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Just Us Barkers | Our Little Corner of the Web | Page 5


Just Us Barkers Our Little Corner of the Web

A Shock to the System

driving-miss-daisy-2Reverse culture shock. I’ve taught classes with this topic highlighted, but never imagined that I’d be a victim of it. Or for so long. That’s what I feel like . . . a victim of reverse culture shock. It’s my home culture, but I’m often left walking around scratching my head. You should see my hair afterward. What a mess.

Have no fear. I am NOT going to make an exhaustive list comparing Europe to the U.S. It would take days. Or better yet, it would take daze. Although, I am constantly comparing things in my head, you know . . . to myself, or to my dearest, beloved hubby (who just cannot get enough of my yammering). Sometimes I wish I spoke yiddish, so I could really play the part.

Back to our regular scheduled post . . .

I am getting the hang of grocery shopping at our gigantic grocery store. Okay! I was just about to get the hang of it!  I was just telling Tristan that it only takes me just over an hour now, to shop for a week’s worth of food. To my horror & chagrin, I realized that they are rearranging the store! I even asked a stocker if it was true and he confirmed it. There you have it folks, directly from the store worker – to me – to you. However, I did learn that there are store maps available (but now they’ll be outdated).

Just when I was getting better at grocery shopping, things change. Grrrrr.

There is one more thing that I feel I must share and it is about driving.

Driving is very different here. American drivers make me nervous. I know, I am an American driver. Matt is an American driver. I am including both of us in this gross generalization.




Drives like Morgan Freeman in Driving Miss Daisy. (Oh wait, that’s me!)



Enough said.

And it appears that running red lights has become a new sport. Oh, yes it has. Those big cameras on the corners of intersections say so!

I think I deserve a senior citizen discount just for driving like I’m 80 and wandering around the store for hours. Doesn’t that count for something? I’ll even dye my hair purple if that helps.

Watch out for crazy drivers and people that look lost in the grocery store. It could be me.

Culture shockingly yours,




Honey, I’m Home!

What’s better than pulling weeds in your own yard? Or hanging clothes out on the clothesline that your husband put in? I’m living the dream. Seriously, this is my dream. I have my family, my health, and my own house. What more could a girl ask for? Plus, I think we found a church-home. Skidamarinkydink!

As Matt and I walk around the house our house, I’ve noticed that we have started making plans. Why not? It’s our house. Hmmm, maybe we could do this, add that, or change this.

Homeownership is difficult to describe. There is definitely an emotional attachment and investment already taking place. I guess it’s sort of like parenthood. You think you understand the relationship between parents and kids before you have your own. Then when you have your own children, you realize how clueless you were. Actually, this accurately describes how I feel every night my head hits the pillow.

Okay, so your dream may not be quite like mine. My life experiences and preferences have just gravitated to a more rural lifestyle. I take joy in hearing the neighborhood roosters making their declarations. I love that the people in my neighborhood all wave to you. We even had someone bring us a “Welcome to the Neighborhood” basket of goodies.

Yes. I think I can safely begin to start putting down roots.

And pulling weeds.

Happy Homeowner, G. Bark


The Countdown Continues

wheeled-bags-143413_640We have seven days left in Germany. I can hardly believe it. The kids are ecstatic, thrilled, overjoyed, and generally excited about the move. I think Matt is more focused on the details of the journey. You know, making sure that we have closure here. I mean that literally. Closure as in, the electricity is turned off and paid in full and that we can board the plane. I don’t mean the emotional, psychological definition of closure. I guess that would be my area of expertise. At least that’s what my degree says.

Seven days and counting . . . Seven days left in an eleven year trip to Europe. I have some mixed feelings about this.

My kids have never lived in the States. Well, Tristan was a baby when we moved, but that doesn’t really count. They will be like foreigners. Of course, they have been to visit our families, but only a couple weeks at a time. They are so excited to be able to read signs, listen to the radio stations and understand what is being said, and go to a store and buy what they went there to get. Actually, that last one is mine. Continue reading

Upcycling & Repurposing

About seven months ago I redid a couple of our dining room chairs. The craft shop on base was closing soon and I had no time to waste. I picked out fabric that was almost identical to the other chairs. I had two to redo and really didn’t want to do all of them if I didn’t have to. Prying out staples isn’t my idea of a good time. I completed the two chairs, the craft shop closed, and then . . . the fabric on two other chairs ripped and wore thin. Seriously? Are you kidding me? So, we had two ripped up chairs for a few months. I was weighing my options: (a) order fabric on-line, (b) buy fabric locally, or (c) start using the patio chairs. Option A just ended up being a waste of time. I searched stores, but you can’t really see and feel the fabric and that’s something that I need. I just couldn’t bring myself to do Option B. I cannot in good conscience overpay for something that I don’t want to pay for in the first place. And I  think the patio chairs might be too low for the table. Many months passed and I continued to live in denial. Trying to avoid the ugly chair dilemma. But, we had some visitors coming for lunch and I HAD to do something.

I quickly sprang into action and headed for the basement (where all my brilliant plans are hatched). I decided to just get them covered, even if it meant with little cowboys and Christmas fabric. I was looking for some extra fabric – you know all that extra fabric that you can’t bear to throw out. Hey, if I couldn’t do the chairs right, at least I would make a temporary cover. Immediately, I came across a failed project of mine. I had saved one of Matt’s old long sleeve t-shirts to repurpose. I brought it up stairs, separated the front from the back, and started stapling. When Matt got home and saw the chairs, he couldn’t figure out where I had gotten the fabric from or what type of material it was.

This is just a temporary fix. I do plan on redoing all the chairs once I can do a proper job and pick out the right type of material.

Running in Germany

Running in Germany has its ups and downs. I’m talking about recreational running, not running from a cheetah kind of running. That is a whole different sport. In Germany, for instance, I just love the infinite ways to get from point A to point B. There are so many paved paths that take you where ever you want to go and places you could never see by car. Plus, the countryside can be breathtaking. Like right now, the red poppies are sprinkled in the golden fields. IMG_0506

When running anywhere it is important to be prepared. For some it’s planning the route, distance, or time. Still for others, being prepared means dressing for the weather. Personally, I try on both counts. I usually have some idea of where my run takes me, how far I’m willing to go, and when I’m expected to return. But honestly, my legs usually do their own thing. My mind says, “Hey this is too much work. Let’s turn around and go home.” Whereas another part of me is saying “Shut up and run.” I’d like to think my legs have some say in the matter.

Dressing for the weather. Dressing for the weather in Germany. That one is a doozy. My standard uniform is Nike Tempo Shorts, a mis-matched tech shirt, a hat that used to be white, sporty sunglasses, and of course, running socks and shoes. My socks are so smart too. They tell me which is left and right, so I’ll never have to wonder. Continue reading


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We just returned from another amazing trip. This time we ventured into Portugal. We spent a week in the most south-western point in a village called Sagres. Unfortunately, it was extremely windy and on the cool side so we were unable to spend everyday at the beach, as I had envisioned. However, we made some wonderful memories with the kids.

It’s a Miracle . . . Berry.

As you may know, Matt is a finder of things. Cool things. New things. Techie things. Blue things. Sometimes he tells me about things like Fury Cows, Wampa Ice Scrapers, Hamburger stuffers, and the most awesome golf clubs. He helps keep me “in the know,” you know? His latest find is called the Miracle Berry. I admit, when he told me about this berry, I was not interested in it. It makes sour or bitter food palatable.

Limes. You can eat a lime after you eat a berry. Grapefruit too. And vinegar, if you are wondering.

Matt bought a package of Mberry. Thanks to modern technology, the berry comes in a tablet. You chew it and let it coat your tongue. Then you can eat all that food that you would otherwise not eat. Gavin said the tablet tasted weird. So it took him a few minutes just to chew it up.

We tested the berry out. Matt put together a platter of food to experiment with. And vinegar. I have to say that this is a very curious berry/tablet. I ate a lime like it was a strawberry. The vinegar had a sweetness that I cannot describe. However, I will say that the smell of the food item remains. Just before I took a sip of vinegar, I inhaled the vinegar in my cup. Bad idea! I recovered and then took a sip. I warned everyone else to NOT smell the vinegar first.

It’s such trickery! Your nose, your brain, and your tastebuds just will not agree with one another.

If you see Mberry or miracle berry, you may want to experiment with it, too.

Tapas or Appetizers?

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The other day we decided to eat out for dinner. Walldorf is a town just down the road from us and has a few restaurants along the shopping area. Matt and I felt daring and decided on La Tortuga. It’s a Spanish Restaurant and has a nice ambiance. I’d been there before with a friend and I had enjoyed it. So, I was excited to bring the family there to try Tapas. When we got the menus I realized that Tapas probably wouldn’t be a great idea after all. The look […]

DIY: Corn Tortillas

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Last year we bought another kitchen gadget. The tortilla press. I have to admit, I absolutely love this little guy. You can use it for much more than corn tortillas. I have also used it to make pitas. And what’s not to like? You make a ball and then smash it down. It’s a lot like playing with play-doh. That’s probably why the kids like using the press. Homemade corn tortillas are worth it! 1. They are so easy to make. 2. There are only two ingredients: Masa Harina & […]