Welcome to our life!

Hi, I'm Allison! I'm a thirtysomething, freshly baked, stay-at-home mom. I'm originally from Connecticut, now living in Germany, hence the name of the blog. I live in southern Germany with my German husband and our baby boy. Life has turned out to be nothing I ever expected, and am so incredibly happy with it! We certainly do have a lot of laughs! I hope you will enjoy following our new experiences raising a little half American/ half German in a little German town.

Montag, 21. Dezember 2009

An update

Its been a busy month, but so sad that its almost been a month since my last post. Not much was really blog-worthy though.
I sent my passport off on the 20th of November to be renewed- it expired on the 30th, so I needed to get it done. It turns out that I am still waiting for the dumb thing a month later- grrrr!
On December 4th, St. Nikolaus visited our school. On December 6th, St. Nikolaus Day, children wake up to find that St. Nick has come to visit and placed some yummy treats in their boots. St. Nikolaus' visit was a few days too early to our school since St. Nikolaus Day was on a Sunday this year. It was so much fun to watch the kids arrive at school and find their boots filled with chocolates, oranges, and walnuts. It was so cute! That evening, we attended our holiday dinner put on by our school's PTA. It is a fancy-schmancy fundraiser, and I do enjoy getting all dressed up. They had it at a Carribbean restaurant this year. It was so nice, and the food was so incredibly yummy! Best yet, the 50 Euro ticket was free to teachers, so we just needed to buy a ticket for Joern. It was great!
On the following Wednesday, I went with my friends from the ELC (early learning center, grades Pre-K through Senior Kindergarten) met up downtown at an African restaurant for our ELC Christmas dinner. Oh my goodness, it was sooooo tasty, and the restaurant was so cool! I can't wait to go back. And yes, if anyone wants to visit me, we are so going to this restaurant!
School finished up for Christmas break this past Friday. I got quite a few lovely gifts from my colleagues and from our parents. We got a lovely bookbag with all of the kids' handprints on it. And, strangely enough, I got a giant Peace Lilly from the parents too. This is only strange because I was the only one to get a Peace Lilly, and it was my mom's favorite plant. It is really pretty!
Christmas break has started quite well. We woke up to snow on Saturday morning. Although it wasn't quite as huge of a snowstorm as the one at home (we had a Nor'Easter at home,) It was nice to see a few centimeters on the ground and the dusted rooftops. So Christmassy!
So, here it is Monday morning. Joern went to talk with our builder and I need to do some laundry. I'm waiting and hoping the passport comes in today.

Sonntag, 29. November 2009

The house

I know that this is not my house blog, but if you're interested, I have our house plans posted in our house blog.

Thanksgiving Dinner

Last night, we had Thanksgiving dinner at school. It was actually a really nice dinner, and a really enjoyable evening, and helped with the homesickness. One of my colleagues, Heather, worked hard to transform our ordinary staff room into a beautifully decorated Thanksgiving table. There were about 20 people at the dinner, and what was so cool to me were the countries represented: Belgium, England, Germany, Mexico, Canada, America, and Zambia. This mixture is so cool to me!
We chowed down on some Thanksgiving treats, turkey included! I made sweet potato casserole, sweet potatoes with marshmallows (for Joern,) corn pudding, mashed potatoes, and Oreo truffles. I guess I was the carb person. Everything was so tasty! My friend Brenda made an amazing broccoli casserole, and my friend Heather made an incredible chocolate pecan pie with burbon. We talked about how we have adopted other people's recipes and that is something that we would not have done if we hadn't moved so far from home. My corn pudding is actually a recipe from my friend Carol, I never would have had this had I not met her. Thanksgiving dinners for expats tend to be a true example of America's mosiac of cultures, we learn about different people and their families through their traditions. It was so much fun!
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving too!

Donnerstag, 26. November 2009

Being thankful, with a side of homesickness

This year is the first year since I've moved here that I have not hosted a meal for Thanksgiving.
My first year here, I made a lovely dinner for Joern's parents, cousin Alex and his family, and Joern's grandma. According to my mother-in-law, this was my most successful Thanksgiving ever.
Over the years, I guess my dinners became more and more popular, and my Thanksgiving morphed into a holiday get-together with Americans, Germans, and well, friends from all over the world. My last dinner was two years ago, and we ended up with 30 people, and at least 35 pounds of meat, 15 different sides, 3 pies, two cakes, cookies, and oreo truffles. Although everything was delicious and the party incredible, I think I over-did it.
Then came last year. Between April and December, I spent two months in Germany, the rest of the time was home, and believe me, I was not partying it up.
This year, life is returning to a new normal, life has obviously changed a bit. Every thought we have is about the house. We decided that the stress of another HUGE holiday party wasn't worth it, especially with the stress of the house.
So, here I sit on Thanksgiving night. I have lost the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, lost the day to gather with my family, and now, even lost (only temporarily,) the party with the friends who have become my family here. This year, I am finding Thanksgiving particularly tough. Amazing that its been 8 years since I've had a Thanksgiving at home, and all of a sudden, I am finding it really hard.
Despite the longing to be home, I took the time today to think about all the things I am thankful for. It is long, but here's a go:
-I am thankful for my incredibly loving, kind, and supportive husband. I know that people may think I am biased, but I really do have the best husband in the world!
-I am thankful for my dad's health. There were a few whoppers this year, but he's come through. I am so thankful for that because my dad is also a wonderful guy, and I love him so very much.
-I am thankful for my aunt and my wonderful cousins, Katie and Elizabeth. I am thankful that over the years, we have grown much closer. I can't imagine a life without these three wonderful women!
-I am thankful for growing closer with my step-mother again, and my sister. They're cooky, but they're also mine, and I love them.
-I am thankful for the many wonderful memories of my mom. I am glad that I've been able to hold on to the good memories, and that the more difficult ones are fuzzy. I miss my mom more than I thought possible, but when I think back on the good times, I also find incredible comfort and peace.
-I am thankful for my amazing friends. Some friends are old friends, like Erica and Monica, who I've been friends with for almost 20 years now. Even more incredible, are friends like Emily and Nadia, who I've known since I was 5. It is so wonderful when people come back into your life. I am thankful for the support my friends provide me. My friends I've made here in Germany are incredible as well, like Mandy and Doug, Julia, Carol, Tori, Ashley, Emily, Lelia, and Marcel. They have become my family here, we share our experiences and go through the ups and downs of life abroad together. Even the ones who have moved away now have left a huge impact on my life, and for this, I will be forever thankful.
-I am thankful for the few incredible ladies at work who keep me sane, and have become wonderful friends. Iris, Prisca, Adele, Priscilla, Carola, Stefanie, and Maxine. I know that I can always rely on these girls to pull me up when everything is spinning crazy.
-I am thankful that I was able to become closer to a few other wonderful people at work. Last year, despite its difficulties, I was also able to actually talk with more people in our school, and form relationships with them. Although it has been tough this year to find the time and ability to keep up these relationships, they are still there. It is comforting.
-I am thankful for our kids this year. They are thankful for cake, and dolphins, and muffins, and their mommies. They're right.
-I am thankful for the opportunity to live in Germany. Although I have my issues with it sometimes, overall, I'm very happy. There are days when I need to pinch myself to realize that I'm not dreaming, I acutally live in Germany, and take weekend trips to Italy, Switzerland, and Paris.
-I am thankful for my car. 10 years ago, I never would have believed that I would now be the proud owner of an X5. Yes, this is materialistic, but we are dedicated car-lovers.
-I am thankful for my little apartment. Yes it is small, but it is really perfect. In a perfect world, I would move our apartment into our new house, that way all the memories that these walls have witnessed could come with us.
-I am thankful for Enbrel. I am thankful for my wonderful doctor who wouldn't give up with my arthritis, and who is just such a great guy. I am also thankful for the German healthcare system, that allows me to get Enbrel because I need it, no questions asked, and I don't need to shell out tons in copays to get it.
-I am thankful for my many memories of home, my photographs, and my tokens of home that help me to feel connected to a place that is 4000 miles away.
-I am thankful for the house that is in the plans right now. I am thankful to my in-laws for giving us land, and saving us some money.
-I am thankful for every day that I have, and every day I have to share with Joern.
-I am thankful for the future that lies ahead. I am so excited to see what will happen in our life.

We will be going to a staff Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday night. Even though it won't replace home, or our annual bash, it will be an opportunity to celebrate all those reasons for being thankful.

Samstag, 14. November 2009

An anniversary

Normally, we associate anniversaries with happy events. Sometimes though, an anniversary can be a heavy affair, like today. A year ago today, Joern and I spent our third day in a row at St. Vincent's with mom, and tonight, a year ago, she passed away. I planned to do a huge blog entry for today, but I think simple may be best.
I miss you mom. I miss our daily phone calls. I miss shopping with you. I miss hearing your updates on home. I miss knowing that you were always there, and that you always loved me, no matter what. I miss laughing with you. I miss your mom hugs.
If there are computers in heaven, if you are reading this, know, I miss you today, and every day.

Mittwoch, 11. November 2009

My new car

On Sunday, we made our way to Cologne via train. Why, would this car-loving couple head to Cologne in a train? Because we were headed there to look at a car for me!
We arrived in the early afternoon, and met the sellers of a 2004 BMW X5. At first sight, I was in love. It is dark grey- my fave car color. The only problem is that someone went a little chrome crazy, but the chrome is easily fixable.
The interior is lovely as well. It is nice and roomy, and is so much fun to drive!
After a short time, and Joern's inspection, we decided to take it- after all, we were in love.
Sadly, I don't have any pictures right now, but I will post as soon as I find my phone or my camera.
I've driven to work for two days now, and I'm so happy!! I can't believe I went so long without a license!

Samstag, 7. November 2009

Official decision

Thankgsiving at our home is cancelled this year. I'm a little sad. Joern and I spent lots of time discussing, and well, our hearts aren't into it this year. We're busy planning the house, and we both have lots of stress with work. I love our annual Thanksgiving party, but our apartment has gotten too small for the size of the party.
The good news is that there's a good chance that we'll be celebrating Thanksgiving next year in our new house. Everyone's invited.
Start looking into plane tickets now, as this is a great excuse to head out to Stuttgart!!

Donnerstag, 5. November 2009

I did it!!

After basically locking myself in my apartment all weekend, and chaining myself to a chair, I finally took my German driver's license test the other day.
We had originally planned that I would take the test last Wednesday, but thanks to all the goodness of German bureaucracy, I was never offically signed up to take the test. I ended up signing up to take the test this week.
The test itself is a bit different from that in CT. First, you are given two booklets full of all the possible test questions that could appear- 1300 questions in all. YIKES! I now know how to calculate breaking distance, reaction distance, trailering weight, and well, a whole bunch of useless facts, all of which I plan on promptly forgetting.
The test takes place at the local TUV, which is kind of like the old emissions testing places- but is the agency responsible for the safety of cars. I was pretty surprised that about 15 people were also taking the test, and congratulations to me, I was by far the oldest. Thanks to the TUV though, I was able to take the test in English. The test itself was exactly taken from the practice questions, except there were 30 questions. Thank you very much! The test is definitely easy if you are well prepared. I completed the test in about 10 minutes, and the test was immediately corrected- 100%!!! Hurrah!
The test results were supposed to be sent to the district office, where I originally had to apply for the license. Unfortunately, they wouldn't arrive until Friday. But, Joern being Joern, talked the woman working at the TUV to get us a copy of the test results to walk away with. So, we took the test results, and headed to the district office of Nürtingen. Another difference to the US- when you apply for a license, you must also turn in photos. They make the license for you when you apply, and they then hold the license until you turn in test results. So, it was a quick swap, and I walked away with my license! I am now allowed to drive here, completely legally! After 3 years feeling like a teenager, I am finally free again.
We're headed to Cologne on Sunday to check out a car to buy! Wahoo! It feels so good to be back in the real world!!!

Samstag, 31. Oktober 2009

In honor of Halloween

Happy Halloween!!
This is one of those holidays that can cause some homesickness. To Americans, Halloween means fall and little kids. Every October, I tell Joern about going to a pumpkin patch with my parents when I was little, finiding the perfect pumpkin and then buying some apple cider to bring home. Then, we'd find a good night when my dad and I would carve the pumpkin. On Halloween, my Jack-o-Lantern would be ready and my dad would take Nadia and I out trick-or-treating.
Here in Germany, Halloween is slowly catching on. Right now, it seems to be more of a commercial thing, you can find a small display in most grocery stores selling home decor, and Halloween parties are growing in popularity- but then again, Germans will use any reason to party.
Sadly though, I miss the whole Halloween feeling. Especially, the trick-or-treaters, who especially early in the night, are just so darn cute and proud of their costumes.
One thing that really perked me up this year though was my international candy exchange. This is my second year involved in the candy exchange, and is through my group of friends who are living all over the world. This year, I picked someone living in Germany. What are the odds? There are only about 10 of a group of close to 50 living in Germany. Oy! She lives in the next state over, so I sent her some Swabian sweets- I sent her chocolate Maultaschen :) and Wiebele, small Swabian cookies. I also got her a bunch of Stuttgart brochures, including a wine map and a brochure for the upcoming Christmas market. I hope that she liked her gift!
Yesterday when I got home, I found my package had been delivered as well! Mine came from an Australian living in England. So cool! Even cooler, was that her dog had even personally chewed the corner of the envelope :)
Here's what I got in my International Halloween candy package:

I am so excited about my candy!
So far, I've only tried the Chomp bar, a little chocolate/caramel bar. Joern split it with me, and we both really liked it! I hope to make this special Halloween candy last, just like when I was little, and tried to make my Halloween candy last as long as possible!
So, thank you very much to my friend in England who helped bring a little Halloween fun to Germany!!

Donnerstag, 29. Oktober 2009

Sometimes, it doesn't pay to live abroad

Last week, I decided to order another subscription to Country Living Magazine. I had let the subscription run out because the magazine got kind of boring. But, their website has really pepped up, so I decided to give a subscription another chance. Unfortunately, when I tried to order, my bank card was declined. I guessed it was because it was the website was trying to process my card with my German address. Joern was gracious enough to place the order for me.
The next day, I decided to order my bridesmaid's dress for my friend Mandy's wedding. Good thing I went to order it from J.Crew, because the color had been placed on sale. When I placed the order, my card was denied. Weird. So, I called my bank (at home) immediately. Turns out that they cancelled the card because of tampering. Thanks again dear bank for not allowing overseas addresses. I was told that there was a letter and new card sent to my US mailing address. A lot of good it did me here.
The good news at least though, was that after a 25 minute phone conversation with JCrew, I was able to order my dress with a German credit card. Phew! Now, I will be able to keep my position as bridesmaid, because I got my dress :)

Samstag, 3. Oktober 2009

No fun!!!

Last year, my tooth broke in half. I know, I should have gone to the dentist immediately, but it didn't hurt, and well, the dentist is not my favorite person. On Wednesday, I got a pretty bad toothache. It wasn't unbearable, but there was a definite pain in my mouth. So, we made an appointment with the dentist for Thursday.
When Thursday afternoon came, I realized that the pain had died down quite a bit, but I also knew that I still needed to go to the dentist.
We went to the dentist, and well, I thought he was going to tell me that the tooth needed to be filled, or tell me about some minimal procedure. HA!
He looked in my mouth, and then did an X-Ray. I was already tipped off when he came in the room with one of those uneasy smiles on his face. He tiptoed into the room, and said, ever so softly, "I have some bad news. The tooth must come out."
I guess I should consider myself lucky. I have never had any dental procedure worse than an intensive cleaning, with some plaque scraping. So, I shouldn't complain. But, having a needle inserted into your mouth is not a pleasant procedure. I even joked about having arthritis and being afraid of pain. For me, it was more the thought, and the odd feeling of a NEEDLE being inserted into my gums and cheek. Bleh!
Once the numbness set in, and my tears stopped, the dentist had me lay back and told me to close my eyes, saying, "believe me, you don't want to see any more of this."
He got to work, and it honestly seemed like he was scraping at my tooth. The sound was really no worse than scraping. Thirty seconds later, he said to me, "do you want to bring the tooth home?" I thought he was just talking to me to calm me down. The nurse, who had been holding my hand, walked away. That was it! He was done! Honestly, the extraction did not hurt at all.
I finally mustered up the courage to look at the HUGE tooth that had been removed. Wow!
The dentist gave me some ibuprofen for the pain, and sent me away with some gauze to keep in my mouth. Of course, he also sent me away with a note for work, saying that I should not go in on Friday, because I needed to recover.
That was it. We headed out to a tile store and stopped by one of Joern's friends, who is a tile installer. We wanted to know how much he would charge us in comparisson to what the builders are charging us. I have to say, I never would have thought, I'd be running errands immedately after getting a tooth pulled. But, I am a little embarassed by my akward smile, and well, my slightly slurred speech.
I took it easy on Thursday night and Friday. I took a preventative ibuprofen at 7 and then again at midnight. I thought that I'd rather take medicine before I was in pain and not wait. But, I woke up on Friday morning with no pain, so I decided not to take any medicine. Yesterday I had minimal pain, but my mouth still felt a bit raw. Today, everything's great. I'm hoping I'm over the hill now.
I have to say, I am so thankful for this experience. I think if I had a bad experience, I would have a lot more trouble returning to the dentist, and would have huge problems with any future dental procedures.

Samstag, 26. September 2009

Dresden in pictures!

I finally found my camera, so I can post pictures from last weekend. Some more pictures are on my phone, so that will take a little more time to get them here. But for the meantime, here's one of the most beautiful cities I've visited:
We came up from the parking garage to find a Radeburger beer fest in the Altmarkt (old market.) It was so cute and German, what a great greeting!

And here's what we saw when we turned to the right to head out of the Altmarkt:

We made our way towards the River Elbe, and on our way, found ourselves at the Frauenkirche (Women's Church). The church is beautiful! It was rebuilt after being completely destroyed in bombing during WWII. Amazingly, the rebuilding began in 1993, the ruins remaining for over 40 years. It really makes you think about what Dresden looked like when it was part of East Germany.
Okay, most of these pictures are on my phone, so please click on the link so you can actually see what the church looks like!

From here, we made our way to the Elbe, here's what we found:

I'm already hoping to make a trip back, to relax, enjoy the sights and visit a few museums!

Donnerstag, 24. September 2009

Let the countdown begin!!

Obviously, this will be a ridiculously quick post on a Friday morning, right before I leave for work. But, I was on one of my favorite websites two days ago: the Nest, and you would not believe what I saw- 100 days until Christmas!!!! Oh my gosh! This means that I have the following things coming up:
-finish teaching program (hopefully)
-go to the Krautfest this year
-take three teaching tests, one to two of which will be completed in FLORIDA during my October break! Wahoo!
-after October break, start planning IMMEDIATELY for what will be hopefully, our final Thanksgiving party in our apartment!
-figure out travel dates for Christmas
-shop, shop, shop!

All very exciting things on this list, some a bit stress-inducing, but all, well worth it!
Now, I'm looking forward to 100 days from now, looking back on yet another crazy and fun fall and pre-holiday season!

Dienstag, 22. September 2009

Dresden without pictures

My camera is downstairs, so I can't post pictures right now. But, we were in Dresden this past weekend. We had two reasons for our visit: 1.meet up with a friend who recently built a house, 2.meet up with Joern's old boss who lives in the area.
We left on Friday night at 7:45. Yes, we knew it was going to be a long trip, but Joern would rather leave late and not sit in traffic. We arrived at our hotel at 12:30. Our hotel turned out to be so great! It was really inexpensive, and very clean and new. We were so pleased!
On Saturday morning, after our incredible 5 Euro breakfast at the hotel, we headed out for Dresden center. It turns out that Dresden is an amazingly beautiful city that rebuilt incredibly after the wall came down 20 years ago. We spent a few hours just strolling around. I'm in love, and can't wait to get back one day!
In the early afternoon, we headed out to my friend Lelia's house. She lives about 15 minutes outside of the city, in a wonderful neighborhood. The house was beautiful! We learned so much and had a wonderful chat! Plus, she made really yummy Hostess-esque cupcakes! Hooray for good American bakers living in Germany :)
We had lots of fun hanging out with Lelia and her husband, but had to leave around 5:00 for Aue, which is about an hour southwest of Dresden. It is still firmly entrenched in the former East Germany, but it is a beautiful area as well. Aue lies in the Erzgiberge, Ore Mountains. Sadly, I don't think I got any pictures of the area, but it is incredibly gorgeous!
We made our way to Mr. Marx's house, which is at the end of a street, a huge, very private property. We got to say hi to "Dusty" his Bernese Mountain Dog. We also met the many rabbits that his children keep. It was so cool! After getting his daughter and wife, we headed for our B&B, which was on a farm, and overlooking the mountains. It was quite beautiful! Once we checked in, we headed out to the International Brass and Wind Band Festival. It is a weekend event, where bands from mostly Europe, but sometimes other continents, assemble to highlight their music. When we arrived, it was easy to tell that this was set up with a party atmosphere, taking place in a huge fest tent. The food was typical "fest food," and Joern and I both had Thüringer Bratwursts, because they are "native" to the area. We enjoyed some good beer and enjoyed the music. My favorite band was the Bielefeld Pipes and Drums from Scotland. But, I also really enjoyed the Police Music from Zurich. It made me laugh to see how band music could be treated with such a party feeling. Leave it to the Germans!
We set out early on Sunday morning, and made it home by noon. I went sraight to bed, because I was feeling so icky! Overall though, it was a really great weekend!

Montag, 14. September 2009

A word about work

Two and a half weeks ago, the ISS began a new schoolyear. Its been an interesting ride so far, and I am kind of excited to look back at this year already. I'm learning so much!
I feel like the Incredible Moving Allison, as my third year at ISS, and I am again, in a new classroom. This year, I'm back with Junior Kindergarten, the 4 year-olds. Wow. You forget how tiny they are when you move up. Of course, you quickly remember though, as soon as they walk through the classroom door. We have a fabulous class this year. So far, 15, with room for 3 more. We have 3 Japanese kids who are new to the school, with no English. We also have 1 German girl who is also new, again, no English, at least I can communicate with her though. The rest of the class is an interesting mix: Mexican, German and American, American, German, Japanese, Swedish and Bosnian, Korean, and American and South African.
I'm already learning Korean from the Korean mother-tongue teacher. She taught me our "Good Morning" song in Korean, and taught me how to say, "hello" and "thank you" in Korean. I also learned from my friend Iris how to say, "sit down" in Japanese, which has definately proved invaluable this year!
We're out in portable classrooms this year. It is depressing to think that Germans refer to portables as "containers," as I always feel like I'm headed into a shipping container. Actually, they are connected, so that we have our own little building outside of the school, with rather large classrooms. The biggest drawback is the sound of the rain on the metal roof. We're all in a huge learning process this year, but the good news is that I will really end the year in a different position with much stronger abilities in the teaching field.
The teacher I work with this year is very nice. She is German, and only recently returned to teaching from being a stay-at-home mom. I give her credit, it can't be easy.
Of course, this year will be filled with ups and downs. There is a lot of stress, but hopefully, as we get more into a routine, the kids will as well. The kids are adorable though, and that's what is really most important!

Montag, 7. September 2009

ABC's of Me

I've been so bad at blogging lately. I just want to get back in the swing of things. So, here's the beginning of my attempt at more regular blogging!

A- Age: 30
B- Bed size: double, but hopefully soon, king
C- Chore you hate: cleaning the bathroom
D- Dog's name: we don't have one right now, and I won't tell our planned name for the
puppy we get when we build our house. Chloe and Sox were my last dogs.
E- Essential starts to your day: coffee and a lovely shower
F- Favorite color: pink
G- Gold, silver, or platinum- white gold
H- Height: 5'2"
I- Instruments you play: none in the past long time, but I played flute and bass clarinet through high school
J- Job: teaching assistant/ student teacher
K- Kids: hopefully in the not-too-distant futre
L- Living arrangements: soon to be changing. Right now, a 650 sq.ft, one bedroom apartment.
M- Mom's name: Kathy
N- Nicknames: Schemer, Angel(ina), Sweet Potato
O- Overnight stay in the hospital other than birth: 5 years old when I had pneumonia
P- Pet peeve: right now is the healthcare debate in the US. How on earth can people not support universal coverage???
Q- "I'm throwing seven different kinds of smoke." You, Me, and Dupree
R- Right handed or left: Right
S- Siblings: 1 12 year-old sister, Ginia, 1 stepbrother, no siblings-in-law, lots of friends who have served as my siblings
T- Time you wake up: 5:30 on weekdays, 7:00 on weekends
U- Underwear: most often, bikinis
V- Vegetable you dislike: Okra
W- Ways you run late: what ways do I not run late? Usually, it involves looking for my glasses
X- X-Rays you've had: Oy! Knees, fingers, feet, wrists, chest, ankle, teeth
Y- Yummy food you make: pies, cakes, and fresh basil, tomato, and garlc pasta
z- Zoo favorite: Sloths, penguins

Sonntag, 6. September 2009


When we visited Italy a few weeks ago, we stopped at a wonderful farmer's market in Jesolo. We had lots of fun shopping there, and it was pretty hard to turn away from so many beautiful, delicious smelling, fresh fruits and vegetables. We ended up buying a crate of peaches and a crate of sauce tomatoes, as well as many other items. But, these crates were a great deal, and my mind was already abuzz with ideas for how to use these amazing fruits.
The day after we got home, I busily searched the internet to find a recipe for peach pie. I found one on Suite101.com
Fresh Peach Pie Recipe

* Double pie crust (9 inch size)
* 5 cups of fresh ripe peaches (sliced)
* 1 tsp lemon juice
* 1 cup sugar
* ¼ cup regular flour
* ¼ tsp cinnamon
* 2 TBS butter


1. You can make your own pie crust or get a frozen double crust of refrigerator crusts. If you’re not making your own, the pie crusts in the refrigerator section taste more like homemade than the freezer types.
2. If using prepared crusts, let them thaw out or warm up.
3. Mix the lemon juice with the fresh peaches. Stir a little bit to get the lemon juice mixed in.
4. In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Mix well.
5. Stir the sugar/flour mix in with the peaches.
6. Pour the peach mixture in a pie crust.
7. Dot the butter evenly around on top of the peach mix in the crust.
8. Top with the second crust.
9. Use a knife to make slits in the top pie crust.
10. Flute the edges of the crust. In other words, mash the edges together and then use your fingers to make little ridges like you see on pie crusts in the store.
11. Bake in a preheated 425 degree F oven for around 40 minutes. Check often near the end of the baking time as ovens can vary. The middle of the pie should be a pretty buttery brown, and you’ll see bubbles in the knife slits.
12. You’ll probably need to put strips of tin foil or a pie edge protector around the outside edge of the pie the last 15 minutes or so. Fluted edges tend to get darker than the center on homemade pies.

I used Martha Stewart's recipe for Pate Brisee, which is delicious, and a pretty fail-proof pie crust. It worked fabulously with the peach pie.

It was a sweet and delicious way to prolong our vacation memories!

I also made a really yummy pasta sauce with all those many sauce tomatoes. It was really easy to make a delicious homemade tomato sauce.
I first washed and removed the stem and seeds from the many, many tomatoes.

Then, I chopped them.

Pureed them in the food processor.

Sauteed lots of garlic and onions in olive oil in the stock pot.

Then, I added the tomato sauce, basil, salt, and some italian seasoning. Simmer for a few hours, and that's all! Delicious, wonderful tomato sauce! I froze it in portions. This way, we'll be able to enjoy yummy sauce made from farmer's market tomatoes for months to come!

Sonntag, 23. August 2009

My time at home

I got back from my trip home about two weeks ago. The trip was entirely too quick, I was only there 2 1/2 weeks, but at least it was fun.
It was so great to hang out with my dad, and my time at home makes me always realize how much I miss him. It was also great to see my sister, who is getting so grown up, and my stepmom. I also spent tons of time with my aunt and my cousin, Elizabeth. I even got to spend more time with my cousin Katie, who came to pick me up at the airport.
I spent lots and lots of time looking at furniture with my cousin Elizabeth, who happens to be a very talented interior design student. We had so much fun. We even started out our shopping extravaganza by going to a Pottery Barn class on using color and patterns in decorating. I was so impressed that for the most part, the attendees had gotten to know each other through attending multiple classes. I wish I was able to attend more classes, it was fun, and we did learn quite a bit about decorating. We even got 10% off of all items that were used in the class.
Elizabeth and I had lots of fun in Crate and Barrel, Restoration Hardware, and vising the Riverhead outlet center in Long Island. We even had a funny experience in Milford at Ethan Allen, mom's absolute dream store- we got locked in! As we were drooling over the things in Ethan Allen, we noticed that it was raining pretty heavily, so we decided to stay in the store to let the storm pass. It was then that the wind started blowing super heavily, and the rain was coming down in buckets. All of a sudden, the door blew open, so one of the designers decided to lock the doors during the storm. As we sat at a table, looking at catalogs, Elizabeth brought up a good point- my mom must have had something to do with us getting locked in! What a funny coincidence that we were locked in my mom's favorite store!
Elizabeth and I also saw two great movies, one with my aunt too. We saw, Public Enemies and Julie & Julia. Both very good. I particularly loved Julie & Julia, despite the poor reviews, I thought it was adorable!
Elizabeth and I joined my dad to go see a Bridgeport Bluefish game! I love the Bluefish!

I also had lots of fun hanging out with dad, my sister Ginia, and my stepmother, Cheryl. My first weekend home, we all headed up to Massachusetts to see Cheryl's mom and then head out to the races at Seekonk Speedway. We stopped at a uniquely New England treat for lunch, Chad's Chowderhouse. YUM! It's pretty much a greasy spoon, but they only serve fish and amazing chowder! A good clam chowder is something I most certainly miss here in Germany. I also had a delicious stuffed quahog- something that is not only pretty much uniquely New England, it is especially uniquely Rhode Island and Massachusetts. My godparents drove up too for the races. We all had a fun night!

My dad and I also went to the Waterford Speedbowl the following week. We were really lucky to have great weather two weekends in a row, for great Saturday night racing!
Of course, the big surprise was that the feature of the night was a make up for a rain delayed race in June. It was a 75 lap World East Series race, meaning the drivers are slightly more professional than those who normally race at the Speedbowl.

I cooked a German dinner for my dad too. I made beef rouladen, rolled beef with bacon and mustard- yummy! I was most excited that it came out so tasty, and it was my first attempt at rouladen.

Besides all the fun outings, there was also some excellent get-togethers. We went to my godparent's house for a lobster and corn dinner. They picked up the lobster at Galilee, Rhode Island, a major commercial fishing port. The lobster was delicious and the company was great!
We had another lobster and corn dinner at dad's house a few days before I left. We had dinner with Lorraine and her daughter. I feel so lucky to have been able to have so much lobster and corn, I miss it!
I also got together for lunch with a few friends from high school, Emily, Dana, and Virginia. It was so great to see them! It is amazing to see the different paths our lives have taken since high school. We chatted about our lives and dished about other friends. I met up with another friend from high school, Colleen. She just bought a house, so we had lots of fun chatting about houses and friends. Again, it was great to spend time with an old friend!
Besides all this catching up, I took some time for myself as well. I went for some nice drives, and spent lots of time at the beach. Again, something I miss! Relaxing at the beach was just what the doctor ordered after the stress of last year.

All in all, it was a great time at home! I was so happy to see everyone and to be back in my comfort zone! Even though the trip was short, I got lots done and spent lots of time with people I miss.

Samstag, 18. Juli 2009

Finally shedding the school year

This past school year was anything but easy. There were so many challenges, which in the end, definately made me stronger, but seriously, I don't think I needed that much of a strengthening lesson.
But, I do have to admit, the parents really helped me to feel like all my work this year did not go unnoticed. The last Monday of school, I received the most incredible gift basket- full of American food! I guess there were ears actually listening when I mentioned how much I love Macaroni and Cheese!!!

The basket was so incredibly full, I needed to have Joern help me carry the basket out. Here's the breakdown of all the incredible things in the basket:
16 boxes Kraft Macaroni & Cheese
6 pack of A&W Cream Soda (made Joern swoon!)
2 packages of Oreos and 1 package of Double Stuff Oreo
1 box Oreo pop-tarts
1 bag of Fritos
1 bag Cheetos
1 bag Chex Mix sweet and salty
2 bags of Doritos
1 bag Tostitos Lime with 1 jar of salsa
1 box Cheez-its
2 bottles of Hershey's syrup
1 bottle Smucker's magic shell
1 GIANT jar of Skippy
2 boxes of brownie mix
2 boxes of yellow cake mix
1 container of white frosting
4 boxes of Jello Pudding mix (2 pistachio/ 2 white chocolate)
4 boxes of Jello mix
bag of Skittles
bag of Starburst
bag of Hershey's miniatures
1 package of Twizzler twists
1 bag Recees Peanut Butter cups
2 packages of Nestle Crunch
1 box of Latte to Go
1 package of pancake mix
1 bottle of syrup

I am still in shock thinking of how sweet all the parents were in giving me this gift. Not only was a basket full of American food fabulous, but it was incredibly thoughtful as well! I've decided to ration myself in eating all this food, and some of it may be used for a cook-out in the early fall. I am so thankful to the parents, who really helped me to feel appreciated! Thanks parents of 1B, I will never forget this!!

Samstag, 11. Juli 2009

XP: Vote For Finn!!!

My friend, Andrea's son Finn has been entered in a baby photo contest. If she wins, they will get a fabulous photo session for one of the cutest little boys ever!

The polls are open and its is easy to vote! Go to the site and cast your vote for Finn! The contest opened on Friday, July 10th at 12 noon EST and will run till end of Monday, July 13th at midnight.

Thanks Ryan for this great idea! I'm sure once you get to the site, you too will see who is clearly the favorite in our hearts!

Thanks everyone and good luck Little Finn!!

Montag, 6. Juli 2009

Celebrating my birthday- three weeks delayed

I swear, I will get around to posting about our trip to Italy and our first trip to Paris, and the last day of school (thank goodness!!), but I am working on the computer that only has the most recent pictures on it.
We returned to Paris this past weekend, in order to celebrate my birthday. Yeah, I know, we did that three weeks ago. But, as I posted earlier, we missed my birthday dinner. On my birthday, we went in to Paris for the morning and early afternoon, and then drove about 25 miles out of Paris to our hotel to get changed for dinner. I guess I miscalculated, well, maybe we both did, but I assumed we could leave at 7:30 for our boat's 8:30 departure. That may have worked, if we didn't spend over an hour sitting in traffic entering Paris and then another 20 minutes trying to find the boat dock. Needless to say, as we were approaching the dock, we saw the boat sailing down the river. Bleh! I called the company immediately, and they told me that I could reschedule for any time, but getting my money refunded would be extremely difficult. So, I decided to reschedule for my first weekend of summer break, this way, I could go to work with Joern on Friday, and we'd have a head start to Paris. We manage to enjoy lovely dinner in the Montparnasse district for my birthday, but I was really looking forward to returning to Paris for another weekend, and my real birthday dinner.
This past Friday, I went to work with Joern, and he scheduled his day to bring us close to the French border. Since it was Friday, he was finished around 2:00 and we were able to head out to Paris! The weather was sunny and warm, and we had really no traffic the entire way, so we arrived by 7:30 pm. We stayed at the same hotel outside of Paris, where we stayed last time. Yes, the hotel is a major chain, Clarion, and your run-of-the-mill business hotel, lacking any Parisian charm, but it was much less expensive than any hotel in Paris. Plus, we booked their Executive Suite, with an amazing bed, separate living room / conference room (seriously, the dining table could easily accommodate 10 people for a meeting,) and an incredibly fabulous shower. Plus, it is near a huge shopping center and tons of restaurants.
Once we were checked in, we headed to the grocery store in the mall to pick up some food for breakfast. While we were walking around the very homey feeling mall, we found a microbrewery that really reminded me of home. And yes, we could have searched for some very French restaurant, but living abroad you learn that to eat like the locals doesn't always mean indulging in typical food, plus, Joern is always excited about trying a new beer. Dinner was great, I had a hamburger and Joern had a nice steak. We split a maple beer that was delicious! We headed back to the hotel, where we relaxed, enjoyed some French wine, and watched Back to the Future II on the DVD player.
After a leisurely morning on Saturday, we headed in to Paris in the early afternoon. We decided not to rush to monuments or museums, Paris needs a lot of time, so instead we drove around a while. Finally, we parked near Ile St. Louis, and decided to walk around for a bit.

Besides being home to Notre Dame, the Ile St. Louis is actually an adorable neighborhood with streets lined with cafes and shops. We really enjoyed just strolling along the streets. The walk from the city across the Seine was also lovely. Despite the crazy number of tourists, the area was quite peaceful.

Of course, it was fun to look into the windows of the shops and many boulangeries and patisseries of the area.

Since it was such a warm day, we decided to follow the crowd, and jump in one of the many lines at ice cream stands. Turns out, that was quite a wonderful decision. The shop we stopped at had incredible flavors. Joern tried the Pine Nut Praline and I had salted caramel. They were both delicious and perfect-me-overs for the afternoon.
From there, we headed to Notre Dame to check out the famed gargoyles.

Since we were in a bit of a time crunch, and the line to enter was long, we simply sat outside the church and listened to the bells chime.

On our way back to the car, we admired the Hotel de Ville, or City Hall, decorated quite patriotically for the 4th of July.

We headed back to the car, got changed, and headed towards the Eiffel Tower, near the boat dock. Since we had extra time, we drove around, and found the most incredible view of the tower- from the Trocadero. You could easily see other monuments from this spot too, including Les Invalides.

Once we found a parking garage, we made our way to the boat, and boarded around 8 pm. The cruise was incredible! We sat in the Premiere Service section, meaning we sat in the front of the glass covered boat. It was very romantic, the service was wonderful, and the food, although not Michelin starred, was pretty good. The cruise lasted two and a half hours, although I would not have minded if it lasted a lot longer. And that's where I'll end my written description of the weekend. I wish Sunday was better, but needless to say, there was too much wine and champagne included in the dinner. Sunday was not really a day to remember. Oh, and yes, the glare from the glass cover of the boat does detract a bit from the pictures. Sorry!

It was cool to celebrate the 4th of July with the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower!

My long-awaited birthday cake!