My Evian water bottle crates

Bonjour,

I have a story to share about how I copped the most coveted pink Evian bottle crates. I first saw the Evian crates on Apartment Therapy’s Instagram a short time after we moved to France. I thought they were perfect for our apartment but I had no idea where to find them. The next thing I knew, I was seeing them everywhere.

All the brasseries have their bottled drinks delivered daily, so you can’t help but see the colorful crates stacked outside on the streets.

I have asked the staff at every brasserie about buying one of the crates however they told me the crates were rented from the Evian water company so they couldn’t sell them to me. “Ç’est impossible” seems to be the French National motto. Thus began my Evian crate obsession, asking every time I saw some at a bar or restaurant. I never even knew how much I was willing to spend on them (€25 each probably) because no one would even consider it. Finally someone told me to just go to the source and ask the Evian water company directly.

I never got around to that, we happen to be driving back from Cannes when I saw a ton of crates on the sidewalk.

I made a quick (and probably illegal) U-turn and jumped out to ask the guy who was making the delivery. He didn’t speak English so I had my official translator do her thing and he sounded happy to help me.

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So the guy tells us, he isn’t allowed to sell them but we can go to a nearby grocery store to see if they have any. I had butterflies in my stomach with excitement!

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We followed the guy a few blocks away to a Franprix store (a smaller version of Trader Joes) and he spoke to the guy at the register. I was grinning like a crazy person when he walked us to the back of the store. He then pulls out a 12 pack of Evian plastic bottles of water and is like “Here you go!

OMG!

The language barrier is no joke. So that was a complete bust, I disappointedly drove back to Nice. I was over it by then. I knew that I would just end up bidding on an Evian crate on eBay for like $200 with ridiculous shipping. I looked for the crates online and I didn’t find any for sale.

So, the next day we went to the the Cours Saleya market in old town Nice. As we were walking over Antz noticed a door he thought would be interesting to photograph.

As I was posing in front of this door trying to get a shot without so much shadow, a guy came over with a delivery of water bottles and of course he had a few Evian crates.

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At first, I just moved out of his way but Antz insisted I ask the guy. He was confused by my horrible French but Liv translated and he told us to hold on while he went inside. I was fully prepared to hear the same thing “Ç’est impossible.” Well, he was smiling at us and he told us to come with him. We walked around the block to his truck. He jumped up and started moving things around. I was asking Antz for cash, not sure of how much I should offer. He then slide over a Coke Cola crate towards me. Liv then said “Non, rose Evian s’il vous plait.” I almost started crying when he jumped down he handed a crate to me, then another one he gave to Liv. I told him I only had €20 but he refused to take it. You guys, this angel straight up gave me two of the most sought after things I’ve been searching for in Paris for months!

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I gave him bises (two kisses on the cheeks) and said Merci a million times. I mean look at my face!! Nice is so aptly named. I couldn’t offer anyone any amount of money to get one of these things in Paris but he just gave them to us. So freaking rad!

I was ecstatic. It didn’t at all occur on me that I had to haul them on the plane back to Paris. I didn’t really care, I was just so happy to finally have them.

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If I had the space I would buy all the vintage postcards and portraits I could find. I love Victorian photographs.

 

This vide-grenier (antique sale) had so many good treasures. I was looking for a French emblem often worn after WW1 and WW2. The first ones we saw were expensive. He wanted €75 for this one.

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I found some cooler ones for €40 for two. They are so fragile, I’m afraid to wear them out because I don’t want to lose them.

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I also fell hard for this Parisian landmarks charm bracelet.

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I wish I bought it but it was a little over my budget and the bracelet was too snug. If it had a few more links it would have fit more comfortably. I am still on the lookout for a vintage bracelet, it’s exactly what I want.

I ended up having the Evian crates wrapped in plastic at the airport for €25 and then Air France charged me another €70 to fly them home, so in reality I spent almost €100 for these crates but I love them so much, I think they are totally worth it.

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I am currently using one of the crates for our plant and the other one is our printer stand until I find a replacement. I could also use one for a bed for Lola or to hold my records. They are super cute and functional.

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Have you ever been on a mission for a sought-after item? It’s so much harder here in France because my go-to websites don’t ship here. Yet, it’s still fun to search for treasures.

Bonjournée!

Moving Abroad: Six Months

Salut!

Well, in the blink of an eye, we have lived in Paris for six months. We are at the halfway mark of our year abroad and those 183 days went by in a flash. 183 days is a significant number for our family because that happens to be the number of days Antz company has allowed him to work remotely. We discovered this just two weeks before our departure date last February. This added to our stress and anxiety but since we put in so much hard work to get approved for our visas, set up a home exchange, took Olivia out of her French school in LA, and we set everything up to be in Paris for an entire year, we just left not knowing what would happen with Antz job.

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Let me explain what the 183 day rule is. There is a treaty with France and the US so that either country can collect income tax from residents living there past 183 days. So in our case, if Antz were to continue working past six months, he would have to start paying into France’s tax system (paying for social services, income tax, etc.) while also still paying income taxes in the US because he is employed by an American company. This article explains it better than I can. To me it sounds like double taxation but there is an exclusion up to the first $100,000 of income in the US. Which for us means he would pay 45% of his income in taxes in France but only 28% past $100,000 in the US. So basically 63% of his income would have gone to taxes for our 2019 tax return. This was not the best case scenario for us financially. Also, his company was not able to set him up as an international transfer employee on a work visa due to the high expenses to add him to European payroll. We even requested to have him work freelance as an independent consultant but that didn’t work either. So his company gave him two choices, return to the US in 183 days or separate from the company. He did both. It was the hardest choice to make, Antz has worked for this incredible company for over 18 years. He was at the top of his career as a Senior Art Director. His company had premium benefits, generous salary and bonus, 401k, profit sharing, traveling to industry events and parties, summer Fridays meant he had every other Friday off, and he worked with some amazing people. I can’t tell you how difficult the decision was. I mean, France is rad but it’s not perfect. We are renting here which feels unstable, but in LA we owned our house and we put so much work into making our house lovely. Every month I worry about the currency conversion which varies so much that sometimes we pay $150 – $200 more depending on the day I pay our rent. We are in the process of getting a French bank account but it is honestly a nightmare. There is also a language barrier that makes simple tasks challenging. Liv is a wonderful translator but even she can’t help with adult things like setting up our cell phone service or making an appointment to have the heat turned on in our apartment. There is crime here like any large city, and if I walk through certain parts of town alone, I feel vulnerable. I had a car in LA so I never had a guy follow me making lewd comments like here. Once I had to call Antz to meet me on our street because a guy wouldn’t leave me alone. There is terrorism here so when we walk in crowded spaces, I can’t help but feel tense or worry about large trucks driving by. There are more grumpy, rude people in customer service than I ever dealt with in LA. I recently tried to make an appointment over the phone but six out of ten people hung up on me when I asked if they spoke English. That is on me, I need to step my French up. I hate the constant smoking, I get I am in a foreign country but blowing smoke directly in my face is infuriating. I also have to deal with renewing our visas every six months which is a headache. However the benefits still outweigh the cons for us. Liv attends a wonderful French school that is only a ten minute walk away for FREE! This is our number one reason for being here. She is attending such a great school here, her French is impeccable and I love that she gets a hot lunch everyday in a cafeteria and after school activities are included in her daily curriculum. She gets a half day on Wednesdays so she can go to ballet, which frees up our weekends for travel. That is our other major reason to stay. Traveling here is so easy and affordable I can’t see going back to LA only to wait all year for Antz to get a few weeks off of work so we have to cram a vacation in a short time and spend half of our travel budget on a long flight from LA. We have traveled more in the last six months than we have in six years. My main goal is to visit 20 countries and they are all just a train ride or a short flight away. I also am looking forward to having actual weather!

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Living in sunny Los Angeles for 40 years was nice, but we rarely had thunderstorms or more than a few days of cold enough weather to bundle up. I have never been in Europe during the fall so I am excited to wear coats and scarves. I am also excited for the lovely Christmas markets coming soon! Well, it’s not like I need to sell living in Paris, my point is moving here comes with huge sacrifice. The first was leaving his job but finding a new job here in Paris won’t be so easy. Everyone I know keeps telling us that French jobs do not pay well. So we had to have a back up plan to keep us going financially. We used most of our savings to move here in March and even though we are saving a lot by not paying tuition or a car payment, it’s still expensive living in Paris. In the end, we realized we weren’t happy in LA and that is most important to us. The bottom line is he made great money in LA but he was working long, stressful days and we only had weekends to spend time together. Most of his salary went towards our bills and tuition so even if he made less here in France, our expenses are less. We also spent all our time in our cars which caused our lifestyle to be toxic and unhealthy. Since moving here, we spend so much more quality time as a family (I am sure it’s mostly because we don’t have a TV!) and walking everywhere is pretty awesome. So, we agreed we would stay in Paris as long as possible!

So a month ago we decided to sell our house. It was heartbreaking to do but really I couldn’t think of any other options. Our tenant was only renting during the summer and she was paying $1,000 less than we listed it for because she was able to pay cash in advance. We couldn’t live here and not have a stable long-term renter in our house. There are also so many expenses of being a landlord which would have been difficult to handle from abroad. Since our house has increased in value recently, I met with our real estate agent who happened to be in Paris on vacation with her family to discuss the idea of selling. She was so positive about it we put together a plan just to see how things would work out. Antz was going to fly back to LA at the end of August due to the 183 days deadline being Sept 1st so we decided that if the house sold in a month, we would stay. If the house didn’t sell (my worst case scenario), I would pack up our apartment in Paris and return to LA with Liv. Thirty days is an insane timeline but our agent was confident we could do it. This meant that Antz had to begin the process of getting our cat Lola legally documented to travel to Europe. He had to take her to an USDA accredited vet for an exam and she needed an official microchip implanted. Then she needed a rabies shot and there was a 21 day mandatory waiting period. We had to keep the house furnished so it would be staged for the open houses. We had four dates scheduled and a deadline of Sept 17th to accept offers. I was super nervous because after two open houses we only received one offer for an insultingly low amount. In order for my crazy plan to work we had to get a magic number and I was sweating when the final day arrived. The offers slowly began to come in that afternoon. All of the offers were over our asking price but nothing was close to our magic number. The good news was since there were multiple offers we could counter everyone and ask for over our magic number. We only got one person to agree to our counter offer but we got a little over our magic number!! I had to go to the US Embassy to sign the escrow paperwork with an American notary. The visit was intense, many French guards were quite mean at the entrance. I had to go through several security check points and they took my phone and held it during my visit. I managed these shots before they confiscated my phone.

My poor husband had the daunting task of selling all the things we no longer needed, (we felt like we gave away most of our furniture for next to nothing but this was our cleansing period) cleaning out the house (he must have donated and thrown away one hundred bags) and garage of twelve years of overwhelming stuff in two freaking weeks! Then he had to pack up the house, move our stuff into storage at my Mom’s house and ship our remaining items to France in a storage cube.

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Our entire lives worth of stuff had to fit in this 7 foot storage box. It will be shipped to France via boat and won’t arrive until January! I will lose my mind if my breakable stuff gets damaged.

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I can’t tell you how stressful this was for Antz, all while he was still going to work everyday and dealing with Lola’s stuff. The sad part was we were apart for a month which seems short, but he missed Liv’s first day of school.

To add to our agony we discovered that Antz cell phone wouldn’t make calls in LA so we could only communicate by FaceTime calling on wifi and texts for thirty days. This guy wins at life. We both had our moments of doubt, frustration and sheer panic but he rose to the occasion physically and mentally in a way I never could. He was running on two hours of sleep by the end of the month. He also had to contend with flying back to Paris with our not so friendly cat Lola. I took two wise precautions for her flight. The first was ordering her these claw nibs (her pink fake nails) so she wouldn’t be able to scratch Antz or the carrier. The second was booking Antz in a premium economy seat on his flight with Air France. It was double their normal fare, but he had more room for Lola and fewer people around to disturb.

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Anyone interested in flying a pet from the US to France? This is a long, tedious process and we didn’t have a day to spare to get everything done. The first step is taking your pet to an accredited USDA veterinarian. Our regular vet wasn’t accredited but there was one nearby that they recommended.

Los Feliz Small Animal Hospital
3166 Los Feliz Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039
(323) 664-3309

I made our appointment online before Antz flew back to LA. The first day he returned he picked up Lola from my best friend Aimee (who was happy to say bye to our cranky feline) and he got her an official microchip inserted. Even if your pet has a microchip in case they get lost, this is a special chip that is registered with the US to track pets abroad. Then she had to wait a mandatory 21 days before getting a rabies shot. It’s important to know that even if your pet has been vaccinated for rabies (like Lola has) they must get another rabies shot 21 days after the microchip has been implanted. We were happy to find out Lola lost weight since her last appointment so she was just under the 8kg restriction. So this put our timeline right on schedule. I made an appointment with APHIS which has an office in Los Angeles to get Lola’s health certificate endorsed. You must make an appointment, no walk-ins.

Los Angeles Animal Import Center
222 Kansas Street
El Segundo, CA 90245

No pet can travel abroad on a commercial airline without this document (this doesn’t apply to service animals). If you have a dog, it is also mandatory to show a test for tapeworms and flea medication. There is the choice of flying with your pet in the cabin or the cargo. Air France said they only allowed pets up to 8 kg on board. Well 8 kg means 17.6 lbs and our chunky Lola was 18 lbs at her last vet visit! I am a member of a Expats in France group and I read many horror stories about pets in the cargo of airplanes so I was very worried about Lola’s flight. I was confused when it came to finding an airline approved carrier. If she was going in the cargo of the plane, she had to be in a hardshell crate with very specific measurements. However if she was flying in the cabin, she could travel in a soft-carrier but the measurements varied by airline. I ended up ordering this backpack carrier from Amazon. I knew with all the luggage Antz was bringing and having to carry Lola’s paperwork and his passport, it would be easier for him to be hands-free. I was so worried she wouldn’t fit comfortably in it but a week before his flight, the carrier arrived and he sent me this.

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She fit snug as a bug and I also ordered these pet pads in case she had an accident. Antz was smarty pants to use a large safety pin to keep the pad in place when the carrier was upright.

I ordered a harness in case Lola tried to escape at anytime. Antz had to take her out of her carrier when going through security and he held her while they did a thorough check. Luckily, our vet gave him calming medicine to give her on the day of the flight. Antz had a couple of hiccups the week before his flight. He had an appointment with the APHIS to endorse Lola’s health certificate at 8:30 am. Because it was near LAX, he had to leave the house before 6 am to be on time. He was the first person there and when he went to pay the $38 dollar fee, they told him that the vet filled out the wrong form! Antz was livid. I never seen him so angry. Turns out the vet gave Antz the form for pets traveling in the cargo hold but Lola was going to be inside the cabin. At least they were sympathetic and allowed him to return the next day with the correct paperwork, or else we would have needed to make another appointment a month later. So this meant that Antz had to drive to the vet’s office, pick up the correct health certificate and drive out to El Segundo the next morning. This all took place during his last week he was working in his office so you can imagine his level of stress. Once he had the endorsed health certificate you have exactly ten days to leave the country. This is important that you already have your flight set up prior to getting all the forms completed. I booked his return flight only two weeks before his departure since we were waiting to make sure our house sold and he would be able to sign all the escrow paperwork before returning to France. Luckily, there were a few premium economy seats still available. I had to call the airline and let them know we were bringing a pet on-board and they charged us $150 fee at check-in at the airport. Most airlines only allow a few pets on-board so it’s a good idea to let them know in advance. The day of Antz flight home was crazy, remember, his phone didn’t work unless he was connected to wifi, so I was only able to hear from him if he was on Starbucks wifi. Terribly frustrating! Lola decided it would be fun to run outside on the morning of Antz flight. He had to ask our neighbors to come help look for her all morning while he was still packing and needed to take a shower before his ride to the airport showed up. We were down to a few hours before he found her under our neighbors house. He had to crawl under there to get her, merde!

My Mom flew to Paris a few days before Antz so I was hosting her all while he was going through the worst of the drama. It was wonderful to have her here as a distraction from all the stress. She has been amazingly supportive of our decision to stay abroad even though that means she will see us less.

Antz somehow managed to pack up and clean the house with the help of his sister and nephew (Merci Clinnie & Justin!). We sold as many pieces of furniture that didn’t fit in our shipping cube. We gifted special items (our plants, and items I couldn’t bear to sell) to our friends and family.

It’s a hard choice to leave the comforts of our home and move to a different country for such an uncertain future but we can always return. We left Antz Honda Element at my Mom’s house and we are renewing our visas in January. I hope this helps anyone thinking of making the move abroad. The past six months was a great test to see if we could make a life in France viable. It’s challenging, frustrating (more so because we don’t speak French yet) but rewarding beyond all expectations.

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I am happy to answer any questions in the comments below.

 

Bisous.

Moving Abroad: Where we are now

Hi There,

So I hope you found my last post informative and honest. I tried to give a detailed account of what it is costing us to move to France. Here’s where it all gets funky but stay with me, the outcome is optimistic.

Last March (exactly one year from our departure date) at the same time Antz asked his boss to work remotely, I was messaged by someone on a house exchange website. She was interested in doing a house exchange and wanted to send her daughter to American school. It was a dream come true. I fell in love with her apartment and she was offering a gorgeous second home to visit in Normandie. I was ecstatic. She had the same Kitchenmaid mixer in her adorable kitchen and a light blue Smeg refrigerator!! If you are a girl, I think you understand the significance. However, the exchange was always dependent on her ability to obtain an American work visa (not an easy feat).  We both agreed on a timeline to her get her visa and I hustled as hard as I could, but I failed. I couldn’t find her a job that would sponsor her visa by the deadline. She has been absolutely wonderful throughout my devastation.

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Carissa, it’s like you are talking directly to me.

So where am I now? I have reached out to over 70 families on 5 different home exchange websites to find a house swap. I have been sick with stress and highly emotional because our departure date is quickly approaching and instead of feeling excited about our new adventure, I am scared to death about where will we live. I have asked everyone I know. I have asked strangers. I have joined Facebook groups for Americans in Paris with no leads. I recently joined an exclusive designer home exchange website called Behomm. I’d share the link but it’s members only so you wouldn’t be able to view it. Let me say, the houses on this site are from members of the design community and they are freaking gorgeous! Like, insane architecture and style. There is a lengthy vetting process to become a member but I would be happy to talk to anyone who would like to join (there is a $99 annual fee which is similar to most exchange sites). So I felt hopeful that I would find a swapper but after three months and hearing nothing from most of my requests and then slowly getting declines, I started feeling worried again. I was giving myself a 4 month threshold to find housing and I was in December with nothing. So, I had to start looking at other options. I widened my search range (I originally wanted to be in walking distance to Liv’s school) and I was more flexible on my dates. During this period I received over 50 requests for summer swap from all over the world. Not a single one from Paris.

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I bought Liv’s rad sweater from Saks last summer. We’ve been waiting for months for it to be cold enough to wear it!

You guys, this has been my dream for such a long time that I cry just thinking about it coming true. To come this far and push through so many challenges and drama, I refuse to not find a way. I reached out to a Behomm member to see if she would do an exchange for two months instead the whole year. Surprisingly, she was into it. This lovely lady is graciously exchanging her home with us so I have a temporary place when we arrive in Paris in March. Is it an apartment with a separate office for Antz to work in? Not exactly. Is it in walking distance to school? No, we will be taking the Metro. But the best part, it is in PARIS! It’s a free, BEAUTIFUL place to stay and I’m grateful to my new friend for making it a possibility. Bisous Louise!

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Sometimes I can’t believe my luck! (I’m totally crying again)

I am a huge believer in the saying things happen for a reason and being open to new opportunities. So as much as not having a housing situation in Paris confirmed is outside of my comfort zone, I will persevere. I have already began looking into renting our house in LA and finding a rental in Paris. It really is my last resort because I will have to put down a huge security deposit for a rental and the monthly rent will take a chunk out of our monthly travel budget. I don’t mean to sound bratty, but my goal in doing an exchange was to keep our bills low so we could have the chance to travel. But, I am trying to be flexible. I have shown our house to potential renters and they all sound excited to rent but I haven’t heard from any of them so maybe it’s just looky-loos or they have an issue with the house coming fully furnished. I can’t put all my furniture in storage for 15 months.

I am also having issues with the rental agency that I found a cute apartment that fits our budget and is a 24 minute walk to school (do you see me sweating already?). The apartment isn’t available until April 24th however, they won’t accept any offers until late February because they are telling me it’s too early. Hello French logic! So now I have to find renters for our house before we leave in March. I need to be patient and hope I am lucky enough to get that apartment in February (the current renters may extend their lease) and we will have to hire a property management company to collect the rent and serve as landlords while we are abroad. Oh did I mention they charge 10% of the rent every month? So all those lovely monthly estimates I just shared are out the window. I’m looking at close to $9,000 in security deposits and agency fees. I need to get French renters insurance (my best guess is 300 – 600 euros per year) and I may or may not have to pay an annual tax d’habitation which is approx $1200. I’m fine, this fine.

I have asked friends if they can help me with finding tenants and I’ve gotten the awesome advice to hire a realtor. Did I mention three realtors came to see my house in December? The first one had a snotty attitude and didn’t seem to be bothered. She was charging one month’s rent to find a tenant and kept saying IF she could find someone. The second one went in another direction. He wanted to list our house on Airbnb for the entire time we are away. So not only would I NOT have financial security that I could pay my mortgage but there would be possibly hundreds of random people staying in our house like a hotel, so nope! The last realtor, who I greatly admire was the most reasonable. She would charge $2,750 to find a tenant. I wish I just had that much to spend on finding a tenant. So, I have publicly listed our house for rent. I’ve gotten many inquiries and a few showings but no success.

I’m starting to feel like I’m trapped in quicksand. The closer I come to getting out, the lower I am sinking. I am trying to stay positive. I will not let anything deter me from moving but I can’t lie, I am scared, I am stressed beyond words and I feel like I’m alone in this battle.

So as my life experiences has taught me, nothing worth having is easy. I have been through this before when I wanted to buy our house and when we were trying to have Olivia. Sometimes things just don’t go our way and I can accept that. I’m still moving to fucking FRANCE!!

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Stay Focused and Extra Sparkly at the Yayoi Kusama exhibit at The Broad (post coming soon)

I would love some encouragement, or it would be great if you could find me a tenant or a house exchange in Paris.

In the meanwhile, I am still searching under every rock on the internet for a match. I am open to anything right now. I am feeling optimistic that our opportunities will align once we are in Paris. I have already encountered many kind strangers who have offered their support. I will keep you updated.

Bisous!

A Dream is a wish your heart makes

If you have come into contact with me for the past two years then you may already know my life dream is to move to France for a year. I think I have told our mailman, everyone at Liv’s French school and even total strangers who humor me with a smile while I crazily go on and on about it. I’ve always dreamed of living abroad. I have been researching, prepping and planning for this move but not exactly sure how to make it possible.

Well, I got my wish…

Our family is moving to Paris, FRANCE!!!

Antz asked me what I wanted for my 40th birthday and I said, I would like for you to ask again if you can work abroad. His boss didn’t think it would work a year ago but we couldn’t give up on this dream. Antz and I put together a new proposal and we waited a year. In hindsight, as devastating as that initial NO was, it only motivated me more. We took that year to make much needed renovations to our house and even took a lovely unexpected trip to Iceland. Antz connected with the right people at work, submitted his proposal and his boss gave him the green light! I have been waiting in agony for months having to hold in this secret, waiting to get everything in order. I am elated to finally be able to share our great news. It still doesn’t feel real. I have been wanting this for so long that I haven’t even processed that this is finally happening. When Antz told me his boss agreed, I cried with joy. I could not have made this happen without his job being onboard so I am so grateful that he was able to negotiate this move. We have a lot of preparations ahead of us but I am confident I will have everything aligned.

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I posted this inspiration on my Instagram the day Antz asked his boss to work abroad, exactly one year until we leave! We are planning to swap with a lovely French family during our time abroad. I will post about how we are house swapping soon.

The trickiest part will be getting our long stay visas (carte de sejour). We have to fill out tons of paperwork, make copies of everything, and translate our paperwork into French. I have heard that French bureaucracy is a nightmare so we are hiring a consultant to assist us with the visas. I don’t want to have any surprises that will hold up the process. There’s also all the moving expenses: airfare *did you know a one-way ticket cost more than a roundtrip ticket?* and other logistics like renter’s insurance, international health insurance policy, opening a French bank account and our expenses in California. We may rent a storage unit for the stuff we aren’t bringing and we’ll need to get a post office box to forward all our mail. I have already written a post about the visa process and all of our moving expenses. We are planning to makeover our bathroom and paint our bedroom in the next few months. Hopefully, #45 won’t mess things up too badly for our swappers to get approved for their visas. Fingers crossed!

Antz wanted to set a realistic timeline to prepare ourselves for this move. So we gave ourselves year to get everything in place. I am so glad Olivia is young enough to adapt to this move away from her life in LA. She plans to stay in touch with her friends via Skype, writing letters and will check in for scheduled video chats with her class. I know she will benefit so much by traveling at a young age. I feel like this strengthens our choice of French immersion education.

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During my surprise visit to Paris to see Aimee I fell in love with a school near Aimee’s rental. I took this photo and told her, I would love for Liv to go to that school. Turns out, the family we are swapping with lives a block from this school! I found a ballet school for her close by so she will continue her classes. I didn’t know it at the time but the neighborhood I was visiting Aimee was the same area we are moving to. I know those streets so well and feel very at home there. Antz will have the opportunity to visit art schools and industry events in Paris to seek new talent for his work team. He will also visit his company’s office in London. I am sure the change of environment will reenergize his creativity. I am excited to take French lessons while Liv is in school. There’s no doubt, Paris would be an inspiring place for all of us.

I often catch myself daydreaming about what our life over there would be like. I imagine us biking along the Seine, having a picnic in Jardin du Tuileries next to a gorgeous carousel with the Eiffel Tower in the distance, it’s too perfect for words. I am so excited to experience total immersion, to finally learn French so I can speak with Liv. I have no doubt Olivia will thrive in school because her French is so strong and she is great at making new friends. She is so excited to live in Paris. I can’t wait to live without being a slave to my car. I look forward to strolling along the cobblestone paved roads staring at the gorgeous Parisian architecture. I am thrilled to experience the weather. In LA, I get to wear my scarves and sweaters a few days out of the year so bring on the cold!  I can’t wait to hop on a train and take weekend trips throughout Europe. There are so many cities in France I hope to visit. My goal is to travel to twenty European countries during our time abroad.

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We will be leaving in March 2018. Only Six months away!! This was the most incredible birthday gift I could ever receive. Thank you so much Antz for making my dream come true!

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I bought that amazing Things will work out print from People I’ve Loved.

things will work out

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California Love Art show

Antz was asked to paint a few pieces for Leanna Lin’s Wonderland for their California Love art show. He doesn’t have the time to paint like he used to so when he does finish a painting, it’s a big deal. I was bummed to discover he entered a painting I want to keep for myself but I just may buy it as a birthday gift.

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Antz pieces are above him in the center (Girl in the Park & Home)

Liv in the park

Hey, that girl looks familiar!

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There are so many rad things at Leanna Lin’s.

How adorable is this 16 Candles card?! (my favorite movie when I was 14!) Antz discovered his love for Jarritos soda in grapefruit.

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Liv made a new friend, Foxly.

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The show will be featured until April 24th and is located at:

Leanna Lin’s Wonderland
5024 Eagle Rock Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90041

Bravo Antz!

I’m Back!

Hi There! Honestly, it has been a rough summer for me. I couldn’t bring myself to blog because it’s hard to share when life gets shitty. I have wanted to post so many lovely events since Olivia’s birthday party (how great are those photos?) but my disappointment has been a dark cloud following me.

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Let me start by saying I am a persistent person. Almost ten years ago it took Antz and I thirteen months and writing twelve offers before we finally bought our house. I would write letters to the homeowners, bug my realtor to call at all hours of the night and still we would be outbid by tens of thousands of dollars every time. Each time we didn’t get the house, I was devastated but still continued to look, every weekend, more motivated than ever. It got to a point where Antz wanted to stop looking to wait for the Los Angeles crazy market to cool down. I couldn’t stop. Well, actually I wouldn’t stop. I knew there was a house for us (that we could actually afford) and we ended up with a much better house than all the others with a huge backyard in a now amazing neighborhood. I have always held out to get what I wanted rather than settle on what’s easy.

So, I do what I can to achieve my goals but some things are just out of my control. I can only dream so hard but in order to manifest these dreams I have, it’s going to take all the persistence in the world. I have been reluctant to share my dream on my blog because it’s public and I wanted to share it once I have a confirmation. It’s like not jinxing yourself, the more you talk about it, the less it happens. However, I was just so excited about it, I started sharing with close friends, and then not so close folks, and it got out of control when I caught myself telling the grocery store clerk. So here it is…

I have a dream to move to Paris for a year. Duh, if you know me it’s all I ever talk about.

I put together a solid plan to move by Spring of 2016. I spent months researching necessary paperwork, compiled a huge folder of required documents and talked to people who have lived abroad. Fortunately, last March, I was able to take a solo trip to Paris to surprise my best friend Aimee for my birthday but I was also apartment hunting and finding a school for Liv. I fell in love with a the perfect apartment and met with the rental agent to set everything up in person. I really felt at home in the neighborhood and took the metro alone all over the city. So I returned home really pumped because the plan to move there was falling into place. I wrote several blog posts detailing our moving abroad process. I have found so much information online and a few blogs have been invaluable for me to follow along on their journey living abroad. I made checklists and jumped for joy with every check I added. Then I hit a stand still. Reality slapped me on the backside. My version of reality was simple, we rent out our house in LA, propose to Antz job he works remotely from Paris and we enroll Liv in an International school. Getting a visa would have been manageable because Antz would still be employed by an American company. We had adequate health insurance and we were qualified for a carte de sejour (a twelve month tourist visa). I believe Liv would have an easy transition with French school since it’s the same curriculum and she would still receive a few hours of English lessons at her new school. We put our things in storage and spend fifteen months traveling Europe, while immersing ourselves in French. It was a little more complex than it sounds but those are the highlights.

I found a gorgeous apartment, found the perfect school, went to the City Records office to get all our documents and began the visa process. Then it came down the most important factor, getting permission from Antz boss to work abroad. I stayed optimistic although knowing it was a 50/50 chance. To me the odds were working in our favor but it was a huge request to make. It would be different if Antz worked for himself but he works for a major corporation so they have guidelines for things like this. Still, I hoped, wished and prayed for a positive response.

Sadly, the answer was no. I write this with a lump in my throat. There was no room for my persistence. Antz job is our life. He has worked hard to get where he is in his career and he has his dream job. I felt devastated but was so grateful that he asked so I could make my dream come true. He did his best. I did all that I could. Yet there was only so much we could do further to make it happen. My plan could only work if I checked all the boxes and working abroad wasn’t one that could be checked. So I fell into a depressed state. I couldn’t bring myself to blog because I planned to share my good news. It’s so hard to put this out there because I’m usually so cheerful and happy. I began to feel guilty for wanting this so bad that it was making me miserable. I am used to finding a way to make it work. Yet this is something out of my hands.

So this leaves me feeling sad and disappointed but ready to move on. I still have faith that we will move abroad one day but next year would have been absolutely perfect. I wanted to move while Olivia was still young enough to not feel too attached to her life here in LA. I would hate to uproot her, leave her friends and be the new kid at a foreign school. I am so grateful she will be fluent in French so it won’t affect her so greatly. I am constantly thinking about how I can make it work. I have emotionally moved to Paris. I don’t know how to detach my feelings but it all comes down to money. I remember so well feeling exactly the same way I do now during that year of looking for a house. I would say to Antz, if only we had more money but we ended up with a house that was less than the ones we put offers on. I can now look back to when I felt so hopeless and thank my lucky stars. It was meant to be for us and I know deep down that when we do move abroad, it will be so much sweeter. I will be able to live out my dream and it’s a rare thing to make your dreams come true. I  have missed blogging so I am excited to get back into it and post what we have been up to this summer.

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The last time I was in Paris  “J’espère te revoir bientôt!”

My Aspiration List

Now that Olivia is flourishing in her French school and we have taken our dream vacation, I’m ready to set some new goals for myself for the new year. I have a long list of rad things I’d like to accomplish but it always seems like there are dumb obstacles like money, poor timing, or being afraid of failure. I am no longer going to make excuses for not reaching for my goals.

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My Aspiration List
Practicing / French every Thursday with my tutor Fanny and the art of PATIENCE!
Mastering / icing a cake and being on time
Eating / more fresh fruit, less fast food and I really want to eat at Ba restaurant
Drinking / spa water, no more soda for me
Learning / to listen more than I speak, drive a stick shift and to stop procrastinating
Trying / to make my big, amazing dream come true next year (fingers crossed!)
Playing / Nintendo Wii with Olivia
Finishing / all the projects I start and Liv’s baby book (ahem, stop procrastinating!!)
Reading / Not That Kind of Girl and Pride & Prejudice & Zombies
Watching / American Horror Story: FreakshowBroad City and this Banksy documentary
Listening / Sia’s Chandelier and Phantogram
Remembering / to water our plants

our fig fiddle plant is doing so well

Wearing / white dresses, my new shoes and French braids in my hair
Cooking / everything in my crock pot
Working / on getting Olivia more modeling jobs and joining Pop Physique
Traveling / our next road trip to Portland and hopefully we’ll visit Evelyn & Dion in New York
Wanting / to say yes to new things, color my hair and to get Invisalign braces
Shopping / for new bedroom curtains, this print and a new camera (bought one on sale last week!)

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On Thanksgiving we participated in a secret confetti fight

What are your goals/dreams/aspirations? You have any big New Year plans? I have a huge one but I going to wait to share it. Bonne Chance!

Misha Lulu presents Life’s Adventures & Mysteries Art show at Leanna Lin’s Wonderland

This Saturday was the monthly Nela Art walk. It also was the opening of my sweet friend Karen’s art show Life’s Adventures & Mysteries. I loved every piece, Karen and Joe are so talented. There was also cute handcrafted headbands by Persimmon Jewelry adorable dolls made by Miko Design and floral wreaths by Cakies. One of my favorite shops for kid’s clothes, Kumquat was there with the new gorgeous Misha Lulu Fall line. It was so lovely to reunite with the Misha Lulu family. Olivia gets so excited to see Bela and play with the “big girls”! I saw most of the Misha Lulu Moms and I hope we are able to get together again soon for a shoot. We really wanted to walk to the art walk but the weather was unbearable so we opted to head home early to relish in the air conditioning.

There seemed to be a Misha Lulu attire dress code
Lovely Karen, always so chic * I want her dress!*
Bela is the cutest little spy ever!
Such remarkable pieces, we need more walls in our house!
How amazing are these dolls by Miko Design?!
I’m not at all embarrassed to admit I want one of these crowns for myself!
Trying on a Persimmon Jewelry headband
I bought the dress Olivia is wearing two years ago from Kumquat!
Liv is becoming such a good photographer
This lollipop dress is perfection. I love the bright, cheery colors and the cut is so good on Liv’s long frame. It’s one of my favorite dresses.
Liv picked her favorite. I adore the new Fall line!
This mustard dress is soooo pretty! It’s on my wishlist for Christmas
I may have to return and grab the Nan Lawson and Cuddly Rigor Mortis prints!

Everywhere you look in Leanna Lin’s is awesomeness. I would buy everything in there if I could. Bravo!!

Liv scored a Tokidoki Unicorno
You do not say no to a card this incredible! 

Hither & Thither in Paris

Life in Paris is vastly different than in the States. Here, walking is the main mode of transportation, next the Metro and only if you are in a hurry do you take a taxi. We have logged many miles walking all over town and it’s crazy how close to everything we are. It took some time getting used to zigzag walking through the crowds. There is an art to not tripping on the cobblestone, getting burned by someone’s cigarette and not being hit by a taxi as you cross the street. By the way, jaywalking is the law here. You never wait for the light to change and even if you have to stop traffic like you are wearing an Iron Man suit, you walk when you are ready to go.  We did laundry for the first time in our apartment. The washing machine has a spin cycle that in theory dries your clothes but wrinkle free 100% dry clothes do not exist here. We are considering going to the laundrette to wash the towels so they can dry thoroughly.

Our rental is right in the middle of the cheap, tacky shoe district. So let me know your size if you need some €7 shoes!
Parisians do not use their umbrellas when it’s raining. You may carry it but unless it’s a hurricane downpour, you look silly using an umbrella
The greatest marketing idea, awesome taxidermy mice for a pest control business
Early morning walk, never smile in Paris
Look up, you will always spot Invader tile art

The most odd cake toppers I’ve ever seen
We found a cute child’s second-hand shop where the clothes were more expensive than brand new
I don’t know how often Liv would wear a trench coat in LA
This coat was cute but too pricey.
Apparently taxidermy is very popular.
I heard this is a pretty good farmers market. It reminds me of Larchmont Village farmers market
Peonies heaven
Fantastic cherise
Boo!
This store was incredible. The darling bebe clothes made me want to have 20 more kids!
Doesn’t this look like an editorial from a magazine?
Owning a vintage photo booth is my fantasy
I wish I could have taken more photos, but there were a bunch of folks waiting
It very hard to resist these adorable clogs but I can’t spend 150 on shoes she’ll outgrow in six months
the color palettes for kids were amazing
Liv can fit this, right?
Liv was totally digging the vibe
Antz had to drag me out of there. Fabulous store!
By far the raddest store in Paris
I am Andre the giant compared to this Fiat
So here’s what happened, I got this weird stage fright and walked around the store without buying anything. I was so overwhelmed, I couldn’t decide what would be perfect for our house that would also fit in our luggage *I was seriously wanting that yellow Smeg* So I’ll have to try again next week.
I ran into a fashion faux pas at the marche. Call Guinness World records because I officially have the largest ass in Paris now that Kim has left the country.
I know this is all a dream and I’ll wake up in LA tomorrow but for now, I’ll continue riding this wave of euphoria that I am experiencing. Paris is magical!

Bando Fun Sale

Our trip is quickly approaching and I have almost all my shopping done. I still need to get our camera serviced *looking for recommendations*. I’m on the fence about buying an external flash but I may end up buying it from Target. There are some things I am ordering from Amazon like backpacks, headphones for Liv and some electrical outlet converters, so fun.

I’ve had a wishlist of things from Ban.do I wanted for the trip so last week at Cake Club when Christina mentioned they were having Ban.do studio sale I knew it was meant to be.

I made this floral crown a few days ago
I got there at 10:30 and we were maybe 15th in line
These two sillies
Hello lovely Christina!
I’m all about cutting off faces today!
Bonjour Kelly!
Follow the hearts
Hi Jen!
Liz at work, very focused!
Of course she wanted the giant ice cream cone
It was very crowded, so glad I went early
You just don’t pass up a $10 rainbow piñata!
those bins were emptied fast
Pretty dresses
XOXO ban.do!
Liv was featured on Ban.do’s Instagram feed

After the sale we headed around the corner to the Paul Smith pink wall for a quick photo shoot with my new heart clutch, pouf and piñata.

Merci Ban.do, I look forward to wearing my pretties in Paris!!