Thursday, July 31, 2008

Young's Jersey Dairy

Young's Jersey Dairy on the outskirts of Yellow Springs, Ohio is a wonderful place for everyday people to enjoy farm life. They have a small petting zoo that allows children (and adults) to get up close to goats, cows, pigs, and sheep. They are also renowned for their homemade ice cream. Combining animals and ice cream always makes for a wonderful time.

We met up with my aunt and uncle as well as several cousins and their children for a night at the dairy farm. It was so nice to see everyone and see how much all of the children have grown, but of course the time always passes too quickly. I loved taking pictures of the little ones and having willing models like the little guy (Tony) that said, 'I did a different pose this time. Did you see how I tilted my head a little bit in that one?... Did you get me feeding the goat?'

I also could not get enough of the animals. I always love brown cows and the calves were just precious. I had a bit of difficulty photographing them, because while I was just as entranced as the younger visitors, a goat was trying eat my camera strap.

We also were fortunate enough to see one of Yellow Springs beautiful sunsets over the corn fields. It was just spectacular, as you can see for yourself. I didn't even enhance the photo.

Even the city girl in me thinks how fun it would be to live on a farm with a lot of land and some sweet animals. What a wonderful summer evening.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Emilys go shopping

When I'm home I really notice the contrast and how much America is a consumer culture. The shopping areas are landscaped, organized, and inviting. A newer concept here is a type of shopping village. These areas try really hard to make a community feeling, taking cues from older architecture and creating plazas to relax or watch children splash about in the square's fountain.

My sister and I visited the Easton Town Center and although I have been there many times, I had to laugh because while most of the mall carries this outdoor village atmosphere, there is one large indoor mall that they have tried to make into something like a train station. The train station ambiance is tailored to American desires and houses a movie theatre and more stores. I experienced a bit of reverse culture shock as I took it all in.

I found a few interesting things on our day of shopping... books, Moroccan lanterns, and clothes. The variety in the US always astounds me.

Yesterday we met up with two of my old roommates (Emily + Emily... yes, three Emilys lived together!) to take part in one of America's favorite hobbies - shopping. The US seems to take things to a new level of socializing by bonding over spending money. These aesthetically pleasing villages definitely don't hurt in luring money out of patrons.

One of the Emilys also brought her daughter, Claire, for a visit. It would have been nice for Stefan to see everyone again. He always asks if Claire is in college yet. She's definitely growing quickly and starting to talk. We had a great time, and it made me appreciate having the ability to hang out with the girls. Now I'll have a lot of great things to take back to Germany... and maybe even a few surprises for Stefan.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Versailles + Russia

Only in Ohio would there be neighboring cities called Versailles, pronounced 'Versails' and Russia, pronounced 'Rooshie'. There is something distinctly American about these small cities that are surrounded by corn fields with old fashioned values and large families. I often feel as though I am on a movie set as soon as I enter one of these farming communities, and since I occasionally wish that my life was a musical, I patiently wait for people to break out in song and dance on these beautiful streets.

My friend Mark was getting married I was impressed that he invited me and Stefan, considering it's easy for people to assume we won't be able to make it, or that we have enough going on that being invited wouldn't mean that much to us. I was so happy to surprise Mark and see him moments before he walked down the aisle on his big day. He was definitely not expecting me to be there.

His wedding was a community style, which I appreciated - RSVPs weren't necessary (which helped me surprise him, although it seems every guest was then a surprise) and dinner reminded me of Thanksgiving. Russia has simple ways that are always centered around family, friends, and fun.

I'm always a bit envious that communities like this - the people all know each other and it reminds me of enjoying what life is really about - enjoying the day. I admire Mark's new wife, Savannah, for not getting caught up in the mundane wedding details that always cost more than the memories they give and for dancing her night away. It was so nice to be a part of their celebration.

Everyone had a great time. One of the highlights that made the wedding special to me was that they had square dancing. I'm not talking about the entire reception long, but several songs to tie in some of their local country flair. While many guests participated, I have to stay Mark and his siblings really showed everyone up. I forgot how entertaining square dancing can be. The last time I did anything like square dancing I was in fourth grade at school with my Dad and I was mortified. Mark and Savannah made it unique and sweet while doing a rendition of 'The Farmer's Daughter'.

It was so nice to see many of my friends from college and to strangely be brought back to all of the memories that we share. I fondly remember going to camp outs, corn mazes, and parties with Mark in Russia. It all made me wonder where the time has gone. I've missed his witty sense of humor. An example of that would be that Savannah is studying veterinary medicine, and during the garter toss being the comedian that he is, Mark suited up with cow birthing gloves.

Being at the wedding made me homesick to some extent. It's nice to feel included in things and to spend time with great friends celebrating together. Savannah is a lucky lady - she's not only married to a fantastic guy, but she will now be a part of a cute little community of the kindest people that always makes me smile.

Friday, July 25, 2008

My mother's garden

I would have loved to have inherited my Mom's green thumb. It probably doesn't hurt that my parents have a sprawling backyard with a lot of sunlight, but everyone seems to be able to grow beautiful plants - except me. It feels like home to sit outside with the morning dew and through the day to hear the delightful chirp of cicadas.

Every year my Mom grows enormous bushels of basil and makes delicious pestos from scratch. It has made me a pesto snob and I can't eat any that isn't fresh. Unfortunately I can't seem to grow my own basil.

Not only does she have various herbs and vegetables, but also some very beautiful flowers.

My grandmothers have always had a large variety of plants too. One owned a greenhouse, complete with a 100 year old ivy plant that was later stolen. The other grandmother had papyrus, which fascinated me as I learned Egyptians made paper out of it, and an enormous aloe plant that I learned is fantastic for kitchen burns. Surprisingly my mother in law had never heard that.

One of my favorites that my Mom has would be the 4 o'clocks from my great-great-grandmother. It has been passed through the family and spread through it's off shoots. It's a strange heirloom, but it's a neat thought that my grandmother's grandmother was tending to this same plant more than half a century ago. I can only hope over time to inherit the green thumb the ladies in my family have. Until then I will be happy to sit in the backyard and appreciate nature. It's one of the simple things I enjoy about being home.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Birthday gift

I decided a while back to make my Dad a book (probably not a big surprise considering I really love books). I used blurb, which now was new cover wrapped books that are just beautiful and very professional.

The book was based around photos from his visit in March and things that I've learned from him - complete with my own handwriting to personalize it a bit more. If I might say so myself, it's quite sweet. I'm looking forward to giving it to him tonight.

Also, Mieka won't be forgotten - she will get some vanilla ice cream and the remnants of a pretzel I brought from Munich especially for her.

Happy Birthday Mieka!

Lost in the excitement is that Mieka, the family dog, also celebrates her birthday today.

Despite being 4, she is still very much in her terrible toddler years. I think I will miss the day when she stops stealing random things to be chased and her playful nature. Thankfully, I can rest assured that she won't lose her obsessive compulsive tendencies of barking at things that are out of place, her radiating beauty, or her mischievous streak of waking people up early in the morning for some company.

Happy Birthday Dad!

I took this photo in Amsterdam and saved it for this special day... and wouldn't you know it, Stefan even made a guest appearance biking through. If only he could be with us to share this big celebration!

We miss you Stefan! (don't worry... I'll eat enough cake for the both of us.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

bittersweet surprises

I always love being with family on both sides of the ocean, but sometimes it's really difficult to feel that I am leaving one home behind, not to mention the people. The only redeeming part is leaving the hugs and tears and entering the arms of loved ones. It also shows me what it really means to miss someone, which only makes me appreciate them more. Never in my life did I expect to put my emotions through this roller coaster, but I can't really complain when I know that I am so fortunate to be traveling out of love.

With that being said, Stefan and I planned a little surprise... I booked a flight home on Friday and came to surprise my Dad for his birthday. After starting an early morning today (4am!) Stefan drove me to the airport and reassured me that missing each other wouldn't be nearly as difficult as it was when we had to spend months apart. It never gets easier, but it is nice to have a definitive date to be back together. I boarded my flight with stops in Amsterdam and Detroit before finally arriving in Cincinnati. (The photo is of the Allianz arena while we were driving past early this morning in Munich).

One of my favorite aspects of traveling (besides making people happy by gracing them with my arrival) is the whole airport culture: watching people, observing different cultures, hearing different languages, and finding small things to appreciate while the world rushes by.

I was so happy to stop over at the Detroit Metro Airport's McNamara Terminal. There is a walk way with changing lights, calming music, and it's simple soothing, relaxing, and invigorating all at the same time. I typically stroll along and then walk back and admire the lights once more. I wouldn't recommend this tunnel to people that are epileptic - it may be a bit much, but I love flying through Detroit - it's modern, efficient, and going through customs is no nonsense. The light tunnel never hurts to kill time either.

So on to the surprise... my sister and Mom greeted me at the airport and drove me home. My Dad was already home, but I could tell it took a few minutes for it to register that I was really there... and then came an enormous smile and hug. He said my uncle was just asking him the other day if he thought I would make it home for his birthday to which he responded he 'didn't expect me to make it home for a long time.' It is really nice to be able to surprise people and do something fun.

It's also very nice to see my dog again, and to try on the loads of clothing I've ordered over the last few months. Now I have things that I like and don't have to spend my time shopping - (OK, as much time as I would have).

I may even have another fun surprise or two coming this week! I'm already excited to share those.

As a side note, I am not sure how many photos I'll be posting during my visit, because I left my Mac in Munich. 'Weißey', as Stefan calls it, will be entertaining him with slingbox and my video chats while I'm away.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Today was a perfect day for another chapter of the Munich 850th birthday celebration. The ring surrounding the downtown area was blocked off and filled with people and stalls with various activities.

My favorite things through the day were geared towards children. One activity allowed them to run a makeshift grocery, and at another they could ride a mechanical soccer ball (similar to a mechanical bull). We also saw some mini bongo drummers, probably in training for the Englischer Garten drum circle.

For lunch we went to dean & david. I still can't get enough of their beautiful courtyard, but the food was delicious as well. 

Another thing I loved was that there were men making a graffiti style billboard for a car I've never heard of - Abarth. Directly across the street at Lutter & Wegner (which has the best hot chocolate), they had one of these tiny Abarth cars on display. I know I wasn't the only one whose attention they captured. 

Not only was the fest going on today, it was also 'Free Hug Day' at Marienplatz, and at the wee hours of tomorrow morning the Kocherlball will begin. The Kocherlball is a traditional party for the servants of the city's wealthy. It was held in the early hours of a Sunday morning when they were able to celebrate. Slowly it has transitioned to an early morning party (or way to keep the previous evening going) where nearly everyone in attendance is wearing their tracht (traditional Bavarian clothing). There is a lot of dancing, music, and the biergarten opens at 6am!

We attended last year and rode our bikes to the Chinese Tower around 5am, which was still too late to get a table. It's a bit of a see and be seen event, and people go all out with elaborate costumes. It's quite a sight. 

Lastly, here's a picture from above Karlsplatz. If there is one thing Munich is great at, it's creating a sense of community and promoting the city 'gemütlichkeit' (a sense of sociable comfort and cosiness). The 850th celebration is just another excuse, but we are always happy to join the fun.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Gifts for Moritz

Our friend Sven and his wife just had a baby. We've been debating what to get him and today I found the answer... an adorable pair of tiny lederhosen, some Bayern München gear, and one of my favorite rattles from Haba.

Before we learned that Sven was having a son, Stefan was constantly badgering him and telling him if he had a boy he should name him Stefan... and a girl, Stefanie, of course.

It looks like Sven had a little Moritz instead. We're looking forward to meeting him and I know he's going to look adorable in his Bavarian wear.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Blueberry muffins

With mass amounts of blueberries comes a variety of blueberry baked goods. Tonight I made some muffins from scratch. I even went all out and made a streusel topping.

Living away from home has definitely taught me how to cook. It's one of the humbling things about living here... I make many mistakes but I can't forget that I am learning everyday.

It's too bad Stefan has to go back to work, but at least I can send him off with a great breakfast.


We just got back from a fun filled afternoon of picking blueberries. I have a slight obsession with them. They were even between the layers of my wedding cake.

I had never picked blueberries and I will probably want to go back every weekend that they are in season. I loved it.

Blueberry picking is quite easy to do. They aren't as messy as picking strawberries and it's amazing how plentiful they were. Not only was it mess free and simple, they are beyond delicious and filled with healthy antioxidants.

I have never had blueberries that are so fresh.

After filling up the largest bowls that we had, we were surprised to find we had just accumulated 4 kilos (8.8 Lbs.) of blueberries for about 30€. In traditional style we even found one shaped like a heart... or at least as much as a blueberry could be.

I realize this may sound crazy to many people, but it was a fantastic way to enjoy the afternoon, and I have no doubts that we'll find a variety of ways to enjoy them over the coming days... that is if they last that long.


Tea Towel News

I posted about the beautiful tea towels in Cincinnati last week and I am happy to report Visualingual posted to let me know they had instillation photos on their website! They certainly did not disappoint.

It made me wish I was there even more, but it's a decent consolation, for people like myself, that live too far for a weekend trip.

They also said: "The gallery is not selling the tea towels online [almost all sold immediately anyway] but, if you find any that you like in the photos, the exhibit site provides URLs, and many of the designers are on Etsy or have their own online shops."

Now is the struggle of how many tea towels from the exhibit I have to have. Good thing I have such a cute teapot and sugar spoon to match the beautiful towels.

Thanks so much Visualingual!

Just a reminder - the exhibit is open until July 25th.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Renovation vacation - details

Over the past 4 days we have made too many trips to IKEA (although I secretly love going because I can feed my Swedish fish addiction), spent approximately 94 hours together, and overhauled most of our apartment.

The idealist in me thought we would get most everything done in just a couple of days and still have plenty of time to burn discovering hidden parts of the city or venturing away on a day trip... I couldn't have been more wrong.

I think I may have under estimated how much work and time it was going to take to re-do our little place. There are still a few things that we need to take care of, but we have definitely been making progress.

I will also say redecorating with your loved one may be added to the list of things you should do with a potential spouse, right between 'see them at their worst (sick and or drunk apply)' and 'watching how they handle tangled christmas lights'. Luckily we both survived.

The monotonous moving of things and helping with with manual labor sometimes makes me daze off. When Stefan was trying to do something precise that I was supposed to help with I started to zone out. I could sense his irritation. When I told him I was thinking about other things he asked, 'Like what? - Cake?' These are the moments I wish he didn't know me so well. These are also the moments that I wish he realized I was not a mind reader and holding something 'just so' isn't one of my better abilities.

Despite the occasional irritations Stefan and I really have come together and actually enjoyed updating our place. One of the best things about reorganizing was finding our little heart cardboard scrap from when we moved. We tucked it behind my defunct closet and Stefan wrote 'Emily + Stefan 4 Ever' with the date. Yes, we could be in the 4th grade. It will have to find a new place so we can discover it once again and get a much needed smile and reminder during a move.

Along with the reorganizing joy comes the need to do more. We're already considering what other projects we can begin. Refurbishing our kitchen is topping my list and getting a new car is topping Stefan's. I have trouble getting excited over things like 'climate control', which in my American eyes should come as a standard feature, but that's another topic in itself.

Since we are seriously tired from all of the racing around, I thought I would post a few photos of the details. I realize some of them you may have seen elsewhere in this blog, but they are the few things that have found their new homes and I don't really want to post the photos of when things were seriously disheveled. In the coming days as things settle down I will try to post more photos.

I'm sure you can hardly stand the anticipation - just try to contain the excitement as much as we are.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Turning a new leaf

We have really decided to tackle our apartment and make it more personal. Tomorrow we'll begin to replace a lot of, as Stefan says, 'ramshackle furniture'. This is a day that I feared and also get excited for. I am already looking forward to not feeling as if a bomb went off here as we reorganize. As soon as our furniture is delivered tomorrow I know it will feel like a new chapter.

When I first moved to Germany I was hesitant of spending money on things that made the move feel permanent. I worried if purchasing a flat screen TV was too much of an investment. Despite my hesitations, I believe that was one of our first purchases - followed by a washing machine and dishwasher. Now I can't imagine life without them.

This included little things as well and went as far as struggling to buy new matching dishes, but slowly I came around and these things started to feel like necessities in creating a life.

I was afraid that being an international couple would mean moves to who knows where, and more material things that I didn't want to be attached to. I worried about not being able to use our electronics in a another country and about my dishes breaking during a move.

My parents can undoubtedly attest to this since they have a decent amount of my breakables in my childhood room and basement. While I still yearn for the day that I am able to have my dishes and breakables in one place, I have crossed that hurtle of wanting to enjoy the place that I am living. I've slowly come around to 'live in the now' and not dwell on what-if scenarios.

On a recent tour I gave I met a wonderful American woman who had also been through tumultuous moves. She really reminded me of what a special time in my life this is. We are free to travel and concentrate on being a couple. We have truly taken that to heart.

I believe this is the first time Stefan has had days off of work that we have not gone on a trip. Between the redecorating and hitting up several of our 'staycation' destinations, or going on a day trip, I'm already looking forward to having a more sophisticated place.

Since we have other obligations and won't be able to travel much during his vacation days, it gives me a small taste of what life will be like once we have different priorities. It only reaffirms my feelings that much more and we'll be enjoying these days while we have them.

Sayonara ramshackle furniture!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Something that always reminds me of home and summer are raspberries.

My parents have a large backyard with a garden where we grew raspberries. I believe the plants came from my grandparents.

I remember going into the garden and eating them straight from the plant as a child. Our neighbor would collect them to make pie and I would always make my own 'jam' which was simply smashed up berries - no sugar, no preservatives, and no other additives.

Sadly the ones photographed above are from the grocery. I'm still hoping we have some time to pick berries this summer, before the season passes... maybe this weekend!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Cincinnati Friends

Sometimes I really miss Ohio... especially when I see new and exciting cutting edge things that take off a little bit of the working class right-wing persona that Cincinnati embodies.

I am really happy to see that it is growing into a more creative place. Two weeks ago it was listed on design*sponge and now this...

If I were home I would not miss the The Mad Tea {Towel} Party. It opens this Friday from 6-10pm at the Nicholas Gallery. The towels shown here are designed by Sigrid Calon a Dutch designer. I really wish I had seen them during our recent trip to Amsterdam.

The show includes 25 artists and designers from around the world and some very striking tea towels. I really wish they were available for purchase online.

Maybe... just maybe - someone can stop by and make me a little more envious. Please let me know if you do! The show runs through the 25th of July.

(image: nicholas gallery)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Copyright ©

Perhaps I should be flattered, however I am somewhat surprised to see my photos on another website with no credit given and no permission asked.

I realize I have been posting photos without watermarks or other distinguishing characteristics, however - I did this because I felt it makes photos less attractive and it would be a tad presumptuous to assume that others would want to use my work.

Evidently I was wrong.

I still retain a copyright to my images and the contents of this blog regardless of if it explicitly is watermarked or not (see copyright at the bottom of the page). Just because some photos aren't marked does not mean they can be taken and used however someone else sees fit - particularly without permission.

I am afraid that I will have to resort to marking each photo with the logo above or something similar so people don't assume my photos are fair game.

My belief is that someone really enjoyed my photos, which makes me happy - that is what I post them for. If you are interested in anything you see here please ask by commenting on any post before you put my things to use!

Thank You!

If you are interested in making sure your content is not being used elsewhere, I recommend signing up for google alerts and also checking copyscape

Saturday, July 5, 2008


Today we joined some friends for a nice hike and a day at a hidden treasure that is only one hour from Munich. The climb was a bit intense and it was kind of our friend Timm to over estimate our abilities, however it was much more strenuous than anyone anticipated.

Stefan and I climbed about 1/3 of the way and then decided we would rather spend our day enjoying the beautiful lake and noticing the little details along the way down as opposed to speeding to the summit.

I am so astounded by the beauty of nature and love to look a little bit closer and see the details that everyone misses along the journey. We noticed a snake, two salamanders, a rather large and nicely camouflaged frog, many beautiful wild flowers and a hard to miss, yet adorable, dog who was climbing up that mountain with some serious stamina.

The flowers I always seem to pay close attention to. I'm not sure what they were, but they were very beautiful. I love seeing nature at work and how it is so mysterious and complicated. The insects were at work and the animals were blending into the surroundings - it was just fascinating to observe.

The flowers were quite unusual and striking. Here are some of my favorites from the day.

Stefan and I made up stories along the way stating that there was a mammoth toothpick that had been carved out by woodpeckers and the spiders occupying a fence had their own apartments, which faced the river and since rent was so high for the view not all of the spaces were occupied.

We saw what eerily looked like the face of Frankenstein made from moss, stone, and other detritus.

After hiking back down the mountain side we walked past a family of cows and went to the lake and enjoyed the fantastic views.

There were plenty of wind surfers and a lot of activity at the lake. We could not get over how crystal clear the water was and the turquoise water reminded us of the Maldives.

The mountains surrounding the lake really added to the ambiance and of course having someone wonderful to share the day with never hurts either.

I've been thinking about getting a sailing license which would be a wonderful way to spend the weekends.

Why wouldn't I when we could enjoy views like this? Now I just hope it fits into our schedule!