Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ciao, 2009!

Today I find myself, as I'm sure most of the world is, reflecting on 2009. Without a doubt 2009 is the year I've spent the most consecutive time with my husband. That alone makes it the best year to date. While it hasn't been as world shaking as 2006 (I graduated college, got married, moved to Italy and started my first job), I've had so many more adventures and experienced more things than I ever thought that a little girl born in Wichita, Kansas, would ever live to see.

Some 2009 highlights:

I got high-speed, wireless internet (lived without for 3 years)
5th visit to Rome
My first visit to France
I fell in love with Dusseldorf
I became a commander's wife
Saw my first rugby match
Went to Oktoberfest
Said goodbye to my husband
for the second time

And resolutions? I don't think I really have any this year. I do think I'm going to try to spend a little less time on Twitter and a little more time creating. Creating in all ways: cooking, writing, crafting, learning, stretching, conversing, creating more balance.

Now that I type it out that acutally looks like one of the biggest resolutions I've ever made.

Goodbye, 2009, you've been so good to me. Arrivederci!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

After Christmas shopping

One thing I miss the most about the States is the clearance, especially after Christmas sales. At least I have the miracle of the internets and the internets have spread their world wide web tendrils to my Macbook. And my Visa.

50% off at Barnes and Noble.

A list, yes?

  • The Shaper the Knife the less You Cry
  • Nigella Express
  • How to Eat
  • The Wilde Women
  • The Prince of Tides
  • Love Walked In
There are two Nigella Lawson books on there. She writes her cookbooks like books to be read, not directions to be followed. Her love for simple, well made food is something that I admire and share.

Plus she's gorgeous.

And my 3 year old nephew saw a picture of her once and said, "It's Nikki!" My aspirations of secretly taking over Nigella's life and making it my own started then.

I've been thinking about new year's resolutions. I just made my deployment goals so new years resolutions for me seem like they'd just be echoing what I've already set out to do. That doesn't mean I'm not making some. I'll keep you posted.

Resolutions for y'all?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Eve

I don't know how many of you know about life at an APO. But the government tries to provide the people here with basic comforts of home. One of those comforts is publishing a newspaper in English that can even be delivered to your house. (or you can check it out online) This is today's front page. The small print under the picture says:

With sleigh bells attached to his rucksack, Mike Lord waits for a helicopter at Camp Liberty in Baghdad on Tuesday. Lord, a civilian contractor at the base, said he'd grown out his hair and beard for the season and planned to visit as many U.S. bases as he could in his up-armored sleigh.

People like Mike Lord make me smile.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Someone wants to say hi

That's the love of my life. He's saying hi to me, our niece, and my mother-in-law. He makes my heart go pitter-pat. Doesn't he look hot? He looks kinda badass too with that gun strapped to his leg. Which, in my completely unbiased opinion, makes him hotter.

Oh, dear. I better stop before this post moves up from a PG rating.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one.

While most people are waiting to take vacation and take their Christmas breaks, this is the busiest time of the school year for us (let's not talk about summer). Our center is open from 0600 to 1800 (6 am to 6pm) on days that there is no school. I am working the morning shift into the afternoon with no lunch. Awesome, right?

The amount of work drama that has been going on today is off the charts. I don't think I have enough engery at this point to recount what's been going on. That and if you don't know the people explaining the back story will take longer than anything.

So, I'm around. Just busy at work. I hope to have more posts about more interesting stuff soon.

3 days 'til Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Let it snow!

from back balcony

This is what I woke up to this morning! A picture taken from my back balcony gives you an idea. And believe it or not it's still snowing. This rarely happens. I plan on drinking peppermint tea all day.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Hello friends. I'm lucky enough to be puppy sitting this cutie while her owner is in the States for two weeks to celebrate Christmas with her family.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Shopping: check

I finally have all my Christmas shopping (that I have to mail) pretty much done. I spent all last night wrapping presents and got the big one mailed out to my parents today. I'm hoping to get everything mailed out by Friday.

I have a confession: I usually really hate shopping for Christmas presents. I know that sounds weird but living overseas from the rest of my family I'm really at a loss. I don't know if cousin Annie has taken up knitting or if my dad discovered a new love for tofu. This is the kinda stuff you miss out on when you don't see your family regularly. And you can only buy the women so many baskets of soap and bubble bath. The men really don't need that many do-dads. I'm starting to run out of "Italian" things to send people too.

I felt the same distain this year, too. Then as I was wrapping presents a transformation started to occur. I started to get excited about what the people receiving the gifts would think and looked like when they opened them. I started picturing their faces, their excitement. It made me excited. Now I can't wait to get these last few things in the mail instead of dragging my feet like I usually do.

So what about y'all? Feet draggers on Christmas gifts or do you skip to the stores?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Best Christmas Card Ever

My Aunt Aimee sent me this card along with a HUGE box of presents for the hubs and I. She's an artist. I haven't opened the presents yet, but I think this my be my favorite present in there.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas cookie/movie extravaganza!

On Saturday I got together with some friends to make Christmas cookies and watch Christmas movies.

The recipe said it made 3 dozen. But I'm pretty sure we only got 18ish cookies out of it. And no, we didn't eat gobs of cookie dough either. It just didn't make a lot, which is weird because usually sugar cookie recipes make a ton of cookies.

The icing was also a taaaaaaad runny. Wasn't it Martin Luther King who said, "it's the flavor that counts, not the beauty." Or something like that.

I made Buddy the Elf from the movie Elf (which we watched) in cookie form. He was delicious.

We also made Christmas hearts.


It is SO a thing.

This is Cecilia (in grey) and Missy (in green). They were two of my three cookie cohorts. No one was too keen on getting their picture taken since we were all in our sweats. It didn't stop me.

Movies watched:

The Muppets Christmas Carol
Love Actually
The Grinch
Charlie Brown's Christmas

Extravaganza? Complete success!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Slowly getting in the Spirit

It's wasn't until last week when I went to the Christmas market that I started feeling like doing anything Christmasy. I'm still on the fence about decorating my house. So I decided to make one of the things I look at the most, my computer, in the holiday mood then maybe I would be too.

I got this cute background from Pixelgirl Presents. Check it out. They have some other cool ones too.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Behind every good man is a good woman. And that woman is Martha Washington.

I've done it. I've taken the plunge. I'm going back to school. I've decided to get my associates in early childhood education. I already have my bachelor's in english. I have been thinking about getting my masters for some time, but I can't commit to a field of study for that massive amount of money.

I also LOVE school. I love it like I love puppies and flowers and writing. I love going to class and getting in discussions about WHAT an author was trying to say when really deep down I think they were just telling a story and people get all nutso after the fact just so they can go to class to get in said discussions. So if I do go for my master's I want to go to class. Talk. Get red marks on my papers from my peers. At this point in my life I don't have a university that can provide me that in a brick and mortar setting like I want. So I'm waiting until I'm 100% committed to spend 50k to go to a room and talk with other people about a book I read. (I really should join a book club.)

Online associates it is.

Hey, military spouses. If there are any of you out there reading this blog I have to let you in on a secret. It's called MyCAA. They give military spouses $6000 for school. It's super easy to apply and get approved. You should do it. They are paying for my school in full. The support that the American community is starting to give to military families is amazing.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Me: Hi, my name is Nikki. Blog readers: Hi, Nikki.

I’m going to be brutally honest with you today. If you can’t handle the self deprecation and whining, stop reading now. Go check out a happier blog post. I have a lot of them before this one.

DIGRESSION: Out of the 1 billion blogs on the internet I’m pretty sure .86 billion of those are for whining. I don’t want to hear your whining. The whole world certainly doesn’t want to hear your whining. Most of your friends would prefer if you would just shut up. Please let me help you. Go to a bookstore or Wal-mart or your personal computer and buy a journal or notebook or open a word processor and write your whinings there. Then close your chosen apparatus and feel better about whatever was bothering you. That way if you ever become famous no one can you words that you published freely against you. Or if you never become famous your mother-in-law, or future mother-in-law if you wish to one day become married, won’t be able to hold those words said in self pity and anger against you. END DIGRESSION

My husband left for Afghanistan a week ago. I usually give myself a grieving period of 3 days when he leaves for a long time. And by grieving I usually mean playing a game my most favorite Joshilyn Jackson calls “What can I eat?” I am the most professional champ of this game even though I HATE it. I hate it with the fire of 1,000 suns. (If you want to know how this game is played check out this post.) But the thing is that I have taken this game to a new level. I MAKE things to eat that are generally not ok for dinner. Example: If I want something sweet and don’t have any cookies or chocolate in the house I’ll make a bowl of frosting and eat it. ALL OF IT. IN ONE SITTING.

While I’m eating whatever I’ve made I’m usually thinking, “Why am I doing this? I don’t want to eat all this. After this bite I’m going to stop. After this bite I’m going to stop. Now I’m really going to stop. I’m stopping. I just have to eat this one side to make it look even with the other side. I am a horrible person for eating all this.”

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Sad, no?

It has to stop. I didn’t stop after the 3 day grieving process. On day 5 I went to the commissary and bought lots of healthy foods like spinach and fish with plans of stopping the madness. Day 6 started well but it ended with chicken fingers, French fries, chocolate fudge brownie ice cream and cheesecake.

What better way to stop a destructive behavior than to admit on a public forum that you make icing for the intent of eating it from the bowl and that you followed chocolaty ice cream with a whopping piece of cheesecake and that I bought brownie mix for the sole purpose of eating the batter? Wait, I hadn’t mentioned the brownie batter before. More ammo for y’all to keep me in line with.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas flowers

I feel like Italy is the Christmas capitol of the world. 98% of the Italian community is Roman Catholic... of course. So Christmas here isn't taboo like it was becoming in the States when I left 3 years ago. I don't think anything there has really changed.

Here's another little tidbit about Italians where I live: they love fake flowers. I mean LOVE them. They have stands full of fake flowers at the market. They have the real flowers too, but more often than not they are fake. So real looking I almost bought some to take home until I heard the vendor say "plastica" and I realized.

I bought a few ornaments from this little stand. It was homemade ornaments in support of a local elementary school.

I hope y'all are ready for Christmas overload on this blog because there is more to come.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Camisano Christmas

Every Sunday Camisano has a market. It's the best market in this area if you ask me. Today, next Sunday and the Sunday after they have little Christmas additions.

Here's a hot chocolate stand at the market:

Sometimes you gotta add more chocolate to the chocolatey-ness. Italian hot chocolate is out of this world. It's really thick and not too sweet. It's like liquid chocolate. I know that the name hot chocolate insinuates liquid chocolate but Italian hot chocolate is really just like melted, delicious, European chocolate. Next time you are in Italy in the winter time, I really suggest you pick one up.

They also had cute little handmade goods like these gooses:

There's some more good stuff I took pictures of at the market but it's a different type of stuff so I'll share tomorrow.

Happy Sunday.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

He's gone

I have been absent this past week because I've been trying to soak up every last moment with my love. He left for Afghanistan. He will be gone a year which I am so thankful for. The last deployment he went on was 15 months. It's going to make such a difference when 3 months of the deployment have gone by and we only have 9 months left instead of a year.

I have so many great goals that I can't wait to get started on while he's gone. Busy, busy, busy is the key. He's going to be busy staying safe. Please keep us both in your prayers.

Some things on my list of goals:
a trip to Paris (which is booked!)
furthering my education in education
write, write, write
read books
take tons of pictures

The list is still growing and I plan on recording progress of my adventures here. I love the internet for keeping track of my life so easily. I can have thoughts, pictures, videos, etc all in one place.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I am so thankful that I get to spend Thanksgiving this year with my husband. We've been really lucky to get almost all of our Thanksgivings together, I think we've only missed one.

Other things I'm thankful for:
my crazy parents
my brother and sister and their families
living in Italy
my job
a working hot water heater
my new shower head
being American

I hope y'all have a great Thanksgiving if you celebrate it. And if you don't, take some time to eat some pie.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Juliet, Naked

I was really excited when I saw this book in our little library. I've been wanting to read a Nick Hornby novel for sometime to see what all the fuss was about. I probably should have started with one of the greats: High Fidelity, Fever Pitch or About a Boy.

Quick synopsis: Duncan is obsessed with has been 80's rock star Tucker Crowe and Annie, Duncan's 15 year partner, likes Tucker Crowe as much as the next guy. Duncan is obsessed with Tucker Crowe, even calls himself a Crowologist. When an unfinished version of Tucker Crowe's most famous album, Juliet, hits the market Duncan raves about it on his online Crowe community website. The problem is Annie thinks it's crap and tells Duncan so in an excellently written review on the same website. Her review infuriates Duncan and gets a different reaction from recluse Tucker Crowe, an email.

Annie and Tucker begin corresponding without Duncan's knowledge and Duncan starts canoodling without Annie's knowledge. Then stuff really starts to get complicated...

Juliet, Naked was lukewarm for me. The main characters were excellent and flawed and real and just the kind of characters I love. But the secondary characters were so absent and flat it took away from the good dynamic of the main characters.

Even though this was a character driven book the plot was a major player as well. Hornby had a nice balance of plot and characters so I was invested to see what happened and to learn more about these people.

The thing that disappointed me most about this book was the ending. Don't worry, no spoilers.

This book didn't end so much as shrug its shoulders and stop telling me its story. Usually I love the open ended book. It's one of the things that makes a book stay with me. I think about what could happen after. Juliet, Naked didn't end. It just stopped. Disappointing because of the characters and plot that I thought were promising me so much.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


IMGP0919, originally uploaded by nikkilooch.

Hello, my beloveds.

I'm spending this weekend with my husband.

See y'all Monday.



IMGP0919, originally uploaded by nikkilooch.

Hello, my beloveds.

I'm spending this weekend with my husband.

See y'all Monday.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

art journal love: pretty

I have been being inspired by a new blog Dirty Footprints Studio. Here is her latest video on art journaling which is something that I'm starting to get into to stretch out and try my artistic hand. If you check her youtube account KitchenOfTheSoul you can find a lot of other journaling videos and other fun stuff.

I hope you find something today to make you smile.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My dream house

When in Nurnberg, I found my dream house. From the outside at least.

This is the picturesque street that my house sits on. There are no cars allowed on this street in the old town.

This is a picture from the front. It's pink with vines growing up the side.

It sits on top of a coffee shop. If I ever get to live over a precious little coffee shop like this I think my life might be complete.

The back has a small balcony with window boxes and flowers.

But wait. It gets better.

The house sits on this river and the balcony overlooks it. I could see myself sitting outside in the summer for hours watching people cross the bridge, listening to the river and sipping coffee from the shop downstairs.

One day I'm going to find out what the inside looks like and how many millions of euros it costs to live here. Then I'm going stalk the poor, sweet people inside until they sell me their home.

I'm a firm believer in having solid plans for the future. Achievable goals.

I need to learn German.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

More Nurnberg

You can never have too much Nurnberg, right?

This beautiful structure is in the town square near where we stayed in Nurnberg's old town. I have no idea what it's called. But they light it up at night and it's beautiful.

We did hear on the news about it though that there's a ring on this thing. If you spin it three times then you get good luck.

I spun it. Here's proof:

I should only have one more Nurnberg post before you start to get sick of them.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

All Blacks in Milan

Wow. We went to a rugby test match today in Milan: Italy vs All Blacks. New Zealand is the best national rugby team in the world and it was so cool to see them play. Plus I got to see the huka dance.

This video isn't from today's match but one in Rome.

What a great day.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Oldest Brats in the WORLD

Maybe not the oldest brats because that's gross. Who would want to go to Nurnburg to see crusty old meat? Not me. I admit that I like to travel off the beaten path, but still. That's a little too beat.This is the face of the oldest brat restaurant in the world.

The vines on the side had bottles going up the side of the restaurant. This signifies prosperity and the flowing of beer. All of the most prosperous establishments used to put these outside for good luck and to ward off bad times.

Did you believe that story? Because I just made it up. I have no idea why they put the bottles out there. I love to make things up. I get it from my mom. She was the kinda mom that when you asked as a kid why the sky was blue she'd say because it reflected off the ocean. Then I'd ask what an ocean was because we lived in Kansas. Except that was a story too because when we lived in Kansas I was two. So I wasn't asking for much of anything at that point except for maybe my sippy cup.

Moving onwardly.

All of the tables had the cutest lit up pumpkins resting on felt leaves. Germans know cute.

These are the brats, they are served with potato salad. The potato salad is cold but is served with brats that are firey hot, temperature wise. The bratwursts themselves were perfectly seasoned. I wish I was more well versed in what they had in them, I'm getting pretty good at recognizing flavors but haven't mastered meats. All that to say that these were freakin' good. Please go to Nurnburg and eat some.

Thank you.

I snuck a picture of the waitress to show you that they still wear the traditional garb there in the restaurant. But I didn't want to take one of her front or ask her to take one because she seemed a little upset that we asked for french fries, and that we asked for them in English.

What? Every German I've ever met except for her speaks better English that I do.

It was pretty dark inside but beautifully decorated.

My hubs snagged a picture of the cook and prep area. The cook was definitely not German. He was Asian. The brats were still outstanding and I'm sure that he was trained by the best German brat guy in the traditional brat way.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ear virus

Do not panic! I am alive! It was definitely questionable there for a while if you judge from the amount of pain I was in. I have no idea what I had, some kind of virus that I caught from my husband. He had it a few weeks before me and I guess it was just so nasty it took that long hatch and infest. You're welcome for that lovely picture! Saturday the full sickness hit and yesterday I broke down and went to the doctor. Since it was Veteran's day the health clinic on post was closed.

DIGRESSION: Our health clinic is always closed. Always, always, always. One time the last summer when my husband was deployed I got a stomach virus AND scabies at the same time (thanks kids I work with!) and the clinic was closed for 6 working days in a ROW. I didn't feel like going to the doctor in the first place but I certainly wasn't going to go to the Italian emergency room to sit for hours, throwing up and itching by myself, and not understand the insults the other patients would be hurling my way. I think our clinic makes people SICKER by not being open more than it's closed and by closing at 1630 (4:30!) everyday. Because honestly we'd rather WAIT to understand the mean looks of the people in the waiting room than to get medical attention. END DIGRESSION

SO. My husband and I went and waited. When I got seen the Italian doctor told me I had a virus in my ear and gave me drops, an anti-inflamitory, an anti-biotic, pain medicine, and tummy medicine.

Wow, why did I wait so long to go to the Italian doctor? They are not shy of the medications. And I am a friend of any medication that keeps me away from pain. Lots and lots of ear pain.

Anyway, even though I was pretty sick in Nurnburg this weekend we still saw some good sights, ate excellent food (Nurnburg is known for their bratwurst), I found my dream house, saw an underdog win a heavy weight fight, enjoyed great fall sights and Christmas stuff. Nurnburg is also known for the Chirstmas markets they have there and many of the store fronts were already decorated. It was one of the cutest places I've ever been, which just solidifies my love for Germany. If I could move my dream house from Nurnburg to Dusseldorf I think my life would be complete.

Here's a few sneak peaks of some of the stories I have coming up:

I also fell obligated to give a nanowrimo update. I have not written since LAST Thursday. There's no way I'm going to write 50k this month now. But I'm ok with that and I have not given up. I have a story that is unfolding before me that I really like. I'm sticking with it even past November and into December and beyond (what? I watched The Next Generation as a kid. What's it to ya?). I'm still being encouraged by the weekly pep talks and still pushing through. I'm in such a good emotional writing state because for the first time I'm not bashing myself over the head with a cast iron skillet mentally about not writing more. I have never ONCE thought I was a failure for getting sick and not being able to write.

Leaps and bounds people!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fox on the run

Hello lovely readers. I am going out of town again today. We're going to Germany. I heart Germany. Our room at internet but I seriously doubt I'll be doing much blogging. Hopefully I'll do some tweeting though.

Here are some pictures from Germany I took over the summer to hold you over: