Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Les Deux Gourmands

One of my favorite parts of this semester? Hanging out with this lovely lady (the daughter of two of the American professors) and baking, baking, baking. On this particular night we made 'apple crisp', using the apples from our orchard!

And to this Ohio girl, nothing says 'welcome Fall' like apple crisps.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Reims, France

It's hard to stay focused on the Champagne when you have this guy keeping you company at during your morning cafe.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Behind the Chateau, on the property grounds, is an orchard. I first discovered the grove of apple, plum and pear trees when I was student, exploring this little world that enveloped the students.

The property isn’t expansive by any means, but it’s just big enough, with just enough foliage, that you can lose yourself, if only for a moment. Each small discovery is like a little treasure – finding apple and pear trees, noticing walnuts hidden in the grass, bushes filled with tiny jewel like blackberries, and there, in the vines crawling up the Chateau walls, grapes. And best of all, the quince tree that stands in the front courtyard.

My introduction to quince fruit was more akin to mis-communication than appreciation. You see, we thought that the quince fruit wasn’t really quince, but pears. Disgusting, fuzzy pears, actually. It wasn’t until after a disappointing mouthful of the raw fruit that we found out its true identity. And that it is absolutely necessary to cook  those suckers before eating them.

This Fall, I decided to conquer the quince, waiting until it was ripe (and fuzz free), and poaching them in a sugary, cinnamon, vanilla syrup.

 {from here}

I learned in my extensive quince research (read: googling ‘quince recipes’) that quince was the ‘apple’ that Paris gave Helen of Troy, and I completely understand why. While horrible to eat raw, the smell of a quince fruit is intoxicatingly fragrant. I’ve kept a few on my window ledge in my kitchen.

And man oh man, sweet smell of the fruit coupled with the fresh fall air just makes my heart sing.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Loch Lomond, Scotland

By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes,
Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond
Where me and my true love were ever wont to gae,
On the bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.
Oh! Ye'll take the high road, and I'll take the low road,
And I'll be in Scotland afore ye,
But me and my true love will never meet again,
On the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond

Monday, October 18, 2010

Third time's the charm...

....or so I had always heard.

And so it has been with this, my third battle with the gods-that-be in the immigration offices of Europe.

When I moved to France, it all happened so quickly. In my first (very confusing) days of cultural immersion, with paper work, and shouting, (and of course, lots of wine) I found myself at the préfecture, the seat of the local government.

I remember bringing my file with every piece of paper I could find in my closet/apartment (we're talking plane ticket stubs, copies of my passport, a note my mom had written me), sitting in the small office, and digging through my stash, trying to find all the documents Madame needed.

Three months later, my visa was about to expire, my health care and housing allowance (both contingent on a worker's permit) were non-existent, and my stress level was very high. If you had walked into the La Rochelle préfecture in December of 2008, about a week before Christmas, you would have seen a panicked American, pleading in her best french for something, anything really, that would make her a legitimate French resident, and at the very least, gain her entry back into the country after she visited her family over the holidays.

Literally, hours before I boarded the train to Charles de Gaulle, I got my permit.

Last year, I decided to take the same fighting spirit that had landed me my titre de sejour a year earlier to the Luxembourg Ministry of Immigration.  

...expect it was worse than before. I was in perpetual Kafka-esque immigration limbo, my afternoons spent with my ear glued to the phone, transferred from one desk to the next. One lady even laughed at me before telling me I had done everything wrong. I was illegal for a week before I got the call that granted me my legitimacy in this small country.

But this year? This year, I sent in the paperwork, I waited patiently, and, in two to three weeks, I received my letter that my documents were cleared. And today? Today I went to the city, letter and passport in hand. And the woman? She looked at me, smiled. And put my visa sticker in my passport.
 Ah, look at that beautiful mug shot

The third time around, there were no frustrated tears, no frantically-looking-through-my-dictionary-to-translate-this-stupid-official-letter, no pleading with the person in the immigration office.

There was just a nice lady, a sweet smile, a new visa, and a cafe au lait at the corner cafe to celebrate.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Brussels, Belgium

The thing that was more breath-taking than the beautiful architecture was the Gaufres Chaudes. My two favorite things: hot waffles and food trucks.

Just along for the ride

I've been off the radar for a few months. In the time since my absence from this little corner of cyber - space, I got back into my Cleveland groove (fell back in love with that city on the lake), returned to Differdange, and began a new semester of coordinating student activities for a new crop of students.

Time has flown.

As I feel the year ticking away, the last in Europe (for the time being), it feels surreal. I've started my bucket list for the year (learn German, hike 100 km of the Camino de Santiago) but with the full realization that the best moments are the unplanned.

Before I came back to Luxembourg, I felt I needed plans. There were expectations. And for a minute, I forgot what it was like to just let go, enjoy the ride, and see what life could serve up.

So here I am, beginning year three of this European existence, an unexpected journey that found me at the crossroads of life, nervous, but eager to see what's next.
at the edge of Loch Lomond, Scotland