27 December 2010

Looking back on a Canadian holiday

About this time last year I was returning from an adventure with our northern neighbors in CANADA! The  torch for the Vancouver Winter Olympics was passing through Toronto the night I arrived.
It was a reunion of sorts with my dear friend Clara M. who I met during my 6 month séjour in France. I met her wonderful family and boyfriend whom I felt as if I had met before from so many shared anecdotes. We sat on the chesterfield, sang songs, ate the most delicious Canadian cuisine (poutine, flapjacks with maple syrup and back bacon), and Clara taught me how to knit. We cooked and baked like we did together practically every night in France. I even witnessed a spaghetti noodle adorn the wooden beam in the kitchen.
We cross country skied over the river and through the snowy woods and sacrificed the tip top of a tree to wear beautiful ornaments in the living room. We cuddled next to the wood burning stove which gave off the smell that most reminds me of Christmas. Much of what I've written does not make sense, but it does to me and this is how I look back very fondly on my time in Canada.

23 December 2010

Photo of the Week- Happy Holidays from Prague!

The Christmas Markets are closing up shop. Who wants to work on Christmas?! It's been a magical Christmas season in Prague. Happy Holidays to my readers!

The video below does an amazing job of capturing the mood of Prague at Christmas time. Watch and enjoy:

22 December 2010

Bathing in Beer: The Ultimate Relaxation

Maybe you've heard that the Czech Republic has the highest beer consumption per capita in the world. After living here for 5 months I can vouch that it is indeed true. Czechs love beer. They love it so much that they bathe in it.

Since I'm here for the culture why not do as the Czechs do! So I journeyed 3 hours by train to the western most region of Bohemia to Chodová Planá home of the Chodovar Brewery. When the tag line for a company is "Your beer wellness land" you know it's going to be good.

The Pravé pivní lázně or Original Beer Spa is one of their specialties. Picture this:  warm mineral water mixed with beer and beer ingredients- hops, yeast, and barley. And what could be better than bathing in beer? Bathing in beer and drinking a beer! Take it from me, this is one hangover cure that you need to experience to believe!

14 December 2010

Kold in Kraków

How should I describe Kraków, Poland? On the particular weekend of our visit it was COLD. A cold that burns your face and calls for a double layer of socks, pants, and scarves. Snow swirling in the atmosphere enveloped the city in an eerie haze, concealing the tip tops of Corpus Christi Church and the Wawel Castle. About every 20 minutes we popped into Ciasteczka z Krakowa, which became our favorite café, to thaw out and caffeine up.

Despite the snow and cold, people were out and about as on a beautiful spring day. Older women and men stood behind Polish bagel stands all day looking unfazed, and rather preserved.  The Christmas market was bustling with tourists and AMAZING FOOD- pierogi, potatoes, kielbasa, hot wine, and other warm Polish staples.

We spend a lot of time in the Kazimierz area, or the Krakow Jewish Quarter. There's something cool to see in every alleyway and square. It seemed to be a great place to find Polish nightlife. The ambiance and people found here reminded me of the Kreuzberg neighborhood in Berlin- young, chic, and willingly changing with the times. Pubs are around ever corner and Polish wódka or VODKA is a promising way to forget about the cold. I don't usually like vodka but I really enjoyed the famous honey vodka... and the herb vodka... and the mint vodka...

Moving right along. RELIGION was much more present than in Prague, even though both were communist for a time. Pope John Paul II, the first and only Slavic pope, has had a big influence especially in the southern region near his hometown. I willingly payed 6zl ($2) to take a peek inside what I think is the most beautiful church I've ever seen: St. Mary's Basilica. The inside isn't the usual concrete drab, it's an explosion of blue, red, and gold. At the time we went there might have even been more people praying than there were touring.

The Polish are serious about religion. There is a famous salt mine nearby where miners built an underground cathedral. Everything in the cathedral is made of (black) salt right down to the chandelier. This is somewhere I'd like to visit if I return in a warmer month. Yes, in the spring I would definitely consider returning for a longer visit in Poland to soak up a bit more culture in this large country bordering the CR to the north.

12 December 2010

Photo of the Week- Foggy lens

Going in and out of the cold weather in Poland gave me and my camera quite the chill. The lens of my camera fogged up inside a dim bar and captured the ambiance perfectly.

Marlowe's Time to Shine

Last summer I hung out a lot with Lala's dog, Marlowe. She often became the subject of my aimless photoshoots but to be fair she liked the attention. Maybe you remember my efforts to make her famous. I sent in her photo to two dog-loving websites- hipsterpuppies and Oscar Blues Brewery. First her Old Chub photo made it to the OB website. And finally this week, Marlowe has stolen many hipster hearts on the hipsterpuppies blog. As Marlowe's manager I must admit that I'm not thrilled with the caption, but I can't complain because she's on hipsterpuppies!

I do realize she's a dog but getting photo time one of my favorite blogs deserves some attention!

06 December 2010

Photo of the Week: 'Tis the xmas market season

The season is in full throttle and I've never experienced anything quite like it. Christmas markets galore! All over central Europe the markets are hopping even after the sun goes down. Despite the Christian connotation of the Christmas holidays, the markets are just as prominent in the Czech Republic where there is a large atheist population. People swarm the outdoor stalls buying traditional holiday gifts or for something to warm their stomaches like hot chocolate, coffee, grog, or hot/mulled wine. Food is also easy and cheap to come by. The potatoes roasting next to grilled sausages and steaming pot of sauerkraut seem to sell themselves. Whatever your motive, the markets are well worth a stroll just to rub shoulders with locals or tourists alike and soak in the holiday season.

Snow like whoa

It's been snowing in Prague just about non-stop for about a week. The campus seems to always have a fresh layer of snow on top, keeping the dirty snow from scratching the White Christmas soundtrack that plays over and over in my head. At the moment I think the snow brightens the mood on a campus of the boxy, communist-era architecture. But ask me again as I grow tired of the bleak winter weather and I might think the opposite.

What about winter here, you wonder? Well salting is uncommon. Instead you will likely slide on the ice then shake your fist at the person who thought that spreading gravel on the ground would help with traction. My snowy winter experiences in Colorado and Missouri have not really prepared me for a Central European winter, especially when it comes to the cold. A weekend in Poland was a lesson in winterology where it was between 0 and 10 degrees fahrenheit day and night. Not good tourist weather! And the snow keeps falling. I'm thankful for public transportation and the fact that I don't have to deal with this.

28 November 2010

Photo of the Week- Moravian Wonderland

A view of the abandoned St. Sebastian Church at the top of the Holy Hill in Mikulov. Looking down on the snow covered countryside was well worth the hike. My first visit to Moravia was timed perfectly with the first snowfall of the holiday season. It was only appropriate to warm up in cozy wine bar after seeing the snow covered vineyards! There we sampled wines from the Moravia region. Ordering can be tricky when white wines have the word "red" in the title. Communicating with the friendly locals was a fun mixture of hand signals, czech-english dictionaries, and the occasional use of Jon's German skills. English-speaking tourists do not seem to frequent this quant Czech town. But this American will be back there in the summer when those vines are lush with grapes and the countryside is begging to be hiked.

25 November 2010

No turkey but still thankful

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade,
NFL Thanksgiving Classic,
Thanksgiving Dinner and Dessert,
the ridiculousness that is Black Friday.

These are some of the things I will miss about Thanksgiving. But this list of American Thanksgiving traditions that I taught my classes about this week isn't the real reason why I will miss the celebration this holiday. I will miss being with my family. Every year we have been together in one place or another to celebrate. This year they will be celebrating with the newest addition to our family, baby Ethan!

Turkey day 2 years ago

So instead of trying to recreate the holiday in the Czech Republic, I'm celebrating this year sans turkey. Without all the holiday distractions I am able to just concentrate on the people in my life that I am thankful for.

First I am thankful for my family. We are all a bit crazy but that's what I love about us! Without my loving parents I wouldn't be who I am or where I am today. My sisters are my best girlfriends and we love each other unconditionally.

I'm so incredibly thankful for my boyfriend! This year we are spending our very first Thanksgiving together in the Czech Republic. The past five years have been full of laughter and love. He's my favorite travel buddy and my other half.

I'm thankful for my extended family and all my friends around the world- my family and friends who I do not get to see often but are always a skype call away. Basically I'm thankful for every encounter I've ever had with the people who have been in my life and allowed me to be in theirs. <3

Thank you!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!

22 November 2010

Photo of the Week- Pilsner Urquell Brewery

Plzeň is only a one hour bus ride from Prague, and with a Brewery like Pilsner Urquell it is well worth the trip. If you want to try "Pilsner from the original source" or Plzeňský Prazdroj as it is called in Czech then Plzen is the place to go. The brewery tour is available in English 3 times per day and only costs 80 CZK for students (roughly 4 USD). The tour lasts 1.5 hours and includes a tour of the packing plant, exhibition, beautiful brewhouse, "hall of fame", and the cellars. The cellars were my favorite part. The sweet scent of hops, barley, and water fermenting in wooden barrels is enough to make your mouth water. We were served a large cup of open air fermented, unpasteurized Pilsner Urquell directly from the barrel. It doesn't get fresher than that. Even the head was delicious (Czech beer is meant to be served with a thick head of foam). On the way out of the cellars, there is a dummy beer barrel top. Why? To see if you're small enough to be a beer-barrel cleaner. This involves fitting through a tiny oval in the front of the barrel. Everyone shied away except for me. I stripped out of my coat layer and shimmied my way through that hole. If teaching doesn't work out for me, at least I know of one alternative.

14 November 2010

Photo of the Week- Decorating with Human Bones

40,000 human skeletons decorate Kotnice Ossuary in Kutná Hora, Czech Republic. The bodies are from Black Plague and Hussite Wars of the 14th and 15th century. The chandelier in the middle of the Ossuary might just be the most interesting piece. It makes use of every bone in the human body.

This scene can't help but remind me of the Catacombs in Paris I visited a year and a half ago.

Seeing stacks of thousands of people's bones is eye opening and quite sobering to the idea of how precious life is and unavoidable fate of death.

07 November 2010

Photo of the Week- Final colors of Autumn

The last viewing of autumn on a tree outside the Dresdner Residenzschloss in Dresden. Colors are fading quickly in Central Europe but this tree took advantage of its time to shine before winter.

Tančící dům (Dancing House in Prague)

Last week's grammar lesson reviewed the comparative and superlative. I quizzed my class by asking relatable questions. "What is the busiest street in your city? What is the nicest beach you've ever been to?" Another was, "What's the ugliest building you've ever seen?" I was amused and surprised by some of the responses to the latter. Many students responded: "The Dancing House" in Prague. The Dancing House is a popular sight in many tourist guidebooks, so why do students think it's ugly? I was determined to investigate.
The building is located at a busy intersection next to the Vltava River. You can see the building bend and dance differently from each corner of the intersection. This modern, anti-symmetrical building draws a lot of attention because of its location amidst the popular Baroque, Gothic, and Art Nouveau buildings nearby. It could be an eyesore if you are accustomed to traditional architecture. I think this is the whole point. The city could have decided to make this corner lot look similar to the other buildings nearby, but instead, they made into a time piece. The modern architecture in the Dancing House is inspiring and representative of the new age and freedoms recently granted to the country after the fall of Communism only a few years before it was designed. To me, the building is dancing to celebrate its existence. The fact that it is able to exist and to celebrate the creativity of its time. It is unique. It is interesting. Call it ugly, but the idea behind the dancing house is beautiful. 

04 November 2010


Today I received my first "job-that-requires-a-degree" paycheck. The woman at the cashiers desk counted out thousand bills right in front of my eyes. I decided to hold out on the crowns-to-dollars conversion in attempt to make the good vibes last throughout the day. It wasn't a large amount, but it was enough to make my first month of teaching worth all the hard work. As expected teaching is much harder than it looks. Saying the right things and explaining in the right way has been challenging. Often times I learn something new about the English language as well. There are way more differences between British English and American English than I thought- many of them in spelling. My students love correcting my spelling because the textbook I teach uses British English. "Miss Teacher, you spelled recogniSe with a Z!" Damn my smart students! Maybe I shouldn't admit this, but I also didn't know the difference between Further and Farther. Maybe you don't either... check it.

I'm infamous for my terrible drawings on the whiteboard. When words fail, I try to draw a picture of the object in question. I learned recently that innocent drawings on the board can turn completely wrong. Cactus is the word. "What is a cactus?" a student asks. Instead of using my words, I let the marker do the talking. My little black squiggles were not bad, I must say. But the class clown decided he'd explain to the class in Czech what my drawing looked like in his dirty mind. Think about it. Okay, so I erased it quickly and it took a good 2 minutes to calm down the laughter. 

These are the funny moments that I will remember as my experience teaching in the Czech Republic. I will not remember when my class mocks me for saying "Awesome" or the blank stares I get when I ask "Does everyone understand?". One month down and 8 months left of making good memories.

02 November 2010

Happy Euroween!

Halloween in Europe is nothing to get excited about. There are no pumpkins, no candy corn, and no costumes. The lack of holiday spirit in Europe (especially the Czech Republic) inspired me to teach my Czech students about traditional American Halloween rituals, only to realize it's more of a "you have to be there" kind of holiday. My large arm motions and funny words earned me some crazy looks. Maybe I just looked like a childish American, but I refuse to hide my Halloween spirit. It was actually refreshing to teach my students about a new part of American culture that they didn't already learned about from movies and TV shows.

I'm all about carving pumpkins, bobbing for apples, costume parties, and haunted houses. If you recall last year I participated in the Columbia Zombie Walk. There were no zombies shuffling down the streets this Halloween, but I did visit the Joker (aka Ariana) and her s'more of a dog in Vienna, Austria. Jon and I attended a mostly American Halloween party which was invaded by a clan of Batman villains. The costumes at the party were incredibly resourceful and artistic. Along with the villains was Mr. T, a Care Bear, Mexican Dia de los Muertos skeletons, and many many more. Creativity is at its best when Walmart's convenient pre-packaged costumes are a continent away.

We celebrated Halloween with a appropriately named American drinking game called "Circle of Death". The "nine is a rhyme" card got a bit more complicated as English words were rhymed with German and the other languages represented in the circle of doomed poetry.

This Halloween I did not dunk my head into a bucket of water in search of a juicy apple. I did not pay a ridiculous amount of money or stand in a long queue to scream my head off as a man chases after me with a chainsaw. But I did get to look at All Hallow's Eve from another angle this year. I have realized that it is a rather absurd Americanized holiday but it is something that I love to participate in because it is a fun excuse to wear a crazy costume and play childish games with friends.

01 November 2010

Photo of the Week- The Sound of Austria

A flower? No, a beautiful antique phonograph for sale at the Naschmarkt in Vienna. This massive food market blossoms into a flea market on Saturdays where you can find anything from hardware tools to fur coats.

Expats Dot CZ saved the day.

Getting sick in a foreign country is not a fun experience as I learned this past weekend. Having foreign insurance is half the problem. The other half is finding a healthcare provider who will accept foreign insurance and GETTING THERE. Cramming onto 3 consecutive buses over an hour while you have a fever and are overcome by nausea can be quite the dilemma. This was the only time you would find me sitting on the dirty floor of the bus or crouched over a railing for support at the bus stop. True story.

Going to one of the busiest hospitals in the largest city in the Czech Republic was a mistake. I could have taken my temperature and listened to my heart at home. But my search for a magic prescription for antibiotics did not end there. to the rescue. Thanks to the wonders of the internet and a wonderful compilation of expat services, I was able to find a 24/7 English speaking clinic which made emergency house or office calls on Czech Independence Day when every other clinic was closed. Antibiotics et voila! I was as good as new in a few days. Lesson of the weekend: when you're sick abroad the internet is your best friend. Search for what you need before heading out on the wild goose chase.

24 October 2010

Photo of the Week- A view of Český Krumlov

Český Krumlov has earned it's UNESCO World Heritage Site title. Nestled in the meandering Vltava River, it is complete with the 14th century castle, churches, Eggenburg brewery, and more romantic overlooks than you would expect in a small town. This panorama was one of the many photos I took after touring the castle and wandering through the gorgeous castle gardens. It was a perfect location for a birthday weekend get-away in the Czech Republic.

600 Years of Time.

Counting down from 30 minutes is daunting when you don't know what's in store. The crowd in  Staroměstské náměstí scrunched together like an accordion to accommodate the growing numbers. I happened to be walking by on my way to a restaurant, and was struck with curiosity. Attention shifted quickly from the digital countdown to the Astronomical Clock when it was illuminated literally by the hands of time. It was quite a treat- bright lights, sound simulations, and a memorable 10 minute history lesson celebrating the 600 year old Astronomical Clock. The Macula did a great job not only with the presentation and technology, but also with drawing the attention of so many on-lookers willing to sacrifice 10-40 minutes to live in the moment.

The 600 Years from the macula on Vimeo.

17 October 2010

Photo of the Week- Old Jewish Quarter

Hundreds of tombstones from the early 15th century lean and wither away in the Old Jewish Cemetery. Synagogues, cemeteries, and halls in the Jewish Quarter are testament to the turbulent history for the Jews of Prague over the past millennium.

15 October 2010

The Prettiest View with You

It's a novelty to see
hot air balloons floating in the sky. It's like spotting rainbow or a shooting star- it doesn't happen often. What is it like to dangle from a basket in the sky on the blow of a hot flame? When Jon surprised me with a hot air balloon ride over the Bohemian countryside for our anniversary, I imagined people looking up at us from below smiling and pointing as I have done.

The sun rose behind the Konopiště Castle as the basket freed itself from the icy grip of the field. The fog swirl around the trees and hug the rolling hills. We saw it all from above. The trees flashed as the sun illuminated their orange, red, and yellow autumn leaves. We saw it all from above. The interruption of raging flames kept us afloat. We did the basket shuffle around our Czech balloon operator as we took in the views from every angle. After a-rather-close-encounter-with-the-trees landing, we celebrated "us" and our ballooning experience with some Bohemian sparkling wine. Our driver exclaimed, "Breakfast!" as he popped open the bottle. The whole thing was very surreal. A sunrise in the sky over the most beautiful countryside-- not to mention castles and autumn leaves. Despite it all, my favorite part wasn't the things I saw but the person I saw them with.

09 October 2010

Photo of the Week- Legacy of John Lennon lives on in Prague

This week John Lennon turned 70. You may ask, "Isn't he dead?". No, he is still very much alive. I saw him today at the John Lennon Wall in Prague. His messages of peace and love have been illustrated on this wall by dissidents since his death in '80 leading up to the fall of communism in '89. The candles and flowers scattered beside the wall prove that Czechs have not forgotten the man who gave them hope. John Lennon žije.

07 October 2010

A few words on the Prague Metro

Metro stations. Everywhere they are different yet the same. Or are they the same yet different?

Certain things about the Prague Metro will bring you back in time- Soviet Union perhaps? This blog focuses in on the interesting and rather earthy tones seen in the Prague metro stations. Many stations do have these "convex and concave shapes" shapes seen in the photos, but as you get outside the city center  toward the terminal stations, you will see other shapes, patterns and colors, like Dejvická. Pulling into this station, you might have the impression that you've time warped back to the '70s.

Colors and shapes are interesting but let's talk escalators. Try hopping on one of these...

Once you're on, get comfortable. The Prague metro stations are so far underground that you will ride this roller coaster for about 1 minute- no joke. Let's take a ride.

04 October 2010

Cheers: to Culture Shock!

To welcome myself and the 2 other new English teachers, the Department of Languages gathered in the lounge for a little get together a couple hours before classes began. Everyone grabbed a glass of bubbly (or was it wine? I'm not sure..). This was a toast to our cooperation and success teaching with the Department of Languages. We all said Na Zdraví, or cheers, and downed our drinks. Refills were offered but graciously declined.
It was a very nice and warm welcome but a bit of culture shock. First, alcohol on campus. Second, allowing us to consume the tiniest amout of said alcohol before class. These customs would not fly at my alma mater. It was a very different experience for me at this welcome metting but because of that, it felt sincere. New things like this are why I am here. 
Na Zdraví!

Yo, teach!

Time Warp: Let me bring you back to Monica in college. I fluttered my social butterfly wings all over campus. I loved being involved in organizations and stayed busy working, volunteering, and attending this and that event. Put me in infront of a large group of people? See ya... I wouldn't do it, or not without a fuss. Leading up to my senior year I knew this had to change. I enrolled in a public speaking class. I taught Study Abroad 101 at the International Center, and over the summer I facilitated a group of 13 high schoolers for 2 weeks at the Interntaional Leadership Academy. A little experience apparently went a long way. On Wednesday I stood in front of my first class of 25 students and got into the nitty gritty of English grammar. It wasn't nerve-wracking. Shaky hands and stuttering voice McGee did not stop by. It was just fun. 

Enough about me. My students are awesome. They're all Curious Georges and want to know everything about me. They participate well and they speak minimal Czech during classtime. The classroom is pretty basic. There's white board and dry-erase marker. It's challanging not to use technology as I'm used to at Mizzou. But it is also refreshing and perhaps less destracting for the students.

Needless to say my first few days as a teacher was exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. This week starts a "full week" of class and I will need my 3 day weekend to recover :).

03 October 2010

Photo of the Week- Celebrating the Patron Saint of the Bohemia

This chandelier hangs in the Chapel of St. Wenceslas in St. Vitus Cathedral. The Czech Republic shut down on September 28th to celebrate "Good King Wenceslas" and Czech Statehood Day.

26 September 2010

Painting the town

A couple years ago a friend advised me that Berlin is not a city to see in a couple days, but more like a week or two. With this suggestion I reserved 7 full days to tour this evolving city. From what I had read about it in travel books and online you can not pin this city down. It is one that you can visit in the year 2000 and then again in 2010, 2020, etc and it will be like a new place each time. Twenty years ago everything that I am about to say about this magnificent city would be unimaginable. The fall of the Berlin Wall has changed everything, not only in Berlin but in Germany and Europe.

The monuments and memorials in Berlin are innumerable. Reminders of the past are everywhere to emphasize the horrors and insure they will not be repeated. Brandenburg Gate. East Side Gallery. Topography of Terror. Checkpoint Charlie. Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe. The list goes on.

These things are not to overshadow the new and innovative things that have popped up in Berlin. The renovated Reichstag (Parliamentary Building) is something to brag about. 
Don't even get me started on the food. I've fallen in love with the gooey worm-like potato pasta Germans call spätzle. Try this with the traditional Berlin currywurst and you'll be in a food coma halfway through the meal. Or if you are eating on the cheap, you can live off the €3 döner kebap which originated in Berlin. Whatever your preference, you will not go hungry in Berlin. 

...or thirsty. Try a Berliner Pils or any of the other German beers on tap and you'll be satisfied. Jon and I became somewhat regulars at the Prater Biergarten where we drank Prater Pils or Radlers (sprite and Pils) with a side of bockwurst and bretzels.

Germans, especially the new generation, has embraced the idea of recycle and reuse-- antiques, that is. Flea markets and antique stores are easy to come by, as are hipsters wearing 50s fashion. Tokens of German life before and during the Soviet era can be an inexpensive and unique souvenir from Berlin. I fell in love with the atmosphere at the Flohmarkt in Mauer Park. Young Germans were buying and selling everything from antique cameras or clothes, to paintings and bicycles.

The new Berlin was inspiring but I'm intrigued by the past. I spent many days scouring East Berlin for signs of reconstruction and remanence of the past, taking in the things that will be forgotten in 50 years. Old buildings and walls are still scarred by war. A thick coat of graffiti masks the pain. Graffiti, graffiti everywhere!

7 days in Berlin was enough to make me want to come back and see the the new tags or the fresh coat of paint in years to come.

25 September 2010

Photo of the Week- First sign of Autumn in Berlin

Fall leaves decorate the maze-like Denkmal für di emordenten Juden Europas (Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe) in Berlin.

Pröst to Oktoberfest!

September 18th began the 3 week long drunkfest that is Oktoberfest in Munich. This year was the 200 year anniversary of this massive celebration that grows larger every year. This day has been much anticipated. Bavarians and tourists alike waited anxiously and quite grumpily reserving tables hours before the first keg was tapped at noon. As soon as the beer was flowing everyone instantly became friends and language barriers were a thing of the past. Just say Pröst and you are instantly Bavarian for the day. Surrounded by a sea of lederhosen and dirndls, I sat in my much sought after seat at the Augustiner Beer tent drinking Maß after Maß trying to keep up with the locals. I don't know who's idea it was to add carnival rides to the mix but I could only imagine the disasters that happen when drunk people and heavy machinery meet. Oktoberfest is an experience not to be missed. There's still time, Oktoberfest ends Oct 3rd.

01 September 2010

Guess what's for dinner

It's a wonderful feeling when you poke around between the vines and find veggies perfectly ripe and waiting to be made into a spectacular dish. I already have it planned... zucchini pancakes, zucchini bread, and herb-baked zucchini. As for the yellow summer squash, well the name says it all. It will be squashed.

28 August 2010

On Dogs and Beer...

You may remember my efforts to become a Stage Aunt by submitting Marlowe's headshot to the HipsterPuppies blog.

Well, it seems that Marlowe has made her internet debut not as a hipster but as a "Chub Dog" on the Oscar Blues Brewery photosite! Thank you, Oscar Blues for providing Marlowe her well-deserved 10 minutes of fame!

Colorado Microbrews

The book Drinking and Driving in Colorado is not what it sounds like...
It is A Guide to Colorado's Brewpubs.

There's a lot of talk about Colorado microbreweries, but it wasn't until Jon and I sacrificed a weekend (yes, it was terrible) to hit the road drinking. MADD supporters relax, there was always two DDs: a designated driver and designated drinker. From Boulder to Golden and Longmont, we sampled tasty brew after brew.

Avery Brewing Co has a cozy tap room only miles from and Boulder Beer Company in Boulder. Closeby, Golden City Brewery had one of the best family-friendly beer gardens that I've ever been to in the U.S. It's an easy walk up to the bar to order BEER HERE:
Last but not least we visited Left Hand Brewery with my favorite lefty, my Dad! We sampling beer from bitter APAs to milky Stouts outside on their scenic patio. While in Longmont, a tour of the Oscar Blues Brewery helped us understand how special beer doctors abrakadabra water and hopps into BEER!
After a whirlwind Colorado microbrewery tour I have realized how little I know about all the different kinds of magic potions we call beer. Going to breweries or tap rooms allows you the option to taste the various brews and decide which you prefer while personalize the brand name at the same time :-).

What microbreweries in your area do you recommend? Sharing is caring!

26 August 2010

Summertime conclusions

Alas, nighttime is creeping into day and this can only mean that Summer is ending. Summer could go out with a bang, but why be cliché about it. I can honestly say this whole summer has been a bang. I don't know that I could have fit more into these 3 short months. Between graduating college, moving home, working semi-full time in Denver, frolicking in the mountains, family time, cross-training with LaLa, Greyhounding to Missouri to visit my sweetheart, driving to the Wild West to visit E&N, facilitating at the International Youth Academy in Fort Worth, packing to move abroad, and BLOGGING, I just don't know what could top it! Therefore I am dedicating a new "Label" to my blog to categorize all these memories into "SUMMERTIME".

There are many posts that are written in my head and not on the world wide web. In the 2 weeks (!!) before I leave I will try to spill them into this tiny text box or at least we can reminisce with photographs.

25 August 2010

Wordle Scramble

For those of you who haven't already been introduced to Wordle, you may hate me for getting you addicted. Let's just say I spend WAY too much time making rando word collages. I figured that I might as well use it as a language learning tool, so I came up with a word scramble that will mesmerize you.

Try to match the English word to the Czech word and then find the number.
Wordle: czech #s

Or, a much easier and more practical way to learn the Czech numbers is with these BYKI flash cards.

20 August 2010

Come away with Norah

Set the mood by pressing play.
Norah and I are on a first name basis (although her given name was Geethali Norah Jones Shankar). Her music has been a part of my life for 8 years, or since my freshman year in high school. My devotion was amplified when I travelled to Germany through Lone Star International Jazz Exchange with her jazz piano teacher from UNT who strongly encouraged her music. Her 4 albums consume 3 hours and 212.3 MB on my iPod. Each album has it's own character- completely unpredictable from the previous release. Different instruments, different themes, and sometimes a new genre. I'm a fan to say the least and I like to think of it as a healthy obsession.

Last night she performed at Red Rocks Amphitheater near Denver for myself and thousands of other devoted fans who sat patiently in a Rocky Mountain thunderstorm for her to grace the stage. Our shivering wet bodies swayed in waves to her warm voice. I can easily say that this is one of the best concerts I've ever been to

Alors, the concert has past but Norah will be joining me via iTunes and iPod in my travels as my "piece of home" item. Her songs can comfort any mood and celebrate where I've been or encourage where I'm going. Last night reminded me of that. Merci Norah.

17 August 2010

My little HipsterPup

I've been addicted to the HipsterPuppies blog for about 5 months now. The puppy pictures are hilarious but the captions that the author gives are even funnier. I've been trying to come up with a good picture of Lala's dog, Marlowe, to submit in hopes of making the cut on the website. Wow is this what it's like to be a stage mom?!

Anyways, I got the idea after taking Marlowe on a long walk. She promptly passed out in her bed. I kicked back with a cold one when a lightbulb above my head lit up. She was the perfect snoozing model for this shot. The photo is perfection and too good not to share.

Note: No canines were intoxicated in the making of this photograph.

12 August 2010

You'll be speaking Czech Before You Know It

With less than a month before my departure to the Czech Republic, my brain has been on information overload. I'm cutting back on the travel guides and history books and focusing my energy on what will really help me out: language.

I have done my fair share of research this summer on programs to study the Czech language. Most of what I found was disappointing. Rosetta Stone was my first preference, but apparently Czech is one of the few languages that Rosetta does NOT speak. Once in Prauge, Berlitz and Charles University have 4 to 6-week Czech language classes for a reasonable price. Until then, I will continue practicing beginner Czech by means CDs rented from the public library and a free online program called Before You Know It. It uses flash cards and audio visual aids to teach useful words and phrases of all different categories. It's free and you don't have to download anything! To help me stay on track and get my readers (someone, anyone) involved, I will post lists like the one below on my blog.

Meeting and greeting words and phrases are especially helpful to make friends in a new country.

11 August 2010

A Serious Summit Sunday

After an almost too long hiatus, Summit Sunday resumed August 8th and you bet my calves and buttocks know it!! My special guest requested a long scenic hike, so I delivered with one of Colorado's famous fourteeners. Sunday afternoon Jon and I hiked the almost 7 miles up Barr Trail on Pikes Peak. 3,800 ft in elevation later, we arrived at Barr Camp soaked of rain and exhausted. Our "practice" hike the week before at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater paled in comparison.
Red Rocks Park overlooking Morrison,  CO
Barr Trail on Pikes Peak overlooking Colorado Springs, CO
Pikes Peak wore us out but the experience was unforgettable. We roughed it outside with a tent and sleeping bags. That night I fell asleep to was scared stiff by a Rocky Mountain Thunderstorm. It was then that I realized it had been more than 10 years since I've slept outside with nature. Too long! After surviving the storm and staying relatively dry during the downpour, I realized how fun it was being in a storm like that. This camping thing must happen again! Neil and Teresa were wonderful hosts at Barr Camp. Not only did they provided us a hot meal (for a small fee) the night we arrived, but also served up a hearty pancake breakfast before our descent the next morning. With a full stomach and a [Camelbak] bladder full of water, our knees and ankles headed out to take the shock of downhill trekking. The view was much better in the morning without the afternoon clouds blocking the blue sky. Here's a glimpse at our "fauxto" shoot at Lightning Point.

07 August 2010

The world just got even smaller.

The day after my "It's a small world" moment, the world assured me just how small it actually is.

Jon and I were headed out to a hike in Red Rocks Park and decided to take a peek at the Red Rocks Amphitheater only minutes away from the trail head. We're walking around checking out the sights when I see a familiar face. I call out this persons name and there's no response. Funny. So I nudged Jon and call his attention to this person who looks like Jon's across-the-hall neighbor from the dorms freshman year. Jon immediately saw the resemblance and tried calling his name a second time.

This time he turned. Behold, it WAS Jon's dorm-mate. He was taking a pit stop in Denver to check out the amphitheater on his way to the airport from a family vacation in Vail. He just happened to be in the same town on the same day at the same time in the same place as us. It was wonderful seeing a familiar face out and about; something that doesn't happen often since I moved here in May. We all chatted and then he went on his way back to Chicago.

Two days in a row. Maybe it will be YOU next time.

03 August 2010

It's a small world after all.

Picture this: Jon and I are driving through Eastern Kansas.

OK, this is not a good way to start an interesting story but I promise the story will pick up. Bear with me.

National Public Radio is the only station with a signal along this god forsaken stretch of highway. Between each NPR program, a local broadcaster for the region will sign on and do a short news and weather update then introduce the next program. As the Eastern Plains broadcaster gave her update, Jon could tell something was bugging me. It was that feeling when you recognize something but can't figure out who or what. Finally I realized it was the voice.

"Funny, the radio anchor sounds just like this girl who I had a couple classes with at Mizzou. Come to think of it, she was studying radio journalism."

We continued to listen to the broadcast until it dawned on me that this same girl worked at the NPR regional station in Columbia, MO. Well, I decided I would facebook her soon and tell her that someone on Kansas NPR sounds just like her! This didn't last long because the longer we listened, the more convinced I was that it WAS her. Luckily I still had her phone number in my cell phone from a group project we had done together and I decided to text her right away.

Short story short, it was her. What are the chances that:
1. I'd be driving through Kansas
2. I would listen to NPR while driving through Kansas.
3. I would listen to this particular station between 4 and 7pm during her shift
4. I would recognize a persons voice who I only had 2 classes with?!?!

I've come to the conclusion that it's a small world after all.

08 July 2010

Planning Ahead for Oktoberfest

As paperwork comes together for my Czech Visa, plans are forming for my first adventure this year in Euroland. Luckily, Prague is very accessible and a great hub for traveling by rail or air. Berlin is only about 7 hours by rail from Prague and will be my first stop. The second stop and real reason for this post will be Munich.


September (Yes, September) 18th is the kickoff of Oktoberfest in Munich. It will be crowded, smokey and sweaty with a hint of stale beer, and it is going to be legen-wait for it-dary! Remember the show Three Sheets from my previous post, Czech List for Prague? He's back for his second appearance in my blog to help everyone get excited for Oktoberfest.

This is one of the things on my "list" so I'm going to go all out- Dirndl dress and all. Suggestions and tips about navigating the Munich festivities are welcome and much appreciated.

27 June 2010

Hanging with a High Roller

For two days this weekend, my sister Lala and I stepped into the world of cycling by participating in the Colorado Chapter MS 150 bike ride. No, we didn't ride in it, but we did volunteer as Road Marshals. It was a great way to support our dad in the ride. Waking up at 4:30am in the morning was more fun than I thought the second I saw the sun rise painting bright colors over on mountains. In our cool POLICE reflective vests, we directed traffic around bikers. Our position was directly on the front range and the timing happened to coincide with hot air balloons sweeping across the the horizon, adding beauty to the peaceful morning. 
Dad and 3,000 other riders zoomed past leaving us in their dust until they finished the 150 mile loop the next day. Sunday brought more excitement when we brought Marlowe along to direct and cheer the riders into the finish line. It was the first time we witnessed Dad in a big ride and we were so proud to see him at the finish line. Lala has even declared that she will ride in the MS150 with him next year!
With the "high roller" at the finish line
Marlowe was the best volunteer ever!