Netherlands: Amsterdam

This summer my brother and his two college roommates got to come travel around Europe together. Talk about a perfect graduation celebration, right? So I got to join them for a few legs of the journey. They started and ended in Paris, all four of us cozied right up in my little mini apartment. Their trip went something like - Paris, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Munich, Prague, and back to Paris. Not bad.

I got to meet up with them in Amsterdam and it was such a great time. When Brandon and I were backpacking in the summer of 2008 we tried so hard to make our way to this city but we simply didn't have time for it. Not that I'm complaining, that trip was incredible. So I was very excited to finally explore.

Amsterdam is one beautiful place. It is so clean! Its wide main streets, extremely friendly people and beautiful canals were enough for me to want to stay forever. We explored the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum - which was my favorite. We had some delicious Dutch pancakes at a place simply named: Pancakes! and of course we had our fair share of french fries. Healthy, I know.

We visited the famous Red Light District which is not nearly as crazy as I was expecting but still, seeing the girls working in the windows and doors was shocking and for me, sad. 

I could spend some more time hanging out along those canals. 


Home Baking: Linzer Cookies

Simple and comforting - you can whip up these cookies in just about 30 minutes and with very little mess. Use your favorite jam, it doesn't have to be raspberry (my fav!). These are also really great to make with kids because you can make them into any shape or design you like! Happy baking!

Pate Sucreé

250g flour
100g butter (room temperature)
100g icing sugar
1 egg
20g water

sift the flour.
cream the butter and icing sugar together.
add the egg. mix until smooth and homogeneous.
add the sifted flour.
if using a mixer, beat until the dough comes together.
if using your hands, use your hands or a scrapper to "frasage" the dough. basically, take a handful of dough and press it into the table while sliding your hand or scrapper so the dough smears. once all the dough has been frasaged, gather it. wrap in plastic and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Roll out the dough to about 1 cm thick. Using a cookie cutter, cut out the shapes that you want your cookies to look like! You use two cut outs per cookie so make a lot of them! Cut out the center of half of the cookies and then lay them all on out of a sheet with baking paper and bake until golden brown. Let cool and then spread your favorite jam on the bottom piece and place the top (with the cut out center) on and voila! Bon appetit!


Paris Wine Bar: Avant Comptoir

Avant Comptoir is a gem of Paris. It is one extremely small place but is huge on atmosphere and deliciousness! There is a big mix of locals (Frenchies and expats) and tourists in the know (like you!) who cozy up next to the bar and each other for a glass of wine and some really great appetizers and crepes.

With standing room only it gets pretty crowded so try to go early. A lot of people stop in here before having dinner at their restaurant next door. I recommend the foie gras and making sure you get in on their communal bread basket and Bordier butter. On my last visit I discovered how great cheese and JAM are together. Who knew??

 If you are there for food make sure to look up! The menu is on the ceiling.

3 Carrefour de l’Odéon, 75006
Metro: Odeon
Open every day

Please excuse my exhausted looking eyes in this photo. This was the end of three weeks of visitors! I barely made it! (but always worth the lack of sleep!)


Time Flies

This year has been an adventure. One of the greatest years of my life I am sure of that. It has been full of excitement, challenges, new friends, old friends, love, FUN, traveling, pastry and so much more and it is about to start coming to a close. I can't believe it.

Sometimes it feels like I just arrived here and others it feels like I've been here for ages! It really depends on the day (I'm sure you other expats can relate to that feeling). I have less than two months left in France and it is getting to the point where I am trying to start really planning for my life back in the states. There is so much to do and not enough time to deal with it all, especially form another country.

Photo from my very first day in Paris

I'm having a lot of mixed feelings about moving home. Some days I am so excited to be back with my friends and family and in a comfortable place but other days I wonder how I could ever leave a place like Paris? I'm sure this is a normal thought process at this point but its not always the best feeling. I have accomplished, seen and experienced so much this year but I am always thinking of all the other places I want to see and things I want to do..but lets be honest - that list goes on for DAYS! I just want to do, see and eat everything possible! :)

I've never been good with goodbyes so I know saying farewell to Paris will be heartbreaking but I also know I have amazing things and people waiting for me at home. Paris truly is a moveable feast and I know it will stay with me for the rest of my life. I will always carry this city and this experience in my heart. But for now, I will try to indulge as much as possible for the next 8 weeks! (AH!...scary)

Ferrandi pastry class!

One thing I am very excited about it my upcoming trip to MADRID next month! Two of my best friends live there and I can not wait to spend Thanksgiving weekend with them! I have also loved Spain since I studied abroad in Barcelona in 2008 so I am very excited to go back and stuff my face with patatas bravas and sangria for days.

Granada, Spain circa 2008

Wondering what my plan is for life back in the good old US of A? Let's just say I won't be escaping the cold for too long. After a month of family time in the best place in America - California - I will be moving to Denver to be with Mike and Tay again.

Anyone know anything about the Denver area? I'm clueless!!

my loves


First Half Marathon - Check!

I am happy to report that I have survived my very first half marathon today! I can't believe it is over and that I didn't perish! It was such a great experience and I feel great about accomplishing one of my goals.

I started out feeling pretty good and keeping a good pace but of course as the miles passed it kept getting harder and harder. By mile 11 I was really struggling and trying to mentally push myself through to the end. Crossing the finish line was such a good feeling even though I felt like I was about to fall over my own two feet with my legs made out of jelly.

My time was 1 hour 58 minutes and I was really happy with that! My goal was to make it under 2 hours and I did just that! I couldn't help but laugh to myself when I found that part of the race was through the cobblestone streets and at the end I was rewarded with a baguette - only in France!

Big thanks to my supporters! I'm lucky to have such great friends!

Now it is time for recovery which might be as hard as the race. Is it normal for my ribs/stomach/lungs to be aching so badly?!

Have any of you run any races or accomplished any goals lately?
You runners have any recovery advice for me?

Ah, now off to the sweet dreams of advil pm induced sleep. Excited.


Mental Training!

3 days until RACE DAY! Ah, can't believe it! The past few weeks have been a struggle and I am no where near as trained and ready for this as I want to be but I am just going to go for it. See how it goes and then the next time I will train the way I was planning on for this one. I'm resting and trying to drink as much water as I can remember to consume. Do any of you guys have tips for the few days before a race?

What is best to eat the night before and morning of?
Any advice for shaking nerves or staying motivated?
What about MUSIC recommendations? I have to run with music to keep me going! 

I will be back to regular scheduled blogging after this weekend! Wish me luck! :) xo.


Dinner at Benoit

Who knew that Paris had restaurant week? "Tous au restaurant" is the French version and I am so happy that my friend told me about it in time to make a reservation at one of the city's oldest bistros. Benoit has been serving great French food since 1912 as a family restaurant until they passed it onto the world renowned chef Alain Ducasse in 2005 and he promised to stay true to their traditions while bringing Benoit into its future.

As you walk in you are taken back in time to an older Paris. It is beautiful, warm and cozy with the most amazing china I've ever seen. The service was lovely (rare in Paris!) and every single thing we ate was perfect. That includes the massive slab of butter that we devoured completely. We have no shame!

Thank goodness for the two for one prices during this special week because otherwise my poor little self would not have got to experience such a great and classically French meal in this city. Mmm, I love Paris!


Runner's Block

I developed a love for running towards the end of college and have been thinking about running a half marathon ever since then. Now, I am 6 days away from finally checking that off my to do list and I feel like my body is trying everything it can to stop me!

I have been suffering from pretty bad shin splints for the past month and have only been able to run 6 miles once in two weeks and it was a painful experience. Shooting pains up my left leg with each step I took. On top of that, I have been sick all week and on antibiotics but still not feeling normal at all. UGH! I'm so frustrated that this is all happening NOW when I have been training for this for two months!

Do any of you runners have any advice for me? I have a compression sleeve to help with my shin splints but I know it is going to hurt either way. Definitely a mental game involved now. I hope I can finish it! Wish me luck :(


Remember to DANCE & a recipe!

The best message I got on my birthday was an e-mail from Mike with a link to a you tube video. He said "its your birthday babe, remember to dance..."

Couldn't have said it better myself. I love this song and adore this video. Perfect way to wake up on my first day of 25!

Here is the recipe for the peach and hazelnut cream tart! Enjoy!!

Pate Sucre

250g flour
100g butter (room temperature)
100g icing sugar
1 egg
20g water

sift the flour.
cream the butter and icing sugar together.
add the egg. mix until smooth and homogeneous.
add the sifted flour.
if using a mixer, beat until the dough comes together.
if using your hands, use your hands or a scrapper to "frasage" the dough. basically, take a handful of dough and press it into the table while sliding your hand or scrapper so the dough smears. once all the dough has been frasaged, gather it. wrap in plastic and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Creme noisette

250g butter (softened)
250g sugar
250g hazelnut powder
200g eggs
50g flour
5g vanilla extract
50g cooled pastry cream
cream the sugar and butter together.
add the hazelnut powder and cream together.
add the eggs, one by one.
beat the mixture to "blanch" it. (make it white/lighter in color)
add sifted flour, mix.
add rum and vanilla. mix to combine. 
fold in pastry cream.cover and fridge.

2 white peaches, sliced.

roll out your pate sucree, poke the dough to make holes for steam while it bakes. line your tart ring or pan with the dough (decorate the edges if you want!) and bake until lightly golden (you are baking it again so you want it to be under baked at this point so it doesn't burn later). 

Let the shell cool for a few minutes (use this time to cut your peaches?) and then pipe or spread a layer of cream in the bottom of the shell. The cream will puff/rise a little in the oven so leave space for that. Place your peaches on top and bake again for about 20 minutes or until you see the cream browning around the edges. Let cool and bon appetit!


Quarter Century Club

I am officially a member. Yesterday was my 25th birthday! Eek, seems like a big scary number. I remember when I was younger and I thought I was going to have all my shizz together by this age. Nobody tells you that those chances are slim. I thought I would be in a stable, steady job making enough money to pretend I am a real adult but lets be honest, that is not where I am right now.

Where I am is SO much better than that. Of course I still think about settling down and making a living but I could not be more happy about where my life has led me up to this point. I mean, how many people get to do what I am doing? Live abroad in a beautiful city to pursue their dreams? Have so many friends and family come and explore Paris with me? Have found the love of my life and irreplaceable friendships? My life is pretty dang good if you ask me. So, as scary as 25 might sound I think it will be another incredible year. I'm excited to see what comes my way and embracing all that life is!

The best part of my whole birthday was seeing one of my BEST friends! Erin and I have been PIC's since she rushed Gamma Phi in 2006 and the love/obsession was made public during big/little week and we've been having a blast ever since. She just recently moved to Madrid to teach English and lives with her little/my grandlittle and they are living the dream over there. I can't wait to (hopefully) go to see their home next month!

Erin stayed all weekend and her face definitely made me cry when I saw her. I am so lucky to have her in my life. Not only is she a great friend but she is an inspiration and has taught me a lot about life, happiness and friendship. Thank you for being so amazing little!

To celebrate we got all our Paris friends together for dinner at a local Argentinean restaurant for empanadas and ice cream. It was great to finally have everyone together again.

Thank you to everyone who helped me celebrate and wished me happy birthday! You are all amazing and I'm so glad to have you in my life!

Merci beaucoup! 

PS- Old age is taking its toll. I am now sick in bed with a fever and the works! Worth it though. But the recipe for this tart will be coming soon! xo