adventures of an american housewife in the south of france

Four Stories for Your Monday

We've had a lot going on over here recently, bouncing around from one project to another.  Michael is working on a new game that requires him to spend a lot of time in Paris and I've been working on what I hope will turn out to be my first for realz writing assignment.  We're also preparing for a visit from Michael's family next week, including our adorable 2-year old nephew!  That's right, our 2-year old nephew is coming to France, officially making him the coolest toddler I know. So there is bound to be a bit of radio silence over here in the coming weeks.  I've put together 4 short stories of recent happenings in our lives that I hope will tide you over until I'm back on a normal schedule.  Enjoy! 1.  A Very Expensive Load of Laundry If you follow me on twitter, you may have seen that I had a little "accident" with my iPhone last week.  The accident being that I put in the washing machine with the bedsheets.  I was so proud of myself for being all productive that morning.  I got up early, cleaned the bathroom, threw in a load of laundry, and started getting ready to meet my friend for lunch.  I thought I heard a strange noise coming from the washing machine, thump, thump, thump.  But just chalked it up to strange noises coming from the washing machine, which happens from time to time.  I took Figgy outside for a walk and when I came back in, I still heard the noise.  Thump, thump, thump.  And suddenly I just knew.  I knew what was making the noise.  My phone.  "No, no, no, no, no, no, NO, NO, NO!!!!!!!!"  I sprinted over the washing machine, stopped it, and started ripping the sheets out, leaving puddles of water all over the floor.  There at the bottom of the machine, in a pool full of soapy water, was my iPhone, still turned on.  I screamed and shouted!  I jumped around! I ran into the kitchen, desperately throwing items out of the pantry to reach the box of rice on the back.  I dumped the box of rice into a bowl and threw the phone inside.  I cursed myself.  I paced back and forth.  I re-started the washing machine.  I went to check on the phone.  I touched it.  It turned off.  Then it got very hot.  Sizzling noises came from the bowl of rice.  Then, presumably, my iPhone breathed its last breath and died.  I screamed and then burst into tears over the fact that the 4 hours worth of research notes I had taken on my phone the day before to prepare for a big project were lost and my very expensive iPhone was dead. This is what they call, First World Problems. And I mourned this First World loss.  I think I cried for like, 20 minutes at my own stupidity for, first of all, not emailing myself the notes the night before, and secondly, putting my iPhone in the washing machine.  Who does that!  I decided not to give up yet, and took to the interwebs for advice.  Friends told me to keep it in the rice overnight, to not turn it on (but it was still on when I took it out of the wash?), to try to remove the battery and let it dry out. So I left it in the rice all day and all night and checked on it the next morning.  Still dead.  I decided to try to open it up and make sure that the battery was dry.  Have you ever tried to remove the battery on an iPhone?  It's not easy.  I'm pretty sure you need to be a surgeon to do it correctly.  I spent about 45 minutes watching YouTube tutorials on how to open the phone, wrestling with my eyeglass screwdriver and the minuscule screws, and then opening the back of the phone.  It was soaking wet inside.  It didn't look good.  I dried it off with a paper towel and tried to "gently lift out the battery" as the YouTube video described, but it wouldn't budge.  Michael came home and he tried to lift it out, but only ended up ripping off the tab.  It was a goner.

seriously, could those screws be any smaller?

I went to Orange, my service provider, the next day to see what to do next.  The guy told me to take it to his friend down the street to see if he could fix it first.  So I trudged down to a weird part of town and showed my phone to this friend.  I told him what happened, he took one look at it, and just said, "Non, non, non.  Cela ne fonctionnera pas!" Rough translation:  I was screwed. I went back to Orange where I was informed that, since I did not have insurance on my phone, it would cost me €619 for a new one.  Using today's conversion rate, that's $819.09.  This is when I started crying the second time.  I'm such an idiot!  I can't believe I did this!  Why are iPhones so expensive!  I dreaded telling Michael.  He was going to be so pissed. Michael wasn't "pissed" per se, but he wasn't happy over my mistake.  We did a lot of sighing.  I went back to Orange to see what my other options were.  I could get a different smartphone that, although was cheaper, was still over €400, which seemed ridiculous.  I asked them to check and see if my SIM card still worked, and it did!!  Finally a break!  So we decided to buy a new, unlocked iPhone from the U.S., which will be arriving with the in-laws next week.  Although still a very expensive purchase, buying the iPhone from the U.S. saved us about $300.  My dear friend here suggested I just buy a regular old, flip phone cell, and I tried to explain to her why I couldn't go back to that.  I told her, "it's like someone saying, 'Why do you need a computer when you could just use a typewriter?' "  I know an iPhone is a silly luxury item to have, but this phone really is my lifeline here in France and I actually rarely use it to make actual phone calls.  I rely on its maps, I rely on its translation apps, I rely on the Viber app to text with my U.S. friends, I rely on the 8 megapixel camera.  I need it, like only a First World woman can. I am pretty sure I will only be allowed supervised visits with my new iPhone until I can learn to treat it with respect and not throw it in the washing machine. 2.  Dog versus Cat Figgy is on high alert these days.  A prowler has been spotted around our building recently and Figgy is constantly standing guard to let me know when he is near.  When Figgy sees the prowler, he goes nuts.  Barking!  Jumping off the couch!  Running out to the terrace!  Jumping and barking some more until the prowler goes away!

on the lookout

The other day I went to take Fig outside for a walk.  We took the elevator downstairs and when the doors opened at the ground level, Fig started going crazy!  The prowler had somehow gotten into our building and was sleeping in the lobby!  I swallowed a scream and rushed outside before Fig could attack.  It really freaked me out!  Then I noticed that the prowler sits on the steps of the building across the street during the night.  When people open the door, he sneaks in behind them.  He's sneaking into all the buildings in the complex!

standing watch

Michael and I figured out that someone has been leaving food for the prowler near our building, and that's why he keeps coming back, and driving Fig to insanity.  Figaro literally sits on the couch, looking out the window into the courtyard all day long, waiting to spot his new nemesis.  Just yesterday, the prowler was walking around in broad daylight!  I managed to get a picture.

he looked right at me!

He's very sneaky, this prowler.  But I feel safe knowing I have my guard dog to watch over me. 3.  Human versus Bird Meanwhile, Michael and I have been having our own battle with nature.  A few months ago, someone living 2 floors above us decided to put several bird feeders on his terrace.  To attract birds.  In the middle of the city.  You know what that means.


double gross

Pigeons.  Pigeons everywhere.  Pigeon feathers, pigeon shit, pigeon footprints, all over our terrace.  And the birdseed.  Birdseed everywhere.  Michael and I would have to sweep the terrace daily to keep up with the mess.  It's absolutely disgusting.  The main problem is that most of the people in our building are older, do not speak English and are not super friendly.  Since none of the apartments have numbered doors and, in true French fashion, the numerical system in the building doesn't seem to make any sense anyway, we can't even figure out which mailbox belongs to this pigeon-loving freak or else we would put a note inside that says STOP ATTRACTING PIGEONS!!!! So now Figgy has two new duties.  Tell us when the cat is near, and chase the pigeons off the terrace.  He's a very busy boy these days. 4.  Culinary "Achievements" I put the term achievements in quotes, because these recipes are so easy, they don't really require any real skill.  Remember how I made the Chocolate Chip Nutella Banana Bread when I was craving cake?  Well, the CCNB Bread was good, but it didn't quite satisfy my craving.  Then I washed my iPhone and was real sad and wanted cake again.  So I made a cake.

oh ya, and then I ate it.

And let me tell you, it really hit the spot!  It's super moist and the icing is delicious.  I followed this recipe for the cake (but only made one layer in an attempt to not be a total fatty) and used this recipe for the icing, although I halved it and used all dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate.  The thing I like about this icing is that I just poured it directly on top of the cake and it ended up being the perfect amount, with very little spreading needed. The other fun food Michael and I made recently is spring rolls.

veggie spring rolls

They may not be the prettiest, but they are so easy to make and are so fresh and delicious.  Just get yourself some rice paper and soak each piece in water, for about 30-60 seconds or until very soft.

soak your rice paper in a shallow bowl of room temperature water

Then add your fillings.  We used lettuce, 2-3 mint leaves per roll (adds a great flavor!), julienned cucumbers, julienned carrots, sliced avocado, and sliced mango (then pineapple after ran out of mango).  You could also use noodles or shrimp if you like.


ready to roll

If you need help figuring out how to roll it, just use the same technique Michael used in this video for making crispy spring rolls.  Then you're done!  I put them on a plate seam side down in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to let the seams close up, but you really could eat them right away if you prefer.  I like to dip mine in wasabi with a bit of soy sauce, but you could use any type of sweet and sour sauce you like.   That's the end.  Now you tell me a story.

5 Responses to “Four Stories for Your Monday”

  1. Stéphanie says:

    I can tell you mine.

    It’s the story of a girl, who is in a monday-rush-i-will-never-get-out-of-this…downtown Montréal, tired and with firetruck alarm in the background…

    Then…your post…

    And then…wet eyes. – So not the moment for that! –

    Fun to see Montpellier throught you! All those days I wish I could share with you!

    Miss you, Figgy, the creepy cat and the eccentric French neighbors!

    Bonne journée!

    • Natalie says:

      Oh Steph, I wish you were still here. We would shoo the pigeons away while enjoying pamplemousse and coffee!

  2. So sorry to read about the fate of your iphone. I can totally relate to it being your lifeline. I use mine for EVERYTHING. Twitter, email, speed cameras, TV…

    Thanks for the spring roll recipe, will be giving it a try real soon!

    • Natalie says:

      It’s kind of silly what a hold these phones have over us, isn’t it? I feel so lost without mine! I can’t wait for the new one to get here!

  3. PositivelyPassingThru says:

    I stumbled upon your blog 1st on Annecy FR, and enjoyed the read so much, that I’ve been exploring your blog this morning (from your moving adventures, to your daughter’s birth, then somehow this one, and from what I read elsewhere within here, that y’all have re-re-relocated back to the States (I’m in Louisiana *smiles*.) Anyhow, I simply wished to drop you a note and say, Thank you! – for the window into France (I took 2yrs French in High School & was a complete failure at it!, too many accents for my humble brain..*chuckles*), your writing gave me a new appreciation for all things French…I’ve always loved other cultures…and I wish you and yours the very best, where ever you ended up..I do hope that you have continued to write….someone with your ability to draw in a reader, should continue to write & share the results of your writing with the world…you have a lot of valuable insight, even into daily adventures, which others could use..*smiles*…and a positivity which definitely should be shared..*smiles warmly**…Thanks again for the Reads…Good Luck with the rest of your many life adventures!… Merci..Auvoir..Xie Xie…y Adios…

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