Friday, February 16, 2018

Digging - The Netflix Edition

Thanks to some terrible weather and a nasty case of tonsillitis, I've been watching a lot more Netflix than usual. Especially during the day, a habit I usually try to avoid.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Set in 1958 New York City, the story is about Mrs. Maisel, a perfect upper east side wife who's husband leaves her. She ends up having a hilarious breakdown on stage in the Village and her life goes careening down a completely new path. It was created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, the same as my beloved Gilmore Girls, so you know it's going to be quick-fire and hilarious. It's won a much-deserved Golden Globe. And the sets and costumes are sumptuous, they pull you right in.

Outlander - I got lucky with this one. I missed the last two episodes of the newest season before we moved and I thought I was out of luck. But lo and behold, it's available on Netflix so I got to catch up and be ready for the next season.

Anne With an E
Anne with an E - A Canadian series based on Anne of Green Gables, which I've read several times. This one takes a few liberties with the story, but it maintains all the optimism and charm as the novels. And the actress who plays Anne is utter perfection -- carrot hair and all!

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - I was happy to find there was a season we hadn't seen yet of this really loopy show.

The Good Place - This series, about a really messed-up version of the afterlife, is something Dave and watched now and than. I really enjoy the characters and the funny situations they get in to. And Maya Rudolph comes in at the end of the newest season and steals the show.

Gilmore Girls - This should be on all the lists. Always. And because I've seen this series so many times, I like to fast-forward over the bad parts, to get to my favorites scene. Team Jess 4-ever.

OK .. enough with TV! My fever is gone and the snow has melted, so I'm off exploring the streets of Paris. 

Related posts:
Other things I was digging

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Louvre My Love

I had a quick errand up on the Champs-Élysées this week, so of course I headed down to the Tulieries garden and the Louvre -- because it's basically the reason I moved here. I love the Louvre.

The Pyramid of the Louvre
If you've never visited the Louvre, here's one thing you need to know ... it's too big to get in to one photo. I'm serious. In most photos, you get the I.M. Pei pyramid, or one of the towers. But, no, you have to get above it to see the whole thing. That's how massive it is.

Click To Make Image Larger
You feel almost swallowed up by it when you first approach it from the Tuileries gardens. It's overwhelming, and that's how it's meant to be. Total sensory overload.

It was a gloomy, chilly and grey day on Tuesday when I was there. But made from some good photos, I think.

I haven't picked a day to get in there and start wandering the Louvre collections. Will report back when I do. I fear that once I enter, I may never find my way out.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Romantic Books for Valentine's Day

Looking for love in the pages of a book? I've got you covered.

I love love! My preferred genre is anything to do with romance and falling in love. I watch romantic comedies and I read all kinds of romance novels -- from teen to fantasy to adult. As long as there's witty dialogue and people falling in love (kissing!), I'm in.

Anyway, if you're looking for love, here are a few of my favorite lovey-dovey stories that I recommend for this Valentine's Day.

Natural Born Charmer (adult romance - contemporary) by Susan Elizabeth Phillips  - Find it here
Widely-regarded as the queen of the romantic comedy (though she publishes less and less books these days), this title is my absolute favorite. Blue and Dean are so well-suited for each other and so flawed at the same time.

Just One Day (YA romance) by Gayle Forman - Find it here
A teen tour of Europe + a rogue Shakespeare production + an adorable, blonde Danish boy = one very romantic day in Paris. It's all about the sun-dappled atmosphere of Paris and some very sweet conversations. There's a second book and then a third novella. And it's all so so so good. 

Anna and the French Kiss (YA romance) by Stephanie Perkins - Find it here
Ok, yes, another book set in Paris, but it's just sooo romantic. And cute. First love is always cute. Anna is sent to a private high school in Paris and gets tangled in a group of established friends. This book kicked off a loosely-connected book series and they're all just fabulous.

Smooth-Talking Stranger (Adult romance - contemporary) by Lisa Kleypas - Find it here
This author does both contemporary and historical romance, and she's fantastic at both, which isn't common or easy. In this one, Ella who gets pulled into taking care of her ditzy sister's newborn in Houston, Texas. She's witty and independent. I laugh repeatedly, even after reading it several times. And the love scenes are toe-curling!

Lick (Adult romance - contemporary) by Kylie Scott -- Find it here
This is the first book from another very funny, very sexy series. This one about rock bandmates (Stage Dive) and the funny and jumbled way they each find love. Lick is the first, but Lead is my favorite. Though, Play is by-far the funniest. This author is excellent, and I never miss her new books when they release.

Pride and Prejudice (chick lit) by Jane Austen - Find it here
Sure, there's no kissing (gah!), as it wasn't proper to write about, but I wanted to include since I reread this book every few years. Why? I've never met a character I've loved more than Elizabeth. I love unlocking challenging and flowery language. And Austen is so witty and snide and sarcastic, I always chortle with laughter. There are situations that still ring very true. I love that.

Even if you DO have a Valentine today, it's still worth enjoying some extra romance in your life. It can't hurt, right?!

Food for thought about romance novels: I'm still pretty shy about talking about my love of romance novels. They're considered "lesser" novels or "vices" or "guilty pleasures." (I just read a post about romance novels on Cup of Jo and it was gratifying to read all the comments that start "I, too, am a closet romance reader.")  But there are two things that irk me about that.

First, why are romance novels shameful but thrillers with violent murder scenes are totally mainstream and, some, celebrated (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo comes to mind). I'd much rather live in a world that praised books about love and connection. We all aspire to find love, not be murdering psychopaths. Or even the detectives that solve those mysteries. Movies are the same, aren't they? Romantic comedies are silly fluff but horror/thriller films are more serious moviemaking. Blah.

Yes, not all romance novels I've read are brilliantly written. But some are. And, either way, they still require skill by an author to pull the story together. Why minimize that?

Second, is this just another way we demean an industry directed to women? Another way we subvert women in our society? It's almost taken for granted that these women-focused industries are of lesser value or importance, no matter the billions they earn each year. (Is my feminist side showing?)

What about romance writer, who are mostly women, and are not generally accepted as authors, often using pen names so they can write other mainstream work. I had a friend years ago who aspired to be a romance writer. This was before I started reading romance (in fact, she gave me the first books I read) and I remember almost belittling her dream. Why would you pursue a career in writing tawdry romance? I completely changed my view since, but still. It's there.

Just a thought.

Related posts:
More book reviews
My 50 Shades of Grey thoughts

Friday, February 9, 2018

A Snowy Paris

This week we got 20cm (that's less then a foot) of snow dumped on us and more is expected in the next two weeks. For Paris, this is a bit of a novelty. According to my French tutor, they get "two snows" in February and usually it's a dusting and it's gone. She told this to me last week.

This is not a dusting and it's here to stay. And more to come.

And while everyone is outside photographing buildings and trees draped in white, and yes, it's very lovely and gives February a familiar look, as I'm used to midwestern winters -- I have to admit I was hoping to skip some of the snow and freezing cold weather this year. The temperature here is supposed to be similar to Virginia. And this is not Virginia weather.

Add to that the once-in-a-decade event of Seine River flooding. And Parisians are going crazy.
There's Usually a Park at the Bottom of These Stairs (gah!)
We recently had an English lady over to give haircuts (we have yet to enter a Parisian salon, eek! I get hives just thinking about it), she commented on "how French" the reaction has been to the flooding. She said when the Thames started flooding more often (hello global warming) they erected a flood wall. When there's a lot of rain, Londoners watch the waterline on the wall rise, but they've been safe from massive flooding since. The French? They carry on, as if there's nothing to be done about nature.

This is just one English expats point of view, but it seems to gibe with what I've read and seen.

Anyway, so the first month here has been all about wild weather. The good news, by March, they start to see a gradual warm-up and the start of Spring. So, we have that to look forward to.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Hallway Lights Update ... They Work!

Our landlord moved quickly on sending an electrician for the lights in our hallway and BAM! in one visit, in less than 15 minutes, he got them working.

Hallway Set to Go!
And they are so cool!
Again, we got them from Ikea for a pretty sweet deal (25€/each + 5€ for each bulb). In fact, I'm thinking we'll definitely bring them back to the US with us and find homes for them in our house.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

DJing the Morning

I've found if we listen to music it the morning -- good music we can sing along to -- the mornings just flow much easier.  It may have something to do with music calming the savage soul. Or maybe it just keeps us from focusing on how sleepy we might be.

We have an Amazon Echo in our kitchen for just such a task. When I get in there in the mornings, hit the lights, start my coffee and I say "Alexa, play the Morning playlist" and we start the day.

Here's the current playlist (*changes frequently)

  1. Then Came the Morning by The Lone Bellow  -- This is just for me, really, as I'm usually the first in the kitchen. 
  2. Blackbird by the Beatles -- A super-chill song as the girls wander in searching for food (or a morning cuddle).  
  3. Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra -- Famous to the girls for kicking off the second Guardians of the Galaxy film, this usually helps their eyes pop open. 
  4. Heavenly by Harry Connick Jr. -- Somehow, this song dropped onto our playlist a few months ago, and I can't stop listening to it. It's short and a cappella! 
  5. You're Welcome by Dwayne Johnson -- From the Moana soundtrack, we know all the words and it usually gets a smile from one of the sleepy kids. 
  6. Jump the Line by Harry Belefonte -- The perfect soundtrack to rouse the girls into finishing their breakfast and get their schoolbags together. There's usually some dancing involved. 
  7. Ain't No Man by the Avett Brothers -- Another feel-good groove song to keep them moving. 
  8. The Obvious Child by Paul Simon -- I'm usually finishing up lunches about this time, and this song brings it home. You can't deny the drum beat in this song. 
  9. We Know the Way from the Moana Soundtrack -- Gives the family a little inspiration for the day ahead. 
  10. Closer to Fine by Indigo Girls -- The soundtrack for cleaning up dishes and spills, and finding socks. In heavy rotation since my high school years. 
  11. Kiss by Prince -- Sometimes we don't get to the end of the playlist. But if we do, this is the PERFECT song to have you your head all day. Kiss! 

I like the mix of new and old, no Taylor Swift or Kids Bop (ugh) and there's something that appeals to everyone. We're also doing some music education in there -- which is something Dave and I take very seriously.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Super Bowl Monday

This might be the first Super Bowl Dave has ever missed and ... according to ESPN highlights the morning ... it was one of the most exciting in history.


The game started at 1am, so yeah, we completely missed it. But we caught up with highlights this morning.
Super Bowl Monday Morning
I watched a bit of JT's performance and the new movie trailers (really the only thing I care about) that were previewed. For me, not a bad way to Super Bowl ... and I didn't even eat a whole bowl of nachos.

I guess this is how expats experience the Super Bowl.