Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas isn't Christmas without a tree.

 You might remember this guy from last year, but this year he has a few more ornaments.

It might be small, but it is full of spirit.

My favorite pick up. It represents all our travels.

Who doesn't love a moose?

Justin's new favorite

Our favorite purchase of 2009

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you are enjoying yourself no matter where you are or who you are celebrating with.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cookie-making with co-workers

Two Sundays ago a few of my lady co-workers got together to get in the Christmas spirit. We picked a recipe and bought supplies and had a go at cookie-making. You think it sounds easy, but you try finding baking supplies in German or just finding vanilla extract at all in this country. Either way we knew it was going to be a good time. My recipe was spiced sugar cookies other recipes included normal sugar cookies, chocolate sugar cookies, pinwheel cookies, checkerboard cookies and chocolate chip cookies. We had Christmas music blaring and flour flying everywhere. It was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon and I can't wait to make more with my big sis when I go home for Christmas!

The goods

The decorating table

Some of the spiced sugar cookies all decorated

The crew from left to right- Kate, Gina, Me and Laurie

What are your favorite Christmas cookies? Have any good recipes?

- Marisa

Sunday, December 12, 2010

ISF Entertainment Evening

Some of the students at my school do some impressive things and this past Friday was a great example. Last year a group of 9th grade girls started a student organization with the goal of raising money and awareness for women in Africa. Throughout the year they put together various fundraising efforts with the biggest event being "Entertainment Evening", where students and teachers perform songs, dances, and skits in the school auditorium. Last year I participated by playing/singing an acoustic version of Outkast's "Hey, Ya", which was a lot of fun and the whole evening was quite enjoyable.

This year I decided to play "Live Like We're Dying" by Kris Allen. I also paired up with another colleague from Mississippi to play "Dynamite" by Taio Cruz. It was another great evening and we had a lot of fun with it. Below are videos of the performances.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thanksgiving weekend visitors

We were so lucky this Thanksgiving because we had three visitors come to Frankfurt! We didn't cook a traditional American Thanksgiving, but we had a darn good time and threw in a few American things. Our visitors included Jason Tatum, our college buddy who is doing campus ministry in Birmingham, England. He works near the University of Birmingham at a place called Canvas, you should check it out. Another guest was my Georgia Tech volleyball teammate none other than, Katie freakin Mohs. Katie works for Siemens and took a job in Nuremberg, Germany this past August. This was our first of hopefully many get togethers. Nuremberg is about 2 hours from Frankfurt by fast train. Last but not least was my other Georgia Tech teammate Ulli Stegemann. Ulli is German and lives in Munich.

The whole gang (minus me)

The weekend included many laughs and lots of good times. We enjoyed schnitzel, schnapps, farmer markets, Christmas markets with Gluhwein, touring around Frankfurt, beer, naps and some American football. It is always great to see familiar faces. You know how it is when you are around people that know you. When I get controlling and pushy, yes it happens, good friends just laugh and call you out.  Or when I get over-excited they just smile and say that's Marisa. Thanks guys, you are true friends!

We had to!

GTVB Reunion!

All of us sprawled out in our tiny apartment watching the GT vs. UGA game the morning after on Justin's computer. I am not going to even comment on the game.

I had such a good time with these three and I hope they did too. That being said visitors are always welcomed at the Jackson's.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Das was?

Translated to English- Is that it? And I have to say NO WAY! I finished up my first German class last week and I have to say I really enjoyed being in a learning environment again. Yes it got annoying going to six hours of German a week for two nights a week three hours at a time, but I can confidently say I can now put a whole German sentence together. My teacher, Michael, was great and made the class really fun. We had people in the class literally from everywhere and for some the only way to communicate was in German. 

On our last class all of us that were left went out to dinner. From a class that started with 16 it ended with 6 or 7 committed students.

I have to say starting a new job and learning German has definitely been exhausting at times, but totally worth it. I will be taking a break now for the holidays and to actually study what I learned and then I hope to get in another class probably in February. 


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mixing Work and Pleasure - French Riviera

This year Marisa has had her hands full getting familiar with her new position as the University Counselor at our school. Since August she has been meeting incessantly with students, working with them on their college essays and helping them meet their deadlines for early decision etc. At times she's been so swamped that I have felt bad for her. Two weeks ago was definitely not one of those times.............

Monaco - view of the port

Monte Carlo Casino - Monaco

Independence Day in Monaco - Marisa lucked out to catch all of the celebration

Prince Albert II made a cameo appearance at the window of his palace

All of the on-lookers were dressed to the 9's - top hats, coat-tails, fur, etc..

Statue of Grimaldi - standing outside the palace to commemorate the time when he disguised himself as a monk to re-take the palace from some posers

National Cathedral of Monaco

Gardens surrounding the palace

Gorton the fish stick guy, or is it Fisherman's Friend? You decide.

Another sweet sculpture outside the palace

Every year our school sends representatives to a conference in Europe for international schools and college representatives. It's pretty important because she gets to attend various professional development workshops, speak more personally with college reps about prospective students from our school, and promote our school to those colleges. In other words, it's about networking and marketing and this year it couldn't have been done anywhere else but in the beautiful coastal country of Monaco!!

Marisa and co-worker Roger holding it down at the booth

Marisa spent nearly the whole week in Monaco for the conference and I flew down to meet her in Nice, France (about 20 minutes by train) for the weekend. It wasn't the prettiest weekends weather-wise, but it turned out to be a relaxing and enjoyable visit.

Hotel room in Nice

View from atop hotel in Nice

Marc Chagall Museum (freakin' awesome)

Chagall - one of his "Song of Songs" paintings. Many of his paintings depict Old Testament stories.

Besides the Chagall Museum, all Marisa wanted was a stop at a French cafe

Russian church - established by many of the immigrants in Nice

Nice - French Riviera

It was a fantastic weekend trip to see a place we probably couldn't afford to stay for a week. It's probably gorgeous in the Spring/Summer.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Name that tune Giveaway winner is....

Justin was definitely rocking Bon Jovi's -Livin' on a Prayer. 

The funny part about this giveway is that Clare has been living in Germany for the past year and I am sure she has some other great finds from German Christmas markets.  Now she will have something from Frankfurt. Kerry, you were a close second so maybe I will bring something home to HB for you around Christmas.

Thanks for guessing and that picture is classic!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Name That Tune Giveaway!

Last Friday night we managed to wander into an Irish Pub that was having karaoke. After listening to about five depressing songs in a row (think Armageddon soundtrack) someone had to step up and get the party going. And guess who that was......?

For a chance to win an authentic wooden Christmas ornament from the Frankfurt Christmas market try and guess what song Justin sang.  Tom Jones-It's not unusual? TLC-Waterfalls? or maybe a little Chris Tomlin? What do you think?

For any of you that were present at this event please keep your answers to yourself.  Leave your guesses in the comment section and we will take creativity into consideration.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Portugal, Part Three - Porto

To wrap up our week in Portugal, we took a train north from Lisbon to Porto, a city most famous for its "port wine".  We stayed in an apartment on the Douro River, directly across from the many port-wine "caves" where the major producers age their wines, and in sight of three of the six bridges that span the Douro (one of which was designed by Gustav Eiffel himself - he made more than towers people).

View of the Douro River from our apartment and the Ponte Dom Luis I bridge that heads over to the port wine lodges.

View of the Douro upstream.  There are six bridges that span this river in Porto and the steel-framed one in the middle of this shot was designed by Gustav Eiffel.  

Historically, these boats carried wine from the Douro valley downstream to Porto to make port wine.  Now they're mostly for looks along the riverfront.

the Ribeira - basically a riverfront section with restaurants and shops

Porto is a ridiculously hilly town that was interesting to walk around.  Like much of Portugal, many buildings were covered with colored tiles, especially blue and white due to the Asian influences from their early trade history.  One of the best examples of this style is the central train station that has an atrium covered with blue painted white tiles that depict stories of Portuguese history.  Churches don similar tiles with Biblical scenes.

Sao Bento train station with all of the painted tile murals

Church with more of the blue tile facade.

For a relatively small city, it boasted impressive buildings and monuments which somehow reminded me of Madrid's architecture (don't tell them I said that).  We spent an entire day walking around and meandering across the river to check out the port wine lodges.

one of the main strips in Porto........the one that reminded me somewhat of Madrid.

Many of the apartments had their own funky tile designs going on.

For those that aren't port wine officionados like myself...........let me give you a brief rundown.  Port wine is not wine.  In fact, it's about as close to wine as Miller High Life is to beer (or insert any other favorite crappy beer to rip on in the blanks).  It is a medium-sweet wine that packs an alcohol content of about 20%.  To make port wine you ferment grapes for only 2-3 days, rather than 10-12 days for normal wines, allowing the natural sugar from the grapes to make alcohol.  So if port doesn't ferment for as long as normal wine, why does it have more alcohol (you may be wondering)?  The reason is because after 2-3 days a type of grape brandy (more like grappa) called aguardente is added to the wine at a ratio of approximately 4:1, which stops the fermentation of the grapes.  This added brandy accounts for the increase in alcohol content, but allows the wine to be sweeter since less of the sugar from the grapes is converted into alcohol.  At this point the port is aged for different lengths of time in different sized containers in order to give it the desired flavor.  There are many varieties such as tawny, ruby, white, vintage, and late bottle vintage which have different types of grapes and methods of aging.  We tried plenty, but it wasn't necessarily my favorite beverage.

Each major producer of port wine has their representative boat kickin' it out here on the Douro.

Inside the storehouse of the "Taylor" port wine lodge.  They age this stuff anywhere from 2 years to 40 years!  Since they re-use them as much as possible, some of these guys are over 100 years old.

Cue trendy shot of port wine glasses at our tasting.

the tasting room at Taylor's

some of these glasses go for 6 Euros for a little more than a shot, and since I'm cheap I took my time to savor the aged aroma as long as possible.

Porto should be a stop on anyone's list of places to see in Portugal.  It was a nice place to spend a couple of days before heading back to the cold reality of Frankfurt.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Portugal, Part Two - the Capital, Lisbon

From the Algarve we headed to the capital of Portugal, Lisbon. I was pretty pumped about Lisbon because I didn't have any expectations and for some reason I just thought it would be a cool city. Lisbon did not disappoint.  With our trusty Rick Steves' Portugal guide book we were off on a night stroll.

For those of you that don't know Lisbon is the city of seven hills. They had these funiculars everywhere.
Some of the coolness that is Lisbon. It was just one of those cities that has an awesome vibe from food, to art and just walking around.

After getting off the funicular this was our view overlooking the city. Can you say amazing?

From here we decided it was time to try some Port Wine. My mom had told me all about it and I wanted to see what it was about. All over Portugal you can get Port Wine, but the real place to get it is Porto (We did that later). More on Port Wine in the Porto post.

This is the Elevador de Santa Justa which was built by a student of Gustav Eiffel, you can guess what he was famous for.

Rossi Square. One thing I loved about Portugal were the titled sidewalks. You can kind of see the black and white wave title here. They said in the past people didn't like it because it made them seasick.

The following day we went on a great tour called We Hate Tourism tours and if you only have a few days in Lisbon this was a great way to see some of the sights outside the city.We took the X day trip and  for 30 euros we rode all around Lisbon in a yellow van for seven hours and it included lunch and a famous pastry called Pastel de Belem or Pastel de Nata as it is known outside of Belem.

First stop was the town of Sintra and this hillside town is definitely worth the trip.

This is inside the Pena Palace parkgrounds. Here is the statue of the warrior, who guards the place.

I don't know if this does the actual sight any justice, but this was one of the entrances at the Pena Palace. It was a under the seas theme with coral, shells, and a giant sea troll. It looked really cool close up.

Here is the actual palace. It was build by Prince Ferdinand who was cousin to King Ludwig who built the Neuschwanstein castle outside of Munich. The royal family lived in this palace until 1910.

After the palace we headed to Cabo da Roca for beautiful views and a traditional Portuguese lunch.

Next was Cascais to experience a locals only beach.

The trip wouldn't be complete without "the best ice cream in the world" at Santini. It was pretty good, but it is hard to beat Italian gelato.

Our last stop was the town of Belem. Here is the Monument to the Discoveries with Henry the Navigator leading the way.

No tour is complete without a moustache.

How can you not love a tour in a van like this? Our tour guide Sandra was excellent and I would tell anyone to hop on this van for a tour.

Lastly before heading to Porto we made one last stop at the Gulbenkian Museum. This was a museum full of one guys personal collection and it was absolutely incredible. It covered the time period of 2,500 B.C. to 2000. It included work from Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Islamic World, the Far East, Medieval Europe, Renaissance and Baroque paintings. I am sorry we didn't take any pictures, but just trust me it was something to see. I wish we had maybe one more day in Lisbon, but from what I did see I loved it. 

Final stop Porto!


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