Monday, October 22, 2012

Green Machines!

France. A world where an American is cut from those beautiful streaming items...Pandora, Hulu, Netflix, etc. BUT, as evil or genius you may think Apple is, the Apple TV has allowed us to bridge the boundaries of nations and watch our beloved English movies....for a small fee of course, but hey, a few dollars for a night IN would barely cover two espresso for a night OUT. Long story short, we love it.

As mentioned earlier, we've had quite a stream of guests come through the past few weeks, and recently, a friend of ours had rented a food documentary called Hungry for Change. We both dig documentaries and think food is pretty cool, so we cozied up one Sunday afternoon to see what it was all about. 

In summary (if you didn't just watch the preview), the show tries to make people realize that all the processed crap they're eating in America is slowly killing them, and it's time for a change. Some stories were, 'yeah yeah, we know,' and other things really made you think. Honestly, I think living abroad has actually bettered our diets in some ways. I'm not going to lie, we consume about double the amount of cheese, butter, cream and wine as back home, and we don't feel a tad guilty downing a buttery crepe or confit de canard (literally, duck preserved in its own fat, then cooked in it's own fat. It's the best piece of meat you'll ever eat!) But other than that, most everything else we eat is fresh or at least contains ingredients we can pronounce as well as count on our fingers.  In addition, corn is actually hard to find here, so companies don't tend to pump all their products with corn syrup. Even buying 'corn tortillas', we found most of it was flour!

So yes, we've escaped some evils, but there's always room for improvements. I often think about this, too, having gone through surgery,  that there is that slight possibility that cancer may feel like showing face again. Taking preventative measures from the start is the one real defense I have, and the reassurance was there in the film as it interviewed two women who overcame/recovered from this disease just by changing their diet. And what did they eat? Well, A LOT more vegetables than we eat, that's for sure. Or to be more specific, more greens - leafy greens, fresh herbs, grasses, algae, anything with chlorophyll. 

I decided to come up with a personal challenge: To go a whole week eating something green for at least one meal, if not two per day. Once you're actually conscious about this, it really does become a bit tricky being creative with your food (aka, eating more than just salads). But hey, we made it work, we felt great about what we ate, and are trying to keep eating green as much as possible, when possible. Below you will find the results of creative cooking with green things, and some of the heath benefits from the ingredients. Thanks to Apple TV, we are trying to change our health from good to even better. So, then, you have to ask YOURselves......

How much Green to you allow into your diets?

Green Stuff used for the challenge, and their benefits:

Known for centuries as both a spice and a medicine, dill is known for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties. It aids in digestion, helps regulate menstrual cycles, is thought to be an anti fertility agent and fights against free radicals.

Packed with tons of vitamin K and A, fiber, calcium, protein, etc, etc, spinach is packed with antioxidants, can improve cardiovascular health, combat certain cancers, and fight against aging. 

These guys do a ton - everything from keeping you hydrated, to improving your skin and nails, to stimulating hair growth, to fighting certain cancers. 
This little guy helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure, fight against the growth of cancerous cells and tumors, rids your digestive track of the nasty toxins to help you digest food more efficiently, and helps the body absorb all those good-for-you nutrients.

Again, tons of vitamins with more vitamin C than your daily glass of OJ. This also helps lower inflammation, rids your body of toxins, freshens breath, reduces water retention, and fights certain tumor growths. Sweet! 

Packed with Vitamin A (the 'anti-infective vitamin) this onion-like cousin of garlic helps defend against colds, activates your white blood cells, and has antibacterial properties. This also helps spur the growth of the healthy bacteria in your gut (like the stuff you get from Activia yogurt) and is a diuretic, aiding in fluid retention.

This is a great leaf for salads as it's a great source for vitamins and minerals, has anti-bacterial anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties, is thought to fight against certain cancers, and is a good thing to help you stock up on your folate.  

This leafy thing contains vitamin C to help the immune system, vitamin A to help vision, calcium for those bones and teeth, vitamin E for antioxidant superpowers, and more.

Green Lettuce
The greener the better, so definitely pick just about anything over iceberg (which is simply a bunch of water with no nutrients). Has similar benefits compared with arugula and endives.

Ok, this is a fruit, but it's still really awesome for you. It has a million vitamins, contains healthy fats, keeps your heart, eyes, and skin at tip top shape, prevents cancer and birth defects, cures bad breath, contains anti-aging properties...well the list goes on and on.

This guy is packed with vitamin C, Calcium, and vitamin K, etc. etc. which means it's great for your immune system and keeps you bones strong. It's also been proven to reduce tumors and allergic reactions, prevent cancer and detox your body. Nice.

Dishes with Green Stuff 

Spinach/bacon/cheese omelets and cold cucumber tomato salad with dill vinaigrette 

Merguez Sausage in a chive leek mustard cream sauce and roasted vegetable with fresh parsley

Potato Leek Soup and side salad with a parsley vinaigrette, mint ice cream (oh wait, that green doesnt count)

Cheese Burgers with an arugula/endive/lettuce salad

Spinach/Chive/Dill and Cheese quiche with side salad

Chicken marinated in a parsley vinaigrette with Endive/green lettuce salad

Leftover Leek Soup
Guac and chips with leftover spinach quiche

Leftover guac and chips
Stirfy w/ Broccoli and Leeks

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Starting All Over Again

A week ago, I laced up my shoes, swallowed my pride, and went on my first run in over 6 months. It was death. DEATH.

For some of you who may not know my history, I've been running either competitively or leisurely ever since freshman year of high school, and come to think of it, have probably never taken more than a month's sabbatical from the sport. Even after those 'short' breaks, getting back into it is pretty painful, and here I am, almost starting from scratch. So why even go through the pain in the first place, you ask? Well, there's just something about the feeling of getting your blood flowing, being immersed fresh air, seeing a place (quicker than walking) and having the sense of rejuvenation after a workout. Being sedentary all day just makes my mind go to mush, therefore I run.

Luckily, I now live a bit closer to my favorite place to jog, the Luxembourg Gardens, but even getting there's a whole mile away. Sheesh, and we used to run a mile just to warm up for track practice back in the day, and here I am fretting that I'll barely make it to the park! Well, I made it alright, but seriously wanted to keel over. I stretched a bit, then walked most of the gardens. Catching my breath here and there, I'd start up again, but that would only last about 30 seconds or so. I  started having those god-awful flashbacks of a 14-year-old me on a treadmill trying to train for the JV cross country team, barely being able to do more than 10 minutes at a time. Ugh. God, was that hell.

For the next two days, my legs were sorer than ever. Somehow, I was recently able to do a 10 mile hike in Crete, yet be less sore than 15 minutes of running. Man, our bodies are strange beasts. 

To try and work out the aches, I went again two days later, this time walking to the park before running it with the hope that I could do a whole loop of the place before forcing myself to stop. And when I finished the loop, completely ready to puke, I realized I had only run about 10 minutes. Wow. So disheartening. I eventually forced myself to run 10 minutes more once catching some breath, then had a lazy 30 min walk back home with stares from the crazy dressed-up french people (yes, everyone out always seems to look dressed up, nice, whatever) probably saying to themselves "why does this crazy American girl do this? she looks like hell and looks stupid in her frumpy workout clothes." Well guys, at least I feel better about myself when I come home, de-frump, and face you crazy french people each day. ha, or something like that.

So yes, to all you out there trying to motivate yourselves to get to get off the couch and just work out for a few minutes a day for god's sake, I'm here with ya, starting from scatch, feeling every ache and pain that comes along with the territory. Power to us all.

A bit of a tour around the park...

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Soaking up the abbey

We kicked off the semester with a field trip to Jumièges Abbey combined with a short design project using that site. Our decision to take a trip so soon in the semester (eight days after the students' arrival to be exact) certainly put some strain on the profs since we didn't quite have everything ironed out for the design project. However, the trip was a resounding success, and the design work thereafter achieved what we intended: an intensive design workshop that allowed the students to meld, share ideas, get to know one another, and also get us profs into gear after a relaxing (or not?) summer.


The abbey itself has a typical "old-church history," in that it was built, burnt down a few times, rehabilitated a few times, changed hands a few times, changed function a few times, and is what it is today, which in this case is an interesting mix of architectural styles displayed through the ruins of what remains after the French Revolution.


We asked the students to design a roof over the nave and apse of the church, considering the (arguably preposterous) scheme of using the church for live performances of a sort. Their designs provided a wonderful assortment of proposals and approaches for what was a very focused challenge. I hope over the semester, we'll see the creative processes continue.


On the way back from Jumieges, we stopped into Rouen to see some non-ruinned cathedrals, crash for a night, and enjoy the city. Our last additional to the trip was a quick visit to Château Gaillard, which I'll simplify as the remains of a fortified castle perched atop a hill overlooking a valley, river, and town. The sun was setting as we climbed over ruins, walked between actors reenacting the chateau's activities of its day, and sketched away the site.

Château Gaillard

Not too shabby for the first weekend.

Full set of pics right here.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Tout est dans les Détails

Today's episode is dedicated to appreciating the small stuff. I personally try to make an effort to recognize those little details in life whether it's to make me feel good, appreciate the environment I'm in, or to just make me feel better when things are a bit know what I'm talking about, the smell of fresh coffee, the sound of rain, the warm glow of a candle.....

Details are all around us and yet, within our busy lives, we let many of them pass us by. It's these things, though, that can switch our emotions in an instance, and most often, we don't even realize what it is that has changed our mood. Therefore, it's time to start paying more attention to realize what it truly is about a place that makes it what it is! Adam and I have visited over a dozens of cities this past year and have frequently asked the question, "what is it about this town that makes it charming? dingy? boring?..." Once you try and describe the charming town, you realize a lot of those adjectives also describe a dingy town or even one that provokes indifference. There is no clear formula in the overall sense, (at least not one we have come up with yet), but the answer's somewhere hidden throughout all those details.

For round two of our European adventures, we were lucky enough to land an amazingly charming place for the next nine months. We were ecstatic when we saw the flat for the first time and thought, "Now this is a Parisian apartment!"Scaling my citywide question back, I've posed this same inquiry to our new home, "what is it about this place that makes it charming?" Again, it's all in the details. There's not just one item in itself that can determine this description, but a variety of intricacies that please the eye all together. One man's heaven may be another man's hell, so perhaps this isn't charming at all to other people. Or maybe I've convinced myself that as an architect, the rest of the world needs to listen to a professional who can tell them what charming is? What it really all comes down to personal taste, but in order to be comfortable somewhere you have to ask yourself, "what is is about this space that makes me feel that way?" Perhaps I personally appreciate the synthesis of items of old and new, or maybe it's simply the fact that I get a chance to live within a culture that actually appreciates the intricacies of decor. Or maybe I'm just a sucker for old places. But all in all, this apartment does have a lively variety of colors, textures, sounds, and sights that boast a cozy French feel. See for yourself. Would this be your idea of charm?

Bienvenue a Chez Nous

Views from our balcony. 
I simply love the contrast of Haussmann with the techie Gare Montparnasse looming in the distance.

 Our petite kitchen herb garden (left) 
Stools for hanging out/eating in our fits-more-than-two-person-kitchen (right)  

Deep shadows on the sleek stove, drawers, and pulls

Generations of paint - Kitchen door

Typical Dining and Living room detailing

Texture to the max on the nostalgic fireplace

Ceiling moldings 
(if you look close enough, you can see corn, wheat, and pumpkins)

Random dishes....mooo!
(oh wait, those are horses, not cows)

Tea and coffee nook (aka fueling station) - A melange of deliciousness

Backup supplies

Flooring cracks and creaks (man do we have squeaky floorboards) (left)
The recycling nook (right)

A splash of warmth and red with the living room's Area Rug

Radiators and Knobs and Flakey paint

The Bathroom sudsing station

Girl Corner on top of the bedroom's fireplace

Out on the Balcony

Thursday, October 4, 2012

And We're Back

Les Deux Magots Cafe
Hey fellow readers....and we're back. Yes, along with us, our blog has had a bit of a vacation itself, but it's time to start chapter 2 of Hoop Dreams  with year 2 abroad (uh, yeah, I think we totally slacked on trying to even think of a new title after all this time. any thoughts?).

In a nutshell the past 4 months have been a serious blur full of the known medical fun, wedding planning, moving back to France, touring the country, heading back to the Mayo for more tests (all's well!) then off to Greece for two weeks with a group of 6 of my super fantastic friends. Adam was unable to make it to the land of Gyros, worry beads, and Frappes (sad face), but instead stayed in Paris to fire up a new year at the school. I was able to join on a recent field trip to Lille and got a great impression of the students. I think it's going to be a good year.

On top of all that fun, for the past two weeks our apartment has been run like a hotel. We've had two rounds of visitors so far, and are about to host number three....adam's parents. And in the middle of all that, a long lost girlfriend from high school just got married and came through Paris, willing to meet up with Adam and I for drinks on the first night of the honeymoon. We felt honored ; ) and had a great time showing them around, feeling like we actually knew something about this city. Nothing beats a beautiful night out sipping a glass of Pouilly Fumé (a great white you all must try!) at the famous Les Deux Magots followed by swanky 1920s cocktails at our fave, Curior Parlor, the only place you'll find a stuffed raccoon by an unlit shady entrance, a peacock, and a stuffed fox with a bow tie above the bar. Ah, we love visitors as it gives us the excuse to splurge a bit : )

More to come soon, I promise, but for now, need to prepare for playing hostess for round 3!