Tuesday, December 22, 2009

sugar cookies and wooing of the neighbors

Ever since I moved into my apartment (1 1/2 years ago), I've been dying to meet my neighbors.

Now perhaps you are thinking, "ok, so go meet them then!"

Well, it's just not that simple. When I first moved here, I was expecting all of them to rush over to meet me, bearing gifts of homemade jam (or cheese and wine since we're in France) you know -- what neighbors do when new neighbors come. But nothing like that happened.

So, as a curious newcomer to this land, I asked one of our French staff if I should go over and meet them and be like, "hi!! I'm Melissa, I'm living next door to you now! What's your name? Nice to meet you!" To this, he politely yet sternly said "no. we don't do that in France. You can say hi to them if you run into them in the building, on the elevator, checking your mail at the same time... but you don't just go over to their house with the sole purpose of meeting them."

So I obeyed, and had never officially met them.

I personally think it's MORE awkward not to officially meet them then to keep "running into them" at the mailboxes downstairs, both smiling at each other because we know we're neighbors, but not saying much else.

Oh, and I should say -- I have 3 sets of neighbors. The "unknowns" to my left (I've NEVER seen them), the two "interesting" guys right next to me on my right, and then a family further on my right. The family I haven't quite figured out yet. I THINK there is a Grandpa, a young Mom and a little girl. Of course I would know that if we actually MET our neighbors...

My favorites are the two guys right next to me. I think they're in their 30s and the ones with the GORGEOUS flowers. We share a living room wall. They have never ever complained about the noise level over here -- which is strange since there are often loud students over here late at night, and I'm sure they can hear what's going on. They have a Christmas wreath on their door, which makes us the only two with wreaths on our doors in the entire apartment building.

But these guys are, yeah... interesting. I've seen them both numerous times, but I've only actually talked to them 2 times. They're very intimidating. Once was when I first moved in here and I asked if I could borrow their wireless code to get mine hooked up and they said "no". Another time I was with Joel and we needed to borrow wire cutters to put up the smiley face lights, and that time they said "yes". But of course we stand at the door, outside in the cold while they look in their toolbox. No inviting in, no "hey I'm your neighbor we're finally meeting!!!!!". Ah!

And this quandry of not meeting my neighbors, brings me to whole point of this blog post. Were you wondering if all of this useless drivel had a point? :)

I thought, Christmas was the perfect occasion (especially since we've now lived next door to each other ONE AND A HALF YEARS!) to make sugar cookies and give them to the neighbors as a "merry christmas, I'm your neighbor" kind of a thing. To woo them, if you will.

So I did.

(that cute red tin houses my cookie cutters. isn't it cute? IKEA)

my stove JUST fits a 9x13 pan. :) man, look at those bells!!!!

This is the BEST EVER sugar cookie recipe. It's my Grandma Dorsch's and they're yuuuuuummy and SO easy!

So continuing on with the story.

I made up these really cute little platters of cookies and decided to give them to all 3 sets of neighbors.

Of course the "unknowns" weren't there, so I'm starting to eat theirs.

The 2 guys... hahahahahaha. I walked over, fearfully rang their doorbell and waited. One of the guys answered the door and looked at me like "yes, what can I do for you." So I sheepishly said, "hi, I made some Christmas cookies for you -- I live next door, uhhh, I uhh, just wanted to wish you a merry christmas..." Insert sheepish smile and giggle. And HE JUST STOOD THERE. So I kind of moved the plate of cookies towards him in like a "take this gift it's yours" way, and he was like, "oh, umm, merci beaucoup... you want me to take ALL of them??" "yes yes, they're all for you. Merry Christmas!" And then he showed just a wee bit of joy and said, "wow, thank you very much". And that was that. Whew! I think my hands were shaking. They're intimidating!!!!!!

First time I tried the family, they weren't there.

So a couple hours later, I'm walking past the guys apt. to go to the family's apt. and right as I'm walking past the second guy roomate comes out and is like, "oh, I was just coming over to your apartment to thank you". GASP! He said he was really touched by the gesture and wanted to know if I wanted to come over right then for an apero (apero is the "pre-meal"; drinks, peanuts, pistachios, etc). WOAH! Turns out, I couldn't just then because I was having people over, but we're going to sometime soon, I think. Saa-weet!

The family LOVED them and the grandpa dude goes, "oh, I'm actually the guy in charge of the whole building, so if you ever have a problem come and see me." WHAT!?! isn't this something to know about AT THE BEGINNING of residency here?? But I met him, and now I can go to him with all of my problems.

So it worked!!!!! The neighbors are being wooed!!!

Sorry this is so long... but you loved every minute of it. Right?? :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

wednesday afternoon

A group of us went to sing Christmas Carols in a retirement home on Wednesday. We wanted to be able to spread a bit of Christmas joy and love to them, and it was a special time. I think they really appreciated it and we had a lot of fun!!

After we were done singing, this man said he wanted to get his cello and play for us. It was amazing. He had been a professional musician his whole life, and he still played Bach's Cello Suites beautifully!

After we went to a cafe and enjoyed some yummy hot beverages at one of my favorite places in town.

Friday, December 18, 2009

a snow day!!!

When I woke up and looked out of my window at 6:13am, this is what I saw!


I've only lived in Rennes for 2 years, but it's never snowed more than for 15 minutes at a time, and never stayed cold enough for the snow to stick. And today it lasted all day!! It got really slushy and muddy and gross when it warmed up, but... it snowed!!!!

from my balcony:

remember the ugly green building? yeah.. it doesn't look any better in the snow.

My staff team had a Christmas breakfast at the Kellums house this morning -- our last thing as a staff team this year. We had a 5 euro secret santa gift exchange.

After breakfast May (staff) and I went to IKEA to order a kitchen for our new office that's coming next spring. woohoo!!! Fun fun spending other peoples' money and buying brand new things! After drawing up a plan for a kitchen, we went to an office supply store to check out prices for desks, conference tables, chairs, etc. and the lady who helped us talked SO fast and SO much. She was the verbalest of verbal processors I have ever heard. It was literally non-stop. We left the place both feeling like we needed to drink some water and rest our voices.

Then the fun started!! We got a quick snack at McDo (Mcdonalds a la French) and headed to a party store to get some decorations for the Christmas conference I'm attending in the Alps. It was a fun store, a place I didn't even know existed.

May had heard about this big craft store near there, so after partying at the party store, we decided to check it out.

It did GOOD to my heart.

It was this HUGE sewing and fabric store that was AMAZING and I felt like I had stepped into America. It's a good thing I can't get there by public transportation or I might just spend all of my money... It was sooooo fun!! SUCH cute fabric.

I all of a sudden wanted to make new quilts and lots of them. Aunt Florene, aren't you proud?? I saw
this REALLY cute one on display but they were all out of kits and some of the fabric. May and I had even decided we wanted to make it as a project together... oh well. It's SOOO cute! Maman, do you like it?

It was a fun day.

It's supposed to snow some more tonight!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

my church

My church had our Christmas program last Sunday. After the church service, we cleared out the room and set up long tables for the potluck.

Church potlucks in France are very different from in the US. Everyone is supposed to bring an entree, a main dish and a dessert, and we of course eat everything in courses. Everyone serves themselves for the entree, we sit and eat and talk, then everyone gets up again for the main dish, and we sit and eat and talk, and then FINALLY we get to dessert and can hardly move at this point cause we've eaten so much...

Then around 4pm the program starts!

I was sitting with a French student I met that morning, and I explained that in my church in the States, everyone brings something to eat, but it's EITHER a dessert, main dish, vegetable (at least usually). Then we put everything on a long table, all at once and everyone serves themselves, taking EVERYTHING at the same time -- going from one end of the table to other. She was horrified - I mean, how uncivilized!! :)

Our church is in the process of building a new church and so every Sunday we are at a different "community center".

It's feeling more and more like my church. I am thankful!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

fun afternoon

It has rained every day for the past 3 weeks. When I say everyday, I mean EVERY day. My umbrella is ALWAYS drying and I'm always wet and cold. But that's alright... fun afternoons like today make it bearable! :)

Cecilia, Sammy and I met up for coffee at this "Mom and kid friendly" cafe where kids can run around, play with gobs of toys, and is tons of fun. Sam is almost 1 now and he's SOOOO big and ADORABLE!!!! My camera wasn't taking super pictures, so they're bad quality.... but look how cute he is!!! His Mom speaks to him in Spanish, his Dad in German, me in English and everyone else in French.

He's soooooooo sweet!

After a fun time with them, I met SOPHIE and we had a nice cup of coffee at the Haricot Rouge (the "red bean").

She's one of my favorites.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Gabrielle and Mallory (Mallory left and Gabrielle right) came over tonight for some fun arts and crafts. I copied Meg's idea (I LOVE her blog and secretly read it ALL the time) that she did with her kids, and these girls loved it! We did the circle painting art first and then they each made a monogrammed letter. We had a great time! They're so sweet.

Oh, and Gabrielle made me a hat. :)

At dinner time, Gabrielle told me that she wanted to pray and all she said was, "dear God, thank you that we can come to the house of Melissa and please help this food to taste good". We had pizza.

When we were making dinner, Gabrielle was looking at the pictures on my fridge and she saw the picture of baby Cora and asked me who she was. When I told her that she was a special little girl who was now in Heaven with Jesus she looked at me and said, "she must be really happy to be with the best person in the world." My heart just melted.

I'm so blessed to have these wonderful little girls on my team here in Rennes! They're so precious.