Looking for hope in the new year

Yes, I guess this is about me: 2016 Was the Year White Liberals Realized How Unjust, Racist, and Sexist America Is. When Obama was elected in 2008, I made chocolate chip cookies decorated with tiny flags on a toothpick pole – American flags on one side and Obama’s portrait on the other – and brought them into the office to celebrate his victory.

All the French people I know were happy. I read somewhere that about 95% of the French would have voted for Obama. I usually don’t broadcast my patriotism or wear it on a tee-shirt – I guess because of history, many French people are uncomfortable with that – but there I was. And not only me, many of my co-workers pinned up the toothpick flags on their open space walls, Obama and the US flag.

As an American in France, far too many French people would tell me spontaneously, “I don’t like Bush” or “America is racist.” Now, everyone was congratulating me (since I got the blame for Bush, naturellement I got some credit for Obama :)) I was proud that America elected Obama. It was proof of what was good in America. Hope. Change. Progress. It felt real. It was real, in many ways.

Only, for many people, it seems it was not after all. Growing up in America, I wasn’t aware of the injustice and suffering in my country. The precarity of people without jobs or who are living paycheck to paycheck. People who are mistreated or who live in fear because of their color or immigration status. A justice system that is not fair to all. And the fear, anger, even violence, directed at fellow human beings.

It’s not just the US, of course. We have the same problems, prejudices and extremist views in Europe, and the security checks are a daily reminder of the terrorist threat. There is a lingering fear that a holiday celebration will end in tragedy.

At the end of 2016, the world feels precarious and frightening. I lost my father this year. He studied history and read extensively. I wish he was here to give some context and maybe find a way to reassure me that everything would work out in the end.

In 2017, I want to be hopeful that US institutions and the world coalitions that promote peace and world stability will prevail. I believe that most Americans, most people, are good and have kind hearts. I will strive to open mine to others as best as I can, knowing that I’ve looked the other way far too often. That’s my takeaway for 2016.

It’s hard to be optimistic for the year ahead, but like many other people, I will do my best. Let’s hope, somehow, it all works out.

Peace to all.

Easy French yogurt cake

No need to buy bakery cakes or mixes when you can make easy French yogurt cake. It takes 5-10 minutes to make (double that if the kids help) + 20-30 to cook. It’s flexible, forgiving and hastle free – you use the yogurt pot as a measuring cup. Bon appétit!

No need to buy bakery cakes or mixes when you can make easy French yogurt cake. It takes 5-10 minutes to make (double that if the kids help) + 20-30 to cook. It’s flexible, forgiving and hastle free – you use the yogurt pot as a measuring cup. Bon appétit!

  • 2 plain yogurts
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 yogurt pot of oil
  • 3 pots of flour (it can be rice flour for the gluten free)
  • 1 pot of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder (1 sachet de levure chimique)

Mix everything together, then accomodate as you want, for example:

  • Sautée some apples and walnuts with butter, sugar and cinnamon, then pour over the top
  • Add some poppy or sesame seeds
  • Mix in chocolate chips and walnuts
  • Grate some lemon or orange rind and mix in with add of the juice
  • Add grated coconut and/or pineapple chunks and/or sliced banana
  • Cut up a fresh pear or apple
  • Stir in a mashed up banana and chopped walnuts
  • Mix in ground almonds or almond extract and top with almond slivers
  • Use a cup of chestnut or buckweat in place of normal flour
  • Stir in melted chocolate to make a marble cake

Put the batter into a greased cake tin and cook at 350°F (180°C) for 20-30 minutes.

No frosting. I hope you like it!

Happy holidays to all! Let’s do our best to make it through with peace, love and joy 🙂

 

French style: How to make everyday soup

I almost never ate soup growing up in America and when I did, it was almost always Campbell’s. Here in France though, soup is an institution.


I almost never ate soup growing up in America and when I did, it was almost always Campbell’s. Here in France though, soup is an institution. It’s one of the first things you feed your baby; it’s a common family entrée; and it’s dinner for many older people.

A while back my parents did cook up some French onion soup during a visit here. The recipe was a complex affair: 3 kinds of onions sautéed in butter, Kirsch, white wine, bouillon, eggs, flour, a special kind of cheese. They spent well over an hour, busy as bees, chopping, sautéing, deglazing, dirtying diverse pots and pans.

In the end, their soup was… well, it was pretty damn good. But it was so much work! No wonder they never make soup. And despite all the effort, it wasn’t that much different from my fast-and-easy version (don’t tell them). Continue reading “French style: How to make everyday soup”

How to organize anything and keep it that way*

GTD, pomodoro, flylady, Marie Kondo, feng shui… I read so much about organization – books, blogs, tips, pinterest, lists, life hacks – there’s no time left to put away the damn laundry.

How to organize the closet, get the kids’ rooms in order, file paperwork, finish projects on time… GTD, pomodoro, flylady, Marie Kondo, feng shui… I read so much about organization – books, blogs, tips, pinterest, lists, life hacks – there’s no time left to put away the damn laundry.

Organizing advice can be served up warm and homey or business and efficiency ordered “to-go.” There’s the goody two-shoes homemaker and the cross-fit suck-it-up-and-trash-it coach. Spiritual. Minimalist. Esoteric. Fun! Take your pick, there is an organizational genre out there, waiting to help YOU defy the second law of thermodynamics. Continue reading “How to organize anything and keep it that way*”

Fried gluten balls*

Toss the rice flour, compost the chia seed and donate the paleo cookbook to your local library

Ok, fried gluten balls was supposed to be my bad joke idea for a recipe, but it turns out they really are a thing (and like so many things, only a Google search away). This got me thinking about the cultural significance of food: gluten-free as a dietary choice, yet also reflecting social values and identity.

So let’s have a go at it…

“Fried gluten balls are quite greasy and very delicious.” — Buddah’s Delight.

I’m a native Californian, living in Provence. A poster child of the blithe, unabashed caviar left.  Continue reading “Fried gluten balls*”

7 unscientific tricks to improve your mood*

No scientific nonsense here (gratitude journal, meditation – begone!), only fun stuff.

* Ok, if something really bad happens, it’s not gonna help. But if the stupid day-to-day petty stuff is bringing you down, go ahead and give it a try.

No scientific nonsense here (gratitude journal, meditation – begone!), only fun stuff. Besides, did you know that science says putting a pencil in your mouth will make you happy?

pencil-in-mouth
How’s that working for you, Angela?

So, ready or not, let the countdown begin! Continue reading “7 unscientific tricks to improve your mood*”

What I don’t give a f*ck about

Mark Manson‘s tagline is”personal development advice that doesn’t suck.” His bestseller The Subtle art of not giving a f*ck (asterisk mine*) is about focusing attention on and caring about what is most important in your life.

As I understand the subtle art, there are 3 kinds of f*cks

1/Giving a f*ck – giving your attention to things that may, or may not, be important in your life.
2/F*ck it – the liberating choice to stop caring about stupid stuff.
3/Not giving a f*ck – caring about something so deeply you are willing to pay the price. I get it when I feel strongly – passion, outrage – about something. I’ll do the work, take the pain, suffer the consequences. And I do not give a f*ck.

Here’s a quote from Mark and you can read his article here.

Most of us, most of the time, get sucked in by life’s mean trivialities, steamrolled by its unimportant dramas; we live and die by the sidenotes and distractions and vicissitudes that suck the f[*]cks out of us….

Continue reading “What I don’t give a f*ck about”