let it snow

On Tuesday we had our first real German snow of 2011. yes, it was less than 3 inches cumulative, but that's still something to this southern girl.
view from my bedroom

Das Bear on our little balcony playing in the snow for the
first time since last Christmas
Naturally, Bear and I decided to take a little stroll around our block...


clean and simple potato and leek soup

As a pre-Christmas / post-Thanksgiving gift, my mom bought me the Clean Eating 2 cookbook along with the "Clean Eating: Classic Comfort Foods" special edition magazine.  The recipes are absolutely amazing and I'm planning on working my way through each of them in coming months.  Since its been snowing here a bit lately, its been perfect soup and stew weather - and since I also have a huge bag of potatoes lying around (don't ask...) I decided to dive in and whip up some potato and leek soup to last me a few chilly nights!
my cornucopia of ingredients with the strategically
placed original recipe in the background.
Potato & Leek Soup with Cheddar Topping (via  "Clean Eating: Classic Comfort Foods")
serves: 6 | Hands on time: 10 mins | Total Time: 30 mins
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 3 lrg leeks, white and light green parts only, rinsed and finely sliced into semicircles
  • pinch each of sea salt & fresh ground blk pepper
  • 3 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (veggie broth works too, for our vegetarian friends)
  • 2 cups low-fat milk
  • pinch ground nutmeg or allspice
  • 1/2 cup grated low-fat sharp cheddar cheese
In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high.  Add leeks, salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft - about 5 mins.
Add potatoes, and broth and bring to a boil.    Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes simmer, 8 to 10 mins.
Using a ladle or a large spoon, carefully remove 2 cups soup and transfer to an upright blender; puree til smooth, about 2 minutes.

its so pretty and bright green

Return puree to saucepan and then add cheese and stir until cheese melts.  

Ladle into serving bowls, dividing evenly.  You can garnish with some Italian parsley and/or additional nutmeg.  
I had a hearty loaf of Volkorn (whole wheat) Baguette lying around, so I used that to accompany my soup.  The outcome?  It's not as thick or creamy as I've had in the past, but thats kind of what made it great.  It's really light tasting, but also pretty filling.  All-in-all I would have to rate this a 3 on a scale of  1-10, with 1 being "pop-in-microwave-and-watch-easy" and 10 being "lock-yourself-in-the-kitchen-w/ a-bottle-of-wine-because-you-ain't-going-anywhere-for-a-few-hours" easy.

if you do decide to make this, please comment below and let us know how it turns out!


do you know what it means to miss whole foods?

Goodness I miss this store... if you've ever visited the uptown New Orleans location and their teeeny tiny parking lot, you get it.

"I've been on edge since they took Kombucha off the shelf."  Gosh I miss Kombucha...


happy travels...

The view from our hotel room... Any guesses? Hint: Sangria con Cava


pardon the dust + how to make a street car roll

I've been away, I know.  It's hard to really have an excuse for being post-less for so long other than I've really been trying to chase the "I really miss my hubs" blues by keeping busy.  I've been volunteering at the local military base in their marketing office.  In short, it's been amazing.  I work with a wonderful group of inspiring people who challenge me every day and really encourage me to flex my creative muscles in the world of graphics and design.  Govt cutbacks have made it so that no actual paying position is available for what I do, but I am forever hopeful and I'm expanding my portfolio while I'm at it.  I'm just hoping that the snowy German winters and Bruno's lack of 4x4 capabilities don't force me to hibernate from Dec - March.  I do appreciate you all staying tuned and still reading... this blog has been great to come to when I just need an outlet.

So in an effort to make up for m y lack of blog - presence, I'd figure that I'd share a tutorial on a project that I've had in my mind for about a year and I have FINALLY produced.  I saw a post on Abbey Goes Design Scouting  ages ago and while in NOLA I desperately wanted to make my own street car roll for the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line.  Well, it never happened, mainly because we didn't have any place to put it even if I did make it.  But the idea stuck in my mind because, well, aren't they just fantastic?
I will have a house that looks like this someday -- in my dreams
image via living livelier
Fast forward to Germany and my humongous home full of blank walls.  Needing something to cover a wall in our dining room, I decided it was time for the streetcar roll to finally be made.  So I whipped up a 36" x 60" image on inDesign, exported it as a .pdf and then  went over to rasterbator and uploaded the image.  It broke my image into a number of different pieces of 8.5 x 11 sized pieces of paper

16 pieces of paper (and 2 black ink cartridges) later I had my full image, but what to arrange it on so I could hang it?  Enter number of USPS boxes I had hoarded in my office.
boxes, meet box cutter:
now to assemble my images on the makeshift backing to create a large poster
a roll of double sided tape later and voila! NOLA "street car" roll complete!
I kind of went crazy with this "create a huge poster w/ 8.5x11 sized pieces of paper" method in a number of other places in the house, which I'll share sometime in the future.  Since I have no idea what our next place will be like size-wise, I am refusing to spend a ton of money on decorating, but I hate bare walls. So this is my solution.  So far so good!

Do you have any other simple decorating tips that have helped you outfit your house without busting the bank? 


Book Bonanza

Hi all,

fantastic Mr. Bama bought me a Kindle for our 2 year anniversary and I have read more books in the 2ish weeks since then than I have in the past 2 years.

exhibit a)
via amazon.com
Dear Liz Lemon - the chill-ness and humor about how you've dealt with everyday things is refreshing.  I don't agree with you in everyday politics, etc, but goodness you make me laugh.  Thanks!

exhibit b)
via amazon.com
I caught myself often looking at Bear in a new light while reading this book.  A dog's vision of his point in life through number of different  reincarnations (cats may have nine lives, but pups have lives until they find the meaning of life).  Make sure you read past life #1 -  I almost closed the book and decided I was done after how sad I was with that chapter in Buddy/Bailey/Ellie/Bear(!)'s life.  The rest of the book makes up for it - a definite must for dog lovers.

exhibit c)

What an extraordinary book - I had seen it on the shelves in airports mostly and wondered, but never bought.  Finally, I purchased the e-book and I'm so pleased that I did -  1 day - 2 people - 20 years.  It's a little long and takes a bit to get into the gist of the book, but David Nicholls does a wonderful job telling the story of how two people's lives weave together.  Great, lovely, heart-wrenching read.  And joy!  It is now a movie, being released in August (I didn't know when I read the book that Anne Hathaway would be in the movie - but after seeing the trailer - she totally is Emma in the novel... beautifully cast).  Here's the trailer below:

So now I'm onto my next read -- and I'm at a loss.  Any ideas?  Have you any suggestions of what I should choose as my next book to purchase with my awesome anniversary gift? Many Thanks n advance, dear readers!


Beautiful Cooking

Forget the floral, kitschy rick-rack trimmed aprons of yore.  I am lusting over COOKie's apron collection -

All aprons are 100% cotton (made from the same fabric used to make chef jackets) and made in Poland.  Truly for the chef who still wants to feel pretty - or for the dinner party hostess who wants to look fabulous in both her kitchen and her dining room.

all images court of looklikecookie.  (all prices are in Polish Ziotych [zt].  As of today, 1zt = $0.30 USD)



Two years, one puppy, thousands of tears, smiles, laughs, decisions, and a move across the world later...

and you know what?

I wouldn't change a thing.

(let's just hope next year we're in the same country!)


A Fort Comes Full-Circle

It's hard to imagine that  two and a half ago I was in Texas stressing-out over completing my Final Study project for my Master's Degree.  I highlighted the project here and here, but I didn't specify where the building was located mainly because it was still an active military base slated for closure.  Well today the nation's oldest continuously operating military base, Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia, is being decommissioned by the Army and is open to the public for the first time since its creation in 1819.
What is so amazing about this location is that since it was a military base, it remained untouched by developers who grabbed almost all of the waterfront property in Hampton Roads.  So not only does it have an incredible sampling of two centuries of architectural styles (plus a MOAT!), but the waterfront views are absolutely astounding.  
photo court. of Fort Monroe at Old Point Comfort via flickr 
The redevelopment authority for Fort Monroe has strict preservation and development standards in place as to prevent developers from going crazy over this property - and there's also a local movement to have the Fort made a National Park, so the views are safe for the moment.   If you are in Hampton Roads Virginia, be sure to take advantage of being able to visit this incredible treasure and all it has to offer.  And be sure to check out the one piece of Fort Monroe that is near and dear to my heart: Building 57 (aka, the motor Pool)
Which I proposed go from looking like this:
to this: 
and this:
Here's hoping that whoever redevelops this building uses it for something other than parking (which is the currently listed "best redevelopment use" for this building... a total cop-out if you ask me).  The 8 foot tall casement windows that span the length of the building still make me knees weak.

Happy decommissioning day to Fort Monroe and here's looking forward to an incredibly successful future!


The Bear has Landed

Today my second favorite boy finally joined me in Germany...

After an arduous 8 hour flight over the Atlantic, he met me after my hour and 1/2 drive with my friend Ana to Frankfurt.  Two hours (and 137 euro later) my baby boy was in my possession, cruising down the Autobahn towards home.  He was in wonderful condition, just a little dehydrated and hungry, but in great spirits.  I cannot say enough about Lufthansa and the manner in which they handle their animal cargo, even their Animal "lounge" is stellar and exceed EU standards (which are strict enough as is).  After a little downtime (and LOTS of sniffing) at the house, I didn't want him to full out sleep too early, so I hooked on his leash and we went for a walk along my normal running route in the vineyards outside of my village.

Nice little info signs about each grape dot the vineyards. 
Too bad I can't understand them (yet)
Dornfelder grapes - my fave German wine
Our little town from the vineyards
Bear says "I give my new home and its awesome 
vineyards (where I can run leash-less) a thumbs up!
So let the hund-friendly German adventures begin!


Quick and Easy Salmon

I've been cooking for one a lot lately (sadness...) so I have to admit I haven't been too terribly creative with my cooking -- it's far more fun to try new and exciting recipes when you have someone else who will enjoy it as much as you do.  So I've been falling back on some of the tried and true favorite recipes that are easy and have never failed.  It means I can have a meal within 20 mins (only 5 of which are for prep), which is great at the end of a long day.

So today I share with you the easiest and tastiest Salmon recipe I have found (courtesy of Real Simple mag).  All you need is the following  to serve 4:
  • wild Alaskan coho salmon filets
  • 4 tomatoes on the vine, cut in half
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, removed from stems and chopped (dried thyme can be substituted, but it's not as tastey in my honest opinion)
- Set your oven to broiler (or if you're like me and don't have a broiler, just turn it up as high as possible).  Start with a broiler-proof pan (something with a rim) and drizzle a little olive oil on the bottom (approx 1 tsp).  Take a paper towel and spread oil to cover bottom of the pan.  Place each filet, as well as the tomatoes, cut side up, on the pan.  Very lightly use salt and pepper to season the filets and the tomatoes.
- Dust just the salmon filets with the paprika.  Then place the slices of garlic and sprinkle the thyme all over the salmon and tomatoes.  Finish with drizzling a little olive oil over the top of everything.  Then pop into the oven and broil for 8-10 minutes
- While the salmon & tomatoes were cooking, I decided I needed to add some color to my meal. So I pulled some kale out of the freezer (haven't found fresh kale yet over here) and started sauteing up some of that as I waited (just add olive oil, garlic and some red pepper flakes to your kale as you steam / saute for 10-ish minutes.  Couldn't get easier.).
- 8-10 minutes later, pull out your pan - note: It will be insanely hot, but the aroma will be mouthwatering.
 - Then plate your food and voila!  Incredibly easy, healthy and tasty meal with minimal work!
can you tell I've been watching a lot of episodes of Kitchen Nightmares
recently?  Too much emphasis on presentation.
I think the best part of this meal is that you get your Omega-3s from your Salmon, your Lycopene / beta-carotene (among other nutrients) from the Tomatoes, manganese and vitamin B-6 from Garlic, and if you add Kale like I did, you get valuable antioxidants, as well as Vitamins K, A & C.  I may not be a nutritionist  but basic research shows that this is a tasty, healthy, low calorie meal loaded with nutrients that is also EASY!  So happy cooking!


Daily Challenge

Check out my office "refreshment table"
Really its just the top of a short bookshelf, but I figured that since I'm challenging myself to drink at least 2 of those pitchers of water a day, I'd have fun with it.  Since I'm in the office the majority of the day, this makes it easier than running up and down two flights of stairs to the kitchen every time i need to fill up a glass (because who am I kidding? I'm not going to drink that much if it's not readily accessible.)  I'm also challenging myself to

  •  work out at least 20 mins a day, with Yoga in the morning and evening - bring it Jillian Michaels and Tara Stiles
  • reserve the wine drinking to the weekends.  I read an article titled "Does drinking more than 6 drinks a week make you an alcoholic?"  I'm teetering dangerously close to that, with 1 glass at least a night and more on weekends.  Talk about a wake-up call.  Time to step back and re-evaluate.
I'm realizing it's the little things that make a big impact, and I really don't want to have a year fly by with no changes having been made.  So let's go with baby steps!

What simple measures have you implemented in your life that you're hoping add up big?  


There's a Change in the Haus

And now for some pictoral goodies showcasing what's been going on w/ the state of the house post move-in.  I'm far from done, but we're getting there.

Dining Room:
Our Bar Right after we moved in:
Our Bar Now... almost done
THIS clock goes in the void.  come on amazon
Dining Room table
Our new "counter space" via Ikea right after I finished assembling it:
Two people for assembly?  Pshh, please Ikea.
The counter now:
spices and knives to be wall hung once I'm not scared
of drilling into concrete.
The Kitchen wall sans pictures:
Voila!  Pictures:
our kitchen stove, etc right before me moved in:
Kitchen now (i feel though as if it is lacking bikes hanging from rafters above):
View from the Kitchen into the Dining Room:
Heading Upstairs
The family wall. Yeah. Needs "something"
Hard at work on that 'Something":
The Family wall now.  Love me some bunting.
Office (Das Buro):
Yeah, it's messy.  But I'm getting there 
(and no, that is not my desk.  That is Mr Bama's I've been relegated to use)
Yippee I have a place to "do stuff"
view from the desk
So that's all well and dandy, and theres a whole lot more of the house that I have barely touched yet, for example:
The Living Room:
hide yo eyes.  
And of course, there have been some aesthetic bumps in the road:

Like this beauty that was hanging in the dining room
flock of seagulls anyone?
and this AWESOME government-issued couch in a shade that goes with everything:
I have always wanted a purple multicolored uncomfortable couch!  Finally!!!
I guess the name of the game is just improvisation.  Take this as an example.

Need a side table but all you have is an unnecessary amount of architecture & engineering books?  No problem!
no, we did not pick out the chairs.  They were "issued" to us.  sigh.
So much more to do with the house (and pictures to come), but at least for now I have my side table of knowledge!  I am unstoppable.
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