30 December 2009

Making Spaetzle

Okay Family! I finally got the video with instructions on how to make spaetzle finished! Sorry it took so long, being sick kind of took away any desire I had to cook... The video tells you the recipe, but I will write it down here too:

1 cup flour
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
dash pepper
1/4 cup milk

4 servings

Spaetzle is my favorite food I have learned to make, and there are so many ways to cook it! So I hope you will enjoy it too!

Here is the video, you should only need to watch it once, spaetzle is the easiest food in the world to make - if I ever say anything cheesy in the video it is because Chris was the director...

Summary of dishes you can make with the spaetzle:
Saute in butter
Saute in oil with bell peppers and onions (or other veggies)
Serve with roast and gravy
Cook it in place of noodles in chicken noodle soup
Serve it with white sauce or cheese sauce or any kind of sauce...

If anyone reading this post does not have a spaetzle maker and would like one, they can be purchased on Amazon.com.

Have fun cooking!!!! I will keep learning more fun Austrian foods to make so I can teach everyone when I come back!

29 December 2009

Crazy Kids

Due to the fact that I have been sick the last few days, I haven't gotten around to getting all the Christmas pics posted and all that, but I had a few cute pics of the kids I wanted to share in the meantime. I think I will probably start getting Christmas up tomorrow...

Oliver has new nursery teachers at church, and they are awesome. First of all, Oliver is no longer sad to go to nursery, and second, they always make cute little crafts with the kids that Oliver loves. A few weeks ago they made the kids little crowns that say "I am a child of God". Oliver absolutely adores his crown, and often wears it around the house.

Oliver with his crown again, and his yogurt bucket, one of his favorite toys.

Elora got jealous that I was taking pics of Ollie, so she jumped in front and said, "No, take a picture of me without Oliver!" She tried to block him from every picture, but he managed to peek out from behind her in this one. They are such little hams.

And Oliver with another of his favorite toys of all time, the teapot. He plays with it so much that I actually never use it, and he lost one of the screws in the handle. I searched EVERYWHERE for the screw, but I think I must have thrown it away. Finally I superglued a random screw that didn't fit into the teapot so he could have his favorite toy back, and he is already back to carrying it all over the house.

The last week I have really enjoyed watching the kids as they have started playing together more and more, and I realized how lucky I am to have such sweet kids. They make me smile every day and I am so grateful to have them in my life. They are learning to share and show love to each other, which makes each day even more special as I watch them learn and grow together.

27 December 2009

Sledding - the many faces of Ollie

With all the snow outside the other day, it was a great chance to take the kids to the park to go sledding! Oliver was very excited to put his little snow suit on and happily said "Cheese!" for this picture.

Elora liked eating the snow as much as riding on it. We keep trying to tell her the reason why her lips burn the day after we play in the snow is because she's always eating it. But nothing can keep her from eating it. Do you know what the street value of this mountain is? It's pure snow!

There wasn't enough snow to cover the weeds but the powder was very soft and fluffy, which made for fun sledding.

Whenever we got to the bottom, Ollie would shout, "Gen Gen!" Which means again, again.

After Daddy was tired of dragging them up the hill, it was Mom's turn; and she took a bit longer...and only went once before she said the kids can walk on their own.

Slow going up, but fast to go down. The sleds here are the nice old fashioned kind, which are great for all kinds of snow, and piling lots of people on. Once Elora had to walk up the hill, she only went one more time... But Ollie wanted to keep going all day.

Here are the many faces of Ollie, captured while riding on the sled. Which face is your favorite? Ours is Ollie-C4, because you can just hear him saying, "Ya ya yaaaaa!"

25 December 2009

Christmas Party & Gingerbread House

To get ready for Christmas we made ginger bread houses with graham crackers, smuggled for us from the UN commissary.

Daddy helped Elora make a fancy house with a big roof, which involved measuring angles and cutting various sized pieces.

While Mommy and Ollie opted for the "quick and easy" trailer park style house.

Ollie decorated a little, but spent most of his time eating the graham crackers and candy. Every time Oliver would put once piece of candy on, we'd cheer and he'd look at us funny than go back to munchin'.

Look how happy they are. A huge bowl of candy is all it takes...

Elora was very proud of her ginger bread house. We made use of all the various goodies and snacks we had sitting around the house, which is why it's a hodge podge mess of candy.

The next night we went to our church Christmas party. It was snowing! Pushing the stroller through the snow was lots of fun. We need snow chains or snow tires...

When we got there, Oliver was happy to have lots of punch. He'd chug a whole cup and beg for more, again and again.

Normally Elora refuses to eat at a party because there is too much fun to be had. Fortunately, there were 3 huge trays of drumsticks, which is every kid's best friend. She walked around most of the time, chowing down on chicken legs. She ate about 4 or 5, which is pretty impressive because it's the first time she'd ever eaten or seen one.

Ollie with his little friend Charlotte. When he saw her, he ran up next to her and started talking to her. They had a lot of fun with the big snowman puppets.

The announced a special guest was coming, and Elora turned and said, "I really really want to meet the special guest, it's Santa!" When it was her turn, she ran up to the stage and after Santa asked her a few times what she wanted for Christmas, she replied, "I want a toy." Generic... an easy wish to fulfill. She's been telling us ever since that she asked Santa for "a toy."

We thought Ollie might be scared at first, but he kept trying to run up on stage. When it was his turn he went running and shrieking with joy from the other end of the room all the way up to the stage. The rest of the party had music, singing, and a strings concert. The kids really love music, so they were happy all night long.

Finally, it was time to go back home. Ollie and Elora held hands the whole way to the street car.

It was a COLD night. Karen was cleaning the snow of Ollie's shoes here and he thought it was pretty funny. Chris was throwing snowballs at Karen's back, and he also thought it was pretty funny.

After Ollie's shoes were cleaned up, he made sure his coat was nice and shiny by licking up the snow from his sleeve (he loves cats).

Last Call! Christmas Market Tour (Salzburg, Munich, Nürnberg)

We got a great last minute deal on a rental car, so we decided to take a quick tour to the "real" Christkindlesmarkt in the Bavarian region of Germany. Salzburg, in Austria, is practically part of Bavaria, and on the way, so we stopped there along the way too.

Here's Oliver playing with the giant chessboard in the shadow of Festung Salzburg (the Fortress which has stood above the city in one way or another for 1000 years).

The main market near the Kirche. There was one market stall, which we really liked, but even better there is a nice metal-work store down a small side street where we stocked up on hand painted pewter ornaments.

Elora and Ollie are so cute. They love looking at all the decorations.

After all the running around in Salzburg (plus the 2.5 hour drive just getting there) the kids were zonked out. And we'd only just begun!

The kids napped for an hour in the car on the way to Munich. By the time we arrived, it was already dark, which meant the crowds would be out in force, getting boozed up on their rum-laced punch or hot spiced red wine.

The Munich market is one of our favorites. Better than any market in Vienna. Possibly the best we've been to.

The Rathaus is the main area where the market stalls are, but all the side streets leading up to the Rathaus are packed with booths.

Wood decorations, hand carved, painted, metal, plastic, glass, gold, you name it, they've got it. Plus at all the various stalls you're sure to find toys, pastries, candied roasted nuts, chocolates, bratwursts, and Gluhwein (hot, spiced red wine).

More ornaments! We spent too much money. Really... but we have enough Christmas ornaments to last a lifetime (And since most are made of pewter they will!).

Oliver found a mud puddle that was just perfect for jumping in. He had sat in the car so long, we felt obliged to let him jump away. Funny how sometimes when a kid jumps in a puddle you get mad, and other times you look on and smile. And people say kids are manic.... Everyone that passed by thought it was cute and some even joined us in taking pictures.

After all that puddle jumping we were hungry. We saw a nice looking restaurant next to the square advertising high quality, low priced Bavarian food. Each plate was about 8 euros and it was great. Elora especially enjoyed the Eisschokolade (hot chocolate with a couple scoops of chocolate ice cream and whipped cream--it's amazing, try it.)

After dinner we drove to a little bed and breakfast an hour outside of Munich in the countryside and spent the night. Sleeping with both kids in a single room wasn't nearly as bad as we had thought. Fortunately they were both tired. The next morning we were off to Nürnberg, the mecca of all Christmas markets.

The Nürnberg market has a kids market, with rides and little kids' stalls. Oliver loved this train that was on display. There were several trains zooming back and forth. Everytime one would go around the corner or into a tunnel he'd cry, "No go, No go!" in the saddest, most pitiful little voice. Imagine a kid pleading with his mother not to leave him in an orphanage... that's the saddness in Oliver's voice about a train rounding the corner... a bit dramatic?

It might be hard to tell from this expression, but they both really do love trains. Even though it was a bit rainy, it wasn't actually that cold. Which is too bad, because if it was cold the rain would have been snow!

Next, was the carousel. Our kids are the oddballs. Some kids ride lions, or a horse. Elora rides a rooster, while Ollie sits in the back of an Elephant.

Anyone care to interpret this strange, but eye catching and intriguing statue? The inscription in german says something about destroying life and the dead smiling... Nürnberg was one of those cities reduced to rubble during WW2, so maybe it stems from that.

Ahh.... Karen. The mighty mouse who swore she'd never eat a Bratwurst. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Here she is scarfing down, not one, not two, but THREE consecutive Nürnberger Bratwursts in a single french roll. This says nothing about Karen's aversion to Bratwursts, but tells you how tasty the Nürnbergers really are. The best ever. (Just ask Chris' Mom who bought him so many Nürnbergers last time he was at a market there years ago that he threw up from overeating -- most visitors to Germany throw up from over drinking, Chris is a bit different)

Check out the fancy Lebkuchen -- ginger bread.

More market stalls! We bought a kinderpunsch at one of the stands, but when we tried it, it didn't taste like alcohol free kinderpunsch... I asked the guy if it was a kinderpunsch, and he said, "nein, (then caught himself mid-sentence and said) jo jo!" (which means yes). All we know is it burned your throat, not just from the heat, tasted kind of nasty, and after two sips, and watching Oliver make an amusing face when he tried it, we dumped out our five dollars worth of kinder(adult)punsch...

Ollie was excited by this life-size spinning Weihnachts Pyramid. It has a huge wooden carved sheep that he was enthralled by.

Elora was getting silly when we asked her to smile. She's a goober. Whenever we call her a goober she says, "I'm not a goober. I'm a child of God and my name is Elora."

We took a short break to listen to an organ concert inside the church.

The Nürnberg churches still have not been fully restored fromt the WW2 destruction. We think it's just a plot to keep the donations coming (really, every other cathedral in every other German/Austrian city looks spiffy). At last our Christmas market tour had come to an end.

On the way home we stopped at McDonalds. We wouldn't normally...but you know...ah what the heck, we're not making excuses. We stopped there ok! Stop pestering us about it! It's in Austria you know, where they use Austrian ingredients, which has the highest percentage of organically grown beef and vegetables in all of Europe. So it's like we're eating at Trader Joes. And look how happy this cow is. Who doesn't want to eat this cow, with his cute little hat. (ps, it tastes the same as in the US, possibly worse)

When we got home Elora was really excited to examine our loot. Well, I think we were the ones that got looted...

Putting the ornaments on the tree. Each branch now has an average of 2.325 ornaments...

Once again, after a long drive the kids were excited to play together. It's cute because they've finally started to really like each other on a regular basis. This concludes our Christmas market posting... stay tuned for Christmas morning, followed by more skiing in a week or so (Chris says "Yay!" Karen shakes her head).