Category Archives: family

So Far

Things I love about being back in North Carolina:

  • THE PEOPLE! Duh, friends and family. They’re the reason I came back.
  • THE SUN! It’s so bright and shiny and warm. And I no longer have to fear an adult-onset case of rickets.
  • THE DOLLAR! I can get so much for my money.
  • THE FOOD! Of the barbecued variety, specifically. Also, ungodly-large portions.
  • THE ACCENT! Southern accents are the aural equivalent of peaches.
  • THE CLOTHES! Sun dresses and shorts and sandals and other no-fuss apparel. Color is also nice, for a change.

Another Week Away

Good Lord. This time next week, I’ll be cuddling with my kitty and watching the Glee season finale. Stateside, that is.

Au Revoir

Today I have few words to write about my trip to France. Not because there is nothing to say, but, rather, because I simultaneously become so overwhelmed with awe when I reflect on my last week and feel emotionally exhausted from saying goodbye. I’ve posted a few pictures to provide a synopsis, although I’ll write more in the next few days. I promise.

My first taste of foie gras--delicious.

We visited this beautiful town tucked into the mountains where all of the buildings consisted of old stonework.

Vezelay was equally charming and offered amazing views of the landscape below.

This raisin cheese is my favorite ever. Pure velvet.

We ended in Paris with the Musee Jacquemart Andre and the Louvre and even more food.

The worst part of the week, despite its tumultuous beginning and assorted SNAFUs, was leaving. My classmates are some of the most inspiring, brilliant, and motivated people I have ever had the privilege of getting to know. With our departure from Paris we marked the official end of our class. Not the end of our friendships, no, but the end of the experience that originally brought us together and the one that led to our becoming a family.

Happy Birthday Justin & Kelsey!

I remember asking for you. I got it in my head that I wanted “a brother and sister that are twins.” No compromises. One of each or else. For my birthday, for Christmas, no other gift would do.

Expecting you to conform to gender stereotypes, I wanted a girl I could dress up like a doll and a boy I could wrestle with. The best of both worlds.

And then, a year or so later, our parents quite literally delivered. And then there were three. You didn’t do much at first, but you were mine. My special request, the best gift I could have ever received. (And quite possibly the reason I still believe to this day that I can get whatever I want from life, as long as I ask nicely.) I became the Big Sister overnight, the babysitter, the diaper retriever, the fun committee chair, the spokesperson.

Today, you’re turning 16. You’re practically grown-ups, and yet somehow I still see you as I did in the images below. Please forgive me for that. You will always be my babies and I will always want to pinch your cheeks and protect you.

Oh hey, Aryan babez.

Kelsey still makes this face all the time. It's my favorite.

At the same time, I realize that you don’t need my protection any more. So just know that you can come to me for whatever else. I’m so proud of you both. I love you and will see you soon.

Back to Germany: Munich

Pretty church in the center of Munich

These human statues were everywhere.

Bus tour shot!

A view of the rathaus (town hall) from above

More views from above

Gorgeous palace on the outskirts of Munich

Scott drank all two liters. Incredible. I have no such endurance.

The Hofbrauhaus is apparently the most famous beer hall in the world.

I really adored Munich, which isn’t evident by my mere eight pictures, but there are so many I should have taken, but didn’t. Particularly of my hostess, Irmi, who is my great-great cousin’s wife. Where was my great-great cousin Norbert, you ask? Well, the day I was leaving for Munich, I got an email from his daughter saying he fell and broke his neck, so they’d have to cancel. Considering my flight was leaving from Munich (before I knew the volcano was out to ruin my plans anyway), I told them I’d have to come and find somewhere else to stay.

One ten-hour train ride and corrected email later, I learn that Norbert had actually broken his hip. Something was lost in translation, fortunately. And Irmi let me stay with her while Norbert remained in the hospital. Despite the language barrier, we had an amazing time and even received a six day bonus on my stay. I don’t really know how to express how much I enjoyed living with her. The family’s generosity extended far beyond familial obligation, especially since our relationship is quite distant. As much as I regret not being able to go to Portugal, I so value the relationships I formed in Munich. I honestly cannot wait to go back.

Back to Germany: Hamburg

Perhaps you’re familiar with my horror stories from last time I was in Germany. (If not, I’ll be sharing them tomorrow.) Well, this trip delivered a whole different set of misadventures, but I am willing to forgive a country so devoted to good bread and the native land of half my ancestors. I love Germany for many other reasons as well, but alas, that too is another blog post.

Last time, my trip involved Berlin and Heidelberg. This time, Hamburg and Munich. I visited with cousins in both places–one cousin, Andre, is studying in Germany for the year, and the other cousin, Norbert, is actually of the great-great cousin variety and has lived in Munich his entire life. Here is the Hamburg half of my trip in pictures:

Immigration Museum (Hamburg is a major port, and it is the city my great grandmother left from.)

Then I went to a pop art exhibit all about Andy Warhol and others. A portion of the exhibit was devoted to porn, although I have yet to understand why. I found the pictures and videos completely gratuitous.

Combining fruit and pudding and cake is always a good idea.

The first night in Hamburg, we went to a carnival that was basically the NC State Fair, but without the rednecks.

View by the lake--did you know that Hamburg has more bridges than Venice and Amsterdam combined?

Even though it was barely 60 degrees, there are beaches set up along the river for people who wish they lived on the coast.

Old alleyway, featuring Andre's friend Mona

Thursday night we went to the red light district of Hamburg, with a main street that features fast food restaurants alongside sex shops. Women aren’t allowed down the side street where sex workers pose in the windows, so I have no pictures. Sorry.

Another part of the waterfront near the fish market

I took a ferryboat ride right before I left.

This picture does not do the Hamburg skyline justice. Nor does it convey the biting cold of the open-air ferry.

Apologies for the lack of analysis/commentary, but I am still recovering from an early flight and a carb-induced food coma. I wish I’d had more time in Hamburg, but I really enjoyed what I did see. We spent all of Thursday travelling through Hamburg on bikes, which I must insist is one of the best ways to see a city, provided it is relatively flat. Anyway, perhaps I will elaborate later, but expect a post about Munich tomorrow.

Southern Germany, Meet the Southern USA

For my first thank-you-for-continuing-to-house-me-under-these-absurd-circumstances hostess gift, I have prepared southern-style banana puddin’. I’m posting the recipe here to practice for my next blog, where I will talk about food and everything else I already talk about, but in an all-American setting.

Normally I would credit Paula Deen for the following recipe, but I’m angry with her for endorsing Smithfield, a company that treats its livestock and its employees about as well as the thousands of tons of toxic waste it deposits into our water system each year. So, ha! I found a different recipe, a generic one, one that I don’t associate with senseless murder and environmental destruction. Without further ado:

Kill ‘Em with Kindness Banana Puddin’
adapted from this recipe

  • 6 ounces of instant vanilla pudding (Apologies for the powdered mix, but I was already doing some major converting and recipe manipulation and thought that involving a double boiler to make vanilla pudding from scratch was just too much. Also, do not underestimate the power of condensed milk in turning processed sugary silt into a cold taste of heaven.)
  • 2 cups of cold milk
  • 1/2 cup of cold heavy cream, plus whipped cream for topping
  • 14 ounces of cold condensed milk
  • sliced bananas
  • vanilla wafer cookies (Or, when unable to read the foreign language label, go with whatever looks delicious and buttery and willing to absorb deadly-delicious pudding.)

1) Use a blender to combine the pudding mix, milk, and cream.
2) Add the condensed milk.
3) Cover the bottom of a large pan or Tupperware with cookies. Layer bananas on top, then add half of the pudding.
4) Repeat the process, ending with pudding. Top with remaining whipped cream.

Eat. Rejoice. Enter food coma. Maybe run some laps the next day so you don’t turn into banana puddin’ yourself.