Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Deutsch Salat

Apparently this is my, I miss Germany week. We have been living in America for 2 months (is that it?!) and I miss Germany more and more every day.. and I'm not the only one. 

I've said it before, but there are ONLY chains here in Beavercreek/Dayton, Ohio area. It is DEPRESSING. Especially when going from no chains restaurants in Germany. One of the foods I miss most (and this may seem surprisingy) are the amazingly delicious and uber-fresh German salad. Salad?! Yes! Salad! 

Salads in Germany all have the same dressing. Surprisingly, this is not boring. Nor does it get boring... ever. It's this delicious yogurt-y, dill-y, never on the side, healthy at the same time, dressing. 

Salads in Germany are topped of only fresh ingredients, what's in season. What a concept!! 

Salads in Germany are sometimes filled with surprises. Those are my favorites. The salad is brought to your table and looks like plain, dressing covered lettuce, then you move it around a little with your fork and underneath, all sorts of delicious surprises. I love that!

Salads in Germany are ALWAYS served with sauerkraut. And I love me some sauerkraut.
They also are served with these shredded pickled carrots. Waaaay better than regular carrots.
And red cabbage. Always a good addition. 
Besides that, the veggies vary based on season. 

Salat in dt Trier at the Wirsthaus - with a side of fresh bread and a huge mama 'stuck' or piece of goat cheese. Ohhh man. Germany has the best goat cheese.. ever! Speaking of, we've tried 3+ different kinds here... nope, not as good. Just one more reason we need to move back ASAP.

Salat mit Gambis und pommes... at one of my favorite places a short bike ride from our house. If we were in town, this was our Sunday bike ride lunch. Mmmm.

Salads in Trier. Not sure where this was, but it was good, can't you tell?! 

Of course, I didn't get a picture of the salads at the Schnitzelstube. Darn. Those were delish. And down the street from our house. Perfection. 

Ok, now that I'm hungry at 8:15 in the morning for a German salad that is impossible for me to have, well, I should stop writing about them.

Monday, August 27, 2012


That's German for a drink market.

What's a drink market, you ask? Why, it's a store, that only sells drinks.. and promotes recycling, a novel, no brilliant idea, that we Americans should think more of.

Let me start by saying something aloud that you already probably already know about me.. I think the Europeans do it better. 'It' being... well, everything. No, I'm not being un-American. And no, you don't get to disagree with me until you have lived both places and can make the call for yourself. So until then, you can just listen to my opinion.

Shops in Europe are set up separately for the most part. What does that mean? You have one shop, a butcher, for meat, one shop, a getränkemarkt, that sells drinks, a market for fresh (and local! another concept America as a whole cannot fathom) fruits and veggies, a bakery that sells bread, etc. There are a few exceptions... stores that sell almost everything... a Wal-Mart, if you will, but SOOOO not as bad at Wal-Mart. These 'sell everything' stores, well, sell everything, but you lose a few things along the way. Quality - obviously. The atmosphere - obviously. And the experience - is that obvious? Going to these individual, locally owned stores, and picking out your fresh product is an experience. You don't go in a hurry to the Wal-Mart that is 2 miles away and try to get everthing done in thirty minutes, the whole time getting annoyed and frustrated with the people who don't drive fast enough, the parking spaces that aren't close enough, the carts that take up the whole aisle, the people in your way, etc. It's quite a concept.

Anyways, back to the getränkemarkt. The drink markets sell all drinks. It's like an ABC store in America, but they don't all look the same and they don't sell only alcohol, although we are talking about Europe here, so there is a plethora of beer and wine - liquor.. eh, not so much. Here at the getränkemarkt you buy your beverages in bulk. Drinks are sold in cases. Yes, you can of course by the individual bottle and if it's something new you want to try, by all means, do that. But for the most part, bulk. Prices are set for the bottle, for the case carrying the bottles, and the pfund (that's German for fund if you seriously couldn't figure that out) per bottle. Here's how it works. Say you are buying 12 bottles of sprudel, my favorite (carbonated water). First, you have to decide whether you are buying glass or plastic. Glass is cheaper. Why? Because it's much easier and much cheaper to recycle. (Side bar: Americans think it's crazy and ridiculous to drink anything except wine and beer in a glass bottle. They go to Europe and see people drinking a liter of water at the gym in a glass bottle, a liter of OJ or apple juice in a glass bottle, etc, and think it's crazy! It's not! It's green!) You pay a certain price for the beverage, the actual Sprudel I'm drinking (cheap, super cheap), a certain price for the bottle (most of which you will get back, that's the pfund), and a certain price for the carrying case (which is also a pfund deal i.e. when you bring it back, you get ALL the money back for it)! Is this confusing? Basically, all you need to know is, you pay more when you check out because basically, the carrying case and bottles are on loan to you and you are paying a sort of deposit on them (and by the way, you have no other option - nowhere can you buy a drink without the pfund amount attached). When you bring them back, empty, you get that money back or it is credited to your next getränk purchase. This whole idea encourages recycling!! You get paid to recycle... or pay if you don't! Ta-da!! Brilliant if you ask me!

Going home with a getränkemarkt purchase. A is one happy man. 

A single aisle at the getränkemarkt. Impressive, no?! 

A in his getränkemarkt heaven! A ginormous selection of beer!!

Our own getränkemarkt?! 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Los Angeles: In Pictures

As you can see, I was lacking in the picture department. This statement holds for the whole trip. Really, the only two things to really look at were crazy people who want money for you to take their picture and traffic. In my opinion, neither of those make good subjects for photography. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

When we were in Helsinki, there was a special set up in the city center, along the main shopping street. Ideas were displayed there.. ideas to change something major about the world. I can't even begin to explain some of the ideas - they were, are, absolutely incredible, innovative, and beyond my personal imagination.

I completely forgot about the display until I was reading one of my regular blogs and came across this video, 'The Invisible Bicycle Helmet,' by Fredrick Gertten. This is a perfect example of how incredible the ideas are.

And I totally want one!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Los Angeles: A Travel Recommendation

Don't go!

You may have heard this once before... ahem.. Naples, Italy. And for Naples, the recommendation still stands.

Los Angeles is just as bad. Don't go there either.

No one in their right mind should ever, ever live in Los Angeles. And really, why even visit? The traffic is horrendous. Some days it took us 45 minutes to go three miles. Some days only 30 minutes. Either way, ridiculous. No one in their right mind could ever, ever (ever ever ever ever ever!) live there.  I guess, maybe, if you are super star struck, it MAY be worth a two day (max) visit. But for everyone else, avoid Los Angeles at all costs.

While I was there, we did the 'touristy' things... and we did the 'local' things. Both were unimpressive. Yes, the views from Griffith Observatory were nice (for LA). The restaurants were local and served good food. The Chinaman theater area is filled with crazies and good people watching. But none of these things are worth the trip. Trust me.

Pictures to come, but don't get too excited. Like I said, nothing impressive. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

While A is fishing with his high school buddies, I am Tuscon bound! No, we are not in Europe anymore. Yes, we still travel.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The good thing about living in America? Being less than 5.5 hours from Blacksburg to see my family! Look how positive I'm being today! Aren't you proud? It is much easier when in Blacksburg with people I love (and restaurants and coffee shops outside of Bob Evans and Applebees).

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Awww. Our last day in Germany. I miss these guys!


In case you couldn't tell, it was an awesome 4th anniversary trip!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

my dogs have friends

When we decided on going to Aruba, we had to face the issue of what to do with the dogs. Germany spoiled me. Many places we visited, the dogs could come along. If not, the neighbor girls watched them (miss them!) or we took them to the awesome farm family (miss them too!). I couldn't even begin to fathom the idea of maybe possibly having to take them to a kennel. No way.

Thankfully, we have neighbors. The only friendly ones/the only ones we have really met since being here are the people that live to our left. They have been in their house for 25 years. 4 dogs (well, at the time, now they are at 5) and 4 boys who all live at home (let's not go there). I met Cecilia, the Mom, day one. She is super friendly (she even brought me my very own tomato plant the other day!). I asked her if one of her sons would be willing to watch the dogs. She said yes and immediately sent her youngest, Mike (17), to come over and talk to me about it. He didn't seem like the sharpest tool in the shed, but I knew that with her looking over his shoulder, it would probably all work out. Well, 2 days before we left, another son came over, Kevin (21). He said that Mike wasn't responsible enough so he was going to be watching the dogs. Ok, whatever, that works too. We went through the whole drill. 

When we got back, the dogs were alive! WOOHOO! I will gladly ask Kevin again! The next morning, I walked over to talk to Cecilia, ask how they did, if they barked, etc etc. She said Kevin brought Bud over, their Rott, to play. Bud and the other 4 dogs are constantly sitting at the connecting fence, obviously wanting to play ball with Boston and Riva. Bud, Bos, and Riva got along great supposedly, chasing balls, etc. But after Kevin left, Bud started missing B&R.. even though they can see each other 24/7. So Bud dug a hole underneath our connecting fence so our 2 rather large yards because 1 massive dog park. Before she knew what had happened, all four dogs were just playing and chasing each other around the new massive dog park, loving life. That didn't last for long, she told me. She start patching up the holes and anchoring in the fence. She thought that would work... little did she know.... Bud did it again the next day. So we're sitting in the yard and she's telling me all about this. I'm cracking up. How funny is that?! My dogs are so social.

Yesterday, Bud must've been having withdrawal because I walked outside when I woke up to throw the balls for the dogs and pick up poop (my life is glamorous), when surprise, I had 3 dogs to throw the balls for! Bud had made his way over, or under really, once again. Bud's desire to have play time with Boston and Riva out did the newly clamped in fence. Fortunately for me, he is the friendlist Rott ever and the dogs all get along great! I am completely fine with him coming over to play. Unfortunately for Boston and Riva, Bud is a ball hog. He can fit 2 balls in his mouth and while the others can't fit, he does gather the rest of the balls in a pile and lay on them so B&R can't have a one. It's beyond hysterical to me to see Boston and Riva going crazy over the missing tennis balls.

Heya miss, can I play in your yard?! 

Playing together like civilized folk.

While I don't love our house (it is better than the pictures made it out to be), I do love our yard (minus the mosquitoes of course). It is fully fenced in and absolutely perfect for the dogs and A grilling out! Here is a picture of A's nightly ritual.. sitting outside, throwing the ball for the dogs, drinking a beer, and grilling. It will be quite difficult to go from such an awesome outdoor space to virtually none in Baltimore. Argh.

The only cool thing we've done in Ohio... taste tested local Craft Beers.

Aaaand not at all related to anything, I really miss this weather.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Aruba.. is that in the Caribbean or the Netherlands?

So, apparently we don't know our history.. or know as much as about the Netherlands (A's FAVORITE country EVER) as we thought. 

When we booked our trip to Aruba (less than 24 hours before we left!), we thought we were just booking a trip to the Caribbean. Unbeknowst to us, we were going to the Netherlands! Had we known, we probably would've booked sooner! Like I said, it's A's favorite place. 

Aruba is a 'special municipality' of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Did you know that? Neither did we. However, once we got there, we had a few Dutch hints which led to the Google search.

Hint 1: Speculoos (or in this case, Speculaas) cookies! Yum!

 Hint 2: Wafels (not at all like American waffles. These are small, crispy, buttery and sweet goodness all at the same time. You do not cook them. You do not eat them hot)! Another yum!

Hint 3: Gouda Gouda Gouda Gouda Gouda everywhere (please ignore the wine and Malibu which have nothing to do with the Netherlands). 

Hint 4: Dutch people everywhere! Dutch people were visiting, Dutch people were living there, Dutch people were working there. 

It all makes sense now! So, if we can't get back to Europe, I guess Aruba (or Curacao or Sint Maarten - also part of the Netherlands) are viable options!