Sugar, Butter, Flour

This weekend I put my baking skills to the test and took a macaron making class in Paris, the capital of macaron-town with BonAppetour and Parisian Chef Benedicte. BonAppetour lets travelers meet the real chefs of the city they’re visiting and really get a hands on taste of the local dishes. If you know me, you know that the highlight of my baking career was forgetting half the ingredients and not draining the blueberries for blueberry muffins, giving me flat gray muffins. I knew that this class would challenge me, and my only goal was to make it out of the class alive (and drink champagne).

 

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If you could see my face you’d see the fear in my eyes

We started by nibbling on some merengues and fancy puffy biscuit things that were sent from heaven. Chef Benedicte informed us a bit about what we would do as I sipped on fresh squeezed orange juice, and we were off! We measured and weighed our ingredients, sifted, mixed, whipped, stirred, and all had plenty to do.

 

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As you can see, I was not looking forward to having to use math skills in this class.

We made the macaron base, surprisingly the same for every cookie, and added food coloring for the lemon, raspberry, and caramel goodies.

 

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At this point I was a professional chef

Halfway through the class I was confident that out macarons would turn out great, and that I could have a career in baking. Just kidding about that last part, I’m still way too impatient to be a baker – but I truly appreciate pastry making now.

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Clown in the kitchen, clown on the streets…is that how that goes?

This class somehow turned out successful, despite most of us never having made macarons before – which, although, not too hard, is a process that deserves an afternoon to enjoy and correctly yield a perfect maca’ (can I call them that?).

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Struggling to sift

After we finished baking, we got to sip champagne and wait for our macarons to chill a bit, after which we devoured them.

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Rewarded with some champagne!

 

If you’re in Paris and want to have a lovely afternoon with an amazing host, use my code QUIRKINGBA16 to get 20% a lovely afternoon with Chef Benedicte (and some pretty lovely champagne as well)! Thanks to BonAppetour for an amazing afternoon in Paris!

Check out the talented ladies I got to hang with:

Abby, all PC to her!
Melissa
Anne
Jocelyn

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The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Who Fell in Love

My name is Celina, and my talent is being a manic pixie dream girl. “What is a manic pixie dream girl?”, you may ask if you hate Zooey Deschanel and/or most popular movies. A manic pixie dream girl is a quirky female character who exists to make a male character realize all of the possibilities in life. Usually a manic pixie dream girl has very little background and is solely in the story to help the male character.

I am apparently a professional manic pixie dream girl at this stage in my life. My quirky personality and lack of substantial relationship baggage make me a perfect MPDG. I frequently trip up the stairs and I love writing poems. I have almost no adult obligations and my work schedule is always few hours at odd times. I always have crazy ideas and laugh like there’s no tomorrow. When I’m on a date or dating someone, I’m hilarious and candidly honest. Yeah, I’m pretty much Zooey Deschanel’s lower paid twin.

However, until recently, I was unaware of my carefree MPDG-ness. I recently got out of  a 3 month long “something” (aka not a relationship from the guy’s perspective). During those three months I was quirky, charming, and even vulnerable. And the boy I was seeing had just gotten out of a relationship, so he was genuinely happy to be hanging out with me. But from the beginning he said he didn’t want a relationship. However, my manic pixie brain told me I could change that, especially after 2 and then 3 months of dating. Turns out the only thing I did was give the guy 3 months of fun with no commitment.

Fast forward to about 2 weeks ago when I met an amazing man. He was perfect – chivalrous, kind, caring, attentive; but he lived in America. Not just anywhere in America, but completely the opposite side of America from my family. However, he was perfect for my MPDG skills; just gone through a breakup, a bit unstable,  questioning life choices – which is all apparently my cup of tea. Don’t get me wrong, this man was amazing. He lives in a place I dreamed of living, his job is steady and something he’s passionate about, and he’s an actual mature man (pretty hard to find). However, even this perfect man couldn’t resist the powers of my MPDG being.

We had a whirlwind weekend romance. I showed him around Paris and he took me out for nice dinners where we bared our souls to each other – mine being bared less, as, like I said, I have less baggage than most. We had coffee and drinks and laughs and tears. We hugged and kissed like there was no tomorrow (because he was leaving that tomorrow). We promised each other we’d meet again, and we proceeded to message each other non stop for a week. Throughout it all though, even as I was falling in love, I could feel that I wasn’t right for his story. That I was not the princess, but the manic pixie dream girl. I might have been his savior, but I didn’t get to be his damsel in distress as well.

And that’s why today, while reading The Cat in the Hat, I started crying. I couldn’t focus on the simple words, “we sat there, we two.” This morning, the most perfect man I’ve ever known broke up with me. After I found flight deals, and made crazy plans to move to his city, and pictured us raising a smart and well behaved cat together. He told me he couldn’t do a relationship right now, but that I gave him hope.

But the thing is, I don’t want to give guys hope. I don’t want to show them that their lives can be different. I just want to love them and be loved. I want a guy to tell me I’m amazing and not put a “but…” after his statement. I want to rock a guy’s life and stay in it, not fade into the rolling credits. I don’t want to be anyone’s manic pixie dream girl anymore.

So maybe I’m lucky that I got to impact someone’s life for the better. I’m sure there’s worse things I could do. But tonight I ordered my MPDG self a pizza and a bottle of wine. And you could say that’s pathetic. You could say that’s like Bridget Jones. You could say it’s both and that I need to find a therapist out here. I’d say you’re probably right on all accounts.  I’d also say I have no idea what I’m doing in life, especially in my love life. But I won’t give up the search for “the one,” because someday, somewhere, there’ll be a guy who doesn’t need me to be chill or ethereal; there’s a guy out there who doesn’t need me at all, but wants me. And I’m sure he’ll pop into my life “when I least expect it,” so please don’t write that in the comments. Also don’t worry, I’m not sitting around waiting for prince charming- I’m living a crazy Parisian life and having a blast. Once I finish this glass of wine and cry a bit more.

The Gates of Hell: Paris in the Summer

Paris in the spring is beautiful. Paris in the fall is breathtaking. Paris in the winter is hauntingly glamorous. Paris in the summer is hell.

People are quick to tell you how amazing Paris is – but heed my warnings about the Parisian summer. Although Paris has many great things to offer in the summer – plages, tourist traps, swimming pools, art events, etc. – I am not here to talk about that, since plenty of other Parisian/expat blogs have done a fabulous job of it. Instead, here are some of the worst things about living in Paris in the summer.

  • Air Conditioning is Rare – Air conditioning can only be found in Starbucks, movie theatres, and shopping centers. No apartments have it, most restaurants don’t, and even daycares go without AC. If you ask a Parisian why, they’ll say that it’s not worth it for the short amount of hot days, or that the windows in Paris don’t work well with AC units. If you ask me, I’d say nothing because I’m too busy drowning in my own sweat.
  • Most Au Pairs are Gone – I was (and still am) the only au pair in my language class. Most au pairs don’t start work until September, so summer can be a hard time to make friends as an au pair.
  • You Might Not Find Bread – One day I went outside with the sole purpose of buying bread, only to find that the bakery on the corner was closed – for a month! The other bakery was closed for the day, so I had to buy a strange generic baguette from the supermarket. This also happens with fruit stands, mini markets, restaurants, and even the corner Tabac.
  • The Metro is Murder – Did I mention that most metro cars don’t have air conditioning? Only the very new metro cars have AC, and if you’re on a metro without, the only breeze you’ll get is through the tiny windows that are barely cracked open.
  • 1 is a Lonely Number – Beyond all of this, the end of July and almost the entire month of August is when Paris becomes a ghost town. The old people you usually see walking their dogs are gone – no, not dead, just away in their country mansions to enjoy the breeze of whatever quaint town they’ve visited since birth.
  • Less Events – This is only true for events that happen year round – including pretty much everything I want to attend. This can include theatre shows, cultural events, and even classes or workshops.
  • Language Class is Lacking – Did I mention that many language schools don’t operate in the summer? I only had the choice of a few schools, and the one I ended up picking was obviously only open in the summer to make money, money, money.

To sum it up, Paris is generally hot, empty, and frustrating in the summer. If you want an outsider’s opinion, my friend Hannah visited and said she would never visit Paris in August again, mainly for the reasons above. Now this isn’t to say that I haven’t enjoyed my time in Paris – I love it here! I just wish to inform the public of the struggles involved with Parisian summers. I am counting the days until I can wear a scarf and cuddle a Frenchman next to a fireplace (I can dream, right?).

The Date and Dash

If there’s one thing you should know about Paris in July/August it’s that the city is hot hot hot. Because of that, many Parisians take holidays in these months. This has caused my already tiny friend group to dwindle, leaving me to spend a Saturday night alone…or convince a boy to go out with me. I had already used up my Tinder likes for the day (what can I say, lots of cuties that day), so I got back on Bumble and found a guy I didn’t really dig, but who was also bored and alone. He was a clueless just-finished-his-freshman-year-of-uni kid with no good ideas for a hang out place, so I decided to take him to my favorite bar.

This bar is my favorite because it’s hidden from the street, it has a pirate ship, and the security guy is now my friend (you can tell I visit a lot). It’s more of a club/speakeasy than a bar, and that’s what makes it cooler than pretty much any other place in Paris. When bumble boy, let’s call him BB, found out we lived on the same line 2 stops away he suggested we take the train together. I knew this was a bad idea, as it involved us having to make small talk on a train for half an hour, but agreed anyways. As I predicted, the train ride was a train wreck and I didn’t like him, romantically or platonically. He was pretentious without dressing the part and enjoyed bashing America (even though he studies there). We get to the bar and no surprise, he didn’t offer to buy me a drink. If I liked him, this wouldn’t have mattered as much, but this pushed me over the edge into the “I have zero obligation to this kid” mindset.


As we finished our first drink (with me nodding and saying “mmhm” while trying to look even mildly interested), I spotted two guys chatting. I wasn’t sure if they were gay or not, but I didn’t care; the one facing me had a kind face and I knew he’d be willing to help me escape. Throughout my horrid conversation with BB I made scared “help me” eyes at Kind Face Guy, but he didn’t see. As I walked with BB to get another drink I casually swerved and ran to Kind Face Guy asking, “Do you speak English?” too tired of BB’s BS to speak French. Luckily Kind Face Guy lived up to his name. KFG did speak English and thought the situation was hilarious, agreeing to pretend to be my French teacher if BB showed his face again. KFG and his friend, Magic Mike were eager to talk to me, a strange American young lady. Magic Mike proceeded to try and show me magic tricks that I was too tired/tipsy to understand.


KFG bought me a drink, I think because Magic Mike was trying to get us together. Magic Mike would say something in French to KFG and chuckle like a naughty child, so I’m just assuming some of it was about sexing me up. I followed KFG and Magic Mike around for an hour and then suggested I leave (I didn’t want to get in their way of a guy night or some hook ups), but KFG insisted I wasn’t interrupting. The last hour with KFG and Magic Mike was uneventful and involved Magic Mike pretending to like Trump to make me angry, which 100% worked. I added KFG and Magic Mike (who still hasn’t accepted) on Facebook and said goodbye to my one night friends. On the way out I kissed the doorman on both cheeks and walked with a purpose to catch the last metro, satisfied with another crazy night in my faux Parisian life.

A Penis in Paris – My Misadventures with Kate, Ep. 1

Dear members of my family: Read this at your own risk; I would suggest you didn’t. But just know I did not interact with said penis.

 

Kate and I reconnected in Paris when I moved here, about a month and a half ago when I started my life as an au pair in Paris. Kate is the best friend to have when you want to have a crazy adventure. I have never made a full night out with Kate because she parties hard and takes the night bus, while I am always super paranoid about missing the last metro (because there’s no night bus near me).

Saturday I decided to take Kate to a theatre show at a British theatre festival in Paris. I knew it would be very strange and avant garde – aka super strange and hopefully hilarious, and, if nothing else, at least in English. I booked the tickets the night before and Kate came over the next afternoon.

We chatted about stupid boys and I ate pan au chocolat while she sipped a strange beer I bought for her (I don’t know how to buy beer). She joked that the only thing she wanted for her birthday was a nice night with a naked man. We tried to leave on time, but I hated my outfit and changed 20 times while simultaneously doing my makeup. I had the metro directions – 2 transfers, 3 trains, a loooooong commute to a small theatre on the edge of Paris.

After getting on the train we realized I didn’t have directions from the metro station to the theatre…or the name of the theatre. We knew we would be late but gosh darn I was going to get my 10 euros’ worth of weird theatre. We walked out of the metro and realized our commute was a 15 minute walk, cementing our lateness. What we did not know was that we would have to climb hills and staircases that made us sweat our eyeliner off.

After finally finding the theatre we had to print our tickets (because they couldn’t just let us in, the only 2 girls in the lobby). Then we went outside to get a man to open the (unlocked) theatre door and walk us to the stage -because the seating was on the stage.

At this point we had missed the first 20 minutes of a supposedly hour long but really 45 minute play. We snuck to separated seats and watched unpaid actors dance on dirt that was strewn on the stage. We had read the brief summary of the play beforehand and knew vaguely about the plot, but I’m pretty sure those first 20 minutes were imperative.

We proceed to watch a girl in overalls sing a song about death, a guy we assumed was Jesus walk around the stage, and a guy in a hospital gown look very angry and confused. The entire time I was just praying there was no audience participation, as the actors were getting up close and personal with us. Towards the end hospital gown guy is killed and then brought back to life. And then he begins to peels his “skin” off – some sort of latex covering. First he was sitting and took off the top of his hospital gown.

“Oh no,” I think. “He’s not going to do it, is he?” Oh yes, he did. He took the whole gown off. Underneath he was wearing his birthday suit, and pretty confident about it. As he continued to stand naked in a pile of dirt peeling his skin, two actors swept the dirt around him. Then, after peeling all of the coating on his body, the play was over.

And that’s how I gave Kate exactly what she wanted for her birthday – a night with a naked man.

Stick around for more of my misadventures with Kate!

Why I’m Moving Abroad Even Though I’m Terrified

I’m scared y’all. In fact, I’m terrified. A week from now I’m moving to a country I’ve never visited to live in a city where I have almost no friends. I’m putting my life in two suitcases and leaving the only country I’ve ever known to go on a crazy adventure. And although I’m excited, I’m also really afraid.

I’m afraid that I won’t make friends and the family I’m working for won’t like me. I’m afraid I’ll say something horrible in French and embarrass myself out of the country. I’m afraid the stylish skinny people will turn up their nose at my frumpy frame and trying too hard outfits. I’m scared that I’ll be alone in the city of love. I’m scared because I’ve never been out of America, no matter how cool and cultured I try to be. I’m scared I’ll lose my friends back home and everything will be different when I return.

I’m terrified of change.

But what I’m more afraid of is never doing anything. I’m terrified of never doing anything and never going anywhere. I’m afraid of sitting on my laptop for the rest of my life watching other people accomplish what I dream of. I’m scared of staying in my comfort zone and missing out on adventures and relationships. I’m afraid of living a stagnant life.

So I’m leaving my safe comfort zone. I’m going to live so that I don’t ask what if. I’m going to follow my dream and go on an adventure that will change my life. I’m moving abroad – because I’m terrified.

Paris Calling + Free GPSmyCity GIVEAWAY

Moving abroad is a lot of work; well, it’s a lot of paperwork. I have spent the past month or so emailing and sending snail mail back and forth from the US to Paris, France. I’ve made copies of my passport, transcripts, diploma – France has really gotten to know me. I wrote an elementary level letter in French to tell the French government why I want to live in Paris – but I mean why would I not want to live and work in Paris??? I also sent baby booties to my soon to be au pair family for their soon to be bebe!

To keep you up to date; later this month I’ll be doing a day and a half trip to Atlanta to get my au pair visa, which is exciting and terrifying! I have to bring a bunch of paperwork and pictures of me and documents saying I’m American (although I would love to be Canadian), etc. I’m hoping I’ll have enough time to visit the aquarium again!

All of this “work” (really just emails and paperwork) has got me BEYOND excited for my Paris journey! In honor of this, I’ve teamed up with GPSmyCity to give 20 of you their Paris app for FREE (It’s normally $4.99!)! The app has self guided tours for you to explore Paris, with tourist-y tours along with tours that make you feel like a local! It also has a city map and list of attractions, along with other features. It is available for both iOS and Android, so no worries there! So if you’re interested in winning the GPSmyCity Paris app, all you need to do is comment below and tell something about Paris – what your favorite aspect of Paris is, or what you look forward to exploring in Paris, etc. That’s it!

I can’t wait to see all of your comments and use the app in Paris!

 

Some [Crazy] Goals for Paris

Although I am a bit scared for my move to France, I am also extremely excited. I want to make the most of my time abroad (which will be at least one year, but could be extended for who knows how long). So I’ve compiled a list of things (some a bit crazy) to do in Paris!

  • Have someone mistake me as a Parisian and ask me for directions
  • Sneak into the secret parts of the catacombs without dying
  • Go to a wine bar and act snooty
  • Somehow get into crazy exclusive parties/events/clubs
  • Get mistaken for a celebrity
  • Meet some famous people who I don’t know are famous but we become best friends
  • Act in a French movie that gets crazy popular
  • Find a cafe to write in that becomes “my cafe”
  • Dream in French
  • Adopt a cat and name him or her “Bisou”
  • Throw a party
  • Travel around Europe
  • Fall in love – with Paris, a guy, baguettes, who knows?
  • Make amazing friends from all over the world
  • Teach my au pair child Taylor Swift songs
  • Buy and wear a beret
  • Become an actual celebrity in France for something weird, like my new cat Bisou can talk.
  • Sit in a fancy hotel lobby and pretend to wait for someone.
  • Have my family visit me
  • Climb the first half of the Eiffel but also take the elevator to the top
  • Convince my au pair family to name their next child “Talullah”
  • Have a cheese picnic. Just cheese.
  • Go viral for something France-related. Like me falling in the Seine on or something else normal.
  • Become an actual Parisian
  • Stay in Paris forever?

Do you have any other suggestions? Au revoir!

How To Find an Au Pair Position in Paris

I don’t usually do “how to” posts, but I have seen a definite lack of useful how to posts regarding au pairing (specifically in Paris). Obviously I don’t know everything, but hopefully this will help make your search easier. Here’s what I’ve learned since starting my search a few days after Christmas to saying yes to my family on January 10th.

  • Either pick an agency of your choice or join aupairworld.com. You don’t need any other sites. I wasted my time joining probably 6 other sites, none of which were necessary or led to any results other than spam emails. I didn’t use an agency, but Au Pair Paris seems to have good reviews if you’re looking to go with an agency, which I think is unnecessary unless you really want to use an agency. Aupairworld.com is free (to the au pair) and amazing.
  • Put ALL of your experience on your profile; babysitting. retail jobs, language skills, hobbies/talents, education, certifications, etc. Make it easily accessible to the family.
  • Add good quality photos. No selfies. Use a school photo or headshot. Add pictures of you with the children you have babysat. Add photos of you and your family.
  • Be specific with location. If you want to work in Paris, put that on your profile. The suburbs can be nice, but the Paris metro closes at night, and if you end up living an hour subway trip away, that could mean you leaving the city at 10pm on your night off.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out to families first. Make a basic first message and personalize it a bit for each family.
  • Know your profile weaknesses. If you’re under 21, not from the EU, and can’t drive, your options may be slightly more limited (from my experience). Play up your strengths. Also utilize the search option under the “for au pairs” tab – it allows you to search by country without limiting families by driving requirement, age requirement, and date/length of stay. If you are about to turn 20, use this search to find people looking for a 20 year old, as they currently can’t see your profile.
  • Don’t get discouraged. I got a lot of rejections and few positive messages. It all depends on when you’re searching, when you’re available, etc.
  • DO NOT GIVE UP. I am a very impatient person and was quick to get  discouraged after a few days without responses. Just be patient, I promise someone will message you!
  • After messaging with families, SKYPE! This is how you make sure they are, in fact, real people. You can also see how you click with the parents and children. Treat this like a job interview; fix your hair, wear a nice shirt, make sure your room is clean, wear pearls. That last one is optional, but I actually wore pearls when Skyping with my family, and I think they appreciated that I took care with my appearance. Families in Paris want to make sure their au pair is not only classy, but that they will be able to fit in in Paris.
  • Continue messaging families no matter how your Skype conversation went. Keep your options open and get your mind off the perfect (or maybe not-so-perfect) family you Skyped with. Skype with some other families if you so desire.
  • Send the family(familes) with whom you Skype your references. It’ll show that you have chutzpah.
  • Skype again. Yep, Skype again before/when you say yes.
  • Skype while you work out contract details. Make sure you read the entire contract and both parties are aware of everything.
  • Get to work on your visa! I might write another post about the visa process, so let me know if you’d be interested in that!

Hopefully this helps you with your search! If you find an au pair position in Paris, let me know so we can meet up! Also feel free to ask questions in the comments, au revoir!

Do They Have Iced Coffee in Paris?

Questions I have about Paris (my home starting this June):

  • Is there iced coffee? Will I be mocked if I drink iced coffee? I NEED ICED COFFEE
  • Can I run out of my cab like the girls in “Tout qui ce Brille”?
  • Am I fully grasping how much bigger Paris is than Manhattan?
  • Can I wear a beret without looking cliche?
  • Will I actually meet my fake boyfriend Jean-Luc?
  • Do I have the guts to try and explore the catacombs after watching that crazy horror movie about them?
  • Should I let my inner mean girl out in Paris? Is resting mean face what is acceptable there?
  • How many scarves should I bring? 5? 10???
  • How much cheese am I expected to eat?
  • What if I don’t make any friends and instead befriend the ghost who lives in the Louvre???
  • Can someone please give me like 10 red lipsticks?
  • Do French people like Canadians or British people better? Because I’m definitely going to pretend to be Canadian or British.
  • Do the people in Paris sing in the streets like in Anastasia? IS DIMITRI REAL? IS ANASTASIA ALIVE?
  • Will the Parisiennes accept me as one of their own eventually? And, if they do, will there be a beret and baguette ceremony?

That’s all my questions for this week. See you next week again for Curious Sundays. Actually that sounds weird. I’ll work on a better name. Maybe “Celina’s Psychotic Ramblings Sundays.” That has a nice ring, right?