Tuesday, May 27, 2008

1001 creative uses for aluminum foil

We all know Boy12's penchant for 'making stuff', as he calls it. Well, this is how he wrapped up the box with my birthday present inside on Sunday.


ooh, I wonder what it could be??


But what really killed me was the family portrait on the back


Notice how he's all cozy with Mr. M and me while his big brother stands off to the side all alone. Analyze THAT, won't you?


Check out the fabulous array of gifts.




Along with many chocolate-y treats that didn't make it into the picture (three guesses why) we have a recycled decorated flower pot (see the dirt still in it?)from Boy12, a virtual (and therefore invisible) Amazon gift certificate from Boy15, some yummy rhubarb jelly from our sweet old neighbour (who rang our doorbell at 9 a.m. on Sunday and caught me in my pyjamas, as usual, oh well) and my new camera - a small one this time, the Canon PowerShot A570 IS. I'm so tired of lugging the big Nikon around and I thought this one would be handy for our vacation. The in-laws kindly contributed a bunch o' batteries and memory cards so once I learn how to use the little cutie I'll post some pictures. Whee!

I was also treated to masses of lovely flowers from all and sundry.



Did they spoil me or what?


But wait, there's more! Well, this wasn't really a birthday present, but I figure a giant inflatable Coca-Cola air mattress from the Saturday flea market is worth a mention. If I can't tell you about it, who can I tell?



Talk about product placement! This thing is HUGE.

Being a Pepsi drinker myself, I'm not really sure what to think, but I kinda like it.

So that was my birthday in a nutshell. Another year older, another year wiser, perhaps, and very much looking forward to what the rest of my life will bring. You just never know, do you?

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

so much cake, so little time

Today's motto was "45, still alive". But just barely. Middle age (why yes, I do plan on making it into my 90's) has been catching up with me lately and I wasn't really in a birthday mood at all. Mother-in-law came over early afternoon for cake and after she left I ended up having to take a little nap to make it through until dinner time! Grilled salmon and shrimp were on the menu tonight. Yum.

We'll be leaving for Vancouver in just under 7 weeks and in anticipation of that great event I received a shiny new digital camera from the men in my life. Boy12 outdid himself wrapping it up. More details to come.

Here, have some cake while you're waiting...


vanilla yogurt squares


fruit salad cake

I may be tired, but I can still bake!

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Monday, May 19, 2008

ready...set...mow!

As of last weekend, the garden season was in full swing in our little corner of the world. According to German meteorological folklore, May 11-15 are the days when a sudden period of frost could damage plants set out too soon. These days, collectively referred to as the Eisheilige (literally 'The Ice Saints'), get their individual names from bishops and martyrs from the 4th and 5th centuries: Mamertus (May 11), Pankratius (May 12), Servatius (May 13), Bonifatius (May 14) and Sophie (May 15), also known as die kalte Sophie - cold Sophie. With past changes to the Gregorian calendar, the dates no longer really apply and many people start their gardens early, but there are still a few superstitious souls who adhere to the old sayings:

Pflanze nie vor der Kalten Sophie
(never plant before Cold Sophie)

Pankraz, Servaz, Bonifaz
machen erst dem Sommer Platz

(Pankraz, Servaz, Bonifaz clear the way for summer)


We, of course, have been ignoring every rule in the book and sticking our tongues out at any mention of frost. The weather has been fabulous for weeks and it looks like there's no end in sight.

Just look at how the grass has been growing! We threw some grass seeds onto the bare place in front of the new steps and in a couple of weeks it looked like this.



Quite a miracle in a garden where the lawn usually ranges from a soggy, mossy swamp to a crispy brown desert. Too much shade and the wrong type of soil aren't going to win us any Perfect Lawn prizes, but what do we care? We just enjoy it the way it is and give thanks that fabulous weather conditions this year are helping in a big way.

So the grass is growing like crazy and lately when it comes time to get down to business we've been ignoring the electric mower and turning to this baby which runs on an environmentally friendly, renewable energy source - elbow grease.



The kids just looove the thing and will happily volunteer to mow the lawn whether it needs it or not. Interesting factoid: I was never allowed to use the lawnmower as a kid because my father was (and probably still is) afraid that I would cut my toes off! Still got all my digits, Dad!

In other news, my messy herb garden is coming along just fine. In between the forget-me-nots and dandelions you'll find parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme (hmm, I think I feel a song coming on!) and lavender.




I love cooking with fresh herbs and everyone adores this (easy!) rosemary foccacia bread so I make it often.






The rhubarb plant is going great guns..



...but the strawberries still need to catch up.




The few nice red ones we did have were immediately gobbled up by a couple of naughty birds who think they own the place. Nets are now in use.

Since we just couldn't wait I did a strawberry-rhubarb cobbler trial run with fruit from the supermarket on the weekend. Yum.





Oops, is that the time? Gotta go pull some weeds!

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

yes, the stretch marks were worth it

Happy Mother's Day!


Got these from my sweet boys this morning


I won't be able to talk to my own mother today - she has just been through major spinal surgery after many, many months of painful waiting. The Canadian health system certainly has its pros and cons. She is doing just fine now, though, and should be home within a couple of days according to my dad. We're all overjoyed that she'll finally be feeling herself again.

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Friday, May 09, 2008

you know it's going to be a great weekend...

...when Friday's lunch matches your blog!



Finding a decent avocado around here is also cause for celebration. Lucky for me that the rest of the family are guacamole haters. No need to share the goodness. Yes, those are tortilla chips and yes, I was on the cross trainer for a good long time yesterday and the day before so I deserve them.


Spring has made a great showing in the garden so far. Here's a little selection of what's been popping up.

First it was the daffodils and grape hyacinths.








Then came the tulips in all variations









'Pomponette' English daisies and pink cryanthemums. Aren't they perky?








And finally we have periwinkles and pansies - a couple of my very favourite flowers.









This is the start of yet another four day weekend, for the kids, at least. It's Pfingsten or Whitsun so they get both Monday and Tuesday off. Mr. M will have to settle for Monday only but he doesn't mind. The weather is supposed to stay in this gorgeous holding pattern until the middle of next week so we'll most likely be spending a lot of time outdoors.

Hope y'all have a wonderful, sunny weekend. Our dinner guests are scheduled for 7 p.m. this evening. Must go cook something...

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

no expat left behind

Listen up, expats. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to get your little starved-for-conversation selves over to J's blog right away to put in your vote for the location of this year's Whiney Expat in Germany Meet-Up. We're thinking possibly September, but nothing's set in stone yet, and so far Bremen, Berlin, Nuremberg and Frankfurt have been thrown into the suggestion box as possible venues for this fabulous event. You may want to nominate a different city entirely and see if there's a response. The game can go in any direction, and if you don't play, you can't win.

Being such a social butterfly (NOT!) I somehow managed to attend all three of the previous meet-ups in Marburg (2005), Bonn (2006) and Dresden (2007) and enjoyed every one of them. Meeting bloggers in person is great fun, you know. They're even better in real life.

You don't have to be a blogger to attend, nor do you even need to be an expat. Friends, partners, spouses and offspring are all welcome. You can stay for an hour, a day or the whole weekend. It's entirely up to you. If you're new to using the Deutsche Bahn to get around in Germany help is only an e mail away.

Sound intriguing? Then go add yourself to the list of participants. Here's a clue as to which city gets my vote this time around.


(thanks for the pic, Wikipedia!)

Oh, and I'm adding the obligatory map of Germany for the geographically challenged.




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