Sunday, September 20, 2009

Happy 6th Anniversary

Dear Ben,

Happy Anniversary!  It has only been six years and, yet, I can't remember my life without you.  Or perhaps I don't want to remember my life without you. 

You are funny, incredibly patient with me, and you are a wonderful father.  I am so lucky to have you as my husband. 

Love always,

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Few Things From our Backyard

These are just a few of the nasturtiums that are growing in our garden. I didn't plant any of them and not sure about the previous owner. They are popping up everywhere. I even found some pushing up through the lawn. I wish I had captured a better picture of the green leaves. They are the flattest, smoothest leaves ever...despite all the veining. Apparently these are edible but I just can't bring myself to do it.

I'm not sure what this next one is. It's a vine that is growing on the fence between our yard and the neighbor's. The leaves are large, about 6 inches long, and are all perfect hearts.

I just love our Japanese Lanterns. This is a fun plant as it gives little white flowers in the spring and early summer and then these beautiful orange-red papery "lanterns" in the early fall. The poor plant is struggling due to neglect. I simply didn't water it enough during our hot spells. All the green leaves have turned yellow and have fallen from the plant. Fortunately, there are about 15 of these precious lanterns still hanging on.

Sorry to gross you out with this last picture. There must be hundreds of these huge spiders in our yard. Within ten feet from our front door, I was able to count a dozen webs with these ladies on them. It's not the best quality picture as I just couldn't bring myself to get quite close enough (or hold my hand steady enough) for the macro mode to function properly. 

At one point as I was snapping pictures, the spider moved and I screamed and jumped back. Both Ben and Carter laughed at me. It's amazing how brave they can be standing 6 feet away. Try being 6 inches away. Ick. I find spiders soooo disgusting and I'm sure I'll be having some nightmares about these tonight.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I've Been Featured!!

Amy Anderson over at Mod Podge Rocks took a liking to my Ikea stool make over and has featured me on her blog today (see my nice new shiny button over on the right!).  Go over and read what she has to say and then spend some time looking at her other projects for some inspiration.  I know I have a list a mile long of projects I want to do.

Thanks, Amy, you made my day!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Supper #8

I know I'm supposed to be sharing a dinner recipe with you but this week I'm sharing two appetizers. I had my German colleagues over for dinner last Thursday and the following two recipes (courtesy of Kraft Foods) were huge hits.

Hot Spinach Dip

1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained
1 cup KRAFT Real Mayo Mayonnaise
1 cup KRAFT Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 clove garlic, minced

HEAT oven to 350°F. Mix all ingredients.
SPOON into 9-inch pie plate or quiche dish.
BAKE 20 min. or until heated through.
Serve with assorted crackers or tortilla chips.

Optional:  Top with 2 Tbsp. chopped roasted red peppers before serving.

Savory Parmesan Bites

1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup KRAFT Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided
2 cans (8 oz. each) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1 cup chopped red peppers
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

HEAT oven to 350°F. Beat cream cheese and 3/4 cup Parmesan with mixer until well blended.

SEPARATE crescent rolls into 8 rectangles; press perforations together to seal. Spread each with 3 Tbsp. cream cheese mixture. Top with peppers and parsley. Fold 1 long side of each dough rectangle over filling to center; fold again to enclose filling. Cut each into 4 squares. Place, seam-sides down, on baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan.

BAKE 13 to 15 min. or until golden brown.

Enjoy!!  And, as always, leave me a note if you make these.

(Pictures are taken from the Kraft Foods website.  Thank you Kraft Foods! )

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Travel Planning

So I counted, and we have roughly 12 weeks left here in Germany.  At this point we don't know our exact move home date so I'm just estimating.  That time is just going to fly by.  So hard to believe that it's coming to an end.  Sure it's something we've talked about a lot but for it to be actually happening...

Because of our limited time left, we've been busy planning our final trips.  We've got Hamburg coming up at the end of the month.  We'll be visiting Lucerne, Switzerland the first weekend of October.  We are hoping to take a long weekend in mid-October for Munich (and squeeze in a final trip to Legoland).  First weekend in November will be Budapest, Hungary. And then Thanksgiving weekend (while you are all eating Turkey and watching parades on TV), we'll be in Vienna, Austria. 

As much travel as we have done in the last 2 1/2 years (and will do in the next 3 months), there is still so much more that I want to see. 

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

German Spelling Bee Nightmare

I received an email at work today with the following German word in it:


Yep, that's 30 letters long.  Can you imagine getting this one during a spelling bee? 

If you are not up on your German, it means Travel Authorization System.  Why it needs to be all one word, I don't know.  The Germans are really into that and to make it worse, most online translators can't handle these complex words.  The only way to translate it is to know enough German to be able to pull out the individual words and look them up. 

Sigh.  This is part of the reason I am far from fluent after 2 years of lessons.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Scrap Paper Notebook

I sit right next to the printer/copier/scanner/fax machine at work.  Not only is it loud (people like to congregate and talk) and hot (people + hard working electronic equipment) but I have really noticed how much paper is wasted.  Sure, sure...this should not be a surprise to anyone working but I mean I REALLY noticed it.  The recycle bin is always overflowing, often to the point of it spilling over the sides onto the floor.

I guess this has made me a little more environmentally conscious and so I've started using scrap paper for much of my note taking at work.  Usually this is the informal kind that happens at my desk when I'm flipping between spread sheets and need to scribble down a couple of numbers so I don't forget them.  Or when I'm on the phone and need to scribble down some info.  If it's important, it will often get transferred to my more official notebook but usually it goes right into the trash/recycle bin minutes later when I no longer need it.    Normally I would use Post-It notes for this type of stuff but I've switched to scrap paper.

There's a problem though.  I'm obsessed with office supplies and I like things to have their place.  OK, maybe that second part isn't entirely true.  BUT, if I have a random stack of scrap paper on my desk, how am I to tell that from the random stack of potentially important work papers?

Then, one night while snuggling Carter back to sleep after a bad dream, I had an a-ha moment.  My Mod Podge project turned out pretty well, so why not try another?  And so my Scrap Paper Notebook came to be.

How did I make this?  I started with an empty box of cereal and cut out rectangles the size I wanted for the covers.  I actually cut out four as each cover is doubled up for stiffness.  I Mod Podged two pieces together to make a cover and then I wrapped in scrapbook paper and used more Mod Podge.  I used a coordinating print for the inside of the cover to cover up the seams.  Finally I coated the whole thing liberally with Mod Podge.  The binder rings that I am using here are too large but it's nearly impossible to find them here in Germany.  I have some smaller ones on order.  This notebook is roughly 8.5" x 6".

I am so happy with the finished product that I have been brainstorming reasons to make more of these.  I can make another one for home for grocery lists and weekly meal plans.  I can put in photo sleeves instead of paper to make a photo album.  I can make a larger one and fill with sheet protectors for a recipe book.  Oh, just think of the possibilities.

Let me know if you want one...I'm just dying for reasons to make more.

Thursday, September 03, 2009


I've been depressed because I've been thinking that you readers don't really love me which is why hardly anyone leaves me any comments.  Then I learned today that some of you have tried to leave comments but haven't been able to.  A-ha! So you do love me.

Apparently I had some setting wrong that limited the comments to registered users or something along those lines.  I have now corrected that (I think) so that anyone can leave a comment (after first being moderated by me to filter out any spam).

So any minute now all those comments should come flooding in, right? 


Is anybody out there?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Who The Heck is in Switzerland??

So I just have to ask...Who is following this from Switzerland?

I was certain it was Ben's cousin, but he's back in California and I've still got a Zurich IP addresses visiting this blog.

Do I have a friend in Switzerland and I don't know it?  I would love to know who you are...but I can't force you to comment or email me if you don't want to be known.

Of course, we are thinking of going to Switzerland in the next month and so if we do have friends there, it would be nice to meet up with them...if only I knew who it was.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

More Random Stuff

This morning as I was drying off from my shower, Carter was using the potty. He looked at me and asked, "Mommy, why is your tushie big?"

Let's just say that I'm looking forward to moving back to the States and getting a master bedroom with an en suite bathroom. And Carter can have his own bathroom. No more sharing.

I had been recently wondering at what age should I not let Carter see me naked. I think I have my answer.


I recently purchased Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts. I have been loving it and am so excited to try a bunch of new projects. Problem is...craft stores here in Germany are terrible. I can't even begin to tell you how much I miss Michaels.

I have also just been kicking myself for sending my sewing machine and scrapbooking supplies to storage and not bringing them over here with me. I guess I thought I would just be sooo busy traveling and living the European life that I wouldn't have time for boring old crafts.

Oh well, I now have a long list of projects for the future.


I'm thinking of becoming a Mormon. I think at least 70% of the blogs I follow are written by Mormon women. These women are superwomen. Not to generalize or anything, but they all have at least 3 kids, churn out a quilt a week, make their kids clothes, have incredibly beautiful children, have fabulously decorated homes, have 4 course meals waiting on the table for dinner when the husband comes home from work, and write wonderful and witty blogs. Perhaps if I were to become Mormon, I could have these traits, too.

Come to think of it, it's either (A) the polygamy thing -- multiple women masquerading as 1 wife in the virtual world. One to cook, one to quilt, one to clean, one to tend to the children, one to blog, all to have children. Or (B) it's really only one woman but she's taking her kid's ADHD medication and has become uber-productive.
Sorry if I have offended any Mormons out there, but seriously, I'm in awe. How do you do it?