Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

little bit of home improvement

I have grandiose ideas for what I want my balcony to look like....unfortunately it takes time, and money, and time and money, and not something that I can do just all at once. So little by little things are changing.

This week one of my goals was to clean up this area of my balcony, and make it pretty and organized. I had several paint cans, flower pots (empty...), and random other things that were just sitting there, looking cluttered and dirty. A beach towel!?!

I didn't have much inspiration, but then I went to IKEA. And at IKEA, I saw this metal shelf unit thing for no more than a song, and thought it'd be perfect to organize my little life outside!

My friend Jeremie kindly drove me to and from IKEA, so I didn't have to haul the box (IKEA stuff is build it yourself, remember) on the bus. Plus, you get free coffee when you have an IKEA family card, and so we had 4 cups each. :) What!?! The cups are small!!!!

Doesn't it look so much nicer and cleaner? And are you even more impressed that I built it myself? :) It was actually super easy, but one sure does feel accomplished when one builds one's own metal shelf.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Today is a very special day because my sister Lindsay is guest blogging over here on my blog. :) She is an incredible writer. REALLY incredible writer. And she's written a short story that pretty much sums up our (my brother and sisters' and my) feelings when we're asked the question, "where am I from". Enjoy!

"Place" by Lindsay R. Dorsch

Where am I from? The question plagues me. Having never lived more than 2 consecutive years in Kansas, I cannot honestly call it home. Having lived my childhood in two third-world countries on the other side of the Atlantic, and yet having no citizenship there, I cannot call Ouagadougou or Bangui home, either. But somewhere in the mixture between red sand dunes and rolling wheat fields, I create my own home. I create a place where few can venture into. I create a new culture—one that is stricken in-between bloated starving bellies and overweight gluttonous appetites. The place I am from cannot be physically found. It is not an ocean away or down the dusty dirt road. No, instead, the place is found in colors, sounds, and smells. Now begs the question, “Who am I?” I am…

French. Not the nationality, but the language. I am the liquid sounds that sing when spoken. I am a strained eardrum as I eavesdrop on a couple speaking French at Applebees, longing to hear the familiar words. I am the fresh pastries sold in a patisserie enveloped with smoke from the lady at the counter. I am the red, green, blue, and black book covers that are required for every French elementary class. I am the stylo-plume that writes silk onto my page. I am the Lyon candybar that sits at the store’s checkout line. I am the Nutella spread on my bread for morning breakfast. I am the tears that fall when I find a jar in Wal-Mart.

I am…

Burkinabe. Not the nationality, but the small boutiques that are squeezed on every street corner, selling gum, notebooks, sugar, and powdered milk. I am the fresh baguette, golden and crunchy on the outside, but soft inside, wrapped in old newspaper. I am the intoxicating smells that overwhelm my nose when I walk into the Grand Marché—the biggest marketplace downtown. I am a creamy peanut butter and tomato sauce poured over my white rice. I am a mango, juice running down my arms as my taste buds wrap around the soft sweet fruit. I am the music of nasal voices and rhythmic camel-skin djembes. I am the vendors, swarming on the street, blocking traffic. I am the rain, led by dust, deafening the house by pelting the tin roof, and followed by a breath-taking stillness when leaves turn green after months of redness. I am the street flooded with liquefied orange clay after a June downpour. I am the leper sitting on the side of the street, fingerless palm facing upward, begging for money. I am the fourteen-year-old mother, carrying a child on my back with a piece of cloth, while balancing a tub of fresh strawberries on my head. I am a group of kids playing soccer in the street. I am my paper sticking to my sweaty arm as I try to write an essay in the dark dense heat, not knowing when the electricity will come back on. I am the cold shower I take at midnight to try and cool off so I can get back to sleep. I am the university student who cannot afford a twenty-five cent meal from the cafeteria. I am the filter that attempts to take out the bacteria from the water. I am the Clorox that we have to soak our fruits and vegetables in before we can eat them. I am walls around every house and courtyard. I am guards in camouflage surrounding the President’s palace. I am the bright colors painted on fabric. I am the man selling flip-flops right outside my door.

Therefore, I am not, and never can be….

American. I am a citizen, but I am not rich. I am not the college student that moves in with a TV, fridge, microwave, dresser, and water filter. I am not the kid who takes a bite into an apple and then throws the rest away. I am not the sixteen-year-old who is given a new car as a birthday gift. I am not the twelve different kinds of bread available at Dillon’s. I am not an all-you-can-eat buffet at the Golden Corral. I am not so independent that I end up isolated from family and friends. I am not a mall. I am not little league basketball or state track. I am not a huge house. I am not cartoons on a Saturday morning. I am not TV. I am not the cold AC in the summer and then the freezing weather in the winter. I am not long-sleeves. I am running out of images and ideas to write about—proof that I am not from here.

On June 27, I left one place and entered another. Now, I belong to neither. I may never return to Ouagadougou, and I may never (hopefully) be fully American. I belong to a culture that is sometimes lonely, for few share it. I am a mixture of memories triggered by senses. Where am I from? I am from my third culture, a place that gives me context.

I love you Lindsay! You are AMAZING and thank you for guest blogging!! :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

lights downtown

There are beautiful Christmas lights everywhere downtown!

Halle dancing (or just posing) like a ballerina.

for those of you who know, this is place saint anne (ANNE!!!!)

Every year there is a "light show" projected on this building. It's a 15 minute show and is AMAZING! Here is the building at 3 of the different times during the show. You can click on the pictures to see more detail -- it's awesome!

Monday, December 20, 2010

galette saucisse

I would like to introduce you to a food specialty from this region of France.

It's called a "Galette Saucisse" (ga-let so-seess)

A "galette" is a wheat flour based crepe, that you eat as a main meal -- you put ham, cheese, egg (gross), or potatoes, goat cheese (gross), salad, etc. on top of it. They are soooooo good. My favorite is ham, cheese, and cooked onions. YUM.

And "saucisse" means, sausage.

So, you wrap sausage in a galette, and you get the Breton specialty of "galette saucisse". Pretty simple. And everybody loves them. And before big soccer games, tons of people buy them. And we sing a song about them while we're at the soccer games... I'm telling you, it's VERY much a part of this region's culture. :) The song goes something like this:

Galette Saucisse, I love you
I'll eat kilos and kilos of you
In all of l'Ile et Vilaine (what the region is called)
With buttermilk.

Ahh, yes. buttermilk is also a specialty of this area. The song rhymes a bit better in French!

So you get the idea -- everyone loves them, everyone eats them, it's tradition, etc.

Well, up until Friday night, I had NEVER had a galette saucisse. I've had many a galette (with ham, cheese and onion), but never a "galette saucisse". And this is my 3rd year in Rennes. For shame.

But Friday, walking around at the Christmas market, I decided it was time for my taste buds to embark on the galette saucisse experience.
You can see the sign says "specialites bretonnes" -- Bretagne is what this part of France is called.

It was pretty good. More importantly, I feel Bretonne.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

i love my dad

My Dad came to Rennes on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and we had a WONDERFUL time together! It went by way too fast. He just made a quick stop on his way back home from Niger, to see his eldest daughter. :)

Since I wasn't on vacation yet, he got to come with me to all of our campus crusade activities -- even having spiritual conversations with students on campus! That was probably a highlight for me. Me and my Dad on campus together -- him having done this for over 30 years, and me for 3. And he made me do the talking! It was great.

Afterward, we went to a small cafeteria on campus and met up with some other staff I work with for lunch. Dan, the guy in the middle is my campus director. He's great! He and May have two of the coolest boys on the team!

Dad was the guest speaker at our "Refresh" meeting. It's our monthly meeting for Christian students. He did SUCH a good job! I was so proud of him and could have listened to him speak for a lot longer!

Wednesday afternoon we had a bit of time to enjoy a lovely cup of coffee at the cafe where we have another one of our student activities. So fun to be able to show him these things in person.

We didn't get a single picture taken together while he was here...oops.

I'm so thankful for a wonderful 3 days that I could spend with my dear Dad. It was really special, encouraging, refreshing and made me a little less homesick during this "far-from-family" time of the year!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

i'm on vacation and i saw french santa

Woohoo! As of today I'm officially on Christmas Vacation until the 27th when I head down to the south of France for our New Years Camp with students from all over France.

I have LOTS of things that I want to do during my week off, including reading 3 books, AND blogging LOTS! So be checking back often Shorty!


You know on the "important people blogs" that get millions of comments for each post, how they sometimes have guest bloggers? Like, Famous Blogger A will invite Famous Blogger B to come and write something, or share photos on Blogger A's page, and so on and so forth? You pickin' up what I'm layin' down? Well, this week, "Famous Blogger A" will be me, and "Famous Blogger B" will be Lindsay. I mean, aren't you excited? We are excited. It makes us feel like we're taking this blog thing to a WHOLE new level. :)

But on to French Santa.

This afternoon, I was walking to our little neighborhood grocery store, and as I approached the little "square", I heard Christmas music being played from loud speakers, which was fun, festive and a little bit unusual. As I got closer, I noticed that not only was there Christmas music, but Santa Claus, a Christmas donkey and cart giving children rides, and several "elvish" people.

French Santa is a bit different than American Santa. A few things we (Halle and I) observed:
- he did not have a round belly that shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly
- he was wearing a scarf (no surprise there as we're in france)
- he had a long cape, but underneath it looked like he was wearing white pajamas
- he did not hang out with the kids much, but wandered around the square (see pictures)
- he didn't seem overly jolly
- he said OUT LOUD IN FRONT OF THE CHILDREN something about his "santa costume" what if some of the children heard and found out santa wasn't real!?!

So here are the children waiting for santa who is wandering around...

santa at the bank

santa at the bakery

santa at the newspaper store

and he's back. so here we have: a donkey with christmas ears, an elf playing the flute, and santa with a scarf who is not talking to the children.

the elf was very happyyou can't see his face.

French Santa is different than American Santa. It's not wrong, it's just... different. :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

new favorite

Remember how 2 of my favorite coffee shops in Rennes closed down this semester? Well, I found a new favorite! I've gone by it so many times, but have never stopped for lunch or coffee. And last week was the opportunity to do so, with one of my team members Laurie. It was SO French and SO wonderful!

For lunch I had a pesto, mozzarella and tomato tartine, with a lovely side salad. Then we had coffee, served in bowls, and a yummy dessert.

Melanie, I kept thinking how much you'd love this place! :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

december 8th

Ho ho ho my MANY blog readers (to those of you who comment and those of you who don't)!!!!! I say "many" to pretend that I'm that cool.

I have finally, fully embraced the holiday season! I realize that it's only 17 days until Christmas, but things have been so busy around here, that there hasn't been a TON of time to get everything Christmas-a-fied. My apartment is still only partially decorated, and the outside strand of lights that J and J are in charge of, is STILL on my living room floor... ahem.

BUT, this morning, the girl campus staff -- Halle, Tereza and I -- did some Christmas shopping. The girls really wanted to get a real tree and so through rain and cold and sometimes snow, we Christmas shopped. And trees were bought.

Halle and I thought it was funny that the BIG super market here (target equivalent, I s'pose) only had 1.5 aisles of Christmas decorations. sigh. you people who regularly go to target, please enjoy an extra trip for me in the next couple of weeks. :)

this was the first place we looked at trees and both Tereza and Halle were NOT so much feeling it...

so we continued on our trek through the rain to a second tree selling place.

WOOHOO!!!!! They found trees! Tereza cleverly put hers in her grocery carry-er. very wise.

Then we bought a baguette for lunch. YUM.

Then we rode the bus home, with our trees, despite the interesting looks we got. Thank you public transportation for letting us on the bus!

Fun times with the girls!!!!