Thursday, December 3, 2009


I can't beleive I've been writing on this blog for over a year now. I feel like Thanksgiving in Germany was just yesterday (see Nov. 2008 post)! Thankfully (haha), this year, we had a whole turkey, not just a giant breast.

I suppose at 30 I could be helping out with more than just pies, but that's what I was assigned this year. And with last year's experience under my belt, I set out and made one pumpkin and one apple pie, both entirely from scratch, crust and all. In Germany they just don't have pre-made pie crust so I had no other choice; and it was actually simpler than I thought. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to take a bit more time with their pie desserts.

Sorry, no pictures of the pies, I'm not that organized, but we do have a few pictures of the family (my aunt, uncle and cousins, Alexandra and Britta). Sadly, Kevin had to work and Merissa is still in Munich, so it was just my parents, Nate and I. On the up side, the weather was PERFECT that day and we enjoyed our traditional walk along West Cliff Drive after our Thanksgiving meal.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Our 8th Anniversary

Nathan and I were married 8 years ago on November 3rd. Time has f-l-o-w-n! I can't believe it. I still love him so much. More in fact. That's a good thing. Marriage rocks.

We spent some time in San Francisco, we first went to see the musical Wicked and then had dinner at a nice restaurant. Our hotel was awfully kind, I'm not sure if we paid for as big of a room as we had, but it was great. They even sent up a bottle of champagne! Always let them know what the occasion is, it's worth it! The next day we then walked around, shopped and relaxed. It was a great, if not brief, little vacation.

Our room at Hotel Monaco (I'd recommend it)

Coffee at Philz

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ali and Paul's Wedding

On Saturday, October 24th, one of my best girlfriends got married. Ali and I have been friends since 4th grade and this was SO much fun. I love her. I love Paul. I love all our wonderful friends and the amazing memories we have together.

I've come to realize in recent months that I had a relatively unique high school experience. Many of my high school friends are still my friends and we are still in rather close contact. EVERYONE in Santa Cruz High's class of '97, was nice to each other. Ok, ok with a few exceptions. But those people don't count, they were actually the minority rather than the majority. The jocks got along with the thespians and the intellectuals got along with the druggies. In fact, often those lines were blurred, the jocks WERE the thespians and the intellectuals WERE the druggies. And vice versa. Anyways, our rather large group of girlfriends (and some guys too) still love and support one another through moves and weddings and kids. I am so thankful for wonderful friends.

Nikki and Anthony

Corey and Adam

Chloe and Steve

Me and Sean (what? Nate was taking the pictures, so of course there' more of his wife! Plus, doesn't my eye makeup look awesome?!?!)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Santa Cruz County Fair

We try and go every year to the County Fair in September. Obviously we missed last year, so we made a point to go this year and got to take our youngest nephews, Wesley and Cody, 3.

We spent quite a bit of time checking out the chickens and their crazy hairdos, the train exhibit and the science tent. We had corn dogs for dinner and cinnamon buns for dessert. But the boys didn't really like the cinnamon buns. Promising to let them ride a few rides at the end made for good behavior the whole night. They zonked out in the car all the way back home to Bonny Doon.

I debated putting this one of me and Wesley in. Look at the ketchup all over his face! Oops.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Travels with Amy

My good friend Amy Bootz came to visit us our last month in Munich. (So this was way back in August, sorry! I'm a bit behind!) And we had a wonderful time and amazing conversations, as always when we're together!

At the Viktualienmarkt. It was so hot that day.

Dinner one night at the famous Hofbrauhaus. Amy is so gusty. She began taking pictures of some locals across from us in full Bavarian garb, when this guy motioned for her to come over and get her picture taken with him. They didn't speak any English and I think Merissa did some translating. His friends were a little upset at the time it was taking to take the pictures, but this guy was really happy to have Amy next to him. He even made her give him a peck on the cheek for it. She was pretty disturbed by that. Guess I would be too!

Biking along the Danube in Vienna. No, it's not blue either. We stopped for lunch at this little river side restaurant where Amy was stung by an evil Viennese bee. And I cut my leg on my bike gears. Ugh! We're so accident prone.

We also went to downtown Vienna and saw St. Stephens Cathedral and the Opera house.

Schoenbrunn Palace (the residence of the Hapsburg family)

And, then, one of our final days in Munich, we took a bike tour around the city. It was a gorgeous day and the people were great. We even got to take a break and have lunch at the Chinese Tower biergarten in the English Garden. Our guide was overtly flirty, but whatcha gonna do? I volunteered to be the "Ass Man" on the trip. Meaning that I brought up the rear of the group. I got a frisbee as a souvenir.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Being "Back"

It's been just about a month since we've been living here in Santa Cruz County again, and it feels.....fine.....and strange.

Relatively few things have changed in the course of a year (and really a year is NOTHING!), and yet, everything has changed. Does anyone know what I'm talking about? We have a new president, laws and government systems are transforming (which, I know they always do, but for some reason it feels as though it's actually affecting our day to day lives), highway 1 was remodeled, my daily duties have changed, Nate's work responsibilities have changed, our family changed, our house has changed, WE'VE changed. Perhaps this is the most profound. And I must ask, what happened to my beloved Longs Drugs??? Seriously California, we leave you alone for 1 year and you let an evil east coast company take over? I am disappointed. So very disappointed. Thankfully, some things are still the same: Safeway is still open 24 hours (yes! I can grocery shop whenever I want to), the bagelry still has guacamole and egg salad spreads, and sunny fall days are plentiful here on the central coast.

Being back in this culture also requires, (well, this term is debatable), some new things which we have learned to live without this past year.

1. A second car - we didn't even need one in Munich, and we're getting by just fine with one right now, as long as I'm not working and the weather is nice. Come cold, wet and rainy winter though, I'm not sure if Nathan will be down for riding his bike to the carpool bus. (And as I edit this, we have recently purchased a red Toyota Highlander. I know, I know....)

2. cell phones - this has been perhaps the most liberating and frustrating one of the bunch. No, you can't reach me whenever - I'm free. But that also means I'm stuck sometimes unable to communicate.

3. clutter - I used to be so afraid to get rid of things. Clothes, furniture, papers, STUFF! It's not that scary. It's liberating.

4. Haas Avocados. Yes. They are required!!

Hmm, guess that's it. Thought there was more. Have you noticed that I'm into lists lately? Next post will be (although shamefully tardy) about my friend Amy's visit with us in Munich and Vienna.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Lessons in Europe

With a bit of reflection, I've come to realize that this year was all about life lessons.
Which is never fun while you're in the midst of it. I'm quite happy in my little ruts that I dig for myself thank you very much (not really, but the known evil is always preferred to the unknown, right?)!

These are a few of the things that I've learned (and am still in process of) this year; perhaps Nathan too for some of them. The real test will be whether or not I can put the knowledge that I've gained through these trials into practice. Just some more tools to add to my journey. They begin lighthearted and end a bit deeper just like the natural progression of my thoughts.

What I've learned:

-how to find a bathroom and order food in 4 languages other than English

- how a number of infections and illnesses are treated in another country

-how to do conversions with general accuracy (oven temperatures, weight, distance, why don't we all just go metric?)

-that our marriage has grown stronger through this experience; everything from the way we fight, to the way we show love to one another has matured and deepened. Through the difficult moments, Nathan and I managed to bond more tightly rather than pull away from one another. I did not expect that during trying times. Please let us know if we ever begin to look and dress like one another - don't want it to go too far.

- that I've lived and experienced firsthand what countless writers and authors have penned before me; essentially that life is not a series of accomplishments or milestones, but rather that which happens despite or without careful type-A planning

- life is not, and probably SHOULD not always be about the pursuit of happiness. Americans interpretation of our forefathers wisdom is messed up. Don't fight the lows, roll with them and have faith that they'll pass.

-it really. Really. Does not. Matter.

-sometimes, you just lose. The End. move on.

- and, at the heart of it all, God. is. God. I am me. He is sovereign over all. it's about Him. His kingdom. not me. this one truth and realization is the underlying lesson this year for me. Back to the basics, kids.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Things we are SO excited about coming back to

1. MEXICAN food!! Real. Real, mexican food. Flavor. Spice. Heat.

2. coffee. GOOD coffee. central american coffee with complex flavors and aromas. watch out Surf City.

3. communicating comfortably. all the time.

4. church community. People who love God. My friends who encourage me to be more Christ-like.

5. a car. I can privately go anywhere I want, when I want. freedom. the American way.

6. One-stop shopping. Grocery shopping will no longer be an all day event.

7. more predictable weather patterns.

8. Space! Big, BIG American size bathrooms and personal area.

8. cheaper goods. Sort of. If the dollar keeps tanking against the euro, at least.

9. Ali's wedding in October! Congratulations Ali and Paul!! And of course all of our family and friends too. :)

10. coming back older, wiser and more experienced. no quoting me on that!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Things we will miss about Germany

1. the beer. it just isn't the same anywhere else.

2. the sauerkraut. it IS disgusting. anywhere but here.

3. public transport. clean, efficient, timely, really wish we had this option in the US.

4. proximity to the rest of Europe. Every amazing country within approximately a 1 hour flight: Spain, Italy, Greece, England, Belgium, etc. We were in the center.

5. shopping. never before have I had so many cute and/or beautiful options. Especially H&M. The Europeans know how to dress.

6. waste management system. this is where the European culture is far superior to ours. yes we are consumers. but as the country, the US could manage their garbage a WHOLE lot better. wish we were more environmental like the Germans. Granted, they have had to learn the hard way with restricted land and resources, a growing population and heavy human casualties in 2 world wars, but we should be learning from that! who's with me?!

7. Ok, I admit it. Some meat products that you cannot get anywhere else. Namely, Leberkaese and Weisswurst.

8. Just our lifestyle here. It will never be like this again. And can I admit to a bit of escapism? Just a tad.

9. The friends we've made here. At least now we have connections to come and stay at a later date. (Right? Danny? Ella? Charlene? Emily? Martin & Hannelore?)

10. a culture that doesn't seem as competitive and image conscious as ours. but I could be wrong.

11. our separate and individual comforters.

Monday, August 17, 2009

München Residenz

After living in Munich for a year, we finally made it to the palace that we pass by every day. It was the city residence of the Wittelsbach family, the ruling family in Bavaria. Apparently, they were always trying to keep up with the Hapsburgs (remember them from European history 101?) rulers of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, who were trying to keep up with the Bourbons of France. Needless to say, they all visited one another and copied each others decorating style. Which I guess we still sorta do today.

It had beautiful courtyards and rooms, and we very much enjoyed the private theater and royal treasury. Enjoy the pictures!

Little, tiny porcelain vases

Little, tiny paintings

Ok, are you bored of overly ornate décor and furnishings yet?

Here are some things we found interesting: The paintings in the great hall all have knife marks where they were cut out at the end of the second world war. When the Allies were about to overtake Munich, the Nazis went through and tried to "save" the paintings by cutting them out, rolling them up and taking them away. If you look carefully, you can still see the knife marks.

I want these.

His and Her crowns

How's this for a beer stein? Nice.

Merissa and I pretending to be beautiful princesses.