Hello Wisconsin

I had the chance of visiting the Milwaukee area a couple of weeks ago, to make a decision on a house along with my husband. Apparently, we arrived on the day of a really bad snowstorm.

I took this as we were readying to land

My husband, who has been working there (he came back for the holidays) and was familiar with the weather, kept looking at me as we stepped outside — I felt the chill, looked back at him, and said, “I am home!”. Well, it was really cold. But I like the cold.

One house had what we called the “Captain America” shower, because seriously, it looked like you might come out looking totally different.

Given my clumsiness, though, I think I’d have hit the wrong combination of buttons and I’d have accessed the nuclear codes or something.

I was a little too excited about my meal to take my time and focus properly, so I apologize.

Deb’s Main Street Cafe in Dousman has the best fried chicken ever! It was so good. Light, crisp fry, yummy insides, great seasoning, these folks know what they’re doing.

Everyone recommended the frozen custard.

Kopps has delicious frozen goodness, different extra flavors every day, but I went with vanilla. Because the best test of any sweet shop’s products is whatever vanilla product they have. If they get THAT right, you know they can get anything else right. It tasted like creme brulee but frozen, so uh, creme glacee, I guess? The same consistency and texture, so rich and good. Steve got the Oreo flavor which was that day’s special. We went back and again I got the vanilla because it really is that delicious.

As far as houses go, we had two favorites in mind before I flew out there. And guess what? We decided on neither! Ha.

This is just a peek because we’re still in the middle of the process. Rather, we’re at the beginning of the process, so I will share more when it’s more of a sure thing.

Now I am in California, and my darling is back in Wisconsin. He’s amassing quite the collection of gloves and hats, I tell you :D

Paris Vacation – part 5

If you have ever watched the BBC show Merlin, then you will be familiar with this place:

The Chateau de Pierrefonds

My husband, Steve, had been here about fifteen years ago, when he was in France for work. The chateau is located north of Paris — we rented a car and made the drive over. The day cleared up as we reached the commune of Pierrefonds and it being a Tuesday, the chateau was nearly empty.

View of the Commune de Pierrefonds from the castle

We explored the chateau at our leisure



Our drive back to Paris took us through some gorgeous, picturesque villages. France is really such a beautiful country and we definitely look forward to taking the boys there someday.

Our next landmark visit was due to a request from our oldest, who wanted us to go to the very top of the Eiffel Tower and take a picture of Paris below.

However, when we finally made it up to the top, after a 45-minute delay when the cars stopped working, it was so foggy that we could not see a thing out of the top floor – oops! So down we went to the second level and snapped pictures for our boy.

We spoke to him later that night (afternoon in the US) and explained what happened. He was a little bummed but he thanked us for trying.

Next post, I will take you twenty years back in time, to my first visit to Paris.

We are moving to . . .

No, not France. I wish. But no. Although it will be an equally dairy-friendly land.

Uh-oh. This Niners fan is going to be a little out of place, although right now I am very angry with the Forty-Niners front office for letting Coach Harbaugh go. But, Coach will now be just across the lake, and I will be cheering for the Michigan Wolverines.

You know what this means . . .

Hello Wisconsin!!!

That’s right. The big adventure of 2015 for our family will be our move from California to Wisconsin, or as I call it, from Sunny California to North of the Wall (GoT reference).

My husband is starting a new job after a horrific year and a half in a situation where our family was impacted financially, emotionally, my husband’s health was suffering, etc. We are looking forward to living in the midwest, to new experiences, to making new friends, to having white Christmases. Yes, it will be difficult to leave friends and family behind, to leave the house our boys came home to after being born, to leave the only lifestyle we’ve known, to live in the snow, but we’re determined to make a good life for ourselves, and of course, I will be sharing our transformation from Californians to Wisconsinites here.

Have a wonderful Monday!

Paris Vacation – part 4

Apologies for the delay in posting the next installment. I am almost 100% recovered from my elbow surgery, don’t have complete range of motion yet but every day is a little better.

While we were in Paris, we found out there was a Christmas Market going on, on the Champs Elysees. It’s like the Art & Wine festivals or Harvest festivals we’ve been to in the US, with lots of vendors from all over selling their wares, many of those were food items that had us drooling!

It was here that I had my first (of only two during the whole trip) Nutella crepes:

One of the vendors was selling these HUGE tiles of chocolate of all percentages – milk, dark, bittersweet, etc.

Several vendors were selling churros. Except they’re called by a different word in French:

So, um, this is a word we Latin people use for uh, something else. Two something elses, in fact. Females have them, and you wear a bra over them. As much as I wanted some churros, I could not muster up the courage — or the straight face — to go and order some.

Speaking of straight face . . .

I did order macarons from a vendor that had just about every flavor you could think of. We were having friends over to cook us a meal and we were providing the dessert.

In that box are salted caramel macarons, vanilla, double chocolate, orange cream, and Nutella. SO GOOD. I think I ate three of them before our friends arrived. MY BAD.

The meal our dear friends F & B cooked for us was a raclette. This is a traditional dish where melted cheese is poured on top of cooked potatoes, meats, and vegetables. In our case, the potatoes were steamed, then sliced, and we had a variety of charcuterie.

It was one of the best meals I’ve had in my life. The cheese was perfectly smooth and you just mix everything and eat it — or at least I did. We do not, as a habit, have huge meals consisting of potatoes, meats, and cheese, but that is changing, my friends, because I plan on trying my best to recreate this dish and making it our splurge meal. Good thing we will soon be somewhere with a reputation for good cheese. (More on that soon, I know you’re getting tired of hearing me say that)

And no, there are no more pictures because I was too busy stuffing myself.

My bump, my bump

No, not THAT kind of bump. I mean the kind of bump that gets you a date to have said bump removed and biopsied.

It all started in June when I felt a little lump right behind my elbow. Long story short, by late November it had grown enough to be painful and limit my range of motion. It was on my right elbow and I’m right-handed, of course, so daily chores became difficult.

Last week I had surgery. My husband has been about two thirds across the country (will tell you all about that soon) so his parents were kind enough to help me out, drive me to and from the hospital, and drive my boys to and from school the whole week since I was not able to.

The incision itself ended up being about 2 1/2 inches, but I was bandaged from mid-arm to mid-forearm.

I usually do not like taking painkillers, but when it’s surgery pain, I don’t mess around, so I’ve been pretty good about taking my meds and keeping the elbow elevated. My mother in law kindly colored my hair and wrapped my arm in plastic so I could shower. She and a friend took me to the mall because I was going crazy stuck in the house.

My boys have been awesome, so helpful and sweet, and since our sofa has recliner chairs, we’ve slept on the sofa. They wanted to be near me in case I needed something in the middle of the night. Foxy joined us so it was a long sofa-ful of blankets all week.

On Thursday I got the news that the biopsy results were negative and there was nothing to worry about – WOOT!!! My husband came home last night and we had a fun evening with friends, chocolate, and port. The boys are now on holiday break and we can have a few days to enjoy as a family, and to see friends we haven’t seen in a while.

I hope this week is a wonderful one for you, whether you celebrate the holidays or not.

Paris Vacation – random #2

Our Parisian friend, F, had been posting pictures on my Facebook page for a while, pictures of vending machines. But these were no regular vending machines.

Oh no.

These machines were full of NAIL POLISH.

Yeah.

Like I needed another reason to love Paris.

Of course, we went to find one early on in our vacation.

I have been wearing the green color, Yumi, for about a week now. There is a bit of wear at the tips of the nails, of course, but it is barely noticeable. The formula is opaque in two coats and the brush is a dream. Suffice it to say that if I had to tell myself to just get three and walk away because I could have bought every color on the machine.

We’ve had a rough week with the boys having the puking plague and my husband being, uh, elsewhere (I will tell you about that in a few weeks), so when I get a bit of time later I think a change of polish color is in order. What do you think, red or blue?

Paris Vacation – part 3

The day after my birthday I had the most amazing food tour with a long-time favorite blogger — Clotilde Dusoulier from Chocolate & Zucchini.  I am a fan of Clotilde’s style of cooking and her storytelling, and when I found out she does these two-hour food tours around Paris, I had to schedule one during our vacation.

Our tour took place in Montmartre, we met at a Metro stop and began walking around, stopping at various bakeries and food shops, and ending with a cheese course that was out of this world.

Our tour started at Le Grenier à Pain, a bakery that won the top prize for best baguette in Paris in 2010. This means, aside from the title and prestige, that they get to provide the bread for the Elysee, the home of the French President.

Clotilde showed us what to look for in a good quality baguette compared to a more industrially made one. As with many things, imperfection or unevenness is a sign of a hand-made bread. Also the bottom of the baguette can show you whether it was machine or hand-made. Ours was delicious, of course.

Next we stopped at one of the locations of a celebrity baker’s chain. Gontran Cherrier makes an amazing croissant, and that is saying something in Paris. We also tried a roll made with squid ink — perfect to accompany a seafood meal — and I purchased some brioche for the next day’s breakfast. So good. You can see the croissant and the squid ink roll on the tray between Steve and Clotilde, and my brioche were in the bag.

Our next, delicious “lesson” was at another bakery where we sampled a rustic plum tart. Let me just say that I have tried making plum tarts since we have a plum tree in our yard and my creations did not come close to the crumbly, sweet and tart loveliness that was this one from Les Petits Mitrons.

We stopped at a fancy foods store, where you might get a gift for your Parisian hostess if you were invited for dinner. So many pretty and delicious things! I am a soup fiend and wanted one of each of these bottled soups:

Last but not least was the cheese shop, La Fromagerie Lepic. Cheese is a huge deal in France. Like Champagne, which can only call itself Champagne if it is made in the region of Champagne (otherwise it’s called sparkling wine here in the US), French cheeses can only be given their regional name if made in the specific region by a specific method. We sampled a cheese course’s worth of cheeses, from mild to strong, as you would present at the table.

Because I was too busy stuffing my face with baguette and cheese, I only took pictures of four of the five cheeses we tried, but Clotilde kindly sent me the list of what we sampled:
– Banon (the goat cheese wrapped in chestnut leaves)
– Moelleux du Mont Revard (creamy mountain cheese with small holes)
– Morbier (with a layer of ash in the middle)
– Comté (mountain cheese)
– Roquefort (blue sheep’s milk)

The one picture I missed is the one of the Comté, but in the collage you can see the other four in order of listing, clockwise starting from bottom left. My favorites were the Banon and the Comté, but they were all really good. Clotilde brought a knife and plates and we sat on a bench to enjoy our cheese course.

Clotilde kept up a running commentary on what we were purchasing, along with various tidbits on the shops and traditions in Parisian food life. Like her blog and books, her way of speaking is full of knowledge but approachable. There is no condescension here, you feel like you are walking around with a long-time friend. I would highly recommend taking one of her tours if you are planning on visiting Paris.