A Tip for Book Lovers Moving Abroad

The first time I moved away from home for a long period of time, I joined the local library as soon as I could. I had a set date to move back to the US in a year, and so I knew I wouldn’t be buying lots of books and lugging them back (not to mention I was on a teacher’s salary). There was also the fact that the local bookstore in my small Spanish town didn’t carry many English books.

So off to the library I went! Annnnd…it was the same problem in the library. When you go to libraries (and most bookstores, unless they are specialty bookstores) in non-English speaking countries, you will find 2 kinds of English books: Dan Brown/super popular books, or a million tomes of Shakespeare. If you’re looking to brush up on your classics, by all means get yourself to the library or bookstore. But if you’re looking for Murakami translated into English, that Margaret Atwood you haven’t read, the latest Eugenides novel, or any kind of well written, somewhat contemporary novel – then you’ll be out of luck.

But! There is an easy solution! E-media. I love books, bookstores, and libraries as much as the next person, but a girl’s gotta read.

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Fruity Summer Cake Recipe

When going to French restaurants or bakeries throughout the year, I definitely notice a change as the seasons roll by. If you are new to France and would like to know what fruits are in season, here is a handy spreadsheet. Of course, you will be able to tell when the tomatoes smell like nothing in the winter, or when other fruits disappear completely at other times of the year. It’s not a bad thing. Eating seasonally tastes better, is generally less expensive, and is better for the environment.

Back to France – When winter comes along, I tend to see more cheesy, potato filled dishes on menus. Cabbagey potées abound. I look forward to spring to see different fruits and vegetables at the supermarkets (I went wild this strawberry season), but summer is my favorite. Aside from the fact that I could happily overdose on tomatoes or zucchinis, summer means all sorts of delicious fruits!

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Watercolor Mani

ostella bistro

It’s been a while since I’ve done any nail art, and this simple watercolor mani was the perfect way to jump back into it! I simply used a makeup sponge to dot the colors onto each nail one by one. 🙂 Easy and can be as delicate or as bold as you like.

Happy Friday

Mother in Law’s Taboulé Recipe

One of the benefits of being married to someone with a different culture than yours is that, if you’re lucky, you get authentic, home cooked meals that you wouldn’t normally have.  Mr. B is super lucky because I have a huge Mexican family as obsessed with food as I am (including a cute little grandma who just loves to feed us all). So when we visit LA, he gets home cooked birria, ceviche, etc etc. I’m lucky because his mother is also a great cook, and I get home cooked french food!

Of course, France has many immigrants and some of the foods they’ve brought with them have become staples in France. My husband’s grandparents were born in Algeria. My corner bakery has started carrying North African pastries, you will find merguez and couscous anywhere and everywhere, and you find taboulé (spelled in French) ready made in supermarkets and delis. It makes a perfect summer meal or side dish, is healthy and easy to make. I asked my mother in law for her recipe, and today I’ll pass it on.  Keep in mind that this is not like the Lebanese tabbouleh you might be used to (I was). It contains much more grain and less parsley. Still delicious!

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DIY: Three Ingredient Tinted Brow Wax

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but when I made this super easy brow wax the other day, I felt like I had to share. 😛

Groomed brows are my favorite feature to play up, and since I’ve started wearing less makeup, keeping the brows looking pretty is a must. They make such a big difference on a face! I recommend getting your brows done once in a while, to keep them looking clean, and then doing the touch ups yourself. I use tweezers underneath the brow, and I wax the upper part myself using those mini wax strips you can find in the drug store. Here in France you can find them at any supermarket. Then I shade the brows in using an angled brush. I’ve been using an old Revlon eyeshadow that matched my brow color pretty well, but I find that the wax helps keep the hairs in a nice shape. It also helps to keep the color on (even through sweaty gym sessions). Alternatively, if you prefer not to shade your brows, you can still make this wax without adding the color portion, and add it to  your brows to keep them looking groomed.

So, read ahead to find out how to make this (it takes less than 5 minutes)

Bonus nail pic: Wet n Wild in Havasu Blue.

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Strawberry Season is here!


It’s strawberry season! And what better way to celebrate than with strawberry nail art (well, a strawberry tart…recipe to come soon)!! The lighting made the tips look weird, I promise they were green, and not black, in real life. 🙂

Bon weekend!

Springtime Mani

I really feel like every time I step out of the house, I see new flowers blooming, a bush that has changed in some way, trees like I’ve never seen them before – it’s great! I must look like a loony, I’m always out taking pictures of everything. 🙂 Anyway, I’ve been inspired by the season, obviously, and it’s shown up in my mani! IMG_9472-1This is a Wet N Wild mini for the base color, no name on the bottle, with white flowers and a glitter center.

Happy Hump Day!

Easy French Food: Spinach and Goat Cheese Quiche

So it’s a weekday and you don’t know what to have for dinner. What’s easier & tastier than a quiche? Serve it with a little bit of salad or (my favorite) steamed veggies, and voilà! You’re done. Bonus: It’s just as good room temperature as it is warm, so it makes a great picnic food.

Wanting to add some more veggies into our meals, I set aside the Quiche Lorraine recipe this time and went for a spinach and goat cheese tart. I used frozen spinach because I haven’t been able to find the fresh stuff at the stores lately – and it was perfectly fine.  You could of course use blanched fresh spinach.

And while something with eggs, pastry crust, and cheese definitely isn’t light fare, the bites of spinach make me feel better, anyway. 😛

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My Go-to Vinaigrette

Warm weather is coming, and that means (sadly) a goodbye to those rich winter dishes I like so much. However, my favorite fruits and veggies are of the summer variety, so seeing all the color at the grocery stores makes me very happy.  🙂 And yes, people in France shop at the grocery stores. I don’t know of anybody who goes to the local market everyday for their groceries.* This does not apply to butchers. I’ve found that people are very serious about having a butcher. 😛

Anyway! For all those salads I’m going to be having, I always have a little jar of vinaigrette on hand. 3 basic ingredients, and sometimes a little extra for fun.

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Mani Monday – Sparkly Vernis 3LB – Yellow Holo

And now on to the beauty portion of this blog. 😀 I *swear* I’m not on Sparkly Vernis‘ payroll. I ordered this one all by myself! I just love a good polish and love the formula of her polishes. They don’t go on thick, and last long. Not to mention how pretty they are, right?

3LB, seen below, is a perfect yellow holo for Spring and Summer. I lazily neglected to top coat it, and it still lasted a while with only minimal tip wear. Drooling just looking at it. I like holos because they can look pretty discreet indoors, so they’re appropriate for anywhere, but once you get them into the sunlight…BAM. Magic.