Saturday, July 26, 2008


Josh has been working a lot lately. His training days are longer than ever. It's getting to the point that I feel I hardly see him! Thank goodness the mids-shift is almost over; only a few weeks more!

We're most likely buying a new car. Ack! It's a 2009 Ford Focus, dark metallic gray, with lots of great features.

It's a four-door car; we're trying to prepare for down-the-road things, if you know what I mean. I'm both excited and nervous. This is the first new vehicle I've ever purchased; in fact, it's only the second vehicle I'll have owned. It's also the biggest thing we've ever purchased together!

Our two-year anniversary is just a few days away. I don't know if we'll do anything on the day; Josh works of course. We are making plans for a trip to Dublin in mid-September to celebrate.

I've been trying to navigate the rough waters of employment, through the Air Force. They are so disorganized, and this is the most work I've ever done to get a job. The dumbest thing is that it's not even a great job; it's just part-time work at a coffee shop so I'm not home alone all the time. I basically have to fill out the application for a security clearance (listing the exact locations I've lived in for the last seven years; every school I've attended; every job I've had including periods of unemployment; people's middle names, etc)just to work in a coffee shop!! And I have to get a physical, but the office in charge didn't have a doctor and wasn't expecting one until September, so they had me calling all of these other places. When I tried to explain that Occupational Health didn't have a physician, I kept getting the run-around; no, call this person or that person. It took a week of phone calls to finally discover that Occupational Health had 1) given me the wrong appointment date for paperwork (I have no way to get there b/c Josh works) and 2) actually was in charge of getting my physical set up after we completed the paperwork. I can't wait to just have the job and be done with all of this!

Let's see, what else? I got a hair cut, Josh has me completely addicted to Scrubs, and Maggie is cute as always. This was probably a pretty boring blog to read; I apologize! Take care!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

France: A First Impression

First impressions are the most important, and I’d have to sum up our opinion of France in one word: Fabulous.

We put a full day-off to good use, doing our sightseeing in Strasbourg on a Wednesday. Matt and Katie joined us. It’s nice to have weekdays off, because things are actually open when you visit a new city. Strasbourg is just under two hours away from our home town, almost directly south. The trouble is, driving directly south would take us through the very narrow, hilly roads that mark the boarder between Germany and France (in this area, at least); we opted to take the longer, flatter, faster drive via autobahns. Josh certainly got to test the car’s abilities on the no-speed-limit sections.

When we crossed the boarder, there was no one there to check anything! I was a little bit bummed out; I’d hoped to get a stamp on my passport. It seems that they only check in eastern European countries by road, or if you are on a train. Oh well.

Frank Krahmer/Getty Images

The French countryside did look a little bit different from our area of Germany. It had more gently rolling hills, and there were many fields growing corn. In the distance, we saw the Jura mountain range, which is just north of the Alps. When we reached the city limits, we noticed more differences. The French use transformer towers, much like you’d see in the United States. There were entire fenced-in areas of power plants. In Germany, we usually see windmills. Also, we drove past about one mile of car sales lots. We felt we had been transported to the states!

We found a parking garage with minimal issue (although we did get to drive the wrong way on a one-way street for a little while…) and set out to explore the oldest parts of Strasbourg, which is in the French state of Alsace. This area of France has a varied cultural history, since it was frequently traded between countries. Strasbourg maintains a French identity with lots of Germanic influence. We noticed this most in the foods native to the region- but more on food later! The old town is situated between the branches of the River Ill- a tributary of the Rhine- and a mini-island is formed. So many buildings are crammed into this relatively small area! We began at the south-western part of the old city, known as Petit France. The name is misleading; it was given in reference to the clinics there, which used to treat the “French disease”- syphilis! ** Luckily, it’s all shops and homes today.

We made our way through many chic clothing shops. In my estimation, even French in the countryside have better fashion taste than the Germans from my area! We stumbled upon several of the churches that dot the old city, each seeming older and grander than the last. Winding through the city streets is a modern tram system. It looked very nice, but we chose to keep to the sidewalks instead. Don’t let that statement fool you- everyone in Strasbourg jay walks constantly. There were more people in the streets, than cars! We found a bakery that sold Ben and Jerry’s by the scoop… and were drawn in. I had my first experience trying to order food in French. It was silly. First of all, I really only knew how to say numbers… as in “un” paired with vigorous pointing. I couldn’t remember how to say “thank you,” and instead said “please” several times. But after all was finished, we ended up with our baguettes and ice cream, and we enjoyed them in Place Kleber.

We continued through the pedestrian zone, finding a Sephora along the way. I have to make a note- Sephora in France just isn’t as good as Sephora in the states. I expected some fancy stuff, more high-end than you could find in the US due to the huge fashion scene in France. I was let down. They actually carried L’Oreal Paris in the Sephora! Surprised- an understatement!

Eventually, all of our minimal-direction walking landed us at the front of the amazing cathedral of Strasbourg. Until Cologne and Ulm took the spotlight, Strasbourg had the tallest cathedral in the entirety of Catholicism. I’ve seen the cathedral at Cologne, and while it is massively impressive, I think that the Strasbourg cathedral is more beautiful. See for yourself!

We walked through to observe the massive organ, stunning rose window, and incredible stained glass. There was a stone-carved depiction of the Garden of Gethsemane, as well as a really detailed astronomical clock. Sadly, the clock only “goes off” (cuckoo-style apocalyptic judgment scenes) at noon, so we missed it for the day. Katie noticed a carved placard near the clock, which was a monument of thanks to the American soldiers who had fought for the region’s independence from German rule during the Second World War. It was touching.

Next stop (after a very busy but FREE public bathroom) was the Palais Rohan. This palace sits between the cathedral and one of the canals of the Ill River.

It is a beautiful building, which was built for the Rohan family. They played important roles in both religious and secular life in Strasbourg, and therefore had enough money and influence to create a grand palace in an excellent location. The Palais Rohan now houses three museums- an archaeology museum, a decorative arts museum, and the Musée des Beaux-Arts. We four visited the fine art museum and viewed works by el Greco, Goya, Monet, van Dyck, Rubens, and others. It was mostly medieval art, which doesn’t exactly float my boat, but there were some nice pieces.

By the time we finished viewing fine art, we had large appetites to fill. We wandered (again) into a little alley near the Ill and found several small restaurants and cafes all pushed together into a plaza-like outdoor seating area. After purchasing some jewelry from Asia (I got a great enameled bangle), we decided to eat at the Café Rohan. The boys chose the classic European standby- oven-fired pizzas. Katie had this fantastic-looking pasta dish with penne, roasted veggies, and cheese. I wanted to try something specific to Alsace-Lorraine, but foie gras (which originated there) and sauerkraut (which is très populaire) didn’t sound overly appetizing. I chose a local specialty, les pommes de terre avec le fromage de chèvre. Yes, I’ll explain. It was potatoes cooked in an onion-cream sauce with goat cheese and bits of bacon. I chose a glass of champagne to accompany. Having some true champagne at an outdoor restaurant in France was a fun experience. My meal was absolutely fabulous!

To finish our evening, we went on a search for specific souvenirs, and some crêpes. We failed in the crêpe department, mostly because we walked past too many shops, expecting more options… and there were no more. Next trip! I did find an embroidered “France” patch- I collect those from every country I visit. We chose not to purchase any of the renowned Alsacean pottery on this trip, but if you ever visit you should check it out- it’s quite beautiful.

Overall, Strasbourg was a charming city, and had a very different feeling from many German towns, which made us feel as though we’d really experienced a different culture. We cannot wait to see more of France! Don’t forget that more photos are available on our piacasa page. Sadly, Josh’s camera battery died, so we have limited photos of this trip. Thanks for tuning in! Visit France, you’ll have fun!

**Note: In Germany and Italy, syphilis was called the French disease. In France, they called it the Italian disease. Go figure!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Date Night

We had a pretty fun evening, watching rented movies and creating a new recipe for our cookbook. First we watched 10,000 BC, which I had seen before (sometimes the cable movie channel is alright, after all). Josh really enjoyed it, as I suspected he might. :o) It looked really awesome on our new television (thank you, extra tax rebate)... the clarity was wonderful. We watched the alternate ending and I think we both preferred it overall- if you've seen the movie and the alternate ending, what was your opinion?

After an accidental two-hour nap, with the puppy right alongside of course,

we decided that it was time to tackle our dinner plan. We wanted to make chicken fried rice, but had never done it before. Thanks to our love of Miyako (really, any hibachi restaurant), we were able to concoct a really delicious version of fried rice!

We were both quite proud of our work and relished it while watching The Devil Wears Prada, which surprisingly enough, Josh had already seen! I greatly enjoyed the movie, and it was fun to watch something we each knew the other would enjoy. All in all, a very fun evening!

Speaking of films I've seen recently, I'd like to recommend A Mighty Heart to all readers. Keep in mind that it is a true story, and I thought it was very moving- what I'm saying is, if you tend to be emotional you may want to be with someone when you see it. Or maybe you don't like it when people see you crying; then, watch it alone. Either way, go rent the film! (Incidentally, if the latter describes you, also see P.S. I Love You on your own!)

Besides the fact that Angelina Jolie is completely amazing, the story is an important one. Mariane Pearl has long been a person of interest to me, as she has been writing a monthly article for Glamour magazine. Her theme was "Global Diaries: In Search of Hope"; the articles are now compiled into a book, which I recently bought and am anxiously awaiting.

Photo courtesy of

I was always touched by her writing and by the intensity of the issues that she brought to light each month. After seeing this tribute to her, and her husband Daniel, she is my new hero. She is an incredible woman and I'm really enjoying learning more about her. I remember quite some time ago, while the movie was being made and before she began her Global Diaries, Glamour did an interview with Mariane Pearl and Angelina Jolie together. The interview was fabulous, but what really stuck with me was Mariane's incredible compassion, her love of all people, and her desire to make silent voices heard. Just in one interview, all of that came through. So, now that I've waxed poetic about my new heroine, I strongly suggest that you check out the film, read some of her articles, or even get your hands on the memoir that she is currently writing...once it comes out, of course. I don't expect you to pull a Devil Wears Prada move and get the seventh Harry Potter book before it is published. :o)

Have a nice day.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The pieces fit

We've kept ourselves quite busy in the last few weeks. We had a wonderful Fourth of July, including a barbecue with friends and co-workers, and plenty of Rock Band for all involved. (No more Metallica, please!) Last Saturday, we experienced the Altstadtfest downtown with Kara and Steve.
We ate (too much) wonderful food, perused many handmade goods, and even saw a doner kebap stand with a little special "something".

After a grueling working set, Josh spent the next few days off... helping me to deep-clean our apartment. We've been working almost non-stop to get the place looking better than ever before. We're finally hanging things on the walls!

This past "weekend," we also managed to get a new radio for Josh's car. His old one went missing in the move, so we've been without music. The new head unit is going to be great- it has iPod jacks, Blue Tooth so that you can talk on speaker phone through the radio, and will pick up HD radio when we are back in the states. It was a great deal! We found a local American who will install it for a really reasonable price, and I'm sure that Josh can't wait to set up an appointment. Beyond the car situation, we fixed our bedroom curtains so that we can sleep (it's light here for about 18 hours a day), I got an official job offer (which I accepted), I made some headway in learning to drive the manual car, and we finally created a digital version of the monogram that I designed for our wedding. I just put the finishing touches on it and created copies in multiple colors. I used it to make return address labels, but it will be nice to have for all sorts of correspondence and online media.

Lastly, we're hoping to take our first trip to France next week! We have got to pick up an International Driving Permit to accompany Josh's license... it's basically a paper that translates proof of a license into multiple languages. We're hoping to visit Strasbourg, which should be less than two hours' drive. I'm very excited, but a bit nervous due to the reputation of French attitudes toward Americans who cannot speak French. We don't speak French at all... they could cut me a break, I do speak passably well in three languages, but I doubt that it will matter much! :o) Hopefully it will be a fun experience, regardless of the language barrier.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Time flies when you're traveling!

Becky here, bringing you the latest news after nearly a month of silence! If you've been following along, you may remember that I took my trip to the US last month, so I spent most of the month overseas. I had a fabulous trip, thanks for asking! :o)

It was such a thrill and an honor to help Margaret through that last pre-wedding week, and to be present at her marriage to Mike. They met just a few weeks after Josh and I met, so we always say that the summer of 2005 was a lucky one. Their wedding was beautiful and heartwarming, not to mention a ton of fun! I'll write it again, because it merits repetition- many blessings to you, Margaret and Mike!

After the wedding in Chicago, I headed back to the east coast for some quality time with my family. The scheduling worked out perfectly, so I was able to spend time with my grandparents in Philadelphia, and then head to the Jersey shore for the Lomady family beach week. It was great fun and relaxing, as always. I got a bit of color, but was very careful to use my sunblock! My beach cover-ups (very cute dresses that I can wear all summer) still smell like the beach. I am tempted to avoid washing them altogether!

I was also able to visit a few friends in Maryland, which was wonderful and refreshing. Seeing so many friends and family members, who have been with me through all stages of my life, really made me feel grounded, renewed, and above all else, thankful. I returned to Germany with a new, more positive outlook and with excitement for everything that our future holds.

Oh, I also returned with a puppy. :o) Yes, thanks to the hard work of many people (including receptionists, vets, parents, and airline workers), Maggie made it to Germany. She was a bit shaken when I found her in the baggage claim, but soon after she saw Josh and was allowed out of her crate, she seemed much more relaxed. I've been keeping a close eye on her- big changes could cause chaos, but she seems quite well-adjusted now, and is as comfortable as ever with sprawling her tiny body across as much surface area of a couch or bed as is possible.

Josh recently celebrated his 5 year mark- that's five years devoted to the Army thus far. Only three years and some months to go! Congratulations to him! He impresses me because I have never held one job for that amount of time. I guess that college life and then military spouse life doesn't really lend itself to long-term employment, but still, I think his commitment is to be applauded! As far as employment for this writer goes... well, I had an interview the day before I left Germany, and later this week I get to fill out the paperwork! I will be working in a coffee shop once again, and I'm excited. I see it as a way to get out of the house, make some spending and traveling money, and most importantly, to meet some new people! Perhaps we will buy a second vehicle down the road (hopefully a Smart Car!). For now, I'll work around Josh's schedule and be happy to be working at all!

In closing, it is bloody hot in Germany right now. Today our indoor/outdoor thermometer said it was 102 degrees outside. I don't know if it was completely accurate, but it certainly felt like it may have been correct. I will welcome fall with open arms, if this is going to continue!