American Bloat

While I was in France, I ate whatever I wanted. French food is heavy on all the currently “taboo” food groups in this country (depending on who you’re talking to these days), to include dairy, grains, meat, fats, and everything in between. And I have to tell ya – my digestive system never felt better while I was over there!

I returned to the U.S., and while I surely love American food in all its glory, I am back to being bloated, irregular, and less energized. It’s not because I eat bread… or because cheese is wrecking my digestive system…or because I enjoy red meat. I ate all those things in Europe. I know this is no secret, but it really is the fact that food in this country is SO overly processed. Even the packaged foods in Europe had smaller lists of ingredients, most of which I could actually pronounce. Everything is fresh and mostly local there. I ate raw eggs and beef for crying out loud (and lived to tell the tale.)

I’m not one to judge the U.S. based on what other countries are doing. I’ve never thought it’s a fair comparison – we are so much bigger and more diverse than most European countries. However, I do wish we could take at least SOMEWHAT of a hint from their dietary practices. Natural ingredients. A reduced reliance on corn. Cleaner, more humane livestock care. And perhaps the elimination of preservatives, dyes, and other miscellaneous ingredients that are banned everywhere else in the developed world except here! Of course, Americans could take a little personal responsibility and work on portion control, too…

I hate to be that Northern Virginia snobby white girl, and I probably won’t have this opportunity on a military base in Okinawa, but I may have to start shopping organic (it’s a start!)

EuroTrip Re-Cap!

EuroTrip Re-Cap!

Since I have the worst memory, I was going to record what I did each day in England and France. That was obviously a big fat failure (and now I don’t  feel like scrounging up that much detail), but I still want to share the highlights of our 10-day journey to see a slice of Western Europe…


This was my third trip to London, and I still don’t care for it much. However, it did have one major highlight: I saw my friend Beth for the first time in many years! She just got married this past December, and I was able to meet her delightful hubby James, as well. She hasn’t changed a bit 🙂


If I had to choose one other thing about London that I really liked, I’d have to say it was the spring blooms in Hyde Park. Beautiful!



I love Oxford. Always have, and I think I always will. I was happy that Chuck liked it too! I was able to visit my old campus at Pembroke College, and I was delighted to see that the Alice in Wonderland shop and Ben’s Cookies are still there. Seriously, if you are ever in Oxford, go get a Ben’s Cookie. Amazeballs.


Also, I can’t forget to include that Chuck and I enjoyed a pint at the pub where C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien brainstormed some of the greatest stories ever told, the Eagle and Child. I’m not even a LOTR or Narnia fan, but it was still pretty cool 🙂



Oh my goodness! Where do I even start? I fell in love with Paris. Every positive stereotype is completely true, and every negative stereotype completely untrue. Highlights included:

  • The entire first day & night – walking the historic Ile de la Cite and Ile St. Louis, lunching at Au Bougnat around the corner from Notre-Dame, eating Berthillion ice cream for dessert, sipping evening cocktails on the roof of Maison Blanche (where staff called Chuck Captain America!), watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle, feasting on the giant wheel of cheese at Philippe et Jean-Pierre, and watching burlesque at the iconic Crazy Horse (even if I did drink too much champagne in the end.) It sounds cheesy, but the misty, ethereal haze that hovered over Champs-Elysees on our walk back to the hotel added to the magic of that first evening in Paris… But sigh… moving on…!
  • Meeting with friends at Versailles and being the first to hear of their engagement
  • The fact that art and beauty are EVERYWHERE.
  • Our poignant, emotional visit to Belleau Wood (where countless American Marines and soldiers lost their lives fighting the Germans in WWI).
  • Monet’s Water Lilies at L’Orangerie
  • THE FOOD. And trying beef tartare, even though I had no idea it’s a raw ground beef patty with a raw egg on it…


Provence & the South of France

Growing up, I used to watch Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence with my mom and sister. I’ve always romanticized the region, and have long wanted to visit. I was worried that between the film, things I’ve heard, and the copious amount of dreamy Provencal images I found on Pinterest, I was setting my expectations a bit too high. I shouldn’t have been so concerned – Provence exceeded every whimsical expectation!


We started our trip in Gordes, un village perché in the Luberon Valley, and enjoyed the luxury of one of our splurge hotels with a series of killer views. Gordes is full of adorable nooks and crannies, and I met THREE cats while I was there 🙂 Also, it must be noted that I had the most delicious chocolate dessert ever in Gordes, and I can’t stop obsessing over it. I only wish I had a photo, or its exact name. Oh man. So delish.

Over the next few days, we explored the villages of Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Aix-en-Provence, Cassis, and Arles. Cassis and Arles were my favorites (after Gordes!) At Cassis, we took a boat tour of les Calanquesand dipped our feet in the Mediterranean under a warm, sunny sky. In Arles, we ate delicious quiche, eclairs, and brioche in the courtyard of the building where Van Gogh sliced off his ear, and then explored Roman ruins.  I did a few ballet spins and took a bow on the ancient stage at the amphitheatre… Chuck thought I was a fool 🙂 Honestly, I didn’t think I’d like Arles – I had heard it was a little “dirtier” than other Provencal towns – but I actually enjoyed its artsy, antique intrigue and mystique.

We ended the Provencal adventure with a visit to Glanum, an ancient archaeological Roman site near St. Remy. The history nerd in both of us was tickled pink, and I met my final French kitty snoozing in the middle of the museum…


Anyway. I heart France. And I have to give myself credit – I plan a good trip! It cost more than our honeymoon did, but I think it was worth it. Every night I have a dream about being back – sometimes in a spot we already visited, sometimes in a place I wish we could have seen. It’s kind of pathetic really…!


The only mementos I brought back (besides the memories and 1,587 photos) were a magnet for each city, a jar of lavender honey, and a little bottle of lavender liquor. I can’t wait to break into the latter two 😉

All in all, a very bon voyage!

And we’re back!!

Home safe and sound after a EuroTrip that really could not have gone better, in the soft fluffy purring embrace of the Bean, with the news that the first of the grad school programs to which I applied has accepted me. Wahoo!

In the meantime, 1,587 photos are uploading to my computer. I’m gonna have a blast with those…!

J’aime beaucoup Paris, Mais je pense que j’adore le Provence… #view from our window in #Gordes! #france #provence #countryside #hilltop #village (at La Bastide De Gordes & Spa Hotel)


In spite of accidentally booking a 7:01 AM EuroStar ticket rather than 7:01 PM ticket, we finally made it to Paris. We had a wonderful date night on Champs-Élysées – from a rooftop bar with splendid views (40 euros for two drinks was completely worth it), to an intimate and elegant French bistro, to Le Crazy Horse burlesque show. I am kind of in love with this city! #paris #romantic #eiffeltower (at Maison Blanche)