Andouillettes? No, Thank You

My trip to France in 1979 opened my eyes to a whole new world, especially with regard to French cooking. Raised in a humble family with very few extravagances, we rarely splurged on anything, including food. Madame Dubois, my patron at the Château de Montclair, and her mother, Madame Moulon, introduced me to some of the best meals I’ve ever eaten. There were, however a few dishes I would rather forget.

A Visit to Saint Gatien’s Cathedral

While I lived in France in 1979, working as an au pair, I had a chance to attend mass with the family at Saint Gatien’s Cathedral, the Gothic Roman Catholic cathedral in Tours. My visit to this ancient building, built between 1170 and 1547, was an an unusual experience and I write about it in my memoir, French Illusions, My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley. Here is an excerpt:

“Le Petit Prince” Returns

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My husband and I recently moved to a smaller home in Arizona and this required lots of downsizing. As I rummaged through old boxes, sorting “keep” piles and “give away” piles, I stumbled across my copy of Le Petit Prince from my stay in France in 1980. My heart lurched as I picked up the well-used book, turned to the first page and discovered  an inscription — long forgotten — from my love interest in France. 

French Illusions Series’ Audiobooks Now Available

Announcing the launch of my audiobooks, French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley and French Illusions: From Tours to Paris. It’s so exciting to hear my books come to life!

Cherished Memories

We all have memories we cherish, and for many of us, these memories revolve around our childhood. My mother loved cooking more than anything else in the world and she would spend hours in her kitchen preparing meals for the family. My brother very much appreciated her efforts, but alas, I was a very picky child. No amount of coaxing or pleading would open my mind to her “healthy” recipes, so she often prepared separate meals for me (so I wouldn’t “starve”). One of my favorites was palačinke, better known as crepes.

Award Contests – Yea or Nay

I’ve entered my memoir, French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley, in two contests.

In the spring of 2014, I paid $89 and submitted my book to the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards Contest.Later that year, they notified me that I won the Bronze Medal in the “Non-Fiction Travel Category.” There was no monetary prize for this award.

Three Enticing Walkways in France

Are you planning a trip to France? Do you love to amble through quaint villages or stroll along interesting walkways? Are you hesitating because you don’t know which part of the country to choose? Don’t worry, in France there is no wrong choice. In almost every town and in every corner of this fascinating country, you’ll find enticing paths to follow and each one offers a different set of delights.

Fabien the Dog

Several readers have asked about the dog who lived at the Château de Montclair during my stint as an au pair in 1979. Fabien was an endearing, scruffy, shepherd mix who lived outdoors, except in the winter months. The children, especially Antoine, loved the dog, but most everyone else either ignored him or shoved him aside. Some days, he was a “hazard” and this excerpt from my memoir, French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley depicts this sentiment perfectly. In this scene, Marie (a domestic helper at the chateau) and I are tending to the laundry.

Remembering the Lively Town of Tours

In 1979, when I was twenty-one, I traveled abroad and worked as an au pair for a wealthy family in the Loire Valley. The small town of Songais where I lived was charming, but I was also drawn to the nearby larger town of Tours. Shortly after my arrival, Madame and I drove to Tours and she helped me sign up for classes at the Université François Rablelais. I had lots of questions about the city, so on the way back to the car, she paused at a tourist office and obtained a brochure detailing some of the highlights of Tours. Here is an excerpt from my memoir, French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley.

Memoir Nightmares

memoirsI’ve often wondered how the main characters in my memoir, the Dubois family, would feel if any of them picked up a copy of French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley. For those of you unfamiliar with my story, I worked as an au pair for Madame and Monsieur Dubois in France in 1979. In 2007, when I decided to write my memoir, I searched the internet using their real names and found nothing. No mention of them at all. Another search using the name of their chateau produced zero results, so with trepidation I progressed with my project. Five years later, when I published my memoir, I revisited the subject of how the Dubois family might react to my story. I had changed the names of everyone I met in France and followed my diary religiously, but I still worried about the reaction of the Dubois Family. My name was on the cover, after all, and I was sure that Madame Dubois still cursed the day she took me in. Read my book and you’ll understand.