Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Floating Chinese Restaurant Part 2


      When we were finished touring the Anne Frank house we found a river cruise that left from close by. Thankfully the boats were enclosed in glass and were very warm. They were actually a little too warm, the kids began peeling off layers of clothes half way through the tour. We floated down several of the canals and learned a bit about the architecture and different buildings in the city including some we will return to take a closer look at in the spring. When the tour was over it was getting late and everyone was starving so we headed back in the general direction of the central train station, carefully so as to avoid any permanent damage to the kids by accidentally going down the red light district which is right by a beautiful church? When we were almost there Michael suggested we eat at the largest floating Chinese restaurant in the world. A large Chinese pagoda bobbing around in the north sea canal. It had been pointed out on our boat tour so we thought why not. Of course it was farther than we thought....
    There were swans loitering around the entrance which of course our kids harassed and tried to feed random found objects. Inside the restaurant had great ambiance and a great  view.... unfortunately we had to  pay for both. It was the most expensive Chinese food we have ever  eaten and it tasted a lot like pei-wei, but how often do you look out over Amsterdam while floating and eating Chinese food right?

Central Station

They may have upset this swan

seven bridges in a row

He looks excited doesn't he ?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Day Tripping to Amsterdam part 1

      This weekend we took a day trip to Amsterdam. It started off pretty rocky with me and Michael arguing over the amount of advanced planning that took place. I like to just go... half the fun is finding new places and things to see and do? Michael does not share my enthusiasm for winging it! We ended up taking a train to the main station which was beautiful and was built in 1889. The architecture and canals all around Amsterdam make it a truly beautiful city. when we arrived at the main station we bought a map for 2.50 and used it to walk about 20 minutes to the Anne Frank House. OK so I knew that ideally you should buy tickets online ahead of time and not wait in the ridiculous line but I did not and so we did (wait in line for 45 min.) Did I mention it was 32 degrees out and windy! Despite that we made it in and it was Amazing. I'm not sure my entire family enjoyed it as much as I did, but I was the only one that read the diary so I think that helped me connect a little more. The area they lived in has remained so intact it's unreal. The original bookcase that concealed the entry still stands in front of the door. The pictures she pasted onto the  wall during the war are still hanging only now they are covered in thick plexi glass, and in the last room is her diary unfolded laying on a pillow. Amazing!!! I bought Stella a copy of her diary in the museum because I could not think of a better place to buy it then the same building it was written in. I hope she reads it and loves it as much as I did. The kids had many questions about the war on the way home but as Anne Franks father said:

                                                                   To build a future you have to know the past.
                                                                    Otto Frank, 1967

                                         About 1/2 way through the line

                                         Eating Bagels in line ... very cold

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


    I thought I was thinking ahead when I brought this tiny bottle of hot sauce from home. Apparently I never really noticed how much we use it. We put this hot sauce (the only good hot sauce) on everything! Potato salad, beans, anything and everything. It was running out pretty fast and I had just scolded Michael for dumping a little too much onto something. I told him we needed to save it! once it's gone it's gone! He replied that he would rather really taste it for a  little while than barely taste it for a year. I can't argue with that logic, what's the point of using something if you can't even enjoy it. 

    So we have not held back and it was almost gone....I mentioned our predicament to a new friend here in Germany and when she returned home to LA over ski week she was nice enough to pick us up some. In fact she brought us back 8 gigantic bottles of the magic sauce. It is safe to say that our food will never be bland again I'm pretty sure that is a lifetime supply.

What I brought:

What she brought:

Monday, February 18, 2013


    This weekend we went to our favorite restaurant downtown and guess who was there. The national Turkish basketball team of course!! Ok so this is not very impressive in the states or maybe even over here? but they were handing out free signed posters and free hugs from their lion mascot so the kids were happy.
    One of the team members was asking Oliver his name in German and I leaned over to tell him he only spoke English that turned into a where ya from conversation and it turns out one of the players was from Lake Charles... why wouldn't there be a Turkish basketball player from Lake Charles LA right.... small world.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Natural History Museum

     We started off the morning on American soil thanks to a not so fun business trip to the US Embassy in Frankfurt . You only have to go through about 5 security checks, super fun with three kids!
     So Instead of wasting the two hour drive on security check points and paper work we decided to spend the rest of the day at the Natural History Museum in Frankfurt. They had a great display of animals and dinosaurs. I think the Natural History Museum in Houston is slightly better but maybe that's because I can actually read the displays there.

Monday, February 11, 2013

True Friendship is Measured in Taco Seasoning


 This weekend we received a care package from Ms. Amanda all the way from Chicago. She had gathered a mix of hard to find American favorites such as tortillas and taco seasoning. I know it's hard to believe that one of the most delicious varieties of food has not found it's way over here....Mexican food is pretty rare. They just don't realize what they are missing!
She also packed us some pantry staples like peanut butter and French's yellow mustard (at Michael's request.)
  So with our new grocery's I made tacos with re fried beans and baked tortilla chips and because of what she paid for shipping it was probably the most expensive Mexican food we have ever eaten.... but it was delicious and we are ever so thankful to my old pal Amanda for sending us a little bit of home!

Friday, February 8, 2013

One Day

One day when we get a "farm" I would like to have a few of these

They don't have to wear the sweaters in Texas, I'm sure they would be much to hot!

This is an add from the Scottish tourism commission of shetland ponies wearing shetland sweaters. 
Makes me want to visit.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Biscuits and Gravy

The other night I was suddenly hungry for biscuits and gravy like my Grandma makes. So I made the family a meatloaf and took a little hamburger meat to make white gravy. My grandma always makes delicious drop biscuits so I thought I would make those too. My gravy was no where as good as hers but these biscuits were amazing!! Buttery, Light, Tasty.... really good, so good the table got in a fight over who got the most and got the last. I made them again today for lunch. I will have to work on my gravy but these simple biscuits are a keeper.

  • 2  cups  all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1/2  cup  (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1  tablespoon  baking powder
  • 1  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1  cup  whole milk

  1. Heat oven to 400° F. combine the flour, butter, baking powder, and salt together until well blended with pastry knife then add I cup milk and mix well.
  2. Drop 6 large mounds of the dough (about ½ cup each) onto a baking sheet. Bake until golden, 18 to 20 minutes.

Count Down to Karneval

      Today the kids had a break from school for parent teacher conferences. However, we still had to wake up at the same time because we all had appointments downtown to become legal residents. So we boarded the train and went all 20 or so stops to the central station where we met our ambassador  Inside the permit office we sat down and she said "I will need all of your passports please!" NO!!! I left them all at the house and, she had made our appointment for residence in November. I can not say she looked to happy....neither was I. She spoke to some people and then decided we would drive back to our house pick them up and return but because it was karneval they said we must be back in an hour because the office was closing. So we drove, picked up, and returned just in time. As he was printing the last of our papers it turned 11:11(the official start of karneval) and everyone cheered and drank champagne.
     We left the office and returned to the main station to head home but it had transformed into a virtual circus while we were away. There were witches, clowns, Hippies and everything in between swarming around the station.  Oh and did I mention they were drinking. We went down to the U where we tried and failed to board a train two different times with an assortment of characters  Four ladies in flower covered bell bottoms even helped me protect the (kinder/ kids) from the mob of people descending the train. We finally got on to one packed in like sardines.  The "Easter bunny" was even riding with us to Oliver's delight. We rode back home while people cheered and chanted (I have no idea what they were saying, but they sounded happy) until the train slowly emptied and we arrived safely home.
                   My iphone does not do these costumes justice

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


This is how it looked when we left for school this morning. I will never live anywhere cold again!!        
                                                          Warm = Better

Good Eats

I saw a kid on the train yesterday eating a gyro it looked so good! and last night I had a wonderful dream about cupcakes....... that pretty much explains the reasoning behind the meal we had today in town. If you come and visit I will surely take you to get one of these gyros! Me and Michael both cleaned our plates.

Monday, February 4, 2013

What's Mine is Mine

Last Thursday I let the kids ride their bikes to our tram stop for the first time. They all latched their bikes to the rails with the word locks they had gotten for Christmas  Eli could not get his to work quite right but as the train came pulling up we had to leave it .... after all who would steal a kids bike. When will I learn not to think that way? Sure enough I walked back to the tram stop at 2:00 and the bike was gone. Just like that the very first day it was gone! So of course Eli was very upset Michael was even more upset but what can you do? Our insurance deductible was way more than the cost of the bike. So Michael drove around different neighborhoods looking for it for two days. We had all but given up....
    This morning we were a tad late to school and took a much later train. So late we all found seats on the fairly empty ride.  We rode by our normal stops and Elijah screamed out there is my bike, and there it was a bright orange, shiny, clearly american bike locked up at the main stop. We continued on to school and I promised him I would go back and check. After they were all checked in I took the train back to the main stop. I called Michael at work to tell him, everything about it looked like Elijah's back but I could never be completely sure. Then I looked closer the little brat had locked the bike up with Eli's bike lock. Michael said unlock it and take it home. So I did I unlocked the bike and then walked it back two miles home in the rain. If that is not love I don't know what it is? I would have loved to see the kids face when he went back to the tram to ride is stolen bike home, I guess he had to walk today.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The airport a magical place

Last Sunday brought us to the Netherlands this Sunday we took a trip to the Dusseldorf airport, a mere 5 minute trip from our house. We needed to exchange our sheet rocking van for something a little more driver friendly. So we made one last trip with a gigantic stack of Ikea boxes to the recycling center and then headed to the airport for a very nice replacement.
   I had already been told the airport was a good place to go on Sundays if you needed anything because they had a Starbucks and grocery store open all day.  To our surprise it was much more than that. It had a mini mall, several restaurants, and a bouncy house? Apparently every first Sunday the airport has kids day. This Sunday there were plate spinners, a bouncy house, face painting and so much more. To top it off parking was discounted.  I suppose airports fit into some loophole in the laws to be closed on Sundays and so they are taking full advantage by luring familys with kid friendly activities. Well it worked and the airport was filled with people partaking in the free fun.
   We could not resist we ate lunch and then the kids played it was the most fun I have ever had in an airport.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Sight Seeing

I was out and about in downtown Dusseldorf this afternoon to pickup my February train ticket and these are a couple of the things I saw on the way.

Yarn Art! I love yarn art ! This awesome display is covering an ugly pipe that is temporarily up for construction downtown. It always makes me happy even when the weather does not.

I saw this sign close to the train station, and I may not know very much German but this one I could figure out. The group handing out bibles was so obviously american I could not help but stop and ask where they were from. Several were from a bible college in California but there was one Texan in the mix of course.