Monday, January 31, 2011

Our weekend away-Dublin round two

Back in November or so our coworker saw a deal on AerLingus for cheap flights to Dublin in January and we said why not. My good friend Shaun moved to Dublin about nine months ago and we hadn't seen him. In that time he had also gotten married and we needed to celebrate that big step. So last Friday we hopped a flight to Dublin for a fun packed weekend. Since we have been to Dublin before we were excited to get out into the countryside.

Saturday after a proper Irish breakfast cooked by Shaun, baked beans included, we all headed out to a place called Glendalough. Not too far outside Dublin sits this beautiful sight. It is home to a 6th century monastery and two lakes. It was great to get outside and see the amazing landscape that Ireland is known for.

Along the trail at the Lower Lake.

Lower lake with the monastic site in the background

Frost covered trees

Our navigator, Colt.  He is an Australian shepherd and a good looking dog! 

The Upper Lake. It was beautiful in the middle of winter,  I can only imagine what it looks like in Spring and Summer.

Had to take a picture in front of it.

With all the frost on the graves this place had a real serene feel to it.

I am in love with the Celtic crosses and this place was full of them and they were amazing.

Out in Temple Bar listening to an all girl band playing some jams like Johnny Cash, Florence and the Machine, U2 and good ol' Irish music. Nothing beats the music in Dublin. Sitting in a Irish Pub with awesome music playing is definitely one of my favorite things to do. It is right up there with riding my bike along the coast. (photo courtesy of Tran C.)

Doesn't Justin look very Irish here? It's the hat and the beard (photo courtesy of Tran C.) We did go with five of our coworkers, but managed to not get any good pictures with them. We had a great time in Temple Bar with them and Sunday at brunch.

The whole gang in Temple Bar for brunch on Sunday.

This is Oscar Wilde and this might be the best statue I have ever seen. The expression on his face in priceless.

All over Dublin are these Georgian doors and it gives the city a very regal present. And yes of course I took the picture of the door with 33!

I remember saying that we didn't want to double up on many places that we visited, but I could go to Dublin/Ireland ten more times. Each time we go we love it even more. Ireland has such a oppressed history and each time I learn a little bit more and learn to appreciate their culture. We had a very informative taxi ride to the airport and the taxi driver inspired us to watch the movie Michael Collins. If you have not seen this movie it is a great historical commentary of Ireland and their fight for independence. I can't wait to go back this summer with my Mom and visit the town of Tralee where my great-great-grandfather was from. I totally embrace my Irish heritage and just wish I had the sweet accent.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Justin celebrates 29 years!

Time flies wherever you are and I can't believe that I'm already celebrating my second birthday in Germany. The only thing significant about 29 seems to be that it makes you feel dreadfully close to 30, which seems like the time when you're supposed to be doing big-boy things in life...............buying a house, starting a family, listening to talk radio, having your prostate checked..........those kind of things. It's weird to think back to when I first turned 20 as a second-year college student and how quickly I've arrived at the "end of my 20's".

Unofficially, my birthday celebration began last weekend when we visited Dublin for the second time. It was an amazing trip that will be posted separately so we will move on to Monday, January 24th, on my actual birthday. Normal wo rk day with the exception that one of my Korean students brought in a Korean version of "moon pies" and surprised me with my class singing happy birthday.

The other unusual event of the day took place after school when I should have went straight home to relax, but instead stayed to participate in a meeting for the GEW which is a teacher's union that wanted to start up a "work council" to rep resent the employees of the school to the administration. This proposal, that turned out to not be an option, wasn't very popular with most of the existing staff and tensions were high. It's a long story for another time, but it lasted over two hours after school and I learned a lot about German law in regards to labor and all in a setting that wasn't too far from a Jerry Springer show.

We met up with a few folks at a local German restaurant (not our neighborhood joint, but a fine establishment nonetheless) for some schnitzel and beer to cap off a long Monday. We ended the night splitting a bottle of prosecco in our local wine cellar that made it feel like an official celebration.

Gift-wise..........Marisa hooked me up with an Eintracht Frankfurt jersey and a Rick Steve's travel guide to eastern Europe. Altogether it was a sweet birthday.........I'm just waiting to bake my yellow box cake from the States this weekend to make it official.

Exhibiting a few of the gifts: Eintracht Frankfurt home jersey and Rick Steve's Eastern Europe travel guide from Marisa, beanie from the Rennies, and scotch whiskey from my co-worker.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Outsourcing: Why Do It Yourself......

After a year and a half of lugging full crates of beer nearly a kilometer from our beer store to our apartment and carrying the empty crate back to refill I finally came across the discovery of a delivery service!  I was making the monthly exchange this week when I noticed the store's van outside that advertised "Lieferservice" (delivery service).  I found out that these guys will deliver a full crate of 20 beers to your flat for 1 Euro!  Needless to say I ordered a couple of crates and had them delivered to my door after I got home from work the next day.  

There are many techniques for hefting these crates to and fro one's apartment - none of which I will share because I'll never carry another one again!  Here are my two crates delivered right to my balcony.

Perhaps your local beer store will also deliver, but I've never heard of it happening in the States unless you were ordering multiple kegs for whatever reason.  I bet your beer store hasn't let you "just come back tomorrow" to pay for the case that you're taking home because their debit card machine is down.  Yeah, that happened to me too.  Be jealous.  The only flaw is their lack of microbrew, but who can complain?



Monday, January 17, 2011

Home for the Holidays: Atlanta - Part II

The second time through Atlanta featured some family time and a memorable New Year's Eve celebration spent with friends.

Top 5 Things to Do in Atlanta Before 2011:

1. Hang out with the Jackson family in Acworth.

Nice little get-together with, from top left: Jason, Dad, me, Arden, Candace, Krissie, Deb, Marisa, and Jake.

Arden was full of personality this time around.....and decked out in hippie outfits, compliments of Candace!

Jake got a new ax for Christmas, so we got it tuned up and had a crash course in shredding and melting peoples faces off.

2. Go out to eat New Year's Eve dinner at a swanky, french-sounding restaurant.

New Year's Eve Crew: Justin, Marisa, Chris, Liz w/Noah, Meredith, and Andrew

Marisa and Mere at Abbatoire - we think it's French for "butcher" or something like that.

Andrew and Chris with our waiter who hooked us up with all kinds of wacky meat products - that's what they do best.

3. Drink fancy, specialty beer with friends and watch neighborhood fireworks to bring in the new year.

Goodbye 2010.......

.....hello 2011!! Here we are watching some sweet fireworks, compliments of Hottie Hawgs Barbecue.

the Tison's last New Year's without children.

our always hospitable hosts - the Brazells.

it's tough to take anything seriously.

Melanie and Chris King dropped by to spread some New Year's cheer as well.

our anti-climatic champagne opening

4. Stay at home watching college football and ordering pizza on New Year's Day.

pretty much our default position all day - perfect spot for game-watching, chatting, and eating pizza

Jesse and Keight Dukes stopped by with their young-uns: Judah and Layla. I remember having our goodbye party at this very house and the Dukes came by with Judah in a baby carrier. They grow up fast!

Keight and Marisa hugging it out

5. Indulge in American consumerism by stocking up on necessities at Target before heading back over the Pond.

Every part of our trip home this Christmas was very enjoyable and refreshing. The time we spent with family and friends was much-needed and we look forward to doing it all again next year!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Home for the Holidays: California

To stay with the list theme I will give you the top ten of our trip to Cali. This is not a ranking just what comes to my mind first. Lots of pictures!

Top 10 from our trip out West for the Holidays

1.) Meeting my adorable nephew, Nolan, for the first time!

Love the hat and love the drool

In his shark towel. Absolutely love this picture, his eyes are so blue.

He is so adorable

So I am totally smitten by him and could post hundreds of pictures of him (maybe I will)

2.) Having an impromptu High school reunion. HBHS forever, GO OILERS!

Two of my besties. Julie on the left gets major props for organizing this whole shindig and Jamie on the right for helping Julie in her efforts. You girls rock!

All the additions since we graduated high school.

Chelsea, Lauren and Turi-I played either soccer or volleyball with each of these girls.

Reunited and it feels so good!

The newly engaged high school sweethearts Kyle and Tahlia

And a visit home wouldn't be complete without seeing Aaron. I wish I saw this guy more than once every few years.

Our real ten year high school reunion is this year and I am sad I am going to miss it, but this was a good alternative. It was great to see all of you!

3.) Celebrating the holidays with Mom, Terry, Grandpa, Uncle John, Nancy, Kendra and Jeff. Enjoying lasagna and lamb as Christmas eve and Christmas meals and even helping out with some of the cooking. The generosity of my family and their awesome gift giving skills.

My Uncle John and Aunt Nancy all the way from Germany too.

Gramps and his German Christmas present- the Pope

Executive Jeff with a new Italian tie

Big sis and her new Italian purse

Grandma enjoying her new brag book of Nolan

Justin giving us the forecast in his new raincoat, clear skies in the living room

My amazing new slippers. I have worn them everyday since getting them. 

4.) Celebrating the holidays like old times with the Aston Family. A kick ass brunch that only Americans know how to do with cinnamon rolls, homestyle potatoes, scrambled eggs, honey baked ham, and more.

My cousin Kristi and her sweet family

My aunt Pam and my cousin Shannon. I can't believe Shannon is going to be 21 soon, watch out Vegas.

Cute sister photo

5.) Raging at my brother's 40th birthday bash.

The birthday boy and his hot wife

All the redheaded siblings and their families minus Nolan because Grandma had already taken him home.

Mom and Terry

My nana Margaret and my Grandpa

All the kiddos

More siblings of Jeremy, Grady and Katie. Grady's band rocked it out at the party!

Jeremy's mom, Robin, and her husband Bruce and Katie again

Love this picture of my Bro. He is one of my favorite people and I really admire him and love his story. This picture just captures his zest for life. Love you Jeremy and hope you had an awesome birthday!

6.) Enjoying a ride down the coastline on a beautiful California day. I think the temperature was around 70.

Yes this is where I grew up. You may ask-Why did I leave? On a December day like this I definitely question that decision.

One of my favorite hang out spots in high school.

Signature pose

My sweet beach cruiser with basket included. One of my all time favorite things to do in life is cruise the beach.

7.) Watching live American football for the first time in a year and a half.  Go Navy! (This one is for Justin)

8.) Sister time at the glorious South Coast Plaza mall-amazing conversation included.

9.) Hitting up almost all my favorite restaurants like TK Burger, Dell Taco, Nordstrom's Cafe and BJs. Las Barcas didn't make it in this trip and I am highly disappointed in myself, there is always next time.

10.) Hanging with my Bro, Plus one aka Meredith my sister in law and my beautiful nieces Elizabeth and Emily.
Sporting the new Utah sweatshirt and Italian tie

Elizabeth and her authentic German nutcracker

Emily got one too! The girls were in the Nutcracker this year.

It is a mini Jeff or as my brother liked to say Minters aka mini Winters

Now time for some reflection. It was great to go back to my stomping grounds for the holidays. California will always hold a special place in my heart and honestly people you just can't beat the weather. I haven't been home since the summer before we left for Germany and I haven't been home for Christmas in about three years. If I am being honest with myself I really do enjoy being around family for the holiday season and I want to say we will probably make sure to do so in the future. No matter how crazy your family is, going home for the holidays is way more entertaining then staying in Frankfurt just the two of us. Thanks family for making Christmas 2010 a very memorable one.

I couldn't resist just one more. Look at him isn't he so freakin' adorable?

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