Saturday, February 28, 2009

Whistle while you work

It has been a busy Saturday as Jay is getting ready to head out for two weeks of training in the field. We tried to get everything done before he leaves. This morning we spent several hours cleaning. I was working on the house and Jay was cleaning out the cars. Unfortunately... it wasn't working for me. As I was getting the house picked up, Jay was bringing more things in from the cars and making a bigger mess. I came to the conclusion that in order to clean our house, it first must be completely destroyed!

We had a lot of dishes to do since we haven't touched them for a few days. I'm usually the washer and Jay is the dryer, but he picked up the wash cloth today. I couldn't help but laugh as I noticed how FULL the sink was. He had water all over the ledge and it was dripping down the cupboard and on to the floor! Nonetheless, we had a great time doing dishes together!

Some of the other things we did today... went to Vodafone (our cell phone company) and set up an automatic payment, went to Clothing and Sales and bought Jay's next rank things and a $40 mini flashlight!, went to the motor pool and scraped glue off the windows of Jay's three new humvee's. Then we went on a drive and Jay showed me where they do some of their training on the outskirts of town. It was a really nice day here, so it was fun to be out. It wasn't sunny, but it was the warmest it has been in a long time.
Once we got home, Jay put me to work again. I sewed a first-aid symbol on his first-aid kit. They had to have the symbol on, so it was either me sewing it or he would use a marker. It doesn't look the best, but it works. Earlier today we took his hat in to get his new rank sewn on, but they were closed. So, I sewed that on tonight too. It was really tough!! The material is so thick that I was having a really hard time getting the needle to go through. The dull end of the needle poked through my finger a few times because I was pushing so hard. I tried using a plastic thimble I had, but it didn't work very well. Nearing the end, my fingers were pretty sore and tired. I had to use the thimble more, which didn't work so well and I used plyers to pull the needle through. I ended up bending two needles and snapping a third one in half. I finally finished his hat with the fourth needle. He wanted me to do another hat, but I told him I would take it to the sew shop on Monday and have it ready for him when he gets back!

The first of the bent needles!

Now it's time to sit down and watch some CSI!!!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Dissapointed with German ovens!

Even though our oven looks like a normal oven, just mini, it doesn't cook like one. German ovens are very different from what you are used to in the states. I don't even know what it is that is different, they just are! Food definitely doesn't bake the way it is supposed to. I have had a lot of things come up not so pretty!! I've tried chocolate chip cookies and they take longer and are super flat. I've done cheesecake and cupcakes and the tops never look good. I've tried angel food cake, and it came out huge and the top was burnt.

I don't think I do anything wrong, it's just these not so wonderful ovens!! Nonetheless... it all still tastes good! I haven't had any complaints from Jay yet!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Black and White Cupcakes

I found this recipe for black and white cupcakes on a blog I was reading. I thought I would give them a try since I had cream cheese I needed to use up, and I needed a treat for my Odyssey of the Mind kids tomorrow. Mine definitely don't look like the recipe, but they sure taste good anyway!
This is what they are supposed to look like...

This is how mine turned out.


I walked downtown to watch Schweinfurt's Fasching parade. Below I'll give you the actual meaning of Fasching, but in my opinion... it's Mardi Gras, Halloween, and the Fourth of July all thrown into one celebration. Everyone dresses up in costumes, from your little babies to the old men. It was quite fun to see everyone. There is a huge celebration, but the main attraction is the parade. There were elaborate floats where the riders threw TONS of candy and other random things. Several floats even had kegs on board and were passing out cups! Each float would go buy and the riders would be yelling "hallo" and throwing their hands up. If I wanted some excitement tonight, I could go back downtown and join in on the huge party going on. Tonight is the last night of the celebration, so they are closing it out with a bang!

The real meaning of fasching or karnivale...
Germans call the pre-Lenten Carnival season die närrische Saison ("the foolish season") or die fünfte Jahreszeit ("the fifth season"). Except for Munich's Oktoberfest, it is the one time of year when many normally staid Germans (and Austrians and Swiss) loosen up and go a little crazy. Fastnacht or Karneval is a "movable feast" that depends on the date of Easter. Carnival season is a time of wild fancy-dress parties and costume-balls, which are open to the public. Carnival reaches its climax in big street processions with elaborately decorated floats. Carnivals are held in southern German cities, and in the Rheinland cities of Mainz, Aachen, Bonn and Düsseldorf. The biggest and zaniest Karneval is in Köln. The first written record of the Köln carnival is from the year 1341.

If you want to know more, look it up online. There are lots of sites explaining it.

This would be a float that hands out beer.

This shows how extravagant the floats get. This space shuttled moved up and down.

There was tons of face paint. From small pictures to a complete mask. Also a lot of head gear. These were really fun hats!

This gives you an idea of how much candy is thrown. The people that watch from their windows hold umbrellas out to catch it all.

This is a video about teachers from the middle school I work at. They go down to Italy every year to participate in the celebrations and each year they make a new costume. Imagine costumes like these EVERYWHERE at the celebrations.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Odyssey of the Mind

This past weekend, I took five students down to Hohenfels to compete in the district Odyssey of the Mind competition. We started working on solving our problem at the beginning of January. Most schools start at the beginning of the school year, so we were pushing to be ready. We were working up until the last day before the competition to get everything done. It was late Friday afternoon before our car was completely built, which was the most important part of our problem.

Our problem was to build a self-propelled car that would travel to four different environments. The car had to change in appearance each environment and at one point in time, it needed to be a “chain” of vehicles.

We presented our solution as an eight minute skit. The students had to write the skit, come up with costumes, the background, and props to make it realistic. They also had to make the car and use it in the skit. We had a great skit and background, but our car….. well, it disassembled the first time it was put on the ramp. Could be the reason that it was made out of food. The wheels were oreos, which broke in half right away. By the end of the skit, the car was a pile of food. Nonetheless, the kids kept going and didn’t let it bother them. The kids also competed in a spontaneous problem. Their problem was verbal, but I don’t know what it was. They aren’t allowed to tell me until after the World Competition in case the same problem is used again. An example of a verbal problem would be “Name different types of birds”. A normal answer would be robin, blue jay, cardinal, etc. Creative responses would be Larry Byrd, Thunderbird, Big Bird, etc. They came out of the room so excited. They felt really good about how they did, which gave us hope for a first place finish! Unfortunately though, we ended up in second place. There were a few categories where we placed first, but they take an average of all the scores.

All in all, we had a great day.

Valentine Party

I had a party at my house with a few of the Cav Ladies. We had a Valentine’s theme for the night. We had a lot of great food to eat and had a fun time socializing. I made the sweets and another lady made the "good for you" food. I made mini cherry cheesecakes and heart sugar cookies. I had a mess and a table full of cookies, but they were fun for me to make.

After we were done eating, we went around and everyone told their story of how they were proposed to. There were some funny stories, sweet ones, and a few where the guys weren’t so planned. We had a great time listening and imagining all of these engagements.

We were hoping to make homemade cards, especially a Valentine’s card, but we quickly ran out of time. We spent too much time talking that time got away and it was 9:00 before we realized it. Here is what the cards would have looked like.

Instead, I still have all of the supplies sitting here. I’ll be sending a lot of cards out in the next year! I told Jay he’ll be getting the same Valentine card for the next 20 years!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Trip to France

This past weekend we too a four day trip to France. The whole weekend was absolutely AMAZING!!! Paris was great as expected. We walked all around the town seeing the different sites, Eiffel Tower, Arc of Triumph, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Palace, the Louve with the Mona Liza, Statue of Liberty, the Avenue of Champs, etc. We went to a few of them several times just so we didn't miss anything (Eiffel Tower four times, two during the day and two times at night. It's breathtaking at night).

Eiffel Tower

Arc of Triumph

Arc of Triumph and the Avenue of Champs

The Louve (art museum)

This is what we thought of the art. I guess we aren't art people.

The Opera House

La Defense

Notre Dame Cathedral

Great Palace

The Seine River

The Statue of Liberty, same as what's in NY, but smaller. There are two of them in Paris.

U.S. Embassy. We walked up to it to take a picture and got approached by guards. They didn't like that.

An Oblisk at the end of the Avenue of Champs

The view from our hotel window
This is how most people got around. The roads were way too crowded for cars.

We spend two days in Paris and then went up to northern France, Normandy. Jay was in heaven!! Our first stop was Point Du Hoc. It was almost chilling. Nothing had really been touched for the past 60 years. Their were HUGE bomb craters all over the land. It was so interesting to see. There were also a lot of bunkers, many that had been blown up. Everything was just how it was. So if a bunker had been hit, the concrete would be crumbled into a hole or possible blown several feet away. The rerod (sp?) was sticking out of pieces that had been hit. Seeing the cliffs and imagining guys climbing them was crazy. They were straight down. It was so neat.

Jay was having fun pretending to attack!

We then traveled a little further west to Utah Beach. It was a wide open beach full of sand and then huge cliffs to get back up to the mainland. It was beautiful. Jay collected some sand to remember it.

The little ship the guys took from the main ship to the beach.

Trying to show the size on the bomb craters. HUGE!!

Next stop was Sainte Mere Eglise. We saw the church where the paratrooper got caught on the steeple. They had a parachute hanging from where he got stuck. We were also able to go inside the church which was really neat. They had stained glass windows that had airplanes and paratroopers along with the angels.

We spent the night in Bayeux and then headed to the American cemetary next to Omaha beach. Wow, amazing!!! The crosses were beautiful and so perfect. It was a vert beautiful area, right off the beach. It is so well kept up. We then went down to Omaha beach. It was very similar to Utah beach with the wide open beach. Jay had to collect some sand from there too!!

Then we went to another spot close to the water that hadn't been heavily hit by American bombs. There were four bunkers still standing, with only one being hit. Three out of them still had the HUGE German guns in them. These things were massive!

Next stop was to another town to see the Pegesus Bridge. Very huge and very neat!

By this time, it was 5:00pm on Monday night and we both had to work Tuesday morning. We started home, but come to find out, the main road we needed was closed do to the snow. So... we had to take another route that took us up into Belgium and then back down into Germany. We got home shortly after 5:00 on Tuesday morning. We both stayed up, got ready for work, and headed out the door again. We made it through the day, but Jay crashed as soon as he got home. Surprisingly, it never bothered me!! So... that's about it in a nutshell. Normandy was just so neat! I learned so much from Jay, the museums, and actually seeing the sights.