Sunday, November 28, 2010

How I Nearly Killed Myself Cooking

For the famous and my very first attempt at making a Thanksgiving Day Meal, I had planned to tackle:

Turkey with mojo criollo

Black Beans and Rice

Candied Yams

Flan/Crème Caramel

There is something about preparing food that brings out the Dainty Domestic Diva in me. This Diva sports a '50s-style pearl necklace with an immaculate crisp, lacy white apron. It becomes pleasurable to know that with my own two hands and culinary expertise, I am capable of articulately feeding the people I love.

But don't worry: I certainly am not barefoot and pregnant while doing so! Besides, when I cook, I dress comfortably and bring out the overall slob that I truly am. My reality is quite different from my imagination...

Anyway, on Turkey Day, I woke up around 9 a.m., skipped breakfast and set off my cooking strategy. The game plan featured trouncing first the black beans in a pressure cooker while simultaneously baking mini-flans in the oven. Once the flans were finished, I would let them cool for hours and immediately progress to a smackdown of turkey roasting and annihilate those candied yams! I would leave boiling the rice and apéritif preparation for last.

Black Beans and Crème Caramel (take one)

The night before, I left the black beans soaking in water in a pressure cooker to soften them and quicken the cooking speed for the following day.

But I didn't use any ordinary pressure cooker. I used SEB.

This is my buddy, SEB. She is a pressure cooker and current BFF.

SEB was going to help me make the black beans I so craved around this time of year. Without SEB, boiling black beans would only be an impossible task that would take precious hours of my time and still result in beans with a rather crunchy texture; I know this from experience. That is why I am infinitely thankful that SEB gave me a much needed hand.

I have seen my mother use a pressure cooker countless times back in Miami and now it was my turn to experience handling black beans on my own! Prior to using SEB, I remembered my mother's sage wisdom in which I needed to fill the device halfway with water, heat it up and then wait for the little dial on top to start twirling rapidly and emit a FWHEEEEEEEEEE sound. I also needed to let SEB make the high-pitched noise for maybe 15 to 20 minutes.

I did as I was told. I filled SEB with water and organized the ingredients for the dish. It was then that I noticed that I was missing something crucial to the recipe: LAUREL LEAVES.

I thought I had some stored somewhere in my cabinet. I shifted the contents of canned peas and carrots and searched at the very back of the furniture. Nothing. I perhaps had discarded the bag of laurel leaves and hadn't recalled doing so...

Not wanting to jeopardize the recipe by excluding a key ingredient, I rushed to the phone and called Isabelle, my landlord's wife, to see if I could bum some leaves from her sure-to-be-better-stocked-than-mine kitchen. Well, not only did Isabelle have laurel leaves but also some fresh oregano from her garden! I also remembered that I was in need of some vanilla extract and sugar.

I evenutally tossed in the other ingredients with the black beans and then covered SEB with her metal top and screwed the topmost dial to firmly lock it in place. SEB sat patiently on the heated burner and I waited for the dial to go FWHEEEEEEEEEEE.

After 20 minutes, I noticed that SEB still hadn't made any noise.

In the meantime, I then searched for the little glass pots I normally use to make individual crème caramel. I couldn't find them. I found it very odd that they were suddenly gone because I could have sworn that I had stored them in the kitchen.

Something inside me said that I should once again ask Isabelle to see if, by any chance, she had had them. Then another part of me, the lazy, idiotic prideful side, said "nah, just use a different glass container."

I chose a receptacle that had sides that were at least half an inch thick. I filled it with four tablespoonfuls of sugar and added four teaspoons of water to create the caramel layer. I then needed to heat the sugar on top of the stove, so I placed the container on the burner.

Ha, ha, ha. That was a mistake.

A very BIG mistake. Little did I know that I had created a shrapnel ticking time bomb that would teach me a lesson on the thermodynamics of what happens to glass when it comes into direct contact with heat.

I tore open the windows to liberate the accrid haze and had the instinct of shutting off the burner. I stared at my disaster, helplessly gazing at the sugary syrup as it bubbled and boiled lugubriously in plain sight.

This is the aftermath:

My combustive glass container fiasco shattered how I viewed my cooking abilities. The Dainty Domestic Diva? More like Clumsy Two Legged Fire Hazard.

My perception of my surroundings also altered. My SEB was no longer a jolly, trusty kitchen aide if not a threatening murderer with a penchant for blood-thirsty vengeance.

I needed to check the beans. I gingerly unscrewed the black knob on SEB's top and...

...discovered that they had the consistency of plastic pellets.

What do I when I'm in trouble? I call for help.

Black Beans and Crème Caramel (take 2)

Help came in the form of Isabelle. As it turns out, she did have the little glass pots for the crème caramel. I wanted to kick myself in the head when I discovered that because I could have saved myself an extra moment of exploding shards and eventually scraping off burnt sugar. I also pointed out to her that, after perhaps 30 minutes, SEB still had not made any noise.

Her verdict? "You probably didn't screw it on completely."

Isabelle worked her magic and SEB suddenly got the message to sing:

She also suggested that in order to remove the crystallized bits of burnt sugar, I should apply a towel soaked with hot water. I did that.

Amazingly enough, the rest of my cooking quite went smoothly. Once SEB got on a roll with the beans, she engulfed my kitchen with aromas that struck me of my mother's.

I broke the nostalgia and proceeded to make the mini-flans.

Turkey and Candied Yams

I cooked that bird for nearly 3 hours. It was a bit dry but it was nonetheless quite tasty. And the candied yams (using sweet potatoes) were not too bad.

Overall, I was quite satisfied with my work, particularly the black beans.

Lesson learned: I will be better prepared for the next time I engage with concocting a complex recipe.

And as a finishing touch to my Thanksgiving meal, it began to snow outside. It snowed. On Thanksgiving day! It was clear that France wished me well for this fine evening.

(As an added touch of irony, I wrote this post while sitting at my kitchen table. It has considerably snowed in Dijon since last night, and the kitchen just so happens to be the warmest room in the apartment!)

Barb the French Bean

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How Marshmallows Saved My Thanksgiving

Tomorrow is one of the biggest holidays in the United States and for an ex-patriate American that means not celebrating it for the second time in a row because I reside in a non-Thanksgiving-celebrating country.

Now, I am honestly more than ecstatic to be living in France and I wish nothing more than to live here for the rest of my life, but I admit that the thought of not feasting upon turkey while being accompanied by my mother, grandmother and Maddie, the Demon Chihuahua has impacted my perception of joy...or the lack of it. I reflected on just how much I want to see Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira host the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC. need to sit down and say grace with my family prior to eating a sumptuous meal my mother spent the whole day preparing.

What especially tugs at my heartstrings is the food. Due to my Cuban-Colombian heritage, Thanksgiving in my house not only includes the traditionally obligatory large roasted bird, candied yams and, my mother's favorite, store-bought pumpkin pie but also a side of rice and black beans. The turkey in question is also marinated at least two days in advance using a special Cuban sauce called mojo criollo. Back in Miami, mojo criollo can be bought by the bottle at any store (though it certainly costs more than a dime a dozen). This is certainly not the case in France.

And in France, purchasing a whole turkey, let alone finding one, is rather difficult to accomplish during the month of November; the French feast upon gobble-gobbles during their Christmas dinners but whole turkeys are remarkably scarce around this time of the year.

As it was, a Thanksgiving with a mojo criollo marinated turkey and candied yams simply wasn't in my future.

My French BFF Mimi noticed that my usually perky demeanor had disappeared and I suddenly looked as if I had le cafard, or, as she translated it, to have the blues. It was something that I hadn't quite perceived myself until she pointed it out. I just believed that the absence of sunshine and inviting blue skies affected my overall state of mind, but that was just not it...

I had spent a few lessons teaching my students about Thanksgiving and its traditions and how it is a day that truly focuses on being with one's family. Ultimately, the subject of whether or not I would be going home to celebrate it made its way into our discussions. My repetitive answer is "no." It would not be economicably feasible for me to travel nearly 9,000 km from Paris to Miami and back for a 4-day span. I would not celebrate Thanksgiving with my family.

My high school students pitied me with morose understanding. Most of them stay during the week in Dijon where they are housed in the school's internat, ; they are in boarding school and often only see their families during the weekends when they return to their towns and villages. "C'est dommage," they said. It's too bad.

As a way of cheering me up after work, Mimi took me to a store called Villa Verde, located just in the outskirts of Dijon. In order for me to explain how wonderful this shop is, you must imagine it to be a mélange of a florist, a pet shop, a home goods, a specialty foods and even a Christmas village combined. A walk down the aisles of Villa Verde's festive and illuminating Noël decorations immediately brought a smile of wonderment to my face.

While shopping around and admiring the little ceramic musical Christmas houses, Mimi and I began to talk about the name of my dog and what my mother typical prepares makes for our Thanksgiving dinner.

As we approached Villa Verde's exit, we passed by the specialty foods section and saw wonderful artisanal French treats galore.

To my surprise, Mimi reached for the shelf and grabbed a sack containing miniature golden madeleines and an inviting container of pink and yellow marshmallows. She looked at me with a large smile and said "Here. I will buy these for you. These marshmallows are for your candied yams!"

And that was it.

That spontaneous act of kindness was all it took for me to decide that I should try to make Thanksgiving dinner this year and share it with my roommates.

I thought over what I could cook. The thought of preparing a full meal daunts me. I do not know how to make pumpkin pie but I sure do know how to make a mean flan. I could also attempt my mother's recipe for black beans and, of course, her candied yams. But what would I do about the turkey? How will I marinade it if I don't have mojo criollo at hand.

Then, the most genius idea that ever crossed my mind struck me! If my Cuban ancestors were able to concoct this staple of their diet, then I could certainly gather the ingredients to see how I would fare with it as well! Why didn't I think of this sooner?

Mimi and I went to Carrefour where I bought the necessary ingredients for mojo criollo, candied yams and, ultimately, a sizeable chunk of turkey breast (no way I was gonna try to look for a whole bird). I eventually got my mojo on...

...and placed it in a container with the turkey breast so the elixir could have at least two whole days to seep into the meat to create a delectable culinary marriage that reminds me of my mother's mastery in the kitchen.

I chuckled to myself as I glanced over my piebald marshmallows and imagined how adorable they would look contrasting with the orange of the sweet potatoes.

And, as a treat, I had a few madeleines.

Yes. I think I am ready to finally celebrate my first Thanksgiving in France. I have many reasons for which to be grateful this year. I am thankful that, despite being thousands of miles away from the people who I cherish the most, I am surrounded by beings who treasure as much as family.

I am thankful for being able to have a second chance to live once again in a place that feels like home to me.

Je suis très reconnaissante de la joie que je ressens chaque fois que je sors de chez moi, surtout quand je vais à mon travail. (I'm grateful for the joy I feel when I go to my job, y'all.)

I am extremely grateful for my friend Mimi and her kindness and it is with much love that I humbly dedicate this post to her. Je t'aime beaucoup, ma chère! Joyeux Thanksgiving!

And Happy Thanksgiving to all of our readers. Thank you so much.

Barb the French Bean

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Great. Now I Gotta Get Married.

Right. So, this last Wednesday, I went to the Alliance Française de Bourgogne and took that wretched Test d'evaluation de Français (TEF) that I had been sweating profusely about it. I'm not sure if I had mentioned my worries about the test with you guys...

I wish I could say that I did well on it but I am not too confident with myself, frankly. The TEF's practice exam booklet with example was actually quite misleading and, as a consequence, I had grossly underestimated the simplicity of the test's questions.

But during the ACTUAL exam, the vocabulary was slightly more complex from what I had imagined:

I endured questions of varying calibers and complexities for two and a half hours. I listened to a tape that belittled my oral comprehension skills. I ticked off over 100 boxes on a cold, emotionless scantron, each empty box taunting me and pressuring me to continue in confusion and stupor. My grammar and lexical capabilities diminished with each exercise I had to interpret. Two and a half hours.

Two and a half hours later, already feeling mentally drained, I underwent another hour to write an essay in French. By then, it was too late. I could not muster the proper vocabulary to express my viewpoint of whether or not T.V. functions as a method for cultural enlightenment. I was much too tired at that point and it certainly did not help that I had not written in French for more than one and a half years, since I finished my B.A. at university.

It wasn't until time was up and I was on my way to walk back home when the delicious and glorious words wafted in and out of my haie, la méprise, néanmoins, cependant, lorsque...

Why hadn't these words come to me DURING the exam when they were supposed to? It was far too late to go back to the Alliance Française and add those delectable gems to my poor excuse of an essay.

I could not believe myself. I halted my evening stroll. I fumed silently on the frigid sidewalk.

Then, in the silence of the night, I lifted my hands in defeat and cried out the one word that perfectly expressed my anguish:

I should have the actual results by next week, but, again, I remain less than expectant of having a "good" score.

Prior to that dreadful moment, as a way of helping me prep for the TEF, one of my colleagues offered to give me a personal French lesson that involved me reading an excerpt of Madame Bovary and interpreting what I had read. Afterwards, my colleague invited me to stay at her house to have dinner with her charming family.

In traditional French fashion, I participated in the pre-dinner apéro, complete with finger foods and a bottle of Pineau wine. The bottle made its way around each person until it finally reached me. I grasped my cold glass expectantly as I saw the golden liquid fall gracefully from the bottle. The last drop plopped poignantly. That is when my colleague announced excitedly:

This, of course, is a common joke the French often say to single people who have the luck of finishing a bottle of an alcoholic beverage. I don't believe in this saying because if it were true, France would be a country with a considerable penury of unmarried individuals. Also, if it were true that when I finished a bottle, then that means that I should have been married last year when I finished off a bottle of Champagne on Christmas Day. Not even Champagne can bring me this luck! As it is, I can't even find a boyfriend neither in real life nor online, so I sincerely doubt that I shall be calling myself Mrs. Barb the French Bean by December 31st.

Still, a girl can dream...

Besides, after my test, I went out a bought a bottle of Muscat de Rivesaltes. Considering the rate that I've been scarfing it down, I should finish it off by tomorrow, which would make it the third bottle of alcohol that I've ended. Where's my ring?

Barb the French Bean

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Facebook Just Called Me a Jackass

Okay. I've fallen victim to yet another elusive "captcha," and I only have myself to blame.

Taking a break from the TEF exam cram jam session, I decided to spend a few minutes checking out the website, a site where people submit the inadvertently hilarious comments that their Facebooking friends have made. I eventually came across a post that made me guffaw and thought that it was worthy to place it on Facebook itself.

Lo and behold, when I attempted to share the link on my wall, the little sentinel that resembles a mock gibberish English popped out.

To be granted permission to share certain links, one must surpass the Captcha trial by deciphering the mock English and entering every character in the exact order. I thought that would be a simple affair. After all, the first letter is a "J," right? And the second one is an "A."

Or is that actually a "Q?"

Huh. Funny how that third character is capitalized. And that kinda looks like an "S" as well. In fact, it almost looks like there are two "Ss," really.

J Q A S 5

Hey, wait a would I sound this out?


No. It can't be. Facebook wouldn't be so evil as to call me a jack-ass! That second letter is clearly an "A."

And so it was.

Barb the French Bean

Disclaimer: The evil captcha image came off my Facebook page.

Monday, November 15, 2010


In theory, I should be studying for my TEF (which is two days away) or even planning some lessons for my students, but I honestly am beginning to zone out just thinking about all the crap I need to accomplish.

For just a few seconds, I discovered that I wasn't reacting to anything. My mind was empty of any thoughts. I was only breathing in and out.

Suddenly, this cartoon popped into my head.

Okay. Now that I've cleared my mind, it's time for me to go back to studying.

Barb the French Bean

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Will You Be The One?

Step right up!

Come get your applications to be my new best guy friend!

That's right a new best guy friend because my old one grew tired of me (or so I think).

Do you have hands?

Do you have feet?

Does your heart beat?

Do you have a car?

Then apply for Coffee Beans new best guy friend position!

It will be a challenge, but will you be the one to win? apply and find out!

Requirements for applying to the best guy friend position:

-You must know how to be silly without trying.
-Good looks are a plus, but if your not good looking that's fine too.
- Must give me good massages! (though the old one never gave me one...).
- Must have a hamster named Carl (or a pet named rocks count).
-Must have a car.
-experience with girls and barracudas is a plus.
-should know how to draw crappy stick figures.

The benefits of being my best guy friend:

1. I help you with your social life.
2. I'm loyal
3. I can teach you how to draw a crappy looking Godzilla
4. I bake cookies and brownies (I also make a lot of Italian foods)
5. I step in as a girlfriend when trying to make someone jealous.
6. You don't have to carry an inflatable doll around.
7. I have a big purse that can be filled with left over buffet food.
8. I have lady friends.

Click here to fill in the application. Once you are done answering, enter your application on the comments area of this post.


Hanny the Coffee Bean

Note: If you win, I will draw something so crapingly amazing that it will resemble an award to put on your site :D

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Help. I'm Scared...of Dolls

If there is one thing that I absolutely adore about living in Dijon it is that I get to spend time with my landlord and his wife (who I shall refer to as Philippe and Isabelle, respectively).

The door to their home is always open to me, and that door is a literal one: there is a staircase that connects the apartment that I share with my two French roommates directly to their own house. If I am ever in trouble, help is just a knock away.

Dinner is also just a knock away on some occasions. Philippe is quite fortunate that Isabelle masters the traditional French way of preparing delectable recipes from scratch. It was thanks to her that I got to try various meals that I have only glanced between the pages of intimidating cookbooks, recipes so tantalizing yet with preparations far too ominous to tackle. I've tasted glasses of red Burgundy wines from bottles which were nearly as old as I am. I often stay well past 11 o'clock at night just chatting with them.

When the time comes for me to sleep, I say my goodbyes to Philippe and Isabelle and make my way towards the salon that has the staircase to climb down to my apartment. That is when I see THEM.

There they are, all five of them, nestled on the chairs and sofas and gathered in some bizarre session of their support group of Creepy Old Porcelain Dolls Anonymous. Years ago, they may have been the beloved plaything of a rosy-cheeked girl with perfect curls tied with satin ribbons. A little girl who smiled upon them as she held them tightly in her arms and graciously changed their crisp doll clothing and carefully brushed back the silky strands of hair. Now, those years are gone. Their dark eyes reveal a deadened expression. The pasty color on their drained matte visages indicate that the spark of life no longer resides in them. They crave to feel alive again. They search for the closest being with a pulse to suck the vitality out of them...

...Crap. THAT'S ME!

I have no reason for having this irrational fear. I point the finger at an old Twilight Zone episode that featured a doll called Talkie Tina who threatened to kill people. I didn't even watch the entire episode, either. I merely watched a short clip on Youtube and that was enough to send chills down my spine. I hastily add that I am a complete chicken when it comes to science fiction/horror films. If I cannot tolerate a 2-minute mash-up of an old Twilight Zone episode then I sure as hell ain't gonna withstand the entire Chuckie saga, folks.

Talkie Tina has traumatized me. I logically must remind myself that she is a fictional character and therefore cannot harm me in real life. And the troop of Creepy Porcelain Dolls are just inanimate objects that cannot move on their own. Nor will they ever be able to do so.

So, I should be able to get back to my apartment without any trouble, right?

That is, only if the cult of dolls feel merciful enough to let me climb down to my apartment in one piece...

I stare at the motionless group. They almost seem docile. Yet I know this is a ruse to lull me into a false sense of security. I can feel their vast eyes boring upon me. I can almost hear them vocalize their insidious intentions with their French accents:

I am paralyzed. I continue to stare at them. It is FIVE against one. Then, I glance straight at the doorway.

That doorway no mere gap; it is an escape portal to my safety!

I muster some courage to build inside of me. I hold my breath and zoom down the rickety steps, far too agile for the dolls to react before they come to life and dispose of my presence.

So, yes, dear follower, I have obviously made it back to the warm comfort of my room because I managed to write this po--


Barb the French Bean (who will probably be kidnapped for a whole week due to all the cramming for the TEF exam she has coming up)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I'm a Legal Immigrant Now. And I'm Overweight.

Even though I am in possession of a French long-stay worker visa, as part of the procedure of residing in France for a period past 3 months, all English teaching assistants who come from outside of the European Union have to pass through the Office Français de l'Immigration et de l'Intégration, aka the OFII, to have their stay officially approved. (If you expect me to type out that mouthful of a French organization's name every time I mention it, then you are dead wrong.)

This means that I had to deal with a slew of French paperwork and passport-sized photos once again.

I am no stranger to the OFII. I went through the same process last year and I had to do it yet again. Essentially, I needed to undergo a medical examination to prove that I was in good health and to keep me trapped in France until I got clearance in the form of a yellow sticker that gets pasted in my passport.

Just like last year, there were quite a few assistants who had their own rendez-vous scheduled for the same day and time as my appointment. From what I experienced, the moment consisted of much waiting.

And waiting.

And waiting.

Eventually, my 3 hour wait came to an end when the nurse announced it was my turn to be processed. She asked me a few health-related questions and told me to stand on the scale. I was a bit surprised that the scale in her office was not the nice, large expensive scale that has the dials that slide back and forth but just a regular bathroom scale. "This cannot possibly work well," I thought. On top of that, I had weighed myself earlier that morning to see that I had only lost 17.4 kilos (38.7 pounds). I removed my shoes and stood my ground.

I blinked. I couldn't believe it.

The scale said that I had lost 20 KILOS.

How is it possible that I was suddenly 2.5 kilos lighter? Something must be wrong with the scale...

I mounted off the contraption then back on to see if I saw a difference. 20 kilos.

Perhaps my scale was off? Perhaps I really did lose 20 kilos?

How much is 20 kilos in pounds anyway?



At that moment, nothing could possibly deflate my moment of glory. NOTHING.

The second step in the medical examination was the chest X-rays. I needed to be checked for tuberculosis, and that meant going topless for the procedure. Oh, and I was wearing a dress that day. Yaaaaaaay...

I stripped off my dress and stood in nothing but my panties. I walked into the ominous machine and pressed my upper body against a frigid surface. The nurse told me to inhale deeply and to hold my breath. Then it was over.

I don't have tuberculosis! And I am now the proud owner of a cumbersome chest X-rays that won't fit anywhere in my room! Success!

I finally made it to the third stage and found myself face-to-face with the OFII doctor who shall refer to as Dr. Tuejoie (kill joy). Dr. Tuejoie, a typical petite Française who was as thin as a rake and looked as if she had never had to in her entire life struggle with her weight at all, looked at the stats the infermière had written down and asked me the regular doctor's visit questions: if I was taking any medications, if I had any allergies, if I practiced protected sex, etc. She also inquired if I was married. I said no. She looked confused.

Based on the document in front of her, my surname, thus the maiden name, had been listed as my married name. "Oh, there's a mistake," she announced as she calmly passed a strip of white out on the offending lie. For a brief moment, I experienced a slight twinge of panic. From what I remembered from my medical examination last year, the yellow sticker comes all the way from Paris. The OFII in Dijon doesn't print it out if not it is shipped from Paris. If there is a mistake like, say, a misspelling of a name, an incorrect digit of an address or even a difference about one's marital status, then I would have to wait another two weeks to have a corrected sticker arrive from the capital city. If that were to happen, it honestly would not be that big of a deal, but it would mean that I would have to YET AGAIN spend more time just waiting for something to be resolved.

She then glanced at my stats and, without hesistation announced "You are overweight, and your BMI is 29.7." (That is still much better than the BMI of 31.68 about a month ago!)

"But according to your scale, I've lost 20 kilos," I replied, refusing to have my weight loss belittled by a technicality.

"Ah, really? Well, I suggest you lose another 14 or 15 kilos."

I am actually estatic about my weight loss because for the first time in over 2 years, I am technically no longer obese if not overweight. Dr. Tuejoie recommended that if I were to lose 30.8-33 pounds more, I would finally be thin and fall within the normal range.

Still, I wished she had exalted my weight loss a bit. I'm an American, for cryin' out loud. If I don't have my humongous ego massaged by encouragments and compliments at least once a day, I feel absolutely worthless.

Still, I have decided to follow Dr. Killjoy's suggestion and aim to shed those 14 or 15 kilos. As much as I want to meet my Shakira-hotness goal, I have to also accept the fact that my body type physically differs from the Colombian megastar. My main focus should just be to become a healthier, happier me. But Shakira had still better watch her back...

Anyway, in the fourth and final hurdle for my OFII procedure, I had to wait some more to receive the medical form signed by the doctor and see the highly disorganized secretary.

He asked me to come into his office and I sat down in the chair across from his desk. While ruffling through the massive stacks of folders and papers inundating his desk, he asked me a few questions. This lasted for a good three minutes until he admitted that he could not find my paperwork.

Me: Uh, you did receive them, didn't you?

Him: Yes, yes, of course we've received them. I just have misplaced them.

After a couple of minutes, he found my set of documents nestled on pile that was on the floor. He then asked for my passport to place the yellow sticker in one of the clean pages...and he nearly forgot to stamp it with the date! I quickly reminded him of placing the date before he covered the sticker with a protective film. I can now safely cross the French border and not have the risk of not being allowed back into the country.

Now all I need to do is to find another job that will provide me with a long-stay work contract so I can extend my visa.

Barb the French Bean

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What I Did During Mes Vacances

- I tried to recover from the persistant Cough that I still have from two weeks ago; I've given up. The Cough and I are BBFs now.

- I went on a Harry Potter-esque picnic lunch with two other assistants and then went on a treacherous (but gorgeous) 4-hour hike up and down some hills and vineyards capturing some of the best images of Burgundy's countryside.

So get ready for a barrage of pictures...

(This is what we ate.)

(This was a little trek called Les Cents Marches, or the 100 Steps.)

(The Gorge of Eternal Peril actually is quite lovely, no?)

- I learned that being a spoiled Princess Miami City Girl doesn't really mix too well with hiking up and down hills for four hours...

(For the full hiking story, go here to check out fellow teaching assistant and blogger Sliles. You are more than likely going to see a picture of yours truly in the post's slideshow...)

- Braved the cold and pouring rain one Saturday evening to go out for drinks and club in Dijon's Salsa Pelpa discothèque.

-Attended Dijon's most anticipated event: la Foire Gastronomique (I will write a post about that later)!

- Pretended to be a tourist one day and went on the Parcours de la Chouette tour with another assistant. Despite having lived in Dijon for 8 months, I still had not taken the time to do so.

And most importantly:

- Procrastinated on planning my lessons by blogging about what I did during my Toussaint vacation. But no matter what may come, I will always make time for a coffee.

It's back to work for me tomorrow!

Barb the French Bean