Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fun was most definitely had by all...

Of course there was a delicious Thanksgiving dinner.

This was followed by the largest Christmas tree expedition to date::

How many people does it take to pick the perfect tree? Seven it is ~ three for doing the serious work of choosing, cutting and carrying, and four for causing trouble.

Throughout the snowball fight, I stayed cozy in a combination of tried and true knits:: That's my first and most favorite owl sweater paired with a woolly hat that I made last winter. I promised a pattern for the hat and realized I never delivered... it's on my to-do list.

There were challenging {uber challenging if you know this group} games of Monopoly::

And we rounded out the week with a bit of sledding::
Usually we're struggling up the sledding hill through a few feet of snow, but not this week. The snow was shallow and rock-hard forming a crazy fast track with a jump, making each run equally terrifying and exhilarating.

I hope your holiday was full of fun and smiles*

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Hello from sunny California! We're out here for a bit of Thanksgiving fun.

As I was hopping on the plane, I remembered these photos that I took on my way out the door to Germany. It's the mundane, but oh so important, extra items that I pack to make long travels comforting. And if you're interested in some more exciting travel posts, follow my sister's writing as she travels around Thailand.

The basics:: I always pack some Emergen-C packets - they're powdered drink mix full of vitamins, minerals, and a bit of fizz (like alma seltzer). I figure the extra vitamin C is always good when confined to cramped quarters with a bunch of strangers, and having the flavored drink mix helps to make any water-fountain water more palatable. Along with this I carry any empty water bottle. A few Cliff or Luna bars always go in my bag ~ on some trips I don't need them, on other trips, like the last one to Germany, I'm surprised by how quickly I go through them. A snack bar can really come in handy when flight schedules change and you don't have enough time to grab food in the airport. They're also great when you land in a foreign country late at night {or on a Sunday in Germany} and find most businesses closed. And finally, chocolate.

The meals:: I'm not opposed to eating in the airport, and sometimes it can be fun and delicious {I just had a fantastic salad full of veggies, avocado, and almonds on our layover in Phoenix}, but when I know that my travel is going to span several meals, or don't want to fork over the $$$, packing a meal is the way to go. Remember that the "no liquids and gels over 3oz" rule applies to food too, so I veer away from anything slightly gel-like {no yogurts, soups, etc.}. My favorite stand-bye is a bean salad. I picked these up at Wegmans, and cooked up some quinoa to go with them. So easy, filling, and delicious. On our Saturday flight, I skipped packing a meal, but packed a big slice of my mom's carrot cake - it was hearty enough to substitute for breakfast until we found lunch on our layover.

The entertainment:: I never travel without some project to keep me busy. Usually it's two projects so that I can switch them up if I'm bored, and so that I have plenty to keep me busy if travel plans change or are delayed. I always make sure that one is small enough for a plane so that I don't disturb my neighbors, and I try to stick to mindless projects that are difficult to mess up when I'm exhausted and jet-lagged.

Those are my travel necessities, what about yours? If you're hopping on a plane this holiday season, I hope stay well fed and entertained!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Johnny or Money?

Meet our new buddy, Cash!

About the pup::
~ he's about six months old
~ he's a mutt, a mix, a heinz 57, we don't know what he is
~ he's super gentle and calm for being a puppy, but put a squirrel in front of him and you can barely contain the crazy
~ he may have gotten into the cat litter once or three times {we finally bought another gate to keep him out}
~ tipping the scales at 45 pounds or so, he fancies himself a lap dog and will crawl right up the moment you sit down

About the name::
~ he came with it
~ we don't know whether it's short for Johnny Cash or for Cash Money {he is from Philly after all}
~ to keep up appearances, we're assuming his first name is Johnny, but to cover our bases, he goes by Ca$h
~ he comes when we call it

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A day in Berlin

Thursday was free of meetings, so I bundled up, and headed out for a walk across Berlin, taking pictures along the way. The good: This post is full of pictures! The bad: It may take a while to load.

Getting to the city required a walk past the lake::

And through the woods::

To the most deserted-looking train station ever::

So deserted that I wasn't all that surprised when a fox strolled through like he was making his daily rounds::

I would have thought that I was in the wrong place if it weren't for the fresh cigarette butts near the bench, a clear sign that someone recently waited for a train... at least I hoped that's what they were waiting for::

Once on the train, I love to get a sneak peak at the German allotment gardens {this picture doesn't show just as awesome and neatly maintained the allotments are, but the wikipedia link provides a few more shots}::

I hopped off the train near the Berlin zoo, and peaked in at the animals as I walked along its perimeter::

I soon left the zoo and took off through the Tiergarten, once hunting grounds where fox was prey::

I continued through the center of the Tiergarten::

And then found a nice bench for lunch::

I walked through the Brandenburg Gate::

And continued towards Mitte, the central borough of Berlin, passing by the Berlin Cathedral along the way::

Once in Mitte, it was time for a rest. After the long walk, I need both a bathroom and internet access...enter Starbucks, definitely not a truly German experience, but it was fun to order a "Lebkuchen Latte" and comfortably relax before heading back out for some shopping::

***the picture taking stopped for a few hours while I visited some of my favorite {and some new to me} shops for a few stocking stuffers****

By the time I filled my bags with goodies, the sun had set and it was time to make my way to the evening's hotel. I passed through the market at the Hackescher Markt Station::

I picked up some raspberries for an evening snack, and then headed into the train station for one more ride::

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Hello from Germany!

I've been here since Sunday for work. We're staying in a hotel on a lake surrounded by forests. Best location ever, but between jet, lag, short daylight hours, and long meetings, I haven't had a chance to walk outside. Hopefully that'll change tomorrow, and ooh, maybe I'll even have some pictures to share.

During the meetings, I've had plenty of time to scroll the internet, and have a fun tidbit to share ~ google knows your location when you sign on to check our email, and they translate the languages on their pages accordingly:: It's confusing at first, but a fun method of language immersion.

Thursday's a day off, and I've mapped out a plan for the day:: I'm in Potsdam now {located to the south-west of Berlin}, I'm going to take the train into Berlin and hop off somewhere around the marking on the south west of that map ~ it's a hardware store that sells fun housewares. Then I'm going to walk through the Tiergarten, ending at the Brandenbrug Gate, and continuing across the Spree river to the cluster of shops that I've marked on the other side!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


This amaryllis just won't take a break.

~ It bloomed beautifully last Christmas.

~I put it on the porch this summer, and it bloomed again this August...

~ In September I put it in a dark, cool closet in our basement to hibernate. My plan was to bring it back out near the end of November hoping for more flowers this Christmas... After ignoring it for well over a month, I opened the closet to pull out a halloween costume, and found this::

The amaryllis is growing! It's white because the closet was completely dark. I figured that since it made it this far, there was nothing for me to do, but bring it up stairs and see if it flowers all over again!