Les Petits Bonheurs

Bonjour à tous!

During this shelter-in-place, I am certain some of us are rediscovering life’s little pleasures “les petits bonheurs.” I decided to share some of mine with you.

Every Saturday morning starting at 7am Pacific Standard Time, I watch a live YouTube broadcast by Corey Frye from A French Frye in Paris. Corey is an American expat living in France. He is a tour guide as well. I have watched a lot of his videos which you can find here on his YouTube channel. Corey has been presenting his live “confinement” videos in his backyard and bringing us a touch of Paris through his knowledge, his photos, and maps. He has this very calm and soothing way about him as he divulges Paris’ best kept secrets with us. Make no mistake, he is incredibly enthusiastic and passionate about Paris and sharing that passion with us. I am always amazed at the pieces of information he knows about Paris and how he presents it to us. It is a peaceful sanctuary so I force myself to get up at 7am so I can watch it live.

After Corey’s live video, typically I make some earl grey tea, then I get ready to watch Apéro with Véro. She’s known as French Girl in Seattle. She is a Rick Steves’ tour guide. She recently returned to France after 23 years in America. Every Saturday at 9:30am Pacific Standard Time she has a Instagram live video called Apéro with Véro. She will save the video which will be available for 24 hours on Instagram and she also posts it on her Youtube channel. Apéro with Véro is like getting together with an old friend. She’s vivacious and her passion for France is unparalleled. She opens the video with a song. It’s our theme for the day. She reads the lyrics in French and then translates each parole. She’s donned Charles Trenet as her co-tour guide for our little escapes. Each Instagram live video is rich with happiness, uplifting music, and Véro’s incredible personality that makes you want smile during her Apéro. She’s included little French lessons during these live videos. Last Saturday we learned the pronunciation family for vowels and this week she used them in a new selection of words. It was a lot of fun because years ago when I first learned French, they did not teach the language in this manner.

Every day a French woman named Louise Pascal, who lives in the south of France, reads Emily Dickinson poems in English and French. She is as charming as can be. Her readings are soft and eloquent and they mainly take place outside. Who does not need a touch of the south of France? During the reading of the poem Hope, a beautiful bird was singing in the background. It was something of magic. It could not have been timed more perfectly. Her daily readings are in her profile under the highlight section entitled “Daily Dickinson.” She started this at the beginning of le confinement in France. I’m still trying to find out the title of the book she’s reading from so I can get a copy.

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My rainbow of Twsbi fountain pens that got a lot of exercise during #incowrimo

I have also done a lot of writing with my fountain pens. While being away at UCLA, I was unable to write as much as I wanted. Additionally, I was careful as to which fountain pens were taken to UCLA because I did not want to lose any of them. I have several pen pals and I participated in something called International Correspondence Writing Month #incowrimo. The idea is to write one letter per day for the month of February. I wound up writing over 30 letters. I am now close to 50 letters written. I have a stack of 6 letters remaining in my to be responded to stack. 3 of those letters are in French and I will write back in French as I want to use my French as much as possible.

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My For Life Stump teapot from Harney and Sons

I’m drinking a lot of tea which is a good thing considering I have over 400 teas now. I start each day with Earl Grey – either by Fortnum & Mason or Tea Leaves, afternoon tea is up for grabs, then in the evening Harney and Sons Decaf Earl Grey. Right now, Harney and Sons has 20% off and free shipping on any order. The discount can be applied until April 22nd, 2020. They also sell my adorable stump teapot (shown in the photo above) which is excellent for two cups of tea, and looks darling while using it. It has a metal tea filter which is fine enough for even Rooibos tea. I recently ordered a back-up tin of Decaf Earl Grey and then the Decaf Vanilla Comoro which is a lighter black tea with creamy vanilla notes. A tea friend at UCLA gave me a sachet of the Vanilla Comoro that I really enjoyed. For me,  making tea every day is something I really enjoy. From the moment I pop open the tin and take in the first scents of the tea, while it steeps and then the aroma rising from the cup when I take first sip, I find it to be incredibly calming.

Nearly every night after my bestie’s son goes to sleep, we social distance watch. We’ve been doing this long before Netflix Watch Party came along. This is what helped me get through UCLA. At 8pm in our separate homes we make tea, grab some snacks and watch a show at the same exact time. Every Thursday before I went away to UCLA to finish my degree, I’d go over to her house and we would watch Downton Abbey. Over the years, we have watched the series 12 times through. Right now we are watching Belgravia and Coupling. Coupling is a hysterical show that is available on Amazon Prime. It’s like Friends. We have watched The English Game, too. Julian Fellowes is a master storyteller.

I hope my list of “les petits bonheurs” helps you during this time and you are finding your own small pleasures in every day life. What ways are you finding peace in the chaos? I am sending wishes to you and your loved ones that you continue to stay safe and healthy. Right now, je rêve de France et je rêve à Paris until I can get back there again. Please remember that you don’t need to thrive right now, you don’t need to use this time wisely. It’s ok to just survive it. Prenez soin de vous.

10 thoughts on “Les Petits Bonheurs

  1. Bonjour Jacqueline! Thank you very much for the shout-out, and the kind words. I am so glad you find “Apéro with Véro” entertaining and informative. I have heard this new project of mine helps cheer up quite a few people through this… predicament. You have to find your “petits bonheurs” where you can, n’est-ce-pas? Thank you for sharing yours today. See you on Saturday on Instagram Live! A bientôt. Véronique (French Girl in Seattle Takes France)

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  2. Filled with good inspiration and cool links. I’ve checked Véronique’s blog and Instagram which are both great.
    To answer your question sent in PM via Insta, I did nothing to change my posts format. I didn’t know there was only an excerpt!! I probably checked a random box somewhere without even realizing what I was doing!!

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  3. Jacqueline – I just found your blog via Vero’s FB post. I follow Vero, Corey from A French Fry in Paris and a few others regarding Paris. I was thrilled to read that you realized your dream to attend UCLA. I’m older than you, but it was always a huge regret of mine that I didn’t finish my degree at UCSD. I finally went for it, and like you, I cried when they emailed me that I was in! I can relate to the feeling of being born in the wrong country – next dream is to move to France. Have no idea how I’m going to do it, but I’m staying the path, lol. I’m from the OC too. Take care!

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    1. Hi Nina, thank you so much for posting a comment on my blog and taking the time to read some of my posts! It was absolutely thrilling to get into UCLA for me and to graduate last year. I am studying to take the DELF exam now in June so I can look for work in France. I have a feeling the exam will be postponed or cancelled in June, though. I’ve been studying since January to take the exam. I can’t believe we are neighbors! Let me know if you ever want to practice your french! Are you reading anything in French right now? I’m reading Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours for UCLA french club.
      What did you get your degree in?
      Prenez soin de vous, aussi!

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  4. I graduated in 2018; staying in SD until I can make it to France. I have never heard of the DELF – guess I had better start studying! I majored in Lit/Creative Writing. Sounds like you are quite advanced in French. French classes were grueling at UCSD – 5 days a week, but I’m not fluent yet. Not reading anything in French at the moment, but I do watch TV5 quite a bit. I can tell when the English subtitles are not correctly translating the French, so at least I’m “hearing” the language better. You have inspired me to get cracking on my studying! When my French is a little stronger, I would like to take you up on your offer to practice. Going to try your Tarragon Chicken – it looks so good!
    Merci!

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    1. Congratulations! It’s such a good feeling to finally finish your degree! The DELF is the French language fluency exam. It is recognized internationally, too. I’m studying for B2. I wanted to do C1 but I get nervous so… I have to wait to do that one. B1 is enough for French citizenship. What are you doing for work now or what had you planned on doing with your degree, If I may ask? Most language classes before you get to upper division are 5 days a week. It’s one way to excel at learning the language. And it also ensures your comprehension when having to sit in a class that’s solely taught in French. I highly suggest reading with watching TV5. I’d be happy to recommend some books if you’d like.
      You will love that tarragon chicken. It’s incredible and it’s something I love!!!

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  5. Hi Jacqueline – I’m going for the B2 in December; if the studying goes well (and I stay focused), I might try the C1 instead. I didn’t realize that my French instructors were preparing us for the DELF/DALF via the tests we took in class, at least I kind of know what to expect. It will still be a nerve wracking endeavor, lol. I’ve worked in corporate management most of my life, but my goal is to write. Eventually, I also want to write in French, which everyone says is exceedingly difficult. I would love any suggestions you have for books in French. I have a collection of French poetry, Les Jeux Sont Faits, a few magazines, and a slew of textbooks. TV5 had a news report about vaccine trials in Europe. Hope their studies progress quickly. Stay well!

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    1. My suggestion is if you feel totally fluent – holding a conversation and reading and oral production (as comfortable as you are in English) that’s when you should take the C1. If you’re going to push for c1, I would take both the c1 and b2 just in case, the c1 is significantly more difficult than the b2 and it’s also a lot longer. This was what was recommended to me by the director of the Pasadena location. She said that there are people who really are not prepared for how much more difficult the C1 will be than the B2 and then they don’t pass. I write at a c1 level but my spoken French.. needs to be improved with living in France. Full immersion gets c1 level. This is why I’ve chosen to take the B2.
      As far as book references go, what types of literature do you like to read? What do you think was the most challenging thing you’ve read and understood was? I’m only asking to narrow down suggestions – no one wants to read boring uninteresting stuff! MDR.

      What do you plan on writing, novels? Poetry?

      How are you doing with the shelter in place? I also found out they canceled June’s DELF/DALF examinations which I was expecting. It’s just still a bummer as it delays a lot of things for me (in addition to the situation the world is currently in).
      Prenez soin de vous!

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