Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Ok, actually getting on schedule here on my Mein First 30 Deutsche Days...

We did a little more exploring in the park surrounding The Playground Of Death today. It appeared to be some sort of community garden, but set up differently than what I'm used to. Instead of one large space, this one appears to be divided into separate sections that presumably are each tended by individuals and families.

I did a little googling and discovered that these are called allotment gardens (or kleingärten and schrebergärten, here) and the individual lots are leased from the land owner. I love the idea that people living in urban areas are still so connected to natural creation that they seek out a space to tend!

Look how pretty it is!

allotment garden

It seemed like a lot of people were growing flowers and other pretty flora and foliage rather than foods or practical produce. Just for the sake of growing and enjoying the pretty! I love it.

allotment garden

Wandering a little further, we found a veritable zoo of birds in cages.

allotment garden

I thought maybe they were being raised for food, but I don't believe anybody eats these types of birds.

allotment garden

I need to get past this Puritan obsession with productivity and get used to the idea of extraordinary effort solely on behalf of beauty.

allotment garden

Like these! How pretty are these chickens!? I want pants in that pattern.

At one point, we noticed we were being followed. Cue ominous music.


Cute mugger, huh? She was so funny, too. Every time we turned around and paid her any attention, she would look off to the side and start to turn around like oh crap, they spotted their tail.


At this point, I was assuming people must feed the ducks in the park. But, I couldn't make heads or tails of this sign.

I had to ask a friend on Facebook whether this said "please don't feed the ducks, they get fat and bully the fish" or "ducks love bread, go ahead and feed them!". Turns out neither.

It says only to feed them if they can eat it. But, they should not get too much, so they don't get fat. And there should not be bread swimming in the water or laying around.

How awesome is that!? I'm used to signs saying things like "NO SWIMMING" or "EMPLOYEES MUST WASH HANDS". I love a paragraph long explanation with a funny illustration.

In conclusion, this park is so awesome that even the trash cans are happy.

trash can

And even more awesome than the park is the food! Everywhere we've gone, the food has been fresh and delicious and significantly more awesome than I would expect given its context. Mall food...? Awesome. With waiters, even! Home improvement store food...? Awesome. Wait, back up you say.

We walked next door to the OBI this evening, which appears to be akin to a Home Depot or Lowe's. There was a bakery inside! Where there would usually be a crapton of shopping carts in an American home improvement store - in the little area between the front doors and the interior doors - there was a bakery! With delicious breads and desserts! And in the parking lot where there would usually be a little truck/cart selling hot dogs in an American home improvement store was a truck selling rotisserie chicken and schnitzel. And the rotisserie chicken was soooo delicious. We think it was probably fresher than what you would typically get as rotisserie chicken in an American supermarket, and that probably explains the extra super delicious factor.

When I worked for the poultry processing plant in North Carolina, we would get two whole chickens as a Christmas gift from the company. These would typically have been killed and processed that day or no more than a few days prior. And the first one you cooked was so amazingly delicious.

All the driving we do in our food system here (example: we killed and cut up chickens in North Carolina that we would truck out to California to be marinated and processed by a further processor that would in turn truck the prepared chicken all over the country - including North Carolina - to be cooked and sold in a certain Chinese restaurant train) guarantees that your food will lose most of its freshness and a lot of its natural flavor. Without that lead time, food is just better. And in a small place, you don't have that lead time. Better!

Technorati tags: Germany, relocation, allotment gardens

Zwei (und Eins)

Well, here we are on Day Two of Mein First 30 Deutsche Days and I've already dropped the ball 50% of the time. Off to a great start!

We arrived in Germany bleary eyed and bushy tailed yeterday morning. Hollywood has done me a disservice. It turns out that the only time I've heard German is out of the mouths of movie Nazis and the language was a little ominous on my ears for most of the day yesterday.

The Man's coworkers picked us up at the airport and dropped myself, the kids and our luggage off at the hotel before carting him off for some initial paperwork and processing. We'll just lay down and close our eyes for a little while, kids, then we'll be up and at 'em! Ha ha ha. Four hours later, The Man came home and we woke up.

We then wandered around for a while, stopping to eat, pick up some food and generally gawk at our surroundings. You really don't realize how many of the little, tiny interactions and expectations that pepper your day are a product of your culture until you're suddenly operating under the proscribed interactions and expectations of somebody else's culture. It's fascinating, really!

For instance, German grocery stores (at least the one we went to yesterday) don't have bags or baggers. They sell bags, but typically prefer you figure out that you need them before you've rung all your items up and are just hanging around in the next person's way. Turns out, I prefer to figure that out at roughly the same time.

Also, you are expected to weigh up your own fruits and vegetables in the produce department and print out little stickers for each, displaying the weight and price for the cashier to ring up. Turns out, when your cashier doen't speak English and you don't speak German, that little expectation is not as easily figured out as you might think.

Yesterday was a little overwhelming in some ways and quite exciting in others.

Today, we ended up on post for most of the day, dealing with the typical Army beaurocracy that is completely within the realm of my known interactions and expectations. They are trying to force us to live on post, but we are fighting it and (I believe) holding the winning hand. In case you haven't dealt with the military's particular brand of red tape before, here's a little dose: the Housing Office casually informs us that had we shown up two months later, we'd be on an extremely long waiting list for on post housing, but as it is there are two (TWO!) apartments available and therefore we must take one. In other words, in two months they will have zero (ZERO!) trouble filling to absolute capacity, but prefer to operate as if they won't be able to fill those vacancies unless they force unwilling families to reside there against their wishes. WHY!? Why, I ask, WHY!? Who knows why, but I'll add that to my list of Things To Expound On Should I Ever Happen To Catch The Ear of An Extremely High Ranking Individual.

On the positive side, German is sounding more and more familiar and pleasant to my ear with each passing hour and has completely shed the initially threatening tenor. The houses that we will (WILL!) get a chance to look at as soon as we win this little battle are so very lovely and very promising! The food here is amazing. The people (once in possession of a valid reason to speak to you) are quite friendly and open. All in all, this seems to be a lovely country that we will really enjoy our time in!

Yesterday afternoon, we discovered a lovely park a few blocks behind our hotel. It was designed explicitly to give American Moms heart attacks and the kids loved every minute of it.

Technorati tags: Germany, relocation, park

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sauerkraut Fried Sushi...?

I haven't really mentioned this here because it was just a big maybe for a very long time and then all of a sudden it was a definite and then it kind of felt like old news.

But, it's true...we're moving to Germany!! And we are all so. super. pumped. about it. With the minor exception of Cheeseball who isn't quite comprehending what Germany is or what it means to pick up and move. El Niño has been through this before and has always been fascinated with the idea of exploring the rest of the world. He may possibly be more excited than we are.

You guys, we're going from this...

to THIS...


We leave before the end of the month and I can't wait to blog the transition!!  I'm going to try very hard to post daily on Mein First 30 Deutsch Days.  I have to give up my iPhone, though, with the move and I'm not entirely sure what kind of connectivity we'll have right off the bat. Still, I'm going to try.

Technorati tags: moving, Germany, relocation

Monday, March 15, 2010

Another one bites the dust.

I'm not sure what one would call this thing, but I'd say it's a neck gator.  Except I don't intend to hike it up over my nose.

It's from my book of difficult and complicated patterns. I used the wrong kind of yarn, so it didn't come out exactly the way it was supposed to. I still like it.

I also used my webcam to take a picture for the first time ever, hence the totally awkward shot.

Technorati tags: knitting

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Weekly Etsy/ 3.14.10

Can't believe another week is behind us! It's amazing how dropping one hour makes time fly even faster. But it does, and here we are and I hope you enjoy!

pillow by junahbird

antique doilies from fadedprairie

stickers from seasonaldelights

vintage shoes from SweetToothVintage

earrings by theshagbag

tote by christystudio

glasses from Vintage50sEyewear

Technorati tags: etsy, handmade, vintage

Friday, March 12, 2010

Happy Friday! 3.12.10

We have some fun things planned this weekend and are undeterred by the blah weather. I'm posting a few of my favorite things from blogland over the past week to add to your fun plans for the weekend!

Oh, Hello Friend turned me on to the adorable We Love Crafts online magazine. The layout is fun and the projects and pictures are cute and serve as great inspiration. If you don't understand enough Spanish to navigate the magazine, probably don't have children who watch Dora.

I love the vintage inspired kid's birthday party featured on Decor8 this week.

Can't wait to score this kind of haul when we get to Germany and back to real farmers' markets!

Nicole at Making It Lovely put together a fantastic round up of painting advice, tips and tricks that I would have loved to read about two months ago.

A big part of why I wanted to take up knitting is my obsession with fingerless gloves. These, featured on Sacred Lotus, are uh-may-zing. I wants. Also, I wants her hair.

I'm looking forward to maggie makes' tutorial for this adorable fabric flower adorned easter basket.

Sfgirlbybay launched a vintage shop on Etsy. La Petite cute is that!?

Love the sweet vase yarn craft featured on Sweet Paul's Crafty Friday this week. I foresee the need to use up scrap yarn in my future and would love to use it this way!

I hope you all have a lovely weekend and enjoy these inspirations and ideas! What do you have on the burner this weekend?

Technorati tags: weekly links, crafts, blogging

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My new hobby.

I've taken up knitting! I'm a knitter! And I'm so totally excited about it. I love the idea of making things to wear. I've done a lot of cross stitching and my friend Alicia and I have a shared craft blog. But, I haven't really created anything that I could wear. And, if you've been following along here at Chicken Fried Sushi, you know I likes things to wear.

Of course - before I even bought yarn or needles - I ran out and purchased a book full of difficult and complicated patterns.

Because, you know...that's smart. Sigh. Then I backtracked and went online. I found Lion Brand Yarn's Learn to Knit section really clear and helpful. It has both illustrated instructions and videos for each stitch. I also read somewhere on these here Interwebz that a knit stitch scarf was a very easy first project. So I made one!

When I finished it, I realized that I had dropped two stitches right next to each other which created a hole in the scarf.  So, I knitted a little rose out of my super awesome yet difficult book to plug the hole and it came out really cute!  But, also the size of half Cheeseball's head.  I tried to modify the pattern to make it smaller but apparently modifying patterns is waaaay over my pay grade.  I ended up just knitting a few rows of knit 2, purl 2 and then stitching the ends together and gathering the "flower" in the center.  I may go back and add a little button in the middle of it at some point.  I'm actually glad I made that mistake, because I think the flower is really cute on the scarf.

I think she likes it, too!

I ordered The Chicks with Sticks Guide to Knitting: Learn to Knit with More Than 30 Cool, Easy Patterns and can't wait for it to get here! A lot of the patterns on line are easy and you can certainly learn to knit with them but they fall woefully short on the cool criterion.

I also can't wait to hit up the new etsy shop of an old high school friend. She weaves and hand dyes her own fibers and they are so beautiful. I'll need to wait until the things I knit doen't have holes that need to be plugged or wildly varied stitch sizing. So, it could be a while...

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Ah, consumerism.

I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I've gone on a bit of a shopping spree over the past few days. I'm rationalizing by pointing to the fact that I've been so focused on the house and the move that I haven't really bought myself anything in quite a while. Also, I really wanted this stuff.

Sunday was the Jean Paul Gaultier for Target release. I rose and I shone and I hustled over to Target first thing. Before 9:00. AM. Not only did my Target not have any of the stuff out, they had no idea what I was talking about. All the way up to the manager! Another reason I won't miss this town.

So, back home and to I went.  The trench I really, really wanted sold out by 4am Sunday morning.

But, I did grab this dress:

And this top:

Then, a certain someone got me in big trouble by texting me to check out the L.A.M.B. boutique on Rue La La. Big trouble.

Who could resist these!? Not me.

And then. And then. I went back to Target today. And they finally had the Gaultier line out! So, I bought this.

Which...looks ridiculous in this picture, no?  Yes.  Yes, it does.  But it's actually really cute!

Ahem.  And I bought this.

And, now I will go to Target every day until they get the rest of the line (specifically THAT TRENCH) in.  And I will buy the trench.  And then I will need to be separated from my debit card for a good, long time.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Tea Party Breakdown

I had so much fun getting everything together for this party that I thought I'd go through it all here for posterity.

I started off the decorations with these giant tissue pom poms I first saw on Nothing But Bonfires with instructions by Martha Stewart:

tea party

Martha's instructions turned me on to the matching plate decorations. Hers are napkin rings, but with no cloth napkins, I just prettied up the plates with them.

tea party tablescape

For the placecards, I printed the girls' names and a vintage teapot from The Graphics Fairy. (Who, by the way, posts a new vintage clip art every day and they're all pretty darn awesome. I highly recommend subscribing.) I added a sparkly piece of patterned paper across the top and punched out a few butterflies from the same paper.

I also used a tea cup from The Graphics Fairy and patterned paper for the invitations. Some of the leftover solid color cardstock from the recipe binders came in handy for the invite and its envelope.

I laid the bracelets on the table so the girls could wear them during the party. I strung these together with beads from Michaels, memory wire and some finishings I stole from a jewelry kit that Nana had bought Cheeseball a while back.

For refreshments, I wanted everything to be tiny and girly. As the decor and plans evolved, I seemed to be leaning toward a garden theme. So I made sandwiches with cheese, orange marmalade and peanut butter & nutella (not all together) and cut them out with flower and mushroom shaped cookie cutters.

tea party snacks

I made chocolate cupcakes and orange cupcakes, both were recipes out of books from the library and neither were particularly special. I really like the idea of orange cupcakes and will have to tinker with a recipe until I can make that orange flavor really stand out.

I used pearl dust, edible glitter, sprinkles and a small star tip for the various cupcake decorations. The muffin cups came from the cutest little online store - Bake It Pretty. I had so much fun with these that I really want to work on my piping and get the hang of a few frosting flowers and other techniques.

tea party snacks

I printed these cute tea cup note cards from Creature Comforts on cardstock for the girls to color.

tea party activity

I wanted to make a bingo style game with tea party clip art but I spent an hour that morning reinstalling drivers to get my printer to work so I didn't get a chance. :( Maybe next time!

Linked on Brag Monday on *The Graphics Fairy* and Making the World Cuter Monday.

The Girl Creative

Technorati tags: tea party, DIY, kids party

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Saturday, March 06, 2010

And a tea party was had.

We Cheeseball hosted her sweet little tea party this morning. Sooooo cute, you guys!

Where they sat:

tea party

tea party tablescape

What they ate:

tea party snacks

tea party snacks

What they did:

tea party activity

tea party

Technorati tags: tea party, kids, cupcakes

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Tea Party Table Decor

Our Cheeseball's tea party had to be rescheduled to Saturday. I tried valiantly not to cry. I think I succeeded.

Meanwhile, the decoration preparations played on...

Plate decor.  (At least until the cupcakes march in.)


I actually think the real ones came out better.  I prefer the butterfly placements.

Technorati tags: tea party, DIY, decor

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Tea party coming...

Cheeseball has invited a friend over for a tea party on Friday and I'm not sure which of us is more genuinely excited about the affair.

I'm going to post some of the things I'm working on over the week and once we have the party, I'll go through the how tos and where froms and all the technical jabberwocky. But, for now...what was on the burner today:

The invite.

Inside the invite.


Party favors.

Technorati tags: tea party, DIY, invitations

Monday, March 01, 2010

Smaller, Prettier Recipe Binders

I adore poring over cookbooks. The pictures are beautiful and everything seems so delicious. And there is something so satisfying about holding a heavy, pretty cookbook in your hands.

I've done a detailed study of the first recently and checked the latter two (1,2) out of the library this week.

But, I find that as much as I enjoy cookbooks, the recipes I actually use the most are almost always printed from the Internet or passed on by family and friends.  Which means that I spend most of my recipe time poring over this heavy but exceedingly ugly binder.

Note the sole decoration - the original manufacturer sticker on the spine - it's been the aesthetic theme of this binder for about ten years. Not anymore! I started with some patterned cardstock, coordinating solid colors and a big stack of bright white cardstock. Also, four 1" binders with view pockets.

A little snipping and a little glueing and voila...

I'm so excited to be working with smaller binders instead of lugging the dirty behemoth around the house.  And I love how much prettier they are!

Technorati tags: recipes, cooking, organization