Sunday, April 30, 2006

slow sunday night?

If you're in need of some entertainment, scoot across to Mike B's blog and watch this little video. Move over Sting!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

put THAT in your pipe and smoke it!

Monday is May Day which means yet another three-day weekend in Germany. I must say that we're spoiled with days off here, although some people (not mentioning any names) would maintain that every day is a day off for me. Those people are going to end up making their own meals for weeks to come if they're not careful, but that's another story. Right now I want to talk about dinner.

Last weekend Mr M came home with the usual load of 'interesting' stuff from his regular Saturday jaunt to the flea market and announced that he'd bought something really, really good. Uh huh. Sure.

Me: So, what it is this time?

Mr: Well, I started thinking about that guy you know in Spain on the internet. The one who tried to make a smoker out of flower pots? And I thought we needed a smoker too.

Me: That guy in Spain...oh, THAT guy in Spain who tried to make a smoker out of flower pots. That experiment didn't turn out all that well, you know. He ended up buying a real smoker after that. You didn't buy a bunch of flower pots, did you?

Mr: No, no, no, I bought THIS!



the Salivator's country cousin

Me: Whoah. That's pretty scary. Think it'll work?

Mr: It's almost new! The guy at the flea market said he only used it once.

Me: Oh, how...nice.

Today was the day to try it out. This thing is actually designed for smoking fish, so there are lots of hooks in there.





Mr M, however, decided to smoke a turkey drumstick, four chicken legs and a couple of pork chops. He fired up the smoker and went to work and some time later we came up with this.



I told him I thought it looked more like scalded aliens than smoked meat. What do you think?

The finished product:



well done!

And how did it all taste? Well, smokey, for sure... but other than that, let's just say that I think we need to work on our technique a bit. Boy am I glad there was enough coleslaw and potato salad to go around!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

who says three's a crowd?

(I'm writing this before I check out what Ginnie and Dixie have written)

It rained a bit this morning, but when Ginnie and Dixie got off the bus later in the day, the sun started shining and never stopped. These two ladies (and I do mean ladies in evey sense of the word) were SO much fun. You don't meet people like this very often.

The first thing we did was take a little walk around town along the 'scenic route'. Ginnie stopped to take pictures at a few points of interest and I'm sure she'll publich some of the photos on her blog.

After we arrived at my house, it was time for presents! Who doesn't like presents? Am I lucky or what?




Caffeinated beverages were next. Must keep those energy levels up.




Propely caffeinated, we moved on to the biggest challenge of the day - putting together the toys that come in those chocolate Überraschungs-Eier - aka Kinder Eggs. Here we are taxing our tiny brains.



We talked (and even gossiped a bit, oh yes we did) about everything under the sun and soon it was time for lunch. I had prepared curried chicken crepes and a salad and my guests seemed to enjoy the meal.



For me, one of the highlights of our time together was having Ginnie read the natal charts she had so kindly prepared for us. I may just have to rethink my whole life after hearing what she and the stars had to say!

The time for goodbyes came much too soon, as usual, and I headed down to the bus stop with my guests to see them off, promising to meet again soon at a location to be announced at a later date.

As you can see, we were three happy bloggers today.


Ginnie, Mausi, Dixie Peach

let's do lunch!

Mystery guests revealed!


I just put these two dolls back on the bus after a lovely, lovely day.

In case you don't recognize them, it's the very soulful Ginnie (dig those shades!), and Miss Dixie, the sweetest peach this side of the Atlantic.

The sun came out just for us today.

More details after I clean up my kitchen!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

hey, I can keep a secret. sort of.

No time for a real post today. I'm trying to shovel a path throught the daily debris to make room for my two mystery expat lunch guests who will be here tomorrow! I'm so excited. English-speaking people are coming to my house and I know for a fact that they will be wielding cameras instead of axes. And it's supposed to be partly sunny on Wednesday! And there will be latte macchiato! Could life get any better?

In other important news, today is my mother's AND my mother-in-law's birthday. Isn't that special? 70 and 72 respectively and still looking beautiful and going strong. That's something to strive for.

And just to keep the interest level up - I went shopping on the weekend and bought some much-needed new undies. My question of the day: underwire bras - a blessing or a curse? Please discuss.

Back tomorrow with the low down...

Friday, April 21, 2006

we are not amused

So yeah, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Ruler of the Commonwealth Realm (= Canada and a bunch of other countries I can't quite recall at the moment) is celebrating her 80th birthday today and because she's my very favourite monarch of all time (Really! I adore her!), I'm sipping a glass of sherry in her honour. I wonder if she'd be amused at what I'm going to talk about in this post? I'm not sure how the Queen feels about 'the footy'. I know for a fact she's fond of dogs and horses, but I don't know if she's been following the preparations for the FIFA World Cup 2006.

Since I seem to have sold my soul to the direct marketing devil, I get tons of German mail order catalogues in my mail box on a monthly basis whether I want them or not. I like the big name ones and do order stuff from them so I was perusing one the other day and came across a whole bunch of WM Fan-Artikel - World Cup fan merchandise. Looks like people will buy anything if you stick a WM 2006 Deutschland logo on it. For a mere €75 you can even reserve a chunk of the grass that the final game will be played on. Sheesh.

As I was leafing my way throught the catalogue, I found a couple of things I thought the testosterone majority would enjoy.


What man in his right mind wouldn't jump at the chance to score points with this exotic beauty modeling a barely-there bra and panty set in a sizzling soccer ball print?

And if you're not drooling yet, guys, take a look a this:


Now that's what I call roasting your weenies in style!

Fine, so now the men are taken care of, but what are the ladies going to eyeball at half time? I flip through the catalogue some more and come to the conclusion that THIS is the best they can do.


100% polyester
batteries not included
clean with a damp cloth

Yep, that's right,it's an inflatable suit complete with a battery holder and a baseball cap. That is NOT what I call eye candy and I can assure you that German men (well, most of them) don't really look like that. Who in the world would buy this, let alone wear it in public? No one in my family, I can tell you, although Boy10 does think it's "kind of cool".

As you can clearly see, the ladies have been ripped off and I am NOT amused.

Anyway, Happy Birthday, Your Majesty, and God save the Queen!(from having to look at pictures of German men embarassing themselves in the name of sports)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

need a laugh?

It's been making the rounds for a while now, but if you still haven't seen the German Coast Guard video, get on over to Just Another American Expat's blog and check it out.

It even made Mr. M smile.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

eat more fish!

Well, recent studies have shown that not only is the so-called Mediterranean Diet good for your heart, it may also help in preventing Alzheimer's. That's good news to us since Alzheimer's runs in Mr. M's family. Most of the time we try to eat healthful foods, and on the weekend I think we succeeded for the most part. If you disregard those pesky chocolate bunnies, of course.

On Saturday we had Atlantic salmon with bacon-wrapped spring vegetables and roasted potatoes with lashings of olive oil. It was sooo good.





I think the vegetables were the best part. I'd never prepared them that way before and everyone loved them. Each little bundle was made up of thin pieces of carrot, cucumber, kohlrabi and fennel all wrapped up in a small piece of bacon and sauteed for a few minutes and then sprinkled with freshly ground black pepper. I'm hoping that all that beta carotene cancelled out the bacon a bit.

And what's on the menu for tonight? Not very health conscious, I'm afraid. It's a toss up between bratwurst and penne in gorgonzola sauce. Which do you think could do the most damage?

up before 7, in bed by 11

The kids started school again today after two weeks Easter holidays and we're back to the old routine. The "in bed by 11" is a goal of mine that comes with the realization that I can't stay up until 2 a.m. and expect to be a happy camper a few hours later when it's time to get everyone up. My very wise mother always says, "You can't take care of anyone else if you don't take care of yourself first." She's right. And last night I WAS actually in bed by 11:30. Whoo. Falling asleep is another matter but I'm working on that.

I'm also taking today to work on my distance learning German/English translation course. I'm determined to finish the next assignment today and get it sent off to my tutor for evaluation. I only have until July to finish up the course or else they'll kick me out of the program without a certificate and I've been taking FAR too long to get it done. We're talkin' years here, not months. Oh well. Must put my nose to the grindstone now.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

is she STILL talking?

April 18, 2005 - Mausi gets tired of just reading and commenting on other people's blogs and after some careful research into the way these things work (What? Blogger is free and any idiot can figure it out? Oh, OK then), decides to launch her own weblog.

One year. Wow, I don't think I've ever stuck with anything for that long before. Except maybe for being married, but that's mostly due to inertia, I'd say. Ha ha.

Starting a blog changed my life. Who says that the internet is a cold, faceless, impersonal place? In the past year I've met - both virtually and in person - some of the kindest, funniest, most interesting people I could ever hope to know. They've shown me that we're all in it together, that no one needs to feel lonely or isolated, that there's always someone out there who understands, even if no one in 'real life' seems to. They've shown me that people with completely different opionions and beliefs can get along famously if they just give each other a chance.

One thing I especially love is the interaction that goes on in the comments section of most blogs. What makes a blog, especially an expat blog, attractive for me is knowing that there's a real person behind the writing, a person who isn't just interested in getting his or her own stuff out into the blogosphere but who is also able to learn and grow through the contributions of other bloggers. It's a give and take thing, a networking thing. You scratch my back, I scratch yours.

I've enjoyed my first year of blogging more than I ever thought I would. It's been a fantastic experience getting to know you all.

If you guys keep reading, I'll keep writing. Deal?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

3,000 calories later...

HAPPY

EASTER
!


Thursday, April 13, 2006

Canada's second currency

As I continue on my decluttering mission I keep coming across stuff that makes me think, "Hey, I could stop dusting for a minute and blog about this!" Today was one of those moments.

If you're Canadian or have lived in Canada for any length of time, you'll probably be familiar with conversations like the ones I had with my brothers (who are almost always broke) last time we visited Vancouver.

Me: Hey, that's a nice little motorcycle trailer. Must have cost a bundle. How'd you pay for it - with Canadian Tire Money? Ha ha.
Bro #1: Actually, wiseguy, I DID pay for it with Canadian Tire money.
Me: I'm impressed.

Bro #2: Got any Canadian Tire money?
Me: I've got a whole purse full.
Bro #2: Excellent. Let's go shopping!

And just what is this 'Canadian Tire money'? Well, it's a loyalty program started in 1958 by Canadian Tire, a Canadian retail chain that sells hardware, automotive, sports, camping, gardening and electronics products. The 'money', actually coupons which come in denominations of 5, 10, 25, and 50 cents and one and two dollars, looks like this:



For every purchase paid for in cash or by debit card, the customer receives Canadian Tire money at a rate of 1.5% of the pre-tax total. If you shop at Canadian Tire a lot, that can add up.

Many Canadians have so much Canadian Tire money stuffed into various drawers, purses and pockets that they don't know what to do with it. It seems to multiply overnight and will follow you everywhere. In fact I found the two examples from the photo above in my kitchen drawer here in Germany and I have NO idea how they got there.

It seems some people will go to any lengths to get rid of their coupons, as evidenced by my next photo taken at the Frankfurt airport on our way back from Vancouver in 2004. Mr M had gone into the duty free shop to buy something, and as the boys and I were hanging around outside waiting for him I spied a large plexiglas container with a sign encouraging travelers to throw any spare change into it. My kids love foreign currency so we went over to take a look. There were American dollars, Japanese yen, euros, pounds sterling and all sorts of interesting coins. And right at the bottom...Canadian Tire money! Yay! Of course I had to take a picture of that historic moment. If you look down at the bottom left of the picture (click to enlarge) you can see what we saw.




And now a bit of trivia:

- Although the coupons are quite a bit smaller than Bank of Canada notes, Canadian Tire money is printed on paper similar to real Canadian currency and has occasionally been passed on as such to unsuspecting American and Mexican tourists. For shame!

- There is apparently a bar in Newfoundland that allows its patrons to pay for their drinks in Canadian Tire money.

- In 2004 at a Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce bank machine in Moncton, New Brunswick, several customers were dispensed a total of 11 Canadian Tire bills instead of real bank notes. Read about it here.

- Canadian Tire does not always enjoy the best reputation and is often lovingly referred to as Crappy Tire (or the less politically correct Cambodian Tire). Canadian Tire's fight to secure the website 'crappytire.com' can be viewed here.

- Contrary to popular belief, then man on the front of the coupons is NOT John A. Macdonald, Canada's first Prime Minister; he is, in fact, Sandy McTire, a fictional character.

-The nameless husband and wife used in Canadian Tire ads in 2005 through 2006 were voted "Canada's most annoying couple" by the Royal Canadian Air Farce, a popular comedy show. This is a hilarious parody article featuring the couple.

As you can see, Canadian Tire money has pretty much attained cult status as the most successful loyalty program in Canadian retail history. But nobody really knows why.

Oh, and before I forget, eh? One more link for the crafty among us: Canadian Tire Money Origami

Monday, April 10, 2006

caution: dangerous curves ahead

Did you know that it's possible to gain 5 pounds over the weekend? Especially if you ate lots and lots of nachos? It's all that salt, right? Right?

Thanks for all the pheasant comments. For now the bird is lurking upstairs until further notice. Mr. M claims some attachment to it, but agrees that it would look better if we had an English country manor to put it in.

I got the #@%&* cupboard sorted out on Friday and actually threw away some stuff, but there were still all these little doodads and geegaws staring me in the face and suddenly I reached my breaking point and threw them all into a plastic crate and brought it down to the basement to be dealt with at a later date. Because we were having friends over for dinner on Friday (nachos and burritos!) and I had to tidy up at least a little bit.

Some of the stuff that is still in The Cupboard:


These glasses are huge - they each hold 1 litre of beer. The beer bottle in front is a regular 330ml/10 oz. bottle for comparison.



The bottle opener/corkscrew collection 2006. I have NO idea why we need this many.

While we were eating dinner on Friday our friend Diego called from Spain so we put the phone on loudspeaker and all talked to him at the same time which was interesting. It was about 8 p.m. and Diego and his family were on the way to the beach. The beach! In April! And we're here sopping wet and freezing to death. But we had nachos and guacamole and they didn't.

In news you probably don't want to hear: remember last week when I said I felt like I was coming down with something? Well I never really found out what it was, but it must have been an important something because on Thursday I developed these incredibly painful swollen lymph nodes on either side of my neck and was convinced that I was done for (thank you, Google!). But here I am and the swelling is almost gone now. Just a little infection of some sort, I guess. Can massive amounts of dust and knicknacks give you swollen lymph nodes?

Despite being very, very cranky all weekend, I got treated to these roses and immediately felt muuuch better.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

stuffed pheasant, anyone?

No, it's not what's for dinner, it's what's been on top of the aforementioned dining room cupboard since 1999. During the big clean-out, however, our fine feathered friend has taken up residence on the back of the living room couch while we decide his fate.




It's not my bird. I didn't bring it into this family. I don't know its history. I'm assuming it belonged to Mr. M's Oma (grandmother) at one point, because we inherited it along with the cupboard (and the coffee service for 12) after Oma passed away seven years ago. Mr. M's side of the family seem to have this thing for preserved wildlife and you'll find all sorts of bear rugs, moose heads and deer antlers in their possession.

I suppose the pheasant may have some sentimental value for someone, but I don't really care for having a stuffed, dead bird in my house unless I'm going to be eating it shortly.

What would YOU do? Attic? eBay? Hide it in the in-laws' garage when they're not looking?

Decisions, decisions.

More weird stuff to come...

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

tote that barge, lift that bale

No time for pretty pictures and witty banter today - I'm workin'. Getting a new fridge brought about a whole bunch of other changes around here.

As of last week, we no longer have a pass-through from the kitchen to the dining room. Mr. M closed it up, wallpapering and painting over it in anticipation of the kitchen being rearranged. So the dining room looks muuuuch better. Except for the moldings which we bought in a rush when we moved in here. Sort of a desperate cop-out that I never really liked. All of a sudden, after almost 11 years (and believe me, that IS sudden for him) Mr. M noticed this ugliness and decided to go out and get decent moldings and install them in the dining and living rooms for a start, getting to the rest of house later. This is where my actually having to work comes in.

We have this big heavy cupboard thingie in the dining room FULL of dining room stuff, you know - china, glasses, cutlery, platters, cheese boards, serviettes, candles, bottle openers, nutcrackers, chopsticks, fondue pots, salad bowls, and a coffee service for 12 people kindly given to us by Mr. M's grandmother, to name just a few items.

It's my job today to get everything out of the cupboard so Mr. M can move it and install the moldings this afternoon.

Am I finished? Not quite. Will I get finished? I guess so, but I also kind of wanted to go out and get groceries, like, right now even though the the busy bee will be home in about 45 minutes. What to do, what to do?

Stop blogging (for now!), that's what!

Monday, April 03, 2006

well, that's what umbrellas are for

Sounds like it was a wet, wet weekend all over Germany, but what's a little rain in the grand scheme of things? I kind of like rain, it keeps things alive, you know?

Between showers on Friday afternoon I managed to scurry into the garden and take a couple of pictures of what's been coming up lately. I've noticed that our garden seems to be about 2 weeks behind everyone else's despite the southern exposure, so there are things blooming now that should have been blooming mid-March. Added to that was the long winter this year, making everything a bit later than usual.

These are called Winterlinge or winter aconite in English, and are usually the first to appear in our garden. I don't ordinarily care for yellow flowers all that much, but these ones kind of remind me of little hula dancers, so I let them stay.



Then we have our Galanthus nivalis, the common snow drop or Schneeglöckchen. When my kids were little they used to refer to them as nose drops!



A couple of years ago Mr. M brought me home a plant that I thought was a snowdrop, but when it bloomed I saw it was something quite different - Spring Snowflake or St. Joseph's Bells, Märzenbecher in German. It has a very faint violet-like scent, thus the Latin name Leucojum vernum, stemming from the Greek leucos for white and ion for violet. Apparently these plants are fairly rare and are a protected species so we're thrilled that this one has survived this long. I'm hoping it's going to spread out and stay for a while.



I bought these primulas the other day and will be planting them in containers out front when I get a chance. I love all the different colours they come in and how cheerful they look with their bright yellow centres.



They're calling for yet more rain this week. Oh well. You know what they say about April showers...

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