Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Day 19: It's September!

Street/railway work that's been going on near our apartment.
It's been fun watching them progress every day.
Hello, September! Wow, we've been gone for almost 20 days. Even though we have dealt with some "everyday obstacles", it still feels like vacation, although, in the back of my mind, I am very aware of the time. Chris is worried that time is going fast, and that we're almost out of time. I'm more worried that when we get home, our German is going to still be bad. Most everyone here speaks English, so our challenges, while we have them, are not as hard as they could be if no one spoke English. I do want to get lessons for the kids and myself, it would help our German along as well as give us some consistent activity. BUT, I'm super lazy, right now. That sounds like a lot of effort to go find a perfect program for us (the easy answer is following a poster that's everywhere, but it seems their program is 2-3 hours a day, every day, for two weeks, I think... um, that's too much consistent activity). We'll see.

Side note: I feel very conspicuous walking with Chris in the mornings. I am the ONLY person in exercise gear. Everyone else is on their way to work, or eating breakfast at a street side cafe. So everyone is dressed for the day and I'm in my running gear. I ran into (punny!) two other runners, one day, but it was far from where Chris works and in on a side "nature" (in quotes because it was just a side trail for a quarter of a mile) trail. Otherwise, I don't see anyone exercising outside. I think they must do it earlier in the day and maybe not in the center of all the businesses. In any case, I always feel underdressed in my running gear.

Back at home, the kids wanted my American Crepes again! Yum. Then, the kids occupied themselves while I did some work for Nagai Photography (my dad photographed a Bar Mitzvah and I am now editing the photos, our first time working like this - time difference, and solo on both ends).

Then to lunch at Na-an Sushi. We saw this restaurant a few nights ago when we were looking for the noodle restaurant (that we never could find). But this sushi place looked good and we were coming back to try it out. Nice that it's only a few blocks from our apartment (like many other restaurants).

Ugh, it's still hot and the bees are crazy. Xander sat on the end of the bench so he could make a run for it any time they came around (yes, it was a lot). Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of the beautiful plate they served us. But I did get a photo of the shoyu! Two bottles of shoyu, both the same company, but one was manufactured in Salem, OR and the other is a "Product of Japan"... we found it amusing to see which one was used more.

Well, the darn bees were so aggressive, the kids really wanted to leave. So, I gave them the key to the apartment and they headed home. I paid the bill and headed in the other direction in search of this 2€ store.

I walked for a few blocks here and there, but never found the store. However, I did find, a kitchen store and just decided I had to shop there. I spent over 60€, so definitely not a 2€ store, but now we have a measuring cup, some mixing bowls, a new trashcan (because I broke one), reusable straws (for the kids), and a few other items we needed.

I still couldn't find any measuring spoons. I'm still timid (embarrassed) in asking for help (FYI - this is true whether I speak the language or not :)

As I checked out, the clerk smiled and said something about the garbage can I was purchasing. I gave my line, "Entschuldigung, mein Deutsch ist sehr schlecht (excuse me, my German is very bad)." He responded with something about Austrian (maybe he was saying he spoke Austrian German, that's a thing!), so I looked and asked, "English?" He shook his head. Ah well, we tried. He rang me up and nicely showed me the total so I could pay.

Side note: Chris has mentioned that knowing our numbers is very important. He's right. Here's my biggest problem. If you are learning English, say, and someone says, "Your total is $79.83." That's a lot of numbers, but if you can hear the first thing "70", then you could hand over $80 and know you're going to cover it and whatever followed the "70" doesn't matter, you're good.

But in German, oy, they say their numbers differently. 79 is not seventy-nine. They say, "nine and seventy." So, if all I hear is the "9", I'm in trouble, it could be 29, 39, 49, 59, 69, etc. So, I try, but they talk so fast that I'm really best if I can see the total. I'm hoping to get better at hearing the numbers, it would help me greatly.

After returning back to the apartment, I took a long rest (that was a long-hot errand, I needed to cool down!)

The kids and I decided we'd try to recreate one of our favourite recipes from home (Chris won't be home until after dinner tonight). So, Venice agreed to accompany me to the market to buy the ingredients among other things (like nail polish) we've been wanting.

While, I'm getting better at knowing where some things are, others are still a hunt for us. I spent 10 minutes looking for cornstarch, baking powder, and baking soda. I found the baking powder and soda, but only in small, single-use packages (maybe a tablespoon per package). I want this for recipes where I need 1/4 cup or more. It just seems like crazy packaging to be able to use 1/4 of baking soda. I'll keep looking, but do they not use that here? How do they make cookies or keep their refrigerator smelling fresh? Who would have guessed I should have brought my box of Arm&Hammer?

As for the cornstarch, well, I found a translation (on my phone) and it called it corn flour. I thought this was weird, but when I found corn flour and felt the package, it felt "right" for cornstarch, so we bought it. Get it home, and duh, it's corn flour. So now I have no cornstarch and am now looking up corn muffin recipes (which, by the way, will use up one of my packets of baking powder, ugh). And, side note, the stroganoff turned out to be much soupier than at home, I really could have used the cornstarch then!

At the meat counter, I knew I wanted about 500kg of ground beef. BUT, I got flustered and couldn't remember four from five and then couldn't remember if it was kg or g. So after thinking really fast (but felt like it took forever for my brain to think of it) I blurted, "fünfhundert (5 hundred)" and then just skipped the grams/kilograms part. The butcher is smart, he knows what I need. Phew. They always trip me up asking another question, and when I look at them blankly, they switch to English, "Do you have a member card?" No, I wonder what that would get me and what's involved in getting a member card, but for now, I just want the meat.

Sour cream!!!!
Sour cream. Dang it. I knew where the crème fraîche was, remember, I asked and it was right in front of the lady restocking it? Well, I stood for another 5 minutes in front of that area and COULD NOT FIND IT! No where. I found other items (cheese curds are very popular here) but not the damn crème fraîche. Guess what? They moved it! Just to trick me and make me go crazy. It was in the open cooling-shelf versus the closed-doored refrigerator area. And while we were there, deciding which one to get... I found REAL SOUR CREAM!!!! Yay! So, I bought that instead. OMG, where will it be next time?

We were finally done and ready to head back home with our goods. Well, the rain came early AND the market "browsing" took longer than I planned, so we had to run home in the pouring rain (no light sprinkle!), unprepared, without jackets or umbrellas, with glass items in my backpack.

Both Venice and I were wearing skirts (it was hot today!) so, feeling a little silly running home in sandals and skirts. I guess, one time it's ok to be hot, so as not to be miserably wet and cold.

 We tried to hurry home, not just because of the rain, but because there was thunder and lightning. Xander does NOT like the crack or rolling of the thunder (and we're sure getting our fair share of it on our trips!)

Side note: Did I mention we've been using Skype to communicate with the kids while we are out and they are at home? Their iPods can use the wifi and they can send us messages via Skype. We can send messages back. So here's one I got, from Xander, while out at the market.

Dinner was nice and cozy with the rain in the background. Just like home. Rain. Stroganoff (which came close even with the crazy different ingredients). 


  1. 20 days and counting. Wow! Loving to hear about the ongoing adventures, 'searches', food challenges. I would want measuring spoons, too. How is the office and training going for Chris ?? Hugs from Poppi

  2. I was also thinking about the speedy time flying by. When I was growing up, the mother across the street from me measured everything by her hands. She would make a cake from scratch and just throw the stuff in. She was a very good cook. I need my measuring cups, spoons, etc. Glad you found some.