Thursday, November 22, 2012

22 Things I am Thankful For & 29 before I'm 30

Have you seen the posts about "Things I'm Thankful For" & "29 things to do before I'm 30"? So sappy and sentimental amirite? Yeah,'s Thanksgiving and almost my birthday - I'm doing it. Basically, it's my blog and I can write what I want to.

22 Experiences I am Thankful For

22. We went to Mood!

As I watch Project Runway All-Stars, I am brought back to our trip to NYC last winter. We actually went to the fabric store Mood and got completely irritable and bitchy - just like the show! The opportunity to go was too much, but once we were in there we had no idea what to do. I knew I wanted to buy my amazing mom some fabric, but since the extent of my skillz are sewing back on buttons (that usually fall off within the week) I was a little lost on what to get. Ian (surprise!) was no help. It was still awesome.
gift for horse lover

21. Quilt of Love

Speaking of my wonderful quilting mother, I am crazy thankful for the massive quilt she made and presented to me on their last visit. A joint project between her & my wonderful aunt - it commemorates my years of showing horses in something I can take with me. As temperature in Berlin dip to hypothermia setting, this quilt has kept us cozy and made me feel super guilty about being away from our little farm, my horse, and my parents. Well played Mutti....More pics of the quilt and construction.

20. A Trip Home

For the first time since moving to Berlin, we visited home. A lot of expats have a complicated relationship with the word home as where they are living is the only "home". But for us, Washington State and where our families live will always hold a special distinction. Serious American food porn & highlights of Seattle, Snohomish, and Yakima can be found here: Hometown Love

19. Christmas in Paris

I know the song exults the beauty of April in Paris, but it looked pretty damn fine at Christmas time. For under 100 euros we flew to Paris between Christmas and new years and it was more romantic, fun, and jaw-droppingly gorgeous than I could have dreamed. 10 Things We Didn't Know about Paris

Eiffel tower sunset

 18. We went to Disneyland....Paris

Along with all that beauty, I felt the need for roller coasters. Disneyland Paris obliged. Smoking, baguettes, and pushy middle-aged French men at the park alone. Magic! Our tips & tricks to Disneyland Paris

17.  Our own Berlin apartment!

After multiple, multiple mishaps and moves, PORTER is printed on the door. This mostly means that now when crazy people buzz us from down below, they also know our name. Extra scary!

16. Added to our Family

..with bunnies! Does everyone know what awesome pets buns make? They do chew on everything (like computer cords) and they do require us to fish around in the garbage at Lidl for spare carrot tops but they are just SO CUTE. Look at those faces. Even the German word is cute: zwergkaninchen. More about the bunnies and the Tierheim (animal shelter).

15. Our cat moved to Germany

I always feel remiss waxing poetic about the bunnies if I do not mention our cat. My parents brought her over when they last visited us in Berlin and we could not be more thankful. I also have to mention her because I think she will eat our face while we sleep if we forgot to feed her or compliment her for too long.

14. Visiting Friends

We know it is expensive and takes a big commitment to come visit us in Berlin, but we LOVE visitors. One of Ian's best men, a repeat visit from a fellow SAE, my nephew from Texas, our German Foreign Exchange student just back from a Year in Mexico City all visited.... it was a good year.

13. We (kinda) Figured out Mexican Food in Berlin

Berlin's Mexican food used to be dismal. Now it is hit-or-miss - a big improvement. We've gotten pretty good at making things we love, like refried beans, from scratch but we are still always on the hunt for that one perfect burrito. This year we completed a pretty successful ingredient hunt and found the best shops for Mexican food in Berlin and have found some Mexican restaurants we really like.

12. Continuing to Explore Germany

Just like us back in the States, it's funny how many Berliners haven't seen all that much of Germany. In our continuing quest to put them to shame, we took a trip to Dresden

11. Swimming

Living in Seattle and then Berlin, outdoor swimming opportunities can be hard to come by. However, we are usually able to make it work...probably because I get a funky attitude if Ian lets me go too long without water. Self-preservation kinda thing. We discovered an excellent outdoor pool just 5 minutes from our house (Humboldthain) AND swan off an island in Italy (Procida). Well done Ian. Happy wife, happy life.

10. Found a New Favorite European City

Needing a quickie trip to round out my nephew's visit, we went to Naples, Italy. New. Favorite. City.

*Naples, a lovely place to wa- WATCH out for the vespa!*
*Rome wasn't dirty enough for you? Ben venuto a Nopli*
*Buffalo Mozzerella and the Mystery of the Stolen Passports*
*Dr. Palm Tree - or How I Stopped Worrying about the Heat and Love the Camora*
*Naples - We came for the pizza, we stayed for the dirty-ass fountain*

9. We were Recognized from our Blog!

10. Recognized from the Blog

It was quite a shock to go to one of our favorite watering holes, Hops & Barley, and have someone know our names and our stories. Who - us?! We enjoyed getting to know our reader and even had him over for dinner. So if you do see us around, please say "hi!"

8. Obama won!

I am so tired of political talk, but let me just say I am thankful for this, as are many of our German friends. I can't believe how many of them were invested in our election and how many thank-yous I received for voting. This is one civic duty I am happy to fulfill. Obama's 2008 speech in Berlin & my oh so valuable insights into the election.

7. Entering the Brave New World of Technology

I still have a lot to learn about technology and social media, but I am learning. This year I have fallen down the rabbit hole of social mediums:

6. Friends (especially those with cars)

Just joking friends! I love you all. And your car is pretty awesome. We've really met some great people this year and done some pretty cool things with them, like go to the Spreewald and canoe.

5. Work

Getting into pretty typical ground here, but I am incredibly thankful to have work I can do in Berlin, that is interesting, challenging, and fulfilling. I still don't think people understand what I do, so let me try to sum it up. I am the content editor for EasyExpat (which also covers BlogExpat, Expat-Quotes etc.). This means I spend most of my day writing in bed with Bella about expat issues like the EU Blue Card, Bike sharing programs around the world, and How to Eat Like a Local (have an article idea or interested in guest posting? e-mail me I also conduct interviews with expats, promote our pieces on social media (Twitter & Facebook), and manage freelance writers. It can be exhausting and frustrating and is really pretty great.

4. 1.99 wine & a bathtub

Let me clarify that these rankings aren't necessarily in order. Is our super deep bathtub, wine & book holder (thanks mum!), and plentiful 1.99 euro wine equal to a trip to Naples? Debatable.

3. Berlin

This city is crazy and drives us crazy. And makes us incredibly fulfilled and happy. There really is something magic about Berlin. While life here is never easy, it does keep us on our toes every day which makes each victory, each thing I am thankful for, a little more special. Pictures of the city, an ever growing list of things to love about Berlin and expats in the city that are making it happen.

2. Ian & the Fam

What can I say? My husband & my parents make my life whole and I seek to give them back the happiness they've given me every day. (I warned this list would be cheesy).

1. Thanksgiving at Salamas

Sometimes I am at a place, wondering how the hell I got there. That is sure to happen tonight - in a good way. Salamas bar has been a backbone for our time in Berlin and for the 3rd year in row we will be there celebrating Thanksgiving.

Not bad, eh? Obviously I should be skipping over rainbows everyday. And most of the time, I am. But there is so much more yet to do. I've rambled on far too long here, but beware (Looking at you Ian) that there are 29 things I want to do before I'm 30. Here's are the first things on my list...

29 Things Before I'm 30


29. Moon Walk

This goal has always been on the periphery and after a mention from @Benno, I realized it needs to be made a priority.

28. More Red Dots

These might sound absurd, but it is one of the few concrete direction in my life. We have a map of Europe in which we have marked each new city we've visited with a red dot. Just this past birthday weekend, we've marked off 4 new places, with 2 more to go. There is literally no other luxury in life that I'd rather spend money on then travel.

DONE & in progress! Plans for Czech Republic, USA, Poland and I have crazy dreams for Morocco, Montenegro, and just about anywhere else we can get in the world.

2nd UPDATE: We are ending the year with some more great travel. I went to Switzerland and Ian even managed to make it to England 3 times in 2 months (stag party, wedding, accompany me on work trip). We also are about to make plans for Brussels for my birthday, sure to be another great trip to Belgium.

27. "Fancy Dress Party"

Seriously English? This is what you call a costume party? Whatever, I'm down. I love costume parties & there is a chance I didn't dress up in a ridiculous costume once last year. Dislike.

DONE: A Christmas pub crawl completed this task admirably for us.

26.  Cook a recipe out Roald Dahl's Cookbook each month

Our latest care package came with this cookbook. As a lover of all things Dahl, I am wildly excited to try something. As a very amateur and often accident prone chef, I am wildly intimidated. His Nordic & British roots mean there is a good bit of herring and unfamiliar English dishes that seem hard to please my TexMex loving man. I am also determined. Let's do this.

UPDATE: It's February and I've cooked one (Norwegian meatballs). This is not going well.
November and I've cooked one more. Whoops...

25.  Learn how to Butcher...something

I've always been a bit squeamish about meat and I've even convinced Ian to go veggie this month (mostly), but I am most definitely not a vegetarian. Being raised on our small farm, we had our sheep and occasional cow butchered and I understand the value of fresh ingredients. I aim to eat a fresh, seasonal diet and admire those that understand the artistry of butchery and cooking. I, however, have never butchered an animal myself. I am not jumping into killing my meat myself or going all Mark Zuckerberg, but am setting a small step for myself in learning how to take apart a chicken. I saw it done on that silly show MasterChef and was in awe. It was masterful and I want to be able to do this, even if I don't strictly have to in the land of cheap halbhähnchen.

It looks like I am failing at this one BUT I did learn to make my own pumpkin stock. It was easy, but I am still proud.

24. Grow

I really do like my job, but some things I am grossly under qualified for. People often ask how I got my job, and it was really a bit of luck and hard work. I started working for EasyExpat on a freelance basis doing expat city guides. Massive, HTML documents covering everything from visas to restaurant recommendations, I was learning as I wrote and eventually proved myself to be skilled enough to be trusted with a full time position just in time for us moving back to Berlin. Serendipity.

Now I am the content editor, which means I am doing less and less writing and more orchestrating and editing. It's hard...and interesting. Twitter round-up, Expat Interviews, and our new services site - Expat Quotes - all depend on me collecting and editing the best of other writers. Again, I am learning as I go. And networking. Now that the site is little filled to the brim with useful information for expats, it is our goal to network with other in the expat/immigrant/travel community and spread the word. If you have tips, contacts or ideas - email me! erin {at} easyexpat {dot} com

23. Update the Blog Template 

I love this blog. It is largely disorganized, partly disaster, and sometimes offensive but it's mine. I am constantly thinking of new things I want to write about and the blog even pushes me to get out of the house and do something.

However, I started this blog back in 2007 and literally had no idea what I was doing. I liked the design & colors so much, it helped influence our wedding colors and look. Polka dots! Purple, Green & Orange! But I am afraid we have outgrown it. I am constantly amazed by the plethora of gorgeous blogs I see on BlogExpat & Expat Interviews and frustrated by my blogs standard template and limited space. Hrm.

UPDATE: Almost 8 months into the year and I finally changed the template. Note the octopus. Clearly, I am a marvel at Photoshop.

22.  Host an Einweihungsparty (House Warming Party)

Since we moved in I've been struggling against our lazy gene (and conditioned mind-set of frequent moves) to make this place a home. It's an agonizingly slow process (we want that spare lumber just sitting on our balcony), but it is progressing. About 10 times I have set deadlines of "By the time _____ get here we need to have this place ready!" It was the excuse why we haven't had our Einweihungsparty. But that has to change. This year. Sometime. Our first Einweihungsparty.

21. Are Rocky Horror Picture Show midnight showings still a thing?

Cuz I want in. I was thinking of planning this for our upcoming trip home to the States (yea!), but Ian thinks this might be happening in Berlin.

Arg! It really is a thing in Berlin with the open air theatre in Rehberge hosting a night with Rocky this summer. Sadly, we were otherwise engaged. Next year....?
We have an irregular plan to watch classic movies every Tuesday and this doesn't always happen.We just watched 2 very mediocre comedies and go in a huge fight about me being too demanding/Ian being lame. I was thinking of trying to watch Woodie Allen movies (possibly a terrible man but interesting filmmaker) but we started with To Rome with Love and felt very ambivalent about it.

UPDATE: We somehow got invited to a private little film club of expats and very much enjoyed our first foray into Citizen Ruth. Next we are "hosting" a Seattle centric viewing of Singles. Let's keep this up....

AND do watch our hosts terrific 1-minute videos she makes of her life and travels, as well as her documentaries.
2nd UPDATE: Much like my love of Christmas movies to get us in the mood, this year we have 31 days of Halloween movies/tv/shorts. I think it's going well.

18. Do more stuff on my Own

Ian is my bestie and we do lots - almost everything - together. While it is pretty great we are able to do this, my relying on him for German skills, getting official things done, etc. isn't so awesome. it is downright inhibiting. 

So I am going to try and get my groove on and do things interdependently. So far, so good. I've gone to a film night & festival on my own.

UPDATE: I even went to Switzerland on my own, and will be going to London for a work trip on my own.

17. German Skills

For real. This is ridiculous. It's been almost 4 years in Berlin and while my comprehension is so-so, my speaking is abysmal. Get thee to a language school!

Here I am trying to justify myself in an article "Guess Who's Coming to Das Perfekte Dinner?".

16. Find a Stable

That's right, I am looking for a horse stable. I've was able to watch an FEI event in Frankfurt and still dream of it. A former performance rider - I now want to jump. I desperately miss riding and think finding a half-lease and some lessons might also spur my German language growth. I brought my half-chaps, helmet, and boots back from the States, so this is getting serious.

Know of a stable, English lessons, or available horse? Please let me know!

Houston, my horse back in the States

15. Go Camping

We've had issues trying to camp in Germany and still have never been (although we're getting close). I love camping, especially all the inevitable eating. 

DONE: We had to take our journey stateside, but we went camping in Montana and it was every bit as magical as I remember.

14. Proof-Read

I am an editor for gods sake!And yet my proof reading is still terrible here on my private site, and not perfect for the work site. This is unforgivable and I need to stomp it out.

If you notice an error - please do quietly message me about it. I will feel bad, but I need to get it together.

13. Work on My Movie Making

You may have seen a few of my video mash-ups here on the blog (like for Mannertag) or on youtube. They need work. I even have plans for a short zombie film cuz there is not enough of those!

12. Celebrate 

For our wedding anniversary - this year marks 4 years down, 100 to go - woooohooo! No, seriously we've been together for about 10 years and I love a cause for celebration. However, we never seem to get the big ones right (birthdays, anniversaries etc.). We don't really do gifts in favor of experiences and last year's celebration was quiet, but nice with a trip up the Fernsehturm and a diner at a Vietnamese restaurant. 

This year, we brought our German wedding cups back from home (yea!), burned down the Tower Bridge and got naked with Germans.

11. Do the German Sauna Experience 
Tropical Islands

I always meant to do this...someday. I had no definite plans, even as we were riding out to the massive water park, Tropical Islands. But then we were among the swinging wangs and saggy butts and we decided to just do it. When in Rome (or the German sauna)....

10. Start an internship

Just joking! Internships suck. So why am interning at Exberliner? 

EasyExpat is struggling and I need to come up with other work, although I will continue as the Content Editor of the site for now. I also want to be a better writer and my writing has become stale. I am getting my wish as every little thing I have written has been pulled apart. Ouch.

Want to hire me or know of a position? Let me know!

9. Eat Better

Boring, but perennially true. Ian decided that November is our meatless month so once again we are eating without meat. It's not necessarily healthier, but I am giving us a pat on the back for shaking up our menu options.

8. Attend another Culture's Wedding

I don't think anyone was counting on us going to an English wedding before a German wedding (even us!), but we went to Manchester to party with the English and it was awesome.

7.  Fishtail Braid

Important life goals here people! Seriously, I learned how to do this braid this year and it has changed my (hairy) world. All it took was watching some pre-teen kill it on Youtube.

6-2 ...

1. Finish this List

So...30 has come & gone and I never finished the list. Hrm. I got some great stuff done, and still haven't even started some important stuff (I will speak German someday!). Onto 2014, attainable goals and kicking ass.

Happy Birthday to me.


~ cheryl said...

Happy 29th - my daughter!! This post was a nice memorable journey. Looking forward to the next one of must-do's before you're 30!! Hope you have a wonderful birthday in Switzerland. Love you!

~ cheryl said...

Just re-read this - with your updates - and enjoyed it all over again! You're such an accomplished young woman, Even if you weren't my daughter, I'd be so impressed by your abilities, qualities and capacity for out-and-out wonderfulness!

Federico said...

OMG Moon walking is in my list too! Let's practice together!

ebe porter said...

Group Moon walk lessons Federico! Fueled by alcohol, I am sure we can do anything.

We're Back in Berlin Ja!

We're Back in Berlin Ja!
ebe & ian at Yak-toberfest 2008