September 28, 2008

BratBQ and other news

Posted in Journal, Purls of Wisdom tagged , , , , , , at 1:57 pm by Jenn

When we went to Germany Scott’s mission was to bring back brats.  And he did, lots of them.  Last night we had a BratBQ at the casa de Smart.  We didn’t have as many people as we expected, but we had 7 total, a ton of brats, food and drink and a lot of fun.  I made 3 bean salad and pasta salad, a cake and brownies.  Allison made roasted potatoes.  We had chips, dip and beer cheese.

The guys played Playstation 3, Danny entertained us with his guitar and Allison and I amused ourselves with .  I’m serious, if you haven’t tried it you are missing out on at LEAST 10 good laughs and a few Oh My’s.

After everyone left and the place met “Smart Standards” I headed for the bedroom to finish that scarf I’d been working on.  No, not the Clementine Shawlette that I’ve been working on since May.  No, not the Clapotis that I’ve been working on since July.  The No Name scarf that I started last week.  LOL. 

Mission accomplished.  Now today I just have to figure out the proper way to block this thing and I’ll have a wearable item when it dries.  It seems that I’ve finished that scarf just in time too.  The weather here is only supposed to be in the low 60’s today and for the past few days…3 at least, we’ve had rain.   Yep, you heard right.  Rain.  In Baku.

In other news I’m getting ready for the holidays.  I’m having a Cookie Exchange and sending out the announcement tomorrow.  I’m making my Christmas list via a wishlist on Amazon this year.  I’ve posted a link to it here on my blog for easy access (hint hint) and I’ve decided that I’m going to give a few basic knitting classes to some of the women here who want to knit.  AND, I’ve ordered a bunch of yarn and koolaid and plan to have a Dyeing Party!  FUN FUN FUN!

AND, while I was doing my grocery shopping this week I happened to find a few cans of A&W Rootbeer.  Yep, you guess it

Rootbeer floats.  Not anywhere near as good as the ones Dr Rootbeeraka Jerome used to whip up, but they were just what the Dr. ordered.  Rootbeer heals all you know!  It’s funny too because I had just sent Jerome an email saying that I hadn’t been able to find any rootbeer here, and then there it was.  It was like he “wished” the rootbeer to appear for me.  Thanks Jerome!

Now I’m off to block that scarf!


September 22, 2008

I’m Into Dyeing

Posted in Journal, Purls of Wisdom tagged , , , , at 9:25 pm by Jenn

You start with this

and end with this

using this

FUN!  Now I just have to wind it in to center pull balls and then turn it in to a pair of socks.  Gee, I wonder how long that will take? 

I’m going to try some other techniques…onion skins and spinach for starters!  : )  Yes I know.  I’m a geek.  I wanted to do wine, but that’s just a waste of good wine…besides, I’ve read the color turns brown with time.  Brown is a nice color, but I’d rather drink the wine I think.

Trip to Germany

Posted in Journal tagged , , at 9:17 pm by Jenn

Our trip to Germany was wonderful.  My parents came and spent a week so it was really nice to see them and to visit my birthplace – Wiesbaden.  The apartment building we lived in was still there.  It was neat to walk around and see the area and to listen to my parents tell various stories about their life there.

Here’s a picture of Mom and Dad in front of the building. 

I bet they didn’t realize that this building would become so popular.  Apparently a celebrity lives here now –

There were so many things to see and do in Germany.  We had a great time walking around and exploring.  Here are a few of my favorite pictures from our walks.

  This picture was taken from a footbridge that we walked across to get from on side of the river to the other.  I’m pretty sure this is the Rhine River.

In the city center of Konstablerwache on Saturday and Thursday is a neat little market where you can find wine, fresh fruit, veggies and brats!  Other days of the week they sometimes have other fun things to see.  One day we watch people bowling on a portable lane.  Another day we saw an antique car display.  Here is a picture of a tractor from 1952.  The tractor still runs.  In fact we met it on the street later on in the day.


The first day we arrived Scott and I went up to Wiesbaden to the military exchange.  We were really hungry and decided to grab something in the food court.  This is what we chose. 


The Popeye’s is mine and the Taco Bell is Scott’s.  I must say I was really disappointed.  After really not having access to fast food for over a year and being thrilled to see a “food court”, the mashed potatoes were rubbery and the biscuit was just a big old grease ball.  The soda on the other hand.  I hate to admit it but I drank 3 of them.  This was the real deal Diet Coke, not Coke Light like we have been drinking for the past year.  REAL straight up honest to goodness Diet Coke.  There really is a difference.

While we are on the topic of food let me just go right ahead and post this picture.

This is the remainder of the 30cm hamburger that the First Sergeant was unable to finish.  30 cm…that’s 11.8 inches folks.  Yes, that’s one hell of a lot of burger.  I wonder where they get those buns?  The restaurant was the Waldgeistand yes, the do bring new meaning to the words Super Size It.  I ordered the 1/4 Wiener Schnitzel and couldn’t even finish 1/4 of it.  Just the size of the thing and seeing the size of everyone else’s food portions just made me want to vomit.  What’s even worse is the waste.  I just sat there thinking of all the people that were starving in the world and how much food must be thrown away at this place each and every day.

Another day we went to Heidelberg to see the castle.  Heidelberg Castle is basically in ruins today following WW 2 following the Thirty Years War and surprisingly the castle sustained no damage from WW2.  It is quite a, sight to behold.  The area is absolutely breathtaking.  Here are a few pics from that day.

    The fam.

  My favorite picture from the castle.  The walls outer walls are 7 meters thick and this chunk  “fell” off  as a result of attacks on the castle.

  This picture was taken from the castle patio and is a beautiful view of the river and village below.

  There are lions all around the castle.  This one is my favorite.  A little mossy, but still my favorite.

One interesting site at the castle was the HUGE wine vat…it holds over 220,000 liters of wine.  This is where you would have wanted to be in times of trouble.  The wine cellar!

This is also where we learned about Ice Wine.  Ice Wine is a specialty wine…a sweet dessert type that is made in limited quantities each year.  Apparently the grapes have to be harvested at a specific temperature when they are frozen and then the juice is pressed from them and processed in to this super yummy, super expensive, but worth it treat.  YUMMO!

Ok.  I have a ton of other pictures but I don’t want this post to be too picture heavy.  I have all the pics in my web albums.  If you are interested, leave a comment and I’ll  – they are public albums so feel free to visit.  I have only had time to put captions on a few of them…..

*edited to correct information about the castle as pointed out by a few readers

September 20, 2008

Putting Myself Out There

Posted in Journal tagged , , at 8:34 pm by Jenn

Ok, so I’ve finally figured out the reason that I get nothing done. Actually there is a long list of reasons and here is one of them:


1990 hits a little too close to home and when I find the picture I will post it.

I promise that the pictures from my trip are coming…I keep getting sidetracked.  If you are interested in hearing about our Germany Geocaching adventures please visit Tales from the Trails.

Give me a BREAK!

Posted in Journal tagged , , , at 12:09 am by Jenn

Today is my first real day back in Baku and already we have drama. Have I mentioned lately how much I don’t like living here?

So today I took Max for his afternoon potty break outside on the “grass” as I usually do. It was about 5:00 there were a few kids out there. They love Max and roll around with him and he licks them and lets them love on him. The kids love it and Max loves it. The kids Mom came over and chatted with me for a few minutes, then they were off to shopping. I went next door to get the sunglasses that I left at our neighbors’ apartment when we went for dinner last night and on the way back to my apartment I noticed a new piece of paper on the bulletin board. It said something like this –

Dear Tenants

We have recently found dog droppings in front of “Block B” and in the “grassy pond”. It is your responsibility to clean up after your pet. There are many children who play in the grassy pond on the swings and see saws. You will no longer be allowed to walk your pet on the premises.

I thought, hmmm. Then I got mad. Where I am supposed to walk my dog? In the park down the street? Oh, you mean the block long patch of dust and concrete where there are hypodermic needles, broken glass, and sheep shit? Not to mention the fact that it is across the street which means I would be risking my life to take my dog to the bathroom 3-4 times a day. 2 times of which it’s dark outside, I’m an American living in a foreign country and I’m female. Did I mention the pack of wild dogs that roams our neighborhood procreating like there is no tomorrow? Oh and did I mention that I saw a man who had bled out and died on the street just up from the park a few weeks ago from his stab wound? Yeah. I’m not walking my dog off this property!

I called the people who handle housing for us at Scott’s work and basically was told that they couldn’t do anything for us. They suggested the park. I told them that wasn’t an option. I then spoke to a neighbor who has a dog and she said that she had heard about the notice and that they would be taking their dog out to the back of the building. We sometimes take Max there to avoid the children while he’s trying to take care of his business so this isn’t really a big deal for us either.

SO, this evening when I went to take Max out for his potty break, I avoid the “grassy pond” and took him to the back of the building. While I was back there I was approached by one of the security guards who informed me of the notice. I told him that I read it. He look confused. I told him that I didn’t feel safe leaving the property and explained to him my reasons. He understood, though told me that mgmt had given security instructions to enforce the rule. I told him that I understood that he was doing his job, but that I wasn’t leaving the property. I also told him that I would only bring Max out back and that I would not let him use the bathroom in the “grassy pond”. This seemed to satisfy him but he did say that if mgmt said anything that he would have to tell them that I refused. I told him that this would be fine.

The guards here are really nice and I don’t have a problem with them doing their jobs, in fact they do a wonderful job of protecting our property and monitoring traffic coming in and out. I do have a problem with the mgmt telling us that we can’t walk our dogs on the premises….meaning the entire property. The request for the dogs not to use the play area as a potty is understandable….although why anyone would want their child to play barefoot or their infant to crawl around on the ground in this filthy country is BEYOND me. I think that they need to give us a designated place for dogs, or make this a no pet property!

I understand that the expats here are really the only people with dogs as pets. The local people really only have dogs for security and they stay outside. They don’t understand that our animals are like our families. I really hope this blows over, but if it doesn’t I hope that no one is surprised when I pack my dog up and go home!

They’d really have a fit in Germany where the dogs are allowed in the restaurants! On our last night of vacation we ate dinner at the table next to the cutest dog. His owner was hanging out with friends. The dog had a nice big plate of mashed potatoes for dinner! It was awesome.

September 19, 2008

Geocaching – Frankfurt, Germany

Posted in Journal, Overseas tagged , , at 9:20 pm by Jenn

Scott and I just returned from our trip to Frankfurt where I tried to squeeze in as much geocaching as he would allow!  LOL.

Of the 10 caches I had on my attempt list we were able to find 5.  Not bad for rookies.  One cache had actually been muggled (stolen/missing) so I’m not counting that as a DNF (did not find) because it wasn’t even there to be found!  That didn’t stop us from looking for it though!  LOL

So here’s a run down of the finds:

Gotteshäuser – Dreikönigskirche (Frankfurt) – GC1EDD4 – This was our first find.  Scott and I together with Mom found this one.  Here’s a picture of me and mom near the cache location.

Das Garenthaus – GC10XK8 – I think this was my favorite of the caches because the area where the cache was is so beautiful. 

Watching You #2 Der Christliche – GC1DHBH – this was a fun cache and thanks to the hint we were able to make a very educated guess about the location of the cache.  We narrowed down the possibilities and BINGO!

Jüdischer Friedhof – Frankfurt – GC1533X – Great fun.  A bit tricky, but fun.  You really have to be tall or willing to climb to get this one.  I’m a climber!

Finding Max Horkheimer – GC1BW3A – This one was tough at first, but after reading the hints and a little help from Max we were able to locate it in no time.  VERY TINY!


Baroda – We tried this one twice with no luck.  After reading the log of someone who found the cache after us it seems that when the cache was replaced by a previous finder it was placed just out of fingers reach….maybe on my next trip to Germany I’ll be able to locate this one.

Eagle Eye –  This cache is probably in one of the busiest sections of the city…the bus stop in the center of the city.  We were able to do several brief searches but no real deep searching because of all the people.  I will be attempting this one on my next trip as well.  I know it’s there and now I’ve GOT TO FIND IT!

Industrial Wasteland Frankfurt Ost – this was probably the most disappointing of all the caches.  Not only did we not find it the area was absolutely disgusting and dirty with trash.  It is near an old/abandoned factory of some sort and there is a lot of construction going on in the area.  I wouldn’t try this one again, in fact I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

Simon says: Zum Wasserpark – This one has me puzzled.  I looked twice on the same day with no luck.  The park is beautiful and the buildings here are really interesting.  The cache is very well concealed because I gave the place a THOROUGH check.  Until I saw the mouse that is.  Then I didn’t stick around very long.  The mouse sighting was on my second attempt though so I’d guess about an hour was spent looking altogether.

Coo Coo for Caching Geocoin – this is the first tracking item that I’ve placed.  I placed it in my first find  GC1EDD4, and by the time I got back to the hotel to log the drop someone had already picked the coin up.  The coin is now in a new home, it’s second cache and hopefully on it’s way to reaching the goal.

And here’s a picture of the Bull and Bear or the real name Simon Says: rauf und runter – GC143X8
 – in Frankfurt just outside of the financial district area…fitting given the recent crisis in the US.  We suspected the cache was muggled, but we looked for it anyway, and it was a great photo op.

All in all it was a good trip.  Germany has THOUSANDS of caches waiting to be discovered.  I’ll be heading to the Landstuhl area in a few weeks and plan on putting a new set of batteries in my GPS for that trip.  What a fun sport.

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