5th annual all-day Thanksgiving chronicle


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Sheep mug for the win.

This is one of my favorite days of the year. Not just because I run to my computer every time something happens and have a running chronicle, but partly.

There’s also a lot of food involved, the best company, and good conversation.

This year I got up earlier than last year, because the potatoes had to be in the crockpot by 8am. I had intentions to help with the peeling, but I pressed Snooze a few too many times and ended up getting there after it was done.

Whoops.

Thanks for taking care of that, dad.

I’m thankful for my parents today. Thankful that they are happy to have me home, that they’re about to welcome me back home when I graduate in just 22 days and giving me time to figure out what’s next. They’ve been so gracious about not pressuring me to apply for jobs or be on the ball about anything. They listen to the crises about not getting things done and bring perspective and remind me to take one thing at a time. It’s been a blessing my whole life, but particularly so this semester, as I prepare to finish out a key phase of life and wander into the unknown.

It’s 8:50am.

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We set the table last night. The dishes are my great-grandmother’s china, 96 years old.

There she is, my mom’s dad’s mom. (still following?)

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Pretty sure this is before she got the china. Anyway, she lives on at our table now.

I’m thankful for getting to dig into my family heritage more this year, on both sides. I’ve gotten to write about some of it. It’s been formative, thinking about where and who I’ve come from and where I’m going. Also, I’m learning how to write about my own life in a way that brings other people in.

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This photo was taken around 8:30am, right after my mother said, “don’t you dare take  my picture.”

:)

My dad issued a challenge for a nerf gun war to the people coming to lunch today. This includes: Alex (my brother-in-law), Brooke (my sister), Stella, Brian, Alexander, and Jordan (our family friends, Stella was our piano teacher and we babysat for Alexander and Jordan).

I’m thankful for my dad – that he’s like this, engaging people and being excited about connecting over nerf guns. One of my friends saw his post and snapchatted me to let me know he is now her favorite human because he does things like this on Thanksgiving. He was pleased to hear that.

The day promises to be a success, particularly so if I get out of my pajamas and maybe get a workout in of some kind. I fell off the workout train in the middle of this semester, and what better day to get back on?

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9:15am, but first, the only protein I will eat all day and a view of the potatoes in the crockpot, which are starting to spread their starchy aroma around the kitchen.

10:49am

Workouts are done. Mom eats peanut butter and celery. The self-discipline here is just overwhelming.

This is the part of the morning where everyone wants a snack but doesn’t want to ruin their appetite for the late lunch of the century.

Just to give you an idea of what this will be like, there are three households contributing food… for nine people. 7 adults, and 2 children. There will be three pies (banana cream, pumpkin, and pecan), one meringue cake, and marshmallow fluff (which is NOT considered a dessert by table standards, only by sugar content). There will be turkey, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, acorn squash and apples, Russian potato salad, a wild rice dish, quinoa salad with kale, cranberry sauce, challah bread, cornbread dressing, green beans, and the plethora of desserts already mentioned.

We will be full in twenty minutes. But it’s all about the experience (and the leftovers).

11:34am

Those potatoes smell so good. SO good. Like, would anyone notice if I dipped my fork into the crockpot a few times? Not that I would do that. It’s just a question.

12:18pm

My mom says these exact words, “I just can’t tell you how many times in the past week I’ve unwrapped a stick of butter… and another… and another.”

Good things are coming. When I came home, she’d already done a lot of the cooking and baking for today. There were 13 sticks of butter in the fridge. Today (two days later), there are 7 left.

This is telling.

1:32pm

Everything has gone in the oven or been heated. The place cards are ready, the green beans are steaming. Guests are coming soon.

4:05pm

Lunch has been consumed, leftovers have been divided up. Now Dad is organizing a nerf gun war. He’s making us all make targets and shoot them.

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7:12pm

It’s all over.

We ate a little of everything, talked, made targets for a nerf gun competition, and ate pie, and fought a nerf gun fight.

I’m thankful for this tradition and for a day to reflect on what I’m thankful for. Gratitude is for every day, but it’s good to have a day set aside for thankfulness.

And potatoes and pie.

And maybe nerf guns.

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Far too easily pleased


I have a horrible habit of going on a Cheetos binge about once a year. It only happens once a year because afterwards I feel guilt-stricken by the thick layer of cheese dust on my thumb and pointer finger from a solid thirty minutes of mindlessly putting fake food in my body.

Why is this even a temptation? It’s bad for me, it makes me feel gross, and it only tastes good for like the first 50 Cheetos.

I need to remember this weakness every time I get on my high horse about eating healthy and whole foods. Remember, you love Cheetos. Let she who is without junk food cravings cast the first stone.

In fact, I have even less room to talk because I used to prefer Velveeta and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter to cheese and butter. I know – you’re shocked. I, the girl who has made a cake that required 8 sticks of butter, used to not like butter and prefer its nearly-plastic counterpart, margarine. I shudder at that word now. Margarine. And Velveeta? I know these products exist as cheaper versions of the real thing. I know they exist to make you think you’re getting the real thing when you can’t afford the real thing, but, oh, it’s bad.

I used to dislike macaroni and cheese made with real cheese because it didn’t taste like Velveeta. And Velveeta tastes like lightly flavored glue. That’s how deluded I was. I also didn’t like potatoes in any form but French Fries at this juncture in my life, along with broccoli, beans, avocados, salsa, eggs, any salad dressing other than ranch, hummus, red pasta sauce, spinach, and just about any other good thing you can think of. I eat all those things now (still don’t eat meat though. That likely won’t ever change). I wouldn’t eat the actual blueberries in blueberry muffins but would instead perform surgery on each muffin to take all blueberries out and commence to eat the muffin with just the “stain” of the blueberry left. (Quote: Ashley McDonald, 2000) With I Can’t Believe Its Not Butter, of course.

Satisfaction is an interesting thing. I was more than satisfied with this lifestyle. I ate what I liked and turned my nose up at some of the foods that form the staples of my diet now. Real cheese and butter – these are the good things. These are what my body knows how to process – since it hasn’t already been processed for me. Potatoes?!? How could I not like potatoes? I was satisfied with boxed macaroni, frozen pizza, and peanut butter and jelly.

Satisfy, according to Merriam-Webster’s is to be provided for, to be gratified to the full, to be convinced.

It doesn’t mean to be right.

C.S. Lewis, in The Weight of Glory comes to mind:

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Like an ignorant child who wants to go on eating gluey cheese and ignoring real food. I am far too easily pleased.

Tonight, following my shameful Cheetos binge when I got home from the grocery store, I will eat a salad. And not even with ranch dressing. And I will remember that just because I am satisfied does not mean that I should be.

Ashley’s Fourth Annual Thanksgiving-a-palooza


Today I’m thinking about how people say they don’t like holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas because sure, they’re days of gratitude and good cheer but we should be living like that every day.

They’re right, of course. So astute to realize that we pick and choose when we want to be happy, gracious, grateful people.

So, that being said, we have work to do, don’t we? If our gardens have been growing weeds of discontent and bad will towards men, we have some new seeds to sow, some ground to be worked, some hoeing and weeding and planting and watering.

In my Thanksgiving-a-palooza, I’m going to try to do some weeding and planting, to weave gratitude into my day.

Yesterday, when our Thanksgiving preparation really began in earnest, baking pies and making cherry-cranberry sauce and making glorified rice (aka marshmallow fluff, as Stella & Brian’s boys call it), and washing lots of dishes. By the time I got home form my haircut, my mom had done most of that. So I used my dish washing skills acquired from four semesters without a dishwasher to help.

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I helped with the pies a little bit and made the butternut squash soup for last night’s dinner. But basically, my mom, the powerhouse of a chef, made everything. I can take very little credit.

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I’m thankful for my mom, who taught me how to cook and encouraged me to try new foods, when my diet used to consist of even less than it does now.

And now, for the actual day:

8:00am isn’t really sleeping in, but of course, my parents were up and dressed and planning their workout by the time I got to the kitchen at 8:10. My college culture would be impressed that I got up at 8 on a holiday, totally voluntarily. I set an alarm. But my parents are middle-aged, so it’s actually kind of like sleeping in.

Someday, this will be my life.

9:36am found me as the only one not at the gym, drinking coffee and typing my first draft of this post, which Google Chrome promptly deleted when it crashed.

Whatever. This one will be better.

I brushed my teeth then roused myself from my position drinking coffee at the kitchen table to brush my teeth (pictured below to prove that I did it), then to kickbox so I don’t feel like the lazy bum of the family.

SAVE

And now that I have dressed myself, I’ve been drinking water to stave off hunger and getting ready to go to the Sick’s house.

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I’m thankful for this tradition and looking forward to catching up with their family.

12:35pm

Update: It’s cold here, in case you didn’t know. It was -3° when I woke up. It’s deceptive because it’s so bright and happy looking out there.

LOOKS SO SERENE

 

6:58pm

It’s all over.

We’ve eaten, we’ve drunk, we’ve eaten dessert, we’ve sat and talked and looked at photo albums and talked some more and divided up all the leftovers. Then we talked some more, and Dad fell asleep, so we took that as a sign that we needed to go home.

FRIENDS

There’s a candid for you. This was post-eating, nearly.

2Sometimes pie isn’t enough, so you and your brother decide that you’re going to put jelly beans on the floor and do push-ups to get them into your mouths. Exertion and reward.

Also, when young boys bring nerf guns out, old men become young boys again. Remember, this man has two daughters, precious little of this kind of thing in his life.

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IMG_2509Yes, it was a lovely day.

Then we got our tree down from the attic and tried to put the box back in, which resulted in my dad almost getting his head stuck with the box. But it’s all good, because he still has his head, and we got our tree up.

I’m thankful for good conversation today, for people who are striving to live meaningful lives and are likewise impacting mine by their example, for sweet little boys who aren’t really so little any more but play minecraft and laugh contagiously when they are trying not to get shot with a nerf gun. I’m thankful for good food and leftovers and a full fridge.

This will sound callous compared to being thankful for people, but I’m really thankful for cheese. Thanksgiving is one meal of the year that doesn’t really include cheese, and though I get full and happy, I always end up needing cheese later. I’m thankful that I’m not vegan.

Gratitude is always most truly due to the God who saves, which is an active verb in the present tense. I’m thankful for the Gospel, for true relationship with Jesus, and for God’s presence throughout the whole of my journey.

I’m also thankful for my readers, for the people who take time to think with me and laugh with me. I’m thankful that people find at least a portion of what I write interesting and relevant. I’m thankful for the gift of words!

With that, I begin another year of cultivating gratitude. May our gardens be sown with contentment, joy, and cups that flow over no matter how much we have.

 

 

Things I love about Austria


I have 65 days left in Austria. That’s two months, so I figure I need to be all here. I know I’ll look back in two months (as I have at the past 2 and a half months) and say, “WHERE DID IT GO?”

I asked God what He wanted me to do with my time left here. I mean, I’ve seen most of the sights in Graz, excepting a few museums that I’d like to get to. I’ve eaten tons of new things, even expanding my diet a bit. I’ve met lots of new people, and I’ve started my tan early. I’ve travelled, I’ve gone to class, I’ve gotten halfway through Moby Dick. Now what? What do you do with your last two months?

I’m hesitant to quote God, but I think this is what I heard him say, somewhere deep in my stomach (the way to a person’s heart….)

What do you want to do?

Good point, God.

What are those things that I pictured myself doing before I left that I haven’t done yet? What desires are in my heart to pursue before I leave this period of adventure and freedom in my life? I’m going to start doing those things. And to kick off my newfound adventuresome spirit, here is the long-awaited list of things I love about Austria.

  1. Semmel. Some of the most simply tasty breakfast rolls you can imagine.
  2. Cobblestone streets
  3. Beautiful architecture that has a story to tell
  4. CAFÉS. Oh I will miss all the cafés.
  5. Having the ability to walk anywhere, the plethora of sidewalks and pedestrian crossings
  6. It’s cheaper than many countries in Europe.
  7. Musical history everywhere!
  8. Close proximity to so many other countries
  9. Friendliness to Americans (for the most part…)
  10. the Alps… it’s enough to make me want to live in a small mountain village someday. They’re breathtaking
  11. Cheap train transport (Amtrak, get your act together!)
  12. Gelato and ice cream shops on every corner, or at least every corner where there isn’t a bakery
  13. Easy access to beautiful postcards
  14. The good quality food in stores, so many cheap organic options grown in Austria, few GMOs, less processed food
  15. How the egg yolks are orange… and one time I found a feather in my egg carton. That’s FRESH.
  16. Even though they love their wurst and schnitzel, they’re pretty vegetarian friendly. Not as much as France, but pretty good.
  17. It’s a pretty temperate climate this year, especially compared to my homeland.
  18. Kebap as the common fast food instead of McDonald’s
  19. Easy access to lots of types of food – not that Chicago doesn’t have the same thing, but Chicago doesn’t have the same charm
  20. CASTLES and PALACES. I am blown away by the number and amazing history.
  21. Photo ops. There are a million and a half equally gorgeous photo ops.
  22. You can use any ATM if you have an Austrian bank account without extra charges.
  23. Student discounts on tourist things are actually a good discount and make it possible for me to do things!
  24. No shortage of good chocolate or pastries.
  25. The coffee. Oh, Julius Meinl, I could marry you if you were an actual, living man.
  26. The little biscuits served with a cappuccino.
  27. The absence of Starbucks and other subpar chains
  28. Baking with metric measurements. I might be a convert.
  29. The produce here actually goes bad quickly, which indicates freshness and localness.
  30. Amazing dairy products.  Really.
  31. the honors system with public transportation. Seems pretty effective, and it speeds things up.
  32. Sometimes, I really love the formality of things. Sometimes not, but we’ll put it on the list anyways.
  33. The hills are alive.
  34. Dirndls. I think they’re the coolest thing ever.
  35. Street artists with harps and digderidoos.
  36. Did I mention cafés? That alone is enough to make me want to be an ex-pat. (But then, I love America)
  37. The charming accents when Austrians speak English
  38. Ivy everywhere
  39. Winter didn’t last long after I got here, which I can’t say for Minnesota
  40. The abundance of street food vendors

That’s just a short list. There are other things I love about my experience here, but I’ll cap the list at 40.

For my remaining two months here, I intend to spend lots of time walking around, visit the art museum, invest in the friendships I’ve already begun, take day trips to other parts of Austria, and drink lots and lots of coffee, all the while photographing the entire thing and buying souvenirs as I see them.

There, we have a plan.

A week in France.


Sometimes you’re spending a semester in Austria, and you remember that one of your favorite childhood playmates is living in France for a year. You think, wouldn’t it be nice to have somewhere to stay in France? I do want to travel… So, you send a Facebook message and look for a flight.

Then you think, Well, it has been a few years since I’ve seen her. She might not really want me to come. What if she didn’t really mean it? What if it’s weird and she doesn’t want to do stuff with me?

But she says, “come! it’d be fun! I can show you around!” so you book the flight. And you keep talking to her, and she really does mean it. She checks in on you every few weeks because she understands what it’s like to be alone abroad, sometimes just at the right time.

IMG_20140427_140949Turns out to be better than you ever expected. These are all the things you do:

– are met at the airport by an excited hostess and her French friend, who hosts you for a night in Paris

– quick tour of Paris in the morning, just hitting the highlights and taking pictures, buying a few lil souvenirs

– carpool to Rennes with interesting people

– sit in on an English private lesson with an adorable 15-year-old French girl and drink delicious tea while you’re at it

– she takes you grocery shopping and lets you pick out whatever you want (kind of like when you’re at Grandma’s house, but this is Europe, and you’re with a friend you’ve looked up to for ages)

– she gives you her bed while she sleeps on an air mattress that she pumps up with a hair dryer every night.

– you see Rennes, meet her co-workers, buy more souvenirs, tour the Parliament building, have a cheese party with the most lovely people

– she has a job to do on Friday, so she enlists a sweet friend to take you to Saint Malo, a beautiful town on the seaside. You walk and talk for hours and thoroughly enjoy every moment… and buy more souvenirs

– eat great new French food, talk about faith and studying abroad and what both of you have been doing over the past few years

– watch “Call the Midwife” together and talk about movies and literature

– be geeky together, since it’s rare that you can really be a geek with someone

– Visit the Rennes farmer’s market, buy the perfect elements of a picnic lunch: Comté, baguettes, avocados, tomatoes, special French pastries, strawberries, apples and eat it with friends

– meander around a beautiful garden that happens to have a waterfall

– get fancy hot chocolate and play cards at the cafe

– make more delicious food together

– visit the most beautiful abbey on an island, Mont Saint Michel (and you have The Beatles’ song “Michelle” stuck in your head for about half the trip), walk around, get nearly blown away by the strong bay winds, and come home feeling saltified and happy

– eat Ratatouille

– eat at least a little chocolate every day

– drink lots of coffee

It was a full week, but I never felt like we were running around, chasing down experiences. Instead, we just did what we felt like doing, which made for a lovely getaway. I’m treasuring these memories.

 

Addicts and daily bread.


I’ve been doing a lot of silent (happy) screaming today. Lots of hand twinkling, ecstatic smiling, eye widening, toe tapping, and seat dancing.

I applied for an internship this morning. You’d think we were made for each other. And we just might have been. If it get it, I’ll tell you about it.

Oh baby.

Excitement central over here.

Today was another French Toast morning. Also a ginormous mug of coffee morning, but when isn’t it a ginormous cup of coffee morning? As I contemplated my possible addictions to cream cheese and coffee (we all know that my addiction to coffee isn’t just possible though… it’s certain), I thought about God.

We talk about going to church in terms of being fed. And I’ve heard people say that we should be at a place in our lives where we crave God and want more and more of Him.

Something about the metaphor bothers me. Is God a hit? A dose of some substance that I need to stop the shakes and the demons in my head? Is he a temporary satisfier, something that tastes good, but I’ll need more of it later?

Somehow, that doesn’t fit to me. I think God would rather be my daily bread, something that I make time for on a regular basis and enjoy deeply. Something that I need to live, desperately but not like an addictive substance. I’m not addicted to God. I run on God. There’s a difference there. Addiction indicates unhealthy dependence, that it’s something that we have a love/hate relationship with. Daily bread is something we can’t live without and are still dependent on, but it’s something we eat as a means of living well. It’s empowering rather than creating an obsession.

I don’t think God wants us to be obsessed with him like a stalker or an addict. I think he wants us to respond to him as you would to someone who loves you deeply and is fulfilling your needs, not your cravings.

Perhaps in the end, it is God who changes our cravings so that instead of wanting single hits of his presence, a strong wave to last us til we’re ready for the next one, we want daily doses, a consistent presence in our lives that changes us continuously and keeps us healthily seeking Him.

 

There is absolutely nothing that I can’t relate to food.

Self-control abandons ship.


If I ever had the ability to say “no” to a cup of coffee, it’s gone now.

It’s so gone that even though my flatmate made coffee and left some for me (probably two little mug-fulls), I still made more after I drank that. Just because it’s Saturday and I have a lot of reading to do today. The coffee is always good here. Always. Julius Meinl, will you marry me? Oh wait, you’re dead. (If you want further proof that God is good, click that link to wikipedia, and you’ll notice that Julius Meinl coffee shops are in Austria… and there are three in the USA, all on the North Side of Chicago)

I’m slowly losing the ability to say no to cookies (keks) and waffeln now. In America, those little wafer cookies are not that tasty. They’re pretty good when you dip them in chocolate (what isn’t good with chocolate?), but otherwise, they aren’t that spectacular. Enter: Manner waffeln.

My team won the Ernest Hemingway trivia game yesterday in my first Hemingway seminar (which is the coolest class in the world, might I add, full of people who want to explore literature deeply), and this was our prize. We got a bag of the Schoko-Caramel Törtchen and a bag of little Spar brand Mounds. Since it was Friday and our class had already gone 15 minutes over, half of our team left without even looking at the prize twice (makes no sense. You have to stay late to win a game, which the prize is fabulous for, but then you don’t stay to get your share? people are crazy), so we divided up the candy by throwing it to people as they walked down the stairs. Then we started eating the Manner waffeln as we walked off campus.

Melt in your mouth is such an overused phrase, but my goodness. These really do. So much so that you seem to forget how many you’ve had. My fellow winners and I marveled at them as we walked, and after we’d eaten about four, one of them says to me, “Here, you take the bag home. You’ll enjoy them.”

I was floored. One, is it a compliment when someone can tell that you’ll enjoy having a bag of cookies all to yourself? Two, these were amazing, and his kindness to give them to me was unprecedented. Few people are so kind. I consider giving food the highest form of love and appreciation. The girl from Bosnia agreed, “yeah, just let me grab another, and you take them.”

I was touched. Perhaps a little too touched since not everyone considers food the highest expression of love, but I gratefully and with gushing took the bag home with me.

I have had to put it on a high shelf to keep myself from eating the whole thing before the weekend is out.

I will learn how to enjoy all the delightful cuisine of Austria (because I didn’t even mention all the bread and amazing dairy products and fruit and pizza) in a moderated way… perhaps but July 5th.

Ballet beginnings.


I started ballet today.

In my mind, this is how it was going to go:

Girl in pink leotard with matching pink tights throws a long, slouchy sweater over her outfit, slings her ballet shoes over her shoulder, and rides her bikes gracefully to a beautiful ballet studio where she points her toes and holds her hands just-so. Her perfect bun on the top of her head moveth not, and her face remains placid and serene.

Right.

So in actuality, I wore purple running shorts and a yellow t-shirt with a gigantic record that says “Jon Foreman” on it to my first ballet lesson. I got on the rusty-rusty bike and pedaled hard all the way there (getting past by other cyclists all the time). Since it was only 48 or so degrees out (but sunny), I got a lot of strange looks from my fellow cyclists… who were wearing down coats and hats.

It wasn’t a classy start, but who says you have to always look the part?

Next time, I’ll wear leggings.

Anyways, the lesson (despite being in German for the most part) was everything I dreamed it to be. My skills, grace, and flexibility are lacking and not very exciting, so we can just talk about how no one else is good at ballet in my class, either. Hooray for boating together.

We pointed our toes and our pointer fingers. We jetéd and pliéd and held onto the ballet bar. It was beautiful. And hard. And I have a feeling I’m going to be sore tomorrow. We also stretched… Ah. Splits. They do not happen naturally.

I treated myself to grocery shopping afterwards because it’s my guilty pleasure. Of course, I had to walk there through the cemetery, but oh well. What’s another 40 minutes of walking after 30 of biking and an hour and a half of ballet? Let’s just be active and then eat ALL the calories we can.

Then, when I got home, there was a package waiting for me at my friend’s apartment (sometimes my mail gets delivered there by a strange happenstance), and lo and behold, it was the birthday package from my parents, complete with LIQUID VANILLA (two bottles, which should last for a couple months), NORMAL CINNAMON, and GARLIC SALT (from Penzey’s).

Oh, be still, my heart.

I can hardly wait to wake up and make French toast with the vanilla and cinnamon. Oh, the joys of eating.

Monday news


Jet lag isn’t just about not being able to fall asleep when you’d like to or eating at normal mealtimes. It’s also about not being able to remember what you’ve been doing and getting confused about what’s going on.

I sat here thinking that I didn’t have anything to blog about, but then I remembered a few things.

This:

DSCN5321It’s the famous clock tower in Graz, up on the Schloßberg. If you type in “Graz, Austria” on google images, this is the 11th image that comes up. The sign next to it said that the earliest mention of the clock in historical records was back in 1265.

I can’t think of a single thing in America that is that old. Maybe rocks? Native American culture? Fossils? But not buildings! Some people get excited about boy bands and new technology. I get excited about food and old things.

There was also part of the original wall of the city of Graz, way up on top of the Schloßberg:

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Hello, old stuff. I’m almost 20. It’s nice to meet you.

In other news, I found out I’ve been making espresso like drip coffee, which hasn’t seemed to do me any harm yet. I still get sleepy at bedtime and don’t feel too wired during the day… even though when I met some fellow Americans for the first time since I’ve been here, I found myself talking embarrassingly fast and enthusiastically.

Never mind, just read a forum on what the difference between espresso and coffee is: it’s only different if you make it differently. I’m good!

In case you were curious about my computer’s continued health, I’m happy to report that she’s in perfect working condition. I’m still praising God every time I recall what could have happened.

Have you been wondering what a vegetarian eats in the land of schnitzel and würst and sausage? Well, she makes French toast for dinner sometimes (forgetting to use butter on the non-nonstick pan beforehand and therefore requiring some scrubbing afterwards) and eats pasta on occasion. She ate Chinese food tonight (some of the best she’s ever had, particularly since it was just rice, vegetables, and sauce) and finished it off with an unknown brand of pastry. You already know about the müesli and coffee, so the rest is TBD.

On another note, I’ve felt so supported while I’m here! Your comments, prayers, and ‘like’s are invaluable! Much love from Austria!

 

The third annual spectacular Thanksgiving post


[Yes, I know Thanksgiving was a few days ago, but this is when I had time to post. So you can just continue the celebration with me!]

I know you’ve waited for this all year long. You’ve been wondering what my family is going to cook this year and whether or not I’ll go rollerblading again.

Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 10.02.42 AM

Here’s the answer to the rollerblading question: no. I’m still in my pajamas and am sore from kickboxing and yogaing yesterday. In this picture, I’m sitting in my pajamas trying to figure out why Photo Booth won’t work.

Instead of working out, I’m getting a jumpstart on the Thanksgiving post.

It’s 10:54am, and I’m thankful that I get to be with my family this week. I’m thankful for how supportive they are, that they laugh at my jokes, that they listen to my stories, that they’re all so gung-ho about food, that we have great conversation together, and that they’re seeking God everyday.

It’s 12:24, and I’m thankful for butter, even when we spill it in its liquid form on the floor. I can’t say I like it on my feet as much as in my mouth, but I like butter. Our crew will be here in 36 minutes, and all we have left to do is steam the green beans. Hopefully we haven’t forgotten anything.

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circa 12:50pm, getting a few last minute things cooked.DSCN1740

got a small kitchen? use the living room.DSCN1743

Confetti is a must. Those are little turkeys. We found it all over when we started cleaning up later. DSCN1744

be thankful in technicolor. It’s better than black and white.
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Two best ingredients in the whole meal: garlic and butter. DSCN1752

MY favorite dish: starch, butter, and salt.DSCN1759

The pilgrims wait with a fire for the guests to arrive.DSCN1760

I drew a pretty picture.DSCN1762

gobble, gobble, thanks. I only had a brown and blue piece of chalk, so that’s the best I could do. Not bad, eh?DSCN1763

Green beans, steam away.DSCN1767

The plethora of dessert options.DSCN1771

Eating and conversing. Best pastime there is.DSCN1779The boys asked at least five times (while the rest of us were still eating our first helping of real food) when we could cut the dessert. Finally, at least an hour after their first asking, they got their wish!

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And they finished their first AND second plates of dessert before the rest of us even sat down with ours. They got a sugar high pretty quickly.DSCN1783MMM.

As much as I’m thankful for my extended family, I’m thankful that I get to spend Thanksgiving with some people who feel like family. For the past 8 years, we’ve spent Thanksgiving with this family (and this year, we got to meet one of my dad’s co-workers as well!). They do food and conversation better than most, and I’m thankful that they’ve been a part of our lives for so long (even longer than that!)

God knows what He’s doing when He brings people into our paths through piano lessons and babysitting opportunities that lead to lifelong friendships (well, it’s been around for most of my life).

And now we head into December, push right into the Christmas season. I’ll take my thankfulness with me, because it’s too nice to leave behind in November.