Monday, March 28, 2011

Lunch with the Ladies

Today, the wives of the guys that Zev works with got together for a ladies lunch at a local German restaurant called the Schwedenscheuer Restaurant in Leinfelden-Echtergingen. (I remember when we first arrived here about couldn´t pronounce all these long German names!)
Sandy, the lady on the right, organized this luncheon with the ladies. It was so much fun, especially meeting some of the new ladies and holding the two baby boys that came along.
Here is Dione with her 7 week old cutie, Evan. Dione is married to Peter, the Canadian Exchange Officer. Evan´s middle name is Dieter, in honor of the fact that he was born in Germany!
Noky holding Evan.
Evan liked time with his favorite Australian and sweet Gena.
Hope that you are having a good week so far!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Study break....and a cake

What do you do when your husband is at work on a Sunday and you want to take a study break and there is NO food in the house (I was meant go shopping on base after church today but my car wouldn´t start (batteries) so I went to the local German church instead and now I am working on my thesis.)
 There´s still no food.....
You make cake of course!! All we had left in our pantry, in terms of cake mixes, was Betty Crocker´s Yellow Cake Mix. I had heard once that you can make a "Pineapple Upside Down" cake using yellow cake mix, and well, pineapples.
I remembered that I had bought some canned pineapples at the Commissary a while ago (I forget what recipe I was planning to use them in), and there they were, still on the shelf.
Thanks to Google, I found a quote unquote "Easy Upside Down Pineapple Cake" recipe (remember, this is meant to be a study break so I couldn´t spend too long making this) and I got to work.
The entire process took me 15 minutes. Best study break ever. And it is all for a "good cause." Zev will take the cakes to work tomorrow and be the man of the hour.
And I got to lick the bowl.

Here is the recipe. I found it on cooksrecipes (dot) com. Obviously, I had to improvise, as I had dark instead of light brown sugar, I had chopped instead of sliced pineapples and I had no maraschino cherries. I am sure the boys will still like it though.

Easy Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
1 (9-ounce) package yellow cake mix (such as Betty Crocker)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 stick (1/2 cup) margarine or butter
1 (14.5-ounce) can pineapple slices
Maraschino cherries

Mix yellow cake mix as directed on package, using juice from pineapple instead of water, add water to make up necessary amount called for, if needed.

Melt butter and brown sugar over low heat in a large 10-inch pan or iron skillet.

Place pineapple rings onto butter/brown sugar mixture in pan, and put cherries in rings. Pour cake batter on top.

Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 1 hour. Let stand for 5 minutes and flip over onto a large cake plate.

Makes one (10-inch) cake.

The cakes didn´t turn out as pretty as I would have liked to see them, but I think they will still taste good. Maybe I will make a frosting and stick them together to make one big cake? We´ll see what Zev says. Have a good start to your week!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Things I will miss about Germany

It´s "that" time of year again, when I know that we will be moving/flying to another location in a few months (summer sometimes) and I start to feel nostalgic and extra-attached about "things" I will miss. I went through this in Alabama (even though we were only there for 11 months!) and I went through this in Louisiana. About this time too; March before the "big move" in the summer. It was around this time in 2008 when we were waiting to hear what base/ country/ continent we would be heading too. In all the places that we have lived, I have missed the people the most. We are lucky that we (I) speak to my family in Australia very regularly (I try to call my parents at least once a week, and I sometimes call my mum every other day- hi mum!). We also get to catch up with our respective families often. In Alabama, I missed my work colleagues, especially Kelly and Taylor from the Beasley Allen law firm. I also miss Alabama BBQ. (Let´s just say that Zev´s favorite BBQ joint was called "Fat Boy´s BBQ Ranch). In Louisiana, I missed (and still do) all my wonderful girlfriends, especially everyone who was a part of Leslie´s Bible Study group (hi Leslie!) and our church group. I also miss my old work colleagues and really miss my job at the Public Defender´s Office, which was probably my favorite job to date. I miss Mexican food too. Zev misses shooting and hunting on base and so do I. Especially after my first deer on base! It was small but it counts! You may have noticed that I haven´t said that I miss our military friends! The funny thing is that I do miss them and some of our dearest friends are our "military friends" but we are all constantly moving around. And running into each other at different places. Being in the military as an active duty member or a family member is like a kind of signing up to a nomadic lifestyle and once you are used to moving around every 2 or 3 years, you start to get "itchy" feet and know that you are due to move. Hence the joke amongst military wives that we all plant flowers in flower boxes. And don´t "spring clean" the Spring before a big move. Because it´s all going to go anyway. But (as usual) I digress. Today I went to uni for a special "Geburtstags Kolloquium" which was a series of lectures on the area of criminal law, presented by various Phd students and lecturers in honor of a lecturer who turned 60 today. This lecturer, Prof. Dr. Wulf, had invited my entire LLM class to come along. Since Criminal Law is my "speciality" (as a profession not a pasttime ;-) I decided to go along. I was the only LLM student there. What that means is, that I was the only "Fremdsprachige" or "foreign speaker" there. Can I just say, that going to university here as an "international" student has really given me a new respect for people who speak English as a second language. Although I can communicate just fine in German, my gut seems to seize up and my face turns bright red and I sometimes stutter (yes, this is hard to admit but I stutter when I am nervous), when I am the only person speaking German, who was not born and raised in Germany. It really is hard, especially during the "mixers" where you meet new people and have to explain where you are from etc. Thankfully, I had a really good time. Prof. Wulf even stated in his introduction that "today we are represented by every continent, including Australia and the United States." He asked me before-hand if I would be ok representing both continents, and of course I said yes, but I secretely think he wanted to be able to say that "all continents" were there today! Ha. He is very sweet. Anyway, I met some really interesting people, including some criminal law judges who were as fascinated with my experience practicing law in America as I was with their work. I felt so happy leaving this presentation, that I went ahead and bought a fresh wreath from a local flower store, in celebration of this beautiful weather. Which brings me to the point of what inspired me to write this post:
Isn´t this wreath just precious? There are a lot of such wreaths being sold at florists all around town. I am going to miss fresh wreaths. I know we have them in the States and in Australia, but in Germany, it seems that they are a lot more common, especially around Easter and Christmas time. People seem to like giving fresh wreaths as gifts too. I love the yellow bird on the top of this wreath. If you are still reading this random post, I just want to say: I miss you too.
Happy Saturday! 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring has Sprung.

Spring has Sprung.
It "sprung" while we were away, actually. So it was nice to come home to flowers budding and birds chirping. This is a picture of my neighbor´s flowers by the way. Although I am lucky that our garden has flowers that seem to pop up without me doing anything. Which is probably a good thing. For the flowers, that is.
We are home and back to "reality" which includes Zev going back to work (looooong days and nights, poor possum) and me catching up on housework and working on my thesis. Vacation is so much better isn´t it? We were able to go for a run together yesterday morning. In the sun. That was fun. The run. (I was an English major for my first degree. Can you tell?)
Zev made up some delicious calzones last night. It´s amazing where your imagination takes you when you haven´t done the grocery shop in a while and have to use "what´s left" in the fridge/pantry.
We also watched "True Grit" (the latest version with Matt Damon and Jeff Bridges in it. The young girl in the movie really "made" the movie in my opinion.)
Blogging is so much more fun than thesis writing, isn´t it? Ok back to work for me.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Achaeological Museum and H&M

It turns out that all stores except cafes and restaurants are closed on Sundays and a lot of stores are still closed on Mondays here in Athens. Which is fine, really, because yesterday was another "chilled out" sort of day, which is good for people on vacation and today was a bit on the chilly side, so we headed to the Archaeological Museum. (I had to look up how to spell that by the way. On google. Of course.)
The highlight for me today was probably H&M. I bought a cute top.
The highlight for Zev was probably showing me his amazing knowledge of ancient Greek civilization and methods of casting bronze statues like the "lost wax method." That´s what a degree in Anthropology from Ithaca College gets you. I did find these ancient art works interesting. Don´t the boys on this frieze look like they are dancing to some groovy music?

Yes, I said groovy. How about this one...don´t they look like they were playing an ancient form of hockey?!!
Well, they were! Yes, I am able to find the most unusual things interesting...
Don´t get me wrong, I really appreciate the history and culture of ancient Greece. I think I may be a little "historied" out though. I worked on my thesis for most of yesterday and my head still hurts from reading all that German law stuff.
We are heading home tomorrow. The picture above was taken by Zev yesterday. I am glad that we have had this week vacation together. He has been working so hard lately and will be heading home to more long days and nights in the office. I am glad for the days we have had exploring ancient sites and trying new foods together. It will be nice to be in our own home again.
Hope that you are having a good week!
Love, Fi xo

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Acropolis Now

You probably need to have been raised in Australia to understand what I mean by "Acropolis Now." Acropolis Now was the name of a sitcome set in Melbourne, Australia about a group of second-generation Greek Australians that ran a take-away shop. It ran on TV in the late 80s/ early 90s and was very funny. It featured memorable characters like "Effie" with her big hair and "Nick" with the mono-brow. It was a cool show, because it brought to life certain issues of the day, like what is was like to be a "wog" (immigrant or child of an immigrant to Australia) and growing up with traditions like having a salami sandwich for lunch instead of a peanut butter and jam sandwich for example, or having to go to Greek language school on weekends and play soccer rather than go surfing at the beach or something like that. (Think "My Big Fat Greek Wedding.") It also showed how silly stereotypes are and how really, although cultures may seem very different on the outside, because of language, dress etc, that really, we are all very similar. The beauty is that I really think this show helped traditional "white" Australians understand and embrace the newer Meditteranean immigrants and vice versa. If my brother is reading this, I know that he will remember the show and even laugh because he remembers that our mum used to pack us salami sandwiches and make us go to Spanish school during the week. My brother is hairy too, just like Nick. ;-)) Ha. I guess being here in Athens made me reflect back on this little known Australian show from the 80s.
Today we started off the day with a "typical" Greek breakfast. I say "typical" because I have seen the locals drink these cold "Nescafe Frappes" and eat these round sesame style bagels everywhere. We are staying in the beautiful and historic "Plaka" district, and walked down to the square at Monastiraki to have our breakfast.
We then headed up the hill towards the Acropolis. The Plaka neighborhood is in an excellent location, because the Acropolis and all the beautiful, ancient monuments, including the Parthenon, is only a 10 to 15 minute leisurely stroll up the hill.
The weather is still gorgeous; about 21 degrees celcius or 75 degrees fahrenheit. We reached the Acropolis and were pleased to learn that entry to the historic park was free for EU students. So we only had to pay an entry fee for Zev. Entry was also free for me to enter the new Acropolis Museum (which was a really well designed museum).
The Theatre of Dionysos:
Walking up towards the Parthenon.
The Parthenon: (still being renovated in some parts but in amazing condition and well restored).
Can you believe that this temple was built about 500 years BC!? It is said that the apostle Paul also preached to new Athenian Christians from the steps of the Parthenon. Incredible. You can see the rooftops of the historic Plaka neighborhood below...
The other side of the Parthenon.
We are resting up in the small apartment we have rented before heading out later to explore some other historical sights. Hope you are enjoying our updates so far!
Zev and Fi xo

Friday, March 18, 2011


Athens is amazing.
I had heard some reviews about Athens being dirty and full of cats (I can´t remember who told me this, but this is what I remember) and it simply isn´t true. Perhaps we have just been really lucky in where we found a place to stay but we got out and about today and saw some incredible, beautiful, clean sights. We really like Athens.
We flew in to Athens from Thessaloniki today. It was only a 50 minute flight and the train from Athens airport to the downtown area where we are staying (in the Plaka district) was easy and very comfortable. The train was in top condition and clean and the train stations all looked sparkling new. Perhaps the 2004 Athens Olympics had something to do with that!?
The weather is simply perfect. Warm and sunny but not too humid. Cardigan or light sweater in the evenings. Very safe and well lit at night, great prices for food and drinks and beautiful views, surrounded by amazing historical sights. We had dinner tonight at a lovely little restaurant underneath the Akropolis. It was an incredible sight to see the hill all lit up and to have a typical Greek dinner in such ancient and beautiful surroundings.
Time for bed now. Till tomorrow!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Greek frappes

Today was a very "chilled out" sort of day, a bit like the Greek "frappe" drinks we keep seeing people drink. Apparently these cold, frothy drinks were invented in 1953 during a fair in Thessaloniki and the young people really seem to enjoy them. They are made up of Nescafe instant coffee, mixed with water and ice and sugar and frothed milk. Quite refreshing, actually. This is a picture of the frappe with ice-cream that Zev had at the top of the communications tower that we visited this afternoon. The restaurant inside was a revolving restaurant, which gave us a cool view of the city.
We visited the Byzantine Museum today, and although it was interesting, it was a bit of a strange experience. The building was very nice and large and modern and the displays were neatly presented but we were only allowed to visit three rooms and were kind of rushed out of there because they were apparently closing in 10 minutes. Mind you, we arrived at 2.30pm and were the only people in this museum. There were four employees that we counted inside, and they took turns following us through the rooms.
There were some quirky facts about the Byzantine era....I will let the following pictures explain...
This fact below made me smile..."despite the polemics...women continued to make themselves pretty."
They made pretty good jewelry for the 4th Century!
If you look carefully, you can see a pair of tweezers next to what looks like a pin, in the center of the picture below.
There were some beautiful mosaic displays, which showed the color and detail used to depict different images, as early as the 4th Century!
Tomorrow we head to Athens. I am excited to see the Akropolis and Parthenon and other historical sights. Till then, Kalispera!