Friday, December 30, 2011

You Now Hold Me Accountable


1. Sign up for an intensive German class for January and February. Monday through Friday, 9 to 1. I will not miss class because I am lazy.
2. Begin a bible reading plan. Use a cute little chart to keep track. Read every day, in the morning before the laptop opens. 
3. Work hard to speak more German than English.
4. Get Steven's American visa. So important. So so so important. 
5. I will maintain my 4.0 Average in the five online classes I will take from January to June.

And my final, most important resolution:

I will pray on my knees every day as if everything depends on my God, and I will go out and work every day as if everything depends solely on me. 

Bring it on, 2012!





What a Year!



What a year, what a year!
New years eve is fast approaching, and as you read this I am making the drive from Odense, Denmark way back down to Frankfurt, Germany. No doubt I'll spend the drive thinking over the past year and the resolutions I plan to set for the next one. Here's a recap of this past year:

1. Steven came to visit me in America
2. Steven extended his stay from three weeks to three months
3. I got engaged!
4. I got my first 4.0 semester average in college.
5. I got married. Yeah, that's a big one. 
6. We honeymooned in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
7. We moved to Germany!
8. I turned nineteen.
9. We spent Thanksgiving in the South of France.
10. We spent Christmas in Denmark!
So much has happened. So much has changed!
I am grateful for every moment.
So...
2012. 
Exciting stuff.
I plan on making it my favorite year yet. 

If you're up for it, I hope you'll join me. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The North Sea








Today we went for a walk along The North Sea.
Quite a different experience than our walk along the Medeterranean last month.
It was cold, rocky, windy...but lovely nonetheless.
We did not end up going to Copenhagen this trip, due to rumors of a nasty storm.
I'm not upset, this vacation was still all kinds of fun. 

I love Denmark. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Can I stay in Denmark Forever?



Egeskov Castle, Odense, Denmark



The sea, near our cabin in Odense, Denmark

Hey friends. I'm back! Imagine my surprise when I arrived to our cutsie little cabin in Odense to find that there was no internet connection! I had no idea that could even happen in this day and age! Luckily we have relatives with iPhones that can also serve as hotspots. Technology is a marvelous thing, dear friends. Marvelous indeed. I must say though, this has been the first time I've gone more than two days without internet in...well, I don't know how long. A long time. It was refreshing. It wasn't as though we were totally cut off from technology or anything, in this little cottage with my new family I've watched more movies and played more "Just Dance" and Super Mario Brothers than I have in my entire life previous combined. This week has been the most laid back week ever. It has made me downright lazy. I manage to stumble out of bed at 10:30 or so to the smell of breakfast cooking, and some days no one even changed out of their pajamas. I have not done a lot of sightseeing. I have not taken a lot of pictures. I HAVE had a lot of fun, played an impressive amount of board games, and spent time with my husband and my wonderful in laws.

In two days we make the eight hour drive back to real life. DON'T MAKE ME GO, PLEASE. I want to live in this cabin that has a sauna and a jacuzzi tub and a tanning bed, where the food magically appears each morning and I can walk around barefoot, in sweats all day and it's not weird at all. I. Don't. Want. To. Go.

We will go to Copenhagen tomorrow, if weather permits. There's rumors of a storm that would make sightseeing not so enjoyable. So, friends, we will see. 


Saturday, December 24, 2011

French Cooking at Christmas!


Merry Christmas Eve my friends.
I present to you the lovely Andi from Misadventures with Andi, 
sharing with us today a delicious recipe for a traditional French meal! 



Pintade (Guinea Fowl) au Vin


Coq au Vin is the quintessential French dinner meal, but coq meaning rooster can actually be quite tough so it is actually made with chicken or a chapon which is a breed of very large chicken, but chez moi we also use pintade, or guinea fowl which I love.  It is perfect for two people and has a gamier taste.

Ingredients:
3.5 lbs. guinea fowl cut into large pieces
16 oz of red wine, preferably Burgandy (Bourgogne)
 ½ oz (10 g) butter
 1 Tbsp olive oil
 ½ cup cubed pancetta
 12 shallots, peeled
 2 sprigs fresh thyme
 1 bay leaf
 1 clove garlic, crushed
 1 cup of mushrooms grilled in large pieces
 1 heaped teaspoon corn starch
 Salt and freshly milled black pepper to taste

First, melt the butter with the oil in a casserole dish or skillet (like a Crueset) and then fry the guinea fowl, skin down, until they are golden brown. Then turn them over and brown the other side. Total time should be about 8-10 minutes altogether.
Now brown the pancetta for 5 minutes, followed by the shallots. Return the guinea fowl to the casserole dish, add the sprigs of thyme and the bay leaf, then the crushed garlic. Season with freshly pepper and just a little salt, and then pour in the wine. Put a lid on and simmer over a very gentle heat for 45 minutes.
After that, add the mushrooms and continue to cook for another 15 minutes. Then remove the guinea fowl, pancetta, shallots and mushrooms to a warm serving dish and keep warm.
Discard the herbs, bring the liquid in the casserole up to a fast boil and reduce by about one third. In a small bowl, mix the corn starch to a paste with a little water, then add a little bit of the sauce from the casserole. Now add all the mixture to the rest of the liquid and bring to the boil, whisking all the time until the sauce has thickened.
Pour the sauce over the guinea fowl and serve, we like it with either mashed potatoes or egg noodles.




I'm in Odense, Denmark!


Hey Friends.
I'm in Odense, Denmark!
Home to Hans Christian Andersen and Swan Lake and really, really delicious baked goods.
I am staying with family in a charming little cabin right on the North Sea.
Blogging will be at a minimum the next few days,
but I promise to show you pictures of the fun had and food consumed as we travel through this gorgeous happy country. 
We'll make it out to Copenhagen sometime next week,
and go check out Prince Hamlet's castle,
eat some fish and stuff.
You know.

Merry Christmas! 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Suitcase and Stillettos...Christmas in Norway!



Hi everyone!  I am Megan from A Suitcase and Stilettos.  I am an American living in picturesque western Norway... and I am spending my first Christmas away from the states here this year. 


I am beyond lucky to be an expat in a country that also celebrates Christmas.  Thanksgiving was torture because that day was just another calendar day for Norwegians, but Christmas, on the other hand, is a big deal here in Norway!  I thought I'd share a few differences between my typical American Christmas and what I am about to experience here in western Norway.

1)  The date:  In America, we celebrate Christmas in usual fashion, December 25th.  Here in Norway, Christmas is celebrated on December 24th.  I find it odd, but kind of cool because I will get not one, but TWO Christmas celebrations this year here- one on the 24th and one on the 25th.

2)  The food:  No matter where in Norway you are throughout the holidays, you will eat a special and traditional (to the region or family) meal.  Here in the Bergen area, it is typical to eat pinnekjøtt, or lamb ribs (sheep depending on the age).  It is a very salty, fatty meat that some people love, some people hate.  I actually am kind of in love with this food.  The Norwegians in my area serve it with kålrabistappe (mashed rutabaga) and boiled potatoes.  I truly can't get enough of this meal and have even made it with my boyfriend multiple times on our own.  In the US, my family ate whatever it pleased on Christmas...sometimes turkey, sometimes ham (I'm a Virginian), sometimes spaghetti, sometimes salmon.  (the food below is not the proper way to eat certain foods with other foods...or so Norwegians tell me.  I was merely just trying everything.)



3)  The tree tradition:  While this is not too different, I have noticed in America it is quite common to start putting that Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving.  Here in Norway, they don't really begin until around the 20th or so of December.  Lucky for me, my boyfriend was eager to put ours up quickly and we put it up the weekend after Thanksgiving.


4)  Pepperkakebyen:  The world's largest gingerbread town is here in Bergen.  I mean, how cool is that??  All children and many businesses contribute building a gingerbread model of their home, stadium, business and have it placed at Pepperkakebyen.  I went last year before New Year's (I was not here during Christmas), but haven't gone yet this year.  We definitely don't have one of these in the US.


5)  Porridge:  Before moving here I totally though porridge was only for bears.  But on Christmas they have a rice porridge here that is traditional.  It is also traditional to hide a single almond in the porridge and whichever person finds it will win a prize/gift.

While my Christmas won't be completely the same as I am used to, I am certain it will be wonderful! 
God jul og godt nytt år!!!!


----
Thank you so much for guest posting today, Megan!
That is so funny that rice porridge (and hiding the almond in it) is practiced in Norway. It's a danish tradition too! I wonder who started it. My mother in law is from Denmark, which means I'll be looking for the almond in my porridge in just a few days!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Thank You, Husband.


There are days I am glad I married this man, 
and then there are days I am really, really, truly, on-my-knees-thanking-the-Lord glad I married this man. 

Today, it seems, is the latter. 

This past month I have been dealing with being sick, I didn't think it was anything major but as you may have noticed from various blog posts my throat has been hurting on and off for quite some time.
Well, yesterday it got really bad.
I woke up in the middle of the night with my throat so swollen I couldn't breathe
Not being able to breathe sent me into panic attack mode  and I woke my husband up, completely hysterical.
He took such good care of me.

This man remained completely calm as he ran the shower in the bathroom so I could breathe in the steam,
held me tight and rubbed my back and said nice things to help me calm down,
and after I was no longer completely freaking out, he bundled me up (at three in the morning, mind you) and took me outside so I could breathe in some fresh air.
He stayed up with me until five AM until he was sure I would be okay,
and when I finally convinced him that he should get at least an hour or two of sleep before he had to leave for work the next day, he pulled up the episodes of Psych I hadn't watched yet on his computer for me to watch until I, too, could fall asleep.

Despite the fact that I robbed him of any sort of refreshing night's rest, Steven woke me up at 7:30 AM, bundled me up again, and took me to the doctor's office.
I HATE the doctor's office,
and the American in me is completely convinced that unless I've broken/sprained something or seem to be completely dying, I should not go to the doctor.
Germans have a different way of thinking, due to socialist medicine and all of that good stuff.
They LOVE the doctor.
My German made me go and I am SO glad he did,
for it turns out my "sore throat" is actually infected breathing pipes, and could have gotten really bad had I not gotten antibiotics.

So yes.
I am now totally drugged up on painkillers,
taking the proper medicine,
and according the nice doctor man I should be fine by Christmas.


I am SO grateful for my husband and all that he does.
Because of him I live every day of my life feeling loved, wanted, understood
and safe.

There is nothing else on this earth I could possibly ask for.









Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pistachio and Cranberry Chocholate Bark: A Home for the Holidays Treat!


Hi Friends! I am so happy to present to you another delicious holiday treat, brought to you by Amelia from Ugly Duckling. Don't let the name of her blog fool you....this is a gorgeous English girl living in Seol, South Korea, and the recipe she's sharing with you today sounds absolutely divine!
I can't wait to try it out myself :) Then, be sure to go over to Alyx's blog to find Amelia once again writing about holiday traditions! 

-----

Hello Lovelies! I'm Amelia and I'm a blogger at Ugly Duckling. I'm very happy to be here today and I have a quick and easy but oh-so-delicious recipe to share with you. It's also a bit of a DIY gift too, very handy if you're like me and still have no idea what to get for some friends! 


I should warn you that once you've actually made this you may find it hard to actually give it away as a gift. I've eaten about half of this stuff already. Bad I know but it's Christmas so it's allowed, right??!

Here is what you will need to make this melt in your mouth festive treat!
Basically you need what you see in the picture: chocolate, white and milk (or dark if you prefer); pistachio nuts; mixed berries or cranberries. I like to add some extra sweetened cranberries because they seem more festive. The great thing about this recipe is you can actually choose to add whatever you want. In fact, it doesn't really matter about the quantities either because you're just melting the chocolate and mixing stuff in...my kind of cooking! But...for the sake of being professional about this, here are some numbers.
Ingredients
  • 12 ounces milk chocolate - broken up
  • 8 ounces white chocolate -broken up
  • 1 cup shelled pistachio nuts
  • 1/2 cup dried, mixed berries
  • 1/4 cup of sweetened cranberries
To get things started you need to lightly toast the pistachios on a baking tray in the oven for about 10 minutes on 350º. Let them cool a little afterwards. Melt the milk chocolate over the hob or in the microwave for about 2-3 minutes.

Then add the pistachios and berries to the melted chocolate. Save a handful to sprinkle on the top.


Next you need to mix the berries and nuts thoroughly through the chocolate. Then you will pour the mixture out onto a cookie sheet lined with greaseproof paper.

Spread it out so that it's an even level, a couple of centimetres thick. Next, melt the white chocolate. Take a spoon and drop dollops of the white chocolate onto the milk chocolate mixture.

Use a spoon to swirl the two chocolates together to create a marbled effect. Don't mix it around too much or it will just look muddy instead.


Sprinkle the remainder of the nuts and berries on top of the mixture and then put it all in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes or until it's set. Take it out and break it into large chunks. And....

..voilà!!


Now, here is where some serious willpower is needed. Instead of eating all of it right there and then (difficult, trust me) you can package it up using clear cellophane bags and ribbon and give it away as gifts. If you want to make it look really snazzy you can buy glass jars and decorate them with stickers and ribbon. Make sure you add a gift tag with a message from yourself so the recipient always remembers how selfless you were giving up such an amazing treat!!



I was going to tell you that you can store this Festive Chocolate Treat in the fridge for up to a month but then I realized there's really no point. There's no chance it's going to last that long.

I hope you like the recipe. I also made a white chocolate and peppermint version, which was equally mouthwatering!

Merry Christmas everyone and have a happy New Year! x

Monday, December 19, 2011

Food and Fun in the South of France



Mr. Schmidt and I were lucky enough to spend Thanksgiving weekend in the South of France this year. 
Something that I never got around to telling you about (but absolutely should have, shame on me) was the incredible eating experiences we had on our little getaway.
Now I must start off my saying French cuisine and I did not get off on a very good start. In Paris last year we had a continual stream of bad luck concerning our choice of restaurants.

Good Job, France, you have totally redeemed yourself!

Breakfast

Le Vieux Four Saint Anne 
10 Rue Eugène Lisbonne, 34000 Montpellier, France

If there is one thing the french know how to do right, it is bake. For this reason I must encourage you to opt for a breakfast of delicious pastries on a park bench instead of a sitting down for a meal in a cafe or restaurant. Steven and I had the most incredible experience at Le Vieux Four Saint Anne, a charming bakery in the artistic Saint Anne district of historic Montpellier. The woman serving us was loud and vivacious, encouraging us to speak our newly-learned French words while ordering, smiling and laughing with us the entire time. Also, with delicious baguettes baked fresh that morning for only 80 euro cents...how can you go wrong? 






Lunch

Aux Pizza Tavola
8 Rue Copé Cambes, 34000 Montpellier, France

Hidden away in an alleyway just minutes from Montpellier's central Place de La Comedie sits a charming pizza restaurant named Aux Pizza Tavola. My first word of advice to you about this place: come hungry. In lieu of ordering two seperate meals, each guest picks two types of pizza off of the menu. A giant rectangular pizza quite literally the size of the tabletop is served, each of your choices taking up a section. The hubs and I are both big eaters but there was absolutely no hope of finishing off this puppy. So satisfying!



Dinner 

Aux Deux Fondues
5 Rue Faubourg de la Saunerie, 34000 Montpellier, France

This fondue place is truly a must visit. It is hilarious. No, really, the restaurant is genuinely humorous. Cartoon drawings cover the walls, lingerie hangs from the ceiling, and the drinks are served in baby bottles. No, I'm not kidding about any of this. For about €18 a person, customers receive one drink for before the meal, served with a salad, another drink for during the meal, a ridiculously large amount of cheese fondue served with an unlimited amount of bread, and a chocholate fondue dessert with a variety of fruit, cake, and other treats for dipping. We were seated in between two other tables and proceeded to have really enjoyable conversations with the parties on both sides. The service was great, albeit the servers were a little wacky. For those of you that do drink, the servers were passing around free shots, which our newfound friends seemed to enjoy very much. We spent nearly three hours there enjoying the delicious food and company. Go there if you dare, I highly reccomend it! 






Late Night

Le Café du Thêatre
3 Place de la Comédie, 34000 Montpellier, France

Something we really liked about Montpellier was that things actually stayed open late, quite unlike Germany. Restaurants didn't fill up for dinner until after 8, and people could be seen lounging at outdoor cafe tables well past midnight...on a week day. After a long but enjoyable day of sightseeing Steven and I opted for hot chocholate at Cafe du Theatre, a cafe looking out right on the beautiful Place de la Comédie at about 11 PM. The hot chocholate here is served in an unusual but delicious way; melted dark chocholate is poured artfully in a mug and served along side a cup of hot milk. We poured the milk over the chocholate and mixed ourselves...I must say it was the best hot chocholate I've had, possibly ever! Who wants powder mixes when you have have the real thing? 




Our trip to Montpellier definitely ranks among my favorite trips of all time, and our unique and fun dining experiences have certainly contributed to this opinion! You also can't beat the weather there...
I think I'll go back there now. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Germany's Own Winter Wonderland


This is the view off of the terrace of my in-law's home.
They live about an hour outside of Frankfurt, out in the country.
How amazing it was to wake up to see a blanket of freshly fallen snow. 

At church today, the spirit of the holidays and christmas was almost tangible!
Singing christmas hymns while watching the snow fall outside, 
spending time with family and loved ones.

I know most of you reading this will be like "uh...snow, big deal."
Well, I'm from California. Snow IS a big deal. Don't hate. 

Christmas time in Europe is absolutely amazing.
If there's one thing these European folks know about,
it is holiday cheer. 

Christmas Time in Straßbourg, France (from last weekend!)










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