Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Weepies - World Spins Madly On



If you can watch this without bawling at the end, there's something wrong with you. Seriously.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Sun & snow & blue skies





Christmas in Nebraska, ice floating on the Missouri river...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The day after


Was Santa already there? Where's mah present!?

Oh - it's at the bottom of the bag. A roll of curly ribbon. Happy times!

Also, Santa brought a bunch of buzzing, flying, shooting toys - all for kitty! (or so he thinks...)


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Xmas decoration


Same procedure as every year - our Ikea collapsible Christmas tree, freshly febrezed. The self-made ribbon ornaments are supposed to look like ribbon candy, but they're a little squashed. Now back to watching Terry Pratchett's Hogfather!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Grass: finished!

Woohoo, I finally finished Mochimochi's knitted and felted grass. I had been a bit worried about the felting part, but it all worked fine (I just put the finished pieces into a pillow case and washed them with a teaspoon of detergent, on hot, in the washer and then put it in the dryer for about 20 minutes). Then I stitched on the blue eyes, sewed the two pieces together (didn't do a great job there) and stuffed it with polyfill. Yay!

Peekaboo!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Aah, good old Christmas carols...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Cookies!

Those are (left to right) soft ginger cookies, cranberry noels, and sugar cookies. Nothing fancy, just my three favorite kinds of cookies!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Fallen in love with a JCPenney commercial...



I know, how embarrassing is that!!! Well, it's mostly the song - that's "All that I want" by The Weepies. Awww - gives me the warm fuzzies!
Incidentally, we just were at JCP today - I got a $10 coupon from them in the mail and I'm not the kind of person who'd let that go to waste. Let me put it this way, it was HARD to find something even worthy of a free 10 bucks. I guess I'm spoiled by Target.

We had some big fuzzy snowflakes coming down yesterday, about a total of 1 inch of snow, but it'll melt away soon. It's so cute to see the kids out on their sleds, even if the grass is barely covered with snow. I guess that's enough for Kansansians (Kansans? I have no idea...)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Icky

.. but also beautiful - ice on the trees after we had a mix of freezing rain, sleet, ice pellets, and frozen cats&dogs fall from the skies for about two days.

Fortunately, it didn't turn into the kind of horrendous ice storm that Kansas City had to endure five years ago (we were without power for several days back then, thanks to broken above-ground power lines with tree limbs crashing down all over the place. Ahh, good times... I can still remember the sound of the branches cracking and falling in the otherwise completely silent night while we were sitting huddled around candles).


Thursday, December 06, 2007

The LoveBucket

If we just loved our cat enough, we'd give him this, horribly named, "LoveBucket" cat bed for Christmas:


Or, even better, a HEATED "Thermo-Kitty" cat bed:

Ooh, look how happy he looks!

If we bought him this, our cat would probably stay outside all winter, lurking underneath the bird feeder. But alas, we spent all our money on "Futurama" DVDs and German Christmas goodies from World Market...


Monday, December 03, 2007

Find of the week

Found at Target's Dollar Section. Happy plants: priceless!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Mini Pumpkin Pies

Using the recipe on a can of Libby's pumpkin puree, and a can of Pillsbury crescent dough. Baked in a muffin tin at 350F for 20 minutes, embellished with a walnut half and/or some whipped cream and cinnamon. Bite-sized delight (after all, pumpkin IS good for you!)

Friday, November 23, 2007

The day after


This was
Woot's T-shirt of the day for Thanksgiving. Our 19 pound monster of a turkey (if my cholesterol-overloaded brain doesn't fool me, the brand was a young "Tom Turkey", much better than Butterball!) didn't give us QUITE as much trouble, fortunately. Nicely filled with quartered oranges, onions and carrots and rubbed with the herb butter from Cook's Country magazine's recipe (1 stick butter, softened, mixed with 2 tablespoons dried herbes de Provence, 4 minced garlic cloves, 1 Tblsp grated lemon zest, salt and pepper), stuck into a Reynold's oven bag and roasted for a mere 3 hours. Juicy perfection!

Add to that the gravy: Based on the Cooks Illustrated recipe, I roasted the neck and the giblets in some olive oil until browned, then took out the meat and added some butter and flour, constantly whisking for several minutes until the butter was deep brown. Then I slowly added hot broth and some dried parsley and let everything cook for a while. THEN I added the handy little gravy package from inside the turkey, cooked a little longer, and voilĂ ! Loads of deep brown gravy.

For the carving of the birdie we used this instructional video from Cooks Illustrated. For its transport, loads of aluminum foil, bath towels and a laundry basket.

What am I thankful for? A bird that comes without nunchucks. A patient hubby. And leftovers!

P.S. oh, we already had the first bit of snow here. Didn't stay around for long, but pool season's definitely over...

Monday, November 12, 2007

And another scorcher!

Woohoo, we've had another nice, warm weekend. Unfortunately, it was cloudy, so when yesterday at 4 p.m. the sun finally started to peek through, we raced to the park to get some fresh air. Man, it's getting dark fast now! We had about 20 minutes to enjoy the place, then I got too worried that we'd get locked in since the park closes at dusk. Well, I don't actually know whether they would lock people in, but there IS a big, sturdy gate at the entrance so we didn't want to risk anything...

Monday, November 05, 2007

Autumn

Almost 70 degrees on Sunday! Beautiful day for a walk in the forest. Which is exactly what tons of other people thought, too, so it was a little crowded and we hardly saw any animals (apart from a few birds and one huge, very relaxed squirrel which probably could have taken on either of us).

Friday, November 02, 2007

Belated Boo

I made some BATS out of black (and a little white) polymer clay, based on this tutorial.
They're very cute, especially hanging from the front door. Also, they seemed to be so lifelike *cough, cough*, that they scared off any trick-or-treaters quite effectively - we didn't have a SINGLE kid ring our doorbell. Mostly because there's hardly any kids here where we live. Thank goodness I anticipated this and only bought candy that I like to eat myself (1 large bag of Twix bars, which seem to have magically, eeriely almost disappeared by now...)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Boo!

Here's some pictures of a house here in the suburbs that's quite famous for its spooky front yard Halloween decoration:


Spiders all along the front of the garage (I like!)


Waiting for Mr. Right:


Note the eyeballs painstakingly hotglued to the fence posts:

NICE!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Wake up

Monday, October 22, 2007

Tower with a view

Saturday, the weather was perfect - a last flash of summery temperatures - so we went to the Kansas City Liberty Memorial to visit the WW1 museum and enjoy the view over downtown:

The round thing to the right is the new Sprint Center (music and sports arena) which has just opened up. I think it looks amazing; weird, but oddly beautiful.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Kansas Song Project - Prairie Glimpses


Here's some original Kansas music - sounds kind of like a mix of Country, Bluegrass and Folk style. I especially like the first song (the one that's playing if you load the web site: www.kansassongproject.com). Perfect for long car trips!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Kurt Cobain & Battle Pigeon



For some reason, this completely cracks me up every time I look at it. Nobody else finds it funny, though.

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Rasterbator!

The Rasterbator is a little online tool that creates ginormous, rasterized images from any photo you upload and then spits them out in pdf format. All you have to do is use somebody else's printer to print all the pages (it's a little hard on the ol' ink cartridge), painstakingly tape/glue all the pages together, hang up your piece of art, and admire! Neat!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Louisburg, KS, Ciderfest

The Louisburg Cider Mill, a mere 30 minute drive away, had its annual Ciderfest. And we were there!

Cider Mill with intoxicating apple aroma and lots of freshly pressed cider, apple butter, and delicious cider donuts,


Pumpkin patch, corn maze, craft fair and brisket sandwiches,


and live Bluegrass music (supporting act: 1 little boy screaming his head off)!


video

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Happy Cativersary

Today is Caturday AND our 6th Wedding Anniversary, so bear with me here if I make up words and post cutesy pictures... Happy Anniversary, Hunnybunny!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Window Clings

I've been playing around with WindowColor lately (anything to get away from those evil knitting needles!), making faux stained glass butterflies:

and owls:

Woo-hoo!
It's funny how little this craft is known in the United States. Walk through a typical suburban neighbourhood in Germany and the windows on many, many houses are plastered with self made window clings - kids' stuff like cartoon characters or animals, and seasonal stuff like jack-o'-lanterns or snow flakes. There's gazillions of German craft web sites out there with free patterns (although, if you just keep your eyes open, you'll find inspiration almost anywhere). I only "discovered" WindowColor for myself after I moved to the U.S. and was happy to find the paint bottles in stores like Michaels and HobbyLobby, even WalMart.

The cool thing is that you need little talent and little supplies - you simply trace a pattern with liquid leading on clear plastic sheets with the pattern underneath *a sheet protector will do*, creating an outline. Then you fill in the spaces with the paint bottles. No brush needed, just squeeze out paint with the bottle tip and spread it out within the leading lines.
It'll harden to a thick plastic-like texture within several days, then you can peel it off the sheet and stick it to your windows, tiles, glass doors etc. Of course, it's removable and can be stored (e.g. in a ziploc baggie or inside a sheet protector) if you're tired of it. Just don't let it come into contact with itself (it'll stick to itself) or with paper (paper will stick to it, too).

Both leading and paint bottles are about 2 bucks each. *Silly German accent on* Go! Paint! Now! *Silly German accent off*

Monday, September 24, 2007

Arts & Oompah

We actually had a double whammy here in KC on Sunday: the German Oktoberfest and the Plaza Art Fair.

First the Oktoberfest: Apart from the outrageousness of having to pay $5 entrance fee to listen to some oompah music (which isn't actually quite my style, since I'm a) not Bavarian and b) under the age of 80), there was, wait for it, ONE booth selling some vaguely German food (brats, brats and brats). The other food booths sold burritos (?), Italian ice (?), and then there was that Greek gyros booth selling, wait for it: Jambalaya (!). Also, there was pig racing and dry, dry pretzels and confused looking Americans in Bavarian clothing. Highlight: A small cup of Warsteiner beer for $5. Sigh.

The Plaza Art Fair was more fun (once we finally made it through the closed off streets to find the parking garage). However, it was really, seriously artsy, so there was nothing I could even remotely afford to buy, although I really loved these prairie grass pictures:


The peoplewatching (huge sunglasses! tiny doggies! funny, funny t-shirts!) is always awesome, though. Especially if done from the air conditioned window booth of a California Pizza Kitchen, munching on some Thai Crunch Salad. Yum!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

No Taco For You!

Since hubby had just finished a big project at work, we decided to go out and celebrate a bit on Friday. There's this new Mexican restaurant just across the street where we can actually walk to, and we've been dying to try it out. We've walked over a couple of times and it was always packed with a long line of people waiting out on the street, so yesterday we thought we'd try to beat the dinner crowd by waiting until 8 p.m. and THEN go over. So, after watching a very enjoyable episode of Dr. Who, I fluffed up my hair and even put on some decent clothes (don't wanna look uncool at the new hip hangout!). And off we went. The large toad (? yeah, I don't know either) sitting right outside our building should have forewarned us, but on we continued - only to enter a restaurant, filled to the brim with happy partygoers and an estimated waiting time of 25 minutes. This, actually, made me mad. What is the DEAL? We are surrounded by every freakin' chain restaurant under the sun, and this one is crowded every_single_night?! It's like they are the freakin' holy grail of Mexican restaurants!
Oh well, we went home (toad was gone by then), had a Miller Chelada and some microwaved nachos. Bleh.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Pear Butter

A delicious spread for toast, bagels, muffins etc. Start with about 6 Bartlett pears and 1 apple, peeled and cubed. Add 1/2 to 1 cup of sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/3 tsp allspice and cloves, and a dash of lemon juice and water. Bring to a boil and cook with the lid on until the pears are soft. Puree in a blender, bring back to boil over low heat and cook for about 5 hours (lid slightly ajar), stirring occasionally, until the puree is thick and creamy. VoilĂ  - pear butter! Keeps for about 2 weeks in the fridge.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Baked Americans!

This is a German recipe for small vanilla flavoured pastries called Americans ("Amerikaner"). They got their name from their chemical ingredient "ammonia hydrogen carbonate" which is something akin to baking powder and used by bakeries. This rather wordy name first got shortened to "Ammoniakaner" and then to "Amerikaner" (yep, I wikipedia'ed that one). Fascinating, innit?

In Germany, you can buy these at every corner bakery for a few dimes. I've never baked them before (or seen anybody else bake them at home), but I found this German recipe online and thought I'd give it a try. Delicious!

Ingredients: 100g butter, 100g (1/2 cup) sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 2 eggs, salt, several tablespoons milk, 1 pack vanilla pudding powder, 250g (2 1/4 cup) flour, 3 scant teaspoons baking powder. Icing: 250g powdered sugar, lemon juice.

Stir butter, sugar and vanilla with a mixer until foamy. Add eggs, salt and the pudding powder (after mixing it with a bit of milk). Slowly add flour and baking powder. Carefully add a little more milk, until the dough is no longer firm, but still very gooey-sticky. Using two tablespoons, place heaps of dough on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 180C/350F for 15 minutes until golden brown. Spread thick icing onto the flat side of the Americans while they're still hot!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Caturday!

Caturday? Where?!

Oh, there!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Stuff that's not working.

Man, Blogspot keeps having issues - I've been looking through some blogs and noticed none of them had pictures, I thought, hey, is that the new thing? Pictureless blogs? But no, Blogspot just doesn't show them or is extremely slow loading them. Google seems to be down a lot too. And me, I've been down with a cold and a sore throat for the past week, breaking my perfect record of 3 cold-less years. I'm telling you, if it wasn't for Grether's throat soothing blackcurrant pastilles, I wouldn't be alive any more. Why is it that every other person of my generation had their tonsils removed when they were children, except for me? I have two older sisters! THEY had their tonsils removed! THEY got to eat ice cream at the hospital! Oh yes, I still remember that part *jealous little sister*... Me, I constantly had throat infections during my teens, but I guess I wasn't worth undergoing the knife... sob... THAT's why I have an ice cream eating problem nowadays! It all makes sense now!

(Sorry, that must be the drugs speaking).


In other news (things that ARE working), I made popovers for breakfast this weekend. I used the recipe from everybodylikessandwiches and what can I say, it was an instant winner! Hot from the oven, all buttery, slathered with some strawberry jam and apple jelly, delicious! I do have to say this would work better with a newer muffin tin, i.e. one with a good non-stick-coating *as opposed to my pre-war-model*. Next time I'll try them with some flavourings (parmesan and herbs, or maybe raisins and vanilla?) because I'm not too wild about the "eggy" taste.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Caturday!

Ready for anything!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Here's some $@#! content for you!

I've realized this has become more of a photo blog than anything else. Even with my cable internet connection, my blog now takes me a little while to load thanks to all the dang pictures I've been putting on it. So, less pictures, more content!

Yes!

So...

Hehe. Yesterday I read a feature in our local paper about dogs living downtown. Between the pampered little pekingese and other pocket dogs, there was a picture of a large blackish-brown German shepherd whose owner has a motorbike shop or something like that. The dog's name? Heike. Hey, that's MY name! I've never met or even heard of any non-German person (or dog, for that matter) with that name. The article even mentions the spelling: hike-uh. Hah. That's what a normal weekend conversation between me and hubby usually sounds like - Me: "Hike?" - he (dejectedly): "Uh!"


Quote from the article: "Like a lot of dogs, Heike will eat just about anything. One treat: Pringle’s potato chips. But usually she doesn’t get people food." Hey, I love Pringles, too!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Sunday in Nebraska: DeSoto Wildlife Refuge





Unfortunately, half of the DeSoto Wildlife Refuge was closed or rather, only accessible by taking a huge detour, so we didn't see that this time. We did, however, see the Visitor Center, which is highly recommendable.

They have an almost artistic looking exhibit of a vast collection of items from a sunken 1860s Missouri steamboat, row upon row of tools and bottles and cans, all neatly arranged and dramatically lit. Also, there are lots of huge picture windows overlooking the biggest lake. Yep, those are white pelicans!

In autumn, hundreds of thousands of snow geese stop here during their migration (and lots of bald eagles hoping for a tasty snack). Hope we'll see them next time!

In other news, I've finished knitting half a grass!