Christmas stars and Guitars!

Oh how quickly the holidays came this year… and they went by even more quickly!

Ryan and I had a lovely holiday weekend.  On Christmas Eve Ryan came home early… things were all ready to go so we took the boys outside to play and to take some pictures.

I do love a man in uniform!  *Snicker*

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All my boys look so handsome!

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Turns out that the magic words to get them to pose for the camera are… “Do you want a TREAT?”

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Of course, what is a photo shoot with Ryan and I without one incredibly goofy shot?

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Once it got far too cold to be outside we spent the evening watching Christmas movies, playing games, opening stockings and drinking egg nog!  It was a lovely evening!

Christmas morning dawned early but not exactly bright for us… (sunrise doesn’t come here until almost 9am right now!)  We decided this year to forego the normal Christmas dinner since it was just the two of us.  Instead I made a monster pot roast with all the trimmings and some Christmas sides as well.  So, first thing Christmas morning I put the pot roast on and then made a quiche for us for our breakfast.

We got each other just a few small things this year to save money since we are getting ready to make the move back to the states and are in the process of downsizing.  After breakfast we went ahead and opened our gifts to each other.  I think our favorite part of Christmas morning was watching the boys enjoy their gifts! 

That’s right, busy bones!

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You’ve just got to love these faces!

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 Doesn’t he just look so happy?

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After filling his stomach with treats Yoda stretched out to take a long nap…

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We had dinner around 2pm and spent some time enjoying our gifts.  Then, at about 5pm my family called us over the internet.  We hooked up our webcams which are both attached to our big screen TV’s and left the connection open to do our gift exchange.  It was almost like being in the room with them!  So fun!!!  We even got to be a part of my nieces’ first Christmas! 

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I didn’t take pictures of gifts except these water globe things that my sister got me…  They just looked so pretty in the sun so I couldn’t resist!

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We loved all the gifts we got from the family.  Clothes, toys, jewelry, books, games, and a few other odds and ends… 

After we were all done we signed off so they could go enjoy their breakfast and we called Ryan’s family.  We visited with them for a little over an hour and then our Christmas was over.  Well… except for the very best part… LEFTOVERS!  In the form of pot roast sandwiches and leftover potatoes and carameled carrots! 

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The next couple of days were free days to enjoy with each other and we took advantage of our time.  We spent hours enjoying our new toy…  ROCKBAND!  So much fun….

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We played so much that on Friday I didn’t even put on makeup!  No matter… I Rock… my shirt says so!!!

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Ryan gets the better guitar because of course he’s a guy and better at it than me! Oooo pretty!

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We rocked out together!  I took base and he took guitar…  It was a blast!

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Unfortunately we are apparently hilarious to watch when playing…  (Camera is set up on auto and I’m only sharing the best of the worst!)

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When we had played dual guitars for a while I decided to take a crack at singing.  LOL  That was hilarious!  I can sing… not beautifully but I don’t make dogs bark or anything… until I played this game!  I swear it only judges pitch and volume.  If you don’t howl at the moon you fail.  And, as you can see from the picture, it’s shocking how many lyrics of my favorite songs I DON’T know!  Those unknown words come across that screen fast!  Can you see the panic?

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After a particularly foul howl I burst into laughter and made Ryan laugh at me too… sad thing?  I got 100% on this song… apparently I laugh on key!

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Then we had our big finish!

Charly, you’re right, this game is a HOOT!

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On Saturday we took a break to go visit some friends who just had a baby and do a photo shoot for them. 

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Also, don’t think that I forgot about my French onion soup!  It came out wonderfully!!!!  So, as promised, here is the recipe.

 French Market Onion Soup

(Serves 6-8)

2 Tablespoons butter
2 lb yellow onions, halved and sliced 1/2″ wide (I used sweet onions and ringed them instead)
4 cans (14oz) beef broth
1 can beef consomme undiluted (campbell makes it)
1/4 cup freshly ground Romano cheese
salt & pepper to taste (I used 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp pepper and it seemed to work just fine)

Method

For the correct cooking method you need to go to the Mimi’s Cafe webpage to check it out… http://www.mimiscafe.com/recipes.aspx

I adapted it for a crock pot since that’s my favorite method of cooking.  So basically the crock pot makes it much easier…  Melt the butter in a pan and saute all the onions until soft but not browned.  Then toss everything into the crock pot and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

To serve ‘Au Gratin’ pour into ovenproof soup crocks or bowls.  Top with toasted, sliced french bread and sliced or grated cheese.  (Gruyere, Mozzarella, Swiss or Parmesan, or any combination thereof.)  We prefer Swiss.  Broil until the cheese melt and serve!  Be careful… it’s HOT!

ENJOY!

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And now it’s back to the real world today!  Back to work…

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Auf Wiedersehen!

Courtney

 

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A plethora of pots!

So I have a brand new washing machine… again.  This time we convinced the FMO guys to leave it on the floor in the basement instead of up on the pedestal so that it can’t dive off again.  Boy I had an ugly basement before but now it’s just hideous!  Oh well…

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It worked for exactly ONE load and then crapped out on me.  No violent death this time just a quiet flashing and beeping each time I tried to start my load.   See that little orange zero over there?  Every time I turned on the machine that thing flashed, the machine beeped, and a little key lit up.  Can you spot the problem?  My whole washing machine is in German!  I can’t read this!!!!  (So is the manual for those that are wondering.)

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Want a closer look?  Do you think you can figure out what all of that means?  So we had to have FMO come out again.  They came this morning with another washing machine just in case.  Apparently we are getting a reputation.  THey came while I was upstairs…  The bell rang, Ryan opened the door, and by the time I got down the stairs they guys was driving away again.  I looked at Ryan in confusion and he grinned sheepishly back.

It turns out that the child safety lock on the machine was on.  All we had to do was turn it off.  Can you see how to do that?  No?  Me either…  It turns out you just have to put your finger over that big silver button on the right with the orange light in the middle of it for five whole seconds and it turns it off….  NICE….

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So we have a working washing machine again… FINALLY!

So to make up for our embarrassing morning and the lingering scent of WET-DOG-IN-A-POT (for details please see my last post) I made a recipe that I have been trying to find for YEARS and only found yesterday.  Mimi’s Market French Onion Soup!  I hope it turns out wonderfully because it smells amazing!!!!

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I even have individual soup crocks in my pottery and I have french bread and fat slices of fresh swiss cheese to melt over the top!  Oooo I can’t wait.

See they have super thick bottoms and little serving plates so you can pull them right out of the oven, put them on a plate, and serve!  YUMMO!

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So I’m off to watch over my soup and run the 6 loads of laundry that have built up over these past few weeks of in and out washers.  Also I had to wash our bed sheets and bath towels today because they all reek of WET-DOG-IN-A-POT which I just can’t handle anymore!

Enjoy these last few days leading up to Christmas and enjoy each other!

Auf Wiedersehen and Fröhliche Weihnachten!

Courtney

 

WET-DOG-IN-A-POT

I love to cook.

I love to make up new recipes, revive old ones from the family collection and try new ones from wherever I can find them!

As far as I can tell I’m pretty good at it.  At least, everyone usually enjoys my food and asks me for the recipe and I consider that a high compliment.  

However, even though I seem to have pretty good instincts in the kitchen, not everything I cook turns out!

Oh?  Don’t believe me?  Just think back to my invention of Pootellini! *Shudder*

Well, yesterday was another invention day…  I found a recipe for a German lentiL and frankfurter soup all full of carrots, onions, and celery…  It sounded amazing and Ryan agreed so I spent the morning getting it all together and tossed it in the pot to cook.

Within an hour or two I knew… just KNEW… that something was wrong.  It smelled… well, FUNKY.   I pulled the lid off and sniffed then double checked the recipe convinced I must have missed something crucial but everything was EXACTLY as it should be.  Ryan insisted is smelled good to him so I left it alone.

By the time dinner time rolled around I couldn’t even go into the kitchen!

Meet my latest invention…

WET-DOG-IN-A-POT

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It took me one good whiff sans lid to name it and that is EXACTLY how is smelled.  I wouldn’t know how it tasted… I wouldn’t touch it, though Ryan had a double helping and even insisted on packing up a few tupperware full to take for lunches… I certainly won’t sanction it being heated up again in the house.  The rest went straight into the house and it took me forcing Ryan to clean out the pot (I wasn’t touching it!) and hours of burning candles to get the smell out enough to breath.

But despite the smell he seemed to enjoy the greyish gloop that was my failed attempt at dinner…

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Are you gagging yet?  I AM!

In fact this stuff was so incredibly potent that I went upstairs and passed out with my nose buried in some real wet dog just to escape the smell!

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Well, that’s about it for me today!  Can you believe that Christmas will be here in only three days? 

Have a good day all and may you have great success in your kitchens this week… unlike me!

Auf Wiedersehen!

Courtney

 

ICE!

Good day!

Well, yesterday was a success.  The FMO guys came, brought me a new washer, AGAIN, agreed to leave it earth bound this time to avoid yet another death, and I’ve got the very first load of laundry running in it with hopes that it will come out smelling fresh and clean!  WOOT!

Last night we had an ice storm here.  I didn’t realize it because it has begun getting dark here at about 4:15pm and so I closed the blinds so that I could turn on lights.  I got a call from Ryan at about 6pm as he was on his way home.  He asked if I could please go check the driveway to see if it was iced over and if so could I salt the whole driveway…  (You can’t know how much work that is!  It’s a lot of driveway! 🙂  I opened my door and gasped… It was bitterly cold and a harsh mist of tiny ice crystals was plummeting out of the sky.  I ducked right back inside, donned Ryan’s heavy winter coat and a scarf and set back out to salt the driveway.  Sure enough you could almost skate on it and I barely survived without a cracked skull or broken ankle.

Unfortunately it was too dark to take many pictures and this morning the temperature rose quickly enough that the ice is gone…

I did get a few of the crown of ice our street lamp wore though!

This first one shows the thin sheet of ice that covered everything… see the reflection of the light on the house behind it?  That was all ice!

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And just look at the gorgeous crown of ice…

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Nothing else of note is going on around here… we are simply enjoying each others company and waiting like little kids to tear into the pile of gifts that have arrived from family and friends back home.

Auf Wiedersehen!

Courtney

Of pictures & washers & Christmas dreams

I’m so sorry for being away for so long.  I have been working on Ryan’s pictures of Israel and to be honest it’s quite a job!  Those of you who have been with me for quite a while now know that I do my very best to tell the story of each picture.  As, I am sure you can imagine, editing over 600 pictures, researching everything they show, and writing it out in a fashion that will be interesting to read is quite a job.  Now add to that the fact that Ryan saw quite a bit of one of the most history rich areas in the world and it’s taking me a bit longer than I had anticipated. 

To complicate things, I’ve been extremely busy with day to day life lately.  It will never cease to amaze me how much work a second person makes!  🙂  For 8 months of this year I have lived alone and therefore have fallen into a routine that requires very little work.  If I use a dish I clean it.  When there is enough laundry to run a load I run it.  When that load is done washing I fold it.  When the house needs to be vacuumed I do so.  I cook once a week and freeze it in single serving sized portions and eat out of my freezer the rest of the week.  It’s lonely and a little OCD but it works.

Now suddenly there is one more member of our family home and instead of doubling the work it’s seems to have multiplied it by 100 fold!  I run the dishwasher AT LEAST once a day (keep in mind I have a mini German dishwasher) I have AT LEAST one load of laundry every day and because I forget to do it in a timely manner (I am of course used to running a load a week) I often have two or three loads to do at a time.  Here in Germany the washers and dryers are very different.  It takes an hour and 12 minutes to wash a load and anywhere between one and a half hours and three hours to dry it!  So two or three loads can take all day.  I find that all the other things I have to do take up my time and I don’t get to the folding until I have a pile to be sorted and folded.  Vacuuming?  Ha!  Once a week when I was alone… now three times a week on average.  And as much as I LOVE to cook I have been out of the habit for most of the year.  I now find myself scrambling to find food to make for dinner and I’m not having as much fun as I remember… must be all those dishes.

I know that this is not an unusual amount of work.  I know that many of you with families have much more to do than I.  I am not complaining, just pointing out that Ryan coming home has upset my universe!  LOL  And something had to give…  All that aside I’m enjoying having Ryan home.  I’ve missed him and the companionship that comes with marriage, I’ve missed having someone warm to cuddle in my sleep when the wind howls and frost coats the window panes, I’ve missed having something to look forward to at the end of the day!  I’ll enjoy that and get used to the rest soon enough!

So, that said, things are getting back to normal around here.  Ryan is back to work on a regular schedule until Christmas.  (Can you believe that Christmas is NEXT WEEK?)  Oh and we have FMO coming out to the house tomorrow to look at my washing machine.  You’ll never guess why!  Do you remember at the beginning of Ryan’s six month deployment when my washing machine committed washerside?  When it through itself off of the pedestal and landing on it’s face, ripping the plug out of the wall and shattering it’s internal workings?  Yeah… well, the BRAND NEW washer did it again!  The day Ryan came home from the TDY to Israel.  I don’t know what to do about this problem.  After the last instance of washerside I have been insanely diligent.  Every time I load it I shake it to make sure it’s not overbalanced or the feet aren’t uneven so that it’s in danger of rocking but it did it anyway!!!  I think I’m going to ask for ANOTHER new washer and ask them to just leave it on the floor this time.  What a pain.

I’ll be around off and on until Christmas but I think I’m going to save all the pictures until after the holidays.  What with everything else I have to do and preparations for our Christmas it’s just too much to promise!  🙂 

You all are ever nearer in my thoughts and prayers as this holiday of family and friends draws nearer.  These are the times when Ryan and I fully feel the vast chasm of distance that separate us from you.  Enjoy your week and know we are there in spirit…  You know the song..

I’ll be home for Christmas…
If only in my dreams.

Auf Wiedersehen!
Courtney

A Heart Warming Adventure in Print

This is a book review for Reflections of God’s Holy Land by Eva Marie Everson and Miriam Feinberg Vamosh. 

The review is for Thomas Nelson: Book Review Bloggers

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This book has touched a deep cord with me. It has always been a dream of mine to visit the Holy Land. To see, touch, and feel the history and tangible evidence of my beliefs. When I originally ordered this book I was under the impression that it was a coffee table book full of pictures and descriptions. What it actually contains is so much more!

This book is written in three separate parts that, together, give a comprehensive picture of the beauty of Israel. Each place is described with pictures which are accompanied by the scripture that pertains to the area and its history. The scripture is followed by a history of the area and last but certainly not least there is a section describing the impressions of the author when she walked in the footprints of history.

This book will forever hold a special place in my heart as my husband has just had the opportunity to explore Israel. I had received this book only days before his return and it has allowed us to explore together. I’m able to see the places he’s been and in tandem with his stories and thoughts a small part of me feels as if I have been privileged to see it all for myself.

The book is broken up into easy to read sections that allow plenty of opportunity to pause and study the pictures and absorb the history and stories of each area. The pictures are beautifully matched with the text and I found it a driving and surprising pleasant way to explore far away places in the comfort of my own home. I highly recommend this adventure!