Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A May 1st Christmas Post

Almost 5 months later, the Christmas trip post continues.  After leaving Hungary, we crossed over into Austria and visited Vienna for a couple of days.  We planned to be in Salzburg for Christmas day, stopping in Melk and Linz along the way. 

The drive into Salzburg was AMAZING.  We stopped at a rest area off the main highway and this was our view…

Dec2013 371 Dec2013 374 The Bavarian Alps had a bit of snow, however as we gained altitude, the temperature started to rise.  It was in the high 60s in Salzburg on Christmas day!

Salzburg is a darling city. Its Baroque architecture is so well preserved and it is sooooo clean.Dec2013 409

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For all you Sound of Music fans, Salzburg is the “mother ship”.  The supposed bus stop where Maria Von Trapp waited and worried.

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The Christmas markets were still hopping on Christmas day.

Dec2013 426  Dec2013 434_5 The Glockenspiel from the Christmas market.

Dec2013 449Pretzels in all flavors.

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Most of the shops in the Altstadt (old town) have these fancy signs that sit just outside their door.

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Since it was Christmas day, we made a quick side trip to Oberndorf bei Salzburg, where the song “Silent Night” was written. 
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That was a small town, very quaint.  I wasn’t terribly interested in the story of the song so wandered around on the grounds instead.  Much to my surprise, just up the steps from the small church, the view was stunning!

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Dec2013 510 Dec2013 508 We crossed over into Germany from Salzburg.  Only two more countries left to go!  Hopefully I’ll get it posted before next Christmas.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Reality's New Low

We are inundated with Reality TV 24-7.  It's all pretty bad, but some of it is worse than others.  In the pool of reality TV, there's a subset of dating reality TV.  I have to admit, I've watched my share of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, and one summer Jason and I even indulged in watching (while talking on the phone) Gay, Straight, or Taken.  These shows are not quality TV by any means, in fact my only defense is that they are like a train wreck and I just couldn't look away.  There has also been a subset of the dating show subset...the deceitful dating show.  Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire? and Joe Millionaire, to name a couple, were created to trick the "contestants".  While part of me feels like it's pretty low to prey on people's feelings for TV, another part knows that's the point of these shows.  No one in their right mind would go on a reality/competition show and even if you're not in your right mind, it's reality TV which means scripted and edited to make for "good" TV.

Anyhow, just being home (while on vacation) during the work week, the amount of trashy TV on and advertised for made my head spin.  Since, when I do watch TV, I watch shows recorded on the DVR I usually fast forward through commercials.  However, I didn't get to the remote control fast enough when this commercial was shown...

Beyond it being such a dumb concept, I want to know how they found 12 people who didn't know the moment they saw this "Prince" that they were being duped?  I mean even if you don't watch the regular news, he's always fodder on the entertainment shows.  Just standing in line at the grocery store once a week would make you knowledgeable enough to know that this person is a Prince Harry double.  Which brings me back to the scripted reality show...such an oxymoron.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A New/Old Tool

Years ago, I bought my first garlic press.  It was an inexpensive thing, but it worked great, crushing garlic into small pieces used for cooking.  My only complaint, it was kind of a pain to clean as the little holes would get clogged with garlic pieces.  After a couple of years, I abandoned my trusty garlic press and set my sights higher on one that came with an attached hole poker cleaner.  And then another and another and another...none of them worked as well as my cheap little press from days of old.
So most recently, I've simply been using a very sharp knife a la Paulie from Goodfellas.

The garlic cooks up nicely this way, but the prep is not fast.  I like tons of garlic so slicing 3-4 cloves by hand takes too long.
A couple of weeks ago, a work colleague of mine had a Pampered Chef party and recommended their garlic press.  I think I have found the answer to my garlic prayers...

It looks like a regular garlic press but comes with a small, two-sided tool that attaches to the inside.

But it's not your typical garlic press.  Rather than having to peel the garlic before pressing, you just throw it in the press skin and all.
The flat side of the tool helps get the hanger-on-ers off. 

Inside, all that's left is the skin. 
Then the rounded side can be used to poke out whatever is left inside.  
Tah dah!
Seriously, I'm in garlic heaven with this thing.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Trying A New Schedule

As I might have mentioned, mornings are not my most favorite time of day.  But I've been dealing with a little bit of a dilemma this year.  Usually, I get home from work about 5:00.  Before being "done" for the day, I work out and then take the dog for a walk adding anywhere from 1.5-2 hours.  And most days, the thought of two more hours of anything other than sleeping after work makes me sad. This has been a particularly exhausting year between a difficult class behavior-wise and new curriculum that has made me feel like the worst teacher on the planet.  I'm freaking tired at the end of the day.  So I must admit that some days the workout doesn't happen - I'll skip right over that to the dog walk and be done with it, ready to crash.

I didn't have to be at work until 8:00am this morning due to a curriculum design meeting at the district office.  Last night, I initially thought, "Oh, I can sleep a bit longer tomorrow morning" since I wouldn't have to leave until about 30 minutes later than usual.  That's when I came up with my new plan.  Instead of sleeping in, I woke up 20 minutes earlier than usual and took the dog for a walk.  When I set the alarm for earlier, I told myself that I'd probably end of snoozing it because waking up that early in the morning is painful.  So imagine my surprise when I actually woke up about 10 minutes before the alarm went off.  And as I remembered my plan I kind of got excited.  The walking would be completed, and I wouldn't have to worry about it at the end of the day.

That's exactly what happened too.  Rigby and I went on our regular walk.  It was a bit dark at the start, but nice because it was cool (now that our afternoons are hot).   When I returned, there was still time to get ready for work.  All day, I was kind of giddy, knowing that I had already accomplished that part of my day.  There was one drawback, and I worried about it some.  When I did get home from work, I changed into my workout clothes and while I put my shoes on Rigby went into excited mode, ready for a walk.  That made me feel bad.  Maybe she had all day to rest and was now ready to go again.  But the worry was for nothing.  At 7:00, she was out!

So far, the new schedule is going well.  Tomorrow, well that remains to be seen.  I have to be at work at my regular time, which means an earlier alarm.  Fingers crossed I don't fling the alarm clock across the room hit snooze.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Dusty Soul

Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.            - Pablo Picasso

It’s the last day of Spring Break.  During most weeks, I might find time to draw or paint or cook for an hour or two on a Sunday.  These past two weeks however (other than a few social engagements) I have lived like a hermit some days not even getting out of my jammies cooking and drawing and painting and painting and drawing and cooking.  It’s been marvelous.  I can’t say I’m looking forward to going back to work tomorrow tomorrow, but I have to admit that this break was a much needed hiatus from everyday working life.  It always amazes me how taking time to be creative makes me so happy.

Since I’m not participating in the Calendar Challenge this year, I realized I haven’t shared my art journal in awhile. 

stuff 427 stuff 428 stuff 430stuff 429stuff 416 stuff 417 stuff 418 stuff 419 stuff 420 stuff 421 stuff 423 stuff 424This has been one of my favorite journals to work in, but it’s finished now.  I’ve started making a new one, but sadly spring break is over.  Maybe I’ll finish it next Sunday.

Anyhow, there are 9 weeks left until summer not that I’m counting.  I think I can, I think I can, I think I can….

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Over the last 3 weeks California has been inundated with earthquakes.  Actually, since California is always inundated with earthquakes, I should clarify that over the last few weeks we've been inundated with earthquakes we can feel.  Looking at the various earthquake tracking sites it's quite apparent that earthquakes are happening all day, everyday, all over the world.  Sitting upon the very active Pacific Plate and almost on top of the San Andreas Fault, Los Angeles County has its fair share of those quakes alone.  However, most of the time they are too small or too deep for most of us to feel.   That has not been the case this past month.  We've had several that have been large enough (4s or higher) to feel.  In fact, just last week we had a 5.1 that actually caused damage to homes, shut down power, and broke water mains near its epicenter.

Feeling these quakes, however small, is disconcerting.  Of course, the news has been looking for a story since Malaysia Airline's headlines, and have been reporting that these quakes are leading to something bigger...THE BIG ONE!  Scientists say that's not necessarily the case.  Even so, there has been enough time in between each one we've felt to relax a little that when the next one hits, it does tend to rattle us a bit.  I've straightened more pictures in the last few weeks than I have in all my life I think.

About an hour ago, I sat down on my bed to put my shoes on and after the first shoe, I could have sworn I felt one.  The bed moved, the window creaked, the house moaned, for just a quick second or two.  I sat up quickly and waited.  During an earthquake you always stay still and wait for a moment to see if it's going to continue.  Nothing more after that.  After I finished getting ready, I checked the tracking sites and Facebook (because someone is always posting about earthquakes on FB) and there wasn't a peep about a tremor.  Usually those sites are quickly up-to-date, but I checked again just a moment ago.  There were a couple of small ones today, but not at the time I felt it.  I'm assuming that the scientists tracking them are more knowledgeable than I am about it so I'm fairly certain that I simply thought I felt one.  It seems as if our recent regular occurrences are now making me feel earthquakes even when we're not having one.

I hate earthquakes!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

It’s Official, I’m On Vacation

The very best part of being on a school break is NOT having to get up at 5:40 in the morning.  Being able to turn off that alarm clock, at least most of the time, is just heavenly.  Even so, Rigby is often still on working time.  She usually rises earlier than I on vacation, interrupting my sleeping-in with a cold nose or sitting on my head.  She’ll settle back down for a bit.  At the beginning of break 7:30/8:00 was the max of settling down, then later in the week she made it until about 9:00.  And hey, 9:00 was great!

One week down though, and this morning I woke to the clock.
stuff 347(In my defense of the late time, the clock is 20 minutes fast because the clock saying 6:00 is far better than 5:40 when the alarm goes off every morning.)

The later I sleep in, the later I stay up (because at heart I’m a night person), and the cycle continues.  So after a week of break, the time didn’t surprise me to a point.  I’m good a sleeping in.  What surprised me was that even though the late time, I had to wake Rigby up.  She was OUT.

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It takes a little time to ease into vacation mode.  I think we’re there.  Luckily, there’s still a week left to enjoy it.

Friday, April 4, 2014


I’m at the end of the first week of Spring Break.  It’s been lovely, but I haven’t been too creative blogging wise.  Feeling a little neglectful, I’ve been wracking my brain for something to write about.  And we all know what happens when you do that…nothing!!!  Anyhow, the creative juices have been flowing into other endeavors this week, so here’s a Christmas travel post.

For months leading up to my trip, I heard oohs and awws over going to Vienna.  And it didn’t disappoint.  Vienna, Austria is an amazing city; it’s very grand. 

Dec2013 123 Dec2013 157 The Christmas market in Vienna is HUGE.  It is one of the most well-known markets in Europe.  It was very large, but I didn’t find that their goods were as unique as Budapest’s had been.  A lot of repeat booths.  Even so, the hustle and bustle of Christmas was in the air – the good parts – and the food and gluhwien were good.   Dec2013 159

Dec2013 163 Dec2013 171 Dec2013 167Traditional Sachertorte in one of Vienna’s many coffeehouses.  Dec2013 180_1 It was fun to visit Vienna’s Spanish Riding School and the Lipizzaner horses.  Unfortunately, there were no shows while we were there due to the holidays.Dec2013 137 Dec2013 191 Dec2013 207Whenever I travel to the big European cities, I’m always so taken with the size of the old buildings.  They are massive!

One evening was spent at the Christmas market.  It was really beautiful all lit up and so festive with music and cold weather.


My last evening in Vienna was spent at a Mozart and Strauss (Sr. and Jr.) concert.  Photos weren’t allowed, so I enjoyed it sans camera.

Two days wasn’t really enough time in this city.  I could definitely go back and explore some more.