Listen. Here's the thing--I don't want my blog to be France-obsessed. But sometimes we can't control things like that. 

Because today was one of those perfect days.

I woke up with forgotten make-up smudged on my face and a crackly throat and a leaking nose. It wasn't in the cards for it to be a good day, but it turned around quickly.

Ian and I went to a movie. We don't see movies often here in France (and we are avid movie watchers--we've definitely felt a loss) just the occasional TV series we can find online or a pre-1960s movie that sounds interesting that we found at the library. But today, we went to a local theater called Utopia...it's a beautiful 17th/18th century church turned movie theater/cafe that shows art films. We saw a film while sitting in red velvet chairs among statues of saints and paintings of cherubs. It's a groovy place.

When we left the movie, we walked around town with the sun shining high and bright. I pet a little dog. We listened to a violinist in the street. We ate kebabs and chocolate donuts.

Later, we walked around the main areas of town to find the Christmas villages being set up and prepared to be opened (next week YEEEEE) and a main square dedicated to booths and booths of antiques. Bordeaux is a smaller sized town (actually a fourth of the size of Salt Lake, but Salt Lake includes all of the mountains and the lake and places like Murray which shouldn't count), but it has a lot of people packed into the area. The city itself is very dense and packed with protected 15th century architecture all highlighted by the streets and surrounding areas. It's the perfect walking town.

There's a part of me that thinks that you all don't believe me when I say Bordeaux is perfect. It's trendy (for lack of better words) to be obsessed with where you live.

But I promise you, if you love where you live, your living can be so, as simply as it can be put, fun. It will mean something to you. You'll see it in a way you haven't before and it can become your haven and it can also be your muse. It can transform from a Podunk, lifeless hole into your home that will always welcome you. And even if you leave, it'll still have a place for you. This happened for me with Logan. Yes, dear sweet little Logan, Utah was my favorite place in the world when I was there, and Bordeaux is swiftly becoming My Place, too.

Love where you live. I promise it will love you back.

This song is exactly what I'm talking about. It also makes me shake my hips and shimmy my shoulders because it's just so trill, ya'll. 


Toulouse - "La Ville en Rose"

Perks of living in Europe: weekend trips are reasonable to do and there is so much to see in every direction. So, last weekend, Ian and I hopped on a train and traveled to Toulouse, a city a few hours south east from Bordeaux.

We had a great time roaming the streets of "La Ville en Rose" (The Pink City--nicknamed for the use of red brick for nearly every building). The city is bigger than Bordeaux and had a bit more modern elements to it, but it is such a colorful and cute place filled with crooked streets and lots of old, tall trees. Unfortunately, it was bitter cold for most the of trip and we've discovered that humid-cold is an entirely different beast from dry-cold.

We explored the town and visited (or re-visited) places from Ian's LDS mission--he served for eight months here and his mission headquarters were located here. It's always a treat to travel to a new place for me, but it was especially meaningful for Ian to be here and reconnect with the people here as well as walk the same sidewalks he walked as a missionary. I get kind of choked up thinking about it, but I've never realized how much it meant to me to have my spouse serve a mission until we got here and placed ourselves in the exact physical settings of his mission. I can see the zeal in his soul that developed from devoting his life to the gospel.

I didn't mean to turn this into a cutie-patootie Mormon feel-good post, but alas, I've dipped my toes into it and it's only a matter of time before I full-on jump in to the pool of what my religion is to me. I have a lot of thoughts and feelings regarding the church and how I feel as a Mormon that have developed largely due to the nature of the church here in France, but we'll save that for another time.*

Back to Toulouse.

We packed a lot into our three days with visits to a local art museum (turns out Ian likes his art museums and digs them a bit more than me, the person who worked at an art museum...what a happy surprise!), watching a soccer match in a bar while drinking cokes (ha), visiting a museum of Toulouse's booming space travel program, eating the best kebabs, finding a lucky 10 euro bill in the street, chatting with our hostel-mates from Chile, Germany, Korea, Spain and Paris, and seeing the little French primary kids sing songs at the top of their lungs at church. Aside from the cold getting to me a few times and the near-death choke-snoring at our hostel made for one completely sleepless night, our trip was a success.

Though I did think several times throughout the weekend, "Am I a really crappy traveler?" Don't get me wrong, we had a great time, but I was thrilled to be back in my own apartment. Maybe it was certain elements of the trip or maybe I really just a bigger home-body than I give myself credit for...I'll choose the latter. Either way, tips for traveling specifically for quick trips/those involving hostels?

*I've previewed more separate half-written posts than I can count in the last few posts. Sorry for the constant teases. I'm just figuring out all the things I want to say and how to say them. 


Me and the Internet

Ian and I spent last weekend in Toulouse, a big city a few hours south from Bordeaux. It's such a cute and colorful place, but it was bone-chilling cold. It was a weekend full of adventures good and bad (but only slightly bad). I'm happy to be home in our cozy apartment. Here's what our beloved Internet gave me recently:

Since we moved here, I've had more time to learn how to cook like an adult. I found a compilation of 22 recipes from Bon Appetit that looks doable and smart. Time to start learning!

This is a beautiful, but devastating series of photos of a woman's battle with cancer and her husband's documentation.

I am planning on buying a print from Leslie Duke soon. She paints beautiful still lifes (lives?) of various food items--perfect for a kitchen. But I just can't decide which one to buy..."Roots?" or "Golden?"

I want this shirt asap.

A collection of mugshots from the 20s. What dapper criminals!

Pumpkin Ice Cream Snickerdoodle Cookie Sandwiches? Yes. 

The Baby Bachelor is spot on. I couldn't get enough of it. Also, I'm certain Wesley is what my children will look like.

16 Harry Potter illustrations from the books' artist--these are spectacular and I want to hang the last one in my apartment.

If you follow any blog that has anything to do with Provo and/or Mormons, you likely know about The Lower Lights. But in case you don't know about them, they are a group of musicians from Utah who make beautiful folksy Christian music. They have a new Christmas album this year and I can't wait to listen. (I'm waiting for Christmas to start until after Thanksgiving. I can't tell if I'm happy to wait, but Ian insists that it be this way. My little Christmas soul doesn't know what to think (meaning, please tell me I'm not crazy for wanting Christmas already).

That's the round-up of things I like lately! Enjoy, cuties.


"Up and down..."

More photos from la foire! I would apologize about it, but I'm realizing that if you really didn't want to look at it, there are plenty of other time-sucking vacuums on the Internet to entertain you...

Ian and I ventured back to ye ol' fair to actually, you know, ride some of the rides. It ended up being our sort of Halloween celebration since the French don't give a hoot about costumes and candy and HAVING FUN.

(Seriously, why don't these people celebrate Halloween? It is probably my favorite holiday. But in reality, my favorite holiday is whatever holiday is happening next. Holidays are meant to keep people from sinking into crippling depression that leads to unsatisfied lives filled with boredom and misery--I'm serious. And the blogging world agrees with me. So there. But seriously, get it together, France.)

We went through a mildly pathetic, but still scary enough to make Ian laugh at me the whole time haunted house. After, we rode the Infinity which flipped us up and down and hurled us around in circles and tossed my brain around in my very own head. It took both of us a few hours to recover from one and a half rides. All the screaming hurt my throat/probably Ian's ears. Are we pathetic or what?

The greatest part of that ride was how my bus pass that was very securely tucked away in my front pocket managed to disappear from that secure place at some point on the ride. I didn't notice until we had landed and the worker held it up in front of my face saying, "Mademoiselle James?" It took me a second to process...It flew out of my pocket at some point on this dumb ride and who knows where it landed but someone knew and returned it to this ride and this person held on to it because he recognized me and then actually gave it back to me because people are awesome and often much better human beings that I give them credit for.

After gorging on the most delicious churros, we made our way to the Ferris Wheel which I was most excited for. While this song was playing in my head, we took our seats and slowly rose up into the sky full of colorful clouds and rainbows. The views were absolutely incredible and for just a second, I couldn't believe that this was actually where we lived. It was even better to remember that yes, this is where I live and yes, that guy sitting on this ride with me happens to be married to me, too. It was pretty dreamy.

So, enjoy. Bordeaux is beautiful.


Sunday Selfie

 I recently saw this picture floating around on Instagram and it struck a chord with me.

So, BEHOLD: Anna's Sunday Selfie.

And for more than just a physical image, here's a brief sum up of the details of myself on this day, Sunday, when this photograph was taken in order for you to imagine a mental image of the very essence of me enough so that you could possibly see how my uncleaned hair is held up by 12 different and possibly/probably unnecessary Bobbi pins, or how my skirt is slightly askew as if I had gotten dressed all too quickly, or how the flesh of my limbs is cold, clam-y and covered in goosebumps from the chill outside or how you could even smell the butter and bacon grease still lingering on my hands...there. It's as if you're standing right next to me.


Are you grossed out sufficiently?


birthday cake

Birthdays always seem to lead to a lot of reflection about yourself and where you are at this certain point in life. What have you done with your life so far? Do you feel older and wiser? Have you done what you'd thought you'd do by now? Are you happy about what you're doing and where you are?

It was my birthday yesterday. I can't help but sit in silence, almost disbelief, with wide-eyes about the life I've living. The last year of living has been so...grand.

My birthday last year was one of my favorite birthdays ever:

My wonderful and beloved sister organized a surprise lunch at one my favorite restaurants in Logan. All of my best friends were there. They all shared things they loved about me. I felt exactly how one should feel on their birthday--special.

Ian's turn came. He said some of the nicest things I've ever heard a person say about another person. And he was talking about me. Me! Ian Thorley was talking about me, Anna James!

Later, Ian and I went to a movie. I put my head on his shoulder.

After, we got Chinese food. I got a great fortune cookie.

That night, we watched Adventure Time together. I put my hand on his, he put his head on my shoulder.


I remember going to bed with adrenaline pumping through my veins and a zillion thoughts in my head. It was a pivotal day in our relationship. Nothing grand happened that day, but our history, which was complex and often confusing, made it significant. We had our first date two weeks later.*

22 was my best year. It was the best time to be Anna. 


This last birthday was very different. Ian made me breakfast in bed. We went to church where I stumbled through half-French-half-English conversations and "bon anniversaire" greetings from our small, but tight-knit community. After church, Ian and I and the missionaries met with an Muslim man from Egypt where we talked about Jesus for two and a half hours. We went home and Ian made the most scrumptious dinner and he gave me the most thoughtful gifts. We fell asleep early. It was simple and low-key, but it was perfect. Ian loved the crap out of me and it was honestly so awesome.

After this last birthday, it clicked in my head--it's only going to get better from here. I'm so excited for the birthdays to come when Ian makes birthday breakfast for not just me, but for our kid snuggled up next to me and for when we celebrate the 16th birthday for our inevitably ungrateful teenager and for when Ian turns 50 and feels weird about it and for when we celebrate our grandchild's first birthday with lots and lots of cake and eventually for when we can't remember our birthdays or our ages.

Life is sweet with him. And I can't wait to keep celebrating it. Here's to 23.**


*This is the most simplified telling I've ever said about the beginnings of Ian and I. It's almost comical. Because how we became to be is a much deeper story filled with wonderful memories--he has been my best friend for a long time and I love it--but it was also filled with struggles and confusion for me. I still have a hard time talking about the details without crying. But I cry about everything. I'm the biggest boob in the Northern Hemisphere so take that with a grain of salt.

Eventually I'll get around to sharing more of the whole story. Another post, another time.

**BUT. I have been told that "nobody likes you when you're 23." A crappy year might just be in the cards.

***Also: I have been gluttonously listening to this song for days because it's awesome and fun and is relating to birthdays which is why I was listening to it I'm not just obsessed with Katy Perry it's not like that okay just leave me alone.