Saturday, May 28, 2011

Fun in the Sun!

This spring has been a total change from last year. I actually like Frankfurt this spring. Last year it was cold until June and this year it has been warm since April and the weekends are full of fun in the sun. We are totally German and we are enjoying a lot of park going. Here are some pictures from the last two months and all our weekends soaking in the rays.

American football has been busted out

And the Americans were loving it

Two of our coworkers play on an Aussie rule football team. This was our first game ever and we figured out the rules as the game went on.

They lost 131-6, but hey whose counting

For Mother's day we headed to the river with our friends that are mothers

The whole gang, the Rennie's and the Tillery's

A little treat for the moms and I was the only girl left so they let me partake in the fun.


Got to hang out with this cutie pie, Rose

and this handsome fellow, Finn

At some point the guitar got busted out and Craig laid down some Johhny Cash for us.

Justin got into the action too. We should have opened up the case and seen how much money the two guys could get.

This spring has been a total 180 from last year and it truly makes Germany bearable when it is only cold for 5 months out of the 12 months. No wonder Germans have so many festivals, you have to take in as much sunshine while it lasts.

I have been enjoying the sun so much that I even had my birthday party at the park, more on that to come.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thai Cooking class

So I know this is a long time coming, but hopefully it is good. Before going to Thailand I was really nervous about the food and having stomach issues, but that being said I still really wanted to try a cooking class and all the amazing food people rave about. Last summer when we were in Italy I wanted to do a cooking class, but they were way too expensive and we ended up passing on it. Not this time! Our first night in Chaing Mai Mae called up a few cooking schools and we booked a class with Siam Rice Thai Cookery School (top ranked cooking school on tripadvisor). Mae was a little hesitate because she had been cooking Thai food for two years, but with a special recipe requests even Mae got to do a few new things. I want to note that the first thing we did was go to the farmers market and they explained all the common Thai ingredients and all the food used for the day was fresh from the market! This class was teaching us all the basics and for me it was perfect. I have never cooked Thai food so this was a great introduction, plus our teacher, Nancy was full of fun.

First and and second course

Marisa
Chicken in coconut milk soup
Pad Thai

Mae
Tom Yum Goong soup
Spring Rolls

Chopping up all the fresh ingredients. And yes we used that knife to cut everything, now I want one.


Getting the ingredients that go in the spring rolls ready

Using a wok for the first time. Check out that flame. I am in the market for a wok now.

Mae getting detailed instructions on how to fold a spring roll the right way


Frying up the spring rolls


Pause in the cooking and time to eat. First and second course were a total success.

Mae's spring rolls were some of the best I have ever had. So crispy!

Her Tom Yum Goong soup. A little spicy for me, but everyone else loved it

Third and Fourth Course

Marisa
Yellow curry paste made from scratch
Yellow chicken curry

Mae
Green curry paste from scratch
Green chicken curry

Made together
Buck's request- spicy pork sausage balls-laap moo tawd

All the ingredients you might need to make some curry paste

Just getting started

Almost there

Final product-curry paste made from scratch. Let me tell you one thing it was a lot of work, but at least now I know how to make it. But I will be buying curry paste packets most days just like most Thai people do.

Yellow Chicken curry

Green chicken curry

This one was made by request of Buck

Just think little porkballs

Everything is better when it is fried, right?

They let us take this one home for the boys and they loved them! 

The whole class

Our fabulous teachers, Nancy and Pot. Thank you so much!

I can honestly say the cooking class paid off because I made my first Thai dish in Germany all on my own. I am obsessed with curry at the moment and can't wait to make my next dish. On a side note Justin and I tried Indian food on our Thailand trip for thr first time and all I have to say what have we been waiting for. Indian food is amazing. So between Indian curry and Thai curry I am getting my fill.

Wish I had a wok, but everything turned out great.

Stamp of approval of my Thai culinary skills.

My girl, Katy even got me a Thai cooking book for my bday! Watch out world this kitchen will be making Thai food for a while. Everything is true what they say about Thai food. It is cheap and amazing. Thank God for Buck and Mae because most days we said just order anything. They would order a variety of food and it was a great way to try a ton of Thai food. One of my favorite appetizers was a fried  minced shrimp paddy, need to learn how to make those. No stomach issues on the trip and lots of Thai food was consumed, I would call that is a success.

--Marisa

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Thailand: Planes, Trains, Automobiles and More

While spending two weeks in Thailand, one unexpected observation was the unbelievable variety of modes of transportation. Without exaggeration, we took at least fifteen different forms of transportation during our visit. This blog post will outline those that we had pictures of.........

Bicycles were a nice way to run to the store or to take a quick campus tour.

Marisa had the opportunity to ride in the "samlo" (rickshaw) that Buck refurnished. Everywhere we went peoples' heads were turning and they couldn't resist the neon lights and sweet sound system.

We took this train to Ayutthaya. It's a far cry from the electric German trains that we're used to, but it was cool riding with the locals in the coal-powered locomotive.

This small truck with bench seats was a convenient way to get around in the open air on our scenic evening temple tour of Ayutthaya.

These "songthaews" are pick-up trucks with bench seats in the back were sort of like buses in that they had scheduled routes, but they felt more like carpooling.

In contrast to the normal day trains, we took a couple of overnight trains to and from Chiang Mai. It featured bench seats that folded down into bunk beds for the evening and were easily converted back in the morning. Mae and I are enjoying a snack on the way up to Chiang Mai.

We were lucky to grab this covered truck/taxi. During the rainy season you can get caught in an afternoon shower that will leave you drenched in no time.

By far the most popular form of personal transit is the moped/motorcycle. We saw families of four cruising on these and individuals hauling all kinds of goods around town.

The water shuttle in Bangkok was a quick way to get around the grayish looking waterways through the city. They pull up the blue tarps on the sides between stops so that you don't get splattered by nasty water.

Practically all of southern Thailand is a skinny peninsula or isthmus (not sure what the correct geographical term is) with lots of islands just off of the coast. While there are bridges with ferries to take you across with land vehicles, we went with the larger boat to take us over to Ko Lanta. However you decide to go, the scenery is magnificent.

Easily the most popular form of transportation, the colorful taxis were always in view with bright pinks, blues, yellows, greens, purples and probably others - all representing different taxi companies. I've never been in a place where a cab was more reasonably priced - for example, an hour ride to the airport for about $15! I couldn't take a cab to the grocery store for that rate in Germany.

While we didn't get pictures of every mode of transportation taken.........I hope this gives you an idea of the plethora of ways to get you where you want to be.

--Justin



Spring Break 2011- Thailand: Krabi and Koh Lanta

After Bangkok the relaxing part of our trip began.....well almost. Before we could relax Buck and Mae had us climb over 1,200 steps to the top of this temple on the mainland, Krabi. I was a little nervous at first because I am very out of shape right now, but about 500 steps up the athlete in me kicked in and I was moving. Scott would have been so proud, it only took Mae and I twenty five minutes to hike all those stairs. The guys did it in 17 minutes. Some steps were very high almost like lunging up not just stepping and don't forget it was HOT. Making it to the top and seeing some monkeys close up made it all worth it!

The dreaded stairs.

The victory of making it to the top!

The hike was definitely worth the views

The monkey was sliding down the railing. They got a little too close for comfort sometimes.

Just like in National Geographic.

This gives you an idea of how steep it was.

After the big climb we got all cleaned up and enjoyed a nice sunset in Ao Nang. Buck and Mae's friend, Amy, joined us for a night in Ao Nang.

Ao Nang Beach

Walking along the beach these lanterns were hung everywhere and I just loved them

In honor of Easter we lit sky lanterns and had our own kind of Easter service on the beach!

This is a big tradition in Thailand and in Chiang Mai we saw 20 of these going up in the air. People do them for special occasions like a birthday or anniversary. The video below shows you the whole thing from first light to trailing away in the sky.


The next day we headed out on a boat to the island of Koh Lanta

And we arrived to this beautiful room...

...and I walked right out my patio door to this scene.

So you can imagine we did a lot of this


Each night it was a question of whose "cove" we were going to hang out in

One of the many beautiful sunsets we enjoyed on the island. (No picture can do any justice to a sunset, they are always better in real life)

After a sweaty bike ride we found this beach called Long Beach in English. It was pretty cool to be one of the very few people on the beach.

This was the small private beach at our resort

Trying to take some pictures all dressed up at sunset.

Now they look cute!

It was nice to end the trip relaxing on the beach. I even managed to get 3 hours worth of spa treatments while I was there for only $45 (massage, body wrap, facial and pedicure)! This was the part of the trip that we splurged a little on the hotel and I am so glad we did. From the food to the service they made our time in Koh Lanta amazing!!!

The whole trip to Thailand like Justin said was epic! We got to see so many different areas of Thailand from the mountains, to a big city and lastly a beautiful beach. If you ever have to opportunity to go to Thailand you definitely should.

--Marisa

Coming soon two special posts on Thai culture!
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