Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Nana's Apple Crisp

With apple season upon us, here is a yummy treat you can make with the apples. Since the fruit cobbler was named after my father-in-law, this one goes out to my mother-in-law (who actually sent me both recipes).

4 cups peeled and sliced apples
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 stick (113.4g) butter

Place apple slices in an ungreased 9x9 or 8x13 casserole dish. Mix topping ingredients thoroughly. Sprinkle over apples.

Bake at 375℉ for about 45 minutes (or until apples are tender and topping is golden brown).


Next time, I am thinking about adding some oats to make it a tad healthier.....

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tbilisi Tips: Picture Framing Studio

Tbilisi Tips: A new series of places to find things in Tbilisi, Georgia.

We have gotten a number of items framed at this art salon.

Once you find parking on the street, you enter through a green gate. Walk down the stairs and open the door to the left.  They were extremely helpful and made great suggestions on frame types and color.

Here is the entrance:

Here are some items we got framed:

Framing places in the US should be ashamed of what they charge for framing. We got 4 things framed for what would have likely been half of just one item stateside!

They also have 3 rooms of paintings available for purchase and we found this gem. It is an oil painting of the Svan towers.

Located just up from the UN Circle.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

239th Marine Corps Ball

So embassies have Marines providing security for the embassy. They will host a Marine Corps Ball to celebrate the establishment of the Marine Corps, and we embassy folks get to help celebrate with them. So on November 8th, we attended our first ball together.

First is a fun cocktail hour (hours?). We partook in cocktails and took some time to get a photo taken. I've come to terms with my straight hair and saved hours and didn't even try to curl it.

See, just like prom but you can drink and come home late without getting in trouble!

After cocktail hour, we found our seats and watched the ceremony. I totally spaced and didn't bring my camera. With Larry's permission, I am posting several of his photos (check out his website here).

The first thing to point out, is the table for fallen marines.

Presentation of colors (note our awesome seats.....)

Toasting with the guest of honor (the Ambassador).

Of course what birthday is complete until the birthday cake is served.

The oldest Marine (blue shirt, red tie) will serve a piece to the youngest Marine (he was born in 1994....eek, I feel old now).

After some fancy footwork (which is quite mesmerizing), the ceremony ended.

The Tbilisi Marine Guards for the 239th Ball, they only stay at post a year, so next year there will be a whole new crew.

We were served dinner and desert (trio of chocolate, yes! thank you!), followed by dimming of the lights to allow for dancing. A very fun night....oorah!

Next ball, I will remember my camera (thanks again for letting us your photos Larry!).

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Shark Birthday Party

So Mason turned 10 this week.....he now proudly declares himself a tween (help me now).

So we have developed the system of reading the book/novel and then watching the movie (it started with the Harry Potter series....that way he was able to watch a PG-13 movie...I am sooooo mean, I know). So we bought Close to he could watch JAWS.....therefore the theme to his birthday party this year was JAWS.

The invite (which I totally stole the idea from the internet, but can't find the link now). One of Mason's friends from Charleston used to ask for donations in place of gifts for birthday parties. Now that we move every few years, we have chosen to do this also to minimize the purging we will have to do.

A lot of party game ideas I could find on the internet are geared towards younger kids, so I have a hard time coming up with ideas, but my (and the party goers) favorite was the shark finder game (I mean how else does the marine biologist find the shark).

I took plastic cupcake sharks and washers

And then hot glued the washers to the back of the sharks.

I then put numbers with a sharpie on the back of each shark.

I took our metal detector and make a shark finder sign for it and then hid the sharks in the yard.

The kids had a blast using the shark finder to find sharks in the yard. Afterwards, I had prizes in a chum bucket and I started with #4 and based on the shark you picked was the order you got to pick your prize.

Another game we played was throw the football into the shark jaws. It would have worked better if we had a tree in our yard to hang it from...but the boys did play football for a while.

I made a can toss game....which was more popular with the younger siblings that were around than the party goers.

I did a guess the number of sharks in the container game.....a couple of the girls wanted to guess multiple I said no more than 3 guesses (in case you are curious, there were 43 in there).

Of course we did a piƱ was funny to see the neighborhood preschoolers watching the big kids through the fence smashing the shark followed by the feeding frenzy to get as much candy as possible.

They drank shark's blood (bottled water with those fabulous kool-aid drops) (another idea stolen from here).

Mason had a packed table for the feast of pizza, veggies, goldfish, and pringles. I did find it funny that the girls all sat on one side of the table and the boys all sat on the other (no photos with kiddos, some people are weird about posting photos of their kids).  Clarissa and I hung out in the kitchen after serving the pizza. We heard the kids comment how fun it was to feast without any parents. Then in true Georgian supra style they toasted each other with their sharks blood (clinking bottles and all!).

Of course, what birthday party is complete without a cake. Mason wanted to depict the scene where the marine biologist, police chief, and fisherman are tracking down the shark on the Orca.

We took a little artistic freedom and added the remains of a victim of the shark in the water.

The police chief is holding the chum off the bow, the marine biologist is holding the shark finder, and the fisherman is sharpening his knifes.

The best part is our neighborhood, I let the kids run around playing tag (must get all that sugar out of their systems so parents wouldn't completely hate me). Mason said he had a great time. Yeah Success!

We ended up collecting 25 kg of food, 2 blankets, 4 towels, 1 leash, 3 treats, and 60 GEL!

Mason went with me to take the stuff out to the D.O.G. shelter. He played with some of the puppies and wants to go back and help walk the dogs in the surrounding fields.

As a final note: I find it quite amusing that this post on Mason's 10th birthday party is a factor of 10 of the total posts we have written....woo hoo, happy 100th post to us.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Fall Break Adventures: Neuschwanstein Castle & Reutte, Austria

So potentially the highlight of the trip for Clarissa was the visit to the inspiration for the "Sleeping Beauty" Castle (i.e. Neuschwanstein Castle) in Hohenschwangau, Germany. Sometimes it is also called the Cinderella castle, I think Disney used different elements from the Neuschwanstein Castle in both movies. It was only about an hour drive from Garmisch (the resort gave us an excellent address for the GPS: Alpseestrasse 12, 87645 Hoenschwangau, Germany).

The ticket office opens at 9 and the castle's first tour starts at 10. The castle is up a very tall hill, so they allowed for time to make the trek up the hill.  Our goal was to get there at 9, but being in vacation mode we didn't arrived until around 9:30. The next english speaking tour wasn't until 11:05, so we got those tickets. One thing I realized while in line at the ticket booth is there are actually two castles in this small town. If you had a full day, you could visit both castles as well as have lunch and shop in the cute town of Hohenschwangau. Not being sure how much Clarissa would enjoy the castle, we opted to just do the Neuschwanstein Castle and not tempt our luck.

Now, remind me again, how did Cinderella get to the ball that night? A horse and carriage you say? Then we must go the same way (much better than a 45 minute walk)!

Unfortunately, there was a nice fog cloud sitting on top of the castle that day. So as the horse pulled us up the hill, we could only see outlines of the castle towers.

The carriage ride takes you about 2/3 of the way up the hill. The road narrows after that point and the horses can't turn around. So we began the last ten minutes up the hill. Mid way though (awesome marketing!), there is a coffee/snack stand, restrooms, and souvenir stand. The kids happily partook in a donut and German pretzel to pass the time before our start time.

At the gate to the courtyard.

One of many flights of stairs. We had read that though the tour you walk approximately 300 stairs. In order to save our backs, we reminded Clarissa about all the stairs in the Cinderella movie, the ones she lost her shoe on, the stairs inside entry/ball room (in the Cinderella 3 movie and Wii games), so she did great on the stairs and walked without complaining at all.

An outdoor courtyard. We were not permitted to take photos inside the castle (and you have to wear your backpack on your front....a little awkward).

Note sure if this was one of the towers who's windows we looked out. At one of the windows, our guide commented on how the view from this window is beautiful....on a clear day.....

Clarissa did amazing on the tour. She held my hand and walked the whole time. I was pleasantly surprised. The tour ends in a ballroom....we may or may not have done a little dance together.

We rode the carriage back down the hill. The forest does remind me a bit like the one Prince Phillip goes racing through.....(the power of suggestion likely). We would definitely like to visit the castles again....on a sunny day!

On our way back to Garmisch, we drove through/past Reutte, Austria. A exchange student friend of mine currently lives there so we stopped by his work to say hi.  Our GPS failed us when trying to find his office, but it did take us out to Plansee.....the water's colors are just stunning and so clear!! The scientist in me wonders if there might be a high copper content in the water.....yep, I'm a science dork!

We had a great fall break. Came back very rested and never had a day we didn't enjoy. I must complement the Bavarian area on their fabulous, smooth roads. Also, I can now say I drove over a 100 on the autobahn.....(km/hr.....I didn't want to get a ticket).

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Fall Break Adventures: Family Photos in Garmisch

So the Edelweiss Resort offers a photographer to take you out for about an hour and take some pictures.  Four images come with the sitting fee.....naturally we went for the upgraded package and got all the images (we need those not cooperating photos to laugh at when said child is older).

So let's start with the little firecracker photos!

Brothers don't need to

But how can you not love that face when she puts on the charm.....

Mr. GQ hamming it up.....

We did get some great wall worthy shots!

Note: This post was really for the grandparents and great grandparents!