Thursday, August 11, 2011

My 30th Birthday

It's here.  The dreaded 3-0.  I really wasn't looking forward to this birthday.  It just sounds old.  I know those of you who are much older and wiser than me think I am being silly, but don't you agree that 30 sounds so much older than 29?  But now that I have reached this landmark, I can say that I really don't feel old.  And I really don't feel older than I did a month ago.  So I've decided to embrace my thirty-ness.  And what better place to enter into this next stage of my life than Paris!

My actual day of birth was all about eating.  I think everyone's birthday should start with a pain aux amandes (a croissant type pastry, filled with almonds and chocolate).  Don't worry, it is not high in calories. 

For dinner we went to Les Cocottes, a darling restaurant in our neighborhood.  The chef, Christian Constant, serves every dish in a "cocotte", which is a type of French cookware that can go straight from the oven to the table. 

A glimpse inside the window of Les Cocottes.

My salad - poached egg and bacon.  

Main course:  veal with potatoes

Dessert - Chocolate Tarte

Both of our meals were utterly fantastic.  We pretty much had to roll home from dinner. :)

On Sunday (I always like to celebrate my birthday for two days...ha!), we celebrated with a day of walking.  We figured this was necessary after our day of eating!  We wandered all over Paris and then ended up at Paris Plages, or Paris Beaches.  Every August, the city brings in TONS of sand, palm trees, and beach chairs, and they attemp to create a beach along the Seine.  It was a little weird to see people sunbathing along the river...

Disneyland Paris sculpted some pretty amazing sandcastles!

There was even beach volleyball!

So all in all, my 30th b-day was pretty amazing.  I'm looking forward to what my 30s have in store for me!

A Flood on the 7th Floor!

So, living on the 7th floor (which is actually the 8th floor by American standards), I never imagined that I could encounter a flood.  Well, apparently I was wrong.  There was a pretty bad storm last week that dumped a ton of water all at once.  It was raining so hard that I couldn't even see the Eiffel Tower out of my window.

Where did the tower go?!

I didn't realize until a few minutes into the storm that the gutter outside of my apartment was clogged.  My entire balcony was flooding!  If it got much higher, it would have started seeping into my apartment.  So, I ventured outside with a broom, jammed the end of it down the gutter, and managed to get the water flowing again!

The storm is almost over...

Rainbow out the back of my apartment!

Literally minutes after the storm ended.

Friday, August 5, 2011

What a Month!

Wow- I can't believe it has already been a month since my last post.  So much has happened!  I'll start with our 3rd anniversary.  Although we had already celebrated the weekend before with our trip to Champagne, we got to celebrate again with Dustin's mom, sister and aunt!  They arrived on our big day and took us out to dinner at a cute little bistro down the street from our apartment. 

On our balcony before leaving for dinner.

Dustin, Jerry, Carly, and Connie

During their visit, we did all kinds of things in Paris...ate the world's best ice cream, visited Galeries Lafayette, and went on a chocolate tour.  One of my favorite things was visiting Napoleon's Apartments in the Louvre.  They just drip with extravagance...truly a sight to see!

On July 14th (Bastille Day), we celebrated France's independence with a trip to the market to gather food for dinner.  We had quite the feast at Megan's apartment that night!!  Wine, several cheeses, bread, dips, stuffed olives, veggies, saucisson, and macarons...

Later that night, we walked to the Champ de Mars and watched fireworks set to Broadway music.  What a fun night!

The next day we (Dustin and all the girls!!) took off for a weekend in Amsterdam.  The highlight of the trip was an all-day tour of Holland.  The little towns we visited throughout the day had so much character!

Dustin outside of a wooden shoe factory.

Delft Factory

Delft Pottery

After a fantastic weekend, it was time to get ready to head back to the US of A!  Unfortunately, Dustin didn't get to come with us.  Once home, I spent a few days in Kentucky, where we had Mexican food (sour cream, baby!), went shopping, and played with the twins (who just turned one!).  Then, I set off in the Blazer with Rudy and drove to Indiana to see my family. 

It was great being on the open road with my pup, radio tuned to a country station, and a Diet Coke from McDonald's in hand.  Talk about perfection!  And I hadn't forgotten how to drive! 

The next week and a half went WAY too quickly.  I was able to pack so much in - family, friends, eating, and shopping!

Eating corn on the cob - DELISH!

Catching up with Mikie at Old Town Tavern!


Rascal Flatts concert with Mikie - it was just like old times!

Sarah Evans opening for Rascal Flatts

Thanks to Mikie's parents for our fabulous seats!

With Maggie at the NKOTBSB concert...which was AMAZING.

Carly, Ashlee, Tiffany, me, Dana...thanks for driving up to go to the concert, ladies!!

Chi O night at Abby's...I love these girls!

Thanks, Liz, for my birthday brownie.  :)

My adorable puppy...miss her so much...

My last weekend in the states, I drove up to Michigan to see friends.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures!  Thanks to Dan and Heather for their hospitality!  It was wonderful seeing my old small group buddies. 

On my last day in the states, my family took me out for my birthday to Cheesecake Factory.  I had already gained about 6 pounds since my arrival, so why not go ahead and have a slice of cheesecake too?  :)

It was wonderful to be home.  There were so many thing I had forgotten, waiters/waitresses who smile, how easy it is to be around old friends, the comfort of mom's cooking, multiple country stations to choose from, the joy of walking up and down every aisle in Target, and so much more.  Through tears, I said goodbye to my family and my doggy.  It was hard to head back to Paris, although I was excited to see Dustin.  I think he knew how difficult it would be to return, so he had flowers waiting for me when I got home from the airport.  :)  Although I wish (almost daily) that I could be back in the states, I am definitely excited for our next European adventure!