Sunday, August 24, 2014

What's Cookin' Good Lookin' ?

Chocolate torte with raspberry jam.

Homemade macaroni and cheese.  My favorite food EVER!!!

Oh my god, yes!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Food Action!

Black bean enchiladas


French toast bake

Oreo ice cream...homemade!


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Those I love to spend time with in Frankfurt

There are a number of people with whom I have gotten to know well and can say I really enjoy spending time with here in Frankfurt.  What a wonderful change from when I first moved to Germany.   The loneliness I felt initially, when starting over my social circle completely from scratch, was very tough for me.  This was such a daunting and heartbreaking thing.  But it's part of the deal that comes with moving to a new city, and is something one must navigate through initially before finding a group of close friends once more.  Now I definitely do not feel lonely, and my week and weekends fill quickly with plans
:-D  I've chosen my friends carefully.  Each of them are wonderful in different ways.  So, here are the people I love spending time with:

Somayeh.  She has rapidly become one of my very closest friends here in Frankfurt.  She and I work together at Kid's Camp, which is how we met.  We were placed together as partners during our workplace cleaning day back this past winter.  So she and I were stuck together in a classroom, cleaning, for 8 hours.  Oy.  The time ended up flying by.  She and I talked nonstop the entire time, about relationships, our families and our lives.  I was shocked to find we had an immediate click.  Since then, she and I began to spend time together outside of work and within about two months, we had grown to be good friends.  However within the past 3 months or so, I would say we've become much closer.
Somayeh and I can talk about anything.  I always feel excited to see her each week.  Whenever we hang out I tell myself, ok, we will hang out for just 2 hours and then I will head to the gym.  I check my watch later on to find that actually, 3 and a half hours have passed and we still have more to talk about.  She and I can talk for hours and hours.  The time flies by.  We have a great connection.
Somayeh is an excellent listener.  She is fun to be with and an interesting conversationalist.  Somayeh is confident and assertive, a trait I very much admire in her.  She is open-minded, loyal and non-judgmental.  She is someone I feel I can talk to and be open with, without fear of judgement.  She is classy and poised.  She is an excellent dresser ;-) another trait in her I aspire to eventually have more in common with her.  She is someone I have come to love spending time with and consider a close friend.  I am blessed to have met her and to be able to call her a friend.

Francine is another person to whom I have grown quite close.  We also work together at Kid's Camp.  I cannot recall the exact moment we got to talking but I do remember liking her immediately.  Francine has a warmth about her that makes you comfortable right away, and happy to be in her presence.  She and I have spent quite a bit of time together over the past few months outside of work.  We have cooked together a couple times (cookies and Oreo truffles), gone out for dinner and have had picnics and played board games.  Francine is great fun to spend time with.  The time flies with her.  Francine loves, loves, loves to talk :-D and she is filled with fascinating stories and insights.  Yet she is also an excellent and empathetic listener.  She is incredibly open-minded and loving.  She is supportive and kind.  Francine is self-possessed and intelligent.  She has a very fun sense of fashion.  I always enjoy seeing what she is wearing day to day at work.  Almost like Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City.  Sometimes very sweet and feminine, other times trendy, somethings a bit eccentric and attention grabbing, other times hippy-ish and laid back.  She is such a fun dresser.  Francine is someone I love to spend time with and feel very lucky to know.

Judith is the third good friend whom I met at Kid's Camp, where we both work.  She is the first friend I made at work.  Within about a week or two of beginning work there, I asked if she might like to hang out sometime outside of work.  I could sense she would likely be someone I would click well with and like.  I turned out to be very right.  Judith and I hang out often.  We take walks together, get tea, sometimes grab something sweet to eat, have enjoyed a number of all-you-can-eat American style brunches on Sundays and have gone out dancing together a few times (when she is able to talk me into it ;-)) as I am not much of a partier.
Judith has a sweetness about here that reminds me of my close friend, Sarah from home.  Judith is incredibly kind-hearted.  She is easy to talk to and approachable.  A very empathetic listener.  She is also lots of fun to be with.  She and I have gone out dancing a few times now and I always have a blast with her.  Judith is a generous and loving friend.  In fact, for my 29th birthday just a few weeks ago, she contacted Christian and together they planned a surprise birthday dinner for me.  I was so shocked and deeply touched.  Judith is someone I feel so overjoyed to have as my friend.

Becca and I met when I first arrived to Prague last September, 2013 during my TEFL program.  She and I did not become friends right off the bat.  Instead it happened a bit more slowly.  However I was shocked to find we had a great click.  She reminds me a lot of my close friend, Jenna from back home in New Hampshire.  During the first couple weeks of TEFL, there was a day when a few of us wandered around for the afternoon.  We sat in the Kampo park, strolled across the Charles Bridge and spent a number of hours together that afternoon.  I found myself talking to Becca quite a bit, and finding her really interesting and fun to talk to.
Upon my move to Germany, Becca and I stayed in touch.  She and I took a weekend trip together to Salzburg, Austria back in March of this year.  This was a blast!  Then she came to Frankfurt to visit me this past June for a long weekend.  I loved having her and showing her around the city.  We had a great time.
Becca is an intelligent, thoughtful and interesting Person.  I love hearing her opinions about various topics.  She is romantic and idealistic yet at the same time, logical and fairly realistic.  She seems to have a great balance of both of these viewpoints.  She is fun to spend time with, generally very easy going and open to most anything.  Becca is confident in herself and her viewpoints.  I love this about her.  She and I can talk easily for hours.  I feel comfortable around her and always really enjoy her company.  She is a person I feel very happy to have met and know.  I hope our paths will cross again at some point.  If we lived closer to one another, I could see us being great friends. 

Dali is ironically from the Czech Republic, yet we met upon my moving to Germany.  Dali himself had moved here recently as well as his girlfriend is German, so he moved here to be with her.  He and I met in a weekly conversation group that I had begun attending in order to hopefully make friends, which clearly was a success :-)  After a few meetings with the group, I noticed he seemed warm, intelligent and friendly, so I sent him a message via the meeting group website asking if he might like to get together sometime.  He responded yes, for sure.  Since then we have gotten together roughly once a week.  He is the friend I have known the longest since I have been in Germany, so about 9 months we have been friends now.  We do lots of things together, from getting tea or a small meal, to walking around Frankfurt, taking photos or browsing in bookstores.  We have similar interests in photography, travel and reading.
Dali is realitsic, logical and intelligent.  This makes him a great person to talk to.  He is also warm and funny, so lots of fun to be with.  He is kind and caring.  He is an avid traveler and photographer, so this is something we share often.  I love to hear about his trips with his girlfriend, Ricarda and see photos he took from their travels.  He is someone I always feel very happy to spend time with, and a person I would absolutely call one of my close friends here in Germany. 

I met Christian, but he perfers to go by Chris, at Kids Camp.  Another work friend ;-)  Chris began working at Kids Camp this past winter.  During his first few weeks, he happened to be shadowing in my classroom a few times.  He and I clicked immidiately.  We chatted easily and about all sorts of fun things.  The afternoons always flew by when he was in the classroom with me.
Chris is someone who is very easy to talk to.  He is warm, interested in others, a great listener and great fun to chat with.  He is equally funny as well as interesting.  I find myself laughing in his company a lot.  We have gotten tea/coffee together a few times now and I always really enjoy this.  We have a great time!  He is someone I am glad to have as a friend and colleague.  I always feel relieved when I walk out onto the playground and he is one of the people out there.  I know I can have some fun conversations then :-)

Travis is my only American friend, believe it or not!  He is from the south.  So we enjoy lots of conversations reminiscing about things we miss from back home.  Travis and I have gotten burgers together a few times now, as we are always on the hunt for a decent one (burgers over here in Europe just do NOT compare to anything one can get in America).  Despite that we disagree on what makes a burger good (his ideal burger would be something with lettuce, tomatoe, cheese and that is it.  Whereas mine would have bacon, mushrooms, onions, spinach, cheese, etc), we still enjoy the search for a good one and the sampling in the meantime.  
Travis is fun to spend time with and an interesting conversationalist.  He is generous and kind.  He is smart and well read.  He is an avid reader like myself and often asks me for book recommendations, which makes me feel way cool :-D
We dont know one another that well yet as he is a rather new friend, but from what I know so far, I am glad to have him as a friend of mine and really enjoy hanging out with him. 

Jana is the final friend Ive made at Kids Camp thus far.  She was the teacher-in-Training within my classroom.  Over time while working with her, I realized she is actually an incredibly sweet and lovely young woman.  So one day I asked if she might like to get together sometime outside of work.  She gave me an enthusiastic yes.  Since then, Jana and I have hung out a number of times together.  We get tea or ice cream, sometimes food or take walks.
Jana is incredibly loving and kind.  Sometimes I would walk into class and she would embrace me with a warm hug out of the blue.  She is affectionate and just a generally happy person. 
She is a caring friend and concerned listener.  She loves speaking English and loves learning new words and trying to improve.  Jana is sensitive and open minded.  I always really enjoy spending time with and talking to her. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What Makes Someone A Keeper?

by Myself.

What makes a person, romantic or platonic, a keeper?  As in, someone worth putting in the effort with and maintaining a relationship of some kind with that person.

1.  A feeling of comfort and closeness with them.  You feel as though you could tell this person almost anything and can be totally yourself with them.  You feel as though they love and accept you.

2. Trust.  You feel you can trust this person to be up front with you.  To not treat you in ways they know would hurt you.  To be good to you.  To tell you the truth.

3. Loyalty.  This person has your back.  If they are a romantic partner, they wouldn't cheat according to the perimeters the two of you have worked out within your relationship.  They would not act in ways they know would cause you to feel pain or mistrust (whether they are in your presence or not.  In fact, in some ways a bigger test is how someone acts when you are not around to watch).  This person holds you in high regard and esteem, and they make this fact clear to the others around them and in their life.

4.  Respect.  This person treats you well, as though you matter to them and are important to them.  They show this both in word and in action.  Also, your happiness and well being is important to them!

5.  Inspiring.  I believe that the best and most enriching relationships in our lives (romantic or not) inspire us in some way.  Whether this person possesses qualities that we admire, or this person makes us feel moved/motivated to be a better version of ourselves, or maybe this person differs from us in our world views so they help us to open our minds to new ideas/ways of thinking.  However it might be, the best relationships should inspire us in some way or another.  We should, in a sense, look up to those we feel closest.  While still of course feeling as though we are regarded and treated as equals by them.

6.  Fun to be with.  I suspect some people might respond, "well yeah, that goes without saying."  But I disagree.  Plenty of people continue to spend time with or maintain relationships with people who they actually do not enjoy spending time with all that much.  But they continue the relationship out of...obligation...or a long history with this person...or fear in letting go of the relationship.  I can tell you first hand that there are lots of good people out there who are also fun to spend time with.  You just have to put the efforts into finding them.  This might mean putting less, or even no more time into the less fulfilling ones in your life.

7.  They encourage the good in you, not the bad.  Plenty of people choose to spend time with others who encourage them to do things that in fact, will likely detract from or even cause damage to their lives in the long term.  Things like: lying, cheating, using drugs, succumbing to laziness and inaction regarding life goals, acting with cruelty, violence, etc.  Whatever it might be, no person is a good person to surround yourself with and/or be close to if they encourage you to do things like this.  Good people encourage and want the very best for you and your life.  Period.

8. A Good Listener.  In my life thus far, I have learned that poor listeners have much more trouble than good ones.  No one can be a good listener every minute in every social interaction, of course.  But to be a generally good listener is important.  Being a good listener shows: an interest in others, maturity, patience, respect and it tends to result in deeper relationships with others.  Being a poor listener can show disinterest, lack of respect, selfishness and just generally results in lower quality relationships and less closeness with others.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Friend Spotlight!

The friend I would like to write about today is Alex Kolodziej.  I consider her to be one of my very best friends.  Alex and I met in 2009 at an insurance company where we both worked at in Boston.  Upon being introduced to her when she started at our workplace (I had already been working there for going on one year), I asked her if she might like to eat lunch with me on a whim.  She said yes.  What a worthwhile invitation that turned out to be :-D now 5 years later.  She is one of the people to whom I feel closest.

Alex and I went on to eat lunch together almost every day.  We did not like our job at the company we worked for.  Overall, the people there tended to be fairly dismal and unfriendly.  We bonded over daily lunches along with writing one another hilarious emails back and forth throughout the day.  Funny stories, would-you-rather questions, just generally fun what-if questions and more.

Alex, myself, my ex Adam and her now-husband Dan began to spend a lot of time together.  We went on so many fun double dates, more then I could possibly count or recall.  So many fun dinners out, drinks and appetizers, movies, mini golf, ice cream, shooting guns ;-).  We joined a family dinner over at Alex's family's home which resulted in many laughs.  We went to lots of parties that Alex hosted at her parents house.  The four of us watched some of the TV show Dexter together each week.  Alex asked me to be a bridesmaid in her and Dan's wedding, which made me feel so honored.  The years slipped by quickly as we all became close friends and shared hundreds of laughs and great memories together.

Alex's Bachelorette party!

My Bachelorette!

Alex and I ended up working together again once more, last summer 2013 at once again, another terrible job.  However there was some major positive to this.  One, we got to see one another and chat every day   :-D and two, every day during lunch we would drive the five minutes to her apartment and watch the TV show, Big Love together while eating and talking.  I always loved this.  Or we would go to a nearby craft store and buy chocolate covered Oreos ;-).

Alex & Dan attended my 28th birthday party last summer that my Mom hosted at her home on a lake.  I LOVED this.  So much fun having them both there, along with a few of my other close friends.

We also went to NYC for a weekend together in January, 2013!  Such a blast.

Before I left for Europe, Alex and Dan had me over for a wonderful dinner and gave me some lovely parting gifts.  Alex has also sent me some very thoughtful and sweet gifts through the mail while I have been over here in Europe.  One of which contained a beautiful bracelet that says "Friend" which I wear often.

She is a friend to whom I have come to feel I can tell basically anything to.  She is supportive and loving.  She is fiercely loyal to those she loves.  She is deeply generous and thoughtful.  She is SO much fun to be with.  She has the best sense of humor which always provides anyone in her company with endless laughs.  I always have a great time with her and her husband, Dan.  He is also great.  A warm, easygoing, loving and kind person.  With a similar outstanding sense of humor ;-) love this about them.

Alex is a person I have grown to love, and a friendship I cherish deeply.  I hope she is one I will continue to have in my life years into the future.  I am blessed to know her.