Friday, March 28, 2008

Crick in the Neck

Today I woke up with a crick in my neck.

Not only does my neck hurt, but I've had a killer headache all day, probably as a result from the crick.

So I spent the whole day rolling my neck around, stretching, etc. I even took Aleve - nothing helped.

Well apparently (app-arently), according to this article, I was going about it all the wrong way.

For those of you too lazy to read it, it basically says that a "crick in the neck" is not pulled muscles as people often think, but a strained ligament. In general, it takes 10-14 days to repair. That's no good news.

It says that stretching it is one of the worst things you can do. Oops. And that taking pain medication tricks you into thinking it's better so then you think you're fine and you do things to hurt it more.

The best thing you can do is take it easy, do some light aerobic exercise (to get the blood pumping), and give it time.

I hope you have learned something from this post, and next time you wake up with a crick in your neck, don't stretch!!


Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Just thought I should give a little update:

1) The pecan pie turned out absolutely black on top, but we ate it anyway. It actually was quite good, if you didn't mind having a little burnt taste every now and then...I took a picture but can't load it just yet (see previous post about my compy problems) so I'll be sure to put it up eventually.

2) There were no Cadbury Creme Eggs for Easter this year...I don't understand it. The UK is practically our neighbor and yet Cadbury's chocolate is nowhere to be found! I told my sister to buy all the Cadbury Creme Eggs they could find and then hide them away in the closet so that next time I go home and I can bring them back with me. I hope she did it.

3) I talked to my friend Derek today and he was eating girl scout cookies. Tagalongs. My favorite. Obviously, they don't have those here, either. What's a girl to do??

4) I discovered a new restaurant! It's a salad bar/buffet! Fresh veggies are hard to find here - they love their bread, ham, and cheese, and everything else they fry. I've been craving veggies (Jason's Deli used to be my second home - their salad bar is the best!) and therefore I've been going to Maoz several times a week - so much so that the people who work there know me know and when they're not busy we just talk and talk and talk...almost everybody who works there is Italian, which I find interesting. Anyway, I haven't been to this salad bar place yet but it's on my list of places to try!

5) For Christmas I told my mom I wanted to take guitar lessons. After months of searching for teachers/prices/deciding what style, etc, I finally had my first lesson today! I'll be learning the Spanish guitar, so ya know, flamenco and all that stuff! My first lesson was really fun (and challenging!) so I'm really looking forward to it. My mom will pay for 2 months worth and if I like it, then I'll pay for it myself, or else ask for money for my birthday (September 9th if you feel like sending me something!) At some point the shop keeper accidentally left the door open (all of the shops have little buzzers on the door so it's constantly locked unless you buzz) and some dude walked in and was trying to steal stuff while he was in the back talking to me and the guitar teacher. Luckily he caught the guy in time and he didn't get away with anything.

6) People always tell you, "watch out for the gypsies!" Well..they're right. I'll not re-tell the whole story, but basically, a few days ago a few gypsy kids (probably 14 and 12 years old) tried to rob me when I was at the ATM. ATM's are not exactly safe places around here, but usually it's only the ones in the tourist places you need to be worried about. Not the neighborhoods, so it really caught me off-guard when all of a sudden this girl popped up out of nowhere and pushed the "300 Euros" button. I did what I could to tell her to go away and put my hands over the place where the card and the money comes out, but if it hadn't been for this old man that came by and chased them away, I don't know what would have happened. They weren't going to hurt me - they just wanted my money. And I'm not about to hit a kid over some cash. But I'm going to do my best to never again go to the ATM alone.

7) I can't think in English anymore. My vocabulary is lacking even more-so than before. I thought being a math major made me lose a significant chunk of my vocab, but that's nothing compared to what living in a foreign language will do to you...and I'm about to start learning another, so ya know...I'm really thankful for spell-checker.

That's all for now.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Comedy of Errors

That's right. Today has been one of those days. One of those days when there's nothing more to do but throw up your hands and have a laugh. Today has been a comedy of errors.

1) To start with, knowing that there was a 75% chance of rain today I decided to go for my not-quite daily run this morning. I looked out the window and the sky was perfectly blue with just a few non-menacing looking clouds - it appeared I had at least a few hours before the rain came. I headed out full of ambition reminding myself of that bridesmaid dress I'll be wearing in August every time I felt like quitting. Soon into my run I noticed a small dark grey (gray?) cloud hovering over the park, but again, the sky around it was crystal blue. I wasn't afraid. Not long after that, I noticed the occasional sprinkle, but it wasn't yet enough to make me back down. After all, the sky was still blue.

Nearing what I had hoped would only be the half-way mark of my run, the sprinkles increased. I thought, "okay, maybe I should head home." Next thing I know, the sky burst open and poured down it's fury on me and my white (with a strategically placed print on the front) t-shirt. The wind blew the rain sideways enough that I was able to take shelter for a moment by the park gate before braving the freezing wind and rain again to go head home. And still, I could see that just a kilometer away from where I stood, the sky was sparkling blue. Of course, the menacing clouds were moving in my direction, so they followed me all the way home...

2) Later the rain stopped and the streets invited my presence once again. So I decided to walk down to the grocery store to buy some ingredients for the pecan pie I'm making for Easter. Little did I know that with the rain came a temperature decrease of at least 15 degrees (F, I'm still not a pro with C) and an even stronger wind than this morning. I was very unprepared with my waist-length Old Navy peacoat and scarf. This was bomber-jacket weather. So I suffered the whole way to the grocery store, but got a coffee on the way to warm me up.

3) I came back from the grocery store ready to bake my pie, and while the pie was baking I was planning on running a file recovery program to recover my iTunes library that I lost ("Don't forget to back-up your music" - I always clicked "later"). I downloaded the program and was getting ready to print the directions when I realized we were out of printer paper. I just stood there. I can't do this w/o directions - I'm technologically challenged. So I got creative...we have some double-wide paper that our landlords left, so I got busy with the scissors, cutting the 8.5x22 paper down to 8.5x11 for the printer. It worked!

4) I was told that I needed a 4GB flash drive and a CD-ROM, so I bought both of those a week or so ago and sat down to begin the process. I popped in my 800MB CD-ROM and surely you can guess what message I received..."there is not enough space..." How much space did I need? Why, 847MB, of course.

5) So I got busy baking my pie. The directions said to roast the pecans in the microwave, but our microwave shoots flames when you turn it on and since I don't want to blow up the apartment building I decided to roast the pecans in the oven while it was pre-heating. I've roasted pecans before - how hard could it be? Well, this time was different b/c the pecans weren't coated in eggwhites and yummy sugar and cinnamon, and the oven was hotter. Next thing I know it smells like burnt popcorn, but I wasn't making popcorn - it was the pecans. Now please keep in mind that not only are pecans my favorite snack of all time, one of the few nuts I'm NOT allergic to, and pecan pie is my favorite, but on top of all that, you can't get pecans here. Most people here don't even know what they are. So the only way you can get them is to pay an arm and a leg at the American Store or else have somebody send/bring them to you, and these were the last of the pecans that somebody brought me in January. My initial reaction was to cry, but really, what good would that do? So I laughed. And then I tasted one of the pecans....charcoal. So I set about picking out the bad ones and got a sharp knife to shave the charcoal off of the only half-bad ones. I am determined.

6) Finally, everything was ready. All I had left to do was roll out the crust, put it in the pan, and then put everything inside of it. So I pull out my store-bought pie-dough (because Crisco is also an American Store item and I forgot to buy some last time I went...besides, making crust is hard work!) and get ready to lay it out. As I unfold it, it just breaks into three pieces. Three pieces that won't smush back together. I forgot to defrost it. Again, what can you do but laugh? Thankfully the box comes with two pie doughs, so the second is currently defrosting while the rest of the pie materials wait politely on the kitchen counter.

Let's just hope and pray the pie turns out deliciously non-charcoal flavored. Either way, I'll take a picture for you.


Monday, March 17, 2008

This is Love

Teach us how to love

Teach us how to give and to receive real love

For everyone who loves is born of God and knows God

Teach us of your grace

Pour it out among us

God's own Son - our salvation

Love has come to every nation in the world

And this is love, amazing love

Not that we loved God, but that He loved us

And this is grace, magnificent redeeming grace

Joining us in flesh and washing us in blood

-Ross King

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Mountain Adventures

Well, I finally finished language school! Can I get a WHOOP??

So, as a treat for studying so hard, learning so much, and putting up with a city of 6 million people for so long (harder than I thought it would be for this semi-country girl), I decided to go for a hike. The nice thing about this bustling city is that it's surrounded by mountains, so for just a few Euros I hopped on a train, not really knowing where I was going except that my friend said she went hiking in this little village and I should be able to ask somebody to find the trails...ha...So I got there and had no idea how to get to the trails from the train station. Luckily, in my research the night before I had read on some guys' blog that he had to walk up a long road to get to the trails. So after asking a few people who were just as clueless as I, I decided to take a risk and walk up the hill on what looked like the main road. Once my phone had reception I called my friend to make sure I was going the right way, and I was. Soon I found an information booth and they gave me a trail map and pointed me in the right direction. Here's me getting started on the trail super excited that I even found it:

I picked the trail that was supposed to be 2 1/2 hours long (LIE - more like 3 1/2). It was BEAUTIFUL. And the most beautiful part was that it was just me and God the whole way. I could enjoy His beautiful creation uninterrupted - sing out loud - soak up the sun - just be myself by myself - whatever I wanted. It was great.

I could walk along the rocks despite the presence of a perfectly good trail, just because I wanted to, and nobody was going to give me weird looks or ask me why. I could make "shpcooo" sounds every time I jumped down from a tiny boulder without fear that my quirkiness would annoy any companions. I could jump over a ditch, just because I felt like it, and bounce from side to side of the trail for no reason at all, without judgment. It was great. It was beautiful. It was refreshingly free.

I could also take a picture of this random bathtub:
I am definitely planning on going back. I might go with some friends this week, or I might go by myself again sometime. But I'll make sure to wear better socks, because this time left me with some nasty sores on my heels.

p.s. please note that I am wearing my "Moosejaw" tshirt in the pictures. And while you can't see them, I was wearing my hiking boots that I got FOR FREE from Moosejaw. So if you ever need any hiking/camping/rock climbing gear, or maybe just a pair of Chacos, go to Moosejaw. They're awesome (I feel obliged to advertise for them since they gave me free boots)

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Model Behavior

Stop everything!! It's MODEL BEHAVIOR!!

Does anybody remember this movie? Back when Justin still seemed so sweet?

A nerdy, awkward girl and an arrogant supermodel find out that they're look-a-likes and decide to trade lives for a week, but things don't turn out quite like they had hoped. The supermodel finds out that high school isn't quite as simple as she had thought, and the nerd finds out that a privileged (that word is hard to spell) life of fame isn't as care-free as she had planned on.

BUT, of course, like any Disney live-action movie, they both fall in love. The super model with the high school jock, and the nerd with the male model Justin Timberlake (whose name is "Jason" in the movie, which I find quite humorous since my twin cousins are named Jason and Justin).

Well, it's on TV right now. So as soon as the half hour of commercials/news/all that random stuff they throw in the commercial breaks are over, I'm stopping everything to watch it. And it's even more exciting now that it's dubbed! It's like an adventure trying to figure out what they're saying! But, PTL, my language has improved drastically so if I'm paying very close, painstaking attention, I can understand more or less what is being said on the TV. Yay!

Okay...commercial break over. It's all about Model Behavior now.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

IKEA is for lovers

I have now decided that I should avoid going to IKEA on Saturdays at all costs.

Is it because of the massive crowds taking advantage of their day off from work?


Is it because I like to sleep late on Saturdays and going to IKEA is a big event that requires me to sacrifice sleep?


Then what else could it be besides...

The Couples.

Saturday is the day when all the lovebirds come out to buy kitchen utensils and party napkins for their new love nest.

Today I had to go take a pillow back (it was 30 EUROS! I thought it was 3...) and decided to have a walk around and maybe buy a rug for my room. Everywhere I turned, be it to the right or the left, stood some lovey dovey couple holding on to each other while gooing and gawing over a funky vase filled with vinyl flowers, or some eccentric rug that only a post-modern 28 year old with chunky black rectangular glasses trimmed in lime green with a degree in marketing could understand, or else a blender.

It's not that I'm one of those single people who resents being single and therefore despises the very sight of a couple in love. I hope to be one of those couples in love one day, so why should I despise them now?

But there comes a point when enough is enough, and today at IKEA.... I decided I should shop there on weekdays.

On a completely different note, the other night I was walking through city center when a group of about 20 men in between the ages of 35 and 45 passed by holding hands and skipping singing "Loo, loo! Skip to my loo!"

It was a special moment.