Saturday, October 30, 2010


 They made it! Safe and sound.

 There was only a short delay at the airport; 50 minutes where were were able to run out of the airport (thus renewing our 30 minutes of free parking) to buy Luxembourgian gas at a whopping 20 cents less per liter than in France (that's the rough equivalent of 80 cents less per gallon.

 And even after all that travel they were still up for the scenic route home which gave us a fabulous view of the Moselle river valley (and wine region).

We stopped at our favorite grocery store and picked up the essentials (beef, mushrooms, peal onions and wine) for a great pot of boeuf bourguignon.

Mmm...well worth the 3+ hours it took to cook.

Today we hung around for a bit making plans and reservations then headed to to the thrift store for costumes for Kimber's 2nd birthday party/costume party. Dad and I went as Steelers player while mom went as a fan and Michael managed to find the makings of an Italian soccer player's costume. As you can see though, the food was great at the party; the most complete American spread I've seen since being here including: cheese dip, mexican layer dip, spinach dip and dirt 'n worms cupcakes!

We spent a great time eating, playing Halloween pictionary and playing with kids galore. Were any of you aware that my Dad is a child magnet?

After the party we headed into town for a quick walking tour before our delicious dinner reservations.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

the cleanest pumpkin carving in history

After spending the entire day cleaning the apartment top to bottom what do you think we decided to do? Obviously, we thought the best idea would be to perform one of the messiest of all holiday traditions: carving the pumpkin (at 11:30 pm no less). As we were drawing the design onto our pumpkin I had a flashback to the layer upon layer of newspaper that covered our floor every year as pumpkins were carved and I began to panic.

 Rest assured, we miraculously managed to keep the pumpkin off the floor; notice the meticulous bowl of pumpkin shavings.

We carved our version of Jack from the Nightmare Before Christmas while listening to the soundtrack.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Say hello to Luke and Jack (or Daddy if you'd prefer)
I stole this picture from my mom's facebook album because it is my new favorite shot (I'll probably have a new favorite in 3 minutes but for now, this is it).
Everything about it makes me smile,
especially because I know I will be seeing one of them in 36 hours and the other in less than 2 months and they will still be wearing their Steelers garb.

Field Trip #4: le Centre Pompidou

In it's heyday (if the term "heyday" can even stretch for almost 2000 years) Metz was a very important city. It is located smack-dab in the middle of Europe at, like Pittsburgh, the confluence of two rivers making it both a strong hold both in trade and military. But also like Pittsburgh, as the end of the industrial time ended, the lull began and it has been a bit of a struggle to keep the city relevant, at least to non-messins (people from Metz).

Enter the Centre Pompidou - Metz, our new branch of the famous Parisien modern art museum which was completed and opened this past May. The idea behind this museum branch (and the corresponding TGV (high speed) train line directly from Paris to Metz) was and is to bring more notice and more traffic to the area; to bring back to life what was once a bustling and popular city, which we are all for. As if I haven't mentioned enough in this blog what a fantastically overlooked area of France we live in and our fingers are crossed that the Centre Pompidou-Metz is just it needs to spring up from the metaphorical ashes.

Here it is in all of it's Chinese hat styled glory. The building was designed as a team effort by Shigeru Ban (Japanese) and Jean de Gastines (French).

In all the roof line is made up of 16 kilometers of laminated timber covered by a thin fiberglass layer which has been coated in Teflon.

Our wonderful (partially pictured) English speaking tour guide along with our French teacher Madame Serafin gave a wonderful tour of the facility.

The window provides an optical illusion making the cathedral seem much closer than it is in reality.

This was one of my favorites, it feels like you are looking through fog (or like I couldn't hold the camera still).

On this floor of the museum one wall held the masterpieces while the opposing wall displayed the "making of the masterpiece utilizing photos and even videos of the artists whilst at work.

A room of Laurel leaves

The enormity of some of the pieces was obviously striking; notice Michael looking up in the bottom right hand corner.

Such a well designed museum -- even the hallways become art. I am in the center-left of the photo looking up at the mirrors on the ceiling.

In conclusion: come, visit.
If you are ever in Paris, certainly check out the Centre Pompidou (which we still need to see). But if you have extra time in Paris, take the 1.5 hour high speed train to Metz. Visit the town. Visit the Museum. You won't be sorry. (Especially if you are under 26, which means you are admitted into the museum for free!)

Monday, October 25, 2010


The duck confit is in the oven.

And this delicious duck confit by-product is in our bellies. That's right, duck skin fried in it's own fat. Duck skin cracklins. I would like to take this opportunity to say that I love eating meat and I'm sorry for any vegetarians that may be reading my blog.

Also in our bellies is this pork carnitas recipe that I've raved about before but I'm mentioning it again because it's that good. Don't forget the cilantro.

Today has been a day of catch-up. If you are friends with me on facebook you may have noticed 6 or 7 albums being posted. I was way behind on that aspect of my digital updating, and when I say way behind I mean I had to update my summer album before moving on to actually putting up a fall album. So, if you'd like to get updated and see more extensive detail of the photographic journaling that I already do on there, please, check them out.

Click HERE to finish up our summer adventures
Click HERE to see what we've been doing this final semester
Click HERE to see photos from La Nuit Blanche
Click HERE to see photos from the days surrounding our 1- year France-iversary
Click HERE to see photos from our trip to Nancy (which will be documented on here soon)
Click HERE to see photos from my 24th Birthday
Click HERE to see photos from Fêtes de la Mirabelle 2010

And there are more to come; I still need to update the photo album corresponding with our Metz Culture class (and still need to post on our last few field trips on here).

I will be trying to get all of the aforementioned neglected blog posts up in the next week since come Friday we will have a very welcomed visit from my parents!

Here's Daddy (others call him Jack) and child #8, the strangest dog in the world: Malina. Malina will not be coming along. My wonderful sister-in-law Laura (fellow blogger) will be making sure she doesn't have to suffer in the dog kennel.

And Here's Mommy (others may call her Sue).
I completely hijacked these photos from her webgallery. Thanks Mom.
Get ready, you'll be seeing them in many more pictures in the near future.

Before moving to France with Michael I was what you would call a homebody. Despite always living over 4 hours from home after moving away I managed to visit almost every month and the longest I ever managed to make it was maybe 2 1/2 months. Which also means that the longest I have gone without seeing my parents was, before this point, 2 1/2 months. I expected 1.5 years away to be much more rough than it has been (mostly thanks to Michael and lots of food and drink to keep me occupied), not that there haven't been moments. My fellow stranded (at the time, in Hawaii, for now, in Alaska) sister-in-law Katie (and a fellow blogger) has witnessed said "moments" thanks to one too many glasses of wine and skype chat.

Soon though, the moments will fade. My parents will be here for two full weeks of adventure and when they leave, we will have just over one month left here in Metz. And before we know it, we'll be on a plane flying into Elmira/Corning Regional Airport just in time to spend the holiday season with our families.

Monday, October 18, 2010

what to write & Field Trip # 4: Fort de Queuleu

I never considered myself much of a writer. I've never before experienced writer's block. I suppose there is a first time for everything. I've wanted to write this past week but could never bring myself to. I also had the duel problem of not being able to get Michael off of his computer and not being able to pull myself away from knitting Michael's sweater/watching an embarrassing tv show; the two activities are one to me and they tend to become addictive. But Michael is in class now and then he will be working on research until our afternoon class and I have already watched 3 embarrassing episodes today and am 2/5 of the way down Michael's sweater's sleeve. I think it's time to write.


Fort de Queuleu

You may vaguely remember Fort de Queuleu from this earlier post. Can I just interrupt myself right here and  say that those old blog posts embarrassing -- not that I've ever been confident in writing. Anyway, reading that old post I can't help but remember how strange it seemed to me that such a seemingly historically significant place, an interrogation camp where the Nazis held prisoners just down the road from our dorms, be turned into a fitness course. At the time, over a year ago, it seemed almost blasphemous to hide the story of the fort in that way. Looking back over our time here though, my feelings on the subject have softened. I still can't say I'm completely comfortable running a lap or two around the camp (not that I could run that far if I tried) but I think I get it in some vague way.

Part of the problem is funding; money's always a problem though, right? Everywhere you look, every corner you turn there is another WWII site, another Roman ruin. We don't have the problem to such an extent in the US because of our comparatively shorter and less....extensive history, but with so many historical sites, funding will eventually run out and only so many places will be preserved.

The other problem is the memory, the memory of a scarred region. In many ways, I get the feeling that people want to forget. They want to forget that once again, France collapsed under the pressure of Germany.  They don't want to think about the people tortured and killed right across the street from their house. And that feeling is completely understandable. But some wanted, some needed to remember. And the volunteers that are now running the association that keeps the fort up and safe (and doing so for free, taking care of the funding issue) are those that needed to remember because you see, the association was formed by those who lived through the terror of imprisonment at Fort de Queuleu, they lived through the interrogation, were sent to a concentration camp and lived to return. They needed to remember because they couldn't forget. Their families and friends have carried on the memory after them.

As I mentioned before, the construction of Fort de Queuleu began 1867 when the Minister of War acquired 4 pieces of land surrounding Metz in order to build fortifications around the city in anticipation of the war with Prussia that was seeming more and more likely. Construction was continued by the French up until Metz was annexed by Prussia (Germany) during the Franco-Prussian war in 1870. The treaty of Frankfurt made Metz a Germany city in 1871 and construction of the fort was continued by the Germans from that time on. They named the fort Goeben after the Prussian general who was best known for winning the battle of Spicheren, the first victory of the Prussian army over the Moselle region (our region). In 1918 France re-entered Metz and after the treaty of Versailles in 1919, Metz was officially returned to France. For the most part, the fort lay dormant until WWII.

In 1943 Metz was once again Annexed by Germany and fort de Queuleu was turned into a top secret interrogation camp where members of the French resistance (including active rebels such as Joseph Derhan, those French people who simply didn't want to be forced to speak German and everyone in between) were tortured and interrogated before being sent to a concentration camp (most often to Natzweiler-Struthof, which was the only concentration camp within France's borders). It is thought that 1500-1800 people went through the camp, 36 were killed and 4 escaped through a ventilation shaft before American troops began to advance on Metz in 1944 at which time the prisoners were forced to march to the concentration camp. Those interned there called it "Hell of Queuleu" (Enfer de Queuleu).

SS Sonderlager feste Goben, Fort de Queuleu casemate "A" camp de concentration 1943-1944

The Entrance

Never That or Never Again or just Never

"c'est en ce lieu que 1800 patriotes ont ete veux bandes pieds et mains lies durant des jourd des semaines des mois assis sans bouger sans parler maintenus en prevention avant d'etre transferes dans les camps de concentration     
ici point de chambre a gaz de crematoire un hauptscharfukrer hempen commandant ce lieu suffisait condamne a mort par le tribunal militaire de metz le 10.4.51 pour le meurtre de 36 patrioted on le retrouvera plus tard officier de police a Oldenbourg R.F.A."

after very very rough translation:

"it was here that 1800 Patriots were kept with eyes, feet and hands bound for days weeks months left alone without moving or speaking before being transferred to concentration camps
here no gas chamber of crematorium hauptscharfukrer a hempen (something German, couldn't translate) this place's  commander was sentenced to death by a military court in Metz on 4/10/1951 for the murder of 36 patriotes he was later found, the police officer Oldenburg Germany"
Prisoners were forced to stand with their arms raised for hours before being given their number (in German) which they had to remember lest they be beaten.
The interrogation room
A solitary confinement room for the "really bad" ones
The normal chamber. The prisoners were made to sit with blindfolds on these benches with their backs straight against the bed for hours every day.
Where 4 managed to escape; the last remaining of these 4 men passed away just last year.
The prisoners were bathed here by having buckets of freezing cold water thrown on them. The only bathed once when they arrived and never after, some going almost a year in without washing int he same clothes they were brought in.
Where they used the bathroom, it was right in the middle of the communal bedroom.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I know that I am speaking to a certain few blog readers when writing this post but ya'll may remember this knitting post from last month. In said post I showed you these:

for Alaska Zoey

for Alaska Lucy

Well, my dear Pittsburgh knitting friend, Cosy (who can claim genius for both the sweater designs and the dye job on the main wool colors, me -- I just knit), has featured my operation: keep-alaska-nieces-warm knitting projects in the Mentionable Monday section on her blog (click the link to see the post).

I tell you this because I wanted to put in a plug for Cosy's products, both her beautiful yarn and her clearly written and clearly adorable patterns. If you are a knitter or crocheter you can click over to here to see her current etsy inventory (which is currently on hold while she attends the NY sheep and wool festival, but check back after the 19th to view everything). And in case you are curious, the sweaters were made from the Beautiful Baby Bundle pattern ebook (featuring both sweaters in both baby and toddler sizes) and the beautiful and vibrant rainbow chard wool.

In the meantime, I patiently await pictures of my adorable nieces sporting their new sweaters. I've got my eye on you, Alaskerella (a.k.a. sister-in-law Katie).

P.S. I almost forgot to mention that Cosymakes ships internationally!

Sunday, October 10, 2010


There's just time for a quick update before bed and the beginning of a new week. 

There's not too much to report...mainly just some of the usual food porn. Sorry as always for the horrible light. Have I mentioned anything lately about the relief I will feel when I am once again in a normal kitchen with windows and a full-sized oven? I have been dreaming lately of a full-sized oven. It's sad.

Pork tenderloin = Amazing, the second best I've ever had (the first being at Chef Mavro in Honolulu the day after our wedding, my friend Mark made that tenderloin) -- just use a meat thermometer and you'll be golden...and satisfied
This lovely piece of pork was turned into this pork ragu and Oh My was it good! We ignored the bit about broken lasagna and made fresh pasta but really, what else do we have to do on a Sunday. My only suggestion is to not leave the pork in the salt for more than an hour or two.

We came across some funky colored carrots at Grand Frais, white, the normal orange, and yellow on the right.

And we found these purple babies to go along with some spiced quail and lentils that we served for Anna and Seth a few nights ago.

We all had a great time together, laughing, psychoanalyzing one another and experimenting with our wide array of liquor. That's Seth with Michael finishing off the little bit of absinthe.

Here's the aftermath of the night: 13 dirty glasses later.

One more lambic to finish off our collection of Lindemans lables

And tonight: lotsa sushi. Not the best textured sushi but quite possibly the prettiest. The rice was a bit too wet; we're still trying to figure out how our new (to us -- thanks again Chen) rice cooker works on different rices.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Field Trip #3: Château de Malbrouck et Sierck-les-Bains

From the Roman times covered in our last field trip, we now skip the Middle ages entirely and come to the Rennaissance period (literally meaning re-birth in French). I'm not sure the class was planned with the giant period jump but we'll work with it.

Château de Malbrouck

Behold! The Castle of Malbrouck, reconstructed, of course.
Interestingly enough, the name of the Château is taken from the Duke John Churchill (yes, distant relative of Winston) of Malbrouck who was immortalized in a song we all know well: "For he's a jolly good fellow" although the original lyrics, "Marlbrough s'en va-t-en guerre" (Malbrouck has gone to war) are more telling of the connection. 

The original Château was built and completed in the year 1434. It was used through the years (although the French wikipedia page doesn't completely specify what for) and in 1793 was sold as national property. It was run down from time and various lootings by the time it was classified as a Historic Monument in 1930. In 1975 it was sold through the General Council of the Moselle to the Weiter family who in turn, worked to rebuild it (using only the ancient methods originally used). Reconstruction was completed in 1999. 

Who knew they would have such a lovely view of the Cattenom Nuclear Power Plant?

the courtyard

the view from the top

the view from the top (most of the following information is taken from a pamphlet given during the visit)
Sierck-les-Bains is a fortified castle dating back to the 11th century. The outer walls, blockhouses, towers, underground passages and protective side bastions ("A bastion is a structure projecting outward from the main enclosure of a fortification, situated in both corners of a straight wall (termed curtain), facilitating active defence against assaulting troops" -- thanks Google, didn't know that one) are still intact. The castle, where the Duke resided, was destroyed in 1643. 

The castle was built on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Moselle river valley and there are some that believe it was built on the ruins of a Gallo-roman mansion. The location of the castle was strategically chosen for it's ability to defend the Rhine road that ran through the Moselle valley from the Empires of France and Burgundy (the area was under the rule of the Germanic Empire at the time).
The castle belonged to the Dukes of Lorraine from the 11th century until the 17th century as a favorite residence. 

In 1643 the castle was besieged by the Duke of Enghein and only at that time did the Duke of Lorraine give up the castle and town to France. In 1673 Louvois, a minister of King Louis XIV decided to tear down the living quarters and half of the towers in accordance with the treaty of Vincennes. 

In 1705 the fortifications were again used by the Duke of Malbrouck when he was forced to retreat from Trier, Germany.
In 1713 the fort was demolished yet again in accordance with the treaty of Utrecht. 

In 1773 the stronhold was restore and equipped with powder magazines and a quartermaster's store. 

Before the French Revolution, the cannons and cannonballs were removed and from 1814 on it belonged to the fortifications of the Thionville area and was definitively put into disuse in 1866 when it officially became an official part of the town of Sierck-les-Bains

Wow, what a crazy history. And now, for a few more pictures:

The Moselle River

A restored catapult, apparently similar to one Michael and Dan tried to build in high school, only smaller

Our visit coincided with a mountain bike race. We couldn't help but feel that Shannon (and Adrienne) should  have been there.  They rode through the streets and on even down the stairs of the hillside town then up and around the fort.

a bad picture of the torture chamber...looks lovely, right?

this does look lovely, oh the bread I could bake with this oven!

stair, stairs...

everywhere stairs, dark and damp stairs, it's a miracle we didn't break our necks

winnie-the-poo as a knight, anyone else see it?

a restored cannon

You can see more pictures of our various field trips by clicking HERE.