Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mug Cake

I can't believe we've been here for almost 3 months now and haven't added any chocolate recipes to the blog!?!? This one is cheap, easy, fast and great to do with kids. Personally, I recommend a little ice cream on the side. Here's the first of more to come, ...Enjoy!

5 MINUTE CHOCOLATE MUG CAKE (yeah, a cake made in a mug)
4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
A small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug (MicroSafe)

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
Pour in the milk and oil and mix well..
Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again. Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts.
The cake will rise over to the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed!
Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate. Bon Appetite!

(this can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous).

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Day in Holland

We spent the day in the Netherlands.
Passing windmills and waterways along the route,
we started our day at the Keukenhof gardens.

We'd hoped to also visit the Delft factory, but
due to intense traffic and crowds, we ended up in Den Hague
for dinner. It turned out to be a great diversion from the
original itinerary for the day.

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Netherlands- this week, Germany last week,
who knows where these kids will find themselves!
For now, it's the Keukenhof gardens
...Fields of flowers as far as the eye could see.

The park was quite crowded.
There were a LOT of other folks
getting a glimpse of the gardens.

"Mr. James and Miss Alina" braved the trip with us.
Not only did they join us, but they put up with us!
Pitching in whenever they could, pushing the stroller,
leading sticky kids by hand, and in general, kindly helping out.
We're very lucky to have friends like this lovely couple.

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Kids at Keukenhof

Keukenhof- said to be the worlds largest
display of bulb flower gardens.
About an hour from Amsterdam, this park was
filled with ongoing landscapes, an oozing palette of bright colors.

The girls wanted to get dressed up for the occasion.
Since they weren't able to wear their Easter dresses for Easter Sunday,
they'd asked if they could wear them to Keukenhof gardens.
There's something fun about watching little girls dress up and flaunt around
in a pretty dress. They were truly a bit overdressed for the occasion,
but we didn't tell them, and I don't think they'd have cared!

Just before we left the park, Addie stopped to compare dresses with
a lady in her traditional Dutch attire.
Apparently Addie and Stella aren't the only ones dressing up today!
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Keukenhof Close Ups

The flowers were truly amazing.
The gardens were designed in a splendid array of colors
and endless assortment of flowers, making
even those of us who's thumbs are not green,
appreciate the landscape.
What I couldn't capture in the photographs was the smell.
The fragrance of the gardens was just incredible.
(Too bad the don't make a blog with scratch n'sniff.)

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Colors of Holland

just a few more,...

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Thank You!

To You Alina and James...

Thank You!
For a fun day from flowers to the Hague finish,
we're so happy you were there with us.
For all that you've done for us,
we are truly grateful!
We're so lucky to know you.
Thank You! Merci! Dank U!
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Friday, April 24, 2009

Les Poissons Sur Le Feu (The Fish on Fire)

So, we rushed home. I needed to prep dinner. Thursday's menu was salmon with a coconut basil sauce, steamed broccoli, bread, and strawberries with chocolate Easter bunny remnants for dessert. Voila! But how to figure out the oven,...Hmmmmm. It's European, that's for sure. The landlord is French, but direction came neither in Flemish or French to us regarding appliances in the home.
So as not to waste time, I prepped dinner and waited for Matt to get home from work. Upon his arrival, I explained that the oven is of course, not like an American oven and that I needed help figuring out what setting to use. There is a dial with very basic pictures and a second dial with temperature in degrees Celsius. No manual (let alone one in English). Nothing obvious. 4 buttons and 2 dials, all unclear to me. Matt tinkered with the settings a bit. He didn't seem to know what he was doing, but continued to lend his assistance."Matt, you can just tell me if you don't know what you're doing. I'll figure out something else for now."
He refused to admit that he didn't know what he was doing, the fish went into the oven and everyone moved on. Homework, lawn mowing, feeding the baby, chores, baths all proceeded.
Matt left to fill the car with gas. It was at this moment I decided to check the oven...

The oven door had locked shut and the entire kitchen felt as if we were back in the blazing sun in Tumon Bay. I realized then, he'd set the oven to the self cleaning mode. Les Poissons Sur Le Feu!

Thursday's menu, adapted- fish, slightly charred, with coconut basil sauce.
One less chore tonight, as the oven is also now clean. Voila!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wilhelma Zoo

They wanted to get out today. They wanted to go to the zoo.
So we ended up at Wilhelma Zoo near Stuttgart.
It's a lovely zoo. Next time I'll go back with a stroller and it might
seem all the lovelier.

The photo below was under strong consideration before publishing here.
But I feel it reveals the real kind of day I had with my one and only Stella.
Yep, she was 5 going on 15 today, which made for a slightly bumpy trip.
Publishing this photo might just prevent her from getting into college someday,
but sometimes revenge on kids can be sweet.
Let this not backfire eh?

To make matters worse, the sticky people are still really learning and relearning
a lot of animals that they haven't had a chance to see or discover since we were in Guam.
Of course the zoo's information plaques at each animal are in German.
I had to explain to Addie over and over that she was reading the German name,
that the animal was not different from what we know.
The conversation followed something like this.
"Look mom! a Bar!" (no Addie, I know it says that, but it translates to Bear. That's a bear. Plain and simple.)
"But mom! You're wrong. It says Reh! That's a Reh!" (No Addie, the German word for deer is Reh, it's a deer, I promise.)
"Hey look! A Schlange!" (Addie, that's called a schlange in German, but a snake in English- you're looking at a snake.)
"but it's a schlange kind of snake" (no, schlange means snake!)

I felt like I could schlange someone by the time we were all done!

What a great zoo!
I plan to keep this on the redo list for us next time we're in the area.
The gardens were beautiful and the zoo is truly in line with the best zoos in the states.
Admittedly, I'm glad we made the trip!
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Tubingen, Germany

We visited the sweet little town of Tubingen today as well.
It's a university town, located near to Stuttgart.
We didn't have a lot of time to spend, so of course, this means
only one thing!....
We must go back!

The town is built on a hillside above the Neckar River.
It's filled with charming half timbered houses and buildings.

I can't wait to go back- there were places that I'd have loved to photograph,
but with the 4 kiddos in tow and no help,
I felt lucky enough just to be there.
So here's hoping for at least a day there on the next visit!
I can't wait!
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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ritter Sport

So our kind friend, Lorri, met us to visit the Ritter Sport chocolate museum today.
It was a nice little trip with a very sweet ending.

Addie demonstrates here, how the cocoa beans are churned and
mixed to become the tasty little bars we all love.

We have to thank Lorri for her incredible graciousness
during our visit to Stuttgart.
She was a world of information and a ton of fun.
We can't wait to come back Lorri!
Thanks so much!
(and we hope to see you in Brussels soon!)
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Here they are under the cocoa tree.

Addie at the sniffer box-
Seriously, you can smell the sweet scent of their chocolate combinations
via these nifty boxes!

The trip should have been a bit educational, however
my kiddos have yet to settle down from the move
and clearly , all they cared about was getting chocolate at the end of the visit.
That being said, they did sit for awhile with Miss Lorri,
(and another little German cutie at the end of the bench)
for the video on how the cocoa bean was harvested.

Then, of course, they figured out this machine,
which, with the press of a button,
does a neat little demo on chocolate coming
straight from their factory. It delivers a little sample
right to you via a tiny truck that drives around a track.
(Emory's heaven right there in a plastic demo box.)
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So, he started solids.
This is a momentous occasion.

The beginning of messy dinners and mopping.
A matter of dropping spoons, cleaning up high chairs, wiping the face a hundred times, and tasting new stuff.
Mashing, dicing and pureeing just about every food possible.
Yet a fabulous road to Chocolate ice cream and Tiramisu!
Here's to you and you're new menu Arleigh!
Bon Appetite!
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Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Dinner

To our friends and family,
we miss you a ton today.
Happy Easter to you all.

Yep- it was probably a low point for us,
but at least we've got our (immediate) family!
Easter Dinner at a McDonald's on some roadside in Germany.

On our way for Matt to check in at EUCOM this week,
we spent the day in the car driving from Brussels to Germany.

We used our Tom Tom GPS system to direct us.
The GPS told us that it should take 4 hours and 54 minutes
to get to where we were headed.
We need to contact Tom Tom for them to make some adjustments
to their calculation,..
obviously, they didn't factor in 3 kids and a baby riding along.
So, despite Matt pegging the speedometer,
(and cars continuously passing us),
we arrived safe and sound in Stuttgart,....
7 1/2 hours later!
Happy Easter!
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