June 30, 2010

Painting Pottery for Shai-Li's Belated Birthday

Greg and Shai-Li hard at work - or wait, did Greg even start yet? He definitely was the most meticulous of the group.

For my cousin Shai-Li's birthday (um, last September), we promised to take her for a day out without her brothers and parents. At first we thought a movie, but there were no good ones. My aunt suggested pottery painting and it was tons of fun! We had lunch before, which was good because it took us hours to paint.

I had taken a pottery course in college where you did everything from mixing the clay to creating the piece to painting it to firing it and then cleaning yourself and everything that was on you for days because clay gets everywhere. I'm glad to say that this was much easier! The hardest part was picking a piece and thinking of a design, but they had stencils and inspiring photos to help.

Greg and I were pretty excited.

Shai-Li picked a small plate, Greg a cup and I picked a bowl (because I had broken one just the week before). Now we just have to wait a week for them to fire the pieces and then they're ready to use! I'll try to post after pictures for you all.

June 28, 2010

World Cup Fever

As you might know, Germany beat England yesterday 4:1 in the World Cup. What you may not know is that the rest of the afternoon all you could hear were the vuvus, air horns and car horns blaring in the streets. We even saw a guy sitting in his car, presumably waiting for a friend, outside of our building with a megaphone raised halfway up to his mouth. I gave him a stern look like "buddy, don't even try it - I've got your license plate memorized already." Come on, it's a residential area - only a jerk would go shout on his megaphone. He quite sheepishly put it away.

But it's been fun to be caught up in the World Cup fever since in the USA, there's not that big of a following. Even with the home team out of the games, we'll probably still go watch some games (I'm cheering for a Spanish or Portuguese-speaking team to win!). 

Vuvuzelas weren't allowed in the Hirschgarten biergarten during the game between Ghana and Germany last week. Security made the people who tried to bring them in write their names on their vuvus in the hopes of getting them back at the end. Considering German organization here, they might just have gotten everyone's vuvus back to the right person.

 The Ghana-Germany game was pretty low-key, but we saw at least one German mohawk thingy, proving that football fashion taste is nonexistent, but hilarious the world over.

June 25, 2010

Jane Goodall Speaks in Munich

Blog post by Greg:
Ten years ago, listening to a lecture about science meant that I was going to class. Now, when the opportunity arises to hear a professional speak, I get to transport back to those college days. Well, sort of…
Dr. Goodall showed up in Munich mainly to promote her new movie, Jane’s Journey (trailer). Her message throughout the night was that we are such an intelligent species and yet we make harmful choices each day.

The lecture was all about getting involved and making a difference. It was a great evening of video from her new movie with Dr. Goodall setting the scene and a guitar player to fill in with music between each of the clips.

“Remember, every single day you live you make a difference. You impact the world.”
If you have a moment, take a second to reflect on what eco-friendly changes you could make. If you really want some simple ideas*, just email me. Ayelet would probably like me to have an outlet for my ideas since she gets to hear them each day.

*Editor's note: We'll probably be posting a post soon about what crazy eco-friendly things we do around the house that make a difference.

June 24, 2010

Someone's Got a New Rain Cover

This was the flower an friend gave to me - as you can see, it is all covered in raindrops from the rain I had to drag it through. I, for one, am ready for it to stop and be gorgeous again. Towards that end, I finally finished a project I've been working on for Greg.

His backpack does not have a rain cover attached to it like mine does so while in NYC, I found the perfect waterproof fabric to make him one. I hope the picture isn't too blurry - it's made up of ships! Does anyone else see the humor in having ships on a rain cover?! Am I the only one who finds it funny? Oh well...

I affectionately call my creation the backpack shower cap. The reason I think this will stop the rain is because now that it's completed, the rain will cease forever so that Greg won't have a chance to use it. That's just how things work when it comes to weather! Forget weathermen who are so unpredictable - just prepare for the exact opposite weather you want and you'll end up with what you do want. While I'd love for him to enjoy his new toy, I'd also love for it to stop raining.
Greg happy with his new shipworthy rain cover

June 20, 2010

Strawberry Pickin' with Grandma/Safta

Last Sunday, we spent the day with my Safta Tzipi (safta = grandma in hebrew) and decided since the strawberry fields had just opened up to go pick some strawberries. Then, she taught us how to make strawberry jam!

Basically, there are farmer fields all over the place that open up their fields to be picked by people for a fee per kilo. There's blueberries, strawberries and raspberries during different times of the summer. I'm excitedly waiting for raspberry season to start in mid-July! And the best part was that you could eat all the strawberries you wanted while picking. Greg never quite believed this and would only eat the strawberries if he was crouched down or turned away discreetly from the farmer operating the field.

When we got home, Safta put us to work cleaning and slicing the berries for the jam. She didn't need to use a scale or anything - she just knew how much sugar to put in for each cup of strawberries. Safta taught us a few good tricks to use and now we have about 3 or 4 jars of jam sitting in our pantry. Yum!

Our jam at the start - the fruity chunk phase

The next phase - foamy darkness with a magical self-swirling spoon

The final phase - deliciousness in a jar!

June 12, 2010

New York: Summary

So a couple of weeks late, fogetaboutit as the "Italians" say in NYC... I'm finally getting to writing a summary about my time with Oren. I have to say that I love New Yorkers - they may walk fast and be stuck to their cell phones, but they're my kind of people.

Anyway, I started off my vacation in New York visiting a cupcake place for breakfast. I restrained myself and only got a muffin for breakfast, but this place would have done me in otherwise. The cupcakes were sooo beautiful and delicious-looking! Oren apparently also knows this cupcake place well.

After that, Oren and I took my bags back to his place in Astorias. It was very well-situated with a few restaurants and shops nearby and a cinema close, too! Then, we headed back downtown to go to the Ground Zero memorial and museum. I'm looking forward to going back in a few years when they have the memorial completed because it looks like it'll be amazing. The museum was still good to walk through to see that day from different perspectives. Not that any of us can forget that day, what we were doing, where we were, when we heard the news....

After that, we walked around Soho and Chelsea to get a feel for the area. We were looking for two bookstores for me to bring back books from - one was Housing Works' bookstore, which is a nonprofit organization that helps the NYC homeless with AIDS, and the other was Strand, which boosted 18 miles of books! I was excited to get the books, but it was great to see how the social enterprise of Housing Works functioned because I think that'll be a future way of inspiring change in communities, rather than the overcrowded nonprofit field.... ok, that's a rant for another time!

On Saturday, Oren and I walked through Central Park east and then headed to Spanish Harlem, the real, dirty gritty New York, for Mexican food. After lunch, we went to the Guggenheim for the Haunted photography exhibit. The way the building is set up, the exhibit winds around the central rotunda and there are little galleries on the sides of each level. Oren and I finished up the day by going to see Shrek 4!! A whole two weeks before it came to theaters in Munich!

On Sunday, we didn't have so much time because I eventually needed to get to the airport, but we did manage to find a street fair with lovely smelling food stands. It was right by where our parents used to live way back when they lived in New York with baby Oren. Think of it, I could have been a New Yorker if they stayed there! Can you even imagine?!

To sum it up, I had a fantastic time and poor Oren had his pushy, active sister to keep up with again. I'm surprised we even got out of the apartment most days by noon!

June 9, 2010

New York: The Food

Flying over the Italian Alps on the way to Italy for my transfer to New York was well worth the 4 am wake-up I had to endure that morning. There was still enough snow on the Alps that they were well-defined from above. Beautiful!
I had a work conference in New York for two days and then three days off to go around the city with my brother, Oren, who lives there. Since I’d already been to New York with the family, I’d done all the classic tourist stuff. On this trip, I wanted to get lost in New York a bit, walk around a lot and eat a lot of good food. Especially good food I can’t get in Munich – Mexican and Asian!

The work conference went very well and was over before I knew it. Oren and I managed to meet for dinner on Tuesday night when we walked around Hell's Kitchen and found a Brazilian place that was yummy. And we also met for dinner on Thursday night when he took me to a fabulous vegetarian place where we both got sandwiches. Mine was a vegetarian chicken parm sandwich and it was massive! Good ol' America with its huge amounts of food. Thankfully, Oren could take it home with him.

My German colleague commented on the fact that so many people ordered these meals and then didn't eat a lot of the food so it went back wasted. In Germany, they do have big amounts of food, but there isn't the level of food waste that there is in the US.

Oren and I also went to a Mexican place in Spanish Harlem, which I'm happy we went to because the food was delicious, but also because it felt like a part of New York that most tourists wouldn't go to. And for good reason, no one on their vacation wants to see posters on a Harlem school pleading for funding to keep their teachers or parents cursing at their children or the streets littered with trash. But it's a real part of New York; it's a place where people live everyday.

I never did have Asian food in New York, but the places we did go were fantastic!

June 7, 2010

Afternoon in the Park: Westpark

There are a lot of great parks in Munich - Englisch Gartens, Hirschgarten, park surrounding the Nymphenburg palace, etc. On Saturday, we decided to bike to one that was southeast of our place, West Park, which apparently was just completed in the '80s. It's a sprawling park and not as filled to the brim as Englischer Garten would be on a day like Saturday, but there were still a lot of people out.

I should explain that Saturday seemed to mark a turn in weather for Munich *hopefully*. We've been having weeks on end of drizzling rain or cloudy skies threatening to rain. So Saturday and the whole of next week with the 80-degree plus weather and sunny skies have been and will be a very welcome change. We're all ready for summer.

In West Park, we first rode up to the Asian section of the park with it's pagoda and Chinese garden. Then, we rode past its rolling hills and little lakes. We ate our lunch sitting on a bench by the lake filled with ducks, turtles and carp... plus one really crazy bird that looked like it was jittery from too much caffeine or something. Overall, it was a great day to be biking around and the park was quite nice, but I think we'll probably stick to our favorites - Hirschgarten or Nymphenburg palace grounds - when we want to go to a park.

June 6, 2010

My Pictures from New York

I've just finished putting up my pictures from New York... enjoy!
New York May 2010

In the coming days, I'll post more about the actual trip. For now, the great weather is calling my name...

Enchilada night!

Some of you might know our fondness for enchiladas - the green salsa-smothered, tortilla-filled, beans-and-rice overflowing, amazing wonderfulness that are enchiladas. We will be eternally thankful to my friend Laura Z. who showed me how to make them a few years ago. When I was in New York, I bought some of the essentials that we could not find here in Munich - salsa verde and cheddar. Sadly, I didn't buy the right queso fresco.

The cheddar turned out to be the butt of all the jokes last night as we introduced our vegetarian enchiladas to our friends, Ingrid and Malcolm from Australia and Sophie from France and her husband Craig from Canada. The "glow in the dark" color was what put them off. I noted however that everyone ate their enchiladas filled with cheddar with delight. And since Ingrid and Malcolm teased me last night that I haven't posted anything on the blog in a while (it's been a crazy few weeks), I've dedicated this post to them. 
Malcolm falling asleep after doing all the dishes and having no interest in TransAmerica... Scoots looks worried about the crazy old man asleep on his sofa. ;-)

Greg, Sophie and Ingrid packing up TransAmerica for the night... Greg was the victor last night!

Scoots airing his belly on the balcony during the warm day we had yesterday