Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Cookies Recipe


christmas sugar cookie with icing recipe card euroamerican home

We spent the day before Christmas baking cookies from one of Trevor's mom's recipes. Here it is, with metric conversions in the second chart:

3 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 cup sour milk (1 Tbsp of vinegar in milk)
1 lb butter
1 ½ tsp baking soda
8 cups all purpose flour
Metric Measurements
600 g granulated sugar
3 eggs
240 mL sour milk (1 Tbsp of vinegar in milk)
450 g butter
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1000 g all purpose flour

christmas sugar cookie recipe card euroamerican home
 
1. In a large bowl, mix sugar and butter.

2. Add eggs, sour milk and baking soda. We forgot to buy sour milk and just used regular milk.

3. Gradually add flour and mix. (Notice how messy flour is, only to spread it all over the floor seconds later.)

4. Chill for several hours. (This included preventing Trevor from eating raw cookie dough.)

5. On a floured surface, knead dough, roll out to ¼ inch thickness.

6. Cut out with cookie cutters. (Carefully consider building an entire dough village out of the shapes. Decide it would take too much time and you just can't wait to taste the cookies.)

7. Place on greased and floured cookies sheet.

8. Bake at 340 F (170 C) for 8-9 minutes. Don't worry if you don't have a thermometer (we didn't). We just took them out when the house smelled unbearably yummy. 

christmas sugar cookie recipe in tray euroamerican home
Please be kind and notice our heads peeking over the tray.
 9. Debate what to do with the extra dough. We tried to have a dough fight, which proved to be quite unsuccessful because all our dough was just too floury. I mean what good is it to have a fight when the dough doesn't stick to the kitchen tile? Obviously this was our addition, Trevor's mom's recipe mentioned no such attempt.

For the icing we used  Martha Stewart's Royal Icing recipe, using 250g of sugar and 1 egg instead of all the fancy schmancy ingredients which Americans take for granted but which are impossible to find here. What Martha doesn't say is flip a coin to decide who gets to lick the spoon and the pot, but you should make sure you check this off your list after all the cookies are iced.

We didn't have any sprinkles for decorating, and we didn't want to buy any especially for this project, so we used some M&M's (ironically bought especially for this project) to make them more colorful. I wouldn't recommend doing this since they're so big and our plan of smashing them and sprinkling them over the icing didn't go so well. But check out the owl-snowman combo in the first picture!

Friday, December 28, 2012

What I learned from Joe Versus the Volcano

On the second day of Christmas my true love made me ... watch Joe Versus the Volcano.

Ok, maybe he didn't exactly make me, he strongly encouraged me. I have the feeling that he's picking up my persuasion methods and applying them for his evil plans. Trevor thinks that Joe Versus the Volcano is the quintessential Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan movie while I think that nothing beats You've Got Mail in that category. As you can see, we have very philosophical conversations here. 

I enjoyed the movie and I realized that I can learn so many things from it. Here's a bunch:

1. If you step into a puddle first thing in the morning, you are bound to have a bad day.

   or a variation on that:

   If your day is going bad, you're bound to step into a puddle when you get out of the car.

2. If you work in a place you hate, you're sure to be in a windowless office with fluorescent lights.

3. If you want to seduce a girl, make sure you tip a mariachi band to sing at your table.

4. The villain will always carry a duck head cane (preferably made out of gold).

5. There's no escaping quirky salesmen.

6. Make sure you get your best advice from the limo chauffeur (preferably resembling a grandfather figure).

7. If you're going to fish, wear a salmon-pink shirt with a fish pattern. I'm telling you, it's all the rage. That way you will blend in and the fish won't know what hit them.

Tom hanks fish patterned song in joe versus the volcano


8. If you're going to ride out a typhoon, make sure you do it with Meg Ryan.

9. When choosing luggage, make sure it can double as a raft that you can dance on. While you're at it, play the ukulele too. Also, if you're buying fancy luggage, make sure you always buy four pieces.

10. The laws of physics do not apply when you are married.

11. If the guy who narrates Unsolved Mysteries gives you a diagnosis, it's probably wrong.

12. If you're going to jump into a volcano, make sure you're dressed for prom.

13. Make sure you watch this movie with someone who constantly shouts at you: It's a metaphor! like so:

Mickey (the pragmatic): This is silly! That's impossible! THIS IS AGAINST THE LAWS OF PHYSICS!

Trevor (the idealist): It's a METAPHOR!!!

If my newly acquired wisdom does not convince you to watch this movie, maybe the clever opening scene will.




Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays!

We're in full Christmas preparation mode here, mildly interrupted by Christmas procrastination.

We want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. With this occasion in mind, we have some pretty cute cards/wallpapers for you to download. I came up with the idea, then Trevor did the drawing by hand and the editing.


This one's for the tea lovers.

Happy holidays tea lovers green Christmas card EuroAmerican Home

Happy holidays tea lovers orange Christmas card EuroAmerican Home

Happy holidays tea lovers purple red Christmas card EuroAmerican Home



Sunday, December 23, 2012

Baking Peanut Butter Blossoms - in Metric

Baking adventure #1 was a complete success! With a few lessons learned, tomorrow we will embark on baking adventure #2 - sugar cookies with icing.

For adventure #1, we made Peanut Butter Blossoms with Hershey's Kisses. Take a look at the success and don't forget to wipe up the drool. Now, the recipe is available all over the place, but if you are too lazy to look it up, I've included it here with a few tips we picked up. Also, we had to convert the ingredients for European kitchens so if you are using metric, that is also listed. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Blossoms hershey kisses cookies


Peanut Butter Blossoms
2 sticks butter, softened
1 ½ cups creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs (or just whites)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 ½ cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 Tbsp milk
½ cup sugar, for rolling
1 bags Hershey Kisses, unwrapped
Preheat oven to 375 F degrees.
Metric Conversion
200 g butter, softened
350 g creamy peanut butter
215 ml sugar (340 g)
215 ml packed brown sugar (350 g)
2 eggs (or just whites)
1 tsp vanilla extract
745 ml flour (420 g)
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 Tbsp milk
½ cup sugar for rolling
1 bags Hershey Kisses, unwrapped
Preheat oven to 190 C degrees.
Cream butter and peanut butter together until smooth.
Add sugars and blend until creamy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined.
Stir in vanilla.
Add flour, baking soda and salt, just mixing until combined, then add in milk.
Cover and refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes (if you are patient enough).

Roll cookies into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar.
Lay on baking sheet about 1 inch apart.
Bake at 375 F (190 C) for 5-7 minutes.
Remove from oven and push Kiss down into the middle of each cookie.
Return to oven and bake for 2-3 more minutes.
Remove and let cool completely.

Some tips:

If you don't have brown sugar, just double the regular sugar.

Don't turn the oven too hot. It will burn the bottoms of the cookies, and the tips of the Kisses.

You can use this recipe to make cookie cutter shapes, just let them cool a little on the sheet before you remove them so they can stiffen. They also cook a little faster since they are thinner, so don't put them on the same tray as the blossoms.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Remembering Christmases past

Remembering Christmases past EuroAmerican Home
 
10 Ways to make your Christmas less stressful

5 Hacks to beat the holiday rush

7 Amazing presents under $100

8 Tips to survive Christmas travel

Really?

I read all these headlines and can't help but wonder: is this what Christmas is all about? Why has it become a holiday in which we hunt for deals and elbow fellow shoppers in our rush to get the perfect present?

I remember celebrating Christmas growing up, but I can barely remember a few of the presents that I received.

I remember that my parents used to decorate the Christmas tree while I was asleep. When I was a baby, up until the age 5 I think, it was Santa that brought the Christmas tree together with the presents on December 24th. I thought Santa was a pretty cool dude, because we lived on the fourth floor and he would fly up to the window (always the window!), come inside without a noise and put the Christmas tree on a cabinet. We would always have a short tree because the apartment was so small but I thought it was the most beautiful tree in the world.


I remember that we didn't take down the tree until my birthday, way into January. It would be all dry and shedding needles, but it had to stay up. It was a family tradition.

I remember how Santa always brought some oranges and bananas, which were so hard to find back then. My mom would spread them on newspapers on top of the wardrobe because they needed to ripen. I remember chocolate bars being wrapped in paper, not in plastic. We used to hang chocolate candy in the tree and I used to steal the candy from inside and leave the wrapper on, then puff it out a bit to create the illusion that there was still candy inside.

I remember how my brother and I would fight over the proper way to decorate the tree. I remember his tantrums about the plastic snowflakes. It's funny now.We would listen to carols and my dad would insist that they're not foreign, but traditional. When all was done, we would strike funny poses for the camera using hats as props.

Christmas glitter snowflake decoration EuroAmerican Home


I remember the time we decided to take our first family picture in front of the Christmas tree and how my dad would fret to have it look perfect ("hug your brother!").

I remember the shows we put on at school for our parents and all the poems we had to learn. I can still recite some of them. I remember my mom's watery eyes when I would go in front on the class to recite my poem or play my part.

I remember the snow fights in the school yard and how we would come back from recess soaking wet. It was always "the boys" versus "the girls" and we each had a safe retreat place in opposite corners of the yard. I still remember the feeling of having snow rubbed all over my face.

I remember how happy we were when school was cancelled because of the heavy snow and how we would call each other to spread or confirm the news.

I remember the first time the city put up Christmas lights and how my dad took everyone on a car ride to look at them. And then again the next evening. And then again.

I remember when I got my first stocking, and I was so proud because it was "just like in the movies".

I remember when my brother and I plotted for an hour to throw the dog in a huge pile of snow and he swam out of it in 3 seconds.

I remember all the anticipation of Christmas lunches and the running to-and-fro to finish up the last touches while waiting for guests.

Felt reindeer and angel Christmas decorations EuroAmerican Home


I remember when I wrote personalized limericks for all of my friends in college.

I remember when Sorina and I decided to watch You've Got Mail and eat popcorn sometime in December, as our yearly holiday tradition. We know the lines by heart and say them with Kathleen and Joe (F-O-X, Mr.152 insights into my soul!) One year we watched it in the summer and we felt so guilty.

I remember when my friend Andreea crafted a present for me and called it my Christmas juju. She made hand warmers and a clay decorations. She made a cute tag and there was glitter all over my hands but I loved it.

I remember Ana's post-Christmas wine parties and how much we laughed trying on masks.


I remember when Ana G and I walked all over town a few years ago and took pictures with all of the lights and stayed in the freezing cold just to listen to a carols concert.

I remember when Trevor had his first mulled wine here and I taught him how to say Merry Christmas in my language.

I don't remember the presents or how much they cost. I don't remember the grinches. And I certainly don't remember any stress.

Oh, and I also remember this:

Mickey and Santa in school EuroAmerican Home

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Our Christmas crafting: Snow-covered felt house

We have a full stash of felt that needs to be put to work and a lot of ideas to turn it into cute little ornaments. What we don't have is a sewing machine. So things are going pretty slow since all the sewing must be done by hand. We made our first felt house and we have 3 other ornaments in the works (meaning glue drying phase).

We cut out the felt and then glued the pieces together. We want the ornaments to be sturdy so we reinforced them by stitching the glued parts.

Then Trevor took the house in his pocket so we could take a picture of it on our walk along the river, because we thought having the house by the river bank would increase the resale value.

Here's the front of the house. What you can't see in this picture is the cute picket fence that we sewed on the back.

snow covered felt house craft

While we were making these crafts I made the mistake of mispronouncing "sew" wrong ONCE and Trevor keeps making fun of me ever since. He shouldn't be the one to laugh since he shies away from pronouncing "lemon" in my language. It's a linguistic battle we have over here.

how to craft and sew with boyfriend

Monday, December 17, 2012

Paper Christmas Trees

One of the things on our December fun list was making felt crafts. Thanks to Trevor's mother, we have a good batch of felt that will be subject to a lot of gluing and stitching. We've already made one very cute felt house but we're still waiting to have a whole set before we show it to you.

I've been collecting patterns on Pinterest for the past 2 months and have been filling up boards which I shrewdly named Winter Crafts and We Can Make This, which is basically an invitation to action akin to "come on self, if others could do this so can you". Notice the use of the pronoun in the first person plural (we), thus implying some external help (or the presence of multiple personalities).

My crafting board used to be called I Can Make This but I changed it when I realized that:

a) haha, riiiiight!!!

b) Trevor joined Pinterest and he's a nosy diy-er himself. The man thinks he joined so he can stalk me online on yet another social network, but what he doesn't know is that the moment he clicked on 'I accept the terms and conditions' he became the execution to my planning, the yin to my yang, the glue to my piece of paper, the www. to my .com.

Last year we only completed a small paper decorations project inspired by something found on Pinterest. By completed I mean I found it, got super excited about it, proceeded to jump up and down on the bed and gather the supplies (not at the same time, mind you, I don't play with scissors), worked about 5 minutes on it together with Trevor and then delegated the entire process to him because I was too busy being in awe of his very focused face, admiring his dimples and stuffing my face with chocolate. When everything was finished (90% by him) I resumed my jumping up and down on the bed and hung the paper decoration in the Christmas tree.

Aren't they cute?



Sunday, December 16, 2012

The EuroAmerican Christmas TO DO List

The snow is here, so the Christmas season is in full swing and we are ready! If you are in need of some ideas for things to do to keep your spirit warm, use our list!

Season's Greetings from the EuroAmerican Home!

Things to do at Christmas: a list

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Day 1 - How to pack for a trip

So the time is finally here! I am actually in the United Club at the airport typing this post!

Of course there was much preparation up to now, so I thought I would share a little of the fun in packing for a trip such as this. Keep in mind, Mickey and I have been planning ahead and bringing her things to America a little at a time. This time, I will return with 2 full suitcases of Mickey's things. Which means I have to pack light while coming over, bring an extra suitcase, and anything else I pack must be left behind or consumed. When I started packing yesterday, the list started like this:

 - Extra suitcase
 - Hershey's Kisses
 - Felt, ribbon, glue (for Christmas Crafts)
 - Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
 - Paperwork for Visa interview
 - Chocolate dipped Christmas Peeps
 - Bottle of wine (for her family)
 - Hot Cocoa packets
 - Extra packaging supplies for return trip
 - Homemade fudge (from my mother)
 - Cell-phone with minutes (for Mickey's trip to the USA)
 - ...and anything I need for the trip...like a toothbrush

I'm not even sure that's everything I am bringing, but there wasn't a whole lot of room left for clothes. That extra suitcase filled most of it. Plus I am bringing 2 boxes of cocoa, 2 bags of Kisses and 2 boxes of fudge. Are you sensing a theme?

How to pack for a trip

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Day 8 - How to spot the pickle

A few days ago I asked Trevor to show me the Christmas ornaments that he has. Shipping my collection will be problematic so I wanted to see if I could rely on his to satisfy my Christmas craving. It turns out that he has some adorable pieces that he collected throughout the years, including a starfish Santa, knitted moccasins, a wooden nutcracker and a Christmas dinosaur (don't ask!).

The first thing that he pulled out of the box was a gherkin. Now I know Trevor likes food but hanging a gherkin seems a little bit random. If anything, I would've expected him to whip out some felt bacon. It turns out that the Christmas tree pickle (weihnachtsgurk) is an old German-American tradition. Trevor takes pride in his German-Welsh heritage.

The tradition says that the first child to find the pickle on Christmas morning gets an extra present or is blessed with good luck in the new year. If the family doesn't have children, the good luck is bestowed upon the first guest to spot it, which is tricky because the gherkin is always green and it blends in the decor.

Even though Americans regard this as a German tradition, the Germans themselves insist that it was the Americans who came up with it at the turn of the 19th century, when magnate F.W. Woolworth first used this "tradition" to jump-start the sale of imported glass ornaments. In other words, a classic case of "I don't want nuthin' to do with your gherkin, you creep" or "I don't vant mein picklehidden". The Germans reverse-imported it from the U.S. after this advertising gimmick worked so well.

You can probably notice that my research was quite thorough because we take our pickles very seriously around here (seriously, we elect them in public office). Academic articles have been written about the renegade pickle controversy, which, frankly, I think should be the title of a Big Bang Theory episode.

When Trevor heard my researched he was stunned:

Trevor: You mean an American capitalist taking advantage of gullible people to make lots of money. That never happens!!!

how to find the christmas tree gherkin pickle in the decorations

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Day 12 - How to make Christmas cookies

The winter holidays period doesn't officially start for me until I hear George Michael crooning Last Christmas. This tune triggers an unnatural desire to decorate, cut out paper houses and ooohh and aaahh at every Christmas tree I see (the faker, the better).

I heard the song last week so I figure NOW is an appropriate time to start posting about the winter holidays.

We've already mentioned that we plan to bake cookies with Hershey Kisses in them. Based on previous experiences of me and Trevor in the kitchen, this is how it's probably going to be. He knows I shouldn't be left unattended (this made for a really ingredient-poor pizza at one point).

how to bake christmas cookies with your girlfriend stick figures

Monday, November 26, 2012

Day 14 - How to do Thanksgiving stuffing (of self)

Thanksgiving is one of Trevor's favorite holidays, mainly because it involves the magical 3 Fs - family, food and football. I've asked him to tell me about what he usually does on this day and his stories invariably contain long descriptions of feasts and sports.

The peril of good holiday cooking, however, is this:

thanksgiving stuffing stick figures
This is actually one of my worries about moving to the U.S. Since both Trevor and I are gourmands, I'm afraid the little green blob in the picture above will be me come next Thanksgiving. It's worth mentioning that out of the 6 pictures that Trevor emailed to me on this day, 6 of them were pictures of food (you know, like 6 out of 6 dentists recommend you brush your teeth).

I'm looking forward to my first official American Thanksgiving, because last year we celebrated it by roaming the streets of Munich, crashing the Christmas Market and watching a misty sunset in the English Botanical Gardens. Trevor's friends cooked what we assumed was either a very large chicken or a small turkey, since nobody could understand the German label and there was no quick way of translating it in the store. It was a delicious meal nonetheless and my first encounter with the American version of stuffing, which I will euphemistically call interesting.

Christmas market in munich germany
Munich Christmas Market



fall autumn sunset in the englischer garten in munich, germany
Misty sunset in the Englischer Garten (also the only time we saw the sun in two weeks)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Day 16 - How to be thankful for the little things

With Thanksgiving over now, hopefully everyone has spent a little time being thankful for the things that matter: family, friends, health etc.

But Mickey and I decided to write a post about the little things. While having loving people in your life and all of your basic needs met is so important, sometimes it's the little things that gets us through. It's often the little things that can bring smiles to our faces everyday. So here is a list of the little things Mickey and I are thankful for. See if you can find them all in today's stick figure drawing.

1. Airline Miles
2. Smiles at the end of a long day
3. Sunshine
4. Flying a kite in the summer
5. Hot showers on cold days
6. Watermelon
7. Triple Dimples
8. Movie nights with wine and popcorn
9. Singing our sentences! (read in a singing voice)
10. Anticipation before every visit
11. Making lists
12. Postcards
13. Back massages
14. Long serious talks
15. Looking forward to life together
thankful for the little things

Friday, November 16, 2012

Day 23 - How to read body language

In any relationship, whether international or not, couples inevitably learn how to communicate their thoughts and feelings without using words. Some of these messages are easier to read than others.

One very simple form of body language that Mickey uses was very easy for me to interpret. So easy, in fact, that I named it the "Huff Robot". This particular motion occurs when "someone" does or says something that might frustrate or disappoint Mickey. In order to communicate this annoyance to "someone", Mickey raises her elbows into the air and in a swift, nearly robotic motion, plants her fists firmly onto her hips. In case "someone" doesn't fully grasp the meaning of this, it as accompanied by a furrowed brow, pursed lips, raised shoulders and an adorable high-pitched "hmph!"

If "someone" is subjected to this response, they can further test its meaning by imitating the robotic nature of the motion. If Mickey laughs, then "someone" can suppose that the infraction was not all that serious. If Mickey does not even giggle, then it is time to consider an apology or exit strategy.

Be warned. The "Huff Robot" is cute, but dangerous.

the Huff Robot



Thursday, November 15, 2012

Day 24 - How to craft for Thanksgiving

It takes a little bit of effort and a good dose of creativity to fuel a good romantic relationship. It takes a little bit more creativity and a good dose of  "what on earth are they doing?!!" to nurture a long distance relationship.

Trevor and I take the time to come up with different ideas for date nights, even when we're more than 4000 miles apart. So far our Skype dates have included: movie nights, cooking nights, serenade nights, storytelling nights, poetry nights and even craft nights.

Last year for Thanksgiving we decided to have a little fun with paper crafts. So we found a few tutorials online, on a website which I'm pretty sure was for kids. With a little bit of colored paper and some glue we whipped up a turkey and a couple of pilgrims. Then we were very proud of ourselves and, in the spirit of the holiday, we felt very grateful for having found each other. I mean, who else would be willing to spend an evening to meticulously cut up bits of paper into this?

Meet the village pilgrim people:

thanksgiving pilgrim paper crafts
 
Fyi, this is not a police line up of the usual suspects, they're just holding hands because they're in love. Mr. Pilgrim's jacket looks a bit faded because I didn't have black paper and I had to color it in with a black marker (you hear that, Trevor? Nobody calls it a sharpie here, that's just the brand name).

And here is la piece de resistance:

thanksgiving turkey paper crafts

Yes, I felt the need to stick a chick on his heart. Why do you ask?

These are my crafts as Trevor claims to have misplaced his pilgrims. I think he just has pilgrim envy because his little redhead Pilgrimette didn't have that je ne sais quoi. As for the turkey, Trevor stuck it in a flower pot and it got watered down and it faded in the sun. So kids, let this cardboard turkey teach you a lesson: wear sunscreen pot is bad for you.

cardboard paper turkey thaksgiving craft euroamerican home

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Day 26 - How to shop like a pro

Trevor is flying here in less than a month, so the other day we were planning our December Fun To-do List. We're having Christmas lunch at my parents' so we thought we'd attempt to bake something. Ok, I thought we should bake something and Trevor reticently agreed, because he considers baking to be a science that you don't mess with (and we're messy in the kitchen).

Trevor found a relatively easy recipe that we can try. When I say relatively easy, I mean for me, since I'll probably just be jumping up and down next to the workstation, incessantly asking "are you sure this is how it's done?" and then running up and down from the kitchen to the bedroom asking "is it ready yet?"

The recipe calls for Hershey's Kisses and the plan was to have Trevor go to the store and buy one bag of Kisses and one box of hot chocolate (since this is also on our list).

Our conversation went like this:

Mickey: So JUST buy one bag of Kisses. Just ONE! We're going to have enough sweets for the holidays as it is.

Trevor: Ok, I'll just buy ONE. Don't worry.

Then this happens:

hershey's kisses cookie recipe
 
Trevor has this philosophy that if they're on sale we should take advantage of that and stock up, which usually clashes with my philosophy of 'there will be no uneaten chocolate in this house'. So he pretends to fight the impulse to buy more chocolate and I (sometimes bother to) pretend to fight the impulse to eat it all as soon as he unpacks it. We make a great team!

how to shop for the holidays stick figures

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Day 31 - How to prevent overeating

One of the first things that Trevor learned about me is that I like chocolate. A lot!

What he learned the hard way is that I won't stop from eating the chocolate until it is gone. For good!

Actually this is true for every food that I really like. This is how it usually happens: Trevor cooks or brings something delicious. I consume the first portion of it like a lady, then I pig out on the rest until there is nothing left. Then I start complaining that I feel like a balloon and that my tummy hurts and then I scold Trevor for letting me eat so much and make him promise to not let me eat as much next time. He never stops me in time, mostly because he has no idea how little food a tiny woman needs.

He did manage to save a few potentially disastrous situations by quickly eating the leftovers himself or stashing away his mother's fudge on top of my kitchen cupboard. I tried to get that by climbing on a stool but it was a bit shaky so I had to give up, in the interest of not breaking my neck. But man, my adrenaline was pumping from all that sugar rush and I was feeling a little bit like Catwoman. And I knew I couldn't rely on Trevor to catch me if I fell, because I sneakily waited for him to get in the shower before I attempted my evil master plan. I was planning to beam with a mouthful of fudge when he got out but alas, my plan was derailed by wobbly kitchen furniture.

Anyway, back to chocolate! A friend brought me two huge bars of chocolate from Wales yesterday, which I happily shared with my brother. By that I mean he sneaked away and started sawing them in half. Seriously, they were huge, he almost needed a chainsaw. Even so, I still came home with two considerably large chunks of chocolate. After I ate some after dinner instead of dinner, I started feeling the guilt. You see, each row was worth 160 calories, and I had already eaten 3 rows in 10 minutes. Add to that the big purple letters on the foil warning me to "be treatwise" and I felt that the leftover bar was judging me. So in an effort to remove temptation, I threw it on top of my wardrobe and tried to forget about its existence. But we're talking Cadbury Dairy Milk, Fruit and Nut here, straight from Cadburylandia.

Naturally, the first thing I did when I woke up this morning was to try to retrieve my Cadbury leftovers. I was full of sugar and fervor last night so I threw it pretty deep. I tried to reach it with a stick, but all I managed to do is poke at it and push it further away.

I could borrow a ladder from my carpenter neighbor but I really don't want to answer the question "what do you need it for?"

I could also defrost the emergency bar that I have in my freezer, but it's been sitting next to a bag of broccoli for way too long and I'm not that desperate yet.

So right now the best solution seems to be to wait for Trevor('s tallness) to come here in about a month and have him be my superhero, Chocolate-Retrieveman.

How to prevent overeating stick figures


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Day 32 - How to make a face

Mickey and I thoroughly enjoy each other's sense of humor, and one of the things that regularly cracks Mickey up is my face.

In our last post, I drew a dress on Mickey, which increased the accuracy of our artistic interpretations by 1000 fold. So I thought I would attempt a self-portrait. But in order to make it a bit entertaining for our readers, I will add a story to this portrait.

Also, it's late and I don't have a better idea.

Lately, a number of my friends have been popping out kids, and a few more are expecting. While babies are precious and adorable, sometimes they come out looking like raisin shaped alien beings. And thus one of the faces that has made Mickey laugh is called the "raisin-baby" face.

Get ready to laugh.

Raisin-baby face

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Day 36 - How to buy cheap candy

The trick-or-treaters are gone, the costumes put away forever, and everyone can take down the decorations and toilet paper. Now that Halloween is over and we have hit the month of November, it is time to start the preparations for Thanksgiving Christmas! Wait, what?!

The way I celebrate the first week of November, is to go to the stores and buy 50%-off Halloween leftovers. I don't buy candy often, but if I do, I try to be frugal. Okay, the truth is I am at the store the day after Halloween, Valentine's Day, and Easter every year. I would go after Christmas too, but that is suicide.

Plus, I never seem to be wanting for more exposure to Christmas. Perhaps it is because I have spent plenty of time with my family and loved ones. Perhaps it is because the cheer of the season so fills me with warmth that it lasts until my birthday. Or perhaps it is because by the time I hit December 1st everything smells like peppermint and fir trees.

I'm not a complete scrooge, I'm just one of those people who thinks Christmas celebrations would be just fine if they started sometime in the same month as the actual holiday. Next year I am going to go to the store on Halloween and give out Christmas candy.
shopping in November

Maybe Tim Burton will take my idea and start working on The Nightmare After Halloween.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Day 39 - How to get girly entertainment

A while ago I mentioned that Trevor and I have different tastes when it comes to entertainment. Even so, I manage to convince him force him to live through movies, stories and books that I like. I do so altruistically, of course, because he's always expressed an interest in the way women think and react to certain situations.

A while ago, I had trouble falling asleep. It just so happened that I had to finish Austen's Persuasion that night because I had to return it to the library. So I asked Trevor to read to me the last chapter until I fell asleep. I often ask him to read me things or to talk to me before bed and he dutifully obliges as he knows it takes me less than a paragraph to pass out. My personal record was an O. Henry story, when the road to snoozing was half a sentence away.

True to form, I fell asleep mid-first paragraph of the last chapter of the book. I finished it the following day, only to find out that Trevor had read the entire chapter because he was fascinated by the language.

Mickey: So what did you think of it? Surely you couldn't have understood the book just based on the last chapter.

Trevor: All I could tell was that one woman was a b**** and the realization of the whole meaning of the book was in this one loooooooong long sentence. It blew my mind. Seriously, read this sentence. Is it not the whole essence of the book? (Yes, he actually said that.)

On the contrary, when he [Sir Walter] saw more of Captain Wentworth, saw him repeatedly by daylight, and eyed him well, he was very much struck by his personal claims, and felt that his superiority of appearance might be not unfairly balanced against her superiority of rank; and all this, assisted by his well-sounding name, enabled Sir Walter at last to prepare his pen, with a very good grace, for the insertion of the marriage in the volume of honour.

Mickey: Yup, that's pretty much it.

Another time, he sat through the final 2/3 of Bridget Jones's Diary 2 all by himself after I had fallen asleep, which he motivated by: "I knew they'd end up together, but I had to know how it ended". I suspect he just enjoyed watching Bridget skiing straight into a drug store in the Swiss Alps and trying to buy a pregnancy test without speaking any German.

I'm just happy I'm marrying a man equipped with a lot of perseverance.

how to understand girls entertainment



Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Day 40 - How to trick or treat

In honor of Halloween I am writing a confection based blog post. Living in the Northeast US, I grew up being familiar with a particular confection known as "Peeps" which are produced near my hometown. I decided it would be polite to share the joy of this particular candy with Mickey and her family, and naturally it went over well. Especially the Peep jousting. If you are not familiar with this concept, please google it immediately.

Peeps can not be purchased year round, but show up seasonally in appropriate varieties. Mickey has now been delivered original Easter Peeps, and their Halloween, Christmas and Valentines varieties (I am patting myself on the back for my planning).

What I did not plan for was how much Mickey would actually enjoy eating them. She especially enjoys them after they are stale...which is good because after a flight across the Atlantic, they generally are. (As a side note, a few seconds in the microwave for the vanilla hearts makes them gooey and amazing!)

Here's a before and after shot of the Christmas variety. Happy Trick or Peep!

Nuked Peep

Peep jousting

Monday, October 29, 2012

Day 41 - How to keep warm in November

FACT 1: the city I live in is experiencing a cold wave. The temperature dropped from 20C to 6C overnight*. Oh, Celsius, how I shall miss thee! How scared I shall be when I see the high numbers! Is there anyway I can convince Americans to switch to the metric system and Celsius?

FACT 2: shipping a significant part of your earthly possessions across the Atlantic takes a lot of planning and preparation. Shipping and extra luggage can get quite pricey. Also, I am not at all keen on shopping, so I don't want to add "renew wardrobe" to the list of chores I have to do when I get there. From the moment we started the K1 visa process, Trevor has been taking back to the U.S. some of my things, mostly clothes and tchotchkes (for their sentimental value). At the end of summer, he took back some of my summer clothes and when we left in March he got most of my sweaters. As you can see, we've been preparing this move for a long time.

FACT 3: We are still in the long waiting void phase with the USCIS.

Conclusion: it's really cold here, Trevor has most of my sweaters and he won't be here until December (and even so, bringing stuff back would defeat the purpose of our whole plan), I dislike shopping.

Possible solution and outcome:


how to keep warm in the winter stick figures



* As I'm writing this, most of the East Coast, including Trevor's home state, is bracing for hurricane Sandy, so I should really not be complaining about the weather.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Day 43 - How to do a happy dance

UPDATE: Due to an opening in my schedule I have changed my arrival date to visit Mickey for Christmas. So after 38 minutes on the phone, a $250 change fee, and a $283.71 cheaper fare (sent to me as a voucher for a future flight), the Countdown is now down to 43 days.

This is our happy dance!
Happy Dance

Friday, October 26, 2012

Day 58 - How to add to your "To Do" list

Ever wonder how to compile a never-ending list of tasks begging for completion? Do you enjoy being overwhelmed with unlimited menial tasks demanding your attention? Do you already have a list of things you'd like to do but need that burdened feeling of things you don't want to do?

Look no further than DAILY LIFE!

End sarcasm-ercial. As we've already mentioned, Mickey and I have some projects we are looking forward to doing, like refinishing a French Provincial dresser. But as you can imagine, life tends to throw a few extra tasks our way. Yesterday, while washing some dishes after dinner, I noticed that the dishes in the drying rack (from the day before) had some drops of water. Then I noticed the dishes were actively being sprayed by my faucet, or rather, the hole in the side of my faucet.

I guess the dresser will have to wait until after the plumbing.

leaking faucet

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Day 59 - How to type with fat fingers

We have already shown that being in a long-distance relationship requires a lot of creativity in order to communicate regularly.

Sometimes while Trevor is traveling for work he uses the text service on his phone to use Yahoo Messenger (YM) to talk with me. This has been a great way to keep chatting even while Trevor is stuck on a bus (or train, or in an airport with expensive wi-fi), but sometimes I end up receiving words like "nasemwnt".

In case you are wondering what that means, it is the word for "basement" that Trevor typed with his "wurstingers".

In case you are wondering what that means, it is a term we coined after our first trip to Germany to best describe the combination of Trevor's thumbs and a cell-phone keyboard.

Whether or not a typo is sent or corrected by Trevor is determined by the following "correction factor" equation (for all you Big Band Theory fans):

Fc = (u*s)/(h*(b+t)+1)

u = On a scale of 1-10 can the word still be understood? (0 being no mistakes)
s = How many hands is he holding the phone with?
h = On a scale of 1-5 how much of a hurry is he in? (5 being extreme hurry)
b = How many beers has he consumed in the last few hours?
t = How many hours past his bedtime?


A high score (20) means the word is immediately corrected. The lower the score, the more likely we will have something to laugh about for the rest of the day.

how to text with fat fingers

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day 60 - How to get rich

I am going to break the golden rule of blogging and tell you our plan to get rich from blogging.


Last night I was watching the final Presidential debate. And by watching, I mean it was on in the background while I watched cat videos on facebook. Yes, you read correctly, I watched cat videos.

For those of you who don't know me, I am not a cat person. I'm more of a dog person, but alas, Mickey has convinced me that we will have a cat... or two. Part of the way she convinced me to live with a cat is to suggest that we can make videos of it and put them on our blog to increase traffic. When you're done laughing, you may realize that you probably watched more cat videos in the last year than you want to admit. I know I did.

So now I will propose my new marketing plan: the iCat.  Here's how it works. Imagine an iPod or iPad or iPhone that requires no syncing, wi-fi, or charging.  It will be marketed to cat lovers, so they can just rub it against their cats and the static electricity will charge it. And with that endless charge, you can watch cat videos for days, yes, DAYS. There is probably more cat footage now on the internet than Presidential commercials. Just imagine all the money I could make (after Apple is done suing me)!

iCat


Day 61 - How to handle rush hour

I live in a relatively big city with a lot of traffic and a really packed transportation system during rush hour. If you want to keep your sanity you'd better stay away from the subway between 5 pm and 7 pm. Otherwise, you run the risk of getting really familiar really fast with a host of grumpy zombies strangers.

One day, after an afternoon walk around town together with Trevor, I had to go to class. We agreed that it made sense for Trevor to go home all by himself (someone needed to start dinner).

I always worry a bit when I leave him roaming the town all by himself, mostly because I'm a bit paranoid to begin with and he doesn't speak nor understand the language. When I got home in the evening and asked how he managed the public transit all by himself, I was entertained with the story of Trevor the Sardine Machine.

Mickey: So how was your ride home?

Trevor: Good, I sardined people on the subway.

Although he was in no hurry to get anywhere, Trevor decided that he'd get on the already packed subway train just as the doors were closing, thus causing googly eyes, sucked-in bellies and a last breath of fresh air to other travelers. This is nothing unusual, of course, but the reenactment made me convulse in giggles. 

He was so good, that he had to put on another performance during lunch with my parents. He had everyone laughing, including my mom, who doesn't really understand English. It cracked me up again, so much so that my dad asked me if that was the first time I was hearing the story. It wasn't, he just puts a lot of soul into storytelling.

rush hour stick figures

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Day 63 - How to carve a pumpkin

You know it's true love when the first picture that your boyfriend tags you in on Facebook is that of a carved pumpkin. And you're nowhere in the picture.

Last year for Halloween, Trevor wanted to carve a pumpkin. I was in charge of finding a stencil and, of course, I chose a cat. It came out cuter than I expected and we named it Catkin.

Catkin

This year Trevor wants to carve another pumpkin and he asked for my supervision. Yes, he asked.

So our conversation went like this:

Trevor: I want to buy a pumpkin to carve.

Mickey: Can you carve a CASTLE?

Trevor: Umm, find me a stencil. (see? he asked)

Mickey: I already have one pinned, so I'm way ahead of you.

Trevor: Woah, now you can see the future and read minds. (long story, I had already done it 10 minutes before)

Mickey: I study male primates and anticipate patterns of behavior.

Mickey: Or maybe I watch too much Big Bang Theory.


So this year Trevor is carving a castle pumpkin.

The cutest pumpkin on the block


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Day 64 - How to make pizza

In my opinion, Mickey is the cutest girl in the universe. I'm pretty sure it's her opinion too. And she likes cute things almost as much as she likes it when I cook. So when we made pizza, I took it to a new level and made a heart shaped pizza.

heart-shaped pizza

The cheese wasn't the only thing that melted.

melted girlfriend


Friday, October 19, 2012

Day 65 - How to supervise a project

Mickey and I have big plans to tackle numerous projects around the home. I love to build and work on things, like furniture and gardens and picture frames. Mickey likes to supervise.

The newest project that I will be tackling is to prepare for her arrival here in the United States. Mickey will be bringing as many of her belongings as we can manage, but will be leaving behind electronics (due to the plugs being different) and furniture (due to size). So we have been scouring craigslist in order to find suitable items to fill her new home.

We are both enjoying this, because we get to bargain hunt, Mickey gets to tell me what she wants, and I get to build and refinish and paint stuff.

This is the dresser we found. About 5 feet wide, 9 drawers, solid wood "French Provincial" and came with a full size mirror (not pictured) all for $125. Not bad.

French Provincial dresser
Mickey's "new" dresser

The plan is to strip it and paint it white, do a little detailing with chocolate brown, and perhaps paint the hardware too. I will post a thorough blog on how to do this (and how not to do it). Mickey will have to "skypervise" since I will be doing it before she gets here. I coined this term when she had to supervise me cooking one of her mother's recipes via Skype. Let's hope the dresser turns out better than my cooking.

how to supervise

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Day 66 - How to speak in alliterations


Do you remember when we talked about how to speak in movie references? Well, we have another linguistic quirk. It's not as frequent but it does happen regularly around here.

Trevor grows peppers in his garden, so he proudly announced that he's a proud pepper papa. When he cooks them he turns into a pepper prepper.

This way talented Trevor merrily makes Mickey laugh out loud with plenty of puns. Ok, maybe he doesn't just make me laugh, he tries to transform some silly sentences into alluring alliteration. You get the gist.

stick figures speak in funny alliterations

We have a long way to go until we reach the perfection of Pinky and the Brain's tongue twisters ... slowly but surely.



Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Day 68 - How to apply for a fiancee visa (part 4)

Here's what happens once our application for a fiancee visa leaves the United States and crosses the Atlantic to get to old Lady Europe.

European Hoop 1 - Mickey does the jumping

NVC (National Visa Center) sends our application to the local embassy. This usually takes anywhere from 1 week to 1 month, at which point people start pestering NVC with phone calls and the level of praying goes up again.

The embassy sends a package to the European beneficiary (moi!) with another set of paperwork. On top of these forms I also have to provide proof of a bona fide relationship (again). So I will have to put together an updated set of pictures, letters, postcards, emails, plane ticket stubs and chat logs. Since this whole process is taking so long and we're amassing evidence every single day, I'll probably have to rent a minivan to haul my application to the embassy. You know, just to make sure I've got everything.

After I send back the forms, I am faced with the most loathed part of the process, for me:

European Hoop 2 - Mickey does the fainting 

The Medical Interview

Whenever I count my blessing, being healthy always makes it to one of the top spots on the list. So far Mickey and doctors haven't really crossed paths, thank God.

Try to mention the word "needle" to me and I'll tell you to stop. Do it again and you become persona non grata.; "vein" is another word that sends chills up and down my spine. Oddly enough, "spine" I can handle

The medical interview will require me to have blood tests, x-rays and a few shots done in one day. So if anyone knows any good methods of calming down a shaking woman gone into full anxiety-mode, I am open to suggestions. I would gladly use a couple of glasses of red wine but I'm thinking that the lab doing the blood tests won't be too happy about my choice of inhibitors. Oh, and nothing that leaves me a veggie either, I've a feeling that might be frowned upon too.

European Hoop 3 - Mickey does the trembling

The Visa Interview

Right now I'm not too concerned about this part of the process, although it might be the most important one. Ask me about it when I know date of the interview appointment and my look will spit flames. So make sure you wear a welding helmet if you decide to ask (ya know, 'cause they're such a cool accessory to have). This stage varies greatly from embassy to embassy, so I'll come back with my experience after I'm done with it.

You can read more about the K1 visa process here:

Part 1 - The decision

Part 2 - The application 

Part 3 - The waiting



how to get your blood tests



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