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The next move: Germany

Our amazing neighbourhood in Heidelberg

For someone who doesn’t like to travel, I move a lot.

Back and forth across Canada a couple of times, then to England for seven years, and then back to Vancouver for five years, and in a little over two months we’re moving to Germany.

We’re lucky in that both our move to England and this move to Germany has been through relocation programs with my husband’s company. Though the first time we did this, we were in our mid-twenties. Now we’re older, and have a child. A few more moving parts to the whole thing.

I had never been to Germany when I said yes to this move. After many years in England, I knew a little bit what to expect. And the opportunity to live in Europe again, for our son to live there and gain a wider understanding of the world – it was just too good to pass up. I am again giving up a job and a network. My mum is here. You would think, as a person with anxiety issues, doing something as bonkers as volunteering to move across the world to a country I have never seen that speaks a language I don’t know would be completely off the table.

Trust me, there are moments my anxiety takes over and I think I must be completely nuts to do this. But I think that’s normal human anxiety talking, rather than my extra special brand of worrying.

Somehow, this is okay. More than okay, an adventure. So follow along as we prepare for yet another giant move, and I fill you in on our second round expat journey.

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Where to find Japanese home cooking recipes

Where to find Japanese home cooking recipes

This post contains affiliate links, which means I get a wee bit of money if you click on a link and buy something. This helps me defray the costs of creating this blog, so thank you!

Happy Birthday to me!

Not much in the way of exciting party times, but a good solid selection of Japanese food delivered for dinner. I thought I’d share some of my favourite recipe sources for making Japanese food at home, since it’s been such a favourite. Pop My Neighbour Totoro on the television and plan your meals!

Just One Cookbook

Just One Cookbook is an extensive recipe blog by a Japanese ex-pat living in California. She’s got a great newsletter as well, so it’s worth signing up. Her video recipe series is exhaustive!

JUST-BENTO_bookcover

This is one of my [amazon_link id=”1568363931″ target=”_blank” ]go-to cookbooks[/amazon_link], and it’s driving me crazy I can’t find it. Don’t ignore it because it seems like it would all be lunch box food – it’s not. Really simple recipes for all sorts of homey Japanese food that makes terrific leftovers, ready to go in your bento.

LetsCooking_cover-web1

I’ve just discovered Hana Etsuko Dethlefsen who is based right here in Vancouver. She teaches Japanese homecoming at the University of British Columbia, and if you live in Canada, you can catch her on One World Kitchen on Gusto TV. Her self-published book, Let’s Cooking, is available on her site. And I really want to do one of her cooking classes.

 

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A really good paper airplane book

A really good paper airplane book

This post contains affiliate links, this means when you click through and purchase, I receive a fee. This helps defray the cost of maintaining this blog. 

paper airplane book

If you’ve got a small child between 3 and, well, I’m not sure there’s an upper age limit here, paper airplane construction becomes a critical life skill. I wrote about a great online resource for paper airplane plans here, and it’s one of my most popular posts. As my son’s appetite for paper airplanes only grows, I decided to invest in an actual book. The [amazon_link id=”0761143831″ target=”_blank” ]World Record Paper Airplane Book[/amazon_link] is a pretty good one.

Along with plans for many different types of planes, there are pages to cut out that produces really cool looking planes, and a hangar to park them on. There is also many pages of seriously deep information into why each model flies and how, discussions of drag and lift. So if you have an older child who is into Knowing Everything, this is great. You can safely ignore those chapters otherwise.

I particularly liked the troubleshooting tips that go along with each plane model. After you’ve finished following along with the clear diagrams, they provide some help for diving planes, planes that go up quickly and then dive, or veer in a particular direction. This is handy when your child wails, ‘Mummy! This plane DOES NOT WORK.’

What are your best paper airplane resources?

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Baked parmesan-crusted chicken

Baked parmesan-crusted chicken

Ricardo: Parmesan-crusted chicken

As much as I enjoy cooking magazines like Olive, delicious., Cooks Ilustrated, and Cooking Light, I often crave a local Canadian option. There’s Canadian Living and… well, not much else. I discovered Ricardo last winter, and I’ve been quite impressed with their recipes. When they asked me to try out one of their chicken recipes and I had chicken breasts in the fridge defrosting that very day, I figured it was fate.

I picked the Parmesan-crusted Chicken, because anything involving panko and parmesan is a usually a hit with my family. This dish is a nice alternative to the full job of coating and frying that panko coating usually involves. Instead, the chicken breasts are roasted in sour cream and whole-grain mustard, with the panko and parmesan mixture on top. I quickly brined my chicken breasts in a mixture of salt and sugar water for about 10 minutes beforehand, because I find that cut needs it. I have to say, the sour cream really helps with that as well though, as well as giving the chicken a tangy flavour.

I think this is my husband’s new favourite. Which is fine with me, as this recipe is really easy to pull together on short notice.

Check out the full recipe for Parmesan-crusted Chicken, as well as a huge selection of other chicken recipes from Ricardo magazine.

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Families in apartments: closet to mini-mudroom DIY

Families in apartments: closet to mini-mudroom DIY

melsmudroom
My friend Mel quietly does amazing things with her space. I’ve known her for 20 years, and her apartments manage to look cool and put together – both when we were 20, and after having a child, which, to my mind, are serious feats. When she posted a redo of her front closet into a tiny mudroom, I asked her if I could share it here.

Despite some being incredulous, lots of families make a go of living in apartments – whether it’s a co-op arrangement, part of a house, in a tower, or the many other arrangements out there. I laugh at the things that come up when I search ‘mudroom’ on Pinterest, because some of them are half the size of my whole apartment. I knew some of you out there would appreciate Mel’s small-space solution. Here’s what she told me:

‘Our coat closet was basically wasted space because it had a broken door that would come off the track every time you open or closed it. Also we are the type of people who are in and out a lot throughout the day and too lazy to get out a hanger and hang up our jacket every time we come in. On top of that, Sterling couldn’t even reach the hangers or rod to hang up his coat. So our shoes and jackets had been piling up in our pantry area (where there happened to be a couple of hooks) making a mess and driving us crazy.

[quicktime]http://erinehm.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/IMG_1746.mov[/quicktime]

Here’s what we did to make our mudroom:

1. Removed the door and tracks

2. Removed the ancient shelf and rod set-up

3. Patched holes, cleaned all the walls

4. Fresh coat of paint.

5. Hung 2 IKEA Lack shelves in the upper half of the closet for storage.

6. Installed IKEA PS rail and knob system along the back of the closet and a small rail/knobs along the side that Sterling can reach.

7. Added a bucket for keys etc. on another side rail above Sterling’s. (There are some other accessories you can get for the system that were sold out, but we may add later)

8. Added IKEA Stuva bench and cushion

9. Added bins with lids to store our winter scarves, mitts etc and keep the moths out.

10. The closet does not have a light fixture or outlet so we added a battery-powered LED closet light that we found a Canadian Tire. It is motion-activated which is great because we were able to hang it up high without worrying about not being able to reach it.

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