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Appartement Drama~ The Backstory to my trip to Brussels

I think most, no let’s say all of my issues living abroad have coincided with apartments. I’ve moved now four times, and soon to be a fifth in the span of ten months. A quick recap of my living situation is this: when I moved here I roomed with a friend from work for four months then we decided to part ways and find our own places. Thus commenced the month and a half search, 14+ apartment visits, and two moves in the span of a month and a half. I found an amazing place in the Madeline/Opera area for August with five windows (so nice for those crazy hot days) and a beautiful view but there was a bee and bathroom problem (luckily the two didn’t go hand in hand). Then I moved to what I thought would be my last place to live in Paris. A cute (but ridiculously messy upon arrival) flat right off the Champ de Mars. I loved the location. Things were good, and I had made it my own complete with new shower curtain, glasses, and a large assortment of cleaning materials.

Then there was the closet.

A closet located in the hallway with a red door and old fashioned lock.

Sounds innocent enough- what could a little ole 5m square storage closet do?

Drive me absolutely crazy for three months.

The girl I was renting from was storing some clothes in the closet. They happened to be winter clothes that she would like to get out because it’s well, cold. No biggie. Until you realize that the apartment concierge has the key. And the girl you’re renting from refuses to come by the apartment to take care of it herself, and instead asks you, yes me, to ask the concierge to open the closet.

I asked the concierge about 5 times to open the closet in horribly embarrassing French, to the point where my day brightened and darkened with the opening and closing of the closet door (pretty good analogy, eh?), especially when I realized the girl hadn’t come by to get her things which means I have to ask for the key again.

It kept getting worse and worse until three weeks ago it came to a crux, a ditch in the road so to say, lots of things lead to it but I was suddenly left with a message… I think I might take my apartment back.

I’ve had my heart completely drop three times while I’ve been in Paris. The first was several months ago, the second after getting this message and the next just one week after that.

I don’t like things being up in the air. I love spontaneity (sure! let’s go on a trip next weekend!) but when it has to do with basic needs like where I’ll be living in a week, I’m terrified. I like stability.

I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and to trust and believe that things will work out.

A call to my parents on Skype had us problem solving from three angles for 40 minutes. Then immediately after, a teary call with a dear friend. Midnight and another call from a friend who knows me so well that she knew I would still be awake.

I had countless offerings of places to stay and I’m so thankful for the support of my friends and family.

I didn’t want to move again but the stress of the apartment wasn’t healthy. I loved the location, the apartment wasn’t bad, but the drama was making my skin crawl.

And all because of a closet. un placard. I will forever remember that word with not so fond feelings.

Soon it was two days until I was to leave for England for the next two weeks for Christmas and New Years and I was flying on cloud nine. I’d had an amazing time meeting up with friends, shopping, and going to Christmas markets and Tina and I had decided to rent a place together for the last two months that I’m here, starting in mid-January when she returned to France. We’d found an incredible apartment with roof access and all that was left to do was tell my current apartment person that I was moving out.

The night before, I was packing and knew I couldn’t procrastinate anymore. With lots of help from Jenni and the Frenchman, we crafted a message for me to send her explaining that I had visa problems and had to return to the US mid-January when really I would be secretly moving to my next place. bahaha!

I sent it to her that night and didn’t hear from her. The next morning I was up at 4:30am to catch my 8am flight to Birmingham. Later that afternoon after tea and multiple “Do you have this in America? You should try it!” tastings, I checked my phone and saw a text from her.

The message- well this is an embarrassing situation. I might have to ask you to leave if I find someone to take the apartment on January 1st.

 

 

That would leave me homeless until the 11th and I had told her I would be moving out on the 13th. But thinking there was absolutely no way with just two days until Christmas that she would find someone, I didn’t respond.

It took just three hours and she had found someone. I was now stuck with 10 days without an apartment. Not to mention, I wasn’t supposed to be back in Paris until the 3rd. Jenni started texting her in French so there was nothing lost in translation and there was  no leeway. I had to be out of the apartment by the 31st. If you hadn’t guessed, this was heart drop #3. And soon I was on the phone with my family sobbing and making those horrible gasping noises. My mom tried a true and tested mom-tactic, quickly changing the subject to try to calm me down and we talked about England and the ridiculously cute town I was staying in with Jenni and her family. Then it was back to the apartment, with a one hour strategizing session with ideas from every family member that started with my mom laughing, trying to lift my spirits, saying “You didn’t think it would be easy did you!” Well well! I guess I had? And I had been soo so wrong.

The first solution: I looked online and the apartment I was moving into next was actually available starting the 3rd. Perfect! And I could stay in Jenni’s place until she was back on the 4th. But it also involved me cutting my trip to London short and buying a last minute plane ticket to come back to Paris on the 29th. I’d somehow move all my things up four flights of slanting stairs into Jenni’s itty bitty (but mind you, ridiculously cute) apartment for a couple of days and then move into my new place before she got back. As I told Jenni, it would be like a little fairy had come and gone from her flat.

Sounds pretty horrible, right? Well it wasn’t meant to be. The next day I’d bought my plane ticket and was about to reach out to the apartment to ask if I could move in on the 3rd and it was now booked from the 2nd until the 10th. Which meant I was yet again homeless for 10 days. Noooo! It’s cold outside!!

Over tea, we had a lot of tea, I had an idea.

The second solution: I’d be missing a trip to London, but why couldn’t I take a impromptu trip from the 4th to the 7th? I would stay in Jenni’s flat until the 3rd when she got back from the trip I’d be missing in London. I’d be out of Jenni’s hair for a couple of days when she came home (a really good thing when we’re talking small studio apartment) and I’d be back in time for my internship that started on the 8th. Jenni and I would be sharing a single twin sized bed for four nights though but she assured me that we would make it work. Thanks Jenni!!!!!!

A couple blissful stomach aching from all the amazing food days later and I was on a plane back to Paris. I stayed up till 2am that night packing and listening to music as loudly as possible in hopes to annoy the neighbors a bit before I left. I ended up with two massive suitcases, two small suitcases, an oven, and several grocery bags of kitchen stuff I wasn’t parting with for the next two months. A message to Beatrice and I had a home for them for 10 days. yay!!  :-D I just had to figure out how to get them there especially because she was leaving the next day. A short chat with two French guy friends, Davy and Florian, and I suddenly had movers that had a car (super super exciting!). The next day I slept till 10 and then packed for a solid four hours. The guys reached out asking how much we were moving. A quick picture later and the storage location for my things had changed to one of their apartments. It’d just be easier they assured me. At two on the dot the easiest move in my Paris life commenced. The itty bitty elevator that fit two people was packed to the brim, Flo and I took the seven flights of stairs down with a couple of bags, loaded up his car and I ran upstairs to lock my apartment and grab my purse. Downstairs Flo tells me- why did you go get your purse! You don’t have to come, Davy and I will take care of it. What?! And who said the French weren’t nice? haha! I did get a message later than evening though telling me they had found a buyer for my things and would 300 euros be a fair price. haha!

The next day I was out of the apartment by 2 and after two trips lugging last minute bags (this always happens to me!) I was settled into Jenni’s. The next three days I spent holed up watching French TV and planning a super last minute trip. I can never make up my mind sometimes so the location changed about 5 times. Two days before I was set to leave I’d decided.

Brussels!

Hoping that Belgium chocolate and beer  with a side of frites would cure my spinning head and aching back before move #5. :-)

 

 

09. January 2014 by Molly
Categories: paris, Travel | 2 comments

Christmas in Paris~

Just a couple of pictures of Christmas in Paris that I took over the last couple of weeks! Right now I’m celebrating it with Jenni and her fam in England!

A late night visit to a Christmas Market by La Defense. Tartiflette and Vin Chaud :-)

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Christmas trees for sale on Rue Cler.

 

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Frost along the Seine on an early morning run.

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Store windows and Christmas Lights! :-D

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Christmas lights on the Champs Elysees!

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Joyeux Noel!! Hope you have a Merry merry Christmas! :-)

24. December 2013 by Molly
Categories: christmas, France, paris | 1 comment

When Going to the Post Office Takes 2 Hours…

… but ends in me walking down the street grinning like an idiot.

This all started with an innocent enough text to Jenni and the Frenchman on Saturday morning when I woke up around 11am (or maybe 11:30, nah 11) to see when post offices normally closed on Saturday. It was December 14th and in order to get my box of Christmas presents to the States in time I was determined to mail it out today. But not determined enough to wake up early. :-D

Their answers.. well it depends.

I wasn’t surprised.

And then a helpful text from the Frenchman with an app for the postal service. yay!

iPhone Photos 12-18-13 249

There were three post offices near me: One at the Eiffel Tower that closed at 1pm but put super cool Eiffel Tower stamps on every parcel, one down the street from the Eiffel tower that closed at 1pm as well, and another one at the opposite end of the Champ de Mars that closed at 5pm. Lots of options! And so little time, because well, because it’s me.

I’d been taking my time waking up and by the time I looked at the clock I had about 50 minutes to make it to the post office and… pick up a last minute gift request by Place de la Concorde.

12:10 – I caught the metro at Ecole Militaire.

12:20 – J’arrive a Concorde. Dashed into a shop and back on the metro by 12:30

12:40 – Back at my apartment to pick up the items for the box

12:55 – After a sprint down the entire length of the Champ de Mars (let’s say the equivalent of 3-4 big blocks) I made it to the post office right before it closed and was met with a not so helpful but trying to be helpful post office lady. There was a discussion about the stamps fitting on my cards in French and then we decided that we would try and see especially because I had been there a week ago and mailed the same cards just fine!

1:00 – After successfully mailing three letters, I realize there are no boxes to put the massive amount of things I’d brought to the post office to mail home.

1:02 – My postal app stops working but zut! I round a corner and see a friendly post office sign.

1:03 – Get nearer to the friendly, now hinging on teasing post office sign, to see the postal workers closing and locking the doors.

1:05 – A wide breath of a block to get back to where I started because I refuse to stop and turn around if I’m going the wrong direction by myself. No matter- I had now 4 hours to find the next post office and a general area that it was in.

Did I mention that I decided to wear heels? And that I was sore for three days after?

1:10 – My app starts working again. ah ha! It’s back at the end of the Champ de Mars. Blast.

1:20 – I’m starting to realize that all I have to do for exercise that day is hike to the top of the Champs again.

1:25 – I’m standing on the dot. Where is the post office? Two rounds of the block where it should be and no sign. I’m very glad that I decided not to wear a coat.

1:30 – Well! I decide that this will be happening on Monday. I give up French postal system! and grudgingly walk back to my apartment. Where I decide to take the stairs, up 7 flights. Why????

1:33 – Legs are screaming.

1:45 – I vow to try again. This is happening! I have three hours to mail this package and it will be in the system today!

1:50 – Decide to hit the possible postal location from another angle and notice a little sign.

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ok maybe it wasn’t all that little, and it might have been bright yellow… but….!!

1:52 – I’m following the yellow brick uh hm arrows down an alley?

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There’s an old lady I’m following that keeps looking back at me..

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1:53 – I FOUND IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1:54 – French French and more French. All day long and loving it. I find the box I need! I ask for the box! The nice postal worker finds the box but then he asks, if I want the one with the Christmas designs?! Yes! ok! I’ll look for it! An awesome box and a complete run down on the instructions and woohoo I’m feeling victorious! Like the lady on the box.

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2:10 – I realize that my “detour” earlier will not fit in the box. I duct tape everything else into said box and stroll to the post office that I now know the location for. :-D

Shut your eyes family! It’s a surprise! ssh!

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2:15 – Back at the post office. “No madame, you cannot tape the box shut.” Defeat! no! but then! “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it,” the same postal worker that searched for a fun box then offered. Success!

2:16 – VICTORY!!!!!!! Commence grinning + walking.

Later that day, after recapping my story the Frenchman says- but Molly, it is easy to visit the post office! Ouais Ouais, c’est facil! mais It’s just getting there that’s a challenge! ;-) haha!

Now fingers crossed that it gets there by Christmas and isn’t held hostage by customs.

20. December 2013 by Molly
Categories: France, paris, random wanderings in paris | Comments Off on When Going to the Post Office Takes 2 Hours…

Dark Chocolate Pecan Cookies

My parents visited me last month around Thanksgiving and brought with them a massive 5 pound bag of pecans. It actually says “MAMMOTH” pecan halves on the bag. tehe! I am proud to say that I have already made it through half of the bag, thanks to these cookies and a massive box of chocolate that Tina gave me in her “I’m moving away! Here take everything!” party. tehe! That box is almost gone as well.

If you are looking for an ultimate chewy, holy moly, I love pecans and chocolate cookie, this is the one! :-D Taste tested approved!

Chocolate Pecan Cookie Dough

It’s crazy easy because those are the types of recipes I, uh hum, you can do at 10pm at night on any random day of the week. Start by melting the butter, I actually do it in a large bowl, and then add all the other ingredients. Both sugars, whisk well! Then the egg! Then the dry on top- flour, vanilla, salt, baking powder. and stir! Then lots of chocolate and pecans and you’re set. Well almost.

You’ll notice the dough is just a bit soft for what you’re used too for cookies. Stick it in the freezer for 10 minutes or the fridge for a bit longer and the texture will change to easily scoop-able, “I’m ready to bake!” cookie dough!

Make golf-ball sized balls of dough and place about 3 inches apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Chocolate Pecan Cookies

Bake until you smell them! They will be golden brown on top and just a smidge cracked.

Chocolate Pecan Cookie

One of my first baking tips on this blog was- Your nose knows! It’s SO true. A foolproof way of making cookies, unless you have a cold. Here’s an awesome video on the science of baking cookies.

Chocolate Pecan Cookies

Recipe: By me! Molly Wilkinson

1/2 c. butter, melted
1/2 c. dark brown sugar or muscavado
1/2 c. white granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/3 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder

1 c. pecans, chopped

1 c. dark or bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Melt the butter and then whisk in both sugars while the butter is still hot. Whisk in the egg (the batter will lighten in color and become smooth). If you are adding liquid vanilla, whisk it in now as well. If it is powdered vanilla, add a pinch in with the dry ingredients.

Stir in the flour, salt, and baking powder. Then the chocolate chips and pecans. Chill in the freezer for 10 mins or the fridge for 20.

Form into golf ball sized balls, and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 325 degrees F or 160C for 9-10 minutes or until you start to smell the cookies and they are golden brown on top and slightly cracked.

Enjoy!

13. December 2013 by Molly
Categories: baking tips, chocolate, chocolate chips, cookies, pecans | 2 comments

One Pie Per Person! Happy Thanksgiving!

Just one last Thanksgiving installment this year! A couple of pictures from Thanksgiving back home. I beamed in from Paris via Skype and was set a place at the table. haha! Just like Sheldon in the Big Bang Theory as my mom said.

Yup and the pie to ratio person was equal! haha! Four pies: Pumpkin, Pecan, Apple, and Cherry this year!

It was sad not to be there in person, but definitely great to be able to join in the fun! :-)

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Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving!

29. November 2013 by Molly
Categories: thanksgiving | 2 comments

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