What I’m Into – May 2016 Edition

what i'm into May 2016

What an intense month May has been! I feel like it’s just disappeared and tried to take a few bites off me as it went. Busyness and loud children will gnaw at you that way and fray you at the edges sometimes. I’m joining in with Leigh Kramer as usual for a round up of all the things I’ve done this month.

What I’m Reading

Books about Business Strategy, French cookery books and free Regency romances for Amazon Kindle. Nothing is massively standing out as worthy of note to be honest but my brain is fried.

What I’m watching

iZombie and Outlander are my two main things on TV at the moment, I love both of these shows so much! They couldn’t be further apart in terms of topic and style but they are both so entertaining. Outlander in particular has been engrossing and emotionally captivating this season.

I tried season 2 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and couldn’t get into it; it’s totally on me, I keep expecting her PTSD to come out a bit more than it does. I enjoyed season 1 but it’s a bit too fluffy for my liking because of the subject matter. I keep wishing they would address the fallout of recovering from spiritual abuse (a serious, too often ignored reality imo) more fully rather than the unrealistic way that Kimmy seems to cope positively with just about anything (basically not enough fear and breaking down, which I admit, would make for a different show :-p), plus Jane Krakowski’s native american antics make me really uncomfortable. This said, Titus Andromedon is life itself.

I did watch ‘Un Long Dimanche de Fiançailles‘ (A Very Long Engagement) with Audrey Tautou. I was a bit put off at the start because there was such a strong whiff of ‘Amélie does World War I’ about it that seemed jarring but thankfully it’s a very compelling story, with multiple character stories fully fleshed out, although I do wish we had more than the ending we were given, maybe a look into the future. The most astonishing turn was Jodie Foster who spoke perfect French, and I mean perfect, she spoke without accent and I could have listened to her forever pronouncing her perfect r’s.

I also watched ‘Populaire‘, which takes place in France in the late Fifties and is about a young secretary who is terrible at her job apart from being a very fast typist. She gets entered into the local typing competition by her boss, they fall in love, blah blah blah. Visually, it’s a wonderful spectacle; the fashion and locations are spot on. It’s a sweet story, but to be honest, I hated the rampant sexism. I guess it should be expected because of the time period in which it is set, but you are supposed to root for the two main characters and here you have the ‘useless young naive woman rescued by patronising older man’ trope; he calls her -his employee- ‘mon chou’, which is a pet name meaning my sweet bun/sweety, and basically bullies her into doing what he wants her to do ‘for her own good’. Why she would ever fall for him is beyond me and there is little in the film to give me a compelling reason (maybe also because I don’t find the actor particularly good leading-man material). But hey, it’s sweet and has a happy ending in a predictable way, and as I said it looks fabulous.

I also watched ‘Interstellar‘ with Badgerman and absolutely loved it.

What I’m listening to

I’ve been listening to a Spotify playlist ‘the most beautiful songs in the world’, which occasionally gets a bit too folksy for me, but has some nice piano and cello as well. Perfect.

Favourite photo

chocolate strawberry cake

What I’ve been doing

At Home
  • Mostly just life but I did make this enormous slab of chocolate cake topped with whipped cream and strawberries for a group of guys I was meeting with, and despite giving lots of it away it still took us days to eat it all.
  • I learnt a lot about email lists and Pinterest optimization from following the Profitable Blogging Summit. I have absolutely no recollection of how I heard about this free training but it was fab.
  • I sourced some amazing feminine business stock photos via Pinterest (it is so good, right?) seriously this is such a great list; my personal favourite is CityGirlSearching. Now to create some stunning post headers and more!
At School

I took a break from studying and I’m regretting it already. I’ve got a month to get an assignment out about Business Strategy, for which one of the task is to record myself do a presentation and post it on YouTube. I am not looking forward to this at all. And I still don’t know how I did on the finance assignment, which is bugging me big time!

At Home on the Blog

  • The blog moved! I once was a free wordpress.com blogger, and now I’m a self-hosted technically-challenged blogger. It’s been a massive and time-consuming project but I’m finally here, ready to start thinking more seriously about what I want the blog to become, and my first post was a bit basic as you’d expect from a welcome post.
  • My next big project for the blog is to create a nice little freebie for my readers. Suggestions welcome!
  • I’ve had a difficult time speaking French to the girls in my attempts to raise them bilingual. This is a bit of a personal post. Obviously, I’m not a complete failure but in this area, yeah, not so great.
  • I also shared my big love for clay face masks, which are a very traditional French beauty product and have been used for centuries (French clay is wonderful stuff apparently)
  • I also put into words my thoughts on the soon-to-be UK referendum on whether Britain should stay or leave the EU, from my viewpoint as a French immigrant and a practicing Christian. It’s been a popular post.

And that’s it for this month! Be sure to click on the box to see the rest of the link-up for more recommendations and updates from the What I’m Into community.

What I'm Into

What I’m Into – Spring 2016 Edition

What I'm into

Spring has arrived in England and with it hail, snow, thunder, lightning and bright sunshine, all in the space of a day. It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to join in with What I’m Into.

What I’m Reading

I’ve actually been reading about business finance and investment appraisal techniques since mid January so I’ve spent my leisure time reading free Kindle books in the fantasy, romance and paranormal section. My brain couldn’t take much more than that.

What I’m Watching

I finished Battlestar Galactica, and I still can’t believe I waited until this year to do so. It’s on a par with Fringe in how much I enjoyed the intricacy of this programme. It is so much more than a sci-fi show.

Other programmes I’ve watched/am watching: iZombie, Once Upon a Time, Outlander

What I’m Listening To

As I recently had an assignment deadline, I listened to a lot of playlists and instrumental music from Craig Armstrong and Ludovico Einaudi. I love how these two composers use modern technology to meld electronic soundscapes with classic piano. I’ve also been enjoying this song by Frances:

Favourite Photo

Family selfie
Family selfie

What I’ve Been Doing

At Work:

I started a new PA job at my local university in February. I love being back at work and I love the university environment. I have a varied and busy role in a friendly flexible team, I get access to the university’s library and online journals, to Lynda.com, I was set up with the entire Adobe Creative Suite when my Adobe Reader went wrong. My biggest challenge is the fact that it is a two-day role and I could easily do more hours.

At Home:

  • It was my birthday in late February and our 7th wedding anniversary in April and we celebrated both with a Japanese feast.

japanese food

  • I spent the Easter holidays painting the girls’ bedroom and really enjoyed myself, whereas Badgerman found it not at all therapeutic. I guess that’s my job in the house from now on then, but I will leave all the prep to him!

blue girl bedroom

  • We went to the Foodies Festival and had a wonderful time scoffing delicious food, enjoying the sunshine, the blues and the gin samples.

foodie festival 2016

At School:

  • I completed my HNC assignment on Managing Financial Resources and Decisions. It was my most challenging unit to date, as I suspected it would be, what with the fact that there were calculations involved, and I worked flat-out for a couple of weeks to do this.

At Home on the Blog

I will spare you a rundown of all the posts I’ve written since the last installment of What I’m Into. Needless to say it has been a bit quiet since Christmas because of that big assignment but I did post a few things anyway.

  • Not least on the list were my 2016 blogging resolutions, including having an editorial calendar, having a blog loge and going self-hosted. The good news is, I can now check one of these off the list (see below)!
  • I shared a recipe for a typical French dish of sauteed potatoes with persillade (a parsley and garlic mix), which reminds me I should really make it again, yum.
  • I linked to a website for expats, which is a fantastic resource whether you are looking to move abroad or are already there.
  • big spelling change was announced in France, which is a Very Rare Event, and people thought the end of the world was nigh.
  • And finally, I’m about to embark on a new potty training adventure, and I’m dreading it a bit.

Big Announcement

I have been hard at work developing the new platform for this blog since going self-hosted (a spur of the moment purchase on 2nd January this year) and the plan is to launch A Frog at Large under a new URL in the next couple of weeks! I will keep you posted, but be warned that you will need to manually re-subscribe by email or save the new URL as there will not be automatic redirection.

As always, I’m joining in with Leigh Kramer for this What I’m Into post. You can check out her link for better book and music recommendations from across a great range of well-read bloggers.

What I'm Into

A Beginner’s Guide to French Literature {day thirteen}

{day thirteen} A beginner's guide to French Literature

I love books and I will read most things but I suffered through a French education that pretty much destroyed my enjoyment of classic French literature by making me read and critique Really Depressing Books (in capitals because omg the hopelessness).


There are so many French authors though, both classic and modern, covering pretty much every subject matter and style, that you can be sure to find something you like. Where to start is another matter, so I have put together a short(ish) list of books by well-known authors in a wide range of subjects, which I hope will inspire people to give French authors a go.


My French bookshelf


Medieval Literature: Chrétien de Troyes is one of the great writers of the 12th century. He was a poet who wrote Arthurian Romances about Percival and Lancelot.


A small selection of Classic Novels:



Philosophy: the influence of French philosophers in shaping Western culture cannot be denied and I will be writing further about French culture and the importance of ‘reason’ later this month. Philosophers address all manners of things from religion to science and some of it can be pretty academic. A good starting point would be Candide, by Voltaire (who lived during the Age of the Enlightenment), as it is storied philosophy rather than a treatise. You could, of course, throw yourself off the cliff by going straight for Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy.

Plays: Jean Racine is one of France’s most well-known playwrights of the 17th century. One of his most famous work, Phaedra, is a Greek tragedy (Wikipedia says that the effects of his poetry are thought to be nearly untranslatable, which is a bit of a bummer). If that doesn’t appeal, you may want to try The Misanthrope. It was written by Molière, one of France’s most popular and influential dramatists, who lived during the reign of Louis XIV.


Poetry: I don’t know much about poetry as it is not my reading of choice but France has produced a huge number of poets. Most novelists were also poets, like Victor Hugo who was as prolific as he was gifted. Arthur Rimbaud is well-known for his wild life and huge success when he was still a teenager when he wrote his most famous works (see Selected Poems). Also popular is Charles Baudelaire, with The Flowers of Evil (Les Fleurs du Mal). Poetry is incredibly hard to translate faithfully without losing some of the intent or beauty of the piece so it’s difficult for me to recommend anything when I have not read the translations.

But maybe you want something a bit more modern, in which case, you should take a look at these:


A popular book in France in the last few years: The Elegance of the Hedgehog
(L’Elégance du Hérisson) by Muriel Barbery. You will see from my Goodreads review that I didn’t like it, but it is So French and a must-read for that reason alone. Irène Némirovski’s Suite Française is an excellent novel about WWII, written as the events enfolded, and sadly unfinished when the author was arrested and later succumbed in Auschwitz.


A historical fiction/romance: we can’t all be into high-brow literature, and I have always enjoyed Juliette Benzoni’s books, in particular her Marianne series set during the reign of Napoleon 1st. I also quite like the fun historical romp that is Angélique, by Anne & Serge Golon, which is set during the reign of Louis XIV and is really quite atmospheric. The first few books were made into films in the 1960s and they are so cheesy and romantic, they are basically the embodiment of ‘guilty pleasure’.


Classic Sci-Fi:The Ice People, by René Barjavel (La Nuit des Temps) is about a scientific discovery deep under the ices of Antartica, an extinct civilisation and a love that transcends space and time. Cannot recommend highly enough.

Classic comics: Comics are a big deal in France, for adults as for children. If you want to learn French, comics are actually a great way to get into a language as they are easier to understand and entertaining. I’m slowly growing a collection of what I would deem to be timeless classics, such as AsterixTintinBoule & Bill (this last one has not been translated that I can tell) and The Smurfs (Les Schtroumpfs). There are other great and maybe lesser-known comics: Iznogoud (set in Baghdad of all places), Johan et Pirlouit (set in medieval times – only available in French), Gaston LagaffeLucky Luke (in the Wild West), The Bluecoats (Les Tuniques Bleues), Titeuf (about the troubles of being a kid – in French), and Marsupilami (about some sort of jungle animal – in French), amongst many others.


Happy reading!


31 days button - Frenchify your life # font x400

5 French Expat Blogs you should read {day eight}

{day eight} 5 French expat blogs you should read
There are a lot of French people scattered around the world, and a lot of us blog in English. Us expats/immigrants/whatever-the-hell-we-are have transitioned from the traditional French person to a multi-cultural hybrid, and you just can’t box us in anymore. We ain’t quite the real deal any longer, and yet, you may take the French person out of France, you can’t take France out of them. Not all of it anyway. As much as the French government would like to physically carry us back to the motherland to invest our well-earned dollars and pounds into home-grown businesses, we don’t see what’s in it for us, especially considering the hoops you have to jump through to set up your own business and the paperwork involved. But that’s another post for another time.
We may love the country we have moved to, we may love the life we have made for ourselves but there is still a part of us that is drawn to the country that shaped our early years, as faint a trace as might remain after so many years. We all get homesick from time to time, even if, like me, it happens once every six months and lasts all of two hours whilst I munch on a croissant and listen to soppy French love songs. We all have different ways of coping with that sense of dislocation, and as for me, I’m always excited when I stumble upon new interesting blogs. I particularly like French bloggers who share their experience of living abroad, in the same way that I much prefer to read books about France written by expats; their insights are refreshing. Here are a few English-speaking blogs from expats who bring their unique French eye to their new culture. This is the best way to see first-hand what cultural differences exist between France and your own country.
  1. French Yummy Mummy: Muriel might be the most ‘famous’ of the French bloggers I follow. She lives in London and has featured in The Times magazine and regularly gets to do fun things in the wider public sphere as the token French person. She has a distinctly French ‘voice’ and a lot of her posts serve to shatter all the stereotypes you may have about French people.
  2. Nearly Irish, as her blog title says, is French but also not quite anymore. She has lived in Ireland for 13 years and most likely sees a lot more rain than even I do. And she’s also doing the 31 Day challenge this year, talking about her holidays in Mauritius.
  3. Franglaise Mummy is actually British, but she’s (in my mind) an honorary French person, having married a French man and lived in Nice in the South of France for a long time. She moved her family to London a few years ago and is now getting ready for a new adventure on the French-speaking island of Mauritius!
  4. Le Blog de Mathilde: I only just discovered this blog last week, but I’ve been enjoying it, from a French expat living in Boston.
  5. Comme Une Française: I recommended this blog yesterday for the language courses that they run but you should really check out all the vlogs. Geraldine lived in the UK for a bit and has moved back to France and turned her expat experience into one of the most helpful blogs I have seen in a long time.
If you know other French bloggers scattered around the world, please link to them in the comments!
31 days button - Frenchify your life # font x400

What I’m Into – June 2015

What I'm Into June 2015 header

Summer’s here! I’m very excited, what’s not to like about sun and heat? Quite a lot, if you’re to believe 75% of the British population. Roads melting, trains not working because the heat is making the tracks buckle (but why? They have trains in hot countries, do they use different metals?), dogs dying in cars because people are stupid, take your pick. Anyway I love summer, even (especially) at 30 degrees when you can spend the evenings with open doors and eat lots of barbecued meat.

I’ve been wondering what I’ve actually done since March and the answer is: lots and lots of study. But I still carve time for non-work activities, otherwise I wouldn’t have much to talk about.

What I’m watching

Once Upon A Time, Arrow and Outlander have finished for summer so I’m watching a bit of Grimm (for reasons unknown, it’s OK but not mind-blowing). I’m also re-watching Fringe from the comfort of my own bed now that we’ve put a TV in our bedroom. I love it, both the show and the tv in bed. It feels slightly decadent.

What I’m reading

With all the reading I’m doing for my studies, I’ve not made much headway into my to-read pile. I’ve been reading a bit of Outlander (well, I’m re-reading book 3, Voyager), also Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist, and Greg Boyd’s Benefit of the Doubt. All highly recommended by me.

What I’m listening to

The new Matt Redman album, it’s a good worship album, and also I was at the Abbey Road Studios recording and I even have my signature on the album artwork (how cool is that), so I was always going to get it; and random stuff on the radio. I’m trying to think of anything I’ve particularly liked this month and nothing is standing out.

The Chemical Brothers’ Glastonbury set I watched on tv was epic but that Kanye West is a douche. I don’t care if he’s a misunderstood genius or wildly overrated. Seriously.

Favourite photos

girls in Bing & Flop masks

What I’ve been doing

At Work: work is actually the easy bit of my life right now. Three days a week, I travel through country lanes to my remote work location deep in the Sussex countryside and spend a few hours completing admin tasks in good company. What’s not to like? it’s only short-term until Christmas and perfect for now.

At Home:

  • We celebrated Luciole’s 2nd birthday, which was a rather subdued affair due to chickenpox! Little Girl had it first for a whole 7 days, and Luciole has just come out with it today, so I’m at home on unpaid leave for another week. Happy days! We did eat an enormous cake and Luciole loved her presents.

chocolate and strawberry cake

  • We’ve been slowly working on the house, we now have curtains and blinds everywhere apart from the kitchen and office. The next bit project is tackling the office properly. Remember when it looked like this?

state of the office on 030415

  • Well, now it looks like this, which is barely an improvement, but I’m trying to organise the office papers and eventually it will look fabulous. Maybe. You know what they say: the more space you need, the more you want.

state of the office as of 050715

  • We’ve had builders in to sort out a few issues with the house whilst it is still under warranty as new houses are. It was built last winter and as the timber is drying out in the heat, it is causing all sorts of weird things, all of which are only cosmetic so far, thank goodness.

At School:

Online studying is still school, right? I’m really pleased with the fact that I completed the first unit of the business course at the beginning of June and submitted my assignment on time. It was really intense for the last three weeks though. I was working every evening for 3 hours 7 days a week. I should know in the next couple of weeks whether my work is of the right standard, and if I have passed the unit. It has been fairly stressful and I honestly don’t know how I am going to sustain it. This brings me nicely to the next thing:

At Home on the Blog

What with everything that’s been going on, my presence online has been really sparse, and that’s really all I’ve been talking about.

  • Finding a suitable work/life balance is my priority right now and is very much a work-in-progress. If I’m honest, I doubt I will be able to blog more than once a fortnight, but hopefully when I do, it will be decent content.
  • My search for this elusive balance coincided with the release of the new 2015/2016 Erin Condren planner, which I discovered accidentally last year and put on my ‘one day’ list. I’m a big fan of planners and have used one for the last three years so I bit the bullet and bought one. I proceeded to write about why I like planners and this one in particular in my most gushing post yet. It’s a beautiful thing. Stationery lovers unite!

As always, I’m joining in with Leigh Kramer for this post. You can check out her link for better book and music recommendations from across a great range of well-read bloggers.



Disclosure: Affiliate links are included in this post.  If you click through, any purchase you make supports this site.