Thursday, January 31, 2013

Turning Japanese, I think I'm turning Japanese

Worst. Follow-through. Ever.


I'd like to say its because I don't want to fill your inbox with inane rumblings about nothing and lackluster attempts at "projects" (my kindle cover is still sitting in tatters on my coffee table), but really I just kind of forgot. Because I was finally busy doing things.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Three solid weeks without sunshine, freezing temperatures, snow, and awful dry heat has finally caught up with me and have had a nasty sinus headache for three days, which is why I was such a delinquent poster.

As such, I have not been super productive, but I did start working on a little project to keep me busy (tho my Kindle cover revamp is on hold until I feel clearheaded enough to tackle math again). Months and months ago, I asked my mom to mail me my recipe box, but thanks to the ever-reliable Czech postal system, that recipe box, full of family recipes and ones that I had collected over the years, is now probably sitting in someone's Bohemian kitchen as they ponder the meaning of "sweet milk". So when I was home for Christmas, I went through my cookbooks and mom's and photographed all of the recipes I wanted into my iPad. I thought that would be a nice, easy and convenient way to store them.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Patterns, pssssshhhht.

Blender is back where it belongs, and soup has been pureed into a smooth, velvety, veggie goodness:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The best laid plans...

It's taken me until this weekend, more than halfway through January, to really get into the new year spirit. I finally feel like big things are gonna happen, it's time to turn over a new leaf, and all of the other things that one is generally supposed to feel the first two or three days of the month, not in the second half of it. This explains why my Pinterest is full of new pins on exercise routines and healthy meals, week one of a C25K podcast is downloaded and going on my iPod (to be busted out when the snow goes away), there is a bowl of big juicy grapes next to my bed where the chocolate bars usually live, green tea in my coffee mug (mehhhh...) and my lesson stuff has been reorganized into individual folders in a lovely shade of aqua (there is no point being organized if it doesn't look nice). This may have something to do with the fact that I can no longer continue to blame Mom's fancy American dryer for shrinking my clothes and will just have to face facts that I'm getting pudgier than I care to be. Donut keeps quoting Despicable Me:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Forever 21?

While I absolutely agree with a number of these (largely 1 - 5, 8, 9 and 10 and obviously 21), I'm not sure I'm quite willing to forgo things like a duvet cover (even if putting it on is one of my nemesis chores... along with vacuuming), and I'm pretttttttty sure if my hangovers are any worse than they currently are in my twenties, I shall never drink again (ehmm...). Regardless, I'm certainly not savoring those post-wine mornings, that's for sure. 

I know, I know, another lazy post. Think I'll take a day off tomorrow and hit you with something good on Saturday. Or, you know, just something on Saturday. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Winter Wonderland

Yesterday, while I was wandering the streets looking like a human snowball, Prague transformed into a beautiful, snow covered, magical world. It really is so stunning here when it snows; sounds are muffled, the city becomes cozier, and hot wine becomes even more delicious... If that's possible!

It's this beauty that I will struggle to keep in mind as I continually thaw out!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Pardon me

I'm too tired, you'll have to go without for one day.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Like pulling teeth...

... but pulling cards instead. Today, I'm going to call on my little tin of Best Ever Dinner Party Ice Breakers (by The Lagoon Group) for some inspiro.

Who is your favorite TV detective?
Obviously, it's Olivia Benson (though Stabler and Amaro come in at a close 2nd and 3rd) from Law & Order: SVU. This needs no explanation.

If you could physically transport yourself to any place in the world at this moment, where would you go?
My couch in NJ. Food Network on, surrounded by a far east feast, having a little cuddle with Tuck and drinking a big cup on tea. Maybe taking a little nap. Flipping through some magazines. Easy question.

If you owned a store, what would you sell?
Ohhhhhhh, it's a tough call between knickknacks/tchotchkes/doodads/thingamabobs/whosie-whatsits/little bits, and containers. Maybe I would sell all my little bits, and also sell containers to put them all in. Now that would be a perfect little shop. And there would be tea and wine and little cookies and it'd be nice and sunny and cozy and fabulous. Very similar to one of my favorite little shops here in Prague, Apropos. But instead of losing money every time I go in, I'd gain it. Yes, much better.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


One of the final contenders for President of the Czech Republic looks like either the wealthy uncle or the British butler on an early '90's sitcom, and the other looks a tad shady. You decide:

photo courtesy of

Friday, January 11, 2013

Magic Happened

This morning, I came awake in a haze of confusion... What was happening? Something was different, but what? Then it hit me; the sun was shining and for the first time since getting home, I wasn't waking up to total darkness. Glorious!

Unfortunately, it didn't stick around for long and my beautiful sunshine soon turned into a blizzard, but here we take what we can get.

Meanwhile, in Czech news...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Today, I realized...

  • I have the beginnings of SADD. It needs to stop raining. 
  • I hate everyone. Not everyone. Most people. Mostly job-related.
  • I miss having a car. Today I saw a schlammered middle-aged couple with a PDA problem on the tram next to me at 3pm (as the old man on the other side of me shook his head in shame), and then someone puked on the subway (no wonder the car was so empty at 5pm).
  • Fraktal changed my beloved BLT. It's a fail. 
  • I have beer tears. Not just around Steph. It's becoming quite embarrassing. 
Hopefully I will have more interesting things to tell you tomorrow, but I'll be honest with you... it's not likely. I told you I was a little ray of sunshine lately. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

On My To Do List

A quiet day, so nothing very exciting to report. Thought I'd tally up for you some of the things on my to-do list, a la Pinterest...

In the kitch:

Basically, I will eat anything that has Thai in the name or description. Yummmm.

The world's most perfect little salty sweet cracker.

For all of those crock pot recipes that call for cream of mushroom/chicken/whatever that I can't find at my friendly neighborhood Billa. 

Everything you need to know is right in the name.

What did I tell you?

However, this recipe seems to be missing some very important elements...
peppers, onions, and bacon, obviously.

Same as before, in a slightly different form.

In my cup:

If someone would be so kind as to lead me to where the apple cider is in this country, I'll make you one too.

Have introduced Donut to the magic that is the Starbucks Chai tea latte, but have a very tricky time hunting down chai tea as the Czech word for tea (čaj) is pronounced the same way and just seem redundant. This is perfect because the Maxwell House International Latte Chai mix I brought back from the states is quickly disappearing and I'm about to panic. 


Luckily, after a failed attempt at some Czech-made Jello shots last summer, I know exactly where to find plain gelatin. See, everything's for a reason. 

Now that Peej has brought home Sharpies, this is totes happening. 

Not ornaments necessarily, but some little colorful things. 

Take the 200 or so recipes I just added to my iPad and write 'em up. 

Damn you winter weather for ruining my nails. 

Looks like I'll be fairly busy for a while... 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

You Can Take the Girl Outta Jersey...

It's another grey, miserable, rainy, disgusting, blehhhhhh day here in Prague, and based on my perusal of the forecast, it's not about to give up anytime soon. Am desperately missing sunshine, warm temperatures, flowers, beer gardens and more than 4 hours of "day light".

Since all my students are so busy working that they have no time for me to be able to, I've got lots of free time this week. So today I pulled out my sewing machine and tried to see if I could get it on. One Skype call home to Mom later, and we were in business. Belt loops on jeans fixed. Whipped myself up a new (leopard print) infinity scarf.  I would have posted lovely pictures of my infinity scarf as I was making it, but I did not for the following reasons: 1) I was not entirely sure what I was doing until it was actually finished, and 2) I did not want to get blood on my camera. Pins can be pesky little buggers.

Attempted to make a shower poof a la Ruffles and Stuff but my sewing machine did not like working with all of that heavy fabric so we gave up on that quite quickly. Also thought about taking in one of my sweater dresses that is gigantic, but with age must come sense because I soon realized that was beyond my capabilities and would have to either way for another day or I'd just have to get fat enough to wear it. I think we all know which one is more likely.

What should I make next??

Monday, January 7, 2013

Sometimes, I Really Miss America

Especially when grocery shopping. I miss the wide aisles and the selection and the readable signs and the fresh vegetables and fruits and bahhhhhhhhhh. I got a bit frustrated. In general, my behavior the past few days can generously be summed up as Mephistophelean, so attempting an after work shopping trip was probably not the greatest idea, but I was desperate. Yesterday I had spaghetti with garlic and herb salad dressing on it. That's how desperate things have become.

But I battled on and managed to scrounge up some essentials, including enough things to throw together something vaguely resembling chili. Super easy and came out delicious, so if I can do it, you can too.

You will need...

  • 1 kilo (2 lb.) ground beef (at least I think that's what that was)
  • two small onions, diced
  • three garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 can of black beans, not drained
  • 2 cans diced or chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can of "Texas" style corn, not drained (this is really just a "fancy" way of saying corn with some black beans mixed in)
  • 1 sweet bell pepper
  • 1 packet McCormick mild chili seasoning
  • 1/2 packet McCormick taco seasoning
  • salt
For those of you who don't have the pleasure of dealing in metric or with Czech markets, our canned vegetables generally come in 400g (14oz). For those of you not blessed to be doing your grocery shopping in the US, I don't know where you can get McCormicks packets. May you be as lucky as I am to know people willing to mail them to you. 

Basically, it's about as easy as it gets. Brown the beef with the onions and add in the garlic to let that brown up a bit. Drain the fat. Add everything else and bring to a boil. Cover and let it simmer for about 10 minutes or until you are too hungry to wait any longer, stirring occasionally (and sampling, obviously). Slap it in a big bowl, top with a dollop of sour cream (or, if you are me and are still unsure of what's Czech for sour cream after one year, a glob of greek yogurt) and burn your tongue trying to get it down. Dream about how fantastic it would be to have corn bread to go with it. Make mental note to ask Donut to help you find cornmeal. Try not to spill. Hope you enjoy it, because it will be the only thing you are eating for the next week as you now have enough chili to feed an army. 

Would have included a picture, but we all know my pictures look awful and it's chili - who cares?! It all looks the same, regardless of what you put in it. Besides, I was too busy scarfing it down (see above). 

And with that, I'm off to finish my big cup of cappuccino and try to keep my eyes open long enough to get myself back on schedule. Goodnight lovelies!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Grand Plans

I had a few ideas kicking around for Agog for January, but I think they'll end up being too similar to what I'd like to do next month, which likely means you're in for another 25 days of me rambling on about not much in particular.

Since this challenge is all about blog loving and I had a totally boring day without anything in particular to report (laundry, yay! lesson planning, yay!), now is as good a time as any to share with you some of my favorite blogs (and other sites, I don't discriminate)...

  • What Will the Neighbors Say - my roommate's hilarious blog. Though he will get a very stern talking to upon his arrival back to the CR for not posting in ages. I'm sure his mom will back me on this. I'm also under very strict instructions from my own mom to show him how to set up a mailing list. So he's got that to look forward to.
  • A Beautiful Mess - I'm pretty sure there's not a person on Pinterest who hasn't stumbled across one of their tutorials. Elsie and Emma make adorable things that you can actually recreate, and their blog is full of lovely photos and ideas and inspiration. I'm jealous.
  • Ruffles and Stuff Disney's blog (how cute is her name?!) was the very first crafty blog I ever started reading. She's got lots of great tutorials with easy-to-follow, beautifully photographed instructions, most of which star her adorable daughter, Paige. 
  • Knock Off Decor Because one day, I dream of not being a renter and having access to things like a table saw so I can whip up DIY Anthropology and Pottery Barn-esque masterpieces at the drop of a dime. 
  • Pintester She'll screw up pins so you don't have to. Hysterical.
  • My Friends are Married Okay, I actually only have one married friend, but I know it's a domino effect and that it's just going to start to snowball. 
  • How Do I Put This Gently? Spot.On.
What are some other goodies that I'm missing? 

Friday, January 4, 2013

I hereby declare...

I was right, this jet lag is killing me. After a brief nap, I'm now wide awake at 3am. Rats.

So then, lets get to it. Here are my grand plans for 2013.

- 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.

- put that sewing machine to good use. One new craft a month, documented.

- learn some more basic Czech. Be able to have a conversation with Donut's parents.

- 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.

- 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?

- 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.

- be happy and healthy and blah blah blah.

Also, quick little recipe care of Donut's dad for fast and easy hot wine (let's face it, after Christmas it's the only thing winter is good for): pour yourself a mug of your favorite red (a nice Pinot noir, a scrumptious cab Sauv), add about one inch of cinnamon stick, two or three cloves, and two teaspoons of sugar. Zap it in the microwave for two minutes, slurp away, refill with more wine when needed. Each spice mix is good for at least two glasses, so glug away as you count down the days until spring.

The Year in Review

It's time to evaluate how I did with last year's goals. I think all in all I had an excellent year, and I hope that reviewing these don't make me think otherwise!

Feed the Body:

  • Master the art of Czech "kitchen". Armed with my copy of The Best Czech Recipes, I'll be turning out Moravian Sparrow and Stuffed Kohlrabi in no time. As soon as I find out what a kohlrabi is. (Update: German turnip). Nottttttt so much. Add this to 2013. 
  • Stop just randomly pinning every nom-worthy thing that I see and actually make something. Two new recipes a month (though given how my shopping trips have been going, this is likely to be much higher simply due to the creativity needed when you can't find what you're looking for). This one I nailed. Tried out a whole slew of Pinterest recipes with resounding success.  Here are some of what I believe to be the best...
  • Eat like an adult. It is no longer acceptable to eat Ramen for 5 days straight... for breakfast. It's time to get reacquainted with vegetables other than mushrooms and potatoes (usually in fry or pancake form), or eat 17 cookies in one sitting (unless it's Christmas. Then all bets are off.). Am I swearing off grilled cheese and chips forever? No. (In fact, think I may go make a grilled cheese sandwich right now.) But it's definitely time to step up the game and hit a little closer to that food pyramid.  Definitely got better at this one thanks to trying out new recipes. Still not the healthiest diet in the world, but one needs a bit of fat... staves off wrinkles. 
  • Put those running shoes to use for something other than trotting over to the pizza place. Stick 'em on, lace 'em up, and get over to Stromovka for some less polluted than city center fresh air. Did very, very well with this for a while, until I went back to the US in the summer and then became a lazy bum again. But not completely as Donut will not let that happen. 
  • Get more sleep. Teaching means you have a whacky schedule. There are days when I start at 7am, and days when I won't start until 3pm. Usually, this means that on the days when I have a 7am class, I am a zombie and dead on my feet for the rest of the (lonnnnnng, lonnnnnnnnnnng) day. We all know I am not a morning person; I will never be a shining ray of sunshine at that ungodly hour. But I do need to start turning out the lights earlier rather than staying up til the weeeeeee hours of the morning reading A Place of Yes. Done. Old lady bedtimes and all. 
Feed the Mind:
  • Put that Rosetta Stone to good use. Brush up on my French & Spanish, and start learning German (and some important Czech. Pivo is not cutting it anymore.). Get a language buddy (bonus points if it happens to be a tall, hot German). Take a class through school. Use it. Be global and fabulous. Explain to me, language school that I work for, why you cannot offer language courses to your staff? Absurdities. Fear I cannot push off learning Czech much longer so this one will also have to join 2013's list. 
  • Go somewhere new and cultural each month. Easy enough in a city like Prague, smack dab in the middle of Europe. (Must try to save harder so can actually leave the city!) And remember my camera, so you can actually see what I'm talking about.  Did fairly well with this one and crammed a lot of culture (outside of the pub!) into the past year. Check. 
  • Put those charcoals and paints to good use and get creative. This is a beautiful city. My photography does not do it justice, but maybe I can make something that does. (Please note that hours after reading this, I did something cultural [yay, knocking that resolution outta the park] and of course, forgot my camera) Our apartment is now full of the "art" that is the result of painting Sundays with Peej. Now that I'm armed with my sewing machine, this will only get better. 
  • Read the classics - Pride & Prejudice. Emma. Sense & Sensibility. Jane Eyre. Anything else people recommend. AKA, all the books that are on my Kindle because I got to download them for free, but have been put on the backburner so that I could read things like Spying in High Heels (excellent, by the way). Also, watch the classics. Casablanca. Breakfast at Tiffany's. The Godfather movies. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Really, any movie where people look at me and go "Whaaaaaat? What's wrong with you? How have you not seen that movie?!?! It's, like, the greatest movie of all time." (Except for Sci-Fi. This is supposed to be enjoyable. I suffered through Avatar, and that was enough.) Negative. No time for movies, and much prefer my thrillers and chic lit. This is something I will just have to accept. 
The Social Network:
  • Put myself out there. Get into one new social situation a month. Find out where the non-trolls are hiding. Report back to other Prague girls. Done - networking events, mingles, speed dating, supper clubs, life in general. This one was an easy one. 
  • Join a club - drawing, books, volunteer stuff, whatever. But do something that is interesting. I absolutely love volunteering for Pink Crocodile. It's a great cause to work for and everyone is really lovely and I've gotten to do a lot of really cool stuff because of it. Wins all around. 
  • Write more letters. Who doesn't love mail? I love mail. I can't seem to get mail, but it would be lovely if my mailman actually read the addresses on envelopes and I got some. So will write them instead. (Also, this gives me a perfectly valid excuse to go buy nice monogrammed stationary, which you all know I love.) I will say that I spent the year poking in and out of papirnictvis looking for stationary which I could not find, so that will be my excuse as to why no one other than my grandparents and my cousins got a handwritten postcard from me this year. 
  • Keep a journal. I try to be fairly open on here, but let's be honest. There are just some things that I don't want to share with all of you. But this is going to be a fantastic year, and I really want an honest collection of all the craziness that's about to ensue, for my eyes only. This one I did try, but gave up when I realized that I only remembered to write in it after a few drinks and then couldn't understand anything anyway, so gave up on that one. 

Okay, so I think I did fairly well. Better to have a gazillion resolutions and succeed at a couple than make one blanket one such as "I will get healthy" and then retract that after one week at the gym. Feel fairly successful. Have a few ideas kicking around for 2013 ones, so I'll have to finalize them and get them out to you tomorrow (knowing how badly I've screwed up my sleep patterns in the last 48 hours, something tells me I will have a lot of time tonight to get it done!). 

So what are your resolutions? How did you do with yours last year? Success? Failure? Calling it a draw?

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Sorry for no post yesterday, but it took much longer than anticipated to cram all of the things that I've acquired in the past few weeks into two suitcases. It took even longer to finally admit to myself that two wasn't going to cut it and that I'd be hauling three full suitcases home with me. Please note that this is the same amount of stuff that I moved to Prague with in the first place. Really not sure how this happened.

We had a totally hellish trip home. Well, it probably wasn't that bad, but I was in a demonic mood and ready to bite the head off anyone and everyone so by the time we made it to Lisbon and walked the five thousand miles kilometers from our plane to the transfers area, then were herded into lines of approximately a bazillion people to be handled by two customs agents and then further corralled through the most obnoxious airport security I've ever seen (and we fly out of Newark!), I was really ready to come to blows with the small child who kept trying to cut me. And don't even get me started on the tantrum I threw when we (finally) got to our gate and the vending machine eats my euros as I'm gasping for water. There were lots of tears over the twelve or so hours we spent travelling. I think it's fair to say that Donut was quite relieved when we got on our flight from Lisbon to Prague, I pulled up my hood, and promptly passed out for the duration of our flight. At least he got a bit of a break.

After Czech lunch at the Donut household, I headed home. It's now been five hours. I am completely unpacked, showered, have reorganized my closet, caught up on emails and now out of ways to keep myself busy. Which I want to, because it's really strange and really, really sad being alone in this apartment after getting to spend three weeks surrounded. Am regretting taking off tomorrow from work (well, not reeeeeeeeally). Am starving but lacking the motivation to change out of my Christmas PJs in order to get something, and the only thing in my kitchen is a three pound bag of Dunkin coffee and a bottle of maple syrup. Really missing the stocked fridges from home right now.

Really missing everything about home right now. Had such a fantastic time heading back, though it flew by so quickly and there wasn't enough time to do everything and see everyone as much as I would have liked. By far the hardest part about this lifestyle is constantly saying goodbye. I know I'm usually super happy here, but days like this make me feel like my heart is breaking. I miss my family and friends so much that it physically hurts.

I think I will venture out to forage for food, just in case this nausea is from hunger rather than sadness. Wish I'd stayed at Donut's tonight, but he's probably appreciating a hiatus in the waterworks. Thank goodness the only other thing I have in the kitchen is wine.

Mom, Dad, Jenna, Lili, Ben, Tuck and all my besties - I love you guys so much.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Lean, mean 2013

I hope everyone had a stellar time ringing in the new year and saying goodbye to 2012. Was the last year as good for you as it was for me? ;)

Spent a bit if time looking through last year's resolutions and thinking about the upcoming year, so I will get into that a bit more once I get back to Prague and have a full comp instead of my new favorite toy. Also kicking off 2013 with another blogging challenge but will also post more about that later.

Our trip to the states is wrapping up far too quickly for my liking and I really should be packing, but I'm too interested in waiting for my Chinese to get here and soaking up English-speaking tv to be bothered with something as lengthy as all that. It's gonna be quite a process, as have once again amassed an incredible amount of stuff which Donut will have the pleasure of helping me haul home.

So know that much, much more is on the way for Agog in the upcoming year but that I've got other things to focus on first. Happy new year!