Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Things We Did Over Break

So far, 2017 is off to a pretty good start. It's been pretty chilly here, but still nothing compared to the temperatures we had in Cleveland - that's my gauge for cold now. I can't really remember what 0 degrees (fahrenheit!) feels like, but I know nothing feels as cold as those Ohio winters!

The institute Carson works at was on break from December 23 until January 9, so Carson was on a more relaxed schedule. He's not really subject to the whims of the department anyway, but he has picked up a few classes he attends throughout the week when school is in session. Obviously you don't see that part of our lives, because it probably looks like he's ALWAYS home and we're ALWAYS off adventuring.In reality most days he's headed off by 8 and home around 6 and the pictures you see are from weekends or evenings when we're together. Just wanted to clarify that, in case it looked like he was playing hooky for a year! Anyway, he didn't have the burden of classes or meetings, so while he still went to the office every day of the break, he was home a little earlier on some days and left a little later on others. It was nice having him around more! 

But here are some things we've been doing over that winter break.

I researched iPhone cases. I used to have a hard plastic but not super protective case and that worked fine, then I got confident about my ability to protect an expensive phone. I bought a pretty case with no lip on the front and had it on for less than 24 hours before dropping it face down on pavement, which cracked the screen. Since then, I've been using a Lifeproof Nuud case (mine is white/teal). I like it because it's tough, and I know that because I drop it all the time by accident. It's got a clear back, the screen is sealed but not covered with a plastic film (Carson has the Lifeproof Fre and it has one of those plastic things and I HATE it), and is just generally a great case. The one flaw I find with it is that ONLY Apple chargers fit in it. Carson's fits a slightly larger charger size but not mine, and Apple cords are pricey and sort of flimsy. I've also had the case for over a year and thanks to the constant drops, the case has seen better days. It's still protecting my phone, but it has cracks and some of the rubber has come off. Another issue that isn't that big of a deal for me is that the sound quality isn't great. Not a dealbreaker though.

So, I wanted something that was okay if dropped, since try as I might, I have the grip of a three year old (sorry for the caricature, three year olds). I watched countless YouTube reviews and drop tests on phone cases and read countless reviews online before coming up with a few options. I included my old case on the list because I really do like it except for the charger issue. There were some really highly rated clear cases with some crazy awesome reviews (some had fallen off roller coasters or gotten run over in a parking lot with no damage!), but several of them said they yellow easily and I couldn't find any drop tests for those so I was slightly wary. I wavered between the Spiegen Ultra Hybrid in clear, the Caseology Skyfall in Champagne, and the more protective Otterbox Commuter (I didn't really like the look of the clear Otterbox Symmetry once I saw pictures online). I polled friends on Facebook and nearly everyone mentioned Otterbox, so I decided to go for it and order the Otterbox Commuter. Part of the reason I did my research online was because I haven't found stores here that sell any of these cases so I can't check them out in person. Amazon Prime wasn't available for these to ship to Germany, so I had to ship to my mother in law who's coming later this month, or I might have ordered a few cases and compared, then sent one back.

Anyway, that process took many days, and I hope I made a good decision!

I haven't tried these to see if they're like Cool Ranch Doritos, but I thought the name was hilarious. 

The lake has wavered between frozen and unfrozen, and last week it was the most frozen we've seen it. Flocks of birds sit in the center of the ice and we can't figure out why they do that (is it warm/comfortable? Do they know they're safer there because the ice isn't thick enough to walk on?), but they seem very content. We were freeeeeezing on this day as I walked Carson to the office and then did some window shopping downtown.

People have been taking small chunks of ice from the edge of the lake and throwing it onto the thicker ice in the middle, where it breaks and makes a cool sound. 

I haven't been able to catch up with as many people as I might have liked lately, but we have had a few Google Hangouts/FaceTime sessions with people lately. Hi Emily and Tirzah!

It snowed again! The snow was a little more dry the second time around and we saw fewer snowmen the next day, but it was really pretty! It's been pretty rainy and gloomy for the most part and I can't remember the last time I saw a blue sky, so the snow is sort of nice to break up the wet rain. A day or so after the snow fell, there was some hail, which was super unpleasant because we were about a mile from home and had to walk back with stinging wet ice balls in our faces. 

Snow covering the Aasee

I had some really good Kartoffelpfannkuchen (potato pancakes) in Hamburg last month and I've been craving them since. I know they're similar to latkes so we looked up a latke recipe and attempted. The biggest problem was that the holes in our grater are small, so they don't grate as well, and then the mixture was so water even after squeezing for so long, so they weren't great. Next time, we will grate early in the day and leave them in a colander with a dish towel weighed down by something heavy, and maybe use less onion and add a little more garlic or something. They weren't super crispy. I mixed creme fraiche with some chives as a topping and we had applesauce too, since that's pretty good with these. Next time!

You know that I love a good reminiscing session... well, it's been ten years since I graduated from high school so here's one of my senior pictures next to a picture from Montserrat last month! It seems really weird that it's been a decade! 

Carson is taking another class in Syriac this semester from his advisor at FSU and so he's been writing it out when possible. 

Oh! And I may not have posted anything about this but GOOD NEWS, we'd been looking for a casserole dish that was tiny enough to fit our oven and also not really expensive because we're probably not going to lug anything glass back to the US - we happened on this for 5€ when looking for something else and it's so cute. Carson mixed spaghetti noodles with a variety of spices and dairy products we needed to use to make a baked spaghetti the first day we had this, and it was nice to have something in the oven that didn't require reimagining things that can be cooked on a cookie sheet.  It's ceramic and the outside is aqua while the inside is cream. On second thought, maybe we will lug it home!

Anyway, we made this Parmesan Herb Salmon the other night (I saw the video for it on Facebook - anyone else like watching those videos? I love the cake/sweets ones even though I'm never going to make them because I don't like baking and we don't have the right ingredients/measuring instruments here) and it was so good! We sort of modified it because we had smaller frozen salmon filets and we used breadcrumbs instead of almond meal because that's what we had. We'll make this again! It was easy and we didn't need to shop for anything to make it!

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