Wednesday, February 29, 2012

New Acquisition

It seemed appropriate...

(Also, only 7 euro --including the frame!--)

(Also, with a gift card)

(Also, score!)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

When I Grow Up

Prepare to be a little bit bored.

Today I woke up, had a cup of tea with Paul, and sent him out the door to work.  Then I turned to my laptop and giggled.  Giggled at my laptop.

Because I was so excited to write a memo.  Are you following me?  I was psyched-out to write a one-page memo (which, coincidentally, turned into three pages and I do not apologize) about a Gantt Chart.

All I'm really trying to say is that I think I've found that magic end of the rainbow world where you say, "Shoot! I love this stuff!  I want to work on this.  All day long!" and you aren't even being a little bit sarcastic.

Until I found this place, this thing, I always thought that everything in the world could be interesting, if you let it, and that everything in the world would be annoying, inevitably--that work would always have parts that you hated or suffered through, with bits of warm fuzzies to keep you going.

But, I'm telling you all, right now, this very minute, that I found the thing!  I found the thing that I love to do and it's all warm fuzzies all the time!  I didn't think this kind of thing could even technically exist in this universe, but it does!

And here's the weird part-- even when everyone else in the world may see some particular component of this thing as annoying, I see it as interesting!  Even when everyone else wants to bang their heads against a wall for other parts of the thing, I just want to sit down and never get up till I figure those same things out (and I might bang my head against the wall too--but it would be for fun).

I just read an e-mail, taking about some possibilities for this thing that I may be able to work on in the future aaaaand I did a dance about it.  Yes I did.

I wonder if there is a thing for everyone in the world--and the trick is just to find it?  That's the hard part.  Finding the thing.  Because it can be scary to leave the other, not as fun, things that you're doing right now that feel comfortable--because you're not sure if, when you leave that comfortable place, that you'll even find the right thing in the end.

But, people, you have to try.  Because having the thing is worth it.

Monday, February 27, 2012

So. Many. Houseplants.

Paul, After a Night of Social Excitement (read: Introvert's Exhaustion)

Our party was flappin' fantastic.

The final stragglers, around 11:30.  We're party animals like that.

Big thanks to all twenty-five people who smooshed into our living room and kitchen to chat with a whole bunch of people from everywhere around the world and take guided tours to our teal bathroom.
One of....six....(yeup, I just counted) substantially sized
houseplants now gracing our window sills.

And huge thanks to everyone for the houseplants and cutlery and gift certificates and candles and the cupcakes and the Pakistani fritter things and the pringles (I don't know who brought them, but bless you) and the cinnamon rolls and that fancy bottle of Hungarian dessert wine (thank you, Hungarians); the pistachios, the philo-dough feta things (thank you French people), the cookies, the people who were brave enough to try my Reuben sandwich cracker dip--thanks to you!  

 And thank you friendly next-door neighbors and "Tilo from the Roof" for dropping by and taking it in stride when a very excitable American accosted you saying, "Wanna play BINGO**?!  There are PRIZES!"

And thank you everybody for adding to our sticky-note map of Germany!  It looks awesome--all covered with your tourism suggestions.  And thank you, Roman and Geraldine, for leaving sticky-notes in other random places that we keep finding (Okay!  Okay!  You've convinced us to go to Marseilles!).

It was seriously, seriously so incredibly fun to have you all over.  Please come by again soon! 

**Not a chance that I actually "hand calligraphied" the Bingo game.  But I did find a cheap version at the "euro store" in the city center.  I also learned that Bingo is pretty much the most popular game ever in Pakistan--where it's called Tambola  (TAMBOLA!  Way more fun to yell.)    I also learned that Bingo is pretty much the best game to have when you have 25+ people in your house sitting on your floor.  Also, the best prizes are rainbow cellophane tape and body scrub.   And mars bars, but that's a given.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Because PBS Media is Cheap Media

In the past six months, Paul and I have become media bargain-hunters.

This is because hulu doesn't like me anymore.  Also because netflix hates Europe.  So, we've come to discover that entertainment is now something that must be purchased via itunes.  Brave new world...yadda yadda.

So, we're really, incredibly good at finding itunes movie rentals for $2 or entire seasons of older but relatively awesome television (Amazing Race!  Anyone?  Anyone? Yeah?) for the price of a matinee movie ticket.  

Also, PBS.  They sell relatively good stuff for cheap.  Might I direct your attention to the fact that a season of The Office costs $45, but a season of, ohhhh, saaaaaaay, Downton Abbey?  A mere $10.

So, suffice it to say, we've been getting our partially-poorly-acted, period-drama, soap-opera on for the past few weeks.

I'm really trying to get to a point here, trust me.  The point I'm trying to make is that we've kind of got Abbey on our minds--because it's the only thing we can afford.

And so this happened:

Early morning.  The phone rings with a text message by our bed.  Paul turns to look at the phone, waits for a long while, is very quiet.

Me:  "What is it?  Is something wrong?"

Paul turns slowly, dramatically towards me...and very, very seriously says...with MUCH gravitas...

Paul:  "We are ... at war with England."


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

On Parties

So, Pinterest, right?

You know the Pinterest?  I both mildly like and mildly sneer at the Pinterest.

Why do I bring up Pinterest, you may ask?  Maybe because I get paid .0002 cents every time I make a link to Pinterest.  (That's not true, but how cool would that be?!)

Seriously, though, I've found a lot of cool things on Pinterest--mainly recipes that sound awesome.  For example, Paul makes scones every Saturday and last week he made THESE SCONES (scones + girl scout cookie flavors = the only thing I ate last weekend).   Where did we find the recipe?  The Pinterest.

Samoas Scones

So, good.

What I don't like about Pinterest, however, is the overwhelming craftiness of it all.  It makes me think, "Holy crud, people!  Do we have nothing more to do with our lives than hand-paint hundreds of tiny dots onto a plastic table-cloth that you're going to cover with plates so no one can actually see the tiny dots and then you're going to throw it away?!"

What I'm really trying to talk about here is Parties and the Giving of Them.  And how I pretty much get a stress ulcer just thinking about it.

And then Pinterest has to be all like, "Heyyyy, you wanna throw a real-person party where people will actually like you and enjoy themselves?"

And I'm like,  ::nodding vigorously::

And then it says, "Okay! Then you're going to need to paint your entire living-room to make it look like you're in a tree!

Or, you could individually hand-craft tiny party hats for all your kid's plastic animals.

OR, you could bake a 10 layer rainbow cake that requires you to carefully mix exact shades of things like 'indigo.'

Or, if you want to go 'low key' perhaps you could just settle with reupholstering all your furniture with that cloth you just happen to have left over from that one time you made curtains on which you hand-embroidered your life-sized silhouette doing hip and funny know, that one afternoon you had twenty minutes of 'down time.'"


We're T-minus three days to our "Housewarming Party" here in Aquahaus and I'm an internal basket case.  And so is Paul.

We're like, "I don't know, maybe we need a sheet cake and a couple balloon bouquets?"   It's like the only parties we can think of are the ones our mothers threw us when we turned five.

We just look at each other helplessly in a sort of, "I thought you would know what to do" kind of way and nervously tap our fingers together.

Will people really not be able to have a good time if we just put out cheap plastic cups, some juice, and a game of Uno?   Do I really need to make a custom-calligraphied BINGO game?!  I don't know!  I don't know how to have adult-people parties!

Pinterest says, "I'm not even going to speak to you if that's your plan."

Are people going to even come?  Are people going to even talk to each other?  Do we need to make some sort of schedule of events?  Do I need a dining table (seats 20)?!  Should we have everyone sit in a circle and play "Two Truths and a Lie" like that one time at Girl's Camp?!

Do I really need to make one hundred bite-sized meatloafs on toothpicks or grilled cheese and tomato soup cocktails?  THE PINTEREST SAYS SO!

I think I'll just open the doors and then go hide until it's all over.  I can't handle grown-up parties.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

In Honor of My German Class

I already told you one of the reasons why my German class was (it ended on Thursday) so rad.  But, there are other reasons too.  Like, how awesome our instructor was or how these people are totally on "homie" status with me now.  They are seriously, for really, some amazing people.  I totally cried at the end.  I did.  Could have been partly relief that I finished that gol darned qualifying test, but I know most of the reason was because I'm going to miss these folks!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Stapled Hand to Face

This didn't happen this year:


And it was good.

But we did go on a Valentine's EVE date, in honor of the fact that we live in a country that likes to celebrate its holidays the night before ...the holiday.   

This involved Paul knocking on our door with flowers to "pick me up."  What?  So cliche.  So exactly-what-I-wanted.  

Then, we went to Block House ("BEST STEAKS SINCE 1968").  There's a giant Angus steer on its logo so, I mean, America, right?  Our goal was to find real hamburgers (oh the craaavings).  Because that is some serious romance right there, folks.

The menu said, "New York Cheeseburger" so you'd think that was a safe bet, right?    Well, it... was (hah!  Psych!  You thought I was going to say it wasn't.  Ohhh, literary devices.)

But, it was good not in the way we expected because I think that this mid-range German restaurant felt a little concerned that an actual cheeseburger would be too "low-brow" and they had to dress it up a bit ("You eat it...with your hands?  Not in my establishment," says the German chef).  Which made it really tasty!  It also made it without buns.    No buns for the New York Cheeseburgers.    Huh.  So, we had some really well seasoned ground beef patties, tastefully arranged on top of a slice of baguette bread.  Oh yeah.  

And then we walked over to Eis Cafe Milano, which is like a dressy version of Baskin Robbins and got two cones of gelatto.  I got kiwi--it was...interesting and green (so, point for kiwi!).  Paul got "cookie" which is nothing like cookies and cream or cookie dough or oreo or anything you've had in the US.  All I can say is that it was "cookie"...graham cracker meets gingerbread?  You should come try it.

And then we came home and then it's none of your business.  

And then we had pancakes the next morning.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I'm Coming To Americaaaaa

So, I got this picture from my sister today:

Do you know what that means?!


(Oh, and a wedding.  And a new brother-in-law.)


A Letter to the S-Dude

Dear S-Dude,

(You know your name and I know your name, but on the internet it's good to be safe sometimes and not use it--instead you use a cool secret name.  Especially if you're still a rad kid and not a boring adult.  It's a rule or something.)

Last night Paul and I ate bugs.  But I'll tell you more about that at the end of my letter.  Yep.  Have to read my letter to get to the bug eating.  Sorry.  I'm tricky like that.

SO, I hear you're coming to visit us in Germany in a couple of months!  S-Dude, I have to tell you, this makes me really happy.  Because, S-Dude, you are a rad kid and are always fun to hang out with.  I thought you might like to know a few tips about visiting Germany--because it's kind of a different place, you know.

There's different money.  People talk in a different language, which means you usually can't understand them unless you also know their language.  There's no macaroni and cheese (but there is a McDonalds).   The chocolate is really good here (do you like chocolate?  I forget.).   Also, the streets are different.  They aren't big and flat and black like the streets at your house.  They are narrow and are paved with thousands (millions!) of flat rocks with lots of gaps in between them that are filled with sand.  Also, the light switches are really big and flat.  And there are no drying machines for your clothes so you have to hang them up in your house and wait for them to dry.  Kinda of weird huh?

BUT, there are also a lot of same-things.  Like, in Germany, there is snow in the winter and flowers in the summer--so that's the same.  In Germany, kids go to school like you do.  In Germany, there are doctors and dentists and shopping malls and grocery stores.  I know kids that really like to play soccer--and you know that game too.  People wear the same kinds of clothes and everyone likes mashed potatoes--just like in America.

I thought, for this first letter, you might like to know some German words.   These can help you speak and understand the different language here.  For now, there are just three short words to think about:

1:   "Hallo"   (You say it like HAH-low).   Can you guess what this word means?   It's really close to English.   ...   If you guessed, "Hello" then you're right!  You can say "Hallo" to anyone in Germany and they will smile and might say "Hallo" back.

2:  "Danke"  (You say it like DAHN-kuh).   This means "Thank you."  It's really useful.  When you buy an ice cream cone and someone gives it to you, you can say, "Danke."  Or, when someone says, "Hey!  You're reading this really long letter so well!" you can say "Danke."

3.  "Bitte"  (You say it like BIT-uh).  This means "Please."  Also really useful.  You can go into McDonalds and say, "Chicken nuggets bitte." and they will get some for you.

Okay, so here's the story about eating bugs.  We have a friend here who told us there was a German restaurant that served bugs to eat.  I said I didn't believe her.  She double-dared me to eat bugs.  (Also, did you know a lot of people in the world eat bugs?  In most countries in the world, eating certain kinds of bugs is the same as eating popcorn.)  So, I told her I would try it.  Paul came with me to help me be brave.

This is what we ordered:


Dung beetles

This is how I felt before eating my crickets:

 And Paul was brave enough to eat the dung beetles!
This is Paul eating a beetle.  Really.  It's true.
The crickets were really crunchy and didn't taste like anything--I didn't really like feeling their little cricket legs in my mouth though.   I'm just not used to cricket legs in my mouth, you know?   One of our other friends got silkworms, and they kind of tasted like peanuts.  Paul said the dung beetles tasted like...juicy beetles.  So, I don't know.  You'll have to ask him more about that.

I hope you have a good week at school!  Let me know if you have any questions about Germany I can answer in another letter to you!


Friday, February 10, 2012


Herma-Kuh, you weren't with us long, but you were greatly loved.  I think you proved Paul right about the name thing...

I'm sorry I wasn't a better fish mom and didn't take you to the fish doctor about your spazziness.  Or have the right kind of food for you.  Or not have a cave for you to hide in.  Or a herma-friend by your side.  Or whatever it was that happened.

You were too young, Herma-Kuh.  You only had one entry in the "Herma-Kuh Grows" excel spreadsheet.

Goodbye, freckled friend.  We will bury you in the most beautiful, blue toilet.  Swim free, Herma-Kuh!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Mystery Announcement

We aren't traveling anywhere this month, because we're pooling our travel budget for February and March so we can do one BIG trip.

Ten days in a not-yet-revealed location.  And it's going to be SPECFRAKINTACULAR!

Here's a screenshot clue--from the online language course we're taking together to get ready:

Can you guess it?  Can you guess?!  (Don't use google translate.  That's cheating...  Awww, who am I kidding right?  Translate away if you want!)

But, here's a more fun game--try to guess just based on those background images and the words.  And tell me what you think it might be.

Monday, February 6, 2012

There are a lot of "Paul" Signs in Europe.

Sometimes, life is too perfect.

Like when Paul, the marine biologist, walks under this sign.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Things I See When Grocery Shopping

On the walk to the grocery store.

Happy Weekend.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Just Under Four Eyes

If you use Google Translate to get the meaning of "unter vier Augen" in English, it will say it means "in private."  But really, it literally means "under four eyes."  You know, like, just between you and me.  We're just going to say these words under only our four eyes.  I like it.

So, under four eyes, you should know that yesterday I may have had a level-seven emotional meltdown.  Level-sevens are categorized by staring blankly at walls for an hour or two, randomly crying at things like my socks being on the ground instead of on my bed, and a complete inability to do or make or hum or move or jazz-hands toward anything.

I swear.  If you had come into our apartment yesterday and said, "Heidi.  The only thing you have to do right now to be happy is put one arm in the air," I probably would have just sat down on the floor and wailed.  Then I may have rolled around a bit more in my lame emotional hypothetical pukiness and then wailed some more for good measure.

And then, I experienced an Allie Brosh moment of extreme determination stemming from a very significant amount of pure anger.

I said (in my head):  "You namby pamby.  What are you doing?  Are you laying on the couch?  Are you eating a cold bratwurst?  Why have you not mailed your own mother's birthday present yet?   That's the one thing you had to do today."

This just made me sit up and sniffle--making a "wah wah I'm so saaaad" face to no one because I was alone.

Then I said (in my head):  "You're going to get up.  You're going to go to the post office.  You're going to speak REALLY BAD German.  And you're going to be out of the house when Paul gets home because that would be the worst if he saw you like this.  Ugh."

::blink blink sniffle::

Then I said (in my head):  "THEN.  You're going to Buy a Pizza.  And you're going to Buy an electronic copy of 'Groundhogs Day.'  AND YOU'RE GOING TO ENJOY IT!  DO YOU HEAR ME!!!  You're being a wuss.  Get your wussy self out of this room and outside."

And, I got dressed.  (?!)   And I went to the Post Office (?!)  And when I'm at a level-seven, I honestly don't care one lick about the fact that I can't speak German or if I'm saying the wrong things or if people are laughing at me or are annoyed.  I just marched right in there and straight-up made a fool of myself and it was glorious.  And I mailed something.  Internationally (this requires forms!).  By MYSELF.  In a language I started learning three months ago.  It involved using sentences.  This is a big deal.

I went to the library.

I bought a pizza.

And I shopped.  (I hate shopping.  But who cares when you're at level-seven?)  And it felt good.

I was invincible!

So invincible, in fact, that three hours, $40 in make-up (what?  I don't even wear make-up?), an H&M sweater, "I'm sorry for being lame" presents for Paul, and a whole Master's degree homework assignment later, I came home.

And that's my story about how I more-or-less punched a level-seven meltdown in the face.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

In with the Old, Out with the New

There's something heavy about realizing your neighborhood hasn't changed
all that much in 700 years.

It's something that Americans don't really understand.  We try.  But it's hard.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Your Fashion Guru with a Prophecy

I wasn't always this trendy
Unfashionable Heidi is unfashionable.  So they say.

But I have a sure-fire way for me to predict what the latest trend is going to be in the states come next fall or even Spring 2013 (depending on where you live).  It's the same sure-fire way I predicted ballet flats and skinny jeans way back in 2004.

Step 1: Live in Europe.
Step 2: Observe.
Step 3: Pick out the things that a minority of "put together" people are wearing that look completely and utterly ridiculous to you.
Step 4: Tell everyone in the states (who will no doubt not believe you at first) that this is the next best thing.

See, believe it or not, I was in London when Mango and Zara and the boutique shops in Chelsea were selling their, as I called them from my mother's vocabulary, "peg-leg jeans" and flimsy-lookin' metallic and brightly colored ballet flats.  I thought it was the most horrifically confusing look anyone had ever put together.

"Who wears bright blue shoes with weird elasticky tops for heaven's sake?!" I thought, dweebishly.

I knew that I would feel like a dweebish dork from nerdland trying to pull it off (and that's the ticket right there.  When I say "I will look like a dweeb" that's your cue to go and buy that thing right at this very moment).

Because, you see, 2004 was the era of boot-cut jeans, long levi skirts, dainty versions of sneakers, and brown-leather cloggy boots.  I could pull that off because everyone else already had!  Safe.  I'm good at safe.

The skinny jeans and the ballet flats I just couldn't get behind in 2004 because it was, you know, risky.   BUT, in a fit of complete Bacchanalian insanity ("I'm in Europe I'm going to be craaaazzyyy!"), I actually bought and brought home a pair of black, beaded ballet flats from Europe and lo and behold, they became the coolest thing I ever owned within three months.

People stopped me on the street to ask me where I got them.  I was, like, straight outta the Utah version of The Sartorialist. (is that an oxymoron?)   Superstaaaaar!

So, I'm here to prophesy the next big American trend.  You doubty doubters may doubt, but I'm telling you. This is a thing!  It is a thing that my friend Geraldine from France is wearing and GERALDINE is from FRANCE you hear me?  

Ready?  Here it is!  Straight from the Zara's mouth:


Something that looks very, very much like a men's dress shoe is the next thing over there, guys.

I'm so serious.  I'm so deadly serious.

And you wear them with skinny jeans, please.  Or even a skirt in the summer if ya like.    Oh, and don't show sock.  That is not acceptable.

I know.  I see this and I think
(really loud.  Like a really, really loud scream.)
But.  That's your cue, people.
I have Prophesied.  Go in Peace.
(from rockstardiaries)
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