Currently Obsessed: Giraffes

July 27, 2012

Ever since a trip to Disneyworld's Animal Kingdom and some notable giraffe sightings on the safari attraction, I've felt a connection with these animals. After all, we're both super-tall, awkward and look as though we might topple to the ground with one misplaced step. I've seen some OK giraffe items in the past, and of course there's one of my very favorite Charley Harper pieces, but nothing has compared to the fall line-up at Fossil. It's like a giraffe wonderland! That giraffe-print dress pretty much tops my list, but the clutch wallet, flats and bracelet are tied for a close second. I don't quite know how I'm going to keep myself from buying the entire line.

Fossil's last season giraffe necklace is one piece I luckily picked up on sale and have been wearing like crazy ever since (little did I know it was a preface for the giraffe extravaganza to come!). I had my eye on J.Crew's version a while back, but upon studying a close-up photo of their version, the poor animal had a rather mentally-ill look about him, so I passed. Then this little rhinestone-dotted version appeared and I was able to get my giraffe love on (accessory-speaking, of course). Here's hoping I can add to my collection once my favorite pieces come in at Fossil...

Speaking of my love of giraffes, I was blown away when I saw this post from A Cup of Jo - a giraffe-centric holiday??! These photos absolutely blew my mind! Kenya's Giraffe Manor is now officially topping my dream travel wish list. So much world still to see...   

Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische

What I learned: Martha knows best

July 25, 2012

As someone who is an avid baker and known cupcake aficionado, I have amassed a fairly impressive collection of cupcake cookbooks. While I have turned to each of them at some point, there's only one I go to with absolute faith in the results: Martha Stewart's Cupcakes.

To be honest, Martha Stewart bugs me. Big time. Not only can she apparently do it all - cook, sew, keep a garden, get out impossible stains - but she can do it all perfectly. Hello, irritating much..? There's no way that all her recipes/crafts/ideas are all 100% hers. No one is that perfect. I suppose there was that stint in jail... But really, I just can't fight her on the recipes, and her cupcakes are no exception. 

Last week I was craving chocolate something fierce (and strangely had been for almost a month straight - and no, I'm NOT pregnant) and a mini Snickers here and there just wasn't cutting it. I needed something GOOD. I needed cupcakes. Homemade cupcakes. So I turned to my favorite: Martha's yellow buttermilk cupcakes with dark chocolate frosting - and don't forget the sprinkles, otherwise it's just not the same. The cake is an excellent substitute for my very favorite - yellow cake mix from the States - and the chocolate frosting is nothing short of heavenly. I warn you, the frosting is not very stiff, so it's really best suited for cupcakes, and the amount of the recipe will seriously feed an army. Or two. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Just the cake part of the recipe made a boatload (really just because I was too lazy to figure out how to halve odd numbers of eggs), meaning my husband's office got some, our friends down the street got some, even the downstairs neighbor, for whom I had just taken in a package marked all over with 'Happy Birthday!', got some. Somehow though, I was still shoveling them in two or three in a sitting for days. 

Oh Martha, you just don't know how to disappoint, do you..?

Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische

The weekend

July 23, 2012

Sunshine was the big story this weekend. Even with rain in the forecast, we took advantage of Saturday's beautiful blue skies and got ourselves back up into our nearby forest, something we hadn't done in who knows how long. Not only did it not rain, but it was perfectly warm and the sky remained picturesque with those impossibly fluffy, fake-looking clouds in the sky. 

We were both in serious need of some fresh air and exercise, but I think Bailey was the one who got the most out of our trek. Off-leash gallivanting, sniffing and panting - it was like doggy heaven. But nothing compared to the giant stick (aka, a whole tree) she found, which was conveniently propped up at gnawing height for her. Oh yeah, this half-"Retriever" doesn't actually retrieve sticks at all - she chews them until they are whittled down to a toothpick. Well, she went to town on this one as if her life depended on it, perhaps wondering why she couldn't manage to drag it anywhere, all the while paying little attention to our laughter and photo-taking. The stoic German who walked by during her ridiculousness couldn't be bothered to crack a smile either. Ah, well. It was entertaining for us - and I'm sure Bailey is still finding splinters in the depths of her jowls.      

My husband had been dying to make this mole recipe he had found, and on Sunday, he was finally had all the ingredients to make that happen. While I spent the better part of the afternoon playing around on the internet (read: mostly J.Crew shopping) and salivating from the smells wafting down the hall, he slaved away and made us a delicious dinner. After we were both stuffed to the gills, I did more luxuriating while he cleaned up. I could really get used to this... 


Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische

Currently Obsessed: Mint green

July 20, 2012

Color has been an obsession of mine for a long time. Whether it stems from having a very artistic mother, years of living in white-walled apartments or my teenage years spent memorizing the colors from J.Crew catalogs, I am passionate about color. I love wearing it, decorating with it and painting all my walls with it. Color makes me happy. Much like many things for me, I go through phases where I 'rediscover' a color and then become obsessed with it. At the moment, nothing beats mint green.

Please forgive my rather lousy first-ever attempts at creating Polyvore boards in an effort to highlight my color crush. I'm only just learning to use them, but what fun! Above is my ideal outfit centered around mint green, including a few things I'm pining for in a major way - those Gap jeans and Warby sunnies for sure - with my collection below just showcasing random things I love. I hope to be able to add some more of this gorgeous hue to my collection soon. 

Seen here is one my few currently-owned mint green items: a €4.95 necklace from H&M that I've discovered I can layer with just about anything (here with one of my favorite recent purchases, my giraffe necklace - tall & awkward, I feel we are kindred spirits). It's also worth noting that my lovely new hair color and pretty highlights are courtesy of Sa at the Stephan Zollner salon. It's always a daunting prospect to get your hair done in a new country when your grasp of the language is minimal, at best. Luckily, I speak enough German and she spoke enough English to make it all work. Even though it's not the same blond as before, the results make me feel a bit more like my old, polished self. 

Daily Drop Cap from Jessica Hische

What I learned: I am a Fußball fan

July 18, 2012

I have never been much of a sports fan. I've never been athletic or played any kind of sports (coordination was an issue) or been much of a fan, unless someone else was taking me to a game. I find those typical American sports - baseball, American football - to either be too slow, too much a 'who's dick is bigger' contest or just too full of men with beer guts (um, these are professional athletes..??). I'm not even going to go into the classless fans and some of the terrible behavior exhibited by such people. Frankly, it was just a turn-off for me. The only sport I ever truly enjoyed watching for the game itself was hockey, and even then, it's not like I knew players, let alone the actual rules. 

Our first summer here marked the 2010 World Cup, which was the very first time I'd ever watched a football game (again, don't even get me started about why in the world the U.S. has hijacked this word for a game of its own invention, when to the rest of the world, this is football). Maybe it was the infectious spirit at all the public viewings or a serious appreciation for the players athleticism, but I couldn't help but get hooked. Seeing the great show of German pride during the whole thing filled me with a bit of pride at being able to share in the happiness of a Germany win. The Euro Cup this summer brought more of the same.    

Even after becoming 'a fan' with World Cup, I couldn't say I'd watched an actual, in-person game until earlier this year when we went to see FSV Mainz 05 play. While I could have done without standing the entire game (cheap seats = no seats) and it would have been nice if either team had scored, I was won over by the spirit in the stadium and honestly, by the super clean bathrooms (one of the things I love most about this country, besides their good drivers) and the super cheap snacks. Seriously. I think we were able to buy [alcoholic] drinks and snacks for our group of four for under €20. Not really missing those $10 hot dogs and $8 garlic fries at SF's AT&T Park. OK, maybe just a little. 

Admittedly, the fans also won me over. Not only are they orderly and well-behaved, in true German fashion, but they often impress me in ways I didn't expect. For example, this showing at the Mainz 05 game:

Coming from San Francisco sporting events, I would have expected to have seen this before. But no, I had to travel halfway around the world to witness a showing of support that I would have expected from what some might consider to be more 'liberal' crowds. Makes my heart warm that much more for Germany.

So until 2014 in Brazil... (and here's hoping there's a trip in that for us!)

Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische 

The weekend

July 16, 2012

Inspired by my recent revelations about life and taking advantage of what we do have, we decided to make the most of the weekend and try some new things. First off, I attempted a new bang braid (adapted from this tutorial) which miraculously looked OK after the first go-round. Usually anything new with my hair requires several attempts, accompanied by much swearing, so this was a big win for me (yes, I'm 32 years old and am just now figuring out how to do my hair properly). We first headed to the Frankfurt Kleinmarkthalle for a stop at the "Asia-Latino" booth for our usual Mexican food making stuffs - white corn flour for tortillas, chipotles in adobo sauce for anywhere/everywhere we want to add some spice, the best tortilla chips we've found in Germany, made, of all places, in Czech Republic - but finally brought our camera along and took our time really looking around. We took in the colorful produce, some of the best-smelling mint ever and discovered a little Italian shop on the top level we had never noticed before, complete with beautifully labeled wines in the window.

The Kleinmarkthalle is a close-quartered market full of more diversity and chatter than you will see on an average day in Germany. The closest you will get to this much interaction in a German grocery is someone trying to cut in front of you in line. Here, people are constantly asking you to try their delicacies or asking what you are looking for. People are proud of the things they are selling and want you to appreciate them. I tend to stay in the middle, with vast array of fruits, vegetables and spices one would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. The meat shops along the side, with their callously-splayed bunny carcasses and whole chickens and pigs that stare back at me frankly turn my stomach and make me momentarily consider vegetarianism. Though there was a charming old man at one of these store fronts I genuinely regret not pulling my camera out in time to capture. He was at the counter, gripping his newly purchased sausage in his fist - no Brötchen  or other accoutrements - and smiling ear to ear, eating with the excitement of a kid with an ice cream cone. Ahh, Germans and their Wurst....  

Wanting a little post-shopping drink, and since our little French wine stand in the Halle was closed, we decided to see what all the crowds were about at the wine tents just outside. The wine did not disappoint and the crowd was a low-key mix of swanky adults, with a couple little old ladies and one or two children playing quietly by themselves. In the fashion of true German weather, we got both a few drops of rain as well as some blindingly bright sunshine while we hung out. The wine was good enough to inspire a couple of bottles to make their way home with us as well. It was one of my favorite kinds of afternoons - filled with food, wine and whatever sunshine Germany can muster. 

Furthering our sense of adventure, we decided to take advantage of a recommendation from a reader for good Chinese food in Frankfurt. While we regularly eat Thai, Chinese is something it appeared we had left behind in the States, much like good burgers and American-style breakfasts. Now I've never been anywhere in Asia, let alone China, so for my worldly readers who are looking at this going "who the hell does she think she is? that is NOT Chinese food!" - I'm sorry. This was authentic Chinese to me the way that a good burrito is Mexican (read: not Mexican at all) - it's the take-out comfort food I'm used to from America. It was tasty, full of just the right amount of MSG and we ate a whole table's worth of food for a steal. Huge thanks for the recommendation on this place - we will most definitely be back!

Not ones to stop while we're ahead (especially where food is concerned), we pushed on, full bellies and all, to try the gelato also recommended by this dear reader. Once again, we wondered had taken us so long to get there. Thrilled to find mint ice cream (what is with German's aversion to mint..?), I coupled it, naturally, with bittersweet chocolate and tiramisu flavors. Heavenly. Not quite as good as real-Italian-in-Italy-gelato, but light years ahead of the shops in our town. I may even be so inclined as to take the train in on my own, just for a cup of this stuff.   

Eis Christina
Eckenheimer Ldstr. 78
60318 Frankfurt am Main
(go, now)

Considering we (ahem, I) spent Sunday mostly in front of my computer and not showering till, oh, 3pm, I'm rather happy we had an all-out, proper weekend excursion on Saturday. Until next weekend... (weather-permitting, of course)

Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische