The newer new house

I haven’t posted anything lately because, well, for the most part, my sleeping schedule has been all wonky. The San Francisco Giants are well into the post-season and most of their games have been “prime time” back home, which translates to approximately 2am in France. In a shocking turn of events, I’m willing to give up sleep in order to watch baseball but it makes for some odd awake hours.

Then there are some new clients for my business (!!) and I’ve been having fun working on those projects (more on that in a later post).

Needless to say, I’ve been settling into our newer new home.

For a little back story, when Dave and I first arrived in France, we had arranged to stay with someone who had posted a room for rent with a shared bathroom and kitchen. We knew this was temporary, given the shared living spaces with someone who owned the place, and we knew it wouldn’t really be ours. Plus, I had an irrational fear that any place we moved into would reek of cigarette smoke and cat dander (I’m highly allergic, much to Dave’s chagrin). So I wanted to be able to inspect see the place before we committed to living there for a good chunk of time.

Turns out, I think I burned us with that thought.

When we got to France, we immediately started combing Craigslist and the French equivalent for housing. University was already close to starting, if it hadn’t already, and that meant we didn’t exactly have a lot of choices before us.

So, we ended up with a place not terribly far from where we were originally–a five-minute walk.

But when we went to look at it, I wasn’t sold.

It’s tiny.

A studio with a loft where a bed fits. The stairs to get up to the loft freak me out. I’m fairly certain I’m going to bite the dust going down them one day. They are narrow and steep and the stairs just aren’t very deep so I’m certain one of these days when I clip my foot, I’m not going to catch myself, but rather face plant at the bottom.

The stairs from the street that wind up to our front door are also old and narrow. But so is everything in France. They have grown on me, but the house stairs will take some more time. They just don’t feel safe! Dave thinks I’m ridiculous and still finds it funny that I often climb the stairs to bed using my hands like I’m climbing a ladder. But in my defense, there isn’t anything to hold on to as far as a railing, with the exception of some rope.

The weather here is very damp, which makes the tile flooring of the studio always feel wet. I try and open the house up but when it’s chilly outside, you have wet laundry on the drying racks and steam from a hot shower to contend with, it makes it difficult. I get frustrated when it takes my jeans and Dave’s heavy sweaters three days to dry completely.

It has been an adjustment, to say the least. I mean, I knew this was what we were in for, living in an old-world town. We’re lucky to have a washing machine!

Still. When you tell people why you’re in France, everyone thinks that it’s so glamorous. Don’t get me wrong, it most certainly has its high points, but this isn’t like an extended vacation where you eat out most every night. We have to cook here!

I get annoyed with our “kitchen” almost routinely if it involves anything having to do with use of the oven. When we first moved in, I realized there was no way to tell the temperature of the oven. So I managed to somehow go out and buy an oven thermometer. Though two different sales people tried to sell me meat thermometers and I think I told one sales person that “I was looking for something to take a temperature of my fire.” When I got home, all excited about my solution to this no-temperature thing, I realized that I’d forgotten the fact that just because you know the temperature of the oven doesn’t mean it will stay there. There is no mechanism that stops it from heating up, often times way past the desired temperature.

The oven (and stove) are fueled from a propane tank, not unlike one that is probably attached to your barbecue. It sits beside the oven; it’s like camping. You turn the gas on, then you use the clicker to light the burners and the oven. Everything is compact. I go through serious bouts where I get so frustrated with the lack of room to operate. We don’t have counters, save for one 8×10-inch space in front of the coffeemaker. Dave swears it will only make me a better cook, being forced to “play the hand I’m dealt,” so to speak, but it doesn’t make anything less frustrating.

He is extremely patient with me while I try to adjust. He even tells me my cookies with the burned bottoms and undercooked tops are delicious, which I’m sure is just something to make me feel better. I know eventually I will get on board with this place, but I just haven’t been as enthusiastic about sharing it; which is why we’ve lived here about a month and I haven’t posted pictures.

Today was a nice, crisp fall day (after a weekend of gloom and rain) so I decided that on my way back from the grocery store, I would take a few photos for a blog post.

And with that, I give you our “newer” new house.

To be honest, I know it’s not so bad. It’s just a big adjustment for me. Dave has experienced Europe before and to boot, he is perfectly content with a single frying pan, a pot and a bed. I’m fairly certain that’s all he needs to get by and he is quite good at rolling with the punches and not getting flustered. Then there’s me, on the other hand, looking longingly at the kitchen gadgets in the store that would seemingly make things a bit easier.

I don’t mean to sound like I’m not happy in France (I prefer to say I just miss American conveniences) because when I step back and look at the larger picture, the positive far outweigh the negative. And I knew life in general would be a “downsize” since neither of us would be working 9-5 jobs anymore so this isn’t totally unexpected. There were just a lot of things this planner didn’t take into account. I mean, I’m running my own business from a loft in France. That ultimately was my goal, after all– my own business, that is. Moving to France has given me a chance to do it. And it’s all happening with Dave, who is incredibly patient with me when I get frustrated because the oven keeps going out because the propane-to-oven-knob ratio is out of whack. (It’s a thing, people. I swear.)

So we’re getting by, Dave and me. We’re doing this and it’s all going fine, in the all the areas that count anyway. It would be too easy if these smaller curve balls didn’t happen, I suppose. But I’m still holding out for an automatic oven someday.

8 comments on “The newer new house

  1. First of all, I can totally see why you’d be frustrated. It’s a lot of change all at once, and having to wage battle with the kitchen is not fun! A couple of random thoughts:

    1. What about buying a slow cooker? That might help you get around using the oven as much, and you can make a shockingly large amount of things in a slow cooker including desserts, breakfast items, casseroles, roasts, soups, etc. According to random google search, a french slow cooker is called “une mijoteuse” (I claim no responsibility if that is actually some sort of French swear word, so you should probably double check that.)

    2. Have you thought about feathering the nest a little bit to make it feel a little homier? I think your apartment is totally adorable, but maybe you’d feel more at home if you found an inexpensive rug for the cold floors and hung some photos of home (obviously a huge framed portrait of me is a great place to start)?

    Sorry this turned into a novel! Keep the posts coming!! Miss you!!

  2. Hang in there Colleen. One day you will look back on this and have fond memories. If you have a loving man beside you, that is all you need to get through this. You also have family and friends who love you!!! Take care Colleen. Love you bunches sweetie!!!

  3. Thanks ladies! I definitely think some housewares (especially the rug) will help. We were trying to hold off on decor since we will only be in this place until May and didn’t want to invest but the rug may be a necessity during the wet months! And Amanda, I’m totally buying an immersion blender when I get home at Christmas (so it will have an American plug and I can use it upon our return). I’m thinking that will be easier to pack than my slow cooker 🙂

  4. Hey! Hang in there!
    I totally know what you mean about the laundry (I need to wash my jeans this weekend and I am NOT looking forward to it- they really take 3 days to dry with the humidity!)
    Once you get into a routine things will become easier. I’ve learned it’s better not to compare what I have or don’t have here with what I have/don’t have in the U.S… sometimes it just makes me feel worse *especially when I’m craving in-n-out or peet’s coffee*
    &if you ever need someone to talk with (even just to vent about something) I’m here in the same time zone.. we could skype!

  5. Thanks Kela! That is some pretty good advice. I definitely need to not compare between the US and France, I think that is smart. And, I will take you up on the Skype offer soon! xoxo

  6. wait, why are you moving out in may? what happens then? Where am i going to be visiting you at this summer woman?!
    on a non-selfish note, you are way braver and stronger than i could ever be…sure ive moved around the US alot, but to totally uproot and just go with the punches, it so much more than i could ever do. i would have packed up and gone home by now, or been institutionalized for being so anxiety ridden…haha…you know its true:)

  7. Not quite sure where Dave got his unending patience and steady temperament but thank any distant relatives or in-laws that he did.

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