Monday, April 13, 2009

Improv Everywhere

Some of you know I'm kind of a YouTube junkie. I can somehow get locked into different threads that take me from one video to another, linking ideas. My most recent discovery was videos posted from Improv Everywhere. This is what their About Us section states on their homepage:

Improv Everywhere causes scenes of chaos and joy in public places. Created in August of 2001 by
Charlie Todd, Improv Everywhere has executed over 80 missions involving thousands of undercover agents. The group is based in New York City.

I love this idea and the missions are hilarious to watch. This of course, brought me to a related video on YouTube, which I post now in honor of my most recent trip to Salzburg with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Louis and Karen. We spent a day in Salzburg during their visit to Munich last week (will post more details and photos of our adventures there later). Louis and Karen wanted to go on the Sound of Music Tour, something I had yet to do on my many trips to the quaint little Austrian town. This video reminded me a bit of our trip and brought a smile to my face. I actually just love the idea of a group of people getting together to stage something like this in a public place. I think it brings joy and a smile to those lucky enough to see something like this first hand. Anyhow, I share it now for your viewing pleasure.

Here's a link in case the video doesn't come through for you.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Roman Holiday

Yesterday I had the pleasure of going on an outing ALONE- no kids, no husband. Some good friends from L.A. (Steve and Deborah) were visiting Italy this past week. We tried to work out a way to meet up with them, and it happens that we found a flight from Munich to Rome using only a few frequent flier miles. So... despite it being a frivolous adventure, we booked a flight out for me Saturday morning with an EARLY return flight Sunday morning. Yes, I know what you are thinking... a mere 24 hours in Rome seems a bit of a waste. Gerard and I went to Italy for our honeymoon and since we live so close now, I'm sure we'll go back to visit at least once more before returning to the States. Besides, the primary goal was not to see Rome, but rather to catch up with some dear friends.

I awoke early Saturday morning- all my boys still asleep. I kissed them on the way out and headed to the train station bound for the airport. It was so nice to travel lightly. Usually, leaving the house with kids involves food preparation, diaper bags, goodies to entertain them, jackets, stroller, etc. But this involved my purse and a backpack as my overnight bag. Woo Hoo! I made it to the train station in a jiffy with such a light load.

The flight to Rome was fairly uneventful. Since I only had a carry-on I was able to check in with Lufthansa's automated check-in machine. They even fed me on the plane... surprising for a mere 1 hour 20 minute flight. I had intended to take the train to the center of town and then walk the rest of the way to Steve and Deborah's hotel, but when the plane landed, I only had ten minutes to catch the next train. By the time I sorted out where the fast train was, where to buy tickets, etc. it was too late, so I hopped in a cab. Thirty minutes and 50 Euro later (yikes... but as Gerard would say, that's just the cost of doin' business), I arrived at Steve and Deborah's ultra fancy hotel just as they were checking in.

We dropped Steve's mom off in the hotel room and left her in good hands with a big comfy bed, some T.V., a book, and room service (she had hurt her knee and needed to rest). Then the three of us headed out to the Villa Borghese, a former vineyard developed into a large landscape garden. The garden area houses many old buildings, museums, and even a zoo. The Galleria Borghese was originally built for Scipione Borghese, to be used as a party villa and to house his art collection.
Wandering around the gardens of the Villa Borghese

Galleria Borghese

The Galleria was so packed they stopped allowing visitors in without advanced ticket sales, so we continued walking through the gardens. We happened upon a butterfly and flower exhibit and decided to have a peek inside. Our tickets bought us entry into the exhibit as well as a cup of tea or juice while sitting in the aviary, where various butterflies and moths were flying around. It was quite tranquil.

We all found something aesthetically appealing to our inner nature... even Steve.

This guy was ENORMOUS. Easily the size of a small bat.
We wanted to put our fingers nearby for scale, but we
were all a bit frightened as he was flopping around.

Silk worm thread

Look at these enormous, deformed lemons. We wondered if these lemons would make good limoncello (lots of lemon rinds on these big fellas). Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur made from lemon rinds, alcohol, water, and sugar. Since limomcello uses no lemon juice, it is not sour but quite sweet. Here's a recipe for anyone interested.

Limoncello di Lucia


  • 750 ml bottle of grain alcohol
  • 7 or 8 large lemons (make sure they’re organic and not sprayed, you’re using the peel!)
  • 5 cups water
  • 3 cups sugar


  • Wash the lemons thoroughly - scrub them clean of all residue.
  • Using a peeler, take off the skins being careful not to get any of the white lemon “pith” onto your peelings or it will add bitterness to your limoncello.
  • Put the peels into a large, open-mouth jar with the alcohol and seal the lid tightly. Put the date on the bottle.
  • Put the jar in a cool, dry place for one week - once a day, shake the contents well to remix everything. You’ll notice the color of the liquid changing to yellow and the color of the lemon peels fading.
  • One week later, dissolve the sugar completely in water by heating it on the stove. Then cool the sugar-water mixture to room temperature.
  • Strain the lemon peels out of the alcohol and then mix the alcohol with the sugar-water. Usually the color of the alcohol changes from clear yellow to cloudy yellow when it’s combined with the sugar-water.
  • Pour the mixture into bottles which can be sealed tightly and store them in the freezer. If the limoncello is kept “frozen” until serving it becomes thick and syrupy.
Most of our visit involved walking a bit, sitting for a meal or snack, walking a bit more, repeat. I consumed LOTS of yummy pasta and it was a pleasant day. Later that night, after Steve and Deborah packed themselves up for the long trek back to L.A., we headed out for a lovely dinner at Le Fric. The meal was scrumptious, the company was even better, and the atmosphere was well... also quite appealing.
This is a picture of the restaurant owner. :)

A wonderful last meal in Rome

We all slept a few hours in the hotel room, and at the wretched hour of 3:30 in the morning we awoke to collect ourselves so we could all head to the airport at 4:30 a.m. (Bleh! I am NOT a morning person!) Upon arriving at the airport, we discovered a peculiar site. Most of the airport was black outside- apparently the power had gone out at some point before we arrived. There were emergency lights, no computers working, no planes taking off, and I later discovered that some people were even stuck in elevators when the outage struck. A quick hug and kiss to Steve and Deborah and we parted company to wait at our respective airlines. We just sat in the ever-increasing lines of people that were waiting to check in. The airline agents couldn't do anything since nothing was up and running so we just waited until there was at least limited power. After some time, a bit of the power was restored and agents could at least begin checking people in manually. I found ONE solitary Lufthansa kiosk working so I could get my ticket from an automated machine without having to wait in the enormous line. My plane was scheduled to depart at 6:40 but we ended up leaving at 8 a.m. Not too bad, considering.

I had phoned Gerard to tell him I'd be late and he told me that the boys were sick. Gerrit had vomited throughout the night. (We had visited some friends on Friday evening for dinner. They had come down with a gastro bug earlier in the week, but we all thought they were over it by the time we connected Friday night... apparently not.) I told Gerard to hang in there and I'd help when I got home. I had been feeling queasy, too, but just attributed it to not eating breakfast and thought as soon as I ate something I'd feel better. Shortly after my plane took off the flight attendants brought around a snack. This is good, right? I'll get a bit of food in me and feel better. As soon as I opened the box of food, I took one look at it and that was it... I hurled. Thankfully, no one was sitting next to me AND I was able to grab the emergency motion sickness bag in time. I tried to be discreet, but some people sitting across from me glanced over with these pained looks on their faces. Apparently, I had also come down with the same nasty gastro bug that the boys had. I folded the top of the bag down (no seal for the bag) and placed it on the floor next to me, in case I needed to use it again later. I turned the air vent on and let it blow on me and fell asleep. I awoke just as we were ready to land. I felt nauseous again but since we were already descending, I was confined to my seat. I glanced down at my bag to be sure it was still readily accessible. We came in fast and landed hard. So hard, in fact, that the pilot slammed on the breaks when we hit the ground and my bag o' fun went sliding down the aisle. Thankfully, it stayed upright and didn't travel too far away from me. I was able to retrieve it before it disturbed any other passengers.

We had to take a bus to the terminal. I was the last one off the plane, hobbling, pale white, trying desperately not to hurl again. I had grabbed an extra motion sickness bag from the seat pocket next to me and stuffed it in my purse. On the bus, I start to feel dizzy so I sat down on the floor with my head between my knees. I pulled the bag out of my purse just in case. As soon as the bag emerged, passengers around me started to back away. The bus came to a stop and I poured myself out and rested against a pole as other passengers rushed inside. I was hoping the fresh air would do me good. No one stoped to ask if I needed anything or if I was okay. They all just rushed past me into the terminal.

It's at this point that I truly realized I was once again in Germany as the bus driver began to yell at me in German that I needed to be INSIDE the terminal and not sitting OUTSIDE. I waved him away, motioning I understood but I needed a moment. He stood there giving me the stink eye until I picked myself up and hobbled inside the terminal. Gerard later told me I should have puked on him and believe me, if I could have forced it I would have.

So back in Munich and the kids and I spent our Easter on the sofa, rushing to the bathroom throughout the day. Ah well, at least I enjoyed my visit with Steve and Deborah BEFORE the bug hit me. I think the Easter Bunny is smart, too. Since we're all sick, he didn't bother to bring us any baskets full of chocolately goodness since he knew we were too sick to enjoy it. I think he's bringing our goodies tomorrow instead. What a smart bunny. :)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Winter Pics/Video

These are from before Christmas but still enjoyable. :)


Gerrit pulls Willem for his first sled ride.
Gerrit holds on tight to Willem for more fun (with mommy pulling).

Willem's First Sledding Experience

Christmas Tree Fun

Gerrit learns to decorate the Christmas Tree