31 May 2009

BBQ Brisket and Pizzookie!

So my friend Claudia is from Germany, but she was a foreign exchange student in North Carolina in high school. Chris was so excited she had been there because he wanted to talk to someone about how great BBQ brisket sandwiches are... but she had never tried one the entire time she lived there. Chris couldn't believe she had missed out on this wonderful experience, so we decided to attempt making our own...

We looked up a recipe for slow roasting our brisket from the food network website... We figure Bobby Flay knows what he is doing, so we did our best to follow his instructions using the ingredients we could find here in Austria (which are not all the same...)

The meat was really good. I made french bread rolls to go with it, and Chris made his own BBQ sauce, North Carolina style (thin and tangy) to go with the meat. Claudia said she loves the way Americans create interesting ways to eat food... like putting roasted meat on bread. Apparently there is nothing like this in Germany.

And to finish it off we had to make a Pizzookie. For those unfamiliar with Pizzookies, they are a "Pizza-Cookie" meaning a big round cookie that you can cut like a pizza. Of course, we eat our Pizzookies barbarian style... we dump ice cream and whipped cream on top, and all dig in. Good stuff!!!!

30 May 2009

Schoenbrunn Zoo (again)!

Here are more pictures from the zoo. We went back a week ago, and it was the first zoo trip where Oliver was old enough to get really excited about the animals.

There is a playground with a bunny and guinea pig pen. Oliver loved the bunnies. He sat and watched them for a long time. Luckily they didn't bite, because he kept sticking his fingers through the fence to try and pet them.

The kids both loved this big snake. Oliver crawled over to it, saying, "ssssssssss".

It's just cute that Oliver is big enough to play along with Elora at the zoo.

We're still working on hygiene...

Elora watched these little turtles for a really long time. We noticed this little angry turtle bugging a bigger turtle. Maybe it has small man's syndrome or maybe it just wanted its daddy to play with it.


29 May 2009

Oliver's Ice Cream Hat!

We have a drawer of empty containers that the kids like to play with. Today Oliver was playing with an ice cream container. Elora was sad about something, so Chris asked her if she wanted to wear an ice cream hat. While waiting for her response, Chris put the container on Ollie's head, and he loved it!



Oliver wore his hat for at least a half hour, until I took it off of him because he was going to bed. Every time it fell off his head he would cry until we put it back on.




Elora tried on the hat too, decided it looked better on Oliver, and then joined in the fun!

You can see the ice cream hat shenanigans, plus tears about his hat falling off in the video below.

27 May 2009

Mmmm.... Eisschokolade



Here is a tasty treat we discovered in Germany, and now make much too often! It is called Eisschokolade (Ice Cream Chocolate) which is hot cocoa with ice cream and whipped cream in it. So good! It's like a "hot chocolate ice cream float", perfect on a hot day or a cold one.

26 May 2009

MBA Palais Liechtenstein

So one of the perks of having an MBA program in a palace in Vienna is the catering. Viennese people love their coffee breaks so we have frequent 10 minute coffee breaks, some of which are catered with tasty treats like you see below.



You can tell what everyone is thinking in this photo. A mixture of butter croissants, chocolate croissants, maple/apple pies. Plus some yogurt, jam, cornflakes (eh?) and granola. I've been introduced to some typical, and odd, Austrian dishes such as Rindfleischsalat (Meat & Vegetable salad, but no lettuce) and strange little slices of bread with odd cheeses, creams, or raw salmon on top (which was surprisingly tasty if you could chew and swallow while ignoring the texture).



The walls and ceiling are nicely decorated both in the "break room" above and the classroom below.

25 May 2009

Schönbrunn Garden

While Chris was at school this week, the kids and I headed to the Schönbrunn Gardens to enjoy the nice weather (it was sunny when we left the house anyway...)



Oliver really wanted to play on the grass (he can't read the "don't walk on the grass signs" - maybe it is okay to crawl on the grass?). As soon as he could squirm out of my arms, he crawled away, and sat down content once he reached the grass. Apparently other people thought this was cute too, because I spotted at least one tourist snapping his photo.



There is a large fountain with ducks that Oliver liked to look at. Here he is trying to dive in. Actually he would lay down as close to the edge as he could and then reach out his arms to try and touch the ducks.



My friend Claudia joined us. Elora was very excited to have a new friend to play with. There were some baby ducks that Elora was happy to see. This was just previous to the surprise clouds that blew in, covered the blue skies, dumped rain on us for ten minutes, then rolled away... strange Vienna weather.
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24 May 2009

Back to the Schmetterling Haus

When it got rainy a couple weeks ago, Elora and Grace had to postpone their playdate at the zoo, and we decided to go back to the Schmetterling Haus instead. This time Elora found a butterfly that would let her hold it!

Elora called it "her best friend butterfly" and after she held it for awhile she found a very nice flower to set it on.

When Elora saw this butterfly, she said, "Bonjour!" and then proceeded to try and catch it. This one, however, had no interest in being caught.

Oliver likes the Schmetterling Haus because he crawls in the muddy gravel and splashes in the river. One of the fish even came up to give his hand a kiss!

Grace got a new butterfly umbrella from the gift shop, and she let Elora come share it with her while we walked back to the U-Bahn.

22 May 2009

It's a Small World After All!

We were helping out at the church for our annual Spring cleaning day,when a man and woman walked up the street toward me and said, "Hello Karen!" At which point I reverted back to my usual habit when surprised - I stared... trying to figure out if I knew these people.Noticing my deer in the headlights look, the woman said, "I am your mom's cousin! Belinda." Random. Belinda said I reminded her of my mom, so she knew it was me. To make a long story short, my mom's cousin Belinda, and her husband Jim come to Vienna every year with students from SUU on a study abroad trip. My mom had forgotten to email me and tell me they were coming, and we all just happened to meet on the street one day. Wow. What a coincidence.

So we went out to lunch at a traditional Viennese restaurant called the Hopferl off the Graben. Elora was really happy to meet her "new cousins". If you want to be friends with Elora right away, just tell her you are her cousin, and you are in! She has been talking about Belinda and Jim ever since.

And who doesn't want to see more pics of awesome Austrian food? Chris got the grill teller (teller is a plate in German) so it is a plate of grilled meat. Usually three different types of meat. On a bed of fried potatoes and green beans sauteed in onions, garlic, and ham! Yum.

Pork with noodles and mushroom cream sauce. I love the mushroom cream sauces here. Soooo gooood. (and fungus-y). Elora enjoyed her noodles with fungus also.

P.S. We thought the whole situation was a little weird when Belinda
asked for our bank account number and to see our passports, but we
figured that they were family so we could trust them.

21 May 2009

Food Storage Fun!

I enjoyed a morning of peaceful quiet while the kids played together. Generally this means there is some general destruction going on in the house, so I eventually went to see what they were up to.



The cabinets in the kitchen are Oliver's favorite place to play. And this morning, Superman joined in the fun!



Oliver loves tearing through all the food stored in the cupboard. There is milk sold in cartons that can be stored for 8 weeks at room temperature, so we like to stock up on milk. All the more milk for Oliver to dump on the floor. I figure as long as he is playing here, he isn't pulling his sister's hair or splashing in the toilet, so I just let him go at it...



Once the cupboards were empty, the kids headed for their "train" to go for a ride somewhere. Who needs toys when you have fun like this? (Or as Chris says, "We have a house full of toys, and look what the kids like to play with most!")

20 May 2009

Cheap Meat!


The good thing about living in a country where stores are closed on Sunday is the big chains have to get rid of all their fresh food before the weekend. We discovered that Hofer (the discount/volume food store) puts all their meat that will expire in 3-4 days on sale for 50% off every Friday around 1pm. It's funny because they were stocking the shelves with meat that was 50% off while people were standing around waiting to load up, which is what we did as you can tell. We added it all up and saved 50euros (or spent 50euros, however you want to look at it). Ground beef, turkey breasts and pork loins. Yum, our tiny little freezer is packed full and we're eating a lot better than usual!
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19 May 2009

Happy (late) Mother's Day!

At church on Mother's Day, the little children came to sing to their Moms at the end of church. Elora is new to Primary, so she didn't know the song, but as you can see she got to help conduct the music - and she was so excited! She said, "Mommy! I led the music with a stick!" I liked that the kids sang to the women in Relief Society, so all the women could sit up close to the kids and snap pictures and clap. It was a nice way to end our day at church.


Elora made me a little paper heart (which we tried to get her to show the camera - didn't work out quite right, but that's okay) which had her handprints on it. My friend Krista is Elora's teacher and she said it was rather stressful to have the kids use paint in their nice Sunday clothes, but amazingly enough the children all made pretty handprints without any paint on their clothes. Elora also drew me a picture, and told her teacher what she loves about her mom. She said, "I love my mom because she is sweet and nice and she is not mad." Sounds good to me! Glad to know that I am not mad!!! After giving me my gifts, Elora said, "It's Mama's Day! Happy Mama's Day!" And it was a happy Mama's Day. Elora and Oliver bring me so many fun and good times, I am glad that I get to be their mom. (Sorry, no Ollie Mama's Day pics, he was asleep in Daddy's arms, which may have contributed to making it a happy day!)

17 May 2009

What were you thinking?

The great thing about Austria is you sometimes get these nice, shapely potatoes.

Elora Feeds Ollie


Ever notice how when you're feeding a child you open your mouth wide when you want them to open their mouth? Apparently, as you can see here it's innate. Aaaaaaawwwwww. This is Ollie's preferred method of being fed now. He won't try any new foods from Mom, but if Elora offers it to him, he will gladly eat it. Now Elora is always trying to feed him.

Oh, and yes, that is spaghetti with green beans mixed in. We grew these green beans in our "garden".

14 May 2009

So how's that MBA thing going?

This is Chris. You could probably tell from the content of the post, but Mom wanted to know who is who. Hi Mom!

Although most people probably think we're just going on vacation and eating Kebabs every day I'm actually enjoying my MBA program as well. It's just usually I'm too busy between work, classes, pre/post modules, vacations to actually write about the MBA.


Here is my MBA Marketing & Sales class. It's a small tight knit group. The first few modules of the program were twice as large as we were combined with the Entrepreneurship specialty as part of the "common modules". Accounting, finance, operations management, etc. Subjects every MBA is supposed to be competent in. Odd story behind this particular picture in front of the Palace Lichtenstein, where the classes are held. The professor for the Innoveation module was a guest professor from a school in London (TU). He wanted to get a picture in front of the palace because, "It's a very American thing to do, and we should all do it," he said. But he had never been to Vienna, land of the thousand palaces and I think he just wanted to go back and brag to his faculty, "Hey I got to teach at this palace in Vienna!"



Here I am at the front of the class presenting a case study during our Strategy module. The groups are usually divided into 4-5 people, but for presentations it's usually easiest just to have a couple presenters to keep things running smoothly. Invariably "the native speaker" (me) is always one of the 2. Side note, this above lecture room was not at the Palais Lichtenstein, but the Palais Strudelhof, as it Strategy was part of the combined Common Body of Knowledge modules



Everything in Vienna has history and the Palais Strudelhof has it's own share. A few of us asked one of the caretakers what the palace was famous for, and he showed us a special room they usually keep locked. It's the room where the Austrian and German generals planned the response to the assination of Arch Duke Ferdinand. They wrote the ultimatium to the Serbian countries and planned the invasion strategy that started World War I in this room. Another side note, the ultimatium was written in French, the language of diplomacy at the time. There was a copy of the ultimatium in the room along with a little plaque. This was also the room where the START I treaty was signed between the USSR and the USA back in the 70s to halt/control nuclear arms development.



Here's the stairway up to class in the Strudelhof. It's much nicer than the elevator for some reason.... I'll try to get pictures of the Lichtenstein soon.

12 May 2009

Sunny Day at Stadtpark

Stadtpark is a nice large city park in the center of Vienna. The weather was nice outside and decided to take the kids for a trip to a new park one day.

The flowers were very pretty. Elora was dying to pick them, but luckily she confined herself (mostly) to the dandilions.

In the center of the park is a large momument to compser Johann Strauss. It is said to be the most photographed monument in Vienna. We found out why... keep reading.

Apparently every day bus loads of Chinese tourists show up and take pictures of the monument. Except for this day. We counted no less than 5 Chinese women of varying ages taking pictures of Elora, instead of the statue.

It was strange, because you'd think if you were taking a picture of someone elses kid without their permission you might be discrete about it. But they were very much out in the open. These two ladies actually followed her around (as we watched from a distance). When Elora noticed to strange ladies were taking her picture she stopped and showed them her stick (as you can see in the photo). Perhaps Elora was challenging them to a duel. "How dare you take my picture! Say hello to my little friend!" The Chinese ladies responding by giving her a "Thumbs up."

Very odd. But we've been told Chinese tourists love little blonde girls.

On the way back from the Stadtpark we decided to walk back through Karlsplatz. Everything in the downtown is so close and the weather is nice enough to walk. As we got closer Elora excitedly realized, "Oh we're getting close to that other park!" And she was right, and very adament about going to the Karlsplatz Park. So we stopped to play for a few minutes. Oliver was very excited to bounce on the weird bug/flower thing. He loves these springy things.

Elora meanwhile was driving Mommy around in her pirate ship.

Next both the kids tried out another springy teeter toter thing. Maybe this is what you do when you don't have Disneyland... you just invent a bunch of crazy park rides. Whatever the reason, we're grateful for the fun they bring! We finished the trip by heading to the open air markets of Naschmarkt, which is just a short walk away and eating a Kebab. Yum.

11 May 2009

Lisbon

On our last day in Lisbon we went by the bay to see some of the monuments of the once great sea faring nation. The Portuguese are very anxious to tell everyone how they "once ruled the world".

This is the monument to the Discoveries during the great sailing age and features 33 famous Portuguese explorers.

Elora was excited to run as fast as she could once she saw the water. When I realized this was Europe and there was no fence keeping her from falling into the bay I had to start running too. Lukily she stopped an entire 12 inches from the edge.


Little Oliver enjoyed hanging out by the water front playing peek-a-boo with his hat. Notice all the fisherman behind him. Elora was really excited by them and kept asking if they were catching fish.

The bay of Lisbon had several bridges linking the two halves of the city. The bridge in the background was built by the same designer as the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco and looks the same (but smaller). Elora saw the sailboats in the bay and asked, "Is that Max's boat?" (from Where the Wild Things Are)

We're not sure what this is that Karen is posing in front of. Some kind of fort thing. There are a bunch of them along the bay. Most likely protection against pirates from the Spanish Maine. (eh?)

Elora was really excited by this huge airplane statue. She didn't want to leave and probably made an appearence in the background of a bunch of other tourists photos because she refused to go.


Elora loves cannons. And flowers. She decided to share her flowers with the cannon as she talked about friendly pirates.


Oliver has taken up Elora's love of cannons. What's not to love? He was very excited to play with and put his head inside it. Luckily it never got stuck. That would have been awkward...



There is this huge aquaduct that used to carry water into the city. Now it just looks pretty as you drive underneath it on the highway.


The neat thing about the major capitols of Europe is they have these beautiful monuments everywhere as you drive through the city. This one is in the center of a round-about. Maybe we should commission a few monuments for back home?