Friday, November 24, 2017

One Month to Go! - Paris Friday Update

Happy Thanksgiving, folks! We're ONE MONTH and a few days away from the big move! Holy Turkeys!

Today, I'm out walking off the vast quanitities of food I ate on Thursday (and hopefully avoiding malls and shops, but who knows, it's New Jersey!) but I'll be thinking about the list of what I need to do to get my ducks in a row for the next month. 

Here are some upcoming milestones: 

Dec. 1 - Dave goes on an apartment search. And it will be very much like House Hunters, as we only have a finite amount of places to look at available now, in our target neighorhood that meet our criteria. 

Dec. 12 - Packing Day! With any luck, we'll be successful with the apartment hunt and we'll know what the heck we need to take with us (furniture-wise, mostly). We'll have about two weeks to strategize and pile up those items so the movers can take them away on this day. 

Hanukkah and Christmas are thrown in here. Very inconvient. Think we can get these holidays moved? 

Dec. 28 - So Long USA! We're heading over to celebrate the NEW YEAR in our new city. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

School News and Packing Date - Paris Friday Update

Alice's School Building - Pink! 
Super School News
We found out this week that we GOT ACCEPTED into the school of our choice. Yippee!! It feels a lot like getting into college all over again.

I'm so excited for the girls. Of the three schools we visited, this one really felt the most supportive and the place where they would shine. More paperwork is needed, of course, but we now have a January 9 start date. Such a load off my mind.

This also confirms our ideal apartment location is the 16th. It's what we assumed, but now we know. We want to be walking distance from the school (hoping to skip using the Metro) and close to the highway entrance for Dave -- so that really cuts down our ideal location to a small neighborhood. The next step here is to go on a second apartment hunt, which is planned for the start of December. Fingers crossed.

A Packing Date Set
A few weeks ago, as mentioned, we did the home survey. They estimated one day (one!) to load up all the things we're bringing by sea and by air. So we picked the day of Dec. 12, which gives ample time, we think, for it to all arrive in Paris by the end of January. Total guess because the estimate given was 3 to 8 weeks! We're not packing the entire house, as our apartment will be much smaller, so we'll be fine using what's been left behind for the few weeks before we depart.

Speaking of, it's been a little confounding making a packing list because we don't know what the apartment looks like or includes (furnished). Assuming our next apartment hunt is successful, we'll have about a week to strategize furniture planning and finalize what's coming along. Timing has always been a little frustrating through this whole process. But we'll get there.

Related posts: 
The Paris Move
Past Paris Friday Updates

Thursday, November 16, 2017

My Paris Purse Predicament

Here I go overthinking a purchase ... again. This time, it's about my every-day purse situation for Paris.

Why is this such a big deal? Because it's been a decade since I've had an urban lifestyle and I'm completely unsure what bag I'll need with me (or items in that bag) for a daily city existence.

So there.

Currently, I'm a suburban stay-at-home/work-from-home lady. And even that transition took me a few months to figure out the proper daily bag. I went from a commuting office worker purse (medium sized Orla Kiely handbag with lunch, snacks, and a water bottle that I carried the 100 yards from car to desk) to a bag fit for running errands and holding my to-do lists (an open top LL Bean "Mom" tote).

Starting in January, I'll be commuting two kids to school on foot in a city. Possibly on a scooter. And running errands in between. So my needs have changed substantially. I'll need to have reusable shopping bags, phone, keys, maybe an extra pair of mittens, sunglasses, tissues, etc. And who knows what else.

NO! Too Small
NO! Too Slouchy
So obviously I'm thinking of a backpack, because a shoulder bag would get heavy. And a tote or handbag would use up a hand needed to hold on to a kid. And maybe a scooter.

And I have definite opinions about adult backpacks. Such as: Scale, those teeny backpacks just look ridiculous. Or see-through - don't get me started. And I don't like the slouchy appearance of some backpacks. Ever. Also, it shouldn't look like a school backpack. And it doesn't need to be huge, the most I'll carry in a day is maybe my laptop (maybe) or camera.

So what does that leave me? I don't know. If I DID know, I wouldn't be writing this post.

But here are a few favorites candidates, so far ...

Parker Clay Leather Backpack - see it here
I like that it's convertible, so when I sit in a cafe or use it in a market, I can carry it by the handle. And that front zipper could hold my phone and keys. Also, this leather will weather beautifully and be its own little momento of my time in Paris. Though - what's the rule about leather backpacks in the rain?

Convertible Backpack with Canvas -- see it here 
This one has longer straps, so there's better conversion potential. And the canvas and faux (vegan) leather would hold up in the rain. I like that the top zips and there are compartments inside, to boot! But does it stick out too far? Might it verge into "slouchy" territory?

Fjallraven Totepack - see it here
People swear by this brand and durability. And it's all canvas, so (mostly) all weather and comes in a lot of color choices. It converts THREE ways, to handbag, shoulder bag, and backpack. 3-in-1! It has a bunch of pockets to organize in, which is cool. BUT does it veer too far in the "school" category? And is it stylish enough for the streets of Paris? I think not.

The debate continues. Part of me thinks I should just wing it and buy something once I get there. But I'm a planner, people! Also, the holidays are coming up, so good time to splurge on a new bag, right?!

Open to feedback on this one. Want to take a vote?

Related posts:
See my Summer Totes project
Fun Fashion posts 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Marvel Avenger-A-Thon

Our family is in the middle of a Marvel Movie Marathon.

It started when we saw the new Thor movie. Which we loved. And the girls had all these questions about Thor. Of course, we've seen all the Marvel Avengers movies, but the girls haven't or don't remember them. So, we started watching the back library: The two Thor movies, the Captain Americas and we just started the Iron Man movies.

In other words, we're using our new basement for one of the big reasons we finished it: Movie watching.

Lando Just Enjoys Snuggling On the Sofa
But, maybe most importantly, we're all watching them TOGETHER. We talk about the characters and try to make connections with the other movies. And provide funny commentary.

Related posts:
More Pop Culture posts
Relive the whole basement saga!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Podcasts and Doctors - Paris Friday Update

Paris-Themed Podcasts
To get in the spirit, I've been listening to Paris-centric podcasts while doing work or sorting our crap. It's been fun listening to other expats talk about their experience in Paris, hear topics of interest and some news, too. Here they are:

The Earful Tower -- The host, Oliver G, is a bit strange and charming. He's clearly entertained and also puzzled by the Parisians, so it's an interesting approach. Each episode tackles some aspect of Parisian life and most include interviews. He just interviewed a Brit who has been an expat for over 50 years and his perspective was fascinating. And at the end of each episode, there's a little story about Paris's colorful history. 

The New Paris -- This one is sort of based on the book the host, Lindsey Tramuta, wrote a few months ago. It's about the newer trends and businesses that are growing in Paris. Such as quality coffee, small businesses (which are challenging because of French tax laws) and the nonexistence of big breakfasts. She, with her Aussie cohost Alice, tackle these topics and others, usually by interviewing friends or experts on the forefront of the trends. Very interesting and relevant. 

Paname  -- Amanda, the host, has a beautiful voice and tells usually dark stories from Paris history. I've just started to listen to this one and, though she speaks rather fast, the topics are generally gripping. I think I'll really get into the history of the city while we're there, it's so vast. And bloody!

And then some days I listen to Change ma vie: outils pour l'esprit. I have almost no idea what Clotilde (of this charming dual-language cooking blog) is saying, but it's useful to listen to the way French is spoken in that sing-song and lilting way. Maybe someday I'll actually understand it!

Captured at Dance Class
Doctors and Checkups
As part of this move, we've been checking in with doctors of all kinds, just to ensure we're all in tip-top shape before the move. Vaccines, annuals, etc. Not that we won't have health care while in Paris, it just seemed easier to see our primary doctors, who have access to all our records, here. And with no potentially awkward language barrier.

Funny story, an ex-expat friend told us the English pediatrician most of the American expats use while in Paris is super good-looking. They call him Dr. McDreamy or something cute like that. So, if the girls get a cough ... visiting him won't be too bad.

Dream Apartment
Want to see the Paris apartment we all dream about when we think about living in Paris? Check this place out! It's a little outside our ideal neighborhood, but ... come on!! It's every movie set in Paris.

Related posts: 
The Paris Move
Past Paris Friday Updates

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

What I'm Diggin' -- November Edition

There's frost on the ground and I just pulled out my puffy Northface coat ... so it must be November. Here's my latest list of what I'm loving right now.

I've got the most fantastic print/shipping place just around the corner and I'm so grateful. With all the documents I need for the move, and all the stuff I'm shipping away, they're making my life just a little easier. And the guys there are so helpful and sweet! I used them in September to color print Alice's birthday invitations from this lovely Etsy shop, and it was super easy and not expensive. Don't you just love a small business with great customer service!

Outlander: Jamie and Fergus
Guys, Outlander is back and I'm totally in love with it again. I have to say the Paris storyline last season was not my favorite, but this season is completely on fire. I've got a major crush on grown-up Fergus, though Jamie is still my main man. There are not many shows I consider a weekly must-watch. This is one of them. It's all just so, so good.

Speaking of, have you seen King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. Ok, so I dug The Man From UNCLE last year. I thought it was totally underrated and I may be the only Guy Ritchie fan left but this King Arthur movie was just as awesome. I just love an action adventure and all the fab cutscenes and slow motion that defines Ritchie's signature filmmaking. I'm sure you didn't see it, but I highly recommend both. 

At my last hair appointment, I made my stylist crazy flopping back and forth about cutting bangs. (Of course, I even made a Pinterest board.) This was just before our last Paris trip and I wanted to update my style. I finally gave her the green light to "Just Cut Them" and I'm so glad I did. They're the "side-swept bang" version and they're perfect. AND Leah thought they made me look like a "teenager" -- which I think she was trying to say was bad, but NOT BAD. SO not bad! Yippee! 

A friend recently invited me to a Beauty Counter party at her house. Have you heard of it? The company is super-obsessive about safe ingredients for cosmetics and face creams, etc. I bought a few items and after a few months of use, I can say that they're amazing: super light and great-smelling. I specifically enjoy the charcoal face mask and daily skin wash. And because you only need a pea-size portion, the items I bought are long-lasting, which helps offset the cost. If you're in the market, look into it.

Candy or Vitamins? Both!
I caved and got those gummy vitamins. I know I'm late to this party, because I was all snotty about gummy vitamins "because, ugh, adults can just swallow capsules it's not hard." But, guys! It's so much fun to have a little sweet candy each day ... and know it's good for you -- vitamins. High five! Anyway, here's a picture of the brand I'm taking.

And do you watch Instagram Stories? If you do, go and follow Zoe Bakes. She's a Minneapolis-based baker who films short how-to bake videos for her stories. They're very well done and I find them mesmerizing. And she does them pretty often. I'm not much of a baker, but I feel inspired when I watch them.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Anatomy of My Smoothie

I've been drinking a berry smoothie almost daily for years. It started when I did ten weeks of Beachbody in 2014 (and hey, I lost some weight) and got hooked on their Shakeology powder. It just seemed like a much better breakfast than cereal or toast -- nutrition-wise. And I could drink it while making lunches and running kids out to bus stops.

I pretty much follow the same recipe every morning and just change around the fruit. So here's my very unprofessional, yet delicious, smoothie concoction.

Start with:
Frozen Spinach - about 3/4 cup
Frozen Fruit - almost 2 cups
* Note: I don't actually measure anything, so this is just a guess.

I've tried several different frozen veggies, including spinach, kale, boiled-then-frozen cauliflower, and found I just prefer the spinach.

I used to puree and freeze the spinach in an ice cube try for easy-to-use servings, but lately, I'm just freezing our leftover salad spinach and using that. (In the picture it looks like fresh spinach, but it's frozen.)

For the frozen fruit, I use strawberries and an assortment of berries and maybe mix in peaches, pears, apples, pineapple, mangoes, and/or acai. All depending on what I have frozen.

I always try to freeze any leftover fruit (just as it turns mushy) from the fridge, but when I do need to buy frozen fruit, I recommend the organic berry mix from Costco.

Then, I add just about a heaping teaspoon of the following:
Hemp hearts
Chia seeds
Bee pollen
Flax seed
And a scoop of 
Shakeology (tropical strawberry vegan) mix

The Nutrients
I keep most of these items decanted in glass jars in my fridge and shake them into the smoothie cup. You can't taste them, but they each add something really nutritious: The bee pollen is excellent for building immunity. The flax is fiber. The hemp is tons of protein. Chia is omega-3s. And much more.

Then, it's liquid time:

Kefir - 1 cup
Ice cubes - 2 cubes
Milk - to the full line (about 1/2 cup)

I use milk because ladies need calcium but you can add water, it's just not as thick. The kefir is indulgent because of all the added sugar, but it's a great source of probiotics and protein. If you're into weight loss, I suggest just using water or skim milk.

And that's it. Onto our (super-loud) Ninja to blend and you're done. Yay! The smoothie will keep me full for about four hours, or longer. (Unless Alice sneaks in and drinks half of it.)

Sidenote: I've started to use reusable straws (plastic or glass). I'm horrified by the amount of plastic in our environment, and plastic straws are a big issue since we use so many and don't properly recycle them. After seeing a video of a tortoise getting a plastic straw removed from its nose (so sad!) I'm jumping on the #StopSucking bandwagon, and encourage you to do the same. I used these glass reusable straws and they are awesome and actually clean very easily.

Here's the complete recipe. Again, I don't usually measure anything and I've gotten really good at the ratios. The tricky part is getting enough liquid in there. But once you get that, you're gold.

My Berry Smoothie Recipe

Frozen Spinach - about 3/4 cup

Frozen Fruit - almost 2 cups
Hemp hearts - 1 heaping tsp
Chia seeds - 1 heaping tsp
Bee pollen - 1 heaping tsp
Flax seed - 1 heaping tsp
Shakeology mix - 1 scoop
Kefir - 1 cup
Ice cubes - 2 cubes
Milk - to the full line (about 1/2 cup) *water works fine, too.

Add all ingredients to a blender or blender cup. Add the liquids last. 

Blend and enjoy!

For extra motivation, I suggest following Weelicious on Instagram. Catherine makes a different smoothie for her kids every day (Smoothie Challenge) and they're amazing, and her kiddos love them. I'm endlessly interested in the extra nutrients she sneaks into her cups, too. And, yes, at some point, I will buy her fabulous blender.

Related posts:
My other (not a cook/chef) recipes
More fun in the kitchen
My diet stories