BEHIND THE BOOKCASE .... attic living in HEIDELBERG

Friday, July 31, 2009

Gardenia

My gardenia bloomed this morning and ooooh does she offer the sweetest fragrance I know. It is one of my most favorite scents of all time.

Last April I bought a 4.99€ gardenia from IKEA and have been encouraging this little beauty to grow and bloom. And she did.


When we lived in Hawaii from 1988-1992 on Hickam Air Force Base, there was a huge gardenia plant growing outside my neighbor's kitchen window. Since we lived in a duplex, it was as if the shrub was outside my window as well. It regularly produced amazingly beautiful and large flowers. I can remember sitting with a cup of coffee in our little kitchen with the glass levered windows cranked open, the light gardenia perfume on the trade winds blowing through, and Jack sitting in his high chair while pushing Cheerios around his tray. I wonder what I might say to that young wife and mother if I could go back to her now.

Nonetheless, witnessing this gardenia's valiant effort to bloom is where it's at.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Shoe Shopping

I am not at all unique - I love love love shoe shopping. That's not to say everyone digs it; I just know I could shop for shoes and handbags as a regular part of my daily diet.

Yesterday, the girls and I went out to get some shopping done. Both are getting ready for school while Joe is at Boy Scout Camp this week. Each of them found a pair of shoes for school, a lovely cardigan sweater for early fall, and a dress. Me? I found a tablecloth. Really?!

Admittedly, I tried on MANY different shoes, but I didn't fall in love with any of them. Oh sure, some of them I liked an awful lot, but I want to be smarter with our budget and am waiting to really fall in love with the perfect everyday pair. To be fair - I did fall in love with a pair of butter-soft Max & Co flats - but the fit was a bit off.

No way I could say the day was a waste - the girls and I had fun together, took our time, and enjoyed each others company; tons of sparkle in that!

Having the freedom to shop for shoes with the women I love is where it's at.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Finally ... A Finished Project!

You know that feeling of finally getting a project finished? For me, it doesn't seem to happen often enough, but when it does ... woohoo!! With my tendency to work on several things at the same time, it's all the more sweet and satisfying to see something completed.

My latest accomplishment was a quilt I designed and quickly put together. I haven't done anything like this one... it's more like an "I Spy" piece. I have worked with this tumbler pattern before, but never in such a detailed structure as this one.

Barely a working idea, but have to start somewhere - notice my ipod in the center?


Deciding to not have any two fabrics the same (really?), meant I needed to have a boatload of unique materials. I thoroughly exhausted my scrap baskets and still needed to purchase some additional fabrics.

"More fabrics ... I need more fabrics!"



The drying rack keeps the rows in order and allows me to move the project off to the side.


As much murmuring as I might do, I truly love the design work and looking for the most contrast between any two pieces. If it were possible, I'd leave the cutting to someone else, but it's a necessary evil of this hobby.

I am very happy that the borders look so fun with the continued tumbler pattern - I think it adds movement to the overall design.

All done - now time to send it to the quilt shop.


Ta-dah.


Anyway, I know where the flaws are and won't be sharing those details with any of you! Bad me.

Designing with textiles as a road to inner-peace is totally where it's at.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mondays in Paris

This past Monday the kids and I took my dad to Paris, France for the day. It's so danged easy and fast to get there from Heidelberg. We take the regional S-Bahn to Mannheim and then the ICE straight into Paris - Gare de L'est station.




We had a terrific trip into town and before we arrived Marie had put together an awesome game plan. Top priorities were taken care of first .... shopping! After much success, we took the metro to Cath├ędrale Notre-Dame de Paris.



Due to some infrastructure upgrades, we took a bus to the nearest working RER stop - which took us to La Tour Eiffel. Talk about spectacular! We strolled down the wide promenade along the River Seine as our approach to such an iconic global attraction. The tower is quite magnificent and well worth the effort. Quite frankly, I couldn't believe we had my dad there with us - it was such a treat to see him there with some of his grandchildren.




From there, we took the metro to the Arc de Triomphe. It is such a site with so much traffic circling the round-about and the 12 different avenues that feed into it. Super cool.


By that time we were ready for some yummy eats. The best pizza we've had since arriving in Germany has been the pizza served at Antonio's in Paris just 20 meters from the Wagram metro stop. We'd been salivating all day just thinking about it. Unfortunately, it was closed at 3pm on Monday. Nuts! We "made do" with a super yummy bacon cheeseburger and fries at a bistro just down the block. One of my dad's favorite moments, "Now I've eaten french fries in France."


Outside the Wagram Metro stop in front of an art deco entrance. There are only 83 of 300 entrances that has it's original artwork (the original art is now considered national treasures).


It was then time to head back to the train station to return home to Heidelberg. It was a quick day, but well worth the trip. I'm so glad the kids could get there again before school started and my dad could join us.




Paris with family is definately where it's at.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

News and Notes

Last Friday was a terrific day for John and Joe - they had such a successful time at Stage 13 of Le Tour de France. See John's blog here for all the details. Soooo much fun. Like I've stated before, shame on us if we don't take advantage of all that is around us while we're here in Europe for this season of our lives.


Joe hanging out near the Garmin-Slipstream camp waiting for the banner to get signed by all nine members of the riding team.



On Saturday we went to the Frankfurt Germany Temple with the youth group. We had a lovely time there and it was terrific to be inside the temple with the almost all our family (Jack won't return from Russia until November).




And since we were in Frankfurt, we just had to stop at the hauptbahnhof (central train station) and get a plate of our favorite noodles. Good eats for sure.

Sunday I put a pork roast in the slow cooker; when it was ready we served it with fried potatoes and green beans for Sunday dinner. It's not glamorous, but it's what we're doing here.

Everyday life with my people is where it's at.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Is It Possible??

Many of you know that my husband LOVES his bicycles ... he finds great peace in riding and hasn't shied away from the long rides either. Riding has had a wonderful effect on improving John's overall health. To top things off - he entered and completed a tri-athlon sprint. I wholeheartedly support his efforts and I'm proud of him (yes, I understand pride is a sin - but hey! I am a sinner).

The history of John's bikes ....

Good

Better

Best


Defies description - for real.


John took on the 2008 R.A.I.N, Ride Across Indiana - 165 miles one way in one day. The kids and I had an absolutely fun fun day providing support at the checkpoints all across the state. As a reward, the girls and I treated ourselves to pedicures the next day.
Before the start.



Lunch break.



Approaching the finish line!

And, he participated in the 2007 and 2008 MS150 (opting for a century ride each day instead of two 75mile stages). All that being said, John loves cycling and much of the geekiness associated with riding (though I did ask that we talk about shaved legs - his, not mine - but we haven't had that discussion just yet).


On our way to a cycling event.


MS150, 2008 - Columbia, MO


Anyway ...
Moving to Germany has afforded us too many wonderful opportunities to count. I truly feel so damn lucky. Anyway, we're at one of those points this week. John and Joe are driving to France tomorrow to watch Stage 13 of the Tour de France! Impossible! Holy cow!

For years we've talked about sending him over to France to watch a couple stages. Then, we talked about us visiting France together. Always the costs seemed prohibitive.... until now. Tomorrow the cost will be a tank of diesel.

To celebrate, one of the kids suggested I "throw together a banner" of John's favorite team: Garmin-Slipstream so they'd have something to waive. Of course, one of'm will waive Old Glory and both will be armed with a cowbell. I keep suggesting some body paint, but so far that idea doesn't seem to have legs.




Go Team Argyle!

Because I didn't have anything else to do *eye roll* I fashioned a lt blue, dk blue, and orange argyle banner to represent the team of choice. I did the best I could with the scraps on hand - not so bad with only 6 hours notice *repeat eye roll*.

I hope they have a great day together. I hope they get to see some riders and some of the behind-the-scenes action. I hope it's as exciting to be there as it is to watch on television.

Witnessing a dream come true is absolutely where it's at.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Fun With My Daughters

While the fellas were on their car trip through Bavaria, the girls and I tended to our Saturday morning rituals ... going to the fresh market and some down time. This past Saturday was a bit different - a few times during the summer German artisans make their designs available for sale at the Kornplatz and Karlplatz (beautiful plazas surrounding the primary Marktplatz). We are not talking about handicrafts. These folks are pretty amazing artists.






Too many to choose from, we each decided on one thing to bring home.

The handmade natural soaps were very interesting to me. I couldn't decide on any one scent, so opted for smaller samples of five different scents. Of course, I can't read any of the accompanying literature about these soaps ... it's all in German.



Marie found a very interesting artist whose medium is paper. She scored a pretty sweet portfolio. I'm sure that's on her school supply list for fall.
I couldn't decide on the recycled metal sculptist or the woman with ceramics. As the rusted iron is more of a statement piece, I wanted to have my life partner with me (he was out of town), so I went by way of art where form meets function. Flower helped me find this pitcher-no-wait-vase ... love it!


Spending wonderful days with the women of my life is where it's completely at.

Mmmm.... kay

Today is my dad's birthday and I sent him to Dachau. What was I thinking??

Actually it started with the trip last weekend in Schwarzwald, John's work schedule, and our sweet new ride. My dad didn't have a long list of things he wanted to see or places he wanted to go while here (he wanted to spend time with his grandchildren), but he did want to see Germany and thought he'd like to visit a WWII concentration camp (from the folks we've talked to - it's one of those things you must do once).

Long story short, John, Joe, and my dad made today a tour of the countryside. They stopped at Neuschwanstein Castle (it's the inspiration for Disney's Cinderella's Castle). Good times for them, though I'm not sure they were expecting such a long hike up a 12% graded hill - but, they did it.



After that it was over to Dachau (just a few minutes from Munchen/Munich). John texted me when they arrived. Soon after, he texted again with - "the 30 minute movie was oppressing, Joe said something like, 'Where are the postcards?'". I can't imagine what the birthday grandpa was doing. After all was said and done, my husband called to say they were thoroughly depressed and headed home. Not sure how to salvage this.

Designing a depressing birthday is not where it's at.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Birthday America

We've had such a busy week leading up to the 4th! This is the first week Joe and Flower have been off from school - it's great having them home!! Plus, you add a holiday weekend... and things can get pretty crunked up.

We thought about going to Munchen this weekend, but have delayed it a week (I think). So, John and I took my dad for a drive down to the Schwarzwald (The Black Forest). We have visited this mountain range before, but on Friday's trip we drove through an area we hadn't visited before. Then again, the Schwarzwald is 4600 sq miles - I don't think we'll ever see all of it.


We came upon this riding group - must have had legs of iron to move along the mountains.

To celebrate the Fourth of July - John, Joe, and grandpa went on a 30 mile bike ride. How much fun is that? They took some good pics.

Hay bales announcing a raspberry and strawberry celebration (north of Heidelberg about 10km)


Grandpa and Joe - by Lake Something (shrug)

To wrap up the day, we went to one of the Army bases near Mannheim for some local entertainment and some really bad carny food. The downside is that deep-fried-onion-rings smell in the air. The upside is being there with my family.

Marie, Flower, Joe, Grandpa, & John in the back row. Parking our bikes at the end of the Hauptstrasse/Bismarkplatz


I think Marie is so pretty.

Flower and Grandpa - don't they look like they're having a good time?


At the end of the day, we took the #5 strassebahn back to the Bismarkplatz and rode our bikes home ... no traffic jams for us!

American holidays as an ex-pat with my family is where it's at.