Monthly Archives: December 2011

Thanksgiving Away From Home

Determined not to lose my Americanism, I always try to insist on celebrating the traditional American holidays. Earlier this year I spent the 4th of July in Zurich with A and we attended a celebratory BBQ at his coworkers house, burgers, hot dogs, chips, Apfelwein (a traditional German wine that comes from Apples, which is popular in Frankfurt,) oh yeah, and beer.

Since last year’s Paraguayan Thanksgiving was such a success, I knew I couldn’t possibly match it again this year, so I opted for something a little more low key, but equally patriotic. A home cooked dinner with my boyfriend, complete with all the special side dishes and acoutrements that are associated with Thanksgiving. The main problem, of course, was that I don’t eat Turkey and was not about to spend hours in front of a hot oven letting a giant bird that I wouldn’t even touch, much less take a bite of, roast.

Gobble Gobble

I arrived to Zurich the day before the big day, and had packed a terrible cold and a fever along with me. It was just our luck that Aleks seemed to have gotten the same illness airmail before my arrival, and we realized that we were doomed to spend 5 days hopped up on Day Quil, Nose Spray, and with a box of tissues at each of our sides.

Still determined, though, Aleks headed off to work on Turkey Day (ironic, isn’t it?) and I made for the grocery store, with a long list in hand. When I got back to the apartment, around 1 or 2, I began cooking. The recipes of the day were:

  • 1 Roasted Chicken
  • Homemade Stuffing
  • Brussel Sprouts Slaw with Homemade Honey Mustard and Homemade Maple Glazed Walnuts
  • Sweet Potatoes Complete with Marshmallows
  • Sweet Pear and Apple Tarts

I started with the stuffing. A had been letting a loaf of bread go stale for a couple of days, so I chopped up the rest of the bread and put it in the oven for a few minutes, (clearly a few minutes was way too long since half of my bread came

Yummy Slaw

 out charred and black!) but I managed to get the second batch right. And included all the mandatory mix-ins including garlic, onions, sage and a variety of herbs, and chicken stock. I have to admit, my first homemade stuffing came out awesome! Then it was onto the Brussels Sprouts Slaw, which I took the recipe from and also came out great. Just had to figure out how to get the food processor working. And it was my first experience making salt and peppered maple glazed walnuts, which I will forever remember because it was so delicious.

The chicken was another feat, since from the moment I picked it up from the grocery store I couldn’t believe I’d actually have to touch it! When I read how to separate the skin from the body to put in spices I almost gagged, and kept secretly hoping A would come in from outside “just in time” to do the dirty work for me. But, alas, he didn’t and I gathered up enough courage to at least cover the outside of the chicken in the butter, sage, garlic, and onion “rub” that I had prepared. Then I popped it into the oven, grateful to be done with that part, at least.

My first roasted chicken

The sweet potatoes should have been the easiest, but unfortunately I didn’t let them cook long enough (even though 1 hour surely seemed like enough!) so we actually ended up skipping them until our repeat of the dinner the next evening. And ate the melty marshmallows with the stuffing…delicious!

Overall the dinner was a big success. I was completely exhausted after about 6 hours of cooking, but was grateful to have pulled it off and have a great meal for which we could both be thankful. So even though there was no turkey or cranberry sauce or whatever other things Americans consider traditional Thanksgiving day foods, it was a lovely way to spend the holiday with someone I love…and perhaps to start a new tradition.


Painting the Roses Purple – Experiments in Color

Orrrr…The living room purple! It’s a long-standing tradition in my family to always have one room that is “Amanda’s Room”, i.e. the purple room. My mom always has one, my dad has one, and even my sister has one in L.A. So here I am in Berlin, thousands of miles from home, and I decided to paint the bedroom…(drum roll please!) BLUE! Now it should be said that blue is another of my favorite colors, not just any blue – but a nice turquoisey blue. So it’s not completely out of whack for me to have this blue bedroom, but it has felt a little strange not having the color purple around me always.

I’ve noticed that I have been compensating for this lack of purple in the home by buying more purple things. I’m starting to get worried myself, since I now have a purple purse, wallet, scarf, dresses, shirts, etc. I never used to own so much purple, even though it’s always been my favorite color. It’s like I can’t stop myself. Whenever I see something purple, I reach for it and purchase. I had to stop myself today from buying these beautiful purple Christmas ornaments, mainly because I don’t even have a tree! But if I did, I’m sure you could imagine what it would look like…

This would have been next!

So after living in my apartment for about 6 months now. Sleeping in a cool blue room every night, and walking into a startlingly white living room every morning and at the end of every day, (even the couch is white!) I decided that my apartment was simply not me enough. There wasn’t enough color, and certainly not enough things on the walls. (Anyone who has known me since high school can remember well the days when every single square cm of my walls in my purple bedroom were covered in things…photos, magazine cut outs, designer labels I liked, shoe boxes, artwork from friends or my sister…)

That’s when I made the decision to get crackin’ and to paint the largest wall in the living room (3m x 6m so almost 10 ft x 20 ft) a nice deep purple. For the record, this is not “Amanda” purple, which is usually more of a lavender. I wanted deep, rich, royal purple. So I went to the Home Depot equivalent in Berlin, OBI Markt, and picked my poison – Crocus 8, and bought enough to cover 20 m2. Then I taped off the entire wall yesterday – knowing what a big pain in the ass it would be to tape and paint all in the same day, from having the experience with my boyfriend when we painted the bedroom blue in June and both wanted to cry from how frustrating and physically exhausting a process it was. (For the record, he thinks I’m crazy for taking on another painting walls project!)

Getting there...!

But there I sat, letting the paint dry (is it weird if I admit I was watching it dry all day to see the differences in shades that come out? Okay, then I won’t admit it…) and though I realized it’s not quite the deep dark royal purple I had intended, and it is much more “Amanda” than I originally anticipated, I have to say that I completely and totally love it and definitely feel more at home here!

As Purple as Purple Gets

What makes your living space your “home”?

A Homecoming Worth Celebrating: There’s No Place Like Home

After a weekend of celebrating and seeing old friends, I was well prepared for the reunions that awaited me at home. I arrived at the Nassau International Airport for my 8:30 AM flight the morning following the wedding, (what was I thinking? Not so sure, but I made it without any problems!) I was lucky enough to be on the same ‘going to our honeymoon’ flight as Laura and Benji and had my last-minute fill of the Pinders before separating in Fort Lauderdale, where I boarded my flight to New York.

I arrived to a sunny, but cold, day in New York and expected to see snow covering the ground from the recent (and random) Halloween snow storm, but most of it had already melted by then. My dad was waiting at the airport for me and we headed straight…to the computer store, (my Mac has been acting up after a recent incident involving it falling off the bed…)

Waiting to be loved

We then headed back home where I had the greeting of a lifetime from 5 fuzzy creatures who I had missed all too much while in Germany. A squealing and crying, “I’m on my back, pet my tummy” hello from our golden retriever Pumpkin, and a few good rubs and “Hello, I remember you! Can you feed me?” meows from Cody and Cooper, (Cleo and Blue were a bit more passive as though my return home after so long meant nothing to them.)

My favorite thing ever...being surrounded by animals in when I wake up in the morning!

After some time rejoicing in our mutual love, Cooper, as per usual, copped a major attitude with me reminding me that he was pissed off I’d left him for so long. This routine takes place everytime I leave home and come back after a long period of time away. Cooper is only too happy to see me and be petted and loved, and then spends the next 2-3 hours hissing and swatting at me anytime I get too close. He is really angry. It isn’t for another few hour or sometimes even overnight that he becomes my little cuddley bundle of joy again. No amount of reasoning or cooing words can change this. I’ve tried.

That is one pissed off Cooper!

Once the grand reunion excitement with the fuzzballs was over, I set to cooking. I invited 7 of my closest friends from high school to come over for a pot luck dinner and to catch up, and I was making mac and cheese. I was so happy to have everyone there, especially since Kellie and Katy had traveled in from so far away, (Boston and Baltimore, respectively.) It was so nice to be around my friends again! A few of the girls stayed the night, so it could feel like old times, (though I was still so exhausted from the wedding festivities just the night before I crashed quite a bit earlier than expected!) and we even got to brunch the next morning!

High School Homecoming About 8 Years Ago (and still friends today!)

My first day back set the precedent for the hugs and excitement that would ensure for the remainder of my trip. One glorious week in New York.

I spent a day shopping at the outlets with Jaquelyn, another lunching and shoe shopping with Melanie, eating Ramen with Allyn and Cathy, Dining on Hibachi, Mexican, and Italian food with friends all over the place, and seeing family I hadn’t seen in so long. I even had time for a couple of mother-daughter manicures, walks with the furballs, and a museum trip to the Met with my mom and dad.

Winter Walk With the Cats and Dog - Cody taking the lead!

After being away for 8 long months, I can honestly say there is no place like home. Lucky for me I get to return again for Christmas in just a few short weeks!

A Homecoming Worth Celebrating: More Wedding Photos

 All of these photos come from Laura’s photographer – Heather Carey. You can view more at

Father Walking The Bride Down the Aisle.

The Vows.

The Crying Bridesmaids.

The Kiss.

The Bride and Groom!!

The Wedding Party.

A Homecoming Worth Celebrating: The Wedding

Freshman or Sophomore Year - Where it All Began

Going to your BFF’s wedding is not something you can totally prepare for, especially when the event will be a reunion after 2 years of not seeing each other! Laura and I met our freshman year of college, in an outdated, above-the-legal-limit high rise dorm on the Tulane University campus. We moved in to the dorm on the same day (along with about 1,000 other new students,) and happened to be in the same elevator heading up to the 11th Floor – soon to be our shared home for the next 9 months.

 On that fateful day, my dad decided the almost full elevator could handle one more heavy item, my TV. As it turns out, it couldn’t and so we spent the next 45 minutes cramped into a tight space stuck in between floors. That was when I first got a look at my future BFF and her Mom looking panic-stricken in the corner, breathing in the recycled air with deep breaths.

Laurita and I in College

From then on we were close as could be, going through the usual exhilarating and devastating experiences that make up a typical college existence. Post-college she moved to Miami to be with her beau – eventually returning to their native Bahamas, and I returned back home to NY. We went through our ups and downs as the distance pulled us apart, but always came back together in the end to tell our lives’ woes and spill whatever gossip was going on at the time.


Fast forward to 4 years later, here I was boarding a plane from Fort Lauderdale to Nassau, The Bahamas to see my friend marry the love of her life.

The Happy Couple the Day Before the BIG Day

Not only was this the happiest of occassions, but it was also a reunion of great proportions. Seeing people from college, and friends and family of the bride and groom I’ve met numerous times over the last 8 or so years was a nice reminder of how connected you are to so many different people in the world.

On the wedding day, we met at the bridal suite at 9 in the morning to begin our preparations for the day. Laura hired her hair dresser and a makeup artist to make her already beautiful bridal party (wink wink) even more stunning. We spent all day being pampered, primped, and poked with eyeliner pencils, and came out looking fresh and beautiful and ready for the cover of Bridal Magazine 2011.

Bridesmaids and Mother of the Bride

Then we met our groomsmen in the hallway to take us down the aisle and stand in front of a packed house. I followed suit behind the maid of honor, the lovely Tory Millar, and waited anxiously for Laura to begin her trek. As she walked down the aisle, arm in arm with her father, I felt a lump rise to my throat that I desperately tried to keep at bay. 

The bridal party ready for action

It wasn’t until the groom began reading his presonal vows that the lump took control of my body and began to send involuntary tears down my cheek. That’s when I heard the stifled sniffling from behind. Upon completing his vows, Laura took charge and started reading her witty, loving, and well thought out vows to her husband-to-be. And then all hell broke loose. Us 5 bridesmaids stood up front, watching our BFF read her vows to Benji, with tears (and snot) streaming down our faces. We tried desperately to keep it together, but much to our own dismay, or amusement, were not able to, (I might have even had a minor fit of hysterically laughing when I realized the severity of the situation.) It was then that the bride turned to her sister and requested a tissue to wipe her own tear-soaked face. The true mark of friendship is when on your wedding day you are passed a tissue from the back of the line, up to the front, with all of your best friend’s tears already soaking on it…and then you blow.

I Do’s were said, legal documents were signed, a kiss was given, and the ceremony came to a close. Laura and Benji were married!!

Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Pinder! (Should be noted: This Was a Post-Ceremony Kiss)

 We gathered around for photos, (while we still looked put together,) and quickly made our way to the bar for a celebratory signature cocktail, Pink Lemonade, (spiked, of course!) Between the live band and the DJ, we danced and drank the night away. And the bridesmaids found clever ways to tie up the bottoms of our gowns (which were dragging way too heavily on our feet as the night wore on!) And the bride was beaming with happiness!


And now I couldn’t be happier for the Bride and Groom and wish them nothing but the best and brightest in their future together. Congrats, Laura and Benji!