Taking a Break

Ciao a tutti,

I am sad to say that I will be taking a hiatus from my blogging duties on Karyn’s Corner. My reasons? Well, I would have to say life is crazy busy but not always with things I would put on a blog. I mean, how many times can I tell you about school work, dinner, and laundry. I am pretty sure those are my three mainstays right now.  

It is true that Will and I still go adventuring when we can, and I will be working to maintain my Facebook page Karyns Corner and my Instagram page karyns_corner. In fact, I am hoping to get pictures of Carnevale up this weekend from last weekend. We also have some friends coming into town in March and then family visiting in May so please keep your eyes on the lookout for any shenanigans that I may have engaged in, and probably drug Will with me.

I hope that at some point in the future I will be able to return to blogging more often, until that day

Ciao i miei amici 

 

Adhesive Ducks, Decorating, and the Pretzel Quest

Ciao,

Any Big Bang Theory fans in this group? If not, you should give it a try, honestly the episodes are under a half hour and great for a quick break from homework or work. Unless you are a binge watcher but that’s your problem. So anyway, one of my favorite episodes is called ‘The Adhesive Duck Deficiency’. In the episode *spoiler alert* (3rd season, 8th episode) Penny falls in the shower and dislocates her shoulder. She must ask Sheldon for help to get her to the hospital. He informs her that she should get some adhesive strips for the bottom of her tub so she won’t slip, that he has added whimsical ducks to his tub and so on it goes.

Well, I had my own Adhesive Duck Deficiency today while I was trying to shave. FYI I am fine, no need to make an emergency room trip.

Now, I have been complaining to Will that the shower is too slippery and I need to get some kind of bath mat in the shower, and I would dearly love to blame him for this but since I have the car as often as he does (sometimes more) the fact that there is no bath mat in our shower is really only my fault. Humiliating to realize that, to quote Sheldon, “…it seems rather ironic that for want of 99 cent adhesive ducks we both might die in a fiery car crash.” Or in my case have a perfect four lined imprint of my shaving razor on the side of my chest. Yeah, seriously not kidding about that, oh and I apparently triggered the shower pull (an alarm in European showers that is on a pull rope that sets off a buzzer to summon help) not that anyone was available to come to my aid if I had really needed help. To add insult to injury as I was getting dressed with my gauze taped chest I slipped on a slick spot on our hardwood floor (too much pledge to clean with yesterday) and… yep you guessed it. My butt hit floor for the second time in less than a half hour. Not quite sure why the universe has it out for me today but I had to get my whining out of the way before I could actually write about my holiday (or momentarily lacking) spirit.

I told you that in my family we have an ornament tradition, well this was really the first time that Will actually got to see my ornament collection. I know, it’s crazy but we haven’t had a real tree, or our own tree since we got together. I really missed the excitement of unwrapping each ornament and trying to remember the year I received it. It’s not that easy, you might remember the feeling you had unwrapping it or maybe how you had hung it on this tree or that one but other than the ones that have a date already on them or the one I know is my first ornament I am mostly at a loss. The moral of this tale is that if you give an ornament as a gift consider putting a year (and potentially where it was bought or its significance) on the ornament in an obscure area so that the recipient can savor the memory even more.

But back to decorating the tree, I had a great time telling Will what I remembered about each ornament and he shared the history of the ornaments he had acquired. I can say our tree is very unique and I love it that way.

I took pictures of the reindeer and trees decorated but I admit the trees look all shiny when their lights come on at night.

The tree is up and the house is decorated. I have put lights and garland on the balcony, and festooned my reindeer and trees outside.

The house is even clean, now I am just two short days away from my parents arriving for a month! Yep, I am pretty excited about that!

So with the house ready for Christmas, I am just waiting for my mom to show up so we can do some holiday cookie baking.

First we are going to spend a week in Firenze (Florence) and while we are there we are going to have dinner with my dad and step-mom. Crazy to have all my parents together in one city on the other side of the pond but I am looking forward to it.

But after Firenze it is back to slave over a hot stove for a couple of days, just kidding there will only be a little slaving and lots of goodies. I will probably even make a batch of croissants and try my pretzel luck again.

Pretzels have been my newest obsession since we came back from Austria. It is so hard, no let’s say impossible, to find pretzels in Italy.

Pretzels are not as easy as one would think, I have tried several recipes and I have found the same lack of outer chewy crust while keeping the inner pretzel dough soft. They just go soft, like mushy soft, not even a good roll crust.

After additional research I have learned that to make pretzels you need to dip them in a solution of water and food grade lye.

Yes, you read that correctly. Food grade lye!

I didn’t know that lye could be found in a food grade, I just assumed it was for making soap and burning peoples skin and intestines if ingested.

Like many other strange inventions I would have loved to know who the first person to make this discovery was and why, for all that is holy, did they decide to dip their bread in a dangerous chemical.

Plus how many people did they have to feed it to before they realized that they had to neutralize the lye. I am, of course, speculating, pretzels probably have a fascinating history; history about lye, that is, the history of pretzels as they exist in shape and soft versus hard and all that pretzely stuff is easy to find.

Back to lye, it is not easy to obtain, you can’t ship it from the States and I don’t know if I dare try and find it over here because I want to make sure I understand all the directions. (My language skills have progressed nicely but not to the point where I feel confident about not poisoning Will and I by Pretzel digestion) Plus the rumor is that baking the bread neutralizes the lye but should I chance it? Yikes! Maybe not, at least not if I am reading the directions in Italian.

After much research by Will and I we have learned that we can bake the baking soda and make it more lye-like. So that will be my goal for the holidays, to make pretzely-pretzels and other tasty goodies.

I might even take pictures of everything… because let’s be honest, I wasn’t so on the ball this last week!

Until then Ciao miei Amici

Getting Ready

Ciao,

It’s been awhile, though part of me is getting prepared for the start of next term when I am hoping to get 1-2 blog’s in a month I wasn’t quite anticipating starting the slow down just yet.

No excuses really, just life, travel, exhaustion, a little sick time and the holidays coming up. This post isn’t really about any grand adventures (shocking, I know) but more just “hey, life and all”.

I have been anticipating decorating for the holidays, it will be the first time in years that I have been able to have a tree with all the ornaments I have collected from childhood (it is a long standing tradition in our family that each year my mother gives us an ornament, I have passed on this tradition to my own child and now also my grandson). That means I have at least forty something ornaments, but honestly I have a lot more ornaments than forty. Will and I voted for a fake tree, sad I know but we will be vacationing in Florence for a week just as the tree is supposed to be receiving its daily doses of water and I don’t want to come home to a dead tree just days before Christmas. I also want to have my tree up for longer than 3 days. Soooooo non real tree it is.

I also have outside trees and wooden reindeer that I have been dragging from state to state and country to country for roughly ten years. I haven’t had them out since we moved across the ocean and they might be a little worse for wear (plus the reindeer really need new antlers, otherwise known as twigs). I think I can get them through this Christmas season but then I will need to at least pull some of the limbs from the trees and replace them with less shedding ones.

I have also learned that finding craft supplies in European countries is not as easy as going to Hobby Lobby, Jo-Ann’s or whatever your favorite craft emporium might be. The crafting bug is not an American thing but America does make it easier for the aspiring decorator.

I have been piecemealing my decorations together from wherever I can find the items I need and I am pretty excited to get it all setup but not until after Thanksgiving. Not because the Europeans celebrate Thanksgiving, that is definitely an American only holiday, but we are headed up to Innsbruck Austria tomorrow morning. While America gorges on turkey and pumpkin pie I will be eating wurst, schnitzel, and waffles with a hot mug of Gluhwein in my hands. See, the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas markets) opens early in Austria and I can’t wait to go and start my holiday season.

Because we are in Europe I have been trying to finish up my Christmas shopping to send back to the States. Last weekend we made a quick trip to Venezia to see if the streets were still flooded and grab an item or two I had seen there previously. As we made our way over the main bridge leading us onto the true island I realized I had forgotten my phone. I surprised Will when I decided not to go back to the car and get it. He was less surprised that I kept asking for his phone to take pictures. Honestly, I only asked a couple of times, hence why there was no posts up about our quick Venezia run. It was still a good day, and yes, despite the cool weather we hit up Suso. Our favorite Venezia gelateria. Packages purchased and some of them even ready to mail off I finally feel like I might be getting a handle on the season. Though I am still looking for a couple small things before I send other boxes in to the postal system.

I also made almond croissants. My dad has requested them, though I have no idea how to keep croissants crispy and fresh for more than a couple of hours (this is that moment where suggestions would be welcome. Seriously, if you have any croissant insights let me know!!!)

I think over all my croissant skills are improving but since this is only the third time I have made them (because croissants are really labor intensive, well not so much labor intensive as time intensive and patience intensive) I probably need to make several more batches before I can make that claim. It is okay because my neighbor doesn’t like to bake and her kids and husband lie treats (all my extras go next door and in return they supply me with eggs, plus they are just awesome neighbors)

Yesterday, I began a deep clean of the house in anticipation of my mom and stepdad arriving in December. As I told my husband, cleaning is my own way of procrastinating. He told me most people procrastinate so they don’t have to clean and that I don’t understand how procrastination works. I tried to explain that if I procrastinate by doing something I liked I would feel guilty. He ruefully shook his head at me but there you have it; we have a clean house but I didn’t get the blog out yesterday.

All in all it has been a good November and I am sure I will have adventures to tell you about after we have a weekend in Austria and Germany, so until then.

Ciao miei Amici

Reality can be a Real Downer

Ciao,

After the craziness of September I have had two weeks before Will and I leave to celebrate his birthday. We are headed to London and it is going to be a lot of fun. We have already made plans but not too many so we can sit back and enjoy just being in London. Don’t worry I will tell you all about it next week.

Recovering from our September house guests and preparing to leave didn’t leave a lot of time for fun activities and honestly, we were kind of tired. Plus the house needed so much work, which happens when you neglect it for two plus weeks while you have guests.

So after many days of cleaning and trying to re-normalize our schedules we feel good to leave again.

In between two things of semi noteworthiness happened.

First I had to go to the dentist for some, sort of, major mouth stuff; secondly we went to the Italian version of British Days with R & C.

First let’s talk about what it feels like to go to the dentist, or you could even apply some of this to going to the doctor, in a foreign country. I mean that’s really where my angst is so let me get it all out!

I think it is safe to say nobody, except maybe hypochondriacs, like going to any sort of medical professional. This is not to say that medical professionals are bad people. Nope, one of my favorite cycling friends is a fantastic dentist and if I still lived in Maryland I would be using his services. However, he is a little far away with a small thing like an ocean between us. And, let’s be frank, even though I enjoy cycling with my friend I still hate going to the dentist.

I take pretty good care of my mouth, brushing twice a day (mostly), flossing, using mouthwash, regular cleanings, blah, blah, blah. But I was gifted genetically with crappy teeth (thanks mom and dad!) So I have been visiting the dentist for dental work for most of my teenage into adult life and it doesn’t look like it is going to stop anytime soon.

I admit I get ridiculously nervous anytime I have to go to the dentist, it ranks right up there with other anxiety inducing fears, which I don’t have many of but the ones I do; Oofta! Seriously, one could just threaten to do dental work on me and I would give away any secrets I had (lucky for me I don’t have any and my life is pretty much an open book, you all know this since I write about it.)

So my crown has broken off at the gum line, and I have to get the tooth pulled and two implants put in.

Enter Italian dentist,

I sit as comfortable as I can manage in the chair, my heart rate has already begun to elevate. My eyes dart around the room taking in the “normal” looking dental equipment (I mean, I am in a foreign country for all I know they still use rusty pincer pliers to pull teeth.)

The dentist, a nice normal looking, older gentleman with a soft smile, starts conversing in Italian with his dental assistant. She hasn’t looked at me yet but she doesn’t have the same comforting smile, not a bad smile, just not as comforting. I realize that they are speaking too fast for me to make out any words with my limited, slow paced, elementary Italian. And honestly for all I know they are speaking words that I will never know because unless it is milk, cat, please and thank you it is way out of my realm. (Oh, I probably know how to say bread too.) They glance at me, converse some more, my palms start to sweat and he turns and says in heavily accented english, “we ready to start”

Gulp!

I have had an implant put in before and I understand the rudimentary process, you cut open the gum line, drill into the jaw, screw in a little metal post and then sort of sew the gum line around the post. Then you wait for it to heal before adding the crown. I just have never had it done when the dentist and I speak a different language (not that an english speaking dentist would have made me less anxiety ridden.)

All of the equipment comes out of the usual sterilized sealed packages and I am already covered in one of those weird paper cloth bib things that are supposed to catch your spit or…blood

Another assistant hands me a small plastic cup with pink liquid “rinse 10 seconds and spit” she tells me, I recognize her before as one of the better english speakers in the office and find comfort in having a language ally.

Then they clip a heart monitor on my finger – well I already know my heart is racing but it seems to still be at an acceptable level to them because they continue.

The dentist, who does speak english when he isn’t in a hurry (when he is distracted he only has a couple words, “open, close, relax”) pulls the most dreaded item ever off the tray in front of me. The hated syringe full of anesthesia. I swear to all that is holy fewer things inspire more terror than that long needle with the giant thumb depressor heading towards my already whimpering mouth.

“Relax and open”

I opened my mouth and worked on relaxing it while simultaneously my sphincter tightened, my hands shook and my saliva glands went into overdrive. So out comes the little mouth vacuum to get rid of the pooling, throat choking, extra liquid, produced by my own body, inspired by anxiety, spit. There seemed to be some annoyance about having to suck out my mouth so early in the game but the assistant was mostly capable, only letting me choke a little bit.

OMG! The pink mouth stuff worked. I never felt a thing, well, as far as the shots go.

I need to now mention that America is all about the patient comforts, this applies to doctors and dentists. Somewhere along the line American professionals have begun treating patients with kid gloves. Don’t make them uncomfortable by accidentally touching their face while actually poking around in their mouth doing a dental procedure is the one that comes to mind. (I have other opinions about doctors visits but that is for another day.) I can safely say that dentists in Italy, at least mine, don’t worry too much about the kid gloves; they worry about getting the job done. At one point the assistant was leaning her whole hand on my cheek and the dentists elbow was in my eye while he tried to screw in the metal implant. I realized that despite the anxiety I felt while having my mouth worked on, which was not really a symptom of being in a foreign country but more a symptom of not liking the dentist, I actually had no problem with the fact that they felt they had to touch my face and even use my head for leverage to get the job done.

Hmmmm, score a point for the Italian dentist.

“Open, close, relax…” and on it went but finally we were done and I was mostly not in bad shape.   I mean, other than having metal posts sticking out of my jaw and watching him stitch up my gums.

Ick, having your skin stitched is bad enough but watching that little curved needle with the thread attached going in and out of your mouth is just painful. Even if you can’t really feel it.

It took way less time than I thought it would and my sphincter finally relaxed though I am not sure my gut did. When he was finished he said he didn’t want to give me antibiotics unless it was necessary; to call him if my mouth became inflamed or I had a fever. Thank goodness because I had no idea how to tell him which antibiotics I can take, none of them would have to be my answer. FYI, most antibiotics give me a bad reactions and I try to never take them. Another thing that Europeans seem to do differently than Americans is pain pills, he didn’t offer me any, and I didn’t expect him too. I remember having a conversation with a lady in Germany where she told me that 800 ibuprofen was too much medicine for her.

Wow, most of us can’t live without our tylenol or advil.

Anyway, I am not any fonder of dentistry than I was before and having your dental staff speak in a foreign language does nothing to alleviate those fears. However, they seem to have done a great job, six days after the fact I have been eating whatever I wanted since the procedure. Using salt water rinses regularly and my mouth gets tired and sore from eating or having food poke into the gum line but it could be worse. I was actually hoping to have a painful mouth as an excuse for not eating fish and chips while I am in London this week but I will just skip the fish, yuck, and eat the chips like I always do.

A quick note about Italian British Days (it is almost like a theme), it was what I would call steampunk days more than British Days. Though maybe my UK friends can drop me a note and let me know if the whole Steampunk thing is really a big deal there. I like steampunk, I have steampunk costumes but it was not what I was expecting. They also had a tightrope walker, a car show, a dog show, and a lot of food that was not British. Barely any fish and chips. And no tea! What the heck Italy, you can’t have a British days without tea, what would the Queen say?!

Regardless we had a nice afternoon and evening with R & C.

I will work to get some more authentic “British” pictures this weekend!

Until next week, I hope your adventures are as glorious as mine,

Ciao miei Amici

I don’t go crazy, I just go normal every now and then.

Ciao,

Some weeks I plan so much that Will questions his life with me, some weeks I plan so little I question my life with me.

This last week was one of those where I questioned my inner motives. I mean, sure it’s nice not to drive Will crazy with all the things I want to do, and yes the temperature has been hovering a little above and a little below 100 degrees (with disgusting amounts of humidity). But honestly, are those really reasons to not run all over creation? Apparently this last weekend the answer was yes.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we didn’t stay home all weekend crashed on the couch watching movies (though Avengers Infinity Wars came out on video and I still haven’t seen it!) and eating bonbons but there were a lot less shenanigans than usual.

I did put my new composter together this last week, which I found exciting, though I know that might not be every person’s bag of Snickers. I have been wanting one forever and since I have decided to explore growing lavender and heirloom vegetables having a good compost supply seems like a smart move. Not for the lavender really, I have never read about a plant that likes such crappy soil and so few nutrients but produces such loveliness. In comparison to lavender roses and and orchids are like the prima donnas of the flower world. I can still manage to kill a few here and there (lavender but probably roses and orchids if I tried hard enough). The hot weather this summer led me to overwater and root rot two of my plants. It’s a personal problem thinking that since I need water my plants do too. Some like my daily drink, some not so much. Sorry little lavender plants.

The heirloom vegetables are a next spring project but I am already prepping for them.

Saturday we ran some errands and bought patio furniture. It’s exciting since we have this lovely patio that I have been “nesting” (Will’s word, not mine) in and about since we moved in. The furniture is the ones we had been looking at AND it was on sale. A happy coincidence since I would have paid full price for it. Now, if only the weather would cool down enough for me to have my morning coffee out there.

 

Sunday was pesto day.

I have never made pesto from scratch. I am not sure why this has never happened but this was my first foray into the basil-y world of pesto. In true Karyn fashion I overcompensated by buying 7 more basil plants. Now I have 8. To be truthful 3 of them were the basil “plants” you buy in the produce section but I stuck them in pots yesterday morning and they seem to be happy as pigs in mud. If they die I am not out too much since I used leftover pots and they were throwaways. If they live… well, fresh pesto all winter!!! A win-win if I ever saw one.

I also made fresh pasta, I think this might have been a first for me too but since I have an Italian grandmother I am not prepared to swear to that. Pasta is not hard to make but it is a very delicate balance between too  much moisture (makes it too sticky to roll out) and too dry, making it crumble when you try and roll/cut it.

It took a little practice but with Will’s help we got it done. Dinner Sunday night was chicken stuffed with parmesan and pesto, fresh pasta with more pesto sauce, and salad (of course). The verdict? I ate too much. It was a little too garlicky for me so I would cut that back some next time but overall not too bad considering I haven’t done a lot of from scratch cooking lately.

Next weekend is about eating German food. We are making a quick run up to Munich to have some schnitzel. (Seriously, Italian food is delicious but even this half Italian gets sick of pasta and pizza).

So I will leave you with this short look at my normal week (no major adventures involved). We have this Germany weekend and then two “not planned” weekends before we meet A & C in Firenze (Florence). I can’t wait to see them!!! So a couple more weeks until our fall takes off and gets all sorts of crazy!! Stay tuned!

Ciao miei Amici