Spring Cleaning!

I am determined to get my apartment in order this spring if it kills me!  A few months ago I was cleaning out my closet and realized exactly how many bags of fabric scraps I had squirreled away in there and decided to do something about it.  I am absolutely incapable of throwing away fabric, no matter how little of it there is and I had accumulated a ton of silk, velvet, vintage fabric and linen bits over the years.  I also had a favorite blanket that had definitely seen better days (word to the wise, no matter how cold it is when you’re camping, or how tempting it is to hold your blanket over the  heater for a second to get some warmth in, don’t.  Unless circular burn marks are your thing.  :-)), so I decided to jazz it up.  I can’t believe I had never thought of this before!

Seriously though.  You may be thinking “how hard can sewing small rectangles into a big rectangle be?” The answer: really goddamn hard.  Just trust me when I tell you to measure the crap out of it after every row.

sorry for the lumpy bed, I couldn't be asked to actually make it correctly 🙂


the back

Another thing I did to cut down on the scrap heap in my house is make a bean pillow for a friend of mine who has some health problems.  This one  is totally easy.


Sew a tube, inside out. Sew one end shut and flip it right side out.  Fill half-way with beans (or cherry pits), fold edges in and sew shut.  I also made a pillowcase for it to snazz it up a bit.  The pillow itself should be out of cotton (or a microwavable safe fabric, check before you use it!) and can be microwaved.  The beans keep the heat in really well.  You can also scent it with an essential oil if you like (I used sandalwood).

In other news, some new seeds for the garden have arrived!  I’ve decided to grow heirloom lettuce, cucumber and onion this year as well as huckleberry.  I can’t wait to get into the garden and start planning!  More on that next time 🙂

so. excited.



Lace and Leichen

For the Karneval’s Ghost parade this year, I decided to go with an ‘evil Edwardian doll’ look for the simple fact that I had Edwardian clothes laying about and my costume choice was way last minute.  It turned out much better than I had hoped, though!  The hair was the hardest part to do, as I wanted an authentic Gibson girl pompadour.  I found this site very helpful: The Seamstress of Avalon , although I did things a bit differently.  Rather than rat the middle section of my hair, I used hair rats (not authentic ones, either.  I use those mesh donuts you can buy to make a bun in your hair, then chop them in half), and my ponytail started much lower.  This hairstyle is way easier to do than it looks! Here are the results:

side pre-makeup

finis! I had to take glam shots, of course.

sorry, I know this picture is crap, but it was the only way I could get my whole outfit at once.

doc martins mary janes are the comfiest shoes...if you're going out partying for a long time, wear them.

And more photos from the parade:

the Aussies

not really an appropriate costume for the occasion, but this guy was ROCKING the zz top costume. that's his real beard.

Maybe there ARE dentists in heaven?

So living in different countries, you can’t help but have bizarre stories about visits to various medical professionals.  Sometimes you have to put the word professionals in air quotes.

For example, in Greece you get vaccinations over the counter.  As in, you walk in, McDonald’s style, put your arm on the counter and order a tetanus with a side of meningitis, and pray that the needle the pharmacist pulls out is actually going into your arm.  I have fond memories of leaning over behind the counter, next to the windows, getting a hep. A vaccine in my ass, surrounded by old greek gramdmas who alternately patted my arm and discussed how brave I was being (meanwhile the friend I had brought for moral support was too busy laughing to offer any consoling words. Thanks Heyam 🙂 )

Then there’s the time I tried to get a morning after pill in a Slovak clinic, without the necessary vocabulary to actually explain what happened. The friend I had brought for moral support also didn’t have the vocabulary needed, so we had to act out the events leading up to the clinic visit, using charades, to a very unimpressed older Slovak doctor.  The second she turned her back, her younger nurse winked at me and slipped the prescription over the counter.

Also a highlight in Slovakia is the total lack of personal space at hospitals.  People walk in in the middle of your exams, coffee in hand and have a chat with your doctor about their holidays while you’re getting checked out.  This made my yearly trip to the gynecologist a Very Special Experience.

Then there’s the time I desperately needed cold medicine while visiting Bulgaria, where nodding your head yes means no and shaking your head no means yes.  I pointed to my nose and sniffed.  The pharmacist pulled out what I needed.  I nodded my head. She put it back and pulled out another thing I didn’t need.  I shook my head.  She rung it up on the register. Rewind, and repeat.   Abbott and Costello would have been proud.

And then there’s Germany, where doctors are expected to explain, in detail, every single thing they’re doing while they’re doing it.  They’re so used to it that even if you beg them to stop, they continue without realizing it.  Dentists, who terrify me in the best of times, are the worst.  It’s like being tortured by the evil tooth guy from Alias. They’re all like, “see this? This is the massive fucking needle I’m going to cram into your mouth.  Now I’m cramming the giant needle into your mouth.  And see this? This is the massive scary drill I’m about to grind into your…” and I’m all like “DANTOOINE! The rebel base is on DANTOOINE!”

Which is the reason I feel duty bound to tell you that I found out today that the dentist’s doesn’t actually have to be a waking version of hell. Today, after 5 years of guiltily walking by dentists offices at top speed, I finally cracked a tooth and had to go.  I chose a new clinic that some of my clients had recommended, and it was amazing.  A trip to the dentist involving syringes and drills was actually amazing.  The clinic is all streamlined and shiny and modern, they have comfy black leather armchairs, and they serve espresso to you in the waiting area. Also, the dentists there are all so good looking I felt like I was in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy: Dentists Edition.  I mean seriously: 5 men and 1 woman working in a chic dental clinic in the city center? If that doesn’t have award-winning sit-com written all over it, I don’t know what does.  Also, my dentist ruled.  I got her at random and she was both completely nice, and all down to business.  She asks “comfy?” you say “sure!” and bam, she’s in.  No t.m.i, no exhibits of the torture devices, just fixed the tooth, made sure I was ok at regular intervals, and I was out of there in 3o minutes.  Also, the appointment started 5 minutes early.  Yes, early.  What’s more, she has a sense of humor.  I asked for her last name again so I could re-book her, and she answers with a grin: “of course, but you don’t really need it.  Just ask for the woman dentist.  That’s what everyone else does”.   And, to make things even more incredible, the check up, two x-rays and a patched up molar only cost 130 Euro. Love.

So if you’re in Cologne, and need your teeth fixed, go to the practice at Josef-Haubricht Hof.  It honestly might be the best clinic on the continent.

The Reason Why I Have a Life, and Video Games.

I know this isn’t typical fare for my blog, but it’s my blog, so what the hell.  On my way home today I had sort of an epiphany.  You know, since finishing uni I’ve slowly become a total cynic when it comes to “other people” (ok, I’m cynical about a lot of things, but this is a major one).  So on the tram it suddenly came to me just how many other people it took for me to be here, having lived in 4 countries doing a job I love in a country I love.  The list is huge.  From the people who took my moody ass in (sometimes for months at a time) when I had nowhere to go in the States, Greece, and Germany, to the people who forced money, dinner and drinks into my hands when I had no money for groceries in Athens and Cologne, to the people who spontaneously showed up at a frozen bus stop in Slovakia with a thermos of hot chocolate to keep me company while I quietly freaked out about moving here, to the people who woke up at 6 am to chauffeur me around to various visa related places *without complaining* in Germany and Slovakia, to the people who threw work my way and pulled for me to get internships when I was a struggling archaeology student in Athens, to the people who let me crash on couches in Italy and England while I figured out how the whole “responsible traveler” thing worked, I honestly don’t know where I’d be right now.  If honestly even one of these people hadn’t been there for me, encouraging me and helping me, I’d probably be somewhere in the midwest working a minimum wage job and hating everything.  What I DO know is that I probably should have said thank you more often. So, and you know who you are, THANK YOU.  I have an amazing life now in large part due to you.  It means the world to me.  I try to do the same for the friends and children of friends who are now where I used to be, and if I manage to give someone even a fraction of what you all have done for me, I’ll be satisfied.  Also, I should probably lighten the hell up and give humanity the benefit of the doubt every once in a while 🙂

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming…

Fable 3.  If you haven’t already, go buy it.  It’s everything Fable 2 should have been, and I can’t stop playing it!!!


Ways to deal with a rainy day

Don’t get me wrong.  Compared to snow, this rain is heaven.  Still, it is a bit depressing.  Luckily today I met a friend who had discovered two new shops here in Cologne: one tea shop that sells tons of different teas, including my favorite matcha lattes (love) and the other is a chocolate shop that sells hundreds of solid hot chocolate bases, some of them with the corresponding booze shot included in the package.  It’s also a cafe where you can sit and try all of them in the shop.  I didn’t have my camera, of course, so I wasn’t able to get photos .  But here’s the loot:

seriously, they have a wall of these in all different kinds, ranging from chocolate irish whiskey (whiskey included) to wasabi orange carrot with white chocolate. The shop's name is The Chocolate Company and it's on Kettengasse 2


I finally bought matcha for home. The tea shop sells tons of teas which you can drink there or take home. Also, there's a massive couch you can crash on while you drink your tea. And there's cake. It's called Café Teassion and is on Kettengasse 10-12

Both these shops are incredible and I promise to go back and take photos of the inside of these places!  All I had was my mobile phone and I still can’t figure out how to get the photos from the phone onto the computer (it didn’t come with a cord).  The best part of this is that both these places are just down the road from Royal Cupcakes, which is the most amazing cafe in the city, in my opinion.

Thirdly, said friend had just come back from India and had promised to bring me something nuclear back.  So she goes into the shop and asks the lady for the hottest chilis she’s got.  Apparently she had to promise the shopkeeper 3 times that yes, she actually meant that, and brought me these (the bag has the really hot stuff)


I also got shoes for my pilgrimage, which you can see more on my other blog.

I guess what I’m trying to say is:  meet a friend, drink fancy tea, blow your money on something you need, get a girly hot chocolate and then blast your sinuses with chili.  this is how to deal with soggy weather.  Also, for some rainy day music, I suggest: 

Hang in there!

My Favorite 35 Links from 2010

So I’ve been posting a ton lately, I just got really behind over the holidays so I’m getting it all up now.  I thought I’d put up a list of my favorite links from 2010.  Most of them are from last year, some of them are older but I discovered them this year and are too cool not to include 🙂  Also with the crap weather, this should keep you occupied for at least one snowy Saturday.

1. Immortal Jellyfish

2. This guy turns his computers into AMAZING steampunk machines

3. The Scale of the Universe

4. A Brothel Menu from 1912

5. The Art of Choosing on ted.com

6. Deep Fried Beer is Invented

7.  Hyperbole and a Half: Why I’ll Never Be an Adult

8. MIT Offers Free Course Material Online

9. The Laws of Physics Don’t Work Everywhere

10. Vertical Vegetable Gardens are Awesome

11. Korean Guy Marries a Pillow

12. The European Energy Supergrid

13. The Foreigner’s Guide to Finland

14. Two Gentlemen of Lebowski (it’s now a book!)

15. The World Beard and Moustache Championship

16. Chinese Archaeologists Find 2,400 Year Old Soup

17. Nasa’s Mad Home Repair Skillz

18. The Butterfly Circus

19. Symphony of Science.  You can find tons more videos at http://www.symphonyofscience.com

20. The Dragon Age Origins Soundtrack is Incredible

21. Mark Steel Lectures.  Make sure you watch all 4 parts, it gets better as it progresses.  Oh, and watch all the other ones while you’re at it!

22. Vader the Barbarian.  Epic.

23. The Reconstruction of an Ancient Athenian Girl

24. Never Say No to Panda!

25.  Words defy this video.

26. Drunk History.  The Most Brilliant Idea Ever.  You can find more of them on their Youtube page.

27.  This guy is so bizarre I kind of love him.

28. The most stunning advertisement I’ve ever seen.

29. The Jane Austen Fight Club

30.  A Dancing Dog.  I know, I hate animals doing people things too, but this dog is really good.

31. Unbelievable animation, I can’t watch this enough times.

32. The coolest history teachers in the world.  They’ve got a youtube page chock full of videos like these.  Respect!

33.  This video brings tears to my eyes every single time.  So beautiful!

34.  A Very Zombie Holiday

35.  Geeks Rule! It’s ArcAttack!


How cool is this?

So some of you may remember that a few years ago I was helping a Carmelite monk from India with his pronunciation, and that I proofread most of his doctorate thesis for him?


If you haven’t heard of Nicolas of Cusa (I hadn’t) you definitely should look up some info.  He wrote in the 15th century and discussed things such as aliens and divine geometry.

Here are some links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_of_Cusahttp://www.integralscience.org/cusa.html , and http://www.keplersdiscovery.com/Cusanus.html


A Very Frankish Christmas

I was planning on keeping this blog updated, but had no internet access over the holidays (which was both scary and wonderful :-)), so you’re getting it all now.   First I’ll start with a photomanip.  I did two for January and never could decide which I liked better so I’ll give you both, one today and the other in the next week.

Here are my fab deviantart sources: Models: link by Katanaz-Stock and link by the-stock-project, Left side background: link by blackkitty666, Right side background: link by Tigg-stock, Owl horns: link by gurukitty, Squirrel fur: link by`radioPooh, Owl feathers: link by SalsolaStock, Fox fur: link by Momotte2stocks, Cardinal feathers: link by hortley, Snowdrop: link by Rita-Ria-Stock, Juniper branches: link by ~unpurrfect-stock, Ice: link by SusieStock, Berries: link by xcc-stock and link by marlene-stock, Texture: link by night-fate-stock Antlers: link by Irie-Stock


The rain of Zeus descends and from high heaven

A storm is driven;

And on the running water-brooks the cold

Lays icy hold:

Then up! beat down the winter; make the fire

Blaze high and higher;

Mix wine as sweet as honey of the bee


Then drink with comfortable wool around

Your temples bound.

We must not yield our hearts to woe, or wear

With wasting care;

For grief will profit us no whit, my friend,

Nor nothing mend;

But this is our best medicine, with wine fraught

To cast out thought. —Alcaeus

I spent Christmas with my friends in Franken again this year, and, like always, it was awesome.  They’re no-stress people, they stuff me full of pie and beer, and I get to sleep in front of a blazing traditional wood stove in a 200 year old half-timbered farm house.  The eggs for breakfast come from one neighbor’s farm, the bratwurst is hand made from another neighbor’s farm, last year another neighbor donated a rabbit for dinner. Kind of like heaven.

The view from my bed.

And then, after 2 years of celebrating with them, Martin finally decides to tell me that the area where they live has the most breweries per capita of anywhere IN THE WORLD.  And then his father suggests we get a case of beer and get different bottles from around the vicinity, which was the best idea of the year, as far as I was concerned.  We settled with beer from within a 20 k. radius around their house and ended up with these: 

I managed to make my way through all but the Bockbier and one of the darks.  Also, there was another kind of Göller we got.  Still, not bad for 3 days! :-)The only one I wasn’t so keen on was the Rauch Weizenbier, which surprised me.  Normally I adore Rauchbier (it’s a specialty of Bamburg where they smoke the hops before brewing the beer), but the Weizen version was a little odd.

In the Mosel region


I also took some pictures from the train on my way down to see how my camera would hold up, and got some interesting results.  Unfortunately, most of the way I was on the boring side of the train (ie. the river and castles were not next to me)  Next time I’ll make sure to get a better seat :-):

This one is from the car from Bamberg to Unterküpps

And some of Christmas dinner.  Jess is one of the best cooks ever.  And yes, that is an oreo cheesecake. Don’t get me wrong now.  Germans do amazing cakes and sweets, but they don’t understand pies, and I love that Martin (who is German) and Jess (an Ami) still mix American and German holiday foods.

All in all it was a rockin’ Christmas! See you all in the new year! 

Berlin and a new addiction

I’ve been spending the week preparing for a three day seminar in Berlin, which, after 3 such weekends, will certify me as an intercultural trainer.  I’m excited, but I’m going to miss having a weekend!

Also, I’ve just discovered deviantart.com , and am completely addicted.  I’ve also started learning how to use photoshop-type programs and I’m having a hard time stopping 🙂  My username is combray over there if you feel like mozying on over and having a look at my artwork!

I’ll post more after Berlin, with pictures!