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Archive for December, 2009

Can you tell me what’s wrong with this picture?

Think about it…

Keep thinking….

Yes. You got it. There are only 10 eggs!!! The world as I know it has ceased to exist when I no longer buy eggs by the dozen. What am I to do with myself? This could completely change Easter Egg dying. What will I do when there aren’t those two extra eggs that have no little pop out holder on the back of the egg dye box?

On a more positive and less Earth shattering note, I discovered an advantage to living in a country where you don’t speak the language: You don’t understand all the swear words in the graffiti everywhere. I realized this today when I found explicit graffiti in English and noticed that I’ve been looking at graffiti for a month now and never felt violated at all. I did find one other bit of English graffiti a couple weeks ago but it said “aim for the sky” which I thought was rather nice of someone to spray paint all over a bus stop wall.

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Christmas

Santa’s cookies huh? Avery has something to say about that… We used socks for stockings this year because we didn’t have any cute red fluffy stockings and I haven’t seen any here in Hungary. Santa filled them all the same.

Avery got mostly books.

And oranges.

Mommy and Daddy got chocolate.

More cute pictures:

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Culinary Failure

Budapest has certain culinary deficiencies. Cheddar cheese would be one, any kind of cream of anything soup would be another, but the one that really gets our family is the lack of anything Mexican. I found taco seasoning the other day at the Wal-Mart style store and was pretty excited about it until I looked at the price… $2 a packet! They also had tortillas if you were willing to pay a couple dollars per pack of 8. So… I decided I would try and make taco soup and come up with my own taco seasoning. I had a little recipe… cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, etc. I actually had most of the stuff except for cumin.

So we’re at the store this week looking at the spice aisle and we see a packet that says kömény and has a picture on the front of it that looks just like whole cumin seeds. So we made sure to get the ground kind and figured we were good to go. I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that it wasn’t cumin, but can you guess what it was? Caraway. It was caraway. I’ve never used caraway in my life! I couldn’t even tell what it was by sniffing it, but I could tell it sure wasn’t cumin. So my dreams of home made taco seasoning went down the drain and instead we have caraway chicken waiting to be made into taco seasoning-less taco soup. ::sigh::

Part II

We’re going in reverse chronological order. About a week after I got here I decided I would try to make sausage casserole. It’s a family favorite we call “grass” because it kind of looks like grass. I thought I could get everything that I needed except for a packet of lipton soup, which I had very cleverly brought with me from the states.

Our first problem was sausage. For a country very proud of its Kolbasz sausages, I thought sausage would no problem. Apparently they only really go for the already cooked and smoked kind. There was no ground sausage to be found. I’ve asked since then and the closest I can get is a friend whose husband works at the American embassy says she can special order Jimmy Dean twice a year from the commissary. So, we looked and the unending line of hot dogs and rolled meats and decided we’d try a roll of “parisian pig.” We thought it might be close… it wasn’t really. It was more like balogna. We cooked some up and threw it in anyway.

My next problem was that the recipe calls for a 9×13 pan. I only have a 9×9 that I picked up at a church swap activity the day I got here. No problem, I just half the recipe. Except I remembered to half everything except the rice. And I remembered after I had already thrown the “sausage” and cut up vegetables into the pan with it. So I had to try and fish out a half cup of rice back out of the pan around celery and onions and parisian pig. Then the chicken… Hungary also doesn’t do canned meats except for spam-like products. So I shredded some I had fried up earlier that week.

Then came the soup. I was so excited I had brought the packets of soup with me and I was feeling so clever. It wasn’t until I already had the water boiling and had opened the packet of soup that I realized I had brought onion soup packets, not noodle. Completely the wrong soup. ::sigh:: I boiled it anyway, it was already open after all, and it went into the pan alongside the half an onion I had fried the “parisian pig” in.

The oven provided our next hindrance. My oven is gas, and I managed to figure out how to get it lit, only to realize there are no temperature setting markings on the dial. There’s a picture of a big flame and a quarter of the way around the dial a picture of a small flame and that’s it. No degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius, not even any 1, 2, 3 gas numbers. I have no idea how hot my oven is at any given time. So Ivan looked up a boy scout trick where you see how long you can keep your hand in the oven and we basically guessed.

By this time I had pretty much given up. But I stuck it in the oven and left it for the hour it was supposed to cook. I checked on it 20 minutes before it was supposed to be done and it looked okay. I pulled it out about five minutes early and it was kind of burned. The rice stuck to the bottom of the pan really badly, but it tasted alright. So I’ve decided I’ve come up with a new recipe: Parisian pig and super onion soup grass. I don’t think I’ll try it again, though. And all baking except for potatoes has pretty much been put on hold until I find an oven thermometer.

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Budapest has a Christmas market every year in Vörösmarty Tér. Recently Budapest made the areas around Vörösmarty Tér a pedestrian zone so we walked down a couple really nice streets of high end shopping district to get the the square crammed with Christmas stands. There were about three or four rows of stands set up with enough space between them for about two to three people to stand shoulder to shoulder. We got there around 2 or 3 in the afternoon and it wasn’t too crowded but by 4:00 or so our two strollers were becoming a public nuisance.

Budapest’s Market is a good one to go to (many of the cities in Europe have them) because they work pretty hard to keep the booths selling only traditional and hand made crafty things. There were all sorts of things there from cow bells to hand bound books to felt slippers and hair clips to wood puzzles, bowls and goblets. We got a hand bound journal for the new baby and a beaded ornament of the old Hungarian flag.

Thanks to Nephi and Melinda for all the pictures on this post as we forgot our camera.

There were several nativity scenes around the square

A traditional Hungarian treat for festival times is kürtőskalács. They’re a bread dough wrapped around a dowel about 3 inches across and then turned over coals kind of like meat on a spit or something to cook them. Then they put vanilla sugar, nuts, cinnamon, coconut, or cocoa powder on the outside and sell them hot. They’re super good, but I’d recommend having someone to share them with. They’re huge. Ivan and I shared one with Avery and it was plenty big enough for all three of us. We got coconut and it was delicious. The people we were with got vanilla sugar and it was alright, but I liked the coconut better.

And then there was the dog with dreadlocks:

I’m not even sure the picture does him justice. I didn’t believe he was real. I thought the owner was holding onto a leash for effect or something and then the dog moved and I still almost didn’t believe it. Apparently this is a traditional Hungarian grown kind of sheep dog. There are two breeds, the best known is the Komondor, and it looks just like the dog has dreadlocks. Wikipedia has more if you’re interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Komondor

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Christmas in Budapest

In Hungary Santa Clause is called Mikulás and on December 6th kids leave their shoes next to the window so he can leave them candy or nuts in their shoes overnight. We learned about this about two days before and decided to take advantage. Unfortunately we didn’t have any window sills big enough so Mikulás had to find our shoes next to the door.

Avery was pretty excited. The next day we went to a square just in front of the Parliament building in downtown Budapest to see Mikulás himself. Unfortunately Daddy had a late class that night so Mommy, Avery and a family from church went together.

The Parliament building is really pretty and it’s HUGE. Apparently they only really use about an 8th of it for parliament functions anymore. Someday we’ll go and take a tour of the inside I hope. It was dark, so the pictures aren’t all that great, but it looked really impressive and neat with all the Christmas things lit up in front of it.

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18 months!!!

Avery turned 18 months on December 1st and she’s getting big. Sorta. Here’s our little Avery in a nutshell.

Avery can say lots of words. She says bye, bite, hello, please, thank you (sometimes), cracker, cookie, shoes, computer (pooder), baby, yay, Grandpa, Clair, Daddy, socks, and a whole bunch more. Her favorite word is “bite.” She follows us around anytime we eat saying “bie, bie” and “ahhhhh” with her mouth wide open.

She just learned how to give real kisses. It’s so cute, she puckers up and sticks her mouth up to your cheek.

She went to nursery for the first time last week and without a single tear. She found a plastic teapot and she was happy.

She’s gotten really cuddly lately. She crawls up on my lap and gives me hugs and kisses and wraps her little arms all he way around my neck. She’s thrilled to see her daddy again and follows him around constantly.

She has twelve teeth: all four in front on top and bottom and four molars. I think she’s working on a canine tooth, too, but it’s been a couple weeks and I haven’t seen it yet.

She likes to walk, but likes to be carried more and LOVES to push the stroller around. She cries every time we actually put her in the stroller because she would rather run it into things and get it stuck against the walls. We have to fold it up when we’re home or she pushes it all over our apartment and screams when it gets pushed up against a wall and she can’t go anywhere anymore.

She loves fruit and will eat vegetables about every third day. She really likes cookies and crackers and goldfish are probably her favorite food. That’s another word she knows… “fi, fi, fi.” She really likes string cheese too and milk too.

She’s a pretty laid back kid. She loves attention, and will wriggle herself persistently onto my lap at rather inconvenient times, but she plays really well at playgroup and doesn’t really get bothered much if other kids take her toys or play a little rough. She just finds another toy to play with or walks somewhere else. She’s kind of funny to watch. She can be very intent. Her first day of nursery one of the adults said “Avery is the best. She finds her toy and doesn’t move.” It was pretty funny because he said it as he was chasing two of the rowdier kids around the nursery, and it was true, Avery had found a toy and was sitting on the floor just watching…

Of course, she’s never bad… She would never dream of climbing into a sink of dishwater while my back is turned as I clean a cabinet drawer, or losing my place in my book EVERY SINGLE TIME I put it down, or throwing a tantrum because she doesn’t want to take a nap. And being chased around by a two and a half foot mouth on legs saying “bie, bie, bie” never gets annoying either, but I guess we’ll keep her.

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John Jones

John Jones was a friend in our BYU student ward. He died after being trapped while diving in the Nutty Putty caves in Utah the day before Thanksgiving. John and his wife Emily were very kind and happy people and my heart goes out to Emily, who is pregnant, and their 14 month old daughter Lizzie. I sincerely hope she is able to find comfort. We were unable to attend the memorial, but Melissa wrote a beautiful summary of it on her blog at http://melroyrichardson.blogspot.com/2009/11/comforted.html.

Also, there is an auction to benefit Emily and her family at adailyscoop.blogspot.com

Memories or financial donations can be given at http://www.johnjonesmemorial.com/forum

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