Thursday, December 18, 2008

I'll be home for Christmas

We fly out of Munich on Saturday at around 4pm (7am PST). And we'll be getting into SFO at around 7:30pm, d'oh! Hate those long flights.

But! We SO look forward to seeing everyone! There will definitely be trips to Taqueria Vallarta, Hoffmann's Café, Rumble Fish Sushi and The Bagelry.

We will be splitting our time between my parent's place, our house in Scotts Valley with Ryan and Emily, and Nathan's parent's house. In addition, we'll be taking 2 days or so in Carmel to "vacation" in our beautiful area. Hope to see everyone over the holidays! Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Funny Pictures

I've been meaning to post these. Just random signs and cultural differences that are amusing. Enjoy.

This looks totally photoshopped, but it's just the camera fogging up when we were up on the Zugspitze and then went into the little hut for hot chocolate.

Scary buttons and dials on the washing machine in the hotel.

This was where I went to do laundry. Two floors below ground, super narrow, cold and dank.

This does not need a caption. Don't you just love the detail?

Those German men!

This was in Sweden. Apparently you can buy a air tight piglet carcass.

From the first snow in Munich. The sign says: Surfing and bathing forbidden/prohibited. Guess not everyone follows those German laws.

Almost forgot this one. What the???

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


More traveling for Nate's work! We just got back from London this evening. It was a pretty low-key trip. I didn't even take any pictures this time, sorry. I had these great plans to, but then time just flew, and before I knew it, we were back in the airport.

Since we had already been to the city previously, we took it easy. Mornings were filled with long breakfasts and afternoons we spent walking in either Hyde park or Regent's park. We did manage to visit both the Museum of Natural History (for me) and the Science Museum (for Nate), although without the same fervor we usually devote to museums.

But London is always fun, especially when you get to meet up with friends! We had a delightful dinner one night with my dear friend Leslie and her charming husband, Colin. We enjoyed drinks at this really cool pub decorated in purple and ornate golden picture frames. Thanks for the evening, Leslie and Colin!

Just so you know, we'll be back home December 20th-January 11th. I am so excited to come home for Christmas and see everyone!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market)

Merissa, my friend Emily and I took a little trip a few days ago to the world-famous Nuernberg Christmas Market. It was really magical and beautiful. And cold!!

There were so many little crafts and goodies, it draws people from all over the world. In fact I even met some Americans from Lake Tahoe. Of course all the American tourists were older, retired ladies and couples shopping for their grandkids and home decorations. But it was fun to chat.

Basically we oohed and ahhhed over the finely detailed ornaments, shopped a bit, snacked on roasted nuts (they actually have roasted chestnuts here! But in the picture we're eating sugared almonds), and drank Glühwein (mulled wine).

In the Christmas Market you can find gingerbread houses (do you see Hansel and Gretel and the witch?), plum people, these little figurines they make out of dried plums, Lebkuchen, and smoking candles, with their mouths open wide. The gingerbread heart literally translates to "My little sweet witch". What girlfriend or wife would want that?? Getting a little too close for comfort.....haha.
There are Christmas markets all over, so this will not be the last one, just the biggest and most famous. Who wants to join me when we're 60+ for shopping in Nuernburg around Christmas?

PS - did you notice that I finally figured out my page setup? I've been using mr. computer genius as a crutch for way too long.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Word about Fashion

A few weeks into living here, I had a realization. I could be anyone I wanted to be here. I get to project any image about myself that I choose. That's my choice and within my control. Exciting and scary, isn't it?

It's interesting to think about environments and culture and how it shapes who we are. In Santa Cruz, jeans are the wardrobe staple. And flip-flops. Well, in the summer at least...but sometimes even in the winter. It's a very casual culture. In fact, in most of California, laid-back styles and comfort dominate. Actually, our friends in Portland (Hi Pfeffys!), get to wear fleece jackets, Danskos and ergonomic canvas purses, so I suppose it's west coast.

Europe on the other hand is Old World and they still often dress that way. Their casual is our nicely dressed. Perhaps it's just more urban, I'm not sure. Nathan is in one of the few "bubbles" (namely the Google bubble), that lets him dress casually at work. But again, it's different. He wears a button down shirt and jeans every day instead of a t-shirt and jeans. Oooo! Fancy! All other business men wear suits and ties and the casual ones have the Euro preppy thing going on. Some of their shoes are even pointy like women's shoes (but without the heel).

Women's dress is more scrutinized. Of course. You CAN wear baggy jeans and Dansko shoes, but then you're pretty frumpy and stick out like a sore thumb. To fit in, this must be your costume: heels, preferably ones that make a clicking sound, or the new trendy flat boots (thank you God!), dark skinny jeans, a visually interesting top (whether that's by color, cut or detail), a scarf and jacket/coat. Black is huge here too. Black coats, black boots, black scarves, black gloves, black, black, black! Everything is black!

And makeup? Oh makeup. Every woman wears it. You must! And they are daring too. Black eyeliner, colorful tropical fish eyeshadow, and of course lipstick. I really don't like lipstick, but you're almost not a woman here if you don't wear it. But gloss works too I guess. Women in Europe are just more willing to take risks with makeup than west coast north Americans.

Muinch is a lot like L.A. in a sense. It's warmer in climate than the rest of Germany, their film industry is here and you can get away wearing just about anything. But there are always those unsaid rules about dress. And without much else to do, I find myself absorbed into this new cultural attire.

I've begun to wear skirts and dresses, tall boots with tights and even nylons! Perhaps the greatest risk I took was wearing bright turquoise opaque tights. But the strange thing was, no one cared or thought it was out of the ordinary. I would be stared at unforgivingly if I were to wear that in Santa Cruz! I am so not in California (Kansas) anymore.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Well, these are totally out of order, but it doesn't really matter. Isn't the Guiness beautiful?

We had a wonderful time in Dublin. And it never rained on us! Well, I guess Nathan got a little on his walk to work (which was the reason we were there) a few days, but that's nothing for the British Isles! I thoroughly enjoyed speaking English and found a new appreciation for being independent. It was great.

There's not a TON to see in terms of actual places, so we basically just took in the local culture via food, drink and walking. We enjoyed lamb stew, Guiness beer, Trinity college and of course some pubs. We did schedule a tour in Dublin castle and a visit to Christchurch cathedral, which were really cool.

One morning we even had a traditional Irish breakfast. Which came with the so-called "black pudding". Upon it's arrival (see the picture above), it just looked like a dry biscuit of some kind. It had what seemed to be barley in it and it's texture was dry and somewhat crumbly. So I ate it. Well, at least part of it. Until Nathan said that it was probably congealed blood. I didn't believe him since it didn't have the texture of what I'd expect. And it's taste? It was bland! Tasted of nothing! Hearty. Solid. Boring. Nate of course ate the whole thing. We then went back to the hotel and checked on Wikipedia. Sure enough black pudding consists of: blood (cooked until congealed) and barley used as filler. AND I ATE IT!!! At least I didn't finish it.

PS - The one picture of Nate eating a pretzel and a weiß bier which seems out of place, is because it is. We're still in the Munich airport.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

We had our first snowfall today and it's so beautiful! Even our garbage cans outside are pretty! Nate and Merissa were so excited that they were singing Christmas songs and running outside to let it fall on them. They're so cute.

We then took a walk to the English garden and got some Glühwein (mulled wine) to warm us up. It's so cute and Christmasy over here now. The Germans don't have Thanksgiving (obviously), so their Christmas begins sometime in late October. The stores begin stocking all the Lebküchen and Advent calendars. Then they begin setting up for all the little Christmas Markets all over the city, which are these wooden shop stalls where they sell Chrismas ornaments and trinkets, at least I think. This is my first time and they haven't quite opened yet. It's so traditional and wintry here, it really feels like Christmas!

PS - Don't you just love the surfers in the Isar totally disobeying German law? The sign says swimming and surfing forbidden. But they're there, in freezing temperatures, gettin' their groove on.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Stockholm, Sweden

So begins the travel craze.

Why Stockholm? Well, other than it being beautiful and sort of unique to visit in the beginning winter months, one of the ladies I met through the League of Accidental Hausfrauen, Charlene (pictured center), had moved up to Umea, (northern Sweden) and she, another friend, Emily from LoAHf and I decided to meet in the capital. It was a fun girl trip filled with second-hand shopping, swedish food and bundling up.

We saw the Vasa musuem (thanks Sarah), this really cool sunken ship from the 17th century, ate reindeer (mmmm Rudolph!), and shopped cool Swedish designs. I loved the wall of candy at the grocery store, and how can you not love heart shaped meat?

Thankfully, it wasn't too cold there. It stayed right around 1-3 degrees C, so just above freezing, and no snow yet. Still, it was freezing rain. What was really trippy was that we only had about 6-7 hours of daylight and the sun set about 3pm every day. Cool. But not something that I could deal with for more than 3 days.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


We celebrated Thanksgiving early this year. Our super friendly landlords/neighbors one floor above us, along with another neighbor from Romania and her 4 week old son (her husband, unfortunately, was out of town). We tried as best as we could to duplicate recipes that were familiar to us and honestly it turned out pretty good! Not bad, considering I had never headed the cooking before. Here I am the little housewife in training.

Considering that we didn't have a full bird, just one large turkey's breast, it turned out pretty well! First I went shopping for all the necessary ingredients at the Viktualienmarkt, which was fun, especially since my neighbor accompanied me and helped to translate! Then, confronted with the harsh truth that they just DO NOT HAVE certain things here (ready-made pie crust, gravy packets), set to work making these things from scratch. Which I have never done before. But hey....I've got the time.

So, the night before I made 2 butter crusts for the pumpkin pies and purchased my first turkey heart, liver, gizzard and neck, which by the way, were under 1 euro. Score!

Then Merissa and I went to work in our little kitchen, which apparently by German standards is quite large, and made turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, the works. Thankfully (pun intended), we were able to use our neighbors' oven, so it was really easy to bake everything at once.

Overall, it turned out to be a success! Our neighbors liked the food (phew!), the setting was beautiful (they have a big and gorgeous dining room), and it felt so good to eat comfort food in a casual, family-style atmosphere.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


This past weekend, Nathan and I celebrated our anniversary in Paris. Because you can do things that romantic when you live in Europe! I still can't believe this is my life.

Anyway, we began by taking a night train to the City of Lights, which was an experience in and of itself. It was cool, but cramped, even in first class (which is the only way to have a private room). Sleeping was a bit difficult, but somehow we managed to get some rest. I think my favorite part was showering. I kept thinking I was going to fall out of the shower with the instability of the train, but it was easier than I thought. And I got to be clean upon arrival!

When we arrived in Paris, it was cold and rainy, but that just makes it more romantic, right? So we checked into our hotel in the 7th arrondissement and with a view of the Eiffel Tower. I'm not sure why, but the tower is now lit with blue lights and a searchlight at night. Maybe because the European Union color is blue, not sure. Then, at every hour on the hour, the tower sparkles like a firecracker for about 5 minutes. It was cool to us tourists, but I'm sure the Parisians are really annoyed by it.

While there we visited Sainte Chapelle, the Louvre (again, because there is so much to see there) and Montmartre. Here's a tip: if you have never seen the Mona Lisa, you may want to go soon. They keep pushing visitors further and further away from the painting, pretty soon we're gonna be looking through binoculars to see her. Sheesh.

And of course, when in Paris, you have to have steaming hot bowls of French onion soup in the Latin quarter, cry-it's-so-good baguettes, and even a plate of stinky cheeses and escargot. Which we did; and it was great.

A friend of mine in Munich, who lived in Paris for a summer before moving here, likes to say that, (I'm paraphrasing here): Paris is like the hot girl, very seductive, everyone wants her, but she's high drama and it's a rocky relationship. Munich, however, is the girl who you take home to the parents and cooks for you. Basically, Paris is great to visit, but Munich is a more livable city. Besides, even mousy Munich gets to let her hair down and go wild once a Oktoberfest!

I hope she's right. Because a rendezvous in Paris always seems like a dream.