Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Palm Tree

Charleston, 2013

“The cure for anything is saltwater - sweat, tears, or the sea.”
- Isak Dinesen

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Germany vs. US

What a year it has been! Justin and I took a trip to Europe including Germany, Germany and the US competed in the World Cup, and now I have another friend that flew off to Zurich yesterday in search of the German dream (or at least a long vacation with her very German boyfriend). After another thrilling episode of Emmy Eats on youtube yesterday, I decided to spend the rest of my night watching episodes of Germany vs. USA. I learned a lot, and I discovered that some of my expectations based on my own experiences spending time with Germans were wrong.

One of my favorite episodes was entitled "Annoying Things".

Each of the men went back and forth listing a variety of things that annoyed them about the others' country. I have to say the American was right on par with things that annoyed me about Deutschland.

Coins. All of the coins. All of the time. How do women do it? My pockets are barely big enough for my phone! Ahhhh yes … purses, duh. #GladToBeAnAmerican

Sunday shop hours. That made us late on at least one occasion when we went to buy flowers (or wine or anything nice, really) for a family that had invited us to dinner. We ended up 30 minutes late without anything to show for it. Of course living in the middle of nowhere didn't help - we had to stop and ask a neighbor for directions. #HighSchoolGermanFTW!

Punctuality and rules. When we say "be in the hotel lobby at 11am", we aren't necessarily saying "be checked out at 11am and ready to get on the boat", we're saying quite literally "be in the lobby". That's not what Germans hear. They hear "be in the lobby at 10:45am, checked out, and on the boat by 11am." Seeing as I'm always late anyway (exaggeration), it was amusing having that problem. I'm sure we aggravated our German friends a good bit while traveling. haha.

Then following rules to a tee?! What happened to exxxxaaaggggeerrratttttiiiioooonnn? Can I not almost follow all of the rules? Does it really matter if I drop something and I go to fish for it and there are a line of Italians waiting to use the self checkout register when there are like 20 other registers available? (talking about social rules at this point) Are they really so impatient that they can't wait? Do I really have to check out and leave immediately? What about sending food to another country; do we think either government really cares? I mean – really?

Something that bothered me even more than following rules to a tee was not even attempting to get that thing that fell. (Yes. A real thing fell, and I was not allowed to fish for it. It upset me.) All possibilities must be tried before I give up. I am an American girl; it's what my father taught me and what I live by. If you don't like it, apparently I have to give up and go along with the crowd to not make a scene, but next time, my friend… Next time… ;)

Of course, Germany vs USA discusses a number of other things that would have most likely been useful to me if I had watched before traveling. It's interesting hearing about the differences (or lack of differences) between the cultures in table manners, dating, driving, partying, and even stereotypes! Some of the things I thought were differences weren't actually … It turns out some of those differences were related to the actual people and not the general culture. I'm really grateful for videos like those on Youtube; otherwise I wouldn't necessarily know.

Do you find cultural videos on Youtube useful in preparing for trips? Are there any others that I should watch?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Sunday of French Cooking

In anticipation of my birthday, I had Justin make a full out French meal for me on Sunday. It was lovely and delicious … and super fun having him squint and use his translator app to get past the French verbs we weren't familiar with in the French cookbooks we brought back from France.

Grands Classiques

Justin made French green beans, seasoned chicken (neither of which required a cookbook) and Gnocchis a la parisienne (the recipe of which is in the above cookbook) for dinner. Obviously he got the non-recipe things perfect, but the homemade noodles tasted a bit like mush. It would seem that perhaps we should search youtube for that and see what went wrong. The gnocchi recipe called for nutmeg with cheese flavor so it was a lovely, delicate taste as compared to what I was expecting. (Of course, I thought gnocchi was potatos! Boy was I wrong!)

Les Classiques

Afterwards (or rather, before cooking dinner), Justin started work on the dessert - macarons (NOT MACAROONS!). While he was cooking the macarons, I learned quite a bit about them. For example:
- Sift the almond flour very well so that you don't end up with lumps in the shell of your cookie
- Macaroons are made with coconut and macarons are not.
- Macarons were not initially a sandwich cookie.
- The inner filling of the cookie shouldn't be too runny.
It was really a lot of fun watching Justin cook all of the French things over the weekend, but it was especially fun when my grandmother remarked, after trying a cookie, that she would not share with my grandfather and that she wanted a cooking date with Justin. I think that makes me the best granddaughter ever for marrying someone that knows how to impress the grandparents! Yes?!

Anyway, I highly recommend purchasing cookbooks in other languages. It takes cooking to another level of challenging! PLUS, as you are learning new words, you realize how many words you already knew without having studied the language one bit! :) If that's not exciting, I don't know what is!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Happy Weekend!!

I had a crazy week last week that involved getting up early and going to bed early resulting in very few blog posts. :( I am sorry. To make up for it, I decided to share 5 things I'm liking on the internet today.

1. It's Anthro Day! Get 15% off your total purchase today only using coupon code: summerperk.

2. I'm also excited to check out the 26 most popular photography cheat sheets and the 7 Blend Modes Like A Pro on Digital Camera World. I've been watching Ben Wilmore talk about editing landscapes this past week on CreativeLive. … Speaking of which, they are currently offering many of their classes on sale for up to 50% off!

3. A Beautiful Mess recently posted a delicious summer lunch recipe that I am eager to try.

4. Did you know that US Bank is offering you $150 to open a new account? Neither did I!

5. Last and most important, how would you like to have Darth Vader as your president? Washington Post reports that it could happen.

What are you liking this week on the internet? Anything exciting I'm missing out on?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

International Day of la Francophonie

Today I saw a pin on pinterest where someone commented on how it was "the international day of French language". Eager to celebrate the French, I began watching all of the Youtube videos related to everything French without actually bothering to note that March 20 is actually the international day of the French language. Oops.

Maybe I can celebrate next year? :)

In celebration of what I thought was the day of the French language, I went on an internet search to find the department store Justin and I shopped in while we were in Paris. I keep hoping that they will start selling real French macarons online. Everywhere we go, including our recent visit to Charleston, we try the macarons just to see if they taste anything like what we had in Paris. So far we haven't had any luck. Nothing tastes quite as decadent or perfect. On my search though, I discovered two places that might have what I am looking for … Maison Roberts of Atlanta, which I will be trying first, and Pierre Herme of … somewhere else (Paris, perhaps?). They were recommended by some random macaron loving blogger that I forgot to get the link for. She says Pierre Herme has some of the best macarons ever and that she has tried many. (There were links to about 1,000 macaron makers on her site, many she recommends but most she doesn't.)

At some point there was the realization that I most likely won't get to eat another truly Parisian macaron again until I return to Paris unless I (or my husband) make it ourselves. Given that my birthday is coming up rather quickly, I told Justin that I wanted him to make me macarons for it. (A vacation is simply not enough of a birthday treat!) … Will he do it? Probably not. Macarons take time… lots of time. Justin's time is running out.

That didn't stop me from watching this video about how to make them. The macarons look so easy to make! Clearly Justin can do it whenever he wants without difficulty. Of course, my fear is that the macaron recipe above is an Americanized version missing all of the Parisian-ness that I require in macarons. Luckily, we have a French cookbook bought in France with a macaron recipe we might try first. Unluckily, the book is in French, so it may be a tad difficult to comprehend. We shall see.

After all of my time spent worrying about macarons, Paris, and happiness, I decided to watch Emmy eat Paris. Emmy is cute and makes me happy, so you should watch her too.

So how have you celebrated the day that was not actually International French Language Day? Did you do anything decisively French?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Creativity, Photography, & Inspiration

"To me, photography is an art of observation. It's about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I've found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them." 

- Elliott Erwitt

Friday, July 18, 2014

Longing for the Beach

Did you know that I am excited about going to the beach this weekend?

Only 6 more hours of work + drive time.

What are you doing this weekend?