Sunday, January 31, 2016

Dreaming of France -- Bursts of Color in A French Market

Thank you for joining this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.

One beautiful thing about France is all the outdoor markets. Once we live there, I look forward to doing most of my shopping at the markets.

These oranges were at a market in Marseille. 

Flowers are ubiquitous in French markets. I imagine that everyone takes time to make their apartments more beautiful by treating themselves to a bouquet of flowers. 

Here's a collection of colorful baskets, which would be handy to use when carrying home all of my belongings from the market.

The markets always have scarves, tablecloths or even bolts of material.

Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France.  

French Book Giveaway -- I See London I See France

As I continue to clear out my book shelves, I thought I'd include one of my novels for a paperback giveaway. I See London I See France is the story of Caroline, mother of three young children, who sells her minivan and runs off to Europe, with the kids in tow, to rediscover herself. She imagines Europe will solve her problems because of the delightful year she spent as an au pair in France, and the novel is interspersed with her remembrances of more carefree days.

Obviously, I haven't reviewed this one, but I thought I'd include a few reviews from Amazon.
French Village Diaries wrote: Paulita’s writing went straight to my head; I felt every emotion Caroline was feeling, so much so this book affected my mood even when I wasn’t reading it. This book has a great story line, moved along at a nice pace and with some added interest as it jumped back and forward from the present to her time in Aix en Provence as a nanny in the late 1990’s. This is a book I will read again and I hope Paulita is busy working on her next novel.
Judy wrote:  I really liked the story. Maybe it spoke to me as a mother and wife, or maybe it spoke to me as a women who wonders who she may have become if she had made different choices. Caroline was strong in lots of ways. I never would have traveled any where alone or with my kids. I am definitely a coward in that respect.
This story is my favorite of Paulita's books. I am glad I know Paulita as a fellow blogger. Way to go, Paulita.
Pam wrote: I'm not a voracious reader but I read this book in two sittings. I had to put it down for a week, due to other obligations, during which Caroline was constantly on my mind.
I highly recommend this exciting page turner. I have to admit, I was a skeptic. Running off to Europe has never entered my mind when life has gotten rocky. But who hasn't wondered, just how did I get here and where is that young vibrant person I was before all my current attachments and obligations. How did this happen. Well, Caroline has history in Europe so that made perfect sense. As a lover of memoirs this story did not disappoint. Every step, thought, feeling and event was absolutely believable, yet amazing at the same time. I laughed, I cried, I worried and I cheered. Caroline revisits who she was, and examines who she has become. She rediscovers passions left behind while rediscovering a passion for her current life.
​I recommend reading other reviews, some written by authors themselves, if you are not convinced this book is worth your time. (Good Reads). Reviews so eloquently written that I enjoy reading them just for the shared enjoyment of the story. "Yes that's what I thought too" !!!
I hope you'll enter the contest to win a paperback copy of I See London I See France
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

FranceBookTours -- The 6:41 to Paris

It's always interesting to read a book written by a French author and translated into English. The gap between what an American author writes and what a French author writes seems huge. So little physical action can happen in a French book, yet encapsulate countries and decades.
The 6:41 to Paris is written by Jean-Philippe Blondel and translated by Alison Anderson. It's named after the train to Paris that Cécile catches on a Monday morning after she spent the weekend visiting her parents' home in rural France. A man she once dated, 27 years before, comes down the aisle and sits next to her. 
Their inner monologues cover the relationship, the breakup and the lives they've led since then before they finally speak to each other. 
No one every warned us that life would be long.Those easy slogans that make your heart beat faster, like "carpe diem" or "die young" -- all that stuff was just nonsense. No one told us, either, that the hardest thing would not be breaking up, but decay. The disintegration of relationships, people, tastes, bodies, desire. Until you reach a sort of morass where you no longer know what it isyou love. Or hate. And it's not as unpleasant a condition as you might think. It's just lifelessness. With scattered spots of light.
I like the description of these thoughts, but I'm terrified that I could end up like these two! Their feelings for each other, their thoughts about the lives they've led are sad.

But Cécile has done more with her life than Philippe. She has less to regret but a stronger since of hatred and embarrassment.

I have this boldness in me. Deep-rooted. I stifled it for years, smothered it to keep it buried, but it comes out with the explosiveness of a champagne cork whenever I feel a certain pressure, the way I did then. Now I know how to use it to my advantage. It's very useful in meetings, negotiations, sales contracts. Sometimes it makes my colleagues or competitors blush, but basically they like to see a display of nerve. A sharpness of tone. The sharp edge of the guillotine. 

This book has some lovely writing and delves deep into relationships left behind.

Jean-Philippe Blondel was born in 1964 in Troyes, France where he lives as an author and English teacher. His novel The 6:41 to Paris has been a bestseller in both France and Germany.


Alison Anderson is a novelist and translator of literature from French. Among the authors she has translated are JMG Le Clézio, Christian Bobin, Muriel Barbery and Amélie Nothomb. She has lived in Northern California and currently lives in a village in Switzerland.
Follow New Vessel Press on Twitter | on Facebook
Sign up to receive their latest news and deals.


You can enter the global giveaway here or on any other book blogs participating in this tour. Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook, they are listed in the entry form below.

Enter here

Visit each blogger on the tour: tweeting about the giveaway everyday of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time! [just follow the directions on the entry-form] Global giveaway open to US residents only: = 2 participants will each win a print copy of this book.



641 to paris banner2


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tuesday Intros -- A Star for Mrs. Blake

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.

I've started giving away books set in France, as you can see by the post on the right side of my blog, and as I looked through books, I found one that I hadn't read. It's called A Star for Mrs. Blake by April Smith and I won it in a giveaway. The book, set in 1931, focuses on five women, gold-star mothers whose sons died in World War I, who travel together to the American Cemetery in France.
Cora Blake was certainly not planning on going to Paris that spring. Or ever in her lifetime. She was the librarian in a small town on the tip of an island off the coast of  Maine, which didn't mean she'd never traveled. She did spend two years at Colby College in Waterville and visited family in Portland, went to Arizona once, and if you counted yachting, knew most of the New England coast. Her mother had been the great adventurer, married to a sea captain who'd taken her all around the world. Cora was born off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, which might account for her venturesome spirit, but now she roamed only in books. Summer people from North Carolina and Boston would stop by the quaint old library building to chat, and wonder how she could stand to live in such a tiny place with those terrible winters.
"I have everything I want right on the island," she'd say. "We're so off the beaten path, you've got to be satisfied with the way it is."
 I'm not crazy about this opening, but I'll give the book a chance. Any novel that takes me to France might win my heart.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Dreaming of France -- Southern France

Thank you for joining this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.

Yesterday, I had a lovely Skype conversation with my friend Delana who moved to Aix en Provence for a year and never came back to the States. 
She's answering questions about how to transition to France. So we talked about things like when to apply for our Carte de Sejour. I didn't even know that we needed to do that!
Delana suggested we come over in May for a few weeks to feel out the area in Languedoc and decide where we would like to rent an apartment for a few months while looking for a house.
Earl and I both jumped at the chance to visit France this year and immediately started calculating how expensive the trip would be. 
I found an apartment in Nimes for 10 days. Nimes is right on the cusp between Provence and Languedoc, but technically in Languedoc.

 I thought Nimes would be a perfect place to stay so that we could visit Delana and tour Languedoc. That's when I remembered that Earl and I had visited Nimes before, on our bicycle trip through Provence.
We started in Avignon. 
This is me in front of the Pont de Avignon
We rode our bikes 40 miles that first day from Avignon to see the Pont du Gard, the famous Roman aqueduct.

I don't know why, but it surprised me that we could ride our bikes across something that old!

And here's another shot after we had crossed. 
At the end of the day, we arrived in Nimes where we spent the night. Our hotel was located across the street from a Roman amphitheater, and we also toured some Roman gardens. 
As much as we'd love to, we may not get to visit France this spring, but I know that next May we'll definitely be flying across the ocean as we look for a new home in France.

French Book Giveaway -- The Sisters of Versaille

As my husband and I start preparing for our move to France, in one year and 117 days, I'm giving away some of my books set in France. This week, it's a historical novel called The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie. I reviewed this one for FranceBookTours and you can find the review here.
The novel, based on a true story, is about a family of five sisters, four of whom became mistresses to the king, Louis XV during the 18th century.
The book gives a true feel for the sumptuous, wasteful lifestyles of many of the royalty during this period of French history, but also delves into the emotions of the characters. I enjoyed this one and I think you will too.
I have a paperback copy that I will mail to you if you're the winner.
There are several ways to enter, beginning with leaving a comment on my blog.
Good luck, and I'll notify you next Sunday if you won so I can send you the novel.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Breakfast Obsession

I am obsessed with breakfast food lately. And not just at breakfast.
In the past two weeks, I've made blueberry yogurt muffins -- twice. I prepared croissants and pineapple for breakfast before Spencer returned to school.

Last Sunday, I fixed pancakes and sausage for lunch when we got home from mass.
On Tuesday, as I worked out at the YMCA, someone on TV was talking about French toast. I made French toast when I returned home, just for myself because everyone else was asleep or at work.
On Wednesday, I prepared Belgian waffles and bacon for dinner.
This morning, I cooked scrambled eggs with sauteed tomatoes.
I'm not sure why I've been fixated on breakfast food.
When I was a kid, I refused to eat breakfast food. My mom or I would fix half of a peanut butter sandwich, and I would go to school after eating the folded over sandwich and drinking a cup of milk.
Hopefully, I'm just getting all of these delicious breakfast foods out of my system.
I think my family would agree that the yummiest are the blueberry yogurt muffins.
Here's the recipe from Taste of Home website.


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
But I make these even more caloric by adding a streusel topping from the Southern Living cookbook.
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter softened
Mix the streusel and sprinkle on top of the muffins.
Hope I didn't make you all hungry.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Concussions Suck -- But It Could Be Worse

On Sunday, Grace was rehearsing with her dance ensemble when she got dropped on her head. She called me before she drove home. The choreographer had urged her not to drive. She called me from her car as she sat in the parking lot.
Did you lose consciousness? Do you feel nauseated? I asked the normal parenting questions after your kid hits her head.
Just drive home, I encouraged her.
Here's Grace as Nancy in Oliver -- the last show she was in. 
She called the doctor's office on Monday, but they were closed for Martin Luther King Day.
Grace had a headache, but she continued her normal life, going to rehearsal for her musical on Monday night. As a concession to her head bump, she didn't do the dance numbers at rehearsal.
Tuesday, she got an appointment with the doctor, but had to be at work at 8 a.m. She went to work and got off early. She called me then because the doctor said she had a concussion.
"The only way you're getting away with this is because you're young," the doctor scolded.
She was ordered home with no work, no rehearsal, no screens. "Rest your brain," the doctor told her.
I'm hopeful that Grace's concussion isn't too severe since she hasn't been intolerant of light and sound, like some people with concussions are. She turns the television on then faces away from it so she can hear it even if she isn't allow to watch it.
We tried watching War and Peace, the miniseries, but it got too complicated with me trying to describe to Grace each actor and each scene. We decided we'd hold off and watch it when she recovered.
The hardest thing for her has been resisting her telephone -- the lifeline of the 20 something year old. No texting. No Facebook. No games or clips of cute little owls taking refuge from the rain under a mushroom. She was allowed to knit as long as she didn't make a complicated pattern that required her to think too much.
She's been knitting these mermaid tail blankets. She gave this to our niece Regan for Christmas. 
I didn't think of it right away because I'm not a huge homeopathy kind of person, but by today, day five, I did go to Whole Foods and buy some arnica. I pried Grace out of bed around 1 p.m. and gave her some arnica to let it melt under her tongue. Arnica is supposed to help with bruising and trauma. Grace took some acetaminophen too, which is the pain medicine she's allowed to take. After a meal and a shower, she looked at me in surprise. "My head isn't hurting!" she said. 
That's huge. Maybe it's the arnica, maybe it's just the days of resting her brain, but any day without a headache is a success.
I should have thought of the arnica because just this week, I had more proof that it helped. For Christmas, I had sent my parents a basket of things that I picked up at the farmer's market. Included in the package was an ointment with arnica. My father was having foot and leg pain, and I asked mom if she had tried the ointment on it. When I talked to them last night, they told me his pain was much better and he'd been able to get some sleep. So maybe there is something to this arnica. At least, I plan to keep giving it to Grace and I'll get more ointment for her on Saturday so she can rub it on her neck, which the doctor said was swollen.  
Tomorrow, she's scheduled to return to work, so I'll keep my fingers crossed that  she heals quickly, as a 23-year-old does.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Teaser Tuesday -- In Another Life

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.

I have another French book to read. This one is titled In Another Life by Julie Christine Johnson and I'll be reviewing it for FranceBookTours, although I'm not sure of the day, some time in February because the book is scheduled to be released on Feb. 2.
After becoming a widow, historian Lia Carrer travels to southern France where she falls in love and becomes entangled in an old murder.
This book is set in Languedoc, the area that my husband and I hope to move to, so I'm looking
forward to this read.
Here's the intro:
Eighteen months after her husband's death, Lia Carrer returned to Languedoc like a shadow in search of light. From inside the airport terminal's glass atrium, the gray blanket over Paris looked no different from the Seattle sky she'd left behind. But the City of Light was not her final destination. The high-speed train known as the TGV departed directly from Charles de Gaulle and would carry her five hundred miles south to Narbonne in fewer than five hours.
Once aboard the TGV, Lia sank into her reserved window seat. Echoes of jet engines and loudspeakers reverberated in her head, but the sounds of train travel -- doors opening and closing with a pnuematic whoosh, air slamming between passing cars -- reassured her that her journey was nearly over. She was back on solid ground. Soothed by the slight swaying motion of the moving train. Lia gazed out the window and allowed France to absorb her. 

I really like this opening and hope the rest of the book sucks me in too.
I'm looking forward to finding out what you're reading.
I'm doing a book giveaway each week. Scroll down to enter for a chance to win A Paris Apartment this week. The drawing will be Sunday.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Dreaming of France -- Ile aux Cygnes with Friends

Thank you for joining this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.
Make sure you scroll down to Sunday's post for a chance to win a copy of a book set in France. I plan to give away a number of books set in France over the next few weeks, or months.

Before we went to France last spring, I saw an article about Ile aux Cygnes, which means Isle of the Swans. It's a mandmade island in the middle of the Seine. Apparently, it was created so people could watch the boat races in the Seine.
It's very long and narrow with some lovely views of the city.

We met our French friends who put off their trip to Poland for a day so we could rendez-vous in Paris. They had never walked along Ile aux Cygnes before either.

The Eiffel Tower is visible from so many points in the city. 

The island is lined with trees, and in March they had only a slight green fuzz, but I'm sure it's a wonderful leafy walk in the summer. Our friend Michel led the way with his map. 

My friend Danuta and I posed at the end of the island for a picture. Danuta and I have been friends since 1985 when I traveled to France as an au pair for two American girls. Her own daughters were around the same sage and we spent the summer exploring the countryside around the family house. Her husband Michel and my charges' father were cousins. 
Every time we visit France, we see Danuta and Michel, either at their home in Nantes or in Paris.

 I can't wait until we can host them in our home in France. 

French Book Giveaway -- A Paris Apartment

In only one year and 124 days, I'll be moving to France.
I know this because my husband set up a countdown clock.
That seems like forever to wait, but I know the time will sneak up on me.
One way I've decided to prepare is by giving away some books. Rather than dropping them off at the local Goodwill, I thought it might be fun to have a book giveaway every Sunday, the day before Dreaming of France.
This week, I'd like to give one of you a hardback copy of A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable. I reviewed this book in October 2014 for FranceBookTours. You can read my review here, if you're interested.
I enjoyed the rich details in this novel, which took place in present time and the Belle Epoque in Paris.
I'm sure you'll love to get your hands on a copy.
So sign up below. Please leave a comment and let me know how to reach you in case you win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Saturday Snapshots -- Friends

Join West Metro Mommy for this weekly meme of photos people have taken and share on their blogs.
In spite of the hectic holiday season in December, we managed to gather as friends on a couple different nights.
This is a picture of us at Italian Market in Italian Village. These friends were the parents in my homeschooling group. They were my village that helped raise my children, assuring me, cautioning me, loving me.
Only one of these couples has a child they still homeschool, but that hasn't broken the bond of friendship.
It's so great that so many of us could enjoy each other the week after Christmas.

I hope everyone has an equally supportive group of friends that they see, if only occasionally, as we do. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Joie de Vivre

Sometimes, getting caught up in life, you don't realize how good life is.
I've become one of those persons who is anticipating my future -- a move to France.
But I hadn't realized how much I'm enjoying my life in our small city on the edge of downtown Columbus until I talked with someone who is not happy.
Of course, I meet plenty of people who spend time complaining, don't we all, including me.
On Tuesday, the snow started to fall in the morning. Lying in bed, I asked my husband to look out the window to see if the streets were slippery. He said the streets were still black, so I dressed and went out on a run.
The snow aimed for my face, except when I ran east, but I couldn't simply run east, so I blinked my eyes and swiped the wetness off my face. My miles were slow because the snow covered the street and I ran carefully not to slip. I skirted past kids with heavy backpacks on their way to school. I waved to the crossing guard waiting to usher kids across the street. I stopped under the awning of the library to text Sheila and see if we planned to walk that morning. Then I took a selfie to show the snow.
And I smiled.

Running in the snow if such a freeing feeling. And maybe that's because I didn't have to go to work. I had the entire day to curl up in front of the fireplace and write or bake some blueberry muffins or watch House Hunters.
When I returned home, I pulled out a big broom to sweep the inch of dry, powdery snow from the sidewalk. I glanced at the untouched snow in the yard, and I knew I had to make a snow angel. So I stood with my back to the virgin white powder, and I cautiously fell backward. I waved my arms and legs in the snow, immediately feeling the wetness through my cotton pants.

Next came the tricky part. I had to get up without ruining the lines of the snow angel. With difficulty, I got to my feet and started to stand so I could step away.
That's when my neighbor called out.
"Are you okay?"
I laughed. "Yes, I'm just making a snow angel."
She'd been afraid that I'd fallen in the snow. I guess I was lucky she didn't call an ambulance to hoist me up.
I told that story on Wednesday night out with writing friends. One of my friends, Erin, who just turned 40, but seems much younger, looked puzzled.
"I guess I've never felt the spontaneous joy to make a snow angel," she said.
That's when I was jolted into my reality. I'm pretty happy. Running is a big part of that happiness.
It let's me release stress and fills my bloodstream with endorphins, no matter what the day holds.
This morning, after a 5-mile run, I paused to wonder at the sun rise, a flush of pink behind the city skyline. Sometimes I take a picture of the amazing things I see; others, I remind myself to live in the moment. The vision in my head is enough without pulling out the cell phone.
Even though I'm looking forward to the next part of my life in May 2017 when we move to France, I'm enjoying this one too.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Dreaming of France -- Five Nights in Paris

Please join this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France.

Even in a scaled-back Christmas, there's room for books. My husband gave me a book called Five Nights in Paris: After Dark in the City of Light by John Baxter. It's a guidebook to nightlife in Paris.

I have to admit that our evenings in Paris mostly consist of eating very late dinners and walking the streets of Paris in hopes that a 1920s car will appear and pick us up, like in Midnight in Paris. We also occasionally go to concerts, like a fabulous one in Sainte Chapelle. Saint Chapelle by day is breathtaking.
This photo of Sainte Chapelle is from Paris Digest.

When people ask me what they should see in Paris, I tell them to go to the second floor of Saint Chapelle and stand in the blue light. The stained glass windows stretch tall and sparkle the floor with their colors. But in the evenings, on the first floor, if you're lucky, there might be a concert of beautifully crafted violins and cellos played by musicians dressed in black. The lights in the chapel are not turned on, but instead candles flicker along the wall sconces. And the music soars wonderfully once bow is put to strings.
Other than that, my Paris nightlife is fairly limited, so I look forward to reading this book for some other entertainment ideas.
After nine initial stories, the book is broken down into the five senses, like "Blues in the Night," "Proposing a Toast," "Skin-Deep," "Gardens of the Night" and "Frenzy and Darkness." The titles are intriguing and I'm sure that they'll make me long for Paris even more.

Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France. I hope you'll visit the blogs of others who play along too.

Catching Up With My Family

Now that everyone has heard enough about my husband (see previous 12 posts), its time to reassess what is going on with my family.

The holidays have luckily stretched out for us with college not starting again until tomorrow for Spencer. He'll head out into the snow to his university an hour and a half away. I've firmly told him that I want him to leave in time to drive in the daytime. The road is a nice 4-lane highway for most of the way, but once he gets to Athens, the hills and dips in the road might make things treacherous.
I'm trying not to get too excited, but Spence met a girl his first week home at an ugly Christmas sweater party and they've been dating since. She's his age and lives not too far away. She does go to another college, but we'll see how they balance this once they're both back at school. Generally, he dates a lot of different girls, but this one seems different. I've long suspected that a steady relationship would be good for him, so we'll see.
As for Tucker, my 19-year-old has once again decided not to go back to his college. Instead, he'll stay home and take classes at the nearby community college. He think he has a major he's interested in -- sports videography. So he's taking classes in videography with a sports management degree. I hope he stays excited about it. He could have continued at Ohio University with a degree in journalism, but I was paying $4000 for three classes, along with $2000 per semester for his apartment. I still have to pay for his apartment even though he isn't living there, but the cost for classes, 5 classes, will be less than $2000. Plus, he is already back working at his previous job as a delivery driver for Jimmy Johns. He's working five or six days a week.
The drawback of course is that 19-year-olds generally aren't that pleasant to live with. Hopefully, we'll all be busy enough that we don't trip over each other. And his long-time girlfriend, he's been dating her for a year and a half, which is nearly a 10 of his life, lives here in Columbus and has her own apartment. That should help too.
Grace continues to enjoy her job and has health benefits now, along with a free gym membership, paid vacation. She's thrilled about that. She's rehearsing for a show now How to Succeed in Business Without Even Trying, where she's in the ensemble, but it's a producer with good connections so she's trying to cement ties with him so he can help her find jobs in the future. She was asked to audition for a paid show, and she tries out tonight. She also sent in her resume for an independent movie that is shooting in Columbus and got asked to audition for that -- a female serial killer.
The more engaged my children are with their lives, they happier they seem, so I'm all for busy schedules as they spread their wings. She's also been dating one guy for nearly half a year. The drama in my house reduces greatly when everyone has a steady boyfriend or girlfriend.
The kitten which Earl rescued in November has finally gone to a new home. Tucker's girlfriend took him in. The other cats are starting to trust that the kitten is gone. They slowly start to sleep in the living room or bedrooms again rather than cowering in the basement.
The kitten, who is now called Thomas, had to visit on Friday. His apartment was being sprayed for bugs. The kitten remembered everything about living here, and, unfortunately, the cats remembered the kitten. Our house was full of hisses that day until he left.

I'm teaching five classes this semester, but one of the colleges where I teach doesn't begin until next week, so I still have more down time. Yay! Another of the colleges where I teach started last week, so I'm easing into my new schedule. I've been in a down period as far as writing goes, but I'm planning to buckle down this week and get Paris Runaway revised.
As for me and Earl, remember that things aren't perfect, but we enjoy spending time together and we have a countdown clock for our move to France: One year, 131 days and the hours count down.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

12 Days of Appreciation -- Day 12

I accidentally skipped yesterday, which would have been Day 12, but it isn't because I don't appreciate my husband. I started teaching again yesterday and the day got away from me.
Another thing, a 12th thing that I love about my husband is that he always finds me beautiful.
I was 25 when we met, 27 when we married. I weighed 118 pounds.

Times have changed.
No matter how much weight I gain or lose, my husband tells me that I'm beautiful. No matter how short or long my hair gets, straight or curly, glasses or contacts, he still tells me that I'm beautiful.
And whether I believe him or not, it's nice to hear it after 25 years of marriage.

Here we are at the entry to Le Riad, a Moroccan restaurant in Aix en Provence

Monday, January 04, 2016

12 Days of Appreciation -- Day 11

Even after 25 years of marriage, my husband is still romantic.
Being romantic probably covers a lot of those other categories I've written about, like giving me backrubs and wanting to make me happy.
He loves spending time with me, just the two of us.

A lot of times, we'll walk to the coffee shop. Or we'll go to the grocery store or take a walk to return the library books. It doesn't really matter what we do, just that we're together. 
Tonight, he's prepared to watch The Bachelor with me, not because he enjoys the reality show, but because it's another way to spend time with me. 

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Dreaming of France -- Books Set in France

Please join this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France.

When I wrote my first book set in France, I had a hard time finding any novels or memoirs that took place in France. I'd been seduced by Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence, and I wanted to read more books that took me to Paris or Provence.
Since then, the field has become much more crowded, but I'm not complaining about it. I enjoy reading so many books with France as the backdrop, even as I continue to write my own novels.
Linda Kovic-Skow, author of the memoir French Illusions, has started a page on Goodreads called The Francophiles Group. It provides a place for French lovers to talk about books they've read and also offers book giveaways. This week, my novel, The Summer of France is available.
So if you're a member of Goodreads (and if you love to read, you should be), then you can join The Francophile Group. And while you're there, feel free to sign up to win a copy of The Summer of France. If you've already read it, then just go back later this month for another giveaway.

The banner on The Francophiles Group banner changes as new books are added. 
So if you love France and you love reading books set in France, join us on Goodreads. 
Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France. I'd love it if you'd stick with me as I begin to prepare for my own move to France in less than a year and a half. 

12 Days of Appreciation -- Day 10

I didn't realize it when I married him, but my husband is very good at fixing things. In spite of the fact that he's a journalist, he has a real mechanical bent. He can look at things and figure out how they go together and which part might be causing the problem.
When I told him a few days ago that the dryer smelled  hot, he pulled it out and cleaned the lint from the dryer vent and attached a new one.
When Tucker got a new analog watch and couldn't figure out how to set it, my husband realized that the bar over the knob simply snapped off to allow the stem to be pulled out and the watch to be set.
When someone drove past Spencer's car and knocked the side mirror off, my husband tracked down another mirror and watched a Youtube video that showed how to attach a new mirror so the mechanics worked and the mirror could be adjusted electrically, even though it included taking the door panel off.
It is such a relief to have a husband who can fix things without needing to call a repair person every time. And it takes a certain amount of patience to be able to take things apart and put them together.
I'm grateful my husband has mechanical aptitude.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

12 Days of Appreciation -- Day 9

Here I am on day 9 of reasons why I appreciate my husband. In case you have not been following along raptly (ha!), I find it helpful to remind myself how lucky I got 25 years ago when I married him. I'm not trying to say that I have a perfect marriage, only that marriage takes work and focusing on the positives instead of the negatives.
Another thing I appreciate about my husband is that he is much better at de-escalating fights than I am. I'm stubborn. I grab onto a point and won't let it go.
I reasonably know how to fight fair, to focus on I statements and explain how things make me feel, but my actions don't always follow the logical fight pattern.
Not every time, but many times when we are in the middle of an argument, my husband can pivot, concede a point, apologize for a specific thing that he did, let me know that he hears my point even if he doesn't agree. Any of those things can help to lessen the argument.
Here's my husband with one of the kids hanging onto him as they gaze out at Lake Huron.
I've learned lessons from him about arguing, not that I can always apply them, but I'm pretty sure my marriage wouldn't have lasted this long if he didn't know how to de-escalate.

Friday, January 01, 2016

12 Days of Appreciation -- Day 8

Today, on the first day of the new year, after staying late at a party, my husband got out of bed and went to work. Someone always has to work holidays at the newspaper. He doesn't complain about it. 
And he has worked hard at his daily job since I first met him. His salary has been the one that supported our family, giving me the luxury to stay home when the kids were little. 
I appreciate that my husband is a hard worker and good provider. 

First Day Wrong Turn

Are you familiar with the superstition that whatever you do on the first day of the year,  you'll be doing throughout the year?
"Whatever a person does on this day will influence his activity for the rest of the year." 
That's according to the website New Year's Superstitions.
So every year, I try to make sure that I run on the first day of the year.
But what do you do if things have already gone awry after the stroke of midnight. One of the first communications I had after midnight was a spat. And no, we didn't talk through it and reach a resolution. Instead, I went to bed (finally) angry.
I got a call this morning from a friend whose New Year started off badly too.
When I woke up early, my stomach was upset. I wish I could say it was because I drank too much, but I only had one glass of wine. So instead of a run, I spent the morning in the bathroom.
Now, the hour grows close to noon, and I wonder how the rest of you turn around a new year that starts off badly?
I suppose, I could assume that I'm getting the bad out of the way and the rest of 2016 will be joyful.
Hope everyone else is having a lovely first day of the year.

Cockadoodle Doo or Cocorico?

 We stood in the middle of the road, having walked together 13 miles that day and Claudine grasped my forearm. "Mais non! It doesn'...