Pique-nique international

“There are times to be casual and times to be correct. It’s all right to wear a sweater and slacks on a picnic, but they don’t belong in the theater or the drawing room”.

Elsa Schiaparelli

I thought it would be neat to host an international picnic for my friends and it was a great success!

We had homemade sushi!


What’s a picnic without games?

Learn how to say hello in 7 languages:

Russian-Здравствуйте (Zdravstvuyte)




Chinese-Nǐ hǎo



Until next time!


French Cooking, Goat Cheese Salad

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  • Serves: 6
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes


  • 16 oz bag of mixed greens
  • 8 oz goat cheese
  • 3 tomatoes thinly sliced
  • 2 cups  shredded carrots
  • 1 apple peeled and sliced
  • 1 avocado thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • slices of toast cut diagonally
  • butter
  • 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
  • 2 tbsp wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • salt paper
  • 1/2 cup oil

In a casserole dish, layer each of the ingredients starting with the mixed greens, then the shredded carrots, tomatoes, avocado, and apple. Add the chopped walnuts, raisins and then chunks of goat cheese. Decorate with slices of buttered toast


  • In a cup, mix the oil, mustard, wine vinegar, salt, and paper.



Le Repas Gastronomique Des Français


Let’s take a small look at what it’s like to dine with the French. The French start their morning with le petit dejeuner (breakfast): which consists of a hot drink, such as coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. Then you have cereal, baguette, and croissants which is served with butter, jam and honey.  Between 12 pm and 2 pm they have le dejeuner (lunch). Lunch is either eaten at home, a cafeteria, bistro, or restaurant. A normal lunch consists of three courses, hors-d’œuvre or entrée, plat principal (main course), and dessert. For a more fancy lunch or dinner on the weekend with friends, the meal always starts with L’aperitif, (hors-d’oeuvre) main course, cheese course, dessert, and coffee/tea. A formal meal can last up to 5 hours or more. The French love spending time at the table.

When someone invites you over for dinner, you should bring a small gift for the host and make sure you are 15 minutes late as a common courtesy. Also, when your guest is getting ready to leave, it takes about 30 to 40 minutes to say goodbye. It is normal to stand by the door with your coats in your hands and talk some more before you leave.

My first week in France my host family was invited to a friend’s house. They left at 7:30 and they didn’t get back until 1:00 in the morning. Here I was thinking 2hrs and ½ was plenty of time to have dinner with a friend but apparently in France that is hardly enough time.  In the US we eat everything at once but in France every course is very well enjoyed. I was still confused as to why it took them 5 and ½ hours.

I was then invited to join them for lunch one day, for a formal meal. I remember sitting at the dinner table playing with my hair and at the same time trying to understand what was going on. For the first few months, I had a hard time following a conversation in French. I felt isolated and alone. I couldn’t ask everyone to explain things all the time, so I tried to follow as much as I could. We spent about one hour taking our time eating the L’aperitif and two hours and half to eat the rest of the meal. We were finally done with the main course and then six different types of cheese were set on the table. Unfortunately, I was asked to start. I was being polite and I took a small piece of each of the cheeses and passed it around. My host family friend smiled and told me that, as a rule of etiquette, you always start with the first three cheeses that are less flavored and then when everyone is done, you have the last three that are more flavored. For example, if you have brie and blue cheese, you start with the brie and then you move on to the blue cheese. I was bewildered and said, how am I supposed to know the difference between the cheeses? He looked at me and said, it’s a French thing. That explained everything I needed to know. After the dessert we moved to the living room to enjoy a cup of coffee as the conversation carried on and I said to myself, that’s why a dinner lasts so long.


I then hosted a dinner one day that lasted 6 hours. If you were to tell me that a year ago, I would be like no way, everyone must be out by 9:30. God has used my time in France to change me in this area of my life. I was the one who was always in a hurry to leave because my time is precious. Yes, time is precious. Spend it with your family and friends talking, laughing, and making memories.

Qu’est-ce que “Sleeping Beauty”?


Long ago, there was a fairy tale castle overlooking the Loire river. It was an enchanting castle and the sight of the castle was so breathtaking that Charles Perrault was inspired to use it for his tale, Sleeping Beauty. Young and old marveled as the story of Sleeping Beauty came to life. Château Ussé or Château de “La Belle Au Bois Dormant” (Sleeping Beauty) was fortified in the eleventh century by Norman Seigneur of Ussé. Since then, the Castle has been owned by various people. The Blacas family is the current owner and they still live there today.



Each of the scenes carefully displayed in the castle began to awaken some of my own childhood fantasies. I was reminded of a time when my childhood friends and I used to pretend that we were “Sleeping Beauties”. We used to lie down with our eyes closed, waiting for that magical kiss, as the boys crept slowly behind us and cruelly dumped dirt on our faces. Suddenly, we were snapped back out of our fantasy and into reality. Have you ever felt that way with real-life experiences?


What is “Sleeping Beauty”? Is it just a fairy tale or is there more to her story? Maybe Charles Perrault was trying to tell us that in each of us lives a sleeping beauty. We all know what it’s like to wait. Just imagine having to wait 100 years to be validated, as Sleeping Beauty had to endure. When we are young, we dream of what we want to be. As we enter into our twenties, we struggle to find our voice and who we are and what we are about. Sometimes, the norm that society demands of us, can serve as a kind of spell. What people think we should be and living our lives for an audience, can sink us into a deeper sleep. Could “Sleeping Beauty” represent all of us at one point or another, when we have lost the sense of who we are? How do we then wake up?


Once upon a time, we waited for that magical kiss, only to be awakened with a face covered in dirt. Along the way, I have learned that I had already been validated into existence by my Creator. Sometimes you just have to re-evaluate yourself and connect with the Creator, using the resources He has given you. To get there, some of us traveled far, and some of us stayed near but only you know and God will give you that power.

So what is sleeping beauty? Is it you and me when we have allowed the demands of society to define us? I hope you find your voice. To find your voice is to find your place in the world and there is nothing more powerful nor beautiful.

Thanks for reading until next time!









When in España

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“Can I get an order of guacamole and chips and salsa please?”  “Hmmm, you might have to go to Mexico for that.” “Hmm, okay, don’t you guys like hablo Español here?”  I might have said that out loud. For the longest time I avoided going to Spain because you know, Yo no hablo Español. I took a little bit of Spanish in high school and my Dad told me it would come in handy one day but, after trying to say rojo and couldn’t roll the “R”, I quit at a heartbeat. I met Isabel in Tours and she invited me for a visit to Spain. She lives in Estella and I thought it was a wonderful opportunity to embrace my fear. She was a wonderful host and we spent two days in Estella and we took the bus to San Sebastian for the last day of the trip.

I don’t really know much about Spain, but the people are so nice and very welcoming.  One time we went out and I got disconnected with the group. I thought great, I don’t speak the language and I am lost. Thank goodness I spotted this guy who knew Isabel and I asked him for help and he said something like,”Tus amigos te están esperando allí” ( Your friends are waiting for you over there). I was like, I understand the whole amigos part and the rest is like Chinese to me. “Can you help me find my amigos?”

I met so many wonderful people. My favorite is the woman who shared with me that she is from a small village of 20 people in Navarre. She has a dog named Taxi. Taxi would go out sometimes and she would open the door and scream, “Taxi!” The neighbors would look out their windows and shake their heads and say, “Loca, loca, she thinks she is going to find a taxi out here?”

I learned that Spanish people are fun, they know how to enjoy the moment and just very genuine. Someone asked me if I would go back to Spain and I said I should probably learn a few more phrases. I learned from my friends how to say, Hola Mamasita, Me llamo Marie Michelle. Yo no hablo español. Mi casa es tu casa!   Encantada de conocerte! I love to listen to Spanish music and nothing makes me happier than  dancing the salsa and batchata. So who knows, after French I might give Spanish another try. Adiós y hasta la próxima vez!  Goodbye and until next time!