Apparently, February is for lovers and I made my husband agree that we were not falling victim to it’s overpriced sentimentality. I like a handmade card. My husband likes to eat. I think baked goods are in our future for the holiday. It’s good to think about these things in advance, no?
I have a philosphy about the new year and resolutions – make them fun and easy. For 2014, I decided to “lose the baby weight”. I don’t actually have weight to lose but I do feel I let myself go a bit after the baby was born and it is time that I get back on track. I intend to regularly pluck, paint, wax, shave, condition and thread those bits of me that I want plucked, painted, waxed, shaved, conditioned and threaded. I started early and got my brows done on Christmas Eve and it really made me feel so good! I felt confident and strangely calm. A big part of my resolution was to look good for my husband (because that is important to me – I’m not suggesting that is should be important to anyone else), however, I used to always take care of these things when I was single so I know it’s not just about him.
I am also putting forth the effort to give myself private bathroom time every night. Until now, I just did the bare minimum of teeth brushing and face washing as quickly possible. I am rediscovering the benefits of closing the bathroom door for a leisurely session of pore extraction. I don’t yet know when I can move up to actual nail painting however, the baby still nurses to sleep and I don’t want to expose her to all those fumes. I am trying to find some of those press on nail “polishes” in natural shades but all I see are those crazy, teen-age patterns and textures.
I bought a new long lasting lip gloss – YSL Rouge Pur Couture Verni A Levres Glossy Stain (Sheesh! What a long name!) and it’s creamy, natural looking, and somewhat kiss-proof – a nice, elegant “mom” choice, I think.
The biggest change for 2014, I am resolving to wear my contact lenses again. I cannot believe I wore my off-prescription glasses for over a year! I am so unused to the idea that I am little scared! But I have done it two days in a row now and I hope that I can continue this successful streak throughout the year. It may not sound like a big deal to you but it is to me.
And that’s the thing about resolutions – they should be important to you and make you feel good!
One last resolution I made for 2014 is to buy my husband more presents. He likes presents. Also, his closet needs some updating. He brings me flowers just because so I’ll bring him a couple of new pairs of socks or a new chef’s coat, or a leather belt randomly, when it’s not his birthday. That’s what wives do, right?
Happy New Year and may 2014 bring you trim and glossy hugs and kisses!
Winter’s coming and soon, most of us will be spending a lot more time indoors. Here are some ideas for looking luscious while lounging!
I am officially a French wife! The French, famed for their bureaucracy, have very strict rules about how they want their citizens to get married. Since my husband and I got married in the US, we ignored those rules but if we ever want to live in France (which is a big possiblity) we needed to check a few boxes.
The proper way to marry a la Francaise is to announce the impending nuptuals by publishing the Marriage Banns no less than 10 days prior to the ceremony. Then you have a civil ceremony at the city hall. If you choose to have a religious ceremony, it can only take place after the civil one. At the end of the civil ceremony, the new bride is handed the Livret de Famille, or family book. This is an extremely important document in which marriages, divorces, births and deaths are recorded and apparently, you can’t do a bloody thing without it! Having the Livret was a great concern to me as I read that if we try to move to France before we have it, things will be much harder to get done.
However, getting it had its challenges. My husband had not ever applied for his citizenship card. The Carte Identite is proof that you are French (a passport doesn’t count) and even though he was born in Frnace, he never got his card. For years before he and I got together, his mother urged and pleaded with him to get his card. Then, as we were planning our future together, I urged and pleaded – and pleaded and pleaded – with him to get it. Finally, on our wedding day, he applied for it. Which meant that it would be months before our marriage would be official in France, months before our daughter could begin to get her French papers in order and months before I was registered in the system (pushing back my timing for French citizenship and benefits, should I desire them).
Once he got the card, he then had to apply for everthing else. We still had to publish the Banns and then we had to send off for all the other paperwork.
Finally on Friday afternoon, the Livret de Famille arrived, along with our daughter’s French birth certificate and our French marriage certificate. I wasn’t expecting it. I thought we still had hoops to jump through before we’d get the Livret but my husband was just pulling a fast one on me because he wanted it to be a surprise. And, boy, was it. I actually did a jig of joy in the apartment and took the vein-poppingly frantic photo you see above. I had no idea how pleased I was going to be. The final piece of the puzzle is Mlle’s French passport. Once that is in place, the world will truly be ours! OK perhaps that’s an exaggeration – suffice it to say, we have a lot more options to choose from now that we are all “dual”!
I just got approval for three weeks of vacation from work and we are now shopping around for tickets to France! We will be travelling in August and ever since my last trip, I have been trying to supply my wardrobe with clothes worthy of a Normande summer. Normandy is located in the Northwest of France and is bordered by the English Channel or as the French call it, The Atlantic Ocean. It is as romantic as it sounds with its gorgeous stone houses and lots of open beach. There are more bustling areas such as the city of Caen with its university and Cherbourg (with its umbrellas) but the area where my husband’s family resides is St. Vaast La Houge, a quaint fishing village.
When preparing to accompany my husband to Normandy for the first time two years ago, M. talked a lot about frolicking on the beaches. I learned once I got there that the people are apparently frolicking in order to keep warm! Flying in from 90+ degree weather in New York into the breezy, sunless 50s of Normandy was hard on the old constitution – and I’m from Chicago so I can normally handle the cold! I spent the next 25 days wearing some combination of everything that I packed at the same time! The locals must have thought I was nuts!
The first day: a boys’ jacket I bought our last day in New York (thankfully! From Zara, I think. I’d check the label but I left it in St. Vaast), jeans, boots, linen scarf, grey cardigan. What you don’t see: black cardigan, leggings, socks, tank top, black v-neck long sleeved tee shirt.
Grey cardigan, black cardigan, yellow tank top, striped blouse, linen espadrilles, jeans. And: grey over-the-knee socks, scarf and jacket (in bag).
It got warm enough one day around noon that I removed my cardigan and showed some skin. What you’re not seeing: leggings under the jeans.
There’s a lot going on underneath. I got busted for leggings under my jeans while taking this picture. Also worn: scarf, black long sleeved v-neck, tank top, black cardigan, linen shirt dress (worn belted), jeans, ballet flats, turquoise necklace.
Wide linen pants are great for disguising leggings! Also worn: black long sleeved t-shirt, blue-striped shirt, white cotton dress (tucked in). Not shown: scarf and jacket (in bag).
Lunch al fresco on a sunny, cool day. Wearing: leggings (of course) under jeans, socks and linen espadrilles, pink t-shirt, black cardigan, striped cardigan with hood, pink scarf.
What’s on: Open knit cardigan, ever-present scarf, cotton blouse, grey cardigan, black cardigan, t-shirt, two pairs of leggings, linen espadrilles.
Believe it or not, I played the dutiful Normande wife and actually got in the water! Even with sun, it barely crept past 65 degrees. Not shown: fuschia bikini.
This time, I am determined to do better. I have a collection of scarves and lightweight sweaters… and tons more leggings!
Normandy beaches, good for storming on Germans, not so good for… fuschia bikinis.
Our family has a few things hanging in the horizon and as previously posted, a trip to France is among them. I visited my extended in-laws the summer before last and had a fine time, however I know it would have been tons more enjoyable had I spoken French. Quel Horror! Yes, I cannot speak French. I tried a certain well-known computer “immersion” software and while I did pretty well on the actual program, I never really retained much. My husband speaks English like an American and that is our default language when we’re together. It’s so difficult to remember to speak in French! Now, with another trip looming, I especially want to have better French skills – I fear my in-laws and cousins etc. will talk so much shit about me if I still haven’t learned – and this is where The Owl comes in.
The Owl is the mascot for Duolingo, a free webcourse with a supporting iPhone app. It’s pretty fantastic. The lessons are brief but challenging. This owl emails me daily encouragement to continue my practice:
Oh, and did I mention, it’s FREE!
I actually feel like I am learning with this program. Each lesson uses a variety of question styles and it’s very goal oriented for us competitive types. It rewards you when you do well and sympathises when you could do better.
Duolingo keeps track of your vocabulary and has an immersion section too. You can even learn with friends via email or Facebook! Duolingo currently has programs to learn German, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian too.
In the months to come, I will post about my progress, like a little lingual guinea pig. In the meantime, I will press the hubby to speak seulement francais avec moi. I want to keep the owl happy!
Hey Owl, wouldn’t it be a hoot if Mlle’s first word was in French?
The Owl says, “Oui!”
Sunday mornings, my husband insists on having “la grasse matinee”. I had never heard of this but he assures me it’s very French and very necessary. From what I can tell, it’s just sleeping-in but it certainly sounds more luxurious when you say it in French. That’s us having a grasse matinee above. But this post isn’t really about what one does during a grasse matinee but rather what one wears. If you’re going to loll around in bed for hours, you should really dress the part, don’t you think?
When I was pregnant, I started building a mini-trousseau because I didn’t actually have any sleepwear. I was a panties-only girl for over a decade but with a baby on the way, I thought it was time to start sleeping like a grown up. I took my time and scoured sites like Rue La La, Faire Frou Frou, Hautelook and even Amazon and scored pretty fabulous deals. A trousseau is not built over night – although if you can afford it, shop away! Several months after my first purchase, I have a pretty decent rotation of sleepwear which includes several nightgowns, a pair of satin pajamas, a silk kimono robe and marabou bunny slippers. Admittedly, the silk kimono doesn’t get much play these days because we have a nursing baby but everything else is easily washable. I use lingerie bags and Woolite religiously. Everything goes in the gentle cycle and hang-dries.
Slipping into a pretty nightgown post-partum did wonders for my self-esteem as I was not so thrilled about exposing my strange, deflated looking stomach. Now that things are more settled, it’s nice to have a relaxing Sunday morning dressed in a manner that seems more appropriate for family time in bed.
Mme. That is my title. “Mme.” is the abbreviation, rather. My title is actually “Madame”. “Mrs.” in the US where I was born and currently live but Madame in my household because I am married to a Frenchman. My marital status doesn’t define me certainly – I hope that I am much more than merely my husband’s wife (although that would be enough most days). However, I do feel that the two new titles that I gained on March 29, 2012 inform so much more than the sum of my hours. On September 17, 2012, I earned a new title, maman. And that, too, informs so much.
Why did I choose Mme. as the title of my blog? I just thought it encompassed everything – everything I am supposed to be, everything I hope to be, everything I am working on being. Plus, this weird article by a Mme. Samantha Brick got me thinking… It was written a while ago and I don’t even remember what I was looking for when I stumbled upon it but the author goes through a relatively brief list of a French wife’s great expectations. This list isn’t particularly helpful (as we’ve more recently been gifted with entire “self-help” books on how to Frenchie-dress, how to Frenchie-feed our children, how to Frenchie-discipline our off-spring and how to stay Frenchie-skinny) but it was interesting to see how many things are NOT true for moi. My husband grew up outside of France and spent his formative summers in Ibiza so perhaps I am getting an easy break from some of these which is great for me because right now, I’m still trying to learn the language. Here goes:
Rule #1: Your husband will always have an opinion about your weight.
Honestly, how is this exclusive to French women? Moving on.
Rule #2: It’s interdit to eat between meals.
OK talk about baptism by fire! When I spent a July and August in Normandy to meet my then-future in-laws and extended French family, not only was it FREAKING WINTER (another story for another day – but just know, it FREAKING SNOWED! My husband denies this but either we had flurries one morning or that was a very vivid dream) but I also had to adapt to the land of no-snacks! You can buy all manner of food-type treats but nobody is seen eating them until after the cheese course. And then, you barely have room for it because, these non-snackers eat pretty huge meals. I daresay, this is the reason French women don’t get fat (I never once saw a pot of leek soup when I was there). But it was really hard: I couldn’t eat the amounts I needed to to stay satiated between meals in one sitting (curse you, tiny American stomach!) and I couldn’t get my hands on any nosh between meals in my in-laws’ French home. So basically, forget interdit and try impossible!
Rule #3: Exercise, exercise, exercise
I don’t know what goes on in other people’s home but I was blessed with a high metabolism – so, not for me. At least, not yet.
Rule #4: Privacy for your beauty rituals
I wish. My husband, baby and I live in a junior-1-bedroom in the West Village of New York City. Just try to have some mystery. We’ll see what happens when we move to France.
Rule #5: Never, ever get drunk
Never say never. Although, for me, it currently feels like never because it really doesn’t mesh well with nursing a growth-spurting, teething 7-month old. I have grown to really love nursing and soon enough, my little baby won’t want it anymore, so I am not wasting a moment. But back to the French aspect, let’s just say, the Normandes aren’t as “stylish” as Mme. Brick.
Rule #6: Expect other women to go after your husband
Sigh. Admittedly, I was plagued by nightmares that my husband was being targetted by a distant cousin of his (or rather, her mother). They did seem to be a good match, he is a chef and she is heiress to an oyster pond. Thankfully, my suspicions were the mere ramblings of a jet-lagged, culture-shocked mind. That didn’t stop me from going on the offensive at a dinner party and now, I eat oysters, something I never would have tried had I not felt pressure to keep my man!
Rule #7: The family is everything
I should hope this is not just a French thing. That said, my husband’s family is everything to him – and it’s a beautiful (and sometimes, frustrating, thing). However, Mme. Brick’s take on this is more about the responsibilities of a French maman. I can tell you this, Ma, Maman, Mommy, Mama, Madre, Mum…. whatever you want to call it, the expectations are likely the same all over the world.
Rule #8: Displays of the flesh are a no-no!
I’m too old for that shit anyway.
Rule #9: Know that people will just drop in
This is my nightmare! And it quite frequently comes true whenever my kitchen is looking particularly swampy. That said, we always have wine in the house. As far as snacks go, we have the granola that I purchased in an effort to promote healthier eating and it’s not going anywhere. Can one even buy granola in France? Oh, yes, it’s called muesli. I wonder how many eyebrows would be raised if I set it out with the kirs.
Rule #10: Always be able to throw a 3-course meal together with an hours notice
OK as mentioned previously, my husband’s a chef so I would let him do the the multi-course mealing. That said, I do have this urge to take a dedicated French cooking class, if only to impress my mother in law.
So there we have it. Everything you need to know to to be a proper Mme. Seems pretty easy, no?