Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Modern Pioneering with Georgia Pellegrini



Hello! I'm just about over jet lag following a two-week solo trip to the States to visit my parents. My daughter, who is a college freshman, was able to spend her spring break with us, and we had a delightful time together doing not much of anything. Though I meant to take some pictures and do a blog post about my hometown, I couldn't be bothered. So there--that will have to wait!

Just before I left for Louisiana, I got in a Spring-y mood and ordered the book Modern Pioneering, by Georgia Pellegrini. It was waiting for me upon my arrival back in Germany, and I'm really enjoying flipping through it. Pellegrini, who learned to hunt and wrote about it in Girl Hunter: Revolutionizing the Way We EaOne Hunt at a Time, has turned now to a diverse array of projects, recipes, and introductions to skills that just about anyone (living anywhere) can learn, if they want to live a bit more self-sufficiently.

Pellegrini encourages readers to make small but thoughtful attempts to garden, cook from scratch, forage, put together a pantry, use resources wisely, and maybe pick up a few new skills. Much of the content is food-related, which makes sense as Pellegrini is a professionally-trained chef. To be clear, this isn't a book about homesteading, and there's no info about raising animals. Crafts are not a focus, either. This is more of an introduction or overview--something to whet one's appetite for learning and making, especially with regard to food. It's packed with great photos and easy instructions, and I really do think I'll use it often. I'm happy to add it to my burgeoning collection of books on cooking, gardening, and self-sufficiency. Hopefully you'll enjoy it, too!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Metz Miscellany

My most recent Metz photos weren't all of doors, though it's true that at least half of them were.



We found Le Vélo Rose at 28 Rue Taison, behind the Cathedral. It's a mix of new and vintage items, and I found the prices quite reasonable. Check out the shop's actual "vélo rose"--complete with a set of boules attached to the handlebars!


On the same street, I spied another cute shop with this wonderful jewelry in the window. I'd love to have one of those necklaces made from vintage watches.


On the corner, we found the tiny but very busy pâtisserie-boulangerie Aux Merveilleux de Fred, where Husband fell in love with a couple of warm-from-the-oven pastries with caramelized sugar--so much so that he went back for more! Friend Jodi and I (see our reflection?) took a couple of photos before moving on. Yes, I had one of those pastries, and it was fabulous!


I liked this place's mailbox, as well as their door handles.


And I thought these mini-trucks were pretty adorable.


We flâneurs got hungry (and thirsty) after wandering for a couple of hours. We stopped in this cute café/bar for drinks and tartines.


Now we're seated and looking at the menu boards.


This is Loroyse, a beer from the Lorraine region, where Metz is located.


We enjoyed the food and friendly service at Autour du Zinc. We'll likely return!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Doors of Metz


Last Saturday, we went to Metz again. We had no particular agenda (other than a visit later in the day to the huge Carrefour in nearby Thionville), so we explored some of the streets around the famous Cathedral. I couldn't help noticing some very photogenic doors; here are some of them.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Dealing with Transition in Your Life?


My expat friend Ariana has had a hefty share of disappointments and setbacks in her adult life. She and her husband dared to try a different way of life for their family of three--a new job and a move from Portland, Oregon, to Germany--only to lose that job (and new lifestyle) in a matter of months. They spent time back in the States, sleeping on people's floors and couches and drawing unemployment, before finding a new job and making another big move, this time to England. The family settled into life there nicely, while also dealing with some unexpected disappointments--and even now, there is the potential for another move.

I'm so glad Ariana decided to write a book of encouragement and ideas for those of us going through our own times of transition. Pruned: Blossoming Through Life's Difficult Seasons is about what Ariana and her family have experienced and what they have learned. It's about how they have managed to turn feelings of fear and uncertainty into an outlook of adventure and a sense of hope and positivity. One of my favorite quotations comes from the book's Introduction:
"I hope to encourage others to embrace an 'abundance mentality,' to see possibility in the midst of loss, and to live more intentionally as a result...When we are forced to stop living on autopilot, we get to make real decisions, give up things we have outgrown, and introduce positive new elements into our lives."
This book is a quick and easy read, but it packs a real punch. In ten chapters, Ariana outlines the different issues we deal with during different times and then gives the reader ways to frame these issues in positive ways. Topics include Finding Perspective, Facing Fears, Transforming Worry, and Avoiding Common Thought Traps. Each brief chapter contains a number of thoughts broken down in an easily-readable way and ends with a list of Questions for Reflection.

I like that Ariana reminds us that there is enough good in the world for all of us--we needn't feel bad when things are going well for us, and we shouldn't always expect that things will go poorly or stay bad in our lives during the more trying times. I also like that she makes concrete, workable suggestions, and her tone is soothing and comforting but also somehow invigorating enough to inspire change.

My family has gone through some rather uncomfortable changes, especially during the first couple of years after we moved from Japan to Germany. Ariana helped me realize that it was okay for us to feel what we felt, though perhaps we could have dealt with our emotions and the reality of our circumstances in some more productive ways.

This ebook is a meaningful resource for anyone dealing with transition, whether large or small. I recommend it without reservation, regardless of your religious and/or philosophical beliefs. I believe you'll turn to it repeatedly for reassurance and motivation as you navigate life's changes.
You can buy Pruned here. And if you haven't read my guest post for Ariana on And Here We Are, I hope you will!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Refresh, a Guest Post, and Some Hedgehogs


Announcement! Ahem! A couple of news items for you today: First, if you've visited my blog in the past, you'll note that my header has been refreshed a bit, by the fun and funky gal behind the blog Happy Loves Rosie. I just wanted some subtle changes to the design she did for me four years ago (how has it been that long?). Thanks, Happy--I'm loving it!

Also, today you'll find me guest-posting for my expat friend Ariana from And Here We Are, as she is in Tenerife with her family this week on a much-needed vacation. Ariana let me spout off a bit about some challenges my family has faced during our expat journey, most specifically in our move from Japan to Germany. I hope you'll head over and read my ramblings--and start following Ariana, who writes beautifully about real food, expat life, England, and simple but purposeful family living. 

Ariana has just published a wonderful ebook about how to get through, and thrive during and after, the difficult seasons of life. I'll be reviewing Pruned: Blossoming Through Life's Difficult Seasons next week, but if you want more information or want to buy it now (yes, I get a cut if you buy via my blog), please click the link in my right sidebar. Thank you from both of us!

And I'll leave today you with some lactose-intolerant hedgehogs, just for the sake of cute:

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Four Tiny French Cookbooks


Aren't these little cookbooks from Marabout just adorable? And they are indeed little--the pages measure about 3" x 3". There are many more in the series, and I've decided to try to pick one up each time we visit the French hypermarché Carrefour.





Each book is centered around the use of one whole food, such as bell peppers, or a branded convenience item popular with French and Belgians. As you can imagine, a number of cheeses are well-represented (note the topic of three out of the four books I've bought thus far). I like that each recipe has an accompanying photo, and the styling is lovely. 

Though I don't bake a lot of sweets these days, I'd like to have the book about Nutella (which comes in a set with silicone molds), as I tend to end up with a lot of half-eaten jars of Nutella due to The Boy's insistence that it gets "old" after being open for just a few days.

In case you're wondering, I've looked through all four of these books and been inspired, but I haven't actually made any of the recipes yet. For one thing, my once-quite-good French is a bit rusty now, so I know I'll have to translate certain things. All of the recipes are uncomplicated, though.

By the way, Marabout has some fun Pinterest boards. And if you're a cheese-freak, you might like to visit my Fondue and Raclette board as well. Bon appétit!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Husband Speaks: The Little Things

Meet Husband: a funny guy and wonderful father, son, friend, employee, and—well, husband! He and I work well together in so many areas, but he’s never been a part of any of my blogs until now. He’s going to begin chiming in here from time to time to offer his own perspective on—whatever! In this, his first blog post, he shares a small slice of life in our little burg. Enjoy!



Americans who come to live in the German countryside around Bitburg and Spangdahlem for a few years often talk about how there isn’t much happening here. Most people feel inclined to get on buses and in cars and head far from here to find something to do. Of course, I understand that when you move overseas, you want to see the “big” places, and it would be a shame not to do that. But what if you don’t have the time, energy, money, or desire to go on even a small vacation? Is it possible to find something new (to you) and valuable in the small town you’re calling home for a few years?


You always hear that it’s the little things in life that really matter, and I believe that’s true. After all, you can’t visit the Eiffel Tower every day. Instead, you can make memories in a place that’s small and unassuming, maybe the kind of place you wouldn’t normally go or would overlook.


Find a place like this and get to know it well. Go there often. Venture outside your comfort zone and try to order something in German. My family always laughs when I try my German, but I don't mind. Sit in various spots within the place to see things from different points of view. Don’t be in a hurry. 


I came this morning to Theis-Mühle bakery for a reason. My normal routine has been to rise early and take a six-minute drive with classical music down the Sunday-quiet town streets. I’ve been popping in and out for bread on these mornings for the past couple of years, but today I wanted to sit down and listen to the laughter in the next room of locals who likely meet each week in the same place to catch up on small-town happenings. I wanted to observe how the one lady who runs this place serves and greets everyone. They know her, and she knows them.  


I’d noticed a big black and white dog tied up outside waiting for someone because this bakery doesn't allow dogs inside. In the bakery was a man I had seen walking all around Bitburg, causing me to wonder if he had a home or was down on his luck. I didn't know his story but he seemed interesting. Since every person who walks in says, "Morgen" to greet the others in the bakery, I was surprised a few weeks ago when this man looked at me and said, "Good morning." How did he know I’m American?  Was it the shape of my nose, or what?  I said good morning back to him. Then he noticed that I, in my so-broken-it-hurts German, was struggling to order something new under the lighted counter. He helped me out in both English and German.  Since we’d found some common ground through his small act of kindness, I wanted to know something about him. He told me he’s the man who owns the black and white dog. I asked him how he (the man, not the dog) knew so much English, and he said he’d worked at one time on a ship. 

I thought he might be sitting here when I came in this morning, but no such luck.  I watched a steady stream of mostly gentlemen coming in to get their Sunday bread of some sort. There aren’t many places open on Sunday mornings in Germany, and I got to thinking that perhaps the Germans figured out long ago that after working hard for the past week, on Sunday it’s time to rest, and rest well. I am learning to slow down and smell the bakery—get it?


There’s no more to this story—for now. Maybe the next time I venture into the bakery, I’ll see or learn something new. There’s value in taking an early-morning drive or a walk down a road that most don't travel.  Hop on a bike with your camera and a few coins and find a place that has lights on before sun comes up.  Go in, order something, and sit.  You’re living life in the here and now, not just during your weekends in Rome or Barcelona. Maybe you’re making a friend, and you’re definitely making memories.

Now you’ll have to excuse me. A man and a dog just walked up to Theis-Mühle. Think I will get another coffee mit kaffeesahne and sit a bit longer.
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