Just under the wire Jan

Oh hey! I’m terrible at suspense/lazy at the end of the day on a Tues, so here’s the TL;DR on Jan: I just barely made my 4 recipe goal.

Between the previously mentioned time crunch and a very stubborn cold, it was a squuuuueeeeaaker.

I know all 2-3 of us are here for terrible food pics and boring recipe talk, so here’s the rundown on January’s premier recipe:

Recipe 1: Bon Appetit’s Healthy-ish Cauliflower Bolognese

Before:

After (there is a filter doing some serious work here):

This one drove home exactly how rusty I am. I had to assemble my food processor. It was touch and go.

Pro tip: Plug it in! Jokes, it was a different issue, but there’s a clue here…

To be honest, and I hope I can be, this recipe did not impress. I didn’t brown the onions as much as I should have and probably over chopped both the cauliflower and the mushrooms. I have high expectations of anything bearing the name “bolognese” and it tasted a bit bitter and like a waste of a lovely box rigatoni.

That said, after sitting in the fridge for 3 days, it improved significantly.

Cooky thing rating: 2 out of 5 cookies (3 out of 5 after fridge-aging)

deliciousness to kitchen chaos ratio: 1:3 Not ideal.

What up, internet? Anything happen since 2012? (Introducing Cooky Thing 2020)

Hey world (or, hey 5-10 people who may come across this) — I’ve been a little quiet since 2012, but I’m back with a new project.

While some may say: “Hey, you made it 8 years without talking into the internet void, why not continue that streak?”

I say: “Wow. Rude. But, this is the internet so being rude is essentially how we prove to ourselves that we’re alive. That and correcting typos. No, I don’t care that I started a sentence with ‘but.'”

I’m back with a purpose. I have a resolution for 2020 that requires some accountability; writing about it here is where that accountability shall come to pass. Yes, there are quieter ways to be accountable to a goal. I’m a millennial, however, so sharing my progress publicly is the only way to ensure I get that shiny participation trophy.

Cooky Thing 2020 is what I’m calling my resolution to cook 4 new-to-me recipes a month and share them with you fine folks (hi, Mom!).

Me, two-ish paragraphs from now.

Ok, we’re on paragraph 5 — most of you are probably gone and I don’t even blame you. TikTok is a thing now and also who has time to read blogs since Google killed Google Reader (RIP). I’ll cut to the chase:

  • What is Cooky Thing 2020?
    • Cooky Thing 2020 is what I’m calling my resolution to cook 4 new-to-me recipes a month and share them with you fine folks (hi, Mom!).
  • Why are you doing this?
    • I want to learn to cook new things. While I make a killer pasta sauce, it’s time to add new things to the ol’ repertoire.
  • Can you stop?
    • No, darn it. Just close the tab! I am not forcing you to read this.

Anyway, because I spent the past month moving from Florida to Seattle, I have to cook all four new recipes this week. So, see you soon internet people.

Rothenburg ob de Awesome/Tauber

At any given hour, my family and I were in the Marketplatz sharing a drink with Australians (they’re everywhere).

When I last left you all, it was 2 AM and I was listening to a clock chiming every 30 minutes in Rothenburg. I’m now in Mainz, but nobody really cares about that — or at least you shouldn’t, because Rothenburg is incredible, it’s wundebar (English for amazeballs).

I went for that run on the wall around the city. This wall kept Rothenburg secure for nearly 700 years. The first time the wall was breached the city was invaded. The invasion happened because the person who managed Rotenburg’s gunpowder tower walked into the room with a torch. This decision 1) created a huge hole in the wall on the only accessible side, admitting about 40,000 crusaders during the 30 years war and 2) used up all of their gunpowder. Rothenburg, in an odd way, benefitted from this invasion. The resulting depression and poverty from the pillaging of the town caused it to remain an untouched and unmodernized medieval town until 1890, when tourists began to notice it.

Mom got some great Christmas stuff — they have a number of Christmas Markets in the town that somehow make May seem like December when you wander into them. We also saw some incredible churches, though that is not a unique feature for towns in this region.

We (reluctantly) moved on to Mainz yesterday, but on the way we drove the Romantic Road, passing through a number of idyllic and beautiful Bavarian towns. Yesterday was Kevin’s birthday! So we tried to find him something called Swinahauxsen (pig knuckle). We failed, but we did end up at a beautiful restaurant in Mainz’s old town, where I ate about 2 lbs of red cabbage kraut. I love this stuff. I will be attempting it at home.

Today, we did a cruise along the Rhine and visited the castle town of Heidelberg. I will tell more stories of these things soon. For now, it’s a mere 1 am! So I am wrapping up. Tomorrow, we go to Frankfurt and see some of Kevin’s old haunts. Should be good!

Here’s a palace, there’s a palace

Castles, oh my!

One of these days I will have a chance to blog when it is not 1AM. Maybe.

Alright, so — flying backwards in time to Prague. Prague is amazing, it’s so adorable that even the sidewalks are mosaics of white and dark red cobble stones. We spent a day walking around the Old Town section, meandering (read: huffing and puffing) up a hill to Prague Castle, and eating wonderful food. One fun fact about Prague — they have a tendency to throw people out of windows if they’re unhappy with them. It’s happened twice. The second time, the victims were lucky, in that they lived; but they were also unlucky, in that they lived because they fell on a large pile of manure. We saw the window these unlucky religious-freedom encroachers were thrown out of — it has a nice view!

We headed out of Prague and the Czech Republic (which mom began referring to as “her people”) and drove on down to Vienna the day before yesterday. Kevin promptly got a speeding ticket on arrival. Vienna is not joking around.

While Prague looks rustic and gothic, Vienna looks grand and…shiny. There’s lots of gilt and the preferred paint colors are reminiscent of cake frosting. We toured both the Hofburg and the Schonbrunn (Hapsburg palaces) — these people had expensive tastes! We’re talking “we-don’t-eat-off-of-porcelaine-only-silver-and gold” kind of expensive. This is convenient for us, because it makes their stuff really fun to look at. Again, shiny. The Schonbrunn is the summer palace, and despite getting caught in downpour, we ended up seeing a fair bit of the amazing gardens there (thanks to a last minute decision to invade a tour trolley). We also ended up in a great little restaurant where someone informed us that if we didn’t detour up the Danube to Krems to see the hillside vineyards, castles and river views, we were the worst Americans he’d ever met. Ok, actually he was just really enthusiastic and even drew us a map.

So, on our way out of Vienna to Rothenburg, we drove up to Krems and then down through the Danube Valley. Wow. I thought I was getting used to seeing castles and/or incredible churches pop up everywhere, but seriously! Mom also spotted a Bernese Mountain Dog at a small restaurant along the way. So, you can guess what she was most excited about.

We are now in Rothenburg Ob De Tauber and tomorrow I am planning to go for a run on the wall that encloses this very medieval-ish city. If I can wake up, that is ;). More soon (and hopefully earlier in the evening!).

The First 48 Hours

One half of the old section of Prague

Alright. My Dad promised we’d blog and so here “we” go. He’s asleep, as it’s 1:00 AM here. So, this should be good!

**If you want to skip to the pictures, click here!**

We’re in Prague! In fact we’re already leaving Prague tomorrow. In the past 48 hours we’ve been in Geneva, Frankfurt, Pilsen and Prague (and all of the highway in between that I couldn’t really see because Kevin was driving about 200 MPH (reality: 120 MPH)). However, I digress — “How did it all start?” might be a question you would ask.

Well, it all started with packing. The only relevant fact here is that my Dad’s suitcase is twice the size of my Mom’s and mine. He claims this is because he’s carrying 4,000 pairs of our shoes. This assertion is only partly true. Only 4 pairs of shoes in his suitcase are not his. The other potentially relevant fact related to packing is that it totally freaked out not one, but TWO Bernese mountain dogs, who anxiety-panted more than a type-A high schooler before the SAT.

In any case — off we went. Our journey was relatively uneventful. I forgot my phone for about 20 minutes at a Swiss security point, Mom thought her suitcase was broken into (it wasn’t), but other than that, our journey to Frankfurt was easy and fun.

Upon arrival in Frankfurt, we got in our lovely rental car and began driving (really fast) to Prague. Once we’d sorted out the GPS system in the car and switched it from kilometers to miles, we entered in the address for Pilsen Urquell brewery in the town of Pilsen or Plzen, for those if us who hate vowels (Czechs).

Kevin and I did a tour at the brewery, which ended with some awesome underground tunnels and a glass of unfiltered/delicious Pilsen. It also featured a lovely tour guide who spoke about 70% English and who was also forced to pretend that she was from the 19th centuryf. Quote: “You’re going to be getting on this technology I’ve never heard of called a ‘bus’ — I don’t know what that is because I died in the 1930’s, but I hear they are good.” Amazing. After the tour, we spent a great afternoon at the beer garden then headed on to Prague.

Prague is incredible. It’s like Disney World: 15th Century. Thankfully, there’s a fair amount of graffiti, so I am convinced this is a real city. Once we arrived, we checked into the hotel and Mom maneuvered an upgrade into two junior suites. Humblebrag: mine is two levels. We also went out and ate some typical Czech food, which Kevin claims is not all that different from traditional German food. Despite being a vegetarian, I had a great meal of potato soup in a bread bowl. I like how the Czechs are very pro-carbohydrate.

Today, we did all of the Prague things there are to do (or rather, mostly hung out in Old Town, gawked at churches, went to Prague Castle and drank a lot of beer/Czeck wine). The pictures I’ve uploaded to Flickr tell this story far better than I could, so I’ll leave it to you to click on through. Read: I drank 5 beers today and I’m tired.

For now, I’m off to sleep. We’re heading on to Austria tomorrow, if the trip is relatively uneventful I will share more specific info about Prague — this post is already waayyyyy too long!

We miss you all!

It’s a takeover!

For the next nine days, Bloggy Thing will be the home of my parents and my temporary travel blog. We’re traveling through Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria. Some things are planned…most things are not. In any case, it should be highly amusing!

 

Get excited…

 

 

Lessons Learned From HGTV

Mattie, sniffin' out the life lessons.
Mattie, sniffin' out the life lessons.*

In honor of my recent birthday, I want to write about all of the wisdom I have gleaned through my multitudinous years of existence. I have learned life lessons from so many revered and well-respected corridors – famous authors, close family, special teachers, Captain Planet, Full House, Family Matters and of course, Salute Your Shorts.

When you’re 27 going on 28 (and not, in fact, 28 going on 29 as your Dad lead you to believe all year), some of the aforementioned pop-cultural sources start to feel slightly…contrived. Urkel is not as relatable as he once was, so you begin to search for other sources of wisdom. But where to turn?? If you’re me, the answer is HGTV’s House Hunters!

Here are 8 life lessons I’ve learned from House Hunters and House Hunters International:

  1. Know what you want, but be flexible when unexpected awesomeness comes your way – even if that en suite balcony is your dream, isn’t the incredible view worth compromising for?
  2. Curb appeal is important, but it’s the inside that really gets you going – sure you’ve got some gorgeous clapboard going on, but if you’re full of dated appliances and 70’s inspired bathrooms, no one’s going to get excited.
  3. Everyone has a budget, don’t be ashamed! – sure, that place with the hot tub on the porch is great. But you need to be able to afford sandwiches (and additional sandwiches for your dog).
  4. Pick your fellow hunter carefully – if you like classic colonials and they like modern egg-shaped houses, you’re search is going to be rocky.
  5. Be realistic about DIY – can you identify a phillips head screw driver without googling it? Are you familiar with spackle? Even if the answer to both of those questions is yes, you probably still aren’t going to be redoing that sponge painted bathroom with the shell sink any time soon.
  6. Don’t be a jerk — No one will want to watch you pick your future home, they will instead feel bad for the realtor dealing with you.
  7. Be tolerant and open to new cultures — sure, it’s the tradition in Latvia for the toilet to be in the middle of kitchen (it’s not), don’t be a total American about it and demand a toilet free kitchen covered in stainless steel.
  8. When presented with three choices, always declare your final choice out loud and in unison with your fellow decision maker — be sure to practice ahead of time so you are sure you agree, but make sure this does not appear staged.

As I journey through 28 I hope to find even more sources of life lessons and learning. If you have any lessons to share, please, don’t be shy. We learn together.

*I hope you enjoyed the gratuitous Mattie picture at the top. I got a camera, so this will be happening more often. Huzzah!