Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bonjour Paris: A Photo Overload

When Shawn and I decided to accept his company’s offer to live abroad, one of the things that we said we would do while on this assignment is travel.  Travel a lot.
It’s easy to city hop in Europe because everything is so close.
Since Aunt Traci is here we decided to take the two hour train ride to the City of Light.

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We arrived bright and early.
Shawn was in charge of directions and navigation.
It’s a good job for him because he rocks at it.

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Even though Hannah is probably too old to ride in a stroller, we took one along. 
There’s no way we could ask her to walk around a city this big all day.
Plus, we could move faster and cover more ground with her in the stroller.
But it broke shortly after we arrived.
So my hubs pulled a MacGuyver and repaired it.
With a plastic bag and a twist tie thingy that he had in his backpack.
Oh, yes he did.
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From the train station we took the Metro to our first stop: The Eiffel Tower.
From there we walked and walked.
By the time it got dark, we had walked through a Christmas Market, had lunch, walked the length of the Champs d’ Elysse, saw the Arc de Triomphe and Luxor Obelisk, had dinner and made our way back to the Eiffel Tower to get a few night pictures and catch the Metro back to the train station. 

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There’s certainly more to see and do.
But I think we did pretty well for just one day.
And having a preschooler in tow.
Who LOVED it, by the way. 
Au revoir, Paris.
We’ll see you again soon.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Black Friday? No Doorbusters Here, Folks.

We usually venture out a little on Thanksgiving weekend to do some shopping.
We’re not the hard core, camp out, stand in line all night types but we do enjoy a good sale.
And the people watching.  Oh, the people watching.
Is there a better time to people watch than Black Friday?
Especially those hard core, camp out, stand in line all night types.

In Luxembourg, there’s no such thing as Black Friday.
Or Thanksgiving. 
Obvs.
After we had our own Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, we spent Friday showing Aunt Traci around and soaking up some of the culture of our new city. 
Shawn had to work so it was just the girls.
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After the Christmas Market, we weren’t really ready to go home.
Another American expat had told me about a grocery store called Little Britain that carries British and American items that are difficult to find elsewhere. 
Traci wasn’t about to pass this up because she loves the British. 

We had a bit of trouble finding Little Britain because of a snafu with the GPS. 
We drove back and forth a few times looking for it. 
“This is a lot of time to spend looking for a grocery store,” I told Traci.
”Yea, but it’ll be worth it if they have salsa.  And Cheez-Its.”

Totally.

After a few more go arounds of a roundabout and a demanding TURN AROUND WHEN POSSIBLE from the GPS, we gave up and I pulled into another grocery store to buy milk.  Traci stayed in the car with Hannah.
As I was walking in, WHAT ARE THE CHANCES that the couple in front of me would be speaking English?  British English? 
Certainly they would know where Little Britain is.
So I asked if they did.
And they gave me specific directions.
“They have a lot of American food as well, but you’ll have to splash out,” the woman told me.  I’ve been chuffed as nuts with the selection, though.”
(I think this is why Traci loves the British.)

We found Little Britain and went in.
I learned what “splash out” means.
This stuff is expensive. 
A small(ish) bottle of Aunt Jemima pancake syrup was almost €8, which is like $10.50. 
You don’t even want to know the price of a bag of chocolate chips.

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And that’s how we spent Black Friday.
No ads.  No doorbusters.  No sales.
Just three girls, a Christmas market and the comfort of knowing that many of the things I thought I’d be missing from home are readily available.

For a splash out, of course.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Insta-Friday: Thanksgiving Style

In Luxembourg, November 24 was just another Thursday.
But at our house we had a full blown, old fashioned Thanksgiving.

Wanna know the best part?

On Wednesday my sister arrived in Luxembourg.
All the way from Los Angeles. 
That’s 5,700 miles and 18 hours of travel.
(Don’t even ask how many kilometers that is.  I have no idea.)
After hearing “Is it time to go pick up Aunt Traci?” no less than 4,000 times that day, the moment finally arrived.

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Hannah and Aunt Traci were back together again.
(You can read more about my sister here and here.)

I thought that the week couldn’t get any better.
Then Aunt Traci opened her Suitcase O’ Plenty.
She brought the giving to Thanksgiving.
Oh yes she did.
Pumpkin puree, evaporated milk and Ritz crackers.

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And if you look closely, you’ll also see a can of French’s fried onions and some cream of mushroom soup.  Hello, green bean casserole.

I’d mentioned to her in a text that there were some grocery items that I needed for the Turkey Day feast but haven’t been able to find here in Luxembourg.
And Aunt Traci didn’t disappoint.

Thursday morning, we stayed in our jammies and got our bird ready for roasting.

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Poor Traci. 
She was so jet lagged. 
She kept saying that she felt like she was peeling carrots in the middle of the night.
A nine hour time change is a lot for one girl.

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So Traci and Hannah took naps and I kept one eye on the bird and the other on the Macy’s Parade, thanks to my husband and Slingbox.   
My oven is teeny tiny and operates on degrees Celsius and military time.  I was worried that a.) the turkey wouldn’t fit and b.) that I would over or under cook it.

My fridge is also teeny tiny and the iced tea did not fit.
So I chilled it outside on the window sill.

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Later that evening, my little helper assisted with setting the table. 

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Here’s our feast.  I stuck to simple recipes.
You can find them on my Thanksgiving Menu Pinterest board.

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(I didn’t over or under cook the bird.  It was just right.)

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our family and friends in America!
We love and miss you all!

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving 
and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; 
his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
Psalm 100:4-5

life rearranged

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

From Her Perspective

“Mommy, I don’t know about Europe.”

“Why not?” 

“Their cars are funny.  They look like little meatballs.”
 

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She’s kind of right.

Monday, November 21, 2011

At the Last Minute, A Furniture Makeover

About six years ago, my grandma gave me a set of dining room furniture.
It has a table, four chairs, a buffet, an armoire and three leaves to make the table really big.

For six years, Shawn and I have been saying that we were going to give it a makeover.
Well, we finally did.

Wanna know when?

FOUR DAYS before the movers were coming to load up our stuff to ship to Europe.
Nothing like adding a 30 hour project to the most hectic time of our lives, right?

I mean, really.  Who does stuff like this?

We hauled all the pieces out to the garage.
(We had some help.  Ok, lots of help.)
We sanded and painted.  Sanded and painted.
Wash, rinse, repeat.

Then I reupholstered the chairs.
It was way easier than I thought.
Good thing because it was a solo project.
I wasn’t sure about the fabric and to be honest, what I selected wasn’t my first choice.
But then I realized that if I selected a fabric with a pattern, I’d never get all the chairs to match and it would be impossible to properly line up the print.  And I’d never be able to enjoy a meal at a table if the pattern on each of the chairs was all wonky and misaligned. 
I’m kidding.  Kind of.
Then I started getting all dizzy and high maintenance because WE CAN’T MOVE TO EUROPE UNTIL THESE CHAIRS ARE REUPHOLSTERED.

So I went with a whimsy and nonspecific print. 
The fabric was on sale.
Which is good because I’m cheap.  And picky.  
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buffet after

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I wish we had taken pictures of the process, but we were moving at such a FRANTIC PACE that there just wasn’t time.  The paint was barely dry on the day the movers loaded all of it up into the oversea container.  In fact, I wrapped every single piece in waxed paper so that the paint wouldn’t be damaged by the bubble wrap and cardboard.

And I may or may not have bolted upright in bed, awoken by a dream about the table floating in the middle of the Atlantic.
 
In the end, every piece made it unscathed, unscratched and unchipped.
And I’m digging my new dining room.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

She’s On The Nice List

When I was a kid, I loved getting things in the mail.
So does Hannah.

Last week, she got a very special letter from the North Pole.
”But how does he know that I’m in Luxembourg?”
Oh, he knows.
”But how will he find me if we go to America for Trissmas?”
Don’t worry, we’ll let him know.
”Will you email Santa and tell him that I’ll be in America for Trissmas?”
Absolutely.

(Thank you, Aunt Chris and Uncle Jerry for arranging this!)

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We got another package with a Christmas shirt and lots of cards.

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Thank you Demi Jackie, Papa Charlie, Demi Carol, Papa Bob and Great Grandpa T Car.
We love and miss you all.

Can’t wait to see you at Christmas!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Insta-Friday

This week has been full of more learning and adapting.

Yesterday, Hannah and I went to a brunch with other wives from my husband’s company.
Some have been here in Lux for years, some for a few weeks like us.
It’s nice to talk to people who have been where we are and know what it’s like.

Because this expat thing, it ain’t easy.

Then we went to a grocery store.
Because that’s what we do.  We try out grocery stores.

I was glad that Hannah asked to ride in the cart because there were so many people.
This was the biggest cheese counter I’ve ever seen.
There had to be over 100 varieties.

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On the way home, we got stopped at railroad tracks for a passing train.
Hannah was excited and wanted me to take a picture.
We sat there for about 6 minutes, which is kind of a long time to anticipate a train.
But it gave me time to translate that sign.
A train can hide other one from it.  Ah, got it. 
There can be two trains but I might only be able to see one. 
I’m getting better at translating the translations.
Finally we heard a whistle and I got the camera ready.
This is what I got.

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It whizzed by us before the picture even snapped.
I laughed out loud because it was the smallest train I’ve ever seen.
“Mom, I don’t think that was a train.  It was a bus.”

Our lights got installed today.
I totally studied up before the electrician got here.

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I translated to French the words and phrases I thought I’d need.
Please come in. Lights. Ceiling. Extra bulb. Would you like a beverage?

I wrote them all down.

The electrician spoke a bit of English so I did my best with my little French cheat sheet.
After he’d been here for about 30 minutes, he said, “Frau, I am German.”
Oops.

I’ve had to be a little industrious because there are some things that you can’t buy here in Lux.  Like chicken broth.
So I planned to make my own.
Then I found out that you can, as of very recent, buy it in the store.
You just have to look for it.  IN THE MAYONNAISE AISLE.
Right.  Found it.  014It comes in small glass jars and I could make a lot of it for way less than buying it.
So I did.

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And now a fresh stash of broth is waiting to be put in next week’s Thanksgiving stuffing.

life rearranged

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Open For Business

Our guest room is all set up.
The bed is made.
The curtains are hung and the pillows have been fluffed.
We’re ready for visitors.

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Who wants to be the first?
We’ll leave the light on for you.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Random-y Randomness

Cooking and freezing was the order of the day at our house on Friday.
Which is funny because our freezer is approximately the size of two shoe boxes stacked on top of one another.  See?

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We’ve got the important things: Haagen Dazs, a few boo-boo bunnies and the tiniest little ice cube tray you’ve ever seen.  It makes ice cubes for mice, I think.
Oh, and there's also a box of Hello Kitty popsicles that were purchased in a moment of weakness.
But no one will eat them. 
They have an odd, almost floral flavor about them.
Have you ever wondered what perfume tastes like?
Try Hello Kitty popsicles to find out.

Anyways, the freezing. Partly due to excess.
And partly due to a bit of proactiveness.
Hannah wanted to bake cupcakes and I said yes.
At home in the US, this is a quick activity.
Here in Luxembourg, shopping for the ingredients alone is an all afternoon event for me, what with all the translating and such.

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At the end, we had a lot of leftover buttercream icing.
So we froze it for future use. 

We also made a big batch of homemade spaghetti sauce. 
For nights when thawing sauce and boiling pasta noodles seems better than actually cooking.
It simmered for six hours and my, oh my did it smell good.

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I filled three bags like this.
And that just about maxes out my freezer space.

In other non-cooking/freezing news, I got my little craft/sewing nook all set up on Friday. 
I brought my sewing/embroidery machine and a couple of other craft items from home.
But I really kept it to a minimum because I wasn't sure how much I would actually do.
Now I wish I had brought more of my supplies.
Because when I spend an entire day surrounded by things that are not normal to me, this mama needs a little respite to normal. 

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In Luxembourg, when people move out of a house, they take the light fixtures and bulbs with them.  Shawn ordered ours a few weeks ago and they should be installed next Friday.

(This post really is shaping up to be a page turner, isn’t it?)

Until then, I'll be making the most of the daylight and fumbling around in the dark at night.
I kid.
We have lamps.
But it will be nice to have something that looks not quite so dangerous.

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We had two days of serious fog here in the Lux.
The kind that reminds you of the old school Scooby Doo episode where Shaggy whips out a butter knife and cuts a piece of the fog.  And then Scooby eats it.  (Weird.)
Anyway, we could barely see the house across the street from us. Which by the way, looks like this on non-foggy days. I just love the exposed brick on the garage.
So rustic and European.

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Saturday we went to IKEA to pick up a few things.
When we got home, Shawn said, “I can’t believe you got two phone numbers at IKEA today.”
It’s true.
I made two new friends.  Both in the cafeteria.
The first, Hannah and I ran into while in line for lunch. 
We literally ran into her.  With our cart.  Oops.
I said, “Pardon.  Sorry.”
She responded with, “That’s okay.”
IN ENGLISH!
She’s British and lives just minutes from us here in Luxembourg.
You can imagine Shawn’s surprise when he arrived at our designated meeting time and place in the cafeteria and we were eating lunch with our new British friend, her Danish husband and their baby.

The second, we also met in the cafeteria.
This time it was dinner.
(Yes, we were at IKEA that long.)
(And, yes we ate two meals there in one day.  Don’t judge.)

Hannah and I were sitting at a little table and I noticed a woman wearing tall brown boots, black leggings and a mustardish colored peacoat.  I’ve never been fashion forward enough to wear brown and black together, but she was rocking it.
Then I heard her speaking English to her two little girls. 
I struck up a conversation with her (not about the boot/legging combination because that would just be weird) and she told me that she is from the Buckeye State. 
Oh, you guys.
Then it turns out that WE WENT TO THE SAME HIGH SCHOOL for a short time until her family moved. 
And, it gets better.  She is Facebook friends with the gal who used to cut my hair.
And, oh, did we make a scene over that one.
NO!  NO YOU ARE NOT! YOU KNOW EACH OTHER?!  ARE YOU SERIOUS?!
This was followed by a series of shrieks and giggles that only two American girls who’ve met at the IKEA cafeteria in Arlon, Belguim can appreciate.  

I think I’ve used the word cafeteria enough for one post.

 

Happy Sunday!