Welcome to our life!

Hi, I'm Allison! I'm a thirtysomething, freshly baked, stay-at-home mom. I'm originally from Connecticut, now living in Germany, hence the name of the blog. I live in southern Germany with my German husband and our baby boy. Life has turned out to be nothing I ever expected, and am so incredibly happy with it! We certainly do have a lot of laughs! I hope you will enjoy following our new experiences raising a little half American/ half German in a little German town.

Freitag, 31. Dezember 2010

Farewell 2010

This year was truly a mixed year for both Joern and myself.  I am glad for the good experiences we had, glad to put the difficult ones behind, and looking forward to 2011.  Here's just a smattering of what it was like in our world this year.
      January was a pretty low-key month for me.  After returning to Germany from our Christmas at home,
      I ended up pretty much stuck, and out of work the entire month.

     February was a much more exciting month for the two of us.  Besides returning to work, another highlight
     was definately on the house front.  After many long months in the planning stages, we finally were able
     to send in our application for our building permit to the county building department. 

     I was finally feeling better in March.  Joern and I attended our very first ever town council meeting,
     and with good reason, our house project was up for approval.  In March, our house was approved
     by the town, but we still had to wait a few months for the house to be approved by the county.  I also
     attended a bridal shower for my friend, Mandy.  It was so much fun to hang out with the girls for the day. 
        The highlight of April had to be Mandy and Doug's wedding.  Mandy has been my friend almost the
        entire time here in Europe.  And I was so honored to be a bridesmaid in her amazingly beautiful
        wedding in a castle! 
     On the housefront, May brought with it the completion of the kitchen plans, as well as a move to
     a new architect.  We spent a large portion of the month completing the house plans in general.
     Personally, May brought with it the impending acceptance that Joern's time with Sued Salz / Bad
     Reichenhaller was coming to an end.  We took advantage of a day off of work by heading down
     to Fussen, which is in the southeast part of Germany.  We visited Neuschwanstein Castle.
   June marked the month that I went from being a 30 year old to being a "thirtysomething." Joern surprised nt
   me with a special cake from France, and the county surprised us by finally sending us our building permit.
   At the end of the month, Joern completed 8 years of working with the salt company.  It was a bittersweet
   day when Joern said "goodbye" to being the "Salt Man."

    July was a very busy, very warm, and very enjoyable month for us.  We spent the majority of the month
    in the States.  First, we ran around like crazy purchasing last minute stowaways for the container.  In the
    middle of the month, we (well, mostly Joern and my godfather,) packed the container. Somewhere in
    there, we manged to spend quite a bit, but not enough, time with my family.  And then, we
    rounded out the month by spending a week in Cape Cod.
            August was back to Germany, and mostly focused on the house. 
            We signed a contract with our builder.  On the 19th, we purchased our building lot.
      Working in a school, September marked farewell to the sweet summer, and started a new school year.
      We watched the house go from a hole in the ground to having the slab completed and the walls of the
      walls of the garages formed.
    In another bittersweet moment, we found out that we were pregnant in September.  It was such
    an exciting, incredible few weeks. 

      October was a month of struggles.  While the house really moved along, the pregnancy did not.
      We found out in October that the pregnancy was ectopic and in early October, I had surgery
       to remove one of my fallopian tubes.  I really was forced to look at my life in October.  Walked
      away from the month so thankful for my husband and  my very caring family and friends.

      Healthwise, in November, I was back to myself.  We spent the first week of November traveling in
       When we returned to Germany, it was pretty much house, house, house.  By the end of the month,
       the first floor was completed and the ceiling was poured. 

         I am pretty sure that all people living in Germany will remember December 2010 with one word
         in mind- SNOW!  It pretty much snowed for the enitre month.  The house is on hold until the weather
         warms up a bit and it stops snowing.  But it has been a truly beautiful month.
                     Personally, I will remember December 2010 as my first ever Christmas away from home.  Surprisingly,
         I wasn't as sad as I thought I would be.  I missed everyone, but it was a very love-filled holiday.

And there you have it.  Our year in review.  May 2011 bring all of you, my blog readers health and happiness. 




Strasbourg Christmas Market

Joern and I decided to take advantage of my Christmas break to spend a day away from home.  I remembered hearing a while ago that the Christmas market in Strasbourg, France was open the week after Christmas.  So, after some internet research, we decided on Monday to head out to Strasbourg. 
Since we had such a lot of snow over Christmas, Joern decided that instead of taking the Autobahn to get there, we would instead drive through the Black Forest.  It was such a beautiful drive, I am so happy that he knows the area so very well.
Of course, they received much more snow in the Black Forest than we did here, so the drive was even more lovely!

Arriving in Strasboug brought back many memories.  It was one of the first cities Joern and I visited when I first came to Germany.  It was so fun to come back after so many years.  I have changed so very much since that first visit to Strasbourg.  One of the things I hadn't realized, or remembered, was the Germanness of this French city.  Of course, as it was once part of Germany, it makes sense that it is very Germanish, but I didn't really remember just how German the city was.  But it is only that German backdrop against the very French-ness of the city that makes it unique and very charming.  The Christmas market itself is quite old and definately shows its German heritage.  But, unlike Stuttgart's or Nurnberg's, the market is spread out all over the city.  We started at the Marche des Bredle, or the Cookie Market.  I am sure that before Christmas, the entire tent must be filled to the brim with Christmas cookies.  We found a few stands in the tent still selling Christmas cookies, and a few tables of what appeared to be baked goods displayed from some sort of competition. 

After the Marche des Bredle, we headed over towards the cathedral, which is the center of the center of Strasbourg. 
Although it was a lot like German Christmas markets, we did both notice that there seemed to be more decoration and lights around the town.  Not that the Christmas markets aren't beautiful here, its just that the markets here tend to count as decoration.  But in Strasboug, there were beautiful lights everywhere!
It was also pretty clear that the French are bigger consumers than Germans.  There were many, many more shopping possibilites, and each shop tried its hardest to look very appealing to the consumer.  It was different, but very enjoyable.
We decided to stop in Fortwenger's Pain d'Epice Boutique, which was basically a bakery specializing in Lebküchen, or gingerbread.  The shop was adorable and very full inside.  There were a lot more items than just some gingerbread.  We decided to buy some gingerbread beer and a few little trinkets to remind us of our awesome day!

From Fortwenger's, we continued on towards the center.  Strasboug is such an adorable city!

Once we reached the main part of the center, we noticed the many restaurants with their adorable decorations.  There was such a Christmassey atmosphere there!  I also noticed, which I did not last time, that all the names of the restaturants were German.

The cathedral was, as always, quite impressive.  But looked especially beautiful amongst all the decorations.

Since it was rather late, and because we are dog-sitting, we decided not to stay too long though at the Christmas market.  We did stay long enough though to have a drink.
We opted out of the warm, spiced orange juice, although I am sure it is quite yummy.

We instead went with the old Christmas market standard: Vin Chaud or Glühwein (Mulled Wine.) 
I am pretty sure that the Vin Chaud at the market was cut with some juice, because it was much sweeter than traditional Christmas market Glühwein, and well, it had no kick.  Plus, I  saw a lady pouring apple juice into a pot of Vin Chaud at one stall.  Didn't matter, it was still warm and spicy.  And despite it's being served in a plastic cup (I guess the French aren't into the deposit system like the Germans,) it was still quite enjoyable.

After our drink, we made our way back to the car.  Joern wanted to go grocery shopping before we left.  Plus, the grocery store is a part of a new shopping mall that recently opened almost right over the border in France.  Much to my surprise, and happiness, it turns out the new mall has a Gap and a Sephora inside.  Now, I am really close to some of my favorite stores.  The grocery shopping was fun too.  We were able to purchase some wonderful Camembert cheese, some salami for Joern, a few boxed soups that are so good, and a pre-made creme brulee that will be perfect for desert on New Year's Eve.

It was a really special and unique day.  I love the fact that we live so close to France, and that we are able to take advantage of our location.  I do believe that with the coming of the New  Year, this probably will round out my Christmas 2010 posts.  With that, I'll leave with a French greeting, and say, "Till December 2011,"

Donnerstag, 30. Dezember 2010

Sparking new travel dreams

2011 is already off to a good start from my point of view.  A new flight route is being added to Stuttgart. 
As of April 1, Aer Lingus will now be flying out of Stuttgart to Dublin!  By adding this flight route, we will now be able to quickly and easily travel to one of my fave countries- Ireland!  Hooray!

Mittwoch, 29. Dezember 2010

A car ride on a snowy day

Last week, we went to lunch with Joern's parents.  We went to a restaurant in Kappishäusern, which is about a 20 minute ride from here.  Kappishäusern is one of my favorite little towns around here, because the view is incredible.

Since we took separate cars, Joern  and I were able to take the scenic route home.  It was fantastic because everything was all snowy and beautiful.  As we were riding along, I was looking at the scenery and noticed a furry large animal in the fields behind the trees.  Being the nosy people that we are, Joern decided to turn around and check out what indeed was behind the trees.  We drove down a little farm path, and then, came upon these delightfully adorable cows:

I went home and researched, it turns out they are Scottish Highland cattle.  They are increasing in popularity because they are quite hardy, and can eat certain grasses that are intolerable to other cows.  Of course, we just enjoyed them because they are really quite adorable.

Montag, 27. Dezember 2010

Celebrating Christmas in Germany

I admit, it was really weird, and sad not to be home for Christmas.  I missed seeing my father, sister, stepmother, aunt, cousins, godparents.  I missed all the festive Christmas visiting.  I missed the Americanness of it all, Christmas lights, shopping, and home food.  I'm even sad that we aren't home for the big blizzard of 2010. 
I am so thankful to Joern for working really hard to help make my Christmas here very special. 
On the 23rd, we headed out to buy a Christmas tree.  We went back and forth about getting a tree, but in the end, I realized that one would be really special considering this will be our last Christmas in our apartment.
Afterwards, we headed down to Stuttgart, for the final day of the Christmas market.  I am so happy we went, although we both realized that we don't spend enough time at Christmas markets.  They are so lovely, and so special, and Stuttgart's is so close, there is no reason not to spend more time there.

Afterwards, Joern surprised me by taking me to the movies.  We went to see Little Fockers.  Yeah, it was a pretty light story, but provided some good laughs. Even better was that we went to see it at the Corso Kino in Vaihingen, which is an Original Version movie theater.   This means it isn't only English movies, but all movies are played in their original version, even if it is French or Hindi.  I just happen to be lucky that most of their films are in English. 
When we got home from the movie, we decorated our tree.  It was very important to me that it was finished by Christmas Eve.  I was pretty impressed by how the tree came out.  We used most of the ornaments that we bought eight years ago, when we last had a Christmas tree here.  They aren't the best looking plastic ornaments, but with some silver beads and bows, and some white lights, the tree came out pretty nicely!  Plus, we had a few ornaments from our travels here, and a few that had been given as gifts.  One of my favorites is the Parma Proscuitto that was a magnet that seems best hanging on the tree.  So we have an ornament from Baltimore, MD; Cape Cod, MA; and Parma, Italy.  Very cool.

 I do have a lot more ornaments that have already been packed away waiting for our new house.  I can't wait to unpack my mom's old Christmas ornaments, as well as the rest of those picked up on our travels.  They bring back such powerful memories.
On the 24th, we received some sad news, no one had bothered to get a Chistmas tree for Joern's grandma, nor had anyone given her cookies.  Christmas cookies, or Plätzchen as they are called here (or Brotle /Gutsle in Swabian,) are a gigantic tradition here.  I know that many Americans bake Christmas cookies at home, but it is a much bigger deal here.  Joern's grandma used to make such yummy cookies, and I am sure that they are a really big part of Christmas for her.  Both Joern and I were heartbroken at this thought, so we ran out and bought an artificial tree for Oma, so she will never not have a tree again.  I also got to work making cookies.  I made Vanilla Kipferl (like vanilla crescents,) checkerboard cookies, chocolate dipped, and coconut cookies.  It felt so good to pack up a beautiful plate of cookies and deliver them to Oma!  As my aunt said, maybe there really was a reason why we stayed in Germany this year.

For Christmas Eve dinner, Joern and I headed over to his parents' house. German traditional Christmas Eve dinner is sausages and salads. In Joern's family, it is a mixture of sausages, and "Spezial Salat", which we have since discovered is called Prussian Potato Salad. Which makes sense as Joern's father is from former Prussia.

After dinner, we decided to brave the snow that had been falling heavily all day, and took a ride. Since my car is meant to drive in the snow, we had no concern that this was a mistake. It was such a beautiful drive through the snowy, very silent roads and towns.


Town on the Swabian Alb

Neuffen Town Hall


During our ride we stopped in Urach to take pictures of the adorable town center. We got there around 11:30 pm, and were so amazed that when we got out of the car to take pictures, we heard beautiful music.  Some musicians were standing in the church tower playing Christmas carols so that it resounded over the town center.  With the snow falling, the lights, and the music playing it was like magic!

We got home after midnight, as the heavy snowfall slowed down our driving.  When we woke up on Christmas Day, it had pretty much stopped snowing.  But here in Neckartailifingen, we got an easy 8 inches of snow.  It was so pretty.  I decided to make a breakfast that my mom used to make on Christmas day when I was a teenager.  We were so sad when we realized she had misplaced the recipe.  So, I was so excited to realize that I could Google the recipe.  I made a sausage braid, that was so yummy!
Later  in the day, I got ahold of my friend, Mandy.  We had planned on meeting up with Mandy and her husband because we were going to dog-sit for their dog, Abbey.  When I called Mandy, we ended up with a surprise invitation to Christmas dinner with mutual friends, Heidi and Julie.  I could not believe how awesome it was to be invited to Heidi and Julie's for dinner.  We ate at around 5.  It was a fantastic group of  people, Heidi and Julie and their son Aiden, Mandy and her husband Doug, and Mandy's brother and his wife.  We had a great time and ate great food.
It was really a perfect ending to my first Christmas away from home. 

Donnerstag, 23. Dezember 2010

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night

Before our big day tomorrow of putting up the Christmas tree, watching Christmas movies, and finally gorging ourselves on sausages, potato salad, and sweets, I just wanted to stop by and wish you a Merry Christmas from our home to yours.

I swear, I'm here! Christmas Market Edition

I just realized that it has been almost a month since I've last posted. I think I have a reasonably good excuse, I've been sick.  Somehow, I  was blessed  with a wonderful cold that is in its thrid week.  I went to work, and we went about our daily activities, but I have been really wiped out.
Otherwise, things are going well here.  I still have quite mixed feelings about not being home this Christmas. 
I can't believe that I won't be home at all this Christmas.  On the other hand, it is much less stressful not to travel.  The weather for flying is abysmal, and many people have experienced huge delays and cancellations of their flights.  Further, I am pretty certain that flying with this cold would be absolutely miserable.  But, that doesn't change the fact that I miss my family.

In order to balance out my feelings, I have been trying to make the most of Germany at Christmas.  Joern and I have been busy going to Christmas markets here, which isn't so easy when your feeling miserable.  But I am determined enjoy it here this year.  We have gone to downtown Stuttgart a few times after work.  This is always my favorite time to go to the Christmas market in Stuttgart, because it is not so busy when we get there at 3:30, and by the time it starts to fill up, we are ready to leave.  What has made it all the better of course is that we've been pretty much blanketed with snow for the past month.  You can't get more Christmassey that this!

Last night, Joern and I headed to Esslingen, a medieval town in our area.  Esslingen's Christmas market is so special and unique, not only because Esslingen is such a beautiful town, but also because they hold a medieval Christmas market.  Of course what is fantastically cool about a medieval Christmas market in Germany is that, well, it is old anyway. You can really get the feel of what it must have been like back then at a market.  The sights and smells of the market is so unique.  It is really a special place.

Mmm, hot Met (Mead, honey wine)

Hemp seed pockets- so yummy!

There is only more day to enjoy a few, select Christmas markets here in Germany, and then it is time to say bye-bye for another year.