Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year & Einen Guten Rutsch ins Neue Jahr

The last half of the title means "A good slide into the New Year", which is how you wish someone Happy New Year here.  Nothing is every short & to the point here in Germany - there are always lots of words in an expression or lots of words put together to make a new word...  I am constantly reading things out loud to figure out what it actually means.

Our Christmas was quite - no tree with year since we were without a car & dragging one home on foot was out of the question.  Here are a few pics of our Christmas Eve Dinner, which as a very traditional German meal ( not difficult to recreate at home).  Mind you, it was not a traditional German Christmas Dinner, which involves goose or some sort of fish.  I opted to stick with something tried and true.  We usually have chicken pot pie topped with a chive mashed potato crust, but lacking a baking dish, a food processor and a whole chicken, I went with what we had.  This is dish is called Rouladen.  They are stuffed, rolled thin cuts of top round, browned & braised until tender.  Yumm.

Each "steak" is laid out, topped with a bit of mustard, salt, pepper, onion ( cut into rings), a slice of bacon, a quarter of a sour pickle spear, a quarter stick of carrot.  The whole thing is rolled up  and usually pinned with a toothpick ( no toothpicks here, so two strands of "Parched Bones" floss from Jenny Bean were consumed tying these guys up....please don't call the Stitching Police)

I used to braise these with some beer ( some for me, some for the Rouladen), but after my son Adam was diagnosed with Celiac Disease ten years ago, I could not use it anymore due to the gluten in beer.  Now I use beef stock, I might put in a bit of red wine if I have a bottle open.  So, after simmering the tasty rolls for about 2 hrs in a pot with the lid on, they look like this:

After removing the actual rolls, I skim a bit off the fat & thicken the liquid with some cornstarch ( flour is ok too, just not for us).  This is traditionally served with Spaetzle ( yummy fat, short egg dumplings) & red cabbage.  Mashed or boiled potatoes are good too - you want something that you can eat with the delicious gravy.  So, here is a pic of the finished meal.  Please excuse the fancy red plastic plates that currently serve as our dishes.

Anyone hungry yet - I know I am...

Now on to something crafty.  Due to the inclement weather here I decided I needed to knit myself a cap ASAP.  Running around in a knitted camo beanie that belonged to one of my sons, really did not quite go with my self image. After much looking I found a pattern that appealed to me & I could actually conquer. The The Esme Hat fit the bill.

What is that knitting needle doing on the top of the hat, you ask.. well, I currently don't have a tapestry needle or crochet hook to finish it off.  That requires another trip into town - maybe on Saturday.  The fun thing about this hat is that the brim is cabled.

For my  next project I am going to knit some socks - these in fact,  Corn Row Sock
Here is my teeny, weeny start:

Now, I know what you are thinking.... what happened to my stitching.  I am in a bit of a funk regarding that.  I have Jenny Bean with me, and have spent very little time with her.  I don't have very good light here and since the light starts fading around 3:00 p.m., especially when it is cloudy, I just lose all motivation to stitch.  So here is where she stands now - excuse the wrinkles -  no iron yet.

Yesterday I took a trip ( a looooong trip) to Patrick Henry Village ( one of the Army installations here ), to head for the Arts & Crafts Center.  They have a really good selection of fabrics there & some scrapbooking stuff, DMC floss, and a variety of other things.  I decided that I would make myself a skirt with all my free time.  My dad bought me a very basic Singer sewing machine, which should do whatever I need to do ( being a real basic sewer myself).  I made friends with the lady that manages the place, she helped me pick out some fabric, it was cut, I happily paid for my purchases, walked the 1/2 hour back to the nearest bus stop, while thinking about sewing this skirt.

I was busily planning a trip to the German fabric store that I has spied, while I was making a mad dash to catch the train on Monday before my ticket expired, to buy some sewing thread, a zipper & a button for my hat, when it dawned on me - I have no scissors to cut fabric.  Aaargh - I keep running up against not having things, but I don't want to buy another one since I have them in my household good which are currently enjoying the high seas.  So, for now I will admire the fabric & when the car comes I will have my husband drive me to the Arts & Crafts center to cut my fabric.... I can't wait for our stuff to get here.

With this bit of frustration I conclude my last post for 2009.  I wish each and everyone of you a wonderful start for the New Year.  I thank you for reading my blog & leaving comments.  I am so grateful to have such wonderful friends who share my passion.  I leave you with a pic of the family toasting our first Christmas in Germany.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Froehliche Weihnachten

From our hearts to yours - we wish all of you a wonderful, safe, peaceful Christmas. 


Friday, December 18, 2009


I have had a number of Whaaaat??!? moments here in Germany.  Let me start with today.  I needed to get to a grocery store, so I spent some time yesterday researching how to get to one.  There are a few buses that run through town and would get me close to a grocery store.  Now, where to buy a ticket?  The closest place was the train station which is about a 10 minute walk away.  No big deal  - except it is about 20F outside.  I bundle up - hat, scarf, gloves, 4 layers under my winter coat & set off.  I get to the train station & go the automated ticket dispenser - cannot figure it out - I can get my ticket to Paris, but how to get a local bus ticket?? into the train station I go & the kind lady sells me a multi ticket good for 5 rides for 8 Euro which at today's rate is about $11.50.  I trott out to the bus stop & a smoking youth tells me  where to get off to get to the store.  Of course, he does not stop smoking while telling me the good bit of info but just goes ahead & blows the smoke right into my face (whaaaat??!?).  He was not being malicious but just must not have any manners because he was friendly & helpful.  The bus comes, I climb aboard, punch my ticket, & sit down.  Two stops later we pass the grocery stores ( there are 2 right next to each other - they are each about double the size of a nice 7-11).  I get off at the stop, hike back to the stores, do my "shopping"- I have 2 of those reusable bags that are rectangular shaped to haul the necessitites of life back to the house.  I go to get my cart, & they are all chained together & you have to put 1 Euro into a slot in the handle to get one ( Whaaaaaaat??!?).  I dig around in my wallet to find a 1 Euro coin  & get my cart.  Going into the store the first thing I get to  is chocolate, chookies, tasty snacks.  Wow, it is so cheap.... I get a bit of this & that.  I get to the meat - yikes that is expensive - just one package of  smoked porkchops for us.  Passing by the dairy case - wow they like their yogurt here -  lots of variety & flavors from 0% fat to yogurt made out of cream... yumm.  Just a small cup of organic plain yogurt for me  to use for a recipe I want to make.  Boy, I really need potatoes- jeeze that bag is a bit heavy, but I really do need them.  I looked at my cart in the first store reminding myself that I have to carry this stuff back to the house, so I put some stuff back, & went to the cashier to checkout.  Dang that woman was so fast I had no time to pack the stuff ( no baggers here, no one to ask if they could help me out to my non-existent car - whaaat??!), & had to throw everything back into the cart & pack it up off to the side.  Just slap a big old sign on me that says "New to the country".  I returned my cart to find out I get my Euro back - this most certainly a good way to keep the carts out of the parking lot.

Off to the next store - I was looking for some gluten-free stuff for Adam & that chain had some in the store in Heidelberg - no such luck here.  This was one of the main reasons for venturing out in this frigid weather.  Oh well, can't do anything about it.  Back to the bus stop to take the bus back to the bottom of our hill.  I decided I am going to go the bus stop we passed before the one I got off - it seemed to be closer.  I get there, look at my watch & check the schedule - WHAAAAAT??!?  It is 1:05 pm & the next bus comes at 1:41 p.m.   In the other direction the bus ran about every 18 min..... where do they go - don't they have to come back??  Evidently not - there is only one bus per hour in the direction of home... well, it is cold out  & I am not waiting.  So, me,  my chocolate & potatoes start walking home.

 I am busy making lemonaid out of my lemons thinking: "Hey, there is that antique store I have passed a couple of time, I will stop in since I will walk right by it & have a look around."  I get there at about 1:15 - it is closed for lunch for the next 2 hrs....whaat?? So I look at the times of business & this shop is only open 4 days a week with a 2 hr lunch each day...ok.  I guess I'll just walk on home.  20 min later I huff & puff my way to my front door, quite toasty under my gazillion layers.  Next time I go grocery shopping I will have to watch my timing.

One of the things that we enjoyed in the States was Hulu.  Well, when we finally got the internet up & running I first dealt with e-mails, stopped off at some blogs & proceeded to Hulu to catch up on some of my favorite shows.  I click on Fringe & get this message.

Sorry, currently our video library can only be streamed from within the United States


Oh, the agony of it.  None of the streaming video sites or American networks work here...I keep thinking there must be a way, but so far I have not found a way around this....

My first day out at the house was also quite the (mis)adventure.  My husband wakes me up early to take me out to the house because someone is coming to deliver some loaner furniture.  After stopping for coffee ( oh Starbucks where art thou),  he drops me off & drives away to a day packed with things that need to get done.  I decide I am going to inspect the house closely - I only saw it briefly the night before in the dark.  So, I go room to room, peer out the windows, open patio doors & such.  I work my way all the way down to the cellar.  On the way back up I notice something on the floor - I bend down to inspect & lo & behold its dog pooh & I have stepped in it. Which of these dogs pooped in the house already??

It was  Mia ( the grey one) - she had the courtesy to poop on the door mat & since I was admiring the view

I was not looking down.  Yuck!  I took off the offending shoe, stomped upstairs, went outside to clean the shoe off, scolding Mia as I went.  I opened the front door, stepped outside I proceeded to whack the shoe against the step to knock some of the poop off.  I was not very successful, so I thought I best pull the door shut & not let the heat out.  I unsuccessfully whacked the shoe a few more time, while the dogs went exploring the front yard ( ok its tiny but there is a lot to sniff out).  I turned around to go back in... WHAAAAAAAAAAT???!!??  the door was locked tight.  Where we lived in Texas an unlocked door was unlocked until you locked it again, here in the Vaterland the house doors lock when you close them.  After an short episode of very unladylike language, I decided to walk around the house in hope that I had left a door or window open... I proceeded down the driveway...

Oh, did I mention that there was a nice, soft steady rain?  Do you see that green stuff on my driveway?  Well, it took only about 3 steps & I was flat on my back courtesy of wet moss.  Much more unladylike language followed!   After navigating down the rest of my driveway by grabbing onto the fence I was able to go around the house - not one way to get in was found.... So, I went to stand under the overhang of the securely locked front door with a wet, cold behind - it was about 8:30 am.  The landlady was supposed to come by around 11:00 a.m.  I had no cell phone, no jacket, knew no one.  At about 8:50 am this furniture truck goes by.... I hear lots of commotion up the hill, & I am relieved that it is not my truck, because I cannot get in.  The dogs are getting wetter, because they don't get the whole stand under the overhang thing.  Well, about 10 minutes later this man comes down the hill & tell me they are the furniture people but the truck is stuck in the mud.  Wow, its a good day all around.  He does have a cell ( called Handy here ( whaat?)) & my husband's number, so I call my husband & he comes 35 minutes later to let us in the house.  In the mean time they have gotten the truck out of the mud, & the delivery proceeds without a hitch.  Needless to say there is a key now securely hidden in case I pull another stunt like this.

I leave you with a picture of Erika,  she is expressing what I felt that day -

And this is what is happening outside right now - you can tell we are still excited about snow...

Thanks for the comments - they warm my heart on a cold, cold day.  Miss all of you.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Tale of Tea & Really Good Friends

Well, we have survived one half of the move.  I can't remember which is more painful - packing or unpacking.   Anyway, the packing & leaving part is done.  Now we wait until February for all our stuff to arrive & then we unpack & realize we brought waaaaaaaay too much.  I will write more about arriving in Germany tomorrow or by the weekend - there is so much to tell, but right now I wanted to write about the wonderful tea my friends took me to & the gifts they showered on me.  It was beyond generous.

I actually got most people on this pic - Michelle  (Cozy Egg) is cut off & Kim is only half there, but you can see her fabulous sweater well.  On the left bottom is Gloria ( who not only organized this whole thing but also researched & found this wonderful tea room), followed by Nancy who was my secret stitcher last year, then Marie with whom I spent many hours helping Gloria with her business.  Next is Stephanie who is such a nice person to be around & last but not least there is Ava with whom I got to go to the last Shepherd's Bush retreat.  Here is the whole group

We had a High Tea which was so delicious - here are a couple of pics of the goodies.  We also drank at least 4 or 5 pots of different tea.

Everyone wrote a little something about their favorite memory of me - it was so touching - drinking wine & eating Cheetos on the balcony at the Shepherd's Bush Retreat, meeting Michelle for the first time while working on a Lizzie Kate piece during a guild meeting and feeling the need to assure her that was not my usual stitching fare, helping Gloria during Market with Kim and laughing a whole bunch.    Everyone brought a gift which I did not expect at all - the tea & getting to see everyone before I left was gift enough.  But see what those guys gifted me with:

Marie made me the project bag that is serving as the back ground and she also gave me a Stacy Nash book - A Simply Early Christmas.  Ava gave me a hand painted Santa on a wooden spool - how cute is that??  Nancy gave me a beautiful pair of Dinky Dye Scissors.  Stephanie stitched the very cute Santa, Gloria stitched the fabulous ornament leaning against the apples ( a close-up is down below) & Michelle gave me the All-in-one Wristlet from Vera Bradley to match my Vera bag I got for my Birthday.  The biggest surprise though was what Gloria, Kim, Ava & Michelle stitched for me:

Wow, wow, I still can't even express how incredibly touched I am.  I just love it!!  Right now it is leaning againt the window in our eating area, & I am waiting for my DH to bring home some wall hangers to I can get it on the wall.  Have I mentioned how much I love it??

I leave you today with a picture of the humongous semi that carted away our storage stuff.  I think we managed to fill 5 of the 6 crates they brought.  The truck that came to pick-up our overseas stuff was much smaller & we overflowed into another truck....hmmmm, Houston I think we have a problem.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

So Long & So Long

Ok, its a silly title.  It is early here & I have been up for a while already trying to get rid of a killer headache.  The first refers to the fact that I have not posted in such a long time.  My apologies.  I have been crazy busy getting things squared away for our move.  I think the last I wrote we were getting the total 16,000 lb allowance to move.  Well, its been like a roller coaster - 800lbs, then 1,600 lbs, then 4,000 lbs, wait you can have the entire 16,000 lbs, well actually we are only going to give you 4,000 lbs... & as of this moment we are back down to 1,600 lbs with the allowance for 4,000 lbs in the works.  Since the movers are coming on the 8th I hope it all gets worked out.  On Monday, I found out that the movers weren't even scheduled to come for our overseas stuff....wheeee, what fun that was.  Boy, the Army sure does have its ways.  Anyway, on Monday our stuff gets picked up for long term storage here, and on Tuesday our stuff for overseas gets picked up.

We were going to have another garage sale, but it is cold here & I am inclined to disincline.  I think I will send out the call to our friends to come on by & pick out anything they want ( of the sale items) & then give the rest to Goodwill.  The tax deduction should be better than the garage sale price anyway & it will save me a ton of time.  Our Van gets picked up today ( the let me know yesterday afternoon - nothing like giving notice), so we are running to the airport this morning to rent another car.  I am getting my hair cut for the last time this afternoon & then I have my last stitching Thursday.  We try to get together most Thursdays at Barnes & Noble to stitch & talk.  We do ALOT of talking.  Its great, because we can get great coffee there, delicious treats, look at the latest magazines, & the company is always outstanding.  I will dearly miss my stitching friends - I cannot even tell you how wonderful they are. Here is just one example of their generosity & kindness. Our guild had its annual Christmas party and we always have an ornament exchange. Well, I mentioned that I would not participate this year, because I was just so busy.  Well, my sweet friend Gloria stitched me an ornament so I could take part in the exchange.  Wow, I am so touched.  At the exchange I got a fabulous little bag that my other dear friend Kim stitched - am taking it over in my luggage so that I can put it up right away in my new house.

So, I leave you with pictures of yesterdays snow fall.  I hear there is more coming.  I think it is Texas' way of tell us so long.