Sunday, January 25, 2015

La maison des Seamons est dans une rue tranquille.

Tomorrow, my class will be learning about "La vie en ville" -- we'll be talking about where we live, and what our houses & apartments are like inside (there's an extra p in the french appartement).  We'll learn how to describe a house or an apartment and differentiate between the US system of numbering stories to the French system (1st floor = le rez-de-chausée, 2nd floor = le premier étage, etc.)  We'll also be learning how to pronounce the French "l" sound.  Here is a quote from our text book:

"Say the English word little.  Notice how your tongue moves from the front to the back of your mouth.  In English, we have two ways of producing the consonant l: a front l, with the tongue against the upper front teeth and a final l, pronounced with the tongue pulled back.  To pronounce a French l, however, always keep your tongue against your upper front teeth, just like the English front l."

Sometimes, in French, the -ill- combination of letters is pronounced with the /l/ sound and sometimes with the /j/ sound.  This is totally unpredictable and must be memorized.  Here are some examples:

mille  (thousand)
la ville  (the city)
tranquille  (calm, quiet, still, peaceful)
un million  (a million)
le village  (the village)

la fille  (the girl or the daughter)
se maquiller  (to put on makeup)
s'habiller  (to get dressed)
la famille  (the family)

We're also learning about verbs like choisir (to choose) which is conjugated like this:

Je choisis                  nous choisissons
tu choisis                  vous choisissez
il/elle/on choisit       ils/elles choisissent

past participle:  choisi

Some common verbs conjugated like choisir:

finir (to finish)
obéir à (to obey)
désobéir à (to disobey)
punir (to punish)
réfléchir à (to think)
réussir à (to succeed or to pass)

And speaking of apartments.  Here is a fabulous look into a Parisian apartment of an American couple.  Enjoy!

Credits:  Chez Nous, 4th ed. Valdman, Pons and Scullen and

Friday, January 16, 2015

A New Adventure!

Cardinal Stritch University is a private Roman Catholic university in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  It is the largest Franciscan university in the United States.  It offers classes throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota.  Its motto is Ut probetis potiora which means "to value the better things."  It bears the name of Cardinal Samuel Alphonsius Stritch who was the archbishop of Chicago from 1940-1958.  The university has a rich liberal arts tradition and a fantastic athletics program comprised of 10 women's and 10 men's varsity teams.   

Stritch has a new Modern Languages Department Chair who is excited about expanding their language programs and, as a result, hired me as their newest faculty member.  I am, at present, the only French professor on campus.  What an exciting time!  Our goal is to introduce a French minor as soon as possible and in the meantime, help the students get excited about learning all foreign languages offered.  Wish me luck!

For more information on Cardinal Stritch University, click here.  

Monday, January 5, 2015

Beautiful 17th Century House for Sale

Beautiful Old Farmhouse for sale in Normandy
430,000 Euros

Ready to buy?  Click here for more information. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Film Review: (Mr. Morgan's) Last Love with Michael Caine

I watched "Last Love" the other day with high hopes.  It is newly released on Netflix and entirely worth watching just for the main character's HUGE apartment in Paris and his house in Saint-Malo -- both the stuff of dreams.  The film is also peppered with French and takes place mostly in Paris.  Now that the important stuff is out of the way -- have a look at the trailer:

This film got terrible reviews (here and here) and even though I was brought to tears several times when Caine's character interacts tenderly with his wife's ghost, I was generally uncomfortable through the entire film. I felt like I was sitting through a sales pitch.  The only character I really liked was Pauline (Clemance Poesy -- excuse the lack of accents).  Gillian Anderson does play an excellent shallow, crass and selfish daughter -- a great performance, so much so that I hated this woman.  Caine (normally one of my faves) was bland and the entire story line was unrealistic and felt contrived.  What do you think?  Let me know in the comments below. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Paris Fashion Week -- Fall 2014

Paris Fashion Week is wrapping up and (hearts a-flutter) I would have given my right arm to be there... one day....
Ahem... Here are a few peeks from my favorite designers' collections: ethereal Valentino, dramatic Elie Saab and boho Burberry.  I love these Fall looks -- especially the Burberry handbags (I swoon).  
Have you picked up your September Vogue yet?  It's not too late!  Best issue of the year!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Happy Birthday, Madeline!

This week, our beloved Madeline turned 75 years old! The book series debuted in 1939.  Bemelmans, an artist, started sketching the spunky redhead after a stay in a French hospital, where he met a little girl who insisted on showing off her scar from an appendix operation (Madeline has her appendix removed in the first book.) View Bemelmans's drawings at the New York Historical Society exhibition "Madeline in New York: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans," which runs through October 13.  Or just crack a book: "In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines..."

So begins Ludwig Bemelmans's beloved children's story, Madeline. First published in 1939, Madeline and all five of its sequels have become classics, spawning toys, games, dolls, and even a motion picture. The original Madeline was named a Caldecott Honor Book, and the first of its sequels, Madeline's Rescue received a Caldecott Medal. What is it about this character that has endeared her to readers for more than 60 years? The answer is—attitude.
Madeline has been described as charmingly impetuous, irrepressible, mischievous, and precocious. She may have been the smallest of the 12 little girls in two straight lines, but she certainly was the feistiest. Wearing their flat sailor hats and identical coats, Madeline's unnamed classmates all look alike except for their hair. But Madeline stands out, not because of the way she looks, but because unlike the other girls, she is utterly fearless. When she boldly tells the tiger in the zoo, "Pooh-pooh," you wonder if what she is really saying is, "I'm not afraid of you or anything else in this world!"
No doubt about it. Madeline is a gutsy little girl, and that's what makes her such a unique role model in a time when storybook princesses defined femininity for girls. Madeline gave young girls a reason to explore who they were as individuals, even if that meant being a tad disobedient. She gave girls the courage to speak their mind and showed them that there was nothing unfeminine about being smart and strong.
Madeline inherited her spunky personality from her creator, Ludwig Bemelmans. Like Madeline, Bemelmans was a free spirit and a man of strong opinions. His list of creative talents was considerable—a novelist, muralist, nonfiction writer, screenwriter, and oil painter. He was a regular contributor to The New Yorker, Vogue, Holiday, and Town & Country magazines. He painted murals in a bar named for him at the Carlyle Hotel and sold a screenplay to MGM. Austrian-born Bemelmans lived in New York and surrounded himself with a rich variety of people, places, and personalities. At one point, he planned to collaborate on a book with then First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy.
Bemelmans always considered himself more an artist-illustrator than a writer, and later in life he became a serious painter. His work is on display in the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Museé National d'Art of Paris. That isn't to say he did not take his writing seriously, for he was careful never to insult his young audience. "We are writing for children, but not for idiots," he once stated.
A dashing nonconformist with a footloose lifestyle, Bemelmans took Madeline's readers on whirlwind adventures in Paris, London, and the French countryside. No wonder that Madeline has become a worldwide phenomenon. "And that's all there is -- there isn't any more."

Credits:  Real Simple Magazine, - the official Madeline site.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The 100 Foot Journey

My husband Brett and I saw a wonderful film this last weekend, The 100 Foot Journey.   Here is the synopsis from the film's official site:
  1. Hassan Kadam is a culinary ingénue with the gastronomic equivalent of perfect pitch. When Hassan and his family, led by Papa, move to a quaint village in the South of France with the grand plan of opening an Indian restaurant in the picturesque countryside, they are undeterred by the fact that only 100 feet opposite stands a Michelin starred classical French eatery. However upon encountering the icy proprietress, Madame Mallory, the Kadam family realise they may have bitten off more than they can chew. Outraged by the new arrivals, Madame Mallory is determined to have their business shut down. As cultures clash and food flies, an all-out war escalates between the two establishments -- until, that is, Hassan's passion and talent for French cuisine begin to enchant Madame Mallory and even she can't deny this young chef could have what it takes to garner even more acclaim for her beloved restaurant. This, along with his new-found friendship with her beautiful sous chef Marguerite, starts to weave a magic between the two cultures and, despite their different tastes, they discover an unlikely recipe for success that surprises them all.
The setting is beautiful and the movie playfully pokes fun (for the most part) at the clash of cultures.  If you love French food or if you love to cook, this film is a joy to behold.  It's a relaxing treat for the senses.  Helen Mirren and Om Puri are fantastic.  Let me know what you think of it.  --Gretchen