Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween and Happy Birthday

Even though my calendar says that it is Halloween, it doesn't feel like it here.  Yes, the danish stores sell pumpkin and ghost decorations...even a few costumes...However, I have yet to see the massive 'shrine to candy' in any store or even a single trick-or-treater (well there is candy but it is, most likely, in the usual aisle and in the same colored wrappers as always). I am okay with this though, because it feels and looks like fall here.  I think it was Friday morning that scout and I set off to find this small lake near our house.  We found the lake and after seeing just a few seconds of it,  I decided to turn around and run home to grab my real camera because I could not get over how amazingly spectacular the colors and overall ambiance were on that morning (that sentence just makes me sound like a weirdo.. spectacular ambiance?)  Maybe the pictures, from just a regular camera will prove this to you :)
Trail towards the lake

The water had been like glass when I was there 20 mins earlier.  By the time I returned, ducks had arrived.

All I can say is that the picture just doesn't do it justice.

It actually looks warm in this picture!  I can assure you that it was still quite cool

Now here the water was like glass

I seem to take a lot of this type of photo
And the humorous part of this particular morning was that there were probably 100 toddler, preschool and elementary school-aged children around the lake at the same time.  I, with a cute-faced dog, am always popular with the kids....only problem here in DK:  most kids only know a few words of english. (such as 'ciao'  which I had to tell them was actually italian)  But, my beginner danish was enough to communicate with them...and they seemed to understand me, which gave me about the biggest boost in my 2nd language quest yet :)  Scout eventually became impatient with all the inactivity and began whining. The kids thought he was whining about the ducks..I didn't really know how to tell them that he was ready to go, but they thought that I didn't know what a duck was in danish.  They started to say "quack" in danish...which I attempted to say back to them..obviously wrong...bc one of the girl did the most dramatic "rappen" (quack), rolling R and all ( & danes don't roll their r's)  It was just so funny to me and I enjoyed it.  I also noticed that the teachers here seem a bit more relaxed with where the kids are and what they were doing.  A group of toddlers was playing by a lake for pete's sake! (and climbing through dense foliage in kids not get lost here??)  I just don't see that happening in the U.S....unless a fence was installed around the lake and maybe then...
Now I will end this post by wishing one of my best friends a happy, happy birthday...She was told growing up that people dressed up in costumes just for her every year...To Rachael, I hope you have a great day and see many costumed people :)  

Friday, October 28, 2011

At Least 1 Room is finished

When we arrived in DC, the movers took, dumped really, everything out of the boxes and were on their way.  I stayed up for 3 days, with a few hours of sleep, working to have our entire apartment organized and ready for living. (and good thing it only took 3 was repacked less than 6 months later)

It has been a bit different here.  There are no giant closets for stuffing things without a "place".  The bedrooms are tiny, so the dressers have had to find new homes here.  Oh, and the clothes that used to be in those dresser drawers...well, they are in the closet in a very nice, "open air" (aka open to dust, dog hair, dead bugs--whatever else happens to end up in that space) 24-cubby built-in.   The dressers now reside in other rooms, holding different things than they have ever held just feels slightly strange to me...and maybe to the dressers :) It is a bit like fruit basket upset--in our previous homes, when moving, everything went back to where it was and what it was next to ---but here, everything has changed seats.  However, I am happy to say that...

The kitchen is complete and it feels great!  I can actually cook real food more $20 cheeseburgers. My wallet and digestive system are happy.

Behold, the best kitchen in DK for an American.  It's large, has a full sized fridge and freeze (behind me) and a lot of storage, despite not having overheard cabinets.  I would just like to point out the paper towels in this picture.  They are about an inch and a half shorter than american paper towels and are thinner, crappier-whatever bad descriptor you'd like to use-than the cheapest u.s.  off-brand.  Sorry Denmark, I am just sayin, they suck.

Ed hung one shelf for my cookbooks...and my shrinking collection of 'lifelike' kitchen appliances from one of my favorite college professors.  Thank you Mr. Jones, where ever you are these days..

I learned to love real flowers in DC..and will continue that tradition here..though a $3.99 Trader Joes bundle of flowers these are not :(

My magnetic spice board from florida is now on the wall

Any bets on how long it will take me to kill these plants?
And my 'welcome to denmark' gift to myself " A Little more Candy"--along with Matador Mix from Haribo.  My friend Sara introduced me...and I think she's created a slik monster.  If you're reading this Sara, mange tak.  And i have to mention my table cloth...because I love it.  Look at the full kitchen picture and see how great it is!  I normally do not like table cloths and have never used one but  the attached-to-the-countertop table has a non-existent seal.  You set any cup down, with any type of liquid that has made it to the outside of the glass, and there will be a circular stain left behind.  Lesson learned, we now have a really awesome liquid-resistant table cloth.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Forest

I will probably say it 1000 times before we move again but I love the area where our house is located.  I love it! I am not sure if it's because I have always wanted to live near woods, hills, trails and creeks or because when I am out on the trail, I feel 'normal'--like I could be anywhere.  I am not struggling to understand spoken danish,  stammering "Jeg taler engelsk bedre end dansk"  (I have a feeling these words will be used quite often in the coming months..years..), or attempting to differentiate between the 20 kroner (approx $3.75) and 10 kroner coins while staring into my now stuffed-to-the-brim coin purse.

Side story to go with the money here-I went into the gas station last night to buy ice cream and a magazine--a danish magazine.  I didn't say anything to the girl that was ringing me up but when I began fishing the 80 kroner out of my coin purse, it became painfully obvious that I was not all that familiar with danish money, or danish for that matter.  I'm sure as I left, she had to wonder why in the world I would be buying a danish magazine...and the ice cream. Well that was to sooth my depression over paying around $15 for stuff that in America, would have cost about $8 :)

So back to where we live.  As I was saying, I love it.  I am just another person out for a jog with my dog.  No one gives me a second look.  I have a feeling that scout and I will be spending a lot of time on the trails...
It's not difficult to see that Hans Christian Andersen had plenty of fairy tale inspiration all around him. I know he didn't write Little Red Riding Hood but sometimes running through here, I think about her...skipping through the forest to grandmother's house (which is probably the house with the thatched roof at the end of this particular trail!)

Beginning of fall colors

Perfect morning (not a gravestone behind ed in case you were wondering)

In front of our house--scout smells rabbit, which is why he is licking his chops
Scout, my running buddy

Monday, October 24, 2011

Danish mosquitos, the happiest mosquitos on earth?

My first 2 weekends here in DK have been amazing, weather-wise.  Blue skies, few to no clouds and cool, to cold crisp air--but the sun has been out. In the sunshine, I can even feel a bit of warmth :) On these days, we have been leaving a few windows open to let in fresh air and to let out all the paint smells from our weekend painting project.  With all of the open windows, more than a few mosquitos came right on in to take up residence inside the house.   I was initially worried and was chasing them around trying to kill them by clapping my hands together on them (looking like a fool in the process I'm sure).   I didn't want to become easy dinner in the middle of the night.  However, I began to notice that none of these mosquitos were seeking me out, but instead landing on the walls and just sitting there..sitting there for days in fact (though I think this mosquito must have just died). At this point, I didn't care what they were doing as long as it continued to not involve me.
I find mosquitos to be evil looking, and even more so up close 

While in Texas, I was sought out by the local mosquitos and even spotted the infamous Dengue-fever- carrying Asian Tiger mosquito landing on my arm (true story--in the month of August, there were 2 reported cases of Dengue fever in Tarrant county)  Since moving to Denmark, I have not been bitten once.  Not one time!  I seem to be invisible to them.  I can walk past 2 hovering baddies and they don't seem to notice me.  I don't think Ed has been bitten either. (ever check verb conjugations in your own language? i do--apparently 'has been bit' is not correct :)   I just do not understand it...They are still out and about so they are not completely dead yet.  I looked at a dead one to make sure it was actually a mosquito-and it was, stinger and all.  Is it our processed-food filled American blood? haha  I searched google for an answer...and the closest thing to an answer I could find was that 'they hibernate'.  Hibernation doesn't really seem like an option for a bug with a lifespan of a few weeks. It was actually quite 'warm' out on many of the days so I wouldn't consider this optimal 'hibernation' weather....

Anyway, I am definitely not complaining-just curious.  Anyone else have an experience with non-biting Danish mosquitos? 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Excuse me, do you have a REAL can opener?

Somehow, even with about 100 utensils to our name, Ed and I ended up here in Denmark without a regular can-opener.  I only say regular because I just assumed that a standard can opener in the western world was the 'normal' kind, you know, the one with two wheels that 'bite' into the edge of the can and then turning the wheel handle (i guess this is what it could be called) opens the can in under 30 seconds...

So, as I was saying,  we didn't have a can opener...In the first few days here, Ed looked for a can opener at a small grocery store but didn't see one.  Once I arrived, we looked for one at a larger store that is a cross between a SuperTarget and Walmart.  We found the kitchen area and again could not find a normal can opener.  Ed found an employee and asked if they had a can opener.  She took him to the utensil section and pointed to this and said there you go, this is the only can opener we have.

I guess it can be a bottle opener now.

Uh, okay.  Well, we needed to open a can so we bought it...though Ed declared as he was tossing in the cart "I think I would be better off just using my camping knife."  

Well, I was not satisfied with this.  I didn't watch Ed's attempt to open a can with this, but it definitely didn't take 30 seconds or less. I had already made up my mind to search every store in Kolding and pay any price for a normal can opener! I could see how it worked but I just wasn't going to accept this hook as my can opener.

A couple days later, I found myself back at the mall with some new friends.  I casually asked if there was a kitchen store--and there was, so we went.  I scanned the utensils, none, found an employee and both asked, and mimed what I was shopping for, and again, nothing. They actually were completely sold out of all can openers, but the clerk assured me that what they normally did have was not the kind that I was looking for...At this point I was feeling really disappointed because I thought for sure this would have been the place I would have found it.  As I was roaming the store, feeling slightly dejected, I was cheered by the sight of purple KitchenAid stand mixers.  Stand mixers always make me happy...and as I was staring at the boysenberry-colored mixer (yes, you have got to see this color-- so pretty!) I happened to glance to the left and see this
I promise you, my new kitchen bff, to never put you in the dishwasher
Oh my goodness, it was like seeing an oasis in the desert!  Haha, dramatic, but my true feelings at the moment!  There IT was!!  I have actually had 2 KitchenAid can-openers in the past and never was very happy with either (probably bc I put them in the dishwasher, which ruins them over time). This can opener, well I love it.  It is my new best friend in the kitchen. 

I just have to point out one last thing before I end this little saga (aside from the obvious--if you are moving overseas and are accustomed to something as simple as a can opener, bring it with you if possible) This box set of 5 kitchenaid utensils was originally 629 Danish kroner...roughly $120.  Yep, that's right, around $24/utensil. It's sale price was about $60.  I wasn't terribly happy about this 'sale' until I spotted another KA can-opener (yes, apparently KA has a corner on the American-style can opener market here) at a different kitchen store.  It was just the opener by itself and cost 200DKK--$40. Now I am definitely not complaining about my sale price :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hello from Denmark

I don't really have time to be typing now but I thought that I should go ahead and get it out of the way.  YES! I finally made it to Denmark.  The weather during my first 4 days was unseasonably amazing (according to people who are from here--I thought that it was just normal Denmark ;)   The sky was clear and so blue.  The air was crisp and cool....and I was inside unpacking so didn't really get to enjoy it as I suppose I should have.  Now that a cold rain is falling outside, I feel like I am really in Denmark.
The apple tree in my backyard.  I have been picking up, and throwing away the bad apples on the ground and yet I cannot keep up! They fall too fast!
The trip from DFW to Billund, DK was about as smooth as air travel can be, literally and figuratively.  I watched Scout ride the 'magic carpet' into the bottom of the first plane so I knew he wasn't being left behind. Both flights left nearly on-time and Scout survived his 16 hour lock-up.  I was quite worried about him in Germany though.  I asked the flight attendant if my dog had made it to the jet yet and he said "Oh yes, I saw him! He was sleeping!"  Scout? Sleeping when anything exciting is happening? I didn't believe it so I assumed that he had died of stress and just looked asleep.  It was so sad when he finally was brought into the baggage area to be picked up. Ed and I were at the kennel door waiting for a pair of scissors to cut the zip-ties...Scout was just shaking and wasn't aware of much that was going on around him-he didn't even notice Ed.  Poor, poor scout.  He won't be flying again until he makes his return trip to America.
As for me, I didn't sleep a wink on the plane and by the time I fell asleep here for the first time, I had be awake for about 40 hours straight.   With the help of Ambien, I have nearly avoided jet-lag all together..

I love the area that the house we are renting is in.  The forest is nearby.  There are many trails that people walk and ride bikes on so Scout and I have been going on them everyday.  Our neighbors have been very helpful and friendly.  The stereotype of the Danes is that they are 'cold' and reserved and may say "we should get together sometime" but in the end, never follow through.  I don't doubt other people's experiences but our experience has been quite the opposite.  We have attended a birthday party for a stuffed dog, had coffee and even dinner with two other families.

The Great Unpack is still underway.  Since the bedrooms are so small, and there is basically one closet in the entire house, nothing is being stored in same places as before.  The house has a remodeled master closet with about 20 slightly-larger-than-milkcrate cubes...anything that was previously in a dresser drawer is now in a cube.  The dressers will now be used for holding candles, art supplies, dishes...the important things :)

That about covers everything going on here.  I am hoping to be finished unpacking by the end of the week so will be able to leave the house and see more of the town. I will try to take a few pictures of the house also--after I figure out how to recharge my camera battery here!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Farewell Texas, it's been good

Tonight is my last night in Texas for awhile.  I have had such a good time here so I am a little bit sad to leave, but I am really looking forward to being with Ed again.   Skype is great but nothing beats being with someone in person. So, here's a look back at my past few weeks:

I love cupcakes so much that mom and I decided to make a batch....then I was allowed to attempt to decorate them.  Found out it's more difficult than it looks haha
ugliest cupcakes ever. They tasted good though
 I met up with Jennifer, my friend from middle school, to have dinner...Nothings really changed between us except that we are older, married and maybe wiser :)

 Scout went to the vet at Shepherd AFB to have his traveling paperwork filled out.  My parents were expecting to witness the 'tan terror' that Ed and I know in the car but apparently he wanted to impress his 'grandparents'

 Again, the huge zucchini...

I went to see my friend Spring play her recital...She was amazing!  

Spring's sister Autumn--One of my best friends.  She too had to pose with the baby-sized zucch.

Autumn & I

I finally had a ride on the 'secret' motorcycle that my parents tried to hide from Ed and I (yes, they never told us that they had bought a motorcycle...they owned it for months before my grandma accidently mentioned that she had been on it over the phone)

Tonight, my parents and I went to the State Fair of Texas.  I thought that we went a lot when I was younger but I guess I was remembering stock shows and other livestock/fried food events I attended growing up in this area.  I suppose we never went because it is so expensive.  $16 dollars a person adds up quickly.  Thankfully, we found out that on Tuesdays, an empty Dr. Pepper can will get you a $4 ticket. We all had a Dr. Pepper before heading in
I felt bad for this Longhorn. His horns were about as wide as the pen

Mom and I waiting for the 'amazing doberman' show.  I wouldn't say it was amazing but it was pretty cool.  Alot of dogs hopping on their back legs and hurdle-jumping dobermans.

 A pinwheel park.

 Mom and I on the ferris wheel

 Texas Star

 Mom and Dad with Big Tex

We found the fried bubblegum too late.  This is the hot item at the TX state fair this year...

Well, I worked on one other project the entire time I was here--I refinished (with the help of both my parents) a chair and a bench that sit out in my parents yard.  They are not finished yet but almost! I guess I will have to put a picture up later

And that about covers it!  Next time I write, I will be writing from my own computer, in my own (rented) house! Until then, farvel!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Everything's Bigger in Texas

My mom has a little raised garden plot that she is renting this year.  Since I have been staying here, I have been walking down to the garden with her to help pick & water the vegetables.  Who knows how many times we have picked zucchini from this same plant but happened to never spot this guy

Literally the size of a baby
wow that's a big vegetable!

It weighs 8 pounds and is about 21 inches in length.  The other 2 zucchini around it are just regular-sized zucchini.  And for a little more perspective on how massive this thing is, a few more pictures.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Cupcakes in Denmark?! Hooray!

Looks like I will be able to continue my search for the 'best cupcake' once I am in Denmark.  Two of my friends from the blog world visited a shop in DK that sells cupcakes...You can read about their trip here and here!