Salat und Sonne

My friend, Nicky, gave me this salad recipe a couple of weeks ago and it has quickly become a favorite. The spicy pecans are DELISH. I thought I'd share.

Photobucket
(Art loves blue cheese so much I give him an extra little hunka hunka on his plate.) I also added some grilled chicken.

Field Greens, Crumbled Blue Cheese & Spicy Pecans

{This makes A LOT. Serves 8. Reduce accordingly. I like to make all of the dressing and pecans and then we can easily make it again (and I can eat the pecans up plain!)}

Spicy Pecans:
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. Hungarian paprika (I used regular)
1 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups pecans halves
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Beat egg whites with salt until foamy. Add sugar, Worcestershire, paprika and cayenne. Fold in pecans and melted butter. Spread pecans evenly on a baking sheet. Bake 30 to 40 minutes (I think 30), stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Yield 4 1/2 cups.

Vinaigrette:
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup distilled white vinegar
3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
4 1/2 tsp. onion juice (I just used chopped onions)
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 cup vegetable oil

Salad:
4 cups mixed field greens
2 green onions, chopped
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (1 cup) -
{If you aren't a blue cheese fan, I think you could easily substitute gorgonzola, feta or goat. I don't like a lot of blue cheese, but this is perfect amount for a hint of moldiness}
1 Granny Smith apple, cored, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup coarsley chopped Spicy Pecans

Combine sugar, dry mustard, salt and vinegars. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Whisk in onion juice and Worcestershire. Add oil slowly, whisking continuously until blended.

Toss greens, green onions, blue cheese, apple and pecans in a salad bowl. Add vinaigrette, tossing to coat.

Enjoy your salat and then go soak up the sun.
Photobucket

Absence does make the heart grow fonder.
Photobucket
as absence from the haircutter makes Art's hair grow longer.

Photobucket

And Toungey McTonguerton liebt die Sonne auch. (und den Regen, den Schnee, den Schlamm, alles!)
Photobucket

{You people (most of you) don't even know I'm using the accusative case correctly here. What a waste.}

Making Ikea Wondey-ah!

Ok, since it's Friday and I don't have much going on besides German and enjoying the somewhat warmer weather, I thought I'd go on a tangent and do a little post on my favorite pastime... design blogs and DIY Before & Afters. You can find SO many online and they are kinda addicting. Totally instant grati.

This one I especially loved because I live in a land of Ikea only. Yes, there are other places, but they are hugely expensive and well, we aren't gonna invest in real nice furni over here. So...our whole apt. is Ikea. It works, but it's very...well...Ikea mock-room looking (and not even as good).

Being the design blog monster I am, I am often envious of people's great Target or HomeGoods finds or little crafty projects done with the help of Michaels or Hobby Lobby. I have none of this at my disposal. Ahh...life is unfair.

So, without further ado...a lovely Ikea DIY transformation:

Lindsay, from this blog, took Ikea Rast 3-drawer chest ($39.99):
Photobucket

And turned it into this:

Photobucket

Isn't that just clever? (The bed ain't bad either.) She basically just stained the outside, painted the drawers, popped on some new hardware and now has herself quite a nice little bedside table.

You can read about it on her blog here.

If you really like this kinda stuff (which just means you are a very well-rounded, cultured person) check out this blog, this blog, this one and this one. Ha! I'm pulling you into the trap! Fair warning: once you pop, you can't stop.

Schönes Wochenende!

Vorsicht: Dachlawine!

Photobucket
means "Watch Out: Roof Avalanche" and it's been a bit of a problem here in Graz with all the melting snow and ice.

Elsie and I will be chilling in the morning...me with my coffee, her with her bone and all of the sudden we hear this huge crash/thud sound and it sends her into a frenzy. Just another couple tons of ice/snow falling 40 feet.
Photobucket
It's pretty dangerous as most sidewalks are right beneath these lurking snow bombs. They place long sticks against the buildings to remind you to walk away from the building (as you can see these smart people are doing in the photo above). This is nice and all, but it makes walking the dog extra cumbersome. She will go under the stick, I say "Elsie, come this way", she runs back, but around the stick this time and, well, you have the whole thing crashing down. And they're not light.

Art and I have seen more than three cars with windshields completely shattered, glass in the seats as well. Two people have been seriously injured in this area and firemen were called out over 50 times this weekend to come remove some of the chunks. I know this is probably second nature to some, but being from Houston this is a new fear added to daily life for me. Great. No, Carolyn didn't die from overdose of German and sausage wurst fat, but from a big plunk of snow. She said that snow was gonna be the death of her and she was right.

Photobucket
Art pointed out the huge chunk of ice dangling over my head 35 feet where I would stand while Elsie was going potty.

If you want to see the mutha of all of them...watch this youtube video. Fast forward to 0:35. These guys are lovin' it. (Yesterday in class, I said "oh, I'm lovin' that" to something and the guy from Kosovo next to me goes "McDonalds! I'm lovin' it!". McDonalds' catchy jingles know no bounds.)

{none of these are my pictures, but too lazy to source them, k?}



Round 2

Photobucket

...of the intensive German courses has begun. More bucks in my pocket and long, hacky words in my brain. First day was yesterday. It's four hours a day, M - F, 12 weeks, same place, same room, even same teachers as last time. (Which is great because I loved my teachers.) Except this time it's from 12:30 - 4:30 instead of 8:00 - 12:00. Kinda cuts right in the middle of your day.

Only seven of us and there are some pretty advanced German speakers in there. I don't feel so gescheit* amongst these peeps! (*see Wörterbuch above) Maybe after three more months I'll begin to see the light at the end of the dark Deutsch tunnel.

(a wondey p.s.: We are seeing more sunshine in our days and I'm listening to birds chirp as I write...it's a bit warmer and I think spring is trying to bust through!...Come on over lover! I waiting for you long time!)

C'est magnifique : Le Macaron

I've seen these mentioned several times now in the blogworld.
Photobucket
{from here}

Not to be confused with a measly macaroon (a coconut cookie), these are french macarons.

The place to get them is the famous Parisian pâtisserie Ladurée...this is an assertion of your social status. Very snobby. Let's go!

"Parisian women like to make social statements through their purchases (clothes, travel destinations, florist…).

The Macaron Ladurée clearly serves this purpose. But it also allows Parisian women to treat with ill-repressed brutality their weird relationship to sugar: offering Macarons Ladurée to friends will allow the Parisian woman to taste them and therefore to look like she doesn’t have a problem with sugar (note that her attention will be focused all night-through on the moment she can indulge in the macarons she brought).

On top of this, le Macaron Ladurée is a perverse weapon for Parisian women. Bringing Macarons to a party will force other women to have at least one. And therefore to gain weight. So not only does the Parisian woman feel better about herself, but she can rejoice for her friends will also gain weight and she doesn’t look like the only fat one at the end of the evening." -source

So, all this to say: Mom and Molly (or Erin and Jason)...pick me some up on your way here. (And have some too, so I'm not the only fatty.) I particularly want to try the caramel and the dark chocolate and a pink one. I'll keep the box too, k?

Photobucket

{from here}

Dankeschön!


Life in Austria. Part 3b. Living Green

A little more today on this well-oiled green machine we call Austria.

For those that love a good statistic (cause I do): Austria ranked #8 in the 2010 Environmental Performance Index, a method of quantifying and numerically benchmarking the environmental performance of a country's policies done by Yale and Columbia. The U.S. was #61.

So, next up is the magnificent public transportation system. Here in Graz, I'm talking about the Straßenbahn, otherwise known as the tram. Since Graz is a pretty small city, the tram system is a great way to get around. Where the tram lines don't go, buses do. And walking ain't so bad either.
Photobucket
Tram make man happy.

Trams here are run by electricity...making them even more grün.
Photobucket
Tram electric lines on the street.

Speaking of electricity, they save some by not keeping lights on in common areas of buildings. Most buildings come equipped with self-timed lights activated by buttons. The lights generally stay on for about 4 minutes.
Photobucket
Magic button

Toilets even have two flush buttons...the small one for the tink and the larger one for the poopen.

Another area where electricity is saved is clothes drying. I would venture to say most Austrians don't use a dryer. We don't. When we first got our washing machine, we decided to go without a dryer and see how it was. Well, here we are a year later and I'm fine without it. It's better for your clothes too and you'd be surprised how fast they dry...probably because the air in our apartment is ridiculously dry from the heaters...hence our cracky, peely skin. And people hang their clothes outside their windows all over the place...it's like a Downy commercial come to life.
Photobucket
Please don't try to see our undies, k?

Seriously, sometimes you see this in someone's backyard.
Photobucket

Austria also does their part in the cutting-down-on-plastic-bag-use by making you pay for plastic (or paper) bags. This encourages you to buy one of the sturdier, long-term bags and bring it with when you go to the store. I finally found one with longer handles for ease of carrying home on the shouldy. Yes, I only get what fits in this bag and carry it home about half a mile. This makes the ergonomic quality of the bag importy.
Photobucket
My beloved baggie.

As for food, so much of what you buy in the stores is grown locally. When you get chicken, it tells you whose farm it's from.
Photobucket
Good beef is harder to come by and way pricier than in the States and we don't have it very often. I do love it so, though.

And, it's pretty common for the regular folk to have their own little vegetable garden..even some chickety chickens. One chased me and Lindsey down a path this past summer and we ran and screamed.
Photobucket

And, of course, there is the local farmers' market open every morning for the freshest produce around (it's a bit more expensy though). A high importance is placed on 'bio'...organic foods and you can find them everywhere. In fact, Austria recently placed a ban on genetically modified crops.
Photobucket

And, I'm pretty sure a lot of power here is from hydroelectric plants and I know solar panels are pretty popular cause I've seen them on many homes in the country. {This would not cut it as a factual research paper, I'm well aware.}

And, you are allowed to drive you own car, yes, but beware of parking. Oh, and you must have a driveway surrounded by luscious greenery so that even your car looks quaint and like it belongs in Austria. A goat grazing on the top of the fence would really make it A+.
Photobucket

And that's all for environmental day here folks. Schönes Wochenende!


Life in Austria. Part 3a. Living Green: Recycling

No, I'm not talking about this green:
Photobucket
Although, I was blown away with the lusciousness and intensity with which the color surrounds you in the spring and summer. I have truly never seen anything like it.

I'm talking environmentally friendly practices. (There went Mom.)

I'll admit, when we first got here, I was annoyed and feeling highly inconvenienced by some of this green initiative...mainly the mandatory recycling. It was new to me. It was easier just to throw all of my trash in one place and call it a day. But, out of fear of the Austrian government, we began to comply. And you know what? I'm totally lovin' it now.

Do you know how big your trash can needs to be when you recycle everything plastic, paper, metal, glass and organic? Like the size of a styrofoam cup from a gas station. EVERYTHING, and everything that takes up so much space, is mostly recyclable. Yes, it takes a bit more time, but when it's part of everyday life and it's mostly harder not to, you adjust...and you're glad you're not chunking all those Coke Zero (not anymore!) bottles in a landfill.

I'll admit it's way more trouble to recycle in most cities in the States. It's just not all set up with a nice system and labeled containers for you. You have to go way out of your way to do so in most places, except the token cardboard box at the office for paper. Austria, once again, is smaller, and has their system down pat. I think they're in the top ranks of the EU for recycling.

Here's what you see against the buildings on the streets (one thing is that it's not that pretty)
Photobucket
Yes, it's all color-coded for your recycling ease. I have translated for you morons.

We have some in the basement of our building. Art goes down into that cold dungeon to dump our loot. We've concocted our own little system in the kitchen. For awhile we just used thick, reusable grocery bags, but when Boris came into our life, we had to find something she couldn't jump onto and pull everything out of.
Photobucket
{4 containers from the kids' section of Ikea do the trick}

Ok, so most of the time it looks like this:
Photobucket
Left is paper, right is plastic. Plastic fills up the fastest every time, no doubt. Our metal and glass is in a bag under the sink cabinet and gets dumped once a month or so.

I will tell you this....it's a good thing they recycle because the amount of JUNK advertisement pamphlets and crap is ASTOUNDING. At least five a day in our mailbox and then some thrown in front of your door. Rude. Annoying.

So, I'm realizing I have four or five other green practices to talk about and I've spent years on recycling, so I'll be back tomorrow to finish it up. I know half of you (or more) have skipped this altogether...you bad, bad peeps. I'll come dump my organic pile on you...and that doesn't mean stuff from Whole Foods, k?


Faschingsdienstag aka Mardi Gras

Photobucket
(image from here)

Yesterday was Faschingsdienstag (translated "Shrove Tuesday"..'shrove' being the past tense of 'shrive' : to obtain absolution for one's sins by way of confession and doing penance). You would know it as Mardi Gras or Fatty Fats Tuesday.

That means today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season we call Lent in the Catholic Church. It helps a bit being Catholic here as almost all holidays (and there are a lot of seemingly random ones on Mondays) are Catholic 'holy days'. I'm not out in the dark on this one...I kinda know what's going down. Mom's holy day calendar (with all the Saints' feasts days) would really come in handy over here. I think there is one Protestant church here in Graz. All of the 4,000 others are Catholic...and old...and beautiful...and ornate...and freezing in the winter! (no heat!).

I consider Fasching Tuesday to be the their way of making up for no Halloween. They bust out all sorts of costumes, wigs, masks and freaky clowns. Of course masks are a common Mardi Gras theme everywhere. I took some pictures as I strolled down the main street yesterday on my way to have afternoon tea with my friend, Amber. Yes, we sip tea and chat in the afternoon. Really quite wondey.

Photobucket
(image from here)
There was a big parade down the main streets and, once again, the streets were packed and people were in my way walkin' real slow. I'm not a huge fan of big crowds and festivals where all you can see if some dude's bright pink wig two inches in front of you and smell Smokey the bandit on your tail.

Colorful paper lanterns are hung in many store windows starting on Epiphany...the start of the Fasching season.
Photobucket

I had to get some pink CC. But why? It's not that good...it's just fun.
Photobucket

These guys were happy to pose.
Photobucket

Photobucket


Happy Valentinstag

I got some vundee tulips that really do brighten up my snow-laden heart.

Photobucket
{A half-liter beer glass standing in as a vase}

Photobucket

And, Art got this in return:
Photobucket
{Although it could totally go both ways in this Mac lovin' fam}


Pinings of a Poikilotherm

poikilotherm: noun : an organism that cannot regulate its body temperature except by behavioral means such as basking or burrowing.

I think the reason this cold seems to affect me more than Art is that his whole body stays warm despite the dropping temperatures. Why is it that when we went walking to the grocery store this week, when I took off my gloves and felt his hands (which were sans gloves the entire time), mine were FROZEN and his were still WARM?! This (pardon my french) pisses me off! No wonder you think your jacket is just better than mine. You probably don't even need a jacket! I could wear 40 layers and still my blood would be dangerously close to freezing where you...YOU...could play for the 'skins' and be all nice and cozy and actually emitting heat. No wonder you eat a whole bag of butter bread croissants for a SNACK before dinner and still stay slim.

Back to the topic at hand. Yes, at first you think this is pretty. A white, snowy wonderland.
Photobucket
{Photo taken yesterday by Art}

But, you know what I see now when I look at it?

Mud, mucus, bleeding knuckles, gray skies, gray moods and more pain in taking Boris out. (Also, I notice that
we have a Leaning Tree of Pisa here.)

I'd like to be on a lounge chair directly in the sun (no umbrella) with a nice pedicure right here. And I'd bring my Uggs and North Face just so I could launch them into the bright, blue sea and watch them drown.
Photobucket
{Photo not by Art yesterday}
You know this isn't that far away. It's Dubrovnik, Croatia. I think we should book a trip for May NOW.

Life with Dog

Yes, I know I talk about my dog a lot, but...well...that's just me. And, let's remember I don't go to a day job and have ample time away from the child...she's nipping at my heels all day (when I'm home...which is more often than I'd like bc of snowapalooza twenty-ten), k? So, that's why. She's totally my bestie.

8:20 am (i know, this is not so early) wake up with a nice eyelid licking. (her way of saying "open these things and let's jump around and be crazy")

8:30 am (art gets out of shower...where he has taken to locking the door bc he doesn't like a ledge-loafer gazing upon him and possibly jumping in to join)
elsie runs to see who has so much as made a movement. excitement.

8:45 am Art leaves me...alone...with the beast.

9:00 - 11:30 Elsie gets a bit annoyed, as she is subject to boredom while I check my e-mails, blogs, and drink some coffee. I also take this time to clean the house.

How is it with only two people and a pipsqueak...there's always enough housework to do every morning?? I think I do a load of laundry a day...how is that possy? I clean up shredded paper bits from the beast, do dishes that have been 'soaking'...sweep my never-stay-clean wood floors...etc.

Boris Yeltsin will usually try to 'help' me clean....esp. with the broom. She is excited, yet frightened by it. Barks and jumps ensue. If I leave my neat, mile high dirt pile for a second to go grab the dustpan, a dust flinging party is had during my brief absence. This is always refreshing.

Why is Boris Yeltsin involved here you ask? Not that I need to really explain as you can probably see the natural progression, but here 'tis:

Elsie Eltsen Boris Yeltsin

(If she's good, we call her Elsen Mandela)

During my morning cleaning/reading, I am rudely interrupted for tinkle trips. This is done by scratching heavily on the legs.
Photobucket

I must suit up in my arctic attire (no less than a hat, two jackets, two pants and boots...sometimes I am lazy and brave it with the flip flops...this looks good). I actually HATE this part of having my sweet pup. She is bouncing around whining the second I go to the coat rack. She can hardly stand it. "We are going outside...oh my ga..jump...twirl... I can NOT be out there soon enough... I'll add some whimpers and run to the door and scratch it so she is certain I am up for this.") Finally, I'm suited and off we go.

She bolts out the door to the front door of our 'lobby' and always...I mean always....does a shark circle clockwise (sometimes two) before I get to the door to unleash her into the snowy hell. She bolts to her gate, opens it with her furriest little paw (I must admit I still find this damn cute) and makes a yellow snowcone immediately. Sometimes three lemon snowcones are made. Why do it once when you can spread the fun out? I have brought my baggies in case I'm lucky enough for a #2 (which steams like a smoke signal in the cold).

Around noon, Art comes home for lunch and she can sense this about 2 miles away. She runs to the door and waits with her tail wagging so hard she might launch herself into the stratosphere. Art does not mind this greeting. In fact, I think he expects me to be there too, shakin' my booty when he walks in.

So, we all eat. And the rest of this is gonna have to be in pictures cause it's gettin' old quick. You think we eat in peace? We can't even so much as kiss and hug without objections from the peanut gallery. (Unless she is in the middle.)

Photobucket
See me sitting here real good and sweet?

Photobucket
Well, that's over cause I must smell what you got.

Photobucket
I would also really like to go out there again. I can almost jump out...you better be sure I won't hesitate to do so once I can.

OK, so lunch is over and it's usually Boris' naptime. She has no problem making herself comfortable. Apparently she must have a pillow. (yes, she is spoiled to the max.)
But, not before she makes some more progress in operation harness destruction:
Photobucket

Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket

Not long after, she'll be back up and raring to go:
Photobucket

She does have discipline although it may not seem like it. When she is bad, we tell her she will live here:
Photobucket
She laughs.

When she barks and won't stop (which is fortunately not that often, she gets this:
Photobucket
I know this is shocking to some and you may find it cruel, but it is the norm here...and it's effective. Now all
we have to do is show her the muzzle and she quiets down (after running away.)

And she loves the snow...LOVES it. When it gets really deep and powdery like it did last night, this
happens:
Photobucket

Photobucket
Those are melded into her fur. Poor thing looks like she has a white growth disease. She eats them off
before we can dump her in the shower.

And lastly, she wants to leave you with a little Valentine's love...
just roll your old mouse on over her....

(I just got a notice for another German class, so this should be my last life chronicle
{and valentine's card} of the dog.)