Summer Dinner

I wasn’t planning to blog this but I want to remember this chicken recipe! It was one of those situations where I threw a bunch of stuff together and it worked out. I had no soy sauce which seems to be the base of many marinades, so I used Worcester sauce instead, and then found some other things that sounded good.

Watermelon, tomato, feta, mint

Watermelon, tomato, feta, mint

Today was the last day of my internship until the fall and I’ve been eating chana masala (meaning, chickpeas!) all week to save money for vacation. I got some cheap fruit and chicken at Dia (my favorite discount grocery store) and made myself a real meal. My future husband is so lucky. 🙂

Leftovers for tomorrow!

Leftovers for tomorrow!

Maple-Ginger Glazed Chicken
inspired by PW and Giada


4 medium chicken drumsticks
2 T vegetable oil
1 T Worcester sauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2-1 tsp hot chili paste (like Siracha)
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp minced ginger
splash of apple-cider vinegar or lemon juice


1. Place all ingredients except chicken and salt in a bowl that will fit the chicken (if you have no Ziploc bags), stir to combine.
2. Place chicken in bowl and use a spoon to pour the marinade over the chicken until the pieces are well-coated. Or, if you live somewhere with access to Ziploc bags (waaaahhhh – but also it’s probably better that I don’t use them because they are wasteful right?) place everything in a bag and seal. Place bowl or bag in fridge for 2 hours, mixing/flipping halfway through.
3. Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Remove chicken and place in a glass baking dish or on a foil-covered baking sheet with a rim. Sprinkle with salt, and spoon some liquid on each piece and place in oven. Reserve the rest of the marinade.
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (depends on the size). Flip the pieces halfway through. While chicken is baking, place marinade in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Giada says this kills the bacteria – no waste! Once it has boiled, turn heat to low and simmer to reduce a bit and cook the garlic and ginger. Set aside.
5. Turn heat up to 375 or 400, pour the marinade on the chicken and stir everything around. Cook chicken until they get really brown and the sauce caramelizes. Quasi-bbq!


A search for wax sticks

Over a month ago I bought a cheap pot of wax at Monoprix to save money. It came with a bunch of the cloths you use to rip the wax off, and one sole wooden stick to spread the wax out. I figured I would just come back and buy refills after using the one stick the first time, so I checked out and went on my merry way.

I used the stick once and threw it away – there is no need to spread gross germs onto myself when trying to make my legs smooth, right?! Ok, obvious next step is to buy replacements.

The next time I was near a Monoprix I went in and looked around for the sticks with no luck. When the saleslady asked me what I was looking for, I explained, and she was flabbergasted that I would want new sticks. She looked at me and said that it would suffice to simply melt the wax off the stick and reuse it next time. When I mentioned the dreaded microbes, and that I’d already discarded it, she shrugged and apologized. I didn’t even care that they didn’t have them because it was such an amazingly positive customer service experience, for Paris!

After realizing that Monoprix stocks several types of wax pots and wax strips but no tools to spread them with, I started hunting every chance I got. I hit up several pharmacies – one lady offered to place a bulk order, but I felt like that would defeat my budget-saving purpose. I went to a few waxing places and asked if they sold them – no, and no she didn’t know where to buy them (really?!). I stopped by Sephora and asked the lady at Benefit if she would sell me just one stick from her waxing station. “Non.” (Bitch.) Marionnaud (a giant beauty chain here) – no, Hema (a Target-like store) – no, NO, NO, NO. Nowhere to be found! WTF France?!

A place without wooden sticks

A place without wooden sticks

Desperate, the other day I went to BHV just to go to their hardware store level on the bottom floor. This place is enormous – I thought for sure the paint section would have those giant wood sticks that you use to mix cans of house paint. I was so willing to go through the humiliation (even alone in my room) of spreading the wax on my leg and my face with a stick the length of my arm. But they didn’t have any, and when someone finally asked me what I was looking for and I asked, they showed me a red plastic paint stirrer with holes in it. I explained my true purpose and I pleaded – don’t you have any thin, plain wood in this place? He directed me to the kitchen level to the (actual) spatula section. Are you kidding? I scrape my cake batter into pans using a plastic salad tosser because I’m too cheap to buy a real baking spatula – it’s been on my splurge list for awhile. There’s no way I am going to waste that money on something for WAX for goodness sake!

Someone at one of these stores had tossed out, no, you can’t find those anywhere in Paris, except maybe at Château d’Eau… I had filed it away. Fed up, I decided to go for it the other day. This is beauty central – every other store window was full of hair products and makeup. Despite a persistant and almost scary man who harassed me as soon as I exited the metro, I was pleased to finally go into a store and emerge triumphantly five minutes later with 2 bags of 10 sticks for 1,50€!

The freakin sticks

The freakin sticks

I feel like this experience is a metaphor for my life here. In the end, I got what I wanted, but I’m so exhausted that I probably won’t even get around to waxing for another few weeks… and I’m not sure why I didn’t just go splurge at the salon by this time. Oh yeah, because I want to save money. But now I’m wondering if all that misery was worth it.

These same feelings apply to certain aspects of my life abroad. I recently got into a Master 2 program for next year. It was a huge triumph for me, after a SHIT month, or couple of months really, of preparing for and passing my interviews, and receiving the results. I’m so excited for this program, but I’m also quite traumatized by the whole process. After what I went through to make it here (I’ll have to write a separate post about that process), it feels great to have been accepted, like I really accomplished something. But I wonder how much of that is just the fact that I made it through a hard situation, and how much of it is pleasure and satisfaction from the actual accomplishment?

Used clothing shopping

So, not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but Paris is expensive. WHAT!

When I still lived in the US, I shopped at used-clothing stores all the time to save money. Living in a high-fashion, trendy place sucks when you have no cash. It’s not that Paris doesn’t have used-clothing stores, but they are more “vintage” than “thrift” and so the store owners charge unbelievably high prices. For my budget shopping here I’ve been relegated to stores that I’m getting so sick of – H&M, C&A, Tati (so classy!), stores in Belleville…

Recently my coworker mentioned Guerrisol. I’m STOKED – it’s an actual used-clothing store and it’s cheap. I now pop in every chance I get and rifle through the clothes, slinking around the store employees who are usually removing more fripes from giant plastic bags and placing them on the racks.

Last week I SCORED a silk butterfly sequin top, made in India – in great condition and only €10. I’ve had a rough month so I treated myself.

I HAD to have it

I HAD to have it

Plus, it’s definitely a wardrobe staple – every girl needs one in her closet. 😉

Front and back!

Butterflies on both sides!

Go find your treasure!

96 bd de Barbes
75018 Paris
(This location had a lot of Indian items, the one in the 13th has smaller sizes)


Sparkle motion!

Bread + white chocolate @ Boulangerie Saint-Honoré

Just wanted to pop in and share one of my favorite little snacks in the Porte de Clignancourt area.


I remember being surprised and delighted when my first au pair mother, quite tall and thin, offered me a bit of baguette with a hefty piece of chocolate stuffed in the middle, after giving the same to her kids as a goûter. I didn’t become a major bread-lover until my move to Paris and I had previously thought to eat chocolate in only dessert situations. I loved this revolutionary concept that allowed me another time of day to get a chocolate fix!

Now, after almost 3 years here, I’ve realized that chocolate + bread is everywhere – chocolate bars have little drawings of baguettes on the wrappers, and I’ve seen plenty of other people indulge in the goûter.


This boulangerie takes it one step further and bakes the chocolate into the bread! Most boulangeries will make “les suisses” or other pastries with chocolate in them, but I love these because it is real bread, chewy and a bit salty, and the chocolate gets a bit carmelized when exposed. So good! If you are headed to the Porte de Clignancourt antique market this would be the perfect stop.

Boulangerie Saint Honoré

80 bis bd Ornano – Paris 18e

2,50€ breakfast


I AM NOT LYING! Can you even believe how cheap this petit-déj is?! And wait until you hear the details…

Snuck this when the bartender went downstairs..I'm so shy about taking pics

The comptoir

My classmate Camille lives one metro stop away from me (so fun!) and once she invited me to breakfast before we had a morning work engagement. I was overjoyed once I understood what we were dealing with : fresh-squeezed orange juice (you can see the orange presser in the background of the photo above), café au choix (when I asked he said I could get a crème or anything, but on the poster it just says cafe or noisette, best to ask), and tartines, viennoiserie (even pain au chocolat!) or 4×4 (pound cake – homemade!). If you eat at the bar it’s 2,50€ and at a table it will be 3,50€. SUCH a good deal in this town of 4€ burnt expressos.

They were out of croissants so I was forced to have homemade cake boohoo

They were out of croissants so I was forced to have homemade cake

When I’ve walked by this place at night, it’s packed. So, it must be a fun bar/resto scene too!

Cool decoration

Cool decoration

Check it out!

en attendant l’or
6 rue Faidherbe
75011 Paris
Métro Faidherbe-Chaligny (Line 8)

Eglise St Eustache

At my work, we had a concert at St. Eustache in central Paris a few weeks ago. We were there all day setting up and stayed late afterwards. Even though it was chilly I loved being in such a beautiful space. Religious or not, how could you not appreciate those arches, the light, the stained glass depicting pigs and the “Société de charcuterie!” I tried in vain to get a picture but I lack the photography skills; here’s a site I found with great pictures and an explanation. Some find the acoustics difficult to perform in, but I think they’re fabulous and I want to try to get my choir to have a concert or two there.

I am such a dork in this picture, but here I am in my “workplace” for the day!



Concert : Paris Choral Society Choral Masterpieces

Paris Choral A4 poster_color_Masterpieces_English

I will be singing in a 20th anniversary choir concert with the Paris Choral Society and I want to tell you about it!

The concert will be a selection of great Choral Masterpieces. The program includes some well-known, all-time favorite choral pieces, most of which the choir has sung over its 20 years. This concert is a great opportunity for those who are too antsy to sit through a whole mass or requiem – I guarantee you that your attention won’t wander, and I bet you’ll even recognize many of the pieces!

The program will feature, amongst others, short extracts from the Mozart, Fauré, Brahms and Duruflé requiems, as well as rousing works from Vivaldi, Beethoven, Handel, Haydn and Parry. We are also singing the lovely Rachmaninov Bogoroditse Devo.

Here’s a selection of YouTube clips of my favorites:

Vivaldi “Gloria” – 1st 2 minutes of the clip below. I love YouTube. Damn, Armenian orchestra, you are hella good!

Bach “Gloria” from Magnificat – you’re welcome for these awesome facial expressions! 😉 I love conductors like this, although I’d be cracking up while singing.

Mendelssohn “Lift Thine Eyes” from Elijah – here’s my childhood choir, Piedmont East Bay Children’s Choir, performing it in Slovakia last year. I remember singing this in airports, salt mines in Austria, and other weird places throughout my youth. I want to cry every time I hear it, I have such good memories. And it’s so beautiful!

Barber “Agnus Dei” – I don’t know if I’ve ever heard or sung an Agnus Dei that I don’t like. Something about the text must bring the best out of composers. I envision this one set over a scene in an action movie where people are having gun fights and car chases. Yup, I’m weird like that.

Ok, just one more! Mozart “Lacrymosa” from the requiem – One of my favorite composers, Mozart writes so well for the voice. This piece has so much drama and gorgeous tension and resolution. It’s short and sweet.

Per usual, we’ll be performing in the magnificent American Cathedral, accompanied by Andrew Dewar on organ. No orchestra this time, but the organ is truly amazing. It makes me feel like I’m in a video game (mostly Zelda), running through magic forests and whatnot. Organ can sometimes feel really intense, but it’s nice to hear music down to your bones every once in awhile, no? Also, I love certain details that composers put in – listen to the organ especially during Vierne’s Gloria from the Messe Solemne.

I hope to see you there – email me if you would like a €2 discount on your ticket!

Friday June 13 20h
Saturday June 14 18h
General €22 | Student €10
Tickets available at the door or for purchase online via Paypal or credit card.

Les asperges

Last week I took advantage of a promotion at the verger down the street – €3 for a big bunch of asparagus! I ate them for dinner, prepared two ways. I snapped off the ends and placed them in a baking dish, drizzled them with oil and sprinkled on some of my lavender salt from last summer, and roasted them in the oven until they were just done. I hard-boiled an egg and sliced it on top.

Les asperges

Les asperges

I had too many asparagus for the size of my dish, so in a moment of genius, if I do say so myself, I grabbed the extras and stuck them on the grill pan we use for toast. I ate them “naked” – the lovely charred flavor was the only thing they needed.

In the middle of my cooking, the 90-year-old woman who rents me my room came in and asked me what I was making. She does this every time I cook, and it’s fine since I love talking about food. I showed her what I was doing, and when she saw me putting the asparagus on the grill pan I wanted to gently lead her out of the room and have her sit down, I was so scared she was going to have a heart attack. I’ve known this about French people ever since as an au pair I put a vinaigrette on some sliced cucumbers instead of yogurt-mustard sauce and the little boy wouldn’t eat them. Somehow this aspect of the French still manages to make me laugh (or annoy me depending on my mood).

The fact that I was not going to peel almost all the skin off and then boil to oblivion my asparagus shocked Madame so much that she had to ask me over and over, really? really really?? what on earth would you possibly do instead? and then when she saw the grilled ones, she was laughing for about five minutes after. “Les asperges grillées, tu me fais rire, tu me fais trop rire…”

the famous grilled ones

the famous grilled ones

My friend Phoebe pointed out to me once that the rigidity of French cuisine is why it’s so good – because their dishes have been conceived of, perfected, and then never changed for generations. It’s sometimes a beautiful thing – confit de canard that always comes with roasted potatoes, sandwiches in whichever boulangerie you go to having the same combinations, croissants always have millions of layers of butter, etc. are all comforting because they are good, and because you can wait months in between eating each thing and know that the next time it will be the same. And sometimes, it’s a boring thing. It’s why sometimes I think that I’ll never leave France, and sometimes I can’t stand it and search Kayak for a one-way ticket home.

Library journey

This week, I had to go all the way across town because certain books that I need to read for my research are only accessible at a certain library. I feel annoyed that with all the technology we have, the Paris university system can’t be bothered to have more than one copy of a book in more than one location. Rar. Thus, I spent a whole afternoon going to Neuilly to read said books. At first I was super grumpy because OF COURSE the metro line I needed to take was randomly blocked off, and OF COURSE they only had signs indicating this after I’d hiked up and down stairs for 15 minutes. I normally don’t like to complain about the Paris metro, because in general it’s SO efficace and I love it, but this was just super annoying. I got even more pissed when I realized I had written down the wrong station and I could have come over on the 3 since the library was closer to Levallois than Neuilly. However, my attitude changed when I set out for my ten minute walk and saw the beautiful trees. It’s been raining a lot this spring, and it’s paid off! Say whatever you like about Neuilly being a boring rich suburb, it’s nice to walk through.



I had to take a picture of these (tiny, green, in the middle of the picture) signs – they show Boulogne-Billancourt and Levallois-Perret, which are the towns I lived and worked in when I moved here 3 years ago. In 2011, I had no idea that 3 years later I would be where I am now – so much has changed. It’s crazy! And these signs took me right back to that space. Trippy.

Nostalgic for my first days in Paris

Nostalgic for my first days in Paris

M1 update #2

Just thought it was a good time for another update on my Master’s program.

Sorbonne library

Sorbonne library

I’ve seen a huge difference between the fall and spring semesters in my ability to comprehend what’s going on. Unfortunately, it takes me awhile to settle in to something, especially when a foreign language is involved. I wish I could adapt more quickly but that’s just how I am. Anyways, it’s a huge stress relief to finally feel like I’m on top of things. The classes themselves have been lighter this semester than the first, so that might help too. We also had SO much vacation – about three weeks off total between February and May, plus we didn’t even have many classes in January.

My new study environment!

The terrasse of my apartment

As an étrangère, I did feel a little bit behind in certain areas. Now I realize that once you are enrolled, you are allowed to take classes in the L3 level (quick breakdown of French university levels – L1, 2 and 3 are 3 years of a license degree that is equivalent to our Bachelor’s degree, M1 and 2 are 2 years of a master’s degree equivalent to our master’s degree, and then you can continue on to do doctorate work). If I could start over, I would have taken some sort of writing class or something to help me get my head in the French academic space. Too late for me, but if anyone reading this is interested in a Master’s in France, I highly recommend you take as many extra classes as possible!

Clignancourt library

Clignancourt library

Knowing I wasn’t guaranteed acceptance next year gave me even more motivation to do well in the M1, but it also has been stressing me out a ton this year. Added to that stress is the knowledge that I am a less appealing candidate for other M2 programs because I haven’t completed a mémoire (thesis) in the M1. After getting to know my classmates better, I’ve made the validating discovery that most of them agree with the complaints I mentioned in the last update, but above all for the concours to enter into the M2. Our professor randomly decided (without consulting the other faculty, according to gossip) to remove our mémoire and replace it with an insultingly dull database project. He ignored our protests at the beginning of the program, so we had no choice but to complete the Master’s in the manner he set it up. Now as we get nearer to the concours date, everyone is beginning to panic that if we aren’t accepted into the M2 here, we’re screwed. I’m just going to do my best to present a compelling research proposition (the way to “win” the concours) and go from there. With fingers crossed. If I don’t get in, quelle honte (the shame)!