First Day of Class

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It was good. Like my instructor a lot. There are 9 of us in the class...very cozy.
Here are the nationalities of the diverse class: {the class is titled German for Immigrants}

Nigerian (2)
Chinese
Kosovian?
Dominican
Egyptian
Iranian
Forget the last guy
and American me.

We get 2 twenty minute breaks. We take lots of notes. We learned a lot just today. Will we learn just as much tomorrow and be expected to retain everything from today? Probably. I like being back in school. I did get to get some mechanical pencils (favorite) and some notebooks which was fun. I am tired. Art did not get a tasty lunch or nice dinner today. I need some studying tips from sista Molly! Favorite phrase we learned was "Welche sprache sprechen Sie?" (velcha shprache shpreshen zee?) "What language do you speak?" I said English. I didn't tell them I kinda have my own language. :)

Goodnight (after Mad Men episode 3.)

Six Months of Life in Graz

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Friday was our six month marker. To celebrate, we went and had dessert and coffee up at the restaurant on top of the Schlossy. It was such a nice night.

Note: I know you are probably tired of seeing these pictures of us and I sorta feel narcissistic posting them and every mundane activity or thought that runs through my mind as if you are really that interested...but, this blog sorta serves as our scrapbook for our time here and I know I might be glad I have it later in life. So, please bear with me you canty bimby. Plus, I tend to remember things based on what I was wearing...normal for girls??... hopefully. Like, "Oh yeah, I remember that night... I was wearing my new ruffled collar top, white jeans and my brown wedges." I know it's sorta sad...but I have a really photographic memory and I tend to associate things with images, K?

So, we tried to take some pretty night pictures from the top of the Schloss, but as you can see...not so good. Shoulda lugged the muthaload with us.
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I think it says "El Homo" on the Kunsthaus...?
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As for our time in Graz...it's really been great. Most of life here is normal, regular day-to-day living and not too, too different from living at home. I think people tend to glamorize living abroad and it's not always traveling, frolicking in the park, dining on gourmet cuisine or singing in the Alps. We are like any newly married couple adjusting to marriage, finances and the regular...plus, the added stress of not knowing the language and me not having a job yet.

But...we do get to experience lots of things we wouldn't at home. We live in beautiful, new place and have gotten to travel and see some pretty wondey places and meet some great new people. It's opened up our minds beyond America {or even Texas} and our 'normal' ways of living. And my unemployment hasn't been all that bad. :) I've learned to cook more, I read more, I've discovered the world of blogging and it's been good to just de-stress for six months. And, Art loves his work, his colleagues and his advisor here. He is very motivated and enthusiastic about the research he is doing and the invaluable experience he is gaining here.

So, we are pretty happy and feel blessed to have this experience. That being said, there are days (not too often) when we really miss home, family and friends. Some days it just hits me and I wish I could go out with my friends or be at one of the family get-togethers or just go jog in Memorial Park or Tanglewood. I sometimes miss the feeling of a full, busy day at work too....seriously, I promise. But, such is life. Gotta take the little bads with the good.

So, enough of my sentimenty talk. I start school tomorrow! Got my outfit laid out and a backpack full of fresh school supplies....ha, not really. It's gonna be a long four hours early in the morn for me. Gotta get to bed and figure out my bus schedule...no, not a big yellow bus...a city bus. Goodnight and good luck.

Blogged Me a Friend...

Yesterday I went out to my friend's house 40 minutes outside of Graz. Took a long, scenic bus ride with a driver from hell. You'd be amazed at how fast they drive those huge Mercedes buses. They ain't messing around. We were flying through the curvy streets and hills and I thought I might barf it up.

Anyways, I met my new friend Anita through her blog. I did a search on blogspot for Graz blogs and found Anita's on home decor and saw that she had lived in Dallas for seven years. I thought...hmm...maybe this girl and I could be friends. I sent her an e-mail, we met for coffee one day and now I have me a new friend. She invited me to come out to the house to meet her three cute girls, hang out and swim.

Upon arrival I received a shot of schnapps, an hour later a homemade frappucino with homemade apple strudel and then an hour after that a margarita, chips and salsa. What a wondey hostess! I had so much fun playing with the girls in the pool and watching all of their acrobatics on the swings..."watch me", "no, watch me!"...reminded me of two other little girls I know.

This house is the house that Anita grew up in. Her parents still live here in their own 'part' of the house. They added on a lot more house about 3 years ago when they moved back from Dallas and had three new kids in tow. It's common for people to live with or near their parents in Austria. Her grandmother lives next door. At one point when we were in the pool, I realized there were four generations all together. Anita's grandmother, her mother, Anita and her three girls. It's nice how close-knit families are here.

The back of her pretty house in the country
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Looking over the patio into the cornfields
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and the pool that provides her girls with endless hours of playtime
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The youngest, Eva, on her float.
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Hannah and Stella posing for me.
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She brought some of Texas back with her...she loved Dallas.
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and here you can see all the pumpkins I saw on the bus ride back...a Styrian staple. Lots of yummy
pumpkinseed oil in these parts.
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And I think to myself...what a wonderful world.

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This just confirms my lunacy {my dad did nickname me Loon at a very young age...along with older sister Moon, younger sister Spoon and youngest sista Peach...he ran out and didn't want to use Goon, I guess.} Anyways, I miss that damn dog Ty. I hope to get my own doggie sometime in the next year. For now, we'll have to just conjure up images of loveliness like this.

I got into a German class!

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I postponed my German class so that I could go travel with Linds. Good decision. But, when I came back I had to go back to the government job agency and be put on the list and wait again to get a letter to then go to a registration for a German class. Anyways, I got a call two days ago from the instructor saying she had a spot left for the next class. Yes, sign me up. {I'm doing it through the government because not only is the class free, but I get a daily stipend...getting paid to learn German...quite nice!}

I start Monday, August 31st. It's Monday through Friday from 8 to noon for 12 weeks! Yikes. I still can't imagine being able to hold a conversation entirely in German. Reading it...yeah, speaking it slowly...yeah, but understanding the Austrians....nein.

h.o.m.e.

I've actually already posted pictures of our apartment here when it was completely bare {and still is for the
most part}, but I wanted to practice taking room shots with the wide angle lens {20mm}. You can't even really
tell I shot these with a fancy camera. oh well.

This is also a way for us to show you we have room for visitors! Come to Hotel Valentíno where you will get a
free glass of water every morning. Click here for a testimonial from a previous {and satisfied} guest.

{p.s. I realize that my apartment could use some TLC in the decor department, but I've had to restrain myself
and be good since it's not really worth decorating when we will be moving in 3 years and can't take most stuff
with us. I'm sorta proud of myself for my will power so let those white walls and bare rooms be a shining
display of triumph over crazed consumerism...until they get a Target here.}

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Have to have a tub for the bath lady.
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Can't miss the flush button.
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Voila! Our sectional turns into a queen sized bed. I even have a 600 count sateen sheet and duvet for you.
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old moldings add some character
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an inside peek into the customizable ikea wardrobe...the pant hanger is my fave no doubt.
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thank you for wisiting.
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Might as well face it, I'm addicted to blogs

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Starting this blog {and having a sister that's a blog stalker too..I won't name names...I'll just say that she's blonde and has kids} has led to my own addiction with blogs. I have them all neatly organized in my Mail reader and wait for the little number 1 to show up beside them indicating a new post. I do this all while sipping on my other addick-shee...Coke Zero. It's kinda not ok.

I read mostly interior design blogs because they are wondey fascinating. It's like having all the design mags {most have shut shop in the past year} at your fingertips. {They charge 9 euros for American magazines over here...that's like $13!}. I also read friends' blogs and the famous dooce.com.

So, here are some of the blogs I stalk: {"blogstalker" is a real term in the blogosphere, K?}

Fly Through My Window: written by a mom of three really cute kids who is my age and lives in Alabama. She cooks, crafts, sews, takes great pics and blogs about it all. Totally Martha.

Urban Grace Interiors: Fly Through My Window's twin sister writes this blog about interior design. She owns her own design company in Florida and is having her first baby soon.

Cote de Texas: A Houston designer that lives in West U and writes really thorough, long posts showing a lot of good pictures of people's houses. She's famous in the blog world. And she's giving my blogstalker sister free advice on her own home decor-ing via e-mail.

Dooce: Named on the Forbes List of Most Influential Women in the Media, this girl supports her family {her husband can afford to stay at home too} off of her blog. She gets like 800 comments per post. That is insane. She is very canty, so beware. She's been blogging for a good 8 years or so. Her pictures are phenomenal and she writes very well. I laugh at a lot of her cantiness.

Ok, that's all I'm gonna tell you about cause I feel like a little bit of a freak.

Dare I Complain?

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Yes, I will. IT'S FREAKING HOT HERE!...and I'm melting.
I know you Houstonians and Charlestonians are thinking "she has no idea" and my iPhone is saying it's 88 degrees right now, but I have my reasons that it could possibly be worse for {poor} me:
  1. NO air conditioning {not in house, not in car, not in public transportation, not in most stores}
  2. Walking around outside directly in the sun
  3. Trams, I mean moving saunas, that are 15 degrees hotter than outside {with lots of people that don't believe in deodee}

Shout out to Sam Cheese

I miss this little guy.

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{photos courtesy of sista erin...I miss you and jason too}

A Little Practice

Last night we brought the muthaload {Nikon camera} out with us on our walk. I have to say...this is a pretty nifty little gadget. We used the 50mm lens the whole time...great for taking pictures of people and up close things, but not really good for wide shots.
Our 'backyard'. It's really just for our landlords..the door to it is locked, but when they bring
the four english spaniels out there, I come to the window to talk to them and get them all
hyped up with my dolphin squeal.
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"Come on, Art...no more working"
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happy with my Eis
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whoa...not such a big lick {with such a crazed face}
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we ventured into a neighborhood we hadn't been to before
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where they grow tomatoes for my greek wraps
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lots of apples
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and other crops...
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see what I mean about how good the pictures of people are?
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Greek Wraps

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I've been trying to incorporate more veggies and fruits into our diet over here because being budget conscious can have you eating too much pasta and bread. {And that leads to larger buns and tighter jeans..at least for me..not so much Art.)

So, I sorta came up with this for lunch today while perusing through what was in our fridge. I was gonna make a salad, but then thought Art would be more thrilled if it was all bundled into a tortilla. I know it's nothing all that great, but I was delighted at how delishy it was. And it's pretty and colorful which means you are getting a good dose of vitamins and antioxidants. And I love making new things for Art because he is always so excited and easy to please. He even said "When you feed me this good, it does sorta make me love you even more". Yes, we girls know. You men are not so complicated.

{I also wanted to do this so I could take another picture with the Nikon. See Bill, I can definitely help you with a cookbook!}

Here's my little recipe:
- Tortilla
- Lettuce {I used Vogerl...a common baby spinach type they have here}
- Tomatoes
- Yellow Bell Pepper
- Tiny bits of onion {we both love onion}
- Chopped Zucchini
- Feta
- Sprinkle of Garlic Powder
- Salt & Pepper
- Oil & Vinegar Dressing
{Bonus: all the veggies were fresh and organic (and cheap) from the farmer's market!}

Bring Me Wondier Pics, ole Heavy Nikon

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This has been sitting in Art's wardrobe {Europe doesn't provide closets} the whole time we've lived here, and with as many pics as I take {and as much spare that I have}, I decided it's high time I learn to use it. Art dabbled in photography in college and had a big hefty film camera and just 2 years ago bought this digital one to replace it. It's quite fancy and it scares me with its abundance of buttons.
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I do like my little blue trusty digital...much easier to stick in my purse and carry around than the Nikon muthaload, but doesn't do some of the things I would like it to. {Mainly the make-stuff-fuzzy-in-the-background-but-focus-in-on-subject-in-the-front effect.} I even dropped Trusty Blue on some people's heads last night while we were over at Justine and Elmar's place and it still works great! We were sitting on their balcony and Justine was telling us how she doesn't really know her neighbors downstairs and only met them after spilling candle wax through the one tiny crack in their balcony onto their patio below. She baked them a whole thing of muffins the next day to apologize. I looked and said "that crack isn't even that big...how did you manage to get it right in that spot?". Well, not 10 minutes later, Coco-after-too-much-wine, knocked her Trusty Blue on the balcony deck and it went right through the small crack onto the Deutsch neighbors below. Luckily, I think it hit the umbrella first which broke its fall and kept it in mint condition. I did hear a bunch of "scheissens" and other garble, but nobody hurt.

Ok, so anyways...my point is...I still like my camera you got me for Christmas, Mom. I will learn to use the snazzer Nikon for special times {aka: when I feel like it's worth lugging around}.

I've already mastered my desired effect.
{although I'm not sure I could do it again if you reset the settings on me.}
I think I would like to see that vase clearly please:
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Now, let's get a good look at that grape:
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And, now, let's look at the wondey coffee concoctions I make for Art:
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This saves us about 3 Euros and looks just as pretty. Coffee drinks ain't cheap here..that's about $4.20.
Doesn't the sprinkle of cinny make it so delecty?