art, German Schtuff, life, Travel

East Side Gallery Berlin-Remnants of the Past

In case you didn’t know, I studied for two summers in Berlin, Germany at Humboldt University. (I actually kept a blog the second year and it still exists! Short but sweet, I lost momentum quickly since getting to the computer lab was sporadic and I wanted to be out in the city, not sitting in a stuffy room at Uni.)

Humboldt University Berlin, July 2008

The program was a cultural and linguistic immersion, four weeks packed with language classes, phonetics training, and cultural and extracurricular activities. Best two trips of my life, needless to say. And not only did I learn German, I got to know Berlin. It is a city with a rich, deep and painful history.

berlin at dusk

Size and population-wise, Berlin reminds me a lot of Chicago. Big, broad, busty, bold, with a river running through it. This is likely why I feel so at home there. But Chicago is much younger and was not destroyed by World War II and, probably most importantly, was never a focal point of Cold War communism.

The modern, reunited Berlin still carries the scars of a city whose transitions have caused literal worlds to be turned upside-down. Or right-side up, depending on what side of the wall you happened to be on.
As such, Berlin’s art reflects these scars, these revolutions.

One of my favorite things about my time in Berlin is the fact that I had plenty of opportunity to see such large icons of historical significance, such as what was left of the Wall at East Side Gallery. So I was quite sad to hear from a dear friend in Berlin the fate of this special section of the wall. I feel like a piece of my own past is there too, since my time in Berlin had such a profound impact on me.

The entire story of the wall is fascinating, from how quickly it went up in 1961 to how quickly it came crashing down one evening in 1989. Of course, all the reasons the Wall even existed were so wrought with tension that it is no surprise that after reunification die Mauer became a prominent canvas for political art.

die mauer


The largest open-air art gallery in the world, the East Side Gallery commemorates and remembers the extreme political tensions of two sides, East and West, and not just in the name of Berlin, the city, but as two sectors of the entire world. This is globalism before the Internet, folks.

die mauer 3

So it is quite sad to me that in the middle of the night sometime in March that contractors removed a section of the Wall in order to pave a road leading to an eventual luxury apartment complex.

Taking down what is left of the Berlin Wall for the sake of a capitalistic pursuit seems, so, well, American. I realize that great minds have likely planned every detail of this venture, and I am sure it wasn’t a hasty decision, given that this is Germany we are talking about, after all. But it also feels so wrong to replace it with fancy condos.

Sometimes I am hesitant for change. This is human, I think. Other times, I want to change everything. I miss Berlin, I miss the life I was planning to make there, I miss who I am and how I feel about myself there. Which is completely different than how I feel at home, stateside. Lately I’ve been feeling really nostalgic for that time I spent abroad and resentful that life changed so suddenly that I had to completely re-organize my plans to teach and study abroad for grad school. I love my family and I am still getting used to this motherhood thing, but I am so strapped for time I feel this part of me slipping away. So somehow this change in Berlin also kind of marks a symbolic end to my time there.

And that is why the removal of the East Side Gallery makes me tear up.

Berlin, ich hab’ dich Lieb!

My last days in Berlin. Hugging the Brandenburg Gate. Berlin, 2008

My last days in Berlin. Hugging the Brandenburg Gate. Berlin, 2008


Toaster-Oven Nutella S’mores

I’ve been seeing s’mores ingredients all over the stores lately and I am sure in summer there’s an abundance of posts and recipes and twists on the s’more all over the ‘netz. I am not here to say this is an original idea. I’m actually happy to say, though, that this was not googled or found on Pinterest…I used my good ol’ fashioned brain to think of these, and they are so, so easy!

toaster oven nutella smores

All you need is marshmallows, graham crackers, nutella, and a toaster-oven with a broiler.

I split each of my grahams in half and topped with mini-marshamllows. I think that using a big marshmallow would be better because it is a bit tedious to balance all the teeny weeny ‘mallows on top of the cracker, but in the name of s’mores, it is worth it. Mini ones were obviously what I had on hand so I made due.

broiled marshmallows nutella smoreI stuck these puppies under the broiler for just a few seconds. Nice and toasty-melty.

Slather the other half with nutella, slap it on the warm and gooey marshmallow and enjoy!

toaster oven broiled nutella smores

life, rant, Work

10 Lessons I’ve Learned About College *After* Graduation


  1. Unless you are in the health sciences, engineering, or IT field, you can probably just forget about a job with a living wage unless you go back for a Masters or PhD.

  2. I just spent a ridiculously insane amount of money to make $10 an hour at Target, Starbucks, or the like.

  3. According to (and because of) #2, I will probably pay my student loans off in my 70s. And I don’t even have half as much debt as most students do who attend elite or upper level schools.

  4. I am “overqualified” for most jobs that I could technically “qualify” for (again, see #2).

  5. Everyone who told me to study languages was not completely out of line that I’d have a useful skill. I can now sit at home and make foreign language memes for the internetz to enjoy, free of charge.nein grumpy cat

  6. Starting/having a family while trying to begin a career or pursue a long-term intellectual goal (such as writing) is pretty much impossible.

  7. Because #5 is in my face every single day, I weep a little for all the Women’s studies classes I took, wherein I learned that the modern woman can have it all, eventually crashing the glass ceiling.

  8. If I pursue the Master’s degree I wanted when I first went back to college, I will probably never pay my loans off before I die.

  9. Being a stay-at-home-parent while my husband works full-time pays more than any job I could potentially get with my fancy-pants expensive, liberal arts degree, if I were not actually so “over-qualified.”

  10. Unemployment deferment is only 36 months.




Downton Abbey

I’m a little late to the bandwagon here, but I usually am because we don’t have cable. If it hits Netflix, I can see it. If it doesn’t, then I don’t.

The last few days I’ve been walking around saying stuff in a fancy British accent, which admittedly is getting a lot better since I seem to be obsessing over a lot of British TV as of late. I’ve even been practicing using the word “fortnight” in my head, and actually drinking cups of tea. Naptime, Downton Abbey, and a hot cuppa. Mmhmm.

So I can’t say much that probably has not already been said or thought of about this series, but it is a gem.  I think my recent Call The Midwife discovery had me thirsty for more, having thoroughly explored my former British TV obsessions.

I have for a long time worshiped Absolutely Fabulous, and anything with Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry, Ricky Gervais, and Martin Clunes. There are others too, such as the short-lived comedy Faulty Towers, which my husband turned me on to back when we had time to watch TV on the couch and kick it together, whenever we wanted.

So really only having experience with English comedy, my excitement for DA and CTM  is probably a little over the top.

But, apparently my love for Downton Abbey does not rest in solitude.

This is a video my dad made, his rendition of the theme song in solo piano. (A wonderful tribute, if I do say so myself.)

The first episode I found a bit slow to engage in, and it took me a few tries to finish it. At first I found myself immediately disliking the family and siding with the servant staff, but as time goes on I see sides of almost everyone that I can relate to. It really is quality writing for television. I think that might be where my obsession for British TV is coming from lately, since I’m somewhat tired of the dull network shows lately.

Anyway, just my chance to pimp my pops and one of my new favorite shows.


mail art

Air Mail

I recently participated in a mail art swap where the theme was airmail.


Since I had no actual air mail envelopes, I made my own using airmail-style washi tape. The stickers on the front are also tapes, just cut down to look like stickers and stamps.I also used a few postal themed rubber stamps for the final touch. So far one partner has received and she liked it.

Here is one I got in the mail…still waiting for the other one to roll in.


I really enjoyed the postage stamps she used. The rubber stamps are also very cool. I like the gypsy saying!

“We are all wanderers on this earth. Our hearts are full of wonder and our souls are deep with dreams.”


Call The Midwife

Call The Midwife

Usually during nap time I indulge in a little TV. Sometimes it’s reruns, sometimes Ellen or Dr. Phil, sometimes a series. This week, it’s Call The Midwife, a recently new (2011, I think) British series based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth.

Set in the 1950s, the series focuses on Jenny Lee and her nurse-midwife colleagues, living and tending to patients in London’s impoverished East End neighborhood. The women live in a nursing convent, deliver babies, save lives, lose lives, and take care of each other. While childbirth is the calling for all of these women, the plot is not centered only on the fleeting relationships of the nurses with their patients. There are other threads in the plot that give this series the soap-opera like effect that makes you want to keep tuning in.

It really is a charming series with lots of emotion and heart. I found it on Netflix on Sunday and I only have one more episode left until I can start on the second season, which apparently Premiered on PBS here in America on March 31. Be warned, though, that it’s a tear jerker. I watched episode five yesterday and was sobbing by the end, it was so sad yet so sweet. The writers of this one really do a phenomenal job.

Go. Enjoy. The babies, the clothes, the English accents, all of it!


Mini Paper Baskets For Easter (or anytime, really)

Happy Easter!

Today’s the day the big bunny made his rounds. Plastic egg shells, jelly beans and paper grass cover the living room floor. It is an explosion of treats and loot, second only to Christmas.

And, then, just as quickly as I hid the eggs and basket last night, it’s all found and it’s all over.

Except for these.


I love all things miniature and I also love all things paper. Wanting to continue the crafting and planning surprises for the Big Day, I found this lovely template over at Waltzing Mouse Stamps for a little square Easter basket.


And because at 30-somethin’ it is still fun to get a basket from my mom, er, the EB…which I found outside my back door this morning (Thanks ma!), I thought surely it must be fun for Grandma and Grandpa to get one too. So I made these.

Just print the template on cardstock, cut, and glue. Filled with chocolate eggs or jelly beans they make a perfect little gift.


Also, this is great for last minute basket needs. Takes only a few minutes to put together and fill.

Better go hop along the rest of my bunny trail!