Thursday, December 30, 2010

What I Learned in 2010

*That being unemployed does not have to diminish my self-worth.
*That even when I don't have to make them for work, I really do enjoy making spreadsheets.
*That an engagement ring will match every outfit in your closet beautifully.
*That a good wedding planner is worth every penny.
*That after years of being self-conscious about my appearance, I am finally really happy with the way I look in glasses.
*That you never know who's reading your blog.
*That some of your dearest friends can be ones you have never met, and that's normal.
*That a big white bow on a little blue box can instantly brighten your day.
*That I love Petit Bateau shirts as much at 27 as I did at 12. If not more.
*That it's ok to find the makeup products that work for you and stick with them and not leave with the entire Sephora inventory in one shopping trip.
*That the garlic fries at Yankee stadium are delicious.
*That after 6 months of living in Europe, not to buy a box of Whitman's chocolates just because of the adorable Snoopy on the box, because they will taste awful.
*That it's just not a good idea to get 4 packs of monogrammed notecards 6 months before your initials are about to change.
*That some birds can be really, really angry.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Desperately Seeking Shaker

A couple of months ago, I saw these adorable salt and pepper shakers at the Lego store in Frankfurt.
I love fun and whimsical salt and pepper shakers and they are just dorky and fun enough for me. At only 5€, I was ready to buy them on the spot but TLS convinced me to wait. He said that we could always come back for them, they weren't going anywhere, and they might go on sale. From 5€. Seriously.

So the salt and pepper shakers got put down. When TLS went back there to get them for me for Hannukah, they were no longer in stock. They are sold out on both the German and American websites and a recent trip to the Lego store in Cologne taught us that they are sold out completely in Germany. There is not a single set in the entire country.

Obviously, I was not happy with this news and this has only made me want them even more. I have found them for sale on a few slightly shady websites (most are used and I am not ok with buying used). They are for sale on but I just cannot justify spending around $17-18 after shipping on an item that originally cost $5/5€. If anyone reading this desperate plea for help lives near a Lego store, can you please please please check to see if they still have a set in stock? Either of the ones above or of these faces one:
Same story, sold out here and online.

I will pay you for the shakers and shipping and will probably send you some German chocolate in return. Pretty please.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Holiday Traditions

Like any good Member of the Tribe, Christmas to me has always meant one thing- Chinese food and a movie. For the past 7 years, that movie has been the same- Love Actually. It does not matter what else is going on in my life that day, I must watch it. Otherwise, it's just not Christmas without it. Since most places, including Chinese restaurants, are closed in Germany on Christmas, I decided to go with a frozen PF Changs meal.

In Russian culture, New Year is the day that Santa Claus comes and leaves you presents under a tree. It is a very secular holiday and is pretty much the biggest day of the year. When I was growing up, we always had a beautifully decorated tree. My mother has gorgeous ornaments from the Czech Republic and when I moved, she only let me take one with  me, a little yellow glass ornament in the shape of a rubber duckie. In my family, we always put the tree up on December 26th, so as not to associate it with Christmas in any way. Today, TLS and I went to pick out a tree. We got a cute little potted 3.5 footer. Yea, it's been a bit disastrous here. This was the first year since I was 7 that we have had a real tree (no matter how much I begged and pleaded my mother refused to buy real trees and just stuck to the kind that comes from a box). I completely forgot how much they 1) hurt, and 2) shed. Needless to say, we don't have a tree skirt. We found an old sheet that we put around the bottom for now and have learned our lesson for next year, I am now on the hunt for the perfect tree skirt. For this year, thankfully a few of my friends in Germany have already taken down their decorations and a friend is lending me her skirt so Charlie, our tree, can look a bit more festive and dignified.

Throughout the year, we had been periodically buying ornaments one by one to start up a collection so that when New Year rolled around, we'd have a whole bunch . It seemed like a really great and well thought out idea except for the fact that we overestimated how many ornaments we actually bought and despite buying the smallest tree we saw, we ended up with too much tree and not enough ornaments. (Ironically enough, every year at my mother's house, it was in reverse. The tree seemed to get smaller and smaller while the ornaments got bigger and bigger.) Needless to say, the tree is looking a bit Charlie Brown-ish. (Hence the name Charlie.) The ornaments that we do have on it now are gorgeous, but we are going to get a few more "filler" ornaments and some lights to make it look like a respectable tree. I will save posting tree pictures for a day when it is fully dressed up and happy. For now, I will leave you with a picture of our other tree- a friend saw this in a store in the States and got it for us as a Hannukah gift.
Yes, that is a replica of the Charlie Brown Christmas tree! It even plays the Peanuts theme song!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

giveaway winner and Snow my G-d

sI apologize for not posting the giveaway winners sooner. I have a to-do list a mile long (you know, all the small things that are super simple and easy but need to get done and when you compound them all on top of another, it ends up being a lot?) and somehow I hadn't gotten to crossing that item off my list. Until just now.

Congratulations to the following two winners:
CT Cupcake

Please email me at whaleflipflops {@} gmail {.} com with your address and choice of state.

Also- allow me to complain for just a minute here. SnowMG. This is what our house looks like now:
Only without the earthquakes. No, really.

I am not a cold weather person at all. When I first got here, new friends on base told me that last year was the worst winter that Germany had seen in years and that it meant this winter would be a lot easier. Guess what? They LIED! We got 12 inches of snow last night! Then today, it snowed some more. When it stopped snowing, it started raining. After a while, it started snowing while it was raining. Oh how fun. Have I mentioned that I am not a cold weather person yet? A friend felt the need to inform me that we are supposed to get 6-8 more inches of snow. That's just dandy.

I do feel bad for anyone flying in and out of Europe now. Frankfurt airport got completely shut down last night because it got blanketed with a foot of snow in under 6 hours and they couldn't get it plowed and keep it plowed in between flights fast enough. From what I hear, Germany isn't alone in this.

I will be the first to admit that Germany looks gorgeous in the snow. All of the evergreens and the cute little towns with the church steeples really do look like something out of a postcard or a fairy tale.

On a happier note, Friday night was TLS's squadron's Christmas party. I ended up showing up WAY overdressed in my J. Crew silk taffeta dress, but I love the dress, and it's always better to be overdressed than undressed in my book. Anyhoo, at Air Force holiday parties, it is traditional to have a few giveaways/prizes (in between those and thank you/board member gifts, I made out like a bandit at my spouses' association party). The big prize was a PS3. TLS was the lucky guy who got to take that home! The funny part was that he had been talking nonstop about wanting to get a Blu-Ray player and how much he "needed" one so I was going to surprise him with one, and now I don't have to! Thank you Air Force for saving me over a hundred bucks. He got me The Sound of Music for one of the nights of Hannukah and as soon as we got home, we popped it in to watch it. We obviously didn't get through the whole movie as it was late but my goodness it looks GOOD in Blu-Ray. I can't wait until my Phantom of the Opera Blu-Ray comes in now.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wedding Wednesday

This week, music has been the wedding topic on my mind. I read somewhere that when you think of a good song for your wedding, you're supposed to write it down so that when the time comes for the dj or band to ask you for things you'd like played at your wedding, you can give a list as opposed to just saying "stuff."

I have been doing just that. Unfortunately, my song list seems to be a bit sparse. Here's what I have so far.
You Belong With Me- Taylor Swift
I Want to Hold Your Hand- The Beatles
Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better- From the Annie Get Your Gun Soundtrack. TLS and I are always singing this one to each other so we figured it would be cute to play it during dinner.
Fins- Jimmy Buffett
New York, New York- Frank Sinatra
Come on Eileen- Dexy's Midnight Runners
Why Don't we Get Drunk and Screw?-Jimmy Buffett
Bless the Broken Road- Rascal Flatts
Johnny and June- Heidi Newfield
Dynamite- Taio Cruz
Another One Bites the Dust- Queen
Sweet Caroline- Neil Diamond
Just the Way You Are- Billy Joel
Peanuts Theme Song (music only)- Bill Melendez (another one that we love that would be cute for dinner)
Marry You- Bruno Mars
New York State of Mind- Billy Joel
She's in Love with the Boy- Trisha Yearwood

This doesn't include our first dance and father/daughter and mother/son dances. It's a start but is not enough obviously. Anyone have good recommendations for songs for the reception? (Big fat no to Single Ladies.)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Trier and Luxembourg

Yesterday, TLS and I went to the Trier Christmas market. Since Luxembourg is only a 38 minute drive from Trier, we made a semi-spontaneous decision to drive there for dinner and get in another country before the year is up. (Last year we made a joined New Year Resolution to visit 10 countries together in 2010. Luxembourg made #9.) In typical MRM fashion, I left my camera at home. Thank goodness my new iphone 4 takes good pictures.

Trier was the third Christmas market we went to together and of those three (the others were Mannheim and Kaiserslautern), it was definitely the smallest. In my opinion- it was the best though. The town itself is gorgeous and adorable and lends itself nicely to the atmosphere.
A gorgeous church in Trier.

I thought this shop was pretty and fun with the giant bow and twinkle lights in the window, so I had to take a picture of it.
The entrance to the Medieval Jewish  Quarter.
Gluhwein mug. Gluhwein is a hot, spiced wine that's traditionally served at the Christmas markets. (You will not find a Christmas market without at least one Gluhwein stand.) You pay a deposit on the mug when you buy your wine, and you can either return it and get your deposit back, or keep the mug. Many people collect these mugs because they are adorable. (TLS has one from 2008 that's in the shape of a snowman! I hope that they bring that one back.) This year's was in the shape of a boot. (I am not certain of the significance of this, but I do know that there is some German legend about drinking out of a boot. I've seen boot-shaped beer mugs as well,) It has 2010 written on the toe, a picture of the town on one side, Santa on the other, and Trier Weihnachtsmarkt on the front. Naturally, we kept ours.
The Porta Nigra- a Roman gate in Trier. A hermit monk named Simeon lived inside it. After his death, a church was erected on site as a monument to him. It is no longer in use today.

We only drove to Luxembourg for dinner and back, so I did not get a chance to take many pictures. Of what we did see, however, the city is beautiful. We plan on going back next year for longer than just three hours. While we were there, we saw a mini Christmas market. There were only 3 food stalls and 2 or 3 crafts stalls.
Attached to the crepe stall (we got a crepe with chestnut cream- delicious!) was a postbox addressed to St. Nick so children could drop their letters in and know that they would get delivered to the source.

Last picture of the night- the beautiful train station.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wedding Wednesday

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. And a silver sixpence in her shoe.

This post is technically on Thursday, but it's still Wednesday in the United States, so I guess it counts, right? This post is dedicated to the traditional items that a bride carries with her on her wedding day.

Something Old: to represent the bride's ties with her past and her family.
I had been planning on wearing an ASA pin under my dress for quite some time. I only have the plain badge and love the pearl one, so a while back, I had posted on facebook asking if any married ASAs had a pearl badge that I could borrow for my wedding. That got put on the backburner until last week when TLS came home with a package for me from one of my sorority sisters, MPJ. Inside it was a 1lb. bag of Twizzlers (I am seriously obsessed with the Strawberry Twizzlers) and a round box. Inside it was a gorgeous pin on a cushion.
The card that came with it said "why borrow when you can have something old? Consider it an early wedding present." I was beyond stunned and elated. To be perfectly honest, I still am a little. It is absolutely gorgeous and words cannot fully describe how much I love it. 

Something New: for good luck and prosperity for the bride in her married life.
In between my dress, shoes, veil, jewelry, etc. I will have plenty of new things on me that day, but I am obviously not posting a picture of my dress on here until after the big day. Instead, here is a picture of the chiffon flowers I will be wearing that day.

Something Borrowed: from a happily married friend or relative so that her good marital luck may be passed on to the bride.
To be determined. Any ideas?

Something Blue: from the ancient days when blue was said to symbolize faithfulness, purity, and loyalty. 
I know that most brides use the garter as their "something blue" but I am still not sure if we are doing the garter toss or not. Most of my married friends have done it, but I am not sure as to why exactly my Nana needs to see my new husband with his head up my skirt. Instead, I am leaning more towards these:
I love Hanky Panky.

Silver Sixpence in her Shoe: for wealth and financial security.
This is the one that not as many people know about or use (probably because the sixpence is no longer used/made in England), but I got engaged in England, so obviously I was getting a sixpence in my shoe! TLS got me one before he moved. I lent it to his brother's wife and a sorority sister for their weddings.

Monday, December 6, 2010

how can I help?

In the past week or so, I have been getting a lot of messages asking what people can do to help out my friend's squadron.

TLS and I are putting together a care package to send over there (one going out on Wednesday, another one closer to Christmas) with items for the guys. In the past, GLS has mentioned that there are quite a few men in his squadron who aren't as lucky as he is and don't get much mail sent to them. If any of you would like to send cards, please message me for the squadron name and I will tell you how to address them and make sure that they get to where they need to go. This doesn't apply just for Christmas/holiday cards. Christmas is just one day and Army deployments are for a full year. They'll be there through August and can always use a smile.

Also, from his last email regarding items that they want/need:

First, there's only one type of deodorant that this camp receives in
care packages, and it's Secret Ultra Something or Other...a/k/a GIRL
DEODORANT.  I don't care if the ads say it's "strong enough for a man",
because it clearly isn't.  And, we smell like baby powder and perfume.
If you send a care package, please include some manly deodorant.
Stick/spray/gel doesn't matter.  I'm just tired of reapplying five times
a day and smelling like my girlfriend.

Second, I talked to a lot of the soldiers and asked what would show them

support and what they want/need.  And we have two main ideas.  1. If you
belong to an organization that has a t-shirt or a logo, printing that
logo (or more) on a tan t-shirt would be awesome.  It has to be tan so
we can wear it, and the cooler the logo the better.  Most of our unit
t-shirts have something over the left chest and a full back design.  2.
Our container with most of our cold weather clothing got lost or stolen
by Afghans in shipment.  So, while we're warm in tactical gear, we're
freezing going to the latrine or working out.  I work out at around
midnight, and all I have to work out in are a t-shirt and silk underwear
(unless I decide to wear something grossly unauthorized), and it's COLD!
So, idea number two is hoodies.  We came up with that because my scout
platoon got a bunch donated, and so far they were able to wear them
because it's the platoon's "unit sweatshirt" and has the scout platoon
logo on it.  I'd like to set something like that up.  We'll draw a logo
if anyone's willing to donate hoodies.  Same for unit t-shirts, but we
really aren't hurting on t-shirts with our own logo, and we are dying to
get a comfortable cold weather top to work out in.

Last thing (for real this time): for those who don't object, the two

most sought-after kinds of dipping tobacco out here are Copenhagen Extra
Long Cut (not to be confused with Long Cut, which we have some access
to) and Skoal or Grizzly Wintergreen.  Just a suggestion :-).

I know that as soon as I click "send" I'm going to remember something...

Thank you all for helping us out and bringing us smiles.  I'm surprised

when I look around and see what other people get for mail (if anything
at all).  You're not just my source of support, you're all my soldiers'
source as well.  They thank you, they really do.

Not sure how the tshirt/sweatshirt thing is going to work out, but we are definitely sending some manlier deodorant over there.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

My New Year Resolution

Generally as a rule, I am not a huge fan of New Year's resolutions. If you see an area in your life that you would like to improve, why wait until January 1 to start? However, this year I do have a resolution and January is a nice, clean date to start with.

Most of you know well by now that I love mail. I love everything about it. I love pretty stationery. I love the thrill of opening my mailbox and seeing a piece of real mail that isn't a bill. I love writing cards to my friends and hearing from them that finding my card in their mailbox on a not so good day brought smiles to their faces. In my opinion, one of the saddest things in life is an empty mailbox. I even have a spreadsheet on my computer of everyone that I send cards to and what cards I send to try to limit/avoid sending duplicates. Yes, mail is that important to me.

Friday night, at services, the rabbi was talking about expressions of gratitude and if people say thank you as much as they should. I brought up the concept of thank you cards and was flabbergasted when the rabbi told me that he does not believe that thank you cards are necessary and that we should not expect to receive them for gifts other than wedding gifts. I was even more shocked when everyone else in the congregation seemed to agree with him! I always make it a point to send a thank you card to anyone who sends me a present no matter how small (I once wrote a thank you card for a pack of gum!) and to any vendors who sponsor giveaways on my blog. It drives me absolutely bonkers when I give someone a gift and don't get a thank you in return.

For 2011, I have decided to make a lot of my friends smile. I dislike how writing handwritten letters and cards is becoming a lost art and am determined to not make it happen. My resolution is to send at least one card a day to one person for the entire year. Some of those (birthday, thank you, new baby cards) will be easier than others.

Dear ____________,
How's it going? I just got married. Time to go eat cake.

x's and o's,
-the no longer MRM

Yea, it's not perfect, but anything that makes my friends smile is a good thing. Think I can do this? Anyone else care to join me?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Alter Designs Necklace giveaway

Just in time for the holidays, Gretchen from Alter Designs is offering a giveaway to my readers. Two lucky winners will each receive their choice of a State Charm necklace.
The state you pick can be whatever you want. The one you grew up in (New York), the one you went to college in (New York), the one whose baseball team you root for (New York), the one you live in now (there isn't a charm or state shape for "Americas Europe" but 3 out of 4 ain't bad), or any other state you want. Or if you just remembered a girlfriend that you forgot to get a gift for, well here you go!

To enter this giveaway, please visit the Alter Designs Etsy shop and leave a comment with your favorite item for one entry. Like Alter Designs on facebook for a second entry. Post this giveaway on your blog for a third entry. You will receive one entry for every person you refer to this giveaway.

The giveaway will run until Sunday, December 12th at midnight EST. I will pick and announce winners on Monday.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Rabbit Rabbit

Rabbit Rabbit.

Happy December!

Things that I am looking forward to this month:
*Hannukah!!! My favorite holiday. Starts tonight at sundown. This year we have decided to get each other 8 gifts, one per night.
*Christmas markets
*Losing 3 pounds. If I post it on here, it will happen, right?
*holiday parties
*finishing up all our holiday card
*jelly doughnuts
*gluhwein (yea, so much for those 3 pounds- bring it on!)
*putting up our New Year's Tree (expect a separate post on that one)
*My very first advent calendar. As a Jew- I've always wished for Hannukah to start on Christmas so it would give me an excuse to buy a chocolate advent calendar. Needless to say, that's not the case for this year, or any upcoming years (yes I did google this fact). However, TLS and I saw these at the German megamart by our house and no way was leaving without these an option.
Originally, our plan was to use it to count down to Hannukah, but why do extra math when we don't have to? Instead, we are going to eat 3 chocolates each night after we light the candles.