Saturday, December 24, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011


As a young child, I always looked forward to Christmas with great anticipation and excitement. The presents beautifully wrapped and sitting under the tree, glittering with lights. My mother almost always wrapped the presents on Christmas Eve.  It is sort of tradition, but one I like.  The presents beautifully wrapped and sitting under the tree would always taunt my brothers and I.  Every year, my brother shakes the presents under the tree that are addressed to him, and every year he manages to guess at least one (usually more) correctly, much to my mother's chagrin.  It is, however much my mother detests it, a family tradion.  One that I always know will be there.  One that makes me smile when I think about it.

The other thing that I always look forward to is seeing my extended family.  Something that can be described as both chaotic and simultaneously wonderful.  When we all gather, we are 18 by blood and marriage (plus 1 finance, plus 3 girlfriends, plus friends). The more the merrier.  I love it.

Perhaps we have other traditions, but none that hold so strongly in my mind. I was recently on the phone with my mother and asked what was for dinner on Christmas this year, to which she replied, "Turkey. Dressing.  What else would we have?"  I seemed to have forgotten this tradition.  I seem to remember having Honeybaked Ham, but perhaps that was Thanksgiving.  I don't know. Whole turkeys kind of gross me out so perhaps I am just blocking that image out of my mind? Moving on.....

Now that David and I live a 10 hour plane ride away from my family, Christmas is very different, but at the same time very much the same. The only year we ever decorated for Christmas was the first year of our marriage.  We put up a tiny two foot tree with a strand of garage sale lights.  I only hung one ornament that year, one that was given to me by my sister-in-law. The rest of my ornaments we still stored at my parent's home at the time.  For the last three years we have not bothered with a tree. It is too much to deal with and we are not home to enjoy it. The are no wrapped presents.  We don't even exchange gifts with each other for Christmas.

We have fallen into a bit of a routine. A routine that is hopefully satisfiying to our families, albeit tiring for us. 

On the 22nd we always have the office holiday party.  This party is a bit of a legend. It goes from 4 pm until 4 am.  Everyone then takes a nap, returns to work to clean up and polish off the leftovers, and then heads to the Christmas market for one last round of gluhwein.  This means that the 23rd is usually spent recovering from said party and last minute Christmas shopping.

On the 24th, we clean the house and pack our suitcases before heading to David's parent's house for our German celebration.  The 24th is the usual day for Christmas celebrations in Germany.We attend the children's christmas service. (Traditionally, David's family always went to chruch at 11 pm, but I do not travel with out a full night's sleep the night before. Therefore, his family has graciously altered their traditions slightly.) While we are over there, we decorate the tree with ornaments and candles. No electric lights here. We feast on leek quiche. Snack on german christmas cookie from David's aunt.  Drink tea, chat.  We sing songs. By we, I do not mean David. He watches.  ;) We then open gifts, usually small things. Nothing extravagant.  Just simple, samll, thoughtful.  We then head to the kitchen to enjoy a lovely dessert before heading home and crashing, usually sometime around midnight or 1 am.

On the 25th we wake up insanely early (even for this morning person) to head to the airport.  Once we check in, we relax. We grab a coffee and enjoy just being us two, our own family.  We spend the next 10 hours relaxing, sleeping, reading, movie watching.  I don't mind flying. When David is with me, i really don't mind it.  It is our time.  Our tradition.  We arrive in the USA mid afternoon, wait in long lines at immigration, before heading out to the unnaturally clear highways.  Once we arrive at home we are greeted by the dog.  By greeted, I mean jumped on. She nearly explodes at the sight of David. We wrap our gift brought from Germany and place them under the tree. We then enjoy dinner followed by opening gifts.  My family now has the new normal of opening gifts on Christmas night instead of the morning.  We then fall into bed by 10 pm, ready for some rest.

Today, our 2011 Christmas celebrations begin.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's raining because you didn't finish your plate and other musings from start of my 28th year

It's raining because you didn't finish your plate.

Do we say this in the states?  I have never heard this saying until recently.

According to David this downpour we are currently experiencing is somehow my fault because he always finishes my food.

I would however like to point out that I did finish this plate of food.

And I helped with this one, too.

That would be my birthday lunch at my favorite little hippie cafe.  Did I mention my birthday was 2 weeks ago?  Yeah,  I turned 27.  Wow, I feel old.  Except not. Working at a university makes me feel like a am back in college again, except there are no exams or homework. Just long days. Especially since I am younger than almost all of my colleagues. :) Got to love that we finish high school at 18 and college at 22 (unless you are me and finish at 23), unlike the Germans who finish high school at 19 (it used to be 20) and finish college in their late 20s depending on the degree.

Did I mention that I am a Nikolas Kind? Yep, the German Santa comes to visit the Deutsche Kinder on my birthday.  This means that many stores you go to, give out chocolate on my birthday (how thoughtful of them).
My "birthday gift" from the grocery store.

I even got a card in the mail for my birthday from my Aunt who thinks I am still 26 (I'll take it ;) )

This card made me laugh.  I love Dr. Seuss.

 Here's to my 28th year and many more.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Let it snow, let it snow, let it RAIN?

For the last 2 weeks or so it has rained nearly every day. Normally, I would not mind this so much except for the fact that I commute to work with a bike, meaning I show up to work soaking wet from the knees down.

It is hard to tell in this photo, but my boots are soaked through to my socks.
This morning we had our first "snow" of the year.  I would like to emphasize that it was a "snow" because there was now accumulation except on roofs and bridges. I am ready for a little snow.  It doesn't really feel like Christmas time here in Germany until we see a little snow. I need a little pick me up to get me through this last week of work. T minus 6 days, or something like that?

Our weather forcast for the next 10 days.

It doesn't look like this rain is going to end until AFTER we leave.  Go figure.

This year I am SO ready for Christmas.  I am ready to be home, surrounded by family and American food (no offense to German food, it just doesn't say Christmas to me).  I an cannot wait to(in no particular order):

- see my family
- drink holiday lattes at Starbucks, while visting with old friends.
- go shopping with my mom and then have a yummy girl's lunch while we are out.
- see my extended family.
- meet the newest furry addition to our family
- go to a church service in English
- sleep in
- do hot yoga
- see my parent's house renovation
- Speak English all the time.  My head is hurting. :)

I am ready.  Christmas could you get here? 

Thursday, December 15, 2011


One of the most celebrated Christmas traditions in Germany is the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market). In every little town you can find some sort of Christmasmarket, be it big or small. Some markets are even themed, such as the midevil themed one in the area where my husband grew up. At all of the markets, one finds crafts (both traditional and modern)  as  well as delcious food such as Glühwein, Crepes, Baumkuchen, roasted chesnuts, to name a few.

In Karlsruhe,  our Weihnachtsmarkt begins every year on Thanksgiving day and lasts until Christmas Eve.  Despite it's lack of "Stimmung" (atmosphere), every year during the Christmas season I find myself visiting the Weihnachtsmarkt on multiple occasions, be it to have a cup of glühwein with a friend or to shop for gifts for friends and family in the states.

On Tuesday evening, I met up  i met up with a  German friend of mine at the Karlsruhe Christmas market. Although it rained (the preffered weather for a Weihnachtsmarkts is lightly falling snow), we still had a lovely time shopping, eating, and sipping Glühwein.  We wander throught the stalls of crafts looking at everything from Christmas decorations to silicon baking forms. She also introduced me to several new culinary delights that i would like to share with you.

The first is Laiberl.  Laiberl is an light dough that is back in the oven and covered in topping, it is sort of like a pizza, except that the crust is much lighter.  This is the vegetarian version with garlic, sliced veggies, and beets.  It was so yummy. My friend had the more traditional version with Speck und Käse (bacon and cheese).

The next thing  she introduced me to, was Wießglühwein or glühwein(hot wine with spices) made using white wine.  Traditionally, glühwein is made using red wine.  However, I highly recommend the white version if you are looking to try something new.  The only way I can describe the taste is to say that it is a touch lighter and sweeter than its red cousin.

*Sorry for the sideways picture, I cannot seem to rotate it.

I would love to show you all photos of some of the craft stands I looked at, but I fear that I might spoil your Christmas gifts for some of my readers back home.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Where has the time gone?

To my loyal blog readers:

Sorry to blog so little for the last 2 weeks.  I promise I will be back shortly.  I blame it on a busy lunchtime schedule (I normally blog on my lunch break). I'll be back tomorrow or Friday with a few fun updates.

Til then I leave you with a cup of gluhwein, which I enjoyed at Christmasmarket on day during lunch...instead of blogging.  :)   Forgive me?

I'm off to enjoy some lentil soup at the mensa. It is the only thing worth eating at the mensa. :)

Friday, November 25, 2011

What the sidewalk says, Part II

Someone really has something to say.  One my way into work this morning I was once again greeted by messages on the sidewalk.  Today, it was both Ewigkeit (Eternity) and Perspektive (Perspective).  This time in colorful chalk, and much more deliberately placed. I am not sure why I find this so fascinating, but I do. 

I had another thought about a "political" meaning for this.  There is a vote on Sunday in our state (yes, Germany has states- 16 of them) regarding a certain controversial project that I don't want to name on this blog. If you live in Baden Württemburg, then you know EXACTLY what I am talking about.  For those who don't and are interested I give you a little riddle:

2 words

1st word clue:  STR and planes

 2nd word clue:  The numer seen on Emma (circled in red).

Anyone have any thoughts on what this means?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Things that make me smile

Thanksgiving is tomorrow.

Our city's Christmas market opens tomorrow.

Going to my favorite cafe in the city and the soy cappacino and veggie omlette I will be enjoying along with the wonderful conversation.

Drinking Gluwein on Friday.

The fog making ice crystals on my coat and in my hair.

A hot cup of tea.

Yummy cheese assortment courtsey of my wonderful mother in law.

Passing someone who is spinning with delight.

A cell phone that works and that takes decent pictures. Oh and that can actually write a text message.

Looking through a window and seeing a group of children participating in an art class.

Going to the bakery and no having to utter a single word other than "Ja, bitte" amd " Danke."

The pups.

The hubby.

Left over cake from Sunday.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Die Komisch Elefanten

that is how Emma and Millie were desribed to my niece by her father the other weekend. . My niece is only 4 months old. I highly doubt that she will remember the moment she first met Emma and Millie, but I'd like. If only for the humor in it. Meine Komish Elefanten.

For those who don't speak/read/understand German,  komisch Elefanten means strange Elephants.

It's a fair, fitting description. I have two very strange elephants. Today, let's focus on one of these elephants: Millie. I'd like to give her a moment as top dog.

She certainly deserves it because normally the situation is reversed.  

Let's get  back to Millie ( Emma will get her own post here one day).

We adpoted Millie back in September of 2008.  She was our wedding gift to ourselves.  Okay, we went to the pound to see the cute puppies and ended up leaving with one.  We are weak humans with big hearts.  We do not allow ourselves to visit animal shelters anymore.  If we did we would have a house full of dogs.  David does, on occasion, visit the website for the local animal shelter.  As of yet, he has held strong, but I worry.  The man has such a big heart.

We were drawn to Millie because of her sweet and timid nature.  The poor thing was so frightened of us. She had obviously been abused by a previous owner. We couldn't leave her, so we took her home with us, thinking she would be a calming influence on our wild, stubborn Emma.  We were wrong. Complete. Total. Failure.

Picture taken shortly after Millie was adopted.

Now, Emma is still wild and stubborn, albeit better trained.  Did I mention that it took my dogs almost 18 months to graduate from dog school (it is a 6 month program).  18 months.  Granted, dog school in Germany is intense, almost military like.   But still...

Despite their wild nature, i still love and adore my elephants.

In addition to her latest moniker, Millie has aquired a few other descriptive nicknames in the past 3 years:

Skitz ( My youngest's brother's nickname for her.  He also likes to say that she is short a few screws)
Blondie (David's brother's nickname for her)

Judging  by her nicknames, you might be thinking that Millie is a bit of an airhead. She is actually really smart. She loves life. She is so happy.

No matter how smart my elephant is, she still has her moments of questionable judgement. A particular incident involving an avocado comes immediately to mind. Yes, she ate an entire avocado including the pitt. Did you know that avocado can be toxic to dogs? Yeah...we were lucky.   There was also the time that the lenses from David's glasses disappeared in the middle of the night.  The frames were still there, but the lenses were gone. It was never proved, but 3 years later I am 100% certain that it was Millie who ate the glasses. 100%.

I must share Millie's latest "food"eccentricity with you...rotten apples.

I wish that was a joke.  She discovered this new "treat" about two months ago at David's parent's apple orchard.  Early in October, David and I went to help his mother pick apples for making apple juice.

Yes, my inlaws always have homemade apple juice.
Yes, it is amazing.
No, they don't press the apples themselves.
Yes, making apple juice is really fascinating.

I was fortunate enough to witness this process this year.  I am kicking myself  for not having somekind of camera with me to share the process. Maybe next year.  Back to Millie. We were at the apple orchard and had the dogs tied up to the tree.  The ground was littered with rotten apples that had fallen from the tree.  At first, Millie left the apples alone. She happily hung out with us, excited to be outside.  After about an hour, she got bored. We noticed that she was eating something. Worried that she had decided to feast on some grass, we moved closed to inspect her "treat".  She had found a rotten, slightly alcoholic apple that was hers for the taking. She took it.  Along with a second.  Crazy dog.

The next day. I offered her a piece of my apple after she whined and begged.  She took it in her mouth only to spit it back out moments later.  Apparently, the only apples that are worth eating are ones that humans will not touch. Ha!

This past weekend I found a rotten apple amoungst the apples we have at home.  I decided to give the apple to Millie as a treat. She took all day to eat the apple.  First, she carried it to her bed.  Staring. Admiring.  Lip licking.(Okay she doesn't have lips so she was what, mouth licking?)  Fast forward to 8 pm.  She still hasn't touched the apple.  Finally, I make a move to take the apple and put it in the trash and she goes for it, Taking small bites so she can savory the rotten, alcoholic goodness.

Millie guarding her apple. (Sorry for the bad photo.)

For the curious bunch, apples are totally safe for dogs. As long as the don't swallow the seeds or eat too much.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What the Sidewalk Says

Every morning I ride my bike through the schlossgarten (castle garden) on my way to work. It is the prettiest and also most direct way to work.  The schloss has an offical garden with a gate that closes at a night (more to come later on that). Outside the gate one finds playgrounds, bike/running trails, and more.  Once I exit the gate, I enter a long strech of sidewalk.  I have seen all kinds of things happening along this sidewalk, most memorable being half naked college students laying their clothes along the train track and drinking beer.  According to husband it is some sort of "welcome to the new school year" tradition. Interesting....

Oh the never ending amusment from working at a university.

Back to the there was actually something written on the sidewalk.  It was the first time I had seen such a thing here.  My alma matta was notorious for having sidewalks COVERED in sidewalk chalk advertismentents. (Sidenote:  I looked for 10 minutes to find an example of the sidewalk ads at GT and had no luck.  For such a tech saavy university, there are suprisingly few photos availble :( )   It was such a simple reminder of home, but still a welcome sight on a dreary Thursday morning.

So what was it that was written on the sidewalk?
Picture courtesy of hubby's cell phone camera

Ewigkeit means eternity. I saw this written probalby 10 times between the gate and my office. It was also written all over campus.  While this is much simpler than what I was accustomed to seeing at GT, it still felt like a friendly reminder of home.

I was compelled to blog about this because I felt that I didn't walk away with a clear message.  I always assume that most messages here are political statements or people protesting the construction of something (such as Stuttgart 21), but this one did not strike me as such. It must mean something, but what.  I am stumped.  My other thought was that the message had some sort of religious meaning to it.  A reminder that short, but eternity is forever? Or am I just thinking that because of my personal beliefs?  I still have to wonder why someone would write something so many times.  It must serve some purpose, or not. 

Any ideas? Am I the only one that ponders these sorts of things?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

2006 World Cup

In 2006, I studied abroad in Metz, France.   I spent the summer studying not only chemical engineering and marketing,  but also the world around me.  This particular picture was taken the day of the final match of the 2006 World Cup.  France vs. Italy.  I remember coming back early from a weekend in Barcelona because I wanted to be in France during the final match.  The only place we were able to find seats was in an Irish bar.  I remember that I sat with two dear friends of mine (amongst other students whose names are now forgotten)  and ordering a diet coke.  The only other thing I remember was this woman, wandering the streets playing the accordian.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Unpublished Memoirs, Part II: Procrastination works every time....or not

January/February 2010
Firstly,  I would like to note that before I moved to Germany, I used to think that the lines of laundry hanging over the streets was such a charming touch. I still find it charming, albeit also a bit disgusting, but still charming.  I cannot imagine that laundry really get clean hanging above a dirty street in a city.  However, I am certain that the laundry is only hung above the street because it has a no other place to go.  Apartments here are tiny, why fill the already limited space with racks of laundry.  On almost every balcony/terrace and in almost every garden here, one is bound to find hanging laundry at some point during the week.  It is just how life here is.

So today is laundry day.  Or rather, our laundry is out of control so I must start washing clothes now.  Why the wait? Why the procrastination?  Well,  I hate hanging and folding laundry.  Particularly the hanging, unhanging (is that a word, or did I just make it up), and folding  part.

November 2011

I know, I didn't write much back in 2010, but I still find this topic to be relevant. Plus, I left you all with a bit of a cliff hanger. Why is it exactly that I find laundry to be such a pain here? 

One reason: We do not own a dryer.  Here are my(our) reasons why:

1) A dryer is super expensive to own.  Energy is expensive here, plus David and I aim to live a greener lifestyle and excess energy use via a dryer just doesn't jive with our livestyle.

2) We don't have space. Even in our spaceous (80 m2 or 860 ft2) apartment, I have no idea where to put a dryer.

Now for the most important reason:

3) No matter how much I whine or cry,  David isn't going to let me buy one while we live in Germany. I have to get over it.  I have. I have moved on to bigger battles. :)

None of this changes the fact that I HATE doing laundry.  It is my least favorite chore, unfortunately it is the most necessary.  Even in the states, I found laundry to be a never ending task, but without a dryer it takes planning to have clean clothes to wear everyday. I am 150% sure that this the reason why my husband has enough clothes to go 2 months without doing laundry. The first time I went to his apartment, he had a chair COVERED in clean laundry.  I don't think he went through the laundry and put it away until his parents came to visit. 

There are 3 time related challenges that laundry presents:

1)  Everything must airdry.  This required somewhere between 1 day (above 80 degrees F) and 1 week ( below 40 degrees F).  Thus, if i want to wear something on a specific day I can't just procrastiate and wash it at 9 pm the night before.  Not happening unless I want to wear wet clothes or spend 30 minutes with a hairdryer try to get the waistband of my jeans dry. True story. I don't recommend doing this.  It is NOT worth the effort unless you have nothing else to wear.  By nothing else to wear, I mean that 100% of your clothes must be hanging wet on the laundry racks.  100%. Basically, it is never worth the effort. 

2) We don't like to run the washer past a certain time.  We live above other people who prefer that we not run our washer at all hours of the night. Technically, we do not have a written statement in our apartment forbidding us from running the washer after a certain time, but I try to be a good neighbor, even if one of our neighbors disagrees (another topic for another day). My goal is to finish running the washer by 9 pm.  10 pm in cases of absolute emergencies. Yes, laundry emergencies exist. :)

3)  I am not home much on weeknights. I get home before 6 pm maybe one day a week, maybe, if I am lucky.  I am a busy bee and I like it that way.  As you know from reason #2,  that mean that I am only home at most for 3 of the self-allowed washing hours.  A tough challenge when a load of laundry takes somewhere between 40 and 95 minutes to run it's course. Enter the best invention ever (Okay, maybe not ever, but a great one, nevertheless) :  the timer function.  Just load, add soap, set, forget, and come home to a freshly washed load of laundry waiting to be hung.  I did this just this morning.  I love the feature.  The only challenge that it presents, is that you have to remember to take the laundry out of the laundry upon arriving home.  Otherwise, you get moldy laundry, and that is NOT good.  Fortunally, our washing machine has a light blinks when a load finishes. We usually notice the light in reasonable time.  It also has an annoying buzzer, but that stops after about 20 minutes. 

It really isn't that bad. Laundry is a pain whether one has a dryer or not.  Laundry is a fact of life.  Just like death and taxes.

 I could be worse. I could have to wash everything by hand, hang it dry, and then iron it.

Ironing. Please, do make me go there. Ever. *Shutters in horror*

Friday, November 11, 2011


Small Backstreet

Schloss Garten

View from my Office

Settlers of Catan Bus

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Brought to you by subsidized food prices

Red Peppers.  I have a  weakness for red peppers.

In the states, red peppers are super $1-$2 a pepper.   Here in Germany you can buy three peppers for that price.  Yes, three.  LOVE. IT. 

Thank you subsidized grocery prices.  It is because of you that I am able to make one of my favorite soup recipes on a regular basis:  roasted red pepper soup.

I found the recipe for this soup randomly about a year about when I was searching for a vegan roasted red pepper soup.

This soup is delicious on it's own or with a nice melty grilled cheese.  A great alternative to the standard tomato soup. 

By the way, my fellow veggie lovers should totally check out this website.  It is a great source vegan recipes.  Every recipe that I have tried has been delicious.  :)

Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Chickpea Soup

  • 3-4 red bell peppers, roasted, skins removed (or from jar)
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika powder
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups vegetable bouillon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped parsley or cilantro and sunflower seeds as optional garnish

  1. Roast and peel and slice the peppers. Alternatively if using store bought in a jar, choose 3 large peppers and a bit of the liquid they are stored in.
  1. Drain the chickpeas and rinse.
  2. Chop the onion and carrot and mince the garlic.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot and add the onions and carrots.
  4. Saute until the carrots begin to soften and the onions become translucent.
  5. Add the peppers, garlic and vegetable bouillon.
  6. Add 3/4 of the chickpeas and bring the soup to a gentle boil.
  7. Ad the cumin, coriander and paprika powder.
  8. Puree the soup (I use an immersion blender).
  9. Season to taste with salt and pepper and possibly a dash of cayenne.
  10. Add the remaining chickpeas.
  11. Serve the soup garnished with chopped parsley or cilantro and a few sunflower seeds.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Unpublish Memoirs, Part I: The Eye of the Beholder

From November 2009:

After living in Germany for six weeks, there is one thing that stands out to me:  How the definition of beauty changes depending on where you are.

In the USA, beauty is thrown at us from every angle. We see it on TV, on the covers of magazines in the checkout line in the grocery store: it is everywhere. If you wear the right clothes or have you hair styled the right way, society will accept you and everything will magically be better and your life will be perfect. In my opinion, the US needs to relax and let life happen.

As I walk around the streets of Germany, on thing strikes me in particular about everyone I see: No one looks perfect! I find that refreshing. You can walk around with your hair a little messed up and you clothes slightly dis coordinated. Not a single person is perfectly coiffed. I love it! Yes, the trendy stuff is still present, but personally shines through here.

November 2011:

I still find Germany to be a place where I am more judged on my inner self than on my outward appearance.  However,  I do feel the pressure to get dressed every day.  I don't mean simply putting on clothes, but actually getting dressing in something other than yoga pants and tshirts.  I love yoga pants.  I live in them on the weekends, but here in Germany I feel extremely uncomfortable doing anything other than lying around the house or going for a walk with my dogs wearing them.  Sometimes I even feel under dressed walking the dogs.   Even going to the grocery store I throw on jeans. Otherwise I get really strange looks.

Two weeks ago David and I had to run into town on a Sunday to drop something off.  We walked through the Schlossgarten which was filled with people, of course.  What did I wear?  My yoga pants.  I felt so uncomfortable.  Everyone around me was wearing jeans and many others were dressed in their "Sunday best".  Okay, the 2011 version of their "Sunday best", but still.  I can only think of maybe 5 times in 2 years when I have seen other people out and about in sweats.  Even my husband, a self-described bum who lives in sweats in the US, wears jeans to go outside and walk the dogs.  I think he has worn athletic pants once( besides for playing soccer) outside of the house and he was doing dirty yard work for his parents. 

I think this discomfort stems from the fact that when I speak, be it English or German,  I  stand out.  Thus, I don't want to stand out too much by dressing like a bum.  I want to blend in.  Be one of the people.  Does anyone else feel this way here? I feel like this is all in my head, but who knows.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lost in Real Life

One of the hardest parts of moving to Germany has been finding my place, my life.  My first year here I was, for lack of a better word, lost.  I had uprooted myself from the southern USA and moved to my husband's hometown.  I was thrust into a life as a housewife, wife to a PhD student, an immigrant, a foreigner....I just felt lost.  One of the most difficult challenges proved to be finding friends, people I could relate to and connect with.  People other than my husband and his family and friends to share this wonderful blessing known as "life" with. I have a wonderful family here, but in order to true establish a life for myself here, I needed to find my own way. 

When I decided to move to Germany, I knew it would be challenging, but rewarding. However, I never anticipated the challenge it would be to make friends.  I remember thinking that since we were moving to David's hometown, finding friends would be easy because he already had an established group of friends.  What I didn't realize was that my husband related to his friends through things like playing soccer and drinking beer (while watching soccer games).  Whereas I relate to my friends in other ways, coffee, girl's night, and talking.  What proved to be more complex than just a battle of the sexes, was the fact that David simply did not have time. The demands on his time made by his job proved to be the ultimate champion and I was left to fend for myself when it came to entertainment.  This is not to say anything negative about my husband. He has a very demanding job. He puts 200% into his job, just as he does our life together. 

At first this was wonderful. I crave alone time and for once it was nice to have endless amounts of time without the pressures of work or school. However, it got old really fast.  There are only so many things to do when you have endless time on your hands.  Things such as reading and watching a movie became less of a joy and part of the everyday grind.  They lost their meaning, significance, and specialness.

The first year here was really difficult. There were many days that I wanted to pack up and move back home, wherever "home" was. I felt liek my dream of living in Europe had been crushed.  This wasn't how it was supposed to be. This was supposed to be the experience of a lifetime, but it wasn't.

I met lots of people in my German class.  Mostly students who were not here for significant lengths of time. Others were older, looking for a way into Germany, to make a better live for themselves and their families.  Everyone I met was transient.  It felt impossible to make friends that I could keep. 

I prayed alot during that first year here.  I felt frustrated that I had given up my life, only to be thrown into what felt like an endless pit of dispair.  It was a dark time for me. I felt isolated and alone.  I felt abandoned.

Slowly, things began to happen.  My life changed.  It started by putting myself out there. Something which I am really uncomfortable doing.  I put my name on a forum for tandem language partners.  Within days I recieved lost of emails from people wanting to meet me.  From this forum, I made my first friend of my own here.  Someone who is still a part of my life.  A German girl, who had lived in the states for a time.  We bonded over cocktail and walks with my dogs.  She loves my dogs.  My dogs love her.  We were taking a walk about a month ago and Emma actually saw my friend and started pulling me towards her, crying.  It was really sweet.

In October of 2010, I enrolled in a new German class.  One that was especially for people who were immigrants to Germany. People like me. 

It was in this class that I met my first American friend.  Another American girl married to a German boy.  Her situation, so similiar to mine.  We both move here in September/October 2009.  Our wedding were actually the same weekend.  Crazy, huh?  My husband always joked that every American in our town knows this girl.  It's true. She is such a sweet person.

Also sometime in October 2010, I received a text from another girl.  She and her husband had really moved to my city. A lady who works at her gym, another american, sings in the choir with my mother-in-law.  She and her husband are so kind and generous.  They have been such a positive influence on David and I. Both are devout Christians.  They have influenced me to finally face my fears and go to church here. Something I was really missing in my life here.

In March of 2011, I meet yet another American girl in one of my German classes.  She is married to a German man,  who like my husband, is a local and a PhD student.  She has managed to integrate herself into her husband's life her, while simultaneously creating a life of her own her.  She is also fearless when it comes to embracing life here.

Lastly, I must include my Irish friend, who also possesses immense bravery.  She moved her to be with here German boyfriend.  She is our group organizer. The reason that we all meet up weekly. She super sweet and always trying to connect and include people.  She is also a great confidant.

Today I am so blessed to have found a this wonderful group of girls that I meet for lunch/coffee every week.  A group that is slowly expanding as we meet others like us.

We talk.
We listen.
We vent. 
We advise. 
We empathsize.
We sympathize.
We console.
We celebrate.
We laugh.
We support.
We lose track of time.  :)

I love it!

Those few hours I spend every week with these girls is one of my favorite time of the week.  I love have a group of people to lose track of time. Thinking about it brings such a smile to my face.  We come from different backgrounds. Have different occupations.  Have different ideas and opinions. Different beliefs.

We do have one, very important thing in common.  We are all trying to make a life for ourselves here.  All try to navigate this multicultural family life. A bilingual life. The challenges it presents.

I am writing this post, so that my friends can now just how much they mean to me. How much I appreaciate them.  Thank you for being my friends.  You know who you are.  :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Unpublished Memoirs: An Introduction

When I started this blog back in 2009 I wrote alot of posts...then never published them.

That being said, I would like to introduce a new series on this blog.  That's right, I said in multiple posts.  Ambitious, yes, but we all need goals in our lives. Am I right?  I started this blog as a way of documenting my life and thoughts here in Germany. I started strong and then slacked off about 5 months in.  I have been trying to get back to blogging ever since. Maybe it is where I am in my life at the moment, but I really want to start documenting things that happen to me.  My life at the moment is full and I want to remember it.  Both in words and pictures.  (Quick note on photos. Pictures at the moment are lacking due to a broken camera and phone that is in dire need of replacement.  Thus, you all will have to make due with really old photos, really bad blackberry photos, or no photos for the time being.) I have never been one for journaling, but have always admired those who do.  I do really well when I have accountablily, so maybe keeping a journal where others look forward to hearing what I have to say is a good way of doing that. 

Sorry to ramble so much, I am in my head tonight. Back to the point.

I want to publish this posts from back in the day when I first moved here. I also want to update them with my thoughts 2 years later. A persons' perspective can change significantly in two years.  I am no different.  I have grown and changed so much since moving here. I want to record that for myself.

Stay tuned.  Part 1 to come tommorrow.  Really. I mean it. It is written and scheduled.

Maybe soon I will get around to those much promised Turkey trip recaps. :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011


This past week, I have made a suprising, somewhat startling discovery about myself.  Something that I feel must be made known on my blog. 

I have an accent....a BADISCH accent. 

For those of you who don't live in Germany,  a badisch accent is the local dialect here in Baden-Wuerttemberg. 

This is rather frightening to me and rather unexpected.  I have always prided myself in not having an accent.  I come from the south and most people would never know it from speaking to me.  So this whole having an accent this is a whole new experience

I found this out from some of my work colleagues,  who were having a good laugh at my expense.  I admit, it is pretty funny.  Some might find it embarrassing, but I am going to go with funny.  Yes, funny.

What is most peculiar about this, is that my husband doesn't really have a badisch accent.  Maybe a sight one, but mine is stronger. I would love to know where i picked this up.  I am sure I picked it up from someone I talk to.  I tend to pick up ways of speaking from people I talk with frequently.  My voice is rather's a little strange.

I am not the first foreigner to pick up an accent.  When my husband moved back to Germany from the USA, he was told that he spoke German with an American accent.  Something that I find quite funny.  Sadly (probably not so to him)  his German accent is back full force.  I can hardly understand him sometimes.  I that is more of a mumbling problem than an accent problem.  :)   I also know several people here who speak English with some kind of accent.  This is usually the result of living for an extended time abroad.  The funniest sounding accents are probably German/Australian accents  and German/Scottish. 

Do any other fellow expats out there find themselves picking up accents? 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Evening Ramblings

It is 7:22 on Friday night and where am I? Work.  Why? Not because I am a workaholic. Not because I have so much work that I can finish it all.  Then, why?  Because I am waiting to meet some friends downtown tonight and I do not have time to go home between work and going out.  Well, technically I had time, but who wants to bike for 30 minutes home, sit for 10  minutes, then bike 20 minutes back into town. Not me! No thank you.  I would rather sit in my office, catching up on email and blogging.

I would also like to point out that I am currently listening to the local soccer team play.  No, not on the radio.  Live.  Real sounds.  That's right I can hear the crowd cheering and booing while sitting in my office.  Not too shabby, huh? 

I must confess that I feel REALLY lame sitting here on Friday night. I am racking my brain for things to do. Ways to waste the time. 

I could go shopping...but I am not in the mood.
I could organize and clean my desk...but it doesn't need it.
I could Skype with my cousin...but need to get Skype installed on my work computer.

***Just checked the Fußball score online because I heard some yelling and singing.  Lots of singing.  Intuition was right.  We scored. Er, they scored.  I am not actually on the team, so no "we."***

I already checked flight prices for my trip home over Christmas....still expensive, sigh.


12 more minutes.....why can I think of nothing.

Time is creeping.

Does anyone else ever feel this way?

This entry is pointless. I apologize.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pumpkin recipe #346327827

I know, pumpkin recipes are EVERYWHERE this time of year in the US.  Germany is no exception.  Pumpkin soup ( a German fall staple) can  be found in restaurants throughout Deutschland this time of year.  Farmers market and grocery stores alike are filled with endless varieties of this seasonal star.

I hosted a party the other weekend and was planning to make these (with pumpkin as a substitute for sweet potatoes. Unfortunatly,  i ran out of time and didn't end up making thes delicious rolls.  However, I had already prepped the pumpkin.  Long story short,  I had pureed pumpkin sitting in my fridge that needed a recipe.  

Monday night I was reading throught my google reading and was hit with the perfect recipe: Pumpkin, Millet, and Chocolate Muffins  via Joy the Baker.  Problem solved.  I sent hubby to the store for ingredients (just chocolate, I had the rest on hand) with the promise of piping hot pumpkin, chocolate chip muffins.  I didn't mention the millet because he would  just scowl and whine.  Millet in muffins is delicious.  I know. My mom used to make millet muffins.  Yummy.  Actually, muffins are one of the only way I find millet to be pallatable.  Plain millet...gross.  Just saying....  Anyway....  I made these muffins using my new measure cups.

            (Left: My old measuring cup,  Right: my new measuring cups. A gift from a wonderful friend. :))

The delicious result.  This particular muffin was enjoyed as I typed up this blogpost.

Make these.  Super delicious and somewhat healthy. Hubby agrees, too!

Sorry for the bad blackberry photos.  My phone needs yesterday.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What do I miss? Part I

I recently received an email from a friend of mine, a fellow American navigating German life.  This particular friend happens to have a connection worth it's weight in gold.  She knows someone who gives her access to the commissary at a nearby military base.  Can you see where I am going with this?  Anyway,  in her email she asked if I needed any American grocery products (i.e.  food, beauty products, toiletries, etc.).   After days of deliberating, racking my brain, and trying to predict future cravings of food from home sometimes brought on by the rare bought of homesickness that hits me for about 10 minutes every couple months  I finally made a list.

- Kashi GoLean Cereal:  my favorite cereal that I love to reach to mix in yogurt or eat plain as a snack. Plus it is loaded with protien which is perfect for veggie freaks such as myself.

- Life Cereal: Childhood favorite.  I usually can satisfy my desire for this on my trips home, but my parents are watching what they eat so there was no Life when I was last home.  Sadness for me.

- Cinnamon Life:  See above. With the added bonus of Cinammon.

-Advil:  We ran out and it is SUPER expenisve here. I am not even sure if you can buy it here in Germany, but I hear conflicting stories.

-Craisins:  Did someone say cranberry white chocolate cookies? Craisins in oatmeal is calling my name. The actually have dried cranberries here, but they are NOT the same. Not even close. David thinks they are nasty whenever I cook with them. The man also hates raisins, so his opinion is a mut point, but still...

- A1 Steak Sauce: Request from a friend of hubby's who just recently returned from living in the states.

That is it.  I miss cereal, craisins, and headache relief that doesn't involve sleeping the day away. What does that say about me? Or perhaps the better questions is what does that say about how I have adapted to life here?

I should clarify that there are other things that I miss from the USA, but I just restocked my supply in September when I was home.

-Trader Joe's Raw Crunchy Almond Butter:  Delicious, nutritious, and only like $5.  Gotta get my  ABandJ fix occasionally.

-Baking Soda:  Important if you want to bake almost anything using an american recipe.

Finally, there are the things that I always crave, but would be a fool to think that I could get here:

- a good southern biscuit
- a sweet Vidalia onion
- a Houston's veggie burger ( my first meal when I returned to the states from a summer in France back in college)
- mexican food
- bread from Great Harvest
- yellow squash
- kale
- a decently priced sweet potato that tastes like the ones from home
- Trader Joe's

For Christmas dinner in 2009,  after living here for just shy of 4 months, I requested what my family considered to be the stragest dinner ever: grilled, marinated salmon (fresh not frozen), baked sweet potatoes, and sauteed yellow squash with onions.   It was amazing...but probably only for me. :)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Let's get this party started!

While in Turkey, I wrote a travel diary.  A 15 page, very detailed travel diary to be exact. My intention is to recap the trip David and I took in detail for our friends an family.   While I'm not quite ready to recap,  I thought I would still share a few photos from our trip.


That is number of pictures we (er, David)  took on our trip to Turkey last week.  I'm still working on sorting through them all.  Pictures and recaps to come soon.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Pumpkinseed Bretzel

I'm a creature of habit.  I thrive on a routine.  A normal day in Amy's life is as follows:

-alarm rings
-get up
-turn on water for tea/coffee
-take vitamins
-make breakfast (yogurt with sliced banana, strawberries, and flaxseed)
-eat breakfast
-read news, check email,
-wake husband up
-take shower
-get dressed
-walk dogs
-cut up veggies for school snack
-collect school things
-head out the door
-go back inside to make sure the stove is turned off (I'm paraniod like that)
-unlock bike
-bike to bakery
-buy pumpkinseed bretzel
-bike to school
-learn for two hours
-take break
-go get a coffee
-drink coffee and eat bretzel and veggies
-learn for another 1.5 hours
-school's out...
-rest of day (this part of the day varies drastically)

This is my day, every single school day. And I like it. However, lately I have run into an issue: 


This makes me sad.  Not having my bretzel kind of throws my day off.  I don't know what to do.  Lately I've been substituting with granola bars made at another bakery.  I enjoy this enough, but it still isn't the same. 

This morning David actually went in and asked what was going on.  He was assured that the bretzel had been ordered, but hadn't come in.  I hope they have one tomorrow. There is nothing better than to walk into somewhere and you don't even have to say what you want. That's right, I walk in and the woman at the bakery headed for the pumpkinseed bretzel before I even say a word.  It's great. I miss it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I am blessed to have the opportunity to spend my days with many people who give me a new perspective on life.

My Classmates:

These people have shown me that I live a VERY blessed life.  I was not raised amist warfare.  I have no memories in my childhood of fleeing from bombing. I have not come to Germany to make a better, more peaceful life for myself.  I recieved a good education. I am not a single mother.  I have always had good access to healthcare.  I am in Germany to enrich my life instead of trying to find a better job so I can support my family.

The Family I work for:

I am  fortuante to have family near me. I am blessed to have healthy parents.  For showing me that German and American cultures are different, but it could be much worse.

My dogs:

These two creatures have so much unconditional love for me and my husband.  It cease to amaze me.

My husband:

He always shows me that there is more than one way to do things and that BOTH can be right.