time to break out of town…

well nearly time. tomorrow we are headed to stuttgart for oktoberfest. now, for all those who know of oktoberfest but not about it here is your quick lesson….

the actual “oktoberfest” is held in munich. and it actually has already started. it beings at the end of september running into the first few days of october. it actually used to be held in october but to allow for a longer celebration (and to have better weather) it was moved to the end of september. women typically wear a dirndl while men wear lederhosen- dressing up is not required but it is definitely the norm. locals refer to oktoberfest as “die wiesn” as it is the location of wear the festival is held. the keg is usually tapped by a local official on the friday night of oktoberfest and the parade is held on the first sunday following the tapping of the keg.

so, we are going. well, not to munich. but rather to stuttgart. apparently stuttgart is the second largest version of oktoberfest but is deemed a bit more family friendly. we are told there are not as many….ahem, questionable activities going on in stuttgart. now obviously, this is a festival about beer so while drunken persons may abound we want to be able to show j a good time as well. and stuttgart was recommended by a local german colleague who has been to munich and stuttgart and speaks highly of stuttgart for adults and children. so we are off.

i am definitely looking forward to getting out of town for a few days. of course the sad part is that at the conclusion of this weekend i will be heading stateside. not that going stateside is bad per say but i will miss germany, and more importantly my husband who will be staying here. although work meetings are beckoning and since they so graciously allow me to work pretty much where i need to when i want to i certainly won’t refuse them when asked. plus it will be nice to actually see my colleagues again. not just talk to them via phone, email, or video. AND a (huge) plus of going home….real, well ok so closer to real, mexican food! i think i’ve discovered the one thing i really miss of the states. mexican food. now don’t get me wrong- you can order fajitas and quesillas and chips and salsa and so on over here. it’s soooo not the same. the chips- that they serve with “chips and salsa” are not chips. they are like doritoes, only with a little less flavor and just odd. i miss mexican food. like the horrible, greasy, american-ized imitations of true mexican food! i really really do! it has taken me since july to truly crave a food from the states. but now that i do nothing will satisfy! i attempted several times to order fajitas and nothing even came close. so i will be sitting in del ray on monday night enjoying every bite! 

that about wraps up this post…time to head out and see if i can still find a dirndl for tomorrow! i’m also think j and marv would look great in leferhosen! although they both may want to shoot me if i attempt it! maybe at least a fun hat or two! so for now it is off the races…well once i wrap up work…always something!

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it’s fall…

surely it must be fall….the greatest thing about my birthday, aside from being the day i was, well, born is that sometime around my birthday usually means cooler weather sprinkled intermittently with the last few days of warmth. it is usually a sign of wearing sweaters and jackets and boots. and while “cooler” takes on an even chillier tone here in germany it is nonetheless cooler. and it has me thinking about standard stateside fall things…

i’m thinking about how there should be applebutter made this fall in ohio with my family. during which we all stand around watching an extremely large copper pot boil…believe it or not a watched pot does boil. myself and about 15 of my family members can attest to it. and we should be snacking on a mix of cookies and stews and soups and chili and hot sandwiches and more cookies of course. there is no applebutter making this year, i think timing and the availability played into it. i must admit that while disappointed that i will have to make my private stash of applebutter last a bit longer until next year (i hope) i am secretly glad i am not missing out on this wonderful tradition.

another thing missed is traveling with blue ridge parkway seeing the leaves change bit by bit. quite often we would meet some of our good friends at this tiny little restaurant in the middle of nowhere a few miles off the parkway. some mornings we would simply meet for brunch and mimosas and others for a bike ride (motorcycles that is). biking was always enjoyable as you got to feel the cooler air, smell the approach of fall on the ride, and wind down the ride at a local brewery about 90 miles north. it was a very nice way to spend sunday mornings.

i also miss the fall festivals. the wrapping up of the farmer’s markets. and the deliciousness of fall foods (some mentioned above). it was always wonderful to take jordan to our local apple orchard and see how the haybales were now transformed into large, scary spiders. or long caterpillars. even friendly black cats. and j would be content to mill around and pick apples once he was promised that after the apples he could feed the goats and pet the rabbits! and while watching j, my husband and i could sip fresh apple cider (preferably hot if the day was cool enough to warrant it) and snuggle up next to each other for warmth.

or finding out if my dad is going to set up his infamous haunted halloween house. this is not the average run of the mill halloween house but rather an all out attempt to assure you sleep with one eye open in sheer terror for the rest of your life! halloween at his house is not the hallmark holiday with candy but rather a time to delight in sheer terror and heart-stopping surprises!…and ok, well not with the grandkids he doesn’t. they get a grandfather who never fails to indulge them and they become life long devotees once they see how creative a costume he has. always in awe to see him do justice to their favorite characters or costumes!

even raking the leaves into large piles for the kid to jump and play in. not to mention enjoying cool mornings on the porch with coffee wrapped in a blanket while listening to the birds and observing the new colors in the trees. then moving on to prep a pot of brunswick stew (or some other variation of stew, brunswick just happens to be my favorite) and tackling those last chores in the yard before winter sets in. knowing you could enjoy stew at the end of the day and/or a bonfire with smores.

so many fall things i love stateside. not to say there are not equal things here in germany i just haven’t found them yet. oktoberfest is one that i will shortly get to experience and i am very much looking forward to it. not to mention the wunderbar festivals i have enjoyed here so far. and seeing the amazing fall fashions that each boutique displays in their windows has been pretty blissful for the window shopper in me. but i think if there is any time during the year which tugs at my heart for stateside it is the fall. i simply fall for fall everytime….

another (silly) week down…

more festivals! of course. it seems as there are tons of festivals constantly ongoing in wiesbaden. and more planned for the upcoming months. afterall they have to fit a ton of year round festivals into the few summer weeks (ok months-sorta!) that they have and the fall/winter ones before it is truly cold. every time we walk to town they are setting up or taking down tents, stages, lights, booths. not that i am complaining….i did afterall adopt the most precious tiger at the latest international festival (see below).  feeding him has not even been too bad- although, admittedly, sometimes his roar can be quite enough!

other things we did this past week/weekend:

 a silly dinner was of course a must…

we climbed statues and sculptures….

took another trip up the rheine to Rüdesheim to have lunch and enjoy what was likely one of the last truly warm days sitting on a porch overlooking the rheine sipping kaffee and pils….ok, ok and the kid had fanta. there were people everywhere. it was quite easy to see what time they left home. those that had gotten an early start to make the most of the day were carrying jackets and dressed in pants and long sleeve shirts. those that had been lazier and had a slower start getting around were in tshirt and shorts (yes, we were in the lazier group!).  the temperatures in spring and fall really do change in a matter of minutes. it’s similar to being in the mountains stateside. it stays cool here until nearly noon and then is warm for about 4-5 hours and then turns cool quickly again. so to enjoy the outside you must time it just right! well, or dress warmly and tote jackets!

and we ended our weekend with Käfer’s gatronomy. an amazing restaurant that is a part of the casino here in wiesbaden. we had never been so we decided to give it a go. at 7pm on a sunday the place was deserted! i know that they tend to eat later here and i suppose over time i might be able to get used to it if it were not for a 4-year old who needs to be in bed much earlier than most people finish their dinners! the food however was nothing short of amazing. and slowly, surely the restaurant did start filling up. it was easy to see why.  j even got dressed up for us…ok, we all dressed up a little! the inside decor in one room featured floor to ceiling pictures while the next room was filled with extremely large parfume bottles. interesting decor to say the least…

discovering horticulture interests…

(which is of course just a fancy way of saying that i am learning and becoming interested in the flowers here!)

but the flowers here are unbelievable. i am not a rose fan. not by a long stretch. but that’s because roses are so uninteresting in the states. now i suppose that is based on the types of rose bushes most commonly grown. and ok, sure they are fine. but they aren’t roses. over here- there are roses. with color, and depth, and dimension. they are beautiful and it is easy to see why people are so fond of them. these types of roses are definitely worth mooning and fawning over a bit. sorry shakespeare, a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet however the name (ie: type) of the rose is apparently more important than you realized! there is also an abundance of my personal favorite- hydrangeas. so many colors to choose from and, like the roses, grow wild in our backyard. err, well they were wild until my husband started clearing and nuturing and maintaining. now instead of a sporadic rose here or there they are budding up everywhere! and i am enjoying every bit of the view!

but i do wonder how the states decided to go with the rose so commonly seen in florists or grocery stores that seems to lack in color, intensity, and vitality. was it cheaper to maintain? heartier? whatever the reason it is without a doubt a pale comparison of what roses should be. at least in my humble opinion. everywhere you look over here conjures image of The Secret Garden- with flowers and bushes rioting everywhere. it makes you so excited to turn the next corner to see what is there. the parks are beautifully kept and meticulously groomed on a weekly basis. i’ve seen similar all of europe-the emphasis on keeping green spaces for people to enjoy. it really is lovely to see in the heart of these cities and towns. and it makes me want to recreate it whenever we wind up back stateside in a fairly settled manner…at some point….down the road….someday….eventually….ha!

wow, so my blog posts have been reduced to roses. what’s next i wonder? no, nevermind, let’s not wonder. let’s come up with something more interesting!

but for now here is a picture of one of our roses (i missed capturing it in full bloom- but even a day or two after it is still beautiful) and a few new blooms we will get to enjoy soon…

lots of hats….

if you’ve been reading the blog you probably by now have figured out (from the pictures) that i like hats. i think hats are fun. so i’ve definitely bought a few (2 but there’s a third in my near future) hats while over here.

i’ve also worn a few hats while over here. today i was worker (which i am sure my company appreciates), mother, dog groomer, food prepper, and baker. now- lots of stay-at-home women and men wear lots of hats. that is not uncommon. you just learn to juggle…exceptionally well! and for me since i am also working on the clock (EST time) i have to get things done before work and during my “lunch” hour and the rest of the day i usually spend on the computer or conference calls for work…..and making or finishing dinner here and there.

today was no exception. only i had a huge wooly mammoth of a dog to trim and a cake to bake. with no oven. why trim the dog? well, because she needed one good trim before winter. why not take her to a groomer? well, since i am not fluent in german calling pet groomers around the city has proved less than futile. and why bake a cake? well, why not! ok well really just because i really really wanted a betty crocker vanilla cake with betty crocker chocolate frosting. like really badly! and i’ve been working out so i figured maybe i could allow myself. and how was i proposing to do this with no oven? well, on a grill of course!

so there i was, lighting the charcoal and remembering a discussion that my husband and i had when i had previously mentioned wanting to make a cake. how did one bake things without an oven to regulate the temperature on all sides? how  do you cook something so delicate over an open flame? how do you cook the top without burning the bottom? welp, i learned the answers to all of these questions today!

first off, my hat (pun intended) is off to people who cook like this all the time. i can see how you adjust and get better as you continue to attempt making things but wow! and now the answers to the questions above…..raise it as far away from the flame as possible, very carefully, and you don’t! i tried to put a metal tray lifted off of the grill grates to cook it as far from the flame as possible and i pretty much just had to watch it bubble right over even with my efforts and staging. and well, unless you get really good at this i think you just have to accept that the bottom will burn and you just simply trim it off at the end. the sides too. and ok, some of the top maybe too! BUT, but, but!!!! we have cake! granted it may be smaller than a regular cake but that’s ok right? because afterall less to eat and less calories right?!

so now that the cake is cooled (which by the way it is soooo not a pretty cake!) and frosted i am pondering what else i can “bake” on my grill! i had already attempted (successfully) meatloaf but that is a bit heartier and less delicate. i’m contemplating cookies but also thinking that the less i learn how to bake on a grill the less calories i will consume! however, i’m getting pretty darn handy for whenever we go camping stateside. i figure by then i will have learned how to whip up like 5-course gourmet meals over a campfire. who wants to go camping?!

as for the dog grooming portion of today. well….my mom (a professional groomer and handler and trainer and dog whisperer) would be ashamed. hell, i’m a little ashamed. but bareak (said dog) is happier. she feels lighter and cleaner and it’ll grow back! just in time for winter and hopefully with winter the advancement of my german so the groomers and i can arrange a spa day next time for her!

until then i’m going to feel accomplished for today…well, that and get back to work. time to change hats once again!

in the interim…

it has been a while since my last blog. and it has been a whirlwind of days and events and on goings….

firstly, we went back to the states (or kuh-merica as my son likes to say it- this by the way is a direct result of trying to merge “captain america” together in pronouncing “america”). i spent a few days with my grandmother- enjoying every moment and learning so much. growing up there was never just the two of us time (and in keeping with my songs-cue grover washington, jr) but i think i appreciated our time so much more at this point in my life. we spent the days accomplishing a few things, lamenting over how much work our house required when we eventually got back to it-and yet couldn’t tackle because our our somewhat transient state, and doing something frivolous and relaxing. We spent a rather enjoyable afternoon at a winery in south western Virginia, took in a movie (a huge accomplishment since neither one of us seem to make it to the movies these days), and had several very enjoyable dinners/meals. it was special and lovely time with some memories that even top my times in germany!

i also had several events. one that i attended (a little girl’s first birthday party-which was ADORABLE- but not as adorable as the little girl!) and one that i was hosting (a baby shower). now let’s just hope the sweet little baby will wait until we make our return in october to be born! in addition to all this i was finalizing arrangements to bring our dog back. this ended up being more of a process than i was prepared for. our pup, bareak, had been staying with friends (she probably wishes she were back with them still!!!!) until we could get all the paperwork completed and she could be transported into the EU.

and what i came to find out…..it wasn’t nearly as hard prepping all the information as it was actually getting the dog ON the airplane and then out of baggage. seriously. imagine this…..

me, a kid, a dog, a crate big enough to accommodate a 90lb dog, 1 piece of checked luggage, and 2 carry-on pieces. ohhhh and did i mention i was driving myself to the airport and parking in long term parking?!!! so, i try the obvious first. i drove to skypcap (or whatever they call those attendants that stand at the departure area with large carts for baggage) and explained my situation. all the while smiling nicely and attempting to be unfailingly polite. afterall, i did need these men to watch the crate for me while i went to park the car and brought the kid, dog, and luggage back separately. i’ll give you 3 guesses what they said. it wasn’t “hell no” but it wasn’t far off. so now i’m stuck with a panting dog who is going slightly nutso because she knows something is afoot, an excited four-year old, and luggage and crates and stuff galore. so in absolute dread i drove to the long term parking. saw a gas station just before pulling in and decided that i would run in to grab some water for the dog…and me…and the kid. it was afterall 85-degrees outside and humid beyond all belief. upon leaving the gas station i noticed a cab had pulled beside me. it was like a lightbulb. literally. so i knocked on the cab driver’s door (he was driving a van) and again attempted to be über polite. i asked if he would follow me into long term parking and then bring all of my things (living and non-living) back to the terminal gate. he agreed…..and i took my first sigh of relief that day. to make this already long story short- we got to the airport, got checked in (after dealing with people who didn’t seem entirely familiar with HOW to check a dog in) and said good-bye to our pup and went to get food. no problem right? everything was good to go. only then we boarded the plane. we were in the back. which was fine. i really don’t have too many issues about where i fly, well that is to say i like windows and look for planes that have sections of seats in the right number (ie: flying with two people then i look for planes with only to rows against the window before the aisle so i don’t have to sit next to someone else). so there we were. in the back. i’m preparing to turn off my phone when i hear it. clear as day. its bareak. she’d just been boarded into the hold below us. and she was pissed. she barked. and barked. and she’s a 90lb dog so we aren’t talk quiet barks either. and then she whined. and then she barked. and it continued. people started talking about it all around me. i could hear whispers about it. mostly they went like this:

“wow, i guess they just boarded all the dogs.” or “listen to that, one dog must of set them all of.” and of course, “i really hope we don’t have to hear that the whole way.”

yeah, me neither lady. and seeing as how i was already the person with the “kid” that everyone worries is going to cry or scream or throw a tantrum (even though he’s 4) i kept silent. but i listened to the people speculate. i can say that as a quick note to dog lovers and animal activists, she did not bark long. and fast forward 8 hours and we were wheels down in germany. and the dog started again. and again it was whispers about all the dogs they must have to unload. i smiled grimly, nodded here and there my fake agreement and knew the truth. it wasn’t multiple dogs. that loud racket that was coming from below was solely the work of one dog. mine. but seeing as how people who haven’t slept a lot are usually cranky and irritated after long plane rides (at least i usually am) i was not about to cop to the fact that the racket belonged to me. now, she usually rarely makes a sound at home, save the occasional bark when someone knocks on the door. we made it off the plane and went to collect our baggage….it was optional at that point as to whether or not the dog was included in that statement at that point in time. now the distance from baggage to where my husband was eagerly awaiting us was not far. however, when the size and shape of your said “baggage” does not fit on the pay-for-use carts it becomes interesting. so i got the dog out (she acted as though i was springing her from a life term in prison) put my two carry-on suitcases IN the dog crate. got my son to wheel the other one and slowly but surely dragged our belongings out to where my husband was waiting. and while i love my husband immensely and on normal days am happy to see him i must admit i may never have been as happy to see him standing there as on that day….ok, well maybe our wedding day when he showed up and i knew i would be promising (and so would he) to spend the rest of our lives together.

i never imagined there would be anything harder than the paperwork. shows how very wrong i was. but now we are in germany. and as i walked to city center on my first day back i couldn’t help but smile and feel as though i was home in so many ways (i even provided directions to a german who was seeking breakfast-at lunchtime of course)…..and it is so nice to be home!