It’s Me, Sara Louise

Hi! You might know me as C’est Moi, Sara Louise. Before that I was Sara in Le Petit Village. Now, It’s Me, Sara Louise. Hello again.

  • one week

    Here we are, one week into Gregory’s winter visit already and I have to say, it feels like he never left. We morphed back into real, normal, life right quick, but I’m pretty sure that the rotten colds we had helped that out some (key takeaway: mucus is not sexy).

    As what could probably go down as some of the worst timing known to man, last Wednesday, as I drove to the airport to collect Gregory, a nasty, chesty thing began to wrap its slimy hooks around me, and when Gregory hugged me hello, he stepped back, scrunched up his face and said, “Skippy, you sick?

    Yes, Skippy was sick, and within 36 hours, Gregory would be too.

    Our first few days together were spent drowning ourselves in Robitussin and binge watching Outlander (sadly, Champagne not included), but on Saturday night, we did manage to go out on a date. Although I use the term, ‘night’, loosely. We earlybirded it, as in 5:30 earlybird, and within four hours, we were snoring off our cold medicine.

    And then Sunday came and Monday, and then yesterday, and now here we are, Wednesday and one week gone already. But it’s nice, and life and all, and that’s what I’ve been waiting for all these months.

    Oh, and if you’re wondering how Gregory’s reunion with Fifty went, here’s the clip. Gregory and I were both surprised by Fifty’s initial reaction. I told Gregory that maybe next time, he should go easy on the cologne.  

    P.S. You’ll have to excuse my horrible, shrieking voice, I was a tad emotional. 
  • tis the season to be jolly

    Bonjour lundi! 

    This may be the first Monday, in the history of Mondays that I’ve ever been happy to see, and the reason for my happiness; Gregory will be here in only two more sleeps! I can hardly believe it! He’s going to be here for four whole weeks, and while that isn’t forever, it’s a start.

    Here’s the thing though, yesterday, as I trimmed the tree, I started panicking a bit about my blog. I had planned on getting loads of posts written and scheduled before Gregory got here so I could spend as much time with him as possible and dutifully stick to my blog calendar and the Monday, Wednesday, Friday rhythm that I’ve had going on here since I came back in October. But decking the halls took much longer than expected (I’m not complaining, I love a good decking) and not a single word was written.

    And then last night I thought to myself, calendar, schmalender, it’s Christmastime for Santa’s sake! I haven’t seen my husband since July and I want to live in every single second of every minute of every hour, of every day of each of the four weeks he’s here, and if that means I don’t get a blog post, posted, then so be it, so I guess I’m taking another blogging break of sorts.

    But since it’s impossible for me to completely disappear from y’all lives (nobody gets off that easily), I’ll be checking in on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram fairy regularly I’m sure, to splash bits of our holiday cheer about and I’d love it if you popped by to say hi. (I’m going to attempt to film the Fifty, Gregory reunion and you’re not going to want to miss that!)

    Before I go, I just have to say, thank you. Thank you, to all of you. The love, support, and friendship that you continue to give me is beyond measure. Really, and truly, you’re the best blog buddies on the block and I am grateful for y’all. Oy vey! Listen me go on, I’m gonna get all verklempt.

    Holiday wishes and kisses to you and yours from the three of us!

    Joyeuses fêtes et bonne année! 

  • c'est moi

    Hi, c’est moi, Sara Louise! Fáilte to my ex-expat blog, and merci for stopping by. 

    For the past ten years, I lived overseas, first in Dublin, and then in France. Now, I’m back in the U.S. (the Texas Hill Country at the moment), setting down roots with my French husband and French dog. 

    But before I was an ex-expat in Texas, I was Sara in Le Petit Village, and lived in a charming little place with a quirky cast of characters a top the Luberon mountains in Provence. 

    Sara in Le Petit Village (the prequel to C’est Moi, Sara Louise) came to life in October 2009 (my very first post!) after I moved to France from Ireland to be with my French boyfriend who is now my French husband. (If you would like to know what this New York/ Texas girl was doing in Ireland, read this post, and if you want to know how an American girl met her French husband in Dublin, read these;part 1part 2part 3.)

    Living in a fairly isolated village with only 250 other souls to keep me company, I thought it was best to find something to occupy my time so I didn’t go the way of The Shining (RED RUM)… Voila! Sara in Le Petit Village was born!

    Now as C’est Moi, Sara Louise, I blog all about the adventures and misadventures of my new life back home, the ever frustrating Green Card process, and pretty much anything else that takes my fancy. I guess you can call it a lifestyle blog, for me, it’s just, moi. 

    If you have any questions about me, 
    life in Dublin, Le Petit Village, or life in general, 
    email me at cestmoisaralouise@gmail.com.
    I’d love to here from you! 

  • Port Grimaud and Cavalaire-sur-Mer

    Cavalaire-sur-Mer

    You know, there has been so much going on here lately what with Thanksgiving, Gregory’s green card issues, and just life in general, that I still haven’t gotten around to finishing up the tales of my trip back to France last July, so gather around kiddos, because that’s what I aim to do today.
    Let’s drift off someplace else, shall we… take a deep breath, rid your ears of holiday music, your brain of Christmas to-dos, and let your mind wander to summertime in the south of France… can you hear the waves of the Mediterranean lap? Can you taste the rosé? Good, you’re ready. 
    It was July, and I was already a week into my visit Unfortunately, even though I had been there for a week, I hadn’t seen much of Gregory due to his busy work schedule, so as soon as he finally had a day off, we thought we should take advantage of it with a trip somewhere fun (he might have felt a tad guilty after hearing me rave about Sanary-sur-Mer). 
    I don’t know whose idea it was, but we decided on lunch in Saint-Tropez, that famed port town of glamorous lore that I had never been too (“too crowded”, Gregory would say). And since Saint-Tropez is only a hop, skip, and a jump from Cavalaire-sur-Mer, we thought we’d swing by there afterwards, say hi to The Croupier and see how much her baby had grown since we’d been gone. 
    We hopped in the car and left Toulon headed towards Saint-Tropez, but oddly, neither of us were paricularily excited… it started to dawn on us… Saint-Tropez in July, ugh… it seemed like a lot, the town would probably be packed to the gills with all that riff raff that likes to descend upon it every year to rub elbows with Jay-Z and Russian cagillionaires. 
    I don’t really want to go to Saint-Tropez” I whined.
    Me, either” Gregory replied.
    Gregory and I proceeded to look at each other with whingy, scrunched up faces until he finally said, “I know where we can go.” And that’s how we ended up going to the quaint village of Port Grimaud, and more importantly, where I ended up eating the most delicious, pasta dish of my entire life.
    There are no words that would do the pasta justice, every bite was a culinary delight, so much so, that months later, I’m still dreaming about it… fresh pasta and seafood with just the right amount of garlic and parsley. It was perfect in its simplicity. I WANT IT NOW. 

    After Limincellos and coffees, we strolled around the port before traveling down the road to meet up with The Croupier in Cavalaire-sur-Mer. The Croupier hadn’t changed a bit, and the seaside town was still as lovely as ever, but this little cutie was much bigger than I had remembered.  
    It was the most gorgeous of days… the sun was glistening off the sea, my belly was full of delicious goodness, there was Limincello and rosé, and baby cuddles… it was heaven.
    Now take another deep breath and come back to reality. 
    Meh. 
  • heartbroken


    (This post is a follow up to ‘Still Frustrated’, which continued on from, ‘Frustration‘) 

    Well that’s that then.

    After five weeks of trying everything I could to finally get my Congressman’s office to request Gregory’s Green Card be processed sooner rather than later (instead of merely checking on the status as they seemed to be content to do), I have failed. 

    This is the email I received from them yesterday:

    Dear Sara,
    Listed below is the email response we received. Unfortunately, the US Embassy in Paris denied the expedite request. We will continue to check on your case accordingly. As soon as we receive any information, it will be forwarded to you.
    … … …
    This is a follow up to your email dated November 24, 2014 concerning the immigrant visa petition filed by Sara Louise XXX on behalf of Gregory XXX with assigned case number XXX Per correspondence from your office, the National Visa Center (NVC) forwarded an expedite request to the  U.S. Embassy in Paris, France.  The response from the U.S. Embassy indicates that they are not willing to accept this case for expeditious processing.

    And once again, I had allowed myself to get my hopes up when last week I was finally told that if I wrote a letter, detailing the hardship reason that we needed the visa expedited (and in fairness, I’d hardly call getting it finally processed after thirteen months ‘expedited’), the visa center would send it on to the embassy in Paris for review. 

    Foolish me, I thought that my Congressman requesting this expedition on behalf of a constituent that’s going broke because she and her husband live in two separate households in two separate countries would be reason enough. I guess not. 

    So here I am, broken, That’s how I feel, broken and empty. There is nothing left for me to do. I am merely a tiny speck on the back of the NVC and they don’t care. I have to wait 120 days for one set of documents to be reviewed and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. At least there are only 17 days of the second ’60 day wait’ left to go (but then again, that’s day-days and not business days, so who knows… at this point I feel like the process is never going to end). 

    On the bright side, I will see Gregory in a week or so when he comes to stay for Christmas, but on the dark side, he will have to go back afterwards and I don’t even want to think about how we are going to feel when that day comes. I better start stocking up on waterproof mascara.  

    P.S. Here’s a thought… how about before we focus on immigration reform for people who entered this country illegally, why don’t we try and address the problems within the process, for those who are trying to do it legally, because receiving two back-to-back ‘60 day wait‘ letters, is inefficiency at its finest.  

  • Behind The Photos XIX

    Today’s edition of Behind The Photos picks up a couple of weeks where the last one left off… Gregory and I had celebrated our first wedding anniversary in Lyon, and sadly, the day after we returned home, my father passed away. So we went to the States for a couple of weeks, but when we came back, not only had spring arrived in Le Petit Village, but so had La Petite.

    Having this bundle of cuteness to to hold and cuddle after saying goodbye to my dad was the best way to help me through the grieving process. Circle of life that is.

    When winter would finally leave us, and spring would trinkle in, we would have apéro outside every chance we got. It was always just the handful of us, sitting outside the bar on haphazardly strewn chairs (i.e; practically in the middle of the road) enjoying the warming weather and the solitude before the tourists came. Looking at this photo is surreal for me now, it’s only been eight months since I left The LPV, but this photo seems like a lifetime and a whole other world away. It’s hard to believe that was my life.

    This would be the highlight of our Friday night… a car would pull up and we’d see if whoever was inside had any ideas if there was anything going on or what we could all get up to. They usually didn’t. It made me feel like I was seventeen years old again looking for a party.

    And once it was warm enough, we couldn’t wait to start barbecue season. Here’s Brother-in-Law manning the grill with his father-in-law watching over him. And of course there’s Gregory doing something ridiculous. I’m not sure what he’s got in his hand but it looks suspiciously like a machete. Considering this next barbecue photo, that wouldn’t surprise me at all…

    This. I have no words for this. I remember taking the photo and I remember being every bit as confused about it then, as I am now.

    Whenever I come across this photo in my album, it never fails to make me smile. There’s Gregory with Child Bride’s little sister, Wolf (that’s her actual name, true story). Since she’s Gregory’s and my sister-in-law’s sister, she’s kind of like our little sister too, and Gregory teases her as such. Like here for example, when he not only stole her bracelets, but her chocolate cake too. If you ever wanted to know who would steal candy from a baby, well now you do, Gregory would.

  • recently

    // It finally happened! After eleven years, I finally got my real American Thanksgiving, and it was every bit as wonderful as I knew it would be. I can’t wait to do with again next year with Gregory stuffing himself with turkey next to me.

    // Have you seen Mockingjay yet? I saw it last week and like Thanksgiving, I want a do over. Loved, loved, loved it.

    // This is how ridiculous I am sometimes; I was talking to my mother and saying how I needed some good curry powder and red and green curry pastes and she told me that there are few good Asian markets in San Antonio. I said, “Ugh, I don’t want to drive all the way into San Antonio. When you’re in Dublin, can you pop into the Asian store on Abbey Street and pick me up some?” Because only in my mind, does it make more sense for my mother to pick me up some when she’s in Dublin, than for me to drive down the road and get some.

    // So my mother is going to Dublin for a week tomorrow, and ever since Fifty saw the suitcases being pulled out, he’s been mopey and practically inconsolable. It’s horribly sad and I feel terrible for him. He hates seeing suitcases, poor guy.

    // As of today, about 98% of my Christmas shopping is done and 75% of the cards have been written. I just felt like sharing that information. Go me.

    // When do you put up your holiday decorations? I’m practically chomping at the bit to put mine up because this is the year I’ve been waiting for, this is the year I have finally been reunited with my Christmas decorations that were sitting in storage while I was an expat. All of my Santas and my Nativity scene can finally be taken out of their boxes, dusted off, and do what they were made to do… spread Christmas cheer! (I would love to say that ALL of my Christmas decorations are now together, but I can’t, because the decorations I accumulated when I was in France, are now in Massachusetts at my sister’s with the rest of my belongings. Eventually, me and all of my stuff will be in the same location. That’s the dream.)

    // The other day on Facebook, someone had posted one of the zillions of Bill Cosby memes that have been going around. It was tasteless, and I usually ignore such things, but as I was scrolling down, a comment that someone had posted about it caught my eye. This it what it said: “You can take the monkey out of the jungle, but you can’t take the jungle out of the monkey. lmfao.” Seriously, someone actually wrote that. And here’s the thing, I see things like that weekly on Facebook, not necessarily always that extreme, but hints of it. So for anyone who thinks that race still isn’t an issue in this country, well, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn I want to sell you.

  • rendant grâce

    This is Sam. Sam was my grandmother’s grandfather, and like my Nana, he was a Wampanoag. His photo is here because the Wampanoag were the kind and generous folk who brought the food to the first Thanksgiving. I’m sure if Sam was still alive today, he would simply say, “you’re welcome” (I had to have gotten it from somewhere, right).

    I’m pretty sure that the Sam and Nana part of me is the reason I love Thanksgiving so. It’s always been my most favorite of holidays, there is just something so familial, warm and loving about it, which is what made it all the more dismal as an expat. In the rest of the world, Thanksgiving is just another Thursday leading up to big show in December. It’s all very blah.

    Since moving back to the States, I’ve been longing for tomorrow to come. I’d finally be a part of it all again, not just an observer to the never ending flow of Facebook’s pumpkin pie newsfeed. But here’s the thing, never in my wildest imagination did I think that Gregory wouldn’t be here for it. Never. During this ridiculously drawn out green card process, I was always like, “Oh well, at least he’ll be here by Thanksgiving, that’s all that matters.” And lo and behold, he’s not.

    So while I’ve had moments of joy this week as the holiday has closed in (the crowded grocery store might be stressing out others but the frantic buzz of it has been giving me the giddies), unfortunately, there’s been lots of sadness too. Gregory isn’t here, my family isn’t complete, and he won’t be busting through the door in the nick of time, à la Planes, Trains and Automobiles. He is simply not coming.

    In order to try and get a hold of the ever growing pit of despair that’s burrowing deeper into my stomach as the Thanksgiving clock winds down, I thought it was time to focus on the positive with the timely, Things I’m Thankful For list.

    I’m thankful for friends that feel more like family.

    I’m thankful for my health and everything that I have that so many less fortunate souls do not.

    I’m thankful for my mom’s friend Vicki, who always helps me bathe Fifty. (He had his holiday bath yesterday and he’s so soft and clean now and his grandma can’t say he smells like fish anymore… for the record, he never smelt like fish.)

    I’m thankful for Law and Order SVU. As long as USA keeps running those marathons, I will always have something to watch on TV.

    I’m thankful that I found a wine here that I love and that’s a bargain at $5.49 a bottle. Amen and Hallelujah.

    I’m thankful for the new Chromebook I’m typing on; an early Christmas present from my mother. Thanks Eilo.

    I’m thankful for the friends that I have made through this blog. You guys are some of the most kind and supportive people going. I love y’all.

    I’m thankful for Mr. & Mrs. London who have been taking such good care of Gregory these past few months.

    I’m thankful for Fifty, my trusty sidekick, who is wonderfully, cuddly, company.

    I’m thankful that my husband’s phone plan allows him call me twice a day. But, I’ll be even more thankful when he no longer has to.

    Happy Thanksgiving friends! Gobble, gobble bisous. 

  • Playing The Help

    Back in July, when I was in France visiting Gregory, I happened to be there for The London’s wedding anniversary. Figuring they would be going out for the evening to celebrate, and Gregory would probably be working, I looked forward to a date with myself; Chinese takeaway, Sky TV, and a bottle of Rosé, but as most of my plans go, it didn’t. 
    The night before her anniversary, Mrs. London and I sat outside by the pool having apéro and tossing around ideas of where she could bring Mr. London for dinner (it was her year to plan). 
    The problem with restaurants in Toulon is that there aren’t that many great ones, and the ones that are, well, we’ve already been to, so it’s hard to find someplace special. And unfortunately, going anywhere out of town was a no-no, as Mr. London had to be in town for work. But as we sipped and brainstormed, and I looked around at the gorgeous surroundings and the new deck that Mr. London and Gregory had built (well done boys), a plan began to percolate… 
    What if I cooked dinner for them and served it on the terrace, and we’d make it a surprise, Mr. London would think he was going out somewhere, but really he’d be walked out to his own back garden which we would decorate with candles and flowers, and I would cook and serve. It would be my gift to them. We agreed it was an excellent idea patted ourselves on the back, and planned a menu. 
    The next day, we expected Mr. London to go out and about as he usually does, but nope, he decided to stay put on the couch, for the whole day, the couch that is right next to the open plan kitchen. It’s kind of difficult to cook a surprise meal when someone can see what you’re doing. And that’s when I had my second light bulb moment, I told Mr. London that I was cooking a surprise meal for Gregory, he would be home early that evening, and we would have it while he and Mrs. London were out celebrating. He believed it, and I even used this new ploy to let Mr. London pick out his own starter and dessert… silly Mr. London! 
    Mrs. London and I were quite chuffed with our cleverness let me tell you, but we still couldn’t do anything about decorating the terrace until Mr. London disappeared. Unfortunately, he decided to stay put until fifteen minutes before he and Mrs. London were due to ‘go out’, when he finally went upstairs to shower and get ready and that’s when Mrs. London and I sprung into action. We sprinted up the steps of the tiered garden, placing tea candles here and there and hanging them from the trees. We spread out rose petals, set the table, and setup the speakers so there would be music.
    Miraculously, we were back inside by the time Mr. London was back downstairs putting his shoes on and grabbing his keys. I said goodbye, told them to have fun, and watched as Mrs. London walked her husband out the front door, and then into the side gate of their garden and up the steps to their date. I ran and put a dress on (their waitress should look lovely after all) and greeted them outside to ask what they would like to drink. Mr. London’s face was priceless! Mrs. London and I managed to pull of the surprise and amazingly, Gregory did not let the secret slip during any one of his and Mr. London’s zillion phone calls they had that day. Succès

    And after their dinner, Mr. and Mrs. London celebrated their marriage by sending off wish lanterns into the Toulon sky, and when Gregory got home, we all sat outside under the twinkling lights of a beautiful evening. It was more than a little romantic if I do say so myself.

    P.S. In case you’re curious, the menu consisted of this crudités platter for nibbles that Mr. London picked out, followed by Coq au Riesling, and for dessert; ice cream topped with tropical fruit, Mr. London’s other choice (he’s very easy breezy, Mr. London is… or he thinks that Gregory is). 
  • Top 10: Things I Love About Dublin

    Before transitioning to C’est Moi, Sara Louise, Sara in Le Petit Village was an expat in France blog for over four years. But before being an expat in France, I was an expat in Dublin, I just didn’t blog about it. Since I’m now an ex-expat, and C’est Moi, Sara Louise is an ex-expat blog of sorts, I thought I’d start  blogging about Ireland (well, Dublin specifically) to add a smattering of green to the blue, white and red. So in that vein, here’s a list of things I love about Dublin, because, why not. It’s Friday, and I’m feeling lovey dovey.

    1. Christmastime in Dublin, and by Christmastime, I mean November through January. Dublin is simply magical during the holidays; the lights on Grafton and Henry Streets twinkle so, and the Christmas tree on O’Connell is always perfectly sparkly and splendidly festive standing in front of the GPO. Christmas music pipes out of the shops and everyone is jolly. Dublin is a small city, and during the holidays, it has the most wonderful of small town vibes to it. It’s like everyone knows each other, and everyone is full of the Christmas spirit.

    2. Dublin is a cosmopolitan city with everything on offer that any other world class city has, but, Dublin city centre is considerably smaller, meaning that you can get from one side of town, to the other, in a relatively short period of time. You could easily walk it if you wanted to. It’s practically pocket sized which makes it perfect for exploring.

    3. While Dublin is notorious for it’s dreary weather, on occasion, the sun does come out to shine, and when it does, the whole city celebrates. Any public green will have people lounging on it, beer gardens will be packed to the hilt, and last minute barbecues with burnt burgers and soggy cole slaw are planned. The whole city buzzes with infectious happiness and it stays that way… until the rain comes again.

    4. There’s a small village only three miles outside of Dublin City Center called, Chapelizod. It’s a charming place full of history and legend. Not only did James Joyce speak of it in Finnegan’s Wake, but Michael Collins would meet his Dublin Castle spies in a pub there. Lots of historical and literary lore, but the real legend of Chapelizod lies in its name… it means Isolde’s Chapel, and the Isolde is the Isolde of Arthurian legend. Chapelizod is the village where Isolde hailed from, and I was lucky enough to have lived there.

    5. The pubs of Dublin are famous, but many people may have the wrong idea about them and their purpose. Sure, they’re having a pint or two (or five or six), but they’re also for the craic; the sing songs, quizzes, matches and laughter that you’ll find filling them any given day of the week. The pub is the social hub of a village and on weekend days, you can find entire families there, children included.

    6. After enjoying ‘the craic’ at a pub, there is only one place to stop on your way home; the chipper. It doesn’t get much better than a battered cod and a bag of chips (fries) sprinkled with salt and malt vinegar. My mouth is watering just thinking about it, and after a pint or two (or five or six), there is nothing better. And if you’re feeling particularly indulgent, throw in a battered sausage and you’re good to go. Hangover be gone.

    7. Ireland’s restaurant scene has been on the rise for years now, and in Dublin, it’s hopping. There are so many amazing and innovative restaurants in Dublin to choose from now, it would be impossible to get through them all. Trust me, if you like food, Dublin should be at the top end of your ‘must visit’ list.

    8. When I lived in Dublin, I hardly ever would go out in Temple Bar, it felt too touristy for my liking, but now that I’m gone, I appreciate it. Sure it’s packed to the gills with tourists and drunken hen parties and stag do’s, but there is some serious good times to be had inside any of those pubs squeezed together on those cobbled streets. Traditional music and sing-a-longs can usually be found inside one or another.

    9. Dublin taxi drivers are generally up for a chat whether you want one or not. They’re like driving encyclopedias of local history and news and will usually talk your ear off with their take on things and opinions. And on a number occasions, when the time came for me to exit the taxi, I felt like I was saying goodbye to a friend, rather than a stranger (told you they were chatty), but you still have to pay them.

    10. And rounding out my top ten favorite things about the Fair City are the Dublin people themselves. Maybe I’m biased because most of my family is there, but every person I know who has visited the city, comes back raving about the people and how friendly and helpful they are. Of course not every single person in a city can be neighborly, but for the most part, Dubliners are. I miss those neighborly people in that fair city.