Just Us Barkers Our Little Corner of the Web

Chicken Coop: Part Deux

For Day 2 all I have to share is that we painted all the boards. Yep, painted and painted. The boys painted. I painted. And Matt painted. Annie did not paint. She is the supervisor of this whole operation.

Near the end of the day, or more like the end of our day light, Matt and I decided that since we painted all of the boards, we could be done for the day. We wanted the boards to be painted before they were assembled to the frame but after they were cut. So, ending the day with a full day’s work of painting sounded reasonable. Why take on something new when the sun was about to disappear?


Nope. Folks, my husband’s thinker never stops working.

He disappeared into the barn (a.k.a. shed) and reappeared with renewed vigor! I was already celebrating the end of Day 2 when I was rudely pulled back into action. Just kidding. I was just as excited to see the next step put forth.

With the help of our little Minions and I, Matt assembled the first wall of the coop. Thank God that Matt is the one walking around measuring things. I’d be more of an eye-baller – “Looks good, ” I would say. And that is why I am not in charge of measuring anything important.

The end.



DIY: Chicken Coop

This gallery contains 19 photos.

It’s Columbus Day and we’ve decided that today is the day. We have been dreaming, reading, planning, thinking, and well. . . dreaming about raising chickens. We have spent many hours pouring over chicken literature. Studying the various needs of chicken habitat and coming up with our own ideas of how we want to set-up our chicken endeavor. We also have the privilege of having neighbors who also raise chickens. How awesome is that? It’s awesome, trust me. Today was Chicken Coop Day 1. It’s safe to say that this […]

Hereford Style Bagels

These are not NY Bagels.

They are not grocery store, gummy texture, never grow mold bagels.

They are not . . . english muffins, either.

These are Hereford Style Bagels, baby!


I was going to show you a photo of the bagel I ate for breakfast. Instead, I offer you the photo of where the bagel was last seen.

I started making bagels when my family lived in Crete. We couldn’t reliably get bagels from our commissary. Either someone would fail to order them, people would buy them in bulk when the shipment came in, or maybe there was a bagel strike somewhere. Regardless of the reason, I realized that if I wanted a bagel, I was going to have to make it myself.

Bagels are easy to make and they are so much tastier than store bought ones. Please do not be intimidated by the making of bagels. Essentially, they are bread rolls that are boiled first. Not a big deal. If you have ever made any kind of dough, including play dough, you can do this.  In fact, I think you may be qualified if you’ve ever made Mud Pies.

Hereford Style Bagels


  1. 4 c. flour (I use bread flour)
  2. 1 T. sugar
  3. 1 1/2 t. salt
  4. 1 T. oil (I use coconut oil)
  5. 2 t. instant yeast
  6. 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 c. of warm water


  1. Fill a measuring cup with 1 1/4 of warm water and sprinkle in the yeast. (This step isn't necessary, but I like to make sure that the yeast is activated before adding it into flour mixture.)
  2. In a large bowl, mix the first 4 ingredients: flour, sugar, salt, & oil.
  3. Add your water/yeast mixture to the flour mixture. If the mixture is too dry, add a little bit of water and mix well.
  4. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead it on the counter for a few minutes. We're looking for a smooth and uniform texture.
  5. Cut the dough into 8 equal sized pieces. Let them rest on the counter for about 15 minutes.
  6. After they have rested, take a ball and roll it into a rope. Do this by using two hands side-by-side to roll the dough back and forth. The rope should just be a tad longer that the width of both hands. Basically, it should stick out about an inch from both hands.
  7. Take both ends of a rope into one hand so that they overlap. Then you roll the rope back and forth on the counter to join the seams. You end up with your hand in the middle of a bagel. Be sure not to press too hard or one side of your bagel with be thinner than the other. Try for a uniform shape. (Don't worry, this part takes practice.)
  8. Let your bagel babies rest for about 20 minutes. While you're waiting: Preheat your oven to 425 F, bring a large pot of water to a boil, and grease a large baking sheet.
  9. After 20 minutes take your puffy bagels-to-be over to the boiling water. Gently place a few in the water, careful not to crowd them. Boil 1 minute on each side. Place them on a wire rack to drip dry. At this point you can place your bagels face down on a shallow plate sprinkled with a topping of your choice (i.e. sesame seeds, poppy seeds). I let them dry & cool down, about a minute or so, before adding a topping.
  10. Next, place them on the baking sheet. They don't have to be completely dry and you will find they that dry quickly, anyway. Bake for at least 10 minutes on each side (you may adjust this time according to your preference).
  11. Let them cool. And enjoy.

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


This gallery contains 100 photos.

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.