Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Heebie Jeebies!

I am too excited! You know the feeling you get when there's tons of energy rushing to your fingertips, your heart is pounding and full of love and you can feel excitement building through your whole body? It's that feeling that can only come from one thing - travel plans! Feeling way too happy and excited about everything right now, and Croatia just became that much more appealing because I just booked my flight to Paris! Tomislav has a work training in Paris at the beginning of next month. Of course, the weekend before his training is my birthday. And the Monday after is also a holiday in Croatia so it's a non-working day. Obviously, this means that... we'll be spending my birthday in Paris!!! Yay! I'm so excited, I really can't hide it! As much as we've been through here and as many times as I say that I miss the States, at this time I have to be so happy and thankful that I'm here.

So proud of my handsome hubby :) and so happy he works for a French company! Yay babe!

My whole life I dreamed about what Paris would be like and I felt like the luckiest girl in the world that we got to go this past February (thanks to HHI for funding that little pre-wedding honeymoon of ours!) but now that we get to go again?! Ah the butterflies and excitement are rushing through me, I cannot wait to see Paris in the fall. I need to start planning my outfits strategically because it'll be much warmer than last time so I have so many different warm weather options now.

I can't wait to go to Paris! Time to start back up that Rosetta Stone: French! "Un homme. Une femme." Anyone ever do Rosetta Stone? I'm a big fan for anyone who wants to learn a little bit of a language and quickly!

I also can't wait for the:

1. Food (obvi):
Street Food in Paris - Falafel!

Mmmm love croissants!

My favorite thing to do

Steak Tartare is something Tomislav introduced me to, this one was absolutely delicious!
Escargot - garlicky snails yum!

Such a pretty set up of the fresh seafood

Mmm I love seafood


Long line waiting for a table at Le Comptoir du Relais - probably for their excellent Croque Monsieur!

Dessert - Macarons, of course

Pretty, fresh vegetables at the Sunday market

The BEST Crepes EVER! So much cheese, the way to be!

2. Facades - I just love those quintisentailly Parisian buildings, so gorgeous

3. Fun!!!

I love the Eiffel Tower so much, I had to get cheesy with it just this once!

Cute little shops filled with unique jewelry
Love to stroll!

Mon Amour <3

Paris feels magical, even just thinking about it. It is one of my absolute most favorite places I've ever had the chance of visiting (I'm a food and wine fanatic who loves shnuggling and romance..duh!). I am so happy we have the chance to go again! Must go practice some Francais now ;)

À bientôt!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Welcome Baby Tortilla Sushi to the World!

I pinned this the other day and after a quick trip to the market with one of my real-life blogger friends, Elaine, I decided to try it out. Look at how cute this is!

It's like tortillas and sushi got married and had this delicious baby! That sounds a little weird but it's amazing, fresh, crunchy, and a great idea for lunch or dinner!

Here's what I used:
4 Tortillas (ours were on the small side but whatever you've got will work!)
2 Chicken Breasts, poached (I poached mine a few days ago in chicken stock with a little curry powder seasoning)
1 Cucumber, sliced into matchsticks (seeds scooped out)
2 Large carrots, sliced into matchsticks

For the Cream Cheese:
A couple Tbs cream cheese
Fresh herbs, like dill or basil
1 garlic clove minced
S + P

Mix everything for the cream cheese together (if you have scallions on hand, I'd include them too!). Spread a decent amount on each tortilla, all the way to the edges. The cream cheese acts as the glue to the "sushi."


Shred your chicken (you can also use ham or turkey slices, or make it totally vegetarian and use lettuce, or any other veg you have onhand!) Layer the shredded chicken, with the cucumber on top of that, and carrots all the way on the top. Make sure it's all lined up in the middle of the tortilla.

Then wrap the tortiallas as tight as you can. Cover them with plastic wrap and stick them in the fridge for an hour (or as long as you can wait!). Then slice them in half and slice each half in half again!

So fresh and tasty! I love this and will definitely make it again, it'll make such a fabulous lunch at work!

Friday, September 14, 2012

American Grandma's, Fur Coats, and Texas

My Grandparents - Mom's Parents :)
My grandparents live in Poland but ever since I was little, I was lucky enough to have an American Grandma too. Below, you can see my Uncle Eddie and his sister, my American Grandma, Aunt Angela. She is an amazing angel and I love her so much and am so happy to see how well she looks. She's turning 91 soon! And here they are with my Mama watching our episode of House Hunters International! I love it.

When my parents first came to the States, they didn't speak a word of English but they did have some letters from some of their relatives in Poland who wrote back and forth with their family who had moved to the States. My Dad had some of those letters with him. After they moved from Texas to New Jersey (can you imagine people from North Poland in the sweltering heat of Texas? When they first arrived, they were wearing fur coats! My Mom had 2 on because she brought one for her friend who had moved earlier from Germany to Texas).

Anyway, my parents knew about these relatives of theirs who, they later realized, lived in New Jersey! So, they looked them up in the phone book (as you did then) and decided to take a drive on over there! They came armed with letters and photos and since they were still young and wild and craazay, they knocked on Uncle Eddie's door and said, "Hi! We're your family!" Well, to be honest it was more like, "Dzień dobry jesteśmy twoja rodzina!" because they spoke to them in Polish. Eddie was confused and didn't understand (his Polish isn't as good as Aunt Angela's), so he called her to come over and she translated and they looked through the pictures and letters until they ̶b̶e̶l̶i̶e̶v̶e̶d̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶m̶  realized my parents were legit! They weren't some beggars pretending to be family, they were actual family!

She's been in my life since I was a little girl and I love her. I'm so happy my Dad sent this to me and it reminds me to go send her a letter now!

Get in touch with someone you love this weekend who you haven't spoken to you in a while! You'll both feel better and so much happier to have reconnected. I think it's time for me to go call my Babcia :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Panera Style Broccoli and Cheddar Soup

After talking with my Mom yesterday and hearing how chilly it's been getting back in PA in the evenings (I'm sure Pistol is gonna get the fireplace going soon! Right Dad?) I was thinking about one of my favorite soups, Broccoli and Cheddar. Mmmmm. You all know I'm totally obsessed with broccoli (and am happy to have passed that obsession along to some friends!) so any chance I get to eat broccoli, I'm a happy girl. It's still very warm and summery here though but today the weather has taken a turn and the air pressure is heavy. We're expecting big rain tomorrow. Am I even speaking English? I can't tell anymore if we say "big rain" in English or am I just totally mixing up all my languages? It's the air pressure that is making that happen, you know! OK, I realize I'm totally turning Croatian with my blaming the weather on everything. Anyway back to the soup! I'm not usually one for soup when it's warm out but when it comes to broccoli and cheddar - it's cozy, heart warmingly familiar, and so many of my favorite flavors combined in one!

You can be eating this amazing bowl of comfort in about an hour. In about an hour and 5 minutes, you'll be addicted to this soup. This recipe makes 4 servings so I suggest doubling it because I know we would've loved to have some more of this and I definitely will make more next time! 

Here's what I used:

1 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 medium diced onion
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
2 cups chicken stock
1 head of fresh broccoli (or a bag of frozen, defrosted)
1 cup carrot, sliced/julienned
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper

Here's what you do:

Sautee onion in butter. Set aside. Then, put remaining butter and flour in pot and whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly and add the milk. Add the chicken stock. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add the broccoli, carrots and onions.

Cook over low heat for another 20-25 minutes. Add salt and pepper. I pureed mine in a blender at this point but you don't necessarily have to. Then, return to heat and add cheese. Stir in nutmeg.

You know how Rachael Ray always describes nutmeg as that thing that makes people just go "Mmmmm, what is that?" Well, I served this to my in-laws and they loved it and were trying to guess what "that thing" is and in the end, my mother-in-law figured it out! This one will please even the pickiest of eaters, so try it out! And bonus - it tastes just like the one from Panera (and it's made without the heavy cream!)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Free Entertainment - Being Nerdy Encouraged!

Tomislav and I have a lot of random expenses that have drained our bank accounts over the years (so many plane tickets, visa fees, and a million and a half copies at the copy center across from MUP), that and our love for good food and treating ourselves to fancy lunches every once in a while has left us to be creative with finding ways to entertain ourselves at home. I'm talking about fun games to play at home for 2 people (no board games needed)! So, if you live alone, call someone to come over and get nerdy like us!

1. Play Country/City! You probably played this as a kid (but on paper...we used white boards). You know- you write down a bunch of topics and then one person says the alphabet in their head and whatever letter they land on, you have to come up with a word for each topic!

Our Categories: Country · City · Animal · Plant · Car · Movie · Name

We score this way, 15 points if you get something and the other person doesn't (they get 0 of course), 10 points if you both came up with something, and 5 points if you wrote the same thing!

I kicked his butt, but we were playing in my native language (and not his!) although ever since I played Taboo in Croatian, I feel like I could do anything in Croatian!

2. NERD ALERT - If you guys are nerdy and competitive (like some of us), print out a couple worksheets from Math-Aids (like the 5 minute challenges), set the timer, and see who finishes first!

3. Grab your books and go outside and read! Go to the park, go on your balcony, or just lay on the couch and get immersed in your imagination. I'm currently reading One Pink Line by Dina Silver on my Kindle. Tomislav is finally getting to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

4. Cook something together! If one of you knows how to cook and the other doesn't, teach each other. I feel very overprotective of my (small) kitchen space because I feel like it's totally my zone so I'm trying to get better about sharing the space. Feel like you don't have anything at home? Try one of my recipes! Use whatever you've got onhand already and if cooking's really not your thing, then mix up some cocktails!

I made this awesome (super quick) fried rice for my hungry hubby on my non-stick pan with a tiny drop of sesame oil and all my leftovers. A little leftover ground turkey that had been sauteed with garlic and onion, seasoned with curry powder, a red pepper, the last egg, and brown rice. I seasoned it with ground ginger and soy sauce. Delicious!

5. Daydream/start planning your next vacation so you have something to look forward to! Look up information about a place you guys would both like to visit, check out reviews, prices, and figure out a way to make a day or weekend trip happen! People in Europe tend to go away for weekend trips a lot more (without a concrete reason like a wedding or baptism), just to visit places. If you're in the States, you should do it too! There are so many places to see and if you have a car, even better. Or get on the bus and go! T-Slav loves doing research and we both love to travel so this is a great one for us. We're daydreaming about trips to Sarajevo, Amsterdam, and Paris right now. And when we're back in the States, we want to visit Boston because T's never been (and a ton of other places too!)

So what are some things you guys like to do at home that don't involve watching TV/Movies or spending money?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Ej brate idemo van! AKA: Going Out in Zagreb

The great thing about living in Zagreb is the fact that it's the capital city of Croatia! That means that on any given night, there is bound to be something going on somewhere. Tomislav and I have talked about it so many times how different our lives would be if he was from a tiny village in Slavonija or something and how I probably would never have moved here if that was the case (job promotion or not!). Now the debate on whether I'd move if he were from the seaside? That one is not as much of a debate because I just love the Croatian coast! So today, following this super fun weekend, I've decided to share with you some of the places that we go out to in Zagreb! These are not the typical touristy places, but rather places we actually go to on the regular! And remember, my man is a native Zagrebian so he knows his stuff!

For when you're feeling hipster-y  - Krivi Put
if it's raining, then Mocvara is definitely the big runner up

Krivi Put is right across from the University of Zagreb's student center. Everyone first starts going there as students and keeps coming back for the affordable drinks and good atmosphere. You can tell it's a bit on the hipster side from all the bikes parked right outside of the bar ;)


 As you can see, seating is outside so it's definitely more of a warm weather type of place. Go early if you want to get a table, because by 11 it's gonna be totally packed and you can either stand inside the bar area or squeeze into someone else's table and make some new friends.

As for Mocvara, it's name translates to be the "Swamp" place, named so because of it's location (close to the river banks). They always have different theme party nights there, from reggae night to 80's parties. We went there last year for Halloween and it was a lot of fun! It's the kind of place that you definitely want to wear flats to and can expect your feet to get stepped on a lot. But again, the drinks are on the way more affordable side.

Last Halloween at Mocvara...can you recognize the lovely 'bride' in the middle? Hint!

When you feel like wearing heels - GreenGold

Saturday night, Tomi and his boys wanted to go to hipster-ville Mocvara (which naturally includes pre-gaming in a nearby park, because that's what Croatian boys like to do. A frisbee is almost always included in these plans). Luckily, a quick text begging one of my girlfriends to come with led to her letting me know that the girls were in town so it was time to put our heels on and go somewhere where there is no smoking inside! Yes!

Elevators always have mirrors in them in Cro Cro!

It was my first time being at GreenGold and I really liked it a lot! It's very open and airy which is so nice and drinks weren't as expensive as I thought it would be since it's definitely on the fancier side of bars/clubs in Zagreb. It's very new also...I'm just hoping that in the future, there will be more super fun songs playing after 2am. Because when it's that late, all you really wanna do is dance your heart out and sing along to some Spice Girls, David Guetta, Rihanna...I mean let's be honest here people!

When you want to to wear flats and jeans but still want to dance the night away - Purgeraj

This is an old pic but Purgeraj is one of those places that if you're in the mood for some good, fun music and an international crowd of couch surfers, backpackers, and friends of foreigners, this is definitely the place to go. It's close to the center of town and another affordable place. This is also a great Thursday night spot!

And for a sure-to-be-a-great-night thing to do for families and friends alike:
go to a Medvescak game! Hockey is huge in Zagreb so the fans are wild and tons of fun. Tickets are affordable (around 40 kuna or $7) and win or lose, it's just a great way to spend your afternoon, cheering on the Bears! You'll pick up on the chants and songs pretty quickly because throughout the game, seasoned fans keep up with the cheers throughout the whole game!

My first Medvescak game a couple years ago
Zig Zag Medvescak!

Yesterday's first home game of the season!

So there you have it! Now you know where you can find us out and about in Ziggity Zag.
 Where do you like to go out in Zagreb? If you've never been here, which one of these places would you most like to check out?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Top 5 Things to Bake This Weekend (for the non-baker!)

I'm so happy it's the weekend! Gives you the perfect opportunity for some odmor (one of my favorite Croatian words and something very important to Croatian people! Rest and relaxation) and it also gives me a chance to prepare some yummy food for the week! Living here, I can't buy certain things (like the number 1 item on this list!) so it's totally worth it for me to spend 3 hours to make them! (worth it) Sometimes I'm in the mood to have a fresh baked good quickly so I have a couple go-to's for that. Trust me, if you live in a country where everything is closed on Sundays, you'll want to keep a few of these on hand when you're craving something bready.

Here are my top 5 favorite things to bake and I seriously recommend you try them! And I say for the non-baker, because I don't consider myself a baker but with a little measuring (and patience to let the yeast do it's thang), you get to have your whole house smell warm and inviting and make your Sunday that much more enjoyable and relaxing. You will be so thankful you did when you're inhaling the sweet smells of freshly baked cinnamon bread or smearing jam or butter on a warm, freshly baked biscuit. So, so, so worth it.

#5 Cinnamon Bread - If you want to impress your boyfriend, girlfriend, hubby - make this! It is delicious perfection and will make anyone fall in love with you (or at least serious lust). That warm, soft, just sweet enough bread - mmmm! (I've since made it again - look how much prettier it turned out!)

#4 Naan Bread - this homemade version is so good and pretty easy to recreate at home in your own oven or even on the stove! I love to add yogurt to my dough and chopped garlic (well, I love to add garlic to everything so no surprise there.) They're versatile too - perfect to go with any curry, or to dip into some hummus, or you can even use them to make french toast (like we did with a 2nd batch that had been accidentally forgotten in the oven for a few minutes too long...oopsies)


#3 Butter Biscuits - I learned a lot from one of my old roommate's in college. Sam made me feel like girls can do absolutely anything! Whereas I wouldn't even attempt to install an air conditioner on my own (I would much sooner call Pistol then even try to lift it myself), Sam wouldn't hesitate a single second. (Now, I know I can do anything) Looking at her, you might not realize her strength straight away because she's tiny and absolutely gorgeous but she is one of the toughest chicks I've ever met and I'm so thankful for all that I learned from her and it's way more than she even knows! So one day, I came home and she was making butter biscuits and I nearly died. I didn't know much about cooking yet (besides boiling pasta) so seeing her baking these, I was absolutely floored and impressed. Now, I use this super simple go-to recipe (without shortening) to make flaky and delicious drop biscuits totally inspired by Sam!


#2 English muffins - I am obsessed with making these! You will not believe how easy it is to make your own English muffins at home, with all the nooks and crannies! Yum yum yum, this makes me so much happier for my breakfast options here in Zagreb!

and my #1 is... Bagels! - Do yourself and your loved ones a favor and make these sometime! I am really proud of myself for making my own bagels that were seriously delicious. The mystery is out - I know how to do it now and I think with more practice, it'll get easier to make them! It's not super complicated, but it is a little time consuming the first time around so commit to being at home for a couple hours to make these babies happen. Oh they are amazing though and they make me so so happy. Expect more bagel talk in the future. Oh man, I need to make these again. I just love a warm bagel with cream cheese.

Yes, I do!

P.S. Just so you guys know, after I write these, I immediately get the urge to go make something again. Last week, I stopped mid-post to make English muffins again. I think I'm going for the flaky, butter biscuits. Mmmm!


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