Tuesday, February 28, 2012


because pictures make everything cooler.

honey spice cake (i tried doing almond flowers though I got lazy after a while!)
taken from Smitten Kitchen's recipe (i halved it), though I think if I'd split the batter into two pans it would've been a little moister. Still, very good!

homemade date and almond granola. i made this on friday and it's nearly gone :)
I got the recipe from Epicurious and I wasn't let down. Loved loved loved this (and the Ja! honey in the background. I think that's such a funny brand).

enjoying it...

the church in Amberg

haha since we hardly ever take pictures together! ;)

look at that smile :)

I look like a kid haha

weekend dinner of fajitas with guac

spicy middle eastern chicken and a jazzed up tabbouleh with olives, feta, and lots of mint and veggies. There were no leftovers :) I used this recipe from TLC, but I halved it since I had 3 chicken thighs, and I skipped the whole zucchini, feta, couscous bit since I had my own plans. It was really good, and just the right amount of spicy! I cooked them with some potatoes and onions since I'd originally wanted to make some Greek chicken and potatoes. Oh well, sometimes improvisations are delicious, right? :)

I'm really lucky that I love cooking and that Fionn is not a picky eater. It's really fun trying out new recipes on him. I've always loved cooking-it was something my family did a lot together and it's always a great joy to me to get in the kitchen and make something. It's satisfying, y'know? I even played with the idea of going to a culinary school, but studying history won out in the end. So I hope you don't mind my recipe sharing, but I have a lot of fun doing it hence why it ends up on the blog. Anyways, if you make anything, let me know how it turns out!

Monday, February 27, 2012

playing catch up

It's been nearly a week without an entry! Sorry for being so lazy. Fionn was out of town for work for most of last week so I spent my first time alone here. It wasn't so bad, except at night when the house seems too big for just me in it. He did leave the car behind, so I got to explore a little and get out of the house. I can't wait for my car to get here! :)

Saturday we hopped in the car and drove to Amberg. It's a nice place with a cute little old city surrounded by a medieval looking wall. Of course there were the usual cathedral and city hall you usually find in old German towns. We had some döner, did a little shopping, and soaked up some February sunshine (finally!!). On the drive home we somehow got talking about crepes so I decided to make some. My dad is the Crepe-Meister, and mixing them up and flipping them brought back a lot of good memories of fun weekend mornings with Pappie making mountains of crepes and learning his crepe making tips. It also reminded me of being in college when we used to make crepes to sell for the French club, so good memories all around.

I wish I would have taken a picture of all the crepe but we ate them too fast! :) I had planned to eat them for dessert but Fionn ended up using them to make burrito with the rest of dinner. Haha I swear, he can turn anything into a burrito or sandwich ;) We did have some for dessert, and then breakfast the next day. The only thing missing was some nutella...which reminds me of my days in Besançon...man, me and crepes are having some serious memory lane time...

Sunday was the usual...church, grocery shopping, then hanging out at home. In Germany everything pretty much shuts down on Sunday, especially in Bavaria where people are more conservative than the rest of Germany. This can be pretty frustrating since you get all excited about the weekend and then realize you can really only do stuff on one of your weekend days. It's strange to me that Germans hold onto this tradition so fiercely since they're generally not religious. I mean, I'm from Georgia, I've lived in the buckle of the Bible Belt and the front yard of Southern Baptist territory, and even there you could find things open on Sunday. Not that that's necessarily a good thing, but Germans...what's your excuse? *cough*youlikehavingthedayoff*cough* Anyways, off my expat soapbox... It was a nice Sunday. It snowed a little but quickly turned into rain and melted away, thank goodness. I made some roast chicken and Tabbouleh with feta and olives for dinner and since Fionn had Monday off we stayed up late watching movies and talking.

Today (Monday) we went to Nürnberg. That was really nice and kinda nostalgic since Nürnberg was where we spent our third weekend together after we'd met so it was fun to walk around and recognize places. The day had started sunny but quickly became
overcast and gray but we enjoyed ourselves anyway. I found some pants on sale for €7. What's not to love? :)

Unfortunately the landlord is coming tomorrow to rip out part of the wall in the hallway...we noticed a section of the plaster wall was squishy and puffing out, so he came to look at it today and decided he had to rip it open to find out the cause. It's not being caused by the shower so who knows. Fingers crossed it's not something huge...I'm just imagining our hallway strewn with squishy plaster and Bavarian workmen tromping through the house making a mess. Let's hope that's not the case. Our landlord is super nice though, so hopefully he can get it straightened out.

Oh, I made some granola the other day. Soooooo good. I never knew it was so ridic easy.

I have pictures but can't find the cord. So check back later to see them! :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

saying goodbye

Last night we met up with our friends Ben and Olia for dinner. They're heading back to the States (to my home state actually!) and we wanted to hang out one last time and say our goodbyes. They are so great and funny, Fionn and I are really going to miss them. I first met them while Fionn and I were still dating, and after I had to go back to America to finish my last semester they were really good about keeping his spirits up and inviting him to do things.

Since I've been here we've gotten to do a few double dates, and Olia was really helpful when it came to answering my questions and volunteering her help if i needed anything. I feel like we clicked really well, it's just such a shame we didn't have longer together! :( But then again you never know...over the past few years I've learned to never say never when it comes to seeing old friends again...life has a way of bringing people back into your life unexpectedly! :) So fingers crossed on that account.

They gave us a few goodbye presents (I'll have to put some pictures up later!) as well as some of their EU voltage appliances we were happy to take off their hands. I was happy they were leaving the vacuum cleaner behind since ours is pretty awful. I know what you're thinking...a vacuum cleaner? pffft...but when your house is 80% white tile and 20% strange German carpet which your current vacuum has no effect on, come back and talk to me. I was happy :)

Fionn had asked them about their toaster, but apparently it had taken a tumble and been broken while they were packing up and moving. They felt so bad they actually bought us a new one, which was so sweet and unexpected! They really didn't have to do that, but I'm sure every time we make toast from now on we'll be reminded of them. Fionn set it up first thing when we got home, I think he's just happy he doesn't have to battle the oven broiler anymore for some toast.

Anyway, we went out for Chinese and had a lot of laughs and then took some pictures. I'm really going to miss them, but I hope they have a great time in their new home. I envy all the warm weather they'll have :) Hopefully we'll get to see them this summer when we go back to the States.

So, Ben and Olia, here's to you! You two are great and I hope it's not too long before we can meet again. And of course thank you very much for the toaster and the vacuum :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

long weekend in Berlin

really this post should be called "Shannon and Fionn's gastronomic adventures" since most of this weekend was about food, or more importantly, all the delicious things you can find in Berlin to eat.

Fionn had a long weekend and since the Irish Fest was also going on in Savannah this weekend and I had been moping around all week being sad I couldn't go, he suggested we go to Berlin and have some fun. I was really excited by the idea-I have loved Berlin ever since my very first visit there way back in 2009 when German Peter adopted me for Christmas. I loved it even more after subsequent visits, and the icing on the Berliner (get it? i'm cheesy hehe) was living there during my internship and of course meeting Fionn and falling in luuurve...well you get the picture. I still have a lot of really good friends there too, like the lovely Chelsea (who's the sweetest person to be around and always makes me smile) and of course German Peter and all of his friends, who're all super awesome and have done so much for me over the years, especially showing me just how great Germans and German culture can be. So yeah...I love Berlin and my friends there, so I was practically bouncing up and down on Friday when we boarded the ICE train bound for Berlin Hauptbahnhof.

We found a really cheap hostel/hotel in Charlottenburg, coincidentally just a few houses down from my old apartment. That was actually really cool, and it was great walking down the streets and past my old flat and remembering when we first met and when we were dating. Plus we knew all the restaurants around there and were happy to go back and hit them up!

Friday night we walked around a little before grabbing some dinner at the Taj Mahal, this awesome Indian resto around the corner from my old flat. Such awesome food! Later that evening we met Peter and his friends downtown for some drinks. It was so great to see Peter again! I'm so glad we've been able to see each other as often as we have post-Besançon. Tommy was also there, along with two girls he works with (one from Marburg, how funny) and even Martin showed up a little while after that. We moved to another bar and met Robert and settled in for some beers and conversation. It was so so so great getting to see all my German friends. They are all so funny and they crack me up reminding me of all the crazy American slang I've taught them. Fionn was like, "stop teaching them this stuff! No one says that!" But I beg to differ! :)

It was so nice to see friends again. Since I got to Bavaria it's been difficult to get out and really make friends, and it was just awesome to go somewhere and people know you and they're happy to see you. It was a small thing, but it really meant a lot to me and made me really happy. We stayed out late, later than we expected, but it was so worth it.

My friends were all friendly and welcoming to Fionn, but the two girls with Tommy got into a big discussion with me about my reasons behind getting married young. Which, I didn't really mind at first, but as the conversation went on I started to feel more and more like they viewed me as some kind of space alien haha. They just made it seem like such a negative thing, which kind of hurt my feelings. Admittedly, getting married before 30 is very un-European, but we're Americans and it's not unheard of or freakish in our culture. It doesn't mean we're naive or ignorant or crazy or baby hungry...it's just a decision we made because we were serious about our relationship. And it's not like we're teenagers, we're practically mid-20s! I guess it just got under my skin because they seemed very judgmental about it, like it changed their opinion of me because of it. I just wanted to be like, I'm still me! Being married doesn't make me uncool or useless! I probably shouldn't have taken it so personally, it was just a stranger's opinion. Despite that little hiccup it was a pretty great night, and it really made me happy to get the see Peter and Robert and Tommy again.

Saturday we had breakfast at our favorite café from our Berlin dating days, Windback Café. It's so awesome having breakfast for two people for 7€ total :) Afterward we browsed some flea markets near Tiergarten and then did some shopping near Alexanderplatz. I got some cute new shoes and Fionn found a hat and we stumbled upon this awesome burrito place called Dolores. It was billed as California burritos, and it lived up to its name. That was the first Mexican/Tex-Mex place in Germany I've ever been to where the food actually tasted right. The guac was awesome, the cheese was Monterrey Jack and not some Emmenthaler/Gouda/Swiss abomination, there was real salsa and corn tortillas and the portions were huge for only 5€. We were so excited haha. Everything was great and the place was packed at 3pm. Good sign, right? If you're in the area, check it out on Rosa-Luxemburg-Straße 7. It's not authentic Mexican, but if you're looking for some American Mexican type stuff this is the place. Even my discerning Californian gave it a thumbs up! :)

From there we walked around for ages and did some shopping and window browsing and people watching. That night we continued out culinary adventures at Rice Queen at Danziger Straße 13 in Prenzlauer Berg, which is an awesome Thai place with super reasonable prices. We had fancy drinks, awesome entrees (I had peanut chicken, Fionn had the special) a dessert of fried sweet rice and banana fritters and even coffee all for €22. Not to mention the waitstaff were very nice and helpful. Another awesome P-berg find...

We met Chelsea and some of her friends for drinks and got to catch up with her. That was super fun! Unfortunately it was hard to find a place with enough space since everyone was out partying for Carnival, but we made do. It was so fun seeing her! She's so cute.

Sunday we headed to Mauer Park to scope out the crazy flea market and of course eat all the unique Turkish street food. haha it's lucky Fionn and I met in Berlin so we could exploit our mutual love of trying new foods. maybe that was the spark? ;) I actually remember the first weekend we met we visited the Kreuzberg Kulturfest and ate all sorts of weird stuff and I thought, "I like this guy, he's not afraid to try things." So I guess this past weekend of food adventures was perfect for us.

Speaking of food, we hit up a French place nearby for lunch called Gugelhof, it was pretty good with a nice brunch menu. Fionn tried the blood sausage (among other things) which won an award for the best in Europe a few years ago. I tried it (with some prodding from Fionn) and even though the idea of it revolted me, it was actually good. I stayed on the boring side and had polenta quiche with some brunchy sides.

We'd planned on museums after that but they were so full thanks to the cold and rainy weather we nixed the idea and walked around looking at stuff instead. We had planned to meet Chelsea again but that fell through. I probably should've called Peter, but he was studying for exams so I didn't want to pester him. So we enjoyed rainy Berlin just the two of us :)

To cap off our Berlin weekend we had some Spanish food at a resto near my old flat, called El Gato Azul. Tasty tapas. Then we went to a cafe called Friends & Friends for dessert where we had these super awesome Japanese rice cakes with green tea filling inside. They were so good, I was sad there were only 3 (haha i'm such a fat kid). It was kind of funny because the wait staff sat down two tables over to eat their dinner while we were having our dessert, complete with wine and laughing and talking...which is fine but it continued way past when we finished and they strategically avoided our unsubtle stares to try to get their attention. haha wow...the things you get away when you don't work for tips, huh? :P eventually...and i mean, EVENTUALLY, one of the waitresses got up and slowly got around to getting our bill.

So was our weekend! It was really fun. Awesome food, fun times in a big city, winter weather that was much warmer than our own frigid Bavaria, and getting to see some of my favorite friends cheered me up immensely. Such a good weekend :) I was a bit sad to go home so soon, but since Fionn has long training coming up I'll probably make another trek up to Berlin so I'm not in the house all alone. Maybe I'll get a burrito while I'm there ;)

couldn't resist a souveneir with one of the first German slang words I learned- "Alter, das ist Voll Assi!" Thanks, Peter :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

dear MinusL

I know I'm married and all, but I love you. You and your tasty array of lactose frei products make my life so much better and calcium enriched. Please come to America so I don't have to miss you when I go back home.


your loyal fan

ps, here's a shout out to you, Commissary, for having Lactaid pills in stock. Thanks for helping a girl out when the German grocery store is not on the agenda for the day.

le sigh, it seems so unfair that I love dairy so much and it doesn't return the feeling. Rude.

My Expat Kitchen: update on squash bread!

I have a great recipe for banana bread, but as I said earlier, I wanted to mix it up and make some squash bread with all leftover squash. I found a recipe over at My Baking Addiction, and it seemed just right. I made a few adjustments-I didn't have cardamon so I substituted it with ginger (i know what you're thinking...how does cardamon = ginger?? it doesn't, but i just like ginger, so nyah), and I made my own squash puree so it wasn't as smooth as the recipe above.

So, here's the recipe, taken from My Baking Addiction along with my additions...

1 cup butternut squash purée
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1 cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger

To make squash puree: Cut a butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds and innards. I had half a butternut squash and a few chunks of chopped squash, and that equaled one cup. Spread them over a baking sheet and add just a little bit of water. Bake at 350º F/ 175º C for 45 minutes to an hour, or until it's very tender. My weird German oven is kind of finicky, so it took a little longer to get it tender than it might in a regular oven.
Once squash is cooled, scoop out the flesh and put into a bowl, discard the skin. Mash the squash with a potato masher or your hands. I washed my hands and dove in, partly because it was fun getting messy but also because it was easier to do it that way since I don't have a potato masher. :)
Once it's all mashed, you're done! It won't be as smooth as when you use a blender or food processor, but I preferred that in the bread. If you want it smoother, have at it with a blender/food processor/egg beater until it's at the desired consistency.

ok now, on to the baking!

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour one standard loaf pan (this worked in my German and my American loaf pans).
2. In a large bowl, mix together the butternut squash puree, eggs, oil, water and sugars until thoroughly combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
3. Stir the dry ingredients into the butternut squash mixture. Combine just until incorporated; do not over mix. Pour into the prepared pan.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-65 minutes or until a wooden skewer/knife inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

yay! :)

So the verdict? Very good! The kitchen smelled like fall baking and the bread is kind of like pumpkin bread. I thought maybe squash would be overpowering but it's not at all. Nice use of leftover squash :)

My Expat Kitchen: Turkish Chicken Thighs, Tabbouleh, and a Brownie Cake

If you're interested in the recipes, here they are:

Turkish Chicken Thighs

(original recipe from Eating Well, with multiple changes by me)

- 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 cup low-fat plain yogurt (I added an extra 1/2 cup since I wanted more sauce)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 3 stalks fresh mint, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper

Mix all the ingredients for the sauce together, spread over chicken thighs. Preheat oven to 375º F/190º C. Bake chicken thighs in the oven for about 30 minutes, baste chicken as needed.

I don't have many pans, so I ended up baking these in my German loaf pan. The original recipe calls for you to broil them but I didn't want to mess with that. Admittedly, the sauce isn't super lovely when it's done, but it is tasty. I think that could be remedied if you baked them in a casserole dish where they had more space rather than being in a cramped loaf pan. But hey, those are the perils of cooking in an expat kitchen ;)

recipe by me, so it's not very authentic, just how I learned to make it in France :)

-2 cups cooked cous cous or bulghar wheat
-2 chopped tomatoes
-1 cucumber, diced
-salt and pepper, to taste
-lemon juice, to taste
-a few stalks fresh mint, diced (as much or as little as you like)
-few stalks fresh parsley, diced (as much or as little as you like)
-garlic salt (I didn't want to overload it with garlic so I added a few dashes of this)
-2 tablespoons olive oil

Cook your cous cous/bulghar, chop your veggies and herbs, mix them all together in a bowl. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper, olive oil and the garlic/garlic salt if you like, and mix together. Taste, and add to it if need be. You might want more salt, more mint, more olive oil, more whatever! It's pretty much up to your tastebuds.

I love tabbouleh because it's so light and fresh. I think it's best when it's had time to sit for a while and let all the flavors meld together. I know my recipe isn't straight from a Lebanese grandma's kitchen, but I ate it a lot in France and I base my recipe on the French imitation of tabbouleh.

Brownie Cake
from Smitten Kitchen's one bowl brownie recipe (while making a brownie cheesecake!).

I followed her recipe, but I used a 9 inch round pan. For that, this recipe makes way too much, so I used what I needed and saved the rest in the fridge for later. I'm sure you could freeze the extra brownie cake for another time...if it makes it that long (which it definitely wouldn't around me!)

So once it's cooked and cooled, take a small sieve or a powdered sugar sifter or whatever you have like it on hand, and dust powdered sugar on the top. If you want stencil something on there, write your name or message or draw a heart (whatever you like) and then draw around it to make bubble letters. I guess you could print out the letters and cut that out, or draw fancy letters to begin with, but I like the look of your own handwriting. It's best to do these BIG. That was my mistake last night, I was being lazy and writing small and it looked awful.

Gently hold your stencil in place and slowly dust powdered sugar on top. Don't go too fast, because when you pull the stencil off the powdered sugar can fall off and ruin your lovely stencil. Once you've covered the stencil, remove it et voila! You have a lovely stenciled message on your cake. If it flops, don't worry, just powder over it and pretend you meant for it to look like that ;)

This could also work with cocoa if you didn't have powdered sugar.

Last night I sliced up some strawberries and decorated the cake with that, but hey, it's your cake. Go crazy!

this is a cake I made for my younger brother a few years ago. Same idea, just with cocoa. And a big congrats to him for qualifying today! So proud of you! :)

Happy Valentine's Day!

ok, a day late, but the sentiment is still there!

We had a very nice Valentine's Day. I got spoiled with some breakfast in bed and then we bundled up and headed out into the snow to the train station. We took the train to Regensburg, which is a cute little city not too far away. Perfect for a day trip. It was snowing but not bitterly cold, and it kind of gave everything this cute, romantic winter wonderland feeling. We didn't have much of a plan beyond "get out of the house" but Regensburg was a great choice. It has a cute historic city center with winding streets that're perfect for walking and browsing.

First we stopped at a famous hat store called Der Hutkönig. It's mostly known for its Bavarian hats, but they make just about everything in between too, from English bowlers to fedoras to French tricorns and one masterpiece called simply, "The Napoleon". Here's a link if you'd like to look around and get an idea: http://www.hutkoenig.de/en/index.html . It's in English! :) They also made the Mad Hatter's hat from the newest Alice in Wonderland (y'know, the one where Johnny Depp is the Hatter?). We had fun looking around and some of the women's hats were to die for-cute little veils and feathers and everything-extravagant without being over the top. As cute as they were I couldn't really justify getting one, so we returned to men's hats. Fionn has been looking for a nice winter hat, but nothing really jumped out at us when we were looking around. Too bad, but der Hutkönig was fun just for the experience.

After that we wandered around a little more, window shopping and people watching. Fionn showed me a really cute stationary store. It was amazing, they had all kinds of beautiful paper and letter writing stuff and notebooks and everything. We spent quite a while in there. I love writing letters, and I love nice stationary, which is probably a combination of my southern upbringing and growing up seeing my own mother's huge stash of cute notecards and stationary. When we were sick from school she would always write us a note on her nice cards and I remember once the secretary at the front office saw me and said, "oh so that's your mother! We love getting her cards, they're always so cute and normally everyone just writes notes on a ripped piece of notebook paper!"

We hit a few more places before stopping at a cafe for lunch. The waitress was really cute and sweet as she tried her English out on us (though I was kind of bummed she wouldn't speak German to me). After that we did some shopping and found some new winter shoes for me! Most of my Savannah shoes are retired until spring, so I have big clumsy snow boots or high riding boots in the meantime. I was able to find a pair of cute, flat ankle boots that I think will be perfect. Yay! :)

Our last stop was to the electronic store to pick up a new water filter. We haven't been able to find one for months since the PX is always out but luckily the German store had one. Super exciting, I know, but I'm happy we can have filtered water again since the stuff from the tap is always so calcium-y.

We headed home, stopping on the way at the German grocery store so I could pick up a few lactose free products (and Fionn could sneak away and get flowers and chocolate haha). I love the German grocery store...you can always find something interesting.

Finally back home, I unwrapped my flowers. They were so pretty! One red rose and two yellow-pink ones that reminded me of the ones I had in my bouquet at our civil ceremony. They were perfect :)

I made Turkish chicken thighs and tabboleh for dinner, along with a brownie-cake. I wanted to be all fancy and stencil our names with powdered sugar, but my hand slipped and it got all messed up, so I made do with a heart instead...here's a picture of our demolished cake ;) See the heart?

It was a very nice day :)

Monday, February 13, 2012

back to monday

This week has flown. We had quite a few after work engagements this week-meetings, a goodbye party (which included some good friends of ours I am very sad to see go). I got to meet Fionn's coworkers though, and they (and their wives) were all very friendly. They introduce all the new people, and I even got pulled up to the front and introduced since I'm new (and they gave me a rose haha). It was a little embarrassing having everyone looking at you but it was nice to let people know I'm a newbie, and lots of people came up to us afterward to welcome me, which I thought was really nice of them.

Where did the weekend go? We're still dealing with this super cold weather, so when the weekend rolls around a lot of times we're kind of unenthusiastic about braving the cold and leaving the house to go out and be exciting. Well, maybe I'm the more unenthusiastic one, and Fionn is happy to relax on the weekend after working all week. But still. :)

Friday it started snowing again, so I decided to try my luck at making freeze ahead breakfast pastry dough from a cookbook my parents sent me. It was time intensive but not difficult, the hardest part was being patient while the dough was rising and finding a good place for the dough to rise. Our house is lovely and open and has big high ceilings, but it's kind of hard to keep warm. Not only that, but since we don't spend time in all the rooms, we actually only heat the kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom so we don't waste energy. While those rooms do stay pretty warm, I was worried it wouldn't be warm enough for the dough, until I read online (while troubleshooting some other bread problems) that someone's grandma used to leave her dough to rise in the laundry room while she was drying clothes. As luck would have it, I was doing laundry and when I went to scope it out it was super warm in our little laundry room. I left it in there and went to do other things and two hours later, it was doubled in size. Aren't grandmas a wealth of information? :)

I split the dough into two and made one half into cinnamon rolls and the other half into orange rolls (my mom's favorite). I froze most of them and left a few out to taste test :) They turned out great-nice and fluffy (though they could've used just a tad more cinnamon in my opinion) and we decided the only thing missing was the icing...so I'll give an update on that later.

I like the recipe and it's nice to have them in the freezer, but the only thing is it takes a while if you want to cook them since you have to thaw them and let them rise a little before baking them. So not ideal for spur of the moment cinnamon roll craving, but if you planned ahead for the weekend you could have a nice weekend treat. I'll post some pictures later.

Today my project is squash bread, which, I know, might sound kind of weird but I'm excited to try. I bought this big butternut squash for the morrocan tagine I made last week and I had a lot left over. Since I hadn't planned anything with squash for dinner this week I thought back to the awesome pumpkin bread we made at the coffee shop I used to work at and thought, squash...pumpkins...same family, right? So this morning I've been roasting squash in the oven and I'm going to make a puree (the old fashioned way, since I have no blender or food processor!) and try my hand at squash bread. I'll let you know how that turns out!

Fionn had to work over the weekend, but luckily he's been given Tuesday off-Valentine's day! :) We went out for dinner on Saturday and decided we'd spend our V-day together and maybe go to some of the German towns and do some shopping and look around. I'm excited about that and it'll be nice to get out of the countryside for a while and back to civilization haha. I've planned a nice dinner for us to celebrate our first Valentine's day together, but I'm still at a loss for the dessert...so many options, just gotta pick one!

Sunday was the usual-church, grocery shopping (haha look how domestic we are) and then back home to spend the day together. Unfortunately I got a bad headache after lunch and didn't feel like doing much, so I ended up catching up on Downton Abbey and Fionn was sweet and sat with me. I love that show, but then again I'm a huge nerd and a big WWI buff. So yeah :)

Some good news: My car should be here soon (fingers crossed for the end of the month!) AND all my papers are in order for me staying here, which is such a relief. It finally feels like we're really settling in here. I'm already starting to think about what I'll do next, I can't wait to have a car again! :D

I see the irish festival is next weekend...it really breaks my heart I can't be there. I mean, the irish season and everything it includes has been such a massive force in my life, it just feels wrong I won't be there. I keep having dreams I'm back in my apartment and I get into my car and drive downtown to go to all this stuff. I just wake up feeling homesick. I think all this cold weather has just made me homesick, but I can't help that I miss home and all the great people there. I just wish Germany and Georgia were a little closer. Anyway, not to be a negative nancy...but just so you all know, I'm missing you!

alright enough moping, now to this squash bread... :)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

a short tour of the apartment

I get a lot of questions about our apartment here. It's hard to explain-it's kind of a house, almost like a duplex, except with three parts. We live on the top part, the landlord in the middle, and then another couple in the basement part (though I don't really know them, I think they're also American). You walk into a foyer with stairs going up and down. Up is us, down is the other couple, straight ahead is the landlord. Get it?

We've got a little kitchen but it's cozy and I've been able to decorate it with my own stuff which makes it seem more familiar and homey. I love our little kitchen, though I really want some curtains. The window opens into the kitchen though, so I dunno how I'd do it. Ideas?

We have a dining room with these cool bookshelves/cabinets and then the next room is the living room. Outside is a little balcony. When it gets warm I'd love to put some plants out there. The apartment was semi-furnished by the landlord, and the livign room was kind of an Africa theme, which I wasn't a big fan of. I took down the tribal masks, but decided to leave the zebra prints and giraffe statue for now. I was thinking of making a photo collage or a postcard collage later since Fionn and I have traveled so many places and it'd be cool to highlight that.

down the hall are the bedrooms, we've got a guest room, a spare room that'll one day house my harps and stuff (and currently holds our American fridge, since it was too big for the kitchen), then our bedroom, the bathroom, and laundry room. It feels like a lot of space sometimes, but I really like. I love how it's come together :)

snow snow snow!

I dunno if it's in American news these days, but Europe is having a horrible cold snap after a pretty mild winter. A bunch of people in Eastern Europe have died from the cold, and it's been pretty miserable in general. This morning I woke up to more snow! Hooray :P It's about 7º F here...the high today is 12º. Yeah. TWELVE. Craziness. Now, I'm a good ole Southern girl, so my definition of winter is 50º and I need a sweater. This weather is driving me crazy. My hands are dry, I can't stand being outside for more than a few minutes, and Fionn even brought the guest room duvet into our room it was so chilly.

given my hatred of winter (and i think hatred is a pretty accurate word to use, i really really really hate being cold. Georgia has ruined me) this weekend was pretty winter-tastic. Saturday Fionn and I went on an ODR trip to Austria to go skiing. I was the only woman on the trip haha, it was mostly young guys going snowboarding. The conversations of the van were pretty annoying, but once we actually got there it was ok. Fionn is actually a pretty great skier, he has some kind of supernatural talent for skiing that allows him to zip down hills like nobody's business. Me on the other hand...well I was a hot mess of failure haha. I could barely move in my ski gear to begin with, and when he tried teaching me on the bunny hill I fell down while taking the rope tow and couldn't get up. Like couldn't get up to save my life! Fionn was such a good sport though. He was really sweet and patient and encouraging, and he pushed through my total lack of skiing skills stayed with me even when I fell down like 3 more times just trying to get down the hill. We tried a few more times before I told him to take the ski lift and have some fun himself while I tried to practice stopping and getting up haha.

Honestly, I found skiing really scary. I couldn't really get a handle on stopping, so even on the bunny hill I felt like I was just careening toward a snow bank with no control. I wasn't very good at turning either, so I just felt like a ticking time bomb waiting to plow into some little kid or unsuspecting german bystander. I probably just need more practice, but I wasn't really digging it overall.

Fionn was really sweet though. I think that made more of an impression on me than all our skiing did. When I went back to the van when the trip was over the instructors were like, oh, where's your husband? did it go ok? I was a little confused and told them everything had gone fine. They kept laughing and asking if we still liked each other and if we were still on speaking terms. I asked them about it, and they said a lot of couples have meltdowns on ski trips, especially when one is trying to teach the other one. So I made sure to tell Fionn we'd passed a marriage test once he came down to the van ;)

Before that though, Fionn and I met up at the restaurant at the ski resort for some lunch. We ended up sitting next to this German guy and his two adorable kids. His little daughter was so so so cute and had so much personality. She was fascinated by us speaking English and kept sliding over towards us (since we were all sitting at the same long table). She kept smiling at us, so I finally spoke to her in German. She was the cutest thing! She told me she was 7, and when I responded that that was quite old, she said, "Not as old as my brother! He's 13!" She was too cute, and went on telling us about her day skiing and everything else. When they got up to leave she kept waving at us and even ran back at the last minute to wave again and tell us, "Tschüss!" So cute!!

We'd had lunch, but we were pretty interested in the thing she and her dad were eating before they left. It looked so weird, so finally I asked the guy and learned it was a Germknödel mit Vanillesoße. We decided to order one. It was pretty weird but tasty, but hard to describe. Half the time we had no idea what we were eating haha! But thanks to Wikipedia, here's a description (which also answers my own questions); "Germknödel is a fluffy yeast dough dumpling with a mix of poppy seeds and sugar, filled with spicy plum jam and melted butter on top, often eaten with vanilla cream sauce."

Anyway, we had a fun day skiing. :)

Sunday Fionn was sick (probably from being outside all day Saturday) but since I'd already made a ton of cookies for the church potluck, I went without him (and missed him!). I talked for a long time with two women from my Bible study, one who told me about a local farmer who delivers fresh fruit and veggies to your house! They also told me about some local markets. I'm so excited to get my car and explore them! The commissary produce isn't always the best so I'd love some fresh stuff! :) I went on post to get some groceries and then back home for a lazy Sunday (and totally forgot about the super bowl!).

Monday Fionn had the day off. The ground floor apartment's heating has been messed up, so our landlord told us some workmen were coming to fix it. Well, we didn't realize our heating would be shut off too! That was an unpleasant surprise, especially since it took ALL DAY to fix. Fionn went by the bakery in the village and came back with some super delish treats, and then he went into the office for a bit, so I stayed home under a mountain of blankets and had my first experience sewing on patches to uniforms. I never realized my stitches could be so uneven :P

By the time he got back it was so chilly we decided to get out of the house for a while. We drove to a nearby town hoping to find someone who could make copies of keys. We found one, and then explored the cute little town. They had a great health food store and then we went into a tea store so I could get some loose leaf tea. We stopped by a bakery (again haha) to get a dessert for that night's dinner, and then headed back home. When we got there, workmen were actually in our apartment, working on the radiators. My mom always used to say, people only come to your house when it's messy and that is so true haha. Naturally, the weekend we were hardly at home and didn't clean up was the weekend the landlord, his wife, and a bunch of German repairmen were traipsing through every room in the house. But in the end I thought, whatever, it's really not that bad-an unmade bed, some gloves and scarves and coats not hung up, some folded laundry not put away? There are worse things. So we made tea and pretty soon they had wrapped up their repairs and our heaters were toiling away. I made pork chops and we laughed about it.

Today I really need to vacuum the dirt they tracked in but I'm hard pressed to leave this warm kitchen when it's so chilly in the rest of the house (we don't turn on the heaters in all the room since we don't use all of them). Maybe I'll put on a sweater and get to it? It has warmed up to 14º after all... ;)


Fionn had a 4 day weekend a few weeks ago, so we decided to go to Austria! We first stopped in Salzburg, which is mostly famous for its Mozart connection. He took all the pictures for that leg of the trip, so I don't have many since I can't find his camera! :(

view from the castle

Anyway, we went all around the old city and climbed up to this castle overlooking the city. It was super cold and snowy, but it was very pretty. There was a little museum inside, so we wandered through that for a while. When we made our way back down it was starting to get dark, so we walked through the city to look at the lights and visited a little street market.

The next day we headed to Vienna. Vienna was cold, but beautiful. We walked around a lot the first day, enjoying the city and all the lights they decorate with. There was a beautiful church with very cool stained glass inside, and we ran into a bajillion Trachten stores! :)

That night we had a lot of great photo ops as we went around the city as the sun was setting. The second day we decided to look for the military history museum (we're both history majors, after all). It was awesome. I think we spent like 3 hours there haha. Then we went to the palace in Vienna. Very pretty, but VERY cold!

Fun weekend! :)

a little intro

Hi everyone! So I've finally gotten around to starting a new blog...I can't believe it took me this long but hey, better late than never right? :)

These past few months have been pretty whirlwind. Graduating, moving out of my apartment, visiting/meeting family on the East and West coasts, getting married, and then heading off to Germany...there were so many goodbyes and hellos and totally uncharted territory that I was almost happy to have some peace and quiet once we got to Germany just to process everything that had happened. I've been here about a month now, and it's been nice to settle into a routine and get used to my new home.

I'm so happy to finally get down to starting this blog because there are so many of you across the pond that I love and really want to stay in touch with. As excited as I am about all the new changes in my life, I don't want to lose all the great people and experiences from my stateside life, so hopefully this blog will help you feel a little more connected and will help us keep in touch. And hopefully it won't be too long before I'm back in the States to see all of you ;)

So, what am I up to these days? Well first off, I'm living here in Bavaria with my husband. We live out in the country, but it's a really beautiful region. Rural, but a lot of natural beauty. The people are very friendly, though I find their Bavarian accent hard to understand since I studied German in Hessen and in Brandenburg (and sometimes my Berlinisms creep into my German, which gets me some weird looks here). I've been waiting on my car to ship from America, which along with the winter weather keeps me indoors a lot while Fionn is at work. When I first got here it took some getting used to-anyone who knows me knows I am always over scheduled to the max, my ever present day planner filled up with different colored inks to differentiate between exams and paper/project due dates, work schedule, appointments, musical engagements, museum related events, and whatever else. I like being busy. When I found myself with nothing BUT free time, it was a little weird. Ok, a lot weird!

Luckily, with some encouragement from Fionn, I decided to profit from all my free time. Even though I chose to have a super busy schedule in Savannah, there were tons of things I always wished I had free time to do. Things like practicing my music, baking, learning new things...so I've been using my time to learn how to knit, perfecting some baking techniques and learning some new ones (my current project is learning to make bread), decorating our house, getting into my passion for cooking, practicing the fiddle, and working on my German (since there are quite a few holes in my German skills). It's actually been really fun, and after 4 years working towards my degree (which included a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and no fun weekends!) it's nice to take some time off and investigate things I've been interested in.

The car will hopefully be here by the end of the month, which will allow me to get out and explore a little more and maybe get involved volunteering or even trying to find a job. I love Germany, so I'm looking forward to finding fun things to do here. Plus I just got my license, so I'm ready to hit the road! ;)

Fionn and I have been going to church here-the people are really friendly and welcoming, and the message is good. I felt a bit nervous at first since most of the other women are older than me and have kids, but they've been really friendly and have offered to help me out with anything I need. I really like the community spirit here-everyone is far away from friends and family so you have to rely on each other for help. It felt nice to be welcomed so quickly and to talk to women who are in similar situations.

On weekends Fionn and I try to get out of the house and do something, even if it's just going to the bigger towns nearby to have lunch and shop in the German stores. We have a joke if we can't find something on post we say, oh we have to go to Germany for that. I like "going to Germany" more sometimes, but mostly because I'm used to shopping in German stores after my time in Marburg and Berlin. I know exactly where to go to find what I need and some things (like lactose free milk) are cheaper in Germany. Some weekends we do go on overnight trips, but we usually do that when he has a long weekend.

All in all, life is good. I get homesick sometimes, and I really wish Georgia was only a short train ride away so I could come back and visit all my favorite people, but I really do like it here. And since we won't be in Germany forever, I'm trying to make the most of it and enjoy every moment.