Saturday, September 18, 2010

Wedding and beach - great family fun!!!

The last couple of weeks have been pretty busy. Over Labor Day weekend, my nephew Nick Noe got married in Lynchburg, VA, to Shannon Saunders. They have been together for about 7 years now, and we all love Shannon, so I am so happy to welcome her into the family! She was a gorgeous bride, and the wedding was truly lovely - it was held at the Trivium, and the weather couldn't have been more perfect for an outdoor wedding. Congratulations, Nick and Shannon!!!

After the wedding, Christy and I headed off to Holden Beach with my Mom and sisters Cindy and Kim. It was the smallest group we've ever had at the beach - just 7 of us - but it was so nice to just relax on the beach. And since it was the week after Labor Day, it was not crowded at all.

Since then, things have gotten quite hectic. We have been dealing with mice in Christy's apartment for about 6 months now, and the problem is getting worse instead of better, so we have spent a lot of time the past week dealing with the apartment management. Hopefully they are finally taking things seriously, and the plans they have implemented will solve the problem. If not, we may be looking for a new apartment for her - she won't even live at her apartment right now, and I don't blame her. Mice are just totally gross and icky!!! So we will see how all of that goes.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Europe - Part 6

In Stuttgart we visited the Porsche Museum. Carl and the kids had really wanted to visit the factory, but it is closed for factory tours in August, so we settled for visiting the Museum. The building is absolutely incredible - very modern. And inside were more Porsche's than you can imagine - everything from the first Porsche ever built to race cars and current models. After the museum, we spent a few hours walking around the Schillerplatz seeing the Altes Schloss and Neus Schloss. The gardens were lovely.

The next day we spent driving through the Black Forest. The views were spectacular!!!! We stopped in Triberg and had lunch and visited several cuckoo shop clocks. Of course, the ones I liked were extremely expensive, so all we bought was a watch for Christy. It was too bad that it was such a rainy day - some hiking would have been wonderful. After we drove out of the Black Forest our route ended up taking us past Lake Bodensee. We didn't know we were going to see it but Tom Tom took us on a different route than MapQuest had suggested. Despite the rain it was an awesome sight - just miles and miles of lake!! It would be a lovely place to spend more time if the weather were nice.

And then it was on to The Castles - Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau. Our hotel sat right under Hohenschwangau and our rooms had balconies that looked out on it. From the dining room we could see Neuschwanstein. They were as fabulous as I had hoped. We took a carriage ride up to Neuschwanstein. It is much newer than you would think (built in the late 1800's), and actually had a telephone system built in to it. Most of the rooms in the castle were never even finished. Hohenschwangau, on the other hand, is quite old, with the oldest parts dating back to the 1200's. Between visiting the castles we had a nice lunch of brats and beer in Schwangau at a little beer garden, and walked down to the edge of Lake Alpensee.

And from there it was on to Munich. Our first night in Munich we were able to meet up with one of Christy's friends, David Meirose who is co-oping in Munich and eat dinner at the Hofbrauhaus. I'm not sure I have ever drank such a large beer before! We spent the next day seeing the Glockenspiel and the rest of the sights in downtown Munich in the old city before dropping Christy off at the hotel where she was going to stay since she was spending the week after we left seeing Munich, Innsbruck, and Berchtesgaden with David. I would have loved to have had more time in Munich. But all good things must come to an end, and it was off to Frankfurt for Carl, Sean and I to catch our plane home.

It was a fabulous, once in a lifetime trip! And someday I hope to be able to return to Europe to see more!!!

The first picture is of Carl at the Porsche Museum in front of the model of Porsche he used to have. The second picture is in Triberg, and the third is of Lake Bodensee. The fourth is of Christy and Sean on the Marienbrucke bridge with Neuschwanstein in the background, and the last is the Glockenspeil at the Neus Rathaus in Munich.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Europe - Part 5

The countryside driving from Koln down along the Mosel River is just beautiful. A lot of the crops are being harvested now, so there were tractors in the fields, and cows with cow bells. We made most of this drive on country roads instead of the autobahn, so we saw it all close up. As we got to the river we started seeing the vineyards. I knew from reading about them that the hill sides are very steep, but I still was amazed at how steep they are. It's really hard to imagine how people will pick those grapes come October. And seeing mile after mile of rows of grapes is quite amazing. Our hotel in Muden, Germany, The Hotel Sewnig, has a vineyard also. We sat on the patio after we checked in drinking several of their wines while eating dinner. Later that evening, Christy, Carl, and Sean took their laptops down to the hotel bar to get on the internet (I just read while we were down there), and we got quite a kick out of the locals that were at the bar drinking and singing drinking songs. The next morning we headed to Burg Eltz Castle. It wasn't very far away, and the guidebooks all said that the parking lot was an easy 10 minute walk away. Well, their time estimates were just a little off - it took about 15 minutes, and it was a STEEP walk - maybe easy on the way to the castle, but definitely not easy on the way back to the car. The castle has been standing since the 1200's, and never been damaged in a battle or war - it is still owned by the Eltz family. The picture on the front of my Shutterfly account was taken on the walk from the parking lot to the castle. We really enjoyed our tour. We were reminded again of how little history we Americans have compared to the European countries.
Then we headed off to St Urbans Hof winery. It was so different from any of the other wineries I've been to. We were the only people there at that time, and they took us upstairs to the tasting room, which was a lovely room with a large table that could have seated about 20. She brought each wine out one at a time, and was very knowledgale about the different wines and how they were grown. It was quite interesting, and relaxing (especially compared to the last winery we had all been to in Virginia). I had not realized how different the different types of Rieslings could taste depending on the type of soil, etc. We ended up buying 7 bottles, and could have bought a lot more if we could have figured out how to get them all home! I sure hope I can find a way to get some of their wines here in the states.
Then we headed off to Trier, a city full of Roman ruins dating back centuries. It was getting late when we got there, so we only had time to visit the museum before things started to close. (That is one of the things it would be hard to get used to in Germany - things close at around 6:00 pm every day, and on Sunday's most stores and all are closed). The next day was kind of rainy, so we ended up taking the little train tour instead of walking - made it hard to take pictures, but we stayed much dryer. If it had been a sunny day, we definitely could have spent more time exploring all of the ruins like the coliseum and the baths that we only saw from the outside.

The first pciture is some of the fields and cows we saw on our drive, and the second one is vineyards along the Mosel River. The last one is one of my favorite photos from the trip - the 4 of us along the trail to Burg Eltz castle, with the castle in the background.
Next up will be Stuttgart and the Porsche museum.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Yesterday's Project

Yesterday I decided it was time to deal with the abundance of goodies from my garden. I am being overrun with tomatoes and peppers!!! So, I went online and found a recipe for salsa, and after a quick trip to Wal-Mart for canning jars was ready to proceed. It really wasn't hard - just time consuming peeling and chopping all of those tomatoes and peppers. But it was worth it - this is what I ended up with (though there were 4 more jars yesterday - one has already been consumed, and 3 given away). It is delicious!! I may have to make more - even if it means buying more tomatoes at the farmers market!

So, after having such great success with the salsa, today or tomorrow these babies below are destined to become pepper jelly!!! Cute jars, pectin, and a recipe from a neieghbor are awaiting them. And in case these aren't enough, there are more waiting in the garden to join them.

Now, I just need some ideas on what to do with these little lovelies!!! My cherry tomato plants are just as prolific as the bigger ones. We simply cannot eat enough salads to make a dent in them. And these in the basket are only half of what I have waiting to be used - there is about the same amount already in the refrigerator. Anyone have any great ideas for cherry tomatoes? My neighbors don't seem to be big fans!!!

Sorry to interrupt the travel posts, but the garden just wouldn't wait!!!!! If only my squash and zucchini plants had done as well as the tomatoes and peppers!

Be back soon!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Europe - Part 4

Our last day in Paris was just a little over a half day. We got up early in the morning for a tour to The Palace of Versailles. There was one other family in our tour group - they were from Australia, and they were a hoot! We really enjoyed talking with them and walking around with them. There really are no words to describe Versailles other than amazing and out of this world! If we thought that the other castles we had seen so far were amazing, this one was in a totally different class. It is just impossible to imagine that people really lived with this level of opulence. I mean - a room for a wake up ceremony, and a different one for a going to bed ceremony! And all of the gilt and statues, and fabrics embroidered with gold and silver. My favorite room was the Hall of Mirrors. Every room we came to, Christy found something else to add to her list of things she would like to have someday. And then we went out to the Gardens. You could spend all day, and still only see a fraction of the gardens and fountains. The flowers were beautiful, as were the hedges - all trimmed and pruned just perfectly. Christy really enjoyed posing like the statues as we headed back to the Palace. And we bought our first French macaroons in the gift shop - Christy and I have decided that we have to learn to make them. Yumm!!!!
When we got back to Paris we only had a couple of hours left until our shuttle pick up for the airport, so we had lunch at the little Italian restaurant down the street from our hotel. Another really good meal! Then we headed over to the Louvre and wandered around the shops in the little mall under the Louvre. We ended up not finding anything that we needed, but it was a fun way to end our time in Paris.

Then it was off to the airport, and our flight to Dusseldorf. We were all excited about our hotel for the night - it was in Bonn, and was in an old castle - The SchlossHotel Kommende Ramersdorf. It was exactly as we had hoped it would be - a true fairy tale castle. They also had a wonderful restaurant. We really enjoyed our dinner (though none of us really thought very much of the appetizer they brought us of shrimp in some sort of aspic). Our rooms were actually in the renovated stables, and were furnished with lovely antique furniture. The rest of the castle is now used for events like weddings and things like that. They did unlock it for us after we checked out Friday morning, and just let us roam around for as long as we wanted. It was built in the early 1200's, and though not nearly as opulent as Versailles, was very interesting. It was much easier to imagine people living there. We got quite a surprise as we decided to climb the tower with a couple of German women who had also spent the night there to discover someone actually lived there. It turned out that we weren't able to climb to the top and go outside, but we were surprised when we got to the top floor we could go to that there was a swimming pool - a vinyl swimming pool set up there. Talk about out of place!

The first photo is of the chapel at Versailles, and the second is Christy, Carl, and Sean in the Gardens of versailles. The last one is our castle hotel in Bonn. See - a real fairy tale castle!!

More to come soon on the rest of our adventure in Germany!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Europe - Part 3

Our second day in Paris was devoted to museums. We started out with a tour of the Louvre. Our tour guide Michel was fantastic. He was very knowledgeable about the art, and also knew all the shortcuts to take to get from one place to another in the Louvre. If not for him, we would not have seen near as much as we did. I am so glad I decided to splurge on this small group tour!!! We saw the Mona Lisa, winged Victory, Venus de Milo, and lots of others. Everything from ancient Roman sculptures to Ancient Asian art, items from times before Christ, and a lot of paintings that Christy had studied in her art history class in Luneberg. She was so excited to see them in real life! As we walked down the stair cases in Napoleon's apartments, I kept telling myself that kings and kings had walked on those same stairs! When we finally left the Louvre after almost 4 hours of non-stop practically running from one room to another, we had lunch at one of the little cafes in the area. Then decided that because it really looked like it was going to rain any minute, to head over and see the Musee D"Orsay. Christy and Sean both wanted to take a look there because that is where all the impressionists are. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photos inside. I would have loved to get some photos of the interior of the building at least because the architecture of the building is fantastic - it used to be a train station, and you can still see that in some places. After we were done there, we headed back towards the hotel, and wandered a little in the Tuilleries. We sat at a little cafe there and shared a bottle of wine and a crepe with chocolate sauce and ice cream. After another trip back to the hotel to drop stuff off, we headed out for dinner, and ate at the cafe on the corner by our hotel. Then Christy and I wanted to go see the Eiffel Tower all lit up, thinking we could use our bateau boat passes, only to discover that they had stopped running. So we walked - Sean was sure it wasn't very far - it took us 45 minutes to get there! But we arrived in plenty of time to find a spot to sit and see the lights come on and take some photos. The twinkle lights come on for 5 minutes on the hour at 11:00. It was worth the walk, and the wait, and then the 45 minute walk back. Though, I must admit the walk back was not as much fun - no one was in a very good mood about it! But, we did see our first (and only) Parisian rat on the way back!

The first photo is the Arc du Carousel outside the Louvre, the second is Christy in front of the Mona Lisa, and the last is the gorgeous Eiffel Tower. The photos that go with this post will be up on the Shutterfly site in just a little while.
Keep checking back for more!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Europe - Part 2

Since I am finally getting the first of our photos from Paris uploaded, I thought I would tell you a little about our first day in Paris. When we arrived on Monday night it was so late that we really didn't see much other than a quick glimpse of the Eiffel Tower and Sacre Coeur as the shuttle headed to our hotel. But, despite the late night, we were up early. Our tour guide, Pablo, picked us up at 8:30 for our day long tour. Pablo turned out to be the best tour guide we could have wanted. He was full of information and stories about all of the things we saw. He started out just driving us around to give us a quick tour of the city. It was hard to decide where to look at times. Our first stop was at Notre Dame, where we had time to go inside and take a tour. What an amazing cathedral!! Then we headed off to see more, ending up on Montmartre, where we stopped to see Sacre Coeur - another amazing church. We also had some time to just wander around - of course Christy found a gelato shop for a little snack! Quite a view from there - you don't realize how large the city is until you see it from up high. Then it was back down to the Eiffel Tower for a late lunch at the restaurant on the first floor up. They called it a "gourmet picnic", and it really was quite good - as were the views. Then we went up to the second and top floors - the views were amazing even though it was quite cloudy and overcast, and threatening to rain. At one point we weren't sure we would actually make it up to the top because of rain, but they only had it closed for about 15 minutes. There were times while we were up in the Tower that you would have sworn that every person in Paris was up there it was so crowded, and their system for selling tickets to the elevators was very inefficient, but it was worth it in the end. This was also where we learned that Europeans really have no concept of standing in lines - it's each man for himself, and they have no qualms about pushing right through you. After we got down we headed across the street and found we were right on time for our cruise on the Seine. It was so nice to just sit and relax and watch the city float past. We saw some things we had seen earlier in the day, but from a different vantage point. When we got back to the hotel, we were afraid that if we sat for too long, we might never get back up again, so we headed out to explore the area around our hotel. Our hotel was nice and in an excellent location - just a block from the Louvre. But, the rooms were TINY! Carl and I couldn't even open a suitcase without putting it up on the bed. The kids were a little better off - they could open one. Anyway, we wandered around checking out all of the little cafes in the area, and finally had a really nice dinner not far away. By the time we were done with dinner it was raining, so we just headed back to the hotel, with a stop for ice cream and coffee for dessert. It truly was an amazing day - seeing so many of the things you think of whenever you think Paris - The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, the Arc de Triomphe, the Grand Palace, etc. We couldn't wait for the next day and the Louvre!!!

The first photo is Notre Dame, the second is Carl, Sean, and Christy on Mont Martre, and the last is, of course, the Eiffel Tower! Note the grey skies in all of these photos - we only got fleeting glimpses of the sun the whole time we were in Paris.

More to come later!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

What a fantastic trip!!!

We are home from our trip to Germany and Paris, and had a wonderful time. I'm going to break down the trip into a couple of posts, and most of the photos will not be posted here, but in my Shutterfly photo blog.
We arrived at the Frankfurt airport on Saturday, August 7th. After picking up our rental car (which Sean and Christy dubbed the "short bus"), we drove almost 4 hours up to Luneberg to meet Christy. She was waiting outside our hotel when we drove up, and it was so good to see her after almost 6 weeks away! We were all tired, but couldn't wait to get out and walk around the little town. I can see why she fell in love with Luneberg - it is quaint and pretty, and despite it's small size, has everything you could want, mostly within an easy walk. She had to ride a bus out to the campus, but other than that was able to walk everywhere. Here are a couple of photos to show you the town:

The first one is along the Ilmenau river right by our hotel. The second is a couple of the old buildings downtown, and the last is at the end of Christy's little street. We wandered around for a little while, and then had dinner at the last brewery left in Luneberg. We sat outside eating schnitzel and drinking beer. And then wandered around some more. We spent Sunday morning seeing the rest of the town, going to the top of the water tower, and checking out the three largest churches. Then we headed off to Wolfsburg.

Wolfsburg is the home of Volkswagon. When we arrived on Sunday night, we walked around outside of Schloss Wolfsburg (Wolfsburg Castle), and on Monday we went to the Volkswagon factory and took a tour of the factory as well as seeing some of the Autostadt (kind of like a museum and park combined). It was really very interesting. Late afternoon we headed off to return out "short bus", and catch a plane to Paris. How about that for a birthday trip!!!

I'll tell you about Paris in my next post. Have to drag this out a bit, after all. Here is the link to my Shutterfly site where you can see the first set of photos that I have finally gotten uploaded - it seemed to take forever, and they are still not all labeled, but I'm working on that.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Yummy New Recipe

I had some fresh corn on the cob from the local farm stand the other night, and decided to try a new recipe with it - Garlicky Creamed Corn and Spinach. It was a Rachel Ray recipe, and was soooo good!!! Here is a picture of it, followed by the recipe.

Garlicky Creamed Corn and Spinach
2 Tbs. butter
4 ears corn, kernels scraped from the cobs
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1/2 C. heavy cream (I didn't have any cream and just used the skim milk I had)
freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
2 bundles fresh spinach, about 1/2 pound
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the butter. When the butter is hot, stir in the corn and the starchy liquid scraped from the cobs. Cook for about 5 minutes, then stir int he garlic and season with the salt and pepper. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes more, then add the cream and the nutmeg, stirring occasionally, until nice and creamy, about 15 minutes. Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Season with more salt and pepper, if needed. Serve hot.
This was so good! I don't think it needed the cream at all, and that sure does help on cutting the calories. I also didn't have quite a half pound of spinach, and I think I will make sure to add more spinach the next time I make this. The recipe is supposed to make 4 servings. I hate to admit that Carl and I ate the whole bowl - it was that good!!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Stamping Friends

Today I got to finally meet a friend I made on the internet years ago - I'm not even sure how long ago! We've been part of a group of stamping/scrapping friends that all met up on the Two Peas in a Bucket web site. We all had so much in common that we formed a goup of our own called Pea2Pea. Over the years we have all shared a lot - been through births and deaths together, and shared lots of art in swaps and mingles. But I had only met 2 of them in real life before today - Tina who used to live in Dayton, and Annie from Minnesota. And today I finally met Barb Smith who lives in Florida - she was in town with her husband visiting her sister-in-law. We had a geat time! We did some serious shopping! First we hit Archivers, and then we went to Stamp Your Art Out (local stamp store), and ended up at Scrap,Paper, Scissors (local scrapbook store). After shopping, we headed to Mimi's for lunch. It was really great to finally meet someone I've talked to on-line for so long!

Barb, it was great meeting you! Come back soon! Next summer Terry and I want you to come back for StampAway!

Monday, June 28, 2010

She arrived!

We got Christy off to Germany yesterday, and she just called to say she had arrived fine in Berlin and was on her way to her hostel. To say that the weekend was uneventful would be an understatement! A good bit of Saturday was spent worrying about her debit card and if there were problems with it, but after some investigating by the bank, hopefully the problem was just British Airways! Then yesterday, Carl and I left home at 8:00am to take her to the airport in Dayton - we arrived home 8 hours later and she was finally off to JFK. Chicago was closed right before her plane was to take off (thankfully it hadn't left yet), and there were lots of problems getting her rebooked - finally we got her on a flight to JFK from Cincinnati instead of Dayton, so we had to retrieve her luggage and make an hour and a half dash from one airport to the other, but we made it on time, and that flight took off as scheduled. In case anyone is interested she has set up a blog to share her adventures - Feel free to check it out, and leave her comments. So now we begin the countdown until the rest of the family joins her for a 2 week adventure!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Well, here I am! A member of the blogging world. As you can see, this is still a work in progress, but I am hoping to use this blog to share parts of my life with friends and family. Everything from family news to my most recent creations for my scrapbooks or cards I've made. You might even find recipes on here that I've tried and loved. A little bit of everything. So, bear with me while I learn how to do this. I'll start off my sharing with a family photo from a few weeks ago at Laurel and Mike's wedding. We don't do this often enough, so I'm really happy with this one.

We're busy getting Christy ready for her trip to Germany where she will be studying in Luneburg for 5 weeks. Then Carl, Sean, and I are going over to meet her and traveling around for 13 days. I can't wait! It's like the trip of a lifetime to be able to do this with my kids before they get out of college and are out on their own.