Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Once again, looking in both directions

Before getting to what I hope 2014 will bring, let's take a looksie at how I did in accomplishing last year's goals:

- mail actual birthday cards. Mapping out calendar reminders tomorrow. Ability of recipients to understand said birthday cards highly questionable. Ability of myself to even recognize that said cards are in fact meant for birthdays also dubious. I think I did quite well on getting birthday cards out, just not so well on the timing. Will try much harder in 2014 to get you all your cards on or before your actual big day.

- put that sewing machine to good use. One new craft a month, documented. I did use it quite a bit, especially in the beginning of the year. We also have about 138973 new cushions to show for it. It's taken a bit of a hiatus lately, but I've just started tackling a Christmas quilt (so at this rate I'm pretty certain it will be done in time for the 2014 holiday season) so it will get a workout. However, one new craft a month? Definitely not. 

- learn some more basic Czech. Be able to have a conversation with Donut's parents. I finally started taking Czech lessons, although the progress is incredibly slow. Still unable to have a conversation with Donut's parents in Czech, though am sad (for me and my abilities) to say that their English is progressing much better than my Czech. :)  

- find a new job. Stop being lazy and get on it. Preferably one with things like benefits and a salary that puts me above the poverty line. I did! This is 1000000% a win as I absolutely love my job, my colleagues, and being able to afford food other than Ramen.  

- expand circle if friends here. Our group has shrunk considerably in the last six months, and it can be quite lonely with the Jersey three holding things down. Reminds me, must email dinner party group and tell them will host. Now, what typical American food can I make without a grill? Mets tons and tons of new people this year from work, yay! 

- be a better blogger. This is mainly an outlet for me to fill in family and friends about what's going on, but I enjoy it a lot and want to push myself to be more diligent about keeping up with it. So hold me accountable. Ooph - this did not go well, did it? My bad. 

- be happy and healthy and blah blah blah. There's room for improvement, particularly on the latter. 

My plans for 2014 can be found here. I hope that you all have successful, happy and exciting years ahead, so update me when you've gotten back from your annual visit to the gym. :)

It's been a Long December

December was excellent. Donut and I headed to the UK for ten days to see family and catch up with old friends in London. We had such an excellent time seeing Tara & Andrew in the coolest neighbourhood in London (Angel), catching up over pints before stopping for a last pivo at a pub called Prague (with two Italian bartenders where we paid about 5GBP, or a gazillion crowns, for a Staropromen...), and then took in the views from the top of Centre Point and noshed on thai with Gemma & Stof. We did far too much shopping, toured around Oxford, Bath and the Cotswolds, gorged on cheddar and real English bacon and English muffins and scones and drank roughly 18 gallons of tea a day and enjoyed tv where I can actually understand things - it was excellent! There are so many fantastically amazing places to go in Europe that I haven't seen yet, but somehow I still just want to explore every little bit of England, but who can blame me when it's so gosh darn pretty:

When we got back, it was already December 15th and we had to rush rush rush to get ready for Christmas, which probably explains why I didn't really get the holiday spirit this year (or maybe it was the carp bashing?). This also explains why everyone's Christmas cards are sitting in a little pile on my desk, still unsent. You will enjoy them sometime around the end of January. However, we did manage to get our tree up before the big day, and we had a lovely evening on Christmas Eve with Donut's parents, where we feasted on potato salad and carp (I tried it! Not so bad!) and, in my case, chicken schnitzel. On Christmas Day, we had an expat friend over for a more familiar-tasting Christmas dinner and about 8 dozen cookies.

New Year's Eve, and Donut's birthday, were spent with his friends in Kbely, drinking beer and roasting a pig (of course). And now here we are, January 1st. I hope that everyone had a lovely Christmas and New Year and are excited about everything that 2014 has to offer!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

More to come later this week, but for now, Donut and I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Vesele Vanoce!

Monday, November 25, 2013


In honour of all those Czechies who claim to hate peanut butter (until they've sampled a Reeses' after someone's business trip), I've been whipping these up for lucky coworkers...

Peanut Butter Bits
125g unsalted butter
123g powdered sugar

180g smooth peanut butter (use Skippy, it’s the yummiest annnnnd you can even buy it in Albert!)

60g unsalted butter

90-100g chopped chocolate (go crazy)

1.    Line an 20x20cm square pan with foil, leaving enough to hang over the sides, then butter the foil. Set aside.
a.     If they do not make 20x20cm pans, then I don’t know what to tell you. I’m converting everything from our ridiculous imperial system. Just use common sense. Also, I forgot to butter the foil, but it’s nonstick anyway, so I feel like this is just unnecessary. Don’t bother with it.
2.    In a medium saucepan, melt the 125g of butter over low heat. Once melted, remove from heat and stir in the powdered sugar until smooth. Stir in the peanut butter until completely combined and smooth. Spread the peanut butter mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Lick the spoon. And maybe the pot, as it needs to be cleaned out anyway.
3.    In the now-empty saucepan (because you licked it clean), melt the 60g unsalted butter over VERY LOW heat. Add the chocolate and stir until almost completely melted. Remove from heat and continue stirring until completely melted. Pour the melted chocolate over the peanut butter layer and smooth into an even layer.
4.    Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to set. Remove from the pan using the foil overhangs and place on a cutting board. Use a pizza cutter to slice into 16 bars. If you don’t have a pizza cutter, I’m pretty sure you’ll still be able to manage. If not, I think we have bigger issues to tackle than your cooking skills. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Or just eat it all, then you don’t have to worry about storing anything.

Please note that I accept no responsibility for weight gain or dentist’s bills. Dobrou chut!
Everything in moderation, including moderation.
                                                                        -Julia Child

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tuesdays are just the worst, aren't they?

Listening: Inexplicably, I have Coco Jamboo stuck in my head. Now you will too.

You're welcome.

Eating: For dinner, I had italian breaded chicken strips and, as a side, a plate of cheese. My diet is deplorable, I'm aware. (I had a salad for lunch though, so back off.)
Feeling: Confused - reading Mad About the Boy and cannot fathom how Bridget Jones is in her fifties, as book must surely be written in some time warp as not that much time has passed since I first began my obsession. Oh god, it has. Very soon will go less from image of BJ as typical adult to more like being her - pudgy, questionable hair and counting alcohol units. Sums it up about right.
Loving: It's Peej's birthday!!! This gorge Lilly Pulitzer print. Mail from Steph! Living room furniture comes tomorrow! Super easy peanut butter fudge - recipe coming!
Hating: It is very, very cold. (This will be my stock answer for, ohhhh, the next six months.)
Wanting: slinky, super tall black suede boots... still. Really, any lovely black boots.
Needing: Hmmm... I wouldn't say no to another cup of tea. Donut, if you'd be so kind?
Thinking: I should really dye my hair this weekend. 
Planning: This week is all about the birthday celebrations and parties! And Tin Mouth, the annual chilli eating competition, so fingers crossed for no repeats from last year. Yowza!

As we're halfway through Movember, it's high time I share the link for our work Movember team. Donate what you can (your dollars go far here!) and help safeguard futures - men, so you don't get sick, and ladies, so we don't have to take care of them. Help a Mo Sista Out!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Wine Snob

Svatemarintsko... The Czech version of Beaujolais. Having been here for this time of the year for my 3rd time (what?!? How?!?), I finally partook in some festivities... A wine tasting at Noelko. Ten wines, approved and certified by some fancy Czech wine board, agreed that these bottles fit the bill. They certainly fit my bill for a cold and gloomy Tuesday.

Surrounded by one Serbian and eight Czechs, I nodded along, feigning comprehension as the connoisseur described each bottle in detail (would I have understood much more in English? Probably not), happily guzzling away and munching on cheese that tasted alarmingly like broccoli (didn't stop me). 

I wanted to screenshot for you my notes, so that you could also enjoy my slide from "if it tastes good, I drink it" to pseudo-wine snob asshole. However, and this may not surprise you, I lost them. Generally, they started out with just stars and emoticons next to the ones i liked and finished up with things like "Burnt umber coloring", "a hint of plum in the nose", and "I do detect a whiskey undertone?" Told you. Insufferable. Luckily, I wrote these all very messily so no one could understand and mock me for it. 

Looking forward to picking up my bottles this week, so I can as our that whiskey finish from the comfort of my own home.

For those of you lucky enough to be in Prague, ask for Olda at Noelka.
VinotĂ©ka Noelka, SlavĂ­kova 3, Praha 2, Prague 120 00

Sunday, October 27, 2013

I'm baaaaaaaack

I'm not even going to bother with excuses. I have none.

Just a quick post as am clearly out of practice and need to ease into things slowly.

Listening: I just rediscovered GrooveShark, my local answer to Pandora. Thank goodness, although I'm not entirely sure what I was listening to last as all of my recommendations seems to be ABBA, Disney and EDM. This is a strange combination, indeed.
Eating: Donut made tuna salad for breakfast. Is this normal breakfast food? I think not. But I am hardly about to complain when I get to sleep in and wake up to a ready made meal and hot cup of tea, am I? (Well.  Normally, I might complain a little. But I didn't today.)
Feeling: That awful feeling when you have a lovely 3 day weekend, you know you should be out taking advantage of what's very likely to be the last bit of sunshine you see for months and months, but all you really want to do is lounge on the couch in your bathrobe, drinking tea, eating your way through a tin of Quality Street, catching up on Downton Abbey and scrolling through Pinterest. 
Loving: We are in the final countdown to Centrum Krakov opening down the street, which I thoroughly expect to completely change my life, to say little of my bank account. That vacation is booked. Lovely watercolors from Elizabeth Cadd. My very Joan Holloway (nee Harris) new dress for work. 
Hating: Winter is coming. (Semi-related, it's absolutely ages until Game of Thrones starts up again.)
Wanting: slinky, super tall black suede boots. I realize they will last approximately one day before they're covered in slush and look totally beat up, but what a glorious day it will be. 
Needing: a personal trainer. I will kill Donut if he keeps trying to be one for me. And a mixer - it's almost Christmas cookie season! Looked yesterday as found the most perfect green KitchenAid, but if you think that they're expensive in the states, think again. They will run you about $1000 here. So..... no. Will just mix all my cookie dough by hand, possibly erasing need for personal trainer (until have eaten all of said cookies). 
Thinking: What can I possibly put on this canvas? How necessary is it that I clear off all the clutter that has become a mountain of books, papers, chocolate wrappers (damn you Quality Street) and papier-mache pigs on my desk? How can I get Donut to stop flying his toy helicopter so near my head short of cramming it...
Planning: Living room re-do as we've completely rearranged the apartment, how to stay in London for two days without spending more on a single room with twin bed and shared toilet down the hall that I did on a week in Croatia, my next masterpiece, to be less of a blogging delinquent.