My vodka ventures at the Monkey Bar kinda got to me!
That and the diet Pepsi Max I had had a couple of small glasses of on Bastille Day, and I suspect some gluten in a Garam Masala spice combo. Long story short, I have spent most of this past week ill with reactions, mostly physical. The symptoms are way too TMI to mention here, but they have been about an 8 on a scale of yuckiness where 10 is the most yucky. I’m recovering slowly.
In the meantime, last Friday was when I last posted here. I cannot for the life of me remember what I did on Saturday, probably watched TV with PJ and just relaxed. Oh and I think I did a lot of laundry, too.
Sunday was another story! We had a memorable day. We saw the Woody Allen film “Whatever Works” here at our local Mk2 Theater at the Bassin de la Villette, Quai de Loire. If you ever want to see a film in Paris, these theaters are a nice place to do so. I’ve been to a couple Mk2 theaters in the city as PJ has a pass with them where he can get into unlimited movies for a flat fee each month, and he can bring a guest with him! It was a birthday present to me in 2008, just before I arrived. He got the dual pass so we could go see films together, yes, in English! You will notice if you go to the website above that American movies with a (VO) after them are ones shown in version originale, which means they are not dubbed into French (VF, or version français(e?) are the ones that are dubbed) and have subtitles. In fact, at MK2 this usually only applies to kids films like Ice Age 3 or the latest Harry Potter. American films for adults, like, “Whatever Works,” are always shown in English, but subtitled.
I had a bit of a coup on Sunday as well. There is an organization in France called Le Relais. The have clothing collection bins around the city where people can donate their used clothing and it is recycled and/or redistributed by Le Relais. Think “Goodwill” in the States and this is similar. There is a collection bin just in front of our apartment. People often leave clothes outside of the container (the container is either full, or the chute to deposit bags is not working properly), and Sunday there was a big pile. I noticed a woman (not anyone homeless, just a regular person) going through the bountiful stacks (since there is one of these bins just in view of our windows, I see people doing this a lot), and then started to notice and think to myself, “HEY! That’s nice stuff!” As I watched her pull out item after item that was really cute, I knew I had to get down there.
Yes! Those are Juicy Couture corduroy jeans! Yes, that’s an Esprit pair of pants! Yes! I found some of the CUTEST stuff! Also, a nice plaid sheet set, near new, a little corduroy purse… OMG, it was a goldmine.
The sheets and Juicy Jeans are actually from an American woman from Virginia who lives up the street. I was standing there, sorting through the piles of clothes when a woman came up with her bags to put in the container. She was having trouble with one of them, and suddenly I hear her holler, in English, towards a guy in a car, “Hey! Will you get over here and help me with this!” I said something like, “Ummm, I can give you a hand” and helped her get the bag down the chute. We sort of made small talk, mostly initiated by me. I did find out that she has lived in the area for about 11 years (she looked in her early-to-mid-30s) and that she is from Virginia, but she clearly has lived in Paris for a long time as she was really reserved and hesitant about sharing any information (lol). But her friendly American-ness kicked in when she said, “What American size do you wear?” and I said “A four” and she said, “I have these Juicy jeans I’ve never worn that should fit you!” and I replied something like, “Oh cool!” and that of course I’d like them. Then she started asking me if I wanted other stuff she had, like some computer stuff (“Nope, all set, thanks”) and the sheets (“Ohhh, yes, I could use those!”) and it was like garage sale banter and barter only it was all for FREE! Then she and her husband (whom I think was French) left after we said goodbye. I didn’t get her name or anything, but it was like karma was smiling on me with her arrival. People from the States live here. Just up the street, in fact, and they have free stuff to give to me. 🙂 That was a fun experience!
Later that night I had an unsuccessful attempt at making a flour-free quick loaf. It wound up in the trash as it was full of the other food I had been eating and reacted to: peaches. I won’t go into the hows and whys, but I had to forgo all but chicken and veg this past week, and the bread was just too gross to try to freeze and use later. Not worth it… I’m going to stick with muffins for my basic recipe, which I may post here later. It needs experimentation and refining…
I had another adventure!
PJ had an appointment in the 13th, which is in SE Paris, in and around the Place d’Italie. He invited me to meet him there, go to the appointment, and then check out that area, where I had not yet been. Before leaving, I went to this website: Bonjour Paris. THIS IS A WONDERFUL SITE! I learned so much about the city from it in just a couple of hours, I will be going back to read blog posts and glean more information about the site! It is as good or better than the Time Out Paris guidebook, which I purchased earlier this summer, and also recommend. I discovered a lot of great things to see and do in the Time Out guide, but the Bonjour Paris site is adequate together with printing out Google Maps if you want to create your own customized guidebook of what to do in the city.
I discovered at the Bonjour Paris site that there were two major thing to see in the part of the 13th where we were headed, the Centre Commercial Italie 2, a shopping mall, and a quaint residential and shopping area around the Rue Butte aux Cailles, which means “Hill of the Quails.” The Bonjour Paris site mentioned a store called Les Abeilles, which is a store dedicated to honey and beekeeping.
What I decided to do before this adventure was to locate all of the places on Google Maps, and go into “satellite mode” and take a virtual “walk” down the streets so I would be familiar with the area before leaving and walking there, for real. This was SO helpful! I am not very good with maps, but I am excellent with visual landmarks and orienting myself with them. Using Place d’Italie Métro as a starting point, and then the address of Les Abeilles (21, Rue Butte aux Cailles) as a goal destination, I was able to familiarize myself with the neighborhood! At first, I was not certain that PJ would be going with me — that I might have some waiting and walking on my own to do while he was with his appointment — and I wanted to be sure that I would not get disoriented by merely reading a map and trying to figure out where I was. This was a *great* way for me to familiarize myself and build my confidence about going to a new area! I really recommend that people who are more sensory and concrete than abstract and cognitive when it comes to orientation, maps, large cities, etc. try this out as a means of travel preparation. It really helped me a lot, and I enjoyed exclaiming at practically every corner: “Hey! I was there on Google Maps!” I think Peej got a little sick of my saying that, lol, but I was pretty thrilled with the whole thing. Yes, I can be a really simple person, and easily amused. 😀
The only problem we encountered was that when we got to Les Abeilles, it was closed. A lot of shops which stay open on Saturdays are then closed on Sunday and Monday, and this was the case with Les Abeilles. The shop windows were too reflective to get a clear photo of the goods inside, which included jars of various kinds of honey, beeswax candles, books in French on apiculture (beekeeping) and I am sure other honey treasures on its full shelves. It was not a large store, but looked to have a lot of pleasing bee-oriented products.
Here is a photo of the sign outside 21, Rue Butte aux Cailles, so if you want to find it for yourself, you can! The storefront is “blurred out” on Google Maps/Google Earth, but is right next to a bar called Le Village de la Butte.
Here is a taste of the photos I took and have posted on my Flickr page (see my Flickr widget on this page — bottom right):
You may hesitate at spending time in an American-style mall while in Paris of all places, lol, but I have enjoyed going to them just as an exercise in comparison-contrast and people-watching.
Things that could be seen in the average American mall: an ATM, L’Occitane, Claire’s (! is there anything more ubiquitous than a Claire’s in a mall?), the juice bar (Orange Julius, Jamba Juice), coin operated rides for the kiddies, and The Body Shop.
Things that are NOT in the average American mall:
A HUGE grocery store (Champion, in this case. I dunno about the cities you live in, but large grocery stores are often stand-alone places in the ‘burbs, not to be found in malls. I’m thinking of the cities I have lived in & been to: Denver, Dallas, Tulsa, Seattle, and other places in-between. Paris is a lot like NYC, and most grocery stores are squeezed into existing and older buildings like they are in NYC, too. It makes sense here for a grocery store to be in a mall, it’s just a difference is all I am noting here), salons with such a funny name as this one (Fabio Salsa, hahahahaha! Okay, I know there are salons and nail shops in malls in the States, too. Fabio Salsa Coiffure just cracked me up, though), a place to buy all the yummy-looking pastries as can be found in a pâtesserie (there was also a McDonald’s, mall Chinese food, and sandwich places, just like in the States), and a PLETHORA of lingerie stores! Yeah, malls in the States have Vicky’s Secret and other miscellaneous lingerie stores, but I think there were at least 10 in this small-ish mall, chain and independent stores, both. I always thought it was a stereotype that Frenchwomen were into fine undies, but I am now thinking it is true. Since I have not seen any unclothed Frenchwomen (except for on prime time television commercials where boobs abound, and TV shows here, regular ones, not even porn!), I cannot verify if this is true, but if seeing some of the bras that were dropped off at the Le Relais bins and the lingerie shops that seem as prevalent as Catholic churches and bars here, I am guessing lingerie is SERIOUS BUSINESS to Frenchwomen. This is all being noticed by a chick who still wears Fruit of the Loom, Wal-Mart and Target-purchased tighty-whities, for the most part, so I don’t know if I am the most accurate arbiter of this information. I find fine lingerie hugely uncomfortable and mostly don’t bother with the fancy stuff (which on some level must disappoint PJ, but I guess he’s cool with it as he has done the Frenchwoman thing and seems to be able to forsake a lingerie-wearing chick for one he can actually get along with, heh. No offense to Frenchwomen out there, but I’m just sayin’. There’s nothing *wrong* with the French women, just PJ’s ability to get along with them in relationships is all). I really liked the name of this store, though “Entre-Nous,” “Between You and Me.” That’s a cute name for a lingerie shop!
The downside of the adventure was that I fell coming out of a doorway of the building where PJ had his appointment. Whoops! I was wearing heels, which I don’t normally do (note to self: do not wear heels in Paris when you have to walk), and wobbled over a slight ledge at the base of the door to the ground outside. I landed hard on my right knee, tore a hole in my cute, skinny, black jeans, and it’s still scabbed up and a little stiff a few days later. I made it B&W as the original was too graphically bloody-looking.
I still went to yoga at Ashtanga Paris, though, where I have been going to sessions about once a week on Monday nights.
TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY, THURSDAY
I already mentioned the whole food reaction thing. I was pretty wiped out these days.
Peej and I did go to see “Public Enemies” on Tuesday night, though. It’s the film with Johnny Depp as John Dillinger and Christian Bale as G-Man Melvin Purvis, who pursues Dillinger as a part of J. Edgar Hoover’s special task force to apprehend Dillinger. Marion Cotillard, French actress who won a Best Actress Academy Award™ (lol, I had to throw that “TM” in there as I think it is silly that it has to be put in ads and reviews) for “La Vie en Rose/La Môme,” plays Dillinger’s girlfriend, Billie Frechette. It was okay. A “B-.” Entertaining and informative (to the extent that it was accurate), and it was very well-produced as a period piece. I did not think that Depp and Cotillard, while they were very good actors in the film, had a lot of believable chemistry, though. Still, I like history and films set in this time period (“O, Brother, Where Art Thou?” for instance) and so the film had appeal to me on that basis. There was a lot of loud shooting in the movie, though, and I had a pounding headache already. This only made it worse, and I did not like that part so well.
Thursday I recovered enough to go to FIVE shops to get some grocery shopping done. I know (I think I wrote this here in a previous blog) one day I will think about shopping Paris with romanticism and fondness, but there are days when I feel so wiped out that I would love to be able to do “one-stop-shopping” at Whole Foods and Super Target! This was one of those weeks. Thursday, though, I bucked up, and did the runs all over the neighborhood to the following stores:
Monoprix supermarket for the expensive, brand-name, where higher-quality really *is* important stuff, like laundry detergent, razor blades for my Venus razor, lotion, hair conditioner, and mustard (regular yellow, like French’s mustard in the States, and which PJ likes on sandwiches and hamburgers, and which is ironically not widely available in Paris except in larger, more expensive grocery stores). This is also where we get Colgate toothpaste, the “good coffee” (Carte Noir), and the “good chocolate” (Côte d’Or, which I loved to eat before not eating chocolate) and anything else that may not be in…
Leader Price (the Wikipedia article is in French but I bet you’ll get the idea, or throw it into Google Translate if you must be clear about what it says), what we call The Poor People Store as it is a deep-discount, generic, and staple goods kind-of-store for a lot of the basics PJ likes to eat, and where they also have started carrying organic brown rice (riz complet) and have tuna fish and other g-free and sugar-free stuff I can eat (fruits and veggies, chicken, coconut milk in cans, etc.)
I also went to two Bio, or organic, food stores, Naturalia and Canal Bio, a BioCoop store. Naturalia is a very short distance from the apartment and Canal Bio a little further. There are teas I like at Naturalia which are not at Canal Bio, and Canal Bio has more products and more in bulk, which is a lot cheaper than buying pre-packaged rice and nuts at Naturalia. Seems like I was out of EVERYTHING that I could eat, and so I went to both, as Naturalia is between the apartment and Monoprix, so you know, while I was out, I might as well go there for the things Canal Bio does not have. Canal Bio is the BOMB, though, for all of the things they *do* have which Naturalia does not, so it is my favorite health foods store near me.
Bewteen Naturalia and Monoprix is my favorite fruit and vegetable market. Closed on Sundays and Mondays, I always seem to run out of fresh stuff from there on one of the “closed” days, lol. But I try to go a couple of times a week as the quality of their fruits and vegetables is generally a little better than Leader Price, although fruit in season and on special (usually brought in from Spain) is really good at Leader Price, too. I just have to be selective and carefully look at what I am buying. I don’t buy organic for fruits and veggies as it is just way too expensive here for us to do that. What I really need to do is get out to the weekly markets and the covered marchés, like the ones closest to me at Place des Fêtes and Jean-Jaurés.
*whew* I wore myself out with about two-and-a-half to three hours of going to each of these places, returning home to empty my little pull shopping cart thing (you know, like old ladies use in the States. They are de rigueur here where most don’t have cars and walk to do their grocery shopping), and going out again to shop for another load.
But then, when I came home, after I rested up, I made COOKIES I CAN EAT! They are tasty!!
I found a sugar-free, flour-free recipe for coconut macaroons at this site: Candida Cure Recipes – Coconut Macaroons.
Here is the recipe (copied exactly from the recipe at the link above):
Susan’s Candida Coconut Macaroon Recipe
Low Carb and Gluten Free
3 large egg whites
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups dried, unsweetened, fine shredded coconut (the finer the better)
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon dried ground stevia leaf
optional – ½ teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 325F (180C)
Whip egg whites and vanilla until glossy peaks form. In a separate bowl stir together the coconut, stevia and sea salt. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet, just until well combined.
Let mixture sit about 5 minutes.
Make drop cookies, placing them on a sheet of unbleached parchment paper on top of a cookie sheet, using about 2 teaspoons of the mixture per cookie. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until outside of the cookies are lightly browned.
Remove from oven and let cool – if you can resist – on the baking sheet to room temp. Store in an airtight container if you actually have any remaining at the end of the day. Makes about 20 cookies. More or less depending on how big or little you make them.
Here are photos of the recipe in progress and my results:
I was able to make 16 cookies with the recipe, and today, only seven are left, lol. I am saving some for tomorrow (Saturday, 25 July, when I am due to have a picnic with my friend, Tess (from the Le Puits de Légumes restaurant review) at the Bois de Boulonge. Of course I will bring my camera and you can expect a future post about my adventure to the park.
Well, I did this today, lol. Caught up on a few emails and posts at other bloggy sites I frequent. It is now a little after 8 pm, PJ is home, and we are starting another weekend in Paris, City of Light.
I hope you all have a lovely weekend, and see you again next week!