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Budget Friendly Ways to Learn French

Bonjour mon amie! Learning le Francais is a huge priority for me with my move to Paris to attend the Cordon Bleu seemingly right around the corner! yikes! I learned Spanish all through school. I never thought I’d need French because when you’re in Texas, Spanish is the language to learn! I’ve been working my way through several different mediums hoping that if I hear it enough maybe some will stick before I get to Paris. A lot of the things I’ve been using are free or super low cost, but I’ve been also using Rosetta Stone and attending continuing education classes at SMU.


{photo credit}

Podcasts: I drive 2+ hours to work every day and throwing on something I can listen to in the car is a no brainer. Podcasts are great- they’re free and there’s a lot of excellent one’s out there. My absolute hands down favorite is Coffee Break French. It’s perfect for beginners and each runs about 20 minutes. Also take a look at Learn French by Podcast and Learn French (or Daily French Pod). These are all in French and only 5-10 minutes in length. The later are a little intimidating to me since they are all in French but I’ll catch a word I know here and there which is exciting.

* If you are going to be listening to these through your iPhone or iTouch I would recommend downloading them while you’re connected to wi-fi to save a couple data bucks.

Free Apps I have Downloaded to my iPhone:

  • 24/7 French lite – Good for learning vocab and includes many little tests to help you learn.
  • French Word of the Day – One French word with the English translation and you can play the pronunciation.
  • French! by Mind Snacks – Fun little games to help learn vocab. I can get tired of them quickly though. haha
  • FVerbs! – A French verb of the day (but you can scroll through several) with English translation. I wish you could play the pronunciation.

AudioBooks: These will cover more than the podcasts and the one I downloaded was worth the $16 (I think?) I paid for it. The lessons are short but build really well on each other using the same words or phrases repeatedly but in different conversations and sentence structures. I’ve only tried one so far, but I really like Speak French With Confidence by Jean-Claude Arragon. It was super easy to download from iTunes.

Good Online Sites:

  • – The site is awesome!!! I try to get in about an hour a day. It’s a game helping you learn through several different techniques that are similar to Rosetta Stone. You learn pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, and more.
  • – Similar to Duolingo but more focused on sentence structure and vocabulary building. The voice is much more realistic than Duolingo.
  • – The focus is on learning vocab, grammar, and reading. For vocab, they have pictures of each item which you scroll over to hear and see the French word. My favorite “aubergine” or eggplant because it’s one of the first words I learned.
  • The BBC – they have a whole section on their site dedicated to language learning. It hasn’t been updated in a bit but there are a lot of helpful resources. I was a bit disappointed when the video showing Rugby players talking in French didn’t work. They also have a section with links to French TV, news, and radio.

The Public Library: French audiobooks you can play in the car! And French Movies on DVD. The best part – they’re free! Lots of public libraries also have software you can download for language learning. I found the audiobook I downloaded off iTunes there and just about kicked myself! It’s also a great way to try out different audioprograms if you’re looking to buy one.

Random Tip: Keep a French to English Dictionary on you and look up random words through out your day.

Happy French Learning!

Have any other tips or sites you like for learning French? Leave a note below!


16. February 2013 by Molly
Categories: culinary school, France, Travel | 2 comments

Happy VDay to My Geeky SEM Friends!

Ahhh! I had way too much fun making these! Happy Valentine’s day to my fellow nerdy Online Marketing friends! Hope your ROI is high and your excel isn’t crashing.


SEM Valentines Day

14. February 2013 by Molly
Categories: valentine's day | Comments Off

Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies

They’re refreshing with a zing- Thanks Peter for the intro! and guess what I posted the recipe! It’s here! It’s here! hi Peter Hi!

Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies

You know how you can make cookies/cakes/baked treats with lemon zest- well you can do the same with grapefruit! All you need is one grapefruit, a zester, and a delicate/decisive touch (but that just sounds wrong).


Don’t have a zester? Check out your cheese grater and look for the side with the smaller holes. That works too!

My coworkers think I have a thing for zesters and I don’t quite blame them after incessantly talking about them and after bringing one to work last week in my gym bag. I did have a perfectly acceptable excuse though- we were making strawberry shortcakes over lunch and zest from a lemon makes such a great addition to the strawberries!

Zest | Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies

What is zest? Is it your zest for life? kapow! Most definitely. I think of it as a concentrated flavor of a fruit (most usually citrus) that you’re adding to a dish. The word is French and was first used in 1674. Magnifique! It’s the outer skin of a fruit. You’ve probably seen it in different jams like marmalade. It’s edible and a great edition to any treat. When you are grating it off, be sure not to grate down too far. The pith which is the white part directly under the skin can be bitter and not the most pleasant to eat.

Continue Reading →

12. February 2013 by Molly
Categories: baking tips, cookies, grapefruit, icing, valentine's day | 4 comments

Valentine’s Day Baking Ideas

Valentine’s Day is one of my absolute favorite days to bake. There’s so many cute themed treats! Also I get to dress Peanut up like this:

Valentine's Day Peanut

or this…

Valentine's Day Peanut2


He loves both outfits, can’t you tell? haha


Baking Ideas for Valentine’s Day from my Blog:

Strawberry and Rosemary Scones (cut in heart shapes!)

Cranberry Orange Nut Bread (wrapped up in a big pink bow!)

Classic Chocolate Cake (w/ raspberry filling and Valentine’s day sprinkles!)

Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter (everyone loves some chocolate on Vday!)

Salted Nutella Fudge (use heart shaped cookie cutters and a dash of pink sprinkles!)

Lava Cookies (easier than lava cakes and portable for a Vday Picnic!)

Ultimate Ginger Cookies (oo baby they’ll love you for-ever!)

Carrot Cake Cookies (unbelievable.)

The Best Rolled Out Sugar Cookies (Go to town with Valentine’s themed cookies!)

Valentine’s Day Themed Chocolate Cupcakes w/ Raspberry Frosting (yum!) + a tutorial on Chocolate Hearts!

Valentine Cupcakes

Happy Valentine’s Day!


07. February 2013 by Molly
Categories: valentine's day | 2 comments

Applying for a Student Visa in France Part 1

ai! As of this very second I am printing out my acceptance letter from the Cordon Bleu- a little less than 2 months from my start date. eek! Super exciting and nerve raking especially because of how long each step has taken so far. You might think applying for a visa is easy? oh no. Not so much. Expect a couple hours sitting in front or a computer staring blank at the screen or a step by step instructional video to be played along with printed instructions (and that’s if you’re lucky).

I was listening to a podcast today, Katia and KylieMac.. oh wait! first sidetrack! I’m working on a post on learning french and expat blogs/podcasts to check out and I absolutely love these girls! So sad they aren’t doing it any more! One is from America and the other, Australia, and they talk all about their life in France. I love that it’s day to day mundane stuff! Well Kyliemac was taking classes at a university in France, complaining about how difficult it is not knowing the language to a French girl. The French girl says, well you pretty much have to figure it out yourself, you ask questions and get no where, that’s just how France is. And yes, so far that has been my experience too. Made me giggle.

But anyways!

What do you need to get a student visa in France as of 2013? 

#1 Allow LOTS and Lots of time (2-3 months before you leave) and try to move as quickly as you can from step to step. Most of the time is spent waiting.

#2 Consult your closest consulate (all of the required docs are different, even though we’re all coming from the same country…). My closest consulate is Houston.

#3 Fill out an application on Campus France. (This is the pre-visa step to legitimize your school acceptance? I think?)

The application you do depends on what program you’re doing. You can apply to a French institution through Campus France (either undergrad or grad) or you apply to the school independently and then come back to the site to fill out paperwork. This would be for studying abroad, or like I’m doing, taking a class independently of a US institution. The actual application is incredibly convoluted. I was gnashing my teeth thinking up ways of how I could improve the process. This is the process where you watch a video and follow instructions all while filling out screen after screen of different things. I would allow a full afternoon for it. Everything you need to fill out is super easy things you already know but it just takes time to get through.

After you fill that out, you need a copy of your final acceptance letter from your institution. This along with $100 money order (not a check or credit card payment) :-) has to be sent to the Campus France office in DC to be processed? No idea what they’re doing that requires $100. Then you wait- up to three weeks – for a confirmation email through the Campus France email system.

*This is the step I’m at soooo I will be checking it every day starting about a week after I mail my letter. Because! Until I receive my confirmation email, I can’t sign up for an interview at the consulate and you can’t sign up for a interview any sooner than 90 days before your term starts. Lots of dependencies on previous steps. Super fun- in a geeky/I like to be organized kinda way. haha

Just think good thoughts about how soon, you will be here:

Champs Elysees, Paris, France

Champs Elysees, Paris France {credit}


Part 2  ~ When I get my confirmation email from Campus France. :-)

30. January 2013 by Molly
Categories: culinary school, France | 1 comment

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