Bucket List Update!

We are almost halfway through the year, and I thought it would be fun to see how far I’ve progressed on my 2017 Bucket List :)

  1. Eat at 10 local restaurants – We’ve probably eaten at 5 or 6 local restaurants, including 1 or 2 new ones.
  2. Go berry picking – Yes! Killian and I finally did this and it was such a lovely afternoon. We picked blackberries at Lewis Farms a few weeks ago and it was the perfect time to go. There were so many ripe berries, and Killian was a natural at picking them. Afterwards we ate some homemade blueberry ice cream and it was absolutely delicious. Lewis Farms just closed for the season :( but next year we’ll be back!

  3. Read at least 10 classics from my Classics Club list – Well I’ve been slacking on this one! I’ve only read 8 classics this year, and only 3 were on my Classics Club list. I’ve been halfway through Cranford for nearly two months now…
  4. Gardening – I definitely enjoyed some gardening time earlier this spring! I planted a lot of flowers in the front yard and my husband and I started an herb and vegetable garden in the back yard. We’ve already eaten the first round of radishes (they were too spicy for me but my husband loved them) and we’ll be able to eat some green beans soon! It’s nice to be able to go outside and pick some herbs to season dinner with, and gardening itself is very relaxing.

    The petunias around the mailbox are HUGE now,, and so are the plants in the back yard.

  5. Write a novel! –I think the reason I’m actually writing this blog post is because I’m procrastinating on my book. But I really am writing a novel this year! At first I was going to write about this one book idea I had been musing over for almost 3 years, but then one day about 6-8 weeks ago I got a new idea that started consuming me. I outlined it and wrote several scenes within a week, and then I decided to just put the other story on the table for now. I don’t have a title for the book I’m currently working on, but I can tell you that I’m about 30 pages in and it’s of the time travel/historical fiction persuasion. My goal is to have the first draft completed by the end of the year, hopefully sooner :)

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    This quote has been really inspiring to me while I hash out my first draft.

  6. Take a week off– We’re planning on taking a week vacation around labor day, hopefully to the mountains or someplace refreshing and secluded.
  7. See Hamilton! – Ha, ha, silly me got the dates wrong for this tour. Hamilton is coming to Charlotte next year :( but speaking of musicals, has anyone else become obsessed with Dear Evan Hanson? My husband and I fell in love with this performance at the Tony’s and now we can’t stop listening to it!
  8. Finish decorating my library – I did this! My happy place is all decorated and organized (with the exception of a couple of boxes), and I do most of my writing up there, now. It still serves as our guest room, so I try to use it as much as possible when we don’t have guests, but I also write a lot at the local library.
  9. Finish reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix with Matt – Ha, I forgot that I put this on my bucket list. We did finish GoF, but we are only two chapters into OotP. I need to start reading it again!
  10. Volunteer more – This is still something I need to work on. I’ve done more volunteering at the library, but I’m still looking for some new organizations to volunteer with.

So I’m about halfway through after all! 4.5/9 bucket list items, since #7 isn’t applicable this year, unfortunately. But I’m excited that I’m actually making progress :)

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WTF?!: What the French? by Olivier Magny

WTF

In France, the simple act of eating bread is an exercise in creative problem solving and attempting to spell requires a degree of masochism. But that’s just how the French like it—and in WTF, Oliver Magny reveals the France only the French know. From the latest trends in baby names, to the religiously observed division of church and state, prepare yourself for an insider’s look at French culture that is surprising, insightful, and chock full of bons mots.

 


WTF?!: What the French 
by Olivier Magny

Published August 23, 2016 by Berkley
Format: Netgalley e-book; 288 pages
Nonfiction/Travel/Humor
Also By This Author: Stuff Parisians LikeInto Wine: An Invitation to Pleasure
Author’s Website | GoodreadsAmazon
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts

This book gave me serious homesickness for France! The author is a French native and who is all too familiar with the embarrassing and frustrating cultural barriers that can happen when one visits France. Although I thought WTF?!: What the French was an enlightening and entertaining read, I’d recommend it more to people who have visited or are planning to visit France. You will probably appreciate this book much more if you can compare the author’s opinions with your own personal anecdotes.

The book is divided into 50+ short chapters, each dealing with a specific topic ranging from pop culture to food to politics. Some of these topics are comedic (and will cause you to laugh out loud more than once), while others offer insight into current political events in France.

Here were some of the most noteworthy chapters for me:

Blowing Air – If you aren’t too accustomed with French people, you may think they’re seriously annoyed when they let a small huff of air out of their mouths. Chances are it’s only mild annoyance, but it has become one of my favorite French things to imitate.

La Rando Especially where I lived in the French Alps, family hikes are common weekend or even late afternoon activities. There are plenty of small walking routes to be found, and sometimes you even discover medieval castles on your journey.

“The French like to walk around with no precise goal other than that of enjoying life.”

Ça Va & C’est Pas Possible! The two most used phrases in the French language

“Liberté, égalité, impossibilité”

The English Despite what you may have heard from friends who have visited France, French people are very welcoming and hospitable, and I’ve encountered many natives who will switch to English when they speak with you, or who will be patient and helpful when you’re trying to practice your French.

Eating Rules The 4 hour French meal is not an exaggeration!

I can’t tell you how many times I was laughing out loud while reading WTF?!: What the French. I would constantly stop to reread chapters aloud to my (French) husband, who would proceed to confirm the author’s opinion by doing the exact thing laid out in the chapter. Then we’d both laugh and talk about how much we miss our colorful & expressive France. I only wish this book had been written before I moved to la France in 2012; it would have helped me adapt to and fall in love with the culture much earlier!

Read This Book If…

…you’re a francophile.
…you are open minded to learning about new cultures.
…you’ve ever experience a culture barrier.
…you enjoy books about food and travel.

Final Musings

I will leave you with a couple of hilarious quotes from the book:

“People think of France as the country of cheese. Really, it’s the country of yogurt.”

(There are SEVERAL aisles of yogurts and pudding desserts in French grocery stores)

“Across the globe, countless people view the French as always being on strike, which is unfair. Sometimes; they are on vacation.”

Winter Highlights!

So I’ve been trying to post my December and January Highlights for WEEKS MONTHS now, but seeing as how February is now over and Spring is almost here (yay!), I figured I’d just summarize the last three months into one wintery post :) I have lots of highlights from our trip to France for Christmas, but first, BOOKS!

In December and January I read 10 books (and DNF 2). I also read a short story prequel to The Martian by Andy Weir.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight A Grimm Curse Hello Goodbye To Win Her Favor The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things brokenhearts Faires Vampire Academy Winter A Worthy Pursuit

did not finish The Distance Between Us by Kasie West or Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid, even though I was looking forward to that book so much! I really enjoyed his first novel, Let’s Get Lost, but his new book did not have the same feel or voice to it and the main characters drove me insane. It felt too much like a John Green novel, so if you’re a fan of his you might enjoy Never Always Sometimes.

Most Popular Post

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Reads of 2015 (December)
Top Ten Tuesday: Recent Additions to My To-Be-Read List (January)
A Grimm Curse (Grimm Tales #3) by Janna Jennings (February)

What I Watched

Reign

I started watching Reign on Netflix in January. Even though it’s not the best show, dialogue and plot-line wise, I am obsessed with the costumes on Reign. They’re definitely not historically accurate, but they’re so pretty! Also, Anne Shirley plays Queen Catherine of France! I haven’t watched it in a while, though, so I’m not caught up on this season.

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In February I binged watch Chicago Med (it’s still in season one, so I only binged like 9 episodes). It has an ER feel to it, and the drama of the show is more focused on the patients than the nurses and doctors (although they have their drama and relationship problems, too. It’s just not as dramatic as Grey’s Anatomy).

What I Listened To

Like so many other people, I jumped on the Hamilton bandwagon a few months ago. I love how upbeat the soundtrack is, and I only wish I lived closer to NYC so I could actually see the show performed on Broadway. Maybe one day they’ll start touring and come down to NC?

I also fell in love with two new (to me) podcasts. Astonishing Legends covers unexplained disappearances, treasure hunts, time travel, urban legends, and other weird & interesting topics. I got my husband into this one, too, after we listened to a 4-part series on the Oak Island Money Pit. I can’t listen to these podcasts at night, though, because I’m just like Catherine Morland and my imagination gets scared easily…

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I also started listening to Stuff You Missed in History Class, which also has it’s creepier episodes, but overall it factually covers some famous and not so famous history lessons. One of my favorite episodes that I listened to recently was about the Great Vowel Shift and a brief history of the English language. Each episode is only about 30-40 minutes, perfect for me to listen to while doing housework or driving across town.

Stuff You Missed in History Class

Highlights

  • Killian is now 4 months old!

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  • We did a lot of traveling this winter. For Christmas and New Years we visited my in-laws in France! We were blessed to be able to stay for 2 whole weeks and I’m so happy that we got to see lots of extended family and friends while we were there. Here are just A FEW of the pictures from our trip:
  • In February, my best friend Jae visited us for a whole week!! It was so nice getting to spend time with her, and she helped me organize and clean house which was a huge blessing to me (boxes of Christmas decorations had taken over our kitchen counters).
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  • Killian’s first trip to Florida! I’m from Florida, and some of my family still lives there. Last month I was able to fly down to Tampa with the baby to visit my extended family for a week and it was so nice! I hadn’t seen a lot of my mom’s extended family in a few years (not since my wedding, actually), so it was nice to catch up and introduce them to the French Fry.

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    Four Generations! Great-Grandpa, Grandma, Mommy, and Baby :) (and we didn’t color coordinate on purpose)

Looking Forward to in February

  • Birthdays! Matt, Solo, and I all have our birthdays in March. Mine is actually next week! We don’t have any big plans, but I’m excited for cake & presents (aka BOOKS because my family knows me so well).
  • Family visits. My parents and my sister are both visiting us later this month, and it’s always nice having them here. Since the weather is warming up now I hope to take them sight seeing at some of the outdoor attractions here in town. There’s a WWII battle ship and a Civil War battleground that I know my dad will enjoy, and then there’s always the beach :)
  • Finding a job. I’ve started job hunting now that Killian is a little older. I’m not looking forward to leaving him at daycare, though!! *cries*
  • Moving! Our lease is up in about a month and I’m excited to move to a less-crowded home (right now we’re in a 1-bedroom apartment!).

Whew! Those are my condensed highlights from the past three months. I wish I could have made a whole post just about Christmas in France, but I’ve done that before so I guess it’s ok that I abbreviated our trip in this post instead. You can read it here :)

25 Things Update!

25thyearEarlier this year I posted a list of 25 things I wanted to do in the year before my 26th birthday. I feel like I’m a little behind, and there are already a few entries on the list that I know I won’t be able to cross off this year, but that’s ok. The whole point of this list was to give me some fun goals for the year and I’m already very pleased with the fun things I’ve been able to do so far.

Over the past several months I have been able to cross off some things from my list that I never got around to posting about! I feel bad about that because I could have easily made individual posts for these things and shared with you more pictures. But sometimes a shorter update is better :)

Here are four things I crossed off earlier this year that I never got around to posting about!

#12 Swim in the Mediterranean

Before we left France we took a day trip down to St. Cyr, which is about an hour east of Marseille. The water was so clear and blue, I can totally see why so many people like to vacation in the south of France. The beach was really crowded, there were even people waiting for other people to get up so they could take their spots. The weather was beautiful and although we had to drive three hours there and back, it was such a lovely day. I would have really regretted living in France for two and a half years and never getting to see the Mediterranean.

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#14 Join a club

Several months ago my blogging friend Regina @ The Sunflower Pages mentioned that she wanted to start an online book club focusing on Young Adult books and I immediately jumped on board! I love reading books with other people, and the fact that it’s an online club was even better for me since I was living abroad at the time. Now that I’m back in the States it’s still nice chatting with people from all over the place.

bookclub

So far we’ve read Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson (LOVED IT), If I Stay by Gayle Forman (just in time for the movie),  We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, and A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall. Right now we’re reading Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard.

#20 Attend a masked ball or period-era ball or maybe just a really elaborately themed party

In June we had to say goodbye to our Grenoble community, and it was even more bittersweet than I thought it would be because they threw us a Disney costume party! It was so well done between the decorations, the food, the games, and of course the costumes :)

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Matt and I as Peter Pan and Wendy :)

Disney Party

Winnie the Pooh and Mickey & Minnie Mouse cakes!

Disney Party

My friend Laure (Minnie) who drove down from Lyon to see me, and my American friends Joy and Lisa who planned the party :)

Disney Party

My wonderful friend Dalene who was one of my closest friends in Grenoble. I miss her so much!

#21 FIND A NEW JOB

This was one of the biggest things on my list, and in my October Highlights post I shared with you that I had an interview in the beginning of November. Well…I GOT THE JOB! I started last Wednesday so this week is my first full week. So far, I love it! It’s a very small office (there are 4 of us), but that makes everything so much more personal. The job itself is low-stress and relaxed, which is a nice change of pace. I’m very excited for this new direction I’m taking, and I’m also looking forward to my husband finding a job so we can find a place to live & finally be able to settle down and unpack our wedding gifts (they’ve been in their original boxes in my parents’ basement for nearly 3 YEARS because we moved to France right after getting married).

Thank you to everyone who prayed for me, encouraged me, and gave me interview advice! I am so so thankful :)

6 Impressions From a First Time YALL Fest-er

Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell!!!!

This time last week I was at YALL Fest, the largest Young Adult book festival in North America (which means it’s probably the largest in the world). It. Was. AMAZING.

I went with my friend Regina and it was our first time at a festival like this so needless to say we were overwhelmed! Later next year, before the next YALL Fest, I will post all about our tips and advice, but for now, let me just enthuse about my 6 biggest impressions/favorite memories from YALL Fest 2014!

  1. Meeting two of my favorite authors

    Ann Brashares
    The two authors I was most looking forward to meeting at YALL Fest were Ann Brashares, author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, and Rainbow Rowell, author of Eleanor & Park, Landline, and Attachments (my favorite read of the year so far). I got to meet them both and have them sign some books and I was fangirling like crazy! Ann Brashares’s line was shorter which was awesome because she spent a few minutes talking to each of her fans. She told me so many nice things: that I look like a Maggie, that she loved my hair (and she talked about how her daughter has red hair, too), and she was also really happy that I loved Sisterhood Everlasting (the final, darker, and sadder Sisterhood book). Rainbow Rowell’s line was fast-moving, but she did let us take pictures with her! Dreams come true :)

  2. The panels!
    Ok, for anyone who may be going to YALL Fest in the future, do not miss out on the panels!! I absolutely loved meeting Ann Brashares and Rainbow Rowell, but the panels were equally amazing. We got to go to 3 and a half (we came in halfway through one called “The New Romantics”) and it really made YALL Fest incredible for us.
    The New Romantics – several YA romance authors including Ann Brashares, Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass), and Kiera Cass (The Selection), talked about the most romantic things that someone has done for them, genres they wish they could write, and their most embarrassing pieces of writing.

    The New Romantics
    Hollywood Adaptations – LOVED this panel! All of the authors here seemed so down to earth, especially James Dashner, who is such a goof…I can’t wait to meet him one day.

    Hollywood Adaptations
    Closing Keynote – This was a panel with Sarah Dessen (Just Listen, The Truth About Forever) and Ally Condie (The Matched series, Atlantia), but the most entertaining aspect was the moderator, Brendan Reichs (The Virals series), who was absolutely hilarious! It was also inspiring to hear about Ally and Sarah’s writing processes.

    Closing Keynote

  3. YA Smackdown – This is a DO NOT MISS event. Dozens of authors participated in different skits, the most memorable being Hollywood Squares, reading the first lines of famous YA novels, and reading some of their earliest, most embarrassing works. All of this was topped off with a musical performance that concluded with The Rocky Horror Picture Show’s Time Warp.

    YA Smackdown

  4. Realizing authors are just like us
    This sounds like an US Weekly article, but it’s true. The panels showed me that most authors are weird (in a good way)! They aren’t polished or “above anyone,” except some of them DO dress like they’re straight out of The Devil Wears Prada (I’m talking to you, Marie Lu <3)

    Marie Lu

  5. Blogger Dinner
    Friday night we were happy to attend a book blogger dinner where we got to meet bloggers from all over the continent. It was such a fun evening! I love the blogging community :)

    BloggerDinner
  6. Connecting with other fans/bloggers/authors on Twitter
    THIS actually turned out to be a life saver. We found that the YALL Fest website had a lot of conflicting info, for example, some of the author signings required wristbands which were given out earlier in the day. One of these special wristbands was needed for Rainbow Rowell’s line, and the website said those would be given out to the first 200 people in her line in the afternoon, but actually, they were giving them out in the morning. If I hadn’t been scrolling through Twitter while getting dressed that morning, I would have missed the memo a fan fortunately tweeted. I OWE MY SIGNED RAINBOW BOOKS TO HER! Next year, stay updated through Twitter.
  7. Charleston is a lovely city!

    Macaroons
    The people there were so nice! The waitresses, the parking garage attendants, even curious drivers were nice to all of us out-of-towners. And the city had so many cute shops and restaurants. I’ll love visiting this city again next year!

I know this post was long! But hopefully it helps anyone who wants to attend YALL Fest next year! I will probably post about this again next fall because I have plenty of advice for first timers!

YALL Fest

Veronica Roth and James Dashner were hilarious “frenemies” at YALL Fest :)

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I also got to meet Gayle Forman!

Did you attend YALL Fest this year or in the past? What did you think??

25 Things: Ever After’s Château de Hautefort

25thyearThis week I crossed off a very big thing that has been on my current bucket list, 25 Things for My 25th Year: visit the main filming location for one of my favorite films, Ever After: A Cinderella Story. But first, some background info about my experience with this film’s shooting locations.

I visited this region of France, the Périgord, once 4 years ago, but it wasn’t until I was in the city of Sarlat that I realized where I was. Sarlat is a gorgeous city, by the way, and it’s where they filmed the “town” scenes of Ever After. During that same trip I also toured the ruins of Château de Commarque, which, I found out the other night, was also a filming location for this movie! (Click here for the picture proof) So, technically I have now visited 3 of the filming locations for one of my all-time favorite films :) On to Château de Hautefort!

hautefort

Château de Hautefort, the perfect setting for fairy tales!

In the Cinderella film Ever After, Château de Hautefort serves as the home of the King and Queen of France and their rebelliously romantic son, Prince Henry. In real life, Château de Hautefort is considered the jewel of the Périgord, a region in the southwest of France.

When we visited the castle it was undergoing renovations on one of its towers. It’s rare to visit a castle when it’s not being renovated, but nevertheless it was still a very beautiful castle to see in real life! The park itself is exquisite. I felt like I was in my own fairytale as I walked around the gardens and the courtyards that I easily recognized from one of my most-watched movies. My husband can attest–I was fangirling!

And now for the pictures! (There are tons!)

The Courtyards

Château de Hautefort Courtyard

This exterior courtyard is where I fangirled the most. It’s where Danielle and Henry have their first banter, where the Prince becomes enraptured by her. Even though there was the restoration of one of the towers going on while we were there, it was still a beautiful visit.

Ever After

This interior courtyard is breathtaking. I would love to eat my lunch out here, overlooking the quaint city of Hautefort. Or spend an afternoon out here lounging with a book. It. Is. Beautiful.

Hautefort Courtyard

This is also the scene where they shot the masked ball, although I didn’t recognize that at first. In the movie there are hundreds of props and people and it looked completely different, but just as lovely in its own way.

Ever AfterGrand Staircase

Château de Hautefort Staircase

This is the staircase the Grimm brothers are seen going up in the beginning of Ever After. It’s a simple yet elegant staircase that invited guests would have used when visiting the castle.

Ever After

Fireplace Room

Château de Hautefort Fireplace Room

This room, I discovered after rewatching the movie last night, was used in several scenes:
♥ The Grimm brothers meeting with the Grande Dame takes place here (you can recognize the marble bust by the window).
Ever After♥ This room is also used as the throne room, both for when Henry and his parents have the disagreement about the arranged marriage and for Rodmilla and Marguerite’s “trial” at the end of the movie. The room looks very different due to all the added wall coverings, but the flooring is the same.

Ever After

Some historical facts:
♥ The Fireplace Room was formally a great hall which was formally a medieval dungeon!
♥ The fireplaces themselves are not original as they were destroyed in a devastating fire in 1968 (which happened to be the second of two great fires in the castle’s history)

Lady’s Apartment

Château de Hautefort Lady's Bedroom

The curtains! The sofa! THE DESK!

My favorite room of the castle (at least of the ones that are open to public viewing) was the Lady’s Bedroom. If this were my bedroom, I would never leave it except to walk in the gardens or to take a bath in my beautiful conjoined bathroom:

Château de Hautefort Bath Château de Hautefort Vanity

Dining Room

Château de Hautefort Dining Room

I enjoyed touring the dining room especially because it was not ruined in the 1968 fire. The artwork on the walls is from the 17th century.

Château de Hautefort Dining Room Painting

Guest Room

Château de Hautefort Guest Bedroom

Another enchanting room, this is the bedroom my husband would love to call his own. I love the canopy bed and the bookshelves and the desk, and pretty much everything about this room. There was also a lovely fireplace I was unable to photograph.

Guest BedroomUnderground Passages

Ever After

 

I recognized this passageway as soon as I entered it. There wasn’t much to see down there except for the old kitchen that you could only get a glimpse of from the doorway.

The Park

Château de Hautefort

Directly in front of the entrance to the castle lies an extensive park. Dogs are allowed in the park and gardens, which was fortunate for us since we visited the castle on our trip home from vacation and Solo was with us. Matt and I took turns visiting the castle’s interior and then we were able to stroll through the castle grounds together.

The Gardens

Château de Hautefort Gardens

The gardens are arguably the most beautiful part about Château de Hautefort. My pictures do not do them justice, but you can see for yourself how intricate everything is. 

Château de Hautefort GardensChâteau de Hautefort Flowers Château de Hautefort Gardens

Several scenes from Ever After were shot in these gardens, including:
♥ The conversation in the early evening between the King, Queen, and Prince Henry when they come to a compromise on the marriage was shot beneath this covered walkway. While I was there I even quoted the Queen’s line: “Choose wisely, Henry. Divorce is only something they do in England;” ;)

Château de Hautefort Gardens♥ Rodmilla and Marguerite have tea with the Queen in the back gardens, which would be the absolute best place to have tea. It smelled like roses everywhere.

Château de Hautefort Gardens♥ Prince Henry finds out about Danielle’s “engagement” in these side gardens:

Château de Hautefort Gardens

Ok, so that was A LOT of pictures to post, but who doesn’t like looking at pictures of pretty castles? ;) Hope you enjoyed this post, whether you’re an Ever After fan or not!