dish they often request… sauteed ginger beef, bamboo shoots and peppers.

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Enough food for now. It’s almost dinner time and I’m starting to get hungry.

On another note, there are only 24 days until I meet Kyle in Paris! He and I will spend the weekend in Paris and then return to Montaigu for two days. After that, we’ll be visiting a lovely old town in the Bordeaux region called St. Emilion and staying there for a night (awesome Christmas present from Mr. and Mrs. Brannock – thank you!) We will then venture down into Spain and spend time in San Sebastian, the La Rioja Wine Region, Madrid and Toledo.

We will return to the United States on April 3rd (Thursday night) just in time for the baptism of baby Lucas and my cousin Christine’s wedding that Saturday. It will be a busy and exciting day!!

Much love from France. Bisous!

Celebrating Valentine’s Day… Je t’aime

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Yes, the card does say “Anniversentine’s Day”

Kyle and I celebrated our four year anniversary on February 6th. With Valentine’s day being right around the corner, Kyle cleverly came up with “Happy Anniversentine/Valenversary.”

Earlier this week, I received a package with a card from Kyle and a box of very special cookies that he had ordered for me! The cookies were individually bubble-wrapped for their journey from Arlington to France and the Eiffel Tower arrived without a crack.

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How sweet, Kyle even ordered cookies for the girls! Aren’t these adorable?! The cookies were made by Rachel (Baked by Rachel). She is very talented and I am always impressed by her creativity. I highly suggest checking out her website and liking her page on Facebook.

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Oh hey, Cupid… If you didn’t know, Kyle is an amazing artist. And as you can see, the girls loved their cookies!

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Photo by Baked By Rachel. Click on the picture to be directed to her Facebook page!

This post is included in my Living in Montaigu blog series. Please check out my very first blog post in the series to learn more!

Tour of the House

This is my Living in Montaigu blog series. Please check out the first post in my series to learn more!

I thought it would be fun to share some pictures and give you a quick tour of the house…It is a beautiful old house built in 1874. This first picture should look familiar from my very first blog post.

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I’ll start with a few pictures from my favorite place in the house… the kitchen. Naturally, we spend a lot of time here.

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I love coffee and I drink a lot of it… Thank goodness for this wonderful little Nespresso machine.

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I also love tea! As you can see, Sophie has quite the collection of tea (all different varieties and several green tea blends). This is her favorite brand. It is very popular in France.

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The next three pictures are of the dining room. So far, I’ve only had dinner in here once.

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This is the grand entry way or foyer. There are four separate doors here which all lead to a different room or area of the first floor. Needless to say, this led to some confusion during my first week here.

The next several pictures are all taken on the first floor.

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All of the bedrooms are on the second floor. I will share some pictures of the girls’ fairy tale-like bedrooms in another post. On the third floor, there are three guest rooms and a playroom. Here are two pictures from one of the guest rooms.

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And finally, here are a few pictures of another guest room, my bedroom.

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In the basement, is the laundry room and the wine cellar, or as the French call it, the wine “cave.” Olivier has an extremely impressive collection.  In fact, a few weekends ago we had a bottle of wine from 1997. (That’s a 17 year-old bottle of wine!) I will have to ask Olivier to share his wine knowledge and expertise with me so that I can blog about it and share some pictures. Well, I think that’s enough pictures for one post. See you later!!

Pain Perdu by Lucie

This is my Living in Montaigu blog series! Check out my very first blog post to learn more about the series.

It has been a month and three days since I arrived in France. I have to say, time has definitely flown by! Today, Lucie made us Pain Perdu aka French Toast. She is quite the little cook for a 12 year old. I was never a huge French Toast fan before today… but this was amazing.

She started with fresh Brioche bread from a nearby bakery. Per Wikipedia, “Brioche is a pastry of French origin that is akin to a highly enriched bread, and whose high egg and butter content give it a rich and tender crumb. It is light and slightly puffy, more or less fine, according to the proportion of butter and eggs.”

All you need is Brioche (or any other bread), milk, sugar, eggs and some butter.

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Melt butter in a pan. Slice the Brioche and beat the eggs. Dip each slice in the milk, coat with some sugar, and then dip in the beaten eggs. Pan fry (both sides of course) in the hot buttery pan and you’re done.

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It was crispy and buttery on the outside, had the perfect amount of sweetness, and was soft and gooey on the inside.  Simple and delicious.

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It was definitely a nice treat. As you can see, Louise enjoyed it!  And oh yes, no syrup necessary.