Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Simple Holidays: The Ultimate Oxymoron

Perhaps this holiday season seemed especially busy given that our last Christmas was spent by ourselves in Prague. We visited PA and spent Christmas morning watching little pumpkin open gifts...everyone's gifts. She was perfectly content to stop opening gifts after her first toy--An old school Barbie, but the present blitz continued with a guitar, a doll house, bath toys, a tent (that was me), clothes, furry cat, games, and more that I may have repressed. I really enjoyed visiting with my sisters and extended family whom I see very rarely. My mom is still residing in little-pumpkin land, but she came back down after little pumpkin went to her dad's. We played Trivial Pursuit (sis and I got our butts kicked), and then Pictionary (sis and I kicked butt!). My sissies liked their German hats, and mom and dad liked their German jackets! I do love giving good presents :)

Christmas with hubby's parents was simpler. Just the four of us eating Christmas dinner followed by egg nog and ice cream. Oh, the holidays :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

12 Best of Frederick at the Holidays

In the spirit of the 12 days of Christmas, here is a list of the 12 best things about being in Frederick for the holidays.
12. Beautifully decorated historic homes and businesses
11. Snow dusting the church steeples
10. Rosy cheeks of passersby
9. Smoke billowing out of brick chimneys
8. The smell of Christmas cookies wafting from the bakery
7. The Kris Kringle Parade
6. The National Lampoon-esque failed lighting of the Baker Park tree (which did not dampen any holiday cheer)
5. Free holiday events all over town
4. Drinks with new friends before A Christmas Twist at the MET
3. The Nutracker at the Weinberg
2. The "Take Grandma Fudge for Christmas" sign on the corner
1. The hundreds of white-light covered trees lining Patrick and Market Streets provided by the generous donations of Frederick city-dwellers (after last year's Snowmageddon destroyed the old lights)

Simple food

One of the best perks of working from home is that if I happen to get a craving for home-made tomoato soup with fresh basil, sprinkled with organic blue corn chips (which was excactly what I had to have at 1100 today), then I can make it. And I did. And it was delightful and warm on this sub 20 degree day.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


I ran out at lunch today to pick up dried apricots and walnuts at Costco...half the price of Target! Costco was a zoo...noon on a Thursday...must be the pre-holiday rush. As I was searching for the apricots, I passed the canned meat section just in time to hear a mid-50s woman telling her mid-70s mother, "No, mom. I don't like SPAM. I just ate it because you bought it." Mid-70s mom says, "What??? All of these years, I thought that you loved it." She was clearly hurt. I was biting my lip to hide the chuckle.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Simple living is an aspiration. Yesterday, the clutter and disorganization put me over the edge. It began this weekend. It was a busy weekend...I got a haircut, we did errands, in-laws came out for lunch and the holiday home tour, we volunteered in the frigid night air to break pieces of a 7 foot candycane and pass them to passersby as part of our downtown volunteering, acquired Christmas gifts, wrapped Christmas gifts, and then watched the Ravens! Yesterday, I drove to APG and spent the day NOT getting the things done that I needed to due to power loss, people being out of the office, unexpected meetings, etc. Anyway, finally arriving home in the frigid dark winter air, I made my way through the alley when I realized that I had forgotten my latop. So, I trudge back to the car, load up my arms, and head for the alley again. As a gust of wind whipped me, my TJs bag broke and my food fell to the ground. So, with my giant gloves, I clumisly loaded the displaced goods into the other bags. I navigated my way through the two alley doors to find a police officer at the doorstep. I was just relieved to see someone who might help me with the bags! I must have looked quite disheveled. He was asking about a's so strange to learn about neighbors from the police. Anway, I made it inside, dropped the bags and called Matt. Then, the clutter really hit me. Tiny apartment already filled with owner's junk (er, I mean stuff). Add to that all of our stuff, plus our growing pile of wrapped and unwrapped Christmas gifts, plus the groceries now in a messy heap on the threshold of the kitchen/dining area, plus my laptop, two work bags, folders, and dishes still in the sink (major pet peeve), I lost it!! Too much clutter. I couldn't think. I didn't feel well. Everything was chaotic. I managed to pull it together and start dinner where things just got worse. Nothing fit right in the tiny refrigerator and the cauliflower that I was cooking seemed to spontaneously explode everywhere! Matt tried to console me, but I was too agitated. He convinced me to go for a walk with him in the 20 degree weather (before factoring in the icy wind). The walk helped. I came back and went to bed.

I spent time before work (from home!!!) straightening the house and cleaning up. Much better. Work has been very productive so far. Clutter (house and mind) has been effectively least until the next episode.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Yoga Groove

Hubby is playing video games, eating meat, and drinking beer with a buddy tonight. So, I took a class called Yoga Groove tonight, primarily because the cost was the donation of a canned good. It was an awesome class. On the top floor of an historic townhouse, the classroom contained floor to ceiling windows overlooking the lights of the businesses along the creek. I chatted with the only guy in the class who was very well traveled, especially for someone whose occupation is a house-painter.

The class was taught by a sweet-voiced young Italian girl. It started out like any other class; however, the last 20 minutes were spent dancing. First slowly, then the music grew louder and faster as did our movements. Everyone really got into it, with the exception of one woman who jsut wasn't ready to let go. I thought that it felt great. I left energized, refreshed, and calm. Trying to carry the lessons I learned in that class will be a continual challenge because it opposes the habits that I've used (structure, logic, control) to get to where I am.

Oh, I should also note that I ate turkey bacon today. I was in TJs, saw it, and could think of nothing else.

Things that go boom in the night

Hubby and I were awakened at 3:00 AM this morning by the loud sound of glass breaking. Hubby stumbled to the living room, looked out the window, and groggily announced, "Some chic just ran into a parked car right outside our door." I made my way to the window, pulled the shade to reveal an older model Volvo with a crumpled hood. The new Audi that stopped the speeding Volvo had no visible damage. Soon, a hysterical early 20s blonde girl ran screaming to the car and tried to reverse the car. A bystander (who Hubby said came out of the house and asked the girl if she needed help) tried to simultaneously console and protect the girl from doing further damage to herself or the car. He took her inside, and a few minutes later, the police arrived. Next, we heard a sobriety test being administered. I don't think she passed. Less than 40 minutes later, all was cleaned up.
It could have been much worse. If the car hadn't been parked on the street, she and the Volvo would have careened into the next door building. How sad, though. Her life will be forever changed by one decision.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pan Predicament

My sister asked me for a Christmas list.
I've been wanting new, high quality cookware but I hadn't taken the time to research and review the best, healthy options.

So, because I am obsessive with research, I spent the evening scouring reviews of healthy cookware to find that La Creuset's enameled cast iron skillets are the best for cooking without sticking and without the potential for later acquisition of Alzheimers from aluminum or a rare disease from Teflon. Now, the European me says, "Go for it. It will last forever." The US me is lured by the "better deals" and the "more is better mentality" which offer 6 stainless pans for the same price as my one, beloved La Creuset cookware.

I pulled the trigger, and sent my sis the link to La Crueset.
European quality: 1
American consumerism: 0

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Recovering from the Thanksgiving Blahs

Simple things that are making me happy this week.
Meeting a new friend at yoga
Seeing old work friends
Seeing my husband happy
Eating wild caught roasted salmon and broccoli

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Turkey Birthday Weekend

I was disappointed this weekend. Hubby and I argued on my birthday morning. Then we drove about 5.5 hours to my parents (a ride that should've taken 4 hours). No one sang happy birthday to me, and I didn't get any gifts or cards. Thanksgiving was a blur of preparing food, eating food, and my sister's unfortunate soon-to-be ex-husband drama. I ate too much. The highlight of the day, and the weekend, for that matter, was my 2 year old neice saying, "Happy Birfday!" I really just wanted someone to sing happy birthday to me. I was actually shocked that mom didn't make a cake. She usually goes over the top. We ventured out with my mom and sister to get buys at Walmart at midnight on the approaching black Friday. Two words: never again. Yikes!

Hubby and I drove back Friday night after spending a day with my mom, sis, and niece. Again, lots of time on the road. The remainder of the weekend was spent shopping for house items (we got a great deal on two pendant lights for the kitchen) and Christmas items (since when does a plastic Fischer Price tv and dog coast $23 plus shipping?), eating leftovers, and not getting along with Hubby. I think that the last item might have something to do with the close quarters in which we've been living.

We did get to eat birthday sushi today while watching the Ravens game. So, that helped a bit. I feel a bit agitated. Urgh. Hopefully, the week will be better.

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Favorite Things

I have a confession. I love Oprah's Favorite Things show. After returning from Europe, I am less attached to "things" than I used to be; however, I love the favorite things show, even though at times I cringe at the "waste" of money on "things" that most of the audience members will probably never use. While I was watching Part 2 of Favorite Things (I missed Friday's Part 1 due to home good bargain-shopping), I was making home-made gift tags for my Christmas gifts, which, in my mind, equalled out my materialistic love for the show...well, sort of.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Weekend Round Up

This weekend we rounded up
- a brand new pedestal sink and a Moen faucet for a grand total of $85 (thanks to Howard for bargaining with me)
- casual visits with our soon to be neighbors
- a scouting trip to Second Chance in Baltimore (and a 30 minute detour because we got lost)
- granite countertop (Kashmir White or Bianco Romano)
- plans to see the next MET show with soon to be neighbors and realtor and her Swedish beau
- gifts for the niece and nephews (since when do Legos cost $75??? and no, nephew, you aren't getting those)
- a free yoga class
- a trip to Wegman's (hummus, oh how I've missed you)
- Trader Joes cheap (and might tasty) wine
- a new friend
- several downtown walks
- a repaired floor board in the stairs of the rental (Hubby is uber-relieved)
- coffee from Hubby's new favorite place, The Frederick Coffee Company
- window peering as we passed Volt
- an awesome Alaskan salmon and fresh asparagus dinner

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Purpose of Storm Windows

In theory, storm windows are supposed to protect "real" windows from stormy weather, to muffle outside noises, and to provide insulation to keep warm air in and cold air out. Theory does not equal practice. We had a big storm last night, and the storm windows created more noise than they prevented by clanging against their metal tracks as they were buffeted by the wind and rain. That clanging kept all of us (even the cat) awake for most of the night.

The "storm" continues in the apartment today after 469 pounds of clothes, housewares, toiletries, and furnishings from Germany were delivered. I was very happy to see some of my sweaters and most grateful to see my tea, but not so pleased with rearranging the apartment yet again. I feel like a magician, or a physicist, trying to create empty space where none exists (thanks to subletting from a landlord who didn't expect to sublet and therefore left all of her belongings including her John Deer collection here). So, after three furious hours of unpacking, repacking, and checking to make sure that the cat didn't fall into one of the paper filled boxes, I still have a mess...perhaps organized chaos is a more appropriate term. I have piles for donation and storage of my clothes. I realized that I can live much more simply with fewer clothes. I have piles for recycling and trash (which thankfully is picked up tomorrow), and piles for hubby to go through to determine into which of the aforementioned piles his belongings will go. And yes, I did leave him half of the space in the closet and half of the shelf above.

Our appraisal for the house we are still trying to buy came in lower, much lower, than expected, forcing us to come up with more money for closing, which is supposed to be tomorrow. So, we did the money shuffle last night and we should be okay. HOWEVER, our realtor found out that the appraiser didn't count 1 of our bedrooms and 1 of our bathrooms in the appraisal, and she didn't use the comps that were relevent (e.g., the rowhome next door that sold four months ago). Ugh! Our realtor is conversing with the appraisal company, trying to get the appraisal corrected. Thank you, dear realtor, for being our storm window and protecting us from the elements. Our bedroom storm windows could learn from you!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Repeating Patterns

I generally find repeating patterns of design to be rather soothing, but when the repeating patterns are my own potentially negative behavioral patterns, it's a different story.

I've spent the past week bargain hunting online and in-stores, seeking out the ever-elusive good deal. I've found a couple and just missed on a couple, too (which was very disappointing). I've noted a pattern...a repeating pattern of which I am not too proud. I've noticed that I find things that I like and think would work in the house, but I easily second guess myself or defer to wait for hubby's opinion. I've realized that I often defer to wait for his input...a healthy nod to consideration of the spouse's opinion or a pattern of self-doubt. Hmmm. I've noted this pattern a plenty in my mom who defers to my dad for all decisions big and little. I understand that they are a different generation, but it makes a girl think. As I tell my clients, awareness is the first step.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Stylish Strolling

100 Euro boots and a 5 Dollar purse. That's how I rolled today.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

First First Saturday

On the first Saturday evening of each month, the shops in the downtown stay open until 9:00 PM. In addition, Everedy Square had a holiday event with music and food. After a day of painting on a roof (Hubby not me) and an afternoon of working on the tax application and scouring the internet for deals (I found subway tile for less than .80 per square foot...score!!), we were ready to enjoy our town. It was a lovely event. Lots of people were out and about. Bands were playing music on the street, and the mood was festive. (Note: Picture Annie in the musical when she first realizes that she will be living in the beatiful house with Daddy Warbucks when you read the following line). "I think I'm gonna like it here!"

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Group of Stuck-up People

Today I went to a community acupuncture session. It was a cool experience. I met with the acupuncturist briefly (she was very cool) and then entered in to a lovely room with about 10 recliners filled with a wide variety of clients ranging from the lower income grandma to the young executive in a three-piece suit. I enjoyed it and will return.

Martha Stewart vs. Common Sense

Costco...the seeming antithesis of simplicity. However, I am very thrifty and Costco has some great deals. The problem is that I turned into Martha Stewart as soon as my trendy German boots struck the concrete warehouse floor. First I saw the giant bag of fresh cranberries. Visions of cranberry sauce and cranberry/squash/walnut hand-crafted original recipes and cranberry garland hung around my door danced through my head, forcing my hand to place the ginormous bag of cranberries into my oversized card. That was two days ago, and I still haven't decided what, exactly, I will do with the cranberries. I did drop one on the floor and my cat rather enjoyed batting it around. But, I can find better uses, I'm sure. I did find many good, practical, deals after Martha vacated my sensibilities. Wild caught frozen Alaskan salmon for less than TJs price, raw walnuts, free range omega 3 eggs, fresh green beans, blueberries and strawberries. Yum. Great ideas, and I was proud as punch driving home with my treasures until I realized: 1) I live in a tiny apartment with zero storage and 2) The tiny apartment with zero storage is on the second floor with parking about 100 yards away and 4 locked doors to navigate with arms filled with aforementioned heavy and frozen treasures. Ah, life lessons :)

As I write about wanting to live simply, things seemed to churn into a furious chaotic whirl, at least that's how I felt. Hubby visited our rental property and returned with a hefty list of needed repairs. I set about calling to schedule those today. Those of you who know me know my disdain for those types of chores, but I will grow by doing so. We are still waiting for the contractors to provide their quotes on our place, so that we can choose one and close on our property. The Eastern-European accented German taxi driver has yet to send me the receipt for the ride to the airport last week despite my persistent, some might say nagging, calls and emails. The folder containing all of the documents for our shipped car went missing, and I ate way too much chocolate, cheese, and wine yesterday.

On the upside, I've spent more time in the house this week, taking pictures for the MHT tax credit application, which is proving to be quite a bear of a process, and I've met with subcontractors onsite. I like it. I think it will serve us well. I've enjoyed walking to and from the house. People have been so friendly, or perhaps that is normal and my recent frame of reference (Germans who don't smile at anyone...ever) is a bit skewed. Nevertheless, I'm happy to be in a friendly place again.

Now, I'm off to community yoga to practice balance (literally and figuratively)!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Morning Walk

I have always loved morning walks. Morning walks with changing leaves is like finding a $5 bill in your winter jacket pocket...bonus!

Monday, November 1, 2010


Welcome to my new blog.

To say that life has been chaotic lately would be an understatment. Check out my previous blog, Dinks in Deutschland, for more on that. In brief, we lived abroad for a year. We traveled a lot and saw amazing things. We were constantly on the go and enjoyed it. But, hubby couldn't find a job which made him a sad boy, my job and some of my colleagues got just plain weird, and everything seemed very complex. So, we decided to move back to the States. So far, things haven't been much less busy.

Here's the recap:
Friday: Drug our cat. Ride in Mercedes Taxi at 220 kilometers per hour to the airport. Ride on plane. Arrive at Dulles.Drive to Frederick. Get keys to apartment over tattoo parlor. Go to Target and buy cleaning supplies. I missed Target. Clean apartment over tattoo parlor while husband meets with contractor. Did I mention that the first contractor deal fell apart a week prior to closing, but let's not dwell on that. Drink wine that husband brought home after a good meeting with the contractor. More cleaning. And wine-drinking.

Saturday: Wake up at 4:00 because that is 10:00 in Germany. More cleaning. Walk to get husband a cappuccino at one of the many, that's right...many, cafes in town that sell european coffee. Errands. Meet with contractor again. Decline invitation to see Dracula at the local theater. Grocery shop at Trader Joe's and rediscover that I can EAT so much more here than in Germany (due to my increasing food allergies). Go to bed at 8:00.

Sunday: Wake up at 2:00 because I had too much wine and chocolate Saturday. Drive to the in-laws to pick up the car that they generously let us borrow. Drive home to our now clean if not slightly cluttered apartment. Do errands and wait for husband to return after picking up clothes from his friends' house where he had been staying and checking in on our rental property. Drink wine, research home stuff, pray that the contractor comes through, watch a movie, and for the first time in a while, simply enjoy one another's company.

So that is the background. I'm now living in a town that I love, near the family that I love, with the husband that I love (oh, and I cat that I love, too). I cried at the beauty of it all yesterday. Walking on the cobblestone and brick sidewalk next to the 19th century homes with the setting sun casting shadows through the autumn leaves. It was just too much. Pinch me. I am a happy girl. And my husband is a stressed, but happy boy. For what it's worth, I think that our cat is happy, too.

I am looking foward to settling down. After moving around for the past 10 years, both hubby and I are ready to be in a place where we can really LIVE. Not just reside or work or sleep, but really LIVE. I want to walk in town...everyday. I want to buy local and eat local and make local friends. I want to be involved in local community and maybe even local politics (gasp). I want to be unabashedly myself, my quirky, happy self. And I want to chronicle the journey here.